Category: Dessert

Sugar Sugar! Aww, Honey Honey!

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You guys know that I have an insatiable sweet tooth.

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It’s the reason I run (well, that and teaching my kids to take care of their bodies, setting a good example, living longer, blah blah blah). I’ve had this sweet tooth since before I can even remember. When I’d earn my allowance as a kid, I wouldn’t spend it on dolls or shoes (oh wait, yes I DID spend it on shoes…okay, so shoes AND a sweet tooth, I’m a real keeper), instead I’d have my Mom take me to the mall candy shop (The Sweet Factory, remember that place?!) and buy a little bag. I’d fill it with candy peas & carrots, sugar-coated ribbons, gummy peach rings, jelly beans, licorice, and jawbreakers. Those are such fun memories for me. As an adult, my tastes have matured a bit – I’m into classier sweets now, like Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, Snowballs, Twinkies etc. You know.

I love that dessert comes in so many forms.

Sometimes, the fruit produce is so good and sweet, you don’t even need (wow, that’s painful to say) dessert, of the baked or sugary variety.

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And other times, you come across a great find at Aldi and don’t have to make your dessert yourself.

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How NEAT that I found this at Aldi, of all places!

But other times, you make it yourself. And you enjoy making it and then eating it.

It’s a sort of therapy for me.

And I love baking for others. It’s my love language. Seriously. Don’t laugh.

We got together a few weekends ago with our wonderful neighbors for a dinner party. For my GF husband, I made…wait for it…kidney bean brownies! Don’t scrunch up your face like that! They were delicious. My original intent was to make black bean brownies, but I only had kidney beans. So typical of me. But, then I came across a recipe that would work for me.

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And wouldn’t you know, they came out delicious!

Here is the recipe:

http://eat2run.com/recipes/kidney-bean-brownies-w-gf-option/

They were moist and chocolately. We used the GF option (obvi).

For the rest of us carb-lovers, I tried a new Willow Bird Baking recipe. I’d been eying it ever since seeing Julie post pictures of the recipe in development.

Sure, mine didn’t come out as pretty as hers, but they were SO. GOOD. So simple, but so good.

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Gorgeous, tender, buttery shortbread topped with creamy, rich, dark chocolate frosting. Seriously. Make it. You probably have all the ingredients. I did, for once. HA!

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/07/10/shortbreads-with-dark-chocolate-frosting/

And a couple weeks ago, my sweet friend had a little, teeny, beautiful baby girl. So I made her mini donuts.

It’s what I would want.

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I used this recipe just recently and have used it many times in the past. It’s easy, but time consuming…and oh-so-worth it.

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2012/04/mini-devils-food-donuts/

I think you could probably swap out the mix for any flavor – Red Velvet mini donuts? Spice mini donuts? I suppose the choices are endless.

And to round out my very sweet couple of weeks, we had a church community party potluck on Friday night. I wouldn’t have felt right subjecting those people to my cooking. So I baked.

I ran across a recipe on Instagram, by the Doughmestic Housewife, for Graham Cracker S’more Cups. I was sold – I both LOVE s’mores and HAD all the ingredients!

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It was a quick recipe, so I made it about a half hour before we needed to go. Of course, they didn’t turn out exactly right because of something I must have done, but my mini cupcake papers sort of saved them (the graham layer was VERY crumbly).

Graham Cracker S’More Cups – Doughmestic Housewife

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs

1/3 C sugar

6 T butter, softened

Mix crust ingredients and press into greased mini muffin pan. Press firmly to form a cup shape. Cook at 375 for 6 minutes. Add mini marshmallows (I only had big) and milk chocolate pieces and cook a bit longer until toppings start to melt. Remove from oven and let cups cook to warm.

Even though they sort of messed up, the flavors were amazing.

Here’s to a  sweet week!

Blessings,

Kristin

Banana-Rama

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

Orange.

Orange who?

Orange you glad I didn’t say “bananas”?

I just taught this joke to my four year old. He is super into jokes right now. It’s really cute. He never waits for you to say “Who’s there?” and he always changes something with the telling of the joke or the punchline. It’s great.

We’ve been making banana “ice cream” a lot lately. Like, more than we should. It’s just so good. I know I’ve posted about it on this blog before. It’s just too easy. And refreshing. And it’s SO freaking hot outside.

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It’s just bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen and then mixed in the food processor. I’ve been adding dark chocolate cocoa and peanut butter. It tastes like a Reece’s PB Cup, but with a banana.

