Category: Dessert

Pumpkin Brownies (and a school lunch)

Hi, my name is Kristin, and I have a pumpkin obsession. I can’t get enough of it. I’m the perfect candidate for every company and their seasonal pumpkin products. I buy into it, every time. I don’t even care what it is, I’m happy to try it, as long as it’s got pumpkin in it. And I equally love making pumpkin treats myself. I’m on week two of making homemade pumpkin goodies. And I don’t see an end in sight, luckily for me. These are for the lunchbox, you know, not all for me.

So, today, I made pumpkin-y chocolate chip brownies…less brown, more pumpkin.

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These came together SO easily. I was even able to multi-task. My bestie was in town with her daughter (Smalls’ age) and I made these while we caught up. They were DELICIOUS. We couldn’t get enough. They were delicately flavored with the teeniest bit of cocoa, and filled with warm autumn spices and pumpkin.

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I love how thin they came out, too. SO good!

http://www.seededatthetable.com/2010/11/02/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-brownies/

And my Bigs’ lunch for tomorrow came together easily too:

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I made a ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich. I also packed huge, round, red grapes, Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Apple Snack Straws, carrot sticks, and a little piece of the pumpkin brownies.

I also packed a little lunch for my Smalls. It just makes it easier to feed him, sometimes.

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He has a PB&J, cut up grapes, carrot sticks, and some organic TJ’s peanut butter crackers.

You know what didn’t work out so well for us today? Our power going out for about an hour – dinner time. Crockpot Chili…the good news about that was that it was already made and still warm. The bad news is that it was dreadfully hot in my house (and outside) and we were eating warm chili. Oh well.

Could have been worse!

Blessings to you!

Kristin

Soft Pumpkin Ginger Cookies

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It’s just about that time of year where we make loads of cookies and share them, in hopes that our friends will do the same. to spread joy. I’ve already been thinking about what I want to do this year. As per the usual, I am early (I sort of always am, when it comes to food planning, except for dinner planning – I don’t do that, to my dinner demise). I don’t normally like to make more than three kinds of cookies. It becomes overwhelming, especially when I have so many people, with whom I like to share.

I’ve been trying cookies ALLLLL YEARRRR LONNNNG, you know, for research and all. I’ll be sharing my favorite recipes with you.

Yesterday, I made these little beauties.

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I LOVE pumpkin and I LOVE ginger, especially in the form of a soft ginger cookie. These are the best of both – Soft Pumpkin Ginger Cookies.

They screamed my name from the second I found them.

I, naturally, ran out of sugar halfway during my rolling of the balls (at least I had enough for the cookies, themselves!), so I used raw sugar to roll. I actually ended up liking those even more. They were sparkly. These would make such beautiful food gifts this upcoming holiday season. And they are delicious – soft, crunchy from the sugar, full of pumpkin flavor and warmth from spices.

Make them.

http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/pumpkin-gingersnap-cookies/

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Imma go eat one or ten right now.

Kristin

Cheerio! It’s time for tea!

I have two boys. I think most of you know that because I talk about them incessantly. If you’re near me and they aren’t, I’m showing you pictures of them on my phone (today’s response to wallet pictures). I always thought I’d have a girl or two, I never expected to have TWO boys. I think I’m still in shock. My oldest is four. I am not very good at “boy” stuff. I try, I do. I am really good at dressing in cutoff jean shorts (my daily uniform – I LOVE getting dressed up, but I live in my cutoffs, but I DO love matching my boys and then matching myself TO them.)  and shopping for boy clothes, but when it comes to boy things – I struggle. I just don’t have that gene. Try as I might! I is who I is…

But I’m grateful. They’ve shown me how cute bug catching can be (I don’t quite touch the bugs myself), to let go when they get a little dirty, to eat like cavemen with their hands (okay, so I’m big on table manners, so this particular attribute isn’t so cute), to play superheroes or dinosaurs. I can cut my Bigs’ hair like a salon would do. So I’ve adapted, I’ve learned, and I’ve always been so grateful for them.

But I’m still a girl (well, a WOMAN now, but you know, girl-Y). I do what I can with these boy themed lunches.

Except for today. Last night I made a lunch that is definitely more “girly” for today, but since I added a blue background and my boy is eating it, it’s boyish. Or we can call a spade a spade and just say it’s a girly lunch. Who cares. His favorite color is pink and his besties are all girls. He’s great at karate, running, and yardwork. He is who he is, and I love him.

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I spread strawberry cream cheese on melba toast, there are two little sandwiches of that. I had a conversation last week with my Mom over tea (more on that later) and I was inspired to get some melba toast (okay, impulse buy!). I packed seasoned corn (have to have a veggie!), oyster crackers, raisins, colby jack cheese, sliced plum, and a slice of chocolate cake (with star sprinkles). Looks like a kid’s “high tea” to me!

