Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sausage and Pancake Bake- Toad In The Hole


My children love pancake and sausages on a stick from the store, but the price is scary.  I love breakfasts that are easy to eat for those days when the bus rolls up a few minutes early.  The boys have to eat and dash a lot. 

This is my version.  It's cheaper and without a stick, but it still pleases the children.  I don't know the true name, but we have affectionately knighted it "Toad In The Hole".  The sausages are nestled inside "holes" of the pancake batter.  Add a little syrup and you have a treat!

Here's what you do:

  • In a 9 x 13 pan, brown and bake sausage links in a hot oven.  This takes about 15 minutes.  You will need to turn the sausages over to prevent burning.

  • Whip up a batch of pancake batter.  You can use a package or your own version.  I always add a little vanilla to the mix!
  • When the sausages are cooked through, pour the batter over the "toads".

  • Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pancake batter has risen and tests done in the middle.
  • Cut into squares and serve warm with maple syrup or applesauce.

I have made small muffins before, using the same method above.  I just break the sausage into smaller pieces and fill the muffin tins half way up.  It's a nice way to dress up this easy casserole for a brunch.

What's your favorite way to eat pancakes?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daydream Believer


I was sorting through my Monkee box the other day looking for a CD, but I found a book that was laden with earmarks and pages hanging loose from a lot of wear.  It was the book Monkee-Mania by Glenn A. Baker that I carted everywhere back when I was young.  I opened the book and was immediately taken back to the days when Davy and the boys reigned over my world. 

I actually unearthed a piece of Monkee background that I didn't know.  I was reading about the wildly popular song Daydream Believer.  It stems from an interview in the book with Davy.  Here's an excerpt from the book:

"We'd done twelve songs and the thirteenth was Daydream Believer.  I said, "that's terrible."  I was a baritone and it was in the wrong key for my voice.  I'd been in the studio all day, I was tired and I'm singing these words about twelve times, "cheer up sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen."  I kept asking Chip (Chip Douglas, producer and bassist) what the words meant and he said "don't worry, just sing them."  I said O.K. ... I'll sing it until I get it right.  So Chip says, "all right one more time, Daydream Believer" and I started it and I failed and I failed and I failed.  Hank Cicalo, the engineer, had his own way of numbering takes so he could find them, he'd call them 1A or 2A, like that.  Anyway, all of a sudden he says "7A" over the talkback and I wasn't listening so I said "what number is this?" and they said "7A!" in unison.  That kicked me on a bit and I got it down but you can tell from the vocal that I was pissed off."

I was amazed. 

First, I had never assumed that Davy was angry while singing that iconic song.  That proves that he is very professional and left a world unaware of his true feelings.  Not many people are able to move on and keep working.  I think that is a sign of Davy's true character. 

After reading this, I had to crack out my old CD's and listen for any signs of a temper.  My husband listened in and was impressed.  We couldn't really discern any hints of anger, except a few enunciated words here and there.  I am not convinced that even is a sign.  My music teacher used to harp on us when we wouldn't hit all the sounds.  Mrs. O'Hare would have loved him! 

Second, I never understood why the Monkees all chimed in at the beginning with "7A!".  I thought it was part of an act.  I like the beginning a lot more now that I can envision the scene.  I feel like you get a glimpse of the guys being themselves.

Third, I was surprised to discover that Peter "cites Daydream Believer as one of the few tracks that features playing that he is proud of...  'I can identify with it because I played the piano lick on it and I feel like I made my mark because on Anne Murray's version her pianist plays my lick'."

Finally, I was confused by the words to the song for a long time when I was a girl and I ended up concocting my own meaning. It makes me feel a little better that Davy questioned them once too. 

Were you surprised?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins


Here is an old standby that works for snacks, breakfasts, and packing lunches.  These are simple and the children love finding peanut butter and jelly nestled inside them.   I have even made them with just jelly.

I like them because they are cheap, easy, and filling.  I am not 100 % sure where I saw these tasty tidbits made.  I recall a show on PBS making them years ago and by years, I mean about 10 or more! 

My only complaint is that you are going to love them or hate them.  People have strong feelings about peanut butter or cornbread in this house.  Boys....


Here is what you will need:
  • prepared cornbread batter (you can use a package or mix it yourself-  I made my own today)
  • peanut butter
  • jelly (your choice-  we used strawberry because that was open)
  • cupcake tin and liners
  • nonstick spray-  optional
Here is what you do:
  • Prepare your muffin tins with the liners and lightly spray them with spray for easy removal of the muffins. 
  • Fill the muffin tin with a small layer of batter.

