A cake with CAT-titude

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I am not a cat person. Not in any way, shape or form. They scare me. I think they can be cute, but holding them and letting their nails or teeth touch me sort of freaks me out. They know stuff. They just look at you and know stuff. It’s weird. We are a dog-loving family. Anyways, I don’t want the real deal in my house, but I don’t mind having this Kitty Litter Cake! It’s a CAT-astrophe of a cake, but it’s hilarious. And disgusting. I’ve made it more than once and it went over….you know, about as well as you can expect a cake that is basically a potty for cats can go over. I made this for my brother’s birthday a few years back and am sharing this with you today (his birthday!!) to pay homage to him and to Halloween (wouldn’t this be perfect for a Halloween party?)! This is almost too disgusting to have on my blog. And I’m the mother of two sweet little boys…and everyone knows boys are gross. But this? This is almost too grody. If you DO make it, I hope it goes over as grossly as mine did.

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Here is the recipe I have used:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/kitty-litter-cake/

Have a paw-sitive day (lol),

Kristin

A rose by any other name…

…is apple. It’s apple. Did you know that? Apples are in the rose family. How sweet (lol)! Today is Apple Day in my son Bigs’ preschool class! Naturally, I had to create an apple-themed lunch for him. He’s also wearing red. Once I get a theme, I stick it out to the end. I’m nothing if not dedicated!

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This apple themed lunch is a PB&J, on which I used a light spritz of food-safe spray. I created a stencil. It’s not perfect, but Bigs won’t mind. 🙂 I used a Food Writer to draw on the stem. He also has natural applesauce with a few red sprinkles (blog namesake!!), some pretzel sticks and a gummy worm. I also used some of my apple themed picks. He is also taking a whole apple in as a snack.

About a month ago, my Mom made a trip to North Carolina to do some apple picking. She brought me back an amazing bunch of apples, of all different varieties. They were so lovely and fresh. I used them to make a crock pot applesauce. As I cut up each apple, I tasted each one. The flavors and textures (not to mention, their beautiful colors!) were all so unique. It is fascinating how many different varieties of the same type of fruit there are. Much like people, huh? And we all bring some unique flavor to the table! Anyways, the applesauce came out great. The boys loved it, as did I! IMG_20130930_013825

The house smelled of Autumn when these were cooking. Delicious!

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The recipe was quite simple and didn’t use any sugar. Here is the link.

http://www.scratchmommy.com/healthy-crock-pot-applesauce/

Have a saucy day,

Kristin

Bon Appétit!

Julia

My passion for food runs deep. I don’t just love to eat, but I love to cook (still doesn’t mean I’m good at it) and bake and enjoy every experience that food offers. I love the rich, crunchy sound of onions being chopped, the soft sound of sugar and flour falling into my mixing bowl, like a gentle first snowfall. I love the way a yeasted dough will rise after being left alone in the dark corner of my kitchen counter top. I love the feeling I get when a recipe turns out as it should. I love tasting the dish I’m making, in every step of the recipe. Everything about food, I love. For me, it’s tied to my heartstrings, my emotions.

“Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.”

-Charles Pierre Monselet

Have YOU found this to be true, as I have? As long as I can remember, most of my happiest memories can be associated with food. Not in the sense that we were obsessed with it, just that a good meal was always around as we went about our family business. I remember spending time with my Mom in the kitchen, licking the wooden spoon that she used to stir together her Strawberry Pie filling, still hot from the stove top. It would burn my tongue, but I wouldn’t care – it was so good – shiny and red. I remember the sugary date balls she would (and still occasionally makes) make every year at Christmas. I remember the savory smells and popping sounds of the cube steaks frying, and later, how tasty they were on my plate, paired with mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas. They always went together. If I make this dish, I always make it the same way my Mom did, because of how it makes me feel to have the same exact meal. I remember the pot roasts, laden with potatoes, carrots and onions, simmering in the crock pot that would greet me with waves of delicious smells when I would walk in the house after school.  It was agony to wait until dinner time, and inevitably, I’d lift off that crock pot lid and pinch a bite here and there. If my Mom ever knew! And don’t even get me started on the holidays! The sounds and smells of the hoe cakes crackling in the cast iron pan, the din of extended family gathering together, relaxing on that old creaky front porch swing, waving at every passerby, just biding our time until we could say our thanks and eat our meal, so lovingly put together by each family member. Ahh, yes, food has a very special place in my heart.

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food.”

-Erma Bombeck

In some situations, food is the ONLY collective connection we have. Perhaps not the type of food we enjoy that we have in common, but the physiological need for it,  the unique culinary traditions we each have and our own personal memories tied to them.

