Category: Dinner

Current Events

Oh, boy! Hello, there! I’ve missed you! It’s been crazy-town lately. I used to have time in the mornings to write before my boys were awake, but now with early swim lessons, things have been shifted…off my radar. So here I am now, catching up on two weeks worth of stuff, and trying to get ready for my Bigs’ 4th birthday this Friday!!! Where does the time go!

So let’s catch up, shall we?

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First Oreo dunk ever!

So for snack one day, I let my boys have Oreos. Probably lots of people have Oreos for snack. My boys have never had cookies as a snack. Despite how much I bake, I am very controlled with the amount of sugar I let my children have. I’d say they enjoyed it. Bigs was loved dipping the Oreo in milk. Are you a dipper? I am not. I do not care (too much) for wet food.

We’ve eaten lots of pancakes since I last wrote, too. Obvi.

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GF DF Cinnamon pancakes with bananas

And I’ve actually made some good dinners!

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I made oven-fried chicken tenders (using corn flake crumbs), fresh corn on the cob and green beans. Yum-o!

And we even met some friends for dinner at this amazing taco restaurant that I’d never been to.

I got a watermelon adult drink. Anytime there is something with watermelon, I’m in!

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We ordered their famous guacamole, made table-side!

Best guac I've had!
Best guac I’ve had!

I ordered three small tacos – a mushroom one, a chorizo one, and a pork one. All three delicious!

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And for dessert, we all shared a piece of Mexican Chocolate Pie and Tres Leches Cake. The cake was topped with meringue. I’d never seen that before!

Mexican Chocolate Pie
Mexican Chocolate Pie
Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake

The Tres Leches Cake was served with strawberries and bananas. So fresh!

It was a night filled with laughter, great food, and great company.

Then we had Easter. How was your Easter? Ours was wonderful. We had a great church service and ate lots of yummy food afterwards.

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My Mom made homemade biscuits, ham, pickled everything (which I put all together), fresh green beans, mayo-less potato salad, deviled eggs, and fruit salad. Delish!

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And these beauties for dessert – chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. Serious yumminess.

The Monday after Easter, the boys and I went on a field trip with Bigs’ school. We went to Publix for a tour. They We had a great time!

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They handed out nametags with our names on them and hairnets.

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Bigs would not take his off. It was so cute.

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We saw a cake being decorated, we tasted popcorn chicken, we saw the produce coming in off the truck, we saw the seafood man put a lobster to sleep. It was fun!

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Bigs even got to ring some items up! He loved it! What a fun trip for the kids…and adults. 😀

The next day, we went to a birthday party at a park in the afternoon. It was so much fun to celebrate our little friend turning 2 and eat cake and run around!

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Speaking of running around, I finally updated my Mom Workout Shoes. And I’ve been running even faster in my new ones. I think having “cooler” shoes helps your workout.

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Agree?

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Then on Friday, I made my flourless chocolate cake for a dinner with friends. It is easy to whip up and my husband can enjoy dessert too! I also make it dairy free.

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

My Bigs had a karate belt ceremony on Saturday. He’s now an orange belt – go Bigs! We had a potluck at the academy. I had found this from Target earlier:

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I love watermelon anything. I almost always make desserts from scratch, but this appealed greatly to me and Bigs, while on a Target run.

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They came out great – very artificially watermelon flavored, like a jolly rancher. I think they went over well at karate.

We went from karate to another birthday party for another friend. This one was at a park too, which also had a splash pad. That was a lot of fun! Hello Summer weather!

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Bigs just loved it. Smalls wouldn’t get so close. He is so fearless with most things, but for some reason, had some major fears about the splash pad. He was like this last year too but by the end of the season, loved it. 🙂

After church on Sunday, I went to a baby shower of one of my dear friends. She is having a girl in July, the day before my Smalls’ birthday. I can’t wait to meet her!

We had so much fun celebrating the Mommy-to-be. We ate and ate.

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There was two kinds of chicken salad, fruit with marshmallow dip, antipasti for days, many different kinds of salads, and rice balls in red gravy. SO GOOD!

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For dessert, there were two kinds of cannolis (one chocolate covered), eclairs, and Napoleons…

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…and her beautiful, delicious, ruffled cake!

And then lastly, I made healthier brownies to take into Bigs’ class this past Tuesday to celebrate his upcoming Friday birthday.

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They were gluten-free black bean brownies. I used coconut oil in place of vegetable oil and that made them taste like coconut chocolate brownies, which apparently lots of kids don’t like! Oops, now I know! 🙂 Bigs loved them though. Here is the recipe:

http://www.mealmommy.com/Recipes/tabid/89/CategoryID/5/List/1/Level/a/ProductID/42/Default.aspx?SortField=ProductName%2cProductName

Alrighty, I am caught up on food, events, and general diary. Next up is fun birthday food and events for my Bigs! I can’t believe he’s turning 4!

Kristin

 

 

Egg-cellent!

This Easter week and a half have been so busy! I finally got around to starting a post. It’s been filled with lots of good food, lots of Easter eggs (some smashed…will get to that), and lots of fun.

About a week ago, I went to a new to me restaurant. It was one that specialized in rustic Italian food, but with a modern, farm-to-table-esque atmosphere. We sat almost in the kitchen.

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There was focaccia bread and olive oil.

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I ordered a side of polenta, which was creamy with mascarpone, mint, and hazelnuts, and chives. Serious comfort food.

