Category Archives: Food

Star Wars Mystery Menu Dinner Party


The menu for the Star Wars mystery menu dinner party.

For my daughter’s 7th birthday, we threw her a Mystery Menu Dinner Party. It is a three-course meal. Each course includes four items. The menu then consists of 12 different things, and all three courses must be ordered at the very start of the meal. No switching after the orders have been placed. The catch? The 12 items are not named clearly. The menu has simply clues as to what the item might actually be. In addition, three of the 12 items are their utensils.

The first time we did this, the kids had a blast. I promised the kids at the beginning of the dinner that all 9 food items were common kid-friendly foods. I also told them that, for tonight only, they were allowed to eat with their hands. They would be given unlimited napkins, and if they made a mess, it was okay. One of my favorite moments of that first dinner was when a little girl’s first course include animals crackers, a knife, a fork, and a spoon. Two courses later she was given a plate with Jell-O, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and pudding.

For her 8th and 9th birthday parties, we have done the same thing. Some of the kids have now been to three consecutive mystery dinners, and they love them. This year, we added a twist. The menu had a Star Wars theme, and I added drinks. The menu consisted of a total of 15 items – 9 foods, 3 utensils, 3 drinks – and three courses. For one of the courses, one of the kids ended up with a plate, a spoon, and three drinks. Earlier though, he became the only kid with the sloppy joe and the bun in the same course. He was quite proud of having an actual sandwich. Here were the menu items, and what the item actually meant.

  1. Sarlacc – Gummy worms
  2. Bantha Fodder – Sloppy Joe
  3. Princess Leia’s Hairdo – Hamburger bun
  4. Dagobah Swamp – Applesauce
  5. Ewok Fingers – Cocktail wieners in barbecue sauce
  6. Tie Fighters – Cheese and crackers, put togehter on a toothpick to resemble a Tie-Fighter.
  7. Rancor Legs – BBQ Chicken legs
  8. Thermal Detonators – Cuties (small, easily pealable oranges)
  9. Light Sabres – Pretzel Rods dipped in green-colored almond bark.
  10. Hydrospanner – Spoon
  11. Tusken Raider Spear – Fork
  12. Driod Antennae – Toothpicks
  13. Darth Vaderade – Fruit Punch
  14. Bantha Milk – Milk with one drop of blue food coloring
  15. Hoth Soup – Water

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

star wars menu

You can download this and paste it right into a doc to print your menus.

Princess Leia Hair, Light Saber, Dagobah Swamp, Sarlac, with Darth Vaderade to drink.

Princess Leia Hair, Light Saber, Dagobah Swamp, Sarlac, with Darth Vaderade to drink.


My girl enjoying with some Hoth Soup, Darth Vaderade, Bantha Fodder, a Droid Antenna, and a Thermal Detonator.


Filed under Food, Personal Reflection

Saturday Snack: Schaumburgers

This is not a health food.  This is not the part of any balanced diet.  This is quick, simple, and cheap.  It could be good for a party around a certain American sporting event.  The author of this tasty little open-faced sandwich is my Mom’s best friend, Barb (you can read about her here).  Lacking a name for her concoction, our families looked to the name of our beloved hometown, Schaumburg, Illinois.  The Schaumburger was born, but if you happen to know someone from Schaumburg who isn’t a part of our family, don’t bother asking them what a “Schaumburger” is.  They’ll have no idea.


 Three pounds of ground meat.  Ground turkey would probably work, but we almost always used ground beef.  Tonight I mixed two pounds of ground beef and one pound of a friend’s ground deer.

One pound of Velveeta cheese.  This has to be the hardest stuff in the grocery store to find.  There are usually three places the store keeps cheese.  It’s in none of them.  That should be a clue.  I always take forever looking for this stuff, I should probably learn to find something else.

One can mushrooms.  I usually hate it when recipes use “can” as a unit.  The amount here is purely your taste.  Tonight I used a 13.25 oz. can

One 6 oz. can  of tomato paste.

English Muffins

Instructions: Brown the meat.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Drain.  Turn down heat.  Cube the cheese, melt into the meat.  Add the tomato paste and mushrooms.   Once it’s all melted together, spread it on an english muffin and cook in a broiler.  Let the meat darken and the muffin will get crispy.

Just so you know, there will probably be leftovers.  It makes about 12-15 open-faced sandwiches.  When its cold, it kind of looks like dog food, but it heats up really easily.

Results: One daughter loved it.  The other, not so much.






Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under Food

Mystery Menu Dinner Party

The kids had to fill out the full menu before being served.  The plate of Jello-O, spaghetti, pudding, and animal crackers with no utensils provided a lot of laughs.

The kids had to fill out the full menu before being served. The plate of Jello-O, spaghetti, pudding, and animal crackers with no utensils provided a lot of laughs.

Last week we celebrated my daughter’s seventh birthday with a Mystery Menu Dinner Party.  It was a huge hit, and parents have been asking me about details of the party, so I thought I’d share.

The concept of a mystery dinner party is simple, and can be adapted in a lot of different ways.  Each guest is seated and given a menu.  Before anything is served, they have to order every item in a three-course meal.  In the kitchen, I had prepared 9 foods that most kids enjoy.

  1. Macaroni and cheese
  2. Spaghetti
  3. Pizza
  4. Garlic bread
  5. Gold fish crackers
  6. Corn
  7. Jell-O
  8. Pudding with cake
  9. Animal crackers

As you can see, all of this food is easy to make and pretty popular with kids.  The trick of the meal though, is in the ordering.  Guests have to order everything – including utensils.  We provided drinks, napkins, and a plate for each course.  The knife, fork, and spoon were added to the menu.  Then, all 12 items were given code names.  Macaroni and cheese became “Yellow elbows.”  A fork was “Farmer’s tool.”  Spaghetti, corn, and Jell-O were “Wigglies, nibblies, and jigglies,” respectively.

Each guest had to fill out the entire three-course menu at the start, so the kids were surprised by what they would get for each course.  Since even the utensils were a mystery, this caused some pretty good hi-jinks.

Since most of my daughters’ friends are pretty well-behaved, well-mannered kids, I had to tell them this right before we served the first course, “Today you are allowed to eat with your hands.  You might make a mess.  That’s okay.  You can have as many napkins as you want.  It is likely that sometime tonight you will get a plate of food with no fork.  The point of the dinner is to have fun, so if you are really unhappy with what you have, we can give you a fork.  We just want everyone to have fun, and be silly.”

These were the first two plates served of the first course.

These were the first two plates served of the first course.

During our party, one little girl’s third course was a plate of goldfish crackers, a knife, a fork, and a spoon.  That gives you an idea of what her other courses were.  She had a blast.  Another boy struggled to scoop up his Jell-O with a butter knife.  His giggling didn’t make it any easier.  One little girl told her Mom afterwards, “We got to eat with our fingers!” Her Mom told me she couldn’t stop talking about the party for the rest of the night.

Really, there are no limits to what is possible.  The hardest part of the night was the actual plating.  With just my wife and me, it took a little while to plate all 10 kids.  Another helper or two would have been good.  There are great opportunities to adapt the menu for themes like Halloween, Superheroes, or Christmas.  I’m considering coming up with an adult version – with the right friends.

Star Wars Mystery Menu

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter


Filed under Food, Personal Reflection

Saturday Snack: Thai Hummus

We have a garden bursting with tomatoes.  This is very good news.  Usually this means salsa.  Lots of salsa.  The problem with salsa though is, it goes best with chips.  Lots of chips.  Avoiding chips has been an important part of my efforts to eat better.  So this year I’ve been using the tomato as the “chip” and dipping them in hummus.  The other day I came across a blog that suggested making a cashew dip.  I wish I could remember where I saw it, but I didn’t save it because it was such a simple idea.  I took that idea, and added a few things to make it my own.

10 oz bag of roasted cashews
1 TB Sesame Oil
1 TB Siracha
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tp freshly grated ginger
Fresh basil leaves
1/4 tp kosher salt
1/4 cup water

Thai Hummus Step 1

I dumped all the cashews into the food processor, and blended them until they were small crumbs.


Chopped two cloves of fresh garlic.  A tablespoon of the jarred stuff would probably work too.

I actually measured the Siracha.  You can taste it, but I would not call my finished product spicy.  I added the sesame oil, garlic, and grated the ginger into the mix.  I bought ginger a couple of months ago, peeled it, and put it in a freezer bag.  Whenever I want it, I take it out and grate it while it is frozen.  It lasts quite awhile.  I then hit the processor.  It lumped up pretty quickly, and I had to scrape the sides.  If you have a decent food processor you might not have the same problem.  I left the blade going and poured in the water slowly.  That helped get the cashews into more of a paste.

The finished product was a thick paste that could be spooned or spread.  The smoothness is dependent on how long you process it, and how good your processor is.