What are some of your food-rich memories?

Oh yes, and how could I forget?!  I made cake. A sweet, little birthday cake!

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Easy, but wonderfully delicious.  I used the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe (sans the frosting, recipe in link below) and used a Betty Crocker recipe for the frosting, except I used chunky peanut butter (recipe in link below). YUM. To me, it tasted like (I have to taste my product before giving it away!!) the kind of cake that you’d get at a greasy diner (all diners should be greasy), as a thick slab on a white china plate.

https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184&name=HERSHEY%27S-PERFECTLY-CHOCOLATE-Chocolate-Cake

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/easy-peanut-butter-frosting/3b3b77bb-939a-4607-bd0f-428f1876903f

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Have a chunky peanut buttery sort of day (that’s the best kind!),

Kristin

Gobble-dy gobble-dy ga gobble gobble

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Please tell me you get my musical reference in the title. Please? Don’t make me rap it to you. Because I will. I am rapping this shizzle all over my hizzle. I’m in hysterics. Probably only me. Anywaaaaaayz…..

It isn’t even Halloween yet, and I’m already moving on to Thanksgiving. Well…my taste buds are. While I cannot wait to see Bigs and Smalls in their sweet costumes and have Smalls experience his first trick or treating as a walking toddler, I cannot WAIT to bring out my Thanksgiving-y china and decorations, and to cook and bake and enjoy traditional Thanksgiving food with my family.

I find myself CRAVING Thanksgiving foods! Especially that after-Thanksgiving sandwich…you know the one. We all might have different variations (mine is white bread of any kind, mayo, turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and maybe some gravy), but it’s all the same. Well…yesterday, I was notified of such a sandwich for sale at a local gas station, Wawa. I had to have it! It didn’t matter to me that it was 9am. So I got my Thanksgiving sandwich (when I make it, I call it the “Thanks be to the Sandwich” and I have a magnet I keep on my fridge year-round that says “Thanks be to thee” that my Grandmother made – an annual reminder of thanks…and that sandwich) and it was aptly named “The Gobbler”. It was delicious. All the right flavors were there. It’s nice to know I can have this flavor profile any time of year that I want. Hopefully it isn’t just seasonal, because I can’t even handle that. Between THAT sandwich and the Thanksgiving-y magazine my neighbor gave me to read, I’m getting so very excited!  What are some of your Thanksgiving food traditions? Mine typically go the deep Southern food route, as that is where I spent every Thanksgiving growing up, and recreating these dishes is like a hug on a plate. I crave both the food and the emotions I feel when tasting those flavors I knew so well as a child. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, perhaps we can share some recipes. This is directed at the readers other than my Mom and Mom-in-law (I already have your recipes lol). Hopefully I have more readers than that? 😉

Have a thankful day,

Kristin

(Gobble-dy gobble-dy ga gobble gobble – still rappin’!)

Halloween & Fall Time Food Roundup

Here are some fun Halloween and fall time meal and snack ideas I’ve done for Bigs in school and for us, as a family, at home. I hope you enjoy! (And you’ll have to excuse the quality and design of some of these photos – some are older and I was just learning!)

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Ghost Themed Lunch: A ghost shaped PB&J, I used candy eyes and Food Writers for the mouth, seasoned corn, grapes, pretzel sticks, a tiny little marshmallow ghost and a ghost banana for snack.

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Pumpkin Themed Lunch: A pumpkin shaped PB&J, pretzels, Autumn mix (peanuts, golden raisins, candy corn), pumpkin shaped pear slices, a squeezy fruit and a bag (with pumpkin stickers) of carrots, PB for dipping and a cheese stick for snack.

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Spooky Themed Lunch: A Bat and moon shaped PB&J, two carrot mini muffins, Autumn mix, two pumpkin yogurt pretzels, corn and a squeezy fruit.

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Fall Themed Lunch: A pumpkin shaped PB & pumpkin butter on a pumpkin waffle, grapes and bananas, Autumn mix and one pumpkin yogurt pretzel.

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Harvest Themed Lunch: A PB&J jack ‘o’ lantern (cutouts filled with orange sprinkles), corn, homemade applesauce and two carrot mini muffins.

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Squirrel Themed Lunch: A squirrel shaped PB&J, crusts parading as tree branches, seasoned corn, pretzel sticks and an acorn for dessert, made using a vanilla wafer, chocolate chip and a Hershey’s kiss.

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A fun, festive snack made with toast shaped like a ghost and candy corn and spread with tinted cream cheese.

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Up close! I used decorator’s icing for the details.