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I almost licked the bowl. I’m serious. You can ask my friends. It was heavenly.

My friend and I shared the Diavolo Pizza (house pepperoni, Italian long peppers, oregano, and ricotta salata).

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Spicy and salty on an earthy crust.

The next day, we had another playdate. This one goes down in the record books. It was a public library showing of “Frozen”, which we had not seen yet. When we first got there, we played while we waited. There were two hamsters that they boys loved looking at, especially Bigs, since he’d learned about mice earlier in the week.

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Then a boatload of kids showed up. There were about 25 kids from various schools and playdates, in addition to our playdate. My boys were good (as long as I was feeding them) for about a half hour. Then things went downhill, as they say. Smalls came up to me and pointed to his bum bum, saying, “Wet!!”. I have no idea how that even happened. I still don’t know if it was pee. I didn’t have a change of shorts, so he rocked his mystery-liquid-soaked shorts. Then he fell off of an adult-sized chair and got a goose-egg on his forehead. And then things were just over. No more “Frozen”. No more library.

We left. Sometimes, you have to know when to fold. That was a folding moment.

We “Let it go”, as Elsa (?? or Anna??) sang.

We walked to a little cafe where we picked up lunch and smoothies. My friend and I shared this:

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The top left is a carrot chicken salad, which was delicious. I loved the addition of carrots. We also had hummus and cukes, falafel with a yogurt dipping sauce, and the most delicious tabbouleh I’d tasted, and some warm pita. That made wet pants and goose-eggs worth it.

The kids ended up having so much more fun at the park than at the movie.

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There is this great, big, old tree in this park that looks downright magical. The boys loved hanging on it and climbing it.

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There was also lots of mud. Mud which must have looked delicious to my Smalls. He can’t resist putting everything in his mouth. This kid.

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He actually ENJOYED his first mud pie! I asked him to stick his tongue out so I could see the extent of his dirtiness. It went way back into his throat. He’ll do it again for sure.

This park is also right by a train station (and the Farmer’s Market we go to).

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My boys LOVE a train. They watched as it pulled into the station, as people disembarked, embarked, and as it left the station, waving the whole time. Choo Choooooooo!

Dinner was ham! Always a good-eating night in our house.

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I glazed it with cherry preserves and served it with marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes and corn.

The next morning was a volunteer day at our church. We packed backpacks for girls who had just been rescued from the Human Trafficking Circuit. I love having my kids learn to serve others.

That night, we took them to the grand opening of a new gelati/ice cream shop that opened right by our house. We love this place and used to travel 25 minutes to get to it. Now it’s only five. Yippee!

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The boys shared a sugar free sour apple and tangerine mixed with vanilla soft serve, my husband got pina colada, and I got salted caramel and raspberry mixed with vanilla soft serve. Yum yum.

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Then the boys played in the yard until bedtime. Smalls is really good at doing somersaults. Bigs is too now, but he wasn’t as much so when he was Small’s age. So Smalls does them everywhere – concrete, grass, whatever. That’s probably why he has a black eye right now, poor fella. I’d prefer him to do it on grass.

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Peekaboo!

On Sunday, after church, I made a one-bowl chocolate cake for my Mom group the next day. It was easy to put together and delicious! I’ve used this recipe before and it always comes together this easily.

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I had to add my trademark sprinkles, of course. 🙂

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Dat icing.

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Mmm yes.

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Fudgy, dense, moist chocolate cake with a rich, cocoa-y, fluffy, chocolate buttercream.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/06/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-made-from-scratch.html

It was a hit with my church group. I brought only two teeny pieces left. And it fed a lot – it was a 9×13 pan.

On Tuesday morning, my wonderful neighbor brought me some Jewish pastries from a local bakery.

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She got me three different kinds of hamentashen – raspberry, apricot, and prune. All three were delicious, but one flavor stood out to me. The raspberry was incredible! She also gave me a cream cheese roll and a nut bun. All delicious! Food gifts are the best!

That was a nice treat after taking my boys to their first swim lessons of the season (and Smalls first ever swim lesson). They are four times a week for about six weeks.

Tuesday night, my husband had a doctor’s appointment after work. It also happened to be Family Night at Chik-Fil-A…with goats. And bunnies. And ducks. And chickens and roosters, too. And an egg hunt! Yes please! Anything to get me from dinner time to bath time, when I’m by myself with the kids, I’ll do!

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This brings me to the Easter egg hunt. Smalls and Bigs were the only ones in the hunt area at that exact moment. Each kid was allowed to pick up 10 eggs. Well. Smalls stomped (with gusto) on about 14. Not a gentle tap of the shoe, but like a ground-shaking sort of stomp. The type that breaks eggs. :/ At least he wasn’t doing that to the animals. I should be thankful.

He continued the stomping habit when Bigs brought some hard boiled eggs he’d dyed at school. I had his little basket on the hood of my truck and the wind knocked it over and everything fell out and Smalls zeroed in on the eggs stomping them to their sad demise.

On Wednesday, we met one of my oldest friends at a “fancy” mall in between each of our houses. She also came bearing a food gift:

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Sesame balls (if you know me at all, you know my obsession!), shrimp chips, some rice candy, Pockey, and Hello Panda treats! All from my favorite Asian grocery!

Food gifts are the best! Did I already say that? 😉

For me, the best kind of Easter basket is the one filled with giant sesame balls.

