The “Everything is Awesome” Totally Amazing Lego Party!

If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 13, chances are, you’ve seen The Lego Movie and have endured enjoyed endless hours of “Everything is Awesome” being sung, hummed, whistled and generally trapped in your subconscious. My little rugrats can be found most days sprawled on the floor singing as they create masterful designs with their Legos. For my son’s 6th birthday, we went all out Lego awesomeness.

Everything Is Awesome Lego Cake - Bakerlady

Here’s the great big Lego party post including great (well, I think so anyway) free printables from me, the best cake and frosting recipe ever, and a round-up of the amazing things others have created that helped me pull of a party enjoyed by folks from ages 3-87.

Everything Is Awesome Lego Party Ideas

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Gaining Perspective on Gifts – Operation Christmas Child

Before all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season ramps up to full absurdity roar, we’ve taken a few moments as a family to put some perspective on gifts for our kids. This week, you can do the same, and bless a child in need at the same time. With the simple gift of a shoebox. Operation Christmas Child has been sending shoeboxes full of joy to kids all over the world for over 20 years. Samaritan’s Purse delivers shoebox gifts to over 100 countries. Over 113 million shoeboxes have been collected and delivered to more than 150 countries and territories since 1993.

Operation Christmas Child

My kids are 8 and 5-and-11/12ths (a very exact age for a little boy about to turn 6). They have no concept of what it is to be lacking anything. We try to broaden their world and talk about the differences between their lives and others around the globe. We read them missionary stories, they participate in Awanas and learn about kids with real needs. They donate money for a little boy in Sunday School. My sister teaches at an underprivileged school here in the US and we remind our kids how blessed they are constantly…even compared to children in our own area. Nothing has made the impact for them that packing a few gifts into shoeboxes did.

Operation Christmas Child

We shopped for shoebox stuffing gifts/toiletries/coloring items together. Browsing the aisles for the perfect items to include in our boxes. I cherished the shock on their faces when I said no to an item because it was a car decal (these kids have no cars) or book (maybe haven’t ever been to school/probably don’t read English). Recognizing kids around the world don’t have the opportunity to attend school was life changing for my own children. Processing the real conditions these kids live in thru shopping for them was a HUGE eye opener for my babies.They grew more intentional. More realistic. More aware of the thousands of gifts in their lives that they never even think about.

Operation Christmas Child

My son couldn’t get over the idea of no gifts ever. “Mommy?” he inquired as we were packing boxes back at home, “They don’t get Christmas presents, but at least they get birthday gifts…right?”. He was crestfallen when I responded with a “No buddy, probably not.”. “But”, he chimed back “they at least get cake…right?”. Recognizing the overwhelming blessing of something as simple as cake is not easy to convey to a kindergartener. Packing a shoebox did that for my son. What a gift.Operation Christmas Child

 

We finished our boxes with a special note for each child including “Merry Christmas and Jesus Loves You!”, and covered them with lots of prayers. You can donate shipping costs online and get a label you can track. My munchkins can’t wait to find out what part of the world our boxes end up in.

Operation Christmas Child

This week, there are collection drop-off locations all over the country. Take a few minutes (that’s really all it takes) to gain a little perspective before the madness of Black Friday and 24-hour sales. While we are figuring out what to give to people who already have everything they could possibly want, kids around the world are wondering where they’ll sleep tonight, what they’ll eat. With a simple gift, you can show a child in need tremendous love. W You can find out more here: Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child. If you click on the videos…have tissues handy.

*This is not a sponsored post. I don’t work for Samaritan’s Purse or have any affiliation with Operation Christmas Child beyond my own personal desire to bless needy kids and teach my children the joy of giving to others.

Cranberry Upside Down Coffeecake

Confession. I’m a giant bookworm. It’s a condition that dates back to my early childhood. My parents have time-lapse video from Christmases long past where I don’t move from the same armchair for over 10 hours. I’m a constant figure as the room buzzes with holiday activity around me. Motionless, except the occasional turning of a page. My favorite place to be is completely engrossed in a great novel, oblivious to the world passing me by. As such, it’s no great surprise that I’ve always wanted to host a book club. I was recently given the opportunity to start one with friends, and I jumped at the chance. Books and my best gals? Win-win. Bonus prizes for me include the excuse to use my grandmother’s dainty teacups, and making delicious treats for my guests. I began with this amazing cranberry upside down coffeecake.

