Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kayla Stats and some Brandy

 Today I took Kayla for her three year well check.  I know, a little behind the curve, but we got there eventually.  I was (am) SO proud of her.  She's in the 25th percentile on her weight and 50th percentile on her height.  So she' going to be average height and skinny - gee wonder where she gets that.  Not only was she EXTREMELY well behaved and well spoken with the doctor, she took her booster shot like a champ.  I kid you not, no tears at all!  She got poked, said 'ow' and it was over.  Woo hoo for my adorable baby girl.  (Who can officially stop growing now and stay this size and this cute forever)

I've been a little hung up all week getting the correct ingredients for today's celebratory drink - a Brandy Alexander.  A Brandy Alexander for those of you wondering, consists of brandy, dark creme de cacao, heavy cream and is garnished with nutmeg.   I wanted to make an authentic one for the grown-ups, but was looking for an acceptable Plan B for the kiddos.  I found a great recipe for a 'virgin' milkshake version of a Brandy Alexander but it called for brandy flavoring.  I searched EVERYWHERE for brandy flavoring.  No such luck. So I improvised.  The kiddos loved what I came up with so it's all good here :)

Tomorrow's going to be another challenge.  All I have to say is meringue.  Until then...
The kiddos were window coloring and rocking out this morning

 I tried to get some good shots of them 'dancing' but the camera was only being so co-operative

 Brandy Alexander ingredients

 Yum :)

The kiddos version (it ended up being ice cream, dark chocolate syrup, a bit of heavy cream and nutmeg pureed in the blender.  They LOVED it)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Conrad's Gymnastic Acadamy

Here's some pics of Noah being his monkey self during his class field-trip to Conrad's Gymnastics Academy today. I think it was safe to say he enjoyed himself very much :-)

Flaking Out

 There are few things that frighten me in the kitchen.  For the most part I've come to adopt the "what's the worst that could happen?" attitude when attempting a new dish.  But, admittedly, I was a little stressed about National Croissant Day today.

Sure, I could have gone to the store and picked up some beautifully prepared croissants and basked in their flaky buttery goodness.  As apprehensive as I was, though, that totally seemed like cheating.  So I put on my big girl panties and decided to tackle the bread that is a task for even the most skilled chef.

I will admit that I chose what was labeled as an 'easy' recipe.  It did not require all the "laminating" (a technique used in creating the flaky layers in an croissant) of a more authentic croissant.  But all the other steps were there.  Including the one that I omitted the first and second times I read the recipe - letting them rise for two hours at room temperature after they were shape but before baking.  Oops.  Seeing as I caught my mistake at just after 3pm, my croissants didn't quite get the rise time they needed.  Still...

They turned out as well as I could hope for.  Perhaps a little more on the 'crescent roll' side than an authentic croissant but I gave it a go :)  Since I had extra dough (and still do in my fridge.  And given that the recipe says it can stay there up to four days I may have to try these again with the correct rise time...) I also tried using it to make some French apple dumplings.  While we'll chalk up the croissants to 'ok' these were fabulous!  The entire pan is already gone and it has been suggested that perhaps some of that dough go into making another batch...

Noah had a field trip to a gymnastics studio today, but since Grant took him I will be letting him post the pictures on that one.  Look for that maybe sometime later tonight :)

Still working on hunting down the ingredients for tomorrow's celebration.  Also will be taking Mikayla for her three year check-up tomorrow.  Until then...

Aren't they pretty?

Country French Apple dumplings - SUPER YUM!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Corny Kid Kitchen

 Happy National Corn Chip Day!  Who doesn't love corn chips?  Salty, crunchy goodness snack sized!  My personal favorite way to eat corn chips - with french onion dip.  Closely followed by the never fail "Frito Pie".

And while I was sorely tempted to rely on either of those methods to celebrate the wonderful corn chip that seemed to be the easy way out.  And being that it is Kid Kitchen Tuesday I wanted to get in on a fun way for the kiddos to use corn chips as well.

