Summer School 2023

Time for a look back at this year’s Fairytale-themed summer school!

I came up with four crafts to go with all of the stories we read, and I’m actually pretty proud of how creative I was to come up with them. My favorite might have been “Rumpelstiltskin’s straw-into-gold ornaments.” We made traditional Scandinavian straw stars, and then spray-painted them gold…they’re really pretty, and we have the materials and tools to make more at Christmas!

If that wasn’t my favorite craft, our Lego enchanted rose was. The idea was mine, and I bought all the necessary parts, but the execution was evasive to me…Ladybug, however, sat down with all of the materials and figured out how to make a beautiful centerpiece in no time!

I bought some gingerbread houses last Christmas and put them away for this summer…that’s always a fun craft, and it never turns out the same way twice!

And we also put together a fairy garden…we couldn’t believe how quickly the sprouts started coming up, and we’re looking forward to continuing to care for it!

We didn’t do as much cooking and baking as I had hoped (mainly because we were so busy making recipes from Lilo and Stitch: The Official Cookbook), but we did have a few fairytale dinners:

  • Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw (The Brothers Grimm Cookbook)
  • Rapunzel…Angel-hair Pasta (The Brothers Grimm Cookbook)
  • Apple Punch (The Brothers Grimm Cookbook)
  • Mini Marbled Kugelhopfs (Fairytale Baking)
  • Golden Mountain Paella (The Brothers Grimm Cookbook)
  • Chocolate Ring (Fairytale Baking)

The only thing truly missing from this year’s summer school was a field trip…try as I might, I just couldn’t make that kind of connection. But it was a pretty fun, relaxed way to learn this summer, and that was really nice!

Tasty Tuesday–Lilo and Stitch: The Official Cookbook

One of our cooking projects this summer has been making recipes from Lilo and Stitch: The Official Cookbook. There are still plenty of recipes we haven’t tried, but here’s a look at the ones we’ve made so far:

  • Kaua’i Sugarloaf Pineapple Salsa
  • ‘Ohana Fruit Salad
  • Blue Hawaiian
  • Dawn Patrol Loco Moco
  • Pā’ina Haupia Cake
  • Pleakley’s Pink Stuff Frosé
  • Braddah’s Baked Spaghetti
  • Luki’s Shaved Ice
  • The Green Flash
  • Easy-Kine Kālua Pork
  • Mahalo Hasagawa Matcha Brownies
  • Island Grilled Lemonade
  • Nani’s Spaghetti Salad
  • Comforting Butter Mochi
  • Gantu’s Galactic Brew
  • Black and Blue Seared ‘Ahi with Experimental Sweet Potato Mash
  • Guava Celebration Cake
  • Pudge’s Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Banana Sandwich
  • Rock-a-Hula Açai Bowls
  • Hapa Kine Strawberry and Basil Cooler Companions

We have definitely been introduced to some new flavors (guava was a huge favorite!), cooking techniques (I’ve never grilled lemons for lemonade before!), and even culinary science (butterfly pea tea has some very interesting properties!), through these recipes, which I love, and most of the recipes have been big hits!

Tasty Tuesday–Dole Whip Day

One of the things I was most looking forward to when we went to Disney World last year (and again when we went to Disneyland in June) was having a Dole Whip (pineapple soft serve if you’ve never had the opportunity to indulge), and I was also excited to discover that “Dole Whip Day” (which fell on July 20th) was a thing!

My love of all things Dole Whip, from the treats at the park to handbags to frozen treats at home, is fairly obvious:

I was really excited to recreate the treat at home last summer according to the recipe in Delicious Disney: Walt Disney World:

I was also excited to discover that the recipe for “Growth Potion” in Alice In Wonderland: The Official Cookbook, which featured pineapple juice and cream soda, was the perfect drink for this year’s Dole Whip Day:

But the thing I was most excited about was that the Disney Parks blog “Disney Eats” section shared a recipe in the for Pineapple Cupcakes inspired by Dole Whips (yellow cupcakes filled with pineapple mousse and topped with pineapple buttercream frosting), like the ones they serve at the Contempo Café at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort! I was already planning on trying to recreate the recipe (without ever having actually tried one myself), but they made it so much easier for me! I am not exaggerating when I say these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made…I don’t know how they compare to the ones served at the Contempo Café, but they’re amazing on their own!

