Tag: dinner

Happy 2nd Birthday, Smalls!

wpid-20140727_113408.jpg

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.

wpid-20140727_170438.jpg

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.

wpid-20140727_170237.jpg

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.

wpid-20140727_163958.jpg

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.

wpid-20140727_171307.jpg

Dinner was delicious.

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

wpid-img_20140727_114644.jpg

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

wpid-20140727_113002.jpg

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/

wpid-20140727_113002.jpg

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

wpid-20140727_112955.jpg

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.

wpid-img_20140728_162311.jpg

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

Honey Sesame Tofu & a TJ’s Review

Oh, boy! A Trader Joe’s opened up near me! Yippee! I know that many people are used to having this store, but it’s a big deal in our town. We’ve waited patiently for it to be built, and then we waited patiently for the crowds to die down. We finally braved it last weekend, early in the morning. The trucks had just been unloaded (I think) and most of the shelves stocked. The boys found Parker the Peacock (the store’s stuffed animal), a first for this location, or so we were told by a worker. They got a prize, we got fun groceries (some of which include wine [obvi], gnocchi, meatballs, chicken tenders, “green” juice”, cupcakes [I had to!], ginger cookies [their number one selling item!], frozen fruit, and GF waffles for Hubs). It was a good time. I decided to do a review on some of the items we bought.

wpid-20140705_103559.jpg

Today, I am reviewing the Trader Joe’s Organic Sprouted Tofu.

wpid-20140709_183122.jpg

A good reviewer would have written down the price…or saved the receipt. I did neither. But I do remember that this twin-pack was the cheapest of all the tofu selections there. I like that you get two smaller blocks of tofu. Sometimes I don’t want to eat a whole brick.

They were packed in their “tofu juice”, as usual. I covered my block with a paper towel and let it drain. Then I cut it into cubes. The inside of the block crumbled a bit, despite being “extra firm”, but the crumbles were big enough to count as a “piece”.

I decided to make a honey and sesame version. My recipe is below. It came out delicious. My youngest, Smalls, ate almost half of the serving. He couldn’t get enough of the “to-few”.

Review Result: Recommended

wpid-img_20140709_185513.jpg

Honey Sesame Tofu

Serves: 2

1 brick of tofu (as you know, the TJ’s one was smaller)

1 T sesame oil

1 t vegetable oil

1 – 2 T sesame seeds

1.5 t soy sauce

1.5 t honey

1/2 t brown sugar

Place the sesame seeds in a small pan and heat on medium until brown, swirling in pan (so they don’t burn). You can skip this step, but you’ll be sorry. Browning the sesame seeds makes them incredibly nutty and fragrant, and deep with flavor.

Remove seeds from pan and add sesame oil to pan. Add the tofu and brown. I added the veggie oil because the tofu pieces were starting to burn.

Once browned, added the soy sauce, honey, and brown sugar. Add sesame seeds right before serving.

You don’t have to add the brown sugar. I did it so there would be some caramelization.

Enjoy! 🙂

And PS – I learned tonight I can use chopsticks with my left hand (I’m right-handed for writing) as well as my right hand! NEAT! Who knew!

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.

wpid-20140612_180220.jpg

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).

wpid-20140612_192344.jpg

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.

wpid-20140612_195551.jpg

wpid-20140612_195558.jpg

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

wpid-20140612_203953.jpg

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.

wpid-img_20140614_095127.jpg

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

wpid-20140615_180941.jpg

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.

wpid-20140614_173259.jpg

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!

wpid-20140614_182300.jpg

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.

wpid-20140618_112453.jpg

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.

wpid-20140620_173824.jpg

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. 🙂

wpid-20140620_173502.jpg

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.

wpid-20140612_081004.jpg

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.

wpid-20140612_081023.jpg

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!

 

Snowballs & Meatballs

It has been HOT. Like, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk, bake-a-cookie-outside, I’m-melting HOT. Super hot.

