The AristoCats

Crème de la crème à la Edgar with Crackers

I’ve always been an animal lover, so The AristoCats really struck a chord with me. I wanted to be just like Madame and use my fabulous wealth to start a foundation to support all the strays I could, like her home for all the alley cats of Paris. That fabulous wealth part isn’t looking too good, but I’ve been taking care of strays for many years just fine without it. I’ve mostly brought in cats because there were always a lot around my house, but we became known as the family to bring any animals to if they needed help. However, none of the animals we’ve taken care of possess any kind of musical ability like Scat Cat and his gang. I did have my own Thomas O’Malley show up on my doorstep though. (He was a big, orange, alley cat. What else would I have named him?)

Although I adore my cats, they don’t eat like Duchess and the Kittens. My kitties are pretty content with cat chow and the occasional can of tuna. They’re actually kind of snobbish when it comes to “people food,” so they might turn their noses up at something like Crème de la crème à la Edgar. Well, I won’t. It always looked delicious to me. And then Roquefort brings over that yummy-looking cracker and dunks it. Yep, I definitely need to try it. Since I don’t have a butler, I guess it’s up to me to make some.

Recipe makes 4-5 servings and about 75 crackers.

Ingredients

Crème de la crème à la Edgar:

4 cups heavy cream or milk or a combination of the two. I like 3 cups milk and 1 cup cream.

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Crackers:

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into chunks, plus 4 tablespoons melted

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/3 cup milk, plus more, if needed

 

Directions

Crème de la crème à la Edgar:

In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream/milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt dissolve and the cream/milk mixture starts steaming. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Divide into bowls or cups. Enjoy!

Crackers:

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add vegetable oil and pulse. Add milk and pulse until dough starts coming together. You should now be able to press the dough together with your hands. If it’s too dry, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, and pulse again. Form dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Let dough chill until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll the dough out to a thickness somewhere between 1/16 and 1/8-inch. Cut out rounds with a small cookie cutter and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once you’ve used up all of your dough, use a toothpick or skewer to poke four holes into each cracker. Bake for about 10 minutes or until crackers are lightly browned. To ensure both sides get a good browning, flip the crackers over halfway through baking. Remove the crackers from the oven and brush with melted butter. Move the crackers to a wire rack and cool completely. Now they’re ready for snacking!

aristocatsAristocats Creme

I just realized I’m kind of the butler in this family. I’m always cooking, or cleaning, or waiting on someone. Too bad. I always thought I was a lady, like Marie. (I don’t start fights, but I can finish them.) Maybe that’s why I’m so tired. Or it could just be this rich cup of Crème de la crème à la Edgar I’ve been sipping. I know for sure that I didn’t put any sleeping tablets in it, but I am on my third cup of the stuff. And don’t ask me how many crackers I’ve dunked in it. I lost count. Somewhere around 5…6…7…8…ZZZZ.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Reluctant Dragon


Upside-Down Cake

When I was little, I loved so many cartoon characters so much that I truly believed they were real. I wanted them to be real and I shied away from anything that could prove otherwise. I find that really silly because the characters are real (They just exist a little differently than I do.) and I love them twice as much now that I know how much work was done to bring them to life. If I had seen The Reluctant Dragon when I was younger, then I would’ve come to realize that years ago. It’s fun and (Dare I say it.) educational watching Robert Benchley lead the viewers on a tour of Walt Disney Studios, and taking them through each part of the animation process from drawing, score and voice acting, foley, cameras, ink-and-paint, maquette-making, storyboarding, and ultimately animating. (Whew! That’s a lot.)

The cartoon that this movie all boils down to is The Reluctant Dragon. The Dragon would rather recite poetry than fight and is so peace loving, he has trouble breathing fire. (The Boy has to call him a Punk Poet to make him angry enough to do it.) He invites The Boy and Sir Giles, the Dragon Killer, to his picnic full of cakes and muffins and tea and jam sandwiches. Sir Giles, also being a lover of verse, is most interested in the Dragon’s poetic abilities and they recite poetry. My favorite poem in the short (And one of my favorite ever.) is “To an upside-down cake.” The entire thing is about how an upside down cake has problems because its top is on its bottom and its bottom is on its top. It’s truly beautiful. And “Radish so red” by Sir Giles is also lovely, but I’m more into cake.

