Seventh Heaven

Well, for those of you that tuned in Saturday only to be taken to a dead link, my apologies. Hopefully this will be worth your wait! Last month, as you may recall, Mr. N enjoyed a “pie” for his birthday meal of choice. It was an easy decision for him. Miss A, however, took her time deliberating. a-theater

Perhaps she was too busy preparing for her big show weekend as Bert Healy in a musical production of “Annie.” Miss A has watched Mr. N perform for years and last year decided to take it up herself through summer camp. She had so much fun singing and dancing, she insisted on going back again this summer. Needless to say, if you want to know any words from the soundtrack, just let me know. After four weeks of Miss A’s nightly rehearsals in our living room, we’ve got you covered! a - theatre

With her love of all things song and dance, would you be surprised that she picked a Rock Diva theme for her 7th birthday party this year? (Ironically, and I just realized this right now, my 7th birthday was Madonna themed!) rock diva

The party was perfectly suited to Miss A. We walked into the venue promptly at 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning and were greeted by very enthusiastic high school girls (our party hosts) squealing in delight over the birthday girl, and Taylor Swift blasting through the speakers. After a moment of stunned sensory overload, Mike and I noticed Miss A had already been whisked away for her costume change. She and her friends picked costumes and then had their hair, nails and make-up done. Once they were proper divas, they bounded up on a stage and performed karaoke all morning long. (Need to know the words to any Taylor Swift songs? I know all those now too!) one direction

The girls all seemed to enjoy the festivities, especially Miss A who had a smile on her face the entire morning. So did I as I didn’t even have to make the cake! diva cake

Or worry about any of the clean-up! Great idea for a party Miss A. birthday girl

After Miss A was all rock diva’d out, we then prepared for her special birthday meal. In past years she has chosen some rather interesting and sometimes sophisticated options for her birthdays. One year I was tasked with making a sourdough bread and chocolate balsamic cookies (which I didn’t even know existed). Another year it was BBQ ribs and cherry crisp. This year, she again demonstrated her love for gourmet food and chose a Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese. lobster mac & cheese

I think it’s fair to say, we were all excited for her birthday dinner this year! We boiled four lobster tails and shredded the meat, which was plenty for our family. We also chose to use Dubliner Cheese and Gruyere as well as shallots and garlic. Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese

We livened the dish up a little with a bit of Dijon mustard, nutmeg and chives. We also topped the lobster mac with breadcrumbs and of course, the truffle salt, before baking. IMG_5403

The mac and cheese only took about an hour to bake, but goodness did I have a lot of dishes! A pot for boiling noodles, a skillet for the garlic and shallots, a pot to boil the lobster, etc. It was definitely not a one-pot meal or an easy clean-up. That said, it was out of this world delicious! It was creamy, cheesy and delightful with the sweetness of the lobster. It easily earned 4 spoons from every one of us! (As do most of our lobster dishes – I’m noticing a pattern there.) cheesy lobster pasta

The only thing I might do differently (if it wasn’t for Miss A’s consumption that is) was to add a little cayenne pepper. I think a bit of heat would have been the perfect complement to round out the dish; however, Miss A likely has a few more years before she develops a palate for spicy foods. Then again, you never know with this little firecracker!

Print this recipe: Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese

cheesy pasta

It’s amazing to think that Miss A was only two and Mr. N only six when we started this blog. Their tastes have certainly come a long way; and I have a feeling they’ll come along even more over the course of the next year. But more on that soon… siblings

Birthday Baking

Well, I didn’t realize time was going to get away from me quite to this degree! Since we last posted, Mr. N wrapped up a successful run of his play; Mike traveled to and from Poland; school ended; Nana and Papa came for a visit from Florida; the kids’ camps started and Mike and I celebrated 14 years of marriage.

Most importantly though, we had a week-long birthday celebration for Mr. N who is now in the double digits – 10 years old! (We love our birthdays!) Now admittedly I have not been in the kitchen very often through this busy stretch – at least not to cook anything worth mentioning – but a birthday was not about to go by without some homemade baking. So rather than share more highlights from our last European destination, today we’ve actually got food!