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The kids think it’s an extra special treat, and it really is, even though it is entirely healthy and (naturally) sweet.

Do it.

Kristin

A Sweet(ish) TJ’s Review

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I have never been “accused” of being “vanilla” in my life, for either style or personality. But, even if I were, I would not be offended. How can you take “vanilla” as a cut-down? It’s beautiful, fragrant, tropical, floral, and so sweet (unless you try the extract…don’t do that…or let a friend try it, it’ll make a good prank!). Its speckled beauty perfumes frostings, adding both flavor and a delicious richness. Vanilla is very appealing to me.

So, when I saw these Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes on the shelf, amongst the Lemon Zinger Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, and GF Chocolate Cupcakes (sorry, Husband, I had to do research), I was immediately drawn to them. You could see the specks of vanilla in the creamy frosting. I chose these over chocolate (that sounds like a confession and it might as well be).

They came home with me. I felt like a proud, new Mama.  I was very excited. I put them in the fridge at home because it was a very hot day outside and I didn’t want any melty frosting. There is a time and a place for melty frosting. This was not it.

I digress. Frosting-talk easily makes me digress.

Don’t judge.

Anyways, I have to say I was very disappointed in these. Both the cake and frosting were hard, as if the cupcakes had been sitting on the shelf for way too long (and not in that Ho-Ho, Ding-Dong, Zingers, Twinkies sort of a way, because I can handle that shelf-life). I even kept them out on my counter and defrosted completely to try round 2. They were still too hard. The cake itself was crunchy in some places and looked a little too over baked. The frosting never got soft. I could tell that there was a good vanilla flavor in both the cake and frosting, but the hardened texture of both overshadowed any deliciousness.

Sorry TJ’s. These were not so good. But don’t worry, when it comes to cakes, cookies, and the like, I have a tenacious spirit. I’ll give your baked goods a second (third, fourth, fifth…) chance. I really want to like them.

Review Result: These were meh, but perhaps I got a “bad batch”? Stay tuned for future baked goods reviews.

In the meantime, if you want to make your own vanilla cake, see this blog post. In it is a recipe I used for an almond-y vanilla cake. So good. Try it.

http://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/happy-100-blog-posts/

Hope you’re day is as sweet as these cupcakes, but not as crunchy. Because that wouldn’t be good. Unless the crunchy parts were bit that were supposed to be there, like hazelnuts or toffee. Because then that would be like an extra bonus.

Yummy crunchy bits also easily make me digress.

Kristin

Root Beer Meringues

I like almost everything about the 4th of July – the fun, cohesive attitude of almost everyone around me, the swirls of red, white, and blue, the fireworks. I love it.

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And, I get really excited over the prospect of serving up hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon, and s’mores, and whatever other fun themed treats I come across in my recipe searches.

Yes, the food is always a very important part of any holiday or get-together, for me.

Yesterday, I made some very cute meringues. They are a great go-to recipe for anyone trying to avoid gluten, dairy, and fat. You can make them almost any flavor. I used my root beer extract and added 4th of July sprinkles to make these festive.

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The root beer extract was a nice addition. I found it at Walmart, of all places. Sometimes, that place really comes through – new extract flavors, $5 maxi dresses, watermelon bikinis, seasonal and odd flavored Oreos and other cookies. I digress. Anyways, these came out so summery and so light. And festive!

I’ve used this recipe before and it’s easy as pie…good ol’ American apple pie. Well, actually, it’s MUCH easier than that.

Try them. Try out new flavors too.

The recipe link is in this blog post:

http://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/sweetie-pie/

I simply replaced the cherry and almond extract amounts with the root beer.

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Blessings,

Kristin

 

Summer Shenanigans

We’ve been up to our old tricks again – doing summery things and eating lots of food. It’s how we do.

The week after my 30th birthday, earlier this month, my sweet friends took me to dinner at one of our favorite places. We got all fancy.

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I wore my “birthday cake” shoes that I got for my birthday a few years back (they are just so fun and the colors that I’d want on a birthday cake). I wore a dress that I found at Goodwill, and my necklace was a gift from a friend. I love getting fancy.

For apps, we shared the Mezze Platter (muhammarra, edamame hummus, goat-cheese stuffed peppadews, fried feta, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomato, and grilled pita).

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I cannot get enough of the goat-cheese stuffed peppadews.