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🙂

If you’ve not tried a sesame ball, I encourage…implore you to try one. And then let me know if you like them!

For lunch, I had a salad from a vegetarian Mediterranean place.

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Loads of veggies, lettuce, spinach, beets, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cous cous, cabbage, garlic, and cilantro. My kind of salad!

Thursday, after swim lessons and dropping Bigs off at school, I made treats for his class. His wonderful teacher asked me to make something Easter-y. I love love being asked to make stuff!

I decided to go with gluten-free rice krispie treats, shaped to look like little Easter baskets.

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Bigs has a friend in his class who is gluten free so I work closely with her Mom to make sure all the ingredients are free of anything that could cause a reaction. It’s so fun to have a challenge! And a plus is that my husband can eat and leftover treats I make (when also made dairy free).

I made GF rice krispie treats and formed them into cupcake wrappers (Peeps!!) in a cupcake tin. I made a little dip in the center to hold little treats. While those were setting up, I dyed some shredded coconut green to act as the grass.

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I added the “grass” and then some GF jelly beans. They came out so cute! But I knew what would make them even better….

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Don’t Peeps always make stuff better? I’ve found that most people have very strong feelings about Peeps. They either cannot stand them or they are obsessed. I’m obviously in the obsessed camp.

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They were a hit. Mostly. I’d say with confidence that most of the kids thought the coconut was not a good addition to the dessert, as a whole. Sometimes I get too fancy for kids. 🙂 It was a lot of fun making them though!!

For dinner on Thursday, I made steak and homemade macaroni and cheese (husband got brown rice). The macaroni sauce (a basic roux sauce with cheddar added) was extra creamy.

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I served fresh watermelon and pineapple with it. Smalls ate none of it, Bigs ate all of it. It’s always a toss up! I thought it was good.

The boys played in the yard until bedtime again.

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Loving on the neighbor’s dogs

Whew. We are all caught up. I hope you all are having a blessed Holy Friday. Bigs and I have been discussing Jesus and his painful death a lot. He knows that Jesus went through all of that to save us and to give us eternal hope. I hope you know that too.

Be blessed,

Kristin

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone!

Or in my case…my glasses! I’ve been wearing glasses for the last 12 or so years, from sunup to sundown. I finally worked up the gumption to give contacts a try. What a frustrating day! Anyways, I think I got the hang of them, finally. Life is so different without having to constantly push my glasses up. I can also see things while laying down, workout without having the sweat cause my glasses to slide down, and actually have people see my eye makeup that I just learned how to do properly. Ahhh yes, it’s good to have options now!

In addition to all of that, we have been busy!

We had our Friday playdate at a new park. We love trying out new parks. It was a really nice day.

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There were tire swings, bridges, a play train, slides, and more!

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And the park was right next to real train tracks, which my boys loved!

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CHOO CHOOOOOOO!

And I packed them a special, summery lunch.

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I made beach balls out of their PB&Js, gave them each an applesauce squeezy fruit, a box of raisins, and some goldfish crackers. And for Bigs, I also packed some chocolate covered banana chips.

The next morning, we had pancakes (back on track!). I used a different kind of gluten-free mix – King Arthur Flour. As far as how the actual pancake turn out, this was the best GF mix I’ve tried! I added lots of vanilla bean paste and some caramel extract. They were delicious.

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They came out golden and fluffy, like how they look in commercials.

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I served them with little turkey sausages and some Maine Caviar – blueberries from Maine in Maine maple syrup (from my Mom-in-law). DELISH.

I made the boys a quick craft to play with at home with my husband, while I was getting my contacts lesson at the eye doctor.

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Bird-watching binoculars! Thank you Pinterest!

Bigs had a great time with them.

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Bird watch here…

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Bug watch there…

Smalls crushed his before I could even leave the house.

Awesome.

And I made a good dinner on Sunday (not something I find myself saying very often)! Truth be told, the only reason it came out better than okay is because my husband grilled the meat part.

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Earlier in the day, after church, I had thrown some steaks in a Ziploc with some GF soy sauce, lemon juice, fresh garlic, and olive oil. By dinnertime, they were ready to be grilled. That simple marinade came out so delicious.

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I served them with rosemary roasted potatoes (I used fresh rosemary that my friend Kristin, and fellow blogger, gave us) and balsamic green beans.

I also threw together some oaty, banana “cookies” while the oven was still hot. I mashed one super ripe banana, and mixed it with a handful of oats, some honey, and some cinnamon and baked them.

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I poked one semi-sweet chocolate chip into each of them and the kids thought they were cookies.

Mommy:1

A great end to a busy, but nice, weekend.

It was a bright (bright), bright (bright), sun-shiny daaaaaay!

PS – check out my friend Kristin’s blog! She’s a great friend and cook.

http://thefoodgeekdiary.com/

Pecan, Peecan, Pecahn

Last night was a first for me. I went to an Ingredient Party. My lovely friend opened her beautiful home to a few friends and we shared a great meal, with all the components sharing a few common ingredients. It was fabulous. Our host couldn’t decide between the pecan and the lime. So it was a pecan and lime themed party.

We started with cranberry lime adult beverages:

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That’s the way to start a party! They were very refreshing.

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My Lime Cracker Pie sat proudly next to those drinks.

