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Halloween treats: Llama Llama Griffin and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I may have mentioned that my son is coo-coo over Llama Llama Red Pajama.  What choice did I have but to make him a Llama Llama costume for his very first Halloween (he was 2 weeks old last year and too much of a blob for costumes)?

Llama Llama props

To recreate Llama Llama, I sized down the pants and button down shirt from larger patterns I had in my project books for his red flannel pajamas.  I added a flannel stuffed tail to the back (no comments on the brown wad coming from his behind, it was part of the costume!).  The PJs ended up being a bit roomy on him but not big enough for him to trip.

The booties and hat I bought on Etsy and glued on some black and white felt to create the eyes.  When we added his Llama Llama doll, the transformation was complete.  The toughest part about this costume was getting Griffin to actually wear the hat, which he tore off his head as soon as he realized it was there.  The more distractions, the longer the hat stayed in place.

There he goes!  Catch that Llama!

Llama Llama Griffin

There goes the Llama
To show off celebrate, Griffin was invited to a pre-Halloween birthday party potluck for his playmate.

My contribution to the potluck were these darling pumpkin spice whoopie pies with maple cream cheese filling.  The whoopies were moist and soft, with just enough spice and not too much pumpkin to make them overbearing, and the filling was de-lish (as anything with cream cheese is).  Plus, bonus, they’re pretty easy to make, unlike finicky macarons.  The whoopies were a party favorite, not a crumb left on the plate.  Pumpkin Spice Whoopies

[Note: I also made chocolate whoopies with marshmallow cream, but they were too scary to eat.  Well, actually, they were too dry and crumbly, a recipe disaster that still happens occasionally.  Snapped a photo anyway.  Hee.] Scary spider

Loved the accolades received from my whoopies, but Griffin’s costume made an even bigger impression, as he walked around in his hat (for the 20 minutes it stayed on his head) looking up at each guest and holding out his prized Llama Llama doll to anybody that would catch his infectious smile.  Cuteness in spades.

I always used to dread Halloween.  I was never one to try to recreate a hokey costume into something slutty for the one day out of the year where it’s required to put it on display.  But now that kids are involved, I can get into the holiday spirit the way it was when I was a kid: a cute mom-made costume, candy and treats galore, trick or treating around the neighborhood, and celebrating the arrival of Fall.  Tonight- on with the tricking and the treating!  Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

Serves 20
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Dessert

Ingredients

Whoopies

  • 1 1/2 cup Flour (All Purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg (Fresh grated is best)
  • 1 cup Brown sugar (Firmly packed, dark or light is ok)
  • 1/2 cup Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup Pumpkin puree (Canned, but fresh is best if you have time. (Roast halved pumpkin with a little butter until soft, scrape, puree in blender))
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted butter (Room temperature)

Whoopies (Optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon Allspice

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 4oz Cream cheese (Philadelphia, the brick kind)
  • 1 tablespoon Maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract ((or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped))

Note

Adapted from Browned Eyed Baker

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use parchment or silpat lined baking pans or use a whoopie pie pan sprayed with cooking spray (Crate & Barrel has a good one, while you’re there, pick up a 1 tbs sized ice cream scoop)
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and spices.
3. In your mixer, mix on low the brown sugar and oil, then add the puree, then the egg and vanilla until incorporated.
4. Add 1/2 of your flour mixture to the bowl and mix on low until just combined, then repeat with the second half. Don’t over mix.
5. Use a small 1 Tbs ice cream scoop and drop them onto your baking sheet or in your pan. Leave 1 ” in between for spread.
6. Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies just start to spring back when touched. This will give you a nice moist whoopie. Let cool in pan for 3 minutes, then remove and let cool on wire racks until room temp.
7. For the filling, cream the butter and the cream cheese together until there are no lumps. Add the powdered sugar, syrup, and vanilla and beat until smoothe, but do not overbeat.
8. Assemble cookies by piping or spooning a dollup of cream cheese filling inbetween two cookies.
9. Keep chilled until ready to use, then remove and let come to room temp for a few minutes before serving. They will keep in the fridge under plastic wrap for a few days.

