Tag: dessert

It’s a Lunchbox Party!

So yesterday, I got busy in the kitchen. I made three things, that when put together, would make quite a party in the lunchbox!

I started with homemade fruit snacks.

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I’ve made these many, many times before. They are easy and healthy. MUCH more healthy than store-bought fruit snacks (which I won’t judge if you eat them – we do sometimes too!).

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They only have a few ingredients – frozen (or fresh fruit), honey, orange juice (I use concentrate with water), and gelatin.

Here is the recipe (feel free to use the fruits you love!):

http://www.thankyourbody.com/homemade-healthy-fruit-snacks/

My Bigs loves these. My Smalls doesn’t adore the squishy feeling. The taste is so much cleaner than the over-processed ones.

I also made pizza rolls. I didn’t follow any recipe, but made it up as I went along. These were also very easy, only using four ingredients, as well.

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Crescent rolls, pizza sauce, Italian cheese blend, and mini pepperoni. That’s it!

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I rolled out the crescent rolls and used a rolling pin to flatten them. I spread around a few tablespoons of pizza sauce, sprinkled some cheese, and scattered some mini pepperoni. I then rolled up the dough, like I would cinnamon rolls.

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I placed the rolls in the fridge for a while, so they wouldn’t be too gooey when slicing them.

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Once chilled, I sliced them and put them in a greased cake tin and baked for about 20 minutes.

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My house smelled like a pizzeria! They came out golden brown, ooey, gooey, melty, cheesy, saucy, and pizza-y.

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I think they’ll be a hit.

And lastly, I made mini chocolate chip cookies. I love any size chocolate chip cookie. These were fun to make. I didn’t even mind rolling up a thousand little cookies.

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These are the perfect size for small hands and lunchbox treats!

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I can’t wait for my Bigs to be able to have these in his lunchbox (good behavior is the key to getting these).

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They are DELICIOUS – slightly chewy, soft, a bit underdone…and best of all, adorably little.

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Get in my belly, a thousand of you!!!

Here is the recipe, if you are interested (and why wouldn’t you be?):

http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/07/chocolate-chip-cookie-bites/

Blessings,

Kristin

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Love a cookie jar full of homemade goodness!

Vacation Eats

What’s your favorite part of vacation? For tropical vacations, is it the sand between your toes? The sound of the ocean’s waves, lapping up to your feet? Is it soaking up the sun in your vacation spot’s crystal blue, fancy pool? While I love ALL of those things, my real joy is discovering the local food. I’m a foodie, through and through!

We recently got back from our annual sojourn to the tropical Sanibel Island. We always look forward to seeing our favorite things down there and eating at our favorite restaurants there.

I’ll jump right in!

We always go straight to the Island Cow, a funky, cow-themed, tropical restaurant in the middle of Sanibel Island. They put “bread” on the table when you arrive…read “bread” as strawberry and funfetti muffins. How can you go wrong?

We ordered the Frickles (fried pickles). If you’ve never had these, I URGE you to try them. They fulfill a lot of taste pockets on your buds – crunchy pickle crunchy, crunchy fried crunchy, salty, and savory. They come with ranch dressing and are sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese. Again, seriously, how can you go wrong? 🙂

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I ordered the grilled salmon. It was a little dry. But I didn’t care. I was eating fresh fish and funfetti muffins on a tropical island, surrounded by extended family. Standards are different.

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I ordered it with veggies and cheese grits. Because cheese. And grits. Everyone enjoyed their meals (Hubs got shrimp, Bigs got waffles, and Smalls got catfish – he actually asked for catfish and loved it – such a mini-foodie-baby!).

We then went to the best grocery store on the Island – Jerry’s, as we always do after lunch. We picked up some food for the week…and a few extras….DONUTS.

I was on a donut hunt. Like a Great White Shark (sorry, this all happened during our beloved Shark Week) hunts its blubbery prey, I was out to find the best donut. My hunt began earlier in the week (and in my hometown).

