Monday, April 30, 2012

The Squeeze Inn: A Guide on Eating the Most Fattening Food Ever

Lately, Mr. Branflake will look at me, shake his head, and say, 
"You're getting too thin; we need to go to Squeeze Inn."

Although it's true that I've lost a few pounds, 
I think he's just making up excuses to eat a Squeeze Burger with a cheese skirt,
a.k.a., the most fattening burger on earth.


If you ever come visit me in Sacramento, 
I'll take you to The Squeeze Inn because it's, quite frankly, a little crazy.
But before we go,
I'll answer a few frequently asked questions about this restaurant that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

__________________________________

"A cheese skirt? What's that?" 
They put a heaping pile of cheddar cheese on the grill with the patty.
They cover it and let it melt and crisp to perfection.



"How do you eat such a monstrosity?"
You can fold it inward, tear it off for later, or be a pro and eat it caterpillar style like I did.


"Does it taste good?"
Absolutely. The cheese is crisp on the bottom and gooey on top.
It comes standard with dill pickles, lettuce, and tomato.
The buns are bakery fresh and the meat is seasoned perfectly.


"How are the fries?"
Amazing. Perfectly cooked with just the right thickness.



"Can you finish it?"
Every single time.


There you have it:
the most intense cheese burger you'll ever eat in your entire life.

What do you like on your burger?
Would you eat a cheese skirt?



Friday, April 27, 2012

My New Necklace

I recently found out that Mr. Branflake's ancestral line is linked to royalty.
While doing his genealogy, he stumbled across a marriage that took place in an English castle back in the day when only royalty married in castles.

And then I had a dream where all countries in the world had their own kings and queens because democracy and republics just weren't doing it for any of us.
And do you know who the king of USA was?
The Burger King guy.


So naturally, I've been thinking a lot about royalty and the fact that I'm pretty much linked to the crown. I saw this beauty on Modcloth yesterday, fell in love, and bought it without a second thought. 

Clearly, I'm thinking I have a royal bank ledger.
Just kidding, this lovely bauble only cost twenty bucks.
That's about five Burger King Whoppers.




And... that's my profound thought of the day.
Go USA!
Can't you imagine me wearing this on a hot date with Mr. Branflake?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Summer Dessert Idea: Pie Cakes

I like pies, I like cakes.
I wanted to make an easy dessert to bring to summer parties so 
I decided to combine pies and cakes to see what might happen.
Disclaimer-
My favorite part about pie is the crust.
But I'm lazy and crusts can be tricky.
I wished there could be an easier way.
Oh, there is, my friends.
There is.


Recipe is easy:

1. Make half a box of cake mix according to the directions and put a thin layer of it in a greased pan.
You might have a lot of prepared cake mix leftover depending on the size pan you use.

2. Dump drained canned cherries, blueberries, or pie filling on top.
Or fresh berries. Fresh berries are always yummy.

3. Top with rest of reserved dry cake mix and drizzle with melted butter.
For funsies, you can add oatmeal to the 'crumb topping.'

4. Bake in 350 degree oven until the top is browned, about 40 mins.



This one was done with pie filling.
It was the most 'pie-like' but also very sweet.







 This was done with drained Morello Cherries from Trader Joe's.
Not as sweet as pie filling and more like a crumble.
The top didn't get as golden brown as I wanted but Mr. Branflake fell in love at first bite.
He demanded I make him more.



This one was done with frozen blueberries.
So yummy for summer!
And, the top got that golden brown color I was looking for. Finally!



Update:
I just googled 'pie cakes.' 
They don't exist.. until now!
When they get famous, 
you can tell people you saw them first on Dancing Branflakes.
I'm so kidding. 
The likelihood of food invention on this blog is about as likely as seeing me in a pair of skorts.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Infertility

We touched upon pregnancy fears before and those comments really got me thinking about infertility. 
It broke my heart how many people reading this blog have tried to have children but, for whatever reason, haven't.

When I first heard about this,  I thought, "They have that? Why do they have that?" 
Then reading its website I thought, "This is awesome! Everyone should go there!"

I'm going to state the obvious and point out that being a blogger that can't have kids is particularly difficult when surrounded by many bloggers who have children and blog about them. 
So I thought maybe today we could talk about infertility a little. 

I typically hate "Do's and Don'ts" (rules and I never got along) but I appreciated this post from Resolve, The National Infertility Association, about infertility etiquette for friends and families. 

________________________________________


This is not the full post. The italicized words are excerpts from the very well written article. 
For the full article, go here.




Don't Tell Them to Relax
The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.


Don't Minimize the Problem
Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain.


Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen


Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents


Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF
People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"


Don't Be Crude
Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.


Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy
 You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.


Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant
For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.


Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition
Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret... Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.


Don't Push Adoption (Yet)
When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.


Let Them Know That You Care
Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. 


Remember Them on Mother's Day
Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.


Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again 



I particularly love these words by the author:
So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lesson the load.



Monday, April 23, 2012

First Date Dresses

A dress must pass one of these three criteria before I buy it:

Does it make me want to do a happy dance?
Does it make me daydream about the future?
Would I wear it on a first date with Mr. Branflake?

I know it sounds strange and crazy because first dates are a nightmare for some,
 but trying to imagine what it would be like to have him ask me out as if it were the first time and me fretting over the perfect dress/outfit/everything, makes our dates more magical and meaningful.

I like the thought of trying to impress him so that he'll say in his head whenever he looks my way: 
"I'm the luckiest guy ever." 

I'm planning a romantic getaway this summer, where the location will be a surprise to him.
Included is a fancy restaurant so I've been scouring the internet for the perfect (first) date night dress.

I'm really into the pencil look this season- taking a break from all my a-lines, I guess.
Here are my top picks.





Dorothy Perkins


Dorothy Perkins

Anthropologie



Dorothy Perkins
(A little low cut, probably add a nice contrasting bandeau underneath)

Rachel Roy



What one do you like best?
(I'm about to click the "buy now" button on all of them. Intervention is needed.)


My Happy Place: Swimming in the Summer


Last week a five year old walked into my Magical Ballerina class in absolute tears;
she missed her mamma and didn't want to leave her side.
I held her hand and brought all the little ballerinas in a circle where we talked about the one thing I knew would make anyone happy:

Swimming in the summertime.

photo by Eugene Males

Once I said those magical words, the little girl stopped crying and told me all about the fun swim parties she would be going to in the upcoming weeks.

Since then, I've been dreaming about all the swim parties I want to attend this summer 
and I can't help but get giddy and smiley all over.

Basically, swimming in the summertime = My Happy Place



bracelet, hat, dress, suit, glasses, shoes, bag


Hooray for swimming season!
What's your happy place right now?


Friday, April 20, 2012

Homemade Tortillas

I can't recall the last time I bought flour tortillas.
Ever since Mr. Branflake started making them from scratch, 
I can't stand the taste of store bought ones.

I know I'm a tortilla snob, but these are so good I can't help it.
Light, fluffy, and incredibly delicious-
 I promise once you've made these, we'll be tortilla snobs together.







The recipe is super easy
Mix in a bowl:
3 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Oil
1/2 Tbs Salt
Add:
1 Cup Warm Water
Knead until dough pulls off your hands
(no longer sticky)
Cover bowl with a towel and let sit for 1/2 an hour 


The next part, where you make the dough balls and roll them out, is the most fun part of tortilla making.
Well, it was fun for me to watch.
Disclaimer- roll out thinner than shown.
As thin as you can get it without breaking the dough, about 1/8 inch thick.



Put them in a pan without oil and let them go until they puff slightly.
Flip. 
Puff. 
Flip again. 
Puff again.


Take off pan before they blacken.




For the filling, I fried cut-up chicken breasts with oil, salt, pepper, and roasted red peppers
I then garnished it with fresh salsa, black beans, sour cream and cheese.




Homemade tortillas:
I promise you will love them.





If you follow me on twitter, then you'll know that after tech rehearsal Wednesday night Mr. Branflake made me a beautiful burrito with his homemade tortillas.

That man... he sure knows how to keep a dancer happy.




Thursday, April 19, 2012

Merde: Dancers and Superstitions


Last week the company was on Good Day Sacramento promoting an upcoming performance.
Here's a shot of Lean and I dancing around and taking pictures after the camera crews left. 

I'm in love with this week because I get to perform tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday.
I love being on stage and I wish I could perform every night. 
Sure, things can go wrong during a performance and that's probably why dancers 
(and most stage people) 
are ridiculously superstitious.

We have our own private rituals warming up, waiting in the wings to go on, and sometimes even in the midst of performing.

An odd thing dancers like to do is wish each other merde.
It's our own form of "break a leg!"
Even though merde is a no-no word in French, we still use it as if it's the kindest thing to say to another.

The origin of merde comes from back in the day when patrons of the ballet would arrive in horse and carriage. More horses meant more people in the audience, and that meant more poop on the streets. 
By saying merde, they were hoping that there would be a large crowd to perform for.  

Apparently, saying good luck is the worse thing to say a performer.
It's as if good luck is too sacred to say out loud and you won't get any of it if it's vocalized. 

But I'm not superstitious.
Well, I do have my own private ritual that I do in the wings;
it's all part of the magic of performing.


