It’s All About Me

This is going to be a very self-indulgent post today. The first reason is because it’s My Birthday! Yippy-Skippy!

That’s right, I share my big day with Ralph Macchio, Markie Post, and Uncle Bob (of the Uncle Bob Special… I’ll explain in another post sometime).

The second reason is because my awesome new blogger friend Christy, over at The Daily Dish, has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award! I’m so honored  🙂 But with this award comes GREAT responsibility.

For one thing, I have to tell you seven facts about myself. I find this very difficult, actually, but here goes…

1. I play the oboe. I majored in music in college, and I was a music teacher before I had kids. But now I play the oboe in a small community orchestra that I just love.

2. I love Bugs Bunny. Those old cartoons (not the new Looney Toons that are on tv now) are genius. And I love how much my kids love them, too.

3. Remember Janice from The Muppet Show? When I was a kid I was afraid of her. I had a Janice doll, and I used to have bad dreams about her. One night I woke up from a bad dream and I took the doll and threw it out the window. The next morning, I was afraid I would get in trouble, so I quickly ran outside to get her.

Interesting sidebar, that’s the first time I discovered dew.

4. Speaking of bad dreams, I have two recurring nightmares. One is that I’m required, as an adult, to take a gym class. If you know me at all, you can see why this would be a nightmare. I never liked phys. ed.

The second dream is that I walk outside of my house, look up in the sky, and see an airplane falling out of the sky, not that far away. I really, really don’t like that dream.

5. I hate pancakes. I realize I might be the only person in the world that hates pancakes, but it’s true. I enjoy making them for my family, I just don’t like eating them.

6. I love the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It is the story of how she, her father, and her sister were imprisoned for hiding Jews in a secret room in their house in the Netherlands during World War II. It is an amazing story of faith and courage, and I read it about once a year, or whenever I start to feel “boo-hoo, my life is so hard” and I need a good kick in the pants.

THE HIDING PLACE

7. I love Velveeta cheese on saltines. Yeah, yeah, I know. Shut up.

Kraft Velveeta Cheese, 32 oz

So there you have it. Exciting, right?

(It’s my birthday, so you have to say yes)

But enough about me, how are you doing?

Just kidding, it’s not enough about me yet. It’s still my birthday.

But, the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award state that I must now pass on the award to five other deserving blogs. So here goes.

The Candid Parent So refreshingly honest and funny and well, candid. She has a daughter about the same age as my Elmo, so I can relate to her stories & I love her tweets.

Tales of Cheerios and Sleepless Nights This post on food cravings is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read in my life.

Show My Face Another person I follow on twitter who just cracks me up every day!

C. Beth Blog Read her blog because she’s honest and sweet and she encourages me in my running training.

Coffee and Chocolate, What More Do You Need? We’ve had conversations on twitter about why The Man With The Yellow Hat trusts a monkey and about who was truly the right man for Lorelei Gilmore. And that is why you should read her blog. Although, really, the title should have been enough to get you there.

So there you have it. Thank you so much, Christy, for the award!

Happy Birthday, Ralph, Markie, and Uncle Bob!

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Jack-O-Lantern Smoothies

Am I the only one who enjoys watching holiday TV specials on the night they’re aired, instead of on DVD whenever you want? There’s something about watching a Charlie Brown special on TV and knowing that everybody you know is watching it at the exact same time as you.  Which, due to DVD players, TIVO, DVRs, Netflix, online viewing, etc, etc, etc… probably isn’t even true. I don’t care, I still like to watch them on the night they’re on. Which means I’ll have to leave the PTO meeting a wee bit early this week, so I can watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids (and every other person I know who will also be watching it at the exact same time as me).

Just kidding, PTO, I actually have something really important that I have to do that night at 8:00 EST, that’s why I have to leave early.

Drawing by Curious George, age 5

Jack-O-Lantern Smoothies

makes 4 small child-size smoothies

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • small, clear plastic cups

Directions:

  1. Using a small utensil or toothpick, create a Jack-O-Lantern face on the inside of each cup with the melted chocolate.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a blender together and blend until smooth. Pour into prepared cups.