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A spooky and disgusting-looking snack that grossed me out even making it: “Bandaids” made with graham crackers, cream cheese and decorator’s icing,  a ghost string cheese and a witch’s finger (string cheese, almond slice).

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And after dinner dessert for the family: spiders made from Rolos, black licorice and decorator’s icing, Autumn mallow candies.

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Hot dog mummies! These were a cinch to make and were probably my favorite! All you do is wrap crescent rolls (stretched out) around a cooked hot dog and bake. The spider web sauce is simply ketchup and mustard. These were a hit!

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Another after dinner dessert made from a simple meringue that I tinted and layered and decorated.

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Jack ‘o’ lantern cheeseburgers for dinner! It was very simple to cut the cheese (tee hee) and these were easy to make. This was also a hit!

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Jack ‘o’ lantern stuffed peppers! Delicious and so cute!

Have a festive day,

Kristin

The way the cookie crumbles…

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This has been a reflective week for me, can you tell? Imma just indulge in my thoughts for a bit…

Sometimes (often times for me) recipes don’t go as they are intended. In my sort of sketch cooking past and present (I won’t ever claim to be a good cook!) and in some baking instances, I have blamed the recipes themselves for the crap end products. It turns out, it was I who read the recipe wrong or took a misstep during the process. I only needed to pay more attention to the content of the recipe, instead of speeding through it or cutting corners to get a final end prize. [In the above picture, I used melted butter instead of room temperature – novice mistake. I am what’s called a “butter and oil expert” now, having learned from my mistake.]

bakingfail(not my baking, but might as well be some days!)

mixerfail(not my Grandmother, but isn’t she adorable??)

Anyways, the same can be said for parenthood. At least in my case. So often, I place more emphasis on how my kids should act (and I still do and will always believe old fashioned manners and overall good behavior are vastly important, however, I’m trying to realize they are just pieces that make up a well-rounded child), instead of the contents of their heart. In chit-chatting with a few good friends lately, one of them said this to me about her own child and it really struck a chord with me. And as I sit here during my boys’ nap time, drinking their juice boxes and eating their snacks (when I should be sleeping), I realize I need to tweak my overall approach to parenting.

No part of me is perfect…as a person or as a Mother. Not even as a friend, daughter or sister or wife. The list goes on and on. So I can admit it…I have had a few off weeks (months maybe??) as a Mommy. I *think* it has something to do with having a 3 year old, who both needs and wants me and dislikes everything I do in the same millisecond and a cray cray one year old who scales my walls and hangs from just about everything.  Just a hunch.  Bigs has been in both the most wonderful and the most infuriating and exasperating stages of his life. At almost three and a half, he is able to verbalize everything (and boy, does he ever!), but doesn’t know how to balance his logic for knowing he needs to do as he’s told and his want for exerting his independence. I find myself yelling, pleading, crocodile tears-ing for him to listen to me, and on the first time I say it. But now, instead of harping on that and getting on his case for everything, I am going to take a step back on the nagging and try to focus more on his heart. And instead of using Bible verses to show I’m in the right (Colossians 3:20*), I’m going to do right by the blessing of a job God’s gifted me (Proverbs 22:6**) and be less angry at situations like the pumpkin patch experience earlier in the week (and other instances). Because, after all, isn’t our kind-hearted God rich in love and slow to anger? Isn’t He so wonderfully patient with me, who constantly is testing Him? Doesn’t He want us to walk in His path? Is that not what He intends on us doing (much like the recipe writer’s intend on us reading the whole thing through)? Luckily for us, He is also incredibly forgiving and doesn’t walk away from me when I’ve had a “Mommy Fail” day…which is often.

panera(The perfect chocolate chip cookies

with the most perfect little cookie thief hands of a then-two-year-old Bigs)

(*Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Colossians 3:20)

(**Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6)

Big empathetic, understanding hugs!

Kristin

Thanks be to God!

I have become a monster. Not the googly one-eyed, slime-slinging sort or the ever-popular Cookie sort (who can’t be all bad because he likes cookies so much), but the Yelling-Mommy sort, which is much worse. My first instinct upon seeing red-zone-bad behavior from my older son is to yell…even though we, as a family, have established our home as a No Yelling Zone. I broke the rules. How can I expect Bigs to effectively work through his emotions without yelling, when he sees me do it? It’s been a rough year, with him turning 3 and existing in that perpetual limbo of listening to us and doing what he wants. It’s hard. Some days I feel like he should be more thankful for the things I do for him. Like yesterday. I took him and Smalls to a local church’s pumpkin patch, at which he threw a tantrum. At a pumpkin patch (one of THE happiest places)…at a CHURCH. For crying out loud (literally…that’s what he did…very loudly). I stuck it out. Ride or die (and die a little inside, I did). But, I need to remind myself that he is 3. I expect too much from him. And, oppositely, he far exceeds my expectations of what a wonderful child should be.

