Family · Music

Presley attends Master Class with Broadway Actress

Presley was lucky enough (or should I say talented enough) to be invited to attend a Vocal Master Class today at Lyon College with Broadway actress Belinda Allyn. Presley sang “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from the Broadway musical Evita.  You can watch her performance here (you’ll want to turn up your sound).

After singing the song through once, Ms. Allyn had her try again and sing like she was speaking the words (without worrying about pitch) to get a feel for how the lines should flow naturally. Presley reprised her performance, following the advice she had received and the improvements were certainly noticeable. Afterwards, Ms. Allyn was surprised to learn that Presley was only 11. She also had a few words of advice for Presley, telling her to take notice of the differences between the “high” and “low” parts of her voice and to continue to work to find the right “blend” of the two in her songs.

After the class Presley was thrilled to get her picture taken with Ms. Allyn and get her autograph. Presley also received one more invaluable piece of advice when she asked Ms. Allyn if she ever got stage fright and if so how she handled it. Ms. Allyn told her, “Somebody once told me that having a little bit of stage fright is a good thing because it shows that you care. Only somebody who doesn’t care doesn’t get nervous. If you practice still and relaxed you will be still and relaxed when you perform.”

We are so happy that Presley had this opportunity to get feedback from an experienced Broadway singer/actress. We are also thankful to have Dr. Weston and Dr. Oriatti teach our daughters music and provide them with such wonderful opportunities for learning like they had today.

Family · Food · Pancakes

Menu Monday 9/25/17

According to the National Day calendar, we have a few food holidays this week, including one of three yearly pancake days:  Blueberry pancake day is January 28th, IHOP pancake day occurs at the beginning of March, and Pancake day is September 26.  Also Wednesday is National Corned Beef Hash Day and who can resist that?

Monday:  Fried rice and egg rolls.  Dinner has to be ready early today, so we’ll Make something quick.  Chop up all your tiny bits of vegetables left in your crisper drawer: carrots, celery, onion, cabbage, broccoli, etc and leftover chicken, pork, or steak.  Mix with leftover cooked white rice and season with soy sauce, ginger paste, and Worcestershire sauce.  Frozen egg rolls round out the meal.

Tuesday:  It’s National Pancake Day so let’s have breakfast for dinner. IMG_7002You can use my basic pancake recipe, make emoji, heart, or other shaped pancakes, prepare oatmeal pancakes, or an apple/pear pancake, or try any of these recipes collected by one of my favorite blogs, HipToSave.  

Wednesday:  Corned Beef Hash.  IMG_7451What else would you eat on National Corned Beef Hash Day?  Simply brown a pan full of potatoes (I use cubed frozen hash browns), add minced onion, leftover diced Corned Beef  (or get some from the deli), and season with salt, pepper, and caraway seeds.  Top with thinly sliced Swiss cheese and serve as soon as the cheese melts into the hash.  You can also add chopped cabbage to this hash if you have some.  Enjoy!

Thursday:   Tuna salad sandwiches and Doritos (one of my favorite combinations ).  It’s Sandwich Thursday in our household, our busiest day of the week.  So it’s sandwiches after school and a second dinner (usually something pre-made out of the freezer like chicken tenders or pizza bites) after soccer practice.  I make my tuna salad with sweet pickle relish, mayonnaise, and a squeeze of yellow mustard.  Feel free to make yours however you like.

Friday:  Sloppy Janes and French fries.  The girls have a school dance tonight so we need a quick and easy dinner.  This is my take on Sloppy Joes courtesy of Desperation Dinners.

Family · Food

Menu Monday 9/18/17

We’ve got a busy week so I’ll make this short and sweet.

Monday:  Grilled chicken leg quarters with pasta salad and black-eyed pea salad.  Today dinner has to be ready when the girls get home from school at 4pm so I’m going with dishes that I can prepare early in the day.  Sorry if I disappoint you but the pasta salad is courtesy of a classic boxed mix with chopped: olives (black and green),  roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, and canned artichokes added to it.  For the black-eyed pea salad, simply drain and rinse a can of black-eyed peas and add frozen corn, roasted red pepper, red onion, & pickle relish (I also use some of the “juice” from the relish.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday:  Fish tacos with slaw.  It’s an old standby recipe but someone gave me a head of cabbage and it needs to be eaten. See Wednesday of Menu Monday 6/12/17 or Monday of Menu Monday 7/3/17 for ideas.

Wednesday:  Yellow rice and black beans with grilled chicken breast and pico de gallo.  We’ve done this one before, see Menu Monday 4/10/17 for details.

