A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving

Hot Chocolatey Ice Cream

Thanksgiving is kind of a big deal for my family because stuffing ourselves silly surrounded by our loved ones is essentially living the dream. And do you know what else (Who else actually.) is a big deal for my family? Winnie the Pooh. We’ve all fallen in love with that silly old bear and his friends. So writing about A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving just seems like a no brainer. Thanksgiving is a pretty important day in the Hundred Acre Wood too. It’s Pooh’s most favorite day of all. Most of the residents get together to share a feast and each one contributes something special to it. Pooh brings honey, Piglet haycorns, Gopher lemonade (52.6 gallons of it!), Owl biscuits, Eeyore thistles (Although he says no one will like them but him.), and Tigger brings hot chocolatey ice cream! It’s not the traditional Thanksgiving fare, but they’re happy with it. Then Rabbit shows up. He considers a Thanksgiving Day without turkey, cranberry dressing, the “once a year” plates, and pumpkin pie nothing more than a chilly Thursday. He then assigns duties and responsibilities to everyone in order to have a properly organized celebration. (Rabbit really expects Pooh and Piglet to catch a turkey?!)

My family does the standard turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie thing, but that’s because we want them, not because we’d be celebrating wrong without them. Before Thanksgiving every year, each of my family members gets to choose one dish for our meal. Think of it like our own contributions, except only my mom, sister, and I do the cooking. (We’d prefer not to have Gophers in the kitchen.) What we eat is important to us, but we’re just thankful that we can eat together. Even a Hundred Acre Wood Thanksgiving would be fine by me. There’s nothing wrong with honey, haycorns, and hot chocolatey ice cream. (Leave it to Tigger to bring ice cream!) Actually, I think some hot chocolatey ice cream would be a perfect addition to my Thanksgiving feast. Pie shouldn’t have all the glory.

Recipe makes 1 quart of ice cream.

Ingredients

½ cup hot chocolate mix

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¾ cup milk

¾ cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream and the hot chocolate mix. Once combined, add the rest of the heavy cream and the milk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the unsweetened chocolate until fully melted and smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and whisk until light and thickened. While constantly whisking, pour small amounts of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Once 1/3 or so of the chocolate mixture has been added, pour in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Pour the new mixture back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer and into a bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Allow mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature. You can set the bowl over an ice bath to cool the mixture quicker. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the mixture is fully chilled, 4 hours to overnight.

Pour the mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the ice cream and store in an airtight container in the freezer until fully hardened, about 4 hours. Enjoy!

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If hot chocolatey ice cream was the only thing to eat on Thanksgiving, I’d still have a very good day. (I’m about as obsessed with it as Tigger is.) But Rabbit believes that Thanksgiving is all about tradition and custom, habit and routine. He’s half right, but everyone has different traditions and can change them whenever they want. Turkey isn’t the most immensely important part of the holiday. And having enough food to calm the most ferocious of beasts is just a bonus. So if your food and decorations are ruined, you can’t just call off Thanksgiving and say there’s nothing to be thankful for. (I’m talking to you, Rabbit!) Don’t worry. Pooh helps Rabbit see the error in his ways once he rounds everyone up again to share Thanksgiving. Rabbit realizes that all he needs for Thanksgiving, or any other day, are the friends he has. That’s because Thanksgiving is truly about friends and family gathering together to give thanks for how things are and what they have. After all, the grandest thing we shall ever have is one another, or so it was said by a bear named Winnie the Pooh.

 

I’ll be taking a break next week.

Tune in next, next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Tiny Toon Adventures

Episode: The Acme Home Shopping Show-I Was A Teenage Bunny Sitter
Mashed Topato Man

Whenever I’m in need of a heaping helping of the 90’s, (Which is honestly every day.) I can easily get my fix by watching a little Tiny Toon Adventures. It’s so funny and smart that I can never get tired of the show. Every time I watch it, I find something that I never noticed before, whether it’s a pop culture reference, gag, or just a lovely bit of acting or animation. And episodes that I never paid much attention to in the past have quickly become some of my favorites. I get a kick out of all the parodies Tiny Toons does and I love when the episodes are presented as other shows, say for instance, something you’d find on a home shopping network. By the time the show gets to the last segment, Buster has gotten himself all sorts of hurt thanks to the Fly-Boy Beanie, so he’s very happy to see that the last item is a nice, safe book. I’m very happy too because I love “I was a Teenage Bunnysitter.”