  • Add a dollop of peanut butter and a dollop of jelly to the insides of each muffin.

  • Cover the peanut butter and jelly with another layer of cornbread batter.

  • Sprinkle the tops with a little white sugar.

  • Bake according to your recipe or in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes-  you will need to watch them and test for doneness.  They may take longer because of the fillings.
  • Cool and enjoy!

What ingredients do you like to hide in muffins?

Backyard Campout


This is a Wordless Wednesday Post.  What's more fun than pitching a tent in your yard for a sleepover? 

I loved camping in our lawn growing up and now my children are getting the opportunity to make similar memories.  This is my middle guy and his friend relishing a chance to brave the lightening bugs and an older brother's scary stories.

Their adventure started out a little shaky, but they eventually triumphed!


I might even light the fire pit...

Did you ever camp in the safety of your yard?  What are your favorite memories?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grasshopper Brownies


Today we whipped up a batch of chocolaty mint goodness that we affectionately call "grasshopper" brownies. 

This post won't involve the harming of any insects, but I had a few children question what was in their brownies.  (This may be a good thing someday.)  They vividly recall the ground beans or applesauce trials and the "fiber" brownies I have served up in the past.  I guess they really believe I would have enough gall to actually hunt down grasshoppers to make a cake. 

I played along with them for a bit.

How could I have made the filling turn green without using grasshoppers?  Waste not, want not.

I reminded them that a long time ago there were grasshopper plagues and people would eat what was available, especially here in Nebraska.  It was better than starving to death and at one time our beloved Cornhuskers were known as the "Bug Eaters".

I had them hook, line, and sinker!  Luckily, the kids know that I love to tease and spin tales. 

They didn't hesitate one bit when I served up a platter of these wonderful brownies.  I had smacking lips and finger licking until it was all said and done.  Bizarre Foods Nebraska edition will have to wait for another day.

Here's what you need for the brownie base:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Hershey's syrup
  • 1 cup flour

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add eggs, salt, vanilla, and Hershey's syrup.  Mix well and add flour.  Pour into greased 9x13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  When cooled, layer the filling and frosting.



Here's what you need for the "grasshopper" filling:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup Creme' de Menthe
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine the melted butter, mint, and sugar until it is smooth.  You may need to adjust the sugar so the mixture is spreadable.  Spread the mint filling over the brownie base.  Let firm up a bit in the fridge before adding the frosting.

Here's what you need for the frosting:
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
Melt the chocolate chips and butter.  Mix well and spread over the green mint filling.  Let set and harden before serving.  I refrigerate the bars.

Serve up these little goodies with a glass of milk and you have happy little critters.  I was inspired by a similar recipe post at http://www.mamainsomnia.com/2011/07/christmas-in-july.html.  I am glad I stumbled upon that post! 

What snacks did you make up today?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Children of the Corn: Formulating A Plan


Last week I wrote about identifying scary behaviors our children exhibit.  We examined the triggers and the reason why this behavior might be surfacing.  You can find the first post in the "Children of the Corn" series here

Today we are going to work on developing a plan of action to overcome these obstacles with a simple three step plan.  Please note that I still rely on time-outs and natural consequences when an ugly behavior rears it's ugly head.  This plan is a guide for parents and caregivers to help avoid triggers and have some ideas stored in our back pockets. 

Consistency is my favorite term. You need regular schedules that are predictable and reliable. Transitions and cues will become your best friends. You will not get anywhere without being predictable in your responses.  Children crave routines and knowing what is coming next.  If you develop a successful plan, the children will be able to anticipate your reaction.

Formulate a family or classroom friendly plan, by following these steps:

  • Create a small list of activities or modifications that would prevent the behavior. This could be as simple as developing a consistent routine during the day.  It may involve providing multiples of similar toys or assigning jobs every day in a fair, predictable manner.  You might need to adjust the snack schedule to include an extra snack to prevent hungry antics.  You might decide to be proactive by showing attention and acknowledgement BEFORE a tantrum develops. 

