Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Welcome to the jungle: squash and couscous salad

California is opening up against expert recommendations, so while others venture out, we adventure in!  It'll be a looooong time before we go to the zoo or Safari park, so this past weekend we turned the house into our very own jungle so we could go on a safari here.

Now, realistically we blended the African Savannah with the Asian jungles, in terms of what animals we incorporated, but this is a fake adventure, so lions and tigers and monkeys and giraffes all mingled together.

We started the morning by turning ourselves into animals with masks.

Then gave ourselves some jungle animal tatoos.

Next we made Safari animal pendants.

After that it was time to make our own quicksand.

We took a break for lunch and had chicken and mango skewers with plantain chips.

After nap I hid stuffed animals all around the house and wrote up a scavenger hunt for the kids.

The boys went on safari to try to find the animals.  Thatkid, being older and needing a handicap, had to figure out what animal the clues were referring to.

We finished up our activities by coloring our own animals.

To go along with our theme, we rented Jumanji for the evening and ate our Safari-dinners.  Roast squash and couscous salad.  Sure it's not authentic, but neither is the rest of our day and this seemed like a nice cool way to end a hot day in the jungle.   I even made the kids strawberry banana coconut smoothies to drink out of our non-authentic coconuts.

This salad really does make for a great summer dinner.  I roasted the squash early in the day, because really - no one likes a hot oven heating up their house. You can prep the couscous ahead of time also.  After that, all the ingredients are cool and easy to throw together.  The dressing is really simple, but simple and salads are all I really want as the days get warmer. 

Squash and Couscous Salad
1 butternut squash 
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup toasted almonds
  1.  Preheat oven to 450.  Peel the butternut squash and cut into bite sized pieces.  
  2. Toss the squash with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes, until browned.  Let cool.
  3. Cook the couscous according to the package directions.  Let cool.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey.  
  5. Add sliced onion to the dressing and let sit while putting together the rest of the salad.
  6. Toss couscous, arugula, squash, and almonds together.
  7. Fold in the onions/dressing mix and serve.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

80s Flashback: Fluffernutter mug cake

This weekend we got into our DeLoreans and headed back to the 80s.  Mostly it was just Thatboy and I reliving our childhood memories and dragging the kids along with us, but they seemed to enjoy the ride.  Like when Thatkid asked if I could help him dress the part.

We started the morning out with a little Mousercise, which Thatbrother and I used to do all the time when we were little.

We followed this with some intense koosh-ball game play.

We took a break for some lunch, fluffernutters, bugles, and capri suns.  The fluffernutters were a nod to my dad who used to make them for us when my mom was out of town.

The cornerstone of the day was saved for after nap.  We've been watching the new season of Double Dare as a family so the kids are familiar, but obviously it's something Thatboy and I grew up with in the 80s too.  You think your kids like slime? OUR GENERATION INVENTED SLIME!

I set up our very own Double Dare obstacle course in the backyard.  And the kids loved it.  I set it up so they would each have 3 obstacles to get through.

Thatbaby started it off with the first obstacle - The Tank.

My goal was to fill our pool up with ball-pit balls, but once I dumped them all in, I realized - our new pool is REALLY big.  So I added water.  Thatbaby had to wade in and across and search for the flag, before passing it off to his brother.

Thatkid took off running to the second obstacle "Inside Out."  

Thatkid had to pop balloons to find the one which held the flag inside.  

He passed the flag off to Thatbaby who took it to Obstacle 3 - The Pie Shop.

Hidden in one of these pies was - you guessed it - a flag!

Once he found the flag, Thatkid went running over to The Swamp.

He had to dig through the jello to get to the flag buried below.

Thatbaby's next obstacle was sewer chute.

Inside two of these buckets were slime, and one held water and he had to dump them out to find the one that also held the flag.

They weren't dumping as well as we would have liked, so Thatboy helped them along.

The final obstacle was Mount St. Doubledare.

Thatkid had a really hard time getting to the top, he eventually resorted to using the climbing wall beside the slide.

We let them play in the obstacles for a bit more, then sent them inside to bathe and clean up before dinner and a little Back to the Future.  

And then we dimmed the lights, turned on a disco ball, threw glow bracelets and necklaces on the kids, gave them air guitars, and pumped up the 80s jams.

Neither of the kids wanted to go to bed, they wanted to dance all night.  Thatkid even said the dance party was his favorite part of the day.

In honor of our 80s day, I didn't want to share with you the recipe for fluffernutters.  That would be like giving you the recipe for peanut butter and jelly.  Almost exactly.  Instead a recipe inspired by the fluffernutter - a fluffernutter mug cake.  I made these for the boys last week as kind of a preview of what they'd be getting on the weekend.  They're great because they're so easy to make and this one makes two portions - perfect for 2 kids!

Fluffernutter Mug Cakes
2 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp white vinegar
1 egg 
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup mini marshmallows
  1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, milk, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and egg.
  2. Whisk in the sugar and brown sugar.
  3. Whisk in flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Fold in peanut butter chip and mini marshmallows.
  5. Divide the batter between two mugs.  Microwave 60-90 second until the cakes rise and puff out of the mugs.