Monday, April 30, 2012

What's for Dinner? Pancakes Pals

It is Saturday morning and I am sitting on the couch drinking coffee, watching the news, flipping through a cookbook when Heidi stumbles out from her bedroom.

"What are you doing?" She asks.

"Well, I really want to start updating my blog regularly again so we should start cooking new things and taking pictures again." I replied.

Too that she jumps up and sprints to the bookshelf in her playroom returning just as quickly with her cookbook and asks if she can help. We spend the next ten minutes flipping through this kid friendly cookbook when she exclaims she is STARVING and that I need to make her pancakes RIGHT NOW.

I deserve this. This is exactly how I treated my dad when I was Heidi's age. Stumble out of my room demanding food RIGHT NOW. My dad still will say "feed me, I'm hungry!" any time I start to have a blood sugar meltdown in his presence.

By this time I was on my third cup of coffee and feeling pretty pulled together so I said, "It's your cookbook, why don't you make me some pancakes. I will help you but you will do most of the work."

She was all over that and strapped on her super cute apron we picked up at the State Fair last year.

We used the recipe out of her book. I was worried they wouldn't be very good but they turned out fine. And I realized that I have never posted my pancake recipe here so I will have to do that in the near future.

Here is what you will need, but totally feel free to use your favorite box mix or recipe.
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a dash of salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups milk
2 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the oil, eggs, and milk and stir until most of the lumps are gone.

Just call her Heidi Childs! I had her measure out all the ingredients and put them in the bowl. The only thing she had trouble with was the flour so I poured more than she would need my small batter bowl and showed her how to level the measuring cup out with the handle of her wooden spoon. I also had her crack her eggs in a small bowl, not over the batter, to prevent shells in our pancakes. She did a great job!

Next pour the batter on to your hot griddle or a preheated pan. Make a medium size pancake for the head and two smaller ones for the ears.

Heidi poured the one on the left and mine is the one on the left.

Cook until the edges are brown and the batter bubbles. The very carefully slide the spatula around all edges to make sure it is completely lose from the pan. Flip in one quick motion to keep it from folding up on it's self.

Cook the other side until it's golden brown.

The cookbook suggested to use blueberries for the eyes but we did not have any on hand so we improvised and used M&M's. The M&M's were kind of fun because when we took them off to eat the pancakes they had stained the eyes and nose on the face.

Heidi sliced strawberries for the mouths.

How fun is that?!  I think the top two are Heidi's and the bottom two are mine. Then I made regular pancakes with the rest of the batter. We ended up with four Pals and five regular pancakes.

She had so much fun making these pancakes. It was her first time taking the lead and having me be her sous chef. When her auntie came to pick her up a bit later she was so excited to tell her all about the pancake pals.

She wanted to name them but I told her I didn't think I could eat them if they had names.  But this one looks like a Bob to me. I guess I can name him now, since I already ate him...

In the end, the pancake pals were pretty good. I do like my recipe better but this was Heidi's meal and she was pleased. I hope this is the beginning of her joining me in the kitchen and a chef and not just a helper. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Where to Eat: The Lodge of Robbinsdale

One Saturday night a few weeks back we found ourselves kid free at dinner time. When this happens we try not to miss an opportunity to open up our dinner options to include restaurants we may not want to try with a slightly picky seven year old in tow.

After asking for recommendations on the trusty old Facebook and searching yelp we ended up at The Lodge in Robbinsdale for Prime Rib night. Those of you who know me, I mean really know me, know I am always on the lookout for a restaurant who serves a trusty Prime Rib. One that is good every time. One where I can order my medium rare slice and it comes out medium rare. One where it comes out warm but does not have grill marks on it. I cannot begin to tell you how much of a disappointment grill marks on a Prime Rib are!

Oh, sorry, where was I?

Yes. The Lodge of Robbinsdale. The Lodge is located at 4080 W Broadway right next door to Bill's Gun Range just off County Road 81 and Hwy 100 in Robbinsdale.

They offer a sports bar style menu with a good variety of food, reasonable prices, and a full bar. The dining room is split into a bar side and a dining room side. If you are there for dinner, not pool or drinking, I highly recommend the dinning room side. The bar side is rather loud.

Like I said, we went in with the intent on ordering Prime Rib but for no real reason I changed my mind and decided to order off the menu.

We ordered the Lodge Wings with Buffalo sauce. They had the perfect level of spice for me and surprisingly they were not too hot for Shawn either.

We also split The Cowboy Burger. The Cowboy can be ordered as a Hamburger or a Chicken Sandwich. We opted for the burger since we also had the wings. We ordered it Medium and it came out with the right amount of pink. I was pleased with the use of thick cut bacon as I am easily annoyed with the microwave bacon some restaurants have switched to. And as a BBQ sauce connoisseur, I was impressed with the smoky flavor in the sauce. Overall, this was a solid burger and I will order it again.

