Thursday, September 12, 2013

train party: recipes & links

train party
In case you were thinking of throwing a train-themed birthday party, or if you were curious about any of the elements of Nolan’s train party that I shared yesterday, here is how I put everything together:


pasta salad
Pasta Salad:
1 pound box of noodles, cooked al dente and cooled
8 ounces cubed low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup chopped green pepper
5 ounce bag Hormel pepperoni minis
can of black olives (drained, rinsed), cut in half
16 ounces Italian dressing
grated parmesan cheese for garnish
MIX WELL. Chill in the fridge.

I was THRILLED to find this Olive Garden dressing at my Walmart. It is hands-down my favorite kind of dressing, so it made the pasta salad extra-tasty.

sloppy joe recipe

Sloppy Joes:
I doubled this recipe so that I had enough for 40 buns. The Joes were delicious—and I’m not even usually a fan. I love that it’s in my dad’s handwriting…so special.

Fruit Salad:
Chop up apples, peaches, bananas, and strawberries. Add in green grapes, raspberries, and blueberries. Toss the fruit with splashes of thawed orange juice concentrate—enough to coat the fruit but not get too soupy.

orange pineapple punch

Orange Pineapple Punch:

In a punch bowl, combine a partially-thawed carton of orange sherbet (1.5 quarts), a 2-liter bottle of Sprite, and a 46-ounce can of Dole pineapple juice.

sugar cookies

These cookies started with a basic sugar cookie recipe, a Wilton train cookie cutter, and a “2” cookie cutter. My mom and I then decorated them using squeeze bottles of royal icing.

royal icing

With the food coloring, no matter how many drops I use, my colors always end up pastel (red looks pink, etc.) Does anyone know the secret to darker/bolder colors?

raspberry buttercream filling

We used Betty Crocker chocolate box mixes for the cake. Here is the raspberry buttercream filling recipe, as well as some tips on how to make a tiered cake. We put the cake together a couple hours before the party using wooden dowels and cardboard to ensure that it didn’t collapse upon itself. I was a little nervous that the cake would be too small, but it generously served our 25 guests, with leftovers even.

The orange frosting on the outside was made with two batches of this simple recipe:
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 splashes of milk

Beat all ingredients together with a hand mixer, then add food coloring.


paper pinwheels

The paper pinwheels were my favorite part of the decorations. I was inspired by this tutorial for folding paper fans on “Oh My Little Dears” blog. We stapled them (instead of hot gluing), and put them up with tape—but the bigger ones needed the strength of command strips.

paper chevrons

I made the paper chevrons for Valentine’s Day, and I couldn’t wait to try them again with Nolan’s birthday colors. I had some difficulty with the tension while sewing them, but they turned out well. I then made the garland, using the same idea. I followed the chevron pattern from the invites I designed.

train invite

I love having custom color M&Ms at parties. I buy them from the candy store at the mall.

We found this chalkboard in the attic from the previous owners. It was red/blue/green/yellow, so I decided to paint it all one color (a light aqua).


Nolan and I stumbled upon this Cherokee shirt at Target—and I couldn’t believe it had all four of the party colors in it!

I’m a little bummed that his party and all of my projects are over now. I guess I will just have to put my energy into some new crafts…or start planning next year’s party ;)


  1. Great job Rachel, his party turned out so cute! I've heard that gel/paste food coloring is supposed to have much more vibrant colors compared to traditional liquid food coloring from the grocery store.

  2. Oh, and how did you do the invitations?

  3. This is wonderful, Rachel. I LOVE that you have a recipe card from your dad - how special. As far as better coloring, use gel or paste. You can find it with cake decorating supplies. It's great for Christmas to get those really strong red and green colors. Love to you all! Aunt Evie

  4. Now you get to focus on new baby crafts!


Thank you so much for your comments! I enjoy reading each one!


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