Category: Dinner

Alexander the Not-So-Great

Have you ever read the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I loved that book growing up and still have the same book I owned and read when I was little.

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Today has been a day like Alexander’s. I mean, literally everything I’ve touched has gone terribly awry.

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I woke up before the alarm (and this happens most of the time). Automatic fail. I decided to start laundry early, since I was up. I do that often, but today I left some of the freshly dried piles in the basket. All wrinkled. Husband’s work clothes – totes wrinkled. And I’m not an ironer.  Gah! My little one, Smalls, likes to fight me during diaper changes. He writhes and wiggles and arches his back and tries to leap off of his diaper changing table (which he’s done). Anyways, I was so fed up with not being able to get his new diaper on, I just let him walk around without it, in protest. Big fat joke on me. What was I thinking?! He walked into the bathroom and peed all over it and the hallway. Puddles everywhere. It’s like he was saving it all for that one moment of diaper-freedom.  He also spit his already-been-chewed Raisin Bran breaky all over his highchair and put it on the floor. I also broke my green ceramic plate by dropping it in the sink. Shattered into a bajillion tiny pieces. At least it wasn’t on the floor. The boys played with their slime (a party favor from a birthday recently – made from glue and borax, etc.)…

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Smalls

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Bigs

…and it got all over my Christmas tablecloth and into Smalls’ hair. See that slime?

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I mean…it won’t come out. He’s going to live with slime in his hair forever. He probably doesn’t even care. I love that slime and the boys do too. It is really fun to play with and usually it is contained. But not today. Because nothing is easy today. I decided to make a giant gingerbread cookie for Bigs’ class tomorrow and the dough (used boxed mix) became so sticky that there almost wasn’t enough for the gingerbread pan. Most of it was on my hand because I had to wet them and pat down the dough to coax it to Gingy’s appendages. Appetizing.

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We lost a piece from the hat of Bigs and Smalls’ new nutcracker decoration and for sure my dog will eat it. Or Smalls will. And get sick. She (the dog) and he (the baby) alway finds the lost pieces of things…with her and his mouth. I also had the baby gate up to my room and rushed into there, thinking it wasn’t there and totally took a spill. Like, the hardest spill of my life. I just had to lay there in this awkward position I landed in for a few minutes after falling. I wasn’t even sure what to do with my broken self. It really stunned me. And it was so offensive. That dang gate. My outfit choice today (totally my fault) makes me look like an actual sumo wrestler. I walked out of the room for one teeny second and I came back in to see Smalls standing on the dining room table holding (and about to chuck!) one of my Christmas village houses that I have as a centerpiece.  I folded up my stroller and put it away in my trunk with a piece of pizza in the bottom of it (don’t even ask) and a lady yelled at me and tried to run me over with her motorized cart, while we were out and about. And I made chili and put it in the crock pot this morning and accidentally used the can of tomatoes and spicy green chilis so the entire thing was going to be spicy. The small hope I had that Bigs and Smalls would even eat this meal went right out the window! And not to mention, well, to mention, my husband’s new GI health issues cannot handle spice, as he used to be able to. So. It’s jus’ me and my HUGE pot of chili. Just the two of us. And Bigs has been telling me that ALL he wants for Christmas is a bouncy carrot toy. I have no idea what this is. Quite frankly, HE has no idea what that is. When I ask questions (do they have one of these and school or church or does a friend have one), I get no response. Santa??? Are you there? It’s me, Kristin. Help me help YOU help me!! What is this bouncy carrot? I need it. Today. Or at least before Christmas. But sooner would ease my anxiety.

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Bigs’ letter to Santa, asking for a bouncy carrot.

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Smalls’ letter to Santa, asking for… ?? 🙂

Today is of the hot mess sort. I’m what’s called “done” for today.

I’ll say it – it’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Things can only get better.  Right?? Right!!

My day did get better. Naps helped. I watched The Holiday while the boys slept and that ALWAYS puts me in a good mood. And I finished Bigs’ big gingerbread cookie. Here’s how he turned out. I think he’s pretty cute.

Gingerbread Boy Cookie

That is one big cookie! It’s a HUGE pan (larger than the standard cookie sheet). I’d say the gingy is about 12 inches or so. I hope they enjoy their surprise!

And Duncan was here again!

Elf on a Shelf Day 4

The little rascal is sitting in a bowl of mini marshmallows and is decorating my gumdrop tree and stringing up the marshmallows. Sweet-toofed elf.

