Category Archives: Recipes

Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind….Ohana Dinner

We hula’d and twisted as we decorated for our “Aloha to Hawaii” dinner night.

And while we did, daddy drilled holes in some fresh coconuts so we could have an authentic Hawaiian drink.  Delicious!

And of course it wouldn’t have been appropriate to do anything Hawaiian without a little music so we turned on our fun new appletv and set it to Hawaiian Legend Israel Kamakawiwoʻole singing, somewhere over the rainbow.

Brian even found a program where it looked like the kids were standing in front of the beach in Hawaii and we dreamt for a minute that we were actually there.

Hawaiian Dinner Menu:

Traditional White Rice

Chicken Hawaii

And for dessert, a medley of Hawaiian fruits

Here is a real picture of our last family trip to Hawaii, back when we just had three little ones, WAY too long ago.

And here’s another fun shot of a beautiful Hawaiian woman we met and got to know on our trip.  She danced the hula right by our hotel and gave Addie her homemade lei and hair clip.


Always an Excuse for Shave Ice


I’m pretty sure nothing says “Aloha” like shave ice.  When my family vacationed in Hawaii in high school, we enjoyed the sweet syrupy ice so much my dad even looked into buying a professional machine.  Fortunately, this delicious nectar has made its way across the Pacific and landed in our sunny state…and thanks to places like Target, you can get a cheap machine like this one…

Electric Shaved Ice Machine by Hawaiian Shaved Ice #S900a

(We have an older version of this model that works pretty well.)

While this machine does do the trick in a pinch, we also just happen to have the BEST shave ice place down the street and decided to use our study of Hawaii this week for an excuse to partake.

shave ice is always better with friends

We used our special shave ice cone cups and spoon straws to make it even more authentic.


a soldier’s dinner and a president’s dessert

This was one of the most fun meals we’ve enjoyed so far in our journey around the US, reminding me of another exciting dinner we shared in our journey around the world and this one was pretty fun too.  Maybe we should eat in the backyard more often.

For our Gettysburg meal, as we read and learned about the civil war all week, especially as we were really understanding it from a soldier’s perspective through

Rifles for Watie

we decided to have a meal mimicking something the soldiers would have eaten while in battle.  And of course, we couldn’t resist the urge to have our own “authentic civil war” backyard fire (thank you Craigslist and the friendly lady who sold us the washing machine drum fire pit).

Gettysburg Menu:


served in empty aluminum soup cans

served in empty aluminum soup cans

Hard tack

hard tack is a super hard cracker the men would carry with them in the packs

hard tack is a super hard cracker the soldiers would carry with them in their packs

I seriously almost broke my tooth on this stuff

I seriously almost broke my tooth on this stuff

Bacon (made a la fire pit)

 Fall in soldiers!

our mighty men

After dinner we shifted gears a bit, thanks to some inspiration from a library book we found…

It was a cute little story, but the best part was the back…

So we brought our battalion indoors, cleaned them up and enjoyed some fine-dining, president Lincoln-style.


After a more heavy week, it was nice to have a fun, unique dinner.  And although we are grateful that there is no longer obvious slavery in our country, we are all too aware that people in the US and around the world are mistreated and sold as slaves.  It is truly heartbreaking.  We spent much time this week praying for those people around the world who are purchased and treated like possessions and we thanked Jesus for purchasing us at the most costly price.

Thank you Abraham Lincoln for taking a stand when others were too cowardly to stand up for what is right.  Thank you for your words of inspiration at Gettysburg to rally the people to fight for justice.

Jambalaya and Alligator Bread

We finished our week in the Everglades with a “kid friendly” meal, which isn’t my typical style (not that I don’t enjoy making “kid” foods, but I’d rather make a legitimate delicious dinner and “kid friendly” and delicious don’t necessarily go hand in hand, in my opinion), but it was super fun and enjoyed by all.

