Maleeya’s Minnierella 4th Birthday

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I can’t believe that Maleeya is already 4-years-old. It’s almost a month later and I’ve been slacking on my food blogging, but this was a very special birthday party catering and since I’ve blogged about each of her birthdays, I can’t stop at 3. So here is the 4th edition.

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This year Maleeya had a Minnierella (Minnie Mouse as Cinderella) themed princess birthday party for her friends at our house. My mom made Maleeya’s beautiful pink dress for her Minnierella costume and my sister decorated the house. Everyone enjoyed playing games, catching up, delicious food and togetherness and I don’t think we’ve ever had so many people in our house at one time, which was really fun. We had a special feast of Maleeya’s favorite foods for her party. I asked Maleeya what she wanted to serve at her birthday party and her list was as follows: latkes, fruit, veggies, salad, chicken, strawberries and cake. So with those directions in mind, as well as some special Vegan and Gluten Free requests, I came up with this menu and we had a blast.




Fruit Tower and Melon and Grape Platter

Fresh Vegetable Tray

Sweet Sesame Chicken Skewers

Turkey Meatballs

7-Layer Bean Dip

Pico de Gallo

Grilled Sweet Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Italian Pasta Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Bread Basket


Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate this very special little lady, or as she liked to be known that day, Minnierella. Happy fourth year of fun, love and excitement, Mighty Maleeya!




Amaya’s First Birthday Party at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym For All Kids

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A first birthday in my family is nothing to be trifled with. For Amaya’s big day, we had to do something that would keep everyone relatively cool, since August in the San Fernando Valley can get up to 100 degrees or higher. My family has taken Maleeya and Amaya to this amazing play space for a little while now, it’s called We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym and they have so many fun things to play with that allow children of all abilities to come together and be in a very safe and loving super fun space. So my sister decided that we would have Amaya’s Snow White inspired First Birthday at We Rock the Spectrum.
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The decorations were beautiful and the atmosphere was so fun. Between food, jumping on trampolines, zip lining and swinging, the kids enjoyed cake and sang happy birthday to my sweet little leo for her big party. I took some time to make a few apple inspired desserts: little Rice Krispies red apples with graham cracker stems and little green leaves and of course, red candied apples as well as a few caramel ones too. The food was inspired by kids’ favorites so it naturally lent way to finger foods.
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Everyone enjoyed themselves on this beautiful day celebrating this lovely little lady who I can’t believe is already one-year-old! Happy Birthday Amaya, Auntie loves you! I’m so glad I could be with you on your special day.
Hot Dog Cornbread Muffins with
Turkey Dog Croissants
7 Dwarf Layered Bean Dip
Fruit Platter and Veggie Platter with Purple Basil
Spinach Pinwheels with Hummus and Mortadella
Turkey Pinwheels with Cheese
Ham Pinwheels with Hummus
Mac n Cheese Bites
Mac n Cheese with Peas and Carrots  
Rice Krispies Treats Red Apples with Graham Cracker Stems
Red Candied Apples
Caramel Apples

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Two Dinners with Five Variations for Seven People

Some dinners at our table just turn into an experimental multitude of different dinner plates, especially if we have guests or if there is something my sister is craving and my brother-in-law doesn’t really prefer. I have no problem cooking different dinners for one meal every once in a while, but I think it’s really important for families to share the same meal as often as possible especially when they have children. Kids need to know that chicken nuggets and noodles are not the only things they can survive on and when we all eat the same dinner, this makes them understand that a little more.   
Please remember that not forcing children to eat what we eat is also a good way to start to introduce them to different foods. Kids have a natural inquisitiveness to variety if we allow them to understand and investigate new foods. This is something I work on with my niece very often. She may have a preference for certain things, but she still tries different foods on her good days and she’s 2 years old. So even just giving a couple of pieces of a new fruit, vegetable, protein or grain may incite inquisitiveness in our children’s taste buds and if that’s as far as we get and we try something else later, well I think that it’s progress. Sharing our good eating habits with children is so important to the modeling of their behaviors with ours, which allows them to understand that they can like and eat foods that adults like to eat as well.

So on this particular occasion my sister had a craving for pork chops. My brother-in-law does not eat pork much at all, so I had to make a different meal for him so we could have pork chops. I love pork chops, but I only need a little bit to satisfy my pork craving. They are easy to cook, have a great amount of protein and can be a very flavorful vehicle for a family friendly meal. When you pick pork chops, choose lean cuts that are cut about an inch to an inch and a half thick. If you choose pork chops thinner than this, you run the risk of having very dry pork chops, so I don’t recommend having thin chops unless you’re going to cook, serve and eat them right away; otherwise, the natural juices will dry out rather quickly. The pork chops I made were with a celery, onion and spinach cream glaze. I used parsley and rosemary to compliment the pork chops and to make a little bit of an herb crust on the outside of them.

For side dishes I always enjoy roasted cauliflower and so does my niece, so I pretty much always have roasted cauliflower in the kitchen.  I also roasted cauliflower with a little rendered pancetta, a bag of kale and some zucchini; high heat at about 400 degrees, some salt and pepper and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. It’s a fantastic side dish if anyone needs a really delicious elegant dish to add along with any protein or to add with just about anything: toss it into pasta, serve it over brown rice or just eat it alone.

Seems like these days, if I get the oven on I roast more than just one thing because it saves time, gives flavor to veggies and makes them ready to eat, if you’re not into eating the raw variety. I like using dried parsley, garlic powder and salt and pepper to season my vegetables, but mixing up the seasonings helps keep it new and fresh. Maleeya, my niece, really likes roasted vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, butternut squash and so many more; all of these are rock stars in nutrition and when you cook them this way, kids have a friendly finger food to devour. If you haven’t roasted cauliflower, you’re missing out. It’ll be your new potato chips.
My brother-in-law loves fettuccini alfredo. Pasta with cream sauce is a luxury item in this family, but every now and again I pull out the Parmesano Reggiano and we have a feast.  I knew my grandma would love to have a fettuccine as well, so I made a quick chicken stock, creamy sauce with broccoli and chicken.

So after roasting my way through the kitchen I ended up with dinner for seven people with about five different variations, all equally delicious for everyone. I’m pretty sure this is not normal, but cooking doesn’t have to be normal, sometimes we have to think outside the box and make what we really feel works and tonight I did just that.

Cheers to cooking your way in your kitchen. I hope you enjoyed my journey!