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.
BrrrEatPeanuts
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

Ho Ho Homemade Cookies

ChristmasCookie

I’m a planner. All part of having a Type A personality, I guess. I don’t mind. I’m weird. And orderly. And proud to be such. So, the second pumpkin everything starts infiltrating our lives (That’s a bit harsh isn’t it? Blessing our lives, not infiltrating), which I love by the by, my mind goes straight to its own little planning committee meeting. Mostly about food for the upcoming holidays, and lunches, of course. And outfits. All coordinating, as best I can. This holds true for all holidays for me. But right now, we are discussing The Christmas Cookie Baking.

ChristmasCookies

My Christmas cookies from last year (sugar cookie trees, salted double chocolate espresso cookies, soft ginger cookies and fruitcake bars). I can dig up these recipes if anyone wants them.

So, just know that I am planning ahead, not skipping Thanksgiving foods. Because…why, just why? That is my favorite food holiday. More on that at a later date. I have a few wonderful Christmas cookie recipes to share. I try to do new ones every year. By getting started on the planning part of this, it will help keep us (me) organized enough when the time comes to actually do the baking. Since I’ve already done these cookies, I’ll probably try something new. But maybe YOU can use some of these recipes!

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http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-chip-cookies-10000001622526/

These are chocolate chip cookies, lightened up, but still so good. I love how the cookies are still in their scooped state, post-baked. They look like ice cream scoops.

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http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/bevs_chocolate_chip_cookies.html

This is another chocolate chip cookie recipe, but using oats as part of the flour content. A little healthier, but hearty and delicious, and a bit rustic.

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Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites.

These were REALLY good. I think you’d need to keep them refrigerated, but that’s okay. I’ve received gifts before that required refrigeration and I didn’t mind. I am not sure anyone would mind if they received these little gems – an eggless chocolate chip cookie dough stuffed in between two salted pretzels and then dipped in chocolate. In this picture, they were freshly dipped in the chocolate, still resting on my Silpat.

And, it’s important to cater to all sorts of dietary restrictions, if you are kind (lol), because everyone deserves cookies. I’m an equal opportunity cookie baker (and eater). Here are two REALLY good gluten-free cookie recipes.

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http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously

And I’m not even kidding when I say that those chocolate cookies are some of the best I’ve ever had. I make them all the time.

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http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/gluten-free-peanut-butter-cookies

These GF peanut butter cookies are soooo good. They are nutty (obvi) and crumbly, in just the right way…melt in your mouth.

We love cookies in our house. Last year, as a little useful addition to my cookie bags for friends, I made non-edible cinnamon “cookie” cutout ornaments. They smelled so good hanging on my tree! I remember these from my childhood. Do you? But from your childhood (lol)?

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http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Other/Cinnamon-Ornaments

My kids love cookies. Especially the Publix ones that they EARN by being good the ENTIRE grocery shopping trip. I’m hardcore. I make them work for it. Hey, grocery shopping with two kids is not for the faint-hearted! Here is a picture of Bigs, last year, decorating a Christmas cookie at a Christmas playdate. He was very into pouring on the sprinkles. Did I say pouring? I meant dumping…with a quickness. Before I could stop him. Attaboy!

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Our family’s elf, Duncan (aptly named after our favorite place, Dunkin’ Donuts, of course – see here) was even caught, several times, getting into my decorating supplies. Everyone likes cookies around here.

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And, of course, and somewhat importantly, Santa enjoyed our cookies. Must be a fun job. Not the schlepping around of toys or ordering around a bunch of sweaty reindeer, but the eating of cookies. By the ton. And so many different kinds! If only!

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I hope you are able to use some of these cookie recipes. By starting now, you can plan out what you are going to do. This is somewhat [completely] hypocritical of me, as I currently have NO idea what cookies I am baking this year. Listen, I’ve been VERY busy. I’ve been schlepping around sweaty boys (similar to Santa’s duties). That keeps me busy. I’m going to get right on my cookie plans.

cookie doe

Cookie Doe.

The sweetest kind.

Have a wonderful Sunday,

Kristin

Sprinkles…On My Donuts

Donuts Sign

One of my very favorite foods is The Donut. I love love love donuts. Doughnuts, too. For writing purposes, I’m sticking with “donuts” because my spell-checker doesn’t even pick up “doughnuts”. That’s its own problem. And sort of rude. But whatevs. I have ALWAYS loved donuts. Despite “them” (whoever “them” is) saying bananas are the world’s most perfect food, I think donuts are. Baked, fried, filled, holes, iced, glazed, long, powdered, mini, raised, cake, jellied, creamed, I don’t care. I WANT!

