the birthday boy

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Jared's 33rd birthday was a few weeks ago, and it was one of the best days we've had as a family in a long time. We decided to take it as a vacation day, keep Emma home from daycare, and just spend the day together. Little did Jared know that I'd planned out the whole day, and filled it with his very favorite foods. I also stayed up late the night before to decorate the house. Because every 33 year old guy needs a birthday banner. (Which I made with the amazing Silhouette Cameo he gave me for Christmas. Seriously, you need to get one.)

First up on the menu was bacon (of course) and homemade strawberry Pop Tarts. The bacon was delicious, as always, but the real hit was the Pop Tarts. They were sinfully good. (Definitely a special occasion breakfast, totally inappropriate for every day.) I would normally think to make this sort of thing with puff pastry, but this recipe called for refrigerated pie crust, which worked perfectly. It's the frosting that really takes them over the edge, though. They'd be a great weekend breakfast sans frosting, but what fun would that be?

Up next was Jared's guilty pleasure - Stove Top. The man could easily eat a whole box on his own, but thankfully I didn't have to witness that this birthday. I must say, it was a little strange having stuffing on a day other than Thanksgiving, but the processed goodness that is Stove Top didn't disappoint.

That afternoon we caught the "mommy and me" showing of The Muppets at the Kennedy School, where Jared got to enjoy his all time favorite snack food: movie theater popcorn with lots of butter. The Kennedy School is great because they have couches instead of theater seats, and the couches are far enough apart that we could set a blanket down in front of us and let Emma play while we watched the movie. Everybody wins.

For dinner, I went all out and made something I'd pinned for Jared many months ago - Chicken Parmesan Casserole. Jared has his own chicken parm recipe, but this claimed to be the end of regular chicken parm as we know it, and it absolutely lived up to the hype. Trust me on this one... just make it. As long as you have taste buds and like Italian food, you will not be disappointed.

And last but not least, we had Jared's favorite cupcakes for dessert - yellow box cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. In the age of fancy cupcakes with filling and piped frosting, there's something so wonderfully simple and nostalgic about these cupcakes.

And there you have it... 33 with a bang. Okay, not a bang - but a whole lot of yummy food and hopefully a great day for my better half (truly) and the best guy I know. :-) If you're trying to figure out something to do for your significant other's birthday this year, I highly recommend the whole playing hooky eating all your favorite foods approach. Jared ended up feeling special the whole day, not just when he opened his present, which is exactly what I wanted (and what he deserved!)

grill, baby, grill

The weather in Portland lately has been absolute perfection, so we've been grilling a ton.  Or should I say Jared has been grilling a ton. Did I mention he cooks dinner for us pretty much every night? Did I also mention he's the best husband ever? I did?  Well, it bears repeating after the deliciousness he cooked up this week. We have a nice arrangement really... I pin new recipes to try, and he makes them for us. Here's what he made...

  • Chicken Parm Burgers from Annie's Eats - Jared looooooves Chicken Parm, so when I saw these I knew we had to try them. They were soooooo good and easy enough for a weeknight meal. (A note about using ground meat - if you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I HIGHLY recommend getting the meat grinder attachment. We started grinding our own meat a couple years ago and it makes a huge difference. In our experience, freshly ground meat stays much juicier when cooked than store-bought ground meat.)

  • Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs from Annie's Eats - Clearly I've been a little obsessed with Annie's Eats lately, but for good reason - she makes some darn good food! And these kabobs were no exception. So juicy and flavorful. The garlic isn't too heavy if you're someone who doesn't like a ton of garlic. We had them with rice pilaf, but skipped the tzakiki sauce because Jared's not a fan (I, on the other hand, am a BIG fan). Anyway, just make 'em... you won't be disappointed.
photo courtesy of Annie's Eats
  • Ginger Soy Lime Marinated Shrimp from Bobby Flay - We usually do an herb marinade when we grill shrimp, but we were getting pretty bored with that so we set out to find another recipe that would be just as easy and just as tasty. This recipe definitely fit the bill. It may even replace the herb marinade as our go-to for shrimp. The combination of flavors was really pleasing - not too sweet, not too salty.  Just perfect, really. We'll be making these again very soon.
image courtesy of Food Network
PS... sorry for the lack of a Link Love post last Friday. Emma decided she didn't want to nap last week so I didn't get much done. She's napping in the Moby as I type this so hopefully this week will go a bit more smoothly! :)