Thanksgiving Bible Study & Pot Pie

Thanksgiving Day1

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.

thanksgiving bible quotes

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.

Happy-Thanksgiving-website

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

A Beautiful Sight, Happy Tonight

Sleigh Bells Ring

Sleigh bells ring! Can you hear them? If you squint (I have to squint to see practically anything and you know what? When I’m trying to listen really hard, I squint then, too. I’m too young for such problems!!) and listen really hard, you can probably hear them! It’s so close! Christmas is so close! Can you believe it?! It is just slightly over four weeks away! That’s only four weeks to shop (and to write Santa) and to plan your baking and cooking and to celebrate Jesus and the Advent. Oh. And to get that dreadful Elf out of the back of your closet. I almost forgot. Oops. I love him, I do. He’s part of our family now. Duncan is very sweet, you know, for a pretend elf filled with cotton stuffing and wire. It’s just that I have to think of so many different things for him to do each night! And I’m just so tired at the end of the day! It’s okay though. Truly, if it makes Bigs and Smalls happy, then I am happy. I’ll rally. I can man up. Thank goodness for Pinterest – it does most of thinking for me on this one!

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I know that for me, getting this close to Christmas means that I lots of wrapping to do, cookies to bake, four beautiful Advent church services to attend, Christmas themed kid lunches to dream up and make, Christmas parties and playdates to enjoy and lots more. Busy busy busy. I don’t know how I’ll do it. Some days (every day??), the energy just isn’t there. But the spirit of Christmas will keep me going!

What will you bake to bring to your Christmas or holiday parties? Perhaps I can share some grainy (lol) pictures and a few recipes?

Christmas-Holiday-Graphics

I love baking for the holidays. I love finding new recipes and trying them out. I don’t think I’ve made the same thing twice. It seems like every year, there are so many new and exciting recipes to try. I used to try to make about 5 different kinds of cookies, but as my children have grown, my time to devote to such things has lessened, and so has the variety of cookies I make. But that’s okay! The ones I DO bake, hopefully, make up for the lack in assortment. And I enjoy making cakes and bars, as well. Those are more for the parties rather than the cookie tins, but fun, nonetheless. I also like to try new recipes for those each year.

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I ADORE fresh cranberries. They are so deliciously tart. I love their shiny, red coat and their delightful pop when eaten. I prefer fresh over dried for most recipes. This Cranberry Cream Cheese Bundt Cake was divine. I served it sliced with Sugared Cranberries in the middle. I love those things. I could eat the whole lot.

http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/1218/

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sugared-cranberries-10000000554659/

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Here is another presentation where I used the Sugared Cranberries. I added a few sprigs of fresh mint. I love love love fresh mint. The cookies are soft, chewy iced ginger cookies. I actually don’t have a favorite recipe for this one. I seem to lose the recipe each year, having to search out a new one. I like them chewy, not hard, and soft, but not crumbly soft. But…I’ll eat any kind you place in front of me.

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Now, these…these were simple. I made boxed brownies (before I was super “daring” and made my own) and used a Christmas tree cookie cutter. I then made a simple icing sugar glaze and added green food coloring. After spreading that on the trees, I added red sprinkles and a teeny white star sprinkle atop each tree. For the cookies, I added peppermint extract to a boxed sugar cookie mix and used the same glaze as the trees (only with red coloring) and added crushed peppermints on top. This was easy. Not gourmet. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way. But this is still cute if one is in a time crunch!

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Staying in the cookie(ish) family are these lovely Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookie Bars. You know those frosted cookies you see (frosted to match the color of whatever holiday is near) in the front of almost every grocery store bakery, that are so oddly expensive and so ridiculously delicious and soft? Well, these are those. In a bar form. Like a whole pan can just sit on your lap and you can just use a fork. I mean, if that’s the sort of thing that you do. I don’t do that. Ever.

http://cookiesandcups.com/lofthouse-sugar-cookie-bars/

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And lastly, for now of course, you can transform just about anything into a dessert worthy of the proverbial “Holiday Table” by adding festive sprinkles. They (I) don’t call me (myself) “Sprinkles in my Lunchbox” for nuffin’ (as Bigs would say)!! I found these adorable sprinkles (a mix made of Christmas trees, gingerbread boys, candy canes and snowflakes) at Ross. This is a simple Texas Sheet Cake (no favorite recipe, although, people…just you know, people, swear by The Pioneer Woman’s recipe).

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_chocol/

Christmas cupcakes

Have a blessed, sweet Monday,

Kristin

Gimme S’More

smore

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.

toasted marshy

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

Cafeterianism

Confession Time

I have a confession to make. I sort of, kind of a lot, love cafeteria food. And hospital food. It’s like a small, teeny obsession. Not really one I “indulge” in everyday, but one I really quite enjoy when faced with it.

