Tag: summer

Spring and Summer Themed Lunches

Sunny Florida is living up to its name this week! It’s been gorgeous! We’ve had chilly mornings that burn off into beautiful blue skies with a perfect 70-something degrees. I LOVE Winter, but I think I’m ready for Spring now. There is always something so renewing about this season. I’m ready for renewal.

Here are some fun lunches I made this week, in the spirit of such gorgeous weather:

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For my little guy, I made a “bludderfly” shaped peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich (with two little heart shaped sandwiches – had extra bread!). I used Food Writers to add some deatils. I also packed Goldfish crackers, half a Cosmic brownie, and  some red grapes.

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And for my big boy, I made a sunbutter and strawberry jam tortilla sandwich (quartered). I also packed a teeny mandarin orange, blueberries, Goldfish crackers, and the other half of the Cosmic brownie.

Have a great week!

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Individual Barbecue Meatloaves

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I have got another dinner idea for you that is both easy and filling – Individual Barbecue Meatloaf. It cooks more quickly than the traditionally sized meatloaf and it is also cuter. Yes, I do think meatloaf can be cute. Almost anything is, when it’s personal-pan sized. And on that note, almost any sized item can be personal-pan, if you try hard enough. I was able to put this meal together in about 30 minutes, from start to finish.

Individual Barbecue Meatloaves

1 lb ground chicken

1 egg, beaten

1 packet of dried mushroom gravy mix (try to find GF if needed)

1/2 C breadcrumbs (I used a mix of 4C GF breadcrumbs and crushed Corn Flakes)

Pepper

BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Cola-Q that one of my besties left at my house after a cookout – thank you!)

Preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with Pam. Mix together the mushroom gravy packet, breadcrumbs, and pepper. In a large bowl, mix ground chicken, beaten egg, and breadcrumb mixture. Form into 1/3 lb. loaves. Place on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. brush BBQ sauce on the loaves and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

I served it with brown rice (which I boiled with chicken stock) and a summer fruit salad.

Enjoy!

Kristin

Tulip VPK School Lunch

I’m don’t know about where you are, but where I am, Spring has sprung. Actually, to be honest, it feels like Summer. It’s way too soon for that mess.

To keep it Spring-y around here, I made a sweet tulip lunch for my Bigs:

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I made a tulip-shaped cream cheese and jam sandwich. I also packed assorted raisins, honey wheat pretzels, a mandarin orange with a blueberry, Greek yogurt with flower sprinkles, and three little yogurt star cookies from TJ’s.

Kristin

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

 

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.

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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. :/

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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.

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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.

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The boys got cheeseburgers and fries (their favorites).

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

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

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

We celebrated with dessert:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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It came out delicious.

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

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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.

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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.

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The cupcakes were both delicious and beautifully decorated.

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There were some for each Sesame Street character.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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