Category: Dinner

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Nutrients

Schedule All the Things

Ahhh, I just love a schedule! I mean, I thrive in an organized, scheduled situation. I love knowing what to expect (I was never a girl that needed surprises…I used to open my Christmas gifts and then re-wrap them, for crying out loud!). Knowing what’s coming gives me peace and time to prepare (thereby reducing any current or impending anxieties…boo-ya – my psychology degree comes in handy once again!).

Willy Wonka Schedule

Yes, SO excited!

So, now, two days back into our old (school) routine, I am successfully existing once again. I LOVE normalcy.

My lunchbox for Bigs, however, was a bit lackluster.

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I made a “school(ish)” themed lunch. I did a gold star (gold food spray) shaped PB&J, with “A+” written on it with my Food Writers, some pretzel sticks, an apple, a cinnamon applesauce squeezy fruit and a gummy worm for dessert.

For dinner tonight, I made Chinese black rice and ground chicken. Sounds appetizing. HA! It was better than it sounds. Or looks, for that matter.

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I love black rice. It’s delicious and nutty and has a bite (chew) to it. I made it and then added garlic and sesame oil.

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I paired it with ground chicken that I browned (does it ever really get brown per se? Not really.) with wasabi powder and Chinese five spice. I added soy sauce to my own portion since my Crohn’s Husband (that’s his new title) can’t eat the non-GF version we have. This was a delicious and quite healthy dinner.

I would say that the kids did not enjoy it. They are becoming pickier and pickier as the days go on. I’m sure (I hope) it’s a phase.

I also made one of those little frozen packets of broccoli, cheese, and rice since Bigs has been wanting so desperately (bless his little heart) to like broccoli. I thought that gooey cheese sauce would be a game changer, but it was not. Oddly enough, Smalls (he who eats almost nothing except about one PB&J a day) devoured (relatively speaking) it.

PB and J

I make a lot of these. I am really glad both boys love peanut butter. For them, it is an essential source of protein. And plus, it’s amazing. I love PB in ANY form and with ANY spread of ANY sort. I’m easy like that. And daring.

I even love PB and pickles. And PB and olives. Give each of those a try if you are feeling it. They are delish.

Anyways. Last night, a couple of girlfriends and I got together for a little wine and snackies.

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You can’t go wrong with wine.

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Or snackies.

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Luckily, and let me tell you how hard it is to apply that word to this, there were no sweets. Eeeek. That was hard.

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If there were, I’d have been forced to eat them, thereby breaking my new diet.

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Today is the fourth day I’ve gone without any sort of sweet during the day. I am proud and miserable.

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I had a great time with my girls and honestly, when there is some sort of bread involved (Cuban, French, who cares!), I feel a little less sad about the dessert.

But only a little.

And also wine helps.

Here’s hoping tomorrow brings lots of good things. My little buddy, Smalls, started feeling crummy tonight so I am hoping he’ll snap out of it by tomorrow. I’ll go ahead and make those pancakes just to make him feel better. Just as a precautionary measure. You know.

Despite feeling puny, Smalls had loads of fun spinning with Big Brother after bath. They get such a kick out of that (until one of them falls into a wall or something hurty). I love his little strong spirit! (I also love matching jammies and matching clothes.)

Spinny Spinny Boys

Have a lovely night!

Kristin

Busy as a Bzzzzz!

Busy as a bee

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

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

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

And dinner was even mostly successful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They browned up quickly and beautifully.

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

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There, that’s better. Golden brown.

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

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Real maple syrup can make anything better.

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

Here is the recipe:

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

TRY THEM!!!

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

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

Orange you glad?

So, how has your New Year been treating you so far? I’ve discovered (via friend and styling medias), dry shampoo. It’s sort of the answer to some of my dreams. The dreams of sprucing up this under-showered Mommy.

