Category: Breakfast

Dough’nt Worry, Be Happy!

It’s Friday! I love Fridays! You know what I loved about this particular Friday? We had no plans. Zero commitments. It is SO rare for us to have nothing to do. I’ve been craving a day like that for a long time. What better to do with our time on a misty, coolish, slightly gloomy Friday than travel 20 minutes to get the best donuts in [the neighboring] town? I don’t even need to explain our history with donuts. It was a perfect start to our Free Friday.

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Since my boys were up extra early this morning, we got there before 7:45am and almost all the donuts were sold out (not ALL, but all the flavors WE wanted). I asked the girl in the front if they had any in the back and she came back and told me that the baker would make the flavors we wanted. That’s what I call customer service!

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We got a half dozen – that ought to last me through the weekend. 😉 Starting on the top left, we got my new favorites, German chocolate, strawberry cream cheese, sprinkles for Bigs (he was THRILLED to have one freshly made just for him!), a plain glazed (nothing “plain” about the flavor though!), a chocolate peanut butter, and lastly, the Coconut Crunch.

I only ate one – the chocolate and peanut butter, which is a classic and amazing combo, as you all surely must know. Bigs ate his sprinkle donut with gusto.

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He wastes no time. He also said, “By the way, Mom, can I have another one?” (LOL, nice BTW, kid, very nonchalant of you!)

I gave Smalls the glazed one. I learned last time that he’s not so fond of sprinkles, for some reason beyond my personal comprehension. That glazed donut (and I’m having deja vu, so I know I’ve said this before about the same donut), is the best glazed donut I’ve ever had – sticky and slightly crunchy on the outside, tender and yeasty on the inside. Smalls loved it. He would put it up to his mouth and suck on it. That’s one way to get all the flavors. I helped him finish it. He didn’t mind sharing his “do-do”.

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Smalls sucking on his donut…because why not?

We only had to stop and leave all our donuts on the table to use the restroom once. Not too shabby.

We made the 25 minute journey back to our house, all the while giggling and talking about donuts, and still smelling of the fried yeast dough.

When we got home, the boys played in the playroom while I did laundry and worked off my donut on the Elliptical (also located in the playroom). Why is it though, that kids can be quite independent when playing with toys, but become completely needy once they see Mommy doing something else, like a timed work out?!

After that, the boys and I did springy crafts.

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We made “shamrocks” out of paper towel rolls (Smalls’ work on the left and Bigs’ on the right). I think each of them took their own artistic license with it. 🙂

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Smalls ate some paint, as per the usual.

Then Bigs used markers as his next medium, to draw Easter bunnies, some crosses, a few churches, and the most even Easter egg I’ve ever seen!

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I’m this kid’s number one fan! He does great work.

For lunch I made an “Everything Salad”, the healthier equivalent to the Everything Pizza or the Kitchen Sink Cookie.

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I love when my leftovers go nicely with a green salad. I used ice berg, red bell pepper, mandarin orange segments, carrots, and sprouts. I added last night’s beans and carrot salad. Delicious!

Ahhh, yes, it’s been a great day. And it’s not even over yet! Gluten free, dairy free pizza for dinner! I might stick to my leftover donuts. 😉 I can handle a GF crust, but no cheeeeeese (I’m out)?! Whatever will I do?

Have a blessed Friday,

Kristin

Happy Pancake Saturday!

Pancake Breakfast this weekend

I love our family’s Pancake Saturday tradition. We ALWAYS look forward to pancakes anytime, but especially combined with a Saturday morning, where the hope to sleep in springs eternal, and the rush of the weekday life sees further away.

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The type of pancakes vary (although they are now all gluten and dairy free). There’s usually bacon and some kind of fruit.

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Today was vanilla pancakes (lightly flavored with almond from almond milk).

I can always count on the boys to clean their plates!

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And also…this happened! Dunkin’ Donuts now has their own line of coffee creamers!! I’ve been saying they should do this for forever. It was good! I found it at my Target, where I seem to be able to find all kinds of funky, new, seasonal, and rare food-type items.

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So here’s to a fulfilling, lovely Saturday! Where we live, it’s dreary and very rainy right now, but we are making our own sunshine. <3

Have a blessed day,

Kristin

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Valentine’s Day Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week. We sure had a busy one! And it spanned over a few days, too. We filled food bags for hungry kids through our church and school (which is the same thing for us). It was a great way of showing Bigs how to show love to others, even if we don’t know them.

