Category: Snacks

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

This week has not only felt like Summer, with temperatures already reaching over 90 degrees where I live, but it has been filled with summer activities. We’ve been to a Cinco de Mayo pool party, we’ve caught bugs and put them in Bigs’ bug kit, we’ve played on his slip n’ slide, we’ve played with water squirters, we’ve run through the hose water, we’ve had ice cream, we’ve been in the pool. Oh yes, Summer has arrived. While the rest of you are still in Spring, we have, very much, been initiated into the Summer Season.

In keeping with our new Summer theme, I made a really cute ice cream themed lunch for my Bigs this week.

wpid-photogrid_1399499381065.jpg

I made his PB&J into two little ice cream (or cup cup, as we call it in our house – Bigs’ word for it since he was little – it stuck!) shapes, with cherries on top! I packed seasoned corn, grapes, and a little marshmallow ice cream cone for dessert. I used my little ice cream picks for decoration. The bag on the left is his snack. I packed animal crackers and raisins and went cray cray with my ice cream stickers.

Tuesday’s lunch was not as cute.

wpid-photogrid_1399425967156.jpg

It lacked a little finesse theme. I packed a PB-smeared mini blueberry bagel, goldfish crackers, grapes and blueberries, a squeezy applesauce, and one of the little marshmallow ice cream cones.

Loving these fun, summery lunches!

Kristin

The Carnival came to town!

Come one, come all!!

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

wpid-20140501_183015.jpg

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

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

wpid-20140502_081210.jpg

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

wpid-20140502_082625.jpg

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

I ordered the French Toast Monte Cristo.

wpid-20140502_081423.jpg

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

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

wpid-20140502_153656.jpg

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

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

wpid-20140502_171503.jpg

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

wpid-20140502_180645.jpg

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

wpid-20140502_180949.jpg

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

It was a perfect day.

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

wpid-20140503_081657.jpg

Dining Room Table

wpid-20140503_081707.jpg

Details, upclose

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

wpid-20140503_081717.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_081816.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_085010.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_092816.jpg

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

And then I set up the games downstairs…

wpid-20140503_095532.jpg

Pin the nose on the clown (sticker noses)

wpid-20140503_095546.jpg

Fishing (and a bucket of prizes)

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

wpid-20140503_081747.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_084917.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_102043.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_102045.jpg

I think it was a hit!

wpid-20140503_102048.jpg

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

wpid-20140503_101806.jpg

I love how the food table came out!

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

wpid-20140503_094811.jpg

Fireworks added to cover my Bigs’ name ๐Ÿ™‚

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

wpid-20140503_112946.jpg

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

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

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Bigs!

Four years ago today, my life changed. I became a Mommy for the first time. My son, Bigs, came into this world two days before he was due to meet me. I’d like to think he was as excited to meet me as I was to meet him. I already knew I loved him, even before I met him, that Sunday in May. He was tiny, like a little doll, so incredibly small. He had violet-gray eyes, that later turned into the most beautiful blue surrounded by a navy blue ring. His hair was fine and soft, a beautiful shade of brown, with silvery tips, the type people pay for at salons. He had the softest, wrinkly skin. He was warm and red and new. I felt a love I’d never felt before, a hole in my heart was filled. He was perfection.

wpid-img_838212339689603.jpg

I am so very thankful for him. He has not only given me the gift of being a Mommy, but he has taught me patience (which I am still learning), he has shown me grace in my own off days, and he has given me a deep, true, unconditional love. I love his sweet, shy spirit. I love how empathetic he is towards others in life. I love his clever ideas and funny jokes, the way he makes me laugh. I love his thoughtful nature, the way he thinks hard about things and asks questions about everything.ย  I love how he plays with his little brother. I love his big, beautiful, blue eyes, framed by long, dark lashes.ย I love the sprinkling of cinnamon freckles all over his nose and cheeks. I love how he loves Jesus and how he shows Jesus’ love through his own little heart. I love how no matter what meal we’re sharing at our dining room table, our feet are playing footsies. Most of all, I just love who he is. I am so, so, deeply thankful and blessed by him.

Happiest Birthday, my sweet son. May this next year be the best yet, and may you always feel as loved as you are.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” – James 1:17

Yesterday, I packed a very special lunch for my Bigs. Instead of using his lunchbox, as usual, I wrapped each lunch item separately, like a gift. I put them in a gift bag with a bow. I even wrapped his spoon/fork! I did the same for his snack.

wpid-picsart_1398906465607.jpg

For his lunch, I made a PB&J and added Food Writer designs and put a decoration from a past cake. I also packed corn (which he later told me that he and his friends guessed it was a cupcake before unwrapping – what a disappointment!), a fruit salad (grapes, strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries), and for dessert, two Oreo cookies and an after dinner mint. My kid loves after dinner mints as much as me.

wpid-picsart_1398906635368.jpg

For snack, I wrapped up one of his favorite things – animal crackers!