And we’ve been busy. I’ve been terribly busy today catching up on emails (they get dreadfully behind so easily…not that I am that popular, but it does take some catching up) and I had two weeks’ worth of laundry. Yuck. I can’t stand laundry. I started it at 6:30am and as I sit here writing this, at night, I still have huge (clean), folded piles sitting on the dining room table. Mocking me. I am already over it. The house was in complete disarray today, every single toy out. The boys were pink-cheeked from running around the house so much. Suffice it to say, I was certifiably insane by nap time. And maybe refreshed a little afterwards, but still insane.

The boys started off the day very peacefully. I made them breakfast and they, adorably, played with cars while eating.

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Bigs and his dump truck. And his cereal.

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Smalls and his dump truck digger pusher thing IN his cereal.

It was a very, very cold morning and day. The sort where you love staying inside and wearing your jammies and slippers all day. Which we did.

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Smalls

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The boys, still peaceful, played cars and trains for what seemed like forever.

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I enjoyed a cup of coffee (or three) in my new mug from a friend (the sunflower thing on the top is this neat little suction thing that keeps your drink warm – from my Mom-in-law and I love it).

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Smalls enjoyed catching up on books from his reading list.

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Both boys drew pictures and made squeaky noises with their fingers on the condensation-covered front window (Bigs standing on a chair and Smalls standing in my dog’s toy basket).

Life seemed peaceful. All was right in the world. We were in our warm, little cocoon safe from the world’s troubles and frigidity.

But…

I don’t know if Santa didn’t bring them enough things to do, or they read every book (they seemingly have hundreds) they own, but cabin fever set in for them by lunchtime, which incidentally, that was about the time where every toy in life that these boys have were pulled out and scattered all over the house, as if a toy and book store exploded and I was pulling out my hair.

<<Whiny voice>> It’s just so haaaaaaard, waaaaaah!

Okay. Snit over.

I made a pretend ambrosia salad. I’d have preferred a real one, but naturally, did not have all the necessary ingredients. I had also planned on a tropical cous cous salad for lunch, but also lacked ingredients for that as well. Sigh. Tomorrow’s a new day.

I love ambrosia salad (the kind with marshmallows in it). I love how the sour cream and the acid from the pineapple mix together to break down the sugars in the marshmallows, making a creamy sort of sauce.

Well, I didn’t have pineapple. Not fresh, not frozen, not canned.

So. I used both fresh clementines segments and canned mandarin oranges. It was quite…orangey. I also used sour cream, shredded coconut and marshmallows. I didn’t follow any directions or measurements. Should have (lol).

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Desserts and sides I can do (usually). But lately, I’ve been in a real pickle with cooking dinners. I have the occasional good ones, but with my husband’s newly gluten-free and dairy-free diet (due to his Crohn’s), I’ve been a little overwhelmed. I never know if I should switch us all over to GF & DF (which for some things, I’m not okay giving up completely and also our grocery bill will go significantly up) or if I should cook two different meals or if I should have him sort of pick what he wants and have a go himself. Tonight, despite having a lack of energy, I sort of made two meals. I made a ham and pea pasta and used GF pasta for my husband.

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I cubed some ham (from a previous meal) and browned it in a pan with olive oil and fresh garlic. I added some peas and cooking wine and reduced. I put some in with his GF pasta and then the rest in ours. The bottom picture is the steamy ham and pea mixture.

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It was decent. I added tumeric to Hubs’. It’s a spice that is known to alleviate internal inflammation (a side effect of Crohn’s).

I’d rather have eaten this vegetarian salad from a new local eatery that I enjoyed yesterday. It was really good. It was greens with falafel and a lot of other Mediterranean salads on top. I had it with a yogurt sauce, garlic sauce and tahini. And topped with a cilantro sauce.  I want more. It was really heavenly. It is such a shame I am stuck with my own cooking.

Falafel Salad

Anyways, while we ate, Smalls ran around (he only will stay in his high chair for 2 minutes MAX and then scream like a banshee and worm his way out of the straps, soooooo what’s the point of torturing all of us? I’ve found he eats more when not trapped.), standing on my feet (had my legs crossed).

