Category: Dinner

Honey Sesame Tofu & a TJ’s Review

Oh, boy! A Trader Joe’s opened up near me! Yippee! I know that many people are used to having this store, but it’s a big deal in our town. We’ve waited patiently for it to be built, and then we waited patiently for the crowds to die down. We finally braved it last weekend, early in the morning. The trucks had just been unloaded (I think) and most of the shelves stocked. The boys found Parker the Peacock (the store’s stuffed animal), a first for this location, or so we were told by a worker. They got a prize, we got fun groceries (some of which include wine [obvi], gnocchi, meatballs, chicken tenders, “green” juice”, cupcakes [I had to!], ginger cookies [their number one selling item!], frozen fruit, and GF waffles for Hubs). It was a good time. I decided to do a review on some of the items we bought.

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Today, I am reviewing the Trader Joe’s Organic Sprouted Tofu.

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A good reviewer would have written down the price…or saved the receipt. I did neither. But I do remember that this twin-pack was the cheapest of all the tofu selections there. I like that you get two smaller blocks of tofu. Sometimes I don’t want to eat a whole brick.

They were packed in their “tofu juice”, as usual. I covered my block with a paper towel and let it drain. Then I cut it into cubes. The inside of the block crumbled a bit, despite being “extra firm”, but the crumbles were big enough to count as a “piece”.

I decided to make a honey and sesame version. My recipe is below. It came out delicious. My youngest, Smalls, ate almost half of the serving. He couldn’t get enough of the “to-few”.

Review Result: Recommended

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Honey Sesame Tofu

Serves: 2

1 brick of tofu (as you know, the TJ’s one was smaller)

1 T sesame oil

1 t vegetable oil

1 – 2 T sesame seeds

1.5 t soy sauce

1.5 t honey

1/2 t brown sugar

Place the sesame seeds in a small pan and heat on medium until brown, swirling in pan (so they don’t burn). You can skip this step, but you’ll be sorry. Browning the sesame seeds makes them incredibly nutty and fragrant, and deep with flavor.

Remove seeds from pan and add sesame oil to pan. Add the tofu and brown. I added the veggie oil because the tofu pieces were starting to burn.

Once browned, added the soy sauce, honey, and brown sugar. Add sesame seeds right before serving.

You don’t have to add the brown sugar. I did it so there would be some caramelization.

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

And PS – I learned tonight I can use chopsticks with my left hand (I’m right-handed for writing) as well as my right hand! NEAT! Who knew!

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜€

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. πŸ™‚

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I still ate it.

All caught up! Have a great weekend!

Blessings, 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 aΒ  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!

 

Snowballs & Meatballs

It has been HOT. Like, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk, bake-a-cookie-outside, I’m-melting HOT. Super hot.

To keep “cool”, I made indoor snow for my boys! I found an easy recipe on Pinterest and already had the ingredients. You take shaving cream (must be cream, not gel) and mix it with cornstarch. It took a while for me to get the right consistency, but it finally came together. The boys had so much fun playing with it and squishing it. Well, Bigs did. Smalls liked sticking his plastic spoon in it (so as not to get it on his hands).

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And today, to wallow in our own sweat to beat the heat (what were we thinking!), we went to the local zoo and splash pad with some friends.

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We saw the rhinos, who were in their pond, trying to stay cool.

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We saw the butterfly garden.

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We watched the giraffes play and eat their…whatever giraffes eat.

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And then we trucked it to the splash pad, which was near the entrance. The heat was almost unbearable. We didn’t even see all the animals. It was just too hot.

Smalls sat the splash pad out, as I thought he might. The girls and Bigs had fun. We ate our sweaty picnic lunch and called it a day.

At least the boys got a great (long) nap. πŸ™‚ That makes the heat worth it!

For dinner tonight, I made meatballs…with a twist. I was inspired by the Vietnamese date my husband and I went on last weekend. I used some of the same flavors from that meal in tonight’s meatballs.

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I mixed tamari sauce (GF!), rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, fresh minced garlic, cilantro, sesame oil, pepper, and onion powder. I then added almost a pound and a half of minced pork, one slightly beaten egg, and some cornflake crumbs, and shaped into balls. I baked at 400F for about 15 minutes. I served it with brown rice and a freshly cut pineapple (Costco whole pineapples are both cheap and delicious!!). Everyone enjoyed it. Well, not everyone. Smalls squished it all into smithereens. Whatever.

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Another successful summer day under our belts!

Blessings,

Kristin

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚Β  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! πŸ™‚

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

BBQ Picnic Salad & Sensory Play

Today has been a busy day. It isn’t even nearly over. I guess the days seem long because my boys get up so early. I am always pooped by lunch time.

After the boys woke up, we made Banana Kale Smoothies. Or “smoozees”, as they call them. Bigs helped me.

