I’d Like Some “Happy” With My Meal

by Sara on June 25, 2010

Hello, and happy summer Sunday! I hope you're enjoying this lovely weekend!

I most certainly am, because I'm spending it with my German sister, Nora!

Me and nora

Ready for some Sex and the City 2 action :-)

Nora arrived Thursday morning and is going to be staying with me for four weeks! She lived with my family for 10 months during the 2007-2008 school year. I'm so happy that I get to spend the summer wining, dining, shopping and playing with this fabulous lady!

To celebrate her arrival, my mom, Nora, Dave and I dined al fresco at one of my favorite restaurants, The Cottonwood Grille, Thursday night. 

 We all started our meal with a bowl of gazpacho.

The soup was light, refreshing and packed with flavor–definitely one of the best gazpacho recipes I've tried!  When I lived in Spain for a summer, I ate this soup almost every day! However, the Cottonwood gazpacho was packed with chunks of avocado, which is a Latin American twist on the traditional version.


Gazpacho packed with avocado and cucumber


I ordered jumbo shrimp coctail and a mixed green salad for my entree. 


jumbo shrimp coctail 


 mixed green salad with creamy house dressing

Both were delicious! The shrimp were HUGE–probably 3 inches long! 

After dinner, we returned home and enjoyed brownies for dessert. Unfortunately this sweet eat went undocumented. However, I managed to snap a picture of the crumbs the next day:

I think it's safe to say we all liked the brownies. The three of us devoured this entire pan in 24 hours!

And, just between you and me…they were brownies from a box! *Shh!* I wanted to make something sweet for Nora's arrival, but was feeling a bit lazy, so I turned to the trusted Ms. Crocker. I bought the gluten-free mix, since I've been experimenting with eliminating wheat from my diet. (I recently discovered I have a gluten intolerance).

Considering this was a boxed mix, the ingredient list was impressive–nothing artificial! 

If you're in a pinch, I highly recommend these! And this advice is coming from a girl who (almost) always bakes her brownies from scratch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also tried a new-to-me non-dairy dessert: 

Soy delicious
This frozen concoction was calling my name from Sarah's blog a few days ago, so I hopped down to The Coop and snagged some for myself. 

And yes, it was SOOOOY delicious! muahahaha


Friday afternoon we ventured downtown for a little shopping fix. After spending a few hours sorting through sale racks at Urban Outfitters and Ann Taylor Loft, are tummies started grumbling so we headed home for dinner. 

On the menu: finger food very reminiscent of this meal:


Well, maybe just slightly reminiscent…



But before I share the inspiration behind this dinner, let's rewind a few years …

One of the most memorable evenings of the my 5th grade year was spent dunking chicken nuggets into sweet n' sour sauce at McDonald's.

You're probably thinking, How sad! This poor girl was living a pretty boring life!, but let me explain.

I was an 11-year-old tween who had been bitten by the Beanie Baby craze…bitten BAD. I lived and breathed Patti the Platypus and Rover the Red Dog. Quacks the Duck had a permanent home in my backpack.


Patti the Platypus, Quacks the Duck and Rover the Red Dog

My dedication to collecting every Beanie under the sun only intensified
when the Teeny version debuted in McDonald's Happy Meals. My Beanie collection topped 50, however, prior to my McDonald's dinner, I did not own any mini Beanies. Fast food was off-limits in my house–save for the occasional pit stop on road trips–so Happy Meal toys were pretty much non-existent in my toy collection. 

Thus, it's not surprising that it  took weeks of begging and pleading with my parents before I made it to McDonald's to cash in on one of the prized toys. Munching on chicken nuggets while playing with Teeny Patti the Platypus made me one happy girl.

Eating at the Golden Arches is an all-American past time. Children, especially, delight in the experience–the brightly colored playgrounds (what kid doesn't love those plastic ball pools?!) and bite-sized foods make McDonald's irresistible. However, it's the toys–like the Teeny Beanies–which accompany the meal that are most seductive.