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He balanced on my crossed foot and got all up on the table. This kid is nuts.

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He also played peekaboo. Has anyone seen Smalls?? Such a goofball. 🙂 I love how he “hides”.

And Bigs ate all his noodles because he was promised that ambrosial dessert if he did. I am all for negotiations if needed. Sue me. At least dessert was half fruit.

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Look at these little wonders.

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They were…um…a little less than decent. The marshmallows were able to break down a little, but the pineapple flavor was clearly missing (in my opinion) and for some reason the coconut was hard. Not quite the ambrosial effect I was hoping for.

Sigh.

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Whatever. It still looked pretty. I might pick out all the marshmallows and then I won’t have to chalk it up to a complete loss.

Because he had marshmallows, Bigs went a little berserk. Coo-coo bananas running all over the house. Sigh.

The night ended with the boys doing downward dogs (my poor pup safely out of the way).

Downward Dog Boys

I hope your day was more/less exciting than mine and definitely less chaotic.

Off to put laundry away. Waaaaaaaah.

Kristin

End Piece of Bread

Cat Bread Ends

You know those end pieces of bread flanking the good, soft stuff in the middle of the loaf? Do you eat those? I always feel sorry for them. Sometimes I feed them to Smalls because he doesn’t notice, save for a few extra chews. I feel like the last day of the year is sort of like those extra little pieces of bread. It’s easy to forget, but the last day of the year counts, just like you can make something amazing from those sad little end pieces (French toast, bread pudding, bread crumbs, etc.).

ROMRO (right on, man, right on – we say that a lot in my house for some reason).

Today could be a day to finish out your resolutions from the past year, if you so desire, or think about what’s important to you in the next year. Like I’ve said, I always think about how I can do things differently, up coming. And I get all nostalgic about how much my sons have grown. It doesn’t take much for me to get all mushy about them.

It’s also a day to celebrate and close a chapter.

Or to party.

Or to set an alarm for 11:55p, like I do. Whatevs.

Bear End Breads

Okay, so I don’t LIKE them, but I don’t MIND them. I wouldn’t seek to eat them over the soft, yeasty bread slices, but I won’t turn those end pieces down if they were slathered liberally with any sort of peanut (or other nut) butter. I’ll eat just about anything as a vehicle for that. Or a jelly. Or most any type of spread. I’m a spread and condiment sort of gal. Staaahp Kris.

I [sort of] digress.

I can’t seem to stop likening stuff in life to food. It just comes naturally to me.

Sorrrry!

Anyways, I always try to make something special of the last day of the year. Nothing big or expensive or fancy. Just something slightly out of the ordinary so we can remember it. And it always includes a dinner at Perkin’s. And that might be the only special thing we do that day. And I’m okay with that.

It always takes some extra gumption to go out to eat alone with them. But since it was NYE, we did it.

I took lots of backup.

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I stocked my purse with books, airplanes, cars and small child-friendly electronic thingies. There might even be a dino or two in there from a previous outing.

We played tic tac toe (Bigs ALWAYS won, clever boy!), and drew with our crayons and played with our cars and planes. We talked about New Years.

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And we ate until we were content. Bigs ALWAYS gets sprinkle pancakes there. Smalls also had pancakes and breakfast potatoes. I got steak tips, salad and veggies. And I ate whatever my kids didn’t.

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I ordered a piece of double chocolate fudge cake to go. I’ve already had one bite, but I had to eat it in hiding, hence the crummy quality pictures. I know I’m on a diet, but still. Special occasion, and all.

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And at least 8 elderly people (that’s the typical demographic of this restaurant and I love it) came by to say hello to my boys and say how lovely Bigs’ blue eyes and Smalls’ golden curls were.

And I took pictures of Smalls’ hands. Don’t you love little baby hands?