Annnnnd, here’s the dumb chili that I’ll be the only one eating for eighty weeks. I browned ground beef with some celery, light salt, pepper, chili powder and onion powder (Out of actual onions…because even though I went to two different stores to get the supplies for this mess since I forgot all the supplies on my first trip, I didn’t get onions. Just because having them would make life too perfect.). I drained the beef and added a packet of no-salt (Hubs watches sodium intake) chili seasoning. I added a can of stewed tomatoes with green chili (unfortunately for my kids), a can of kidney beans and a can of northern beans (all drained). I dumped this all back into the crock pot and kept it on low all day. I served over brown rice. And for 75% of my family, I just served rice, no chili. :/

Chili

I realize my “problems” could be worse. And some days they are. I just needed to get my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day off my chest. Hoping for a much better day tomorrow.

Blessings,

Kristin

Happy December!

Happy December

Happy December! It’s a new month! A month that’s filled, already.

We took the first spin around our neighborhood last night looking at Christmas lights. Bigs is super in to it! It’s so exciting! Most of the homes in one cul-de-sac in our neighborhood collaborate with their Christmas lights and everything is lit up. It’s spectacular!

We had a visitor in our home this morning. He’ll be here through Christmas Eve. Duncan is his name, as you’ll recall, named after Dunkin’ Donuts, our favorite place.

Elf on a Shelf Day 1

Duncan plopped “himself” on my candy wreath. The oil painting is of our precious dog. So far, I have seen Bigs stop himself when about to complain and shift his eyes quickly to Duncan. Day 1 and he’s already doing his job as a “young scout elf”. Go Duncan.

We had our first advent church service. It was beautiful. The church was all decorated with trees and lights and stars and snowflakes. Absolutely stunning.

Also, I made pizza. I used my favorite whole wheat crust recipe and mozzarella cheese and pepperoni!

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The family gobbled it up.

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Enjoy your Sunday, the first day of December!

Kristin

Post Gravy Glow

I’m still glowing from my Thanksgiving experience. What? What’s that? I’m not glowing? It’s just gravy on my face? Oh. That’s okay. I really don’t mind. Slurrrrrp!

Over the river and through the woods

Well. Now it’s over. Thanksgiving is over. But I’m still thankful! I’m so thankful for the food that was served, the hands that prepared it, the time that was spent with family, the fresh, cold air. Boy, it sure was chilly out! We loved it! The kids had a wonderful time getting all bundled up and running around my Grandmother’s picturesque backyard. And me?! I loved it too! The cold weather is refreshing. Puts a little color in one’s cheeks!

Me

I jumped on the “selfie” bandwagon, for the sole purpose of my blog. Sue me HA! At least there were no duck lips. You’re welcome.

Thanksgiving really refreshed me. It always makes me feel so good inside to go to where I spent a lot of my childhood, to see my boys run around the same yard my brother and I did, chasing each other, whapping sticks on trees, falling in the mud. It is life, come full-circle. It’s so beautiful to me.

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The boys were SO adorable and had the best time. Listen, as a little aside, I see and am aware of the denim on denim situation on not one but, TWO, children, and I realize it’s not the most fashionable. Perhaps in another lifetime. But they were warm!! Their little exposed cheeks and noses were pink from the crisp air and running around.

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We even threw around a football. We are not a sporty family, but it was so fun playing “catch”. Look how teeny Smalls is holding that “HUGE” football. My little peanut.

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The weather was just perfect. I am so thankful for that. Beautiful sunlight, peeking through the wise, hundred-year-old oak trees made for a perfect backdrop to a gorgeous day.

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Teeny little Smalls (apt name!) loved the freedom to roam and play.

Uncle and Bigs

Bigs and my brother (his favorite Uncle) had so much fun trudging through the woods, wielding sticks, of course! Uncle taught him so many things.

And, at the end of the day, we only had a few casualties in the form of a scrape on Smalls’ nose, lips and hands from falling on the driveway while running, and some muddy shoes and jeans. I’d call that quite a success!

The food was absolutely delicious. Everyone outdid themselves. I adore seeing a potluck-style meal come together. It is so wonderful to me to see the best work of everyone, which is all so varied and lovingly prepared, in one kitchen and then later, on each plate.

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I could only do one round this time. I was so stuffed. And so blessed to be so.