So, after a week learning about the difference between a swamp (wooded trees) and a marsh (grassy plants), watching graceful manatees dive down deep, and reading about the many plants and animals that make up what is known as the Everglades, we sat down to a meal representative of the area we studied.   Even though we already spent a week in Florida, we chose to dine that week like the astronauts.  This week, we ate like the Floridians do.

Everglades Dinner

Alligator Bread

Okay, maybe they don’t eat alligator bread, but that was our “kid friendly” part and a perfect conclusion to our week.  Don’t let this bread fool you into thinking it’s a crocodile, for, as we learned, crocodiles sport a long skinny snout, verses the wider front that graces the gator.  The kids LOVED this, of course and each chose a body part to enjoy.

Florida Jambalaya

Okay so this may not have been the most kid friendly as it was a teeny bit too spicey and I may have lost a little control with the cayenne pepper, but at least we could all breathe well for a few days.

Key Lime Pie

Just a tip, don’t send your spouse or significant other to a gourmet grocery store to buy key limes, turns out they are much more likely to be found at the typical run-of-the-mill store.  This key lime pie was simply delicious and will be stored away in my files of family favorites for sure!

Thank you Florida and thank you Jesus for the beautiful Everglades you made for us to enjoy.  Enjoy it we did!

Eating Like Astronauts

A trip to the Discovery Science Center

It wasn’t quite possible to “make” an authentic astronaut/space meal, so we ventured to the Discovery Science Center to pick up some traditional astronaut dessert…..freeze dried ice cream and ice cream sandwiches.

They were a little broken from the trip through space 🙂
The kids still enjoyed them, broken and all.

While we would love to stay and explore space a little longer, we’re blasting off to our next destination: Des Moines.  Shifting from the starry skies to fields of harvest.  See you soon!

Beef Brisket and Corn Bread

Our week in Texas came to a close with an authentic meal, some fun “kid-inspired” decorations, costumes and an old familiar tune.




Tallinn made some little signs

Austin Week Dinner Menu

Oven Roasted Beef Brisket

Skillet Corn Bread

Texas-style Caesar Salad

We all loved the beef brisket spices and enjoyed dipping our meat into the juice that was left over.   We make skillet corn bread quite often, typically with sage and honey, but this standard version,  which we adapted a bit, was also a hit.  And the salad, amazing!  I absolutely loved the cilantro caesar dressing that accompanied it and next time would possibly add some homemade cornbread croutons to the mix.

Tallinn had a soccer game shortly afterward so we didn’t get to enjoy a dessert round, but if we had, a pecan pie would have been a great addition to this delicious meal.
Thank you Austin and Texas for a fun week learning about
This was a fun way to use some leather scraps I’ve been saving for just such an occasion.

rodeos (lots of fun videos to watch on Youtube)
and a lot of Southern fun.
For more learning resources on Texas we found a great site with lots of printables perfect for children who are reading and writing. (Tallinn loved doing these pages!)

Yemeni Final Dinner

We kind of cheated and had an early dessert with our homemade Yemeni donuts.  Fortunately it was a few days ago and didn’t spoil our appetites for our final dinner.

Yemeni Dinner Menu:

Seasoned Soup with Bread

For this dish, a middle eastern flatbread is first placed in the bowl before adding the soup, which is a simple blend of fennugreek, chicken broth, pureed tomatoes and a hint of lemon juice.

Mutton Meatballs

Lamb is a common meat served in Yemen, so we opted for this easy-to-make recipe using ground lamb.

Salad with Pine Nuts, etc.

The salad wasn’t necessarily a traditional Yemeni recipe, but they do use lots of pine nuts and these are some of our typical family dinner accompaniments, especially the fig vinegar and olive oil mixture which we have recently come to enjoy very much.

Thank you, Yemen!  We will continue to pray for your nation as you struggle for peace and will remember you as we read the tales of Arabian Nights and drink our tea with milk and cardamom.

