March 25, 2014: Wild Blue Yonder Chocolate Cake! – this week’s book, Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, was a wonderful peek into history. We celebrated the chocolate aspects of it by making chocolate cake from the sisters favorite recipe book, The Crockin’ Girls (2012): The girls mixed together a cup of brown sugar, a cup of flour, three tablespoons of cocoa powder, two teaspoons of baking powder, and a half teaspoon of salt; added a half cup of milk, two tablespoons of melted butter, and a half teaspoon of vanilla; then spread the mixture in the bottom of the crock pot and poured one and three fourths cup of boiling water on top; cook for 2 and a half hours.
March 4, 2014: Cheeseburgers! – we loved reading The Mysterious Tadpole this week and the book itself has a character who has a favorite snack…cheeseburgers! We imagine that you probably know how to make cheeseburgers (or buy them like we do!) so have fun and read this book just before you sit down to a plate of them for lunch or dinner. Happy reading and happy eating!
February 25, 2014: The Case of the Mysterious Fudge – in celebration of this week’s great mystery chapter book, The Kidnapped King, we made some wonderful homemade fudge! Here’s how to do it: the ingredients include 4 cups sugar; 1 1/3 cups Dr. Pepper; 4 squares [1 ounce each] unsweetened chocolate, grated; 4 tablespoons white corn syrup; 1/2 cup butter or margarine; 2 teaspoons vanilla. Now mix sugar, Dr. Pepper (our mystery ingredient!), grated chocolate, and corn syrup in a big sauce pan. Cook very slowly, stirring constantly until sugar and chocolate are thoroughly dissolved. Continue cooking on low medium heat until temperature of 236 degrees F. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature, 110 degrees F. Add butter and vanilla. Beat until candy loses its shiny look. Pour into slightly buttered pans. When cooled, cut into squares. This takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
February 18, 2014: Animal Crackers – in celebration of If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo we decided to make our very own animal crackers using Pillsbury sugar cookie dough. For years we have collected whimsical cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes so we simply spread out the sugar cookie dough with our rolling pin and set about using the cookie cutters to create our own animals. The true fun comes after they have cooked and we take our time in decorating them with all kinds of colored icing and sprinkles and chocolate chip (for the eyes of course). It’s like our very own mini-zoo in the kitchen!
February 11, 2014: Honey I’m Home – in celebration of The Valentine Bears we made what we believe a true bear couple would love if they were having dinner with us this Valentine’s Day: peanut butter and honey sandwiches. It’s simple we know, but when it comes to a hungry bear having dinner with you, we think simple might be best…so Happy Valentine’s Day from us to you!
February 4, 2014: Here Fishy Fishy – we really enjoyed reading Eli the Minnow this week and decided to do something extra silly to celebrate the book cook choice for it. We are big fans of Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers and always have at least one bag of these fun snacks somewhere in the kitchen so we decided to have way too much fun with these little guys this week. We put them on or in anything and everything – our salad, vanilla pudding, tomato soup, on top of our grilled cheese sandwich, and I was even persuaded to put a few in my glass of milk for swimming purposes! It was fun and goofy and silly and pretty good…
___________________________________________________________ January 28, 2014: A Million Choices – as we honor the wonderful choices of Would You Rather…, we made up all kinds of zany choices in the kitchen: eating cold spinach from a can vs. eating cold Spaghettios from a can; eating cereal with a fork vs. eating cereal with a spatula – you get the idea! We had fun and laughed our heads off. We love the creative mood this book brings to us! ______________________________________________________
January 21, 2014: Grocery Store Fun – as we honor the brilliant colors of A Color of His Own, we came up with an entirely different sort of recipe for the week. We made a trip to our local grocery store and chose the most colorful fresh vegetables we could find. We bought two of each (inspired by the book’s color pairs) and brought them home for a mid-afternoon snack. We like a bit of Ranch dressing with our raw vegetables, so we set our kitchen table with the fine china and tested out our Grocery Store Fun together. We didn’t like everything we tried, but we sure enjoyed the time together! _______________________________________________________________________ January 14, 2014: Delightfully Delicious Disappearing Delicacy – We honor The Magician’s Nephew this week with a magical dessert! Simply mix Funfetti Cake Mix from the box and bake to create 24 cupcakes. Pipe on frosting using an icing bag to give it a rootbeer float-style look and put a cherry on top. Cut a drinking straw in half and stick it into the frosting. They will nearly magically disappear right