Friday, November 25, 2011

The Hundred and One Dalmatians Brownies

Have you read The Hundred and One Dalmatians?  Not seen the movies - which are, to be fair, relatively close to the story - but actually read the book by Dodie Smith?  If you like dogs, or scary-evil villains, or kidnapping stories with skin-of-their-teeth escapes, or if you have always wondered how it is that pets see their humans, then you should read this book, because it has all of those things, and it's wonderful. 

If you don't know the story, here's a brief overview:
Pongo and Missis Pongo (usually just called "Missis") are dalmatians, who live in London with their pet humans, Mr. and Mrs. Dearly.  Pongo and Missis have the good fortune of having a litter of fifteen (!) beautiful puppies, which is a wonderful blessing, but... how can Missis take care of all of those puppies by herself?  Mrs. Dearly solves this problem when she rescues a dog who she found in the middle of the road in the rain.  This dog - a brown or "liver" dalmatian - is named Perdita, and we later find that she had also had a litter of puppies, but that they had been sold without her consent.  (Her previous owner was, after all, a horrible man who didn't treat her well, and who didn't even let her stay with her husband, Prince. What a jerk!) Perdita was loved by the Dearly family, though, and was happy there, until one fateful day when the puppies disappeared.

In despair, and at their wits end, the Pongos send out word through the Twilight Bark - a network of dogs who pass messages over the entire country by barking information back and forth every night at twilight - about the missing puppies, and find out that they may be among the puppies who have suddenly appeared at Hell Hall, the ancestral home of one Cruella de Vil.

You have, of course, heard the name of Cruella de Vil.  This evil, horrid woman was Mrs. Dearly's roommate in college, and saw the dogs when she came calling one day.  She expressed an interest in buying the entire litter of puppies (whose coats, she said, would make a lovely coat for her) and was, of course, turned away.  But this didn't stop her: not one bit.

I won't spoil the rest of the story for you, but suffice it to say that it includes a daring rescue, some awesome characters (I'm a big fan of the Colonel), disguises and narrow escapes, and lots and lots of puppies. 

In honor of Ms. Dodie Smith's masterpiece, I have decided to make Dalmatian Brownies.  These are inspired by the book and not mentioned in it, and I'd like to note that, despite the name of the recipe, these (and anything else with chocolate in it) are not okay for dogs to be eating.

Dalmatian Brownies
- Your favorite brownie mix or recipe, with all components
- Vanilla frosting
- About 12 chocolate sandwich cookies - I used Oreos, because I love them

1. Mix up your brownie batter according to the recipe or the box directions.  I usually prefer fudgy brownies, but this time I made cake-like brownies.  It's all up to you.
2. Place your Oreos into a plastic bag and crush them up, trying to leave some larger chunks in with the small powdery dust, because variety is the spice of life, and it'll give you a good texture contrast.
3. Mix about 3/4 of the crushed cookies into your brownie batter, and then bake according to recipe or  package directions.  This time, I made the brownies in a smaller (9x9) pan, but I think I'd recommend making them in a larger pan, because they're rather rich to begin with, and don't need to be thick to be delicious.
4. Let the brownies cool completely, and then frost with the vanilla frosting and sprinkle with crushed cookies.  Cut into as many squares as you like, though you will probably have to make more than one batch to make 101 Dalmatian Brownies.

Don't they look just like the spotty dogs?
Well... They look enough like them to be a tribute, I think.  And they sure are delicious! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

S is for S'mores (Cookies)

Hello, my friends!  It's the middle of July, and it's prime camping weather, wouldn't you say? 

This beautiful weather reminds me of a really cool book I stumbled across.  It's called S is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet, and it was written by Helen Foster James and illustrated by Lita Judge.  (This book is part of the Alphabet Books series, published by Sleeping Bear Press, and you can find a list of all the different titles - from A is for Abraham to Z is for Zookeeper - here.)

S is for S'mores is a great alphabet book, running from Adventure to Beach camps to Canyons and onward, but it's also a lot more than that.  For each letter, there is a 4-line poem and a large, friendly illustration of a camping family experiencing their trip.  Sidebars on each page describe each letter's terms in greater detail and give really neat background information (the Desert page, for example, describes desert campgrounds, reminds you to make sure to bring plenty of water, gives information on the Joshua Tree, and tells you about Death Valley National Park). These sidebars are interesting for older children, but can be left out for the little ones with no disruption of the book's flow. 

These beautiful summer days are the days when I long to be outdoors hiking, canoeing, swimming, or generally enjoying the good weather, just like the people in this book's illustrations.  Of course, camping isn't really camping without a campfire, and what's the point of making a campfire if you aren't going to make s'mores with it?  But, alas, it's not always easy to find the time to go camping, and it's not always a good idea to light a fire.  Sometimes you just have to camp in the back yard, or have an indoor picnic.  Which is fun, but... what about the s'mores?

Thanks to Anna over at CookieMadness, you no longer have to worry about having a campfire, since she perfected the most amazing thing.... the S'mores Cookie!  (You can find the recipe here.)  With graham crackers in the dough and mini marshmallows and Hershey bars on top, it's a perfect, portable, make-ahead s'more that you can enjoy without a campfire.

I had to share these with you all... especially since every time I've made them, people ask me for the recipe.  So, here it is!  (And thank you, Anna!)

S'Mores Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup graham cracker crumbs*
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 1 cup mini-marshmallows
2 to 3 chocolate bars, chopped**

1. Preheat your oven to 375.
2. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda.  Mix into the wet mixture until well-combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet, and bake for 9 minutes.  Then, pull the tray out of the oven and ever-so-quickly top with 3-4 marshmallows and some chunks of chopped chocolate bar.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until done.  This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

* I find that it takes about 5 whole graham crackers to make 1 cup of crumbs.  You can use your fingers, a food processor, or a number of other things to make them into crumbs, but I find the easiest way is to put them into a sturdy freezer bag and roll it with a rolling pin.
** I cut mine into diamonds with a butter knife, then stored them in the fridge until needed.  Oooh, pretty!

I'd recommend letting these cool at least most of the way before eating them, because molten marshmallows and chocolate together tend to lead to burned tongues.  You can always heat them in the microwave for a few seconds afterward, and make them perfectly melty that way.

Yes, these are a bit time-consuming, and also a little frustrating, what with the chocolate that inevitably melts on your hands when you're adding it to half-baked cookies, but they are absolutely worth the effort!  Trust me on this one... or try them for yourself and see.  You won't be disappointed.

I've been thinking a lot about summer recipes lately, and I have a few others to give to you.  Do you have a favorite summer book or recipe that you'd like to share with me?  Email me at or send a comment to our Facebook fan page!  Or comment right here on the blog, and we can have a lovely discussion that way. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies: Whoopie Pies for Celeste

Middle school is hard.  Just ask Celeste, the main character from Erin Dionne's Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies - every day she has to deal with Lively, the oh-so-perfect pretty girl, making fun of her just because she's a little bit overweight.  Or maybe more than a little bit... but that's no reason for Lively to moo at her, is it?  And while it was really nice for her cousin to invite her to be a bridesmaid, did she have to pick an ugly peach dress that won't look right no matter how hard the seamstress tries to fix it?  But at least she has an awesome best friend, and life is pretty uneventful otherwise.

At least, it was.  But that was before her best friend Sandra started hanging out with Lively (what?!) and missing their nightly phone calls, and before her aunt signed her up to be in the Miss HuskyPeach contest.  Celeste has no desire to be "on a runway for all the world to see.  No.  No way.  Never."  But her aunt and her mother won't take no for an answer, so it seems like the only way to get out of the spotlight is to do something drastic: she's going to have to lose enough weight that she's not husky anymore, and then she'll shrink right out of the contest.  But can she make herself exercise (gross!) and eat better?  And - harder still - is she willing to give up Oreos?

This book is fantastic.  It's for older children or even younger teens; though there's nothing inappropriate in it for the younger set, talk of body image might go a bit over their heads.  It was also totally appropriate for me, and even though I picked it up because of the food in the title (okay, I admit it), I couldn't put this book down.  It had me tearing up at a few points and laughing out loud at others, and at one point, I actually cried out, "oh no!!!" so suddenly that I woke up the cat.  While I picked it up thinking, "I know some good chocolate cookie recipes," I had a better idea.  I'm completely supportive of Celeste's weight loss efforts, and I made her a low-calorie Oreo substitute: the soda cake whoopie pie.