I didn’t get any turkey pictures before (or after, really) it was sliced. But, it was GOOD. And the skin was crispy and salty, just as it should be. We had that glorious turkey, two kinds of stuffing, fruit salad, ham, broccoli and cheese casserole, green bean casserole, my macaroni casserole, whipped potatoes, honey & cinnamon glazed carrots, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and rolls. Then the desserts. Our plates runneth(‘ed) over.

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I want it again. Like now. Too bad I finished off my leftovers as a second dinner once the boys were in bed. And pumpkin pie too. And a few bites of the coconut frosting from my rock cake (see below). I regret nothing. Well, maybe one thing – that I didn’t make a Thanks Be To The Sandwich…next time.

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The Coconut Cake I made was so beautiful, but I must be honest. It was dry as a bone. I was not so happy with it. It was dense. I love a dense cake. Many wedding cakes are dense and I love that. But it was dense and hard. Sort of like a rock. I had it properly wrapped and sealed in the fridge and I followed the recipe almost to a “T” (didn’t keep it in the fridge for 3 days, but instead 2 – and thank God for that!!), but there was just no hope. I think I’ll stick with my other recipe for next year. Big bummer! That face-sized slice just didn’t get finished. Thank goodness there were other desserts (Pumpkin Pie, Apple Crumble Pie, Key Lime Pie).

Now, it’s time to bask in the glow of a lovely holiday and then get my boo-tay in the gym gear for Christmas. And, for now, I’ll be thankful that I am not wearing any makeup and letting my face breathe and that I’m also not in the throngs of people fighting and pushing to get the best deals on Black Friday. My boys and I will stay inside and I’ll go crazy with cabin fever snuggle and cuddle on the couch in our jammies.

I’m so thankful. Just…thankful.

I hope you all had a very blessed, thank-filled day,

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

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Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

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I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

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This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

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Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

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http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

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I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

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And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

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We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

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I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Bible Study & Pot Pie

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I’m a thinker. I over analyze. I put too much emphasis on small things. I get very nostalgic and more self-aware around holidays. So, for me, personally, really deeply thinking about what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving comes as no surprise. I just want to make sure that I remember these things I am thankful for throughout the whole year…not just when we are faced with the holiday or a hard time.

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The Bible has a lot to say about being thankful and I’d like to delve into some verses. I need constant guidance in my faith journey and am hoping the study of some verses will help. Nothing better than learning from the source! Join me? I am in, no way, a teacher or in an authoritative position for this. I am simply a Christian wanting and needing to deepen my relationship with Christ.

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It’s so hard to remember to thank God for things during tough times. It’s hard to see the “bigger picture” and know that those challenges are truly a piece of God’s plan for us. We question, “Why?” and “Why me?”, but easily forget to continue praising Him for the work He is doing behind the scenes.

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C.S. Lewis wrote, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” I think this applies to more than just our worldly “fortune”.

The Bible says, in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s easy to ask God for help during the hard times, but what’s not so easy is to also thank Him during those times as well. This is one of my go-to Bible verses because it touches on the topic of anxiety, of which I know very well. But I need to also focus more on the topic of thanks when presenting my prayer requests to God.

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So. Praying WITH Thanksgiving. Andrew Murray, a South African missionary and minister wrote, “Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray that we have His Spirit in us to teach us to pray. Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” Boy, isn’t that the truth?

What I am getting from this is that, no matter the circumstances, no matter the hardships, no matter how easy it is to forget, I need to be thankful in all that I do. Thankful for what I have. Thankful for what I don’t have, for surely there is some reason for that. A small story: My oldest son, Bigs, shows his thankfulness in a way that can certainly teach me a thing or two. I told him a long time ago, when we saw and heard an ambulance rushing past us, that we should pray for those who are in need of the help and also thank God for our own safety. Years later, and yes, it was years ago that I told this to him, when he hears an ambulance, he comes running to me (or says to me, if in the car), “Mom! We need to pray for the ‘helf people’ [help people – that’s his word for anything with a siren]!” and he proceeds to thank God for keeping us safe. That is just a small act of giving thanks coming from a three and a half year old. But it’s not so small. It’s pretty big and I give God the glory for his empathetic heart, where the love of Jesus is evident.

Let me make an aside: my kids are no where near perfect in behavior or attitude and I am quite the opposite of perfect, so sweet stories of my children are not to come off in a way that I think my kids are perfection (which, in the Mommy sense, of COURSE they are perfection; they are fearfully and wonderfully made and hand crafted just for me to love). I hope you understand what I mean.