To keep “cool”, I made indoor snow for my boys! I found an easy recipe on Pinterest and already had the ingredients. You take shaving cream (must be cream, not gel) and mix it with cornstarch. It took a while for me to get the right consistency, but it finally came together. The boys had so much fun playing with it and squishing it. Well, Bigs did. Smalls liked sticking his plastic spoon in it (so as not to get it on his hands).

wpid-20140609_111120.jpg

And today, to wallow in our own sweat to beat the heat (what were we thinking!), we went to the local zoo and splash pad with some friends.

wpid-20140610_104014.jpg

We saw the rhinos, who were in their pond, trying to stay cool.

wpid-20140610_104522.jpg

We saw the butterfly garden.

wpid-20140610_104553.jpg

We watched the giraffes play and eat their…whatever giraffes eat.

wpid-20140610_104332.jpg

And then we trucked it to the splash pad, which was near the entrance. The heat was almost unbearable. We didn’t even see all the animals. It was just too hot.

Smalls sat the splash pad out, as I thought he might. The girls and Bigs had fun. We ate our sweaty picnic lunch and called it a day.

At least the boys got a great (long) nap. 🙂 That makes the heat worth it!

For dinner tonight, I made meatballs…with a twist. I was inspired by the Vietnamese date my husband and I went on last weekend. I used some of the same flavors from that meal in tonight’s meatballs.

wpid-20140610_172708.jpg

I mixed tamari sauce (GF!), rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, fresh minced garlic, cilantro, sesame oil, pepper, and onion powder. I then added almost a pound and a half of minced pork, one slightly beaten egg, and some cornflake crumbs, and shaped into balls. I baked at 400F for about 15 minutes. I served it with brown rice and a freshly cut pineapple (Costco whole pineapples are both cheap and delicious!!). Everyone enjoyed it. Well, not everyone. Smalls squished it all into smithereens. Whatever.

wpid-20140610_172724.jpg

Another successful summer day under our belts!

Blessings,

Kristin

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.

wpid-20140529_181456.jpg

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.

wpid-20140529_200858.jpg

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.

wpid-20140530_104028.jpg

I had packed lunches for the boys…

wpid-20140530_105620.jpg

…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.

wpid-20140530_172747.jpg

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:

wpid-20140531_171939.jpg

It was incredible.

wpid-20140531_173907.jpg

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.

wpid-20140531_181421.jpg

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

wpid-20140531_183027.jpg

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!!

wpid-20140531_183210.jpg

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.

wpid-20140602_102109.jpg

wpid-20140602_102428.jpg

wpid-20140602_103242.jpg

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!

wpid-20140602_110716.jpg

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!

wpid-20140602_111112.jpg

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!

wpid-20140603_100628.jpg

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.

wpid-20140603_102632.jpg

He loved pulling around this little cart.

wpid-20140603_101835.jpg

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

wpid-20140603_103054.jpg

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.

wpid-20140603_103245.jpg

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

wpid-20140603_105449.jpg

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.

wpid-20140603_103152.jpg

Sweet friends

wpid-20140603_132227.jpg

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??).

wpid-20140604_210052.jpg

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

wpid-20140604_210116.jpg

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

wpid-20140604_210100.jpg

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

wpid-20140604_210122.jpg

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!

wpid-20140605_122934.jpg

wpid-20140605_124136.jpg

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.

wpid-20140605_133357.jpg

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.

wpid-20140605_173156.jpg

I made a taco salad for myself.

wpid-20140605_173645.jpg

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.

wpid-20140606_075509.jpg

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.

wpid-20140606_111929.jpg

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

wpid-20140606_113433.jpg

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.

wpid-20140606_115822.jpg

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.

wpid-20140606_203827.jpg

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!

wpid-20140607_161224.jpg

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

wpid-20140607_165920.jpg

I am obsessed with these things.

wpid-20140607_170103.jpg

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

wpid-20140607_170724.jpg

I was a happy Birthday Girl.

We ordered the Summer Roll Sampler.

wpid-20140607_165942.jpg

wpid-20140607_171006.jpg

And we each ordered the Chicken Pho.

wpid-20140607_171705.jpg

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.

wpid-20140608_171151.jpg

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.

wpid-20140528_181614.jpg

wpid-20140602_183406.jpg

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

BBQ Picnic Salad & Sensory Play

Today has been a busy day. It isn’t even nearly over. I guess the days seem long because my boys get up so early. I am always pooped by lunch time.

