the hyphens that define my life

Eight Years Later September 30, 2013

Today is Andre’s, our youngest son, eighth birthday.  We celebrated on Sunday so he had plenty of time to play with his gifts.  Monday birthdays do not make for a successful week.  Being strategic and forward thinking, we parents congratulated ourselves, yesterday and today, on our genius planning.

Andre laid out the agenda for the day yesterday:

First, we need to have puff pancakes for breakfast.  Then, we will have Taco Bell for lunch (insert brothers groaning “ugh” in unison here).  After lunch I’ll open my presents, we will have HOMEMADE Gnocchi with Bolognese (homemade was highlighted because I tried to pass off prepackaged gnocchi once and have yet to live it down) and then we’ll have HOMEMADE chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, the yellow cookbook one (aka Ina Garten’s recipe).  Oh, and mom, you have to make cupcakes for my class too.  I suggested we buy some cupcakes but he quickly dismissed my comment with a wave of his hand as if he were shooing a fly.

We surprised his royal highness with presents after breakfast.  We really know how to get a party started don’t we?  We stuck with the puff pancake plan.  Do you know how to make these?  Dutch babies, puff pancake, german pancakes, it’s all the same recipe.

For my 3 boys, I double this recipe and divide into three 6″ skillets.

Heat the oven to 400.  Spray and oven safe skillet with cooking spray and add 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet.  Put pan (spray and butter only) in the oven until butter is melted and bubbly.

While the pan is heating, mix together 3 eggs, 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. milk and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Pour mixture into heated pan.  Cook for 20 minutes or until sides are puffed up and golden.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Of course Andre received video games for his birthday!  While the boys played, without fighting once, all day, yes we should have birthdays every day, I started the labor intensive gnocchi with bolognese ragu, chocolate cake and cupcakes.

While the ragu was cooking on the stove, I started baking. The cupcakes were straight from the box, icing from the can, we are catering to third graders let’s not forget.  Third graders in mind, I made Despicable Me Minion Cupcakes. The boys were impressed (once again) with my mad skills.  My piping was pretty wobbly but what do kids care? Andre came home from school today and told  the Minion cupcakes made his classmates “go wild and it was awesome.”


The Chocolate Buttercream cake is simple with ridiculous amounts of butter in true Ina fashion.  This is my go-to cake and I have made it at least a dozen times with sour cream, buttermilk, espresso, bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, how can you go wrong?  Nothing fancy, just straight up chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.  Yum.

chocolate cake

Chicken livers is the secret ingredient in my Bolognese Ragu recipe.  Biba Caggiano’s recipe that my kids beg for as soon as outside temperatures start to drop.  In Southern California we didn’t have it often.  The boys are trying to get me to make it on a weekly rotation!  Chicken livers may freak you out, but they are minced so fine you cannot tell what you are eating, nor do you care, it is so delicious.  Just don’t tell my kids.  Not only did they eat Gnocchi with Ragu last night, they willingly and happily ate it again tonight too.


Gnocchi doesn’t photograph well.  Or, I don’t photograph gnocchi well.  Gnocchi doesn’t need to be pretty to be delicious.

When I started writing this blog post tonight, I was going to tell you how much fun Vince and I had with the birth of our final child.  Bringing him into this world took about 8 hours and preparing Andre’s meal requests on Sunday took about the same amount of time.  Vince and I had fun because we knew what to expect, this was our final birth and we savored the moments as we walked around the inside of the hospital, the outside of the hospital, the surrounding neighborhoods, with me in my hospital gown pausing with each contraction, walking in between.  We sat and had coffee at Late for the Train inside Flagstaff Medical Center and had cappuccinos nonchalantly while contractions came and went.  We eventually returned to Labor and Delivery and produced baby Andre just in time for dinner.  Vince went to our favorite Italian restaurant and brought dinner for us into the hospital to nosh while we admired and cooed over our good work.

Eight years later, we’re still eating Italian food on the night of Andre’s birth, with a few extra meals and treats added for time well spent.


2 Responses to “Eight Years Later”

  1. Jill Schwab Says:

    Awesome. So much love in your home. I love that quality about you guys!! Happy Birthday to the big guy!!!

  2. Grandma Yonie Says:

    So glad you are the parents of my grandchildren! They are all a delight to me!

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