Thankfulness

God also tells us, in more than on verse, to show our thanks with praise and song! I adore hearing my Bigs sing his church songs with such gusto! “God our Father, God our Father, once again, once again, thank you for our blessings, thank you our blessings, Amen, Amen – yaaaay God!”

“Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.” – Psalm 147:7

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – Psalm 106:1

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” – Psalm 100:4

I’m going to end on a note of dinner. Good note to end on!

Last night, I made a dinner to be thankful for! I mean, I am thankful for any dinner that makes it onto the table not burnt or smoking. I made a chicken pot pie from scratch, using a pre-made pie crust. Well, then, I suppose that isn’t entirely homemade, but that’s a minor detail. I have no time for making a pie crust from scratch if it isn’t being stocked to the brim with some kind of chocolate, fruity or nutty filling.

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I browned onions and celery in some olive oil with some salt and pepper. At the same time, I boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets in chicken stock. I cubed the chicken once it was cooked through. Once the celery and onion mixed were cooked, I made a quick roux out of 1 T of butter and 2 T of flour. Once the flour “flavor” was cooked out, I added chicken stock and a little bit of half & half. Once that gravy thickened up, I added the cubed chicken, celery and onions, and a bunch of frozen veggies (corn, carrots, green beans and peas). I then put it on top of the bottom crust, added the top crust and cut out a steam vent in the shape of a turkey. I baked it. It was delicious. Everyone ate it, except for Smalls, who is in a phase (short-lived, I hope) where he eats almost nothing. But if he were into eating, he’d have loved it too!

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Have a very blessed, very thank-FILLED day,

Kristin

Thanksgiving End

Gimme S’More

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Ohhh, life has been so challenging lately, let’s discuss something light. And sweet. And toasty. And chocolatey. I need to take my mind off my troubles.

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Gimme s’more. So not original. But what other puns (of which, I am a HUGE fan) can be said of s’mores? Not much (although Husband just shouted out, “The Legend of Sleepy Mallow!!”, but how can I use that?). But does it matter? What matters is making and eating the s’mores. It’s an experience! I have been known to make them in my toaster oven when having a craving. And don’t think for one second that Hubby doesn’t come up behind me (staring into the toaster oven – I LOVE seeing the marshmallows brown and puff up) and ask for some! But nothing tastes like a s’more made over a fire, because MY favorite part about it is the toasted marshmallow flavor all smooshed into the melted chocolate. Oh, just YUM.

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This burger is something to behold. A few friends and I decided to put a s’mores IN a burger. The result was delicious, as you’d maybe not expect. It was REALLY good – salty, gooey, sweet, smoky. If you’re feeling particularly daring at your next cookout, and have calories left in your day, give it a try.

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This is my husband and Bigs roasting marshmallows on our back porch last winter. It was so fun. Even little baby Smalls go in on the action. We can’t wait to do this again, when it gets more consistently cold out!

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Isn’t that little outfit a hoot? It was a hand-me-down and kept him so toasty (get it?)!

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We love our s’mores in this family! I like to do variations on it, as well. There are so many options – S’mores Brownies, S’mores Dip, S’mores Cake, S’mores Pie (Do I sound like Forrest Gump talking about shrimp, but instead s’mores?? I do.). The choices are only as endless as your imagination! Well, not your imagination. I’m sure you’re very imaginative. Right? Hopefully more than me. I seriously lack in imagination. My skills are quite limited, I must painfully admit. Tangent!

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Here are some S’mores Cake Pops I made a while back. I am not even sure of the recipe on this one. You can easily do brownies or chocolate cake and mix with maybe a vanilla or marshmallow frosting and then dip in chocolate and then crushed grahams.

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I made this glorious S’mores Trifle for this last 4th of July. Isn’t it a beauty? It’s taken me only almost five months to see that I spelled “s’mores” wrong on my own graphic. Cool. But it was so good, no one should complain! Here is the recipe!

http://www.momendeavors.com/2013/06/brownie-smores-trifle-dessert.html

Smores Brownies

These S’mores Brownies are outta this world! A baked graham cracker crust, a homemade brownie and an ooey gooey toasted marshmallow topping. What could go wrong (besides burning the whole lot, which I’ve done!?)??

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/smore-brownies-recipe/index.html

There is something so very magical that happens when you make your own brownie batter. The second you add those eggs, that chocolate turns so glossy and shiny. The stuff dreams are made of! Well, MY dreams. Do you dream about chocolate? Is it weird that I do?