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The appetizer tray was right up my alley – chips and salsa, stuffed olives (oh, yessss), and one of the most delicious things I’d ever tasted (I find myself saying that a lot). They were little limey, goat-cheesy, white chocolately tarts. That’s what I said – lime, goat cheese, and white chocolate…in a tart shell. You heard correctly! They were divine. And our host got them at PUBLIX. That’s another reason why (my newly re-done) Publix is so wonderful – they have their own gourmet fromagerie. Seriously.

Anyways. I could go on all day about cheese.

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I can’t be stopped. So don’t even try.

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Another friend also brought a cheese for an appetizer, about which I could also talk all day. BRIE. I love my brie. I could put away a whole wheel. I’m not even jesting. Who says that? Anyways, my friend marinated pecans in a brown sugar and orange liqueur mix overnight, and then baked it, and served it with crackers and sliced apples and pears. I meannnnnn.

After pickies, it was time to sit down and eat.

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We all felt like we were at a fine dining establishment, which doesn’t happen all too often with us, all having thirteen kids between the six of us.

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We had gorgeous pecan-crusted chicken breasts, shrimp with a limey mango dip, a beautiful salad with bacon, pecans and a bunch of other really amazing add-ins, and a fiesta quinoa with corn, black beans, cilantro and more.

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DELICIOUS. Seriously.

Imma need those recipes.

Do you call pecans “pe-cahns” or “pee-cans”? I am from the south and I tend to call them “pee-cans” although some Southerners would argue that is what you used to keep undah ya bed.

Either way.

We took dessert on the patio. Surrounded by candlelights and laughter, we enjoyed some dark chocolate bark (with so many yummies in it – goji berries, pepitas…), Butter Pecan ice cream, and my Lime Cracker Pie.

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So the pie turned out exactly as it was supposed to, and it couldn’t have been more easy to throw together. It had FOUR ingredients and ended up tasting like a Key Lime Pie.

I made it earlier in the day and it sat in the fridge, flavors melding together. If you like Key Lime Pie, this is a great recipe for you. Sadly for me, and also ironically, since it’s the recipe I both made and had been wanting to make for a few years, I don’t care for Key Lime Pie. I mean, I’d EAT it and I did, but it isn’t one I’d order usually.

Here the the world’s most simple recipe:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/07/10-minute-lime-cracker-pie-recipe.html

Try it (but only if you like Key Lime Pie).

If you ever get the opportunity to go to an Ingredient Party, go! Thank you again, to my friend, for hosting!

I hope you have a wonder Friday!

Kristin

PS – Quesitos.

Have you tried those? I ate a  lot of them in my youth – my high school Spanish teacher (with whom I am still amigas – Hola Sra.!) used to sell them as fund-raisers. I gave a lot to that “charity”. Anyways, they are a pastry filled with cream cheese. Yummers.

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My Mom picked up a few for me earlier this week. I shared one with Smalls (Bigs was in school) and froze the other. Go me!

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Smalls was a fan, as evidenced by this photo. 🙂

We worked off those shared calories, in a shared way:

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Riding the exercise bike with a 20 month old on your lap is quite a work out. I better treat myself to another quesito for getting through that work out.

Adios!

B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

I made dinner with a recipe. I almost never do that. When it comes to dinner, my family is just lucky to get a cooked, warm meal. I am a baker, what can I say!

So, I happened upon a sausage recipe on the same day I was thawing sausage (without a direction to go in). It was kismet, meant to be.

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I had all the ingredients too (which almost never happens)…or so I thought.

Here’s the recipe I found:

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2013/09/19/quick-weeknight-dinners-hot-sausage-tomatoes-fried-polenta/

The only changes I made was the type of sausage (not spicy) and that I added a whole chopped red bell pepper. Oh, and oops, I didn’t add fresh basil (had dried) and no sun dried tomatoes (those aren’t my thing). Okay, so LOTS of changes, but it was pretty much the same. It was DELICOUS! I could drink that red-wine infused sauce all day long.

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I went to go make my polenta and ran into a bit of a problem (as oft I do). What I thought was polenta in my cupboard was really ground white maize (cornmeal).

Whatever.

Luckily, I had quick cooking brown rice on hand.

Doesn’t even matter. That sausage and sauce would have been good on an old shoe.

Try it.

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In addition to that semi-successful meal, I also made something else that worked out! A few weeks ago, we went to a park birthday playdate. At that playdate, the Birthday Boy’s Mom, also my friend, brought the most delicious black bean and corn dip I’d ever had. I tried my best to recreate it.

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I knew it had black beans, corn, cilantro, lime juice, and avocado. I mixed all that together and also added tomatoes.

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It was really good!

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can kernel corn drained and rinsed

small handful of grape tomatoes,

1 ripe avocado

1 lime, squeezed

1 bunch of cilantro (or cilantro from that tube in the refrigerated section in produce)

Yummo.

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I put mine over lettuce that my big brother grew in his garden.

This one is a winner of a recipe and feels so summery. I know a lot of this country is not particularly enjoying their snowy weather, but WE have been experiencing (and mostly enjoying) what feels like summer weather, where we live. We spend a lot of time outside, usually at the parks. But in between parks, we spend time in our own yard, where the boys like to pretend mow.

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And blow bubbles, we do a LOT of bubbles.

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Bigs was pretending to be a goat yesterday.

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Baaaa

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It’s going to be a great summer. I can feel it.

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Smalls running and playing while waiting for Bigs to get out of class

Last night, we went to Bigs’ school’s Spring Fling, where they showcased the kids’ renditions of classical art. I was very impressed with my little artist’s talent!

