Friday, August 29, 2014

Layered Jell-o

My kids SO loved the rainbow Jell-o treats I made for my 4-year-old's rainbow birthday party, that I wanted to do a version of it again for my 7-year-old's cowgirl party.

I decided to just try and match the color scheme of pink and turquoise and make it more wild and random than the nice, orderly rainbow Jell-o I had done previously.
So here's what we created!

 Super fun and colorful!

Rather than make individual treats this time (I figured the kids didn't need, and wouldn't want, a whole cup with all the other treats available), I made these finger-food size--just right for stuffing one in your mouth. 

To make the layered Jell-o bite-size, I made it all in a big 9x13 baking dish then cut it and scooped it out. Some of the layers fell apart when scooping it out, but I didn't care--I wanted a big pile of jiggely Jell-o!

 You can get the whole recipe from the rainbow Jell-o post, but here it is again with the modifications for the bite-sized pink-and-turquoise style.



Layered Jell-O


For the Jello Layers:
1 3-ounce box green Jell-o
2 3-ounce boxes blue Jell-o (or 1 6-oz)
1 3-ounce box pink Jell-o (like watermelon)
1 3-ounce box dark pink Jell-o (like raspberry)
5 cups boiling water
2.5 cups cold water
For the White Layers:
3 cups milk
3/4 cup boiling water
3 envelopes Knox gelatin
18 ounces vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar


1. Get 3 bowls out to start (2 small and 1 medium). You will be mixing 1 box of Jell-o with 1 cup boiling water and ½ cup cold water. Make the pink Jell-os separately in the small bowls. To make turquoise, mix the green Jell-o with the 2 boxes of blue Jell-o in the medium bowl. To this add 3 cups of boiling water and 1 1/2 cups of cold water.

2. Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat just until it reaches a lukewarm temperature. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together 1 cup boiling water with the envelopes of Knox gelatin. Whisk together until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the warm milk, yogurt, sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until thoroughly combined and completely smooth with no lumps.

3. Pour the first color into a 9x13-inch pan and refrigerate until set (about 45 minutes but can vary depending on the temperature of your fridge and how full it is). Once it's set, very gently pour some of the yogurt mixture on top. If you want your layers to be uniform, then measure equal amounts for each layer. I wanted mine to be random, so I just poured it on, trying to make thin layers and thicker layers. Return to the refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until set. Repeat with the colors and yogurt mixture until the last color is used (you will have some mixtures leftover). When finished, refrigerate for at least another hour. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve; refrigerate leftovers. Before serving, cut the Jell-o into cubes and scoop out. It will be impossible to keep all the cubes in tact, but this recipe makes a lot, so don't worry about it. If you are serving this somewhere warm, then it helps to chill the serving plate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cowgirl Bark

As I was brainstorming (aka surfing Pinterest) for ideas for my daughter's cowgirl party
I came across some yummy-looking cowboy bark, and I thought, hmmm, I wonder if we can cowGIRL this up?

So, I swapped out the traditional chocolate for white chocolate and went from there. 

It turned out cute and yummy--nothing like sweet and salty together. 
It was like eating those white-chocolate dipped pretzels at Christmas time, only totally decked-out.

We had pretzels, white chocolate, salty peanuts, crushed berry Oreos and even of blue almond bark to go ahead and color-coordinate to the utmost. 

Also, did I mention, easy? 
I went crazy and offered more treats than I'm sure I will ever do again, BUT the were easy, so it was no biggy. 

This is one of those, there-isn't-really-a-recipe sort of things, but here's what I did:
  1. Melt yourself some white chocolate (or almond bark...whatever you are into).
  2. Pour this onto a piece of parchment paper or one of those silpat baking mats. (Have I mentioned yet how great those are? Love mine. Alas, I found out the hard way they are not good for cutting on....mine of slits in them, and yet they keep working wonderfully.)
  3. Now, chop up some salted peanuts and scatter it over the melted chocolate.
  4. Break up some pretzels and scatter them on.
  5. Break up some berry Oreos (or plain, but the pink is fun for cowgirl) and smoosh those on. 
  6. Sprinkle with some sea salt.
  7. Keep going until the whole thing is covered. Wait until it hardens, break it to chunks and voila! Cowgirl Bark!
Personally, I'm not much of a white chocolate fan. Yes, yes, I completely made this for looks alone. The cowBOY bark looks fantastic and if you really do like those white-chocolate pretzels that are so ever-present around the holidays, then you'll probably revel in this. I know my kiddos did. :) 

Go ahead, spend 10 minutes and make some for the cowgirls in your life. :)

Here is the link to the cowgirl party for other great ideas:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cowgirl Birthday Party

Yee haw!
What a fun cowgirl party we had!

This was the year of big birthday bashes around here.
Ever since my 4-year-old's rainbow party, my soon-to-be 7-year-old had been trying to come up with a party theme for herself. She was pretty convinced she was just going to do a different rainbow party (couldn't blame her there--that was one cute party). I tried different ideas on her--a luau, an art party, a scientist party, but when I suggested a cowgirl party, she immediately jumped on the idea and we had a sure winner. 

Cowgirl Mania here we come!
I wasn't too surprised really; for about a year now she has had great fun dressing up in cowgirl hats and swinging ropes around like they are lassos. 

We went with her two favorite colors and planned out all sorts of fun games and yummy treats.


Lucky for me I have Emily, who likes to design me printables whenever I need them. :) 

Here is the link for the free printables.

And lucky for me because good ol' Party Pail let me have some free stuff to decorate with. 

I was able to find everything I wanted to decorate with at Party Pail:
(have I ever mentioned how very much I like to shop online and not hunt around at stores?)