For dinner, I ordered the Vegetarian Plate and shared with a friend, and she shared her Moroccan Lemon Chicken.

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And then they sang to me over flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

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They sure knew how to make a girl feel special. <3

The next day during naptime, I enjoyed one of my birthday presents with some trashy mags.

It was a good time.

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We celebrated my wonderful Husband on Father’s Day. I made him turkey burgers.

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His request. 🙂

On the next Saturday, I took my boys on a date while my Husband had to work. My Bigs was SO excited to go on a date, knowing it’s something that Mommy & Daddy do, and something that Mommy does with her girlfriends. He was beside himself. I took them to Panera.

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I haven’t had it in forever. I got the Thai chicken salad and wild rice soup. I got grilled cheese and yogurt (quite heavy on the dairy, I am now realizing lol!). The boys were fairly well behaved. We went to Old Navy afterwards for 50% off jorts and $0.25 bouncy balls. The bouncy balls made the boys’ night!

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I’d call it a successful date night. 😀

During the week, we went to a park playdate for a little friend’s 2nd birthday. It was so very hot out, but we had a great time.

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And lastly, I made some reeeeallly delicious pancakes for dinner last Friday. I used a GF mix that I picked up on clearance at Target. I made it DF and added fresh blueberries.

I served it with turkey bacon.

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I even tried one of those Pinterest ideas where you put pancake batter on the bacon. I wouldn’t say it turned out like it does on Pinterest. 🙂

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I still ate it.

All caught up! Have a great weekend!

Blessings, Kristin

 

Bake me a cake as fast as you can!

Baking cakes is rarely a fast process.  I prefer to make them from scratch. And that takes a while. That isn’t a snobby thing. I don’t turn my nose down at cake mixes. Nope. I use those, too. If given the opportunity of time, I just like the process of measuring out each of the many ingredients a scratch cake requires. But, this blog post isn’t about a scratch cake. It’s about one made from a mix. I had picked up a few boxed mixes when my Publix had them on sale for $1. I mean, you almost can’t beat that (get it? beat it? like, with a whisk?). I used the Devil’s Food mix for the donuts I made earlier this month. And then I had a yellow cake mix left. What to do, what to do! In keeping up with my trying to use cookbook recipes out of my cookbook collection, I ran across one that would work with the ingredients I had, including the cake mix. Sure, the recipe actually called for white cake mix, but that really isn’t me, using or having the “real” ingredients, now is it? 🙂 The recipe, titled “Aunt Ruth’s Favorite White Cake”, also came with a frosting recipe from scratch.

I had a Great-Aunt Ruth, myself. She was a ridiculously fun, eclectic woman. She had really long gray hair that she coiled into a bun on the very top of her head. She lived on her own little (huge) plot of land with my Great-Uncle after they moved back home from living on an oil rig in Cuba. She cursed (a no-no, but always a funny-at-the-time situation for my big brother and me – we’d giggle nervously), she kept marshmallows in crystal bowls on all the end tables, she would give my brother and I those little Lifesavers books (remember those? you’d open them and there would be a few rows of Lifesavers) every time we’d visit, she had a dog named Shasta that I only ever saw through the pressed cardboard barricading him in the laundry room (we used to think he was a Cujo-type dog because all he did was bark really loudly and slam his huge body against the barricade. We always felt he’d eat us, if given the chance). She had a brick chimney sitting in her yard, from her house that had previously burned down, and she kept it, as she re-built right next to the old plot. Near the yard chimney, was a koi pond, with huge koi fish swimming in it, that my brother and I thought were at least 400 years old (they seemed it, to our little selves back then).

Ahhh, yes, a cake by the name of “Aunt Ruth” was sure to be a delicious, exciting one for me.

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Aunt Ruth’s Favorite White Cake

(I’d like to think my Aunt Ruth wouldn’t have the right ingredients all the time, too.)

1 package white cake mix (I used yellow and it turned out great)

1 1/4 C water

3 eggs

2 T vegetable oil

1 t vanilla

1/2 t almond extract

Mix all together, follow the directions on the box. Bake in two 8 or 9 inch greased/floured pans for 30 minutes (mine were done before then, but my oven runs hot).

The frosting intrigued me. I have always been interested in trying a flour-based frosting.

Creamy White Frosting

1 C milk

3 T APF

1 C (2 sticks) US butter, softened

1 C powdered sugar

1 t vanilla

*I also added almond extract to the frosting*

Combine milk and flour in a saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened. Cool.