Donuts

My husband even brought me donuts while I was in the hospital after having our first son. We made it a rule that if anyone goes into the hospital, they get donuts. I think it’s a legitimate rule. Somehow, in the hubbub of having our second son, this rule was forgotten. I got gypped. But I won’t worry too much. I’ve had more than enough (is that even a thing??) donuts since then to make up for it. My sons love them too. Every time we pass a Dunkin’ Donuts, Bigs tells me, “We should go on an adventure there!”…I’m with you, Kid.

Donutart

My husband got this sweatshirt for me for Christmas this year. He doesn’t know it yet. I almost can’t hold out and need to wear it just as soon as I won’t sweat to death. Although, donuts are worth it. Worth the sweating, worth it all.

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“If you stop eating donuts you will live 3 years longer. It’s just 3 more years that you want a donut.
-Lewis Black

My sentiments exactly.

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Some delicious donuts I just got last week, actually. I meannnnnn…..

I got a mini-donut pan on sale a few years ago. It was wicked cheap. I’ve enjoyed making my own donuts with it since then. It is super tedious. Mostly because they are mini donuts (which I don’t mind eating, they are so small that I can eat more!) and also because the pan only holds 12 and the recipes usually make about eleventy hundred.

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Some little pink cuties that I made. I used the recipe that came with the Wilton pan.

http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Baked-Cake-Donuts

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Aren’t they cute?

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Then I tried them in yellow. Adorbs. So cheerful!

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Here’s a chocolate version! Donuts for days!

Then, I ran across a recipe for the type of waxy, chocolate-y donuts you find in packs of six or at gas stations. Sometimes, the very best kind. Yum. Of course Kristan, the writer of the recipe, makes them look way more professional. Mine came out delicious and adorable though. Here is the recipe:

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2012/04/mini-devils-food-donuts/

“…life is a jelly donut. You don’t really know what it’s about till you bite into it. And then, just when you decide it’s good, you drop a big glob of jelly on your best t-shirt.”
Janet Evanovich, “Ten Big Ones”

I also made a delicious Coffee & Donuts Cake. Almost nothing compliments a donut more than a cup of coffee…or a moment of peace that I can share alone with my donut. I used a Serious Eats recipe and it was TDF (to die for). It was a lot of steps, but totally worth it. The best of both worlds!

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http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/09/let-them-eat-coffee-donuts-cake-coffeecake-recipe.html

I “donut” care if you already have plans to make something else – you gotta try these! I hope you do and enjoy these recipes as much as I have.

Have a rolled in sugar, jelly-filled kind of day!

Kristin

Pizza Party Friday!

Pizza Party

Remember pizza parties in school? Do they still have those? They were so fun! I could wear this:

Let's go get pizza

Don’t the words “Pizza Party!” just conjure up the most wonderful thoughts? Something to always look forward to in school. That and show-and-tell. And, obviously, on a more mundane, but absolutely necessary, level, lunch! My mom would pack mine. She would put sweet notes (and on the notes, she’d sign “Mom” and draw a happy face and curly hair on the “o” and I loved it.) in them and sometimes, little surprises. One time, she packed me space ice cream. SPACE ICE CREAM. How cool is that? Sidetrack! So, back to pizza. I think pizza is something to always look forward to. Like those surprise lunch notes and desserts I had. Sorry you didn’t get them. You’d have liked them. But you can enjoy pizza any time you want!

I love pizza

While I ADORE pizza from pizza restaurants (Pizza Hut is my favorite because the crust is so crunchy and almost caramelized from the butter…how could I not like that?! I also ate almost a whole Pizza Hut pizza by myself as I labored at home with my second son and I like to think it put me into labor. I also like pizza buffets because…yards and yards of pizza.), it’s fun to make pizza at home, too. I have a go-to recipe for a whole-wheat dough. It’s very easy and a delicious way to get my kids to enjoy whole wheat. I’ve also used it to make calzones and pizza pockets. I used to use the whole wheat and white fresh dough from our grocery store. That always came out tasty, but since finding this recipe for the WW dough, it’s so easy to make my own…even easier than driving to the store to buy prepared fresh dough.

Cheeseburger PizzaCheeseburger Pizza

Oven Pizza

Cheese Pizza

Grilled Pizza

Grilled pizza – the left one has figs, garlic and honey & the right is fresh bell pepper, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and red sauce.

Ham and Pineapple Pizza

Ham & Cheese Pizza

Here is the recipe I use for my WW pizza:

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianpizzarecipes/r/wheatcrust.htm

The only thing I do differently is use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. I also use my locally harvested honey instead of sugar.