Later, in looking through the pictures I took of my boys at the patch, I ran across one that stood out. It served as a reminder to me that there is a bigger picture. My son will not act like this forever. He will grow out of it. It is his age, and everything that comes with being 3, that is making things difficult. Not directly him. He and Smalls are my blessings. And I am so thankful for them. I need to remember the bigger picture when dealing with the tantrums. Thanks be to God for these little blessings!

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Oh! And also, today I made a Halloween themed lunch for Bigs for school. Ghost themed, to be more specific! OooooOooh! He said it was so fun and that everything was “ghosty” and “looked at him”! Made my day! It was a ghost-shaped PB&J (I used googly eyes and Food Writers), pretzel sticks, seasoned corn, grapes and a teeny marshmallow ghost (Food Writers) for dessert. And the ghost banana was for snack.

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Have a thankful day and remember the big picture,

Kristin

Feeling Chipper

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

-Charles M. Schultz

There aren’t quotes galore about chocolate for no reason. Chocolate has a purpose (a big purpose in my life). It adds a lovely sweetness to desserts (and even some savory dishes!) and it is filled (using Italics to show how important this particular fact is) with antioxidants. Obviously, this is why I eat so much of it. It keeps me healthy. I can’t ALWAYS spend my time at the gym, even though it looks like I am there all the time, what with the sweatpants and all.

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Chocolate has a long history…I mean, the Mayans perfected drinking chocolate, something I find myself turning into a verb at every fondue party this side of the Mississippi. I digress. People love chocolate. I love chocolate. It makes us happy. It affects a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is known as an anti-depressant. So, we aren’t crazy – chocolate makes us feel GOOD inside!

Friends are like chocolate to me. More like chocolate chips…because they stud my life with wonderful little morsels….of sweetness, of knowledge, of humor. And you know what’s great about chocolate, besides everything? It comes in so many different ways! Dark, milk, bittersweet, semi-sweet…(white chocolate isn’t real chocolate, don’t even get me started on that. Who am I kidding though, I’d eat it!). Although I am likening my life as a whole to a cookie (sounds legit), I think the true joy lies in the richness I’ve gotten out of my friendships, all so different, like the many types of chocolate I enjoy. I still have my best friend since kindergarten (with whom it’s been discussed, this notion of being each others’ chocolate chips…some things start young!). I have wonderful friends from all facets of my life – the first friends I made after becoming a Mommy and doing “Mommy” things, my church and church group friends, my friends from years past still going strong, old friends with whom I’ve been reconnected, new friends from surprising places, the women in my family and who have become my family through marriage. I am so blessed with friends. My Mom is also one of my best friends. Can you imagine our history? I mean, she’s known me since the beginning (lol). I get and cherish something from each of these friendships and am so grateful for them all. They have all pushed me to be a better version of myself and to go out of my comfort zone constantly (and to a gal with a healthy dose of anxiety, this is life changing).

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

-Linda Grayson

I try to always be the friend with chocolate.

You know what else is life changing? These cupcakes. These Cookie Dough-Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes. You must do them. As soon as humanly possible. Like yesterday. They were THAT good. And you know what else (I sound like my 3 year old)?? There is enough egg-less cookie dough leftover that you can eat it straight from the Tupperware or dip pretzel sticks in it while you watch Real Housewives dress more cupcakes or freeze for emergency snack attacks. If it even makes it that far.

Here is the recipe I used:

http://www.traceysculinaryadventures.com/2013/04/cookie-dough-stuffed-dark-chocolate.html#.UmRTarPMISk

I hope you try them! They are worth the many steps. Let me know how you enjoy them if you do make them.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Keep me sharp, Friends!

Kristin

Inauguration & Brownies

brownieswatermarkHappy First Blogging Day to me! This is my first post. Like, ever. I’m sure my writing skillz and spelling will get better as time goes on, let’s hope. But lest you think this is only about grammar…brownies.

I made brownies. Twice in one week. The same recipe. Although it isn’t a one-bowl recipe, which is clearly the dishwasher’s dream, it’s still an easy recipe. It seemed to go over well at my church ladies’ group fondue party and I am hoping the friends I just made them for will enjoy them also. I enjoyed licking the bowls. Both times. Here is the recipe if you want to try it (it can also be found on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Cocoa box). I added sprinkles, because…sprinkles.

http://www.food.com/recipe/nestle-chewy-cocoa-brownies-366301

Enjoy!

Kristin