After the boys woke up, we made Banana Kale Smoothies. Or “smoozees”, as they call them. Bigs helped me.

wpid-20140528_074635.jpg

Banana Kale Smoozees:

Serves 3

3 bananas, peeled, chopped, frozen

1 C washed, raw kale

1/2 C coconut milk

1/2 C vanilla yogurt

Place in food processor.

After our smoozees, we went for now our-usual jog early this morning. So far (crossing my fingers), the boys haven’t tried to escape their jogger seats yet, and they’ve been pretty good. I’ve only had to stop and get on their case for brotherly-arguing about three times since I’ve started jogging consistently.

wpid-20140528_083112.jpg

Today they were squealing with delight and throwing up their hands. I know I’m not jogging fast enough for them to feel like they are on a roller coaster!

When we got home, I set up a little sensory playtime for them. I’d remembered that one of Bigs’ favorite activities in school was  playing with shaving cream. So, the last time I was at the Dollar Store, I bought a few cans. Today I set them out with some Tupperware and whisks.

wpid-20140528_090457.jpg

Bigs loved it, obvi. Smalls did not. I thought he would, but I should have guessed. Despite being so wild and cray cray, he does not like messes on his hands and body, with the exception of food on his face. That, he never seems to mind or notice. Oh well. Scaling the walls, climbing on table tops, eating out of the trashcan, and running amok will have to suffice for Smalls entertainment. I think he’ll be okay.

Whenever I make lunch for the boys, I end up feeling like a piece of meat, with vultures surrounding me, pecking, and ravishing my personal space. I cannot keep them from getting all up in my face while preparing their meals. Today, I gave them a few pieces of frozen corn to much on while waiting. I did not expect it to turn into their favorite snack ever. They both loved it and ended up eating around a 1/2 cup each.

wpid-20140528_105138.jpg

What a fun discovery for me! I hope they’ll continue eating it. I think it makes for an almost refreshing, and certainly healthy, “treat” (usually I serve corn warm for them).

I made another salad for myself. It was divine. It was a BBQ Picnic Salad.

wpid-20140528_110105.jpg

I used romaine lettuce, carrots, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, frozen corn and peas, yellow tomatoes, shredded chicken from last night’s dinner (roasted chicken), shredded cheddar, and a pickled tri-bean salad. For the dressing, I put BBQ sauce, olive oil, S&P, mustard, and ACV in a mason jar and shook the dickens out of it. Yum yum. And very filling.

Blessings,

Kristin

Summer Lovin’!

Had us a blaaaast!

Summer Break has officially started for us! Woo hoo! We are fully immersed in it now!

Last week was very busy for us. We went with my in-laws to a small, little theme park for the day.

wpid-20140521_090556.jpg

Boy was it hot! The boys (and us adults!) had a great time. By the end of the day, the boys started melting down…and playing ALL over the floor of the picture pick-up place. We became THAT family. :/

wpid-20140521_133700.jpg

wpid-20140521_133643.jpg

Oh well. At least they were occupied. It was a great day! We had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa. The next day was Bigs’ last day of preschool for the 3 year olds. It was a great day for him. He had so much fun and I know he will miss his friends and teacher.

That same evening was his little graduation. After five minutes of singing their sweet songs (“Wherever I go, God goes” and “Doers of the Word” – stinkin’ CUTE!!!), it was over. He’ll officially be in VPK next year. Sniff. Growing up too fast, I tell you!

On Friday, we had a playdate with most of his classmates. We went to a Splash Pad. It was a very hot day, so the Splash Pad was a welcome treat. Bigs had SO much fun with his friends, splashing all around. Smalls, on the other hand, did not enjoy it at all. He was scared. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it more as he gets older. Afterwards, we took all the kids to a frozen yogurt place. Oh yum! I got no-sugar added for the boys, since it was close to nap time.

wpid-collage_20140524153247829_20140524153310904.jpg

I let the boys have sprinkles (duh). I had a mix of a lot of flavors and some fruit and juice-balls as toppings. It was refreshing. What a great way to end the year!