So we made two corn chip recipes during Kid Kitchen today :)  The first might be my new favorite use of corn chips because who would ever think of using them as a dessert?  Not this girl, that's for sure.  So when I came across a recipe for what I'm calling "Corn Chip Crispies" I knew we had to make it.  Think Rice Krispy treats but with corn chips.  Everyone's favorite gooey marshmallow treat with a dash of salt and extra crunch.  And of course a blast for the kiddos to make as the first step was for them to crunch up the corn chips.  This was a huge hit and will probably be a pretty standard recipe around here now.

Then I figured why give Fritos all the hype today, let's try making our own corn chips!  So we did and they turned out great.  I even used our homemade corn chips as part of dinner tonight - a yummy chicken cheesey corn chip rice casserole.  I would say that we've celebrated the corn chip pretty thoroughly around here.  And I'm totally making a stop at the store tomorrow for some french onion dip to polish off the rest of our homemade creation.

Otherwise we spent the day out enjoying the slight warm-up (though the fog was so dense I couldn't see across the street for most of the day), wading through the laundry and of course, our other favorite Tuesday activity - story time!  Hands down, one of my favorite things about living here has been our fabulous library programs.  Just found out that musical story time starts up again Thursday night and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are promising their best behavior all day so they can go.

Noah has a field trip tomorrow and tomorrow's food celebration just may prove to be a little bit of a challenge.  Until then...

Playing this morning

 Ready to start our Corn Chip Crispies

 Mash mash mash

 Crunch crunch crunch

 We learned about how handy wax paper can be today :)

 Our finished Corn Chip Crispies

 Greasing the cookie pans to get them ready for our corn chips (they thought this was a lot of fun)

 Kayla whisks the dry ingredients together

 While Noah stirs up the wet stuff

 And the dough came out looking like this

 Kayla giving it a good roll

 Noah, too!

This is how they looked all rolled out and ready for the oven

 Sampling after lunch


 Don't they look yummy?

Tonight's dinner all topped off with our corn chips

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blueberry Snow Day

 Last night around 8:30 Grant looks out the window and says to me "I think since it got dark we've gotten about two inches of snow"  Uh-oh...  This was with the knowledge that the temperature was supposed to increase today and what was snow was to turn into ice/sleet and then rain.  Grant had a dentist appointment this morning close to the house so he volunteered to stick around home this morning and then take Noah to school in case the roads turned messy.

So this morning we woke up to light snow/sleet falling and plenty of fog.  I didn't give it much of a thought as I got breakfast around and started getting Noah ready for school.  During a free minute (we know how few and far between those are when you're trying to get the kids out the door!) I checked on Facebook quickly and noticed a post from the local radio station saying that a slew of schools were closed.  The thought hadn't even occurred to Grant or me!  We haven't had any snow days in the two years we've lived here and while it looked messy out it didn't seem enough to cancel school for.

So instead of heading off to school I bundled the kiddos up and we went outside to play in the snow.  The temps were in the high 30's and it was continuing to kind of drizzle but they could have cared less.  While they were occupied I decided to try my hand at shoveling us out.  I was afraid it would half melt and then we'd be left with a giant ice skating rink for a driveway.  A great idea in theory but extremely difficult in theory.  It was some SUPER heavy snow.  One of those snows where you move your shovel about 2 feet and then have to dump because you can't push it any further.  Needless to say it took me not quite two hours just to bail out the driveway!  But given that it was fairly warm out and that the kids were having such a great time (they were learning about traction (and lack thereof) on their bikes!) it was a good way to spend a school free morning!

Which brings us to our celebration of the day - Happy National Blueberry Pancake Day!  A day that brings breakfast for dinner at the Gatchel's is always a happy one.  I think my family would be thrilled to have breakfast for dinner nearly every night.  Even Kayla, who isn't much of a breakfast eater in the morning at times loves it for dinner.  Weird, I know.  It was even more of a celebration here tonight as I poured each of the kiddos their own cup of coffee to have with their meal.  They are so mine and Grant's kids...  The pancakes, by the way, were fabulous!  Mikayla described them as "yummy", Noah said he'd like some strawberries mixed in and Grant said they were super fluffy.  I was pretty amazed with them myself and am calling them 'church pancakes' because after you mix up the batter they have to sit at least an hour before cooking.  Perfect kind to whip up, go to Church and then make, I'm thinking :)

Kid Kitchen tomorrow - we're celebrating corn chips you won't want to miss it!  Until then...

