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Fancy Breakfast Friday: Lunch for Breakfast

IMG_0848April Fools Day has become like Christmas in my house.  The kids have high expectations and there have been years when they were very disappointed.  So Fancy Breakfast Friday came on the perfect day for pranking. I decided to do lunch for breakfast.  April Fools!  The grilled cheese is thinly sliced Sara Lee pound cake with orange icing.  I sliced it thin and toasted one side with a little butter.  The cheese is Pillsbury vanilla icing with a mix of orange and yellow food coloring.  I can’t take credit for this idea but see “the internet” for more info.  This one has been around for a while but I could never figure out when to serve it.  Seems like a very unhealthy meal, which makes it perfect for FBF.

And aren’t those veggies realistic?  Well that’s because they are snap peas.  Real ones.  Because you know what is more diabolical than making fake veggies out of candy?  Serving actual veggies to your kids for breakfast.

Dessert is a brownie.

My Fancy Breakfast Friday posts are usually delayed a week, but I wanted to share this one today for obvious reasons.  (So you can copy me at dinner time.) Next week I will have our fun spring break breakfast to share.  Happy April Fools Day!

 

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Next Level Higbee Muffins

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I went snowboarding one day last week with my friend Laura said she recently had to  defend a delicious breakfast muffin against an accusation that it fell into the realm of the cupcake.  I said, “Tell me more”.  She said, “Well it really was just a white muffin.  Then you dip it in butter and then cinnamon and sugar.”  I was sold, and I knew just the muffin to make.

Many years ago, we decided to make Higbee Muffins for Thanksgiving dinner.  I’ve made them on and off for Thanksgiving since then.  But I always think, “Isn’t this just a frosting short of a cupcake?”  That’s how I knew it would be the perfect muffin for this Fancy Breakfast Friday.  I have one memory of making the famous Cleveland muffins in high school from a recipe in the paper, but no memories of that special trip to Higbees, where you got dressed up, went shopping, and ate the historic muffin.  I used this recipe from Cleveland Magazine titled “Historic Eats” because it sounded legit.  The weird thing to me is that the first time I made these, I swear the top was perfectly smooth.  Ever since I have made only lumpy muffins.  I did find one recipe that called for the butter to be creamed with the sugar instead of melted and I think that’s the difference.  But which recipe is correct?  If you had a famous Higbee Muffin, was it a little lumpy?   For the purpose of this breakfast, lumpy was the way to go because of the added nooks and crannies.

IMG_0710I mixed the dry ingredients the night before.  In the morning I added the eggs and melted butter and baked the muffins.  They cooled a little before the boys got up.  I had melted butter and cinnamon/sugar in pretty dishes and the boys got to dip their muffins in each.  It was fun and different and delicious.  I also halved the recipe so they wouldn’t go stale and/or be eaten to excess.  I just dipped and coated the leftovers and we ate them the next morning.

Muffins were served with orange juice, a side of fruit and a bowl of yogurt.  Thanks for the great idea Laura!!

 

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Mint Smoothie Fail

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I thought I would go with some sort of 40 day Lenten breakfast theme until Easter and then do an amazing Easter Brunch spread, but I couldn’t find a way to make it fun and exciting and pretty and delicious.  40 days of porridge! Eggless breakfasts!  Deprive yourself with oatmeal!  I finally came to the conclusion that the way to be a breakfast eating blogger during Lent, would be to use items in my fridge that may otherwise go to waste.

We do Cook Smarts at our house, which is wonderful and amazing and something I should really blog about another time, but for the purposes of this post let’s just say I had a ton of leftover mint and a bit of leftover plain greek yogurt.  I also had leftover orange marmalade from the Cook Smarts recipes for the week.  I’ve been known to let the dregs of the fresh herbs wilt and turn brown before they hit the compost bin ad sometimes greek yogurt has been known to grow mold, despite my best intentions.  I’ll probably finish the marmalade in a couple years, or move it to the retirement home with us when we finally get too old to maintain this ranch house ourselves.

Dave said that marmalade is best on toast so I didn’t bother coming up with a recipe for orange marmalade scones, which was my original plan.  I thought this would be the week to perfect my bread by getting it to double in height compared to last week.  The bread ended up the exact same height despite my best efforts so I officially give up on the recipe I have been using.  (It was good though.  Luke and I ate it with orange marmalade.  Jack doesn’t like orange marmalade and Dave was too traumatized by the smoothie to try anything else, he had oatmeal.)

