Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Amazing Kids Party

I'm not sure how my son decided that this year he wanted to have an Amazing Race Party for his birthday.  We don't really watch the show....but I understand the general idea.  My friend Alison had and talked about an Amazing Race party for her son Andrew several years ago I did have some ideas on where to start.
Although I really tried to start the preparations far in advance, there always seems to be so much left to the last minute.  I found a great site that had printable clue sheets that you could put your own information into and that proved to be most helpful.  The biggest challenge for me was to come up with challenges that did not require someone to witness them.  In total we came up with 14 challenges which took the teams about 1 1/2 hours to complete.   I learned a lot, and would change a few things if I were to do it again, as some challenges which I thought would be quite straight forward were difficult and others were just the opposite.  I had hoped to use the YUDU screen printing machine to make special team t shirts for the kids to keep, but due to my typical last minute panic attack decided to  just use plain coloured t shirts.  By far the most entertaining challenge was the baby food challenge where the teams had to pick a member to eat a randomly selected jar of baby food ranging from strawberry dessert, to spaghetti, vegetables and meatballs.  
It appears that all flavours were texturally offensive, and the team that got the strained pears......could not finish......while the team with the pureed spaghetti managed to pull it off.  Our entire weekend was under a severe thunderstorm warning, but we lucked out with beautiful hot weather with no rain.  I had super cheap Canadian flag back packs which gave a spot for the teams to keep their clue sheets, pens and snacks while they raced.....I even found some dollar store rain ponchos....just in case.
I'm pretty sure the kids all enjoyed the party.....even though one team got stumped for over 45 minutes not being able to find the 'travelocity gnome' a little green space in the neighbourhood. 
We ended with lunch and cake, and a 'fill your own goodie bag' with selection of toys and candy.

 If anyone is wanting to host their own party and is interested in the clues we used, just let me know and I can list them here. are some of the challenges we used:
Events for the race were:1)  choose 1 team member to eat a jar of randomly chosen babyfood....there was a 50% split between dinner choices, and dessert choices  2) Choose 1 team member to eat  cookies from a tray until they find one with a gnome game piece hiding under it....we had a 24 muffin pan filled with dollar store 'oreos' with 3 of them hiding a gnome picture underneath  3) Assemble a 30 piece puzzle, flip it over to answer the question written on the back ....question was "what is the colour of the house at 1234 Carlisle Way"  4)   Challenge takes turns shooting hoops until they shoot 6 baskets.....or taking turns, roll the die until they roll 12 sixes.  5) With a riddle to lead them to the school yard....count the number of wooden butterflies on the fence, write down the school address, and count the number of swings at the school.  6) Find examples of six different kinds of trees 7)  Collect and return 50 dandelion flowers 8)  With a clue to lead them to the school garden...dig up and return with buried treasure...we had buried 20 gold toy coins in ziploc baggies in the kindergarten digging bed at the school.  9)  With a riddle to lead them to a neighbourhood green space....find the name of the gnome hiding in the woods...we had written Norman on the bottom of the gnome.  10)  Match the pictures of the Provincial flags with the names of the Provinces.....time was added to their score for each wrong answer.  11) A page of three riddles with time added for each wrong answer  12)  Count the number bricks in the garden wall.  13)  Count the number of spindles in the back deck.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rhubarb Custard Bars

Today is the last day of school here, and I wanted to send in a little something for the staff to say thank you for all their work this past year.  It has been a trying year here to say the least.  With the teacher's contract negotiations going on, normal routines were disrupted and an embarrassing lack of communication caused frustration and friction for a lot of people.  Hopefully all will be settled for the start of the new school year in September. I chose to try my second batch of Rhubarb Custard Bars.  I neglected to take a photo when I made the first batch the weekend before last for Ike's scouting group.  It was pretty well received and I had heaps more rhubarb so I thought I'd give myself another chance to take a photo.  Well I did manage to take one last night while the bottom  layers were just about to go back into the oven, but I did not get to take one with the topping layer on.  When I make it again, perhaps I'll add a finished photo for the sake of completeness.  Just so you have an idea of how it tastes......the bottom is sort of shortbreadish, with a rhubarb custard middle layer.......all topped off with a cream cheese frosting that is significantly lightened up with the addition of whipped cream.  It is definitely not low in calories........and is most definitely on my make again another photo will come along some day.
Rhubarb Custard Bars
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter

2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
7 tbsp flour
1 cup whipping cream
3 beaten eggs
5 cups rhubarb

1 (8oz package) cream cheese softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp orange extract
1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to  350F. and grease a 9X13" pan.
Cut pastry ingredients together until the size of coarse crumbs.  Press lightly into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
While the pastry bakes,  Combine sugar, nutmeg, and flour.  Whisk in cream and beaten eggs.  Fold in the rhubarb.  Pour this mixture over the baked crust and return to the oven to bake for another 40-45 minutes or until the custard is set (when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean).
Cool completely.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and extract together until smooth.  In another bowl whip the cream, and then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Spread this onto the completely cooled cake and store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jaffa Cookies

A little baking was required to fill the cookie jar for snacks and lunches.  As always, it is a bit challenging to find new recipes to try which sound interesting, and which contain no nuts so that they can be taken in the school lunchbox.  This time, I decided to try Jaffa cookies.  I love the flavour of Jaffa cookies so I decided to give these a try.  Essentially these cookies are an orange flavoured chocolate chip cookie.  If orange and chocolate is a flavour combination you like, you may well like these cookies as well. 

Jaffa Drop Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugar orange extract together.  Beat in egg.  Combine flour with baking powder and mix into creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoon onto  cookie sheet and bake at 350 F until cookies begin to become golden around the edges....about 8 minutes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Paul's Buttermilk Pikelets

What to make for a quick snack when you have neighbours popping by with kids???  I had a pan of Peanut Butter Marshmallow squares already made, but needed a little something for foodish and less dessertish.  Pikelets fit the bill....especially for little kids.  I had a bit of buttermilk needing to be used up, so I had a little internet search and found a recipe for Paul's Pikelets that called for the exact quantity of buttermilk I wanted to use up.  Now it is sheer coincidence that I realized that the Paul in the recipe is refering to the dairy company Paul's sold in Australia and not to the author of the recipe.  The recipe is quite heavy on the sugar making the Pikelets sweet enough to eat without jam or other toppings....but you try it on your own and decide for yourself if you'd like to cut back on the sugar.

Paul's Pikelets (serves 4)

1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Beat together the sugar and eggs.  Add buttermilk and beat a further minute.  Sift remaining ingredients and fold into the batter.  Try not to over mix.  Drop by spoonful onto a greased hot pan, turning to cook the second side when bubble break the surface of the batter. 
Note: if you do not have self raising flour you can mix your own by adding 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt to 1 cup of all purpose flour. Or in this recipe, as written, omit the pinch of salt, use all purpose flour instead of self raising, and add 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder.