CHOCOLATE for Breakfast!!

As any chocolatephile (is that a word?) knows, the best way to start the morning is with chocolate.  Now, if it’s a chocolate bar, a piece of chocolate cake or a bowl of chocolate ice cream, then one should generally sneak it in before her children find her!  If, though, it’s officially breakfast food, then she can share it with the world!


I found this recipe for Cocoa Pancakes in my latest Taste of Home recipe magazine.  I didn’t have the mini-chocolate chips to add, but I did use Special Dark Hershey’s Cocoa, which more than made up for it.  I’m all for changing the name of the pancakes to CHOCOLATE pancakes, though, just because it sounds more decadent.

See, even the batter looks yummy:


I made fresh whipped cream for topping because I didn’t want to distract from the CHOCOLATE with plain ole syrup.  Lizzie was my taste-tester. chocolatepancakes5







I subscribe to the idea that bacon for breakfast keeps all sorts of ills away.  What a glorious start to our day!



Dr. Suess Cake

Who doesn’t like Dr. Suess?  I can’t imagine this type of person…I don’t think I would want to be friends with her!  My children “read” these books early on in their educational careers, and Sam, I am is a close friend of the family.  That said, I can only follow the Cat’s antics for so many days in a row before I go bonkers.  (Just a side note, I first wrote “bankers,” which I can only figure out in a combination of “bonkers” and “batty.”  Rather apt description!)

I previously posted my Polka Dotty Cake excitement, and I’m happy to report that the first graders in Caroline’s class were tickled to find the polka dots in the cake I made for them.

I started the cake early the day before I needed to finish.  Somehow, I just felt it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing.  My original design (it never got out of my head) called for a Cat-in-the-Hat hat on one side of an open book and aDr. Suess5 fish-in-the-teacup on the other side.  My first attempt at the hat looked great.

It was a pain to stack, though, and I had to freeze the layers and the dirty icing to keep everything from sticking to my fingers.  I had baked 9-inch rounds and cut 4-inch circles to layer; several dowel rods (OK, they’re really bamboo skewers, which, by the way, don’t work nearly as well as real, solid dowel rods!) are poked through the layers for stability.  All the debris is my attempt to “ruffle” the brim of the hat.

That evening, though, this is what happened to my very heavy, precariously stacked hat:

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I went to bed with NO PLAN!!  In the middle of the night, more ideas came to me.  I would use rice krispie treats (RKT) to form the hat, much smaller, thinner and lighter.  If I had time, I would make the teacup with a fish.  As it turns out, I didn’t have time for the teacup, but Caroline did!  The fish is just plastic. 😦

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In case you, gentle reader, want to form your own teacup out of RKT, be sure your handle is strong enough to stay upright.  I didn’t do this, but perhaps wrapping the RKY around a wire would help it keep its shape.  Also, be sure to use something sharp and pointy to attach the handle to the cup; I used a toothpick broken in half, which worked well enough.

The final product:

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I used edible decorating markers to outline the letters, hat stripes and the bookmark, and Caroline used them to decorate the teacup.  This was a new trick for me, and I’m pleased with the effect.

Caroline posing with “her” cake in her classroom:

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And I had leftover cake and fondant, so the teachers got a quickie.

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Polka Dotty Cake

It’s Dr. Seuss Week, you know!  Caroline’s 1st grade class does a week-long unit using all things Seussical, and the teacher asked me to make a cake to finish off the festivities.  I Googled Dr. Suess Cakes…and whew!  It’s a little overwhelming. 😦

Undaunted, I came up with a grand plan for my own cake, which I will reveal on Friday.  Before I started the fancy-dancy final cake, though, I wanted to practice:

I started by making red velvet cake balls. I found a pancake batter dispenser a few months ago that works like a dream for this: NO DRIPS!  I undercooked the balls just slightly.

