Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Birthday to.... ME!

DAD to me: Another year "buffal-older"

I LOVE LOVE LOVE birthdays. This year, I decided to throw myself a party. It was so much fun! I invited family, friends and my students! We had an island of food including TWO carrot cakes and ONE chocolate cake. Yep. THREE cakes. I went easy on myself for the party and used Famous Daves for the meat: BBQ Pulled Chicken! All I had to do was chop up the veggies and fruit and make a few dips and baked beans!

Any excuse to make Guacamole... I've read recipes where people sub out some of avocado for peas! I've never tried it, but some people seem to really enjoy it. Plus, avocados are high in fat, a really good fat, but its still fat. So, anything to lighten it up is awesome in my book. Maybe next time, I'll add the peas... MAYBE
This is my favorite Guacamole Recipe:

4 Avocados
2 Jalapeno
1 Small Red Onion, small dice
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
2 (or more - use more) Garlic Cloves, pressed/grated/minced
2-3 Limes, juiced

Mash the avocado. I use a potato masher and mash it on a plate. It doesn't need to be smooth, leave it a little chunky. If you don't like your guac spicy - remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno. When I'm not making it for a party, I do half and half. One pepper with the seeds and ribs and one without. Add peppers, onion, cilantro, and garlic to the avocado. Add the lime juice a little at a time and taste for flavor. I like a strong lime flavor and used the juice of 3 limes. Season with salt to taste. I like to make it ahead of the party several hours to let the flavors incorporate.

I also made a charred corn, red pepper, onion and chipotle salsa. I take no credit for this as it was right out of my bon appetit magazine. But it was soooo easy and soooo good. I husked 3 ears of corn, quartered 3 red bell peppers, and trimmed 1 bunch of green onions. Then I brushed some olive oil on and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I had the grill on high, and grilled the veggies until they were pretty well charred. The corn and peppers took the longest, obviously. After they came off the grill and slightly cooled, I cut the corn off the cob and chopped up the charred vegetables. Finally I added some lime, lime zest, garlic, and salt. The recipe also called for a tablespoon or so of a chipotle hot sauce. But I think I would have preferred to char up some jalapeno peppers and used them instead. The recipe says this salsa keeps all week and goes great on top of fish, chicken and burgers. But it also goes really well with tortilla chips! :-)

This is about HALF the food we had. The other half took up the other counters.

The other half of the buffet which spilled on to the back counters.

Two of my rock stars, Rachael and Ashley were the life of the party!

These kids are so much fun! (And no, I didn't give Will the black eye.)

Towards the end of the party, I realized I had prepared a low(er) fat version of a five layer dip. But I had stored it in the downstairs fridge and forgotten to set it out on the table. It was recipe straight from by Ellie Krieger, a celebrity chef/nutritionist. It was very yummy and made for a great midnight snack.

Five Layer Mexican Dip

Five Layer Dip (Laura's Favorite!)


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I would use WAY more garlic than this.)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo (Next time, I would skip this and add jalapeno, roughly chopped or two to the onion garlic mixture.)
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I salted each layer of the dip.)
  • 2 cups corn kernels (10-ounce box frozen corn)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion (I used a small red onion.)
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeno pepper, optional
  • 3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions (and jalapeno, if using) and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

Put half of the onion (and all the jalapenos) mixture into a food processor with the black beans, chipotle pepper (optional), 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, cumin, water and salt. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Add the corn to the skillet with the remaining onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro leaves. (Add a pinch of salt.)

In a small bowl mash the avocado with the remaining lime juice. (Add a pinch of salt.) In a medium bowl toss together the tomatoes, scallion and jalapeno, if using. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the black bean dip into the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass baking or serving dish. Top with the corn mixture, spreading it out to form a single layer over the beans, repeat with the avocado, then the tomatoes. Top with cheese. Serve with baked chips.

Per Serving:

Makes 12 servings. Calories 140; Total Fat 8 g; (Sat Fat 2 g, Mono Fat 3 g, Poly Fat 0.7 g) ; Protein 5g; Carb 16 g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 6mg; Sodium 245 mg

I have a wonderful family! My uncle Sean brought his guitar and it didn't take long to whip it out and start singing.
Katelin, my cousin, made my birthday card by hand and even included a lovely rap.
"Got them yellows, got them purples... wika wika wika"

Laura, my wonderful and talented student, made me this candle!
She'd like you all to know she's fundraising for her junior year abroad and you too can have one of these candles!

I had a wonderful and memorable night! I really wish I could have posted the recipe for the best Carrot Cake in the world, but Carrie Fischer, the local expert baker, will only tell me her secret ingredient is carrot baby food.

Happy Birthday to ME! It was truly the best year ever.