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And earlier, I made a chicken soup chock full of veggies. It’s been very rainy and gray and blustery here and it just called for a big stock pot full of soup.

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I put in a carton of no-salt chicken stock and the same carton full of water. I cut up and added a package each of carrots and celery and about 1/4 cup of onion. Once those were soft enough, I added all the chicken (that I cut off and sort of cubed from a rotisserie) and let it simmer until whenever.

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I added salt to mine. I leave it out for my husband. I think it needs it. It was good, hearty and almost as importantly, easy. And it would be good with rice or noodles. Or toasted end pieces of bread.

Oh and also, I learned that baby gates mean nothing to Smalls. He can pull them off, undo them and unlock them.

Just an aside.

I hope next year is more organized than this post is.

Be safe tonight – lots of crazies out there!

Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Kristin

Tinsel’s in a Tangle

Happy Christmas and Merry Food Coma

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

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

Boys in line for Santa

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

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

Santa Cookies and Milk

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

Bouncy Carrot

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

Christmas Morning Breakfast

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

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

Bread Pud and Hash

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

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

Hash Brown recipe:

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

Bread Pudding recipe:

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

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

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

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

I hope that you had a lovely holiday.

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

Kristin

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

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

Twas the night before Christmas

It’s here, it’s finally here! The night to start or finish wrapping gifts, the night to put together all the toys and bikes, the night to play Santa, the night to set out milk and cookies for yourself to enjoy later. It’s here!

My husband and I have so many plans!

Buddy the Elf

Then…

Buddy

I just don’t know if we’ll have enough time!

We’ll OBVIOUSLY be turning on A Christmas Story just as soon as it starts tonight. It’s a family tradition that I grew up with that I am imposing upon my own family. Best movie ever.

And so is Elf. But they haven’t played it on the channels we have, yet.

We really do have so much to do today. I’ll be making some casseroles for tomorrow’s brunch (Cracker Barrel inspired cheesy hash brown, and a white chocolate and cranberry bread pudding – all of which you’ll see here soon!). We’ll be cleaning the house for guests, we’ll be doing special traditions with our sons and we’ll be going to Christmas service. It’s going to be lovely.

Our elf Duncan was here again. And today is his last day with us.

Yesterday, he set out a birthday party for Jesus!

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And today he packed his bags up and left a good-bye note for the boys. We’ll miss you, Duncan!

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Also, I made a turkey dinner last night.

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I got this HUGE (almost 10 pounds) turkey from Publix for $7.80. I couldn’t believe it. It’s actually the first whole turkey I’ve made. I think it came out great. Was it a leeeetle bit dry? Sure. Whatevs. It’s my first. The prep was easy (olive oil, Kosher salt and poultry seasoning), but I don’t care how strong your stomach is, pulling out a half-thawed, leaking bag of innards will make you queasy. Well, me, anyways. Blech. And that neck. I am southern, but that neck. *Shudder!* I cooked it (the turkey, not the neck – dat nasty went right in the bin, although I am sure someone somewhere has a great recipe for it, lolz) according to directions and the whole time it was cooking, I was drooling. Whenever there is a cooked turkey around, I am like The Old Man Parker (the dad on A Christmas Story). I cannot resist sneaking (which…as an adult who made the turkey, do I really have to sneak bites? I guess I sort of do, with kids around, if I want peace while eating.) crispy skin or breast meat pieces. Oh just yum! I made a quick gravy from the drippings and corn starch and pepper. Gravy is one of those foods that, and my parents will back me up on this, I got really sick on after eating too much in one sitting as a child and came back for more AFTER…um…disposing of it. Know what I mean? I love gravy. I’m gross.

I love gravy

Anyways. Enough about my grossness.

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I served the turkey with steamed fresh green beans and sweet potato casserole (basically the same meal as the other night, but subbing turkey for ham). It was SO good. And yeah, I’ve served my family sweet potato casserole with marshmallows three weeks in a row.