Jack-o-Lantern smoothies

We had some guest critics over the morning I made these. Everyone loved them, kids and adults alike. They were especially impressed that the faces were made with chocolate, and not drawn on the cups with marker, as they originally thought.

I got the idea for these from someone else’s blog about healthy Halloween treats. I like to give credit where credit is due, but for the life of me, I can’t remember which blog it was, and googling it has not helped. So if it was your blog, or you know whose it was, please let me know!

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Face Pancakes

To My Neighbor Mrs. Kravitz:*

I’m so sorry I picked your children up late for school today. But you see,  I had a very good reason. I mean, other than my usual “running late” excuse.

It all started when I decided to make pancakes for breakfast. Because, you know, of all the free time we usually have on school mornings. But I didn’t want to make just any pancakes. No sir. They had to be pumpkin pancakes. I used this recipe.

After I ladled out the first batch onto the griddle, I had the brilliant idea of making faces on the pancakes by pressing chocolate chips onto the top of each pancake while the underside was cooking. Then I flipped each pancake and realized I should have made stems.

So I took a small, 1/2 cup portion of remaining pancake batter and put it in a small bowl and added a few drops of green food coloring.

Okay, so now the first batch was no longer any good. I threw it to the dogs gave it to the kids to munch on while they eagerly awaited the second, more impressive batch.

Second batch: I ladled out four circles onto the griddle. Then I spooned a little bit of green batter at the top of each circle, making sure the green bit touched the big orange circle.  I signed homework, packed lunches, and unloaded the dishwasher with one hand while I pressed chocolate chip faces into the pumpkins with the other. All the while yelling things like, “Go get dressed! Find your shoes! Brush your hair!”

I flipped the pancakes, finished cooking them. Oh, they looked so cute. ‘Maybe I should put this on my blog,’ I thought, as I ran to get my camera, find the best light, take some pictures, realize I don’t like the plate, find a different plate, take some more pictures, yell some more at the kids, then finally feed them.

Oh, it’s time to go? “HURRRRRRY UUUUUP!!!! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!!!!”

And then we came to your house. And we didn’t miss the bus. And that’s good. And I learned a very important lesson.

Never make pumpkin pancakes without stems. I mean, really.

Sincerely,

Your Most Awesomest Neighbor*

*Not our real names

Pumpkin Face Pancakes

Ewww, get out of here, scary black Halloween cat.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Soup

This is going to be a quick one. It’s 5:24 a.m. and I’m supposed to go for a run in 6 minutes. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Soup

Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked and cubed (or shredded) chicken
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups fat free milk (or no higher than 2%)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup hot wing sauce
  • 4 oz Velveeta, cubed

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour. Set aside.
  2. Put the chopped onion and celery into the slow cooker. Add the chicken, broth, and milk. Sprinkle the garlic powder on top. (Note: The original recipe calls for celery salt and garlic salt. I don’t like to add much salt to soups when I’m cooking (and as the recipe states, the cheese and broth have enough salt on their own), so I leave it out. But feel free to add it if you like salty soups)
  3. Stir in the flour and butter mixture. Add hot sauce.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on hight for 3-4 hours. Stir in Velveeta 20 minutes before serving.

Buffalo Chicken Soup

 Click here for printable

Wow this is good soup. This is “Cook it for lunch and then “forget” to tell your husband that you made it so you can eat the rest by yourself all week” good.

The soup thickens the next day, and it’s fun to dip tortilla chips into it, but still eat it with a spoon, so it counts as a meal.
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Don Corleone and I love this soup. I don’t give the little Critics any. I think it would be too spicy for them, plus then I’d have to share.
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And in case you were curious, here’s an update on my morning. Between 5:24 when I started this post and 7:00 or so (or whenever I get around to publishing), my kids woke up at 5:30, I ran one mile and it took 13 minutes, my 5-year-old (Curious George) drank two cups of milk and then puked it up all over the carpet (and me), I couldn’t figure out a formatting problem with this post (hence the random periods after each paragraph), and I posted a recipe.
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And that’s all I have to say about that.

Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Cinnamon Syrup

Pumpkin waffles with warm cinnamon syrup.

You’re welcome.

Pumpkins are everywhere. I love the colors of autumn. I have to say, God really knew what He was doing when He colored fall.

I’ve talked before about how my family is obsessed with Star Wars. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear things like, “If Luke and Obi-Wan battled each other, who would win?” or “Who do you think would win between the Rancor and a Bantha?” A lot of “Who would win…” scenarios.

Even my little Elmo will walk around the house saying things like, “hooo-pah… Luke I am your father.” My husband is so proud.

Do any of them ever say (over a plate of pumpkin waffles, maybe?), “Hey, do you remember that episode of Little House on the Prairie when Ma bought new fabric to spite Mrs. Oleson, but then instead of using it to make a new dress for herself, she selflessly used it to make new dresses for Mary and Laura, and then Laura stood in front of the whole school and the parents and spoke about how amazing and wonderful Ma is?” (for the record, I do remember it; it’s Season 1, episode 2, “Country Girls“).

No. Nobody ever says that.

Well sometimes me, but nobody listens.

And for the record, I’m pretty sure Pa could whoop Obi-Wan and Luke together, Jedi or not.

Wow. This is really not at all where I thought this post was going.

What I was going to say is that little Elmo is my only hope (help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi). Sure, she does a mean Darth Vader impersonation, but for the most part, she likes princesses and twirly dresses and sparkly things. So that’s why I let her watch Disney Princess movies when the kids are out. Like Cinderella. Which brings us back to

Pumpkins.

Cinderella? And a pumpkin coach

Cinderella knows about pumpkins. Or at least her Fairy Godmother does.

Pumpkin Coach

Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Cinnamon Syrup

adapted from The Idea Room

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Beat egg with fork in a large bowl. Add milk, pumpkin, and oil, and whisk together.
  2. Mix in dry ingredients just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Cook in waffle maker.

Cinnamon Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water
  1. Stir together sugars, flour, and cinnamon in small saucepan. Stir in vanilla and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Continue to boil and stir until mixture thickens to syrup consistency. Remove from heat; cool slightly before serving.

Click here for printable

Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Syrup

This recipe got an enthusiastic 10 thumbs up from my Critics! It probably would have gotten 12, but I didn’t get to try any 😦 There wasn’t enough.  Stupid sacrificing-for-your-children crap.

I should have doubled the recipe. Next time I’ll know.

Sarah Crewe: I don’t even know what to say, it’s so delicious!

Batman: I think it’s sooo delicious!

Curious George: It’s the best waffles ever!

Elmo: I’m sticky.

Don Corleone spent several minutes trying to come up with something insightful about Ray Bradbury, autumn, and pumpkin waffles, but finally decided on: I think they’re great!

Oh, and just a note about the artwork for this post. My kids did the pictures. Now, I’m not one to criticize the artwork of children; however, if I had said, “Please draw me some pictures of Star Wars; it’s for my blog,” I probably would’ve gotten several masterpieces worthy of the Louvre. But I ask for Cinderella pictures, and I get a big circle with scribbles all over it and a Jack-o-Lantern in a dress.

I’m just sayin’…

"Sing sweet nightingale..."

Bread Machine Challah Bread

I love challah bread.

It always reminds me of when I was a little girl, playing with my dolls up in my room on Friday nights. Mama and Bubbye would spend every Friday cooking and cleaning all day to get ready for the Sabbath meal. Mama would call me downstairs to set the table. My sisters, Sadie and Sophie, would help Bubbye in the kitchen, tapping on the bread to listen for the hollow sound, indicating that it was finished baking. The smells of fried fish, potatoes and onions, and fresh baked bread wafted through the house, and we would eagerly await the arrival of cousin Moyshe, to help us celebrate the Sabbath.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t me.

That was Rebecca, An American Girl ®.

Every single time I make challah bread, my daughter informs me that in 1914, challah was only baked on the Sabbath or holidays, because each loaf required 2 eggs, and eggs were expensive.

And she tells me that you can tell if it’s done by tapping on it and listening for the hollow sound.