  • Now we need to work on replacing the negative skills with acceptable alternatives.  That sounds a little daunting, but if we want our children to succeed in life they need to have the proper social skills to handle the real world.  These skills range from developing their vocabulary or sign language to express their wants and crossing over into the world of manners and etiquette.  You will need to model manners, label them, and include them in every aspect of your day.  Teach the children to ask for turns when they want the same toy and how to respond.  You may need to use a read aloud and picture cards to depict positive reactions.  It depends on the behavior, but you will need to teach the child what is expected

  • Finally, as adults, we need to know how we are going to respond to the behavior and ways to encourage the acceptable replacements.  This step rests completely on our shoulders.  You want to encourage positive behavior as much as possible, but be careful in your rewards.  You don't want to motivate a child only to win rewards like stickers, candy, and toys.  You want to build up their intrinsic motivation to behave.  If you see a situation developing, use cues to help the children avoid a screaming or biting session.  Use meaningful praise if you see a positive reaction when sharing toys.  Be specific.  Take pictures of successful moments and put them in a book.  A personal favorite that an instructor shared, was to call the child's answering machine and leave a message noting a good thing you witnessed for her to hear when she gets home. 
The sky is the limit.  Undesirable behaviors won't disappear over night, but with time and patience you can help the child learn acceptable skills. 

What are some skills you are currently working on?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Simple Yellow Squash


Today we unearthed two yellow summer squash hidden underneath dark green foliage.  I was ecstatic.  This is our first picking of veggies besides wax beans and peas. 

I learned a very simple way to cook up these tasty treats from my husband's 96 year old Grandmother who lives down in Texas. 

Here's what you do:
  • Wash and clean your squash. These are little bigger than I normally like, but I am not complaining!
  • Remove the ends and slice down the middle.  This will prevent rolling squash and make it easier to dice.

  • Slice into 1/4 inch pieces.

  • In a heated skillet add a little olive oil or butter. 
  • Add the squash slices.  Add 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic (or 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder), cover with pepper, toss in a little salt, and add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.

  • Simmer on medium heat until the squash is tender.
  • Serve warm.

I told you that was easy.  What's your favorite way to fix summer squash?

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Horrifying Movies Growing Up: My Top 10

    I was inspired by a blog post I stumbled upon the other day.  It was about the author's Top Ten Scary Children's FilmsI agree with a few of her top contenders, but I thought I would add a few to make my own list of spine tingling movies I encountered growing up.  They might not fit into a true horror flick genre, but they instilled FEAR into my young heart.  That's what counts. 

    1.  The Goonies

    My brother actually cried in the theatre when we saw this way back in the 80's.  We went on to wear out a VHS copy my Aunt gave us for Christmas.  It was thrilling and hilarious, but this movie was loaded with little kid nightmare fuel. 

    We had bank robbers, disfigured people chained in basements, dead people in freezers, skeletons, booby traps, and pirate ships.   Don't forget bats, caves, only half of the "Two Corey's", and Chunk doing the "truffle shuffle". 

    I will never look at blenders and Baby Ruth candy bars the same way...

    2.  E.T.

    I don't get the appeal of E.T. as a fun show for children.  It horrified me.  He wasn't really cute, but as aliens go he was adorable.  He was slow, lost, and craved Reese's Pieces.  I have repressed the mean scientists and the possibility of aliens invading Earth inside the closet of my mind. 

    I know it's in there, probably hidden among fluffy memories... 

    3.  The Wizard Of Oz

    Tornadoes, flying monkeys, bad witches, and frightening wizards.  Enough said...

    4.  Bambi

    I refuse to watch this Disney movie.  My Aunt and Uncle introduced this gem to me and I probably scared them with my reaction.  This was the first time I was introduced to the ways of the world.  Bad things do happen to sweet and nice creatures.  Mothers die and forests burn.  In my sheltered world, this dose of reality scared me.

    I won't even go into my deep rooted issue with hunting that I had as a child.  Every Fall, I feel a twinge of regret when I pass deer hung in trees.  Venison doesn't pass these lips and it all stems from one fateful movie...

    5.  Poltergeist

    I didn't get to watch this beauty until I was about 12 and only because my parents were at work.  I was alone in the house and it was airing on TBS. 

    I don't sleep with the television on...

    6.  IT

    I haven't even watched this bone chiller.  I got the main idea from commercials and that's all it took.  Sewer drains and clowns = FRIGHTENING for a young girl.

    7.  Pet Cemetery

    This movie viewing experience was a benefit to having friends with older siblings.  My parents would never have let me watch this when I was growing up.  There are so many scary details that I don't even know where to start. 

    Creepy resurrected dead cats and children are bad enough, but razors cutting heels under the bed freaked me out.  This might explain my bad habit of storing items under my bed.  Nobody can hide under it! 