Or so says The Center for Science in the Public Interest–a nutrition watch group that is threatening a lawsuit against McDonald's if they don't remove toys from Happy Meals. (If you haven't heard of CSPI, definitely check out their site–lots of interesting nutrition/food/corporate information!) CSPI claims that using toys to lure small children into McDonaldโ€™s is unfair and
deceptive marketing that is illegal under various state consumer
protection laws.

Read more about the impending lawsuit here.

How will McDonalds' Happy Meals make children happy if they no longer contain plastic-wrapped toys? 

I mean, chicken nuggets are booooring by themselves.

Unless they're accompanied by sweet and sour blackberry sauce.

Which is the reason why my Friday night meal was very happy.


I spotted Eating Well's Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Nuggets with Blackberry Mustard the same day I learned about the CSPI's impending lawsuit against McDonald's. 

So it only seemed fitting that I pay tribute to the beloved, possibly soon-to-be-toyless Happy Meal by preparing chicken nuggets for dinner.

I threw the recipe together in less than 30 minutes. The cornmeal served as a perfect crisping agent for the chicken, and the fresh blackberries made a delectable sauce.

Toy or no toy, I'd take this meal over the McDonald's version any day. :-)


A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who offered breakfast suggestions for my Breakfast Challenge! Your ideas sound delicious!

Keeping with my promise to try three new-to-me-morning meals every week for one month, I present to you…

Breakfast #1: Plain Greek yogurt sweetened with agave, topped with puffed corn, strawberries, blueberries and PB2:

This was quite tasty, however the corn puffs got a bit soggy!

Breakfast #2: Banana custard oatmeal

Courtney from Three Months suggested I try mashing banana into my oatmeal. So mash I did! I mixed 1/2 cup instant oats with 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/4 cup egg whites. I microwaved the mixture for 1.5 minutes and then stirred in 1/4 cup mashed banana. I topped it off with extra banana slices and a few dashes of cinnamon. 

This meal was super satisfying and held me over until lunch. :-)

I have four days to crank out Challenge breakfastl #3, and I'm thinking it may involve more oats. However this time they will likely be oats of the overnight variety.

If you have any more must-try breakfast suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Speaking of breakfast…it's about time that I make some! I can't lie…After just two coconut pancake-less mornings, my cravings are strong. I think a pancake Sunday is in order. ๐Ÿ˜€

Enjoy your day!

Do you think that McDonald's should be forbidden from including toys in their Happy Meals?  

Did you collect Beanie Babies when you were a child? Which was your favorite?

What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Peanut butter mousse for me! (It will make an appearance in my next post!)

  • http://threemonthsblog.wordpress.com Courtney @ 3 Months

    I’m so glad you tried mashing a banana – the consistency is great! And goodness, you weren’t the only one obsessed with beanie babies…guilty I am! :)

  • http://landanimal.wordpress.com Jo

    Mmmmmm I love gazpacho! I just got some tomatoes yesterday and I am making it today. It’s seriously one of my top all time favs.
    And I do not really have an adamant stance on this happy meal thing one way or the other. It seems to me that attacking food companies and restaurants just for marketing to kids is kind of skipping a step… I’d like to focus more on elucidating why McDonald’s food is probably just bad for everyone… You know?

  • the german sister

    Sis, I’m so looking forward to our sisterly-fun-time full of talking, shopping, driving around with Oski, eating the delicious food you make and all of those fun things we usually do together! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Sally

    My favorite treat so far this weekend was the kettle corn from the Saturday market downtown! I have a bag full of Beanie Babies…you’d probably recognize all of them! :)

  • http://www.runsongreen.com Danielle

    K so I tried leaving a comment last time and it wouldn’t let me! Let’s see if this works…
    I was prob. the only kid to not be hit by the beanie baby craze! It’s sad that McDonald’s marketing tactics really DID work well (including toys with the meal).
    And I loveee the Soy Delicious ‘ice cream!’