Upside-down cakes can be just about any flavor, but I like pineapple the best. The Dragon doesn’t have any fruit on his cake, so it’s okay to just leave off the pineapple slices. I baked my cakes in 6-ounce ramekins, but jumbo muffin tins work too. (It’s just stickier getting the cakes out.)

Recipe makes 8 mini upside-down cakes.

Ingredients

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 ¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons pineapple juice (Optional)

8 pineapple slices (Optional)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the butter amongst the ramekins, so each one has 1 tablespoon. Add two tablespoons of brown sugar to each one and mix. Place a pineapple slice in each ramekin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Then whisk in the sugar. Add the oil, milk, vanilla, and pineapple juice and whisk well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined. Divide the batter amongst the ramekins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of the cakes to loosen them. Invert each ramekin onto a plate. Once the little cakes are free, they’re ready to serve!

reluctantdragonReluctant Dragon Cake

A sweet, little upside-down cake may have cares and woes about its top and bottom being mixed up, but it should be more worried about me. You know, The Dragon and all the people get a happy ending, but I’m not so sure about that upside-down cake. Just like how I’m not so sure about Robert Benchley’s ending. He did get to meet Walt Disney, though. And I know that the animation process has changed a ton since The Reluctant Dragon, but it’s not any less magical getting an idea out of someone’s head and putting it on a large screen for the whole world to see.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Darkwing Duck

Episode: Can’t Bayou Love
Launchpad’s Hand Grenade Brownies

“I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the scourge that pecks at your nightmares. I am Darkwing Duck!” Okay, I’m obviously not Darkwing Duck. (The scourge that pecks at your nightmares? How does he come up with this stuff?) But I can dream, can’t I? Just look at Launchpad. One day he’s the number one fan of St. Canard’s Caped Crusader, and then BAM! He becomes Darkwing’s sidekick and even gets to take on the role of hero himself.

Rightly so, because I can’t think of a better partner than Launchpad. He does a lot of silly things, but he means well. Not only is he a great pilot, (He’s gotten better about his crash landings.) but he makes a mean batch of brownies. And by “mean,” I’m saying these brownies will give you a nice kick in the taste buds. As far as Darkwing is concerned, these delicious devils pack enough heat to be used in place of hand grenades. Even Jambalaya Jake is wary of them. No one’s gotten anywhere by playing it safe, so let’s get dangerous!

Recipe makes 25 brownies.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or broken into chunks

4 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (How much heat can you handle?)

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and line a 10 X 15-inch baking dish or lipped baking sheet with parchment paper

Melt together butter and chocolate either in a double boiler/bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Using a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the chocolate/butter mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the brownie is tested. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out brownie and allow to cool completely. Cut into about 25 pieces. Eat away!

darkwingdw inspired brwnies (2)

I can tell you that these brownies taste good, but I haven’t been able to test how they work as weapons. Every time I go to throw one, I end up eating it instead. I love these brownies as much as Launchpad and Gumbo do! And no, they don’t smell worse than beaver innards. Just take my word for it. The next time you’re out on an all-night crime-fighting spree, don’t forget to add some of these babies to your arsenal.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Princess and the Frog

Man-Catching Beignets

The year was 2009 and I was sitting in a dark theatre waiting for The Princess and the Frog to begin. I had been horribly underwhelmed by most of the Disney movies released over the last few years, so I had high hopes for this one. From the previews, it looked gorgeous and I knew it was in good hands, but I didn’t want to be disappointed again. I wasn’t. When I walked out, I thought it was a good movie. After sitting on it for a few hours it turned into a great movie. By the following day, it was absolutely fantastic. The magic I’d been missing so much had returned and brought with it beautiful music and wonderful characters, like Tiana. She’s got attitude and drive and knows just what she wants. (Maybe not what she needs but she figures that out.) She’s hands down my sister’s favorite Disney Princess and would be mine too if it weren’t for the fact that Belle’s held that title almost my entire life. But I do wish to emulate Tiana. Too bad I’ve got a little too much Charlotte La Bouff in me.

I wouldn’t say I have a gift like Tiana, but when I put forth enough effort, it shows in my food. She’s got a leg up on me just by living in a food paradise like New Orleans. Regrettably, I haven’t made my way down there yet, but when I do, I’m going to stroll right into a café and eat a stack of beignets. I know the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but that applies to me too. I wish I could hire Tiana to fry me up about 500 of her man-catching beignets, but that’s not happening. The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work, so I guess it’s time to roll up my sleeves.

Recipe makes 3 dozen beignets.

