Too Good not to Share

So, I've been bailing on the pancakes lately, I know. With Island Dad home, I'm trying to get better.
Actually, his very presence is what led me to this week's recipe. Island Dad l-o-v-e-s eggnog.

Personally, my life would have been complete without "nog". And that is why I feel I MUST share this pancake recipe with you. Because, while I do not like eggnog on it's own, I could spend the rest of my life eating these Eggnog Pancakes and never tire of them. Seriously. They're THAT good.

Eggnog Pancakes
(base recipe found on allrecipes.com)

1.5 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2.5 tsp. baking soda
0.5 tsp. salt
1 c. eggnog
2 Tbsp. clarified butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the eggnog, the butter, and the egg. Mix until dry ingredients are evenly moist.

Pour batter onto the griddle by 1/4 cupfuls. Cook pancakes until bubbly on top. Flip with a spatula, and continue cooking until lightly browned on the bottom.

I should add that I found it to be too thick with just the 1 cup of eggnog. An additional half cup seemed to do the trick. Also, I did not clarify the butter.

As I said above, I could probably live off of these pancakes for the rest of my life. They were that good. They had the smooth texture and dense consistency of buttermilk pancakes, with just the right amount of added sweet and spice. We will definitely be making these again before the end of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving week

Here we are at Muffin Tin Monday yet again.
This week's theme was Thanksgiving. Since we have not yet had our turkey dinner, I did my best to re-create the experience for Island Boy.

Top Row (l-r): Turkey-shaped turkey and stuffing sandwich (with turkey pick), carrot coins, tater tots
Bottom Row (l-r): Turkey-shaped swiss cheese, corn (with corn pick), turkey-shaped cranberry sauce
The turkey and stuffing sandwich is probably not quite what you're thinking. To creat this, I took two slices of bread, buttered them on one side, and then placed in the toaster oven for 3 minutes. I then sprinkled the buttered sides with a bit of ground sage, crushed rosemary, and the tiniest hint of onion powder. Then I put them back in the toaster oven for another two minutes. Placing the buttered sides on the inside of the sandwich, I put 3-4 slices of turkey lunch meat in between, then cut into the turkey shape. I can tell you, having shared the remainders of the sandwich, that it was nothing short of amazing, and I will be re-creating this very very soon.

As for Island Boy, he barely touched the sandwich. He might have eaten the head off of it. He went straight for the cranberry sauce and the cheese. Then he ate the corn. Surprisingly, the tater tots went pretty much untouched, too. And by now you can probably guess what happened to the carrots, haha. I'm still trying, though.


Muffin Tins and Nutrition

Here we are at yet another Muffin Tin Monday! This week's theme was the Food Pyramid.

The theme actually provided me with a good opportunity to consider what exactly Island Boy eats on a regular basis, what he needs more of, and where he's lacking altogether. He really does pretty well with grains, dairy, and fruits. He will devour fruit before just about anything else. He also loves all things carbohydrate based. Luckily for him, we tend to stick mainly with whole grains, so he's doing very well there. It is only on rare occasions (and not in our house that I can recall) that he's had just plain old white bread. He does alright with dairy, too. He loves his milk, and yogurt is a favorite of his, as well.

Proteins are a bit more of a challenge for him. He'll eat them, he just would rather eat the bread and fruit parts of meals first. But I've found that if we cut out his afternoon snack, he will devour literally just about anything we put in front of him for dinner. He INHALED some chicken enchiladas I made the other night. Faster than he's eaten anything. Ever.

Where we really hurt are vegetables. And I don't just mean Island Boy. The whole Island Family (well, maybe not Island Girl, as she will eat anything she can get to her mouth with her own two hands these days) needs to work on eating more vegetables. It's not that Island Dad and I don't like vegetables....I just somehow tend to forget to work them into my meal plan. I'm trying, though. I really am. But this is why Island Boy doesn't much care for them. He also claims to prefer them "not crunchy." This is the complete and utter opposite of me. With the exceptions of broccoli and green beans, I always prefer the raw veggies over cooked ones.

On to the meal!
Top Row (l-r): Raspberries, Heart- and Star-shaped toasted turkey and cheese sandwiches, steamed carrots
Bottom row (l-r): Plain yogurt with red sprinkles, cucumbers in ranch dip, watermelon.

Island Boy, enjoying his lunch (diving into the sandwiches).
He immediately dove into the "your-gurt," as he calls it. This surprised me, since it was, after all, plain yogurt. But the sprinkles were just enough, and he loved it! Raspberries were second. He loved the sandwiches as well. It did surprise me that he saved the watermelon for fourth. The carrots and cucumber, despite MUCH coaxing and assurance that neither were crunchy, remained uneaten. *sigh* He'll learn. Right?

Another great thing is that Island Girl has hit 8 months now, and as such, can have protein. Unfortunately, we discovered (after MTM day) that dairy might not so much agree with her. So we're back to holding off on cheese for now. But she did love the turkey and cheese sandwich bits, as well as the steamed carrot bites. So at least one of my kids loves the carrots!

Island Girl enjoying the "extras" from Island Boy's lunch.


Muffin Tin Monday

We are back in the swing of Muffin Tin Meals once again!