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We had to spend 3 hours in Pediatric Cardiology earlier in the week to check out my Smalls’ heart murmur (healed, God is good!) and I thought we deserved donuts. And it was a nice way to round out the week before leaving for vacation. These (strawberry icing with sprinkles, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, coconut crunch, and jam-filled) were delicious, but still not as good as my go-to donut shop (I’ve talked about them and posted pictures before – they’ve been featured on Food Network’s “Donut Showdown”!).

Back to Jerry’s in Sanibel…

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We picked up a chocolate icing with sprinkles, an almond-filled bearclaw, and a custard-filled croissant bundt. I was delighted to see that as my search continued, the donuts (and pastries, as it were) were getting better and better. The sprinkle donut was very good (the boys devoured it, they love their sprinkles). The almond-filled bearclaw was DIVINE. The pastry was delicate and crunchy and topped with glazed almonds. The inside was lovely marzipan-esque, chewy, and absolutely wonderful. And the little bundt in the back was a delicious surprise. It was made with torn up croissants, pressed into the mini-bundt pan, baked, glazed, and filled with a creamy, cool, vanilla custard. SO fun!

We finished off our donut crawl at Bennett’s Fresh Roast donuts, which have also been featured on “Donut Showdown”.

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Our group liked them so much, we got them twice! The picture above shows their s’mores donut, pink icing with sprinkles (for the boys, obvi), and their Orange Crunch. Despite loving all things s’mores and not really liking Orangesicle flavored things, the Orange Crunch was out of this world. It was FULL of fresh orange flavor.

Even after all of those wonderful pastries, I still prefer my go-to! And that makes me happy, because it’s close to me. 😀

We also took our boys to the famed Bubble Room! It was SO much fun! My husband used to go to the Sanibel and my parents used to take my to the one where I grew up – such happy memories!

When we sat down, I ordered Bigs a Shirley Temple (as my parents did for me when I was little) and a Roy Rogers for me. Everything about it is happy.

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Bigs thought it was great. And seeing him experience something I did as a wee one made me so happy.

The bread basket they put on the table also made me happy…

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It was filled with their “Bubble Bread” (garlicky, cheesy, and delicious) and sticky raisin buns. I meannnnnn….

I ordered the Prime Rib, but my picture came out blurry. It was really delicious.

We took a slice (SLAB is more like it!) their famous Orange Crunch Cake back to our condo to share with our family and friends.

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We all loved it. It was so delicious.

The food was incredible, as well as our vacation.

Until next year, Sanibel!

What are YOUR favorite places to eat on your recurring or one-off vacations? I’d love to hear!

Kristin

 

A Tree-Hugging Trader Joe’s Review

So. We’re back from vacation. School is about to start. Summer is coming to a close. Things are changing. I should be able to keep up with my blog posts now, right? RIGHT?! Right.

Back to biz.

You guys know I have a serious sweet tooth. It’s well documented. You might not know that I also have a health food tooth (I feel like that’s less sparkly and lovely than a sweet tooth). Is that a thing? I love all vegetables, fruit, tofu, and other healthy fare.

Salad is one of my top favorite foods. I love going to salad buffets. And eating all their yummy veg. I even love beets. BEETS. Even as a kid I loved them. If you don’t like them, I have recipes that will forever change your mind about them.

I digress.

I went to Trader Joe’s this past week to try their healthier food (and some not so healthy food…blog posts on those to follow).

My kids love dried fruit as snacks. My Mom dries her own fruit and it’s delicious. Since I don’t have a dehydrator, I don’t mind buying them (or eating my Mom’s).

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We tried the TJ’s Dried Flattened Banana. I’ve never had this before now. They were really good, like banana fruit roll ups (if you rolled them up). The ingredients were bananas and something to keep them from browning. At $1.29, it was a bargain.