On to the smoothie.  I was actually pretty excited about this recipe that I found on PopSugar.   And as you can see, I totally nailed it.  It was pretty, healthy, vitamin packed, you could taste the chocolate and the mint.  I was excited to be sneaking veggies into the kids breakfast without them knowing, it basically was everything you want in a breakfast recipe.  My only concern was that it wasn’t going to be sweet enough.  (My other concern was that our 1000 year old blender wasn’t up to the task.  It did an OK job.  Running our blender before everyone is awake is a sure fire way to wake everyone in the house, and some of the neighbors too.) Luke had one sip and kind of shrugged his shoulders about it.  So I took his smoothie back, dumped it back in the blender and added some sugar.  He tried it again and said it was OK.  I thought it was good.  I’m actually really glad I tried it because I have always feared spinach smoothies, but it was delish.  And I don’t think you could taste the spinach at all.  Jack hated it.  Luke tried to tell Jack it was full of kale and then said, “just kidding, it’s green from the mint.”  That made me wonder if I should feel guilty about the spinach.   Regardless, this recipe supposedly one serving and after Luke and I had our fill there was a lot left over so I tried to get Dave to drink it.  He asked if there was anything gross in it like yogurt and I said no.  That was a lie.  If I ever had any regrets in life, its that I did not video tape Dave trying the smoothie.  I could have made the perfect GIF expressing the following emotions seamlessly in a 5 second period: “This is good! This is OK. This is disgusting!”  Or “Yum! Um? Yuck!”

I posted on Facebook that I needed someone to come by and drink the rest of the smoothie.  I got one response from someone who said he would, but it was too far to drive. And one response from my neighbor, but by then it was too late.  Now I know where to deliver unpopular smoothies though, for future reference.

Failures two weeks in a row… Time to do something amazing.

Crafty: Soap Surprises

IMG_0363A million years ago, I bought a Star Wars Craft book.  The craft I really wanted to make was the  Han Solo in Soapanite, but I didn’t have a Han Solo figure.  And to be honest, if I did, I probably would not have wanted to give it away. (I can’t make random crafts, they have to be gifts.) I had to wait a couple years for the new Star Wars movies to come out so I could easily buy a Han Solo figure at Target.  I had bought the soap making supplies at Michaels two years ago, just a few days before our house flooded.  The stars aligned so that just as the Star Wars merchandise was hitting the stores, the soap making supplies arose from the metaphorical ashes of our flooded house.  The timing was ripe for the perfect Christmas gift.  Of course, I was unable to find 40 minutes to get this done before Christmas, and so it became a mid January late Christmas gift.  But it was a beloved gift!  All family members were jealous and I suddenly had birthday gift ideas too!  It was the gift that kept on giving!  I asked my nieces what they wanted encased in soap and I got to work.  I went ahead and made one for my nephew too, because why not get a head start on his birthday?

The soap supply stuff that I bought at Michaels was easy to use.  You just heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir and keep heating at 15 second intervals until it is a liquid.  I heated the soap in my 2 cup pyrex measuring cup.  I took a travel soap dish and lined it with freezer paper to use as a mold.  I made sure to have the freezer paper hang over the sides so I could pull the soap out.

I positioned Han in the mold before I heated the soap.  I put a lot of thought into what food coloring I should use to give it that carbonate look.  Then I realized no one wants to rub food coloring on their hands when they are using a bar of soap.   I added a capful of vanilla to the melted soap to give it color and fragrance.

All that was left was to pour the melted soap over Han, and watch the scene from The Empire Strikes back in my head.  I let the soap sit over night, but it was pretty solid after an hour.

The next three soaps were each better than the last.  The first thing I figured out was that I should have the figures facing the back of the mold so the bubbles wouldn’t obscure the view.  I did each of these the same afternoon, reusing the mold and it really didn’t take long for the soap to set.  This is the perfect craft for turning random toys from the jar above the washing machine* into fun and desirable objects.  It could also inspire more frequent hand washing!

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I wrapped these in homemade wrapping paper that Jack had made for Luke for Christmas and which I just found in the piano bench.  (Weird.) Then I sent them off in the hands of the USPS.  Sadly, the tracking says they were delivered on Presidents Day, which seems highly suspicious.  Worse, the package has not been found.   Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they turn up soon!

