A Drive and Eat Dinner

My grand kids leave for a week in Florida. It’s an annual trip to a timeshare in Fort Meyers. They spend time with their “other” grandparents. It’s tradition for me to pack them “Roadie Travel Bags”, but this year, I also made our last dinner together a bit more fun by creating a drive and eat meal.

It’s amazing what you can do with a kitchen island, black and yellow masking tape and printed road signs. Of course, a few miniature car/truck props are needed to test out the roads.

Leftover taffy candy from Halloween was a great way to keep the road signs in place; that is, until the kids mowed over them with the vehicles. There was a Michigan map (with napkin and flatware) and Florida map (on dinner plate) with each place setting.

What a great learning experience on the basics of reading a map. My youngest grandson, Fischer, was most excited about the dump truck. He broke up small twigs, loaded them in the truck and drove them to Florida (not without a few crashes).

Make dinner time fun for the little ones.

I love making memories with my grand kids. They will remember this meal long after I disassemble everything. Oh, just for the record, dinner included hot dogs filled with Velveeta cheese and wrapped in bacon, mac and cheese, spinach salad and fresh fruit on wooden skewers.

Sweet Holiday TREEt

Holiday Sweet Tree-t

I clipped this recipe from a magazine last month thinking it would be a fun treat to make with the grandkids. I’m glad I decided to do it myself. My suggestion is to have all the shapes cut beforehand and let the kids do the assembling. No doubt the sticky, gooey sweetness will score big for the little ones.

What this recipe lacks in ingredients, it more than makes up for in calories. Let’s see, an entire box of Fruity Pebbles cereal, 1/2 stick of butter, one bag of mini marshmallows and frosting. Need I say more? Bite-size portions are in the neighborhood of 105 calories (most being sugar grams). I am guessing the recipe can serve up to 36.

Mix together melted marshamallows and cereal

 INGREDIENT LIST

  • 1 box Fruity Pebbles cereal
  • 1/2 stick butter (you use margarine)
  • 1 package mini-marshmallows ( 10 1/2 ounces)
  • 16 ounce ready-to-spread cream cheese frosting (or vanilla) 
  • Stacking cookie cutters (I used both round and daisy shapes because it’s what I had). The recipe called for star shapes. Improvise if you must.

 HOW TO

Melt the butter in a deep fry pan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and continue to melt and stir on low heat.

When marshmallows are completely melted, gradually add cereal. Mix well ensuring cereal has an even coat of marshmallow mixture.

Spread mixture in a 13"  x 9" baking dish

Lightly coat a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Evenly and firmly spread the gooey mixture into pan . I found a sheet of wax paper helps.

Let the mixture set up for 45 minutes to an hour before cutting with shaped cutouts.

 

The tree is stacked with 5 different size cut-outs. You need two of each size. I used a large circle for the base of tree, and rotated each shape based on diameter size (largest to smallest).

Each cut-out is attached to the next by frosting.  Fill in any bare spots with additional frosting and decorate with holiday candies. I used a peppermint candy as the tree topper.

 

You will need to bear down on the cookie cutter to cut through the gooey mixture. This is why I suggest making the cut-outs ahead of time when working with small children.

 

Cut shapes with cookie cutters

The cookie cutters should have some depth and be stable enough to cut without bending.

 

Cut out the stackable shapes from the cereal mixture

Attach the pieces with ready-to-serve frosting

Once the tree is constructed, keep it covered. I placed the tree on a holiday plate and covered with tented aluminum foil. Store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Now, here is the big question. How in the world do you cut this tree for serving? My answer, “I have no idea”. My thoughts are you start disassembling at the top of tree and work your way down, cutting into serving sizes.

Breakfast for Mommy

Breakfast for Mommy by Chef Fischer

There’s no better way to start a Friday morning than breakfast by the infamous four-year chef, Fischer. My special buddy spent an overnight, but not without an “over-exhausted, played too hard, no afternoon nap” melt-down at bed time. Never underestimate the strength of a four-year old in full tantrum mode.

He wanted to go home and see mommy. In the gospel according to Fischer, I was the bad guy because, “I never let him see his mommy”. I found his episode (as I call it) quite entertaining. The drama was better than any TV show I might have watched.