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Organic Banana Chips: They were good, crunchy, and delicious. Like any ol’ banana chips. They were $2.99 and there were a lot. I’d call it a deal.

Dried Sweet New Zealand Apples: These were delicious. Despite only having apples (several different varieties) as the only ingredient, when I opened the bag, they smelled like fall. They were chewy, moist, and full of apple flavor.  And the bag wasn’t skimpy on quantity. Also priced at $2.99, I think they were a deal.

Dried Fruit Mandarins Soft & Juicy: I’ve never had these before either. These were the only dried fruits we tried that had sugar as an ingredient. I’d serve these more for a lunch dessert. When I opened the package, the fresh, bright, citrusy scent of mandarin oranges hit my nose. The flavor copied that. They were delicious and sweet. They cost $2.69. I’d get them again.

Freeze Dried Mango: The only ingredient was mango. I like to see that. They were crunchy and yielded a nice bite, but also melted in my mouth (like most freeze dried fruit). They were also delicious. They also cost $2.69.

Lastly for the fruit and nuts category, we got some slivered almonds. They were delicious and like any other slivered almond. I like to put these on my oatmeal and in granola bars. I got quite a bit for $3.69.

I’d get all of those again.

I also picked up some gluten free pasta. Trader Joe’s has a good selection of such pastas. They offer both brown rice and corn pastas (perhaps more, but those are all I looked for). They had different shapes too – fusilli, penne, spaghetti. It’s great to see GF pasta becoming more mainstream.

I picked up a box of brown rice penne, brown rice fusilli, and brown rice spaghetti. They were $1.99 each (which is comparable to Aldi’s and far better than grocery store prices).

A few nights ago, we tried the brown rice spaghetti.

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It was delicious. I love that they give you a whole pound. Some GF pastas come in smaller packages. It was nice to feed the whole family from this (very cheap for GF) pack.

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It was delicious. We really couldn’t tell the difference between this pasta and flour-based pasta, in the best way possible.

It’s a must-buy for us now.

I also restocked my TJ’s sprouted tofu. I can’t wait to eat that. It, too, was delicious, the last time I made it.

Enjoy your day, go hug a tree, and eat something healthy!

Blessings,

Kristin

Ain’t “nuttin'” but a PB thang, baby!

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Soooo, it looks like we missed National Peanut Butter Day by quite a while, which was on January 24th this year. November, however, is National Peanut Month, so maybe I’m early! Yes, that’s it. I’m early. Did you know that it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter? That fact makes each of those spoon-fulls that pass my lips seem a little bit more precious!

We eat a TON of peanut butter in my house (and elsewhere). I am very thankful that we have no aversions to it. It seems that we would be lost without it. We eat it at least once a day – on toast, on sandwiches, in desserts, with apples, with carrots, on a spoon, on fingers….

In preparation for an upcoming playdate, I made peanut butter cookies (and cupcakes, but we’ll save those for another day). I adore how “old fashioned” they look, with the fork marks on them. This particular version is both gluten and dairy free. I’ve made them before with this recipe and they always come out beautifully.

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They are soft, but with a little chew to them, just as they should be. They are rich with peanut butter flavor. They’d be delicious if you used crunchy peanut butter (I only had creamy). You could also add chocolate chips. Or you could keep them just as they are…perfect, soft, yet crumbly, reminiscent of a bakery peanut butter cookie.

Make them. You won’t be disappointed!

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

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Blessings,

Kristin

 

Happy 2nd Birthday, Smalls!

