Month: February 2015

(late) Valentine’s Desserts

Last week was full of Valentine’s activities and special treats. I was so busy, that I wasn’t able to get the dessert recipes up, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me, right? You can make these any time. So get on it. Or tuck these away for Valentine’s Day next year….it never hurts to be prepared!

First up, Dark Red Velvet Cookies. Oh yes, boy.

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These were chewy and cocoa-y, and filled with milky, melty chocolate.

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Such a fun treat for the lunchboxes!

Dark Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction, Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies

1.5 C + 1 T AP flour

1/4 C dark cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened

3/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

1 T milk

2 t vanilla extract

1.5 T red food coloring

1 c milk chocolate chips

Toss together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter, in another bowl, on high speed until creamy. On medium speed, add the sugars and beat until combined. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Once mixed, add the food coloring and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed. Beat in more food coloring if you’d like the dough to be redder. On low speed, beat in the chocolate chips. The dough will be sticky.

Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour (up to several days). Thaw, as needed, before baking.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Scoop the dough and roll into balls. Bake each batch for 10-11 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Switching directions to gluten and dairy free –

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I’ve made these GF DF peanut butter cookies many times. They always come out perfectly.

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They have all the ingredients needed to make for an old-fashioned peanut butter cookie feel.

I also added raspberry jam to a few:

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I love how these came out. The jam added a chewy goodness to them. I can’t even. Actually I could. And I did.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/gluten-free-peanut-butter-cookies

And lastly, but still gluten and dairy free – Chocolate Torte!

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This thing is a showstopper. It’s super glossy in the picture, because I had just poured my cashew milk ganache on top.

Yes. Cashew milk ganache. And it’s ridonkulously easy.

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Look at that freshy.

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Torte

Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour, Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 C semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 C (8 T) unsalted butter

3/4 C granulated sugar

1/4 t salt

1 t vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan. Fit a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. Grease that as well. 

Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary (you can use a double-boiler if preferred). Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust.

Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze: Combine one cup of semi sweet chocolate with one half cup of non-dairy milk (or cream, if you want dairy) in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the milk is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.

*I have used both cashew and coconut milks for this and they both turn out beautifully.*

Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

EAT.

Enjoy these sweet treats!

Kristin

Happy Valentine’s Day VPK School Lunch

And alas, tomorrow is my Bigs’ Valentine’s Day party in school, and thus, his last Valentine’s Day lunch.

So, here it is:

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I made a gold PB&J heart. I also packed whole wheat pretzel nuggets, a mandarin orange, blueberries, strawberries, and one homemade red velvet cookie.

I’ll be posting some yummy dessert recipes soon, too (a few repeats), two of which are both gluten and dairy free!

Happy Friday,

Kristin

Bee Mine VPK School Lunch

Here is tomorrow’s lunch for my Bigs:

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I made three little pancake PB&J (I used peach jelly this time). My boys love these little sandwiches. I also packed a few pretzel nuggets, a mandarin orange, blueberries, one heart shaped strawberry, one homemade dark red velvet cookie (recipe still forthcoming #imbusy), and two little conversation hearts, about which I know my buddy will flip. I also used a little “Bee Mine” bee ring and a heart pick as decoration.

Here is my Smalls lunch:

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I also packed three little pancake sandwiches, a mandarin orange, a few pretzel nuggets, one dark red velvet cookie, and one conversation heart. Per his request, I also added vanilla yogurt (with a few sprinkles), and applesauce. He does not get decorations yet because he eats them. #iknowthisfromexperience

Have a great Thursday!

Kristin

XOXO VPK School Lunch

Here is tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day lunch for my buddy:

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I made an “X” and an “O” ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich. I also packed pretzel nuggets, blueberries, strawberries, and a homemade red velvet chocolate chunk cookie (recipe upcoming). I used some “XOXO” cupcake picks for decoration.

XOXO,

Kristin

Candy Crush VPK School Lunch

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Also known to many as Consumerist-Oriented-Shallow-Mass-Produced-Day. Either one will do. But I DO admit, it’s a fun week for kids. And I also do love chocolates. And other Valentine’s desserts. And pink and red together.

There’s a fine line, you know.

Here’s my Bigs’ first Valentine’s Week lunch (or “wunch”, as my Smalls says):

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I made a PB&J square, on which I made a scalloped heart shape, and filled it with a few candy crush-lookin’ pink candies (which will compete with the Oreos as his favorite part of lunch). I also packed red grapes, baby pretzel nuggets, raisins, a mandarin orange, and two red velvet Oreos (you’re welcome, son). I used two Valentiney rings as decoration (light pink shimmery heart and a glittery hot pink kiss lip thing).

Boom.

Kristin

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Have you ever heard of something that is half whole wheat? And that is both cake and a muffin at the same time? Me neither. Until now. These are so good, they’ll knock your socks off! I was inspired to make these for two reasons – 1) I had two completely brown, sad, and huge bananas on my counter (they were so pitiful and self-loathing, that they wouldn’t even hang on my banana hanger anymore), and 2) my oldest son had a craving for banana cake after a classmate brought some in his school lunchbox and who am I to mess with his cake-filled dreams.