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It was nice to let Bigs pick out the pantry items to put in the bag.

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And then to see the sea of red bags in the foyer of his school was just heartwarming.

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Then, Bigs’ Thursday class party was just precious. The kids sang (so very softly and with some nervousness too) “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink”. Then we ate. And it was just a perfect day.

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Bigs and his Valentine’s for his teacher and the Admin 🙂

Bigs woke up to his last “What I love about you” heart on his door on Valentine’s Day. Each morning, starting February 1st, I put a new heart on his bedroom door while he was sleeping. It was a fun thing for him and it allowed me to put in writing for him to see, some of the things I love about him.

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On Valentine’s morning, I made pink almond pancakes with sprinkles.

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They were so good. I put conversation hearts as decoration, although they were highly coveted by The Big One.

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I let him only have a few, knowing how sugary sweet the rest of the day would, inevitably, be.

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And Cupid came, wrote a poem, and left his poop (hey, I live in a house where poopy humor runs [get it?] rampant)!

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We went on our Friday playdate, where the kids exchanged Valentine’s (just like at school the previous day). It was a lot of fun. I packed up the cookies I’d made earlier in the week (what’s interesting to me is that the kids liked the Sweethearts candy more than the cookies! Oh well – more for us Moms!). I had made sure to make double batches of everything so we’d have enough.

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After we got home and napped, I took the boys to the market to get some dinner supplies. I wanted to make a nice meal for them and my Sweetheart. I made Chateaubriand Filet Mignon (such a rare treat!!) and asparagus, and had a few salads.

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To make the steaks, I let them get to room temperature, sprinkled them with Kosher salt, and placed in my preheated, olive oil-coated grill pan. I seared them for a few minutes on each side and transferred them to a sheet pan. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes and brought them out to rest. For the asparagus, I rolled them around in olive oil and Kosher salt and roasted them in the 400 degree oven for 13 minutes on a sheet pan.

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I served them with a strawberry and spinach salad, and a cucumber and dill salad purchased from the market. It was all delicious!

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We had chocolate covered strawberries for dessert, quite fitting.

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That night, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake (the recipe was already gluten free and I made the ganache dairy free) to celebrate my father-in-law and husband’s (husband has birthday coming up) birthdays the next morning.

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The cake came together easily and so beautifully. It was dark, dense, and oh-so-chocolately. The ganache was glossy, rich, and shiny.

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http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe

While I was making that, the boys painted their little ceramic elephant craft we’d gotten them for Valentine’s Day. They had a lot of fun. It was a lovely day.

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Bigs

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Smalls

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Final product: Bigs, left, and Smalls, right

Bigs also did his Valentine’s Day homework that his awesome teacher sent home! It was a neat Sweethearts themed one!

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It involved counting and coloring heart shapes and sweethearts. SO CUTE!!

The next morning, we got up and “released” Bigs’ Valentine’s Day heart balloon. I sort of love doing that. It’s fun to watch it flit away, wherever the wind pulls it. The kids liked it too.

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I like to think that if I saw a heart shaped balloon flying in such a gorgeous, crisp, blue sky, it would make me smile!

Then we went to my husband’s parents’ house to celebrate his and his father’s birthdays with chocolate cake and a sunshiny day!

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We played with sidewalk chalk and played hopscotch. Does anyone play that anymore?

Then…cake!

I used this knife that my wonderful sister-from-another-mister friend gave me:

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It’s always been my life’s motto! Even as a young child!

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The cake was RICH! So rich, like a truffle. But very good.

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Despite being a short little old thing, it fed a lot of people – my in-laws, my own family, I gave some to my parents and also to our neighbors! The cake that kept on giving!

We ended our day with walking around a craft store. Look at this cute bike bell I found – it’s a donut! I just need a bike now!

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Although I didn’t get it, if I did, it would have been like buying the shoes first…THEN the outfit. That’s normally how I do it.

Church on Sunday was wonderful. We love our pastor and his messages. The boys had fun in Sunday School and had a fun snack before naps:

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Yogurt Banana Splits!