before your very eyes! _______________________________________________________________________ January 7, 2014: Too Purpley Cows – to honor this week’s great book, Too Purpley, the girls and I came up with a version of an old Betty Crocker recipe for this classic shake. We used half a can of frozen grape juice, three cups of vanilla ice cream, and a cup of milk. We put it all in the blender and thankfully remembered, at the last minute, to put the lid on before we hit the mix button on high! About 30 seconds later we had a perfect purpley drink…and honestly, not too purpley at all. _______________________________________________________________________ December 31, 2013: A Little Cup of ES-STEAM – to honor this week’s great book, I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off A Little Self-Esteem, the girls insisted on creating cups of hot chocolate. We used one packet of hot chocolate mix for each coffee cup and mix it with water and then microwaved for 40 seconds. We then added marshmallows, crushed peppermint sticks, and one (or two) mint Oreo dropped in to settle at the bottom of the cup. Drink it and remember what a little cup of self-esteem can do for your day. It’s that simple! Happy New Year!!! _______________________________________________________________________ December 24, 2013: The Popcorn Man Mix – In celebration of our book Frosty the Snow Man, we created mom’s famous popcorn mix for the Christmas holiday. Here’s the mix:
_________________________________________________________________________ December 17, 2013: Gingerbread Babies – this is the most time-consuming of the recipes we’ve tried so far; but we believe that making gingerbread-anything is meant to take a little more time and creativity, so we allowed for it. You mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla and mix well. Beat in flour mixture until mixed well. Press dough into a thick, flat square and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured work area. Cut into all kinds of shapes (Gingerbread babies in particular!) and place on cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Merry Christmas baby!
_________________________________________________________________________ December 10, 2013: We All Scream for Snow Cream – We had a wonderful snow storm here at the house over the weekend, so there was no better time to review this week’s favorite Christmas book, Sadie and the Snowman. We decided to celebrate that book with our very own mixture of snow ice cream. It is the simplest recipe ever and is especially fun because it is made to order – however sweet you like it, however colorful, whatever ingredients. The basic recipe is 8 cups of snow in a large bowl, 3 tablespoons of vanilla, and 1-2 cups of sugar (more or less for your taste; we like more!). Mix it all together until you have a bit of a creamy mixture and enjoy!
_______________________________________________________________________ December 3, 2013: Eat the Coconut Bunny – In celebration of our month-long Tuesday reviews of our favorite Christmas books, we start the season with Pat the Christmas Bunny. When I was just a boy, my grandmother Ber made the most amazing Rabbit Cake. She baked three vanilla cakes – one for the body, one for the face, and the third to cut into rabbit ears. She used vanilla icing to cover the entire cake and then sprinkled coconut all over it to give it that rabbit fur effect. She used jelly beans for eyes and the mouth, and licorice for the whiskers. My only regret is that I have not one picture of this wonderful cake from my childhood, but I did find several versions of it online. Here is the one I found that most resembles my wonderful grandmother’s great creation: _______________________________________________________________________ November 28, 2013: Turkey’s TrailMix – In celebration of a Happy Thanksgiving this week we read the book A Turkey for Thanksgiving and decided to showcase that great story’s turkey and his treacherous path to dinner! Mom had the idea for making some trailmix, which the book’s entire group would need as they searched the land for just the right turkey to take home to Mrs. Moose. We used individual tea cups to each create our own mix – so sky’s the limit on this one! We scoured the cupboards and fridge for some goodies and came up with Chex Cereal, mini-marshmallows (I think these little things are in nearly every recipe we have created here!), almonds, pretzel sticks, raisins, dried apple slices, dried cranberries, and a few M&Ms of course. We “gobbled” all night! _______________________________________________________________________ November 19, 2013: Gooeys – This week’s famous book is Shrek! In honor of the monstrous pictures in this book, the girls created an ooey-gooey mess of a cupcake with white cake mix, a cup of cocoa powder and marshmallows. After following the cake mixing directions and mixing in the cup of cocoa powder, pour the mixture in cupcake pans and then bake in the oven. Take them out just long enough to stack them high with marshmallows (large or small). We then place them back in the oven just long enough to watch as the marshmallows begin to melt. Gooey and yummy, all in one bite!