This week's was a relative success, although, yet again, Island Boy shocked and amazed me with what he wanted to eat vs. did not want to eat.

Top Row (l-r): Grapes, apple "circles," and apple juice
Bottom Row (l-r): truck-shaped sun butter and jelly sandwich,
 pumpkin-chocolate cupcake, grapes

Island Boy, initially very excited.
Island Boy was initially quite excited about his lunch. Especially the cupcake. But, much to my amazement, he quickly devoured most of the grapes, about half of the apples, and licked only the frosting off of the cupcake. He took maybe 4 bites of the sandwich. He did finish the juice box quickly, though. Not really sure what exactly was up with this, other than he hasn't been a big lunch-eater lately. But it's still good (to me) that he's excited about healthy food, and, in fact, picks the healthy stuff first!

Another Pretty Awesome Day

We've really been knocking 'em outta the park with fun activities lately!

The spouses club on our base has a playgroup that we take part in. More often than not we are at a group member's house, at tumbling on base, or at the playground. And those are all very fun activities.

Today, however, we all met up down island at Fish Eye Marine Park. Although we have heard lots and lots about it, we had yet to make it there. Fish Eye is an observation deck out in/over a coral reef. You walk out over a long boardwalk (or bridge, as Island Boy called it). You get to the observation deck, and can walk around the outside and look around at the ocean and reef views. But the real draw is inside the tower. You walk in, and walk down a fairly long set of spiraling stairs to an underwater room. It's basically a natural habitat aquarium, if that makes sense. They have 24 windows (taken from their site...I didn't actually count). The rectangular ones are up high off the ground, but the round ones, low to the ground and just the perfect height for toddlers to climb up and look out of, were the real draw for the playgroup set.

I have many many pictures like this:
Looking at a small blue fish

Checking out the coral
Island Boy's hands and nose were pressed to the glass pretty much the whole time we were there. He was mesmerized, and it was hard to get him out of there!
I'll admit, because of pictures like the following two, it was hard for me to want to leave (except for my growling stomach...), too.

School of Fish
At the feeder

After our time at Fish Eye, we decided to grab some lunch (as a group) at the Piazza cafe/restaurant (they don't have a website, or I'd direct you there). It was the perfect lunch with delicious sandwiches for moms and kids alike, and mango juice that was quite popular with the kids. My sandwich was also accompanied by a yummy balsamic salad, and the best iced tea I've found on the Island so far (and I know my iced tea)! It put me in mind of my absolute favorite restaurant in the world in DC  (if you live in the beltway area, you MUST go there. Do it for me, and then tell me about it and I will live vicariously), and also one of our very favorite places at our last assignment in North Dakota. So, needless to say, with or without Island Dad, we will be going back there. Many times.


A Pretty Perfect Day

This morning, we packed up and headed down Island to meet a group of friends/Island Dad's co-workers for a day at the beach to include some snorkeling (for me) and SCUBA diving (for Island Dad).

Given Island Boy's recent distaste for large bodies of water, we were unsure of how exactly it would go.

Regardless, we headed out.  Once our entire party arrived, we decided that the mommies and the other snorkelers (I was the only person who fell into both categories) would go out first, and the daddies would stay back with the kids. So I put on my snorkel, mask, booties, and flippers, and headed out with my snorkeling buddies (two of Island Dad's co-workers).

As usual, the snorkeling was fantastic. We were out for the better part of an hour, swimming across the reef and back. It must have been cleaning day on the reef, as we saw several bluestreak cleaner wrasse taking care of other fish. We also saw several feeding frenzies of large schools of fish cleaning the coral. And along with that, came the familiar clicking sound that the fish make when they're feeding off of the gunk growing on the reef. I got to see a pretty good-sized clam close up right below me, and spotted a sea urchin on our way back to shore. I also spotted several anemones with clown fish in them. It was fantastic when I got to go back and tell Island Boy that I saw Nemo!

Island Dad informed me, upon my return to our pavilion, that both kids did pretty well in my absence (Island Girl was actually sleeping in her stroller when I got back). Island Boy was looking a little withered when I got back, but once we got some food burger and chips into him, he perked up a bit.

We all enjoyed brats, hamburgers, and assorted varieties of chips, and then it was the daddies turn to go dive while the moms stayed back.

By this time, Island Boy was getting more into the other kids, and had gotten some energy back. So we went over to the beach. At first, neither one of the Island Kids wanted to actually go in the water. Island Boy was content to pick up sand and rocks and throw them into the water (but at least he wasn't screaming and crying!), and when I tried to put Island Girl's toes in the water, she fussed. So, I let them do their things. Then Island Boy decided he wanted to play with the other kids, and all of a sudden it was like he remembered his love affair with all things aquatic again! He was dunking his head under water, blowing bubbles, and chasing the other (bigger) kids out further than he'll go when it's just us. And when I finally sat down in the water with her on my lap, Island Girl decided that it was actually quite fun to kick and splash the water.

We were worried about the weather too, since it's rainy season here. And while we did have a few brief showers here and there, the weather really couldn't have been more perfect. When it wasn't raining, the sun was out and there was blue sky all around. The rain kept the humidity and extreme heat at bay. And it also enhanced the already moist, jungle-ish smell around the area.

All in all, it really was a pretty perfect day!