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I cut a banana in half and lengthwise and put vanilla yogurt and chopped strawberries in between. The boys got such a kick out of it. We needed to get back to simple eating after all the festive, rich foods we consumed this weekend.

And back on the diet. :/

I hope you all had a blessed “holiday” weekend! I’m ready to slow down, get back to “normal” (schedules, diets, LIFE!).

Kristin

Busy as a Bzzzzz!

Busy as a bee

We have been so busy. School is back in (yesssss! I love having BOTH my boys around, but when Bigs is in school for a few hours a week, I am really able to find time to get stuff done.) and sometimes getting back to an old schedule takes a little adjusting. Sure my kids never slept in during winter break, but we still had to move a little more quickly to get places.

For Bigs’ first day back at school yesterday, I did a transportation themed lunch.

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Mind you, I’m a bit rusty from not doing any special school lunches since December 12th. I made a choo-choo and race car shaped PB&J, I put some dried fruit, nut and raisin mix in there with some orange yogurt raisins, some pretzel sticks and an applesauce squeezy fruit. He said he really enjoyed the train sandwich!

And dinner was even mostly successful.

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I roasted zucchini and squash (in a tian fashion, without the cheese or breading).

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I cut the up the veggies and tossed them in olive oil and Montreal steak seasoning and baked them for about 40 minutes.

I served them with sun-dried tomato, garlic and herb chicken sausage and green bell pepper tossed in a homemade tomato sauce.

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Everyone (all the adults – we had a friend over for dinner) ate it and there were no leftovers.

Did I mention that I am on a self-imposed diet? I am. It’s a dessert on weekends only diet. AUGH! I am three days into it and have stuck with it so far. It’s going to be hard when I start baking again.

Well, since today is Wednesday and there is no school, I decided to TRY to start a new tradition – Special Breakfast Wednesday. During the school days, we just don’t have enough time to MAKE a breakfast (that isn’t cereal, toast, etc.). So this morning I made pancakes from scratch. Snickerdoodle Pancakes. And they were HEALTHY. And let me tell you, they were some of the best pancakes I’ve eaten in my whole life. Bigs ate 10 small ones. Smalls ate about 4. And that’s a lot for him.

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I used a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. She does healthy desserts and breakfasts. I’ve made her Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip before and it was wonderful. These particular pancakes have a very small amount of sugar and no fat at all (or eggs)!!

They browned up quickly and beautifully.

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Like every other time I make pancakes, I get better at making them as I go through batches. The last batch is always the best. Works out for me since I always give the first batches of pancakes to the boys and my husband first. 😉

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There, that’s better. Golden brown.

Anyways, they were DIVINE. I am not exaggerating. They were so wonderful. I still smell the cinnamon in my house. I will be making these again and again. And I can easily make them gluten and dairy free. They were made even better with real maple syrup.

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Real maple syrup can make anything better.

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These are a great “work-around” to my no dessert during the week diet!

Here is the recipe:

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/12/snickerdoodle-pancakes/

TRY THEM!!!

Anyways, off to ready the house for my bestie! She is up from where she now lives, four hours away from me (waaaaaaah) and we are going to spend some time together this morning with our kids.

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

Tinsel’s in a Tangle

Happy Christmas and Merry Food Coma

My body is in a coma…the food sort. My fridge looks like it’s in a coma too. Not an inch to spare (it IS a rather small fridge, though) with all the leftovers.

Let’s rewind a few days. We took our boys to visit Santa. We stood in line for over an hour to see a really wonderful looking Santa.

Boys in line for Santa

Smalls was delightful the whole time waiting (as was Bigs), but the second he was plopped on Ol’ St. Nick’s lap, he screamed like he was being pinched. Poor thing. Not a fan. So Bigs was smiling really sweetly (and told Santa he wanted a bouncy carrot) and Smalls was screaming with tears pouring out of his eyes…50%, not bad. We also went to Christmas Eve service at church, which was beautiful.

We set out some cookies (some GF and LF) and almond milk for Santa (to accommodate Mr. Claus’ Crohn’s diet!). We also left a carrot for the reindeer.

Santa Cookies and Milk

We actually had to wake the boys up on Christmas morning. They NEVER sleep in. Ever. They are usually up way before 7:00a. They were very excited about everything and Bigs was shocked Santa brought him a bouncy carrot.