_______________________________________________________________________ November 12, 2013: Butterflies Rising – Our favorite book this week is The Butterfly. We decided that this recipe needed a classic, old school feel to it to represent the depth and beauty of this profound story, so we decided to make butterflies using Pillsbury breadstick dough in the can. We enjoyed creating the butterflies you see here in the picture and baked them in the oven on 375 degrees for 12 minutes. They were classic and delicious and a great reminder of an even greater book.
_______________________________________________________________________ November 5, 2013: Elephant Ears – This week we read and reviewed one from our growing collection of children’s elephant books, What Elephant? Tonight’s recipe is one of my favorites and is something my mom originally made for us called “eggs in the basket.” We buttered both sides of a piece of bread and used a glass to cut the perfectly shaped circle in the middle of it. We put the bread on the skillet at a low to medium temperature and then cracked the egg into the circle. It only takes a few minutes for it to cook perfectly on both sides. We then added the small round circles for the elephant ears and cut pieces of ham for the trunk and eyes. A delicious dinner and a book! _______________________________________________________________________ October 29, 2013: Monster Mama – This week we read and reviewed a Halloween classic at our house, My Monster Mama Loves Me So. The recipe follows much the same style as the Lion’s Mouth from last week…just add more fun! The more we played with the addition of peanut butter and marshmallows and candy and pretzels, the more monstrous this sweet mama became. And yes, there really is a full apple underneath all that stuff. Happy Halloween week! _______________________________________________________________________ October 22, 2013: Lion’s Mouth! – This week we read and reviewed one of our old favorites, Pierre: A Cautionary Tale. The story takes a really surprising turn when a lion shows up and decides to eat Pierre. The event is startling and funny and provides the reason for Pierre to once again begin to care. For this little edible craft we cut an apple in half and spread peanut butter out for the gums and used mini-marshmallows for the teeth of this big lion’s mouth. We used pretzels to create a mane and mini m&ms for eyes. We know it takes a good imagination to turn this pic into a lion, but you can do it! Funny and fun to eat, as usual! ______________________________________________________________________ October 15, 2013: Alligator Baby – Our book this week, An Extraordinary Egg, is funny because of the little alligator who takes a starring role in the plot. Therefore we decided to make an edible alligator to celebrate! Take a piece of celery and spread peanut butter across the raised side of the stalk, then place raisins in a line along its back in the peanut butter. Pretzel sticks along the side make perfect legs! And there you have it – an extraordinarily easy edible alligator baby right there on your plate. _______________________________________________________________________ October 8, 2013: What the Wild Things Eat – As we were reading Where the Wild Things Are this week for our book review, we decided that it would be fun to make a truly monster-style snack that they would enjoy eating with us. We dipped graham crackers, nutter butter cookies, and oreos in melted chocolate and let them cool and harden on wax paper. We then decorated each with mini-m&ms and gel icing and mini-oreo halves to create kooky monster faces with big smiles and googly eyes. Fun and easy and artistic, too! __________________________________________________________ October 1, 2013: Goodnight My Sweet – mom came up with a Hot Chocolate idea after we read this week’s book, Goodnight iPad, because the book reflects the life and craziness of a large family and how that family must learn to transition to the much-needed calm and quiet that nighttime can bring us. This is a crock-pot item for 12 to 14 people, so get that pot out and plug it in and pour in 10 cups of milk. On the stove, stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup hot chocolate mix, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 cups hot water and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Pour this mixture into the milk in the crock pot and cook on high for 2 hours before its ready to drink (and add as many marshmallows or scoops of marshmallow cream as you can stuff in there). Goodnight my sweet, indeed! _______________________________________________________ September 24, 2013: Haystacks – from the moment my 8-year old recently read this week’s book review, Ghost Horse, this was the recipe she wanted to tackle. These wonderful treats are a part of my heritage. My mom made them for me when I was a child and is now enjoying teaching our daughters how to make them for me as an adult! You just need one 12-ounce pack of chow mein noodles and one 12-ounce pack of butterscotch chips. Melt the chips in the microwave and stir in the chow mein noodles. Drop teaspoon fulls of the mixture onto wax paper and as they cool they will harden into something that looks like a really tasty haystack for people! _______________________________________________________ September 17th, 2013: The Grapes of Stuff – this recipe is part Food, part Fear Factor, part Science Experiment, and all fun! In