Month: August 2014

Unda Da Sea

Tomorrow is Friday – YAY! We made it through another week. For my Bigs’ lunch tomorrow, I wanted to do something extra fun. Fridays should be extra fun. So should Mondays. And maybe all the days in between. But for tomorrow, Friday, let’s focus on that.

I went Under the Sea crazy! I LOVE under the sea things.

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I made a PB&J and used an octopus cookie cutter to make the shape. I find it’s easier to get a “clean” shape when you use frozen bread (I always keep my bread in the freezer). I used a teeny bit of food safe spray (gold and green) to give this little guy some octopus-effect. I used candy eyes for the eyes (duh), an spread a teeny bit of peanut butter on the tentacles, so that the sequin sprinkles would stick to it. Can’t have an octopus without suckers, now, can you? I packed blueberry and champagne grape “bubbles”, sea cucumbers (pickles), and seasoned corn. And for dessert…look away those against highly processed foods…a Little Debbie Coral Reef Cake.

I can’t even.

Have a great night and almost TGIF!

Kristin

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
 – Proverbs 31:25

Deli-ssimo!

In the same grain that I love cafeteria food, I also love deli food. There is something exciting to me about walking into a deli. For tomorrow’s VPK lunch, I made Bigs’ a quintessential delicatessen lunch.

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I made a turkey and cheddar on whole wheat, and used little skewers (with stickers on the ends!) to keep them together. In the middle of those are GF puffs (to take the place of fries or chips). I packed little pickles (my Bigs LOVES pickles), applesauce, and three Trader Joe’s ginger cookies for dessert.

Yummo.

For my Smalls, I wasn’t as creative. It so far seems quite lost on him. Perhaps next year, he’ll appreciate having a “special” lunch.

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I made a PB&J on whole wheat, packed some of the GF puffs, an applesauce, and a few Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies. Sort of like Bigs’ deli lunch, but pared down a bit.

All this deli talk is making me want to walk into a TooJay’s…for you know, a B&W cookie or something.

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

– Proverbs 22:6

“A” is for apple, “B” is for ball, “C” is for cat

My little Bigs is getting so good at piecing together letters to make small words! I am so proud of how hard he works at his letters and light spelling. To pay homage to that, tomorrow’s lunch has a theme – an ABC theme!

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I made a PB&J (first real PB&J of the school year!) and made little letter cut-outs, spelling “A”, “B”, and “C”. In those little holes, I put sprinkles. Sprinkles are fun. My Bigs asks for sprinkles on everything. He even asked for them on his spaghetti tonight. I politely turned him down. I also packed seasoned corn, a Go-Gurt, and for dessert, little Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Schoolbook cookies. They are dang good. And cute. And theme-y. I packed A – E. I ate a Q. And an E. And maybe a few more. Not sure. It all happened so fast.

See? Learning can be fun! Especially if you can eat!

Enjoy!

Kristin

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He makes beautiful things out of dust…

Rise and Shine!

My Bigs goes to school Tuesdays through Fridays. It’s sort of nice to have our Monday “off”. Monday comes with such a stigma, that is mostly and completely based on truth. Mondays mostly stink! It’s hard to get back into the weekly routine after a busy weekend.

For Bigs’ lunch tomorrow, I packed a breakfast-y one. He LOVES eating big, breakfast-y breakfasts and we only seem to have time for that on weekends (and not even every weekend, sadly!). This will make him really happy, I think.

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I made peanut butter and honey sandwiches out of mini pancakes. I used frozen pancakes this time (they’ll also stay cold on their own and be thawed by lunchtime). I put PB on each pancake and made a little divot in the middle for the honey (this will prevent them from getting soggy from the honey and will prevent the honey from leaking out, causing a sticky mess). I cut up some cooked turkey bacon. I also packed some banana chips, colby jack cheese cubes, fruit salad (yellow watermelon, pineapple, cotton candy grapes, and blueberries), and applesauce.

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

A Beginner’s Guide to Packing Kid Lunches

When I first started out on this lunch-packing journey, I had almost no clue what I was doing (it’s sort of a theme in my life, this learning as I go thing). I only knew that my kid needed to eat and that I needed to provide a well-rounded meal (okay, some are not as well-rounded as others, but he got fed, amirite?). I am certainly not an expert, but I have put together a few tips that might help a fellow lunch-packer out.

The Box

My favorite “bento” type lunch container is made by Ziploc. I’ve only tried two and the second one we tried has worked out very well, so I stopped searching.

http://www.amazon.com/Ziploc-Container-Divided-Rectangle-2-Count/dp/B003U6DJ90/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1408731665&sr=8-3&keywords=ziploc+container

(I’m not sure why Amazon is selling these for such an astronomical price – I got mine last year [1 pack of 2] on clearance for less than $3 at Target)

I originally bought the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox kit, but did not like it because there was not a tight seal, and the wet food got into the dry food (this canine terminology applies quite well here, don’t you think? Kids are a lot like dogs anyways), making it quite soggy.