That night, we took the boys to a steakhouse to celebrate Bigs’ graduation.

wpid-20140523_175140.jpg

The boys got cheeseburgers and fries (their favorites).

wpid-20140523_175640.jpg

My meal came with a delicious salad. It was so good. I love when restaurants make their ranch dressing in House.

wpid-20140523_180249.jpg

My Medium steak was perfect, and my loaded baked potato was filling.

wpid-20140523_180245.jpg

My husband’s burger (which he ate without the bun) was just delicious.

We celebrated with dessert:

wpid-20140523_182227.jpg

A trio of chocolate cake, apple crisp, and cheesecake. Yummo.

What a great way to celebrate my baby going into his next phase of life.

On Saturday, my husband put up a hammock in our backyard. We also grilled out and I made some sides.

wpid-20140524_115950.jpg

I made the world’s easiest baked beans.

Baked Beans:

1 1/4 C chopped onion

3/4 C green bell pepper (I had red, yellow, and orange)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 C ketchup

1/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C maple syrup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 t liquid smoke

2 t mustard

1 can – red beans, drained and rinsed

1 can – Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

Sautee the veggies in the butter. Once they are soft, add the other ingredients up to the beans. Mix well. Add beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

DELICIOUS!

wpid-20140524_133453.jpg

For a fun dessert, I made banana ice cream. The day before, I’d peeled and sliced 3 or 4 bananas, and then froze them. To make the ice cream, place the frozen bananas in the food processor and add milk (I used vanilla almond milk) and process until creamy.

wpid-20140524_133614.jpg

It was a hit and the only sugar that was in it was from the almond milk. Fantastic.

wpid-20140524_125923.jpg

It was a fun day filled with homemade (healthy!) ice cream, good food, and pool time!

On Sunday, we went to a pool/birthday party! I didn’t get any pictures because Husband had to work and I was wrangling the boys by myself. We had so much fun though. They stayed in the pool for about four hours! They only came out to eat delicious hamburgers and hot dogs, and a cake made to look like the American flag! So fun!

On Monday, I’d heard that Wendy’s was giving out free Waffle Cone Frosties. Yes please!

wpid-20140526_161247.jpg

I let my boys have frosties for dinner. Sue me. I should be sued. It turned into an awful night because they were so ridiculously hyped up. But it was fun at the time.

wpid-20140526_161408.jpg

(PS I’ve been jogging almost everyday with my boys – it’s been great!)

wpid-20140526_161926.jpg

I love how Smalls eats his ice cream cones…like there’s no tomorrow. That’s how he does life too. All in, this kid! <3

My Bigs is a bit more careful. 🙂

wpid-20140526_162201.jpg

He likes to savor his special treats…so much so that it starts melting all over the place! I can appreciate his method though. He’s my sweet, special boy!

The crazy, wild, me-pulling-my-own-hair-out night was worth it for these special memories. I will never forget the one time when my family went to Washington DC on a vacation when I was in elementary school. My parents let us eat ice cream for dinner and we went to a candy shop for dessert. It only happened once in my life, but it was so fun and so special that I remember it so many years later. I want those special, fun memories for my own children.

I’ve made a lot of great food lately, too! More successes than failures this week – woo-hoo!

Today, my bestie since kindergarten came over with her daughter. I just love love love seeing them. I miss my best friend. We’ve lived apart (grew up in the same town) most of our adult life, but every time we get together, it’s like the last time we saw each other. And we talk every day too. She’s so special. Anyways, I made a salad today, for us, that I knew she’d love. And I loved it too! A friend from my church group gave me the recipe and I altered it a little, but only because I didn’t have all the ingredients.

wpid-20140527_111945.jpg

Seven Layer Salad:

Romaine lettuce

Red onion

Frozen peas

Dressing (mayo, mustard, S&P, sugar, malt vinegar)

Bacon

Celery

Cheddar Cheese

**I added red/yellow/orange bell pepper, added onion powder to the dressing since I didn’t have onions, and I also used red wine vinegar since I couldn’t find malt at Target**

This recipe is delicious! I can’t wait to try it the “real” way.

wpid-20140527_112311.jpg

We ate the whole thing (I used an entire head of romaine lettuce)!

