Birthday Impossible! Spane’s 7th Birthday Party

Bonnie and Charley took Spane and I out to the movies on Saturday night, November 20, 2010 to see Megamind and have dinner at Olive Garden.  Olive Garden’s wait was an hour and a half!  So, we decided to go to Outback instead.  It was a fine dinner, much better than I think Olive Garden would have been.  But, we did not get home until after 10pm, so doing any of dishes mentioned in the Spane’s Birthday – The Prep was impossible.  How in the world was I going to have everything cooked and ready to go by 2:00pm when the party was supposed to start?

Lotus Organizer to the rescue – thank you forever, Adel, for hammering this into my head.  I sat down Saturday night and planned the schedule for the next morning.  It was tight, and below is a picture of my schedule:


5:45 – Get up

I got up at 5:45 and got going on the schedule.  The first thing was to put the beans on for its soak.  Wait! Not soak beans over night?  According to the U.S. Dry Bean Council

Preferred Hot Soak and Quick Soak Methods — Hot soaking helps dissolve some of the gas-causing substances, making the beans easier to digest. For each pound beans, add 10 cups hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour (Quick Soak), or up to 4 hours (Hot Soak).

I also removed the chili grind beef from the freezer and put the stew meat and pork chops in the freezer so they would be easier to chop up later.  Partially frozen meat cuts a lot better.  It only has to be in the freezer for about an hour or so.

The next thing I did was pour myself a cup of coffee left over from the day before.  Yes, I drink left over coffee.  Coffee does not spoil for a long time – it’s too acidic.

When the coffee had woken me up a little, I floundered around until I found my glasses.  I’m not sure how I got the stuff done before I had my glasses on, but I did.

7:00 – Begin Prep for Spinach Balls

Chopping onions for the Spinach Balls and Chili.  Amber started working on the tablescape – this birthday’s theme – Thomas the Tank Engine.

7:30 – Prepare Chili

The meats were sufficiently hard to cut up.  I cut up the beef stewing meat and the pork chops.

8:00 – Make first cake – Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

Had all the ingredients together, mixed the cake and put it in the oven to bake.  Ezekiel got the bowl.

8:30 – Make Spinach Balls

Asked the children if they wanted to help making the Spinach Balls. Ezekiel and Spane were my biggest helpers.  Noelle said she didn’t like the way they felt, so she just made a small one.

9:00 – Put on Chili and Spinach Balls

Sautéed onions in bacon fat, and added chili mix, meats, soaked beans and water.  Removed the first cake from the oven and set to cool.  Put spinach balls in the oven..


  • Bag Dried New Mexico chili
  • Bag Dried Pasilla chili
  • Bag Dried California chili
  • Bag Dried Cumin

Be careful doing this.  Those chili pack a punch.  As the cook, you will be fine, but it’s a good idea to tell anyone downwind to leave for about 20 minutes.  I didn’t realize that until it was too late, and Amber and the kids eyes were watering and choking from the cooking dried chilies.

9:30  – Make second cake – Grapefruit Birthday Cake

Amber did not have a spring form pan, so I just put the eggs in like I would a regular cake.  Mistake!  There was hardly any batter to split between the two pans, so we had very short layers for that cake.

10:00 – Make vegetable plate and Stuffed Celery

I cut the mushrooms in half and the celery sticks in quarters.  I had purchased mini carrots, and they were perfect.

The stuffed celery was a recipe from Saveur magazine, originally from my favorite restaurant, Musso and Frank in Hollywood.


10:30 – Frost Chocolate Cake

I love this frosting.  It’s so easy, and I found out if comes out better using a whisk than using a beater!  When I went to remove the wax paper from the bottom of the plate, the cake was so moist it broke apart!  Chocolate Jimmies to the rescue, though.  Spane thought it would look great with an invitation stuck in the top.  He was right!


11:00 – Frost Grapefruit Cake

Even though the layers were short, the cake turned out lovely.  I used a lot of the frosting for filling, put grapefruit sections on top, and decorated the plate with purple and green sugars.


11:30 – Make Ham Rolls

I made the ham rolls, and put them on a plate garnished with parsley,  Then we put a bowl of ripe olives in the middle for those who were a little afraid of the spiciness.

Recipe: Spicy Ham Rolls


  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 package of 8 slices of smoked ham (not honey ham)
  • 1 can chopped jalapeños


  1. Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Knead it while still in its pouch to make it more malleable.
  2. Mix the jalapeños and cream cheese together.
  3. Put some of the cream cheese mixture on the top of a slice of ham.
  4. Roll the slice of ham away from you.
  5. Cut the ham roll in three and put on a nice platter. Do this with the remaining cheese and ham.

Quick notes

You can use fresh peppers, but the canned ones are more convenient.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 8

Culinary tradition: USA (Southwestern)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Copyright © The Good Plate.
Recipe by Adrienne Boswell.
Microformatting by hRecipe.



12:00 – Take a shower and dye hair

Well, I didn’t have time to dye my hair, but I did have time to take a shower and get dressed.

12:30 – Make Sweet Corn Bread

Usually, I make muffins, but running out of time by now, it was regular corn bread.  Yum!

1:00 – Final Tablescapepartystarting

The kids did a great job helping Amber put up her wonderful idea for a tablescape.  The theme was Thomas the Tank Engine, as Spane really loves trains.  She used his plastic train tracks from child care that Maria Torres had given us years ago, and placed trains along the tracks.  She also put up a picture of Thomas on an easel on the table.