I’ve got a weakness for the little kiddos in Tiny Toons. (I can’t get enough of Little Plucky!) But this segment is all about Duncan Potter! As much as Babs hates babysitting, she’s pretty good at it once she gets off the phone. (Instead of killing Duncan when he drives her crazy, Babs vents her frustration by screaming outside.) When Duncan asks for mashed potatoes, or mashed topatoes, Babs makes him some from scratch. She even shapes the mashed topatoes into a man and gives him psghetti hair at Duncan’s request. I’ve eaten my weight in mashed potatoes over the years, but never in the shape of a man. And never with spaghetti. Now I can’t miss an opportunity to play with my food, so one mashed potato man coming right up!

Recipe makes about 4-6 men, depending on amount of mashed potatoes used per man.

Ingredients

2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, cut into chunks, plus a butter pat for each man

Salt and white pepper to taste

4-6 ounces spaghetti noodles

 

Directions

Mashed Topato Man:

Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain.

Place the pot back over the heat. Add the heavy cream and butter. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and add the mixture to the potatoes. Using a masher, food mill, or similar tool of your choice, mash the potatoes until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper.

Psghetti Hair:

Bring a large pot full of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles have cooked through, 8 minutes. Drain.

Putting It All Together:

Place a heaping scoop of mashed potatoes on a plate. Sculpt a man out of mashed potatoes and place a butter pat on/in his center. Add some spaghetti noodles to give the man hair. Now go all Tyrannosaurus Rex on that mashed topato man!

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Okay, so I’m no artist, but I like my mashed topato man. (My sister says he looks like a cute, little pig.) But if I eat my mashed topato man, he’ll die. Actually, I already ate him. Sorry little guy. And I did it in a slightly more civilized way than Duncan. I didn’t go full dinosaur, but I did have some fun eating my mashed topato man. I think I could really get along with Duncan, at least for a little while. Based on my babysitting experience, I’m positive that little kid would run me ragged. By the end of the night, I’d be conked out like Babs. I’m getting kind of tired just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll just buy the book instead.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Episode: Dale Beside Himself
Walnut Wallaroos

If I had enough know-how to be a detective, I’d start my own agency right away. I’m more of the fun-loving, laid back type, so I’d bring on my sister because she’s much more serious and responsible. I also think we’d need someone really smart to invent gadgets and vehicles to aid us in our crime solving. And to round everything out, we should have a loveable, well-traveled Australian with a little squeaky/buzzy “sidekick.” Wait a minute. I think I just described the Rescue Rangers! I guess it can’t be helped. The show’s been near and dear to me for as long as I can remember. Day after day, my Mom and I would get up early and watch some of The Disney Channel’s finest. I loved seeing those mischievous, little chipmunks don some snazzy outfits and take on hero roles. (Yeah, I didn’t get the Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I. references until many years later.) And Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper are all forces to be reckoned with and were perfect additions to the Disney family. But the best thing about the Rescue Rangers is how they specialize in cases that have “slipped through the cracks.” And believe me, they take on more than simple missing kitty cases. (Can you say “mad scientist?”) Through their many adventures, whether on a case or not, they’ve crossed paths with the likes of crime bosses, pirates, and even aliens.

Monterey Jack’s previous experiences adventuring have been a big help to the Rescue Rangers in many of these cases. But they can also be a problem. I’m talking about the Walnut Wallaroos. Monterey Jack was taught this cookie recipe by The Great Eskimo Chief MightyMuckLuck when he was hitchhiking through the Southern Arctic in the middle of a snowstorm. (That’s quite a mouthful and I haven’t eaten gotten to actually making the cookies.) Now what’s wrong with Walnut Wallaroos? It’s not like Monterey Jack uses walrus nail clippings. The problem here is the sheer number of cookies made. Monterey Jack goes just a teensy bit overboard and bakes over 30 dozen! And the ones who have to pay the price are Gadget, Chip, and Zipper. (Gadget and Chip resort to hiding cookies when they get too full.) Monterey Jack doesn’t seem to mind though. He just dumps the entire pile into his mouth. Hey, they’re not cheese, but those cookies must be pretty good.

Recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the milk and the dry ingredients alternatingly and mix until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies slightly.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies begin to brown and are set, 10-12 minutes.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool slightly before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Dig in!

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With all of this Walnut Wallaroo business, Monterey Jack, Gadget, and Chip don’t realize that an alien has switched places with Dale. They notice “Dale” acting weird, but they would never suspect that the real one was flying through outer space. I can’t blame them. I’m not sure if I could tell if there was an alien in my house. And my senses would be severely dulled by all those Walnut Wallaroo Cookies. I don’t know if my household could eat through over 30 dozen cookies, but we’d give it our all. Hey, we can’t let food go to waste. I guess I’m a touch like DTZ as well. Cookies are basically my erkburgles and I could never be happy living anywhere without them.

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Ginger Cake

I’ve always been kind of a fraidy-cat, but that’s never kept me from grabbing up every spooky story I could get my hands on. I started off with series like Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and quickly moved on to longer and darker books. So I’m one of those people who just can’t wait for Halloween because hair-raising stories are in abundance. It’s also the best time of year to hear my favorite scary tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” I don’t remember the first time I heard the story, but Disney made sure I’d never forget it. Washington Irving’s legend of Ichabod Crane is fun and mysterious in its own right, but when sprinkled with Disney magic, it comes to life as a classic that I still watch every year. It’s entertaining, a bit spooky, and narrated by the incomparable, Bing Crosby. (Of course he sings too!) The tunes are so catchy, I just have to hear “Headless Horseman” once and it’s stuck in my head until well into December. This animated Sleepy Hollow may not be the most elaborate interpretation of the legend, but it’s always been my favorite.

I know that food is a big part of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I wasn’t prepared to be given so many options. Ichabod is always eating pies, turkeys, cakes, and whatever else is in his reach. How can that scarecrow of a man put so much food away? Ultimately, I chose from the large spread at Baltus Van Tassel’s Halloween Frolic. During his dance with Katrina, Ichabod grabs up a large slice of cake and eats it all in one bite, without missing a beat. My sister and I almost immediately got into a mini debate over the flavor of the cake. Although it could’ve been chocolate or carrot, I gave Irving’s story another run through and read that the Van Tassels had ginger cakes at their party. So I settled on a gingerbread cake that wouldn’t be too far off from cakes served around that time. But what about icing? Back then, many icings were just a mix of water and powdered sugar or beaten egg whites and sugar. I was leaning more toward the egg whites and figured that Seven-Minute Frosting was a descendent of that simple icing and would work just fine. So the cake isn’t historically accurate, but I doubt Ichabod would complain.

Recipe makes one double-layered cake.

Ingredients

Ginger Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ cups molasses

1 cup buttermilk

3 eggs, beaten

4 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground ginger

Pecan or Walnut Halves (Could be either but I had pecans on hand.)

 

Seven-Minute Frosting

1 ½ cups sugar

1/3 cup water

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Ginger Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add molasses, buttermilk, cinnamon, and ginger and mix thoroughly. Mix in the eggs and then 2 cups of flour. Once combined, add the baking soda water. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of flour and stir until just combined.

Divide cake batter amongst pans. Gently tap or drop pans on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out cakes on a wire rack and cool completely.

Seven-Minute Frosting:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan or bottom of a double boiler. Combine sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl or top of the double boiler. Place the bowl over the boiling water. Be careful not to let the bowl touch the water or else the frosting may become grainy. Begin beating the mixture with an electric hand mixer on low speed for a minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy, 5-7 minutes. Remove the frosting from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Beat again for 1 minute.

Putting It All Together:

Trim excess cake so both rounds are level. Spread a layer of the seven-minute frosting on top of one of the cakes. Top with the other cake. Evenly frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining seven-minute frosting. Garnish the cake with pecan or walnut halves. Cut into 5 very large slices (Or more if you don’t have an Ichabod-like appetite.) and serve!

Variations: I watched through The Legend of Sleepy Hollow several times before making the cake and never noticed a color difference between the filling and the outer frosting. (You can bet I was miffed when I found a quality photo of the cake scene.) So feel free to substitute any kind of colored or flavored filling. Also, if you’re not a fan of seven-minute frosting, (Because it can be a pain sometimes.) buttercream and cream cheese frosting both go really well with gingerbread.