Beat butter in a large bowl until cream. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in vanilla (and almond, if you are doing that). Add flour mixture and beat until thick and smooth.

The cake came out like a bakery cake. It was moist and fluffy (albeit a little crumbly), and the taste was wonderful. I must admit, however, that the icing was not my favorite. It had a funny texture to me, almost as soft as a Crisco-based frosting, but even more so. It was weird. But I am happy I tried it. I gave almost half the cake to my sweet neighbors and she said it was fantastic.

Recipe taken from: The Cake Mix Bible

Give it a whirl! Or not!

Kristin

Sticky Black Rice Pudding

I have a TON of cookbooks. I’d like to think that I collect them. I’m sure a lot of my foodie friends out there can relate. I could just sit for hours, thumbing through my cookbooks, gazing upon those glossy pages, my eyes skimming the ingredients, my mouth watering over the perfectly styled pictures. I know that the internet provides a quicker, easier way to look up recipes…but to me? There’s nothing like holding a cookbook in my hand, flour dusting the pages, the smell of a real book (I’m also a real-book-reader, as opposed to giving into a digital reader…is that even what it’s called?).

A week or so ago, I was reading my Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients.

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Sticky Black Rice Pudding

2 C black rice

3 pandan leaves (I left this out)

2 C coconut milk

2/3 C soft brown sugar

1/4 C caster sugar

coconut cream, to serve

diced mango or papaya, to serve (I used mango)

Put the rice in a large non-metallic bowl and cover with water. Let it soak overnight (or a minimum of 8 hours). Drain the rice and place in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cook on a low boil, stirring, for 20 minutes. Drain.

*I skipped this step* Pull your fingers through the pandan leaves to shred them. Tie them in a  knot.

Pour the coconut milk into a large saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Add the pandan leaves and the sugars and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes (no boiling). Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the pandan. Spoon into bowls, and serve warm with coconut cream and mango.

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Mine came out exactly like the picture in the cookbook and tasted DIVINE. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. My Smalls loved it. <3

Enjoy!

Kristin

PS – More bloggy blog posts to come!

 

Beach & Birthday & Bunches of Other Stuff

I said I was going to be better at blogging, didn’t I? Well, I had every intention, but boy, has summer life given me other plans. We’ve been so busy with fun things! We’ve gone to the beach, we’ve eaten good food, I had a “big” birthday, where I was thrust into a different decade. Yes, it’s been busy!

I’m going to start with two weeks ago. My mind works best in chronological order.

I went on my monthly girls’ night dinner to a sushi place. My friends and I love getting gussied up.

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I got that dress at Goodwill, as I often do. I love finding gems at Goodwill.

I ordered the Cucumber Roll and the Avocado Roll. They were pretty good.

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The next day, Friday, we went on our usual Friday Playdate. We went to an indoor children’s playing place. That’s the official name.

The boys painted (Smalls stepped in red paint, naturally), played dress up (they had costumes for girls and boys!), and went in the sandbox.

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I had packed lunches for the boys…

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…and in my hurry to get out of the house, I forgot the top piece of bread on Bigs’ PB&J! Ooops!

That night, I made a turkey dinner! I know the picture looks like it was edible, but trust me, it almost was not. I roasted it, to the tee by how much it weighed, and it came out dry. As a bone. Also, I left some of the innards inside. Ooops. They got grody in the roasting process.

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Thank goodness for side dishes. 🙂

On Saturday night, my wonderful in-laws took us out to dinner to have an early birthday meal since they wouldn’t be in town on my actual day.

I had a beet and goat cheese salad:

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It was incredible.

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I ordered the chicken off the “lighter” menu to aid in my diet journey. It had chicken, asparagus, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, and balsamic. Delicious.

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For dessert, I picked the s’mores cheesecake! YUMMY! See? That’s why I ordered from the “lighter” menu.

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After our dinner, we walked around the plaza and played with the giant-sized checkers. The boys had so much fun! They must have felt like they were in Honey I Shrunk the Kids!!

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Smalls promptly stood on a black checker and pooped in his pants. It was the entertainment for a lot of people walking by. What can you do!

Checker pooping included, it was a perfect night!

On Monday, we visited with my parents. We helped my Mom prune her garden. She let the boys pick beans and tomatoes.

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Then, we ate lunch and made and ate dessert – Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars!