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Don’t even ask me how I got that picture of my own self stirring brownie batter. I musta looked weird, but the end is magical, still, right? I’m not even sure I’d be able to master that again!

It’s SO easy to make brownies from scratch. I urge you to do it. It beats a boxed mix any day and is SO SO easy. I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true!

Smore for you

For moi?? Why, thank you! Don’t mind if I do!

This is so me. I really am the official taste tester (of all things) in my house. “Oh, let Mommy take a quick little bite to make sure it isn’t too hot!” See how that works? Totally works. Get extra bites every time. Bigs is on to me though. Now he’ll say, “Mommy, don’t eat the hole thing!”…clever boy.

Smores Tester

I know in other parts of our country and world, it is FREEZING outside right now. Perfect s’mores weather. We, on the other hand, are still waiting for it to cool down just a teensy bit more before breaking out the fire pit. But when we do, it’s ON!! S’mores in my face (mouth) all the time!

I want Smore

Always.

I think, therefore I s’more.

Have an ooey, gooey, crunchy, smoky, chocolately day!

Kristin

PS – if you want to make your own marshmallows, here is a great recipe:

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2010/10/26/homemade-hot-chocolate-marshmallows-voting-now-open-in-project-food-blog-round-6/

If you want to make your own graham crackers, try this one:

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2010/01/27/nanaimo-bars/

Srevotfel

Guten Morgen. Srevotfel. Sounds like a lovely German dish, doesn’t it? Um, it’s not! It’s “leftovers” spelled backwards. Sort of fancies it up, yeah? I was listening to the radio years ago, and the talk show host said that he grew up with his Mother calling leftovers “srevotfel”. I never forgot that because it made me giggle so!

Leftovers

Me (HAHAHAHAH No.)

I think there are two camps when it comes to leftovers. There are those that say YES! and those that say NO!. I am in the YES! group. I actually think most foods taste better as leftovers. It gives the seasoning and flavors a chance to really soak into the foods, making them more flavorful. Now, some meals should just never ever be leftovers. I am no stranger to those.

Inventing Leftovers

Sometimes, instead of reheating the same meal, I’ll turn parts of last night’s dinner into a different meal. Re-purposing. Re-furbishing. Those are nice because it isn’t just the same thing again. When I make a whole chicken or buy a rotisserie, I have a favorite go-to meal for the next day. I almost always make a chicken and rice casserole with a homemade cream-of soup. My boys really love it and I do too! I always add vegetables to it (butternut squash, peas, carrots and corn) and typically do not make the cracker topping, although it is good on there. Here is that recipe:

http://www.skiptomylou.org/2012/05/10/creamy-chicken-and-rice-casserole-without-soup/

Two nights ago, I made mashed potatoes from scratch and had a boatload leftover the next day with not a clue on how to serve them. I sort of made up a casserole and it came out REALLY good! Please please excuse the picture. I couldn’t get one of the plated meal (boys were in rare form!) and could only snap a picture after the leftovers (again HA!) were in my Corningware.

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I whisked 2 eggs and added them to about 2 C of mashed potatoes (I heated them up in the microwave to make them easier to stir). I browned some ham cubes in a skillet with a little bit of butter, fresh garlic and onion. I added that to the potatoes with 1/2 C shredded cheddar and 1/4 C mozzarella cheeses. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes and then about 10 minutes more, after cranking it up to 400 degrees (added some browning to the top). It was delicious!! I served it with steamed veggies and fresh pear. Everyone ate it and that’s my marker of success. Although I will say that Smalls spit it out, but it wasn’t because he didn’t like it. He’s in a phase where he finds it hilarious to spit out everything he eats that could go flying and land on my face, his high chair, the wall, the floors (mashed potatoes, applesauce, yogurt). I mean, he’s so cute when he does it but dang. Don’t even get me started.

Also! Today is the last day of school for Bigs before Thanksgiving break. How cute is that! His first ever break in school. I love it. I am also the Helper Mommy in his class, for which I am so excited and grateful! I adore the opportunity to spend the day with him in his territory and it’s so lovely to get to know his classmates and teacher better. I REALLY enjoy their company! Since it is almost Thanksgiving, Bigs and I put together some goody bags for his classmates.

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Aren’t these little turkeys adorable? Gobble gobble! I found the idea for the bags on Pinterest (the answer to almost everything) and decided to put little snacks inside. I used snack-sized Ziplocs and put popcorn (healthier Newman’s Own), pretzels and some pumpkin spice M&M’s in there, labeling the little bags, “Turkey Dinner”. I think they came out cute and I hope the kids (and teacher!) enjoy them.