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I tried to show my older son how to make a wish using the wishbone, but for some reason, it didn’t work. Neither of us got our wish. That dang thing was as slippery as an eel. We sure did try to break it. He even tried to break it with all his three year old might! It wouldn’t budge. Whatever. He still thought it was cool.

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Enjoy this last night before Christmas!

To all a good night

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Kristin

‘Tis the Season!

Tis the Season

‘Tis also the season to be super busy! Which we have been. Non-stop. It’s been mostly good stuff too.

My sweet dog, who I am convinced has severe anxiety (and who also does not react well to anti-anxiety canine meds – story for another time!) had to go to her yearly allergy appointment. And the next day, she went under anesthesia to have her denties cleaned. She looks like a million bucks, but is still adjusting to the weird week she had (LAST week). She’s so weird.

puppy love

But isn’t she so cute (if not a little wide-eyed lol)?

Our elf Duncan came a few times since I last wrote.

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He TP’d our tree. Bigs got a kick out of it. Actually, so did Smalls. He’s been super into finding the elf each morning.

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He rode on a dinosaur (and took a dino friend!) to Bethlehem to see Baby Jesus.

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And he got into some more sweets (a la Buddy the Elf). He was drinking real maple syrup through a straw, got out the Hershey’s syrup and some marshmallows. He’s going to need to go see Hermey the Dentist Elf if he keeps this up.

And my husband and I went on a date to a Christmas party with our friends. The food was out of this world.

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We had so much to eat! It was definitely a foodie type party (that turned into a dance party once my DJ husband started with the music and our host husband brought out the party lights!).

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There were all kinds of desserts (truffles, cake balls, cake dip, melted snow man mix) and savories for days. My absolute favorite thing bordered on dessert, but was with the savory foods – brie with walnuts and cranberries in phyllo cups. I probably ate my weight in them. As I typed that, I realized I also say that a lot. But I don’t have a problem. 😉

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No decorative or food stone was left unturned. We had a fabulous time!

Same time, next year??

We had a gift exchange (which is always a hoot) and there were these gourmet marshmallows as one of the gifts. I convinced my friend who won them to let me try them. I’ve been wanting to for forever. These particular ones were s’mores flavor. Um, you know how I feel about that particular flavor profile.

Wondermade Marshmallows

Look how cute they come in their adorable package!! And, boy, were they good! If you need a gift for anyone…or yourself (especially for yourself!!!)…get them. They have tons of other flavors and are made by hand in small batches. A must try!

Here’s the website:

http://wondermade.com/

I guess it is also a ’tis the season for desserts…look at this beauty I had some [most] of while dining out. Ice cream in a cinnamon-sugar dusted won ton, crème brûlée, and a whipped cream covered brownie a la mode. It was redonkulous.

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Starting then, I am now on a crème brûlée kick. I have never made it, but will very soon. And probably make it turn out like scrambled eggs. I’m sure you’ll see that here.

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And, also this happened. My sweet friend gave this to me for Christmas. I have been wanting to try this for AGES. We don’t have a Trader Joe’s around us (although one should be coming some day) and she traveled recently and picked up this little gem. GINGERBREAD cookie butter. One of my favorite things.

Food gifts are so great.

I hope this post finds you ready for Christmas, feeling peace and a full tummy.

I’ll leave you with two funny things Bigs said to me recently (which prove, as if his face isn’t already exactly like the little boy version of mine) that he is mine:

After our Publix grocery trip, I tell him it is time for lunch. He says, “I’m not hungry. I had a cookie and a tick tock [tic tac].”
-and-
“My body feels like it wants a dessert.”
Seriously, he is all me!
Kristin Sprinkles
(Listen, I realize this picture is a bit awkward. But that’s me. I was hunchy because as I was standing there, it occurred to me that I was pretty much as tall as the tree. # tall people problems)
Cheers!

Big blessings,

Kristin

This little piggy went to market…

With school out for winter break, it’s been great to have so many social activities for my boys to stay busy.