Yes, that’s right. And they were as delicious as they sound!

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I can’t even. The glazed fresh strawberries on top of the cool, creamy pie remind me of the strawberry pies my Mom would make when I was growing up (where I would lick the hot glaze off the wooden spoon, burning my mouth but not caring), in the same kitchen where we made this dessert!

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Try the recipe. Yesterday.

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/04/07/strawberry-coconut-cream-pie-bars/

The next day, I took the boys to the beach with three of my girlfriends and their wonderful children. It was overcast (yet we still got burned, even after applying sunscreen once an hour!), and a beautiful day. It was our first beach trip of the season!

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The boys wasted no time playing in the sand. Smalls did struggle, however, with the incoming waves and the constant sand on his hands and feet. He’s a little finicky. 🙂  He felt a little better when I put Bigs’ water shoes on him.

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He loved pulling around this little cart.

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There is something about the salty, fresh air and the sound of the waves that puts my soul at ease.

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A woman, near where we set up ‘camp’ (and believe you me, it looked like a campsite, with all of the stuff we brought), helped Bigs catch a little fish. He was so proud of that little fish. He carried around as long as he could until the bucket overturned in a wave and the little fish rejoiced in its freedom.

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Whenever I am at the beach, it gives me a chance to reflect on God’s great gifts to us on this Earth.

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My little Smalls enjoyed spending his beach time close to me, as the older kids splashed, boogie-boarded, built sand castles, dug holes, and played.

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Sweet friends

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We ate our picnic lunches and Smalls clutched his food for so long, they were covered in sand (SANDwich, watermelon, carrots – all covered!).

It was a great day!

On Wednesday, we were busy, once again, but I was able to find time to make some donuts (isn’t there always time??).

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We were going on a playdate the next day and I couldn’t show up empty-handed!

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I’ve used this short-cut recipe before and loved it.

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I also tried my hand at donut holes. I think I need more practice (if you know what I mean, wink wink!).

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I think my friend liked them! She’s got a sweet tooth, just like me! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2012/04/mini-devils-food-donuts/

The next afternoon, I made Mushroom Piccata (I didn’t follow a recipe, I just made them as I would make Chicken Piccata) and a corn and bean salad for lunch. My Smalls was obsessed with both!

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For the corn and bean salad, I used one can of corn, one can of beans, one avocado, tomatoes, S&P, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

And when the boys went to bed, I ate a little cake that I’d made the day before with leftover donut batter. I used a little bit of malted chocolate frosting that my Mom had made. It was just the right size and the perfect nap-time treat.

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Nap time was also a treat.

For my last dinner in my 20’s, I made a taco bar. It was good! The kids enjoyed it too. They didn’t even mind that I burned the hard taco shells.

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I made a taco salad for myself.

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And, then last Friday was my 30th birthday. Eeek! I am now in a different decade! It’s so weird. I immediately felt older. Anyways, we started the day with pancakes (GF, DF). I jazzed up the plates a little bit. You need sprinkles on your birthday always, even if it’s your 30th.

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My husband took off work. He’s so wonderful. He always takes off work on my birthday. He took me (and the boys) shoe shopping after breakfast. And then we went to Chili’s for lunch.

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My Hubs and I had some kind of pineapple-y adult beverage.

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I got the Honey Chipotle Chicken. When I was pregnant with Smalls, I ate this and got horribly sick. Not from eating it, but from being pregnant. And usually when that happens, one doesn’t again eat the food that made them sick. But I like this meal so much, I keep eating it. TMI? Whatever.

For dessert, we ordered the Cinnamon Lava Cake with our free birthday dessert coupon. It turns out, the staff will sing to you even if you turn 30. I ate my cake with pink, embarrassed cheeks.

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After naps, we went in search of free donuts. It was National Donut Day. How fitting that my birthday fell on this day. It’s like the universe knew.

When the kids were in bed, my husband surprised me with a little pineapple coconut cupcake to eat without pecking children around.

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It was a wonderful 30th birthday. I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

My Hubs and I went out on an adult celebratory birthday dinner the next night. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant we used to frequent. But before we went, my Mom brought some Peach Cupcakes over to celebrate! They were great!

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At our Viet restaurant, I ordered a bubble tea, in green tea flavor, with boba.

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I am obsessed with these things.

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It was divine. I’m going with taro next time.

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I was a happy Birthday Girl.

We ordered the Summer Roll Sampler.