My inspiration behind this whole meal was the high tea I shared with my Mom last week. We used to do that a lot when I was little, and sporadically throughout our lives, together. We found a really cute place and it was the best tea we’d ever had, and we’ve enjoyed it in England! Making that kid lunch might be the closest thing to having tea with my kid since I do not have girls. Back to the REAL tea…

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We had the most delicious Peach Melba tea (hence the Melba talk – I had remembered that I had a Sunday school teacher named Melba and it always reminded me of melba toast and peach melba, even as a child). This was the best hot tea I’d ever had.

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The food spread was insanely beautiful – the bottom tier was tea sandwiches, the middle was British desserts, and the top was scones with jam and clotted cream.

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Turkey & Cranberry, Egg Salad, & Cucumber with Cream Cheese, all on British bread

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Berry Tart, Baby Cupcakes, Zucchini Walnut Bread, Bread Pud, & Jam Roly Poly

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The scones were perfect (as was everything). The Ex-Pat owner of the tea shop showed us the “real” way to eat them, to maximize jamming and clotted creaming.

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Heavenly

Anyone who has known me knows that I’ve been an Anglophile since before it was cool. I’m glad I found a way to sort of share that with my Bigs, in my own way.

Blessings!

Kristin

Raisin’ the Roof!

Happy Tuesday (I hope it is for you, anyways)! This Tuesday was a pretty happy one for me. My Bigs had a great day in school and worked on writing capital “B’s”. I went jogging with my Smalls and there was a breeze (it’s the small things). I made a delicious dinner (my dinner track record of late hasn’t been so great) and I’ll even be sharing one of the recipes soon. I also made a Cinnamon-Raisin Quick Bread (by Lisa Leake, 100 Days of Real Food). It was a happy Tuesday.

Here is my Biggy Bigs’ lunch for tomorrow:

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I cut one slice of the quick bread and sandwiched it with cream cheese. I also packed one slice of ham, rolled up, and some pieces of cheese, seasoned corn, homemade fruit snacks, and some Sun Drops (colored, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds). I am betting my Bigs will love this lunch. I love the colors of it. So cheerful!

The bread was a breeze to make – it’s not named “quick” bread for nothing!

I love 100 Days of Real Food recipes. They are clean and mostly easy. A win-win!

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The house smelled heavenly while this little loaf was baking. Cinnamon and raisins go so well together in taste AND in smell.

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Yum-o.

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If you’ve got an hour, some whole wheat flour, honey, cinnamon and raisins (and a few other basic ingredients), TRY THIS.

There is no white sugar in it – only honey. It’s made with whole wheat. It’s hearty. It’s good hot, cold, or toasted. What’s not to love?

Here’s the recipe:

http://www.parents.com/blogs/food-scoop/2014/09/04/health/100-days-of-real-food-could-you-do-it/?socsrc=pmmfb1409067

Have a blessed Wednesday!

Kristin

It’s a Lunchbox Party!

So yesterday, I got busy in the kitchen. I made three things, that when put together, would make quite a party in the lunchbox!

I started with homemade fruit snacks.

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I’ve made these many, many times before. They are easy and healthy. MUCH more healthy than store-bought fruit snacks (which I won’t judge if you eat them – we do sometimes too!).

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They only have a few ingredients – frozen (or fresh fruit), honey, orange juice (I use concentrate with water), and gelatin.

Here is the recipe (feel free to use the fruits you love!):

http://www.thankyourbody.com/homemade-healthy-fruit-snacks/

My Bigs loves these. My Smalls doesn’t adore the squishy feeling. The taste is so much cleaner than the over-processed ones.

I also made pizza rolls. I didn’t follow any recipe, but made it up as I went along. These were also very easy, only using four ingredients, as well.

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Crescent rolls, pizza sauce, Italian cheese blend, and mini pepperoni. That’s it!

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I rolled out the crescent rolls and used a rolling pin to flatten them. I spread around a few tablespoons of pizza sauce, sprinkled some cheese, and scattered some mini pepperoni. I then rolled up the dough, like I would cinnamon rolls.

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I placed the rolls in the fridge for a while, so they wouldn’t be too gooey when slicing them.

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Once chilled, I sliced them and put them in a greased cake tin and baked for about 20 minutes.

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My house smelled like a pizzeria! They came out golden brown, ooey, gooey, melty, cheesy, saucy, and pizza-y.

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I think they’ll be a hit.

And lastly, I made mini chocolate chip cookies. I love any size chocolate chip cookie. These were fun to make. I didn’t even mind rolling up a thousand little cookies.

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These are the perfect size for small hands and lunchbox treats!

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I can’t wait for my Bigs to be able to have these in his lunchbox (good behavior is the key to getting these).

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They are DELICIOUS – slightly chewy, soft, a bit underdone…and best of all, adorably little.

