Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy birthday Dad!- Beer & Bacon Pancakes & Decoupaged Photo Tray

I have an absolutely AMAZING dad, who just so happened to be born 61 years ago today. And I can't say enough about this guy...

Is he perfect?

Do we get along 100% of the time?

Am I pretty sure he wishes he could send me back for a quieter, saner, more cooperative model most days?
Oh yeah

But could I have asked for a better man to show me what unconditional love and continuous forgiveness looks like?
Not in a million years.

But he does have one itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny fault- it's impossible to buy a gift for him. Not that he's picky or particular. Just the opposite, actually. He never needs anything. He has a closet full of shirts, too many ties to count, and is perfectly happy with his current assortment of electronic devices and power tools. Usually my default gift is a box of malted milk balls (his fave) and some sort of gift card (which he usually ends spending on my mom, brother, or I instead of himself anyway). So this year I thought I'd put my new found craftiness to good use.

My dad's a sucker for a good TV show (what dad isn't?) and he's not going to let dinnertime get in the way of a new episode. When I was home for Father's Day this summer I noticed that his TV tray of choice was an old rusty cookie sheet (points for resourcefulness), so I scoured the streets of Abilene looking for something better. Everything I found was either licenced by Disney or more for show than supper, so I settled for a plain white plastic number, embellished with a few stickers to add a "personal touch" (the extent of my pre-pinterest creativity.. pathetic doesn't even come close). And bless his sweet heart, he loved it.

Last month when I moved back home I found that the much-used tray was looking a little shabby..

See what I mean?

My pathetic attempt at personalizing

So I decided to give it a modge podge n' memories makeover.

First, I sorted through 22 years worth of pictures to find the sweetest daddy-daughter moments:



... then printed them off on this baby:

Mom's newest toy- Canon PixmaPro9500, AKA the beast of photo printers

.. and glued them to the tray. We have a winner!

Here are the deets:

Photo Collage Tray

Gather your supplies:

Modge Podge
Clean and dry plastic tray
Numerous photos of all shapes and sizes

Before busting out the Modge Podge, experiment with different layouts to find the best one. I'm a little bit OCD when it comes to symmetry and evenness, so this took a while.

When you're satisfied with the picture's positions affix them to the tray with modge podge. I removed them one section at a time so that I wouldn't forget where they'd been originally placed.

When all of the pictures are attached, I apply a generous layer of modge podge to coat them all. It helps to do this a section at a time as well so that you can make the surface as smooth as possible. Make sure to get the excess goop out of the crevices between the pictures and in the corners of the tray.

Let this layer dry completely, then add another, making it very smooth.

After the tray is fully dry (I let mine sit overnight), fix up some yummy food and show off your handiwork! Like a birthday breakfast, perhaps?

My dad's the king of breakfast, specifically pancakes. He can somehow take the recipe on the back of a Bisquick box and turn it into a meal that puts IHOP to shame. I've tried and tried to recreate his signature dish with no avail, so I decided to switch it up a little bit.

I made beer & bacon "Mancakes" for my brother and his roommates when I visited him at school last fall (because what college boy doesn't like beer, bacon, or breakfast for dinner?), and they were a huge hit, so I decided to put them to the ultimate test... dad-pproval.

Verdict? They passed with flying colors. And besides the fact that cracking open a Coors at 7:30am makes me a bit uncomfortable, they'll be on our breakfast (and lunch.. and dinner) menu again very soon.

Beer and Bacon "Mancakes"
find the printable recipe here

  • 1/2 lb bacon, about 8 slices (I used turkey this time, because the first time I made these there was too much fat and not enough usable meat on the regular bacon)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I eyeballed this one. A couple of handfuls is sufficient)
  • 2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1 cup of your favorite regular or nonalcoholic beer (I used regular Coors because it's cheaper and all the alcohol is cooked out anyway)
  • 2 eggs


Preheat the oven to 350. While it's heating up, line a baking sheet with tinfoil and arrange bacon in one single layer.

When the oven's ready, bake for 10 minutes (or less if you're using turkey bacon. I learned this the hard way. 7 minutes worked well).

Sprinkle bacon with half the brown sugar (or just grab a handful and sprinkle away like I did). Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes (or 7 with turkey bacon).

Flip bacon over and do the same to the other time. Return to the oven one last time and bake for 10-15 (7-10) minutes. Remove and let cool completely. I was kind of short on time so I popped them in the fridge while I made the batter. Worked like a charm.

Crumble cooled bacon and add it to the mix.

Drop heaping spoonfuls of batter onto a greased skillet.

Cook each side until the edges are crusty. After both sides are browned, press down on the middle with the flat bottom of your spatula to make sure all of the batter on the inside is fully cooked. Mine looked done on the outside, but I'm assuming that the extra yeast in the beer made them rise in the middle a bit and not get fully cooked. Pressing down on them squeezes any uncooked batter to the edges and allows you to brown it as well.

Repeat for as many pancakes as you have batter for. For me, the mix yielded 5 medium-sized cakes.

While the pancakes were cooking, I popped another tray of bacon in the oven (the only way I am ever cooking bacon from now on.. it is SO EASY and they turned out PERFECT) and whipped up a few eggs (tips found here: add a tablespoon of milk per egg, whisk until your hand's about to fall off, and add to an already-warm pan). Add a good cup of coffee to the mix and you've got a breakfast fit for a king.. or a birthday boy :)


Proof that the Pancake King highly approved. And please ignore the "I don't own a hairbrush" look I have going on. Cooking a decent meal still equals running a 5K in my book, and I'd barely made it to the finish line.

Like I said, I have an earthly father that can't be beat. He has shown me the love and unconditional acceptance that's helped me truly understand how my heavenly Father loves and accepts me in the midst of my sins and struggles. And that is something for which I am eternally grateful. He's my hero, my encourager, and my biggest fan.. and when I grow up, I want to be just like him :)

There is a new-ish movie out by the makers of Fireproof named Courageous, and it is amazing.. if you and the special men in your life haven't seen it, do. There is a song with the same title by Casting Crowns that speaks to men stepping into their God-given destinies as fathers and husbands, and I feel like it fits so well today. I am blessed beyond belief to have a dad that lives courageously every day. Every time I hear these lyrics, it brings tears to my eyes, because I know how much he's fought for me over the years (and believe me, it's been a battle)-

"This is our resolution, our answer to the call, 
We will love our wives and children, we refuse to see them fall. 
We will reignite the passion that we've buried deep inside, 
May the watchers become warriors, let the men of God arise"

I love you daddy :)

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