Cafeteria

I know I’m part of a rare group of people that like it. Aren’t I? Isn’t there someone else out there that is like me?? I have always had this fascination with cafeterias and their food. It’s really weird and I know that. I’m not even sure why. I don’t know if it’s the little compartmentalized trays. It certainly isn’t stellar food. But I am just oddly fascinated by it. We used to have cafeterias around my town that we’d go to. While I love buffets better (I meannn, you could taste EVERYTHING instead of having to choose), I really enjoyed going to the cafeterias, too. Same with hospitals. I KNOW. I’M WEIRD. I totally understand that you’re baffled by me right now.

Peckish

There is just something about them. My husband always teases me (and rightfully so). Am I the only one?? I am always excited when the food tray is delivered to the hospital room. I cleaned my plates every time I’ve been in the hospital. And I helped my husband clean his while he’s been in the hospital this week. It’s a running joke. I just can’t help myself.

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Why??? Just whyyyy do I like this??

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Seriously though. Look how cute! It’s a mini pecan pie. I WILL say that their desserts have been REALLY good! This one was so good that I ate it in hiding so I wouldn’t have to share with my boys. # Mom of the year

We’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital this week. It’s hard to keep the boys entertained while we are there. Bigs is not too bad, but one year old Smalls gets really bored quickly. Especially confined in his stroller or Husband’s bed since Smalls’ Mommy can’t seem to think it’s okay that he just run around and touch icky hospital germs. I am what I am!! Meal times have been a fun way to stay entertained, however. There are so many little fun packaged straws and plastic ware and bowls. The boys have had endful (I just made that up. Because “endless” would have been a lie), short-lived fun with the meal-tray-accoutrements.

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Looking out at the night sky through Husband’s window

I think we are close to having my wonderful husband back home with us, where he belongs. It’s been a long week. We are grateful this part of our journey is almost done. I am still very thankful for all our family and friends’ support, for without it, I’d most certainly be a wreck.

So. Let’s talk cookies. On a cafeteria tray. Because…how perfect. This shows my affinity to cafeterianism (I totally made this word up and I think it fits me to a “T”!) long before I started this blog. 😀

PBJ cookies

I simply made PB cookies from a boxed mix and made a little thumb-print in them, in which I filled with jellies, before baking. Yum. PB&J rules all in our house.

Something about those tray compartments really soothes my need for order. I love it. It’s so organized. And I don’t even mind mixing foods together before consuming, but this just looks so spacially (apparently this isn’t a true word?) organized.

Also! I made Bigs a lunch today. An owl themed lunch. I honestly cannot seem to make an Indian themed one, which is what he is learning about. So I chose owls. Just because. Say it with me, “I do what I want!”!! HAHAHAH! <— just me laughing.

Owl Themed Lunch

It’s an owl shaped…what else, PB&J! I used candy eyes and cheese (cheddar and Babybel) for the beak and wings. Bigs also has applesauce with brown sprinkles (in his lunchbox…tee hee), goldfish pretzels, a few pieces of dried mango and some teeny Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. I hope he gets as big of a HOOT eating this as I did making it. (HAD to throw a hoot joke in there, obvi)

Peace and Blessin’s (also one of my favorites…you’ll be seeing it again, it makes me smile),

Kristin

Spin Spin Sugar

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Life is a bit like a carnival, isn’t it? There are rides – some wonderful and fun, and some that make you feel sick and you never want to go on again. There are weirdos and really nice people. There is delicious food.

And those days where you are on that roller coaster ride you never wanted to be on…

Those are the days that you just have to find or create your own happiness. This week is full of those days for me. I’ll spare you the details, but my husband’s had some health issues. Not only are we naturally worried for him, but he is so very missed here at home, while he is in hospital (I’m saying it like the Brits, don’t I sound fancy? If you know me from WAY back, you know I’ve been an Anglophile since before it was trendy.). RUN ON…anyways. The boys and I miss him a lot. I’ve been keeping their schedules as per the normal so that they don’t feel too weird.

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These Cotton Candy Bars are a piece of happiness. Although I didn’t consume them today, sharing them with you makes me happy. These were really easy to make and pretty fun. They were pretty rich…which makes them easier to share with friends! 🙂

Here is the recipe:

http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cookies-bars/hayleyparker08/cotton-candy-bars/

Fiercly eating cotton candy

Look at this amazing picture! Such concentration and fierceness! This picture makes me so happy. I don’t know them, but they make me happy.

Cotton candy has been, for me, a source of happiness, both in thought and, especially, in person. It was always my favorite “candy” growing up. I wasn’t, obviously, allowed to have it all the time. It was always a special occasion – a fair, a fall festival, something that only came around every once in a while. And that is why, when I think of it, I smile. It is associated with a fun, special time.

SimpleVintage Cotton Candy

You can do more with cotton candy than just eat it, although that’s the way I prefer it. Last New Year’s Eve, I tried a Pinterest thing, where you put it in a champagne glass and pour champagne over it. It wasn’t exactly like the picture and was sort of gritty, but it was cute(ish).