There are so many choices out there these days. You just have to find one that works for you. What was important to me was a tight seal, that it was easy-to-clean, it was fairy indestructible, and that it fit in my son’s zippered lunch box. After over a full year of using these Ziploc containers, they are still in good condition. One has a slight splitting of the plastic, but it hasn’t affected the quality of the food, or even gotten worse over time.

The Nitty Gritty

I truly think variety is the spice of life. You might think that to be hypocritical coming from the Mommy who packed a PB&J sandwich almost every day for her son last year. And that would be true. But I changed the shape and color of the sandwich along with the sides enough that he never felt like his lunch was the same each day. This method works really well for a kid who is not so adventurous with his food. He LOVED PB&J, but I wanted each day to be unique and fun. This year, he is more open to variety, so I’ve got more options for sandwich-less and PB&J-less meals. Now, you don’t have to go out and buy a million different options – I just think it’s fun to switch up the separate components each day so that it appears different. Especially the non-main-course of the lunch. If you have grapes and blueberries, do one of each for a couple days and then mix them on the third. Each day is different, but you’ve only had to purchase grapes and blueberries.

Humans eat with their eyes first. I say “humans” because I am pretty sure my dog would eat just about anything without a care as to what and will swallow it without even tasting it (travesty). If food is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it will taste better. My big boy never used to love carrots, but I found that if I let him dip them in peanut butter, he’d eat them. And have fun, doing so. If your child isn’t into sandwiches, they might enjoy the sandwich components in kebab form (meat, cheese, and a veg on a stick). If you make it look yummy or fun, they are more inclined to eat it.

And don’t give up! Sometimes, it takes many times being exposed to a certain food to develop an affinity towards it (isn’t that the same with meeting some people?!).

Something else to remember is that most likely, your kid’s lunchbox will be flipped up side down a few times. So, when I pack more than one thing in the larger compartment, and I don’t want them to be mixed, I place a folded paper towel (or piece of tin foil if it is more wet than dry – dog food reference again), over that section and sort of put it flush against the food, and then put the Ziploc lid on top. This prevents unwanted mixing.

The Food

I always try to have a “main” course (sandwich, kebabs, something with protein). I throw in a few sides (nuts, dried fruit, Goldfish crackers, fruit by itself, fruit salad, seasoned corn), something sloppy (applesauce or yogurt), and a dessert (brownies, cake, yogurt raisins, etc.).

That seems well-rounded enough for me. And since I personally love variety more than large quantities of fewer items, I try to do that for my kids. I also think it helps expose them to different types of food.

The Decorations and Equipment

Where do I get my lunchbox accoutrement, you ask? Well, since I love to bake, I’ve amassed quite a collection of things that aid me in making lunches (as well as decorate cakes and other desserts). I think that cookie cutters are the way to go, for sandwiches. You can make any sandwich look like anything. It’s so easy! You don’t even have to decorate the shape (unless it is super hard to figure out what it is). I always did because it gave me great joy and I think it did for my son, as well. But that isn’t even necessary. I use sprinkles (in my lunchbox), Food Writers (food safe pens), food color spray (food safe grade), paper or silicone cupcake wrappers (to match colors and themes), and plastic picks. I am sure you can buy these picks outright, but I’ve been collecting them off of cupcakes for years. Next time you pick up a six pack (or more, if you are lucky!) of cupcakes from your Publix (or wherever), look for the ones with picks that you’ll reuse. You can stick these in applesauce, yogurt, and sandwiches. It really helps in keeping with a lunch theme (which I adore doing).

Speaking of themes, you can wrap up lunch items in Christmas paper for the holidays or you can put stuff in Easter eggs for Easter. This is the beauty of lunch-packing. It’s fun and only limited by your imagination. It has not been limited by a budget, for me. I do not use a lot of money to pack these lunches. I use what I have on hand (unless it is a super special lunch and I need something extra from the store, but I am cheap so I won’t buy it if it is pricey).

I pack their lunches at night. It is a huge time-saver for me. I used to do it in the morning until I realized how much better it was to already have it done so I could drink my coffee and not have to think.