And when I think of Pizza Fridays (I make a pizza most Friday nights for my family), I also think of something sweet to end the week. Because also I’m always thinking of something sweet. And chocolate chip cookies come to mind. They sort of go with pizza. So does cake, like the food of kid birthday parties past. But then, cake goes with anything. Focus, Kris. Focus.

Let’s get ready to cruuuuumblllllle!

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies and am always looking for new and exciting recipes of such to try! I have two kinds of bars that are sort of chocolate chip cookie-ish in flavor, but different.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The first is what Averie, from http://www.averiecooks.com/, calls Chocolate Chunk Cookie Sticks. The only change I made to her recipe was the shape of chocolate (chips vs. chunks) and the way I cut them (bars vs. sticks). They were SOOOOO good. Here is the recipe:

http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/06/chocolate-chunk-cookie-sticks.html

I could eat those until I pop. I’m pretty sure I did pop, the last time I ate them. And I didn’t mind.

The second recipe that I think would go deliciously after pizza is a Halfway Cookie. It’s more like a bar. And a cookie. And cake. It’s all those wonderful things wrapped into one. Have you heard of these? My neighbor, who is a Grandmother and a dear friend, shared her Mom’s recipe with me ages ago for these. And I’ve also found them on the web. I have found them to be very similar to Mud Hen Bars, with the exception of marshmallows. These do not have marshmallows. And let me tell youuu, they are DELICIOUS.

Halfway Bars

They have a layer of cookie as the crust (sort of like chocolate chip cookies without the chips), followed by a boat load of chocolate chips and topped with a baked meringue. Amazing. Please try them. It’s a very old recipe. And old is good. In most cases.

http://www.cookiemadness.net/2010/08/halfway-cookies/

Let me know if you make a pizza with that dough recipe! It’s so quick and fail-proof and delicious. And if you don’t, I’ll give you a pizza my mind! Just kidding. I won’t. But do try it. And enjoy! And please make some of these chocolate chip variations!

Have a wonderful Friday,

Kristin

“But I don’t WANNA go to China!”

food i ate

Ni hao. I love food. Did you already know that about me? Just in case you didn’t, I love food. And since it’s so hard to travel and eat my around the world with a 3 and 1 year old in tow, I did the next best thing. I went to an around-the-world-themed Food & Wine Festival with my family. It was a lovely day. I’d never done this before…it’s my (fig) jam now. I love it. I could have eaten something at all the represented countries there, but I AM on a budget. And I need to keep my girlish figure. BAH! Anyone who knows me, knows I’d rather eat than worry about ‘dat waist.

In our “travels”, we ate  Morello Cherry Pistachio Mousse and  Frozen S’mores from the Desserts & Champagne booth (started with dessert…it’s been my personal philosophy since I was a wee one), a Potato & Leek Waffle with Braised Beef in Belgium, Venison Sausage with Pickled Mushrooms, Baby Arugula and Black Currant Reduction in New Zealand, a Harissa Chicken Roll in Morocco, Almond-crusted Blue Cheese Soufflé with Fig Jam at the Cheese booth, and in China, a Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun and Coconut Silk Ice Cream Ribbon. When my older son Bigs asked where we were going next, I told him (with gusto, I might add), “China!”. He replied with, “But I don’t wanna go to China!!”. He quickly changed his mind when he saw that we got ice cream there. 😀 Kid after my own heart.

me eating

Here I am eating my Chinese Beef and Silk Ice Cream on top of my kids’ stroller. That’s how I roll. Well, I guess that’s how they roll…with me and my food on top.

Food has been a huge part of the journey in finding myself. And on that journey, I’ve discovered just how much I love Asian desserts. Like, obsessed. It’s weird. I have always loved Chinese, Japanese and Thai food. But their desserts… I can’t even. So good. And my all time favorite of such desserts is the SESAME BALL. Tell me you’ve had them. It’s okay if you haven’t. More for me. They are balls glutinous rice and are rolled in sesame seeds and fried. And filled with sweetened bean paste. They are in my top 3 favorite foods. SO good. I get sesame balls on my birthday each year.

AsianSesame

These are some of the sesame balls I’ve gotten over the years.

Each year, around my birthday, we make what I call my Asian grocery pilgrimage. I pick up all kinds of yummy Asian treats – sesame balls, shrimp puffs, BBQ pork-filled steamed buns, purple yams, lychees, mochi, pineapple buns, coconut buns, egg tarts, taro buns. Oh, I could go on. I love it. My sweet husband knows what I want to do on my birthday and just let’s me go nuts.