A peaceful settlement was made when we agreed he could make breakfast for Mommy in the morning. And then, as if nothing had happened, he asked me to read his favorite Max Lucado book, Twelve Days of Christmas. And when the sandman finally took him to the Land of Nod, I whispered YIPPEE and crashed.

Buttering the wafflesIt’s truly amazing how a good night’s sleep changes the world as we perceive it. I was no longer the bad NeeNee, instead I was greeted with hugs, kisses and a reminder that a Mommy breakfast was on the agenda.

It is important to note, waffles without LOTS of syrup and butter is considered a misdemeanor by anyone under age six.

As you can see, Chef Fish had no problem applying the appropriate amount of syrup to each waffle. In fact, he emptied the remainder of the bottle. Thank goodness, it was “sugar-free”.

The calories weren’t as bad you might think. One waffle (with syrup/butter) and the fruit pictured is 155 calories. Add two servings of scrambled egg beaters for only 60 more calories.

The next time your little peep wants to make you breakfast, I suggest toaster waffles. It’s ideal for kids four-years and up. There is beaming pride when they present the dish. Forget about all the dripping syrup on the counter, or the butter that dropped on the floor. Create a memory. You can clean up sticky messes with soapy water, but you can’t recreate memories.

 

Turtle Hamburger

A turtle burger any kids would love!This was last night’s dinner for the grand kids. They generally are not burger kind of kids, odd as that may seem. I decided to try a different take on presenting the burger especially since the wine guy had purchased an enormous package of burger meat from Costco.

Well, it worked! All three kids chowed down and ate every last bite of their burger. They even ate the tomato and lettuce. The turtle burgers were served with corn on cob. It was a fun meal and easy to make. Here’s the how-to:

The beginnings of a turtle hamburger.

  • Shape hamburger or ground sirloin meat into patties. Cook as desired.
  • I didn’t have burger buns so I cut white bread slices into circles using a used a cookie cutter. I liked this idea better because the bread wasn’t so thick.  English muffins are another option, but my grand kids aren’t muffin fans.
  • Slice baby dill pickles to make the turtle’s head, tail and feet. Use any extra pickles to make the turtle shell (see below).
  •  Add burger, cheese and ketchup to the bread base.Add any other condiments you want, E.g., mustard, mayo, relish.
  • Top with Iceberg lettuce and add slices of dill pickles to create the turtle shell.
  • The turtle eyes are small dollops of mayo with a raisin cut in half.
  • Serve with a side dish like corn on the cob or mac & cheese.

This turtle theme can also be used to create a before dinner craft. Here are links to a couple of easy turtle ideas using items you have around the house. Link #1, Link #2

This is a great opportunity to teach kids about turtles. I’ve noted a few links that might prove helpful.

Link #1, Link #2, Link #3

 

Eating Asparagus, Kid’s Style

We had plenty of fun eating dinner with the grand kids last night. The grilled asparagus was a hit except with four year old, Fischer. He wanted no part of these long green stems that looked like oversize pieces of grass. Thankfully, big brother came to the rescue. His strategy was simple.

“Plug your nose Fischer and you won’t taste it. As soon as you swallow it, take a drink of chocolate milk to help the asparagus go down your throat.”

Watching Fischer’s facial expressions gave us all a chuckle. In the end, he finished one asparagus stem. It was a milestone. One green vegetable down. There’s still green beans and broccoli to conquer. I’m hoping the “plug your nose” technique works for those as well.

Fischer trying to swallow the chewed asparagus.
Fischer trying to swallow the chewed asparagus.

My nine year old grandson, Carson, helped Poppy clean and grill the asparagus. It was a joy watching them work together in the kitchen. Carson was extremely proud of his efforts to put dinner on the table. There is something about working together in a kitchen setting that evokes a spirit of camaraderie.

Carson helps Poppy peel the asparagus for grilling.

 Fischer helped skewer the shrimp, steak and veggies. Olivia took care of setting the dinner table.

