Tag: macaroni and cheese

Halloween Party Kid Food – BONE Appetit!

Are YOU having a Halloween party? Do you still need some food ideas? Boo, do I have some for you! Read below…if you dare…..mwahahahaha!

About a month ago, I received a call from a sweet friend of my boys (who also pretty much has me done in for, precious as she is!). She told me she was throwing a Halloween party and wanted me to be her “Chef”. How amazing is that!? She poured her heart into this party, planning every last detail – the decorations, the games, etc. She even had my husband, who is a DJ, provide the music. This was a party for the ages!

So, as the Chef, I pulled together some menu ideas with her wonderful Mama, and our planner approved them ( 😛 ). Each of the other invitees offered to make the items on our list.  And here they are, in all their Halloweeny glory!

 

Horrors d’oeuvres Time:

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To make this, you simply carve a pie pumpkin to look as if it’s barfed/vommied/puked…the nastier, the better! Put your dip (guacamole worked best for us because…guacamole) in front of it’s gaping barfy mouth.

 

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These are Bugles! And how cute is this sign? A lot of thought was put into that sign.

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This “Pumpkin Poo” went over well with the kids! Also, how can you go wrong with cheese balls? Every party needs cheese balls.

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This sweet and fruity Jack O’Lantern was gobbled down in no time! It’s made with orange segments and grapes. You can use blueberries in place of the grapes or do a mixture of the two.

Dinner Time:

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These Mummy Dogs are so easy to make, and leave quite a spooky impression! All you need is hot dogs and crescent rolls. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Dry hot dogs with paper towels. Cut or rip the crescent rolls into strips. Wrap the strips around the hot dogs in a random pattern. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake until the crescent rolls have become golden brown (as per the package).

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For these cutie Jack O’Lanterns, you’ll need clear plastic cups, a Sharpie, macaroni and cheese, and some celery. Draw the faces on the cups before filling with the macaroni. Once you have added the macaroni, place a small piece of celery in, as the pumpkin stalk.

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These Bat Nuggets are sure to scare! Bake your chicken nuggets, add tortilla chip wings, ketchup eyes, and make sure you eat them before they fly away! Bats fly quickly and erratically, you know.

Dessert Time:

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Nothing will gross you out and make your kids laugh more than these graham cracker bandaids!! All that you’ll need are graham crackers, icing, and red gel. **Yeesh!**

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Our ghostess with the mostess put these donut monsters together, right down to the eyes and teeth! Super scary!

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These were my contribution – Trick or Treat Brownies and Meringue “Ghosties”. For the brownies, you’ll need one box of brownie mix, a bunch of candy (I used Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and M&M’s), and candy eyeballs. Prepare the brownie mix and pour into a 13×9 prepared pan. Chop up the candy (not the M&M’s) and sprinkle randomly. Bake as directed. I found that my candy sank a bit as the brownies baked, so I chopped up some more and squished it into the freshly baked brownies. Do the same with more M&M’s and the eyeballs. Let cool and cut into squares.

For the Meringue Ghosties, I used the following recipe.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/meringue-ghosts

I used a food-safe paintbrush and hand painted the eyes and mouths, using black gel coloring.

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This party was so much fun, thanks to the wonderful party planning and effort put forth by our cutie gHost! I hope your Halloween parties are as much fun and that you can use some of these ideas!

Happy Halloween!

Kristin

Egg-cellent!

This Easter week and a half have been so busy! I finally got around to starting a post. It’s been filled with lots of good food, lots of Easter eggs (some smashed…will get to that), and lots of fun.

About a week ago, I went to a new to me restaurant. It was one that specialized in rustic Italian food, but with a modern, farm-to-table-esque atmosphere. We sat almost in the kitchen.

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There was focaccia bread and olive oil.

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I ordered a side of polenta, which was creamy with mascarpone, mint, and hazelnuts, and chives. Serious comfort food.

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I almost licked the bowl. I’m serious. You can ask my friends. It was heavenly.

My friend and I shared the Diavolo Pizza (house pepperoni, Italian long peppers, oregano, and ricotta salata).

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Spicy and salty on an earthy crust.

The next day, we had another playdate. This one goes down in the record books. It was a public library showing of “Frozen”, which we had not seen yet. When we first got there, we played while we waited. There were two hamsters that they boys loved looking at, especially Bigs, since he’d learned about mice earlier in the week.

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Then a boatload of kids showed up. There were about 25 kids from various schools and playdates, in addition to our playdate. My boys were good (as long as I was feeding them) for about a half hour. Then things went downhill, as they say. Smalls came up to me and pointed to his bum bum, saying, “Wet!!”. I have no idea how that even happened. I still don’t know if it was pee. I didn’t have a change of shorts, so he rocked his mystery-liquid-soaked shorts. Then he fell off of an adult-sized chair and got a goose-egg on his forehead. And then things were just over. No more “Frozen”. No more library.

