Red Velvet Pancakes For Valentine’s Day

valentines day babiesTo all of my Valentines, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I made these pancakes this weekend in preparation for breakfast on Thursday with my Valentines (since I will be working both jobs that day and won’t be seeing them other than at breakfast before bedtime really). These hold up great frozen in proportioned Ziploc baggies (where is my endorsement deal from them?) for about a month, so this recipe makes tons of pancakes. Enjoy the love-fest all month long!

Red Velvet Pancakes

Red Velvet Pancakes

6 cups all-purpose flour

6 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

6 eggs

4 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk, or almond milk, or half and half (no 1 % or skim)

6 tablespoons red food coloring

6 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, melted

Mix all the dry ingredients in a really large bowl. Mix all the wet in a medium-sized bowl, whisk these

Because I love these old cards...

Because I love these old cards…

thoroughly, this is like when making a cake, once you combine wet and dry ingredients you are going to want to leave lumps so that these pancakes are nice and fluffy.Combine everything in the large bowl, slowly whisking until it’s well combined. (There should be no flour in the bottom of the bowl, but small lumps of flour in the mix are good)

Heat very flat frying pan, or griddle, to a medium high heat. (If your first batch of pancakes turns too dark or cooks super-fast, lower the heat. They should take a while to cook.)

Pour out batter onto griddle and leave them alone as the bubbles form. When the uncooked side is fairly covered in popped bubbles, flip. (The edges will also look dry)

After flipping, allow them to rise (DO NOT press them down! This will make them heavy instead of fluffy!). The reason you are cooking at the lowest possible temperature is so they can cook through without burning or squishing, all of which are bad for pancakes. The best time for this side is about ½ the time they spent on the other side cooking. Experiment with the timing until you get a feel for it.

*This is also fun if  you toss in chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder and  reduce sugar to 1/2 cup, and reduce red food coloring to about 3 Tablespoons. Then you have Pink Chocolate Chip Pancakes!*

Sizzling on a griddle...

Sizzling on a griddle…

You can use regular syrup (BoyChild II is a purest). I also (thoroughly) enjoy melted butter with a sprinkle of powdered sugar as my topping. (Of course, I like any pancake best this way, you know, dripping with buttery goodness…) But if this is all too pedestrian for you (or there is someone to impress) try the following glaze recipe poured hot over the top.Vintage VDay

Cream Cheese Glaze:

Remember Cream Cheese Frosting? Get 2 cups out of your fridge (What you haven’t been keeping some in there for mid night snacking straight from the Tupperware “just in case”?! Well, then whip some up real quick).

Put the 2 cups frosting in a microwave safe bowl, add 2 Tablespoons of water.

Heat on 50% power 30 seconds at a time, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. If your mix is still too thick, add more water 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Space VDayServe glaze warm over hot, buttered pancakes.

Do you have a special Valentine’s Day meal? Please share in the comments or email me at mamaskitchentable@gmail.com.

eggcellent valentine

eggcellent valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day my loves!

4 Quick Dinners for the Little Ghouls

Happy Halloween everyone! Prayers to those of you still without power or under water. I hope you all go Trick-or-Treating as soon as you are able. For the rest of us, it’s Trick-or-Treating on a school night. (Ugh) I always hate that when it happens, you can’t let them eat their candy while you are walking around the neighborhood (Ahh! Potential poisons/razor blades/allergens/oh my!!), which you are doing at an unreasonably early hour (it’s still daylight and only the toddler crowd and complete lame-os Trick-or-Treat before dark; ask any of my kids, they will totally confirm this fact), so you go home after, everyone gets one piece of candy then it’s teeth brushed, pjs on, and off to bed. (hurry, hurry) And the next day? Cranky, pissy, sugar-hungover kids; hanging out at school with other kids of a similar disposition. (an excellent reason to not teach elementary school, or to give your kids teacher an excellent gift prior to the “winter holiday”, however you want to interpret that) I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more fights at school the day after Halloween, I wonder… (To do: Google average day of school year with most fights…) Anyway so before the treating and tricking this evening you still have to feed the little dears (I normally wouldn’t refer to kids that way, but trying to get them to anything like eat a healthy meal prior to Trick-or-Treating? Psht, right), my mommy guilt gets on me and I’m all “a healthy meal before we indulge this evening” while they are all (picture short people vibrating with excitement) “but I’m not hungry for supper (same child is normally in the final death throes of starvation by this time in the afternoon), I just want to put on my costume and goooooo (whiney tone added to the physical vibration here)”.  Ahh, these are the days… Good times and all that. I have discovered a few (very fast) fairly appealing and yet moderately nutritional Halloween suppers. I thought I’d share (since most of them were ideas from cookbooks that I simplified or used as is). These are also fun for any busy night in October or, I suppose, if you go for the ghoulish, any busy night year round.