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Get in my belly, a thousand of you!!!

Here is the recipe, if you are interested (and why wouldn’t you be?):

http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/07/chocolate-chip-cookie-bites/

Blessings,

Kristin

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Love a cookie jar full of homemade goodness!

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

 

The Lunch Lady and her Cupcakes

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I am continuing the theme of peanut butter, if you don’t mind. I’m sure you don’t. Who would? And if you do mind, then you must not like peanut butter, and you might not also like marshmallow fluff from the jar, or even jelly. And then what kind of person would you be?

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On my last bloggy post, I talked about peanut butter by itself, and shared a PB cookie recipe. This post is about peanut butter with jelly. I love peanut butter and jelly. I love it on a sandwich. I love it when it’s made into other things (candy, cookies, cake, etc.). I love the combination. There is just something about the soft bread, nutty, almost salty spread, and sweet jelly. Did you know that the average American will have consumed 1,500 PB&J sandwiches by the time they turn 18? I believe it! That statistic might even be doubled in my house!

Yes, our love for PB&J sandwiches runs deep.

I think I also love the connection between them and cafeterias and school lunches. You may remember my love for all things cafeteria. I’m sure my love for the two are somehow tethered together. Do you remember your Lunch Lady from school? Was she scary? They are always scary in the books I read, growing up. I’m not sure why she’s made out to be the villain. Perhaps, because she’s the one slopping up that quintessentially icky cafeteria food (which I happen to find both delightful and intriguing)?

I bet if your Lunch Lady served these cupcakes, as a lunch dessert, instead of that old stale cookie, you’d love her. You would probably lose your fear for her sweaty-plastic-glove-and-hairnet-wearing self.

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You’d probably want to envelope her in a huge hug, thanking her for making these wonderfully clever and delicious cupcakes.

You’d probably ask her if she had any icy, cold milk to go with these.

This is starting to sound like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

But trust me. You’d ask for milk, and a hug, and another cupcake for the road.

Probably. Or maybe that’s just me.

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I made these cupcakes for our Friday playdate. We ate them in celebration of my Small’s 2nd birthday (which was earlier in the week).

The actual cupcake was rich, and dense, and peanut-buttery, in all the best ways. When they were baking, the most amazing smells were filling my house. One had to have been a peanut butter lover to really enjoy this cupcake.

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The frosting was a light and fluffy, creamy, peanut-buttery buttercream. It took the cupcakes to another level.

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After liberally frosting them, I put a dollop of grape jelly on some and raspberry jelly on others. It cut the peanut butter flavor and really made these taste like the upgraded version of a PB&J sandwich.

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I think everyone enjoyed them. I sure did. They were wonderful, and not difficult to make at all.

I highly recommend them!

Here is the recipe:

http://cookiesandcups.com/the-lunchtime-cupcake/

I changed it a little. I did not put a filling inside the cupcake. I doubled the cake recipe (to make 24) and halved the frosting recipe. These kids did not need sky-high frosting! These cupcakes would be delicious with crunchy PB (I always fear that if I am making them for little mouths, they could potentially choke on peanut pieces, so I stick [get it? stick, like stick to the roof of your mouth!?!!] with creamy) and also with marshmallow fluff instead of jelly…or both.

Have a blessed Saturday and may it be as fun as these cakes!

Kristin

 

Ain’t “nuttin'” but a PB thang, baby!

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Soooo, it looks like we missed National Peanut Butter Day by quite a while, which was on January 24th this year. November, however, is National Peanut Month, so maybe I’m early! Yes, that’s it. I’m early. Did you know that it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter? That fact makes each of those spoon-fulls that pass my lips seem a little bit more precious!

We eat a TON of peanut butter in my house (and elsewhere). I am very thankful that we have no aversions to it. It seems that we would be lost without it. We eat it at least once a day – on toast, on sandwiches, in desserts, with apples, with carrots, on a spoon, on fingers….

In preparation for an upcoming playdate, I made peanut butter cookies (and cupcakes, but we’ll save those for another day). I adore how “old fashioned” they look, with the fork marks on them. This particular version is both gluten and dairy free. I’ve made them before with this recipe and they always come out beautifully.

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They are soft, but with a little chew to them, just as they should be. They are rich with peanut butter flavor. They’d be delicious if you used crunchy peanut butter (I only had creamy). You could also add chocolate chips. Or you could keep them just as they are…perfect, soft, yet crumbly, reminiscent of a bakery peanut butter cookie.

Make them. You won’t be disappointed!

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

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Blessings,

Kristin

 

It’s Snack Time!

It’s almost snack time around here.

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My boys live for snack time. They act like I didn’t feed them a well-rounded breakfast, small snack and lunch just before. Do you ever run into the old what-do-I-feed-“them” routine? Sometimes, I’ll serve them fruit. Other times, they have store-bought granola bars (sometimes I make them from scratch, but other times, ain’t nobody got time for that), raisins, yogurt, or applesauce. And, sometimes, I will make a snack with them that will sort of go with one of the library books we’ve checked out. It’s fun to tie together snacks and books.