And I made lunches for Bigs and for me. So fun to make a bento lunch for me too! I loved Bigs’ turkey lunch from earlier in the week, that I just did a variation on that again. It’s the last of its sort for a full year!

Turkey Themed Preschool Lunch 2

Bigs has another turkey shaped PB&J. I used my Food Writers to add a beak, gobbler-thing, feet and feathers. I went a little crazy on the colors this time. What the heck! He also has a clementine, some dried mango, a few orange yogurt raisins, some corn-off-the-cob and a squeezy fruit. I am telling you – this kid eats a lot. The Babybel cheese is for snack (with a rice cake) and I’m not sure how it snuck into the picture. Well, obviously it was me. I haven’t had coffee yet. You can see that the box is crooked in the picture. I need coffee. Now.

And just for fun, I’ll show you my lunch too!

Mommy Preschool Lunch

My lunch is two rice cakes with peanut butter and a blackberry Shiraz jam (thanks Mom!), a Babybel cheese, a clementine, some dried mango and coconut (I found a cheaper bag of that brand I thought I could only find at Costco at Target!!).

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

Breaking Fast & Turkeys

Breakfast Anytime

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Alice in Wonderland

I am un poquito different than Alice on that one. I AM a morning person, but I’d like to have a cup of coffee and something to nibble on before I start believing in six impossible things. But still, that’s cute, Alice.

Pancake Breaky

I live in a household that LOVES breakfast. Like…eats it at every chance. We eat it for dinner often. My youngest, Smalls, will eat just about anything, but my oldest, Bigs, is obsessed with pancakes…even more so if they have sprinkles on them! My husband almost always orders breaky when we go out to eat and it’s a place that offers it each day. All three boys (Hubs included!) can’t get enough. I love breakfast too. There isn’t anything breakfast-y that I won’t eat!

Breakfast Words

It’s also a quick meal. Sometimes, I just don’t have the energy or gumption to pull out something to thaw…which is sort of dumb, because how long does it take to do that? Like 2 seconds. But, I think I know I’ll have to then cook it (lol) and that will be my fate. So pancakes and eggs are a quick solution for me and it’s a bonus that it’s loved so much!

And my Bigs – he is a leeetle obsessed with pancakes, as I’ve said…since he was an itty bitty. He wants them all the time. We were driving past Perkin’s and he said, “They have sprinkle pancakes there!!”. Funny boy. 🙂

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My sweet Bigs as a teeny toddler, waiting patiently for pancakes. <3

Pancakes

I recently asked Bigs to talk to me about breakfast, in my prep for this blog post. He said that pancakes are his favorite and he likes them with butter, syrup and sprinkles (obvi). Then he said, “Let’s talk about waffles.”. This kid seriously loves breakfast.

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Here is Bigs’ 2nd Birthday breakfast – pancakes with sprinkles, of course!! I also put yogurt (with sprinkles) in a cake slice-shaped mold.

PancakesDarling

Yes. Yes I will.

So now, let’s talk recipes. Here are some delicious breakfast ideas!

“One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.” Robert A. Heinlein, Friday

Amen to that.

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This Overnight Steel Cut Apple Pie Oatmeal was delicious. It was made even easier by doing most of the prep work the night before. We had this for breakfast on the 4th of July!

http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2010/10/overnight-apple-pie-steel-cut-oats.html

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This Baked Banana Oatmeal with a Brûléed Banana Crust went over wonderfully with my family. It was delicious! Please excuse my old grimey pan. It’s seen a lot of action.

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/03/22/banana-bread-baked-oatmeal/

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This is Eggnog Steel Cut Oats with a Cinnamon Cranberry Swirl. Uh…yes please!!

For this recipe, I just substituted eggnog for some of the liquid, while cooking the steel cut oats. I also added more to give it a creamy texture at the end of cooking. You can also use eggnog coffee creamer. For the cranberry swirl, I put frozen cranberries (frozen fresh) in a saucepan and when they started letting go of some of their juices, they made a sauce! I added cinnamon and let it simmer for a few minutes. I love the tangy cranberries on the rich, sweet eggnoggy oats. Delicious. Really good around Christmas time!