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Today is my Smalls’ 2nd birthday. He has brought me so much joy in his little life. I am crazy about him. This kid has spunk. He’s fearless about so many things, and I secretly love that about him. Even though it can be scary, as a parent, for my child to go into things without thinking, it’s neat to see the joy that fearlessness brings him. On the flip-side, he’s very complex – he gets overwhelmed very easily in certain situations. He gets upset at things that are too sensory-oriented (he’s got some proprioceptive things going on). But…I LOVE that we have this understanding, me and him. I know when he’s got his issues, and he comes to me to make them go away. He trusts my hugs to make him feel better. I love his silly, fun-loving sense of humor, the way he loves to make people laugh, but also gets shy when directly addressed by others. I love his wild antics, his mischievous smile, the naughty twinkle in his eye, partially hidden by his dark, long lashes. I love his teeny, little button nose. I love his lanky, long, skinny stick legs that envelope me in a hug, like a little koala bear. I love his hands, they are still like little baby hands. I love his bouncy, golden curls that frame his face, and flounce all over the place, especially because he’s almost always running and jumping, everywhere he goes. He’s simply the best. And I’m so blessed and eternally grateful to be his Mommy. What a gift from God.

We had a little party for him over the weekend with both sets of his Grandparents. I went with a beachy, tropical theme. It was a little tacky. I love tacky. And it was kind of a nod to his first birthday party, last year, where I did an under-the-sea theme.

I cooked and baked allllll day.

I made a Pineapple Cilantro Pulled Pork in the crock pot. It was an easy(ish) recipe because the crock pot did most of the work. I simply seasoned the pork butt and made a BBQ sauce.

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It was delicious and FULL of flavor.

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/07/14/slow-cooker-pineapple-pulled-pork-with-pineapple-barbecue-sauce/

I also made a Porky Pineapple Fried Rice.

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It was also very good.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/06/25/pineapple-fried-rice/

I made green beans, too! I boiled fresh green beans, put them in an ice bath, and then sauteed them with a little bit of olive oil and garlic. Delicious.

I also made crescent roll octopi. They more came out like jellyfish. I don’t know how on earth I was supposed to get EIGHT legs out of them. But they came out so cute. The boys kept asking for “legs”.

It wasn’t weird at all.

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They were a hit. Just cut 7 (or however many you can, then call them “jellyfish”) strips on the short side of the crescent and then roll the top down to form the head. Use (or not) black olives for the eyeballs.

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Dinner was delicious.

But dessert…oh boy, dessert was where it was at.

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I have to say, and not to pat myself on the back, but it was my best ever work. It was DIVINE.

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I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, but I used Hershey’s dark cocoa in place of the regular cocoa (both turn out delicious). Because of that change, this cake was black and fudgey with a deep, complex cocoa flavor. It was insanely good.

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

I paired it with a white buttercream.

The buttercream was silky smooth. I just added blue coloring (Americolor Sky Blue). I used my offset spatula to make waves with the blue frosting.

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2013/06/double-chocolate-cupcakes-and-crispy-magic-frosting/

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I left some of the buttercream white and used that as the shore, and added graham cracker crumbs for sand.

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I decorated it with palm trees and a surfboard (all from Smalls’ first ever birthday cake last year), flamingos, fish and dolphin sprinkles, and gummy turtles (Smalls loves turtles).

It was so, so, so good.

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The combination was heavenly. And not because of what I did, but because of the recipes. So good. I can’t even stop thinking or talking about it. My mouth is watering for it now.

It was a great celebration. And today is family day – we will be showering Smalls with lots of love, fun times, and good food.

Happiest Birthday, my sweet, spicy nugget. May you always feel as loved as you are. <3

Blessings to you all,

Kristin

Sugar Sugar! Aww, Honey Honey!

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You guys know that I have an insatiable sweet tooth.

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It’s the reason I run (well, that and teaching my kids to take care of their bodies, setting a good example, living longer, blah blah blah). I’ve had this sweet tooth since before I can even remember. When I’d earn my allowance as a kid, I wouldn’t spend it on dolls or shoes (oh wait, yes I DID spend it on shoes…okay, so shoes AND a sweet tooth, I’m a real keeper), instead I’d have my Mom take me to the mall candy shop (The Sweet Factory, remember that place?!) and buy a little bag. I’d fill it with candy peas & carrots, sugar-coated ribbons, gummy peach rings, jelly beans, licorice, and jawbreakers. Those are such fun memories for me. As an adult, my tastes have matured a bit – I’m into classier sweets now, like Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, Snowballs, Twinkies etc. You know.

