Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cotton Candy Dreams

So today is National Cotton Candy Day.  And I did consider making my own cotton candy.  No, not with one of those goofy machines, because honestly, how often would I really use it, but you can apparently make it in your own kitchen 'easily'  Call me skeptical, but I wasn't buying the easy thing.  I was thinking big sugary mess in Kristi's kitchen.  Plus, it is also National Raspberry Cake day and Jump for Jelly Beans Day.  What was a girl to do.

Google to the rescue!  I set out to find a cotton candy inspired recipe that might not be quite as involved as spinning the fluffy confection myself.  And I struck pay dirt.  A long involved search caused me to stumble across a recipe for Cotton Candy Mousse.  And, lo and behold, the National Food gods were smiling on me, because the key ingredient in the recipe was Jelly Belly Cotton Candy sno cone syrup!  I could kill two national food holiday with one recipe!

On a total side note, if you see him, ask my Dad about Jelly Belly sno cone syrups.  Especially the blue ones.  And why you shouldn't allow a five year old to carry it through the grocery store.  Love you, LJ!

The mousse was a huge hit here, especially with Kayla who went cotton candy crazy over its delightful pink color.  I'd make it again for sure and I'd even experiment with the other flavors of sno cone syrup as it was really simple to whip together.

In order to avoid an overkill on the sweets department (other than lasagna I think we are celebrating all desserts this week...) I made a raspberry coffee cake that we enjoyed for breakfast this morning.  Grant took the rest with him to work and I swear the pan came back cleaner than when I filled it last night- they must have licked it clean.

In other news around here today, the kiddos and I headed to Plymouth for lunch and an outdoor concert.  It was overcast and threatening rain all morning but we decided to go and brave it anyway, as I wasn't sure if there was a contingency location in case of rain.  So glad we went!  They had it in beautiful Plymouth (I know I've mention Plymouth here a bunch.  Love that little town!) at their pavilion and it was CRAZY PACKED!  There had to be at least 500 people, no joke!  The band was The Kerfluffles, and Noah, Kayla and I all really enjoyed them.  They had fun songs about everything from the brontosaurus that lives in my dad's nose (which is why he snores) to one about Mom's can do almost everything (this was my favorite).  And they had a really great keyboardist!  We found out that next week there is going to be a magician so Noah is already counting down the days.

And in case you need a laugh...  Thing 1 and Thing 2 have taken to playing "The Quiet Game" at random times.  So this morning, we're out for a walk in Charlie when they decide to start playing.  The game usually consists of Noah saying they're playing, Mikayla bursting into giggles 12 seconds later and Noah telling her she's out.  Then they start again.  Not really too much quiet, but it keeps them occupied and not fighting which works for me.  So this morning, they're playing and I suddenly hear Noah say "I think that whoever wins the Quiet Game is actually the loser."  Crap, foiled by a five year old!  He wasn't supposed to figure that out for at least another two or three years.  He then goes on to say "I think the Noisy Game is so much cooler" which is then followed by both of them shouting at the top of their lungs.  Hmmm, perhaps back to the drawing board for acceptable games for my twosome...

As long as we keep the rain away, hoping to head to Inglenook Park tomorrow for awhile and we'll celebrate yet another dessert with Raspberry Cream Pie (I just pulled it out of the oven, it smells divine, so we'll see)  But until then...

Raspberry Coffee Cake

 Noah and Kayla ready for the concert in Plymouth

 We were near the middle, so there was at least this many people behind us, too

 Enjoying the Kerfluffles

 Mikayla has decided this is the prettiest pink ever

Cotton Candy Mousse

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cheesecake and two wheels

Today Kristi and the munchkins went to Northville for its Tuesday kids concert. According to them, it was packed with kids, mostly from a day camp nearby. They were bigger and kept moving around quite a bit. About 20 minutes before the end of the show, all of them mysteriously left. Otherwise, they said they had a good time.

After the concert Kristi took Noah and Mikayla to the park around the corner from the concert and there were those same swarms of kids again! She said there must have been at least 150 all on the playground at once. It was crazy.

By the way, did you feel that ripple in the aether? That was the effect of one of Kristi's heartstrings tearing as our baby boy maintained his balance and momentum using his own power on just two wheels of his Lightning McQueen bicycle. No training wheels and often not even needing a start from us! We are so proud of him!! He still has some work to do with his turns and avoiding obstacles (he came about an inch from running directly into Mikayla and her tricycle), but he did an awesome job :)

It's National Cheesecake Day today, and boy did Kristi do a stand-up job today. I came home from work to the smell of Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast in the making with sausage and hash browns to boot. It was dee-licious! One recommended serving is a piece of french toast cut in half and put together like a sandwich with a cheesecake filling in between and covered with a sweet strawberry topping, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. I scarfed down two of them without pause or regret. For dessert, we had frozen cheesecake sandwiches, which are kind of like ice cream sandwiches, but more tasty.