the book, Danny the Champion of the World, father and son come up with a plan to catch pheasants by stuffing raisins with a secret ingredient. We decided that raisins were too difficult to stuff with the items we were interested in, so we chose its large cousin – the grape! We stuffed grapes with pretzels sticks (the girls’ favorite), M&Ms, Parmesan cheese (my favorite), cheddar cheese, chocolate syrup, mustard (not as bad as you might think), marshmallows, and a few other small items. It was fun and daring – the girls were sure I would not eat the mustard-filled grape and when I did they were pretty excited. Nothing spectacular other than a fun moment and a lasting memory. _______________________________________________________ September 16, 2013 – to celebrate National Play-Doh Day we decided to include the EDIBLE play-dough recipe below by Jane Maynard at http://www.makeandtakes.com/edible-playdough-you-will-want-to-eat : – 18 ounces creamy peanut butter – 6 tablespoons honey – 1 1/4 cup non-fat dry milk (packet for one quart) – 1/2 cup powdered sugar Mix ingredients in a bowl and you’re done! Store in an airtight container or plastic baggie with air sucked out of the bag. (Quick tip: Spray your tablespoon with oil before measuring your honey and the honey will pour much easier.) _______________________________________________________ September 10, 2013: FriendChips – Have an adult slice apples into thin pieces and place each slice on a baking sheet. Oven should be heated to 280 degrees. Sprinkle lots of cinnamon and a pinch of sugar over the slices and bake in oven for 8 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, place the hot slices on a paper towel. As they cool and dry out, they will get just a bit crispier. Delicious enough to turn a bully into a friend! _______________________________________________________________________ September 3, 2013: Grandma’s Pie Apples – choose any kind of apple; set the oven to 350 degrees; have a grown-up carve the inside out of the apple and cut off the top of the apple to create a bowl shape; spread around some sugar and cinnamon inside the apple; bake in the oven for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven; while still warm, put a dollop of ice cream inside the baked apple; drizzle the top with hot caramel; eat it right away because the ice cream will melt pretty fast! _______________________________________________________________________ August 27, 2013: Katy Cubes – In honor of the snowy experience that this book has offered us on a hot summer day in August, we decided to make cold ice-cube popsicles. You’ll need ice cube trays and any ingredients you want to try (sky’s the limit so be creative!) – we used coffee, coffee creamer, strawberry-watermelon juice, chocolate syrup, chocolate milk (our personal favorite), Dr. Pepper, cherry juice, iced tea, cotton candy kool-aid, and a spoonful of sugar on a few to give the cube the look of large snowflakes. We learned that the best time to put the toothpicks (for holding your cube) into the frozen concoction is 35 minutes into their freezing and 60 minutes for the cubes that included coffee, cherry, and sugar. Use a new ingredient and let us know! _______________________________________________________________________ August 20, 2013: Omelecakes and Panpigs – we made these in lieu of allowing our grief that the summer was over and school would start today to overtake us…and to honor Laura Numeroff’s wise and wonderful book, If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Once you have chosen your favorite pancake recipe, get mixing and see what you can find to add to your pancakes. We also have this great new pen-like pancake utensil (the plastic clear and green bottle shown in the photo below) that allows us to write or draw anything we want with our pancake mix right on the griddle. Great for writing P-I-G and drawing a pig’s face to celebrate the book, we also came up with an idea for our omelette-style pancake creation mixing ham and cheese and a little salt and pepper into the batter. It was surprisingly good! Chocolate chip pancakes with sprinkles don’t hurt either… _______________________________________________________________________ August 13, 2013: The A-Z Game – we decided no need for a recipe with the book review this week but instead we created a fun game that you can play right after you read the book, Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert, together. It is pretty simple…you pick the room or even the grocery store and then try find any item that can represent that particular letter from the Alphabet, all the way from A to Z. We did this at the grocery store one evening and it was tough, but totally crazy and funny. If you can’t find something to represent a letter, just use your imagination to create an entirely new thing! You can’t lose. Here is a photograph of what the game looks like on our kitchen table (A to Z from left to right) from an assortment of things all around the house:
_______________________________________________________________________ August 6, 2013: Eat this Book – lay two graham crackers side by side and cover one with a thick layer of icing; place the other graham cracker on top and press it down just enough that it sticks in the icing; spread some icing on this graham cracker and stick small pieces of chocolate on it and decorate it with writing icing or other items you like to create your very own edible book. Now “read it and eat!”