Bouncy Carrot

Since they slept in so late, I was able to finish prep on their special breakfast. I reheated the gluten and lactose free pancakes I’d made earlier in the week. I cut up some fruit and finished the Grinch kebabs, and put together the pancake toppings bar (bananas, strawberries, Christmas sprinkles, chocolate chips, and marshmallows). We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and began eating.

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Bigs gobbled it all up. Smalls ate next to nothing, which is typical. I also made hot chocolate (my Mom made the mix from scratch) with whipped cream Christmas trees (that I made with a silicon mold the day before). I wasn’t sure the molds would work, but they did! They were so fun. I gave Bigs another hot chocolate today with another whipped cream tree…all of which he accidentally knocked on the floor. Sigh.

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While they were basking in the glow of new toys, I put together two casseroles.

Bread Pud and Hash

A Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding and a Cracker Barrel-inspired Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole. They were both DELICIOUS.

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While cheesy potatoes are always a good dish to me, the bread pud was TO DIE FOR. Geesh, that’s morbid. Let’s say it was a must try. It was divine. Seriously. I will be making this again and again and again.

Hash Brown recipe:

http://choosingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/easy-1-bowl-cheesy-hash-brown-casserole/

Bread Pudding recipe:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/11/cranberry-white-chocolate-bread-pudding-recipe.html

We ate those two dishes with some others that came with my Husband’s side of the family (some vegan and GF dishes, bagels with cream cheese and lox, fruit salad).

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And then after naps, we went to my parents’ house, where we enjoyed another meal! We had roast beef with au jus and horseradish sauce, roasted vegetables, rolls, fruit salad, and a lovely cheese platter.

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And my Mom made a fruitcake…a FRUITCAKE! I love fruitcake. I might be one of two people (My Dad and I) that eat it. My husband jokes that there is only one fruitcake in the whole world. I think that’s the only fruitcake joke. Whatever. More for me (and Dad).

I hope that you had a lovely holiday.

As for me, I’m ready to cleanse my home, take down the decorations, prepare for the new year, and make my resolutions. And eat less (maybe).

Kristin

*Sorry for all the collages versus whole pictures – it was just much easier and less time-consuming with so many!

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

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Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

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I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

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This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

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Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

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http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

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I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

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And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

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We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

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I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving

Breaking Fast & Turkeys

Breakfast Anytime

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Alice in Wonderland

I am un poquito different than Alice on that one. I AM a morning person, but I’d like to have a cup of coffee and something to nibble on before I start believing in six impossible things. But still, that’s cute, Alice.

Pancake Breaky

I live in a household that LOVES breakfast. Like…eats it at every chance. We eat it for dinner often. My youngest, Smalls, will eat just about anything, but my oldest, Bigs, is obsessed with pancakes…even more so if they have sprinkles on them! My husband almost always orders breaky when we go out to eat and it’s a place that offers it each day. All three boys (Hubs included!) can’t get enough. I love breakfast too. There isn’t anything breakfast-y that I won’t eat!

Breakfast Words

It’s also a quick meal. Sometimes, I just don’t have the energy or gumption to pull out something to thaw…which is sort of dumb, because how long does it take to do that? Like 2 seconds. But, I think I know I’ll have to then cook it (lol) and that will be my fate. So pancakes and eggs are a quick solution for me and it’s a bonus that it’s loved so much!

And my Bigs – he is a leeetle obsessed with pancakes, as I’ve said…since he was an itty bitty. He wants them all the time. We were driving past Perkin’s and he said, “They have sprinkle pancakes there!!”. Funny boy. 🙂

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My sweet Bigs as a teeny toddler, waiting patiently for pancakes. <3

Pancakes

I recently asked Bigs to talk to me about breakfast, in my prep for this blog post. He said that pancakes are his favorite and he likes them with butter, syrup and sprinkles (obvi). Then he said, “Let’s talk about waffles.”. This kid seriously loves breakfast.

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Here is Bigs’ 2nd Birthday breakfast – pancakes with sprinkles, of course!! I also put yogurt (with sprinkles) in a cake slice-shaped mold.

PancakesDarling

Yes. Yes I will.

So now, let’s talk recipes. Here are some delicious breakfast ideas!

“One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.” Robert A. Heinlein, Friday

Amen to that.