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And we each ordered the Chicken Pho.

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We went to a bookstore for coffee afterwards. Just like we used to do before kids. Viet and the bookstore. Computer mags for Hubs, rag mags for me. It was so nice to get some alone with my Husband and do some of the things we used to do.

On Sunday, we went to church and later on, I made a yummy dinner. I made macaroni and cheese from scratch and paired it with a rotisserie chicken and fruit.

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Happy bellies.

And here are my gratuitous salad pictures (of salads I’ve made and eaten) to keep me motivated on healthy eating and jogging, at least enough to keep the cake calories off, which I realize is a lot due to the amount of cake I’ve eaten lately.

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Whew. We are all caught up! I hope you all are doing well, and like always, I hope I can stick with posting, even through our busy summer days.

Blessings!

Kristin

Summer Lovin’!

Had us a blaaaast!

Summer Break has officially started for us! Woo hoo! We are fully immersed in it now!

Last week was very busy for us. We went with my in-laws to a small, little theme park for the day.

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Boy was it hot! The boys (and us adults!) had a great time. By the end of the day, the boys started melting down…and playing ALL over the floor of the picture pick-up place. We became THAT family. :/

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Oh well. At least they were occupied. It was a great day! We had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa. The next day was Bigs’ last day of preschool for the 3 year olds. It was a great day for him. He had so much fun and I know he will miss his friends and teacher.

That same evening was his little graduation. After five minutes of singing their sweet songs (“Wherever I go, God goes” and “Doers of the Word” – stinkin’ CUTE!!!), it was over. He’ll officially be in VPK next year. Sniff. Growing up too fast, I tell you!

On Friday, we had a playdate with most of his classmates. We went to a Splash Pad. It was a very hot day, so the Splash Pad was a welcome treat. Bigs had SO much fun with his friends, splashing all around. Smalls, on the other hand, did not enjoy it at all. He was scared. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it more as he gets older. Afterwards, we took all the kids to a frozen yogurt place. Oh yum! I got no-sugar added for the boys, since it was close to nap time.

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I let the boys have sprinkles (duh). I had a mix of a lot of flavors and some fruit and juice-balls as toppings. It was refreshing. What a great way to end the year!

That night, we took the boys to a steakhouse to celebrate Bigs’ graduation.

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The boys got cheeseburgers and fries (their favorites).

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My meal came with a delicious salad. It was so good. I love when restaurants make their ranch dressing in House.

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My Medium steak was perfect, and my loaded baked potato was filling.

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My husband’s burger (which he ate without the bun) was just delicious.

We celebrated with dessert:

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A trio of chocolate cake, apple crisp, and cheesecake. Yummo.

What a great way to celebrate my baby going into his next phase of life.

On Saturday, my husband put up a hammock in our backyard. We also grilled out and I made some sides.

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I made the world’s easiest baked beans.

Baked Beans:

1 1/4 C chopped onion

3/4 C green bell pepper (I had red, yellow, and orange)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 C ketchup

1/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C maple syrup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 t liquid smoke

2 t mustard

1 can – red beans, drained and rinsed

1 can – Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

Sautee the veggies in the butter. Once they are soft, add the other ingredients up to the beans. Mix well. Add beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

DELICIOUS!

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For a fun dessert, I made banana ice cream. The day before, I’d peeled and sliced 3 or 4 bananas, and then froze them. To make the ice cream, place the frozen bananas in the food processor and add milk (I used vanilla almond milk) and process until creamy.

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It was a hit and the only sugar that was in it was from the almond milk. Fantastic.

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It was a fun day filled with homemade (healthy!) ice cream, good food, and pool time!

On Sunday, we went to a pool/birthday party! I didn’t get any pictures because Husband had to work and I was wrangling the boys by myself. We had so much fun though. They stayed in the pool for about four hours! They only came out to eat delicious hamburgers and hot dogs, and a cake made to look like the American flag! So fun!

On Monday, I’d heard that Wendy’s was giving out free Waffle Cone Frosties. Yes please!

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I let my boys have frosties for dinner. Sue me. I should be sued. It turned into an awful night because they were so ridiculously hyped up. But it was fun at the time.

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(PS I’ve been jogging almost everyday with my boys – it’s been great!)

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I love how Smalls eats his ice cream cones…like there’s no tomorrow. That’s how he does life too. All in, this kid! <3

My Bigs is a bit more careful. 🙂

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He likes to savor his special treats…so much so that it starts melting all over the place! I can appreciate his method though. He’s my sweet, special boy!