God bless you, American Girl. Your dolls may be freakin’ expensive, but you sure have taught my daughter some history.

Bread Machine Challah Bread

from food.com

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • poppy seeds, optional

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the beaten egg and the poppy seeds into the bread machine pan, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Process the ingredients in the dough cycle.
  3. Remove immediately when the machine beeps.
  4. Preheat oven to 350˚
  5. Divide the dough in half.
  6. Divide each half into three sections. Roll each section into a long strand.
  7. Braid the three strands, pinching the top and bottom ends together.
  8. Place on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough, making the second challah.
  10. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  11. Brush the challah with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.
  12. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Click here for printable

Bread Machine Challah Bread

Isn’t it so pretty?

On food.com, this recipe is titled, “The Best Bread Machine Challah Bread.” Those bragging fools sure aren’t kidding! It really is the best. And I should know. Me and Moyshe have had our share of challah breads!

Oops, there I go again.

Well, this may not be New York City in 1914 (if it was, I’d be soooo confused about this computer I’m using) but we still love our challah bread. I make this a lot (eggs aren’t quite the hardship they were back then). We make sandwiches  with it, use it to make french toast, eat it with soup, or dip honey in it. And did I mention it was pretty?

So make this bread for Rosh Hoshana this week. Make your Bubbye proud. And if you don’t have a Bubbye, make it for Rebecca’s Bubbye. And Moyshe. But you can eat it yourself, because they aren’t real.

The End.


Mexican Brown Rice and Beans

Do rich people eat rice and beans? Do they sometimes go to a restaurant and think, ‘Hmmm… do I want the lobster tail tonight… or the rice and beans?’

If you do an internet search for “frugal family meals,” then you will be told to make rice and beans. And shepherd’s pie. Because apparently that’s what you eat when you’re on a budget, and don’t have Jeeves around to cook for you.

"The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that's all I need." -The Jerk

There are a gazillion recipes out there for rice and beans. All different styles. I have tried many of them. I finally found one that I really like. This recipe is easy, cheap frugal, healthy, and most importantly, tasty. And that’s good, because I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t really like rice. Or beans. But I really like this recipe.

Okay, wait. Full disclosure. I’m kind of a picky eater. I mean, I’m a big talker with my kids (and my blog) and I say, “Wow, how can she not like sauce? How can he not like cheese?” but the truth is, if my doctor suddenly told me that I had to live on a steady diet of cheeseburgers, french fries, and milkshakes, I’d probably die of happiness long before my arteries had time to clog.

So anyway, I knew I wanted a rice and beans recipe that would become a staple in our house, so it was important to find one that we all my husband and I liked. I found this recipe on culinate.com, but it originally comes from the book Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.

Mexican Rice and Beans

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste or sauce
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a 2-quart pot. Add cumin and chili powder and sauté for a few seconds. Add onion and salt and continue cooking until onion is soft.
  2. Add rice and stir well to coat. Add water and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until all of the water is absorbed (about 40 minutes).
  3. Stir in pinto beans. Serve on tortillas and garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, avocado… whatever you like on your tacos.

Click here for printable

Mexican Brown Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans Tortilla

Terrible pictures, I know. I apologize. The next time I make this I will replace the pictures with better ones.

Here’s what the Critics had to say:

Don Corleone: This is delicious!

Sarah Crewe: It’s delicious! And beany!

Batman: It’s really good!

Elmo: It’s good. They’re not hot anymore.

Curious George, upon sitting down at the table: I already know I don’t like it.

That’s a pretty typical reaction. Everyone but Curious George liked it.

If I ever When I become rich, I think I’ll still make have my servants make rice and beans once in a while. It’s delicious. And beany.

How am I going to get rich, you ask? I may end up being a carny:

"Ah... it's a profit deal! Take a chance and win some crap!" -The Jerk

Maybe I’ll invent something cool, like for glasses or something:

Don’t mock my pictures. You know they look exactly like Steve Martin.

I really need to start getting my kids to do the drawings again.

All I know is, I’ve got my name in the phone book, and that, of course, is the first step toward greatness:

"Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. Things are going to start happening to me now." -The Jerk