Cranberry Upside Down Coffeecake - Bakerlady

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Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie

A mournful thick rain is pelting my office classroom playroom window tonight as I sit typing with a belly that is full and happy. Full because it’s stuffed with layers of perfectly spiced apple, buttery flaky crust and crunchy crumble topping. Happy basking in the glow of warm friendship and thankfulness. My girlfriend Rachel brought me a 15 pound box of honeycrisp apples this week fresh from the orchards of Eastern Washington – because she’s amazing and knows I love to bake with them. Just a day later, my “I-want-to-be-just-like-her” friend Jen popped by with a basket full of honeycrisps, caramels and a note of encouragement. Seriously, I completely fail in the doing-nice-things-just-because portion of friendship. These gals are rock stars who I’m incredibly blessed to know. Of course, as always happens, Jen came by as we were doing school in our PJs and I still hadn’t managed a shower. It’s good to have friends who love you in spite of your flaws. Here’s a really terrible segue about how these kinds of  friendships make me feel as giddy as kids playing in leaves on a crisp gorgeous afternoon in October. A horrible attempt to disguise the fact that I just really want to share this picture of my kids. There’s a magical two-day period of time in Washington when the leaves have fallen and the rains haven’t yet started in earnest. Every year my kids somehow know when that window has opened, and get out the rakes for an afternoon of autumn amazingness.

Autumn Amazingness - Bakerlady

With my house brimming with the best apples on the planet, ones that normally run about $5 per pound, I decided to try something I otherwise never would do. Make a pie out of them. Rachel has become my apple fairy the past couple years, and I usually make apple chips out of her bounty. We plow thru the rest of the box with ease as my go to response to “I’m hungry” becomes “eat an apple”. With the addition of Jen’s contribution, I had enough overflow to risk a pie from a very non-traditional baking apple. I’m so very glad I took a chance because honeycrisps make the best pie I’ve ever enjoyed. They are firm enough that they don’t completely break down to mush and the flavor is just scrumptious.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

First a little how-to regarding cutting apples for pie. If you have an apple-peeler-corer-slicer, feel free to use it..if you can. I find that many honeycrisps are just way too big for mine and I end up with half an apple thru and then get stuck. It’s very frustrating. It’s much easier to just cut them by hand. With this method anyway. First get a cutting board and a knife. It doesn’t even have to be a fancy paring knife. Here’s my set up with one of my steak knives.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

Peel the apple. My goal here is always to get the one long curl like in Sleepless in Seattle. My kids love watching me peel apples and seeing the twisting, twirling outter layer come off all together.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

Then cut half the apple off along one side of the core. Then the other half on the opposite side of the core. Now you should have a very flat cross-section of the apple with the core still intact as well as two almost half apple pieces.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

Now cut on either side of the core again until you have four pieces, two big, two small and the core completely removed.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

Proceed to cut each section in uniform slices. Done. Repeat.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

For this pie, I used my go to America’s Test Kitchen pie crust. It’s just the best and I love it.

The Perfect Pie Crust - Bakerlady

Dutch apple pie doesn’t have a second crust on top, instead the spiced apples are finished off with an amazing crumb topping. That’s perfect for me since one crust on the bottom (even one as flaky and delicious as this) is all I want. Gimme some of that crumb topping all day long.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

I’ve made this pie before using half tart apples (like Granny Smith) and half sweet apples (like Jonagolds or Golden Delicious) — and it’s good, but the honeycrisps are a delicious blend of tart/sweet and perfect texture all in one apple.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

I just love looking at those fabulous apples all piled upon each other swimming in sweetly spiced saucy goodness. Yum yum yum.

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

Cheers to good friends and autumn baking!

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie - Bakerlady

Print Recipe for Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie

Honeycrisp Dutch Apple Pie

1 Pie Crust (my recipe below)

Filling

4-5 honeycrisp apples peeled and sliced
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Crumble Topping

1 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter (room temperature)

Pie Crust (from America’s Test Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch
pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
and chilled
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water over flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.)

Let chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp edges. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
While crust is firming up, work on the filling.

Roll out pie crust and place in pie plate. Place all filling ingredients and apples into a large Ziploc bag and shake to mix. Pour apple mixture into pie crust. Cut crumble ingredients together with your hands and crumble over apples. I have found that it helps if my hands are fairly cold when doing this, so if you tend to have warm hands – try running them under cold water, drying them and then crumbling the topping. Bake at 375° for 40-50 minutes. Foil the edges for last 15 minutes if crust begins to brown too much.
utes. Foil the edges for last 15 minutes if crust begins to brown too much.

 

 

The World’s Greatest Cinnamon Rolls

You know what’s great? The little lip balms that look like mini eggs. Piano music on a blustery day. Smiley face stickers. Finding a ten-dollar bill in an old purse. Laughing so hard you cry a little. And most of all…cinnamon rolls. Specifically, these cinnamon rolls. The best EVER. No, I’m not kidding. They are perfection.

The World's Greatest Cinnamon Rolls - Bakerlady

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Scarecrow Crunch

Since it’s Halloween, you absolutely must have a few sweet things to munch on. Try this easy Scarecrow Crunch or as I call it for grown up parties “Tooth Decay Fodder”. It’s a perfect mix of sweet and salty with enough good (bad) stuff in there for every kind of munchie tooth!

Scarecrow Crunch - Bakerlady

Love this recipe idea? Check out more Halloween party food on my Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder post. It’s full of devilish and delicious ideas!