I love that dessert comes in so many forms.

Sometimes, the fruit produce is so good and sweet, you don’t even need (wow, that’s painful to say) dessert, of the baked or sugary variety.

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And other times, you come across a great find at Aldi and don’t have to make your dessert yourself.

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How NEAT that I found this at Aldi, of all places!

But other times, you make it yourself. And you enjoy making it and then eating it.

It’s a sort of therapy for me.

And I love baking for others. It’s my love language. Seriously. Don’t laugh.

We got together a few weekends ago with our wonderful neighbors for a dinner party. For my GF husband, I made…wait for it…kidney bean brownies! Don’t scrunch up your face like that! They were delicious. My original intent was to make black bean brownies, but I only had kidney beans. So typical of me. But, then I came across a recipe that would work for me.

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And wouldn’t you know, they came out delicious!

Here is the recipe:

http://eat2run.com/recipes/kidney-bean-brownies-w-gf-option/

They were moist and chocolately. We used the GF option (obvi).

For the rest of us carb-lovers, I tried a new Willow Bird Baking recipe. I’d been eying it ever since seeing Julie post pictures of the recipe in development.

Sure, mine didn’t come out as pretty as hers, but they were SO. GOOD. So simple, but so good.

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Gorgeous, tender, buttery shortbread topped with creamy, rich, dark chocolate frosting. Seriously. Make it. You probably have all the ingredients. I did, for once. HA!

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/07/10/shortbreads-with-dark-chocolate-frosting/

And a couple weeks ago, my sweet friend had a little, teeny, beautiful baby girl. So I made her mini donuts.

It’s what I would want.

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I used this recipe just recently and have used it many times in the past. It’s easy, but time consuming…and oh-so-worth it.

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

I think you could probably swap out the mix for any flavor – Red Velvet mini donuts? Spice mini donuts? I suppose the choices are endless.

And to round out my very sweet couple of weeks, we had a church community party potluck on Friday night. I wouldn’t have felt right subjecting those people to my cooking. So I baked.

I ran across a recipe on Instagram, by the Doughmestic Housewife, for Graham Cracker S’more Cups. I was sold – I both LOVE s’mores and HAD all the ingredients!

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It was a quick recipe, so I made it about a half hour before we needed to go. Of course, they didn’t turn out exactly right because of something I must have done, but my mini cupcake papers sort of saved them (the graham layer was VERY crumbly).

Graham Cracker S’More Cups – Doughmestic Housewife

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs

1/3 C sugar

6 T butter, softened

Mix crust ingredients and press into greased mini muffin pan. Press firmly to form a cup shape. Cook at 375 for 6 minutes. Add mini marshmallows (I only had big) and milk chocolate pieces and cook a bit longer until toppings start to melt. Remove from oven and let cups cook to warm.

Even though they sort of messed up, the flavors were amazing.

Here’s to a  sweet week!

Blessings,

Kristin

Root Beer Meringues

I like almost everything about the 4th of July – the fun, cohesive attitude of almost everyone around me, the swirls of red, white, and blue, the fireworks. I love it.

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And, I get really excited over the prospect of serving up hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon, and s’mores, and whatever other fun themed treats I come across in my recipe searches.

Yes, the food is always a very important part of any holiday or get-together, for me.

Yesterday, I made some very cute meringues. They are a great go-to recipe for anyone trying to avoid gluten, dairy, and fat. You can make them almost any flavor. I used my root beer extract and added 4th of July sprinkles to make these festive.