Noelle put on her party wig, and she and Spane took a picture by the lovely table.

1:30 – Spane takes his shower

Spane just did not look right for his party, so I asked his father, Douglas, to get him some clothes and supervise him while he took a shower.  He was ready just in time for the party.

2:00 – Party starts – RIGHT ON TIME

candleslitThe party was a big success.  Spane got a bike from his father, a bear from Amber, a book from Noelle, Play Dough from Lillian, a puzzle from the BVM Sisters, a book from Laura, and Dreambox from me.

Check out the photos on Spane’s 7th Birthday Party Album.

Spane’s Birthday – The Prep

Spane on November 15, 2010 at the camera store

Recipes in this post

Spane’s birthday is tomorrow, November 21, 2010.  He is going to be 7 years old!  So, like every birthday there is the preparation for the party.  This year will be the first one where he gave out invitations.

Originally, we were going to have the party at Carr Park, but since it is supposed to rain, Amber volunteered to host the party at her house.  That meant sending out notices to everyone to let them know about the change of venue.  I hope everyone will make it.

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The Day is Coming Soon….Part 1 – Brine, Refrigerator Rolls, Croutons

What happened here?!

Recipes in the post

The BIG DAY is coming soon. For me, this is the biggest day of the year. Why?
1. It’s right after my son’s birthday, once only ONE day after
2. It’s right before or on Spane’s Dad’s birthday
3. It’s the first of the holidays where family and friends get together
4. It’s right before Advent
5. It’s the day that everyone expects to have really good food
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Friday Food on a Saturday? Salmon in a foil pouch

Recipes in this post

642_Salmon En PapierI haven’t been sticking to my Friday night fish routine lately, but on Thursday, I really had a craving for fish. Friday night, Amber and I walked over to the local supermarket and I looked for some interesting fish.

I won’t eat the farm raised salmon.  The first time I saw that it had dye in it, I asked the butcher why it had dye in it, and he shrugged his shoulders.  Of course, that meant I had to do some research and what I found out turned me against farm raised salmon forever.  The following caught my eye:

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Chicken and Rice for Company?

Kitchen Helpers, Miss Noelle on Service, Sous Chef Ezekiel on Vegetables, and Sous Sous Chef Spane on Stirring

Kitchen Helpers, Miss Noelle on Service, Sous Chef Ezekiel on Vegetables, and Yoeman Spane on Stirring

I really like Beef Wellington, but the cost of fillet mignon is rather prohibitive, unless you have a deal with your butcher.  How about chicken?  That’s inexpensive!

One of my favorite things is the Baked Ham and Cheese Croissant at Porto’s in Glendale. 

There’s an idea, make a Wellington with chicken, ham and Swiss!  That’s exactly what I did, and it turned out great. 

This would make a great dish to serve for company.  As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I made the dish was to celebrate a small victory for my friends, Amber and Stevie. But, don’t wait for company to make these dishes.  They are very easy to make. 

For those who are frightened of “fancy” foods, just tell them you made Hot Pockets,  You could also make a mustard mayonnaise sauce to serve on the side, if you wished.

You can get the recipe below or save it in your Big Oven at http:/

Chicken Cordon Bleu a la Wellington


4 Chicken breast flattened
1 tablespoon Butter
1 cup Mushroom chopped
1 Shallot chopped
1 tablespoon Dry sherry
4 Ham slices
4 slices Swiss Cheese
2 boxes Puff Pastry


Flatten the chicken breasts nicely. Set aside.
Melt butter in a pan and add the shallots. Sauté until they are translucent, then add the mushrooms. Add the sherry and sauté all together until the mushrooms are soft. Set aside.
Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise. Remove the puff pastry from its package, and cut each sheet in half lengthwise.
Lay a chicken breast half on each pastry, then top with a half slice of ham, and a half slice of cheese. Put a few teaspoons of mushroom mixture on top of the cheese.
Starting from the top, roll the pastry over the chicken mixture towards you. Tuck the ends under, then seal and crimp the sides and edges. Make a small slit on the top to allow steam to escape.
Repeat for remaining pieces.
Place on a baking sheet with sides, or a large pan. You could brush the pastries with egg wash at this time if you want.
Put in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 200 degrees.

Rice a Roni Reconstructed at BigOven

Don’t like preservatives or chemicals in processed foods? This is a really easy way to make the famous side dish.


2 cups Jasmine Rice
1 cup Orzo
1 tablespoon Dehydrated Onion
1 tablespoon Chicken base
1 tablespoon Butter
4 1/2 cup Water
1 teaspoon Parsley dried
1/2 teaspoon Oregano dried
1/2 pinch Saffron


Melt the butter in a 4 quart sauce pan. Add the onion, pasta and rice.
Sauté until the rice begins to slighly brown. Add the chicken base, water, parsley, oregano and saffron. There is no need for salt as the chicken base is salty enough.
Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed. Fluff and serve.

Fancy Green Beans – BigOven

This is a great dish that’s really quick and easy, yet looks nice enough for company.


1 bag Frozen green beans
1/4 cup Cashews chopped
1/4 cup Sweet bell peppers
1 tablespoon Butter


Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the green beans, cashews and bell peppers. Stir fry until the beans are cooked through, but not mushy.