Tasty Tuesday–The First Disney Dinner

If you know anything about me, you know I love themed meals and hands-on activities. When I started planning our Disney-focused summer school (details to come!) to coincide with our postponed family vacation, I knew I had to find some kind of cookbook to go with our experience. I really hit the jackpot, because a new cookbook created for the 50th anniversary of Disney World was recently published, and it contains recipes from all kinds of park locations!

I planned our first “Disney Dinner” to go with the last day of the 2021-22 homeschool year last week…a real kick-off to summer vacation! We started the meal with a Disney classic, the Orange Bird Flip. Yes, it contains raw eggs, which might be scary or disgusting to some, but we liked it!

The main course was Puerco en Salsa Verde from the Mexican pavilion at Epcot. In addition to cooking the pork, I also fried the potatoes and made the salsa verde from scratch (which may have been a mistake, because now my family wants me to never buy jarred salsa verde again!)…I was pretty proud of the effort I put in!

For dessert, I made the Brown Derby’s grapefruit cake:

Yes, you noticed correctly…I even bought two special serving pieces to go with our Disney Dinners…and Orange Bird cup and what is technically a Mickey Mouse pasta bowl, but also works well as a plate. In the end, they’ll make good souvenirs as well as dishes! I’m looking forward to trying more recipes from this cookbook (and one other one I already had) this summer!

Spargelparty

Last weekend was the first-ever Markel Family Spargelparty!

When I first came across the idea of an asparagus celebration in one of my Duolingo lessons, I think my family thought I was joking when I said it was something we should do this spring. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could run with the idea of a meal centered around asparagus…(and it even makes a pretty centerpiece, especially when you have all three colors Eckert’s offers!):

I picked five recipes, all of which were at least somewhat new. There was an asparagus tart, bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles, cream of asparagus soup, asparagus and bacon quiche, and sautéed asparagus with (homemade!) Hollandaise sauce. Many of recipes included lemon, nutmeg, or a combination, and I discovered both are great additions to asparagus dishes. The overwhelming favorite was the soup…it was smooth and delicious.

It was a very spring-y meal!

I offered to incorporate asparagus into our dessert, as well (perhaps an asparagus cheesecake?), but no one took me up on my offer. Instead, I used a mix from Dr. Oetker to make a Käse-Sahne Torte. German Girl in America’s website was very helpful in translating the directions on the box, and I also followed her tips of using plain Greek yogurt instead of the quark, which you can only find around here sometimes, and serving it with fresh strawberries. It was the perfect end to our celebration of spring!

For years I’ve told my children the story of how they ring the church bells in Germany when the asparagus season begins…I’m glad I found a way for us participate in this tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring in a uniquely German way here at home!

And Also with You (Revenge of the Fifth)

The Jedi had their day, now it’s time for the Revenge of the Fifth! I didn’t make quite as many dishes today, but we still had a special dinner. I turned back to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook and Star Wars: The Life Day Cookbook for inspiration. For the main course, I made Bantha Surprise (beef stew)…do you know how hard it is to find fresh Bantha around here?!?…and served it with Rorkid Bread (garlic bread dusted with matcha powder).

I made another special drink, the Photon Fizzle, and just left out the gin. I got to work with a new ingredient (boba pearls), which was a lot of fun!

For dessert, I made Mirial Teacakes, which also had matcha powder:

This won’t be the last themed dinner before our big trip…I already have something special planned for the last day of school next week, and beyond that, who knows?!?

May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day!

We have especially been looking forward to this holiday this year, because we’re so excited about our trip to Disney World and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge next month! I planned some special meals to celebrate, featuring recipes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook and Star Wars: The Life Day Cookbook. We started the day with Five-Blossom Bread for breakfast:

For dinner, I made an Eopie (pork) Roast, Plicated Orga Root (hasselback-style russet and sweet potatoes), and Roasted Rootleaf (cabbage).

We also had a Kyyyalstaad Fizz (lemon and lime juice with sparkling water):

For dessert we had Kashyyyk Cakes (chocolate cake, raspberry jam, and chocolate-mascarpone filling):

We’re not done yet…I have another special dinner planned for Revenge of the Fifth tomorrow!

Easter 2022

Time for a look back at another Markel Family Easter, which started, as it does every year, on Maundy Thursday:

On Friday, I made hot cross buns (again), but this year, I tried a new recipe:

The Good Friday service was, as always, lovely and moving:

On Saturday morning, while we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter, we made our Paschal Candle for the year…I think this may be the nicest job we’ve ever done!

While I did have work to do on Saturday to prepare for our Easter dinner, most of the day was really spent waiting until it was finally time for my favorite service of the church year, the Great Vigil of Easter:

After church, we stopped at Wendy’s for Frostys and fries:

We’re still getting used to the fact that we don’t have to get up for a sunrise Easter service, so we felt a little more leisurely about getting ready. We were still at church early enough to take pictures outside:

And some indoors, including our traditional by-the-baptismal-font Easter pictures:

The church looked especially beautiful!

Ladybug even got to acolyte:

And we got a nice family picture after the service:

When we got home, I made Easter breakfast, which included Kaiserschmarrn (the Kaiser’s torn pancakes) with Rhabarberkompott (rhubarb compote), hard-boiled eggs (this is really the first time we’ve ever dyed eggs…you’ll see why in a minute), and pomegranate juice:

While we watched Easter Parade and My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, I found time to play a little Animal Crossing: New Horizons so I could visit with Zipper T. Bunny. I also caught up with Roald, who was wearing an egg suit…I wonder if that’s what he looked like when he hatched?