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The root beer extract was a nice addition. I found it at Walmart, of all places. Sometimes, that place really comes through – new extract flavors, $5 maxi dresses, watermelon bikinis, seasonal and odd flavored Oreos and other cookies. I digress. Anyways, these came out so summery and so light. And festive!

I’ve used this recipe before and it’s easy as pie…good ol’ American apple pie. Well, actually, it’s MUCH easier than that.

Try them. Try out new flavors too.

The recipe link is in this blog post:

http://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/sweetie-pie/

I simply replaced the cherry and almond extract amounts with the root beer.

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Blessings,

Kristin

 

Summer Shenanigans

We’ve been up to our old tricks again – doing summery things and eating lots of food. It’s how we do.

The week after my 30th birthday, earlier this month, my sweet friends took me to dinner at one of our favorite places. We got all fancy.

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I wore my “birthday cake” shoes that I got for my birthday a few years back (they are just so fun and the colors that I’d want on a birthday cake). I wore a dress that I found at Goodwill, and my necklace was a gift from a friend. I love getting fancy.

For apps, we shared the Mezze Platter (muhammarra, edamame hummus, goat-cheese stuffed peppadews, fried feta, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomato, and grilled pita).

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I cannot get enough of the goat-cheese stuffed peppadews.

For dinner, I ordered the Vegetarian Plate and shared with a friend, and she shared her Moroccan Lemon Chicken.

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And then they sang to me over flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

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They sure knew how to make a girl feel special. <3

The next day during naptime, I enjoyed one of my birthday presents with some trashy mags.

It was a good time.

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We celebrated my wonderful Husband on Father’s Day. I made him turkey burgers.

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His request. 🙂

On the next Saturday, I took my boys on a date while my Husband had to work. My Bigs was SO excited to go on a date, knowing it’s something that Mommy & Daddy do, and something that Mommy does with her girlfriends. He was beside himself. I took them to Panera.

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I haven’t had it in forever. I got the Thai chicken salad and wild rice soup. I got grilled cheese and yogurt (quite heavy on the dairy, I am now realizing lol!). The boys were fairly well behaved. We went to Old Navy afterwards for 50% off jorts and $0.25 bouncy balls. The bouncy balls made the boys’ night!

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I’d call it a successful date night. 😀

During the week, we went to a park playdate for a little friend’s 2nd birthday. It was so very hot out, but we had a great time.

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And lastly, I made some reeeeallly delicious pancakes for dinner last Friday. I used a GF mix that I picked up on clearance at Target. I made it DF and added fresh blueberries.

I served it with turkey bacon.

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I even tried one of those Pinterest ideas where you put pancake batter on the bacon. I wouldn’t say it turned out like it does on Pinterest. 🙂

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I still ate it.

All caught up! Have a great weekend!

Blessings, Kristin

 

Sticky Black Rice Pudding

I have a TON of cookbooks. I’d like to think that I collect them. I’m sure a lot of my foodie friends out there can relate. I could just sit for hours, thumbing through my cookbooks, gazing upon those glossy pages, my eyes skimming the ingredients, my mouth watering over the perfectly styled pictures. I know that the internet provides a quicker, easier way to look up recipes…but to me? There’s nothing like holding a cookbook in my hand, flour dusting the pages, the smell of a real book (I’m also a real-book-reader, as opposed to giving into a digital reader…is that even what it’s called?).

A week or so ago, I was reading my Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients.

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Sticky Black Rice Pudding

2 C black rice

3 pandan leaves (I left this out)

2 C coconut milk

2/3 C soft brown sugar

1/4 C caster sugar

coconut cream, to serve

diced mango or papaya, to serve (I used mango)

Put the rice in a large non-metallic bowl and cover with water. Let it soak overnight (or a minimum of 8 hours). Drain the rice and place in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cook on a low boil, stirring, for 20 minutes. Drain.

*I skipped this step* Pull your fingers through the pandan leaves to shred them. Tie them in a  knot.