For those not in the know, a whoopie pie is two cake rounds with a cream filling inside.  (Have you seen Oreo Cakesters?  Kinda like that.)  They're delicious.  I decided to make them out of soda cake, which is a cake made out of cake mix and a can of diet soda, which sounds really weird, but it's low-calorie (diet soda having no calories, and cake mix being nonfat as it is, this makes a very low-calorie treat), and quite tasty.  You can use any combination of cake flavor and soda flavor, so you can have an orange-soda-vanilla-cake creamsicle soda cake, or a black-cherry-soda-and-chocolate-cake black forest soda cake.  (Yes, it sounds weird, but it's so good that my boyfriend couldn't tell it wasn't real cake.)  Since oreos are chocolate, I used devil's food cake and diet Dr. Pepper, which gave it an awesome chocolatey flavor.  And since cream filling isn't exactly diet-friendly, I used Cool Whip Free in the middle. 

Whoopie Pies For Celeste
1 box cake mix (I used Devil's Food)
1 can diet soda (I used diet Dr. Pepper)
Cool Whip Free

1) Preheat your oven according to cake mix directions.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
2) Mix almost all of your can of soda and all of the cake mix until combined and the bubbles stop (I used 11 oz. of soda - take a nice big sip and you should be fine.  For whoopie pies, you want your batter to be a little thicker than regular cake batter  If you're just making regular cake or cupcakes, you can use the whole can).  Spoon out drops of batter onto your cookie sheet, keeping a couple inches between each in case of spreading.  (Mine didn't spread very much, but your mileage may vary.)
3) Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the batter stops wiggling.
4) Once the cake rounds are cool, put one round upside-down onto a piece of plastic wrap, and top with a dollop of Cool Whip.  Add a second cake round, and wrap the whole thing in plastic.  Put it in the freezer and enjoy when frozen and delicious.

Final verdict... tasty!  Not quite as good as Oreos, but they'll kill your craving.  After all, even dieters deserve dessert, right?  (Sometimes especially dieters.)

As always, I love it when people leave me comments, either here or on my Facebook fan page, or send me emails at  As a special incentive, the first person to email me and the first person to comment on my FB page will get a special awesome recipe that I can't seem to find a place for on here, but which is awesome and delicious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Bad Case of Stripes: Lima Beans for Camilla

A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon tells the story of Camilla Cream, who loved lima beans, but never ate them, because everyone knows that lima beans are yucky, and if there's anything that Camilla wants out of life, it's to be accepted.  In fact, she tries on 42 outfits for the first day of school, just trying to find the perfect one (too bad none of them were quite right).  Lima beans, then, are definitely out.

When she looks in the mirror to judge her latest outfit, Camilla is shocked - she's come down with a case of stripes!  Oh, no!  And after the doctor clears her to go to school, stripes and all, she finds out that she's even more impressionable than she thought: the pledge of allegiance made her break out in stars!  And upon recommendations from her classmates, she's also covered in a checkerboard pattern.. and purple polka dots... and all sorts of things!

Things just keep getting worse for poor Camilla; she can't help but be influenced by 100 different things.  When specialists give her pills to clear things up, she turns into a giant capsule.  Will things ever get better for her?  Or is the real problem that she won't show her true colors because she cares so much what everyone else thinks?

I'm going to make a confession right now: like Camilla, I love lima beans.  It's not something that you tell people in polite company, but it's true.  They're probably my favorite vegetable.  And since I was making some to go with dinner anyway, I thought I'd dedicate them to Camilla.  Here's how I make mine:

Lima Beans for Camilla
Frozen lima beans
Salt and pepper

1) Pour frozen beans into a microwave safe bowl with a splash of water (about 1/4 cup per cup of beans).  Cover and cook on high for 2 minutes.  Drain.
1) Pour frozen beans into a small saucepan with a splash of water (about 1/4 cup per cup of beans) and cook on medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until heated through.  Drain.
2) Add a small pat of butter per serving of beans - just enough to coat the beans when it's melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That's it.  Delicious!

