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menu ideas for a first birthday party

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Plans always change, don't they? Good thing that cooks like us are flexible! I was originally just going to have a simple afternoon cake and punch, rubber ducky-themed party for my little daughter, her tiny playmates and their moms and dads. But some family are coming from out of town and the party date and time were changed so I need to serve dinner. I want to enjoy my daughter's first birthday party and not spend the whole event in the kitchen so I need tasty make-ahead-as-much-as-possible ideas for a casual get together of adults and toddlers. DD's birthday is actually on Cinco de Mayo but the party will not be held until the next weekend. I was thinking maybe a do-it-yourself taco bar but have never done one before so some tips and tricks would be appreciated. Also any tried and true party dish recipes you might have, any rubber ducky ideas (I need punch recipes especially), or good first birthday cake recipes (I'm still undecided about the cake, not being much of a baker, but I want to make one if possible) would really help me out!
Thanks and have a spicy day,
mamma_spice

 
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  1. I think the taco bar is a great idea and easy to make in advance. Cook up a pot of beans in your slow cooker or on the stovetop. You can chop the toppings in advance, tomatoes, avocado, onions, jalapenos, olives, whatever you like.

    In lieu of a cake, what about cupcakes? Kids love hand-sized food and pretty much any recipe can be used. I am not much of a baker either. I usually use a hot-water chocolate cake recipe from the back of an old cocoa box but will confess to having used box mixes for my kids' party cakes in the past when they were less discerning.

    1. Add a pulled pork roast or chicken (both can be room temp), corn and flour tortillas (steamed in the oven or quickly warmed in a pan), chopped cilantro, limes and lemons, salsa fresca, hot sauces. For sides, make a corn salsa salad and spanish rice. The salsa can be served sold and the rice can be made in advance and rewarmed by steaming over the stove or in the microwave. If there are a lot of people coming, rent a chafing dish from a party store to keep the meats, beans, rice and tortillas warm - they are inexpensive. They layout will look very grand.

      Drinks - margaritas! Make a rubber ducky sombrero - hang mini duck around the brim.
      Ole!

      Happy eating!

      1. Thanks for your help, the event went well and everyone ate too much and had a good time! I ended up making shredded chicken, adapting an America's Test Kitchen recipe for a much bigger quantity and poached the chicken in my giant crockpot, reducing the juices into sauce on the stovetop while shredding the chicken tenderloins, then combined it all in the crockpot and used that to keep it warm during the party. I had to add a little chicken stock now and then because I was afraid that it would dry out. I made a huge pot of long grain rice in my rice cooker (and used it to keep it warm on the buffet line) and some black beans (mildly spiced because of the kiddos). I had fresh tomato salsa and my favorite homemade chimichurri sauce, another crock pot of homemade queso and all the other standard taco/burrito accompaniments like diced tomatoes, hot sauce, shredded lettuce, sour cream, etc and I bought a variety of handmade tortillas from Trader Joes (whole wheat, flour and corn) for people to make their own tacos/burritos. For party snacks I served a lite blue cheese dip and some savory toast rounds I got at my favorite bakery, chips and salsa and queso, fruit salsa and cinnamon grahams, and a veggie/fruit tray. I made a frozen watermelon lemonade punch for the nondrinkers/kids and ended up buying the cake from a bakery. I am pretty happy about that decision since baking makes me the most nervous and I got a great deal on a very tasty cake! I did spicy up the decorations on it a bit--adding tiny rubber duckies and blue sanding sugar to make it look like they were floating on water. Btw Trader Joe's new ice cream flavors are very good. I was always partial to the Double Rainbow vanilla that they carried and was upset when I noticed that they switched to their own premium version. I bought a quart of each flavor (van, choc and mint chip) and the mint chip was very popular. Baby ate tons of black beans, a little chicken, rice, queso and tortilla, and maybe a bite of the delicious cake. I think she and the other tots in attendance had fun--the adults surely did. The margaritas and Abita beer that we served didn't hurt! DH and I toured the Abita brewery just over a week ago. If you are ever in the New Orleans area, you should check it out!

        2 Replies
        1. re: mamma_spice

          Thanks for the report back - sounds like a great party!

          It's on to year two . .

          1. re: alwayscooking

            Toddlerhood here we come!
            The leftovers were great too!