*Only some of these objects were found about the washing machine.  Some were gleaned from the boys toy bins, some from a neighbor’s toy bins.

 

 

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Eggs Rothko Fail

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Here is a pretty picture I took during a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.  So much prettier than the Eggs Rothko, aka toad in the hole, aka one eyed Jack.  It’s eggs in a piece of bread with melted cheese.  The recipe is from Breakfast Recipes to Wake Up For.  Or, as I like to call it, Breakfast, recipes for which you should wake up.  It’s a little clunkier that way, but what can you do?

The problem was that I took a really simple recipe and tried to improve it or complicate it by making my own bread.  And to do that I have to overcome two major obstacles – altitude and the fact that sometimes I don’t let the bread rise enough.  Long story short, I had to make a small hole for the egg in my too short bread.  It spilled over and was a giant mess. The end.

Ok here’s a picture.

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Book Club: A Manual For Cleaning Women

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Sometimes I find short stories hard to read because they can be gritty and raw, and distilled to an uncomfortable point where I feel too sad or uncomfortable or drained by reading them.  The first story in A Manual for Cleaning Women was that way.  And so were many others at the beginning.  Somewhere in the first quarter of the book I wondered if the stories were autobiographical and I read about the author, Lucia Berlin. I didn’t know what to wish for -I didn’t want for her to have lived that life.  I read some articles and I thought, “there are just so many short stories in this book, I don’t know if I can go on.”

For reasons that defy explanation, I decided to take a break and read A Cure For Suicide.  At this time, the short list for the Tournament of Books came out, and the two books I was reading from the long list didn’t make the cut.  A Cure For Suicide was an OK library book, but it didn’t go where I wanted it to go.  It was a quick and weird read.  So I went back to A Manual for Cleaning Women.  This time, I just read and enjoyed it.  The story grew and expanded and became more detailed.  The author was complicated, and smart and interesting and flawed.  I am still thinking about the stories weeks later.  I highly recommend this book, with the caveat that you should stick with it through the beginning until you get into a flow.  And take a break if you need it.  Take a break, but don’t give up.

This is actually part two of the madeleine story, because it was this passage that sent me down the path towards making madeleines for the boys.  I had seen the recipe in my cookbook, but it was this passage in A Manual For Cleaning Women that really made me stop and think about making them.

“I could still smell him.  The pong of him was madeleine-like for me, bringing back Grandpa and Uncle John, for starters.”

Using that iconic madeleine image to describe the alcoholic workman re-tiling the bathroom in her trailer was so gross and brilliant.  It made me wish the author was still alive and teaching at CU.  I would have enrolled in a class just to meet her if it wasn’t too late.

*This post contains affiliate links to indiebound.org.

* I’m behind on my puppy/book photo shoots and this was was almost all outtakes

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Madeleine Memories

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I have been trying recipes from the new cookbook I got for Christmas, Baking:From My Home to Yours * and I decided I was at a point in my life where I was ready to attempt Madeleine’s.  Spoiler alert, they were amazing.

I was a little intimidated by the whole thing, as they require a special pan, they get stale quickly, and they have such a storied history. I decided the dumbest thing to worry about was a pastry getting stale. I ordered the pan with some of my generous Amazon gift card money that I received for Christmas and my birthday and I followed the recipe in the book.

Marcel Proust dipped a Madeleine in tea and experienced a flood of childhood memories, writing about them in Remembrance of Things Past.  The cookbook explains the story well and I read it to the kids.  I also read the entry on wikipedia, where they reference a Pet Shop Boys song with the lyrics:

“Over and over again
I keep tasting that sweet madeleine
looking back at my life now and then
asking: if not later then when?”

That very day as we waited for the madeleine pan to arrive, the boys noticed this lyric from the song Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots:

“Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young”

Jack said, “I can’t wait to see what memories I have when I eat my madeleine.”  Luke laughed, but I thought it was so sweet.  We had to explain that the madeleine brings back memories of other times you have eaten madeleines.

The madeleines were so good.  My only problem was that the recipe seems to really make 13 or 14 not 12 so some of the madeleines spilled over. I might have to just cook a couple extra blobs in a separate pan next time.  The boys want to have Madeleine Mondays now, but so far that hasn’t become a habit.  I do need to make a bunch more to justify the pan, but on the bright side, it barely takes up any space.

But I was happy to make some new memories with a delicious pastry.