Welll, today, this didn’t happen. But I already know what I’ll be feeding the boys for snack. I made no-bake Cheerios bars for them, earlier in the week.

They came out so pretty!

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It was a wickedly easy recipe, and for once (or twice, but that’s it, tops), I had all the ingredients, even the chocolate covered sunflower seeds!

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Give them a try!

http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/10/no-bake-honey-nut-cheerios-snack-bars.html

I used a mix of half corn syrup and half honey. As the recipe states, they do fall apart a little bit, but they boys didn’t mind. And they taste great. I also used raisins and sunflower seeds. This recipe could be easily adapted to whatever you have to throw in. I did leave them in the fridge to set up for a few hours, so maybe plan to make these earlier in the day, if you want them by nap time. 🙂

Enjoy!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Smalls!

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Today is my Smalls’ 2nd birthday. He has brought me so much joy in his little life. I am crazy about him. This kid has spunk. He’s fearless about so many things, and I secretly love that about him. Even though it can be scary, as a parent, for my child to go into things without thinking, it’s neat to see the joy that fearlessness brings him. On the flip-side, he’s very complex – he gets overwhelmed very easily in certain situations. He gets upset at things that are too sensory-oriented (he’s got some proprioceptive things going on). But…I LOVE that we have this understanding, me and him. I know when he’s got his issues, and he comes to me to make them go away. He trusts my hugs to make him feel better. I love his silly, fun-loving sense of humor, the way he loves to make people laugh, but also gets shy when directly addressed by others. I love his wild antics, his mischievous smile, the naughty twinkle in his eye, partially hidden by his dark, long lashes. I love his teeny, little button nose. I love his lanky, long, skinny stick legs that envelope me in a hug, like a little koala bear. I love his hands, they are still like little baby hands. I love his bouncy, golden curls that frame his face, and flounce all over the place, especially because he’s almost always running and jumping, everywhere he goes. He’s simply the best. And I’m so blessed and eternally grateful to be his Mommy. What a gift from God.

We had a little party for him over the weekend with both sets of his Grandparents. I went with a beachy, tropical theme. It was a little tacky. I love tacky. And it was kind of a nod to his first birthday party, last year, where I did an under-the-sea theme.

I cooked and baked allllll day.

I made a Pineapple Cilantro Pulled Pork in the crock pot. It was an easy(ish) recipe because the crock pot did most of the work. I simply seasoned the pork butt and made a BBQ sauce.

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It was delicious and FULL of flavor.

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/07/14/slow-cooker-pineapple-pulled-pork-with-pineapple-barbecue-sauce/

I also made a Porky Pineapple Fried Rice.

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It was also very good.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/06/25/pineapple-fried-rice/

I made green beans, too! I boiled fresh green beans, put them in an ice bath, and then sauteed them with a little bit of olive oil and garlic. Delicious.

I also made crescent roll octopi. They more came out like jellyfish. I don’t know how on earth I was supposed to get EIGHT legs out of them. But they came out so cute. The boys kept asking for “legs”.

It wasn’t weird at all.

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They were a hit. Just cut 7 (or however many you can, then call them “jellyfish”) strips on the short side of the crescent and then roll the top down to form the head. Use (or not) black olives for the eyeballs.

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Dinner was delicious.

But dessert…oh boy, dessert was where it was at.

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I have to say, and not to pat myself on the back, but it was my best ever work. It was DIVINE.

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I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, but I used Hershey’s dark cocoa in place of the regular cocoa (both turn out delicious). Because of that change, this cake was black and fudgey with a deep, complex cocoa flavor. It was insanely good.

https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184&name=HERSHEY%27S-PERFECTLY-CHOCOLATE-Chocolate-Cake

I paired it with a white buttercream.

The buttercream was silky smooth. I just added blue coloring (Americolor Sky Blue). I used my offset spatula to make waves with the blue frosting.

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2013/06/double-chocolate-cupcakes-and-crispy-magic-frosting/

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I left some of the buttercream white and used that as the shore, and added graham cracker crumbs for sand.

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I decorated it with palm trees and a surfboard (all from Smalls’ first ever birthday cake last year), flamingos, fish and dolphin sprinkles, and gummy turtles (Smalls loves turtles).

It was so, so, so good.

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The combination was heavenly. And not because of what I did, but because of the recipes. So good. I can’t even stop thinking or talking about it. My mouth is watering for it now.

It was a great celebration. And today is family day – we will be showering Smalls with lots of love, fun times, and good food.

Happiest Birthday, my sweet, spicy nugget. May you always feel as loved as you are. <3

Blessings to you all,

Kristin