We left. Sometimes, you have to know when to fold. That was a folding moment.

We “Let it go”, as Elsa (?? or Anna??) sang.

We walked to a little cafe where we picked up lunch and smoothies. My friend and I shared this:

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The top left is a carrot chicken salad, which was delicious. I loved the addition of carrots. We also had hummus and cukes, falafel with a yogurt dipping sauce, and the most delicious tabbouleh I’d tasted, and some warm pita. That made wet pants and goose-eggs worth it.

The kids ended up having so much more fun at the park than at the movie.

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There is this great, big, old tree in this park that looks downright magical. The boys loved hanging on it and climbing it.

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There was also lots of mud. Mud which must have looked delicious to my Smalls. He can’t resist putting everything in his mouth. This kid.

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He actually ENJOYED his first mud pie! I asked him to stick his tongue out so I could see the extent of his dirtiness. It went way back into his throat. He’ll do it again for sure.

This park is also right by a train station (and the Farmer’s Market we go to).

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My boys LOVE a train. They watched as it pulled into the station, as people disembarked, embarked, and as it left the station, waving the whole time. Choo Choooooooo!

Dinner was ham! Always a good-eating night in our house.

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I glazed it with cherry preserves and served it with marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes and corn.

The next morning was a volunteer day at our church. We packed backpacks for girls who had just been rescued from the Human Trafficking Circuit. I love having my kids learn to serve others.

That night, we took them to the grand opening of a new gelati/ice cream shop that opened right by our house. We love this place and used to travel 25 minutes to get to it. Now it’s only five. Yippee!

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The boys shared a sugar free sour apple and tangerine mixed with vanilla soft serve, my husband got pina colada, and I got salted caramel and raspberry mixed with vanilla soft serve. Yum yum.

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Then the boys played in the yard until bedtime. Smalls is really good at doing somersaults. Bigs is too now, but he wasn’t as much so when he was Small’s age. So Smalls does them everywhere – concrete, grass, whatever. That’s probably why he has a black eye right now, poor fella. I’d prefer him to do it on grass.

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Peekaboo!

On Sunday, after church, I made a one-bowl chocolate cake for my Mom group the next day. It was easy to put together and delicious! I’ve used this recipe before and it always comes together this easily.

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I had to add my trademark sprinkles, of course. 🙂

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Dat icing.

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Mmm yes.

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Fudgy, dense, moist chocolate cake with a rich, cocoa-y, fluffy, chocolate buttercream.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/06/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-made-from-scratch.html

It was a hit with my church group. I brought only two teeny pieces left. And it fed a lot – it was a 9×13 pan.

On Tuesday morning, my wonderful neighbor brought me some Jewish pastries from a local bakery.

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She got me three different kinds of hamentashen – raspberry, apricot, and prune. All three were delicious, but one flavor stood out to me. The raspberry was incredible! She also gave me a cream cheese roll and a nut bun. All delicious! Food gifts are the best!

That was a nice treat after taking my boys to their first swim lessons of the season (and Smalls first ever swim lesson). They are four times a week for about six weeks.

Tuesday night, my husband had a doctor’s appointment after work. It also happened to be Family Night at Chik-Fil-A…with goats. And bunnies. And ducks. And chickens and roosters, too. And an egg hunt! Yes please! Anything to get me from dinner time to bath time, when I’m by myself with the kids, I’ll do!

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This brings me to the Easter egg hunt. Smalls and Bigs were the only ones in the hunt area at that exact moment. Each kid was allowed to pick up 10 eggs. Well. Smalls stomped (with gusto) on about 14. Not a gentle tap of the shoe, but like a ground-shaking sort of stomp. The type that breaks eggs. :/ At least he wasn’t doing that to the animals. I should be thankful.

He continued the stomping habit when Bigs brought some hard boiled eggs he’d dyed at school. I had his little basket on the hood of my truck and the wind knocked it over and everything fell out and Smalls zeroed in on the eggs stomping them to their sad demise.

On Wednesday, we met one of my oldest friends at a “fancy” mall in between each of our houses. She also came bearing a food gift:

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Sesame balls (if you know me at all, you know my obsession!), shrimp chips, some rice candy, Pockey, and Hello Panda treats! All from my favorite Asian grocery!

Food gifts are the best! Did I already say that? 😉

For me, the best kind of Easter basket is the one filled with giant sesame balls.

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🙂

If you’ve not tried a sesame ball, I encourage…implore you to try one. And then let me know if you like them!

For lunch, I had a salad from a vegetarian Mediterranean place.