This book was recommended to me by a librarian friend of mine (thanks, Libby!), who told me that this book is really popular with her patrons.  So popular, in fact, that it was checked out the first time she told me about it, and I had to get it another day.  I'm going to recommend it to you, because it's a cute story and a lot of people really like it, but I'm going to add a few caveats.  Firstly, it's supposed to be for ages 4-8, but it's awfully wordy for younger kids, and I'm not sure they'd sit still through the whole thing.  Secondly... well, it's pretty creepy.  If your little one scares easily - or even if they don't - you may want to read through it first and make sure it's appropriate for their maturity level.  The illustrations (and even the concept... if you don't eat your veggies, you'll turn stripey and grow a tail?) may be a bit much for those with active imaginations.  That said, it's definitely worth a look.

In other news, I got a lovely note and a blog shout-out from the amazing Zoe Toft of Playing By The Book.  If you like my blog, you'll love hers - she and her family not only cook, but play, draw, and create with (or about) books!  This is kind of how I was hoping my blog would turn out - please check it out!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paddington Bear's Elevenses

Oh, Paddington.  How lovable can a bear be?

According to the official website Paddington Bear was discovered by Michael Bond in 1956.  It was Christmas Eve, and there was one lonely little bear sitting alone on a shelf in a toy store.  Well, he couldn't leave him there, so he brought him home for his wife, and started writing stories about him.  Over the years, Mr. Bond has written a total of twelve books about Paddington, starting with Paddington Bear in 1958.

The stories, of course, don't feature Mr. Bond and his family; they feature Mr. and Mrs. Brown, who found the (fictional) bear in Paddington Station (hence his name) with a sign tied around his neck that said, "Please look after this bear. Thank you."  The sign, as we come to find out, was put there by his Aunt Lucy, who took care of him until she had to go into the Home for Retired Bears, and sent him on an adventure.  He traveled from his home in Darkest Peru, as a stowaway in a life boat, and ended up in London, where he met the Browns.

Paddington is a fun, lovable bear who is unfailingly polite.  He calls people Mr. and Mrs., and he never raises his voice; when angry, he simply fixes people with a hard stare, and they know that he is unhappy.  Of course, life with a bear is not always easy; he doesn't quite understand the way things are sometimes.  It might have been useful for him to know, for example, that while it is a lovely thing to go out to lunch, it is not generally acceptable to climb onto the table and get covered in cream cake and jam.  Or that, while it is fun to splash and play in the tub, it might be a better idea to pull the plug to drain the water, rather than bailing it out using your hat. 

Paddington has a great deal of adventures while living with the Browns, and makes many friends over the years, including Mr. Gruber, who owned an antique shop and doled out wise advice over a mid-morning snack.  For this snack - their "elevenses" - Paddington and Mr. Gruber often had hot cocoa and sometimes marmalade sandwiches (because, as Paddington says, "bears like marmalade").  I decided I needed to make some Elevenses, too.

Paddington Bear's Elevenses
Hot cocoa (I'm using a mix, but feel free to use the Polar Express Cocoa here for something special)

1) Toast your bread and spread it with butter.  Spread some marmalade on top.  (Alternately, you can skip the toasting and the butter and just have jelly-bread or marmalade sandwiches.)
2) Prepare your hot cocoa.
3) Sit down, relax, talk to a good friend, and enjoy.

When I think of Paddington, I can't help but be reminded of my bear Henri, who was found sitting alone in a toy wagon outside a small store, getting rained on.  Mom and I agreed - we had to take him home, and he's still having adventures with me.
"Bears like marmalade."
I have to admit, I'd never had marmalade before, but it won't be my last time.  For those not in the know (and I know you exist, because I've already had people ask me "what's marmalade?"), marmalade is a jelly made with citrus fruit juice and peel.  I'm not sure why I'd never had it, since I love oranges, but it'll go on my list of yummy things I should eat more often.