Ghost Soup and Graveyard Salad

*the trick to any Halloween dish is make it sound as gross/scary as possible*

Ghost Soup is actually low-sodium New England Clam Chowder topped with a slice of Provolone Cheese cut with a ghost shaped cookie cutter. (place cheese while steamy hot and your ghost will be more melty and less cookie cuttery-yes I just made that word up) Graveyard Salad is Base Salad with large wheat croutons (gravestones) and alfalfa sprouts (moss) and raspberry vinaigrette dressing (zombie blood), delish!

Wormy Sandwiches with Bug-Infested Logs

Wormy Sandwiches are hotdogs, sliced length-wise into thin strips and tossed in your fav BBQ sauce, served in a pile on a hamburger bun (or dinner roll for littler monsters). Bug-Infested Logs are a gross (er?) take on the classic ants on a log (aka the only way anyone has ever been excited about celery, ever). You cut your celery logs and fill the trough with cream cheese (maggots) or cottage cheese (if you kids are willing-mine aren’t & well, neither am I *shudder*) top with raisins (flys, bugs, whatever you wanna call them). Bon-appetit! 🙂

Vampire Soup and Fang Sandwiches

Vampire Soup is just classic tomato soup (blood) with a slice of Colby (or American, just orange cheese) cut with bat-shaped cookie cutter (you can usually get 2 bats per slice) floating on top. Fang Sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches cut into 4 triangles (arrange into a toothy grin on plate around bowl of soup). This one usually makes even the pickiest monster happy.

Mummies and Garbage Dip

The Mummies are hot dogs wrapped with crescent roll dough that is sliced into strips. (Make sure to wrap haphazardly so that it looks like mummy wrappings, also kids can do this part, if they want to help) Bake as directed on crescent roll package. When cooled enough to eat give your mummies ketchup (or mustard) eyes. Garbage Dip is Ranch veggie dip (get a kind that has chunks of veggies in it) with cut up veggies spread all around on a serving platter. The trick is you need 5 baby carrots arranged in the dip as though they are a hand reaching up out of the dip. Try adding to this “illusion” by putting a plastic spider ring on the ring ‘finger”. Mmmmm…

These are the easiest, I’ve seen others, but the whole point is quick and easy, right? Save the Spider Web Pancakes for breakfast, not between school and candy time Trick-or-Treating.

 

 

 

 

 

Have a fun (and safe) time!

Harvest Pancakes

A friend suggested that I write the Harvest Pancake recipe first and then emailed back & said “don’t forget that gross spider web thing the kids love”. So both of these recipes are dedicated to “the kids” (who really do love the idea of webby bug riddled pancakes) and Ree.

What you will need:

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup Truvia (or Splenda)

3/4 cup milk

¼ cup water

Vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

12 oz canned pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional: Syrup

Powdered Sugar

Dried cranberries

Crushed Pecans

Diced Apples

Stewed Apples

What to do: (Wow, just typing all that I’m hungry)

Mix all ingredients except oil and things listed under optional.

Add any diced apples, cranberries, or crushed pecans you would like to use.

Heat oil in pan or on griddle until it bubbles.

Pour out circles of batter. Leave to rise and begin to brown on bottom edges. (There will be bubbles all over top side of pancake when ready to flip)

Flip allow, rising again. Remove from pan when cooked through (about 45 seconds after flipping).

Top with butter, syrup, stewed apples, and/or powdered sugar.

Halloween Treat:

Do not add any “extras” to batter, but do remove water and add 3 Tablespoons more flour.

Pour into Ziploc baggie.

Cut small corner of baggie open.

Pipe batter onto hot pan/griddle in spider web shapes!

Allow to cook as usual.