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This Overnight Steel Cut Apple Pie Oatmeal was delicious. It was made even easier by doing most of the prep work the night before. We had this for breakfast on the 4th of July!

http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2010/10/overnight-apple-pie-steel-cut-oats.html

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This Baked Banana Oatmeal with a Brûléed Banana Crust went over wonderfully with my family. It was delicious! Please excuse my old grimey pan. It’s seen a lot of action.

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/03/22/banana-bread-baked-oatmeal/

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This is Eggnog Steel Cut Oats with a Cinnamon Cranberry Swirl. Uh…yes please!!

For this recipe, I just substituted eggnog for some of the liquid, while cooking the steel cut oats. I also added more to give it a creamy texture at the end of cooking. You can also use eggnog coffee creamer. For the cranberry swirl, I put frozen cranberries (frozen fresh) in a saucepan and when they started letting go of some of their juices, they made a sauce! I added cinnamon and let it simmer for a few minutes. I love the tangy cranberries on the rich, sweet eggnoggy oats. Delicious. Really good around Christmas time!

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Totally unnecessary and decadent Cinnamon Roll Waffles with an Apple Bacon Cinnamon Frosting.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/02/cinnamon-roll-waffles-bacon-apple-frosting-waffled-recipe.html

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Perhaps Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes will tempt you?

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/08/09/double-chocolate-brownie-batter-pancakes/

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Or Blueberry Muffin Pancakes? Katie, of www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com, calls them Blueberry Pie Pancakes.

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/06/09/blueberry-pie-pancakes/

Perhaps you want to go a little lighter…

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Here is a turkey made out of a pear half, mandarin oranges, grapes and raisins.

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Homemade whole wheat bread with homemade peanut butter?

http://mychocolatemoments.com/2012/07/14/honey-whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-no-bread-machine-needed/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-peanut-butter-recipe/index.html

Breakfast Words 2

Yes, indeed, breakfast is a fun thing to eat and make!

Oh yes! I also made a lunch for Bigs! Today is turkey day in school. They are reading T is for Turkey, so of course I had to make a turkey themed lunch. Of all the lunches I’ve done, I think this might be one of my favorites!

Turkey Themed Preschool Lunch

This turkey themed lunch includes a turkey-shaped PB&J. I used my Food Writers to draw on the turkey beak, eyes, gobbler-hangy-down-thing, feathers and feet. The container to the left has mandarin oranges (washed of their syrup). Bigs also has two little sandwich cookies, some dried mango, some candy corn and some real off-the-cob seasoned corn. Gobble Gobble!!

Hoping you find something here to tickle your breakfast (or turkey) fancy!

Kristin

Thanksgiving Food Roundup

Turkey Time

Let’s talk turkey. Just kidding. Someone else is making the turkey.

Ain’t nobody (read: me) got time for that! Literally.

So let’s talk sides and dessert. That’s my forte.

And before that, let’s backtrack just a little. I want to paint my very fond Thanksgiving memories for you.

Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. Everything it embodied – the food, the fellowship, the family, the thankfulness. We used to travel to see my Dad’s family. They lived in the Deep South and the memories that were made in that old country house will live in my heart forever. When I think of Thanksgiving, this is what comes to mind:

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

Literally. And the dining room we ate in looked almost identical to this Normal Rockwell painting. My beautiful Grandma would have her long gray hair coiled into a bun, she’d wear a sweet little dress with stockings and slippers (it’s hard work cooking for so many!) and cover it all up with an apron that had seen many meal preparations. When she would see us, her whole face would crinkle up in a smile and she would always have this little sparkle in her eyes. My Granddaddy would always cry tears of joy when our family car would pull up that dirt and gravel-covered driveway. My Aunts and Uncles and Cousins would pour in through the tattered screened door in the kitchen, arms laden with covered dishes and hugs to hand out. My Grandma would be standing at the stove top, frying up her hoe cakes in her beloved old cast iron pan. There’d be field peas in a saucepan, a fried turkey, my Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese, shredded chicken and hard boiled egg dressing, and food for miles. And miles. Good Southern, comforting food. The dessert table always held the traditional pumpkin pies, cobblers, etc., but there was always something else that held my gaze. My Grandma would always make a multi-layered coconut cake. It always looked so tall from my shorter, younger (I’m tall, but my memories were made when I was young) stature looking up at it on the counter. It was iced with the most glorious white frosting, and then covered with stark, white coconut flakes, imitating that fresh first snow fall. I always ate a slice as big as my face. It was always my favorite. And my dear Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese. That is one of my all-time favorite recipes still. She passed that one on to me before she went to be with the Lord. While I never got the coconut cake recipe from my Grandma before she also went to be with the Lord, I did find recipes online that closely match these and my other heart-guarded dishes. I’d like to share some of these with you today. They may not be the healthiest or use the most “trendy” ingredients, but they are sacred in my heart. They equal hugs on my plate.

