The twins’ much anticipated shark themed birthday party finally happened this weekend! … Anticipated mostly by them, while I was mostly apprehensive about pulling it all together. I’ve been worrying for weeks about how to create a birthday party that didn’t include the usual party “crashers” like soda, processed pizza, candy, artificial colors, preservatives, and loads of sugar. Now that they’re in kindergarten and on the “party circuit” there’s a certain level of expectation to be met, and I could tell they were a little worried about whether their friends would end up with carrot sticks in their goody bags.
And, yes! There were carrot sticks! But, not in the goody bags. To go along with the shark/sea theme I made a veggie platter with a friendly octopus-pepper in a sea of hummus. I decided to keep the food simple and come up with some fun activities instead. So, I just scooped snacks into some sand buckets (organic corn chips, pretzels, and whole grain goldfish crackers), and put boats of dip in front of them (guacamole, salsa, hummus). –as you can see, the guac was a hit! For some easy finger food for the kids I made shark fin shaped “peanut butter and jellyfish” sandwiches (whole wheat bread, all natural peanut butter, All-Fruit grape spreadable fruit). For the adults, also in the shape of a shark fin, easy quesadillas (whole wheat tortillas, refried beans mixed with salsa, black beans, cheese, red pepper). And last, but probably the most fun, a shark fruit salad, and fish made out of apples and cheese slices. And, of course, cupcakes! Sugar did make an appearance here, but I felt OK knowing that the homemade cupcakes included only real ingredients – no preservatives, no artificial colors, no words I couldn’t pronounce. I tried to make blue frosting using purple cabbage juice by following a few online tutorials, but as you can see it turned out more purple-ish. For the shark fins in each cupcake I just cut fins out of silver cardstock and taped them to a toothpick. Although it turned out there was plenty of food to eat, the kids were way more interested in the activities (both planned, and unplanned!)
I bought a cheap piece of wood at Home Depot and painted a shark on it. My hubby cut out his mouth and created a stand and voila! A bean bag toss game and photo op! After the kids got their bean bags into the shark’s mouth, they moved over to “Fish for Favors!” We made some easy fishing poles by tying string with a large S-hook at the end around big pieces of bamboo from the hardware store. There were three buckets filled with water and party favors: bucket #1 – shark squirt guns, bucket #2 – plastic shark toy, bucket #3 – shark tooth necklaces. And, last but not least, “Slap the Shark”! Now for those cupcakes….Here’s an easy and delicious recipe for yellow cupcakes and vanilla icing.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1.5 cups flour (you can substitute white whole wheat flour)
- 1.5 cups cake flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper or foil liners.
- Combine all dry ingredients except sugar in medium bowl (both flours, baking powder, salt). Mix well and set aside.
- With an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 4 minutes).
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add vanilla.
- With the mixer on low speed add the dry flour ingredients, alternating with the milk, and starting and ending with the flour mixture.
- Beat until well combined and fluffy.
- Pour into cupcake pans, filling each one about 1/2 full.
- Bake for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- With an electric mixer beat together the powdered sugar,salt and butter until combined and smooth.
- Beat in the vanilla and milk adding more or less milk to desired consistency.
- Frost cupcakes (be sure the cupcakes are completely cool or the frosting will melt!)