*Dropping a few raisins on the plate before the syrup add a little to the spider feel of these pancakes.*

Self Esteem, Storm Troopers and Losing

This is something I have always thought was ridiculous. But with it having been all over the web recently with articles like this, and the commencement address at the beginning of summer I haven’t said anything, most of it’s already been said. I only posted to Twitter the ridiculousness of BC II winning a certificate of Achievement for  (not making this up) Confidence. At lunch. At the end of the school year award ceremony. What?! He thought it was silly too. His words, “I’ve always been confident at lunch. It’s something I’ve always been good at. You know, eating, so I am confident, but it’s not like I got better at it. Weird, huh, Mom?” He and I talked about how he would rather of not gotten an award at all if it was going to be something like that. I did ask him if it was fun to get an award, instead of no award. He said, “No. Mom, it’d be like if we had a race and everyone won. That’s not a race, the real winner doesn’t get to celebrate ’cause it wasn’t special. That’d be lame. Then no one would want to race.”

But this week, I’m planning yet another birthday party, BC II is turning 8, and I am reminded of another party a few years ago. Because since that party I have debated the very way I throw parties for kids, at each party I consider this one boy who brought the dark side of this issue screaming into my little village. (For the record this kid, who lives 2 blocks away was never invited back) I wanted to tell this story to help parents understand why those of us in the participation trophies make entitled little brats grow up to be entitled, jobless thirty year olds sleeping on Mom and Dad’s couch complaining about how the world has done them wrong, think that way. This is not the story of a thirty year old, it’s the story of a birthday party for a ten-year-old (BC I) and how we all need to be careful with how much we protect our “babies” from the world. If they never get to lose as a child, they will lose at life, not cool Mom, not cool.

So to set the scene it’s a lovely October afternoon, and we are having an outside birthday party with about 12 9 to 11 year olds in attendance. The theme is Halloween, as Halloween will be the following week, and all the boys are in costumes. The problems start when we play Halloween Bingo and escalate from there. The boy dressed as a Jedi wins, we all cheer and he picks a bouncy rubber vampire on a spring as his prize (there is a large tin that used to contain Halloween popcorn filled with items like this, you know the stuff you would put in a goody bag, and as prizes each kid gets to pick one). I had the boys decorate trick-or-treat bags (orange lunch bag sized bags) earlier and wrote everyone’s name on theirs. I had explained at the time that we would use them to hold everyone’s game prizes and other take home treats. I told the young Jedi congrats again and to put the vampire in his bag. Then I asked the boys if they wanted to play again or if we should move on to the next game. We ended up playing until two other boys had also won (a vampire and a batman). Then I put up the bingo and got out this blow up pumpkin and started organizing the boys to play “rotten pumpkin” (like hot potato) explaining the rules as I cue the music. A little (well actually he was really tall for 11 and pretty pudgy too) Storm Trooper starts whining. “But I didn’t get my prize” (Imagine all the letters drawn out & high-pitched) “But you didn’t win yet,” my own 5-year-old Spiderman pipes up, “you have to win to get prizes.” “that’s not fair.” (same whiney tone) ” We will play lots of games, I’m sure you will win a prize, too,” I step in, mostly because I can’t stand that whiney voice. We begin the game the Storm Trooper gets eliminated about the third or fourth time the music stops. He starts crying, “No FAIR! NO FAIR!” I come over and pat his shoulder, trying to console him with the fact that we will play this game again and several others and that would he like some punch or some of the food laid out while he waited for this one to be over. The other boys who were already out (one of whom was K-man and 2 at the time were staring at this kid like he was crazy while munching and watching the game. Star Trooper didn’t calm down until I got him a cookie (he was not interested in the veggie garbage dip & I have a theory now regarding his chubbiness) and a brownie. We play 3 rounds in all. Guess who one the third round? Yup, our Storm Trooper. We move on to play Graveyard Dash, which is a race/relay game I invented involving cardboard gravestones with the party guests’ (ahem who remembered to RSVP) names on them. We begin and the Knight wins. Again with the crying. “But I tried really hard. We should all get prizes. My Mommy would never let anyone not get a prize, it’s not good for our self-esteem.” I mentally put on the breaks, my brain tires smoked a bit as I just stared at this kid. “What?!” “My Mommy knows I should always win so that I will be happy, you are mean!” (brief pause in the story to remind you this kid is ELEVEN, not two) Now I’m just dumbfounded, I can’t say “Well your Mom is an idiot, raising a spoiled brat” so I just stare. BC I (as a Gladiator, he was going through an ancient Rome phase at the time) rushes to the Storm Trooper and starts angrily telling him, “My Mom is not mean. She has enough respect for us that she doesn’t baby us like the teachers do. Her games are fun because we all get to play and someone ACTUALLY wins.”  “Yeah, ” pipes up the Jedi, “BC I’s parties are always awesome cause there is good food, and cool games with real prizes.” “You’re just being a baby, ” this was from my five-year-old Spiderman. I break up the verbal assault, with thank yous to my defenders, but reminders that we are all going to play nicely and enjoy the party and not be mean to each other. (blah blah blah, had to be the mom there) We continue on like this with each and every game we play. If the Storm Trooper wins, he’s happy, if someone else wins, tears and whining. When we stopped playing games each of the kids had won something about two or three times each. We move on to presents. My Gladiator opens gifts and profusely thanks the givers. We start to move on to cake (and the end of the party) when Storm Trooper starts whining again! “Where are MY presents?” I didn’t get a present!” My Spiderman points out that it’s not his birthday and everybody only gets one birthday turn a year, so it’s fair. (The answer I have given every toddler in my house when this issue has come up before) “I’m telling my mommy how mean you are!” This is directed at me as I am lighting candles on a haunted house cake. ” Honey, you won several prizes, have a cool bag and a pumpkin you painted and a ghost lollipop all to go home with. Isn’t that nice?” “NO! I want MY PRESENTS!” “Well I am sorry, but we are having cake right now, would you like some?” (this calmed him down until his mother got there)We thanked him for coming (and my Gladiator learned an important lesson in politeness) as he walked away, arms full of loot (including a plate piled with snacks “for the ride home, he gets cranky in the car and transitions are just so hard for him” was the explanation from his Mom) I heard him telling her all bout how mean it was that he didn’t win every game and there were no presents for him.