Feel free to browse my past lunches – they should all be tagged under the “Kid Food” and “Lunchbox” tabs on the top of this blog. I sure hope this guide and my blog can help some of you out there. My sweet, sweet friend Courtney told me today how much it’s helped her pack her daughter’s lunches. Courtney is a fellow blogger and real-life friend and actual wrote about my blog on her blog today. Please check her post out, and while you’re there, read the rest of her blog. It is hilarious and insightful and makes you think! She recently did a post on how kids are like dogs, something we are all thinking (like what I said above) and she worded it perfectly. Woof.

http://courtneyschmidt.com/my-one-moment-of-practical-parenting-genius-2/

Kristin

Every good and perfect gift is from above… – James 1:17

Abra-Kebab-ra

Tomorrow is my Bigs’ last day of school for the week. And what an exciting week he’s had! He’s looked for shapes on a scavenger hunt, he’s read lots of books, he’d made new friends, and he’s eaten SO many great lunches (HA! I HOPE he finds them to be great!).

For Friday’s lunch, I made kebabs. Kid kebabs.

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*I just realized I misspelled “kebab” in my picture. Ain’t nobody got time to fix that.*
I rolled up Applegate Naturals ham and cut it into pieces. I put them on a kebab stick, alternating the ham with pieces of colby jack cheese. I packed seasoned corn, cotton candy grapes, blueberries, Simply Go Gurt (I don’t typically let them have these, but every once in a while), and for dessert, peanut butter brownie balls (I had a made a pan of slightly under cooked brownies, studded with mini Reece’s cups, and rolled bite-sized pieces into balls).

PS! My Smalls had a GREAT first day and ate almost his entire little lunch!

Happy Almost Friday!

Kristin

Now therefore, our God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name.

– 1 Chronicles 29:13

Pass the dip!

Tomorrow is my Smalls’ first day of “school”. It’s really a pre-preschool, one day a week. He’s so excited about his big boy Mickey Mouse backpack. It’s every bit of 90% his height. It’s too cute. It’s my first official time packing him a “school” lunch!

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For him, I packed a PB&J on a whole wheat bun, cut into quarters. I also packed an applesauce squeezy fruit, some Trader Joe’s dried flattened bananas that I rolled up, some yogurt raisins, a few dried apples, and some goldfish crackers. I think he’ll love it. My hope is that my baby birdie will eat more than just a few bites.

And for my Bigs:

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I made a “dippy” lunch. He has half a cinnamon raisin bagel and some carrots to dip into some natural peanut butter, some yogurt raisins, rolled up dried flattened bananas, and an applesauce. I think (hope) he’ll get a kick out of the “interactive” part of his lunch!

Have a wonderful Thursday tomorrow!

Kristin

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.              – Psalm 34:18

Gettin’ ham ‘n’ cheesy with it!

My Bigs had a great first day in VPK! And guess what? He ate his whole lunch! Every crumb! I think making raccoon masks and spelling works up an appetite. I know it does for me. For tomorrow’s lunch, I made him a ham and cheese sammy.

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I found Martin’s whole wheat mini potato rolls at Publix when I last went. I hadn’t seen those before, in mini-size or in whole wheat! I put Applegate Naturals ham and provolone cheese on it, with a light smear of mayonnaise. I put a flamingo pick in his sandwich, for fun. His class mascot is a flamingo – I couldn’t believe my his luck! I adore flamingos! I also packed a fruit salad (raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple, and nectarine), Trader Joe’s banana chips, seasoned corn (just a little bit of S&P), and applesauce for dessert. I think he’ll love it. By the way, he told me that the Trader Joe’s pizzas from today’s lunch were “really yummy” and that they were “so good he wants to eat all of them”. I’d call that a positive review!

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

– 1 John 5:12

Back to School VPK Lunch!

Welp, here it is. Tomorrow is my Bigs’ first day back to school, his first day of VPK. I am so excited for him. He has a lovely teacher, whom he met today. It’s a new little chapter for him. It’s going to be a great year! He’s growing up WAY too fast, but it’s going to be a great year. I just love my special boy!

So, the pressure is on – instead of two fun kid food lunches for him, per week, it’ll be four! For tomorrow’s lunch, I decided to go with a few of his favorite things, something I did for his last day of school last year.

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Since VPK-ers don’t have a snack time, like the 3 year olds did last year, I made a bit of a bigger lunch for him. He’s got a big appetite, my Bigs! I made two little Trader Joe’s mini pizzas. This kid LOVES pizza. And he doesn’t mind eating cold pizza (like me!).  I didn’t taste these, so I’ll have to ask him for an in-depth review. I also packed some dried berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cherries) and dried apples, some seasoned corn, cotton candy grapes (my Publix has them for $3.99 a bag and they are DELICIOUS – they are all natural, no sugar, and a happy coincidental result of plant breeding – story here: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/08/12/finally-you-can-buy-cotton-candy-flavored-grapes/ ), and for dessert – indoor s’mores! I spread some Jif Whips S’Mores peanut butter on some graham crackers and cut one marshmallow into three pieces. He’s going to love this lunch. It’s got his name all over it!