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I used a yellow cake mix for contrast and spread a thin layer on the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Polka dot cake1Once I placed the balls gently on the batter, I covered them (mostly) with the rest of the batter.  (For future reference, I think 8″ pans would work better since they’re deeper.)

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I baked the cakes for the regular time, layered them, frosted them, rainbow-sprinkled them (of course!).

Wa-La:  A Polka Dotty Cake!

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Note: Check out that snazzy cake server!  I’ve decided to start collecting them…

Knights, Bishops, Rooks…Oh My!

I have played chess since I was a little girl: I played my dad, my brothers, my cousin, my uncle. I never won.

Now, I play my daughters.  I can win…for now…but it’s a lot of work!  Bob plays them…and gets spanked! (In his defense, Caroline has some pretty impressive distraction techniques: next time you see her, ask what happens when you say, “Regis and Kaaaaaathy Lee!”)

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Lauren and Caroline have joined the Chess Club at school, and Lauren has started competing in localLauren Chess3 tournaments.

Her win/loss record isn’t amazing…yet…but she’s learning and having a good time.  photo 2







And…Chess Club meets every Wednesday after school until 5:00, which gives me a chance to “relax” while the other kids do this:

Lizzie Sleeping Josie Sleeping

Fancy Girls!

Our church offers three services: a traditional liturgical service at 8:15 Sunday morning, and contemporary/traditional service at 11:00 Sunday morning and a very contemporary service at 6:00 Saturday night.  Bob calls the Saturday night service Party Church because the dress code is very relaxed, almost to the point of soccer clothes for some people, and the music is provided by the Praise Band.  Simply put, it’s not his favorite service.  The girls, however, love, love, love it!

I try very hard (OK…maybe not “very”) to avoid bribing my children to wring good behavior out of them.  This weekend, though, I was desperate: “If you’re helpful and kind today, we’ll go to Party Church this evening,” I pleaded.

It worked!!  In fact, they  were so helpful that I was able to finish up the Saturday chores about an hour ahead of schedule.  That left us time to get gussied up:

Planting Taters with Granny

The girls have no idea how lucky they are to have their great-grandparents as an integral part of their lives.  We see Granny and Grandpa (pronounced Grampa, which I learned nearly 2o years ago) at least weekly.  Generally, it’s lunch and playtime on a Sunday afternoon.  During the summer, though, the girls and I try to get out on weekdays to just let the girls run around outside.  You see, G & G have grass…and trees…and a garden.  (We’re still working on the grass and garden at home. Ugh!)

When we went this week, Granny had saved some sprouting potatoes for the girls to plant.  Whether or not the spuds survived the planting doesn’t really matter because the girls got to Plant Taters with their Granny!



















Even Josie got into the action:









Pancakes for Breakfast…or…My Little Girl is Growing Up Too Quickly

Mornings are a little rough for Lauren: she takes a theme from one of her aunts (Rachel, do you remember the agony we went through getting you up and moving in the mornings?) and would prefer to just wait to start her day until the rest of the household is ready for a late morning nap.

So, I’m continually trying to find ways to make mornings easier, less painful for her (and for the rest of us!).  This morning, I asked her to make breakfast for the family.  Lauren hopped out of bed and dashed for the kitchen.

“What am I making, Mama?”  I suggested pancakes and handed her this recipe from that fabulous site, (The only “extra” added this morning was vanilla.)

I was prepared to help her measure, pour and stir.  I left the kitchen for a moment to do my every-minute-of-every-waking-hour sweep of Josie’s mouth to clear it of small, random pieces of things, and when I came back, this is what I found:

How did she know how to measure, pour and stir?  I asked her, and she just shrugged. “I’m 8 years old, Mama.”  ANd that confirmed it…I guess.  Of course, I’m thrilled she’s growing up self-confident and able, but geez, did it have to happen so soon?

Anyway, back to breakfast.  Lauren waited impatiently and flipped with panache.










And her family ate with relish…um…syrup, actually.

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