  • Kirsten

    Tastiest thing I ate this weekend has to be the home made strawberry rhubarb pie! I made some at my parents house last Monday, but only got one tiny piece for breakfast before I had to leave for the airport. So when I got back to Boise Friday I was craving it…
    I also went on a on non-health food(=fair food) binge yesterday at the Weiser fiddle festival. I had to get lemonade from the lemon shaped stand, because that’s what I remember from being there when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I also had an Indian Taco and an ice cream cone. It is amazing how much the idea of fair food has expanded since I was little – long gone are the days of only hot dogs, hamburgers, cotton candy, and funnel cake.

  • Jim Stewart

    Hi, I enjoyed sweet and sour chicken nuggets the other night at the Reef in Boise. They were delicious. I think a little deep fried food is ok now and then. I worry a little about the high heat of the oil they were cooked in, but if you go to a quality restaurant, they probably change the oil frequently to prevent trans fat production and use good cooking oil.

  • http://ktbwood.wordpress.com katie

    mmm those nuggest look good!! haha that dinner would never fill me up- shrimp cocktail is like 1/3 of my dinners!!! Still looks awesome tho- i love me some shrimp! sounds like a fun weekend girl!

  • http://www.froyofoodie.typepad.com Sara @ Nourish and Flourish

    @ katie
    Haha, yeah it definitely did NOT fill me up! Which was probably the reason for the mass brownie consumption afterwards! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • http://www.healthydivaeats.com Katie

    Love that pic of you and your friend! U both look beautiful! I love your blue skirt!!
    So nice she will be staying with you, you girls will be having lots of fun!
    Oh I remember those beanie babies in the happy meals, people were CRAZY for those!!! I remember they were selling them for more than what they were worth and people would buy them, lol!
    Yay for trying new breakfast combos!!! The pancakes I know will be back soon though!

  • http://www.hungrymeetshealthy.com christina

    looooove this post. let’s make a list:
    1) that is SO cool that your family took in a German student. i love it!
    2) i didn’t know you studied in spain! that’s awesome. i really love that you know that avocado is the latin twist :)
    3)my brother and i were obsessed w/ beanie babies too! i had that platypus and he had the red dog! we had a billion more. it was ridiculous.
    4) i heard about the happy meal thing! that’s so crazy, and kinda sad!
    5)blackberry mustard wooahh yum XO

  • http://www.fitatheart.wordpress.com Jennifer

    Sorry I have been MIA lately. I’ve been gone the past week. But I wanted to let you know that I absolutely LOVE your new blog and layout. It looks awesome. I love your pictures and funny wit. You’re amazing girl!

  • http://lifeisbetterthanfiction.blogspot.com Meg

    Nora seems so sweet!
    And that gazpacho from Cottonwood looks amazing! I’ll have to go by and try it out!
    I read that article about removing the toys from the kids happy meals. Not sure I’ve given it a lot of thought, but I can see how the enticing toy would cause kids to beg their parents to take them there. It’s actually amazing how much of marketing is geared towards kids!
    The best thing I ate this weekend was definitely the grilled halibut while I was out in Newport! It was to DIE for!

  • http://www.homecookedem.wordpress.com homecookedem

    Gosh that sure is an interesting topic. Growing up I definitely begged my mom to take to Mickey D’s when they had all The Little Mermaid figures b/c I wanted to collect all of them! So I probably ended up eating more fried junk during that time than I would have had there not been those toys to lure me in. At the same time, where do we draw the line. Should cereal companies stop including little prizes in their boxes too? And McDonalds is always the one to be criticized… Burger King and Pizza Hut do the whole kid’s toy thing too. And kids get free ice cream cones at some restaurants. Wow, this is really making me think. Great topic to bring up!! :)
    Glad you got to spend time with Nora!! You are both so pretty!! The best thing I ate over the weekend was probably a salad from Moe’s. It had looooots of guac and salsa on top, yum!!

  • http://runsarah.wordpress.com Run Sarah

    Glad you loved the So Delicious, its my favourite dessert! Loved the beanie baby flashback – I also collected the McDonalds ones and still have them in storage, along with all my other ‘beanies’ I am still holding out that they will be worth some money again, someday!

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