Paddington Bear is a fantastic classic book that I haven't heard enough about lately.  I'm going to try to mix the classics in with new books more often, but as a lot of them don't have any food to speak of, the recipes might be more inspired-by than based-on.  Do you have a favorite classic book that you'd like to see posted?  Let me know in the comments, on the Facebook fan page, or by dropping me an email at

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham

Whenever I tell people that I write this blog, people inevitably ask me if I've written about Green Eggs and Ham yet.  I haven't, mainly because the thought of eating green eggs is not all that appetizing, and I needed to find a way that I could make them taste delicious and look delicious, preferably without using food coloring, and also kid friendly.  Well, I think I found a way.  But first things first.

Green Eggs and Ham was written by Dr. Seuss back in 1960.  The story goes that his editor, Bennett Cerf, loved The Cat In The Hat (which itself was written because Dr. S thought that Dick and Jane were boring), but was surprised that it contained 225 words.  He bet the author that he couldn't write a book using only 50 words, and the result was our beloved story.  (49 of the words, incidentally, are monosyllabic; the only standout is "anywhere.")  Now, I just find this whole thing amazing.  It's hard enough to write a good story, let alone a good story that can stand the test of time, but to write such a story that only uses 50 words sparkles with genius. 

If there are any of you out there who are unfamiliar, the basic premise of this book is that our narrator's friend Sam-I-Am keeps pestering him to try green eggs and ham, a dish that he says he doesn't like.  He doesn't want them with any number of dining partners or in any number of locations.  "I do not like them, Sam-I-Am!" he protests over and over again.  Finally, our hero relents and tries a bite, if only to be left alone, but finds to his surprise that he actually does enjoy the odd dish, and he would, in the future, eat them with a fox, on a box, and so forth.  Hooray for trying new things!

Speaking of trying new things, I tried a new recipe for this entry, and I think it came out rather well.  After rejecting several ideas, I finally made Green Eggs and Ham Cups, the green coming from pesto sauce that was spooned on top. 

Green Eggs and Ham Cups
Ham, sliced somewhat thick (I asked for "kinda thick slices" at the deli and they were perfect)
Peppers, onions, cheeses, and other omelette-type fillings, all diced into small pieces
Pesto sauce

1. Preheat your oven to 375.  Lightly grease a muffin tin, and insert one slice of ham into each cup, fluting it around the edges if necessary.
2. Add cheeses and vegetables to the bottom of the ham cups, trying not to put too much in.
3. Add one egg to each ham cup.  I did this without spilling by cracking one egg into a measuring cup with a spout, and pouring it from there to the muffin tin.  This way, I could check there were no eggshells in the egg, and I could easily pour it in without getting egg all over the tin and my hands.   (Alternately, you can scramble the egg and pour the scramble-y mixture in.  We made a few of each.)
4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until each egg has set.
5. Top with pesto sauce, and serve with toast, sausage, fresh fruit, or any other breakfast goodies.  Enjoy!

Right out of the oven and still in the muffin tin, they looked like this:

And then with the pesto, the cross-section of the Green Eggs and Ham looks like this:

I need to make these again soon.  So good!

I think these are especially kid-friendly because they're:
a) fully customizable - put in whatever you want!
b) easy for kids to help assemble - putting ham into cups, adding fillers, cracking and pouring eggs.
c) a good way to get little ones to try new flavors and meals while eating mostly-familiar ones.

So, I think this was a good one, but I'd love to know what you think.  Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?  Or would you do it differently?  You can tell me here in the comments, on the KCTB Facebook fan page, or you can email me at

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pizza Kittens Pizza

Kids will be kids, and kittens will be kittens, and not all kids or all kittens like the same things, do they?  And what is a Mama Cat to do when her three little kittens put up a fuss?  Pizza Kittens is a picture book by Charlotte Voake that addresses that very problem.

First, Mom tries fish sticks... but Joe wanted baked beans!  And - oh no! Not SALAD!  None of the kittens (Joe, Bert and Lucy) like dinner, and they make a huge mess, and when they leave the table, "What a horrible sight it was!"  Dad tries to step in, and he makes dinner the next night.  Too bad the kittens don't like peas, either; most of them ended up on the floor!  Oh, no!  Will the parents ever find a meal that will satisfy all of their picky eaters?