Artsy Fartsy Bigs

Mondrian, Monet, Eric Carle…and Bigs!

And today was Rainforest Animal day in Bigs’ class. I went with a gorilla theme.

Gorilla Themed Preschool Lunch

I made a gorilla shaped PB&J made the crusts (aka branches) green. I also made a little fruit salad of grapes, strawberries, and pineapple. And for dessert, he got some animal crackers and some chocolate covered bananas (that’s what gorillas eat for dessert, you know). For snack, I gave him a spinach and banana muffin with a string cheese.

And naturally, he had to wear I had to put him in his gorilla shirt.

Gorilla Time

Me Tarzan.

Oh! I almost forgot, have you seen these?

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Apple fries? We went on a field trip this week with Bigs’ class and got these as a treat – gluten free to boot! They were awesome. Cinnamon-sugar coated apple “fries”. SO GOOD.

Hope you have a day that is just top banana!

Kristin

Be Still…

It’s been a fun weekend! On Saturday, it was a Community Garage Sale day! Those are always fun. We didn’t have a garage sale this year, but we plan on saving up some junk to sell for next year. It’s amazing what people will buy. And ridiculous. And I’m not exempt from this group of people. But the only things we bought this time were children’s books. We found some Berenstain Bears and Little Critters, both of which were two of my favorite series growing up. When we got home, I threw together some ingredients for crockpot red beans! We had a dinner party to go to that night and it was a taco theme! I love a theme! The beans were easy – dry kidney beans, veggies, seasoning, water. I meannnn, I love a recipe that can come together with SO little effort on my part.

http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/slow-cooker-red-beans-and-rice/10972c0d-2186-4067-9dc2-5e812472cf8a

I also put together a Sopapilla Cheesecake! It’s also been called a Churro Cheesecake. I’ll eat it whatever it is called! I had tried before and found the recipe on Pinterest. It was also a cinch to put together.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

It was simply crescent rolls on the bottom, a jazzed up cream cheese filling, another layer of crescent rolls, melted butter, and a layer of cinnamon sugar.

http://bestrecipesite.net/sopaipilla-cheesecake/

PS – my friend over at Willow Bird Baking does a PUMPKIN version of this! I will so be trying this when Fall comes back around!

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2011/10/02/easy-sopapilla-pumpkin-cheesecake-bars/

Get in mah belly.

Before naps, the boys played outside. My little guy was picking up little things that he found on our driveway (nuts, bolts, whatever else you find on driveways) and I thought he was going to put one of them in his mouth (as per the usual) and I went to say something to him (along the lines of “Smalls! No, no! Don’t put that in your mouth!), but something told me to stop. I simply watched him. Instead of putting that bolt (or whatever) in his mouth, he walked to the back of his trike, lifted the lid to the little trunk and placed it in there, ever so gently. I watched him for a few minutes more and saw that he was placing lots of little things in there – sticks, dirt clods, more bolts. To him, they were little treasures that he wanted to save. It was a small moment, but a moment that was a reinforcing one to me, and reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses – “Be still, and know that I am God…” – Psalms 46:10. We needn’t worry, we simply need to sit back, be still, and know that God has all sorts of His own treasures for us. It was a poignant reminder to me of God’s simple way of taking care of us.

I asked Smalls to show me what was in his treasure box:

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He was so proud to open the little lid.

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And I was so grateful that he was so eager to show his important things to me and Bigs.

I love reminders straight from God and love being reminded of God’s love through my sons.

We had such a fun time at our friends’ house that night! My friend is a fellow blogger and her and her husband have two boys similar in age to our boys. They were very gracious hosts and we can’t wait to do it again.

And the food was great! You can’t go wrong with tacos!

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The beans came out pretty good, too.

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I had also made basmati rice to go with them.

And dessert:

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My mouth is watering just writing this post!

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That cream cheese layer was so good. The only change I made to the recipe was that I added about a tablespoon of pure vanilla bean paste in addition to the vanilla extract. I like seeing the vanilla beans in my desserts.

Today, after church, we had a park get-together with some of Bigs’ Sunday School class. All were invited! Our friends (who have a little one Bigs’ age and they go to church and school together) made the suggestion to get together, so we could get to know each other. And what a wonderful time we had! It was nice to share in fellowship and to get to know the kids and the parents of the kids who join our sons in worship each Sunday. I hope to do it again. The kids had so much fun on the park – running, jumping, swinging, wishing on dandelions. Simple, honest, fun.

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I got in on the dandelion action.

I love building community, especially within our large church. What a blessing!

After naptime today, my husband grilled out…

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…while my sweet, wonderful sons played together.

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Bigs likes to “let” Smalls into his “clubhouse”.

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They could go up those stairs and down that slide over and over again.

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What a great end to a lovely Sabbath.

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Even my persnickety pup was relaxed.

I hope you had a blessed weekend, God Bless! <3

Kristin

Clear your plate!

My boys are still sleeping (!!!) and I have the chance to catch up, to clear my blogger plate, so to speak!

We had a small turkey dinner last night. I love love love turkey dinners that resemble Thanksgiving dinners. My love for Thanksgiving runs deep.

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I roasted two large turkey breasts and sliced them against the grain (oops). I served them with a bunch of different colored sweet potatoes, topped with marshmallows and your proverbial mixed vegetables.