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No one in my house is as nimble as Ichabod, but I had to test how easily someone could pull off Ichabod’s “cake dancing.” Turns out, it’s a lot harder than it looks. (Injuries were sustained while trying to take a decent photo.) But at least we were rewarded with giant slices of tasty cake. But Ichabod needed the cake more than we did. Not that he knew at the time, but he’d need all the energy he could muster when finding himself face-to-flaming pumpkin face with the Headless Horseman.

 In the end, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow leaves you questioning Ichabod’s fate. I like to side with those who believe he was spirited away by the Headless Horseman. (Sorry Ichabod.) And maybe I’ve watched this cartoon a few too many times, but I almost believe there is a Headless Horseman out there. It doesn’t help when I start comparing him to my cake. That sounds odd, but hear me out. Both the Horseman and my cake started out as ideas put to paper that evolved to the point where they were brought to life by lovers of the legend. If my cake turned out this well, I’d hate to encounter the Headless Horseman. (*Shudders*) Man, I’m getting out of here.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School

Fungus Fudge

“Raggy, rook! Writing!” I’m not trying to say “lighting” or “lightning.” I really do mean “writing” because this is the beginning of the Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School post! I love Scooby-Doo and I have quite the soft spot for this movie. Most of Shaggy’s and Scooby’s adventures involve some guy in a costume, but every once in a while, they have to face off against real deal monsters. And when Shaggy takes on a job as a Gym Teacher/Coach (With Scooby and Scrappy as assistants, of course.) at Miss Grimwood’s Finishing School for Ghouls, the guys get a little more than they bargained for. (He should’ve paid a little closer attention to the name.) Miss Grimwood’s isn’t the typical fancy finishing school. It’s full of girl ghouls with some very famous fathers. We’re talking the mightiest monsters in the world: Count Dracula, The Werewolf, Frankenteen (Frankenstein’s Monster), The Phantom, and The Mummy. Now it’s all fun and games training the girls for their annual volleyball match against the neighboring Calloway Military School, but things get downright dangerous when the Witch of the Web, Revolta, kidnaps the girls and tries to turn them evil.

But long before Shaggy ever lays eyes on Miss Grimwood’s and meets the girls, he’s, in typical Shaggy fashion, most excited to get to the school to try some of its fancy cooking. Unfortunately, the food is anything but fancy. The garden is full of rotten fruits and vegetables. (They make sure to weed out all the fresh stuff.) And thick, tasty-looking steaks are reserved for the Venus Flytraps. The goodies for the school’s big Halloween Open House include Swamp Brownies, Caterpillar Cookies, and Poison Ivy Punch. Even when Colonel Calloway stops by to arrange their volleyball game, he is offered refreshments with the Grimwood flair. Tea and sweets seems harmless enough to Miss Grimwood, but the Colonel isn’t a fan of Fungus Fudge and Toadstool Tea. If you couldn’t tell by now, I kind of have a thing for making weird food, so Fungus Fudge is right up my alley. I have no clue just what kind of fungus Miss Grimwood uses in her fudge, so I thought that typical, non-poisonous mushrooms would be a safe bet.

Recipe makes 9 large pieces of fudge.

Ingredients

4 ½ cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 ¼ tablespoons corn syrup 

6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

1 ounce dried mushrooms, processed into a fine powder (I used a blend that included porcini, shiitake, and oyster, but it all comes down to flavor preferences.)

Directions

Grease an 8 X 11 inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, chocolate, heavy cream, and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and cook the mixture, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and mushroom powder. As much as it pains you, don’t stir the mixture until it drops to 130 degrees F. Stir the fudge until it’s well-blended, thickened, and loses its shine. Pour and spread evenly into the prepared pan and let it sit until firm. This could take about 4 hours. Slice the fudge and eat up!

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I guess my Fungus Fudge wouldn’t meet Miss Grimwood’s standards because it doesn’t taste moldy, but I’m more than happy with it. There is a little bit of a mushroomy earthiness to it, but it works really well with the chocolate. If I were on a strict military diet, I’d break it for a piece of this fudge. Colonel Calloway took one bite of Miss Grimwood’s and dropped it, (Right into Matches’ mouth.) but I think he’d like mine. And I know Scooby-Doo would like it too because he had no qualms with the piece he stole from Shaggy. Would you expect anything different?