I fear that I've given up the answer to this puzzle by giving you the title of the book - Mom serves pizza the next night, and it was "Absolutely PERFECT!" (Though the last picture shows us one kitten happily leaning back in his chair, about to spill his water, with salad all over the floor around him.  Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.)  In the defense of the parents, it's not as if they gave in completely; the kittens were required to help clean up the messes they made, they helped set the table, and they still had to eat salad with their pizza. I'd like to think that it was more of a compromise-meal; since they helped out, and they ate bits of dinner during the week, so they had a special Friday-night pizza night. 

I also had a special Friday night pizza night tonight!  I made it from scratch, and it was quite tasty if I do say so myself.  I like the idea of individual pizzas, especially for this, because then each of your picky kittens will get exactly what he or she likes.  Also, having little ones help in the cooking (they can help with steps 2, 3, and 5) makes them more excited to eat the meal - a definite plus when nobody wants to eat.

Pizza Kittens Pizza
Crust of choice (I used store-made raw pizza dough)
Sauce of choice
Shredded cheese
Toppings of all kinds

1. Prepare the crust.  If using raw dough, as I did, then let it sit out at room temperature for an hour.  Stretch it into the desired shape (or shapes!  Everyone can get their own!), and then let it sit for 5 minutes before re-stretching.  This will let it settle a bit, so it won't shrink, bubble, or grow excessively on you when cooking, which will let your toppings settle evenly.  With my dough, I find it helpful to bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes before adding toppings, so it doesn't get soggy.  If you use a different kind of crust, make sure you follow the package directions.
2. Add the sauce, and smooth it out with a spoon.  Remember, a little goes a long way!
3. Sprinkle cheese on top, and top with desired toppings.
4. Bake for the amount of time dictated on your crust package or recipe; mine cooked for 20 minutes, and it turned out like this:
Yummy!  That deliciousness has pepperoni, onion, and feta cheese on top of the mozzarella, which is a fantastic combination.  The feta doesn't melt, and it adds a nice saltiness and creaminess.
5. Step 5 is, of course, ENJOY!
Deliciousness.  What more can I say?
So here's your homework for this week:  Read this book, make a Pizza Kitten Pizza, and tell me what the best combination of toppings you've found is.  Can you beat my pepperoni, onion and feta?

As always, you can leave your answers in the Comments section, or email me at, or come onto the Facebook fan page and leave me a message there.  Are you a fan yet?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich

"Not again!" you are no doubt thinking.  "You already taught us how to make three different types of sandwiches!"  Well, yes.  But this blog is as much about the books as it is about the food, and if you need a reason to get excited about sandwiches, this is a good one.

The full title of this book, including the subtitle, is Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich, and other stories you're sure to like, because they're all about monsters, and some of them are also about food. You like food, don't you? Well, all right then.  (Is that not the coolest title ever?  I love it when books talk to me as if they can hear me answering their questions.)  In brief, it's a book of poems written and illustrated by Adam Rex, all of which feature monsters - Dracula, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Bigfoot, and so on - and many of which feature food.  And all of which, I might add, are awesome.

Our book opens with a forlorn-looking Frankenstein's monster looking through an empty cabinet.  The text lets us know the story: "When Frankenstein / prepared to dine / on ham-and-cheese on wheat, / he found instead / he had no bread / (or mustard, cheese, or meat)." Oh, no!  Poor guy!  The poem follows him going to the neighbors to borrow some ingredients, but - alas! - he is a monster, and they got spooked, and threw their garbage at him.  Rather than being upset, though, Frankie realizes that the neighbors have made a mound of food, which he takes and makes into a sandwich.  Mmmmm, dinner!

As the book progresses, we learn that "The Yeti Doesn't Appreciate Being Called Bigfoot" (and "Bigfoot Can't Believe You Called Him Yeti Just Now"), we find out what's in "The Lunchsack of Notre Dame," we watch as everyone is too scared to tell Dracula that he has spinach in his teeth, and we're invited to watch as The Phantom of the Opera keeps trying to write a new song, but he just can't get other songs out of his head.  And, of course, "The Mummy Won't Go To His Eternal Rest Without A Story And Some Cookies."