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Banana Kale Smoozees:

Serves 3

3 bananas, peeled, chopped, frozen

1 C washed, raw kale

1/2 C coconut milk

1/2 C vanilla yogurt

Place in food processor.

After our smoozees, we went for now our-usual jog early this morning. So far (crossing my fingers), the boys haven’t tried to escape their jogger seats yet, and they’ve been pretty good. I’ve only had to stop and get on their case for brotherly-arguing about three times since I’ve started jogging consistently.

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Today they were squealing with delight and throwing up their hands. I know I’m not jogging fast enough for them to feel like they are on a roller coaster!

When we got home, I set up a little sensory playtime for them. I’d remembered that one of Bigs’ favorite activities in school wasΒ  playing with shaving cream. So, the last time I was at the Dollar Store, I bought a few cans. Today I set them out with some Tupperware and whisks.

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Bigs loved it, obvi. Smalls did not. I thought he would, but I should have guessed. Despite being so wild and cray cray, he does not like messes on his hands and body, with the exception of food on his face. That, he never seems to mind or notice. Oh well. Scaling the walls, climbing on table tops, eating out of the trashcan, and running amok will have to suffice for Smalls entertainment. I think he’ll be okay.

Whenever I make lunch for the boys, I end up feeling like a piece of meat, with vultures surrounding me, pecking, and ravishing my personal space. I cannot keep them from getting all up in my face while preparing their meals. Today, I gave them a few pieces of frozen corn to much on while waiting. I did not expect it to turn into their favorite snack ever. They both loved it and ended up eating around a 1/2 cup each.

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What a fun discovery for me! I hope they’ll continue eating it. I think it makes for an almost refreshing, and certainly healthy, “treat” (usually I serve corn warm for them).

I made another salad for myself. It was divine. It was a BBQ Picnic Salad.

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I used romaine lettuce, carrots, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, frozen corn and peas, yellow tomatoes, shredded chicken from last night’s dinner (roasted chicken), shredded cheddar, and a pickled tri-bean salad. For the dressing, I put BBQ sauce, olive oil, S&P, mustard, and ACV in a mason jar and shook the dickens out of it. Yum yum. And very filling.

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.Β 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. πŸ™‚

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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

Sweet Sweet Summertime

What a weird week it’s turned out to be. In between all the playing at parks, eating good Mother’s Day food, and spending time with family, both my boys got sick with two different things and I lost my voice. We even had to skip church on Mother’s Day. But I was “stuck” at home with the two very reasons I got to celebrate that day, so I was a happy, voice-less Mama!Β  The Friday before, we tried out a new park. I couldn’t even get a picture of Bigs because he was on the go the whole time!

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Smalls had fun but got tuckered out by the end.

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Poor, tired, little fella. <3

We were supposed to travel to attend my cousin’s graduation party the next day, but that night on the park day, Bigs got a fever. We were able to get it down but he still wasn’t feeling well. And I had woken up with absolutely no voice. So no one was feeling well enough to travel. We rested at home and puttered around town when cabin fever set in. We ate a nice BBQ lunch.

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I ate a smoked chicken salad sandwich (which I actually had to take home because I was so full from my sides!), roasted corn, sweet potatoes, and bananas foster bread pudding. You heard thatΒ part correctly. Seriously yum. The boys shared a scoop of house-made cotton candy ice cream and I took this little baby home to enjoy while they were napping.

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Chocolate cake with chocolate chips and vanilla (tinted pink for Mother’s Day) buttercream.

After naps, we went to one of our favorite stores – Christmas Tree Shops. I was THRILLED when they brought one down here. They had all their summer stuff out. It made me so happy to just walk around the aisles of water tubes, canopies, margarita-shaped strung lights, and seasonal summer foods. And I, a sucker for ALL things flamingo and watermelon, had to get these (cheap!) chevron flamingo placemats and watermelon cutting board. So fresh!

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I’d say we made the most of the day, even though we weren’t feeling up to snuff.

The next day was Mother’s Day. I felt so very blessed to be able to celebrate this day. My boys showered me with love…AND they slept in for the first time in AGES! It was so nice! They took me to Perkin’s for breakfast, one of our favorite places to eat. It was crowded with all kinds of people.

Smalls was in a “mood”. I should mention that this sort of mood comes out every time we dine out now. I suppose he’s in that phase (hopefully, short-lived) where we are “those people” at the restaurants with the screaming, spoon-throwing, crayon-chucking, food-smearing kid.

This too shall pass.

Our lovely server brought me a warm strawberry muffin, which I was sweet enough to share with my boys. They wanted to dig in so quickly that my picture came out blurry.

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It was really good.

Inspired buy said muffin, I ordered the Strawberry French Toast.

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It came out missing whipped cream, but the server brought it out shortly after.

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My husband ordered an omelette with tomatoes and sausage and potatoes. It also came with pancakes, which he gave to me and I ate later for dinner.