Thanksgiving Table

This is my dining room table last Thanksgiving. I prepared a few of my favorites. I made green bean and sweet potato casseroles (no favorite recipes here). The back right tray is my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni and Cheese and the front tray is my Shredded Chicken and Hard Boiled Egg Dressing.

Here is the recipe I’ve found that most closely resembles the dressing. I use only white meat (boiling chicken breasts or using a rotisserie can cut down on time), I make cornbread from Jiffy, and I do not make or use the giblet gravy or chutney.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-live/hazel-smiths-chicken-dressing-casserole-recipe/index.html

Here is my dear, sweet Aunt Sue’s recipe. I make my own “cream of” soups now, but I cannot bring myself to change her recipe AT ALL. This is a highly simple recipe, and quite humble. Even though it is such, it is one of my most prized and loved recipes. Please feel the love my Aunt Sue had for all of us when you make and enjoy this.

Macaroni Casserole:

1 8oz. pkg elbow macaroni, cooked

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 C mayo

1/2 C onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped and slightly cooked in microwave in a bit of water, drained

1/4 C pimento, chopped (or you can use canned, roasted red pepper)

1/2 lb. mild or sharp cheddar cheese

Combine the above ingredients and place in a buttered casserole dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Hoe Cakes are cornmeal based…pancakes, for all intents and purposes. The closest recipe I could find to match my Grandma’s could also be found from Paula Deen…go figure. These would be piled high in a pie tin on each table at Grandma’s house. And we’d eat our weight in them as we were waiting for the “big” meal to start.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/hoecakes-recipe/index.html

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The closest recipe I can find to match my Grandma’s Coconut Cake is another Deen recipe (lol – Southern at best!).

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/jamies-coconut-cake-recipe3/index.html

After our afternoon Thanksgiving feast, we’d go out in the backyard and shoot aluminum pie tins with Granddaddy’s BB guns. My brother and I had a blast. We’d go for rides on the riding mower. We’d go “moo” at the cows in the back pasture and go for a walk through the cotton fields flanking that country house with a porch swing. We’d sneak into my Granddaddy’s barn and look at all his old fashioned tools and try to guess what they were used for. How we loved those Thanksgivings spent there. As we grew older, we’d STILL enjoy the same traditions. After Thanksgiving day spent there, we’d go to my Mom’s family and have a second Thanksgiving with them (in a different state). My sweet Grandmother had (still has) her own recipe for macaroni and cheese (a recipe for another day!) and an amazing cream cheese topped, jellied cranberry and nut salad. I am going to have to get that from her again this year, as I’ve lost the recipe. Sadly, much of my family on my Dad’s side has passed on and so we’ve had to change traditions. Whether we spend the holiday with my Mom’s family or with my Husband’s family, locally, I always make it a point to make these recipes that are so fond in my heart so that I can feel that love miles and miles away from where it started.

I’ve got two other recipes that I’d like to share with you today. One is a scone that would make for a lovely, festive breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Imagine eating these little beauties with a cup of coffee or tea as you are starting to prepare your meal.

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I got the recipe for these Harvest Pumpkin Mini Scones from King Arthur Flour.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/harvest-pumpkin-scones-recipe

And here is another dessert recipe, but for the more daring home cooks!

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This Pumpkin Mochi Cake is REALLY good – not too sweet and sort of chewy in that lovely mochi way that I am so very fond of. I used Mochiko (glutenous rice flour) that I found at a local special store. I obviously didn’t use small molds for this, as the recipe calls for. I used an 8×10 dish and doubled the recipe.

http://kirbiecravings.com/2010/11/happy-thanksgiving-2.html

PS – My husband is home with us now. God is good!

I hope you can use and enjoy some of these recipes. Have a very blessed weekend,

Kristin