I think he got a real kick out of this lunch. It’s my favorite lunch that I’ve packed for him so far. So fun!

Have a blessed day,

Kristin

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?

wpid-20140418_163206.jpg
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.

wpid-20140419_074401.jpg

wpid-20140428_113618.jpg
GF DF Cinnamon pancakes with bananas

And I’ve actually made some good dinners!

wpid-20140424_173059.jpg

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!

wpid-img_20140429_075447.jpg

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!

wpid-img_20140429_075642.jpg

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.

wpid-20140420_111814.jpg

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!

wpid-20140420_105301.jpg

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!

wpid-20140421_101444.jpg

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

wpid-20140421_103439.jpg

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

wpid-20140421_1046500.jpg

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!

wpid-20140421_110044.jpg

Bigs even got to ring some items up! He loved it! What a fun trip for the kids…and adults. ๐Ÿ˜€

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!

wpid-20140422_161254.jpg

wpid-20140422_161655.jpg

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.

wpid-20140423_092918.jpg

Agree?

wpid-20140425_162342.jpg

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:

wpid-20140426_082356.jpg

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

wpid-20140426_094101.jpg

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!

wpid-20140426_145619.jpg

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

wpid-20140427_131533.jpg

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!

wpid-20140427_134250.jpg

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

wpid-20140427_153716.jpg

…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.

wpid-20140429_122717.jpg

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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

 

 

That’s my jam…and honey!

Bears like honey, right? Or is that some misconception that has been in place for a hundred years because of Winnie the Poop? I just wrote “poop” instead of “pooh”. I’m not even going to change that.

Anyways, yesterday was Woodland Animals day in Bigs’ class and they read Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?. Soooo, I had to give the ol’ bears another go. I have not had a successful track record with bear-shaped sandwiches. I think I lose myself on the drawing of their faces and they just come out scary.

Here is how yesterday’s turned out:

Bear Themed Preschool Lunch

I went with just eyes. I think that although a bit strange, what with no noses to smell or mouths to eat, they came out better than my past bears. I sprayed them lightly with a gold food-safe spray. I packed a little cup of raisins, some seasoned corn, and for dessert, a little slice of 100th Post Cake. He liked the cake best, obviously. He also told me that the bears weren’t bears. Soooooooo…..guess I need to work on my bears some more.

I also packed bear shaped cracker/cookie things forย  snack.

AND, I tried a neat food thing earlier this week, too! I found this at Target:

PB and J trail mix

I am such a sucker for odd foods, seasonal foods, any foods…

While theses were neat, the jammy and peanutty flavored pieces tasted so over-processed. Shame. It’s a neat idea. I’m a complete shoe-in for anything PB&J.

Hope you have a beary sweet day (rolls eyes),

Kristin

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.

20140401_173414

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.

20140401_172152

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.

20140401_173430

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.

20140402_111342

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

20140402_111416

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.

20140402_112120

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.

20140402_123350

And blow bubbles, we do a LOT of bubbles.

20140402_123011

Bigs was pretending to be a goat yesterday.

20140401_190306

Baaaa

20140401_190247

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

20140401_124426

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?

20140331_152531

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

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.

20140327_172922

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.

20140327_172929

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.

20140327_190728

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

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.

20140313_173504

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!).

20140313_173659

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

20140313_174046

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.

20140314_105605

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

20140314_113938

And Big Brother took the time to play with him.

20140314_112938

I love to see them playing nicely together. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

20140314_111111

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

20140315_081250

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.

20140315_081657

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.

20140315_081308

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.

20140315_095856

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

20140315_095919

Kind of adorable though.

collage_20140320135658080

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

20140315_101630

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

collage_20140320135741672_20140320135758120

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”.

20140315_123521

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.

IMG_20140320_015846

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.

IMG_20140320_015944

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.

IMG_20140320_020155

After we toasted to our wonderful friendships…

IMG_20140320_020103

…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.

IMG_20140320_020332

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.

IMG_20140320_020438

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.

20140317_070928

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.

20140317_075740

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.

20140317_080817

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

20140317_080832

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!

20140317_115339

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!

20140317_123859

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!

collage_20140320142139790

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.

20140317_131219

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

20140317_162926

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.

20140317_162939

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.

20140317_163012

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

And the Irish Stew came out SO SO good!

20140317_162358

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

20140317_162408

The broth was rich and tomato-y.

20140317_162501

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.

20140318_191859

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

20140318_192554

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.

IMG_20140320_020625

One of the best burgers I’ve had!

IMG_20140320_020732

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!

IMG_20140320_020822

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.

20140319_085238

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

20140319_085640

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.