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Totally unnecessary and decadent Cinnamon Roll Waffles with an Apple Bacon Cinnamon Frosting.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/02/cinnamon-roll-waffles-bacon-apple-frosting-waffled-recipe.html

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Perhaps Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes will tempt you?

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/08/09/double-chocolate-brownie-batter-pancakes/

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Or Blueberry Muffin Pancakes? Katie, of www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com, calls them Blueberry Pie Pancakes.

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/06/09/blueberry-pie-pancakes/

Perhaps you want to go a little lighter…

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Here is a turkey made out of a pear half, mandarin oranges, grapes and raisins.

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Homemade whole wheat bread with homemade peanut butter?

http://mychocolatemoments.com/2012/07/14/honey-whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-no-bread-machine-needed/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-peanut-butter-recipe/index.html

Breakfast Words 2

Yes, indeed, breakfast is a fun thing to eat and make!

Oh yes! I also made a lunch for Bigs! Today is turkey day in school. They are reading T is for Turkey, so of course I had to make a turkey themed lunch. Of all the lunches I’ve done, I think this might be one of my favorites!

Turkey Themed Preschool Lunch

This turkey themed lunch includes a turkey-shaped PB&J. I used my Food Writers to draw on the turkey beak, eyes, gobbler-hangy-down-thing, feathers and feet. The container to the left has mandarin oranges (washed of their syrup). Bigs also has two little sandwich cookies, some dried mango, some candy corn and some real off-the-cob seasoned corn. Gobble Gobble!!

Hoping you find something here to tickle your breakfast (or turkey) fancy!

Kristin

Thanksgrateful

Psalm 1004

I am so thankful and so grateful. For so many things. While life is far from perfect (what is that, anyways??), for what God’s gifted us, I feel overly blessed and undeserving.

My family and I had the wonderful blessing of an opportunity to participate in the Operation Christmas Child this year, through my church.

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

They do it every year and it’s now going to be an annual tradition for us. It was really rewarding and humbling. I took the boys to the store and, together, we picked out lots of toys and goodies for two boys in the same age range as mine. And then on Sunday morning, we dropped off our boxes at the collection table at church.

Operation Christmas Child and Boys

My sweet boys putting their filled boxes on the collection table.

I am, by no means, “showing off” by sharing this. I simply what to share how humbled it made me. And Bigs told me, after dropping their boxes off, “Now someone else can have Christmas!!” and that gave me hope that he could feel part of the true meaning of sharing and Christmas.

I have…

Thankful heart

Last night, for dinner, I cooked a pork butt in the crock pot with some apricot jam and spices. I served it with my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni & Cheese (recipe here!) and baked beans.

Dinner

A lovely prayer to end on…

Prayer

I forget to do this a lot. I want to change that. I just got a new devotional. I am hoping to use that time of day to really thank God for his blessings to me. It’s called, “Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry”.

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Let-Your-Nail-Polish/dp/1935416219

May thankfulness and gratefulness abound,

Kristin

Thanksgiving Food Roundup

Turkey Time

Let’s talk turkey. Just kidding. Someone else is making the turkey.

Ain’t nobody (read: me) got time for that! Literally.

So let’s talk sides and dessert. That’s my forte.

And before that, let’s backtrack just a little. I want to paint my very fond Thanksgiving memories for you.

Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. Everything it embodied – the food, the fellowship, the family, the thankfulness. We used to travel to see my Dad’s family. They lived in the Deep South and the memories that were made in that old country house will live in my heart forever. When I think of Thanksgiving, this is what comes to mind:

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

Literally. And the dining room we ate in looked almost identical to this Normal Rockwell painting. My beautiful Grandma would have her long gray hair coiled into a bun, she’d wear a sweet little dress with stockings and slippers (it’s hard work cooking for so many!) and cover it all up with an apron that had seen many meal preparations. When she would see us, her whole face would crinkle up in a smile and she would always have this little sparkle in her eyes. My Granddaddy would always cry tears of joy when our family car would pull up that dirt and gravel-covered driveway. My Aunts and Uncles and Cousins would pour in through the tattered screened door in the kitchen, arms laden with covered dishes and hugs to hand out. My Grandma would be standing at the stove top, frying up her hoe cakes in her beloved old cast iron pan. There’d be field peas in a saucepan, a fried turkey, my Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese, shredded chicken and hard boiled egg dressing, and food for miles. And miles. Good Southern, comforting food. The dessert table always held the traditional pumpkin pies, cobblers, etc., but there was always something else that held my gaze. My Grandma would always make a multi-layered coconut cake. It always looked so tall from my shorter, younger (I’m tall, but my memories were made when I was young) stature looking up at it on the counter. It was iced with the most glorious white frosting, and then covered with stark, white coconut flakes, imitating that fresh first snow fall. I always ate a slice as big as my face. It was always my favorite. And my dear Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese. That is one of my all-time favorite recipes still. She passed that one on to me before she went to be with the Lord. While I never got the coconut cake recipe from my Grandma before she also went to be with the Lord, I did find recipes online that closely match these and my other heart-guarded dishes. I’d like to share some of these with you today. They may not be the healthiest or use the most “trendy” ingredients, but they are sacred in my heart. They equal hugs on my plate.

