Monthly Archives: April 2011

Super Easy Ice Cream Cake

Yesterday I had a baby. I blinked, and then today she turned two. How did that happen?

I love two. It’s such a great age. They’re defiant, but still so darn cute. I think three is the “terrible” age. Two is darling.

Usually.

My now two-year-old has learned some new words this past week:

“chocolate eggs,” “chocolate bunny,” “jelly beans,” and “me too.”

I think “me too” is her favorite. She can be at the complete opposite end of the house, but if she senses that somebody, somewhere, is getting something good, she comes running, “Me tooooooooo!!!!!!!”

She also has a new habit. It goes something like this:

Her: My Elmo milk? (which translates to ‘May I  have some milk in my Elmo sippy cup, Mother Darling?’)

Me: Say please

Her: Peez. Water.

Me: You want water? Or milk?

Her: Yes.

Me: Water?

Her: Yes. Water. Milk.

Me: Which one?

Her: Yes. Water. Milk.

Me: Okay, I’ll get you some milk. I open the fridge and remove the milk carton.

Her: Noooooooo!!!!! Water!

Me: Okay, I’ll get you some water. I hand her the cup of water. She throws herself on the ground.

Her: Noooo!!!!!! Milk.

As I go through this exchange, I realize how ridiculous it is, but once we’re in the middle of it, I can’t seem to get out. It’s like in Spaceballs when they set the spaceship to “ludicrous speed” (because light speed is too slow): “We can’t stop! It’s too dangerous!”

See how cute two-year-olds are?

I learned how to make this cake from a family at our church with five (now grown) children. I’m guessing they made their fair share of these cakes over the years 🙂

Super Easy Ice Cream Cake

  • 1 package oreos (I use double stuff)
  • 1 1/2 quart horizontal carton ice cream (the kind that used to be a half gallon. PLEASE do not get my husband started on shrinking ice cream containers!)
  • 16-oz jar of hot fudge sauce

Directions:

  1. Remove ice cream from freezer and let soften while you work on the cookies.
  2. Using a blender or food processor (or ziploc bag & a rolling pin) mash the cookies into fine crumbs. I use the whole package, minus four cookies (one for each kid to sample… “quality control,” of course). Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  3. Remove the lid from the hot fudge sauce and place jar in microwave. Heat on high for about 40 seconds. Spoon the sauce all over the cookie crumbs and try to spread as evenly as possible. This creates a lovely chocolate-y gooey mess that would make Willy Wonka proud. Is it wrong that I wanted to scoop some up with my hands and eat it? Probably.
  4. Remove the lid from the ice cream carton. Place the carton on a large cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut the package down the four sides (see photo). Press the sides down so you just have the ice cream block sitting there.
  5. Cut the ice cream into slices about 1/2-3/4 inches thick. Honestly, I never measure, I’m just trying to give you an idea. Arrange the slices in the pan, Tetris style, and fit them as best as you can. By now the ice cream should be nice and soft and mushy. With the back of a spoon, spread the ice cream around, just a little bit, to fill in any holes and make the ice cream somewhat even.
  6. Place in freezer for four hours, or until firm.

Ice Cream container cut open

My daughter asked for an “Abby Elmo cake.” I used Wilton decorating gels. You MUST freeze the cake for AT LEAST four hours before you try to decorate with the gels. If you don’t, maybe because you were trying to hurry up and take a picture of the finished cake for your blog because tonight after cake you are going to see Dennis Miller, then the colors will run, and you will wind up with a psychedelic Abby Cadabby:

Super Easy Ice Cream Cake

I can’t stop laughing whenever I look at her! It’s okay. As long as my not-a-baby recognizes her, it’s all good.  My boys both said it still looks good. Although, they were playing Star Wars Lego on the Wii when I showed them the cake, and their answer was kind of like, “Oh, yeah, that looks good Mommy… Look out! Here comes Darth Vader!” Or something like that.