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Witch’s Night Out

Garlic Taffy Apples

Just when I think I’ve watched every animated Halloween episode or special in existence, one more pops up out of nowhere. I’m actually quite happy about that because there really aren’t enough Halloween cartoons out there. The last special to catch my eye is Witch’s Night Out. It originally aired before my time, but I read that it used to be played on The Disney Channel back in the 80’s and 90’s. Let me tell you something. I was practically raised on that channel and I don’t remember seeing it even once. I wish I had watched it years ago because now I feel like I’m late to the Halloween Party. Well, better late than never.

The Witch is kind of in the same boat, even though the big Halloween party takes place in HER mansion. Hey, Goodly didn’t know anyone lived there. He was wary of the place anyway because he feared it was haunted. If he knew about the Witch, he’d never go anywhere near there. As for myself, I’d never throw a party anywhere without the witch. Hands down, the Witch (The Godmother) is my favorite character. She’s so dramatic and the faces and movements she makes are just priceless. If she wants to come to my house to grant me a Halloween wish, my window’s open. (I really don’t want her crashing through it and getting glass everywhere.) Anyway, back to the party. The adults want to make Halloween a meaningful experience, which I stand behind 100%. Kids have it pretty sweet being able to go trick-or-treating, but adults don’t have anything unless they plan it themselves. (It’s an insult to Halloween to say it’s just for children.) So Goodly and the others come up with the idea of having a big party, complete with a ton of guests and food. But maybe he shouldn’t have assigned food duty to Malicious. I can’t deny that she’s got some serious cooking skills. It’s just that her tastes are a bit funky, so she makes the most interesting party hors d’oeuvres. Sardine meringues, pepperoni peppermints, peanut butter corned beef balls, and chocolate gefilte fish all sound absolutely delicious, but nothing gets me more into the Halloween spirit than garlic taffy apples.

Recipe makes 6 taffy apples.

Ingredients

6 large apples

6 sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or craft sticks

Caramel:

2 cups sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature- cut into chunks

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Red food coloring

 

Directions

Thoroughly wash apples and dry completely. Insert the skewers down to the apple cores through the stem ends. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup mixture is golden. When the syrup reaches close to 300 degrees F, gently stir. Continue to cook until the syrup turns dark amber and closes in on 350 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes. Gradually stir in heavy cream, butter, salt, garlic powder, and food coloring. The mixture will bubble, so be careful. Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and stir until the butter is completely melted and the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow the caramel to cool to 200 degrees F.

Dip the apples, one at a time, into the caramel and swirl around so the apple is completely coated. Allow the excess caramel to drip back into the saucepan and move the apples to the baking sheet. The caramel will drip down the apple and form “feet.” If the caramel begins to stiffen before you’ve finished dipping apples, return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and warm until smooth again. Chill the apples until the caramel has fully set, 30-60 minutes. Now they’re ready to eat!

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I just couldn’t resist trying garlic taffy apples, and since I’m a garlic lover, I’m actually really into these. They could easily have been a hit at the party. But no matter how well the party was going before the Witch and her monsters (Small, Tender, and Bazooey.) crashed it, it would never’ve become a true Halloween party without them. Not a single guest was in costume. (They think that dressing up is silly and immature, but it’s okay to form an angry mob and chase down monsters.) The Witch was kind enough to point out that every day we go about our lives the same old way, but Halloween is the one day a year we can pretend to be whoever or whatever we want. That may have been an eye opener for the townsfolk, but that’s old news to me. And with witch’s magic on your side, you don’t even have to pretend. I don’t have that luxury, so instead of just “poofing” into whatever I want to be for the night, I’m stuck wrestling with a wig and a dress.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

Bump in the Night

Episode: Better Homes & Garbage
Slice of Sweet Potato Pie

I never dare sleep with my hands or feet dangling off my bed for fear of being grabbed by something under there. I know it’s silly. Why am I assuming that the monster under my bed is a bad one? My monster could be just like Mr. Bumpy. Sure, he’s a little rough around the edges, but he’s not bad at all. In fact, he really cares for The Boy. (He’s Mr. Bumpy’s hero.) And Mr. Bumpy is a great pal too. He does whatever he can for Squishington and Molly. He’d even give them the warts off his own back.