The crazy, wild, me-pulling-my-own-hair-out night was worth it for these special memories. I will never forget the one time when my family went to Washington DC on a vacation when I was in elementary school. My parents let us eat ice cream for dinner and we went to a candy shop for dessert. It only happened once in my life, but it was so fun and so special that I remember it so many years later. I want those special, fun memories for my own children.

I’ve made a lot of great food lately, too! More successes than failures this week – woo-hoo!

Today, my bestie since kindergarten came over with her daughter. I just love love love seeing them. I miss my best friend. We’ve lived apart (grew up in the same town) most of our adult life, but every time we get together, it’s like the last time we saw each other. And we talk every day too. She’s so special. Anyways, I made a salad today, for us, that I knew she’d love. And I loved it too! A friend from my church group gave me the recipe and I altered it a little, but only because I didn’t have all the ingredients.

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Seven Layer Salad:

Romaine lettuce

Red onion

Frozen peas

Dressing (mayo, mustard, S&P, sugar, malt vinegar)

Bacon

Celery

Cheddar Cheese

**I added red/yellow/orange bell pepper, added onion powder to the dressing since I didn’t have onions, and I also used red wine vinegar since I couldn’t find malt at Target**

This recipe is delicious! I can’t wait to try it the “real” way.

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We ate the whole thing (I used an entire head of romaine lettuce)!

Speaking of salads, they are still going strong in our house – the produce has been great!

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I also made a delicious dinner tonight – roasted chicken and roasties:

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It came out delicious.

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I served it with seasoned corn, nectarines, and raspberries.

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Bigs loved the potatoes (which he normally doesn’t) and Smalls ate almost the entire pot of corn (which he’s never done). Serious success!

I also made GF brownies for my husband. I had to eat a square though, for review purposes.

Obviously.

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I used Aldi’s GF brownie mix. I used coconut oil for the fat content, so they came out with a ridiculously yummy coco-nutty flavor. I enjoyed my little slice and my Hubs loved it too!

YAY for successful meals! It doesn’t always happen!

So glad to be back on track with blogging. I miss it when things get too busy.

Hope you all are doing well! More summer fun and recipes tomorrow!

Kristin

Blooming

I have not been a good blogger lately. Between my family being sick for two weeks, and the end of the school year approaching, it’s just been bananas around here. The summer is going to be a much needed slower pace…hopefully, that isn’t wishful thinking.

Our blackberry bush finally bloomed and ripened!

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Several plump blackberries were ready for picking. And it only took about five seconds because there were four and a half.

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This was all it yielded. It really makes one appreciate the farmers who are supplying markets and grocery stores. We’ve waited months for these four blackberries! Our blueberry bushes are even slower. I see one unripened blueberry.

Growing some of our own food surely does help us feel appreciative. We can’t wait for our melons to be ripe and, hopefully by October, we will be able to carve our own homegrown pumpkins.

Eating delicious salads everyday also help me to appreciate the freshness of the season…and good health.

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And I love putting fruit in my salads – grapes, peaches, nectarines, raisins, dried cranberries, berries of all kinds. Delicious. What’s your favorite kind of salad?

We’ve also been up to our usual tricks – Pancake Saturday (gluten and dairy free)!

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Bigs requested sprinkles this past Saturday. We fueled up because after breakfast, we did a walk that raised awareness about Human Trafficking and Slavery. It was informative and powerful.

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

I also made a birthday cake for one of my sweet friends.

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Her favorite is Red Velvet and I’d never (surprisingly!!) made one from scratch before. I gave it a go. Here is the recipe I used:

http://suziesweettooth.com/tag/9-x-13-inch-red-velvet-cake/

I think I over baked it. :/ I had a migraine all weekend and wasn’t fully “with it”.

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But it sure smelled good and came out pretty! I hope she enjoys it. I’m giving it to her today.

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I’ll have to see if she can send me a picture of a slice, so I can see how the inside turned out. 🙂

Hope you all have a very blessed day! I am going to my last monthly Church ladies group meeting before we break for Summer. It’s always a blessing to me. I always leave renewed and refreshed, something that is so very important to this Mama!

Kristin

EDIT: My friend sent me a picture of a slice of the cake! She said I should package it up and sell it, so I think that’s a good sign. 🙂 I am so glad she liked it!

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