My baby is two. Sigh. Yesterday she was born, today she turns two, tomorrow she’ll be going off to college…

Eh, there’s no time to get sentimental. I must focus on the present, for as Jerry Seinfeld said: “A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”

Gotta run!

English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones

This is going to be a short post today. I have a ton of packing to do for my trip to London. I know, I know, I still didn’t receive my invitation, but I’m SURE it won’t be a problem! If Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson can do it… Right?

Of course, I suppose it would be a lot of trouble. All that packing, paying for the plane ticket, booking a hotel, making sure the kids are taken care of, finding the perfect hat…

Hmmm… maybe I’ll just watch the wedding on the couch and make tea and these:

English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones

from allrecipes.com 

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3+ tbsp orange juice

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or large fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough. (The recipe calls for 3 tbsp oj, but I find that I need more to get a workable dough- about 5-6 tbsp).
  3. Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Pat  or roll into a 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. With a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out 12 scones. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool.

    Chocolate Chip Scones

These scones are so tasty, easy to make, and have very simple ingredients, so you should make them before Friday.

If you don’t feel like making scones, you should go to Trader Joe’s and buy some. They’re yummy. I’m sure there are other places where one can buy scones, but I can’t help with that.

Aren’t they cute? I know the Royal Family isn’t perfect, and it’s largely just show, but who cares? I love a good wedding, and it’s nice to see a real life Fairy Tale unfold. 

For one day, we can put aside thoughts of his mother’s tragic end, and his creepy dad and his stepmom, who is… Oh, nevermind. Like my mother says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

So, no trip to London for me. But a date with the t.v., my jammies, and chocolate chip scones sounds just as good, really.

Enjoy the wedding 😀

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

Once upon a time there was Chocolate. Chocolate was good… VERY good, but lonely. One day she met Peanut Butter. Peanut Butter was also lonely. So he asked Chocolate out on a date. They fell in love, got married, and lived Happily Ever After. The End.

I don’t know if that’s how it happened, or if it was more like the old Reese’s commercials (“Your chocolate’s in my peanut butter” “No, your peanut butter’s in my chocolate…”) but it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that it happened.

Quick sidebar: The best thing about that commercial is that it reminds us of the good ol’ days, when girls would walk down the street with an open jar of peanut butter, eating it with their hands. You know, before the invention of spoons? And etiquette?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups peanut butter (I use creamy)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 2 11.5-oz packages milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  2. Add peanut butter and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined.
  3. Mix in powdered sugar. Mix, and mix, and mix. This is really hard. You have my permission to skip the gym today. Your arms will get quite a workout. Keep mixing. You’re not done yet. When you look at the mixture, and you think, “Eh, it’s good enough,” mix a little more. Then you’re done.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Or overnight. But beware, if you leave it in there too long it starts to evaporate. (At least I think that’s what happened. I’m sure I didn’t eat any of it while watching Modern Family).
  5. Shape mixture into egg shapes.  Return to refrigerator again for another hour-ish.
  6. Melt chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Dip each egg into the melted chocolate and coat well, then place on waxed paper. Store in refrigerator for I don’t know how long. They never lasted long enough to be a problem for me. They also freeze very well.

Makes about 45-60 2-inch eggs, depending on how much you ate while watching Modern Family.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

Mmmm… Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Arguably the greatest duo of all time.

Other contenders:

Nick & Nora-

"Well, I do believe the little woman cares." "I dont care! Its just that Im used to you, thats all." -The Thin Man

Tracy & Hepburn-

"Lawyers should never marry other lawyers. This is called in-breeding; from this comes idiot children... and other lawyers." -Adams Rib

Fred & Ginger-

"Oh, Im sorry! I didnt realize I was disturbing you. You see, every once in a while I suddenly find myself... dancing." -Top Hat

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-

"You just keep thinkin, Butch. Thats what youre good at." -Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau-

"Youre not gonna make any effort to change? This is the person youre gonna be until the day you die?" "We are what we are." -The Odd Couple

Abbott & Costello-

"Get up on your feet. Its only a dummy" "Dummy nothin. It was smart enough to scare me." -Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Nah, Chocolate and Peanut Butter still win!