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Loads of veggies, lettuce, spinach, beets, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cous cous, cabbage, garlic, and cilantro. My kind of salad!

Thursday, after swim lessons and dropping Bigs off at school, I made treats for his class. His wonderful teacher asked me to make something Easter-y. I love love being asked to make stuff!

I decided to go with gluten-free rice krispie treats, shaped to look like little Easter baskets.

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Bigs has a friend in his class who is gluten free so I work closely with her Mom to make sure all the ingredients are free of anything that could cause a reaction. It’s so fun to have a challenge! And a plus is that my husband can eat and leftover treats I make (when also made dairy free).

I made GF rice krispie treats and formed them into cupcake wrappers (Peeps!!) in a cupcake tin. I made a little dip in the center to hold little treats. While those were setting up, I dyed some shredded coconut green to act as the grass.

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I added the “grass” and then some GF jelly beans. They came out so cute! But I knew what would make them even better….

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Don’t Peeps always make stuff better? I’ve found that most people have very strong feelings about Peeps. They either cannot stand them or they are obsessed. I’m obviously in the obsessed camp.

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They were a hit. Mostly. I’d say with confidence that most of the kids thought the coconut was not a good addition to the dessert, as a whole. Sometimes I get too fancy for kids. 🙂 It was a lot of fun making them though!!

For dinner on Thursday, I made steak and homemade macaroni and cheese (husband got brown rice). The macaroni sauce (a basic roux sauce with cheddar added) was extra creamy.

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I served fresh watermelon and pineapple with it. Smalls ate none of it, Bigs ate all of it. It’s always a toss up! I thought it was good.

The boys played in the yard until bedtime again.

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Loving on the neighbor’s dogs

Whew. We are all caught up. I hope you all are having a blessed Holy Friday. Bigs and I have been discussing Jesus and his painful death a lot. He knows that Jesus went through all of that to save us and to give us eternal hope. I hope you know that too.

Be blessed,

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

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Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

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I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

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This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

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Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

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http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

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I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

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And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

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We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

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I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgrateful

Psalm 1004

I am so thankful and so grateful. For so many things. While life is far from perfect (what is that, anyways??), for what God’s gifted us, I feel overly blessed and undeserving.

My family and I had the wonderful blessing of an opportunity to participate in the Operation Christmas Child this year, through my church.

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

They do it every year and it’s now going to be an annual tradition for us. It was really rewarding and humbling. I took the boys to the store and, together, we picked out lots of toys and goodies for two boys in the same age range as mine. And then on Sunday morning, we dropped off our boxes at the collection table at church.

Operation Christmas Child and Boys

My sweet boys putting their filled boxes on the collection table.

I am, by no means, “showing off” by sharing this. I simply what to share how humbled it made me. And Bigs told me, after dropping their boxes off, “Now someone else can have Christmas!!” and that gave me hope that he could feel part of the true meaning of sharing and Christmas.

I have…

Thankful heart

Last night, for dinner, I cooked a pork butt in the crock pot with some apricot jam and spices. I served it with my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni & Cheese (recipe here!) and baked beans.

Dinner

A lovely prayer to end on…

Prayer

I forget to do this a lot. I want to change that. I just got a new devotional. I am hoping to use that time of day to really thank God for his blessings to me. It’s called, “Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry”.

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Let-Your-Nail-Polish/dp/1935416219

May thankfulness and gratefulness abound,

Kristin

Thanksgiving Food Roundup

Turkey Time

Let’s talk turkey. Just kidding. Someone else is making the turkey.

Ain’t nobody (read: me) got time for that! Literally.

So let’s talk sides and dessert. That’s my forte.

And before that, let’s backtrack just a little. I want to paint my very fond Thanksgiving memories for you.

Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. Everything it embodied – the food, the fellowship, the family, the thankfulness. We used to travel to see my Dad’s family. They lived in the Deep South and the memories that were made in that old country house will live in my heart forever. When I think of Thanksgiving, this is what comes to mind:

