Birthday Cook- Off

My niece is turning 10, and a lot has changed for her this year, so I wanted to make a big deal for her birthday! I gave her a surprise party and only invited a couple of the girls she hangs out with sometimes at my house. IMG_3752 I made them all chef hats, and either made or bought aprons. Here’s how to make the chef hats:

I gave the girls kitchen items…


and told them that we were going to have a cook-off! They had 45 minutes to decide what kind of chicken dish they wanted to make, including sides. They were to make their own dinner, as well as a serving to be judged. If they needed anything, I was in the kitchen to help. I had bought lots of food items, that no one ended up using, but it was impossible to know what they would want to use! It was really fun to see them running around the kitchen and doing grown up things they don’t usually do, like grilling!

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Time was running out and we still had one girl who needed to finish her food! IMG_3778At the last second, she made it to the table with her dish!

IMG_3780We labeled the food by number, so that the judges wouldn’t be biased! The judges were me, my sister and my husband. We all tasted the dishes as the kids started eating theirs. Then we judged them based on time punctuality, presentation, and taste. Taste was worth the most points! After the judges had tasted and were scoring the entrants, we let my 6 year old son pick one of the meals as his dinner. He chose the one that we had all liked the most, and which ended up winning over all. It was #1, which also happened to be the birthday girl’s dish! She mixed teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and BBQ, and it was seriously delicious! She also was done well ahead of the other contestants, although they all earned the same amount of points for being on time.

IMG_3808 IMG_3787 The judges were encouraged to give critique and it really was right up my husband’s alley! He really seemed to enjoy pretending he was on a cooking show. 

IMG_3790 IMG_3791 Once dinner was over, the girls cleaned up their mess and washed their dishes.

Then I pulled out untopped cupcakes for them to decorate and let them load them up. IMG_3796 IMG_3801 IMG_3797

We gave everyone candles for their cupcakes and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Serrabear.

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Before we ate our cupcakes, we used our energy, (and several other ingredients found below) to make ice cream!


For most of the kids, this worked, but it did take awhile. Midway through,  I also emptied the water from the bags and replaced it with more ice and salt.


We pulled out the blindfolds next for a Sweet Treats Taste Testing! We had 10 candy items per girl. They numbered their papers through 10 and then would write down their guess after I gave them each treat.

Now that they had sugar coursing crazily through their veins, we went to the living room for presents! I like to have the kids gather the gift they brought and taking turns, hand their gift to the birthday kiddo. This is when I get a picture of each guest with the birthday girl or boy.

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My sis in law (Bear’s mom) had made up little gift bags for all the girls, so after Bear opened her gifts, she was able to give gifts to all of them as well.


In conclusion, all of the kids said that they wanted to try cooking more often at home. It was something different and something cool enough for almost grown up 10 year olds. A bonus for me was that picky eaters were able to fix exactly what they liked for dinner! Knowing that my niece absolutely loved it was the best part. She said, “This party rocks! Can we do this every year?”

Ice Cream in a Bag

What You’ll Need
Ice Cubes
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or chocolate syrup)
1 pint-size ziplock bag ( I used 2, double-bagged so the salt water stays out!)
1 gallon-size ziplock bag
Any of your favorite ice cream mixins
Combine the half and half, sugar and vanilla extract in the pint-size bag. Seal the bag tightly, so that none of the liquid will leak out. The bag gets steaming cold, so have hand towels on hand for them to use to handle to bags.


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