Speaking of salads, they are still going strong in our house – the produce has been great!

wpid-20140519_181837.jpg

wpid-20140520_111607.jpg

I also made a delicious dinner tonight – roasted chicken and roasties:

wpid-img_20140527_181442.jpg

It came out delicious.

wpid-20140527_174227.jpg

I served it with seasoned corn, nectarines, and raspberries.

wpid-20140527_174233.jpg

Bigs loved the potatoes (which he normally doesn’t) and Smalls ate almost the entire pot of corn (which he’s never done). Serious success!

I also made GF brownies for my husband. I had to eat a square though, for review purposes.

Obviously.

wpid-collage_20140527181858802_20140527181912513.jpg

I used Aldi’s GF brownie mix. I used coconut oil for the fat content, so they came out with a ridiculously yummy coco-nutty flavor. I enjoyed my little slice and my Hubs loved it too!

YAY for successful meals! It doesn’t always happen!

So glad to be back on track with blogging. I miss it when things get too busy.

Hope you all are doing well! More summer fun and recipes tomorrow!

Kristin

Party time excellent!

To only have one birthday party to go to in a weekend is for the birds! On Sunday, following our big ol’ carnival, we attended another birthday party (we skipped church this week). This one was for a sweet little friend turning one. It was a Sesame Street themed party, so I put the boys in their Elmo shirts and me in my Cookie Monster shirt and we headed on our way. My husband had to leave us to go on a business trip, so it was just me and the boys. The party was adorable. It was at a kids’ gym. The kids had so much fun running around together.

wpid-20140504_105228.jpg

The cupcakes were both delicious and beautifully decorated.

wpid-20140504_115459.jpg

There were some for each Sesame Street character.

wpid-20140504_114617.jpg

The boys played hard and then napped hard once we got home, thankfully. I was very tired myself.

After dinner, we played in the yard until bedtime. We played with Bigs’ birthday gifts – a bug kit, bug catching nets, gardening tools, water squirters. It was great. It really feels like summer has arrived!

wpid-20140504_180647.jpg

The next day, Monday, we went to swim lessons again. Almost done with those! The boys are doing so well. We’ve got a wonderful swim instructor, whom we feel lucky to have found. After swim, we went to my Friday playdate’s Cinco de Mayo swim party at a friend’s house. Third party in three days! Whaat! We each brought a dish to share. I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip with pretzels. It was a healthy chickpea-based dessert dip. Yum! Here’s the recipe:

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/23/want-to-eat-an-entire-bowl-of-cookie-dough/

I didn’t get a picture because I had to make it quickly and get it to the party and also it wasn’t pretty. But it tasted good.

We had a ton of fun at the party! The boys practiced their swimming and did so well!

Smalls was not impressed with having to swim though. He’d rather have stayed on the sidelines. I hope he’ll get over that, as we spend more time in the pool and going to splash pads this summer.

wpid-20140505_1216390.jpg

I did get lots of snuggles and kisses hanging out with him, though. 🙂

I couldn’t pull Bigs out of the pool though! He loved it! I am so glad!

The next night, I made a yummy dinner. I put a pork roast in the crockpot. When it was done, I made a quick BBQ sauce from scratch. I mixed ketchup, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, Worcester sauce, and brown sugar in a sauce pan and once bubbling, poured it over the shredded pork. I made mashed potatoes from scratch and served it all with fresh fruit (grapes, cantaloupe, blueberries). Yummers.

wpid-20140506_173240.jpg

Excuse the Christmas plate. I was pooped. It was a paper plate sort of night.

So. We’ve been so busy. But so busy with good, fun, summery things. I love this sort of busy.

Hope you’re having a happy sort of busy too!

Kristin

Spring has Sprung!

It’s still Spring Break here and we’ve been staying quite busy! The weather has been gorgeous (save for one day where it seemed like we were in a hurricane) – clear skies, white fluffy clouds some days, picture-perfect blue backdrops everyday, chilly mornings that burn off to warm, sunny, lovely spring days.