Thanksgiving Table

This is my dining room table last Thanksgiving. I prepared a few of my favorites. I made green bean and sweet potato casseroles (no favorite recipes here). The back right tray is my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni and Cheese and the front tray is my Shredded Chicken and Hard Boiled Egg Dressing.

Here is the recipe I’ve found that most closely resembles the dressing. I use only white meat (boiling chicken breasts or using a rotisserie can cut down on time), I make cornbread from Jiffy, and I do not make or use the giblet gravy or chutney.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-live/hazel-smiths-chicken-dressing-casserole-recipe/index.html

Here is my dear, sweet Aunt Sue’s recipe. I make my own “cream of” soups now, but I cannot bring myself to change her recipe AT ALL. This is a highly simple recipe, and quite humble. Even though it is such, it is one of my most prized and loved recipes. Please feel the love my Aunt Sue had for all of us when you make and enjoy this.

Macaroni Casserole:

1 8oz. pkg elbow macaroni, cooked

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 C mayo

1/2 C onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped and slightly cooked in microwave in a bit of water, drained

1/4 C pimento, chopped (or you can use canned, roasted red pepper)

1/2 lb. mild or sharp cheddar cheese

Combine the above ingredients and place in a buttered casserole dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Hoe Cakes are cornmeal based…pancakes, for all intents and purposes. The closest recipe I could find to match my Grandma’s could also be found from Paula Deen…go figure. These would be piled high in a pie tin on each table at Grandma’s house. And we’d eat our weight in them as we were waiting for the “big” meal to start.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/hoecakes-recipe/index.html

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The closest recipe I can find to match my Grandma’s Coconut Cake is another Deen recipe (lol – Southern at best!).

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/jamies-coconut-cake-recipe3/index.html

After our afternoon Thanksgiving feast, we’d go out in the backyard and shoot aluminum pie tins with Granddaddy’s BB guns. My brother and I had a blast. We’d go for rides on the riding mower. We’d go “moo” at the cows in the back pasture and go for a walk through the cotton fields flanking that country house with a porch swing. We’d sneak into my Granddaddy’s barn and look at all his old fashioned tools and try to guess what they were used for. How we loved those Thanksgivings spent there. As we grew older, we’d STILL enjoy the same traditions. After Thanksgiving day spent there, we’d go to my Mom’s family and have a second Thanksgiving with them (in a different state). My sweet Grandmother had (still has) her own recipe for macaroni and cheese (a recipe for another day!) and an amazing cream cheese topped, jellied cranberry and nut salad. I am going to have to get that from her again this year, as I’ve lost the recipe. Sadly, much of my family on my Dad’s side has passed on and so we’ve had to change traditions. Whether we spend the holiday with my Mom’s family or with my Husband’s family, locally, I always make it a point to make these recipes that are so fond in my heart so that I can feel that love miles and miles away from where it started.

I’ve got two other recipes that I’d like to share with you today. One is a scone that would make for a lovely, festive breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Imagine eating these little beauties with a cup of coffee or tea as you are starting to prepare your meal.

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I got the recipe for these Harvest Pumpkin Mini Scones from King Arthur Flour.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/harvest-pumpkin-scones-recipe

And here is another dessert recipe, but for the more daring home cooks!

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This Pumpkin Mochi Cake is REALLY good – not too sweet and sort of chewy in that lovely mochi way that I am so very fond of. I used Mochiko (glutenous rice flour) that I found at a local special store. I obviously didn’t use small molds for this, as the recipe calls for. I used an 8×10 dish and doubled the recipe.

http://kirbiecravings.com/2010/11/happy-thanksgiving-2.html

PS – My husband is home with us now. God is good!

I hope you can use and enjoy some of these recipes. Have a very blessed weekend,

Kristin