J.J’s Diner Waffle Recipe – Parks and Recreation

waffle recipe

Transport yourself to J.J.’s Diner with this waffle recipe inspired by Parks and Recreation!

“Every diner claims their waffles are the best waffles in the world. But somewhere, in some town, there really are the best waffles – so rich, and so gold-brown, and so delicious that anyone tasted them would decide never to leave that town. Somewhere, those waffles exist. Why can’t it be here?”

-Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation-

Anyone who has ever watched Parks and Recreation knows that Leslie Knope love waffles more than almost anything. But not just any waffles. Leslie’s favorite waffles come from Pawnee’s own J.J.’s Diner.

When I set out to recreate Leslie’s favorite waffles, I knew that not just any waffle recipe would do. They had to be perfect. Slightly crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Golden brown with plenty of whipped cream on top.

I searched online for tips to make the best waffles and combined several of the tips I found. I used this recipe from Fifteen Spatulas as inspiration and added a few steps from there. Without further ado, here is the best waffle recipe around!

J.J.’s Diner Waffle Recipe – Parks and Recreation

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar

Directions

  1. Set aside the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks, milk, butter, and vanilla.
  3. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into the liquid mixture, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the sugar to the egg whites and beat the mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the rest of the waffle batter.
  6. Cook the batter in a waffle iron for about 3 minutes for each waffle.

Tip: To keep the waffles crispy while you finish cooking, place cooked waffles in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place them in a warm oven (less than 200 degrees F) until you’re ready to eat them.

Top the waffles with plenty of whipped cream to enjoy thoroughly. If you’re anything like Leslie Knope, you’ll want two cans of whipped cream on hand: one for using on the waffles, and one for squirting directly into your mouth. J.J. would be proud!

 

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe – The Chronicles of Narnia

In The Magician’s Nephew, Polly and Digory plant a piece of toffee into the magical Narnian ground, and the next morning they find a toffee tree has grown in its place.

“Just beside them was a little, very dark-wooded tree, about the size of an apple tree. The leaves were whitish and rather papery, like the herb called honesty, and it was loaded with little brown fruits that looked rather like dates…

Polly and Digory got to work on the toffee-tree. The fruit was delicious; not exactly like toffee — softer for one thing, and juicy — but like fruit which reminded one of toffee.”

-The Magician’s Nephew-

I figured it would be pretty impossible to recreate the fruit of the toffee tree in real life. It’s got to look like a date, taste like toffee, and be juicy. While I was puzzling over how to pay homage to the toffee fruit, I discovered this sticky toffee pudding recipe from Nigella. It was the perfect compromise. It has dates and toffee in it, so I like to think this is what toffee fruit would taste like if it were baked into a pudding. Plus, sticky toffee pudding is a traditional English dish, and many English dishes are also traditional Narnian dishes. Fancy that!

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe – The Chronicles of Narnia

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups dates, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and butter a large pudding dish or souffle dish.
  2. Combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar with the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the milk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter, and stir until incorporated.
  4. Fold the dates into the batter, and pour the batter into the pudding dish.
  5. Sprinkle the 1 cup of brown sugar evenly on top of the batter.
  6. Dot the top of the brown sugar with the 2 Tbsp. of butter.
  7. Pour the boiling water over the whole mixture.
  8. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes, or until set.

After this pudding cooks, it will have a springy, almost cake-like upper layer, with a bottom layer of sticky toffee sauce. The dates added to this sticky toffee pudding recipe gave it a nice texture, and the toffee sauce was absolutely divine. It tasted almost as magical as I’m sure fresh toffee fruit tastes. Yum!

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this does not cost you any extra money!

Soft Caramel Recipe – The Chronicles of Narnia

In The Magician’s Nephew, Polly and Digory are on a quest in Narnia and are desperate for something to eat for dinner. The only thing they have available is a bag of toffees in Polly’s coat pocket. They eat all of them but one, and they plant the final toffee in the ground to grow a toffee tree. More on that later 🙂

“The little paper bag was very squashy and sticky…it was more a question of tearing the bag off the toffees than of getting the toffees out of the bag. Some grown-ups (you know how fussy they can be about that sort of thing) would rather have gone without supper altogether than eaten those toffees.”

-The Magician’s Nephew-

One of my favorite things about C.S. Lewis’ writing in The Chronicles of Narnia is how he talks about grown ups. It cracks me up and makes me realize that I am still a kid at heart. Toffee is delicious, even if it is “squashy and sticky.”

