Tag: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Themed Kindergarten School Lunch

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So, a funny thing happened this week – I made pizza for dinner. Because pizza (I don’t need no stinkin’ excuse). I put the leftovers in a Tupperware that looks a lot like the one above. The next day, when I went to pull out the leftovers for lunch for my Smalls, I pulled out Bigs’ lunch! That meant that HE got a bajillion pieces of leftover pizza for lunch at school! I texted his awesome teacher and she sent me a picture of his smiling face and said he loved his lunch! He won Kindergarten that day. 😀

Between that pizza lunch and this one above, I’d say I’m on top of things (but only according to my Kindergartener; to the rest of the world, I’m slowly unraveling!)

For this particular lunch, I made a cheese sandwich, shaped like a heart. I also packed cheese crackers (everything’s better with Cheddar! – it’s my life’s motto), blueberries, red grapes, and a strawberry truffle cookie. I used plastic Valentine’s rings to decorate.

Kristin

(late) Valentine’s Desserts

Last week was full of Valentine’s activities and special treats. I was so busy, that I wasn’t able to get the dessert recipes up, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me, right? You can make these any time. So get on it. Or tuck these away for Valentine’s Day next year….it never hurts to be prepared!

First up, Dark Red Velvet Cookies. Oh yes, boy.

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These were chewy and cocoa-y, and filled with milky, melty chocolate.

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Such a fun treat for the lunchboxes!

Dark Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction, Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies

1.5 C + 1 T AP flour

1/4 C dark cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened

3/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

1 T milk

2 t vanilla extract

1.5 T red food coloring

1 c milk chocolate chips

Toss together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter, in another bowl, on high speed until creamy. On medium speed, add the sugars and beat until combined. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Once mixed, add the food coloring and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed. Beat in more food coloring if you’d like the dough to be redder. On low speed, beat in the chocolate chips. The dough will be sticky.

Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour (up to several days). Thaw, as needed, before baking.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Scoop the dough and roll into balls. Bake each batch for 10-11 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Switching directions to gluten and dairy free –

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I’ve made these GF DF peanut butter cookies many times. They always come out perfectly.

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They have all the ingredients needed to make for an old-fashioned peanut butter cookie feel.

I also added raspberry jam to a few:

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I love how these came out. The jam added a chewy goodness to them. I can’t even. Actually I could. And I did.

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

And lastly, but still gluten and dairy free – Chocolate Torte!

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This thing is a showstopper. It’s super glossy in the picture, because I had just poured my cashew milk ganache on top.

Yes. Cashew milk ganache. And it’s ridonkulously easy.

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Look at that freshy.

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Torte

Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour, Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 C semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 C (8 T) unsalted butter

3/4 C granulated sugar

1/4 t salt

1 t vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan. Fit a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. Grease that as well. 

Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary (you can use a double-boiler if preferred). Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust.

Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze: Combine one cup of semi sweet chocolate with one half cup of non-dairy milk (or cream, if you want dairy) in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the milk is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.

*I have used both cashew and coconut milks for this and they both turn out beautifully.*

Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

EAT.

Enjoy these sweet treats!

Kristin

Happy Valentine’s Day VPK School Lunch

And alas, tomorrow is my Bigs’ Valentine’s Day party in school, and thus, his last Valentine’s Day lunch.

So, here it is:

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I made a gold PB&J heart. I also packed whole wheat pretzel nuggets, a mandarin orange, blueberries, strawberries, and one homemade red velvet cookie.

I’ll be posting some yummy dessert recipes soon, too (a few repeats), two of which are both gluten and dairy free!

Happy Friday,

Kristin

Bee Mine VPK School Lunch

Here is tomorrow’s lunch for my Bigs:

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I made three little pancake PB&J (I used peach jelly this time). My boys love these little sandwiches. I also packed a few pretzel nuggets, a mandarin orange, blueberries, one heart shaped strawberry, one homemade dark red velvet cookie (recipe still forthcoming #imbusy), and two little conversation hearts, about which I know my buddy will flip. I also used a little “Bee Mine” bee ring and a heart pick as decoration.

Here is my Smalls lunch:

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I also packed three little pancake sandwiches, a mandarin orange, a few pretzel nuggets, one dark red velvet cookie, and one conversation heart. Per his request, I also added vanilla yogurt (with a few sprinkles), and applesauce. He does not get decorations yet because he eats them. #iknowthisfromexperience

Have a great Thursday!

Kristin

XOXO VPK School Lunch

Here is tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day lunch for my buddy:

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I made an “X” and an “O” ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich. I also packed pretzel nuggets, blueberries, strawberries, and a homemade red velvet chocolate chunk cookie (recipe upcoming). I used some “XOXO” cupcake picks for decoration.