Happy Easter!!

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Dressing

This was not a fish taco day.

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. when my 8-year-old daughter came into my bed, coughing, and burning up with fever. I loaded her up on Benadryl and Motrin and tried to go back to sleep. I think I succeeded around 6:00, only to be woken again at 7:00 by her little sister, angrily screaming from her crib, “MOM-MEEEEE!!!!” as if she could sense that someone else was getting a little more than their fair share of my attention.

Then the boys woke up and set off on their first fishing trip of trout season. So me and the girls planted ourselves on the couch and watched Lady and the Tramp. Then we watched The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 (thanks to my sister, who made an emergency “Princess movie” run to my house with the DVDs once she heard there were no boys here).

Yeah, we sat on our butts all morning and watched three movies. The oldest didn’t move, the youngest didn’t sit still, and I shamefully sat there for most of it, getting up occasionally to take care of the laundry.

Then the boys came home and I went grocery shopping. And it started to pour. And pour. And pour. I’m talking Noah and the ark-type rain. I almost drowned. Okay, I’m totally exaggerating. But I did get very wet.

This is way more than you need to know. Let me just sum up by saying:

Sick kid + movie/pajama day + buckets of rain = grilled cheese and tomato soup.

NOT fish tacos.

But we had fish tacos anyway.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Dressing

  • 1 1/2 lbs cod fillets
  • juice of 2 limes (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 6 small flour tortillas
  • 1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, cut into very thin strips
  • 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • more fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Place fish fillets in a large ziploc bag. Add juice of 1 lime, zest, cilantro, and jalapeno. Close bag and place in refrigerator to marinate for about an hour.
  2. Preheat broiler. Remove fish from bag and place on a baking dish or broiling pan and broil for about 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  3. While fish is cooking, make the dressing. Combine the sour cream, juice of 1/2 lime, and chipotle chili powder. Set aside.
  4. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spread about 1-2 tsp (according to taste) dressing in the center of each tortilla. Break fish up into small pieces and divide evenly between tacos. Sprinkle with a little bit of remaining lime juice. Top with peppers, onion, avocado, and fresh cilantro.

Fish Tacos

Don Corleone said he loved these tacos. He said, “From now on when I go fishing, I’ll just hold up a tortilla and hope a fish jumps into it.”

The rest of The Critics were not as enthusiastic. Batman and Curious George each had one bite and said they didn’t like it. Elmo had one bite and said she did, but I think she was just trying to get more chips from me. I didn’t make Sarah Crewe taste it, since she didn’t eat anything besides Jell-o all day.

I made the kids chicken nuggets, because that’s just the kind of mom I am.

Actually it’s because sick kid + movie/pajama day + buckets of rain + lack of sleep = A mom who doesn’t feel like fighting with the kids over dinner.

Not to go off on a tangent, but my original post was going to be about Sidney Lumet, who passed away last week. But as I was going through his filmography, I realized that many of the movies he directed were ones that I wanted to see but never really got around to it. With the exception of 12 Angry Men, which is awesome.

We rented Network a few weeks ago, but I lost interest after about 30 seconds. My husband, after about 20 minutes, was kind enough to turn it off and put on an old 1980’s Saturday Night Live episode instead. Love that Church Lady.

So, yes… instead of writing about Sidney Lumet, I chose to write about The Princess Diaries. I said this blog would be about movies, I never said they’d be good ones.

Actually, I’m kidding. The Princess Diaries is really a very cute movie. It’s clean, (I think “shut up” is the worst thing spoken) and the teens are refreshingly NOT disrespectful and rude to their elders. And my 8-year-old daughter loved it.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of royalty… I’m getting a little concerned that my invitation to Will & Kate’s wedding hasn’t arrived yet. I’m sure it has just gotten lost in the mail… after all, these things do happen. But, tell me, would it be bad form for me to just show up? Surely the royal family won’t mind… right?

Hello?

Fine, be that way. No Official Commemorative William & Kate Royal Bobbleheads for you, then!