So, I got all the decor stuff, printed out the printable stuff and made a plan.

 First up: cake. 
No surprise to anyone who knows my 7-year-old, but she knew exactly what kind of cake she wanted. 
Her specifications? 
white frosting
green on top for a grass meadow 
some blue frosting for water 
real horses ("well, not REAL horses, but like toy horses" she said).

check, check and check. Not professional, but pretty darn cute by my standards (and lack of know-how).

Now we needed some party food. Can't have a good party without party food, right? 
I think this was my favorite part--coming up with cowgirl names for all the party food. :)

Here's what we got:

Lil' Doggies

On the Ranch Veggies

Giddy Up Grapes

Happy Trails Mix

Cowgirl Bark
(here's the recipe)

Pardner Popcorn

 By Jimminy! Jell-o
 ha! I crack myself up more often than is normal.
(recipe here)

 and because I just plain like treats, we decided to make the party favors be treats too. 
(no one left this party hungry)

Mosey Down Marshmallows

Yum-o! We ate lunch and played games and ate popcorn and candy while presents were opened. Then we ate even more sugar and had cake and ice cream and the Jell-o. I think the party favors were eaten before the kids got out the front door too. 
So, yeah, plenty of food. 
We had a small problem of the sun shining for the first time all week and melting most of the chocolate stuff, buuuut oh well. :)

The party games were fun too. 

We "Lassoed" a horse. 
aka, we threw embroidery hoops around a stick horse head. 
Here's the birthday girl giving it a go.

We played "There's a Snake in my Boot!"
The kids had to climb on top of the jungle gym and drop plastic snakes into one of my boots. 
If they were successful at getting the snake in the boot they were supposed to say, "There's a snake in my boot!" Most of them did with a big fat grin on their faces. 

And last but not least, we panned for gold!

A few days before the party my girls painted rocks with gold toll paint (which entertained them all afternoon I might add. "Can we do this again someday even when there isn't a party we are getting ready for?")
Then I had them go bury the "gold nuggets" in our sandbox. 
For the panning, we took a trip to the local D.I. thrift store and picked up a handful of old tin pie pans and then drilled holes in them so they could sift through the sand. 

I was also able to pick up jean skirts and cowgirl shirts for whichever of my girls needed them to round out our cowgirl attire. 

What a day. 

It was super fun to dress up like a cowgirl and do our thing. 
I loved having all of our friends come and meet each other! Neighborhood friends, church friends, school friends and friends through my husband's work. So fun. We had 14 or 15 kids there, I forget, and I can't believe how well-behaved and fun they all were. No problems at all, just having fun. cheering for each other at the games, thrilled to death to be eating so much treats and digging in the sand. It was kind of hard to believe it was over when it was. 
We finished her birthday off quietly with family gifts and a trip to iHop--she had requested we go there for her birthday MONTHS ago. easy to oblige. 

Happy Birthday to my sweet 7-year-old!
(don't you love that picture of her with her front teeth missing and her cast on?  What a great age.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DIY Apricot Fruit Leather

My kids are lovin' all the apricot fruit leather I made last week. And no wonder--it is delicious. 

We have an apricot tree, and I love having it. As I mentioned in my apricot-thyme jam post, we've been enjoying our apricots in all sorts of ways, but this is probably my kids' favorite. (Although, I think the apricot-strawberry smoothies have been divine.)

Once you know what you are doing, making fruit leather is a snap. I started doing it last year when a friend gave me a whole lot of plums from her tree, and by now I can whip it out without much thought, effort or recipe, which is nice because I often feel like my brain is too full and it's nice to just be able to do things easily. 

Want a give it a whirl? 

Here's what you need:
  • 2 cups fruit puree (blend it or food-processor it)
  • sugar? maybe? I didn't put any in the apricot fruit leather, but that plum fruit leather last year was TANGY and I'd put some in. (And a pretty good rule of thumb is, if I say it is too tangy, then for sure it is too tangy because I do like to pucker a bit when I'm eating my fruit stuffs.) 
  • cookie sheet or jelly role pan
  • parchment paper cut to fit. 

Here's what you do:
  1.  Preheat your oven to as low as you can go. Mine went to 170. When reading about how to do this, most places recommended propping it open with a wooden spoon if your oven won't go any lower than that. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. :)
  2. Put your parchment paper onto your cookie sheet.
  3. Put your pureed fruit on top of the parchment paper and spread it as evenly as possible. Make sure to stay completely on the parchment paper. Make sure and keep the edges a bit on the thick side. If the puree tapers off real thin, then the edges will get crispy before the middle is dry enough. 
  4. Now place it in the oven and let it dry out. I can't really even tell you how long--4 to 8 hours would be a good guess. It just depends on how thinly you spread it. Seems like I'm always in and out of the house when it is going, so I turn the oven off when I leave and back on when I get back. sometimes I start it at night and turn the oven off part way so it doesn't over do it in the night and then just turn it back on in the morning. It'll be done when it is no longer wet but before it gets crispy. You know, when it feels like leather. 
  5. When it is finished, I like to role it up with the parchment paper like a fruit roll-up. (I've thought about making individual-sized fruit leathers like you get at the store--just by putting dollops of puree on the parchment paper--wouldn't that be fun?). Then I place toothpicks into through the role about every 2 inches or so as shown below:

6. Then, use some clean scissors or kitchen shears and snip the fruit leather in between the toothpicks.

And now you can enjoy it! Store in an air-tight container and you are good to go. They should last quite awhile (as in months), but mine are always gobbled up pretty quick, so I wouldn't know for sure. :)

Have fun and enjoy!