Take a look at the artwork on the cover here - beautiful!
(Or, for a better look, here: )
Every single image in the book is just as well done, and if that wasn't enough, each monster's poems (which are each written in a different style) are illustrated in a different way - some pen and ink, some line drawings, some colorfully and intricately painted.  It really is worth a look or three.  

Mr. Rex has also written a book called Frankenstein Takes The Cake, in which we meet the Bride of Frankenstein and the couple's assembled friends and family as they celebrate their wedding, again told in poetry.  I highly recommend both these titles, both for kids and adults.  Due to them being monstery, they're listed by SLJ as Grade 2 to 5, but I think the poems would be a good way to get some younger kids away from being afraid of The Unknown, too - much like Caspar The Friendly Ghost, but sillier.

I was introduced to Adam Rex's work by Christy Meisler (the guest chef who made us last week's Owl Ice Cream!), in the usual way.  That is, she put the books in my lap and said, "read this!"  As always, she was right about these books, and all thanks go to her.  And so would a sandwich, if we still lived in the same state.

Frankenstein Sandwiches
Bread, rolls, or wraps
Various sandwich vegetation, such as onions, lettuce, peppers, or tomatoes

1) Choose a bread, roll, or wrap.
2) Choose a combination of fillings.
3) Spread any and all condiments onto your bread, and then fill with a large pile of various fillings.
4) Enjoy!

Okay, so this is a bit silly, particularly as the point of this sandwich is that it includes absolutely everything, kinda like a Dagwood sandwich, so giving an ingredient list is like giving a list of colors you can paint with, when everybody knows that the sky's the limit.  The Frankenstein Sandwich is a platform on which to experiment with flavors, textures, and deliciousness!  My sandwich, seen above, included buffalo-style chicken breast, Swiss cheese, onions, and blue cheese dressing. (So good!)  I often sprinkle some dried oregano on my sandwiches, which gives them a deli-esque flavor.  I'm also a big fan of roast-beef-and-turkey-with-red-onions-and-cheddar-and-pesto-on-a-hoagie-roll, and a friend's mom made me a delicious brie and pear on ciabatta not too long ago.  Sandwiches are a thing of beauty and creativity and deliciousness, and I really should eat them more often.  Perhaps while reading.

So tell me, dear bleaders:  What would your monster sandwich be?  And what would you read while eating it?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gruffalo Owl Ice Cream

Dear Bleaders,
We're back!!! Please see the "Reborn" post for a full apology.  As a way to jump back into blogging, I'm going to post this recipe and photo that was sent to me by the fantabulous Christy Meisler, who sent this to me several months ago.  She's an awesome friend and a great librarian, and I can't thank her enough for this idea (and recipe... and photo.. and book talk!).  Thank you, Christy! You've got me blogging again!  All of the words below are hers.
In the picture book The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, a little mouse meets several animals who think mice are tasty.  He tells each of them he's meeting his friend the Gruffalo, a scary monster who eats foxes, owls, and snakes.  When each enemy flees, Mouse chuckles, "Doesn't he know?  There's no such thing as a Gruffalo!" 

...Or is there? Is the joke on Mouse after all?

The book combines fun rhyming text with adorable illustrations.  Mouse tells the owl that the Gruffalo's favorite food is "owl ice cream," so I decided I had to try making that.

Owl Ice Cream:
1 scoop chocolate or vanilla ice cream
2 slices banana (eyes)
2 chocolate chips (pupils)
1 candy corn (beak)
6 slices peach (wingfeathers)
Sliced almonds (feathers)

The result tasted as good as it looked -- I think peaches, bananas and almonds taste great with chocolate ice cream!  For a healthier version, you could use frozen yogurt, with blueberries instead of chocolate chips, and a whole cashew instead of a candy corn.


Dear Bleaders,

I'm sorry I've been missing for so long.  I've been working at a bookstore and...well... experimenting with recipes is expensive and time consuming, and I've been short on both time and money.  But things are looking up, and... well... I missed you!  So I'm back.

The blog will be up and running again shortly.  Please stay tuned... and please forgive me for disappearing!  As always, ideas, comments, and emails are always welcome and appreciated.  You can reach me at, or on my Facebook fan page.