XOXO,

Kristin

Candy Crush VPK School Lunch

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Also known to many as Consumerist-Oriented-Shallow-Mass-Produced-Day. Either one will do. But I DO admit, it’s a fun week for kids. And I also do love chocolates. And other Valentine’s desserts. And pink and red together.

There’s a fine line, you know.

Here’s my Bigs’ first Valentine’s Week lunch (or “wunch”, as my Smalls says):

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I made a PB&J square, on which I made a scalloped heart shape, and filled it with a few candy crush-lookin’ pink candies (which will compete with the Oreos as his favorite part of lunch). I also packed red grapes, baby pretzel nuggets, raisins, a mandarin orange, and two red velvet Oreos (you’re welcome, son). I used two Valentiney rings as decoration (light pink shimmery heart and a glittery hot pink kiss lip thing).

Boom.

Kristin

Valentine’s Day Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week. We sure had a busy one! And it spanned over a few days, too. We filled food bags for hungry kids through our church and school (which is the same thing for us). It was a great way of showing Bigs how to show love to others, even if we don’t know them.

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It was nice to let Bigs pick out the pantry items to put in the bag.

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And then to see the sea of red bags in the foyer of his school was just heartwarming.

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Then, Bigs’ Thursday class party was just precious. The kids sang (so very softly and with some nervousness too) “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink”. Then we ate. And it was just a perfect day.

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Bigs and his Valentine’s for his teacher and the Admin 🙂

Bigs woke up to his last “What I love about you” heart on his door on Valentine’s Day. Each morning, starting February 1st, I put a new heart on his bedroom door while he was sleeping. It was a fun thing for him and it allowed me to put in writing for him to see, some of the things I love about him.

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On Valentine’s morning, I made pink almond pancakes with sprinkles.

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They were so good. I put conversation hearts as decoration, although they were highly coveted by The Big One.

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I let him only have a few, knowing how sugary sweet the rest of the day would, inevitably, be.

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And Cupid came, wrote a poem, and left his poop (hey, I live in a house where poopy humor runs [get it?] rampant)!

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We went on our Friday playdate, where the kids exchanged Valentine’s (just like at school the previous day). It was a lot of fun. I packed up the cookies I’d made earlier in the week (what’s interesting to me is that the kids liked the Sweethearts candy more than the cookies! Oh well – more for us Moms!). I had made sure to make double batches of everything so we’d have enough.

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After we got home and napped, I took the boys to the market to get some dinner supplies. I wanted to make a nice meal for them and my Sweetheart. I made Chateaubriand Filet Mignon (such a rare treat!!) and asparagus, and had a few salads.

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To make the steaks, I let them get to room temperature, sprinkled them with Kosher salt, and placed in my preheated, olive oil-coated grill pan. I seared them for a few minutes on each side and transferred them to a sheet pan. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes and brought them out to rest. For the asparagus, I rolled them around in olive oil and Kosher salt and roasted them in the 400 degree oven for 13 minutes on a sheet pan.

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I served them with a strawberry and spinach salad, and a cucumber and dill salad purchased from the market. It was all delicious!

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We had chocolate covered strawberries for dessert, quite fitting.

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That night, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake (the recipe was already gluten free and I made the ganache dairy free) to celebrate my father-in-law and husband’s (husband has birthday coming up) birthdays the next morning.

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The cake came together easily and so beautifully. It was dark, dense, and oh-so-chocolately. The ganache was glossy, rich, and shiny.

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http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe

While I was making that, the boys painted their little ceramic elephant craft we’d gotten them for Valentine’s Day. They had a lot of fun. It was a lovely day.

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Bigs

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Smalls

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Final product: Bigs, left, and Smalls, right

Bigs also did his Valentine’s Day homework that his awesome teacher sent home! It was a neat Sweethearts themed one!

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It involved counting and coloring heart shapes and sweethearts. SO CUTE!!

The next morning, we got up and “released” Bigs’ Valentine’s Day heart balloon. I sort of love doing that. It’s fun to watch it flit away, wherever the wind pulls it. The kids liked it too.

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I like to think that if I saw a heart shaped balloon flying in such a gorgeous, crisp, blue sky, it would make me smile!

Then we went to my husband’s parents’ house to celebrate his and his father’s birthdays with chocolate cake and a sunshiny day!

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We played with sidewalk chalk and played hopscotch. Does anyone play that anymore?

Then…cake!

I used this knife that my wonderful sister-from-another-mister friend gave me:

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It’s always been my life’s motto! Even as a young child!

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The cake was RICH! So rich, like a truffle. But very good.

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Despite being a short little old thing, it fed a lot of people – my in-laws, my own family, I gave some to my parents and also to our neighbors! The cake that kept on giving!

We ended our day with walking around a craft store. Look at this cute bike bell I found – it’s a donut! I just need a bike now!

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Although I didn’t get it, if I did, it would have been like buying the shoes first…THEN the outfit. That’s normally how I do it.