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These came out so moist and soft, and with a tender crumb, just like cake should be (unless it’s wedding cake. I adore and crave a dense wedding cake.). I used both whole wheat flour and cake flour. I love when healthy and delicious collide.

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They are full of cozy, homey banana flavor and spiced with warm cinnamon.

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If given the opportunity, I would have eaten the whole pan.

Fortunately enough for me and my waistline, I was not afforded that opportunity.

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I also made a few mini muffins, perfect for little hands.

I hope you make these sweet little things and find them to be as easy and delicious as I did.

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Recipe makes 12 standard muffins, 12 mini muffins, and a little extra for a tasting (I used a mini spring form)

Recipe adapted from: “Banana Upside Down Mini Muffins”, Weelicious Lunches

2 large ripe bananas (or about 3 medium)

3/4 C buttermilk (I made mine with cashew milk and vinegar)

1 large egg

3 T oil (I used peanut, you can use canola, vegetable, or coconut)

1 t vanilla

1 C whole wheat flour

1 C cake flour

1/3 C packed brown sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place cupcake wrappers in a cupcake tin.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla, and whisk together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.

Pour into the cupcake wrappers, about 3/4 full.

Bake for 12 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tins.

These are truly bananas! Try them.

Kristin

Lazy Lunch Friday

I had every intention of making a cute lunch for tomorrow, but I have to admit, I am pooped. I worked as a Co-op Parent in my son’s class today. If you are a teacher, I want to thank you. You work SO hard and love on our children SO much and I am so grateful. I don’t know how you do it, day in and day out, and then go home to take care of your own families. So…THANK YOU.

With that, here’s Bigs’ lazy lunch for tomorrow (which I know he’ll enjoy and not find lazy at all…but I know the truth):

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I packed two slices of pizza, a mandarin orange, some pumpernickel pretzel sticks, blueberries, grapes, raisins, and a few mini peanut butter cups.

Happy Friday!

Kristin

The Sunshine State (Lunches)

When you think of Florida, what comes to mind? Songs, like “Way down upon the Suwanee River”, “Welcome to Miami”, or “Margaritaville”? Do you think of all the dumb criminals that keep surfacing on almost every news station country-wide? Or about our balmy beaches? We have ALL of those things. And tomorrow, my Bigs gets to learn about them, in his study of our great state. Well, maybe not the criminals. We’ll save that for a rainy day. Excitingly enough, I get to be Co-op Parent in his class.

Here is my lunch for tomorrow:

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I packed blueberries, strawberries, a clementine, a hard boiled egg (on which I used my egg shaping kit to make it look like a bunny…because bunny eggs), S&P for the egg, snap peas, assorted raisins, Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups, and a few  TJ’s “Inner Beans” (which sounds horrific, but they are awesome).

For my Bigs:

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I confidently decided that I could not free-hand cut the shape of Florida on bread and went with a tropical fish PB&J instead. I drew details with my Food Writers. I also packed pumpernickel pretzel sticks, strawberries, blueberries, assorted raisins, a clementine (you can’t pack a FL themed lunch without citrus), TJ’s yogurt star cookies, and an organic yogurt squeezy thing. I added a surfboard, a few flamingo (my spirit animal) picks, and a palm tree for decoration.

And for my little Smalls:

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Going based on lunches alone, you might think I love my oldest son more than my youngest. Smalls’ lunches always look a little crappy. The truth is, this kid is so wishy-washy with food, I can’t even keep up. Tomorrow’s sad looking lunch consists of half a PB&J (which he tells me he only likes when he’s at school and won’t eat at home right now), a few carrots, pumpernickel pretzel sticks, assorted raisins, yogurt star cookies, and an organic yogurt squeezy thing. I also packed him a banana for snack.

If you need me, I’ll be looking for my large shaker of salt.

Kristin

USA VPK School Lunch

I am incredibly patriotic. I love my country. I love other countries as well. I think that there is much to be learned from all of them, and that it’s incredibly important to learn from them. And I happen to love learning about them and their cultures. I’ve traveled a lot outside of the States and loved every minute of it. But this isn’t about that. This is about my country. I remember being in kindergarten during the Gulf War and learning the words to my favorite “USA” song – “I’m proud to be an American”. I remember singing it with pride and getting goosebumps, even back then, like I still do. This week in school, my Bigs will be learning about Country, State, and Town. I am very excited for him to come home knowing a bit more American history (for the purposes of tomorrow’s lunch).

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I made a PB&J star and added detailing (my vultures boys ate the scraps). I also packed honey wheat pretzel sticks, a mixture of jumbo raisins, white yogurt raisins, and dried cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and Trader Joe’s yogurt star cookies (I used only the white color for this lunch). I used USA-themed cupcake picks and rings for decoration.

Because, ‘Murica.

Kristin