إلى الْلِقَاء

tea and donuts

In searching for Yemeni recipes, I came across a fun donut recipe that seemed a perfect accompaniment to our traditional Yemeni tea.

First you make the dough.  I used my mixer with the dough hook.  SO thankful for this long ago wedding gift used practically everyday in our home.  I also used whole wheat flour, which was all I had and I even had to cut the recipe in half as it literally used ALL the flour I had left.  But apparently this recipe was meant to be used for a small village in Yemen as, even with cutting the recipe in half, we ended up with loads of donuts left.

There is yeast in this recipe so we had to wait for it to double once, then punch down, then repeat.

Next, we formed the dough into ping-pong sized balls and created a small hole in the center.

Then, we placed our “dough”-nuts into hot oil, four at a time.

Once they were browned on both sides, we placed them onto paper towels to absorb the oil, then rolled them into powdered sugar.

Donut making station set-up and ready to go!

At one point we thought it would be fun to add some spice to the powdered sugar and added a hint of cardamom, a popular middle-eastern spice now commonly served atop oatmeal-filled bowls in our home.

Car is always looking for an excuse to put an apron on.

My favorite was to add Chinese Five Spice powder to the sugar.  Simply divine!

While the donuts were browning, the tea was simmering.  A simple English Breakfast tea steamed with milk, cardamom and sugar, just like they do in Yemen (although I’m not exactly sure on the actual type of tea brewed).

And voila!  Tea and donuts were served.

And a jar full for later!

These donuts, although a bit dry, were quite delicious dipped into the tea.  Next time I would definitely use white flour and the Chinese Five Spice powder again.

Welsh Rabbit Dinner

 In our week in Wales, along with drawing dragons and reading about the Welsh culture, we also learned how the daffodil got its name (from Saint Daffyd) and how the Welsh celebrate this Saint “David” with a huge festival in Cardiff that includes dancing and singing and attaching small leeks to shirts, fastening them with pins.  Apparently leeks have been a part of the Welsh diet for thousands of years, and of course with leeks also being an essential part of our family’s diet,  I couldn’t pass up the chance to purchase a few at our local farmer’s market.

We love Farmer’s Market.

The kids especially love the free samples

After picking out our leeks and other things, we headed home to some more Wales fun. 

First, we drew some castles or “fortresses”.

Tallinn's finished castle

Addie’s finished fortress

After drawing our castles, we put our leeks and other purchases together for a traditional Welsh dinner.

Welsh Dinner Menu

Potato-Leek Soup


Fresh, colorful potatoes

 Unable to find a Welsh potato-leek soup recipe,  I opted for my own go-to version. 

 Potato-leek soup recipe

 2-3 chopped leeks

 4 cups chicken broth

 2 pounds potatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces

 1/4 cup butter

 salt and pepper

 whipping cream, optional

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.   Add leeks and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add potatoes and  completely cover with chicken broth. (You might need a bit more to completely cover potatoes.)  Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Puree with hand blender, season with salt and pepper and add a bit of whipping cream if desired.

For dessert we opted for brownies, not at all Welsh, but nobody seemed to complain.

Thank you, Wales.  We promise, as we often do, but definitely will have to this time as it is the home of Cardiff’s namesake, to visit and see your wonderful sights and sheep in person.

Maple Scones and Fig Jam, Served Alongside Tea

 For Christmas I received a cookbook from Canada with lots of Maple-involved recipes, and, as I recently visited a new local spice shop (thanks to Groupon), I happened to have some maple sugar I’ve been wanting to incorporate into a delicious treat (besides my morning coffee). 

So, what better time than during our week in Wales to enjoy some tea, some maple-flavored scones and some of my also newly-purchased fig jam?  Perhaps a slight twist on the traditional Welsh cream scone with clotted cream and jam, but quite delicious nonetheless.

 Car was the first to arrive at the table.

He was pretty excited about it.