Wednesday, November 17, 2010

real food birthday party meal

Grace's Birthday Meal

We celebrated a birthday this week. Grace is now 10. She's the third out of seven children. She's definitely a middle child! I wanted to make her a special meal to show her how much I love her. I made a whole chicken, butternut squash, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy. Yes, she loved it and so did her siblings and her best friend who stayed for the celebration. Our dessert wasn't cake and ice cream - that will be this weekend when she invites 3 friends for a small party. Instead, I made a seasonal item.  
While I was blog hopping this week, I came upon this delicious looking Pumpkin Bread Pudding over at Create With Joy that I just HAD to try. I'm glad I did!

I find that I meet a lot of women who have never cooked a whole chicken. I know when I first did it, I was a little nervous! Years ago, when those "cooking bags" were popular, I thought that it was truly the only way to make a chicken (or turkey). I didn't know any better! It's actually very simple. All I do is pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the bird, rinse it well and pat it dry. Don't forget to remove the inner packet if it has one. We give those goodies to the dog (if I don't decide to use them in my broth). I place the bird in a deep 9x13 baking dish and add as much filtered water as I possibly can. I then take extra virgin olive oil and drizzle it on top of the bird and season it with my beloved Trader Joe's Himalayan Sea Salt and Everyday Seasoning. Place it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. That's it! 

The butternut squash is really simple too. I bought a small one and cut the whole thing into 1 inch round slices. Then, I placed them on a baking sheet with a little extra virgin olive oil on each side. I then seasoned them with sea salt and more of the Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. You can season them with whatever you'd like. I baked them at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. You should bake them a little longer if you cut them any thicker. You'll know they are done when you check them with a fork and they are soft. Yes, I bake them with the skin on (you can take them off prior to baking, it's too much work for me so we do it when we're eating it) and I use the entire squash. My little kids like the eat the squash "rings". 

Baked Butternut Squash

The green beans...ha! They are just Trader Joe's Frozen Organic Green Beans. They are fabulous though. They taste like they are fresh from the garden. They are the only green beans my kids will eat (besides garden fresh). I just steam them and add a tablespoon or so of bacon grease. Yum.

My gravy was simple for this party. I used 3 cups of the broth from my baked chicken and thickened it with 2 TBSP arrowroot diluted in 2 TBSP water and poured into the broth. I also added some sea salt. Very, very simple.

Now for the dessert. I changed a few things from the original recipe to make it a little more WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) friendly. The only sugars we use in our house are grade B maple syrup, raw honey or sucanot,  so that's what I had to chose from. 

Here are the original ingredients along with my variations:

10 Cups Cubed Croissants, Toasted (I used the ends from my homemade wheat bread that I had been saving)
2 Cups – Half and Half (I used 2 cups raw milk)
1 15 Ounce Can of Pumpkin
1 to 1 ½ Cups of Firmly Packed Brown Sugar (I used 1/2 cup Sucanot, 3/4 Cup raw honey and 1 TBSP unsulphured blackstrap molasses)
1 Cup Raisins or Chopped Dates (We did not use either of these since my kids don't like raisins)
4 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon (for the spices, I just used 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice and no cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg separately)

1 Teaspoon Nutmeg 
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (I sprinkled 1/4 Cup slivered almonds on top since it was all I had


1. Preheat broiler on low, positioning the rack in the top third of the oven.

2. Cut the bread into big cubes. Broil until toasted, tossing to brown all sides.*

*I skipped this step. My bread cubes were pretty hard/stale because I'd been saving them for a few weeks in the refrigerator. 

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter

5. In a medium bowl, combine the following ingredients and stir them well:  

Dried bread cubes in baking dish pre-pumpkin mixture
  • Half and Half
  • Pumpkin
  • Brown Sugar
  • Raisins or Dates (optional)
  • Eggs
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger 
  • Pecans or Walnuts (optional)
6. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes, tossing gently to coat. Let this stand for 30 minutes. 

7. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cooking time will be impacted by the serving dish you baked it in, as follows:
  • If you use the 13 x 9 baking dish, it takes 35 to 40 minutes to bake.
  • If you use single ramekins, it takes about 25 minutes to bake.
Of course, we served ours warm with raw milk on top! It turned out very pretty - a bit darker and more brown than the original recipe's photo - I'm sure it was because of the molasses I used.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

It was a wonderful little party and we are so thankful that we had good food and good company to share it with!
Happy Birthday Grace :-)

This post is part of:
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
PennyWise Platter @ Nourishing Gourmet
Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday Gracie!!!! I cannot believe she is 10 - double digits is so cool! I love her birthday dinner - it sounds delicious!!! She was just an infant, um like yesterday wasn't she????