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

Literally. And the dining room we ate in looked almost identical to this Normal Rockwell painting. My beautiful Grandma would have her long gray hair coiled into a bun, she’d wear a sweet little dress with stockings and slippers (it’s hard work cooking for so many!) and cover it all up with an apron that had seen many meal preparations. When she would see us, her whole face would crinkle up in a smile and she would always have this little sparkle in her eyes. My Granddaddy would always cry tears of joy when our family car would pull up that dirt and gravel-covered driveway. My Aunts and Uncles and Cousins would pour in through the tattered screened door in the kitchen, arms laden with covered dishes and hugs to hand out. My Grandma would be standing at the stove top, frying up her hoe cakes in her beloved old cast iron pan. There’d be field peas in a saucepan, a fried turkey, my Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese, shredded chicken and hard boiled egg dressing, and food for miles. And miles. Good Southern, comforting food. The dessert table always held the traditional pumpkin pies, cobblers, etc., but there was always something else that held my gaze. My Grandma would always make a multi-layered coconut cake. It always looked so tall from my shorter, younger (I’m tall, but my memories were made when I was young) stature looking up at it on the counter. It was iced with the most glorious white frosting, and then covered with stark, white coconut flakes, imitating that fresh first snow fall. I always ate a slice as big as my face. It was always my favorite. And my dear Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese. That is one of my all-time favorite recipes still. She passed that one on to me before she went to be with the Lord. While I never got the coconut cake recipe from my Grandma before she also went to be with the Lord, I did find recipes online that closely match these and my other heart-guarded dishes. I’d like to share some of these with you today. They may not be the healthiest or use the most “trendy” ingredients, but they are sacred in my heart. They equal hugs on my plate.

Thanksgiving Table

This is my dining room table last Thanksgiving. I prepared a few of my favorites. I made green bean and sweet potato casseroles (no favorite recipes here). The back right tray is my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni and Cheese and the front tray is my Shredded Chicken and Hard Boiled Egg Dressing.

Here is the recipe I’ve found that most closely resembles the dressing. I use only white meat (boiling chicken breasts or using a rotisserie can cut down on time), I make cornbread from Jiffy, and I do not make or use the giblet gravy or chutney.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-live/hazel-smiths-chicken-dressing-casserole-recipe/index.html

Here is my dear, sweet Aunt Sue’s recipe. I make my own “cream of” soups now, but I cannot bring myself to change her recipe AT ALL. This is a highly simple recipe, and quite humble. Even though it is such, it is one of my most prized and loved recipes. Please feel the love my Aunt Sue had for all of us when you make and enjoy this.

Macaroni Casserole:

1 8oz. pkg elbow macaroni, cooked

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 C mayo

1/2 C onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped and slightly cooked in microwave in a bit of water, drained

1/4 C pimento, chopped (or you can use canned, roasted red pepper)

1/2 lb. mild or sharp cheddar cheese

Combine the above ingredients and place in a buttered casserole dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Hoe Cakes are cornmeal based…pancakes, for all intents and purposes. The closest recipe I could find to match my Grandma’s could also be found from Paula Deen…go figure. These would be piled high in a pie tin on each table at Grandma’s house. And we’d eat our weight in them as we were waiting for the “big” meal to start.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/hoecakes-recipe/index.html

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The closest recipe I can find to match my Grandma’s Coconut Cake is another Deen recipe (lol – Southern at best!).

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/jamies-coconut-cake-recipe3/index.html

After our afternoon Thanksgiving feast, we’d go out in the backyard and shoot aluminum pie tins with Granddaddy’s BB guns. My brother and I had a blast. We’d go for rides on the riding mower. We’d go “moo” at the cows in the back pasture and go for a walk through the cotton fields flanking that country house with a porch swing. We’d sneak into my Granddaddy’s barn and look at all his old fashioned tools and try to guess what they were used for. How we loved those Thanksgivings spent there. As we grew older, we’d STILL enjoy the same traditions. After Thanksgiving day spent there, we’d go to my Mom’s family and have a second Thanksgiving with them (in a different state). My sweet Grandmother had (still has) her own recipe for macaroni and cheese (a recipe for another day!) and an amazing cream cheese topped, jellied cranberry and nut salad. I am going to have to get that from her again this year, as I’ve lost the recipe. Sadly, much of my family on my Dad’s side has passed on and so we’ve had to change traditions. Whether we spend the holiday with my Mom’s family or with my Husband’s family, locally, I always make it a point to make these recipes that are so fond in my heart so that I can feel that love miles and miles away from where it started.

I’ve got two other recipes that I’d like to share with you today. One is a scone that would make for a lovely, festive breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Imagine eating these little beauties with a cup of coffee or tea as you are starting to prepare your meal.

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I got the recipe for these Harvest Pumpkin Mini Scones from King Arthur Flour.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/harvest-pumpkin-scones-recipe

And here is another dessert recipe, but for the more daring home cooks!

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This Pumpkin Mochi Cake is REALLY good – not too sweet and sort of chewy in that lovely mochi way that I am so very fond of. I used Mochiko (glutenous rice flour) that I found at a local special store. I obviously didn’t use small molds for this, as the recipe calls for. I used an 8×10 dish and doubled the recipe.

http://kirbiecravings.com/2010/11/happy-thanksgiving-2.html

PS – My husband is home with us now. God is good!

I hope you can use and enjoy some of these recipes. Have a very blessed weekend,

Kristin