Next time I will remember to take a picture of them food. I had just gotten home from a work trip the day before where I spent the week suffering from seasonal allergies. I developed this insane cough that hung around for about a week. My friend and I called it My SARS (Stupid Atlanta Respiratory Sh!t). Well, the short story is that it took all my focus to keep my cough under control and I had no capacity left over to remember to snap off a few photos. So for today, you will just have to take my word!

Can you do that? Will we be okay?

Okay, moving on.
The Lodge also had a decent sized dessert menu that just appeared on our table sometime during our dinner. Everything looked great and we opted for the Apple Pie with Cinnamon Ice Cream. The pie was good but wasn't anything special. Next time I will try something different.

Shawn had a beer and I had a glass of wine and our total was just under $40. I thought this was a fair price for two dinners, one dessert, and two drinks.

While this is a place we tend to end up at when we do not have Heidi, I will bring her along on our next visit. But I will take care to check the Events calendar on their website first. Monday night is kids eat free night and Sunday they have a brunch. Saturday is the only night they offer Prime Rib. They have specials almost every night and a huge stage where they have bands most Saturday nights.

Our waiter was very friendly without being overbearing. He checked in with us at appropriate times and even though it seemed most of his tables were on the bar side he never made us feel like he forgot we were there.

We plan to check out their brunch and when we do I will let you know what we think. I recommend The Lodge of Robbinsdale to anyone looking for a good sports bar style dinner, with or without kids!

(The Lodge of Robbinsdale did not ask me to write this review, I paid for the products received, their staff doesn't even know I exist, I just really like their product and wanted you to know about it.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What a Good Sport!

Now that we are down from four pets, my required amount of pets, to two cats, Peter has been told he needs to step it up a bit.

I really does take four animals to keep me happy. This way they are able to take turns being the one who is being picked on by Mama.

It's good to see that Peter is being a good sport!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's for Dinner? Savory Honey Chicken Thighs

I had a large package of chicken thighs I needed to cook on night last week. I searched around for a chicken thigh recipe that sounded both tasty but didn't take an hour to cook.

I came across a recipe for Spicy Honey Chicken Thighs on a site called Real Mom Kitchen. I had most of the ingredients but my chicken had bones.

I made a few very small modifications and came up with this very yummy chicken. I want to thank Real Mom Kitchen for the recipe which you can find here.

What you need:

  • 4 bone in skinless chicken thighs
  • Canola or Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Remove the skin from your chicken thighs. This makes the chicken much healthier and allows the rub to flavor the chicken meat, not just the skin.

Pat the chicken dry. And go ahead and turn on your broiler to high. Make sure your top rack is as high as you can place it and your bottom rack is in the middle of the oven. This will keep you from having to move the racks when the oven is super hot!

Mix up the rub in a bowl as follows:
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin

Drizzle the oil of your choice over the chicken. Coat the chicken with the rub taking care to get it all over the chicken. Since I feed seven people I made eight chicken thighs. Doubling the recipe gave me the exact amount of run I needed.

Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet lined with foil, bone down.  Then place the baking sheet in your hot oven. You will broil the chicken for 5 minutes, flip the chicken so now your bones are up for 5 more minutes.

While the chicken is broiling make the sauce by mixing 1/2 cup of honey with 1 tbsp of cider vinegar. This sauce will be plenty even if you made 8 pieces of chicken so please do not double it.

Okay, so now your chicken has been broiled for 5 minutes on each side. Switch your oven over to bake at 350 degrees. Flip the chicken back so the bones are down and brush with the sauce then place back in the oven on the middle rack for 5 minutes.

Now you will have to watch the chicken to make sure the sauce doesn't burn.  You will turn your chicken and brush with sauce again then place in the oven for another 5 minutes. Repeat this process of flipping, saucing, and baking for 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes depending on how meaty your chicken thighs are and how many you have on the sheet.

I served the chicken with a salad and baked beans. Everyone agreed this will end up in the keep binder.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where to Eat? Old Fashoned Donut Shop

Often, after dropping my daughter at school in the morning, I will run into the Holiday Station Store on the corner to grab a muffin. More than half the time the muffin is frozen and I can't eat it right away. This leaves me very disappointed. And hungry!
One day when my daughter was home on her second day of strep we dropped the carpool off at the school and decided to check out this little shop.

I had very high expectations. There was a little donut shop near my house growing up where the neighborhood bought their donuts on their way to church or work, and where the older neighbors met up for coffee. I loved running in to pick out my favorite cake donut and seeing people we knew hanging out drinking coffee. I hoped that would be me some day.

That little donut shop changed ownership a number of years ago and my dreams were crushed. They stopped baking their donuts in house and all the charm was lost.

Anyway, I was expecting the same mom and pop bakers and that is exactly what I got. I was expecting homemade, fresh donuts and that is exactly what I got. It felt like a bit of my childhood was handed back to me in that moment.