Pour the coconut milk into a large saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Add the pandan leaves and the sugars and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes (no boiling). Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the pandan. Spoon into bowls, and serve warm with coconut cream and mango.

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Mine came out exactly like the picture in the cookbook and tasted DIVINE. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. My Smalls loved it. <3

Enjoy!

Kristin

PS – More bloggy blog posts to come!

 

Beach & Birthday & Bunches of Other Stuff

I said I was going to be better at blogging, didn’t I? Well, I had every intention, but boy, has summer life given me other plans. We’ve been so busy with fun things! We’ve gone to the beach, we’ve eaten good food, I had a “big” birthday, where I was thrust into a different decade. Yes, it’s been busy!

I’m going to start with two weeks ago. My mind works best in chronological order.

I went on my monthly girls’ night dinner to a sushi place. My friends and I love getting gussied up.

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I got that dress at Goodwill, as I often do. I love finding gems at Goodwill.

I ordered the Cucumber Roll and the Avocado Roll. They were pretty good.

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The next day, Friday, we went on our usual Friday Playdate. We went to an indoor children’s playing place. That’s the official name.

The boys painted (Smalls stepped in red paint, naturally), played dress up (they had costumes for girls and boys!), and went in the sandbox.

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I had packed lunches for the boys…

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…and in my hurry to get out of the house, I forgot the top piece of bread on Bigs’ PB&J! Ooops!

That night, I made a turkey dinner! I know the picture looks like it was edible, but trust me, it almost was not. I roasted it, to the tee by how much it weighed, and it came out dry. As a bone. Also, I left some of the innards inside. Ooops. They got grody in the roasting process.

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Thank goodness for side dishes. 🙂

On Saturday night, my wonderful in-laws took us out to dinner to have an early birthday meal since they wouldn’t be in town on my actual day.

I had a beet and goat cheese salad:

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It was incredible.

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I ordered the chicken off the “lighter” menu to aid in my diet journey. It had chicken, asparagus, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, and balsamic. Delicious.

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For dessert, I picked the s’mores cheesecake! YUMMY! See? That’s why I ordered from the “lighter” menu.

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After our dinner, we walked around the plaza and played with the giant-sized checkers. The boys had so much fun! They must have felt like they were in Honey I Shrunk the Kids!!

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Smalls promptly stood on a black checker and pooped in his pants. It was the entertainment for a lot of people walking by. What can you do!

Checker pooping included, it was a perfect night!

On Monday, we visited with my parents. We helped my Mom prune her garden. She let the boys pick beans and tomatoes.

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Then, we ate lunch and made and ate dessert – Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars!

Yes, that’s right. And they were as delicious as they sound!

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I can’t even. The glazed fresh strawberries on top of the cool, creamy pie remind me of the strawberry pies my Mom would make when I was growing up (where I would lick the hot glaze off the wooden spoon, burning my mouth but not caring), in the same kitchen where we made this dessert!

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Try the recipe. Yesterday.

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/04/07/strawberry-coconut-cream-pie-bars/

The next day, I took the boys to the beach with three of my girlfriends and their wonderful children. It was overcast (yet we still got burned, even after applying sunscreen once an hour!), and a beautiful day. It was our first beach trip of the season!

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The boys wasted no time playing in the sand. Smalls did struggle, however, with the incoming waves and the constant sand on his hands and feet. He’s a little finicky. 🙂  He felt a little better when I put Bigs’ water shoes on him.

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He loved pulling around this little cart.

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There is something about the salty, fresh air and the sound of the waves that puts my soul at ease.

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A woman, near where we set up ‘camp’ (and believe you me, it looked like a campsite, with all of the stuff we brought), helped Bigs catch a little fish. He was so proud of that little fish. He carried around as long as he could until the bucket overturned in a wave and the little fish rejoiced in its freedom.

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Whenever I am at the beach, it gives me a chance to reflect on God’s great gifts to us on this Earth.