This was such fun and delicious way to celebrate Dole Whip Day, and I’m looking forward to making them again!

Tasty Tuesday–Tony Packo’s

“Incidentally, if you’re ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo’s, greatest Hungarian hot dogs with chili peppers, 35 cents.” Jamie Farr as Klinger on M*A*S*H

One of the major highlights of going on our trip to Toledo was finally getting to eat at Tony Packo’s!

We went to the original location in the Hungarian neighborhood, and I’m not going to lie…walking in the door felt like going home. It had that great pub feel, but with a Hungarian twist!

OK, a neighborhood pub with a Hungarian twist and lots of M*A*S*H memorabilia!

I wasn’t going to leave there without trying the speciality of the house, the Hungarian hot dog, with mustard, onions, and hot dog sauce:

We tried some other things, too…fried pickles, pierogis, cabbage rolls, chili, and the German potato salad recommended by our waitress. It was all delicious, and again, felt like coming home. It’s not often I get to go to a place that serves the food of my people!

We also grabbed a piece of cherry strudel to go:

My understanding is that thanks to M*A*S*H, the restaurant is quite the tourist trap (they even have a gift shop in the restaurant, and yes, we did pick up a few things, including a jar of paprika to use at home), but I didn’t know it “back in the day,” so that doesn’t matter to me…the food was good, I loved the atmosphere, and the Jamie Farr/Klinger/M*A*S*H connection made me happy!

If I ever have the opportunity to go back to Toledo, I’m definitely going to stop at Packo’s again, and next time, I might try the chicken paprikas served over Hungarian dumplings (which around here we call spaetzle!).

“I’d give anything to be back in Toledo. Sitting in Packo’s with the guys, having a beer and eating a dog while the chili sauce drips down your arm.” Jamie Farr as Klinger on M*A*S*H

Tasty Tuesday–Goofy’s Kitchen

We only had one truly sit-down meal when we were at Disneyland, but it was a very special meal, prepared in Goofy’s Kitchen!

The restaurant is located in the iconic Disneyland Hotel, and I was very excited to have an excuse to stop by there.

The highlight of our dinner was probably getting the chance to pay our compliments to the chef!

We really loved that Goofy’s distinctive profile is prominently displayed on the tables!

It’s a buffet restaurant, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Of course their were kid favorites like mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken nuggets, but there were also some pretty high-end foods, including international options and even a carving station with steak!

Did I mention there’s also a huge dessert section? There were endless options of cakes, cookies, brownies, and also a soft-serve ice cream bar with all the toppings! (One of the dessert offerings is the specialty of the house, peanut butter and jelly pizza, which I’m sure that Goofy created for Max, good dad that he is).

I had quite an eclectic plate, and it was all delicious! Seriously, I wasn’t expecting buffet food at a family-style restaurant to be so good, but it really was! In addition to the steak, I especially enjoyed the fennel salad (I went back for seconds!) as well as the salmon with artichokes. (Not pictured is the carrot cake I had for dessert, which was also delicious!)

Another highlight of the dining experience were the character interactions. We saw Minnie, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale (why does Goofy employ so many rodents in his establishment?!?), and in addition to going table to table, greeting the diners, they also entertain with dances on a regular schedule. While they’re performing, the diners are encouraged to wave their napkins in the air (which I did with gusto!), which just adds to the fun atmosphere!

This was such a great dining experience…I’m so glad we had the opportunity to eat at Goofy’s!

Tasty Tuesday–Stitch Day!

Yesterday was a most anticipated day…it was Stitch Day!

In case you’re unfamiliar with this holiday, it’s a day in celebration of Experiment 626 (which is why it is celebrated on June 26), otherwise known as Stitch, of Lilo and Stitch fame. Last year, we just happened to be at the Magic Kingdom on Stitch Day, and it’s hard to top that, but Disney did just release Lilo & Stitch: The Official Cookbook last month, so I planned a special day of meals to celebrate our favorite alien-dog.

We started with ‘Ohana Fruit Salad, which had pineapple, lychees, pear, green apples, strawberries, and tangerines, and was tossed with coconut yogurt and served in a hollowed-out pineapple. It was really delicious!