Spring Break actually started last week, after Bigs got out of school. We had breakfast for dinner that night. I made a baked oatmeal casserole.

20140313_173504

I based my recipe loosely on this one:

http://www.aaronandyolanda.com/2013/07/baked-oatmeal-casserole.html

Instead of two cups of milk, I did one cup of coconut milk and a cup of pumpkin puree. I only added a few chocolate chips. I also didn’t add nuts or fruit of any kind. So it’s basically nothing like that recipe. And it of course didn’t turn out like that recipe (what did I expect!).

20140313_173659

It was alright. The oats didn’t get soaked with the pumpkin custard like I thought they would, so there was a separation of sorts. Next time, maybe I’ll have all the right ingredients and I can make it the right way. 🙂

20140313_174046

I served it with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and sausages. It did the trick (if trick = filling our tummies).

The next day was GORGEOUS! We went to a park play date.

20140314_105605

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

20140314_113938

And Big Brother took the time to play with him.

20140314_112938

I love to see them playing nicely together. 🙂

I gave Smalls a wee little apple and he carried that thing around while playing. He dropped it and still clutched it tightly. This is what I found him holding later on.

20140314_111111

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

20140315_081250

By this time, I’d run out of eggs (running out of ingredients is a key theme in my life, apparently). I substituted applesauce for the missing eggs. The result was an incredibly creamy, custard-like inside. I also added loads of vanilla and vanilla bean paste, and some caramel extract that I found at Wally-World (Walmart). I thought they were just delicious.

20140315_081657

They came out fluffy and golden. So good. Seriously. I might be using the applesauce trick again. I also might HAVE to, as I never seem to have everything I need.

20140315_081308

Oh, pancakes.

After breaky, we went to a local Farmer’s Market/Petting Farm. It’s newly opened and we’ve been wanting to try it out.

20140315_095856

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

20140315_095919

Kind of adorable though.

collage_20140320135658080

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

20140315_101630

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

collage_20140320135741672_20140320135758120

And followed that up with a huge cup of the most refreshing, gorgeous, delicious fruit ever. I think it tasted even more delicious after that greasy, fried lunch.

We also ran into two different families we know! It was a great day.

When we got home, there was still some time before nap, so the boys did their “yard work”.

20140315_123521

They earn their keep, I tell you.

On Sunday night, some of our best friends, who have moved far away, came back because of work and we got to visit. We went on a date night with several of our couple friends. It was just wonderful seeing them. It is terribly sad when one of your best friends moves away, but it makes you treasure the time you have with them, when you see them again.

IMG_20140320_015846

My husband ordered the best red wine I’ve ever had – Jam Jar! SO GOOD! I will have to get that one next time. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, unless it’s sweet, which Jam Jar was.

IMG_20140320_015944

We had a minted edamame hummus and roasted red pepper hummus with lavosh crackers, as an appetizer. We also tasted our friends’ pesto chicken flat bread.

IMG_20140320_020155

After we toasted to our wonderful friendships…

IMG_20140320_020103

…we dug into our meals. My husband ordered the scallops (did not get a good picture) and they were divine. I ordered the winter vegetarian sampling.

IMG_20140320_020332

This plate changes seasonally. I love it. This time, there was a stuffed mushroom, some roasted beets, broccolini, asparagus, and peppers, along with a veggie stuffed taco, and some tofu with mango chutney.

This restaurant is famous for its small desserts. I can’t ever choose one.

Oink.

IMG_20140320_020438

I chose the chocolate peanut butter mousse (um, SO good) and the cannoli (cannoli cream, chocolate chips, raspberry sauce, cannoli shell).

I can’t even.

I am still dreaming about that cannoli cream. Is that weird? To dream about cannoli cream?

The next day was St. Patrick’s Day! I always go big on these smaller holidays. I love a theme! I think you know that by now.

Before everyone (else) woke up, I put together the Irish Stew in the crock pot.