Chicken Soup with Noodles or Matzo Balls

I know what you’re thinking.

‘Haven’t I heard you talk about observing the season of Lent? Now you’re making chicken soup? What does a goyim know about cooking Jewish penicillin?’

Well, don’t worry. I’m only half goyim. The nice Jewish girl half of me will be doing the cooking today. The shikse is taking a nap.

There are as many recipes for chicken soup out there as there are Bubbyes who make them. But no matter what recipe you use, nothing beats a bowl of nice, hot chicken soup, whether you’re sick or not.

Chicken Soup with Noodles or Matzo Balls

  • 1 whole 4-5 lb chicken
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into large chunks, or handful of baby carrots
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 rounded tsp chicken bouillon
  • noodles or matzo balls (see recipe for details)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • large handful chopped, fresh dill

Directions:

  1. Put chicken in a large stockpot and just cover with water. Add next 4 ingredients. I also like to sprinkle a bit of thyme and sage in there (or poultry seasoning), but that’s optional. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours, occasionally skimming the fat off the top.
  2. Make the matzo balls, if using (see below).
  3. Strain the broth. Set the chicken aside to cool.
  4. Bring broth to a boil and add chopped onions, carrots, celery, and seasonings (bay leaf through bouillon). Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Add noodles, if using. My husband likes a lot of noodles, so I add about 2-3 cups of wide egg noodles. Cook for about 15 minutes, until noodles are done.
  6. Remove from heat. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick off the meat and add to the soup. I usually add about 2 cups of the chicken and then put the rest in the freezer to use for another soup recipe later.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste, and fresh dill. I do 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp kosher salt.
Chicken Noodle Soup

Personally, I prefer matzo balls. The noodles just don’t stay on my spoon, and then they’re sloppy. I usually just make a big pot of chicken soup and freeze it in batches. Then on the day I’m serving it I’ll add either noodles or matzo balls, depending on my mood, or which sick person I’m making it for, and their preference.

This is my mom’s (Bubbye’s) matzo ball recipe:

Bubbye’s Matzo Balls

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  1. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  2. Beat yolks, then fold into egg whites. Fold in matzo meal 1 spoonful at a time. Add salt, pepper, and melted butter. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Form matzo mixture into balls (remember that they will grow as they cook). Drop into boiling water. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.

Matzo Ball Soup

We were having matzo ball soup the day I asked The Critics what they thought. Here’s what they said:

Batman: Mommy, I LOVE this soup!

Sarah Crewe: It’s good!

Curious George: Matzo ball soup is my favorite! He then ate only the matzo balls, and cried when I said he had to eat the veggies, too. He said: If I have to eat the carrots, then I don’t like it.

Elmo ate at least 3 bowls

Don Corleone: This is really good!

And finally, I leave you with the old blind man/soup scene in Young Frankenstein. Two of my Critics watched this clip with me. I was cracking up, while they kept saying, “Why is it so funny? I don’t understand…”

My 6-year-old always says, “Grownups think weird things are funny.”

Yeah, right back atcha, kiddo!

Overnight Challah French Toast

Hi there!

I had no intention of blogging today. But I made the most amazing breakfast this morning, and I just had to tell you about it. I saved you some. But if you don’t get here in the next two hours, it’s going to become an after-school snack for The Critics.

First of all, let me just say that I don’t like french toast. I have a thing about soggy bread. It’s the same thing that keeps me from eating hot turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving. But for some reason, I am obsessed with french toast recipes. I think I just want so badly to like it. It sounds so yummy. Sometimes I read a recipe, like boozy baked french toast from smitten kitchen, and I get so excited… until I remember that I just don’t like french toast.

I could, of course, take my sister’s suggestion and try the boozy french toast… but hold the french toast!

So I made challah bread the other day, and decided to try this recipe from Tammy. It appealed to me because of the crumb and berry topping. And because french toast recipes appeal to me, in general.

