Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just a girl and her frosting gun

My son has gone the typical route with youthful obsessions - trains (ages 1 - 3.5 years), insects (ages 3.5 - 4 years) and now dinosaurs (ages 4-6 years). When I asked what kind of party he wanted for his sixth birthday he said without hesitation, "Dinosaur Party." I decided to be one of the first in my child's age group to have a birthday party without supervising parents or siblings in tow, I could already envision the party the way I wanted it to be and then quickly realized the party it was going to have to be. I wanted everything to be dinosaurs, but then reality hits and you are just lucky to throw a few plastic dinosaurs on the cake.

Cake from 2010

About a month ago I scored a bucket full of unused party supplies at a thrift store in the dinosaur theme. I was all set for napkins, hats and a bag full of dinosaur eggs with little dino figurines inside for a treasure hunt. I also knew that last years dinosaur cake was nice and all and was a great use for my many Wilton color gels, but I had to up my game. And finally, since no parents would be here to admire my hard work I could let go of caring about details that only an adult could appreciate. Because lets be honest, all a six year old cares about are frosting amounts per slice of cake and games and pinatas.

I originally wanted to do individual molten chocolate cakes but the molten part of the cake would have to sit for about 6 hours before I served it, so that was quickly nixed. I borrowed my mom's popover pan and thought they could be passed off as a volcano if I turned them upside down. I'll admit I used a box devil's food cake mix here, but I always make my frosting. This is where I can relate to the six year old - I appreciate good frosting!

After the cakes cooled I dug a little well from the center using a fish knife (never once did I use this knife for a fish, so it was nice that I found a use for it finally). My friend from work loaned me her frosting gun and once I got the hang of this baby I wanted to inject everything! You'd like to have a pancake filled with syrup? Let me get my gun! What's that you say? The bakery gave you a doughnut with no jelly in it? Step aside while I load my frosting gun. Of all the kitchen gadgets, this one is my favorite. So I made my favorite buttercream (recipe below) and colored it deep lava red and got to work.

I thinned out a portion of the icing with a little extra milk so it would be runny and drizzled it over the top of the volcano to give it that oozing lava look. I loved the way these came out.

Lunch was simple cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into dinosaurs with our cookie cutters, a rainbow fruit salad and some Trader Joe's cheese poofs.

For games we had a treasure hunt in our tiny backyard with all those dinosaur eggs and a few Easter eggs thrown in for good measure, Fishing for Dinosaurs game where my husband took some old bamboo rods and made little fishing poles for the kids to use to pick up dinosaurs in our kiddie pool, Pin the Horn on the Triceratops, and a pinata filled with all the crap we've accumulated from previous birthday parties and their goody bags. I hate goody bags and refuse to do them, so it felt slightly mean spirited to be sending this junk back home with other kids, but we have no use for that stuff. All in all this was one of those great birthday parties that I'll certainly never forget. Every parent that came commented that these parties should be the new way of doing them, drop your kids off and get a few hours to yourself. I couldn't agree more. it was easy as long as you have a helpful spouse and have pretty much accounted for every minute that the kids are with you.

Buttercream frosting recipe

1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3 3/4 powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter for a minute or two, add the sugar, milk and vanilla till thoroughly mixed.

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