Ingredients

¾ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

¼ cup sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons yeast

1 egg, beaten

½ cup half-&-half

2 tablespoons shortening (I use butter-flavored)

3 ½ cups bread flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cottonseed Oil or Vegetable Oil

Honey

Powdered Sugar

 

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. Whisk in the egg, half-&-half, vanilla extract, and salt. Add the shortening and flour and stir until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball again and place in a large, clean bowl. Lightly coat dough with oil and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. If you want to make the dough ahead of time, you can cover and chill for 6-8 hours and allow it come to room temperature before frying.

Preheat oil in a large pot/deep skillet or in a deep fryer to 370 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a ¼ inch thickness. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2-2 ½ inch squares. Fry the beignets in small batches, flipping constantly or ladling oil over them, until golden on all sides, 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Dig in!

Princess and the FrogPatF Beignets

This plate of beignets is the best thing I never knew I needed. Okay, that’s a lie. They’re sweet, fluffy little pockets of fried dough. I did know I needed them. Hmm. Maybe I’ve got my wants and needs and haves mixed up again. Really, without these beignets, Tiana’s adventure, let alone her dreams would never get off the ground. If they can work that well for her, who knows what else they can do? Maybe we should stop wishing on stars and start wishing on beignets. Or maybe we should just eat them.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Great Mouse Detective

 

Cheese Crumpets

Before I ever heard the names Hercule Poirot, Kogoro Akechi, and C. Auguste Dupin, I was captivated by mysteries. I loved putting the pieces together to find out “Who done it?” I’d always pay extra attention to episodes and movies about detectives, so it was only a matter of time until I met the famous Basil of Baker Street. I didn’t even know about Sherlock Holmes yet, but I found the whole detective dynamic with the hero, his partner, and the villain absolutely brilliant. Especially when I wanted to root for Basil and Dr. Dawson, but Vincent Price kept pulling me over to Professor Ratigan’s side. I had good taste.

Speaking of good taste, I need to talk about the movie’s unsung hero, Mrs. Judson. She’s an angel for being able to put up with Basil and his eccentricities. Not only that, she makes the most delightful looking cheese crumpets. Sure, hers are baked in muffin tins so they don’t have the classic shape, but they do keep their familiar nooks and crannies. Call them whatever you want. (Baked crumpets. Bread Muffins.) I call them delicious.

Recipe makes 16 crumpets.

 Ingredients

 1 ½ cups warm milk (105-115 degrees F)

¾ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, melted

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups bread flour

1 cup shredded cheese, cheddar or any other kind you want

 

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk and water. Let rest for 5 minutes or until foamy. Meanwhile, melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Add the salt, baking soda, melted butter, and both flours to the yeast mixture. Stir until well combined. Cover the bowl and allow the batter to rise for 30 minutes.

Add cheese to the batter and stir to incorporate it. Scoop the batter into greased muffin tins about two-thirds of the way full. Allow the batter to rest in the tins for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the crumpets until they are lightly golden and done, 20 minutes. Remove the muffin tins from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the crumpets from the tins and enjoy!

DSC_0728 (2) DSC_0716 (2)

Olivia Flaversham has her priorities straight when she fills her pockets with yummy cheese crumpets before going adventuring. The poor girl’s been through a lot. She deserves them. I need them just from watching Fidget kidnap Mr. Flaversham. That really frightened me when I was little. But in a good way because there isn’t a thing I didn’t like about this movie. That still holds true, so I figure it was only natural that I’d grow up to be a detective nerd. Well, I’ve got to run, so, “With time so short, I’ll say so long. And go, so soon. Goodbye.”

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Emperor’s New Groove

 

Kronk’s Spinach Puffs

We’re well into the first week of the brand spanking New year! After reflecting on the year that’s passed, people feel the need to do something different with the New one they’ve been given. Some try to learn or do something New. Others adopt New rhythms by which they live their lives, or their patterns of behavior, or as it’s known in some circles, their Grooves.

See where I’m going with this? If things went Kuzco’s way, Pacha’s family would be evicted and Kuzco would be lazing away his days at Kuzcotopia. Doesn’t sound very Disney-esque, does it? But when things go hilariously wrong, we get the story we know and love. And it’s all thanks to that loveable oaf, Kronk. The guy can’t tell the difference between poison and extract of llama (In his defense, all of Yzma’s poisons look the same.) and he’s got some real issues with the devil and angel on his shoulders. One thing the guy’s got down, though, is cooking. That and speaking to tiny woodland creatures, but that has nothing to do with food. (I hope.) He can take over as a diner cook at the drop of a hat. And what about those spinach puffs?