We went to a local market and got some fresh cranberries (with which I made homemade cranberry sauce). Look how they were displayed:

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A mini bog! So cool! I was so excited to see this. This sort of stuff makes me happy. It was neat to show Bigs how cranberries are harvested.

We went to my parents’ house this morning to drop off gifts and I got snap-happy with their tree. They have a real tree. I grew up with a real tree. Sadly (?) now, we have a fake tree. But maybe one day, I’ll get back to a real one. Anyways, the second you walk in the door, that fresh pine scent smacks you in the face, in the most wonderful way!

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We had another Christmas playdate today, this time through my church Mom group. We had a local kids’ singer come by and play his guitar and sing Christmas carols and the kids danced and had a blast! They played at the park…

Smalls

…where once again Smalls tried to keep up with the big kids.

And the kids decorated sugar cookies!

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Bigs was a little more conservative with his sprinkles this time.

And that’s okay…

We had a wonderful time. I kept snapping pictures of my boys. I am so blessed by them.

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My sweet Bigs, with his huge blue eyes, framed by long, dark lashes. His freckles, like a soft dusting of cinnamon across his nose and cheeks…his little cheek dimple that comes out when he offers up a saucy little smile.

I am so in love.

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And my precious, naughty Smalls…who is as crazy as his soft, bouncy, golden curls. He, too, has long lashes that frame his blue and yellow eyes. I adore his little dimpled chin and his little, teeny button nose.

How did I get so blessed?

Thank you God!

Last night, after dinner, we went to look at more Christmas lights (something we’ve done a gajillion times this season!) and saw a house that decked out their entire roof and lawn, in addition to their whole house!

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Isn’t that something? It was magical!

And dinner was pretty magical, if I can say so, as the cook.

I made a full ham for the first time in my life. Huge hams and turkeys were on sale at our Publix for a ridiculously cheap price. I got one of each. I wish they came with an extra freezer. But they didn’t, so we had the ham right away.

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I glazed it with cherry preserves.

I served it with sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows…the ONLY way to serve it), fresh green beans (blanched and then sautéed in sesame oil, a little olive oil, fresh garlic and maple syrup) and homemade cranberry sauce.

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It as all so good and festive! Everyone ate a ton. Smalls LOVED the green beans, who knew!!

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Leftover ham tonight. Ham sandwiches. Those are the best. With mayo.

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Also! [Can you maybe guess what I’m going to say next??]

Duncan was here!

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Sadly, he was sick one day. Poor thing.

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But he bounced back the next day and made s’mores with the boys’ nutcrackers!

What will he be doing tonight?!

No one (but me) knows…

Also, here’s a picture of Bigs and a huge nutcracker at Walgreens. I love how my boy loves Christmas so much!

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Have a wonderfully blessed night!

Kristin

Boggin’ Around the Christmas Tree…

Counselor

Yesterday was a really wonderful Sunday for my family. We went to church and had a lovely service.

I love church and especially this time of year.

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I ADORE celebrating the true meaning of this season. I am so desperate for my boys to know Jesus in their hearts and to worship Him for who He is and what He’s done.

Come Let Us Adore Him

We also went to Target and I finished up some shopping and also got some necessities, like milk and Gingerbread Twix. My husband and Bigs got an inflatable Snoopy and Woodstock for the front yard from the hardware store. They put that up when we got home while I made a lasagna and dessert, all during which Smalls was balancing on a chair arm rest to boost himself up to catch a glimpse of them outside.

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The lasagna was…normal. Not fabulous. But not burned! So, I’d call that a success. Everyone ate it and seemed to enjoy it. Except Smalls, who only had one bite and spit it out saying, “Ewwwww!”. But I know he was just doing it for a laugh. I think.

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At least I fed them. They should be grateful.

For dessert, I made a Nigella Lawson recipe (TEAM NIGELLA!!!) – Cranberry Orange & Almond Pudding. And this happened….