What are your pre-performance rituals?
Are you superstitious?



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If I Could Wake Up Anywhere...





 Lauren Knight of Aspiring Kennedy emailed me and asked if I would contribute for a special post about her upcoming mystery trip.

She called me witty and photogenic.

I told her that if I were single and she were a boy I'd ask for her number.

She called me the beauty queen of bloggers.

I told Mr. Branflake he had competition.

If you don't know Lauren, you'll fall in love with her blog immediately.
If you do know her then you've probably already seen my contribution on her post.

She asked:
If you could wake up anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I'll give you a hint...



Are you surprised by my answer?

Are you now dreaming of all the places you wish you could wake up in?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dating, Men, and Being Wonder Woman


Melissa from So... About What I Said lovingly wrote this dating piece for all Dancing Branflake readers. I thought of editing and cutting it down so it could be shorter, but it's so beautifully written that I just couldn't. Even though she's talking about her dating life from the perspective of someone with a disability, I honestly think it could be applied to anyone in the dating world, a world that can be, quite frankly, completely crazy and unpredictable.

It's quite an honor to have her on here (published magazine author, writer, and beautiful person extraordinaire), but it's more of an honor to have her as a friend.

Thanks, Melissa. You always inspire.

Photo by Sara Maingot via So... About What I Said

I sometimes like to think of myself as a Wonder Woman of sorts. I, as I’m sure you can imagine, take great pride in taking my gigantic foot and stomping all the misconceptions away. Misconceptions about women with disabilities, that is (I may be mighty, but I am only one woman, remember). I honestly don't think people mean to form these misconceptions, and maybe it never even occurred to them that they ARE misconceptions in the first place. But never fear. Yours Truly is here yet again to save the day - and save the world, perhaps?

Let's just clear a few more rumors up, shall we?

*NOTE: My use of "you" shall refer to men in the following scenarios. I’m sure you men know who you are. It’s time we put a solid stop to your sorely ill-informed way of thinking*
When we chat you up, we're not actually trying to court you: Why is it that any time I talk to some guy, he spontaneously gets this glazed look over his face like I'm some sort of alien. Do I look like Gordon Shumway to you, boys? (Google it, for those who didn’t love ‘80s sitcoms) Granted, sometimes I have no other motive when talking to you than, well, just talking. But if I start to get giggly and seem to have something stuck in my throat, I'm brimming with more than just good cheer over our chat about the afternoon weather. Contrary to that pesky rumor that keeps floating around, we’re not “all business, all the time.” We do have a (very cute) playful side.

We don't know how to flirt: OK, I may be an awkward, dorky sort of flirt, but trust me: I do know what I’'m doing. The only problem is that I don't think the guy on the receiving end of said flirting has a clue what I'm doing. I'm assuming it probably looks like some weird tango to him - the laughing a bit too loudly, the grin on my face the size of the Grand Canyon, my downright defiant attitude and overabundant sarcasm (read: my sarcasm level is in direct proportion to my attraction to you. Translation: The more sarcastic barbs I sling your way, the more I want you to capture my heart). I swear, it's like some sort of switch: any time I flirt with Mr. Could-Be-Right, I become the most sarcastic person this side of Melmac (another Gordon Shumway reference for those in the "know"). So you think that's not flirting? Oh well. That's my charm; the beauty that is, well, me.

Our wheelchair isn't sexy: I'll never understand this one! Is there another riddle in the galaxy that has ever been so perplexing as this? I can't speak for all of us (my people, that is), but I for one think my wheelchair is incredibly sexy. It's shiny. It's red. And it's fast. Hell, I'm Wonder Woman on wheels....I'm just saying. I could probably race it in the Indy 500 if I really worked hard at it. It’s that powerful. Well, almost as powerful as I am.

We don't want to date an able-bodied person: I've had this conversation with so many people that I've lost count of the number of times people have tried to placate me by saying, "Date someone in a wheelchair." OK, so they may not have been that blunt, but I couldn't help feeling like they were trying to put me in my place, as if I'd never in a million years have a chance with an able-bodied man, so I should just stop trying altogether. The thought of an able-bodied guy actually WANTING to be with me seems like such an inconceivable thought to a lot of people. I’m sorry, but I’m not that powerful that I can choose who I fall in love with and NOT make myself fall in love with certain people.
Have I missed any misconceptions?
What do people assume about you before they've even met you that just ticks you off?
 It could be during that first meeting, or even on your first date with a guy.
 My advice: Just get those misconceptions out of the way from the beginning. 
Trust me: It’ll save you a lot of frustration and hair-pulling. 
I’ve come to be a big fan of just putting all the cards out on the table – 
no secrets, no pretending, no awkward silences or forced laughter. 
Just tell the guy Wonder Woman told you to do it. He’ll probably think that’s incredibly brave (and sexy!) of you.