Mr. N’s birthday celebration began with a surprise birthday party with the cast of the play and a karaoke night. He was completely surprised and filled with happiness. I even got an unprompted hug and thank you for one of the greatest nights of his life! karaoke night

Next up was his actually birthday. Unfortunately this also coincided with Mike’s trip to Poland, which Mr. N did not let him forget. Admittedly it was a tough week for Mr. N. Nana and Papa returned to Florida, his show ended, daddy was around the world and school let out for the summer. That’s a lot of goodbyes (and some of them rather difficult) for a little guy within a matter of days. So we needed something to bust through the melancholy. butters

I took a few days off of work and we spent Mr. N’s birthday doing exactly what he wanted to do – playing with the neighbors. We also planned a backyard pizza party and birthday celebration for the night complete with all of his neighborhood friends. Now as is customary, Mr. N requested my Grandma’s cobbler for dessert; however, I know that not all kids are crazy about berries, so we saved the cobbler for the next day. Instead we went with our old stand by – Peanut Butter Bars. dry ingredients

We’ve been making the peanut butter bars for about four years now. They have been a hit with kids and grown-ups alike, and best of all they are easy to whip up. I will warn you though, that if you’re not a fan of peanut butter, these are not for you. I should also warn, that if you’re looking for a lower calorie dessert, these are also not for you. peanut butter mixtuer

The recipe is simple – mix together the butter, peanut butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Next incorporate the flour, salt and baking powder. Then, of course, there is also the mandatory batter sampling. batter

Now, we’re still not done with peanut butter. An entire package of peanut butter chips is also stirred into the mix. peanut butter chip

Half of the batter is then spread over the bottom of a baking dish. This part is a little tricky. As you begin to spread it doesn’t feel like it’s going to go far enough, but it has every time. peanut butter spread

Next is the kids’ favorite part – the chocolate chips! We’ve used dark chocolate and milk chocolate for this recipe and both have gone over well. For Mr. N’s birthday we used milk chocolate since it is likely to go over better with kids. Now, the original recipe on Hershey’s site uses chocolate syrup. It’s another route to go, and it makes a pretty marbled appearance, but we prefer the chips. chocolate chips

Once the chips are sprinkled over (notice I leave a little row plain for me since I’m an odd non-chocolate eater), the rest of the peanut butter mix is spread over the top. peanut butter baking

The bars bake at 350F for about 35 minutes. We usually under cook ours just a bit so that they are nice and soft and chewy. PB brownies

After the bars cool slightly, they are sliced and ready to serve. While these can be served any time, they are especially delightful straight out of the oven. Or in our case, right after a loud and energetic rendition of “Happy Birthday!” birthday boy

The dessert was a hit with most of the kids. We did have one that didn’t really like peanut butter, but we had some gelato available too (no one goes without dessert here!). The adults, on the other hand, did their fair share of devouring the little bars. peanut butter bars

Most importantly Mr. N was happy. He gave the bars 3-1/2 spoons. They still don’t come close to the cobbler though. He could barely wait to the next day to dig into that beauty. peanut butter chocolate bars

Mike and I both give the peanut butter bars 3 spoons. They are chewy and a definite peanut butter indulgence. I also like that they come together so easily and serve lots. That said, I too would rather have the cobbler. cookie bars

Miss A gives them 5 spoons (because 4 is not enough) and likes to make sure she gets a middle piece (who can blame her – they are the most chewy). chewy bars

Miss A’s favorite part of the night though – helping with clean-up. She ran around collecting crepe paper and became the “crepe paper mummy.” (Notice the cobbler cooling on the stove in the background – rather risky of me to leave that lying about with Mr. N on the prowl!) crepe paper mummy

Print this recipe: Peanut Butter Bars

It was a great party and I have to admit it was rather fun to be back in the kitchen again. Hopefully that will start to happen more often. As for the rest of Mr. N’s birthday week…well, we took a little trip to the country where we enjoyed the cobbler, then we took Grammie and BoomBoom to Mr. N’s favorite Italian restaurant because his birthday is not complete without a piece of Rose’s homemade cheesecake.

It was definitely a fun-filled (and dessert-filled) birthday week. I’d like to say that we’ll post again soon, but we have a few summer trips, another summer birthday and more camps starting up. I do have another recipe already queued up, so hopefully I’ll get that to you sooner rather than later. I think we’re also hoping to cook another dish from Poland and a few more from Spain to test our hand at a few favorites we enjoyed on our trips, but until then, I hope you are all enjoying the summer (or winter) season as much as we are right now! Cheers!