Mr. N in the Driver’s Seat

This is the last installment for Chopped Challenge 2014. I wish our dessert round was more inspired this year, after all Charles gave us a great basket to work with! Dessert Basket 2014

Sadly, however, after a long nine hours of cooking our creativity (and quite frankly motivation) was lacking. Don’t worry Charles, we’ve decided next year’s Chopped Challenge twist will be that the dessert round goes first. I know the kids won’t complain! So what to do with quinoa, chocolate, mango and Grand Marnier? Well, Mr. N suggested no bake cookies – they are easy, they are good and it should work. He also knows it’s the only way his mom will eat chocolate and figured it was a sure-fire way to win. conspiracy

So that’s what team Cleavers opted to do. We subbed the quinoa for oatmeal, the vanilla for Grand Marnier and added bits of dried, chopped mango in our regular recipe. The result was interesting. It certainly had the flavor of no bake cookies, but not quite the texture. Mr. N and Miss A both loved them and gave them a 4 spoon rating – the same as the regular recipe. Mike and I gave them 3 spoons each; although in retrospect they were more like 2 spoons. I didn’t eat them again. no bake cookies

I really didn’t even think it necessary to share the recipe, but the kids were insistent. They loved the quinoa cookies. They save well in the freezer and I saw Miss A sneak one out just yesterday. I guess this is one way to get her to eat some quinoa! Team Number Won was actually going to make no bake cookies too (a first in the Chopped competition to have both teams thinking along the same lines), but ultimately they opted for a no bake-inspired granola bar. The result didn’t quite go over as well, only garnering 2 spoons from all but Mike.

Long story short, stick with the regular recipe (unless you’re trying to get your kids to eat quinoa). The recipe provided here is our regular recipe passed down for several generations on my dad’s side of the family. It’s been a favorite for years and soothed many a broken hearts during the high school/teenage years. At the kids request we did include the quinoa option in the recipe for anyone interested.

Print this recipe: No Bake Cookies

Before we sign off for the week, I figured we’d share a few pics from President’s Day this week. Unfortunately Mike had to work, but the kids and I had a fabulous day at the Arboretum. Since it had warmed up into the 20’s (F), we thought we should try to take advantage of some of the snow and try our hand at cross-country skiing. The kids did great for their first time. skiing

We were out for an hour and half (although we only got about 1/4 mile). Mr. N had a rough start, but quickly got the hang of it and had a lot of fun. Miss A had a difficult time staying upright. She remained determined and optimistic for a good while, but then collapsed in a heap flailing her skiis about, becoming quite contorted yelling, “I’m useless! I’m just useless! Don’t talk to me!” It was quite the dramatic scene. cross country ski

That was the end of our skiing adventure. Fortunately she calmed down after we warmed up and ate some lunch. We then decided to take a drive through the park and photo the snowy scene. We were in the midst of a solid blizzard. snowstorm

Each of the kids had a camera as we drove around. We’d occasionally stop the car and hop out for photos. snowy day

The kids were all giggles and we were having a lovely time. We found this particularly pretty spot and paused to play in the snow a bit (the park was virtually empty but for us). snowy forest

The kids had fun rolling around and catching snowflakes on their tongues. happy day

Then it was time to get moving – only we couldn’t move. I should have known this would happen. My car (which I loathe beyond words) is not the best in snowy, icy or wet weather. I shifted forward, shifted backward, but we were not moving. Not one bit. I tried again – nothing. I was beginning to think we might have to call the visitor’s center and request assistance, but I wasn’t quite ready to do that yet. I sat for a moment to think. We didn’t have any kitty litter in the trunk, there were no other cars/people in the vicinity…Then I hopped out of the car, opened the backseat and told Mr. N to hop in the driver’s seat. His eyes widened and he looked at me like I was crazy (and perhaps I was). He was a bit hesitant, but I explained he just needed to sit there, push the pedal with his foot and hold the wheel straight while I pushed the car. This he found quite amusing. snow play

So with Mr. N at the wheel, I stood with the driver’s door open for leverage and pushed with all my might. I rocked the car back and forth, back and forth. Miss A in the meanwhile was squealing with delight. “Wheee! This is like a ride!”

Mr. N was trying to play it cool and be all serious, but you could see the devious little twinkle in his eye. He was relishing this moment. After about five minutes of rocking, pushing, pausing, pushing we started to move. I quickly popped Mr. N to the passenger seat and took control. At first we were going back and forth sideways (maybe six inches either way). I didn’t even realize it was possible for the car to move this way. Then finally we began to slowly roll forward. Success!

We decided it was probably time to go home, and so ended our snow day adventure. It’s one we won’t forget anytime soon. We all had a lot of fun and Mr. N was quite proud to have saved the day – modest too. “Thank you Mr. N! Without you, we still would have been stuck and had to call for help. I couldn’t have done that without you.”

“I didn’t do anything. I just sat there and pushed a pedal,” he said. But you could see the gleam in his eye and the slight uptick in the corner of his lips.