AsianMochi

Mochi that I’ve gotten over the years.

AsianOther

Other Asian treats I’ve gotten.

My Mom once had to travel to Malaysia and Japan for work and brought me all kinds of goodies. It’s sort of a strange attraction I have to the Asian sweets. They are so cute and always so well put together, not to mention delicious.

What are some of your “odd” food obsessions?

Oh. And I made a lunch for Bigs. And it is freaky. Not on purpose. I think it’s the eyes. I mean, sometimes things don’t turn out how they are supposed to. I gotta keep it real. Sorry Bigs! Mommy still loves you. <3

BearScare

It’s a bear shaped PB&J that I sprayed gold(ish), using food safe spray. I used my Food Writers for the weird nose and mouth and candies for the [freaky] eyes. He also has corn and carrots, a few pretzels, some bear shaped cookies and a squeezy fruit.

Zàijiàn (Goodbye in Chinese…I THINK, try not to quote me on that one),

Kristin

Don’t you carrot all??

What’s up, doc? Don’t you want another carrot recipe? You do? Oh good. Because I still have four pounds of carrots left.

carrotsinear

If only I had a girl…

(PS – I have a song that’s similar to one of Biggie Smalls’ – “Mo Carrots, Mo Problems”.)

I made another carrot dish. Because of all my carrots. Duh. I actually changed up a Martha Stewart recipe. Why, you ask? Do I think I’m better than Martha? Nope. Do I like order and everything in its place and themed parties like her? YES. And that is a good thing. Get it? A good thing? If you don’t know, then don’t even. It’s a Martha Thing.

Let’s proceed, shall we?

CarrotSpoonBread

I used Martha’s Carrot Spoon Bread recipe, altered. It was SO good! It came out like a bread pudding. So…yum.

Carrot Spoon Bread (Pudding):

Adapted from: http://www.marthastewart.com/331776/carrot-spoon-bread

3 C cooked, mashed (in food processor) carrots

1/2 C flour

2 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/2 t coarse salt

4 large eggs, beaten

1/2 C packed light-brown sugar

1/3 C real maple syrup

1 t vanilla

1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and butter until combined. Fold in carrots and pour into a greased dish. Bake for 60 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Or eat right away and burn your tongue. Like me.

I served it with meatloaf and green peas.

SpoonBreadDinner

You know what the best part of meatloaf is? Cold meatloaf sandwiches the next day. I love mine with mayonnaise and a thick slice of tomato.

Imma have that for dinner tonight.

With more of that spoon bread. Because it made a ton. Honestly. I love carrots.

Thankfully.

Hope one of you out there tries one of these carrot recipes and enjoys them like me and my family!

A-ba-dee aba-dee a-ba-dee, that’s all folks (on the carrots…for now),

Kristin

In the Cold November Rain

HelloNovember

Hello, November. I really am excited to see you. I love this time of year. You offer so many lovely things. I know it’s already the 5th and that I’ve already posted in this month. It’s just that I am excited that it’s November and I’m celebrating that. I do what I want.

I do what I want

I do what I want 2

Anyways. Autumn.

Autumn2

Even though this past summer was the most fun of my entire life, I am so excited to have this time of year upon us. I love most everything about it.

Autumn1

I love crispy fall weather and crispy fall leaves. I love wearing boots and jackets. And I REALLY love dressing my boys up in cozy, warm clothes. Kids’ winter clothes are so adorable.

Autumn3

‘Tis a most wonderful time of the year, indeed! And it’s a whole new set of kid lunches. They could be filled with Pilgrims, Indians and cornucopias…none of which I’ll do or you’ll see since I’m not that talented.

Sunflowers

Today, in Bigs’ class, they are learning about sunflowers and corn. It IS the month of harvest, after all. I made a PB&J and used circles to make a flower design (I couldn’t quite freehand the sunflower shape and to be honest, this isn’t even a sunflower shape, but he won’t notice!) and filled the circles with brown and yellow sprinkles. It IS my blog’s namesake. I put the circles of bread below. He also has corn, natch. And I put some pretzel sticks, mini Nilla wafers and three candy corn in the bottom compartment. Too bad they aren’t learning about CARROTS in his class. I have lots. 😉 He’s got those yummy homemade fruit snacks and a box of raisins for snack time.

Today, I am thankful for the gentle rain this early morning that gave me a few reflective moments of peace. Despite the song lyric as a title, it wasn’t cold. But it was peaceful.

And also, I’m thankful for Pinterest.

Hello, November. Please be good to us!

Kristin