Here I just sliced one of my big tomatoes, and spread the dip onto it.  I will also use it with bell peppers, broccoli, pita bread, and pretty much anything that I would dip into hummus.  The blog I saw suggested adding it to grilled chicken

Here I scooped some onto one of my plum tomatoes, and I added a fresh basil leaf.  The basil was a very nice touch, but it is good without it too.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter


Filed under Food

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I’ve shared some recipes on this blog before, but I thought I’d go with a full-blown food blog here.  I have been making slow cooker pulled pork for a few years.  I use lean pork, and add a little bit of brown sugar, but really it is a pretty healthy meal.  I started this with two two-pound pork loin roasts because they were on sale at my butcher.   Four pounds of pork is a lot, but the result is great for leftovers.  This meal fed three adults, four kids, and there were leftovers for four more adult lunches.

The ingredient list is pretty simple:

4 pounds pork loin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Spice Rub (I used my own mix that is roughly equal parts onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and kosher salt,  with smaller doses of ground black pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and a touch of cayenne.  I would have used more cayenne, but knew I was feeding kids).
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic.
2 tablespoons of liquid smoke (optional)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I used up my tube.  This amount is not that important.  If you want to use a whole little can, that will be fine)
Canola or olive oil (enough to saute onion)
Kosher salt and crushed black pepper.

I started by turning on the slow cooker.  I’m not sure where, but a long time ago I read you should put hot things into a hot slow cooker and add cold things into cold slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Pork, step 1Mince the onion, and add the minced garlic.  I use only fresh garlic for sauces and gravies, but for things like this, the little jar of minced garlic is a great addition to the refrigerator.  The onions and garlic were then sauteed in a skillet.  I let them get pretty translucent before shifting them into the warmed-up slow cooker.Slow Cooker Pork, step 2

Then I turned up the heat of the frying pan and rubbed the pork pretty generously with the spice rub.  I made my own spice rub and keep it in a little plastic container, but there are tons of marketed spice rubs on the market.  Most of them are mixtures of garlic, onion, and chili powder.

Slow Cooker Pork, step 3Once the pan was pretty hot, I added the loin to the pan.  Brown the meat on all sides.  Let it get brown, not gray.  To do this the pan needs to be pretty hot.  That carmelized meat will add texture and flavor to the pulled pork.

Slow Cooker Pork, step 4I did not scrape every last piece of onion out of the skillet, and that’s okay.  They will get cooked a lot more in this process.  After the meat was browned, I transferred it to the slow cooker.  Lower the heat on the skillet, and add the apple cider vinegar. Deglaze the pan, scraping any bits off it is you stir. Then add the liquid to the slow cooker. Dump in the brown sugar, the liquid smoke, ketchup, and tomato paste. Give it a rough mixing, and set the slow cooker to low, 6 or 8 hours. The liquid should cover about half of the meat at this point.

Slow Cooker Pork, step 5

After about two hours, turn the meat over so the dry side is in the liquid.

Slow Cooker Pork, step 6

After another two hours, take the meat out and cut it into about six big pieces.
Slow Cooker Pork, step 7

About half an hour before serving, shred the meat. I used my tongs. I jabbed the big piece with the closed tongs, then opened the tongs. You can do this to the big pieces, and use forks for smaller pieces. If the meat has been cooking for almost 6 hours, this should not be difficult. I’ve also been told you can shred the meat by putting it in a mix-master with the bread hook.

Slow Cooker Pork, step 8

Let the shredded stuff cook for a little while longer. You can serve it alongside your favorite jar of barbecue sauce, or eat as is. I also recommend some hot giardineira peppers or spicy pepperoncini peppers.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

Follow the Fat Pastor Board on Pinterest


Filed under Food

Saturday Snack: Bruschetta

Everytime I make this little concoction I am surprised how good it is.  It is not something I made up, but I haven’t had it better any where else.

2 tomatoes or a bunch of cherry tomatoes
pinch of kosher salt
cracked pepper
5 leaves of fresh basil
1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 or 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

In a bowl, put a table spoon of olive oil.  Mince up two cloves of garlic and stir them into the oil.  Add a teaspoon of red wine vinegar and whisk.  Then chop up two cups of tomatoes and mix into the oil and vinegar.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and some cracked pepper.  Then comes the key: fresh basil.

We have a basil plant that we keep in the kitchen.  It gets a lot of sun and we water it almost every day.  It is thriving.  The key is to not use too much of it at a time.  Pluck only a few of the biggest leaves at a time. Mix it all up and put it in the fridge.  Resist eating too much at a time.  It is better the next day.  Eat with crackers, bagel chips, toast, or some crusted italian bread.


Filed under Food