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I loved it. Smalls ate approximately none of it and Bigs cleaned his plate only after I pretended my hand was an airplane arriving at the hangar (mind you, he’s almost 4).

Since Smalls ate so little nothing, I made a “fun” snack for them for after dinner. It wasn’t so fun for me.

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I saw this on Pinterest. You slice bananas and sandwich peanut butter in between them and freeze them. I think you can dip them in chocolate. Now that would be fun. These were ugly. But the boys liked them. Smalls got some protein and I was happy.

Hope you have a GREAT Friday (just the fact that it’s Friday should add some greatness),

Kristin

Berries and Army Men

Well, Spring Break has come to a close. It was a nice break. On Friday, we went to our usual Friday playgroup and we celebrated one little friend’s first birthday! It was so cute! It is SO fun to see these little babies grow up. We were at the park, so the kids had a great time. It was a sunny, clear (warm!) day – the sort that makes more freckles appear on Bigs’ nose and makes him and Smalls’ cheeks turn pink!

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The park was a new one to us and really great! There were lots of mini-playgrounds to explore.

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As per the usual, Smalls followed Bigs around, trying to do all the big boy things bigger boys do.

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Bigs loves going down fireman slides. He’s so good at it. He calls himself “Fireman ‘Bigs'”, when sliding down!

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The boys had so much fun!

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And the birthday boy did too! He smooshed cake all over his sweet little face. It was a fun day!

When we got home, my wonderful neighbor brought me a Jewish pastry called a hamentashen. It was a prune flavored one and it was just delicious.

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The pastry was light and buttery, the prune filling was subtle and sweet. It was my first hamentashen and I’d been wanting to try one for a while. So thoughtful of my neighbor!

We rounded out our day with a fun dinner at Cracker Barrel with my parents-in-law (I took a picture of my dinner, under the watchful, slightly judgey eye of my sitting-too-close-dining neighbor-that-I-didn’t-know, but it didn’t look as good as it tasted). After dinner, we rocked on their famous rocking chairs for a while and relaxed. It was a great Friday.

We didn’t have pancakes on Saturday morning (!!!), but I DID make muffins! I needed to use up more of the spinach from St. Patty’s Day (when I made spinach pancakes).

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I doubled the recipe since I had a ton of spinach and it only made 12 muffins (I like to freeze them for future eating). They were spinach banana muffins. They came out SO good!

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I was taking pictures of them as they were cooling and Smalls couldn’t resist trying to sneak one. I love those little sneaky baby hands!

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These muffins came out just right – the perfect, tender, chewy crumb, a heavy banana taste, loads of cinnamon.

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You couldn’t taste the spinach at all, and I used about 3 or so cups!

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In our house, when I make spinach muffins, we call them “Army Men Muffins” because they come out almost the same color as Bigs and Smalls’ army men.

Here is the recipe for our Army Men Muffins:

http://thegreenforks.com/popeye-muffins/

We took the boys to Home Depot after breakfast to get some plants. There happened to be a popcorn cart there, at which the boys got some free little bags to munch on.

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Smalls

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Bigs

I shouldn’t even admit this, but I sort of love going to Home Depot. The lumber smell that hits you right as you walk in is such a wonderful smell, especially mixed with the hot doggy smells from the hot dog cart by the entrance. They sort of go together – hot dogs and lumber. Anyways, I love going through the garden section. It’s always like a little e-venture (as Bigs call it).

Bigs likes to try out the riding mowers.

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He’s so neat.

We got a blackberry plant, a blueberry plant, and some other stuff that I have no idea about. When we got home, we (they) transferred them to their new pots.

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Bigs is at such a wonderful age (turning 4 in about a month and a half), where he loves to help and is actually good at it.

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He put together his own little plant. He called it his “merry-go-round” plant because he couldn’t remember that it was a marigold.

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He dropped in the seeds and watered it all by himself.

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We can’t wait to see it grow!

Smalls played in the yard while Bigs planted.

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He likes going up to the fence separating our yard from the neighbors’ and barking at it, in hopes that their dogs will come to see him.

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Our sweet little girl keeping a watchful eye on the new plants

After planting and naps, the big boys (Husband and Bigs) grilled some burgers while Smalls kept me company in the kitchen. We had macaroni and cheese (GF, DF version for Husby). I also sautéed some green and wax beans with some carrots.

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It was a good Saturday.

Today, Sunday, was a great day too! Church was great. We are learning about the book of John right now. Today we talked about how even when we don’t know ourselves and when we question who we are (which I have many times), God always knows who we are and who He has made us to be. It gave me such a sense of peace that I don’t even need to always know who I am. It just doesn’t even matter. God knows.

And in Bigs’ Sunday School class, they learned about Jesus washing feet.

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They got a little kit of soap and a teeny towel. I couldn’t even get a picture of it all together since Bigs was so excited. He couldn’t wait to get home and wash the feet of the most willing participant (I won). He said it’s how Jesus showed His love and so he wanted to do that too.

I am blown away at the Biblical knowledge Bigs is learning and how his love for Jesus is showing. <3

With our leftover hamburger dinner, I made the most yummy fruit salad. A refreshing way to end our Spring Break.

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It’s summer fruit season already and I am so excited! I never used to look forward to Summer (so hot, not an outdoorsy kind of gal), but my boys just make it so much fun and we have so much to look forward to. God is good!

