Tag Archives: entertainment

Sun Pancakes

I don’t really like to trash talk on the internet. I try to to keep things fairly amicable around here. But today I’m going to trash talk. I’m going to trash talk someone that you all know and probably adore.

He’s the life of the party. Everyone loves him. He’s all bright and cheery, hanging around all cool-like, with his sunglasses and his giant smile. All he has to do is peek his little head out and people everywhere gravitate toward him. He’ll wrap you in a warm embrace or brighten your day with his cheery disposition.

Unless…

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Well, unless you’re this guy.

Or me.

I’m talking about the Sun. What I ever did to him, I’ll never know.  But he hates me.

The Heartbreak Kid

We just got back from a trip to the beach. The first day, I slathered myself in SPF 50, covered up head to toe, and sat on the beach for a mere 2 hours. I still managed to get a sunburn. Story of my life.

I get a sunburn if I even think about the sun too hard. In fact, I’m getting burnt right now.

Sure, everybody loves the sun. But what has it ever done for me?

Summer Rental

Oh, sure, energy and vitamin D and photosynthesis and all that. Whatever.

Whenever I talk about the weather with people, I always pretend I’m in the Sunshine Lover’s Club.

“Oh it’s supposed to rain tomorrow? Darn!”

“Yes, it is great that the sun is finally out!”

“Oh joy! You’re telling me that it’s going to be sunny for the rest of the week?!? Wowzers that makes me so GLAD!”

I sing Oh Mister Sun and You are My Sunshine to my kids, sometimes even with a ukulele. They know Here Comes the Sun and Let the Sunshine In. I can even muster up a hearty chuckle when those Jimmy Dean breakfast commercials come on tv.

But it’s all a lie. A big, fat, gray-skied, cloudy lie. Because warm weather and sunshine make me kind of grumpy. There, I said it.

2. Justin Bartha, The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover

But enough trash talk… how about some yummy Sun Pancakes?

This is the pancake recipe I use.

Sun pancake

The suns vary, depending on the ingredients I have on hand. I like to do strawberries for the rays, or canned mandarin oranges. But the faces are always different. Sometimes I use blueberries or raisins for the eyes, and dried cranberries for the mouth. Chocolate chips make a frequent appearance. This was a lucky day for the Critics because they got whipped cream!

The Critics love these. Usually Don Corleone is the pancake maker in our house. But occasionally the kids ask specifically for sun pancakes. And I’m happy to oblige, even though… you know. They represent my archenemy.

I try to enjoy the sun, I really do. But I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I am, at heart, a rainy day kind of girl. Clouds and rain in the forecast make me smile. That’s just the way it is.

And I’ll spend the rest of my life searching for SPF 5000 sunscreen.

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..."

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

Chicken and Stuffing Bake

Summertime is a great time to be married to a teacher, especially when there are little kids to be wrangled.

Do you believe I actually ran errands this summer in the middle of the day?? It’s always exciting when I can go to the grocery store at say, 11 am, with no children.

Yes, you heard me right. That’s what I call exciting. A trip to the grocery store without kids.

Anyway, I digress. My husband went back to work this week. He had inservice days, but the kids go back next week.

He always loves the first day of school, when the kids get off the bus singing, and joining in a school-wide dance number outside the building before the bell rings:

"Back, back, back to school again..." -Grease 2

Of course, not everybody shows up:

"Bueller... Bueller..." -Ferris Bueller's Day Off

And when they do, it’s not always easy. Sometimes a life lesson or two must be imparted in this harsh, harsh world:

To Sir, With Love

And when those lessons aren’t heeded, punishment must ensue:

The Breakfast Club

Of course, he loves those teaching moments when his students rally together to support him in times of trouble:

"Oh captain, my captain!" -Dead Poet's Society

And there’s always a couple of quirky kids in every bunch, isn’t there?

Napoleon Dynamite

Of course, my husband teaches elementary school music, so I’m pretty sure none of those scenarios every really happen at his job. But do you know how hard it is to find movies about elementary school music classes?

I don’t either, I didn’t even try. I’m just assuming it would be hard.

On Don Vito Corleone‘s first day back to work after summer vacation, I of course, being the loving wife that I am, had to make one of his favorite meals for dinner:

Chicken Stuffing Bake

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz swiss cheese
  • can of “cream of something” soup, or see  below for substitute
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • a few tablespoons sherry
  • 8 oz stuffing
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick butter), melted

Directions:

  1. If you are using the cream soup substitute, prepare that now.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚
  3. Spray bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange chicken pieces in dish, and arrange swiss cheese over top.
  4. Pour soup into a large measuring cup. Add 1/4 cup milk, and top it off with the sherry. It should equal about 1 1/2 cups total. You could add a little more milk and a little less sherry if you prefer. Pour soup mixture over chicken and cheese.
  5. Sprinkle the entire dish with the stuffing. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the stuffing.
  6. Cover and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Personally, I think canned cream of something soups are kind of gross, so I use them sparingly. Here is a great substitute I found at Buns In My Oven:

Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. When melted, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until smooth and bubbly.
  2. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Return to the heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly, until the soup thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Substitute this for one can of cream of chicken soup.

Click here for printable

Chicken Stuffing Bake

The Critics thought:

The Don: This is really good!

Sarah Crewe: It’s good! It tastes like chicken.

Batman: (whining) I don’t really like it.

Curious George: I don’t really like it, either.

Elmo: Can I have some more of this?

So, it’s back to work, and I’m back to grocery shopping at night or on weekends. Boo hoo!

What about you? Do you have kids going back to school? Are you a teacher going back to work? How do you make going back to work/school after vacation more bearable?