All for now, but more tomorrow. Until then...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Layered to Perfection

Anybody want to guess what the above picture is?

Nope, not some kind of fruit crisp or cobbler.

Nope, not tonight's dessert at the Gatchel's.

Any more guesses?  Beuhler?

Give up?


Apple Lasagna! 

Happy National Lasagna Day!  My original list had today's celebration mis-labeled and a quick check of the other list I use to cross reference showed that today we're supposed to be celebrating lasagna.  I of course found this out AFTER I made lasagna roll-ups for dinner last Thursday night.  And I couldn't really serve the typical form of lasagna again so soon (though I doubt I would have heard too many protests around here) so I set out to find something a little different.

I think I accomplished that :-p

It might be hard tell from the picture, bu this lasagna has most of the usual components - lasagna noodles, a 'sauce' of some kind (apple pie filling!) and a cheese layer (mine has cream cheese, cottage cheese and cheddar.  Remember this, it'll be important later...)  The reviews were mixed.  The kids enjoyed it and Grant said he liked it, but if I didn't make it again anytime really soon he wouldn't be overly disappointed.  He said it was weird - he knew there was cheese and noodles in it, he could distinguish the texture, but the 'sweet' overpowered it and it was a lot like eating an apple crisp.  Weird for a main dish at dinner.

Of course, I couldn't stop at just one form of lasagna, and also made an ice cream sandwich lasagna.  This went over MUCH better :)  And it turned out just beautifully.  Lasagna, consider yourself unconventionally celebrated.

Today is also one of those weird "who the heck came up with this" days; National Cheese Purchase Sacrifice Day.  Apparently the deal is you are supposed to buy cheese and 'sacrifice' it to the mouse trap to catch the mice in your house.  Um, yeah...  In July?  Needless to say this is not the way I chose to celebrate today - instead we had all kind of different cheese today.  See my list from the lasagna above and add to it a crispy mini cheese pizza we had to go with dinner.  This one weirds me out so much I can't even comment anymore.

Otherwise, the news of the day around here is that it is chilly!  I'm pretty sure the mercury in the thermometer never topped 70 here today, which is just strange.  Wasn't it just 2 weeks ago that we were all practically melting due to the heat?  I suppose this is typical mid-west weather, but dang!

Alright, cheesecake tomorrow.  And a trip to Northville for a concert and hopefully some playtime at the park with the kiddos.  Until then...

Cheese Purchase Sacrifice - really???

 Ice Cream Sandwich Lasagna

I don't think I could have made more beautiful layers if I'd tried :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Milkin' it for all it's worth

Our original plan for the weekend had us going to the zoo today.  The Australia exhibit wraps up in a couple of weeks here (we were of course last there days before it started...) and we all really want to see the huge crocodile.  Apparently Mother Nature decided she didn't like our plans as it's been rainy/overcast/cold here all day.  In fact, I've busted out the cuddle duds again, and even Grant and Noah admitted to needing jackets on our after dinner walk.  Gee, last time I looked at the calendar it said July, not April.

Oh well, we had a great day anyway.  It's National Milk Chocolate Day so this morning Noah and I chose another recipe from his chocolate chip cookie book that feature milk chocolate in it.  We made some very tasty "Tiger Striped Cookies" which everyone here loved.

Then it was off to the movies this afternoon.  There is a $1 theater nearby in Allen Park and every so often we pop in for a movie.  We took the kiddos to see "Epic" there this afternoon.  It was pretty cute.  I thought the visuals of the forest setting were especially realistic and constantly blown away by the advances in animation.  It's come a looonnnngggg way since I was hooked on "The Little Mermaid" for sure.

Dinner (I made two new recipes - Southern Grits Casserole and Blueberry Dumplings - both get 4 out of 5 stars here, with the dumplings maybe getting 4 1/2), a walk and a bike ride for Noah, a quick trip to take back the recyclables (gotta love living in Michigan...) and now we're home for baths, bed and I'm busy prepping menus, being "the laundry fairy" and probably going into work for awhile tonight.  Phew, it's been a full but very productive weekend.

Lasagna in what I guarantee is a way you've never seen it before (actually 2 ways) tomorrow :)  Until then...

 Had to use Milk Chocolate in one of my favorite ways this morning - Smores!  I made smore waffle sticks for breakfast this morning (yep, they were graham cracker flavored waffles even)

 Grant and the kiddos set up the Chuggington sets this morning

Noah and I picked recipe #2 from his book - only 99 to go!