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Nigella’s looked way better. But that’s okay. This was my fault. I used a dish way too small for the recipe. It still tasted wonderful!

Look at these fresh cranberries, soaking in a bathtub of butter and sugar…

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Isn’t their color just gorgeous? Shiny, firm and ruby red. I love when they heat up and start popping and letting go of their glorious crimson juices. I could eat them all day. I made a quick batter (the only change I made to the recipe was using orange extract versus orange oil, because that is all I had) and poured half of it into the dish, topped it off with the marvelous cranberries and then the remaining batter. A sprinkling of sliced almonds and granulated sugar finished the dish.

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Then THAT happened. I obviously expected it, placing my dish on a tin-covered pan before placing it in the oven. I just used the bubbled over goodness as a “taste test” for myself (Which I ate in hiding…I am very adept at that now.).

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Look at that splendid, crunchy, sugary crust. Truly delightful.

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It looks like a holiday-time dessert.

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Thank you Nigella. This was truly delicious. Recipe link below.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/cranberry-orange-and-almond-pudding-recipe/index.html

So…Gingerbread Twix. I wrote briefly about them recently. I finally got my hands on some from Target. Unfortunately, they still do not have Gingerbread Oreos. But I’ll keep trying…I’m nothing if not tenacious when it comes to getting my seasonal goods.

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They were delicious! I am so sad they are only a seasonal treat. The caramel was gingerbread flavored. And the crunch from the cookie really added a texture that resulted in a gingerbread cookie experience.

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Yum yum yum.

And Duncan is here again! This time, he is indulging in some coffee and donuts. I put him on a tea treats tray (mouthful!) with his goodies in my china cabinet (best place for the boys not to touch, since it’s enclosed in glass). Hopefully Bigs won’t notice all the tape keeping that donut in Duncan’s hand and his hand to his chest. Whatevs.

Elf on a Shelf Day 9

An elf after my own heart!

Hope you all have a wonderfully sweet day!

Kristin

What a Hassle!

Since I’ve been on my gingerbread kick (which really isn’t so much of a “kick” as it is a “lifestyle” for me right now), I made Bigs’ lunch with a gingerbread theme.

Gingerbread Themed Preschool Lunch

His class also enjoyed the giant gingerbread cookie I made for them the day before. I think most everyone liked it! I was able to bring Smalls in with me and we enjoyed it with the class. Then Bigs’ sweet teacher told them the story of the Gingerbread Man. It was adorable. For this lunch, I cut out gingerbread boy shaped PB&J and used my Food Writers to draw on some faces and buttons. I gave him an applesauce squeezy fruit, some dried cranberries, some holiday shaped Goldfish crackers and a gingerbread boy Peep. And can I tell you how gingerbread-y that Peep tasted? I had to try one, natch. So good!

And our trusty scout elf, Duncan, came again. This time, he got himself into quite the pickle when playing with Bigs’ army men.

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Who even knows (Pinterest??!) what he’ll be up to next!!

I made Hasselback Potatoes for dinner last night. They looked nothing like the picture on the recipe website. Typical of my cooking.

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Whyyyy are they so blackey burned in some spots and not browned enough where it should be?

Hassel Potatoes

Once I brushed off most of the blackened bread crumb mixture, they looked better….so…they looked just okay.

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What a hassel

All in all, I’m okay with serving semi-burned food to my family. It isn’t so bad. I served those potatoes (which were more of a HASSLE than a Hassel) with some roasted red pepper & asiago chicken sausage and some fresh fruit.

Whatever. I can bake much better than cook. And if you’re interested in this Hasselback potato recipe, which if you are solely going based on these photos, you should have no interest AT ALL, here is that recipe.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hasselback-potatoes/

Better luck to you.

So what if I used olive oil instead of butter and used the kind of grated Romano cheese that belongs on pizza instead of freshly grated. So what.

Have a wonderful Friday,

Kristin