    To this day, I don't walk by beds-  I jump onto them...

    8.  Gremlins

    This movie started out innocently enough, but ended horrifically terrible.  Who wouldn't want a cute little Gizmo to keep you company?  After seeing the bedlam unleashed in the background of a town preparing for Christmas, I tend to strictly be a "cat or dog person". 

    I viewed midnight snacks in a whole new light after that train wreck of a movie... 

    9.  The Night Of The Twisters

    Growing up in Nebraska, you have a respect for Mother Nature and her ability to spawn tornadoes that rip across the prairie.  I recalled reading the book this movie was adapted from as a child and my friends adamantly reminded me that it is based loosely on the tornadoes that ravaged Grand Island, NE one night in 1980.

    10. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty

    I couldn't decide between these two Disney movies.  The antagonists took evil witch to a whole new level.  These movies made me thankful that I am not a beautiful princess with a powerful enemy lurking in the castle next door.



    After sharing these films, I am starting to see a pattern of my fears.  What movies did you fear?  Which ones are on your list?

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Haystacks

    Growing up in the Sandhills of Nebraska, haystacks were a very common sight.  One of my favorite scenes is a flat, gentle pasture speckled with rows of hay bales spanning miles into the horizon.  I get a little excited when the corn and bean fields give way to pastures and hay fields, because I know I am home.
     
    Today we made "haystacks" for snack.  These little piles of crunchy goodness make me a tad homesick, but these butterscotch treats are easy and don't require an oven-  perfect for a 100 plus degree day. 

    In the past, I have tied them into lessons featuring The School Children's Blizzard of 1888, Little Boy Blue Mother Goose Poems, and Nebraska history. 

    Here is what you will need:

    • 1 large bag Chow Mein noodles
    • 1/2 bag of miniature marshmallows
    • 1 bag of butterscotch chips
    • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
    • wax paper
    Here is how we made our little haystack treats:
    • In a microwave safe bowl, mix butterscotch chips and peanut butter.  Keep an eye on them and microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir until smooth.

    • Add the chow mein noodles and marshmallows.  Gently fold the mixture until all the noodles and marshmallows are evenly covered.


    • Take a Tablespoon and drop dollops onto a waxed piece of paper.

    • Let them set and harden in a cool area.

    • We saved the best part for last-  EAT!
    Who knew hay could taste so sweet?

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Raspberry Cordial



    One of my favorite books growing up was the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery.  It's a little tale about a red headed orphan who wiggles her way into the heart of her adoptive family and neighbors living on Prince Edward Island. 

    I am not sure if it was Anne's red hair or her personality that drew me to the series.  I had a lot in common with poor Anne Shirley.  Red hair and knack for getting into trouble bonded me with this heroine.

    A scene that I recall fondly involves Anne, her bosom friend Diana, and a not so common bottle of raspberry cordial.  If you aren't familiar with the scene; Anne accidentally serves Diana a mistaken container of alcohol.  She was supposed to serve raspberry cordial.

    Raspberry cordial is a favorite drink in this house.  The boys even partake.

    We've had wonderful black raspberry pickings this year and I am tired of canning jam.  I decided to throw caution to the wind by indulging my inner child and sweet tooth with a revered recipe from L. M. Montgomery and Anne's time.  I found this recipe years ago on the internet.  It's really simple and very refreshing.

    You will need:
    • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries-  you can use black or red
    • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice-  freshly squeezed or bottled
    • 6 cups boiling water
    • lemon slices
    Here's what you do:
    • In a large sauce pan, mix the raspberries and sugar. 

    • Bring to a boil and smash the berries with a potato masher.  You want the sugar completely dissolved.

    • Strain the raspberries, reserving the seeds and pulps.

    • Add your lemon juice.

    • Bring 6 cups water to a boil.  Add that to the raspberry syrup.

    • Stir and chill.

    • Serve with lemon slices.
    I went a step further by rimming the glasses with lemon juice and sugar.  I poured a little lemon juice in a dish and dipped the rims in the juice before I coated them with sugar.  If you are only serving a few glasses, you can just run the lemon slice around the circumference before dipping in the sugar.




    The cordial tasted wonderful and let me share a "girlie" reference with my sons.  I really want to crack out the DVD's and have a movie fest of Anne inspired cinema. 

    I am not expecting it to happen, but a girl can dream...