20140319_085818

I meannnnnn…..

20140319_090520

Oh, my heavens.

20140319_085915

Why, thank you!

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

20140319_094407

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

20140319_094118

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

Valentine’s Day Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week. We sure had a busy one! And it spanned over a few days, too. We filled food bags for hungry kids through our church and school (which is the same thing for us). It was a great way of showing Bigs how to show love to others, even if we don’t know them.

20140208_174508

It was nice to let Bigs pick out the pantry items to put in the bag.

20140208_181324

And then to see the sea of red bags in the foyer of his school was just heartwarming.

20140208_181329

Then, Bigs’ Thursday class party was just precious. The kids sang (so very softly and with some nervousness too) “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink”. Then we ate. And it was just a perfect day.

20140213_084303_20140216200153279

Bigs and his Valentine’s for his teacher and the Admin ๐Ÿ™‚

Bigs woke up to his last “What I love about you” heart on his door on Valentine’s Day. Each morning, starting February 1st, I put a new heart on his bedroom door while he was sleeping. It was a fun thing for him and it allowed me to put in writing for him to see, some of the things I love about him.

20140214_073119

On Valentine’s morning, I made pink almond pancakes with sprinkles.

20140214_072752

They were so good. I put conversation hearts as decoration, although they were highly coveted by The Big One.

20140214_072756

I let him only have a few, knowing how sugary sweet the rest of the day would, inevitably, be.

20140214_072802

And Cupid came, wrote a poem, and left his poop (hey, I live in a house where poopy humor runs [get it?] rampant)!

collage_20140216171235653

We went on our Friday playdate, where the kids exchanged Valentine’s (just like at school the previous day). It was a lot of fun. I packed up the cookies I’d made earlier in the week (what’s interesting to me is that the kids liked the Sweethearts candy more than the cookies! Oh well – more for us Moms!). I had made sure to make double batches of everything so we’d have enough.

20140214_072938

After we got home and napped, I took the boys to the market to get some dinner supplies. I wanted to make a nice meal for them and my Sweetheart. I made Chateaubriand Filet Mignon (such a rare treat!!) and asparagus, and had a few salads.

20140214_163432

To make the steaks, I let them get to room temperature, sprinkled them with Kosher salt, and placed in my preheated, olive oil-coated grill pan. I seared them for a few minutes on each side and transferred them to a sheet pan. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes and brought them out to rest. For the asparagus, I rolled them around in olive oil and Kosher salt and roasted them in the 400 degree oven for 13 minutes on a sheet pan.

collage_20140216182343481_20140216182421218

I served them with a strawberry and spinach salad, and a cucumber and dill salad purchased from the market. It was all delicious!

20140214_172357

collage_20140216182748903_20140216182916162

We had chocolate covered strawberries for dessert, quite fitting.

20140214_180120

That night, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake (the recipe was already gluten free and I made the ganache dairy free) to celebrate my father-in-law and husband’s (husband has birthday coming up) birthdays the next morning.

collage_20140216184542504_20140216184718634

The cake came together easily and so beautifully. It was dark, dense, and oh-so-chocolately. The ganache was glossy, rich, and shiny.

20140215_090653

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

While I was making that, the boys painted their little ceramic elephant craft we’d gotten them for Valentine’s Day. They had a lot of fun. It was a lovely day.

20140214_181631

Bigs

20140214_181635

Smalls

20140215_065449

Final product: Bigs, left, and Smalls, right

Bigs also did his Valentine’s Day homework that his awesome teacher sent home! It was a neat Sweethearts themed one!

collage_20140216193517642_20140216193549608

It involved counting and coloring heart shapes and sweethearts. SO CUTE!!

The next morning, we got up and “released” Bigs’ Valentine’s Day heart balloon. I sort of love doing that. It’s fun to watch it flit away, wherever the wind pulls it. The kids liked it too.

20140215_073152-1

I like to think that if I saw a heart shaped balloon flying in such a gorgeous, crisp, blue sky, it would make me smile!

Then we went to my husband’s parents’ house to celebrate his and his father’s birthdays with chocolate cake and a sunshiny day!

20140215_100326

20140215_101658

20140215_102853

We played with sidewalk chalk and played hopscotch. Does anyone play that anymore?

Then…cake!

I used this knife that my wonderful sister-from-another-mister friend gave me:

20140215_085648

It’s always been my life’s motto! Even as a young child!

20140215_085802

20140215_113141

20140215_113134

The cake was RICH! So rich, like a truffle. But very good.

collage_20140216192816962_20140216192838135

Despite being a short little old thing, it fed a lot of people – my in-laws, my own family, I gave some to my parents and also to our neighbors! The cake that kept on giving!

We ended our day with walking around a craft store. Look at this cute bike bell I found – it’s a donut! I just need a bike now!