I hope you all have had a blessed Spring Break (or week, if you weren’t so lucky).

Happy Sunday,

Kristin

Spring has Sprung!

It’s still Spring Break here and we’ve been staying quite busy! The weather has been gorgeous (save for one day where it seemed like we were in a hurricane) – clear skies, white fluffy clouds some days, picture-perfect blue backdrops everyday, chilly mornings that burn off to warm, sunny, lovely spring days.

Spring Break actually started last week, after Bigs got out of school. We had breakfast for dinner that night. I made a baked oatmeal casserole.

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I based my recipe loosely on this one:

http://www.aaronandyolanda.com/2013/07/baked-oatmeal-casserole.html

Instead of two cups of milk, I did one cup of coconut milk and a cup of pumpkin puree. I only added a few chocolate chips. I also didn’t add nuts or fruit of any kind. So it’s basically nothing like that recipe. And it of course didn’t turn out like that recipe (what did I expect!).

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It was alright. The oats didn’t get soaked with the pumpkin custard like I thought they would, so there was a separation of sorts. Next time, maybe I’ll have all the right ingredients and I can make it the right way. 🙂

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I served it with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and sausages. It did the trick (if trick = filling our tummies).

The next day was GORGEOUS! We went to a park play date.

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Smalls was able to keep up with the big kids this time.

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And Big Brother took the time to play with him.

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I love to see them playing nicely together. 🙂

I gave Smalls a wee little apple and he carried that thing around while playing. He dropped it and still clutched it tightly. This is what I found him holding later on.

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The next day was Pancake Saturday – not to ever be missed in our house! It should be renamed Pancake and Breakfast Meat Saturdays.

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By this time, I’d run out of eggs (running out of ingredients is a key theme in my life, apparently). I substituted applesauce for the missing eggs. The result was an incredibly creamy, custard-like inside. I also added loads of vanilla and vanilla bean paste, and some caramel extract that I found at Wally-World (Walmart). I thought they were just delicious.

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They came out fluffy and golden. So good. Seriously. I might be using the applesauce trick again. I also might HAVE to, as I never seem to have everything I need.

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Oh, pancakes.

After breaky, we went to a local Farmer’s Market/Petting Farm. It’s newly opened and we’ve been wanting to try it out.

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Bigs insisted (and I am not using that term lightly) on wearing his overalls and boots.

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Kind of adorable though.

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We saw all kinds of farm animals. Bigs went up to the chicken coop and squatted down and said to them, “Hey Chickens! Why did you cross the road?!” My husband and I were beside ourselves with laughter!

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From there, we went to the food trucks and market side. We ate an okay lunch of hot dogs.

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And followed that up with a huge cup of the most refreshing, gorgeous, delicious fruit ever. I think it tasted even more delicious after that greasy, fried lunch.

We also ran into two different families we know! It was a great day.

When we got home, there was still some time before nap, so the boys did their “yard work”.

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They earn their keep, I tell you.

On Sunday night, some of our best friends, who have moved far away, came back because of work and we got to visit. We went on a date night with several of our couple friends. It was just wonderful seeing them. It is terribly sad when one of your best friends moves away, but it makes you treasure the time you have with them, when you see them again.

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My husband ordered the best red wine I’ve ever had – Jam Jar! SO GOOD! I will have to get that one next time. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, unless it’s sweet, which Jam Jar was.

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We had a minted edamame hummus and roasted red pepper hummus with lavosh crackers, as an appetizer. We also tasted our friends’ pesto chicken flat bread.

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After we toasted to our wonderful friendships…

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…we dug into our meals. My husband ordered the scallops (did not get a good picture) and they were divine. I ordered the winter vegetarian sampling.

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This plate changes seasonally. I love it. This time, there was a stuffed mushroom, some roasted beets, broccolini, asparagus, and peppers, along with a veggie stuffed taco, and some tofu with mango chutney.

This restaurant is famous for its small desserts. I can’t ever choose one.

Oink.

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I chose the chocolate peanut butter mousse (um, SO good) and the cannoli (cannoli cream, chocolate chips, raspberry sauce, cannoli shell).

I can’t even.

I am still dreaming about that cannoli cream. Is that weird? To dream about cannoli cream?

The next day was St. Patrick’s Day! I always go big on these smaller holidays. I love a theme! I think you know that by now.

Before everyone (else) woke up, I put together the Irish Stew in the crock pot.

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I sort of changed around the recipe. I used this recipe as a base:

http://everydaymomsmeals.blogspot.com/2013/02/its-not-soup-its-stew.html

I did not add onion soup mix (due to the non gluten and dairy-free and high sodium nature), so I added real onions. I only used one can of tomato soup and added a can of no-salt stewed tomatoes. I also added more of the same vegetables. I let that sit on low all day while we were busy doing other things.

For breakfast, I made Spinach Pancakes (yep – the third time in five days that I served my family pancakes – that’s how I roll). This was a great recipe.

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They were chock full of fresh spinach (two cups!). Bigs said that they tasted like green beans, but he kept eating them, so that’s a good sign.

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When drizzled with syrup and some butter, the very obvious spinach flavor was sort of pushed to the back (a plus for most kids).

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I added more vanilla than called for. I served them with corned beef hash.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.superhealthykids.com/blog-posts/no-dye-green-pancakes.php

My best friend since kindergarten was up visiting from where she lives and brought her little girl (who is only 2 months older than Smalls). I LOVE seeing my best friend. I miss her dearly. I feel so blessed to see two of my loveliest friends, who no longer live near me, all in the same week!