What a winter! At least we have some fun stories to share now. And even though we’re facing another week of temps below zero and in the teens, we’re getting closer to spring. We did have one day this week where we hit 45F, some snow melted and I got out for a run. Spring is on the way. I know it!long shadows

Our shadows are getting longer!!! So while we continue to wait out spring, we’re going to get back in the kitchen and start cooking recipes from around the world again. First up are Miss A’s picks for a few dishes from Poland. See you next week!

21 thoughts on “Mr. N in the Driver’s Seat

  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I really like Mr. N’s personality. He’s a good boy! 🙂 Well, first of all, you’re amazing. I’d be in panic first if I can’t move my car. But you were calm and figured out the solution! It’s really cute for Mr. N to show some facial expression of happiness and excitement but trying to be serious for you. And next year dessert first? I’m already excited for next challenge!!


  2. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen says:

    I’m so impressed and love that Mr N thought you’d lost it when you asked him to drive, lol! I think he is awesome for being able to rescue all of you. There isn’t anything scarier than being stuck in snow in a blizzard. We have snow tires here because we just can’t take that risk, it gets far too cold. I haven’t baked with quinoa flakes yet, these look like they should have tasted great.. maybe it’s more of a kid’s treat? But I’d sure have a taste:D


  3. Charles says:

    Go Mr N! Glad you were able to get unstuck! By the way, in case it happens again, one tip is to let some air out of your tyres (not all of it, of course). It will provide much more surface area in contact with the road and thus more traction. That coupled with rocking back and forth a bit should get you out of a jam if you’re stuck alone!

    I don’t blame you at all for going for an easy option. I think everyone has an “idea” in mind when they propose a basket, so I’ll tell you what I was thinking!

    I was thinking some sort of crumble / cobbler kind of thing would have been great. Mango inside, maybe stewed in a bit of grand marnier, with either a quinoa and chocolate, or just plain quinoa crumb, padded out with a bit of flour and sugar, and then a chocolate sauce maybe. Yum :D.


  4. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Wow, never underestimate the strength, determination and ingenuity of a mom ;-). Good for all 3 of you working it out and having a snow day adventure. Your nature photos are beautiful by the way – so peaceful. Oatmeal is a tricky texture to try and mimic in baking but I’d be curious to try your lovely no bake cookies with quinoa puffs (and maybe a few quinoa flakes tossed in as well) which might approximate the original recipe more closely — a snow day project for another day? Love the longer shadows — go spring!!


  5. ChgoJohn says:

    What a great day! Your Sous Chefs will never confuse this Winter with any other in their childhood. Each will remember as the one in which Mr N got behind the wheel. I love how he’s playing it so cool.
    Yes, cars can go sideways. I was on my way to visit our mutual friend and stopped to let her know that I’d be there shortly. As I started to pull off the shoulder, the car had other ideas and slid sideways into the ditch. I had to wait for a tow truck. A woman was driving past, saw the whole thing, and stopped to ask if I needed help. When I said I was fine she said, “It kinda just grabbed you, didn’t it?” 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      Oh no! I can’t believe you got stuck in a ditch. That is awful! I’m glad you are safe though. And that is a perfect way to describe winter spinouts, slides, etc. It does just kind of grab you!


  6. Three Well Beings says:

    I know you’re experienced in blizzard conditions, but nevertheless I’m really impressed you knew what to do. I’m still unsure about the kitty litter, though. Is that for traction? Mr. N must have felt so grown up, and Miss A’s “I’m just useless” is the funniest comment I’ve heard in a long time. What a joy-filled day, even with the few obstacles. I love the sound of the no-bake quinoa cookies, too. I know I would like them! You guys are a terrific and tremendously creative team! Looking forward to the Polish recipes, too! 🙂


  7. Eva Taylor says:

    I’m sorry these cookies didn’t do it for you, I think we would have liked them, but then again we like chocolate! I wonder if you substituted puffed quinoa would you have liked them better? It’s cool that you used Charles’ bag of goodies for the challenge, sigh maybe next year mine will be chosen!
    That is rather cool for Mr. N, how lucky that his legs were long enough to reach the pedals. It must have been a bit frightening to get stuck in the snow, I’m really glad it had a happy ending. I hope you bought a couple of bags of kitty litter right afterward!


  8. hotlyspiced says:

    What a day! It’s a shame Mike had to work on a public holiday – it certainly sounds like you could have done with some assistance. Your Miss A sounds a lot like my Miss A – so dramatic! The pictures are just gorgeous. Have I told you my children have never seen snow? They think they are under-privileged – there they go being dramatic again! xx


  9. sallybr says:

    Great story indeed, I am so glad it all ended well! Now, you don’t need to tell Miss A, but “someone” (who shall remain nameless) had a drama speech during a ski session that was very very similar. Except for the fact that the person was over 40 years old, so the cuteness level was… not there. Amazing what a little snow can do to a person.


  10. Dawn says:

    Oh my gosh, what a great story!!! So glad it worked and his first experience behind the wheel was a positive one! We were also enjoying the snow up in Whistler, it was incredible. We did all types of skiing: downhill, classic xc and skate skiing, which was the hardest thing we have ever tried. Great vacation, now back to reality!!


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