Thursday:  It’s sandwich Thursday, our busiest day of the week.  I think I’ll grill extra chicken on Wednesday and we can have grilled chicken sandwiches with mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes.  I’d be happy having these on plain white toast (just like my favorite turkey sandwich on the day after Thanksgiving) but I may pick up some nice hoagie rolls instead.

Friday:  Homemade pizzas.  I’ll just pick up some pizza dough from the grocery store (or maybe those pre-made pizza crusts) and we can top them with whatever is in the refrigerator.  I always have Alfredo sauce and tomato sauce on hand as well as pepperoni.  And this week there will also be mushrooms, onion, ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese, and maybe even leftover chicken.  See Friday of Menu Monday 12/26/16 or 1/9/17 for inspiration.

Family · Food

Menu Monday 9/11/17

Since today is 9/11 I hope you all take a moment to remember the tragedy and heroism of that day as well as the everlasting changes it made in our lives.  Thank you to all our First Responders, firefighters, paramedics, police, and of course our military for all that you do to keep our country safe!

Now on to less important matters.  What are we going to eat this week?  We’re definitely eating eggplant because my garden won’t stop producing them.

Monday:  Eggplant rollatini, Caesar salad, and garlic toast.  We’re going to slice our Japanese eggplants (2-3, depending on how many rollatinis you want to make) into ¼” planks, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper then grill or sauté until softened (not cooked through).  Next spread ricotta mixture from our Eggplant Lasagna recipe on each plank and roll up into a pinwheel.  Repeat with remaining eggplant, placing pinwheels side by side in a greased baking dish (I use an 8 x 8″ casserole dish).  Cover pinwheels with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella.  Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes, until veggies are cooked through and cheese is melted and bubbly on top.  When serving make sure you scoop out individual pinwheels (don’t cut through them) for a more elegant presentation.  Everyone will think you slaved for hours over them.

Tuesday:  Chalupas, tostaguacs, or bean tostadas.  Whatever you want to call them.  To me a Chalupa is a crispy corn tortilla topped with refried beans, queso fresco, guacamole, lettuce, and tomatoes.  They can also include ground beef, or shredded chicken, pork or beef.  Homemade guacamole is a must.  Here is my favorite recipe:

Guacamole
(t = teaspoon and T = tablespoon)

2 medium or 1 large avocado 
2T minced onion
2T chopped fresh cilantro or celery leaves
1T lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded & minced

1/2t salt
1/4t pepper 

Cut avocados in half, remove each seed. Scoop flesh from peel with spoon into bowl. Add next 6 ingredients. Coarsely mash with potato masher. 

Wednesday:  Grilled ribeye steaks, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, and spinach sautéed in butter and garlic.  It’s going to be a real “steakhouse” dinner.  I can’t wait!

Thursday:  Roast beef sandwiches with horseradish sauce and carrots, pickles, and olives on the side (those count as vegetables, don’t they?)  As I mentioned last week, Thursdays are now “Sandwich Thursdays” due to the girls crazy Thursday after school schedules.  They have to eat in the car on the way from school to choir since they have soccer practice immediately following choir.  I’ll also pack a small cooler of healthy snacks and water for the soccer field.  And chocolate milk once they get home to help their muscles recover quicker.  Remember my blog post on chocolate milk? Refresh your memory with the last paragraph.

Friday:  Yogurt marinated venison with pita bread and Greek salad.  Yogurt really seems to take away the gamey taste of venison.  Season your meat (we’re using the back strap) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano or Greek seasoning then smother it all in plain Greek yogurt (massage it into the meat).  This marinade is also great on chicken or lamb.  Let it marinate  in refrigerator at least 2 hours (doing this part the morning you’re having it for dinner is even better).  For dinner, grill your meat, warm the pitas, and serve with a big Greek salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, and lettuce.  Follow our Favorite Vinaigrette recipe but substitute lemon juice for the vinegar and add some dried oregano.

Family · Food · Pancakes

Weekends are for Emoji Pancakes 

This weekend we took our basic blender pancake recipe and used it to make emoji pancakes.


We added 8-10 drops of yellow food coloring to our pancake batter after mixing all the ingredients together.  We would add a few drops and then blend again until we got the right color.  In trying to get the correct color we almost over-mixed the batter and got a few lumpy pancakes.

I suggest adding 8-10 drops of yellow food coloring to the milk before adding it to the batter.   Also don’t get your griddle too hot or your pancakes will brown too much and you’ll lose your yellow color.  You can see the result of a too hot griddle in the following picture.


The girls really got into making the pancakes and drawing the emoji faces on them with black and red decorator frosting.

img_7345

Maybe you can make your next pancake breakfast (or dinner) an emoji one.  Please share your results with us!