The way this toffee is described, it sounds more like caramel than toffee to me. Most toffee recipes produce a hard, crunchy candy. I love hard and crunchy toffee, but it is more difficult to make, as it requires a candy thermometer and can be easily burned. Plus, a soft caramel recipe would be more authentic in this situation, I think. So, that’s what I did.

I adapted this soft caramel recipe from Creme de la Crumb, and it did not disappoint!

soft caramel recipe

Soft Caramel Recipe – The Chronicles of Narnia

Ingredients

  • 10 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine the butter and the sugar in a saucepan, and stir it until the combination is melted and incorporated together.
  2. Add the corn syrup and the sweetened condensed milk. Whisk the ingredients together until the mixture boils.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low, and whisk the mixture constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture should be bubbling softly the whole time. You’ll know when to take it off the heat when it turns a golden brown color and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Add the vanilla and pour the mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper.
  5. Allow the caramels to cool completely.
  6. When the caramels set, cut them into squares and wrap them in pieces of wax paper.

This soft caramel recipe produces candies that are buttery and sweet and definitely squashy and sticky. Perfect for growing a toffee tree!

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this does not cost you any extra money!

The Magician’s Nephew Feast – Chronicles of Narnia

The Magician’s Nephew is the prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It tells the story of how Narnia was created, and also how it was discovered by a young boy and girl, named Digory and Polly, from our world. It is a magical tale, and made even more lovely by the featured food.

Magician's Nephew Feast

Tuck in to this glorious Magician’s Nephew Feast

There aren’t many specific foods mentioned in this book, but the ones that are mentioned usually have a sort of magical quality to them. So, what this Magician’s Nephew feast lacks in quantity, it makes up for it in pure magic.

The Magician’s Nephew Feast Menu – The Chronicles of Narnia

Grapes

Digory’s mother is ill, and it is implied that she is dying. This is of course very distressing for Digory. When a neighbor brings over some fresh grapes for Digory’s mother, Digory hears his aunt remark that only fruit from the land of youth would do his mother any good.

Apples

Digory remembers this comment his aunt made about fruit from the land of youth when he is in the newly formed Narnia. He asks Aslan if there is any magical fruit in Narnia that could make his mother well. Aslan directs him to a tree with beautiful shining apples.

Toffee or Caramel

This was a bit difficult, because the book mentions toffee that Polly has brought to Narnia in her jacket pocket. Toffee, by modern definition, is hard and crunchy. However, the toffee in Polly’s jacket pocket is described as being “squashy and sticky,” which to me describes caramel rather than toffee. I decided to remain true to this description and make some “squashy and sticky” caramel wrapped in wax paper.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Now this bit of the story is my absolutely favorite because it is so very magical. Because Narnia is so new, the ground is still infused with Aslan’s magic, so that anything planted in it will grow. Digory and Polly see a bar from a lamp post grow into a lamp tree after it is flung into the dirt. (By the way, this is the very same lamp tree that Lucy encounters many years later in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.)

Later, when Digory and Polly are hungry, they decide to plant one of the toffee pieces they brought so that it will grow into a toffee tree. The toffee tree grows overnight, and the fruit it bears is described as looking like dates.

Rather than try to recreate this toffee fruit in and of itself, I decided to use those two elements (toffee and dates) to make a delicious sticky toffee pudding. What makes it even better is the fact that this is an English recipe, which meshes well since Narnia has many English influences.

This Magician’s Nephew feast is so delightfully indulgent. I just know you’ll love it. I feel like it perfectly harnesses the magic that is The Magician’s Nephew.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this does not cost you any extra money!

Cheese Souffle Recipe – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Before I cooked up this cheese souffle recipe for the Beauty and the Beast menu, I had never cooked a souffle before. Even more than that, I had never even eaten a souffle before. I’m not sure how that happened, but here we are.

Whip up this cheese souffle recipe inspired by “Be Our Guest”

I was really intimidated by souffles before this, because you always hear stories about how they “fall” or fail. And, I won’t lie, this souffle is not very easy to make, but if you concentrate and follow the steps exactly, you should be just fine.

In looking for a cheese souffle recipe to emulate, I decided on this recipe by Alton Brown. Alton Brown is very good at explaining things, and he always offers little tips to help his recipes come out perfect. because of this, I knew that it wold be best for my first cheese souffle to follow his recipe.