Print Recipe For Scarecrow Crunch

Scarecrow Crunch
adapted from Ryan Bakes

4 cups crunchy oatmeal cereal squares (such as Life cereal or Quaker Squares)
4 cups pretzel sticks
1 (24 oz.) bag candy corn
2 cups Reese’s Pieces (or 1 cup Reese’s Pieces + 1 cup peanut M&Ms)
2 (6 oz.) boxes caramel popcorn with nuts
1 bag Fritos

Mix all ingredients together in a very large bowl. Serve as desired.

Spiced Bone Chips and Apple Entrails (Apple Pie Dip and Cinnamon Chips)

NFLfemale.com

 

Deconstructed apple pie equals awesome chip and dip. This stuff tastes like the filling of an absolutely perfect apple pie. Spiced homemade chips are the perfect shovel for getting all that apple goodness into your mouth. Yuuuuuum!

Spiced Bone Chips and Apple Entrails - Bakerlady

Love this recipe idea? Check out more Halloween party food on my Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder post. It’s full of devilish and delicious ideas!

Print Recipe for Spiced Bone Chips and Apple Entrails

Spiced Bone Chips and Apple Entrails
adapted slightly from The Peach Kitchen

for the apple pie dip

2 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple
2 tbsp fresh lemon
3 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tsp water

for the chips

5 (6-inch) corn tortillas
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1½ tablespoons sugar

Directions

You can either cook this on the stove-top or the microwave.
Combine all the dip ingredients in a small pan/ microwaveable bowl except the cornstarch-water mixture.
Heat for a few minutes until it’s boiling and has extracted juice from the apple.
Add cornstarch-water mixture to the “sauce”
Put back in the microwave/stove top until boiling and the sauce has thickened.
Set aside. You can serve this warm or chilled. It doesn’t matter. It will taste delicious.
Cut tortillas into desired size. {wedges}
Put in a slightly greased baking pan.
Spray the tortillas with a canola oil spray (or you can brush with butter)
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 210º C {410ºF} until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.
Let them cool before serving and serve with the Apple Pie Dip

Mixed Booger Salad with Snot and Scabs (Twisted Chicken Caesar Salad)

This simple twist on a Caesar salad gets a hit of gag inducing grossness from the name. I’m very proud of it. It’s pasta tossed with romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and (if desired) chicken. I rip up a rotisserie and throw it in there. I leave the dressing on the side (labeled “snot) so the salad doesn’t get soggy during the party – and everyone can decide how much gooey grossness to pile on. Tee-hee!

Mixed Booger Salad with Snot and Scabs - Bakerlady

Love this recipe idea? Check out more Halloween party food on my Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder post. It’s full of devilish and delicious ideas!

Print Recipe for Twisted Caesar Salad

Twisted Chicken Caesar Salad

5 cups romaine lettuce
2 cups chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (or just use a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups penne pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
Caesar Salad dressing
Croutons (if desired)

Chop Romaine into bite sized pieces and combine with the other ingredients. Toss with the desired amount of dressing.

Witch’s Elixir (The Best Party Punch EVER)

No Halloween party would be complete without a powerful punch. This Witch’s Elixir is deadly good. You’ll need a GIANT cauldron or will need to scale down the recipe to fit it in a normal punch bowl. I recommend the cauldron, it really lends to the atmosphere of a good Halloween party. At every shindig I’ve ever made it for, the entire batch of this punch has disappeared.

Witch's Elixir (The Best Party Punch EVER) - Bakerlady

Love this recipe idea? Check out more Halloween party food on my Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder post. It’s full of devilish and delicious ideas!

Print Recipe for Witch’s Elixir

Witch’s Elixir
adapted from Festivals

4 (48-oz) cans Pineapple Juice
1 (96-oz) bottle Orange Juice
3 (2-liter) bottles Lemon-lime Soda
1 (1.75-liter) bottle Vodka
1 (1.75-liter) bottle Rum
1 (1.75-liter) bottle Coconut Rum

Mix all the ingredients well

Flayed Witches Fingers (Ham and Asparagus Roll Ups)

One of my favorite party appetizers involves pickled veggie wrapped in cheese and meat. These Flayed Witches Fingers are easy to whip together with all store-bought ingredients. I used a jar of pickled green beans I got from my mom-in-law, but you can easily use jarred asparagus from your local supermarket. Slap some softened cream cheese on deli ham and roll it around your veggie. They are sure to thrill all your ghosts and goblins!

Flayed Witches Fingers - Bakerlady

If you cut each finger into fourths and remove the gross sign, these are a great appetizer for any party. I’ve made them for football games and New Year’s Eve. They are always a big hit!

Love this recipe idea? Check out more Halloween party food on my Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder post. It’s full of devilish and delicious ideas!

Print Recipe For Flayed Witches Fingers

Flayed Witches Fingers2 (6 oz.) pkg. sliced cooked ham
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. pickled asparagus spears (or pickled green beans)
Spread each ham slice with about 1 tablespoon cream cheese. Place 1 asparagus spear along the lengthwise edge of ham slice. Roll up jellyroll style. Wrap; refrigerate until ready to serve.