I’d love it if you’d share your favorite pancake recipes with me either in the Comments section of this blog, on my “Yes, there will be pancakes” Facebook page, or for those of you closer to me, send me a text, email, or Facebook message.

Family · Food

Menu Monday 9/4/17

Happy Labor Day!  I hope everyone is celebrating our awesome American workforce by not laboring and perhaps by grilling something wonderful to eat today.  This week marks the beginning of soccer season for us and the practice schedule is going to make dinners a little bit challenging.  The girls have music/voice lessons and Presley has soccer practice on Mondays.  Peyton has soccer practice on Tuesdays.  The girls both have choir and soccer practices on Thursdays. I can prepare dinner early on Mondays and late on Tuesdays but after this week I am going to have to declare Thursdays as “Sandwich Thursdays” because the only time the girls will have to eat is in the car on the way from school to choir practice.  Soccer starts right after choir and isn’t over til around 7pm.  So I hope you’re ready for a lot of great sandwich recipes in your near future.

Monday:  Bratwurst braised in beer, onions, and sour kraut, smashed potato salad, and slaw.  Slice an onion, open a beer and a jar of sour kraut and dump them into a disposable aluminum pan on top of your bratwurst.  Grill over indirect heat for 30-60 minutes. Then remove brats from pan, drain liquid and brown onions and kraut.  Grill brats quickly over high heat just to get nice grill marks.  Serve bratwurst on buns with caramelized onions/kraut and mustard.  Kiki’s Smashed potato salad and oil and vinegar slaw will make great sides.

Tuesday:  Cheese pizza and a garden salad.  Today is National Cheese Pizza Day, so let’s celebrate (and make for easy dinner prep) with a take-out (we like Domino’s Brooklyn style) or frozen (Tombstone is our favorite here) cheese pizza.  You can make yourself feel a little better by preparing a large salad to serve alongside.

Wednesday:  Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.  I hide all the extra veggies in the spaghetti sauce so there is no need for me to serve a salad with this meal, but if you get your sauce from a jar (and there’s no shame in that) you might want to add a salad to this meal.  My homemade spaghetti sauce today will have onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and eggplant in addition to the tomato sauce.  I just sauté whatever vegetables I have until softened and then purée them with the tomato sauce.  Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and you have a great veggie-packed sauce.  I do cheat by using frozen meatballs.  It just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort to make them from scratch (maybe I’m just not that good at it).

Thursday:  Roasted Acorn squash and grilled skirt steak.  Today is National Acorn Squash Day and therefore the perfect day to add it to the menu.  The easy way to prepare this squash is:  Cut squash in half through the stem and scoop out the seeds and strings.  Slice into ½” half-moon slices. Brush both sides with a mixture of 3T olive oil and 1T melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until tender), turning once halfway through cooking time.  Dave’s sister gave him a savory lemon, herb, and cheese seasoning blend for his birthday that is supposed to be great on acorn squash so we may try it.  (Parmesan Mediterranean Veggie Roaster Seasoning Blend from UrbanAccents.com)

Friday:  Frittata and a kale salad with lemon vinaigrette.  I think we’ll go with our old standby, a ham, corn, and potato frittata although the girls want me to add spinach (Imagine that, kids asking for spinach).  I first posted this meal 12-5-16, see “National Pi Day” for instructions.

Family · Food · Pancakes

Weekends are for Pancakes!

This weekend I’m starting a new weekly post:  Yes, there will be pancakes on the weekends!  I’m so excited to be adding a weekly pancake post to my “pancake” blog.  I’d love it if you’d share your favorite pancake recipes with me either in the Comments section of this blog, on my “Yes, there will be pancakes” Facebook page, or for those of you closer to me, send me a text, email, or Facebook message.

I know that for most of you making pancakes means buying a box of Bisquick or pancake mix, adding water, and pouring it on the griddle, but I’m going to share a recipe that is so simple that you can make completely homemade pancakes in the same amount of time.  My mother has been making this recipe since I was a little girl.  It is simple, foolproof, and delicious!

Blender Pancakes    (c = cup, t = teaspoon, T = tablespoon)
1c milk
1 egg
2T canola oil
1c flour
2T baking powder
1/2t salt
1T sugar
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed.  DO NOT OVER-BLEND!  (It will result in lumpy pancakes)  Let batter rest a couple of minutes then pour pancake batter onto a non-stick pan or griddle.  These pancakes do not require butter or cooking spray to keep them from sticking to the pan.  We like to pour our batter into a plastic squeeze bottle so Dave can make shapes for the girls.  (Pumpkins for Halloween, hearts, stars, smiley faces, etc).  Let cook until the tops are nice and bubbly then flip and cook a few minutes more.
IMG_3190.jpg