However, all friendships have limits and there are times when even the best of friends will fight. Squishington tries to repay Mr. Bumpy’s kindness for letting him stay under the bed, but he takes things a bit too far. (After seeing his nest cleaned and organized, Mr. Bumpy pinches his arm so hard it comes off.) And things only go from bad to worse when Squishington tries to feed Mr. Bumpy lunch. For a monster who craves dirty socks, used facial tissues, and the occasional clogged drain hair and toenail sundae, foods like lettuce, carrots, and celery aren’t very appetizing. When Mr. Bumpy runs for the filing cabinet to get some socks, Squishington tries to have him eat a slice of sweet potato pie. Instead of eating it though, Mr. Bumpy just pretends and tosses it on the floor. That doesn’t sit too well with Squishington. He feels his cleaning, cooking, and comforting aren’t being appreciated and after another fight, he says he never wants to see Mr. Bumpy again. I hate to see the bosomest of buddies fighting, especially over things like pillows, garbage, and pie.

Recipe makes one deep-dish 9-inch pie.

Ingredients

Crust:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup butter, cold and cut into chunks

4-5 tablespoons ice water, plus 1 or 2 more tablespoons if needed

Filling:

3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy whipping cream

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until dough just comes together when pressed. If the dough is too dry, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse again. Form dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Let dough chill until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.

Filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in sweet potato. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Gradually stir in heavy cream and beat until combined.

Putting It All Together:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough 14-16 inches across and place in a pie tin. Gently press dough into place. Trim excess dough or fold it back on itself. Crimp edge for a more decorative look.

Pour filling evenly into pie crust and bake for 1-1 ½ hours, or until skewer inserted in it comes out clean. Remove pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Variations: As soon as I saw the slice of sweet potato pie in Bump in the Night, I got all sorts of excited to make one. I came up with the recipe, made the pie, fell in love with it, AND THEN realized that it’s supposed to be good for you. Whoops! Although sweet potatoes are pretty healthy, loading them down with cream, sugar, and butter probably isn’t the best thing for you. (But Molly considers stray sock holes to be a part of a comforting and nutritious meal, so who knows?) Anyway, here are some tips to make a lighter version.
For a healthier pie crust: Replace half or all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat (I’d use white whole wheat.) and you can omit the sugar.
For the pie: Reduce the granulated sugar to 1/4 cup or omit it all together. Feel free to use a sugar substitute or baking blend for the brown sugar. Reduce the butter to 3 tablespoons and replace the heavy cream with 3/4 cup of milk.

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It doesn’t take long for Mr. Bumpy and Squishington to start missing each other and make up. (Causing the “Moral Alert” sign to hit Mr. Bumpy on the head.) I’m just glad to see those two getting along again. And I got a yummy sweet potato pie out of it too. Maybe I can make friends with my own monster by leaving some pie out for him or her. (I know Squishington likes eating pie in the dark.) Alright, time to fess up. Do I have a monster living under my bed? No, and I know for sure that I don’t have one in my bathroom. (Although one would so come in handy.) But my closet, that’s another story.

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

My Life as a Teenage Robot

Episode: Saved by the Shell
Fried Pickle, Anchovy, and Peanut Butter Sandwich

There are times when I’m just minding my own business and all of a sudden My Life as a Teenage Robot’s theme song will pop into my head. This can happen even when it’s been months since I last watched the show. All it takes is for me to start humming a couple of bars and my brain is fried. The song will stay there until I watch an episode. And then I have to watch a second. And a third and a fourth and soon I’ve watched the entire series. How can I resist a show about a superhero robot who’d rather live a normal teenage life than protect the Earth? Just about every day, there’s a different mutant or robot or alien messing around in Tremorton, but XJ-9, or Jenny, is more concerned with her appearance, popularity, and dating. It’s tough enough just being a human teenager, so Jenny’s attempts to fit in only lead to more craziness. Throw her friends into the mix and the craziness is doubled.

Just look at Sheldon. He builds and pilots the Silver Shell just to win Jenny over. The poor guy’s plans all fail, but you can’t blame him for trying. Sheldon tries to tell Jenny that he’s her secret admirer and she ends up thinking that the Sliver Shell set her up with Don Prima. She doesn’t think anything bad of Don yet, but I use lots of unflattering adjectives to describe characters like him and the Crust Cousins. One good thing that does come out of Don and Jenny’s date at Mezmer’s is the appearance of Sheldon’s (And apparently Don’s) favorite sandwich: Fried Pickle, Anchovy, and Peanut Butter. Am I sure it’s really a good thing? No. The sandwich sounds as weird as discovering your neighbor’s a robot, but I really like Jenny, so I might like this sandwich too.