Next was Kaua’i Sugarloaf Pineapple Salsa, served with plantain chips…I can’t wait to serve this with our next Mexican dinner, because it too was delicious!

Funny story about the drink I made…it’s called the Blue Hawaiian. Does it look blue to you? No matter how much of the blue vanilla syrup I added, I couldn’t get the pineapple and lemon juice based drink to change colors, not even to green! Even though the color wasn’t right, the drink itself was tropical and refreshing!

For dinner, I made Dawn Patrol Loco Moco. I’ve been wanting to try this Hawaiian dish of a hamburger patty served on rice and topped with gravy and a fried egg for a while, and we weren’t disappointed!

For dessert, we had the Pā’ina Haupia Cake, which had a lovely coconut filling. Bunny drew an outline of Stitch, and Ladybug copied it in royal icing to make the decoration for the top of the cake…they did a fantastic job!

We had a really fun time celebrating Stitch Day, and I can’t wait to try more recipes from the cookbook!

Tasty Tuesday–Ronto Roasters

When we were at Disney World last year, I briefly touched on our experience getting Ronto Wraps from Ronto Roasters at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, and I’ve even made Ronto Wraps at home…today, I’m going to take a closer look at the Disneyland restaurant itself, because it’s a really fun place to grab a bite to eat!

Can you think of any other place in the galaxy where you can have a droid roast your dinner for you?

I’m still not entirely clear on what a Ronto actually is, but it appears to be a fairly large animal, and is certainly delicious!

Here’s a look at the counter where you order:

And the finished product, exactly as we had it at Disney World, minus the plantain chips, which was a shame, because we’ve discovered we really like them!

This is such a fun and different restaurant, and the food is absolutely amazing…I’m already looking forward to the next time I make Ronto Wraps at home!

Coronation Day

Happy Coronation Day!

This was a day I both hoped would never come (because to get here, first Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had to pass), and one that I have eagerly anticipated. The Coronation of King Charles III was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me (to date, anyway), and I loved reading through the detailed order of service and watching every moment. It was a beautiful ceremony, and all of the history and tradition contained within it both made a connection with the distant past as well as pointed the way to the future. The music was lovely, from “I Was Glad” and “Zadok the Priest” to “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation.” It was clear watching it that it doesn’t matter if you are crowned when you are young, as was Queen Elizabeth II, or after a lifetime of preparation like King Charles III, the truth of the saying “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” was evident, as you could see the weight of it on both of their faces in archive footage and on live TV. The Princess of Wales hit the perfect balance between tiara and headpiece (although I still wish she’d worn a full tiara), and it was lovely to see her in the robes of the Royal Victorian Order. Princess Charlotte in her matching outfit and headpiece was adorable, as was the way she kept a watchful eye and gentle hand on her little brother. The Princess Royal, as always, “stood tall among men,” riding horseback in uniform in the procession in order to serve and protect her brother the King. I loved seeing the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh front and center, in a place worthy of such hard-working, dedicated (but sometimes overlooked) royals. It was such a thrill to see St. Edward’s Crown being worn, even for a short time. Young Prince George was a splendid Page of Honor, and it was moving to see him carry his grandfather the King’s train. There is something special about seeing the crowned heads of Europe (or their representatives) gather to see an important moment for one of their peers (and often an extended family member, as well). The touching moment when Prince William, “liege man of life and limb,” paid homage to his father and king, as representative of the Royal Family, was one I will always remember. Is there anything more splendid than seeing the coordinated “hip hip hooray” of thousands of soldiers? Prince Louis was so well-behaved at the Abbey, and so animated on the balcony. Hearing “God Save the King” brought a tear to my eye. Even though I was worried the low clouds and rain would prohibit the flypast, we were treated to a grand display by the Red Arrows.

The day began for me at 3:45 a.m., but it didn’t end when the Royal Family left the balcony. I planned a tea party to celebrate this auspicious occasion:

The star of the meal was the “Coronation Quiche,” prepared according to the recipe shared by the Royal Family to be enjoyed this weekend, and especially at “Big Lunches.”