The recipe above calls for the cotton candy Frosting Creations packet, but you can actually use real cotton candy in some recipes. Or you can use flavored oil. I have some of this:

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Candy-Flavoring-Cotton-Flavor/dp/B000FRXI66

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Isn’t this just beautiful?

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This just makes me happy. I’m creating my own happiness in this.

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I feel like EATING cotton candy. 😀

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“Cotton Candy Cosmos” – just that name alone makes me happy.

You know what else has helped me create happiness in this struggle? One of my favorite Bible verses.

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

God has been putting that verse in my heart throughout this process, and it has considerably calmed down my anxieties and stresses. HE is in control. How can I argue that?!

I hope that in your own struggles, you can find some comfort and peace in God or happiness in your own way…or in cotton candy. <3

Today, I am so very grateful for my family, my husband’s family and my friends, who have sent prayers, wishes, hugs, texts, phone calls and offers for help with EVERYTHING. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life, caring for us the way you do. Thank you. I love you all.

Sticky sweet, spun sugar wishes,

Kristin

Seriously, just let them eat cake. Or peanuts.

What’s the big deal? “Let them eat cake!!” All she wanted was for those people to be able to eat cake! I meannnnnn, it’s not that hard of a concept. Have you seen the movie, Marie Antoinette? I only watched it because I like cake and shoes. Isn’t this scene below so beautiful? I have to be perfectly frank though (Can I just be Garth?!), I’d rather eat cake than get a pedi.

MarieAntoinetteCake

I also like Marie (we’re on a first name basis) because we share the same concerns (if I were in her shoes, get it?? Shoes!).

“But how will I eat cake if my head is over there, and my hands are over here?”
-Marie Antoinette
My kind of gal.
At the end of the day, all she wanted was to share cake. Or at least eat hers and let them eat theirs. Whatevs.
Let them eat cake
At the end of my day, all I want to do is share cake, too. Yesterday, I did that. I made birthday cupcakes for a friend and also shared some of the same recipe with my Mommy group at church. I think [I hope!] it was a hit. I’ve shared this recipe on this blog before.
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http://www.traceysculinaryadventures.com/2013/04/cookie-dough-stuffed-dark-chocolate.html#.UmRTarPMISk
Happiness is Cupcakes
While I was there, I had many friends tell me that they’ve been reading this blog and that they’ve been enjoying it! THANK YOU. That encouragement means a great deal to me. It makes me feel so good to know that not only am I having a creative catharsis, but that some people, other than me, actually get enjoyment out of it!
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It’s nice to show who I am…I am so grateful to have this blog to help piece me together…and so many wonderful friends to encourage that and foster my oddball sense of individuality.
Required Cake
Can I get a “Heck yes!”?!
And since we are on the topic of cake, which I so often am…let’s take a peek at this cake I made a while back. I made it for Husband’s birthday. It was easy and everything on it was homemade (also easy!). It’s a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, with mini chocolate chip cookies and homemade Sno-Caps on them. My husband doesn’t quite have the sweet tooth I have, but he LOVES chocolate chip cookies and ALWAYS gets Sno-Caps at the movies. And I believe cake is a must on a birthday. So I combined them all…because I do what I want (lol). That hasn’t gotten old for me yet!
Cake
https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184&name=HERSHEY%27S-PERFECTLY-CHOCOLATE-Chocolate-Cake
The Faux-Caps were easy. I put chocolate chips on a piece of tin foil and placed them in my toaster oven. Once they were a teensy bit melty, but still maintaining their shape, I pulled them out and covered them in colored nonpareils and put them in the fridge. I think they came out cute. It was enjoyed.
Cake is Life
I couldn’t have said it more beautifully.
I hope you have the opportunity to make (more importantly, to EAT) cake soon. I feel it’s important to always have a cake on the horizon.
Julia Cake
Yes, Mrs. Child, YES.
Eat Cake for Breakfast
I need this bag in my life.
Also, I made Bigs an elephant themed lunch. It’s Pilgrim Day at school, but I just can’t seem to rally this morning. What’s adorable about elephants to us is the way Bigs says the word. He can say the word very well (he’s well-spoken), but he still uses the word he made up for them when he couldn’t say “elephant”. He calls them “Brrr-eat-peanuts”. Isn’t that adorable? It’s also BRILLIANT, if I can say so on his behalf. Elephants say, “Brrrr!” and they eat peanuts. He’s a genius. <3 I just hope that Smalls picks up the same word from Bigs so we can enjoy it for a while longer.
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He has an elephant shaped crunchy (since Brrr-eat-peanuts EATS peanuts) PB&J and I used my Food Writers for the eye, crusts for the elephant to stand on, pretzels, an almond Hershey’s Kiss and a mix of mandarin oranges (washed of their syrup) and grapes.
Life is short. Eat the cake. And call elephants “Brrr-eat-peanuts” forever. Have a blessed day,
Kristin