Ready to head outside

 That is some crazy hat hair

 Blueberry pancake yumminess

 I made a couple "kid size"

 Don't you wish you were here?

 Mikayla enjoying her coffee

 Honestly, the only downside for me to the pancakes was I thought they needed more blueberries

Noah and his coffee

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let 'em eat cake! And see dinosaurs!

 I've said before (and will most likely say again) that I'm not the biggest chocolate fan.  I know, I'm not normal, tell me something I'm not already clearly aware of.  That being said, I'm not as gaga as I'm sure most are for today's celebration of National Chocolate Cake Day.

Since the food itself wasn't overly appealing I figured I'd have some fun with it.  I mean, pretty much anyone can make a chocolate cake.  Most people can even handle making a pretty decent chocolate cake without a box mix.  (Alright, that might be setting the bar a little too high...)  So in my search for the perfect cake to make, I looked at flourless recipes, double and triple layered recipes, recipes with multiple kinds of chocolate, but none of them really seemed like anything that great.  Then I found it - chocolate cake in the crock pot!

I can honestly say that I've never made a cake in the crock pot before.  In fact I'm not sure that I've even ever made a dessert in the crock pot before.  So I decided we'd give it a go.  It wasn't until I poured the batter into the crock pot and realized how deep of a cake it was going to make that I began to have second thoughts.  And when Grant then asked "how are you going to get it out of there?" that the slight unease ratcheted up to a touch of panic.  After a couple of deep breaths and a reminder to myself that the worst that could happen was that it'd be a crummy cake and at the end of the day that really wasn't important I decided to see it through.

The original recipe called for it to cook on low for 3 hours, but didn't state what SIZE crock pot this occurred in.  Choosing to be safe rather than sorry (because the top was still all liquid so I could only imagine what the inside looked like) I upped the heat to high for about 45 minutes and 'cooked' it for a total of about 4 hours when all was said and done.  I then left it alone and off we went to the Cranbrook Science Institute - Michigan's Museum of Natural History.

Overall, I'd say we were not as impressed with Cranbrook as we were with the Michigan Science Center or Imagination Station but it was still a good family afternoon.  They did have a really cool exhibit on the Deep Abyss which was on the exploration of the Great Lakes including a lot of shipwrecks.  Noah really enjoyed that.  There was also a fun little hands on project for the kids to make insects or spiders and I learned something. An insect has three body sections and six legs which all come out of the middle (thorax) section of its body.  A spider has two sections and eight legs which actually all come out of its head.  Who knew?  The kiddos enjoyed themselves and given that the whole museum was a little less hands on were really well behaved.

We came home to check out my cake.  I actually had to cut it in half to get it out of the crock pot but it came out relatively easily all things considered.  And it was mammoth.  Believe it or not, it actually cooked all the way through, too.  The reviews were mixed at best, which was more than OK with me.  The kids liked the taste, but didn't eat a whole lot of it.  Grant said he liked it but had better chocolate cakes before and the overall taste/texture actually reminded him a bit more like a brownie.  

Personally, I'm chalking this one up to a huge success.  I won't be rushing off to make this recipe again anytime soon, but it proved that sometimes it's not about the way it ends up looking or tasting its in the creation.  Trying something new and being okay if it flops is a bit of a stretch for me most days so I'm doing a self pat on the back tonight ;-)

Have to share a funny before I go. On our way to Cranbrook we were telling the kiddos about where we were going and Noah pipes up and asks "Is it like the Fartee Museum we went to?"  I'm completed baffled and look at Grant who rolls his eyes and says "Burpee Musem, Noah.  Burpee Museum"  (It's in Rockford, they went last November)  It took everything I had to bite my lip and not burst into giggles.  Gotta love 'em.

Back to school tomorrow!  Until then...

Chocolate cake mix filling up the crock pot

 Mikayla posing with a black bear

 Noah, Kayla and their insects

This is what it looked like when we got home

 Out of the crock pot successfully

It looks pretty at least :)