I made a few other favorite items, including chocolate chip scones, an orange-poppyseed cake, and three types of finger sandwiches: egg salad, coronation chicken (ok, turkey), and cucumber:

I dug way back into my files to find a crown we made in school for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 for our centerpiece, and I also tried a new napkin fold called “The Crown.”

The tea of choice was Darjeeling…I don’t know if it’s actually enjoyed by King Charles III, but it’s one of my favorites! It was a lovely lunchtime celebration!

For dinner, I threw it way back to the last coronation, and made coronation chicken (again, actually turkey) served over rice:

And for dessert, what’s more English than a trifle?

I even planned a coronation-themed outfit in Animal Crossing!

This was a very special day, and one I know I’ll always remember!

Star Wars Days

May the Fourth be with You! (But watch out for the Revenge of the Fifth!) We’ve had another fun two-day Star Wars Day(s) celebration. Most of the recipes we tried this year were new, starting with yesterday’s breakfast of Keshian Spice Bread from Star Wars: Galactic Baking (a new cookbook in our collection):

Dinner last night was a repeat (but so worth it)…I made Ronto Wrappers (flatbreads) from the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge cookbook, and Batuuan Ronto Wraps from The Official Disney Parks Cookbook (just like we had at Disney World last summer and so delicious):

I also made the iconic Star Wars Blue Milk from a recipe on the Disney Food Blog…this one was pretty hit or miss, but it looked pretty!

Dessert was Hoth Cocoa Cream Puffs from Star Wars: Galactic Baking…they were amazing!

For dinner tonight, I made Nerf Kebabs from the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge cookbook, and served Wawaatt Sprouts from The Life Day Cookbook with them:

I modified the recipe for Lothal Spicebrew from the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge cookbook to make it non-alcoholic…it was much more popular than last night’s drink!

For dessert, I baked Sith Cookies from Star Wars: Galactic Baking. The were soft and delicious.

This has become one of my favorite bonus holiday celebrations, and I’m really excited that there’s another Star Wars cookbook coming out later this year, so we can try even more recipes!

Easter 2023

As hard as it is to believe since Lent always seems like it lasts forever, Holy Week and Easter Sunday have already come and gone. We had our traditional four day celebration, beginning on Maundy Thursday, with a fun twist for Easter dinner this year! I really look forward to this celebration every year, this 2023 did not disappoint!

On Maundy Thursday, I made hot cross buns. This is definitely a tradition now…what started as an experiment in 2020 when I was only grocery shopping once every two weeks and couldn’t plan on purchasing them has become an expected part of our Holy Week observances! I did try a new recipe this time, and I think we all liked it even better than the other ones I’ve made!

The evening church service was, as expected, lovely, especially the music.

Everyone had off of school on Good Friday, which was nice. I dedicated my day to baking. I made what were probably the best buttermilk biscuits ever, as well as blueberry muffins:

We were back at church that evening for another moving service:

Would you be surprised to know that I was back to baking on Holy Saturday? I made my first-ever angel food cake…keep reading to see how it turned out!

We also made this year’s Paschal candle…I think this was our best effort ever!

The Great Vigil of Easter is still my favorite service of the whole church year…I love the meaning behind each different part!

On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for Frostys and fries:

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful!

One of my favorite traditions is taking pictures of the Fab Five by the baptismal font:

Of course, I took other pictures, too:

We also got a very nice family photo:

When we got home, we had Easter brunch (our first brunch of the day…stay with me!). I made biscuits and gravy, and we also had scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and a variety of mini donuts. And pomegranate juice, which has become something of a tradition.

It was a great first meal of the day!

We watched some of our favorite Easter specials, and I visited Zipper T. Bunny when I wasn’t working on our big meal.

I learned how to turn our napkins into flowers for Easter!

I love how pretty the Easter table always looks!

For Easter dinner, we had Easter brunch (again). But this was a fancier brunch suggested by Turkey, including eggs Benedict, breakfast casserole, bacon, waffles, a salmon and radish tart, fresh fruit, gouda tea sandwiches, blueberry muffins, and a cheese board.

It was fun (and delicious!) to do something so different for dinner!!!

For dessert, we had the angel food cake I made, served with strawberries and a cream cheese filling/frosting…it was really good!

Easter is, of course, the highlight of the church year, and our celebration this year at church and home was especially lovely!