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My little Smalls enjoyed spending his beach time close to me, as the older kids splashed, boogie-boarded, built sand castles, dug holes, and played.

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Sweet friends

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We ate our picnic lunches and Smalls clutched his food for so long, they were covered in sand (SANDwich, watermelon, carrots – all covered!).

It was a great day!

On Wednesday, we were busy, once again, but I was able to find time to make some donuts (isn’t there always time??).

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We were going on a playdate the next day and I couldn’t show up empty-handed!

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I’ve used this short-cut recipe before and loved it.

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I also tried my hand at donut holes. I think I need more practice (if you know what I mean, wink wink!).

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I think my friend liked them! She’s got a sweet tooth, just like me! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

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

The next afternoon, I made Mushroom Piccata (I didn’t follow a recipe, I just made them as I would make Chicken Piccata) and a corn and bean salad for lunch. My Smalls was obsessed with both!

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For the corn and bean salad, I used one can of corn, one can of beans, one avocado, tomatoes, S&P, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

And when the boys went to bed, I ate a little cake that I’d made the day before with leftover donut batter. I used a little bit of malted chocolate frosting that my Mom had made. It was just the right size and the perfect nap-time treat.

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Nap time was also a treat.

For my last dinner in my 20’s, I made a taco bar. It was good! The kids enjoyed it too. They didn’t even mind that I burned the hard taco shells.

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I made a taco salad for myself.

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And, then last Friday was my 30th birthday. Eeek! I am now in a different decade! It’s so weird. I immediately felt older. Anyways, we started the day with pancakes (GF, DF). I jazzed up the plates a little bit. You need sprinkles on your birthday always, even if it’s your 30th.

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My husband took off work. He’s so wonderful. He always takes off work on my birthday. He took me (and the boys) shoe shopping after breakfast. And then we went to Chili’s for lunch.

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My Hubs and I had some kind of pineapple-y adult beverage.

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I got the Honey Chipotle Chicken. When I was pregnant with Smalls, I ate this and got horribly sick. Not from eating it, but from being pregnant. And usually when that happens, one doesn’t again eat the food that made them sick. But I like this meal so much, I keep eating it. TMI? Whatever.

For dessert, we ordered the Cinnamon Lava Cake with our free birthday dessert coupon. It turns out, the staff will sing to you even if you turn 30. I ate my cake with pink, embarrassed cheeks.

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After naps, we went in search of free donuts. It was National Donut Day. How fitting that my birthday fell on this day. It’s like the universe knew.

When the kids were in bed, my husband surprised me with a little pineapple coconut cupcake to eat without pecking children around.

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It was a wonderful 30th birthday. I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

My Hubs and I went out on an adult celebratory birthday dinner the next night. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant we used to frequent. But before we went, my Mom brought some Peach Cupcakes over to celebrate! They were great!

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At our Viet restaurant, I ordered a bubble tea, in green tea flavor, with boba.

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I am obsessed with these things.

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It was divine. I’m going with taro next time.

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I was a happy Birthday Girl.

We ordered the Summer Roll Sampler.

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And we each ordered the Chicken Pho.

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We went to a bookstore for coffee afterwards. Just like we used to do before kids. Viet and the bookstore. Computer mags for Hubs, rag mags for me. It was so nice to get some alone with my Husband and do some of the things we used to do.

On Sunday, we went to church and later on, I made a yummy dinner. I made macaroni and cheese from scratch and paired it with a rotisserie chicken and fruit.

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Happy bellies.

And here are my gratuitous salad pictures (of salads I’ve made and eaten) to keep me motivated on healthy eating and jogging, at least enough to keep the cake calories off, which I realize is a lot due to the amount of cake I’ve eaten lately.

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Whew. We are all caught up! I hope you all are doing well, and like always, I hope I can stick with posting, even through our busy summer days.

Blessings!

Kristin