Tortilla Fruit Pizzas


"Keep your eye on the fruit." -Caddyshack II

I’m thinking Dan Akroyd had it right- the proper way to cut open a watermelon is to blow it up with a golf ball. I mean, it can’t be any messier than the usual way, can it? You could just have the kids stand around the watermelon with their mouths open, waiting for pieces to fly in. It could work.

But this is perhaps a neater way to eat fruit.

I wrote this recipe out for 1 tortilla, but it is very easy to make as many as you like. I made six, one for each of us, for lunch. This is a great recipe for getting the kids involved. You can put the fruit out in bowls, and let everyone “decorate” their own pizza. I didn’t do that, though. I said, “Go away, I’m making lunch.”

But next time, I promise to let them help. Cross my heart.

Tortilla Fruit Pizzas

  • 1 small flour tortilla
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • cut up pieces of fruit
  • 1/2 tsp honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚
  2. Place tortilla on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, or until crispy and starting to turn light brown.
  3. Arrange fruit pieces on top. Drizzle with honey. Cut tortillas into pieces, pizza-style, and serve.

Click here for printable

Tortilla Fruit Pizza

Use any fruit you have available. I happened to have kiwi, nectarines, plums, and cherries that I was trying to use up. This would be good loaded with summer berries, and perhaps a dollop of whipped cream. Or in the fall, with different kinds of apples and more cinnamon sprinkled on top. Use your imagination!

The Critics really liked these sweet little pizzas. I made Sarah Crewe‘s without the honey, because she doesn’t like it. Everyone else gave me lots of “Mmmmm”s and “This is so good!” and asked for seconds, even though there weren’t any.

So, even if exploding golf balls aren’t your preferred method of chopping fruit, you can still have a little fun with your fruit this summer. And make your Critics very happy 😀

 

This post is linked up at Designs by Gollum and Momtrends Friday Food.

Star Wars Birthday Party

My two boys, Batman and Curious George, just celebrated their birthdays with a Star Wars party.

The kids made a Happy Birthday banner:

Star Wars Birthday Banner

and I made cookies with the Star Wars cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma:

Star Wars Cookies

We also had Obi-Wan Cannoli dip with strawberries and cinnamon sticks. (The cannoli cream dip recipe can be found here):

Obi-Wan Cannoli Dip

When one is throwing a Star Wars party, where better to turn than to justjennrecipes and her Ultimate Star Wars Party? I shamelessly copy Jenn frequently, and her Princess Leia and S’mores-trooper cupcakes were perfect for this party:

Princess Leia Cupcakes

S'mores-trooper Cupcakes

Darth Vader was kind enough to stop by:

Darth Vader

But he did cause quite a ruckus when he began fighting the little guests with pool noodle lightsabers.

His powers were no match for these young Jedi, though:

Intense battle

More battling

I know he’s evil and all, but I did feel kind of bad for him towards the end. Not unlike the ending of Return of the Jedi:

The Fall of Vader

The kids had to complete an obstacle course before they earned their “lightsabers,” and to finish the course, battle Darth Vader (who removed the mask for some of the younger padawan).

They also played a game where they had to keep balloons in the air with their lightsabers, and another game involving water balloons that didn’t go as planned but was really fun anyway. The kids kept the pool noodles as party favors.

Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

The other day, my Critics asked one of their FAQ (see more of them on my FAQ page):

Critics: What’s for dinner, Mommy?
Me: Tonight we’re trying a new recipe. Shrimp tacos with black bean salsa.
Critics: Oh boy! Shrimp tacos! That sounds so exotic and exciting! And black bean salsa, how delightful! Wowzers, I can’t wait for supper!

And then my alarm rang and I woke up. Boooo! Here’s how it really went down:

Critics: What is that?
Me: Tacos.
Critics: What’s in them?
Me: Food. Try them.
Critics: Just tell us!

Batman takes a bite.

Batman: It’s shrimp!

The other critics retreat in horror.

 Me: It’s for my blog, so you have to taste it and I’ll write down what you think.

The Critics each take one teeny, mouse-size bite and declare their hatred of the crustaceous filling:

Sarah Crewe: I’d like the shrimp if it weren’t so… juicy.

Batman: I just don’t like shrimp.

Curious George: You can write down that I hate it. No, I really do, I hate it!

Don Corleone: I think it’s good!

Elmo slept through dinner. Lucky.

Thank goodness for Bubbye and Zaydee. We went to their house for dessert (and to meet their new little puppy, Louie) so my sweet little Critics did not have to go to bed with empty bellies.

Ah well, you win some, you lose LOTS.

I wanted to come up with my own recipe for shrimp tacos, but I found this recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker, and it looked so tasty (and easy!!) that I really wanted to try it.

Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

  • Taco shells
  • 1 lb cooked, deveined, and shelled shrimp- tails off
  • 1-1 1/2 cups black bean salsa
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Cilantro- half a bunch
  • Shredded lettuce.

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop the shrimp. Pour the salsa over the shrimp, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Chop the tomatoes and cilantro. Combine in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Heat taco shells according to package directions. Add shredded lettuce to the shells.
  4. Dump the shrimp mixture into a skilled and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Using a slotted spoon, divide the mixture among the taco shells. Top with tomatoes and cilantro.

Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

Apparently I do not know how to follow directions, because I didn’t realize the shrimp were supposed to be cooked first. So I marinated my uncooked shrimp in about half a jar of salsa, then drained it and cooked the shrimp in the remaining salsa in the skillet.

I, for one, thought this recipe was very yummy! My unfortunate Critics may be seeing this one again someday!