Cheese Souffle Recipe – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Ingredients

  • Butter, softened, for greasing the pan
  • 2 Tbsp. ground parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/3 cups milk, hot
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 egg whites, plus 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease a souffle dish with the softened butter, and coat the buttered edges in the parmesan cheese. Place the pan in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
  3. Melt the remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan.
  4. Add the flour, mustard, garlic powder, and salt to the butter and mix well.
  5. Cook the flour/butter mixture over medium heat for about 1 minute. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. Heat the milk in the microwave, and whisk it into the saucepan.
  7. Cook the milk mixture until it boils, then remove it from the heat.
  8. Beat the egg yolks together, and slowly whisk them into the hot milk mixture.
  9. Add the cheddar cheese.
  10. In a separate bowl (I used my electric mixer for this), beat together the egg whites, water, and cream of tartar until the mixture is firm and glossy.
  11. Carefully fold the egg white mixture into the cheese mixture.
  12. Remove the souffle pan from the freezer, and pour the souffle batter into the pan.
  13. Bake for 35 minutes.

This cheese souffle recipe takes a lot of concentration, but the end result is worth it. Not only is it tasty, but you then get bragging rights when you’ve made the perfect souffle!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!

Beef Ragout Recipe – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

In the “Be Our Guest” song in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, beef ragout (also spelled beef ragu sometimes) is one of the few main dishes mentioned, so I knew I had to come up with a beef ragout recipe to round out the Be Our Guest menu.

beef ragout recipe

Be Our Guest with this beef ragout recipe!

I found a lot of different recipes for inspiration, and they were all a bit different, but the one thing they all had in common was beef and tomatoes. So, I decided to come up with my own beef ragout recipe. I made it in my slow cooker, so it was nice and easy.

Beef Ragout Recipe – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can marinara sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef broth

Directions

  1. Brown the ground beef in a pan, and drain off the excess grease.
  2. Peel and dice the potato, carrot, and onion.
  3. Add the ground beef and vegetables into the slow cooker.
  4. Pour the diced tomatoes and marinara sauce over the meat and vegetables.
  5. Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper, and beef broth.
  6. Cook on high for 2-4 hours, or until the vegetables are soft and the juice is bubbly.

Once you complete this beef ragout recipe, you can serve it over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. It is hearty and filling, and it warms you to the bone.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!

The Grey Stuff Recipe – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

“Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!”

-Lumiere, Be Our Guest-

Yes, indeed it is, Lumiere. When I was looking for a grey stuff recipe for the Be Our Guest menu, I found tons of blogs and websites that featured a cookies and cream pudding recipe based on “the grey stuff” served at the Be Our Guest restaurant at Walt Disney World. I’m not sure who was the first to post this recipe, so I went with the earliest blog post I could find, which came from The Disney Diner.

The Grey Stuff really is delicious!

I was excited to find an appetizing grey stuff recipe, since I’m pretty sure the grey stuff in the movie was supposed to be something savory like pâté, which sounds gross. Yep, pudding is much more appetizing. So here’s the yummy recipe!

The Grey Stuff Recipe – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Ingredients

  • 1 3.4-ounce packet of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 15 regular Oreos
  • 1 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip
  • 3 Tbsp. instant chocolate pudding mix

Directions

  1. Whisk together the vanilla pudding mix and the milk, and allow it to set in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
  2. Crush the Oreos into a fine powder using a food processor, and mix the Oreo crumbs into the vanilla pudding.
  3. Gently fold in the Cool Whip.
  4. Add the chocolate pudding mix and stir together.
  5. Allow the mixture to set in the refrigerator for an hour.
  6. Place the pudding into a large plastic bag, and snip off one of the corners.
  7. Use the bag to pipe the pudding onto a plate in a swirled formation. Use images from the scene in the movie to guide you!

Not only is this grey stuff recipe super easy, but it is oh so yummy, too. Lumiere was not lying!

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!

 

Be Our Guest Menu – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

“If you’re stressed, it’s fine dining we suggest.”

-Be Our Guest-

In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the song “Be Our Guest” is one of the most epic parts of the movie. I decided to try to recreate a portion of the Be Our Guest menu featured in the song. I made beef ragout, cheese souffle, and The Grey Stuff. I decided not to recreate the entire menu, because I wanted to focus on certain dishes, but the entire menu is listed below.

“Tie your napkin ’round your neck, chérie, and we provide the rest.”