20140317_070928

I sort of changed around the recipe. I used this recipe as a base:

http://everydaymomsmeals.blogspot.com/2013/02/its-not-soup-its-stew.html

I did not add onion soup mix (due to the non gluten and dairy-free and high sodium nature), so I added real onions. I only used one can of tomato soup and added a can of no-salt stewed tomatoes. I also added more of the same vegetables. I let that sit on low all day while we were busy doing other things.

For breakfast, I made Spinach Pancakes (yep – the third time in five days that I served my family pancakes – that’s how I roll). This was a great recipe.

20140317_075740

They were chock full of fresh spinach (two cups!). Bigs said that they tasted like green beans, but he kept eating them, so that’s a good sign.

20140317_080817

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

20140317_080832

I added more vanilla than called for. I served them with corned beef hash.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.superhealthykids.com/blog-posts/no-dye-green-pancakes.php

My best friend since kindergarten was up visiting from where she lives and brought her little girl (who is only 2 months older than Smalls). I LOVE seeing my best friend. I miss her dearly. I feel so blessed to see two of my loveliest friends, who no longer live near me, all in the same week!

For an after lunch St. Patty’s Day treat, I made Leprechaun Pudding for the kids!

20140317_115339

I just mixed half a packet of sugar-free, fat-free white chocolate pudding mix into some vanilla yogurt and added some green coloring. I layered that with some Lucky Charms cereal. I think they liked it.

Earlier in the morning, I’d also made a birthday treat for my bestie. I asked her what she wanted and it was so simple and I love her for that. All she wanted was a boxed mix peanut butter brownie with a ganache on top. How easy!

20140317_123859

I sent that home with her. She let me try it and take pictures of it before she left though. THAT’S a best friend!

collage_20140320142139790

It was good. I used coconut milk for the ganache.

While my boys were napping, I prepared our Irish dessert – Banoffee Pie! I totally used shortcuts. I made a quick crust from graham cracker crumbs and butter. I “baked” it in the toaster oven. I sliced a banana on top of that, melted and poured some dulce de leche that I bought from Costco, and sliced another banana on top. I then whipped a half pint of whipping cream and spread that on top.

20140317_131219

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

20140317_162926

I loved that the dulce de leche was the only sweet part of it. I added no sugar to the graham crust or whipped cream. It was a nice contrast.

20140317_162939

It was a dream of a pie – crunchy, buttery and rich, sweet creamy bananas, indulgent, deep caramel, fluffy, milky topping. Seriously, the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

20140317_163012

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

And the Irish Stew came out SO SO good!

20140317_162358

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

20140317_162408

The broth was rich and tomato-y.

20140317_162501

We ate it for two days. It was great.

I’d call that a successful food holiday!

I got a chance to see my other friend (who we’d seen on Sunday) again before she went back up North. We met, with some other friends, at a neat farm-to-table restaurant.

20140318_191859

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

20140318_192554

My friend got a Blue Moon and I had some. I love that beer – so refreshing!

My other friend and I went halfsies on the burger. It wasn’t just any old burger. It had bacon jam, pimento cheese, spicy/sweet pickles, bibb lettuce, and a fried green tomato.

IMG_20140320_020625

One of the best burgers I’ve had!

IMG_20140320_020732

It was served with wedged potato fries topped with shaved white truffles. Earthy, salty goodness.

Aca-yeah!

Yet another friend and I shared the chocolate cake! We call each other “cakesters”…we just live for cake, what can I say!

IMG_20140320_020822

It was delicious. And a wonderful night with wonderful friends.

I got to see my kindergarten bestie again the next day! I took her to my favorite donut shop.

20140319_085238

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

20140319_085640

I got my now usuals – a sprinkle for Bigs, some holes for Smalls (one of which was shoved whole into his teeny mouth), a German chocolate, a Coconut Crunch, a strawberry and cream cheese, a chocolate and peanut butter, and a chocolate and cream cheese.

20140319_085818

I meannnnnn…..

20140319_090520

Oh, my heavens.

20140319_085915

Why, thank you!

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

20140319_094407

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

20140319_094118

The usually low-key otters were really playful and the lemurs saved their freak-out for when we were leaving.

It was a really wonderful day.

My, what a foodie Spring Break it’s been, and it isn’t even over yet!

I hope this finds you all well,

Kristin