The sandwich has 2 two pickle chips on it without a coating. That doesn’t sound all that tasty to me so, I made up a little batter for them. I’m not frying up a whole lot of pickles, but ½ cup makes me feel better than two. You’re free to fry up even more if you feel like it.

Recipe makes 1 sandwich.

Ingredients

You can add any amount of stuff to your sandwich, but here’s kind of a guideline:

3 slices Bread-Looks like a light colored wheat to me, but you can use white if you prefer

Peanut Butter

2-3 cans or jars of anchovies/anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

1 slice Swiss Cheese

2-3 slices Cheddar or American Cheese

2 leaves Lettuce

2 strips Bacon

1 Green Olive

 

Fried Pickles

½ cup dill pickle chips

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons water

Vegetable Oil or Peanut Oil for Frying

 

Directions

Bacon:

Place room temperature bacon in a cold pan and set heat to low. When bacon begins to curl, flip it to the other side. This can take about 7 minutes. Continue to cook, flipping it over every few minutes, until it’s browned and almost at your desired crispiness. The bacon will continue to cook after it’s removed from the pan. Drain excess grease by setting the bacon on a plate covered with paper towels.

Fried Pickles:

Spread out pickles and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oil in a large pot/deep skillet or in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and water until smooth. Add the pickles to the batter and coat. Remove the pickles using tongs or a slotted spoon, allowing the excess batter to drip off. Place the pickles in the oil one at a time and fry until golden, 1-2 minutes. Drain the pickles on paper towels.

Putting It All Together:

Place down a slice of bread. There is a mysterious brown space here, so you can put whatever you see fit or skip this layer. I placed some anchovies and a big blob of peanut butter here. Add slices of Cheddar or American cheese and top with lettuce, anchovies, and pickle slices. Top with a slice of bread. Add more anchovies, Swiss cheese, bacon, and more lettuce. Spread a heaping amount of peanut butter on a slice of bread and close the sandwich by placing it on top of the lettuce. Spear a green olive with a toothpick and top the sandwich with it. Here’s your order, kids!

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Sheldon’s got some strange tastes. (He is in love with a robot after all.) But notice how I typed “strange” and not “bad.” Yep, the sandwich isn’t as scary as it looks. It’s no smooth operator, but it actually kind of works! Plus, it’s fun to make and eat. Jenny may have her work cut out for her looking for someone genuine and sweet, (Until she finally notices Sheldon!) but if she ever needs a sandwich, there’s one right here. Hey, Jenny’s wanted “skin”, the sense of touch, and the ability to dream. It can’t be too long until she’ll want to eat food.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Pocahontas

Hardtack (Ship’s Biscuits)

“Seasons go and seasons come steady as the beating drum.” Isn’t that the truth? I can’t believe we’re entering another season already! Time just keeps pushing us along, leaving us to make choices and find our own paths in life. You’d think after all the times I watched Pocahontas I’d be prepped for this. Pocahontas is another one of my go-to Disney movies. It’s absolutely stunning and always makes me feel like a pile of mush by the end of it. The title character is courageous and understanding and has taught me to look just around the riverbend and to paint with all the colors of the wind.

Today I’m taking a cue from my beloved movie and being a little daring by making hardtack. Yeah, that’s got nothing on traveling to a new world or uniting different peoples, but it’s scary in its own right. This food (Does this still count as food?) has sustained many a traveler, soldier, etc. at sea and on foot so I’m curious to experience it first-hand. Plus, Meeko can’t seem to get enough of these biscuits, so they must be good right?

Recipe makes about seven 3-inch biscuits.

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt

Less than 1 cup water

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Gradually mix in water until the dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Mine were 3 inches in diameter but you can make them any size. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and use a skewer or similar tool to poke a liberal amount of holes into each round.

Bake hardtack for 4 hours, turning over halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and cool completely. (If you actually want to eat one without soaking it in hot milk or something for at least 30 minutes, now would be the time because they’re still kind of soft.) Let the hardtack sit overnight to harden. Now they’re ready for anything!