I spent most of the rest of the day working on dinner and setting the table:

I chose an Italian theme for this year’s dinner. I served the same lamb in the slow cooker we had last year (technically Greek, but more generically Mediterranean, so close enough), lemon parmesan risotto, insalata caprese, roasted cauliflower, panzanella, breaded artichokes, capers, olives, Italian Easter bread, and lemon Italian soda.

I stuck with the Italian theme for dessert…we had cannoli and Italian sprinkle cookies:

This was an especially nice Easter. Maybe it’s because things felt more “normal” (I actually shook hands for the first time in over two years!), maybe it was because the church services were so meaningful, maybe it was because this may be the nicest Easter dinner I’ve ever made. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful we had such a wonderful celebration of Christ’s resurrection!

Kirby Day

Happy Kirby Day!

The Fab Five, and especially Turkey, have been looking forward to the release of Kirby and the Forgotten Land for a long time. Today was finally the day, and I decided to make the most of it.

We started with pink donuts for breakfast:

We managed to find a Target that had decorated their bollards for the occasion:

I improvised a recipe for a pink Mocktail that was absolutely delicious…it combined white cranberry-strawberry juice, frozen lemonade concentrate, and 7-UP, with some raspberries floated on top:

For dinner we had tomato soup (tomatoes restore Kirby’s health) with Kirby-themed grilled cheese sandwiches:

It was a pretty fun dinner!

For dessert, I made strawberry cupcakes (and I made sure Keeby was represented, too!):

I like finding fun things to celebrate!

Tasty Tuesday–Exploring My Heritage Through Cooking

I’ve always enjoyed ethnic cooking, especially German, Austrian, and Hungarian recipes that reflect my own heritage (two of my family’s favorite dishes that I’ve been making for years are spaetzle and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte). For the last six months or so (ever since I started doing German lessons with Duolingo and wearing dirndls), I’ve really been trying to introduce more personal ethnic recipes into our meals, so I’ve been doing a lot of German cooking, mainly with recipes from Dirndl Kitchen and the Easy German Cookbook. It’s been a lot of fun trying new things, and it really helps me feel to connected to the generations who have come before me. Here’s a look at the recipes we’ve sampled since I began this little project:

  • Döner Kebab on Pide Bread (A Turkish Recipe by way of Germany)
  • Linsen mit Spätzle (Lentil Stew with Spätzle)
  • Berliner (Jelly Filled Donuts)
  • Linzer Augen (Jam Filled Cookies)
  • Schweinelendchen mit Pilzrahmsoße (Pork Medallions with Mushroom Cream Sauce)
  • Haschee (Meat Sauce)
  • Goulaschsuppe (Goulash Soup)
  • Blitztorte (Lightning Cake)
  • Hühnerfrikassee (Chicken Fricassee)
  • Kabbeljau mit Senfsoße (Cod with Mustard Sauce)
  • Königsberger Klopse (Prussian Meatballs in White Caper Sauce)
  • Milchreis (Rice Pudding)
  • Kartoffelklöße (Potato Dumplings)
  • Senfbraten (Mustard Roasted Pork Loin)
  • Versunkener Apfelkuchrn (Sunken Apple Cake)
  • Speckbohnen (Green Beans with Bacon)
  • Quarkbällchen (Jelly Filled Donut Holes)

I’m not done trying new German recipes by any means…I haven’t even made it all the way through the cookbook yet! But this is a look at where I’ve been so far, and as I try more new dishes, I’ll make sure to update the list!

Tasty Tuesday-Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras! I decided to do something a little different this year, so instead of buying or making Pączki, I made Berliner. They’re practically the same donut (I think the main difference is that the Berliner dough is made with less eggs), and they reflect our family’s ethnic heritage, plus they’re super delicious! I filled them with homemade custard, and made a chocolate glaze to go on top:

For dinner, I made cajun stuffed peppers with a side of hush puppies:

I baked a King Cake for dessert…it’s been many years since I attempted this, and I don’t remember being impressed with it the last time, but this year, it was a huge hit!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Wrap-Up

Beijing 2022 certainly did go by quickly! We can never dedicate as much time to the Winter Olympics as we can to the Summer Games, either in school, or just watching for fun. We did try to fit in as much Olympics as possible though, which always begins with trying new recipes that reflect the cuisine of the host nation, starting with our dinner for the Opening Ceremony and continuing through the events with special meals here and there:

  • Scallion pancakes
  • Sticky ginger shrimp with scallion rice
  • Bok Choy
  • Don tot
  • Mango pudding
  • Congee with mustard greens
  • Chinese crullers
  • Xiao long bao
  • Chinese snowflake cake (raspberry and coconut)
  • Potstickers
  • Chinese noodle soup
  • Nai Wong Bao

We also managed to fit in a few crafts…Chinese plum blossoms, unique medals for the Winter Olympics, and an adorable dragon made out of cupcake liners:

Here’s a look at our completed medal chart…I was really hoping that by some miracle, Jamaica would win one medal, but no such luck! At least every other country we were following made it to the podium.

This was a complicated Olympics, and I’m left with a feeling of ennui about the whole thing, but I think we still managed to enjoy ourselves, and I know we liked trying new foods! I will say that I hope this is the last Olympics I see competed in front of empty arenas…here’s hoping for better from Paris 2024!