So go forth…and be bold!
Thanks, Melissa. You are awesome!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Creating Stories Through Photographs

I believe that good photography catches your eye but great photography creates a story that ignites all your senses.
These photos by Sarah Maingot have transported me into a land where day dreaming is inevitable and the subject is just as interesting as the beginning, middle, and end.

all photos by Sarah Maingot

Speaking of photography, 
what do you consider to be a great photograph?
Good lighting? Interesting subject? Unique editing skills? Perfect composition?
As someone who regularly posts her own photography on here, I'm quite curious to know.
Mr. Branflake has very discriminating tastes when it comes to photography and it's very interesting to hear him talk about photos on blogs. 
Take note: We do not always agree!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Smiling Nutella Banana Bread

Nutella Banana Bread.
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
I ate some last night and let me tell you:
 It is pretty awesome and super easy to make.
Just get your favorite banana bread recipe and add Nutella.




I put half the batter in the pan, 
dolloped and swirled Nutella in the middle, 
put more batter in, and dolloped and swirled more Nutella on top.

I have to say, dolloping and swirling is my new favorite activity. 
How can you not feel like a cake making fairy from Sleeping Beauty who dollops and swirls in colorful spring dresses?



then you'll know that I was giddy when I pulled this beauty out.
Do you know what's better than Nutella?
The smell of baked Nutella fresh from the oven.



And then I was met with a very happy surprise.
It's a smile!
How sweet is that?




 Nutella even makes banana bread happy.
 photos by me
original banana bread recipe by Ms. Betty Crocker
It was that recipe that wooed my husband into marriage and I have never strayed from it.
Until now. 
The recipe, I mean. Not the marriage. Haha!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jean Jackets and the Memories They Hold

I remember the first time I wore this jean jacket.
I was 17 and my then boyfriend and I were driving down to Berkeley to be cool and hang out at record shops and used book stores.
I thought I was in love.
False.
I thought I was cool.
Triple false.


As we walked around Channing and University Avenue among the coolest people I had seen to date, 
I wondered if I had committed a major faux pas by wearing a jean jacket that was clearly from the 90's
 (the year was 2001).
Yes, I found it at a thrift store but I didn't know then that thrift stores are only cool if the clothes you buy were born before the buyer.
(Not a fact, just a snarky observation from a jaded thrift store buyer.)


This week I dug the jacket out of a bag of 'to be donated' clothes.
Could it be salvaged? I asked.
Should it be salvaged? Would be the better question.

Clearly, I hang on to things way past the expiration date.



 What do you think?
Should Jean Jackets go with overalls and leave the closets of women for good?


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How do you accessorize your Little Black Dress?


I tried this Banana Republic LBD while shopping with my fellow dancing friend.
I squealed- it fit perfectly!

I don't watch Mad Men (I know! Don't judge!), 
but I can't help but feel very Christina Hendricks in this dress.
Well, minus the obvious hair, body, and facial differences.


But I need to find a way to accessorize it and I am horrible at accessorizing.
I'm sad to say that it goes back to body image issues.


I don't wear bracelets because I don't like my wrists.
I don't wear earrings because I don't like my ears.
I think I look too top heavy in scarves and fear I look like I have a double chin.
Tights make me very aware of every piece of fat being smashed into each other.
And I don't wear anklets because it's no longer the 90's.


I think that's why I'm obsessed with coats and bags-
they're cute no matter your size or shape.




Do you have any weird accessory phobias?
How do you style your LBD?

Author's note:
I'm rereading this post and realizing what a nut I sound like.
This chica needs to loosen up a bit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chicken and Rice with Butter Lemon Sauce

This is Mr. Branflake's favorite meal.


  I vividly remember the first time I made it from my little Everyday Food magazine.
I was nervous because it was the first time I attempted to de-glaze a pan and make a sauce.
It was also the first time I stuffed chicken breast with cheese.

But the recipe was so simple and easy it quickly became a staple in our little Provo kitchen.







Even though it calls for lemon and butter in the sauce, it's not too lemony or buttery.
I can't describe how it tastes, except that it tastes dang good.
The sauce is very light, so you can't see it very well in the photos.
But it's there, getting all its yummy juices soaked up by the rice and chicken.



I'm usually lazy and cheap so I'll forgo the feta cheese.
It's still tastes delicious- thanks to the sauce!




I've been cooking it for almost eight years straight and Mr. Branflake still gives me an extra big smooch whenever it's for dinner.

That's what I call success.

Get the recipe here at Martha Stewart's Everyday Food