Shoo Fly Shoo

Our work began early this Memorial Day. Both dad and grandpa (my dad) were outside by 7:30 working on the swing set, the Cedar Summit Panorama from Costco.

They braved the 90 degree temps and humidity, and worked tirelessly through lunch. By early afternoon the rest of the barn raising crew came by to help finish things up (and break things in!).

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It’s a Barn Raising – of Sorts

Both Mr. N and Miss A have summer birthdays. So this year, since we’re in the new house, we decided to get them a swing set for their birthdays. We purchased a beautiful set at a very reasonable price, the catch – we have to build it ourselves. This is no easy feat as you can imagine. There are literally dozens of pieces of wood and hundreds of screws, and nothing is labeled.

This job was beyond dad and I, so much like the barn raisings of long ago, we invited some extra hands to help us put this thing together.

So since we’re raising the swing set and our state this week was Pennsylvania, we decided to whip up a few Amish dishes to get in the spirit of things. We started early yesterday morning with an Amish Stuffed French Toast.

The first step was to cube a loaf of bread.

We placed the bread in a baking dish and then cut up a block of cream cheese and placed it in the bread.

The recipe then called for the use of a pie filling. Instead, we took fresh blackberries that we had frozen from my Grandpa’s garden last summer and combined them with a bit of sugar.

Next we poured them over the first layer of bread.

Then we added the remaining bread over the top. Finally in a bowl we mixed together eggs, milk, vanilla and maple syrup. We poured this over the top layer of bread, followed by a bit of melted butter and cinnamon. The French toast was then refrigerated overnight and baked for 50 minutes at 350F in the morning.

We served the dish with syrup and powdered sugar. However as good as this looked and smelled, it didn’t quite live up to our expectations.

Miss A rated it the lowest with 1 spoon. She barely ate any. Dad and I both gave the French toast 2 spoons. It was okay, but we think would have been better with white bread instead of wheat. And Mr. N seemed to enjoy it the most and gave it 3 spoons. He ate it for breakfast, dinner and again the next morning for breakfast.

As for the barn raising…

after a 12 hour day and having to wait out some rain showers (water and power tools don’t mix), it’s coming along. Here’s hoping tomorrow will be the final day for the “barn raising.”

Print this recipe: Amish Stuffed French Toast

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I have to say this has been one of the cloudiest springs in recent memory. That’s not to say it actually is the cloudiest – it could be in fact that my memory has selective recall. That’s been known to happen on occasion. Nevertheless it’s cloudy again. We made these quick, healthy breakfast treats earlier this week, but they would be the perfect way to brighten up a cloudy morning. The recipe is adapted from one we came across in the Taste of Home Comfort Food, Diet Cookbook. It’s also a great way to use up some of the leftover phyllo from the baklawa. (I bought several packages just-in-case my attempt at the recipe went horribly array.)

We began by cutting three phyllo sheets into sixths. We then separated the squares out and placed them in muffin tins – 3 per tin.

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Third Time’s the Charm? Quest for the Best Banana Bread.

Tonight the kids and I whipped up the third banana bread recipe for our quest. This particular version is adapted from Martha Stewart’s banana bread and was sent to me by an old high school friend. Thanks Liz! The major differences in this recipe compared to the first two are that it uses only white sugar and replaces the oil with sour cream. Until now, I had never seen a banana bread recipe with sour cream, so I was intrigued.

We started by mashing the bananas – Miss A was on hand to help in what has become her new favorite outfit (a princess nightgown), worn both day and night.

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It’s Always Sunny with Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly Phanatic

This meal was all ChefDad, so he’ll share this one in his own words. :)

Today we head to Pennsylvania for Philly Cheesesteaks, and if Ribbie and Roobarb merit a spot on this blog, surely we can find room for a true legend among mascots–the Philly Phanatic. I’ve had a taste for a Philly Cheesesteak for the last couple of weeks, though I confess to limited experience with them. We did order cheesesteaks at the old Veteran’s Stadium back in 2003, though I suspect mom was too busy taking pictures of Kyle Farnsworth to pay much attention to her meal.

The internet’s not much help for cheesesteak recipes–it seems there is no universal formula beyond thinly sliced beef, cheese and bread. Nevertheless I felt confident as I began this undertaking, as mom said to Mr. N, “He’s been to Philadelphia once and he thinks he knows how to make cheesesteaks.” Yes I did. We settled on a set of toppings–onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. Continue reading

Boo-Yeah! Baklawa!

Ever since last month when Dawn over at First Look, Then Cook posted her recipe for baklava, it’s been on my mind. I instantly thought of an ice wine we have that would match this dessert perfectly. Not to mention I’ve never worked with phyllo before and it sounded like a challenge I needed to tackle. So when we were looking for Egyptian desserts and came across the recipe for Baklawa, the Egyptian version of the dessert, I knew it was time to get to work.

The main differences between Greek baklava and Egyptian baklawa are that the Greek version uses honey in the syrup and almonds in the pastry. The Egyptian form of the dessert uses sugar and orange blossom in the syrup and omits the almonds. Either way, the dessert sounds intriguing to me and dad, and one that we thought even Mr. N and Miss A would enjoy.

Miss A helped me out early in the process. She was very excited to see the mallet coming out again and was eager to crush the walnuts. Continue reading