To My Boys,
Birthdays have always and will always be a giant celebration in our household. I haven’t let one of your birthdays pass without a week of events that celebrates the person that you are and the people that mean so much to you. The reason has always been plain and simple for me. We are here for a reason and in order to realize what that reason is, we must first understand how special our place in this world is. Birthdays are meant for gratitude. Birthdays are meant for self reflection. Birthdays are meant for acknowledging our identities and realizing what that means to the world. I expect you to be good people. Good people are proud of who they are and are grateful for what they have no matter how much or how little. And a celebration means getting together with others in a time of happiness. Celebrations are a blessing. And as long as I can, I will try to give you as many celebrations as I can.
This menu was for J’s sixth birthday bash. It rained. So the bouncy house was cancelled and the party was brought inside. All thirty children and all of their parents. It was an animal themed party because that has always been one of your passions. And the house became an animal house. There were no activities planned at that point other than throwing balloons. But with thirty kids- thats all you really need for a party.
I asked you what you wanted on the menu. As always, you guys get to choose your birthday menus. So this menu was thought up by J and made by me.
The Coconut Caramel Popcorn Balls were based on a popcorn ball you had earlier that was much more decked out with candies. But I decided to keep it simple since we had a lot of treats coming. Also, I had to swap out regular sugar with coconut sugar because I ran out of sugar after baking the cakes. But it worked! They were just more gooey and there’s nothing wrong with gooey.
You picked out chili for the soup course because that was quickly becoming one of your favorite meals. I made a heirloom bean chili with pumpkin cornbread to accompany it. It was really a perfect fall meal. One of our friends had about five bowls before she decided that she would just like to pack a jar and take it home.
For the salad you wanted celery and carrots with ranch dressing. This has been one of your favorite snacks for a long time so I decided to make the ranch dressing from scratch and use a yogurt base. It didn’t turn out as thick as I would have liked it to so it was really saucy. I’ve tweaked it a bit so that it turns out to more of a dip like consistency.
The entree, Mac n Cheese Bites, was a dish that I had made for one of your birthdays before. You’ve always been a fan of mac n cheese and can polish off several bowls. But I’ve made these bites for your birthdays because they’re easier to hold and run around with.
You wanted meat balls for the main dish so I went with this easy crockpot recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs. But I took it one step further and made them BBQ Meatball Sandwiches by putting the meatballs in between your favorite Hawaiian Rolls. We also went with chicken meatballs because we had several guests that didn’t eat other forms of protein so it was safe to go with chicken.
Apple Nachos broke up the meal before the desserts. It was a fun way of putting more fruits into the menu and adding yet another form of caramel- which you still love- and the little chocolate chips you and brothers like so much.
Here come the desserts! Cakes have always been plenty in our household and your request was for caramel and chocolate flavors. So I decided on two forms of cake, a cake and cupcakes, that both incorporated caramel. You wanted a lizard cake so I found these food grade lizard toys (that the dog eventually chewed up). The Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Caramel Frosting was a hit. The cake was perfectly moist and the layers of chocolate caramel frosting were perfect with it. Great choice in flavors son!
Dessert #2, Salted Caramel Cupcakes, were my favorite part of this meal. They actually weren’t too sweet and had that perfect amount of caramel that would go well with a cup of coffee (that I always seem to have in hand). They were polished off quite quickly as well as the cake. There was none to pack at the end of the party. Just the way I like it.
We had to end with a Candy Buffet. This was meant to be the goodie bag station. I have grown tired of the tiny little trinkets that are stuffed into bags that you guys eventually just leave in the car and end up in the recycling bin or garbage right after the party. If there is candy in a goodie bag that seems to be the only part you are ever interested in. So I decided that from now on, I will simply give out candy at the end of each party. I still threw in the little animals as part of the station but I have a personal affinity for miniatures and couldn’t resist getting a tub of them to hand out. A lot of the parents also walked out with mouthfuls of candy. So everyone went home happy:)
In the end, it was a great bash. You guys managed to break several items in my closet and pulled the curtains down in your bedroom. But the damage was relatively small considering we had over sixty people crammed into the house for an animal themed party. I look forward to many more celebrations son. May they always be a party to remember.