Here are the Trader Joe’s mini pizzas:

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Hope your little ones are enjoying their new schools!

God Bless!

Kristin

Vacation Eats

What’s your favorite part of vacation? For tropical vacations, is it the sand between your toes? The sound of the ocean’s waves, lapping up to your feet? Is it soaking up the sun in your vacation spot’s crystal blue, fancy pool? While I love ALL of those things, my real joy is discovering the local food. I’m a foodie, through and through!

We recently got back from our annual sojourn to the tropical Sanibel Island. We always look forward to seeing our favorite things down there and eating at our favorite restaurants there.

I’ll jump right in!

We always go straight to the Island Cow, a funky, cow-themed, tropical restaurant in the middle of Sanibel Island. They put “bread” on the table when you arrive…read “bread” as strawberry and funfetti muffins. How can you go wrong?

We ordered the Frickles (fried pickles). If you’ve never had these, I URGE you to try them. They fulfill a lot of taste pockets on your buds – crunchy pickle crunchy, crunchy fried crunchy, salty, and savory. They come with ranch dressing and are sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese. Again, seriously, how can you go wrong? 🙂

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I ordered the grilled salmon. It was a little dry. But I didn’t care. I was eating fresh fish and funfetti muffins on a tropical island, surrounded by extended family. Standards are different.

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I ordered it with veggies and cheese grits. Because cheese. And grits. Everyone enjoyed their meals (Hubs got shrimp, Bigs got waffles, and Smalls got catfish – he actually asked for catfish and loved it – such a mini-foodie-baby!).

We then went to the best grocery store on the Island – Jerry’s, as we always do after lunch. We picked up some food for the week…and a few extras….DONUTS.

I was on a donut hunt. Like a Great White Shark (sorry, this all happened during our beloved Shark Week) hunts its blubbery prey, I was out to find the best donut. My hunt began earlier in the week (and in my hometown).

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We had to spend 3 hours in Pediatric Cardiology earlier in the week to check out my Smalls’ heart murmur (healed, God is good!) and I thought we deserved donuts. And it was a nice way to round out the week before leaving for vacation. These (strawberry icing with sprinkles, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, coconut crunch, and jam-filled) were delicious, but still not as good as my go-to donut shop (I’ve talked about them and posted pictures before – they’ve been featured on Food Network’s “Donut Showdown”!).

Back to Jerry’s in Sanibel…

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We picked up a chocolate icing with sprinkles, an almond-filled bearclaw, and a custard-filled croissant bundt. I was delighted to see that as my search continued, the donuts (and pastries, as it were) were getting better and better. The sprinkle donut was very good (the boys devoured it, they love their sprinkles). The almond-filled bearclaw was DIVINE. The pastry was delicate and crunchy and topped with glazed almonds. The inside was lovely marzipan-esque, chewy, and absolutely wonderful. And the little bundt in the back was a delicious surprise. It was made with torn up croissants, pressed into the mini-bundt pan, baked, glazed, and filled with a creamy, cool, vanilla custard. SO fun!

We finished off our donut crawl at Bennett’s Fresh Roast donuts, which have also been featured on “Donut Showdown”.

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Our group liked them so much, we got them twice! The picture above shows their s’mores donut, pink icing with sprinkles (for the boys, obvi), and their Orange Crunch. Despite loving all things s’mores and not really liking Orangesicle flavored things, the Orange Crunch was out of this world. It was FULL of fresh orange flavor.

Even after all of those wonderful pastries, I still prefer my go-to! And that makes me happy, because it’s close to me. 😀

We also took our boys to the famed Bubble Room! It was SO much fun! My husband used to go to the Sanibel and my parents used to take my to the one where I grew up – such happy memories!

When we sat down, I ordered Bigs a Shirley Temple (as my parents did for me when I was little) and a Roy Rogers for me. Everything about it is happy.

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Bigs thought it was great. And seeing him experience something I did as a wee one made me so happy.

The bread basket they put on the table also made me happy…

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It was filled with their “Bubble Bread” (garlicky, cheesy, and delicious) and sticky raisin buns. I meannnnnn….

I ordered the Prime Rib, but my picture came out blurry. It was really delicious.

We took a slice (SLAB is more like it!) their famous Orange Crunch Cake back to our condo to share with our family and friends.

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We all loved it. It was so delicious.

The food was incredible, as well as our vacation.

Until next year, Sanibel!

What are YOUR favorite places to eat on your recurring or one-off vacations? I’d love to hear!

Kristin