Variations: Traditional hardtack was baked multiple times to extend its shelf life, so if you want to make true “molar breakers,” bake them again and let them cool completely.
There are no holes in the hardtack in the movie, so you can try making some that aren’t docked, like the one in the picture below. They get a little puffier and stay a little softer than traditional hardtack.
You can also replace the water with milk and add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of softened butter to make a tastier dough. This will result in softer hardtack that won’t keep as long.

pocahontas-meekojohnpocahontas-meeko-hardtack

Turns out hardtack’s not all that bad. I can say that because I’m not like the settlers aboard the Susan Constant who had nothing else to eat besides hardtack and gruel for months. But I do think it’s pretty good in a survivalist sort of way. I even embraced my inner John Smith and gave a softer one to a raccoon. (Yes, a live raccoon. It’s a long story.) She ate it, so I guess she liked it. Unsurprisingly, she’s camera shy, so I had to settle for a picture with my Meeko stuffed animal instead. (He’s the one that makes the fun raccoon noise when you squeeze him!) Playing with toys and hardtack makes me wonder if I’m really on the right path. As weird as it is, it’s the one I’ve chosen and I’m sticking to it.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Kim Possible

Episode: Team Impossible (and a whole lot of other episodes)
The Naco

I’m one of those weird people who perk up and frantically scan the room whenever I hear the Kimmunicator’s ringtone somewhere. More often than not, I’m not the only one doing it and I truly believe that anyone who reacts to that “Duh-duh-dun-na” grew up right. I liked Kim Possible when it first aired. I caught an episode here and there and rocked out to the theme song every time Radio Disney played it. But it wasn’t until years after the show’s first run that I realized just what a gem it is. Yeah, it’s a “Girl Saves the World” series, but nothing is taken too seriously. It’s engaging and the characters are all great. I love how whacked out all the villains are. And if I could have an ounce of Kim’s confidence that’d be wonderful because her “I can do anything,” attitude is the best thing in the world. And then there’s the goofy, loveable sidekick, Ron. (Oh, Ron.) I’m pretty sure Ron and I are secretly related because sometimes we have a little too much in common.

One major difference between “The Ron” and me is that I didn’t make millions by creating a smash hit fast food item. Ron practically lives at Bueno Nacho anyway, so it was only a matter of time until he started fiddling with the menu. And with one bold stroke of genius, Ron combined his nachos and taco to create The Naco. It’s so simple, but there are people who were either confused or grossed out by it. (Is there anything gross about Tex-Mex style fast food? Don’t answer that!) I’ve always thought it looked delicious, even if it is a drippy bag of food. Later on, the Naco developed a way to stand on its own, so I thought I’d give that a whirl.

Recipe makes about 6 Nacos, depending on if you Grande Size or not.

Ingredients

6 10-inch flour tortillas

1 15-ounce can refried beans

1 15-ounce can nacho cheese

1 tomato, sliced

1-2 lettuce leaves, in pieces or shreds

Corn tortilla chips

 

Naco Meat

1 pound ground beef

½ cup beef broth

¼ cup onion, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Directions

Naco Shell:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Microwave each tortilla for 30 seconds to make them pliable. Place the tortillas in a jumbo muffin tin in a Naco shape. For additional shape and support, make small rolls of aluminum foil and place around the tortillas in the cups to keep the tortillas in place. I used one for the front and two in the back to make a triangular bag shape. Coat the tortillas with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 5-10 minutes until browned and strong enough to keep their shapes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Naco Meat:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and salt and cook until browned. Stir occasionally while browning to break up the meat. Add the beef broth, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and cornstarch. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.

Separately heat refried beans and nacho cheese in the microwave or on the stove. You can either spoon each ingredient into the Naco separately or you can combine them and add them all in one go. Take a shell and add meat, refried beans, tortilla chips, cheese, tomato, and lettuce. Congratulations, it’s a Naco!

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I can’t blame Ron for eating at Bueno Nacho all the time. I’d do it if I could. The Naco really is nature’s perfect food. I no longer have to choose between eating a taco or nachos. Hey, I don’t even have to choose between eating a Naco and anything else. With this recipe at my fingertips, every night can be Naco Night.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!