Overnight Challah French Toast

from Tammy’s Recipes

  • 1/2 of a large challah loaf, torn into large chunks (about 12 cups)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used blueberries)

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place torn bread in a layer (dish should be 3/4 full).
  2. Lightly beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the milk. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients (except berries) in a bowl and cut together (I use two butter knives) until a coarse crumb mixture forms. Cover and refrigerate until morning.
  4. In the morning, stir the bread mixture in the baking dish and smooth out into one layer again. Sprinkle fruit over the top and the crumb topping over the fruit.
  5. Bake at 375º for about 55-60 minutes, until center is set. No need for syrup (unless you want it)!

The Critics came floating downstairs this morning, with their noses leading the way, like a cartoon. It smelled soooo good! And they loved it:

Sarah Crewe: This is delicious galore!

Batman: This is delicious galore, plus 100 stars!

Curious George: It’s hot, but good.

Elmo: Yes. My bread.

Don Corleone: This is pretty super awesome!

And you know what? I ate some, too. At least the parts that weren’t too soggy. The crusty pieces of bread with the berries and crumb topping were divine!

Challah French Toast

I’m sorry I don’t have any movie pictures today, but, like I said, this was kind of an impromptu post.

I was going to share a picture that my 8-year-old did, titled: “The American Girls versus The Clone Wars.” But my scanner won’t listen to me. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt it. At least not while you’re watching.

So instead here’s a great Steven Wright line:

“I was at this restaurant. The sign said ‘Breakfast Anytime.’ So I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance.”

Yuck, yuck, yuck 😀

Have a great day 😀

Broiled Tilapia with Pesto

April is here, and you know what they say- April Showers Make People Grumpy.

Wait, that’s not it.

"Little bitty stinging rain..." -Forrest Gump

Yesterday God played an April Fool’s joke on us and made it snow. Or, as we used to say when we were kids, He pushed the wrong button.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

What is it about kissing in the rain that’s so great?

Spider-Man

Have I ever had a romantic kiss in the rain? Hmmm… I’ve had a gazebo kiss…

Well, if there is a rain-soaked lip-lock in my past, it obviously wasn’t very memorable.

Kissing in the rain...John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara in "The Quiet Man"

The Quiet Man

That’s it. Next time it rains, I’m dragging my husband outside for a kiss.

Eh. Nevermind. Then we’d get all wet, and have to change our clothes, and dry my hair, and the kids would wonder what we’re doing, and they’d want to come out to play in the rain, too, and then I’d have to change their clothes, and it really would just be a big pain in the butt.

We’ve been married 13 years, we have nothing to prove! Indoor kissing will be just fine!

"You boys better move away." -Unforgiven

"All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain..." -Blade Runner

Broiled Tilapia with Pesto

Directions:

Take some tilapia. Broil it. Top with pesto.

Okay, calm down! I’ll walk you through this.

Place tilapia (not frozen) in a baking dish. I used a little under 2 lbs, which was way too much for my family of bird-like eaters. You can sprinkle some seasonings on if you like. I used lemon-pepper seasoning. Broil for 5-10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with pesto.

Voila!

Broiled Tilapia with Pesto

I also served couscous and string beans. The beans were a daring move, considering what happened earlier in the week when I told my 4-year-old he had to eat his string beans before he got up from the table. Let’s just say that string beans look better going in than they do coming out.

Ewww. Sorry about that. Here’s what the critics thought:

Sarah Crewe: I don’t really like it.

Batman: This is delicious!

Curious George: It’s good, Mommy. I like it.

Elmo ate lots of pesto. And couscous. And tasted the fish but didn’t seem too impressed.

Don Corleone was sulking a bit because I didn’t let him fry the fish in his “Daddy Fryer,” (what the kids call his “Fry Daddy”), but he did say it tasted delicious.

 

"Just one last thing, and then it's done." -Road to Perdition

If you ever make a movie, you should definitely include a rain scene. Rain makes everything better- kissing, killing,

Kelly…

"I'm laughing at clouds, so dark up above..." -Singing in the Rain

And it does, indeed, Bring May Flowers!