Last night’s dinner on the deck was a group effort. We took turns sharing about our day (both good and bad), cleared the table, worked on special Father’s Day gifts and rode bikes.

Fischer assembles the skewers for the grill. Olivia sets the dinner table.

 The finished dinner! Bravo to my little peeps for lending a hand.

The finished grilled meal!

 

A Polka Dot Birthday Affair

Polka Dot Birthday Party Theme

I finished planning and gathering supplies for my grandson’s upcoming Camouflage Birthday theme. It’s now time to focus on my granddaughter’s birthday. May will be a busy month with two birthday parties a week apart.

As a school principal with three kids, my daughter has little time for party planning, so I offered to help. My granddaughter’s name starts with an “O” (Olivia). A polka-dot theme seemed an ideal choice. Olivia’s only request was that pink was included in the party colors.

Polka Dot Birthday Theme InvitationYellow, pink, black and white are the themed colors of choice. The invitation (shown left) include a black and white polka dot bow in the upper right corner. I printed 6 x 9 envelopes with the same design but arranged the objects to allow for postal mailing.

 I did a quick run through on the table setting placements. I know it sounds crazy, but I leave for vaction next week and have little time to get my dots in row (yes, pun intended).

Prepping the table setting for the upcoming party.

The final table setting will include linen tablecloths (light pink with a black overlay), polka dot balloons attached to each lunch box and glass stemware tied with a ribbon. Pink lemonade with a lime wedge is the party beverage. I found the grass mats online. The cost was minimal and I can reuse them for other party events.

The menu is simple. PBJ sandwiches from Costco, pink yogurt and fruit kabobs. No cake or cupcakes, just mini cinnimon rolls with a candle in each one. This was Olivia’s request. Besides, kids tend to eat only the frosting and the rest goes to waste.

This is a “Pamper Me” party. There are four girls and one adult to work each Pamper Station. There are Mani, Pedi, Hair and Make-up stations. The hair station includes French braiding along with extension feather clips. Of course, Justin Bieber will be the background music. Yippee, I can’t wait (NOT!). The sacrifices we make for our grand kids.
Birthday Party Goodie Bag Purse

The purse goodie bags are from Oriental Trading (very reasonable). The contents include:

  • Flower hair clip
  • Pedicure set
  • Flower emery board
  • Pink nail polish
  • Mascara
  • Tinkerbell mineral make-up face paint tatto
  • Buterfly tattos
  • Lip gloss
  • Fairy dust candy straws
  • Polka dot compact brush
  • 2 Feather hair extensions
  • Ankle and wrist jingle braclets
  • Bling rings
  • Colorful bead necklace

Total cost of each goodie bag (I only need four) is $17.50 each. Plus, they can use some of these items at the party. Contents were purchased from Oriental Trading and Forever 21. The Tinkerbell mineral make-up stamp was from an online party store. It was the most expensive item at $3 each but can be reused multiple times.

The final party touch are white chair covers. I didn’t count them in the party costs since they can be used when hosting my personal events. Black, white and pink tulle dress the back of each chair along with a large black silk gerbera flower.

I will take plenty of photos once the table and party decorations are officially in place. Look for printable templates so you can create your own polka-dot party.

 

Scrambled Brain Eggs

Scrambled Brain Eggs

Now here’s a new take on scrambled eggs…brain eggs. This morning my honey-man (the wine guy) made this egg scramble for our 9 year old grand son, Carson. When ketchup was squirted on the eggs, it looked like brains Ala mode (go figure, he’s a boy and that kind of stuff excites him).

Scramble Brain Egg DishNothing complements a brain egg dish better than green ham. I am certain there is a story line in here somewhere. I just have to figure it out.

Kids love when you are creative with food or any other activity. They will dive in wholeheartedly if you make it fun.

It was an unexpected Sunday morning with the grand kids. It’s what the wine-guy and I live for… the little peeps remind us life is good.

Happy Sunday, my friends.

Chopstick Children

Carson learning to eat with chopsticks

Poppy (the wine-guy) and I had the grand kids on Friday night. Poppy prepared filet mignon steak for the them along with mac n’ cheese, spinach salad and leftover pizza. It was quite a combination of flavors.