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The pancakes were delicious, even heated up later.

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Bigs ordered his usual – Sprinkle Pancakes! This boy knows what he wants! He also got bacon.

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I ordered the French Toast sticks for Smalls, thinking he’d easily hold and eat them.

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I didn’t anticipate that he’d want my whipped cream and smear the table with it, as I imagine a baby Picasso would have done.

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This mess was the tip of the ice berg.

It was still lovely, albeit slightly stressful.

When we got home, we went swimming. It was a beautiful day and Bigs was eager to show off his new swimming skills.

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It was a great Mother’s Day. I am so very blessed.

On Monday, after swim lessons, the boys and I went jogging. Now that I have a double jogger, I am able to take them with me. We did three miles (half jog, half speed walk) around a nearby lake.

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We did stop to feed the turtles and fish some stale popcorn.

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About seven turtles came up and went berserk-o on the popcorn.

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And that night, I made a really yummy dinner (not an everyday occurrence in my household). I roasted chicken and made a BBQ sauce from scratch (ketchup, garlic, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ACV). I served it with some dumpy, gross GF, DF cornbread I made from scratch without a recipe, corn, peas, and a fruit salad.

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It was still a successful meal.

Well. That caught us up to only Monday. And it’s already almost Thursday! Hope you’ve had a great week!

Blessings!

Kristin

 

 

Party time excellent!

To only have one birthday party to go to in a weekend is for the birds! On Sunday, following our big ol’ carnival, we attended another birthday party (we skipped church this week). This one was for a sweet little friend turning one. It was a Sesame Street themed party, so I put the boys in their Elmo shirts and me in my Cookie Monster shirt and we headed on our way. My husband had to leave us to go on a business trip, so it was just me and the boys. The party was adorable. It was at a kids’ gym. The kids had so much fun running around together.

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The cupcakes were both delicious and beautifully decorated.

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There were some for each Sesame Street character.

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The boys played hard and then napped hard once we got home, thankfully. I was very tired myself.

After dinner, we played in the yard until bedtime. We played with Bigs’ birthday gifts – a bug kit, bug catching nets, gardening tools, water squirters. It was great. It really feels like summer has arrived!

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The next day, Monday, we went to swim lessons again. Almost done with those! The boys are doing so well. We’ve got a wonderful swim instructor, whom we feel lucky to have found. After swim, we went to my Friday playdate’s Cinco de Mayo swim party at a friend’s house. Third party in three days! Whaat! We each brought a dish to share. I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip with pretzels. It was a healthy chickpea-based dessert dip. Yum! Here’s the recipe:

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/23/want-to-eat-an-entire-bowl-of-cookie-dough/

I didn’t get a picture because I had to make it quickly and get it to the party and also it wasn’t pretty. But it tasted good.

We had a ton of fun at the party! The boys practiced their swimming and did so well!

Smalls was not impressed with having to swim though. He’d rather have stayed on the sidelines. I hope he’ll get over that, as we spend more time in the pool and going to splash pads this summer.

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I did get lots of snuggles and kisses hanging out with him, though. πŸ™‚

I couldn’t pull Bigs out of the pool though! He loved it! I am so glad!

The next night, I made a yummy dinner. I put a pork roast in the crockpot. When it was done, I made a quick BBQ sauce from scratch. I mixed ketchup, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, Worcester sauce, and brown sugar in a sauce pan and once bubbling, poured it over the shredded pork. I made mashed potatoes from scratch and served it all with fresh fruit (grapes, cantaloupe, blueberries). Yummers.

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Excuse the Christmas plate. I was pooped. It was a paper plate sort of night.

So. We’ve been so busy. But so busy with good, fun, summery things. I love this sort of busy.

Hope you’re having a happy sort of busy too!

Kristin

The Carnival came to town!

Come one, come all!!

What a big weekend it was for us! We celebrated our Bigs’ 4th birthday. We had so much fun. His birthday celebration started last Thursday, when I packed that fun birthday lunch for him for school. That night, we went out to get some of the food we’d need for his birthday party on Saturday. We found the corndogs at Target. While there, as per the usual, Bigs led us to the vacuum aisle.

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This kid loves vacuums. He always has. I am telling you, I’d not be surprised if he was the inventor of the next big, cool vacuum. What a great way to spend your last night as a three year old – pretend vacuuming the Target aisles in your Woody & Buzz Lightyear boots.

Friday was his actual birthday. Our original intent was to take him on the train after breakfast, but their schedules were not fitting in with our schedules and also it was RAINY. Like, a monsoon-rainy. So we decided to play his day by ear, realizing that our expectations of it might just be higher and more complicated that they needed to be…than Bigs’ expectations. So, we started the first day of his 4th year singing “Happy Birthday” to him and letting him open his present. We’d gotten him a whistle (yay for him, booo for us). That was all he’d asked for. All he wanted was that and to be able to eat a whole vitamin versus the half serving for children under 4. After those two exciting gifts, we went to have a wonderful breakfast. Bigs ordered chocolate chip pancakes (one huge one, in this restaurant). We got the same for Smalls.