Recipe makes 12 servings.

 Ingredients

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but chilled

1 10 ounce package of chopped spinach, thawed

4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature

¾ cup shredded, grated, or crumbled cheese; I used mozzarella, but feta or anything else is fine.

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup onion, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic, minced

Salt

Pepper

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water or milk for egg wash

 

Directions

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Set aside.

Squeeze out as much water as possible from the spinach. In a medium bowl, combine spinach, cream cheese, cheese, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add the egg and mix until well combined.

Unfold the sheet of puff pastry and cut into 12 squares. Slightly stretch each square or roll out with a rolling pin, so you have a little more pastry to work with. Divide the filling amongst the puff pastry squares. Shape the pastry around the filling. My method is to take a square and turn it so you’re looking at a diamond instead. Fold the point closest to you under the pastry enough so the front is a flat edge. Bring the two sides of the diamond together and pinch everything but the front together to close. Fold the back point of the pastry under itself enough so it has more of a straight or rounded edge. Repeat this with the rest of the squares and chill on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Beat the egg and combine with water/milk to make an egg wash. Brush each puff with the egg wash and bake until they are puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Move the spinach puffs to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!

DSC_0710 (2)DSC_0695 (2)

Yzma never liked Kronk’s spinach puffs, but she doesn’t count. Maybe she lost her sense of taste over her many many years. If Kuzco had gotten a chance to try them, he’d probably like them. Well, he wouldn’t like mine because of his whole, “Cheese, me no likey,” thing.

Cheese or no cheese, if Kronk spent a little less time focusing on these delectables and a little more on properly disposing of the emperor, Kuzco never would have to make that long walk back to the palace. Then he’d never realize that he was being heartless and selfish and there’s no point in being the hippest cat in creation if he has no friends. After all, a perfect world begins and ends with not just one person, but all of us if we do it right.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

A Goofy Movie

Hi Dad Soup

Even though we’re already drowning in Christmas ads, it’s still only November. You know, that month with that one holiday where we feel obligated to say what we’re thankful for. Hands down, for me it’s my family. They drive me crazy sometimes, but there’s nobody else I’d rather go down with. And I don’t tell them how much they mean to me as much as I should. It’s not like I really have to come out and say it though. It’s in the little things I do. Like spelling out a message in some soup that says, “I love you,” or maybe just, “Hi, Dad.”

Is this all ringing a bell? Sounds just like Max, right? I’ve never been as much of a jerk as he is, though. Goofy’s his dad and he doesn’t appreciate him! No, I get it. Families disconnect all the time. You let so many other things get in the way that you lose sight of what’s truly important. All it takes is something like sharing a can of soup to make you realize that. I guess having Bigfoot trash your camp and trap you in your car helps too.

Recipe makes 8 servings.

 Ingredients

 ½ an onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons butter

1 can (28oz) whole or chopped tomatoes

6-6 ½ cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1-2 tablespoons sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp white pepper

½ cup heavy cream, optional

1-1 1/2 cups uncooked alphabet noodles

 

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and butter. Stir until butter has melted and tomato paste begins to brown. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and puree in batches or with an immersion blender. Add cream and additional seasoning if needed. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box, drain, and stir into soup. Or add uncooked pasta to the soup and simmer until fully cooked, 10-15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

A Goofy Movie Hi Dad Soup DSC_0498 (2)

Ah, both this soup and A Goofy Movie make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It must be the power of good food and good memories. Hmm, kind of what Thanksgiving is all about. As for Max and Goofy, it didn’t instantly fix their problems, (Max still went and changed the map.) but it got them on the road to seeing it I 2 I.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

Soup

 For a brief point in my childhood, this movie was almost taboo in my house. It wasn’t that the movie was Satanic or anything. My mom just didn’t care much for it and told us not to watch it. You know, so we wouldn’t waste our time. However, we took it to mean that the movie was evil and if we watched it, we’d be punished. Stop motion animation was so new to me, I was completely captivated each time I saw a commercial. It didn’t take long for us to ignore my mom and watch the movie. Before “This is Halloween” was even over, I was hooked and we’ve loved the movie ever since. My sister’s room is practically a shrine dedicated to Jack Skellington and there’ve been some years where we’ve watched Nightmare every night from October through December.