For an after lunch St. Patty’s Day treat, I made Leprechaun Pudding for the kids!

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I just mixed half a packet of sugar-free, fat-free white chocolate pudding mix into some vanilla yogurt and added some green coloring. I layered that with some Lucky Charms cereal. I think they liked it.

Earlier in the morning, I’d also made a birthday treat for my bestie. I asked her what she wanted and it was so simple and I love her for that. All she wanted was a boxed mix peanut butter brownie with a ganache on top. How easy!

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I sent that home with her. She let me try it and take pictures of it before she left though. THAT’S a best friend!

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It was good. I used coconut milk for the ganache.

While my boys were napping, I prepared our Irish dessert – Banoffee Pie! I totally used shortcuts. I made a quick crust from graham cracker crumbs and butter. I “baked” it in the toaster oven. I sliced a banana on top of that, melted and poured some dulce de leche that I bought from Costco, and sliced another banana on top. I then whipped a half pint of whipping cream and spread that on top.

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I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. It was SO good.

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I loved that the dulce de leche was the only sweet part of it. I added no sugar to the graham crust or whipped cream. It was a nice contrast.

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It was a dream of a pie – crunchy, buttery and rich, sweet creamy bananas, indulgent, deep caramel, fluffy, milky topping. Seriously, the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

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Just…yum. It was even better the next day.

And the Irish Stew came out SO SO good!

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The stew beef was so tender, as were the potatoes.

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The broth was rich and tomato-y.

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We ate it for two days. It was great.

I’d call that a successful food holiday!

I got a chance to see my other friend (who we’d seen on Sunday) again before she went back up North. We met, with some other friends, at a neat farm-to-table restaurant.

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We started off with fresh, crusty bread and butter (the only way to “start” anything).

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My friend got a Blue Moon and I had some. I love that beer – so refreshing!

My other friend and I went halfsies on the burger. It wasn’t just any old burger. It had bacon jam, pimento cheese, spicy/sweet pickles, bibb lettuce, and a fried green tomato.

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One of the best burgers I’ve had!

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It was served with wedged potato fries topped with shaved white truffles. Earthy, salty goodness.

Aca-yeah!

Yet another friend and I shared the chocolate cake! We call each other “cakesters”…we just live for cake, what can I say!

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It was delicious. And a wonderful night with wonderful friends.

I got to see my kindergarten bestie again the next day! I took her to my favorite donut shop.

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She hadn’t been there before. She is now a convert.

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I got my now usuals – a sprinkle for Bigs, some holes for Smalls (one of which was shoved whole into his teeny mouth), a German chocolate, a Coconut Crunch, a strawberry and cream cheese, a chocolate and peanut butter, and a chocolate and cream cheese.

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I meannnnnn…..

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Oh, my heavens.

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Why, thank you!

We then walked off our calories at the zoo. It was such a gorgeous day!

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The boys and my bestie’s daughter, B, really loved seeing all the animals.

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The usually low-key otters were really playful and the lemurs saved their freak-out for when we were leaving.

It was a really wonderful day.

My, what a foodie Spring Break it’s been, and it isn’t even over yet!

I hope this finds you all well,

Kristin

Curry On!

For tonight’s dinner, I went with a slightly Mediterranean influence. I use “slightly” loosely, since I’ve never been to the Mediterranean and ‘they’ might just be appalled at what I label as such. Earlier today, I made a curried carrot and raisin salad. I love those. I might be the only person who orders them at Chik-Fil-A (no curry in theirs). Am I? Why do they still have those on the menu if it’s only me eating them? So flattered. The recipe called for mayonnaise and since Dairy-Free-Husband can’t eat that (nor would he, with a ten foot long fork), I made a slightly different version for him. Seriously. Wife of the year. I’ll clear some junk out of the way to put up my trophy.

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The one on the left is obviously the better one (with mayo).

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I added more cayenne to my husband’s and used olive oil in place of mayo. I also added turmeric since it helps with his Crohn’s. The result was like a marinated salad. The fresh lemon juice really brightened it up. I actually really enjoyed this take on it.

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The original recipe yielded a creamier, Chick-Fil-A type salad. This might also be really tasty with pineapple in it. Dang. I actually have pineapple this time.

Oh well. I can add some tomorrow and eat it. There’s plenty of leftovers (of both), since I was the only one eating it tonight. :/

Anyways, if you are into such a salad, here’s the recipe:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/03/carrot-raisin-salad-from-down-south.html

I also made a chicken and bean casserole. I found this recipe today and love that you can pretty much sub out any of the veggies, beans, and proteins.

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I used one can of chick peas and one of navy beans. I used a frozen mixture of green and wax beans and carrots.

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I love a recipe that you can literally just throw together. With whatever you have. That’s my kind of cooking.

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I really enjoyed this recipe too. The bean mixture on the bottom was so good. I couldn’t get enough. Some of the chick peas had browned to a crunchy state. So good. The little boys didn’t like this. Too bad. More for me. This will also be good tomorrow, cold and over a green salad.

Here’s the link to the recipe:

http://www.katheats.com/easy-chicken-and-bean-bake

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I served it with a fresh fruit salad.

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I really enjoyed this meal.

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Hope you have a blessed Thursday and a wonderful Friday! TGIF!

Kristin