 Our tiger striped cookies ready for the oven

 The picture doesn't really do them justice, they looked really cool once they baked

And perhaps the most well known salute to milk chocolate - M & M's!  Had to indulge at the movies today :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Creme de la Creme Day!

 Really quickly tonight.  My wonderful husband recognized my need for some productive solo time and has taken the kiddos to Castaway Play for the evening so I can get a good jump on all of the things on my To Do List.  Bless him!  With as much as he's been working the past couple of weeks, I haven't really had much time to myself so it is much appreciated.  I have gotten a ton done today already and am looking forward to a few more hours :)


Happy National Creme Brulee Day (nope, didn't get my blow torch.  Or an ice cream machine.  I'm thinking I may not be the Kitchen Goddess I thought I was without these things....)

Happy National Scotch Day.  I've been thinking of James Jarvis and Scott Fagan today - hope you guys are wonderful if you stumble across this.  I'll be raising my glass of Glen Livet in your honor later tonight as you both taught me how to appreciate Scotch :)

More love and thanks to the hubby!  Think we're going to do a family movie or a trip to Cranbrook tomorrow.  And it's milk chocolate day so Noah and I will probably be whipping up a batch of cookies from his book hopefully.  Until then...

Creme Brulee Pancakes!

 These were kind of a mess, but a huge hit with the whole crew!

 My twosome have been great today - they organized and pared down all of their 'art' projects from the whole year to only five each without any arguments.  Between that and their behavior when we were in Maryland, Grant and I felt they really earned Castaway Play tonight

 I was productive today - bagels

 French Bread

 And English Muffins


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Coffee Shakes

When I left home to go to Bradley, I was not a coffee drinker.  Couldn't really stand the stuff.  I dabbled in it my freshman and sophomore years more to get through the long night cram sessions that for a liking or appreciation of the beverage.

Then I met Grant.

Grant introduced coffee to me on a whole new level and it became a necessity.  One of my favorite memories of our early dating history is of him showing up at my apartment in the wee hours of the morning when I was busy writing a paper with literally a small keg of freshly brewed coffee.  The 'mug' held nearly a full pot and I have no doubt I polished it off before the paper.

I also learned how to appreciate drinking it black, though my hands down favorite coffee that I had with Grant came from a restaurant in Peoria near campus called Thanh Lihn that was Vietnamese cuisine.  We would go just for the coffee with is prepared in its own little pot at the table, which is dripped into a glass of cold thick cream, stirred together and then pour over ice.  I'm in bliss just thinking about it.  Makes me miss P-Town...

Both my kiddos have also already been introduced to coffee.  I don't believe that pesky rumor that it will stunt their growth (though my sister Michelle may beg to differ...) and it is just a treat around here, by no means are they as dependent on it as their parents ;-)  Mikayla especially loves a cup of joe when we have breakfast for dinner.

So you can imagine that we would all enjoy celebrating any coffee related day.  And of course, it's July so those pesky planners had to get in some more ice cream.  Happy National Coffee Milkshake Day!  We had some fun coffee coolers that combined our favorite caffienated beverage with ice cream, milk, hot chocoloate mix and banana to make for the perfect sweet treat to go with dinner tonight.

It has otherwise been a pretty laid back day.  The kiddos and I spent nearly all morning at the park since the weather was so nice again today.  I would be OK if it stayed like this the rest of the summer.  I know Noah and Kayla would like for it to warm up a bit so we could pull the pool out again, so I'll give them a couple of those days.

After dinner we headed to Novi to check out the Family Fun Fest going on there.  We had a lot of fun listening to "The Candy Band" which was an all female band that did 'kid rock'  Think of all those well loved little kid songs with a great rock feel to them.  Great for the kiddos (both of mine danced like crazy) and more pleasing for the adult group, too.  There was also a movie at dusk, but we decided against that tonight.  They're doing another event in two weeks with a Beatles tribute band and the movie "A Bug's Life" so we might be headed back....

Not sure what tomorrow looks like because the weather is kind of working against us.  But it is creme brulee day (Grant nixed my request for a blow torch, darn).  So until then...

 Noah pushing Mikayla at the park this morning

 Some days I really love that they're close in age :)

 When we got back they drew pictures of their favorite things to do at the park

 Noah likes to swing on the swings, walk on the tightrope and swing on the monkey bars

Coffee Shakes

My dancing fool

 They were signing "I've Been Working On the Railroad" and they had suggested the kids form a train.  All the kids were clueless, so I tried to get involved and help out