Out of all the characters, Sally is actually one of my least favorites. I know she’s just trying to be reasonable, but why does she have to be such a party pooper? She does have some good qualities, though, like how she’s not afraid to slip Deadly Nightshade into Dr. Finkelstein’s food and drink every chance she gets. And keeping a slotted spoon in her sock is absolute genius. I’m not too sure about eating something with ingredients like Worm’s Wort and Frog’s Breath, but I would like to give that soup a try.

Recipe makes about 6 one-cup servings.

 Ingredients

1 pound dried split peas

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or parsley

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon lemon juice

8 cups chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half (optional)

 

Directions

 Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add celery and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until onions and celery are soft. Add garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Pour in chicken broth. Add peas, salt, pepper, thyme or parsley, bay leaf, and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 1 hour or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally

Remove bay leaf. Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. If the soup is too thick, add some water. If you want a creamier soup, stir in half-and-half. Adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve and enjoy.

Variations: You can soak split peas for 8 hours or overnight and they’ll cook a bit quicker (about 40 minutes). You can also use 5 cups of fresh or frozen peas. You’ll only need to cook these for about 10 minutes before pureeing.

nightmare sally soup DSC_0394 (2)

I don’t know how popular this soup would be in Halloween Town, but the ghosts and witches here like it. It’s good, and green, and won’t knock you out and give you a heck of a headache. I can understand how The Nightmare Before Christmas has become the phenomenon it is. Just like mashing Halloween and Christmas, it’s magical, spooky, and a little weird. That’s why it’s always near the top of our “must watch” list for the holidays.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Mulan

Porridge

I know I’m opening the floodgates when I mention the “D word,” but I’ve been dying to start covering Disney movies. Naturally, I was raised on them and this lucky little person got to experience the Disney Renaissance first hand. The movie previews alone were enough to completely blow me away and then came the toy and food promotions. By the time opening night rolled around, I was a big bundle of nerves and excitement. One of these beautiful films carved into my memory is Mulan. It’s one of my go-to movies and has traveled by my side on just about every family vacation since its home video release. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t bust out a quote or a bit of song from this movie. It’s been like that since the days when my cousin and I would lock ourselves in her room and sing and dance to the soundtrack in our Mulan garb. (She had one wrap-around costume that we’d take turns wearing.) When that was no longer enough, my grandma whipped up the perfect Halloween costume for me that I’d still wear today if I could fit in it. You don’t meet a movie like that every dynasty, so it’s only natural that it would become a part of my life.

No, I don’t see myself defeating Shan Yu and saving China, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be Mulan in my own right. Whether I’m off to destroy people or just heading into work, the best way to start my morning is with a nice breakfast. And one that’s happy to see me to boot. Okay, so rice porridge can be pretty simple, but it’s delicious and comforting and I’d smile right back at it if I ate a big bowl of it every day.

Recipe makes 6 one-cup servings.

 Ingredients

3 cups water

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup rice, rinsed

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ of an onion, minced

¼ ounce piece of peeled fresh ginger

Salt and white pepper to taste

Soy sauce to taste (Optional)

Each serving will need:

2 large eggs

1 slice of bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and white pepper

 

Directions

In a large pot, combine water, chicken broth, rice, garlic, onion, and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. You want a creamy, oatmeal-like consistency. If it gets too thick, you can add more water or broth. If it’s too thin, allow it to cook longer. Remove ginger piece. Season with salt, white pepper, and soy sauce.

Place a frying pan on medium to low heat. Coat the pan with olive oil. Crack eggs directly into pan and cook until the tops of the whites are set and the yolk is still runny. If the eggs start changing color, turn down the heat. Remove from pan with a spatula and season with salt and white pepper.

Place 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.

Putting It All Together:

Scoop out a cup of porridge into a bowl. Place two eggs on top for eyes and add a bacon smile. Grab yourself a pair of chopsticks or a spoon and dig in!

mulan porridge DSC_0349 (2)

My family is the most important thing to me and I’d do anything for them. That’s why I made enough rice porridge to serve my entire household. I find it a little safer than stealing my father’s armor, running away from home, and impersonating a soldier. Mulan already has that covered, so I’ll just let my heart show me the way to my own greatness, or maybe just a second helping of porridge.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

 

Mickey’s Birthday Party

Birthday Cake

 I have no idea how I did it, but when I was a kid, I hardly ever slept. I couldn’t afford to. There was too much TV to watch. As time slowly crept to the wee hours of each morning and everyone else was asleep, I could be found in my living room huddled next to my television set. Some of my favorite things to watch on late-night TV were classic cartoon shorts. It didn’t matter who made them, how old they were, or if they were black and white or colored. I was captivated by them. That hasn’t changed. Yeah, I could’ve just waited a few hours and watched cartoons at a more “reasonable” time, but that’s not me. Watching cartoons alone in the dark really gave me a sense of companionship with the characters on my screen. I really felt like I was best friends with Mickey Mouse and the gang. We would go to the beach or try to catch ghosts. I was even invited to Mickey’s birthday party.