My nine year old grandson, Carson (pictured above) has been intrigued with chopsticks ever since he watched Poppy use them at dinner one night. He is working hard to become skilled in their proper use, something Blimpy Girl has failed at miserably.

Five year old Olivia (soon to be six) used more of a jab and stab technique. It’s very similar to the way Blimpy Girl NeeNee uses chopsticks. On a recent trip to Argentina, we went with a large group to a sushi bar. I was the only one that requested a fork. Yes, it was embarrassing but dropping sushi all over my lap while trying to manipulate chopsticks would have been worse.

Our youngest grand child, Fischer, handled the chopsticks fairly well, considering he is only three (soon to be four). If his brother and sister are doing it, then count him in on the action. When the kids started to use the chopsticks to eat their pizza, Poppy quickly reminded them that pizza is “finger” food.

It was a fun meal. The kids learned something new and we discussed different cultures. Our sister-in-law, Mariko, is Japanese and we try to incorporate her heritage and culture into our family gatherings. I posted her Gyoza recipe a while back.

Tacos and a Backyard Relay

The unseasonably warm weather in Michigan continues. Heck, it was in the 80’s today. Snow or frost would normally be covering the ground.

It was taco dining on the deck last night.  Ground turkey, low fat cheddar, low fat taco sauce and low fat sour cream kept this taco meal in check (at least by Blimpy Girl’s standards).

I’m seizing every opportunity to enjoy this awesome weather; so, a post dinner relay race was planned.

Love those tacos, NeeNee!By the looks of Fischer’s plate (right), I ‘m thinking the taco meal was a hit. Now, time for the relay obstacle race!

The kids sized up the relay event before being blind folded. The Mission:  Place objects in their bags which included prizes such as “Get to see a big screen movie”, a “weekend lunch date with NeeNee and Poppy” and “5 extra minute back rub from Poppy”.

There were a few minor cheating issues with the blind fold, but we worked through the kinks.

Olivia running the obstacle course.Blue painter’s tape marked the course. Each obstacle required something be added to the bag. Let’s see… there were potatoes, spoons, pine cones, tea bags and carrot sticks.

The kids laughed, argued, encouraged and guided each other around the course. They spewed  venom in one breath, and embraced each other in the next.

 

Below is my little Fish trying to read (through a blindfold,~ of course, he can’t read) the prize he was awarded. He’s a happy camper and loves whatever prize he gets. So much like his Mommy, happy go-lucky!

I found it NeeNee!

I do admit to moments of living vicariously through my grand kids  This was one of them. I’ve learned more from my grand kids than my own (grown-up) life experiences.

Olivia guiding her big brother through the obstacle course.As we were winding down from the race and heading back to the house, the kids gave me big bear hugs. It ensured me they enjoyed the relay race adventure.

I can only hope they remember these Wednesday night events once I am gone. It’s what parents/grandparents strive for, creating moments that leave a life legacy to the next generation.

 

An Ice Cream Kind of Day

Good to the last lick!

When you live in Michigan and get a 70 degree day in March, you celebrate. The grand kids celebrated by making ice cream sundaes. Of course, is was fat-free ice cream and fat-free syrups, but they didn’t seem to mind. As you can see from the above picture, my youngest grand son licked every last drop from his dish.

What is ice cream without sprinkles…lots and lots of them? They became over ambitious when I left them alone to get the special sundae spoons. Most of the sprinkle containers were empty by the time I returned and the ice cream was swimming in a pool of strawberry and chocolate syrup.

The kids spent so much time decorating, the ice cream was melting.  The special sundae spoons were handy. The spoon end is removable and *presto*, you have a straw for sucking up all the melted goodness. Of course, licking the bowl like a dog is another option.

Sipping melted ice cream with a straw.

Blimpy Girl NeeNee is a smart cookie. I anticipated the aftermath of this decorating frenzy and taped white butcher paper to the table. Clean up was a breeze.

 The weather forecast for the next few days is sunny, low 80s. These record breaking temps are spoiling us Michiganders. I predict a “barbecuing kind of day” is on Blimpy Girls menu plan this week.