* I started linking to indiebound.org for book purchases if you are interested.  I will receive a portion of any sale from these links.

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Bread Pudding

IMG_0586I was inspired to make bread pudding for Fancy Breakfast Friday because my friend Laura has been sending me recipes from her beloved bed and breakfast cookbook.  Dave was going to be out of town, and since he doesn’t like bread pudding, the timing seemed perfect.  But then I started thinking of the homemade pop tarts, chocolate babka, a batch of delicious cookies from a cookbook I received for Christmas, madeleines from the same cookbook, and a batch of brownies, and I thought maybe I had used enough butter to last a lifetime.  It was really time to switch to something more savory for breakfast.

Then I ended up at Cured and they had some gorgeous french bread that just screamed to me, “make me into bread pudding please.  Oh la la.”  It was meant to be.

I wanted to go with a basic recipe and I turned to the wisdom of dear old Betty Crocker.  I used this recipe here.  Where she calls for 6 slices of soft white bread, I used 8 ounces of french bread, plus two whole wheat hamburger buns that were lurking about in my pantry.  I added the buns because the whole mixture seemed a little too wet.

I mixed everything the night before and put in the fridge and then cooked it in the morning.

I served the bread pudding with vanilla yogurt.  It was good.

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Fancy Breakfast Friday: Halloween Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

When pinterest was invented, I pinned these muffins and then never made them or looked at pinterest ever again.  But I did eventually make them 3 years later and they are delicious!  The recipe says it makes 12, but for me it made 15.  I was in sort of a rush and I didnt want them to cook too long.  Did you read about all those people who did the apple update on their phone during the night and it turned off their alarms and they were all late for work or missed class?  Well that didn’t happen to me because I never update my phone, but coincidentally, my alarm didn’t go off.  So after all my blustering about only spending an hour on Fancy Breakfast Friday, I only ended up with half an hour the next week.  I made an egg for Luke and muesli for Jack to eat while they waited for their muffins.  Jack said it was the best Fancy Breakfast Friday ever, for the third week in a row.

The rest of the muffins were eaten during our hundred activites over the weekend.  They even got left in the car over night in a tupperware and were still delcious and moist on Sunday.

I feel the need to step up my game for next week because I am not sure these are really “fancy” so we’ll see what I come up with next.

Agony

 
Yesterday, Jack and I were working on an elaborate lego project when he broke from our format.  The format is this: I sort the legos by color and hand him the pieces required for each page.  He puts them together.  It’s kind of tortuous and unsatisfying, but we like our together time.  When it came to the lego guys, he just went crazy and put on a bunch of heads without putting the backpacks between the heads and the bodies.   The heads can be hard to seperate so after one attempt he tilted hid head towards the heavens and moaned, “AGONY!”  I thought, “that sounds vaguely familiar.”  He tried to get the head off again and said, “Actually, it’s more like this…” and this time he pretended to rip his shirt off and sang, “Agony…!”  I thought, “is he doing that Chris Pine scene from Into the Woods?” 

We saw Into the Woods during Christmas break last year, and after the movie our collective family review consisted of a shrug and a “huh” and a “I guess I didn’t know that was a musical.” And then we never spoke of it again.

As I was thinking back to the movie almost a year ago, Jack was removing the globe and some other various toys from the chair in his room so he could put one foot up on it and do a deep lunge and really belt it out, “Actually it’s more like this… AGONY!!!!!”

In the meantime I had removed the lego heads so he was free to get back to building.  But since we had had this bonding time, (that I subsequently mined for blog material, and because I don’t want to forget this afternoon) time had passed and I needed to make dinner.  I went upstairs and started cooking and when dinner was ready, Jack brought his lego project upstairs and major progress had been made.  I said, “How did you get all that done?!?!?!”  He said, “I followed the instructions? You didn’t know that I could do that?”

No, I did not.

So it should come as no surprise that this morning I said, “Remember when I threatened to not micromanage you all morning and if you get to school late, you will just have to get a tardy?  Today’s the day.  Get ready and we will leave when you are ready to go.  Good luck.”

He was ready on time with no micromanaging.

On the way to school I said, “Why do you let me do so much for you if you are capable of doing it yourself?”

He said, “Because I’m lazy?”  (To the tune of Agony.)

Sigh, I can’t blame him because I have been making his promise to always be my baby for the last five years.  But it seems like my baby is all grown up.

AGONY!