I tell this story because it’s so ridiculous an example of what people are doing to their kids. That 11-year-old had a miserable time at a party that the other boys had a blast at. He hasn’t been invited to any parties at my house since then. He is missing out on a lot the joy of being a kid thanks to the way his mother (and I have to assume father) allows him to always win. I know this is how they treat the kids in Elementary school at least and that not all of them were acting like that, but this little Storm Trooper will always be on my mind, every time I plan a party. I worry, am I too firm? Was I too unaccepting? Or was that kid just a brat? I haven’t run across another as bad as the Storm Trooper (which is what we call him now, since the memory is burned in our brains, but we can’t remember his name) but I often wonder what, if anything I should have done differently?

What do you think? As we get geared up for party season around here I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions regarding dealing with any future Storm Troopers.

“Fancy” Shrimp Salad

No this is not actually a fancy or complicated salad, but my children are convinced that if we get to eat shrimp it must be a fancy occasion, and so they named this salad. This salad calls for precooked frozen salad shrimp, which are not cheap. As you know, I don’t have a large food budget, but we do eat this salad a few times per summer. Basically, like with any meat, I buy when things are on sale. I’m not talking “Oh, well, that’s cheaper than last week” type sale. Outside of special occasion shopping (and even then I try to avoid it) I buy meats when they are “Holly cow, that’s an incredibly great price” on sale. Then I freeze them. I probably should write a post about freezing sale foods for later… Wait. Focus. So a small bag of salad shrimp has enough to feed us two meals, but once you thaw those little things they do not keep long at all! You have about a week, tops. Make sure to thaw them as it instructs on the bag (this is a food safety issue, since you aren’t going to cook them, pay close attention). Basically put them in their bag still a clean colander in your empty sink, turn on the cold water to run over them until they are completely thawed. Then open the bag and rinse them one more time. After you rinse and drain them the final time put them on folded paper towels to absorb some of the water.

Assemble:

Portion Base Salad into bowls

Top with diced bell peppers, cucumbers and grape tomatoes.

Sprinkle (small) handful jack cheese shreds

Top with 1/4 cup salad shrimp

For adults (& braver kids) top with cocktail sauce.

For kids (& adults who won’t eat cocktail sauce) add dressing. I recommend a French or Catalina, but one of mine likes this with ranch and one likes it with ketchup *shudder*, so to each his own I suppose.

 Serve & Enjoy!

 *Make sure to put salad in a Tupperware and back in the fridge as quickly as possible. *