This is one of my absolute favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons, but not because of the birthday boy. Goofy and his cake escapades completely stole the show. That poor guy! I’ve had days just like his. You bake and bake, but nothing ever comes out right. When you’re finally happy with it or you just break down and buy a cake, you happen to trip and it collides with your friend. Thankfully, that didn’t happen with my cake. I’m not too great at decorating cakes, so it’s not the prettiest, but I felt like being a little ambitious in honor of my very own birthday.

 

Ingredients

 Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 ¾ cups cake flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup milk, room temperature

 Marshmallow Fondant

 8 ounces of marshmallows

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted

Pink food coloring

Buttercream Icing

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

½ cup shortening

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted

Red food coloring

 

Directions

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 6-inch, an 8-inch, and a 10-inch cake pan.

Cake:

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine milk and vanilla. In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternatingly, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Divide batter amongst pans. Gently tap or drop pans on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cake is tested. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and wrap completely in plastic wrap. This will help keep your cakes moist. Cool completely on baking racks.

Marshmallow Fondant:

Melt marshmallows in a large bowl in a microwave for 1 minute, stirring at the 30 second mark. Stir water and vanilla extract into marshmallows. Stir in powdered sugar a cup at a time until sticky dough is formed. Dust counter with remaining powdered sugar and turn out dough. You may want to rub your hands with shortening or butter to keep them from sticking to the dough. Knead dough until smooth, workable, and no longer sticky. This can take up to 10 minutes. Then it’s ready to use. You can also make this the night before. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill. Allow it to warm up to room temperature before trying to work the dough.

Buttercream Icing:

In a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Beat powdered sugar in, a little at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add milk. If the icing is too thick, add more milk, ½ teaspoon at a time.

Putting It All Together:

Unwrap cooled cakes. Cut cakes to size and even out, if needed. Cover the cakes with enough icing to hold in the crumbs and allow the fondant to stick. Roll fondant out as thin as you can without tearing it. Cover bottom cake tier with fondant and smooth out sides so there are no creases. Remove excess fondant. Smooth out edges with hands or tools. Repeat with the other cakes and stack.

Knead a small amount of pink food coloring into some remaining fondant. Shape small pieces of pink fondant into flowers or roll and cut out with a small flower cookie cutter. Scoop some icing into a piping bag with a large tip and pipe icing onto the sides of each tier and the top of the cake. Place fondant flowers on the cake. Add some red food coloring to a small bit of remaining icing and scoop red icing into piping bag with a thin tip. Pipe out “Happy Birthday” onto the side of the cake. Light some candles and get ready to sing!

Variations: You can always use different sized cake pans if you want larger edges or a larger cake in general. The cake I made is very light in color, so if you want a more brown cake, add a little brown food coloring to the batter when you’re alternating the wet and dry ingredients. If you want to completely change it up, make whatever kind of cake you like best. You can also use pre-made fondant or icing if you’re pressed for time or just don’t feel like making any. Icing can also be made without the butter. Just double the shortening for even whiter icing. That’s the way my mom does it.

You can just use buttercream if you don’t care for fondant. After you initially ice the cakes, chill for at least 10 minutes. Dollop more icing on and spread until even and smooth. Chill the cakes again before you stack them and add the details.

Since I was making this cake for just myself, I did single layer tiers, but typical tiered cakes have multiple layers. (And are much bigger and more work.) Just double everything, spread icing between cake layers, stack, cover the tier with icing, and move on to the next one.

Mickey cake DSC_0290 (2)

The cake’s not as big as Mickey’s, but it suits this birthday girl just fine. At least I’m not covered in it. Although I wouldn’t be too terribly upset. It’s still cake and it’s delicious even if it’s ugly or smashed. Hey, Mickey didn’t seem that heartbroken when he accidentally got his cake all to himself, now did he?

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!