20140215_162849

Although I didn’t get it, if I did, it would have been like buying the shoes first…THEN the outfit. That’s normally how I do it.

Church on Sunday was wonderful. We love our pastor and his messages. The boys had fun in Sunday School and had a fun snack before naps:

20140216_130530

Yogurt Banana Splits!

20140216_130517

I cut a banana in half and lengthwise and put vanilla yogurt and chopped strawberries in between. The boys got such a kick out of it. We needed to get back to simple eating after all the festive, rich foods we consumed this weekend.

And back on the diet. :/

I hope you all had a blessed “holiday” weekend! I’m ready to slow down, get back to “normal” (schedules, diets, LIFE!).

Kristin

Just call me butter, baby…

…’cause I’m on a roll!

Call Me Butter

Or a croissant…

Croissant

Doesn’t that look incredible? My Mom is a master baker. She’ll deny it, but she is. And she made these. AND the Chocolate Pear Jam (am I the only one that thinks of Pearl Jam when I see ‘pear jam’? I love 90’s grunge, what can I say!) next to it. I know. I’m wicked blessed (for many reasons other than the buttery pastry and jam).

It’s good to be back in some routine (as you might recall I’m a fan of), although now my Husband is sick. Seriously. I thought we were done with this! I just hope the cycle ends with him. Once and for all. Seriously. Go away, Sickness!

Despite that, we’ve been doing great at focusing on the Simple Things.

Game Night

We had a Game Night, where we played Disney Candyland. It is always a fun game, but was made more special with popcorn. Bigs goes ape poop for popcorn. He always has.

Game Night 2

It was pretty fun except Smalls kept sweeping his hand through all the player pieces and cards. And the popcorn. 18 month olds aren’t good at playing games.

Art Night

We had an Art Night, where we got out this huge pad and everyone drew on it. It was great. We love doing that.

Art

I cannot even handle how much I love Bigs’ happy face drawings (bottom right, middle of page). He’s just the coolest. Literally The Coolest.

Know what else is cool? Pretzels. Homemade pretzels. I made some. Sure they ended up looking like chicken wings. But chicken wings are cool too, right?

Pretzel Dough

The dough was really easy to make and came together well.

It was sticky though. And that didn’t make for very clean pretzel forming. But that’s okay. It’s not like they ever had the destiny to LOOK good. They were supposed to be like pretzel nuggets but since the dough was too sticky for me (and I had two crazy boys running amok), I just sort of cut it and some had tails and looked like sea monkeys and some were cute and others were wonky. And I didn’t score any but one (the one that made me make the decision not to score the rest). They went into their baking soda hot tub and floated to the top.

No Eggwash Then Eggwash

I piled those suckers up and added an egg wash. Okay, not an egg wash, but just a beaten egg (before EGG above, after egg below). Oops. They stunk a bit when baking.

No Butter Then Butter

They baked up beautifully though, and the eggy smell went away. I brushed melted butter on them after they were done baking (before butter above, after butter below).

They were just like “real” soft pretzels! Crunchy(ish) outside, delicious and chewy inside.

Upclose Buttery Pretzels

They look like those Snyder’s Honey Mustard pretzels here. They aren’t.

Buttery Pretzels

Some I tossed with Kosher salt.

Side View Buttery Pretzels

Don’t they look like the best ever chicken wings? Well, they’re not.

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

The other half of them I added cinnamon sugar to.

Upclose Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

That was more of a hit. But I like pretzels in any flavor.

Super Upclose Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

Look at all those glistening, delicious pretzel nuggets.

I also made some delicious roasted sweet potatoes for dinner. I had both white and orange sweet potatoes (The black ones appear to be purple sweet potatoes, but they’re not. They burned. But I did that ON PURPOSE because my husband loves burned stuff. Works for me.).

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I had about a million sweet potatoes that I needed to use (they were sprouting). I made mashed sweet potatoes the night before.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I served those with sausages and fruit.

And lastly, to round out this very wonky post, today was Fireman day at Bigs’ school.

Fireman Themed Preschool Lunch

Here is his cool lunch. It’s a PB&J (duh), with “F I R Eย ย  D E P T” stamped on it and red, orange, and yellow outlining to represent fire. I made a little construction paper fire for him with directions on it, saying, “Put this fire out with your pretzel “hoses””. I also gave him a few more red tortilla chips. And lastly, he had cherry yogurt raisins, orange yogurt raisins, and some dried pineapples and bananas (all keeping with my red, orange, and yellow theme).

And naturally I had to send him in matching clothes. It’s how I [stop, drop, and] roll.

Cutie Fireman

I can’t help myself. It’s some sort of a sickness.

I hope you all have had a great Thursday. It’s one step closer to Friday – woohoo!

Remember…stop, drop, and roll!

Kristin