I’m not a morning person, but my kids make sure that I’m out of bed bright and early to start our day. They’ve learned over the years that a hot morning meal isn’t going to happen very often, although their love of all things breakfast food hasn’t diminished in the least. So, we improvise. A staple in our home is breakfast – for dinner!
Being a parent to 3 kids ranging from 5 to 14 years old has its challenges. My oldest prefers to hibernate in her bedroom and, like a bear, only emerge when it’s time to eat. My middle daughter is a bookworm, and would rather immerse herself in the next novel in her series than interact with her sisters. My youngest? Unless the latest episode of her favorite cartoon is on, you can find her in my shadow, and never much further. (I like that she thinks Mom is so much cooler than her sisters, for now.)
But what brings them all together, cooperating, and enjoying each other’s company? Pancake art on breakfast nights. There are so many ways to let them express their individuality, learn some basic culinary skills, and – dare I say – help each other! It doesn’t cost more than a box of food coloring to make a creative meal they all enjoy.
You simply need your favorite instant pancake mix, food coloring, condiment squeeze bottles (these are pretty inexpensive; I bought each of mine for $0.97 at my local big box store), a mixing bowl, whisk, and a pan or griddle.
If you don’t want to buy squeeze bottles, it’s just as easy to reuse an empty ketchup bottle. I bought my griddle on Black Friday and paid about $15, which has more than paid for itself in the time it takes to get dinner for four ready in a hurry.
Begin with the basics. Mix your batter according to the box directions, but add just a little more water. You’ll want the consistency to be a little runny to flow through the bottle tips easier. Stir well to eliminate clumps. Divide your batter between your bottles, and add food coloring. I use about 10 drops per bottle, but you can use more or less, depending on how many servings you’re making and the shade you’d like. Shake vigorously to blend the color throughout. If you’d like “white,” simply omit the food coloring.
When you’re ready to cook, the possibilities are endless. I love that they use their imaginations! We’ve created everything: rainbows, flowers, candy canes, turtles, lightning bolts, cars and trucks, kitties, fish, sharks, swirls… I could go on and on.
Tip for beginners: If you’re trying something with a lot of detail, you’ll need to move quickly to keep the batter from spreading and covering more area where you’d like to put another color. Also, the batter will discolor as it cooks, as it does with a regular pancake. I find that finished pancakes using lighter shades don’t turn out quite as vibrant as brighter colors because of this.
Try getting a little more fancy with your handiwork and decorate with fruits, chocolate chips, whipped topping, sprinkles, or any other favorite garnishes. If you search the internet, you can find other original ideas using cocoa for flavor and additional color, but we haven’t tried those… yet.
Whether you’re a morning person, or not so much, colored pancakes are a surefire way to inspire fun and creativity for the whole family, add a twist on an old favorite, and put a little color into your meal.