 

 

 

Griffin Turns 1: A Very Llama Llama Party

My beautiful boy turned 1 year old on October 12th.  To celebrate his first amazing year we invited 40 friends and family members to the house for an outdoor party.

I chose a Llama Llama theme.  Llama what, you ask?  Llama Llama Red Pajama is Fin’s absolute favorite book.  He loves it so much, that when we passed a children’s store featuring the book in the window, he spotted it, laughed hysterically, then threw a fit as we rolled past in his stroller. That is until we took him back in the store to read him the book.  That was 4 months ago.  Since then we’ve picked up the entire Llama Llama series and read one of them every night.  It’s our ritual.

Pops

Going with the red theme, I made red brownie and cookie dough cake pops, a first for me.  Cake pops are the trendy rage these days.  They were a little trickier than I thought they’d be to make pretty, and probably looked liked they were made by my son.  But they were tasty, if not a little on the too-sweet side.  (If you want to learn how to make them I refer you to the cake pop expert, Bakerella.  I have no business giving lessons on cake pops).  I bought the cake pop stand on Etsy.

Llama Llama Cake

I also made red velvet whoopie pies with vanilla bean frosting, and purchased a Llama Llama cake that I had custom made from the talented folks at Jill’s.  I sent them a link to the book and they created the cake.  Pretty neat, eh?  Griffin instantly loved the cake when he saw Llama Llama perched on top.

I used a cake that I made in baking class that I had in the freezer as a smash cake for Griffin- because what’s a first birthday party without a little cake smashing?  For his part, Griffin was a little apprehensive at first, then dived right in once he tasted the butter cream.  We also borrowed from Korean tradition and placed a bunch of objects in front of Griffin to see which one he’d select, thus predicting his future career.  We used a harmonica (musician), book (scholar), ball (athlete), dollar bill (entrepreneur), and fishing reel (Dad’s idea…).  Apparently destined to follow in Dad’s footsteps, Griffin chose the dollar bill first, then the fishing reel, to the utter delight of the crowd.

Griffin had a fine time at his party, laughing and impressing the guests with his new walking skills.

Can you guess what costume I’m making for Griffin for Halloween???

Cake smashing

 

Recipes

Beef / Red Meat

Lamb with mint sauce

Beverages

White Sangria with Melon

Green and More Green Shake

Breads

Bagels

French Baguettes

Breakfast

1 Minute Flax Muffin

Fowl

Cassoulet / Duck Confit

Pasta

Basic Pasta Dough

Wild Boar Ragu

Pork

Sauces

Sambal Badjak Beef/Shrimp Marinade

Tarragon Pesto

Hatch Chile Cream Sauce

Tomatillo and Chili “Pesto”

Seafood

Branzino with Tarragon Pesto

Clam Bouillabaise

Gravlax: cured salmon

Grilled Salmon with Hatch Chile Cream Sauce

Halibut Fillets with Papaya Salsa

Grill Poached Halibut with Tomatillo Chili “Pesto”

Misoyaki Fish

Octopus and Duck Sausage in Tomato Wine Sauce

Poached Salmon

Spicy Tuna Poke

Sides

Haricot Vert with Red Pepper and Lardon

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Red Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Saag Paneer: spinach with Indian cheese

Sauteed Escarole

Spicy Pickled Carrots

Soups

Starters

Gravlax: cured salmon

Quiche au Fromage / Quiche Lorraine

Sweets

Black and White Cookies

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Candied Nuts

Chantilly Cream for Cream Puffs

Chocolate Souffle with Creme Anglaise

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Flourless Chocolate Torte (Passover friendly / Gluten free)

Greek Yogurt and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberry Mousse

Pate a choux: Eclair & Cream Puff Paste

Pastry Cream for Eclair Filling

Peanut Butter Cookies

Pie Crust – Flaky & Mealy

Pistachio Macarons with Quince Buttercream

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

Sacher Torte

Spiced Poached Quince

Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Pies