Be Our Guest Menu – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

  • Soup du Jour
  • Hot Hors d’oeuvre
    • I think any hors d’oeuvre would work. If you watch the “Be Our Guest” scene from Beauty and the Beast, you can study the platter of hors d’oeuvre to see what kinds of things Lumiere serves.
  • The Grey Stuff
    • While I’m pretty sure that this is pâté in the movie, the “Grey Stuff” at the Be Our Guest restaurant at Walt Disney World is a cookies and cream dessert. The latter sounded much more appetizing, so that’s what I made for this menu.
  • Beef Ragout
    • There are lots of different versions of this dish, but the two consistent ingredients are beef and tomatoes.
  • Cheese Souffle
    • This recipe takes quite a bit of work and concentration, but it’s so worth it!
  • Pie
    • The song doesn’t specify what kind of pie is served, but it looks like a blueberry pie to me.
  • Pudding en Flambe
    • Again, the song doesn’t specify what kind of pudding it is, but the only recipes I could find for pudding en flambe were Christmas plum pudding recipes.

The food items listed here are just the ones that are verbally mentioned in the lyrics of the song. However, there are several more food items that appear visually in the movie during this scene. For instance, at one point, Cogsworth gets his head stuck in a green Jell-o mold. So, if you want to be really thorough, watch this scene in Beauty and the Beast (or watch the whole movie!) and take note of all the foods featured. You may have to pause the movie a couple of times, since the food moves by so fast.

I had great fun coming up with this Be Our Guest menu! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra.

Centaur Breakfast Menu – The Chronicles of Narnia

“A centaur has a man-stomach and a horse-stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he attends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats, and a bag of sugar.”

-The Silver Chair-

I adore this quote from The Silver Chair. It’s just so whimsical and fun, I knew I had to try to recreate a typical centaur breakfast for myself. Since I only have a human stomach, I took just a few elements from the horse breakfast and incorporated them into the human-style breakfast.

Graze happily with this centaur breakfast menu from Narnia

Centaur Breakfast Menu – The Chronicles of Narnia

Oat Porridge with Sugar

The reference in The Silver Chair does not mention what type of porridge the centaurs eat, so I thought I’d make it an oat porridge with sugar mixed in to incorporate some of the horse food items that the centaurs eat at the end of their breakfast.

Pavender Fish

Pavender fish can only be found in Narnia, but you can substitute any kind of fish that you like. Pavenders are rainbow colored, so perhaps trout is the best substitution from our world. Since I do not like fish, I left this part out of my centaur breakfast entirely.

Kidneys

Okay, gross. Sorry, centaurs. If you want to be thoroughly authentic, cook up some kidneys. I decided against it, however. 😉

Bacon

Always a good idea.

Omelette

Again, this reference doesn’t specify the type of omelette the centaurs eat. I created a spinach and parmesan omelette, but I think an herb omelette would work well, too, if you happen to have fresh herbs around.

Cold Ham

I left out the cold ham when I recreated this breakfast, since I think bacon and ham in the same meal is a bit overkill. But feel free to add it to your own menu.

Toast and Marmalade

This one was simple and yummy. I used orange marmalade.

Beer and Coffee

I don’t drink either of these things, so I enjoyed this breakfast with some milk and juice.

While there’s nothing too fancy about this centaur breakfast, it is hearty and filling. Plus, I love the thought that I am eating like a centaur. It makes me feel all magical and noble. 😉

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!

Kirsten’s Christmas Supper Menu – American Girl

Kirsten’s Surprise is a story that takes place during Christmastime. While the book doesn’t feature an actual Christmas-day feast, it features several wintery yummies, so I decided to combine them all to create Kirsten’s Christmas supper menu.

Each of these foods appear at a different point in the story, and three of them are technically desserts. But that’s what Christmas is for, right?

Cozy up with this wintertime meal

Cozy up with this wintertime meal

Kirsten’s Christmas Supper Menu

The only item on this menu that I didn’t feature in its own blog post is the cinnamon candies, and that was for two reasons. First of all, candy making is a very involved process that requires several tools (like a candy thermometer) that I do not own. Second of all, I can’t eat hard candies anymore because of all the fillings in my teeth. And, wow, that makes me feel ancient. Anyway, even if you don’t want to make cinnamon candies, feel free to buy some from the store to add to this menu.

Check out the links for recipes for these menu items, and enjoy your simple wintertime meal!

 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for sales made through the links. Rest assured, this will not cost you any extra money.