Then I bit into the Old Fashion and it was like heaven. Melt in your mouth greasy with a crunch in all the right places. I can almost taste it right now.

I am here today to recommend to you, just for a quick breakfast or for any of your donut needs, Old Fashion Donut Shop! A quick google search told me the Delicious sign belongs to the Chinese Restaurant next door.

They are located on the corner of Douglas Drive and Medicine Lake Road in Crystal.

They are open everyday until noon but appear to be closed on Sundays. Their prices are comparable to any chain grocery store and on Monday's they have a sale where you can purchase up to 4 dozen donuts for $6 per dozen, this is about 40% off of the daily regular price.

I swung in and picked up a dozen to share with you and for my family to enjoy over the next few days.

 They have about 12 to 15 varieties of donuts, an assortment of muffins, and some rolls. I have not tried the muffins or rolls yet but they are on my list!

My favorite is the Old Fashion and the Chocolated Coated Cake donut.

They taste as amazing as they look!

I could not eat them all. Honestly I wasn't even willing to try them all since I don't like glazed donuts, but this one was calling my name. I had to cut it open and then try a few bites.

It's a cinnamon pastry with a glaze on the top. It was soft and cool, very pleasing to the pallet and called to be chased with a hot cup of coffee. Seeing as I am not a fan of the glaze two bites were enough for me but I just know my glaze loving friends would be all over this guy.

If you are ever in the area and you have a hankering for a donut, skip the gas station and check out Old Fashion Donuts. I promise you will not be sorry.

(Old Fashion Donuts did not ask me to write this review, I paid for the products received, their staff doesn't even know I exist, I just really like their product and wanted you to know about it.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Daisy Mae, Bullmastiff Extraordinaire

I write this post with an extremely heavy heart. After a more than two year battle with Osteosarcoma, Daisy Mae, the Bullmastiff extraordinaire, gave up her fight and went to be with her brother Pig where she now has four healthy, pain free legs.

If you have been following me for some time you may be familiar with Daisy's story. If you want to revisit her journey or if you haven't read it before, you can click here and read from the bottom up. I warn you, it was not a fun journey and at times I am sure it will be as hard to read as it was to write.

I am still not ready to write down all of the details of the last three weeks, and to be honest, I may never get there. And the final moments are for Shawn and me alone. But for now, here is what the last week looked like.

On Easter Sunday I knew bad things were starting to happen. I had a bit of a breakdown and then told Shawn I wanted Daisy to go see her vet. They were able to get her in on Tuesday in the afternoon. All we wanted were painkillers in the hope that she would be able to move with less pain. We were set that we would not run any tests or take any x-rays.

We were not able to see the vet who was with Daisy during her Osteosarcoma diagnosis but we were able to see the vet who worked with Pig in his last month so that helped me through our visit. She might not really know Daisy but she has been through two horrible events with me and she knows me.

Daisy walked into the vet willingly. Well, not really willingly.  Hmm… let's just say she walked into the vet. We were able to get her on the scale to learn she was 90 pounds, which was great since the last time she was weighed she was 85, but then she turned and hightailed it right to the front door. "I am out of here!" is what she was saying but do you blame her? Poor girl got her leg chopped off and then was filled with poison the last time she went to see a doctor.

The Doctor did a quick once over, drew a little bit of blood to make sure the pain medication wouldn’t shut down her kidneys, and we were out of there. None too soon if you ask Daisy.

The first night we gave her two full pain killers which just served to make her very loopy. She laid on the floor watching the cats play for over an hour and then would stare off into space with her glassy eyes.

On Wednesday morning she was feeling really good and scarfed down her breakfast. She ate the next three meals with no trouble which was remarkable since she had been eating about every third meal for the past two weeks. She was even able to drink some water and get out the back door without help.

Only that was short lived. By Thursday night the pain killers were not strong enough to allow her to stand at her bowl to eat and by Friday morning she was laying on the floor in the living room refusing to move.

I was able to get her to take her pills on Friday morning and on Friday night. She would only go out the front door, do her business, and come right back in. We picked up a dog bed for the floor so she didn’t have to climb onto the couch any more and that became her haven for the rest of her time with us.

Saturday morning was horrible. She got off the bed and fell. She walked down the hall and tripped over very rug. She made it to the living room where she collapsed and stayed until Shawn made her go out the front door. She tripped her way down the stairs with Shawn holding most of her weight up by her harness. It wasn't long before we were certain she had damaged her right leg or spine so badly she could not longer walk.

We don't know exactly what happened. She might have hurt her self falling. She might have grown a tumor in her leg that was big enough to cause uncontrollable pain. 

What we do know is she could no longer squat to pee. She could no longer walk. She could only stand for a few seconds at a time. She had no interest in eating. And the pain killers were doing nothing to help.

So we had to make the difficult decision. Let her suffer or let her have peace.

We chose peace.

We love you Daisy Mae. Daisy Dugong. Masy Dae. Moose. Hopscotch.