___________________________________ July 30, 2013: Spider of the Doll People – easy recipe alert for a homemade and absolutely edible spider and web: place one gumdrop on the plate and then tear “pull and peel twizzlers” into pieces for the legs, eyes and mouth; use pieces of twizzlers to shape into several circles for the cool web and put a piece of gumdrop in the middle for a poor fly caught in the web. This takes about 34 seconds to make and can go in a million different directions! ___________________________________ July 23, 2013: Contrary PB&J – the messiest recipe ever for an old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich: take 2 pieces of bread and slather peanut butter and jelly on the OUTSIDE of the bread rather than the inside. You WILL need a napkin and you will laugh while you eat. We guarantee it! Please let us know how it goes so we can laugh along with you. (This one is so opposite of everything that our moms – theirs and mine – know and taught us about sandwich etiquette, we decided it required extra pictures!)
___________________________________ July 16, 2013: Chocolate Moose/Mousse – the quickest, silliest recipe for Chocolate Mousse that you have ever seen: put the desired amount of whipped cream in a bowl or teacups, mix in some chocolate syrup and sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on top. Finished! It looks like a Wendy’s Frosty and tastes just right… _________________________________________________________________________ July 10, 2013: TURKISH DELIGHT – we bought ours online but if you decide to make it yourself let us know! Yield: 1 servings 2 c Sugar 2 tb Cornstarch 1 c Water 1/2 tsp Cream of tartar 1 tb Flavoring * Food coloring ** 1/2 c Toasted nuts, chopped *** Confectioners’ sugar * Flavorings: rose, mastic, strawberry, orange or lemon. ** Food coloring: red, yellow, green or orange (depending on flavoring used) *** Nuts: almonds or pistachios. 1. Dissolve sugar and cornstarch in water. Add cream of tartar. Boil to 220 degrees F. Cover pot the last 5 minutes. Add flavor and food color. Add nuts. 2. Pour into oiled shallow pan. When cool, cut into squares and roll each piece in sifted powdered sugar. Store in plastic bag. From: The Complete Greek Cookbook, by Theresa Karas Yianilos, Avenel Books, New York. ________________________________________________________________________ July 3, 2013: Row, Row, Row the Boats by Michael Dahl with illustrations by Sandra D’Antonio (Picture Window Books, MN, 2004) is a fun, sing-song style book filled with facts and great illustrations that bring this historic American moment to life. My daughters created a recipe that we made in about 10 minutes on Saturday mid-morning…easy and half good (banana for mom), half bad (whipped cream and hershey kisses for dad) for you…so enjoy! Ingredients: 1 banana , 4 hershey kisses or tootsie rolls, whipped cream, 2 kit kats cut in half. Directions: Slice the banana (peel and all) down the middle and push it open just a bit to form your boat. Squirt some whipped cream inside the banana and put the hershey kisses or tootsie rolls wherever you want them to stand inside the boat. Break the kit kats in half and place them along the sides of the boat for your oars. Here’s a picture… When all three girls were younger, my wife and I set out on the longest car ride with them that we have ever known! Years before we had read an article in Family Fun Magazine about a great amusement park in Pennsylvania called “Sesame Place.” That’s right! The most interactive and exciting theme park for fans of…Sesame Street. My wife and I are children of the 1970’s, so we loved this show. Our children were now enjoying the show, as well, so it was the perfect vacation for our young family. Though the car ride from our central Oklahoma home to the very eastern edge of Pennsylvania seemed nearly endless at times, we made it…and we had the time of our lives. My favorite part, though, was a few miles further down the road to the very spot where Washington crossed the Delaware through blizzard conditions on Christmas night, 1775. It is a wonderful national landmark that left a historic memory upon an already great family vacation. Our youngest was so enamored with the story of Washington’s bravery that she told us on the way home she had decided to marry George Washington.