Keep them guessing with a backward dinner on April Fools' Day
Sometimes, I get a little carried away with the holidays. April Fools' Day is one of my favorites, mainly because I like to play jokes on my kids. They know to expect greeting cards that don't open, switched lunches, and mazes with no solution.
My favorites are those that involve food. Those pretty candies might actually be soap. And there's no telling what other food I've substituted for the cream in sandwich cookies . I probably have a little too much fun.
After all the pranks and giggles, a day like this calls for a special meal. Dinner is served backward, starting with a nicely frosted cake, followed by a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches for dessert. Of course, not everything is as it seems.
While looking festive enough for a birthday party, the frosted cake is actually meatloaf covered with whipped potatoes, decorated with ketchup and cherry tomatoes. And the sandwiches? Toasted pound cake with orange-tinted frosting for the cheese. It’s the little touches that make the joke complete, like using a cake plate instead of a serving dish, adding a decorative border just like the bakery would do, and including a lettuce or parsley garnish on the sandwich platter.
Even though no one is fooled any more, we still enjoy a crazy dinner on a day of encouraged silliness.
1/2 cup tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
1 pouch dry onion soup mix
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasonings
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Make sure to mix them together thoroughly.
Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with tin foil. Scoop meat mixture into pan and shape into a flat loaf, measuring approximately 10-by-6 inches, so it doesn’t touch the edges of the pan. This is the "cake" portion. Make it a even as possible.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Drain fat from pan. Let cool before "frosting."
2 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 ounces cream cheese, softened and at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons ketchup
Place potatoes and bouillon in large pot with enough water to boil them in. Boil until potatoes are tender when stuck with a fork, approximately 10 minutes.
Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients. Use a hand mixer to thoroughly combine. Try to get the potatoes as smooth as possible to help fool diners into believing it is really frosting. Add more milk one tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency. Be careful not to over whip.
These potatoes do not contain any pepper, parsley, or dill to keep the illusion of real frosting. Consider placing a pepper shaker on the table for guests’ use.
Reserve ½ cup potatoes.
Using a wide spatula, carefully transfer meatloaf to a decorative platter or cake plate.
Spread whipped potatoes over meatloaf evenly. It's OK to make this layer really thick. Also, if the meatloaf turned out a little uneven, mask that with the potato frosting. Smooth the potatoes as best as you can, removing any large chunks of unwhipped potato that would spoil the effect.
Fit a star tip to a decorator bag. Spoon in reserved potatoes. “Frost” borders onto the meatloaf cake.
For the accents, use a second decorator bag with a small round tip or a plastic baggie with a corner snipped off. Fill with ketchup. Write phrases on the top or just add colorful decorations.
Press tomatoes into the cake to resemble candy decorations. Hide the stem ends by pressing them into the potatoes. These should look like cherries or other red candies.
Serve. And try not to giggle too much when cutting the “cake.”
Note: To round out the dinner, serve a green salad. And just to keep the diners on their toes, swap out the drink for something that’s not a liquid. Allow time for flavored gelatin to set up in drinking glasses. Add a bendy straw to convince the kids that they’re actually getting juice.
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