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They were giant. Bigger than the boys’ heads. Just the way a birthday pancake should be.

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I’d say Bigs loved it. Those chocolate chips were smeared all over their sweet, little faces.

I ordered the French Toast Monte Cristo.

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It was really delicious. It came with some dressed greens. Husband got eggs over breakfast potatoes.

With our bellies full, we went home for a little while to relax. Our neighbors came over to wish Bigs a Happy Birthday and we visited with them. That’s when the skies really opened up. When we were able to, we finally got back out into the storm to go to Toys-R-Us. Side note: that place, of all places, needs to put sanitizing wipes for their carts. Blech! We surprised Bigs with a water table (yay gift cards!!). We went home and set it up and the boys had so much fun playing with it on the back porch.

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It was nice to be able to be doing something outdoors even though it was pouring outside.

After naps, we went to Ale House, where they have both delicious food AND a gluten-free menu. I ordered the Chicken Cajun Pasta. It was so good and there was so much of it, I got to eat it again at home!

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Husband ordered shrimp, Bigs ordered mini cheeseburgers and fries, and Smalls ate a grilled cheese and fries. We ordered a piece of chocolate cake to take home.

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It was also huge. We knew Bigs would love this as his birthday cake!

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I stuck candles in a little slice for him and we sang! Even Smalls sang along, the best he could. I’ve been teaching him this song for weeks so that he could sing it to Bigs. The boys wore little birthday cone hats and enjoyed their cake.

It was a perfect day.

Saturday was party day! We’d rented a pavilion at our neighborhood park months ago, in preparation for this day. Quite sadly, the weather had gotten even worse than it was on Bigs’ birthday, the day before. All weather reports showed thunderstorms all day long. We didn’t have a back up plan, but we had to make one quickly. Before 7:00am rolled around, we decided to move the whole operation to our house. That would be the only way a birthday party would happen. Also sadly, my house was a pigsty. I’d neglected cleaning it, as I oft do, because I’d been so busy preparing for this outside birthday party. So we cleaned and cleaned and decorated and notified our guests about the change in plans. It was a frantic morning. And an extremely rainy one…we made the right decision.

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Dining Room Table

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Details, upclose

I found almost all my decorating supplies at the Dollar Store. I put the centerpieces on top of red and white tablecloths. For the centerpieces, I put some yellow crinkle confetti in the bottom of a decorative plastic popcorn bucket and then some yellow and white flowers. Since these were supposed to grace eight picnic tables, and we were now partying inside, I put them all over the house. I actually love the way it came out. I also put some ticket stubs (also found at the Dollar Store) around, as a confetti. And for the dining room table only, I put some carnival charms, that I’d found online, and a mason jar filled with gum balls.

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I twisted red and white crepe paper and hung it to look like a circus/carnival top, centering around Bigs’ chair at our dining room table.

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I did a similar thing on the antique desk that is in my foyer….

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…and the same for the top of my TV in the living room.

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I made a “4!” out of tickets on the front door.

And then I set up the games downstairs…

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Pin the nose on the clown (sticker noses)

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Fishing (and a bucket of prizes)

And we also had hula hoops, and three little red baskets where the kids could throw three plastic baseballs.

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Here were some carnival bags for the kids to hold their loot in, as well as some carnival temporary tattoos.

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Then I set up the candy bar and food. For the candy bar, I used bags of Charms Fluffy Stuff cotton candy (dollar store!), licorice (red and black [I LOVE black licorice…I think my Dad and I are the only ones]), candy wax bottles, sugar-coated rainbow strings, watermelon gummies, and swirl lollipops.

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I placed popcorn bags next to the candy bar and popcorn so our guests could easily walk around with their treats. I bought bags of popcorn from the deli at Publix and made (my Mom was on duty) corndogs.

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I think it was a hit!

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I used the same red and white theme with the popcorn buckets and flowers throughout.

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I love how the food table came out!

The cake was DELICIOUS too. I didn’t make it this year, not for that amount of people. I got it at CostCo. Bigs requested chocolate, so chocolate is what he got! I asked for extra sprinkles because…that’s how we roll.

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Fireworks added to cover my Bigs’ name πŸ™‚

It was really, really delicious. I LOVE Publix cake, but this was really tasty and a great deal! Bigs’ GF friend from school brought a GF cupcake for both herself AND for Husband. What great friends! And we served GF hot dogs and buns to them.

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Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to youuuu, Happy Birthday dear Biiiigs, Happy Birthday to youuuu!

It was great party! Thank you to all that helped and attended!