Church on Sunday was wonderful. We love our pastor and his messages. The boys had fun in Sunday School and had a fun snack before naps:

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Yogurt Banana Splits!

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I cut a banana in half and lengthwise and put vanilla yogurt and chopped strawberries in between. The boys got such a kick out of it. We needed to get back to simple eating after all the festive, rich foods we consumed this weekend.

And back on the diet. :/

I hope you all had a blessed “holiday” weekend! I’m ready to slow down, get back to “normal” (schedules, diets, LIFE!).

Kristin

Sweetie Pie

hearts

Tomorrow is a big day in Bigs’ class – it’s his Valentine’s Day party! No matter how many old (relatively speaking) pictures I show him, he doesn’t remember Valentine’s Day last year. So this time around should be groundbreaking for him. I think he’ll really enjoy it! The parents of Bigs’ classmates have been invited to a potluck lunch in his classroom, and we are so excited! I was in charge of desserts. Obvi. It’s what I do. Plus, they may not know it, but none of the other attendees want anything I’ve cooked. Blarg.

will you be mine

I made three different desserts. I love variety. I think that’s why I love buffets so much (don’t judge). I need options. Lots of options.

All the desserts I made for tomorrow are gluten free. Not only is my husband GF, but one of Bigs’ sweet classmates is. I love being able to make desserts that everyone can eat. AND that taste great!

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The first dessert I made was a Cherry Vanilla Almond Meringue Cookie.

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I doubled the recipe and it made approximately one million. The recipe called for cherry extract, but as my life typically goes, I did not have that. I did, however, have a Duncan Hines Cherry Vanilla Frosting Starter (powder intended to be mixed into vanilla frosting). It added both a lovely cherry vanilla flavor AND color. I also added Wilton pink (rosa) gel color and extra almond extract to make up for the vibrant cherry flavoring. They came out so festively pink and delicious!

http://momspark.net/holiday-dessert-cherry-almond-meringues/

The second dessert I made was a chocolate cookie I first made about a week ago – Vegan Chocolate Haystacks. SO GOOD! And easy. Two of my favorite things.

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This time, I used Hershey’s DARK chocolate cocoa and they came out richer and more chocolatey.

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

And lastly, I made a GF chocolate cinnamon cookie that I’ve made half a dozen times before. They are really unbelievably good. These were the first cookie I’d eaten that really broke my own personal stigma against gluten free food.

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Chock FULL of chocolate chips, these little babies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yummers. This is a family favorite cookie in our house, long before my husband went GF and DF.

http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously

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I put the desserts in a hot pink tray that I found at the Dollar Store. I also found the little vase there as well. It says, “Love” in different fonts on it. I filled it with conversation hearts. I think it looks cute.

I meannnn, this would be a lovely addition to any Valentine’s Day table!

Even one’s own personal table for one, if that’s your case. If single, I’d DEFINITELY make sure I were eating well.

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I can’t wait to tuck into this (my portion ONLY) tomorrow!

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Happy Valentine’s Eve Eve (so lame)!

I am sadly missing out on a Mommy Night Out making chocolates due to horribly inclement weather. Such a bummer, but I’ll pinch a cookie out of the batches I made today and pretend I’m in a chocolate factory (using the depths of my imagination).

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Have a sweet night!

Kristin

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Wearing my heart on my cheese…

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Happy February 11th, a very insignificant day in romantic history. But it IS a day on which I made two cute lunches for two cute boys for the next day!

Boy, that does not sound grammatically correct. But it is. Trust me.

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I am always grammatically correct (obviously this is a false statement, as masterfully exemplified in this here blog). I is what I is.

Here is the Bigs’ lunch – a love letter themed one!

Love Letter Themed Preschool Lunch

It took FOREVERRRRRRR. Like, more time than I have. And it still doesn’t look that great. But he’s 3. It’s okay. I made a letter out of a PB&J and a teeny little card out of just bread. I free handed the hearts out of fruit leather and the one on the letter is sitting on a little square of cheese. The wonky arrow is also made out of cheese and pretzels. And even more pretzels are on the side, with some cutie patootie conversation hearts.

For Smalls, I did a simple heart theme.

Heart Themed Toddler Lunch

A little cutout heart PB&J and some heart shaped cheese (cheddar makes everything better).

This will keep them busy while I am making desserts for Bigs’ class’ Valentine’s potluck the next day.

Still grammatically correct.

But oddly worded, I’ll agree.

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Or just BE crazy, as in my own personal case. I is what I is.

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Hope you have a lovely Tuesday night!

Kristin

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PS – I am a leetle obsessed with subway art. I wasn’t sure if you noticed or not.

Love & Legacy

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We’re already on Day 2 of Valentine’s Week. You’d think I was counting down to my own birthday or something. It’s not like there’s cake at the end of this countdown. Geesh. I shouldn’t be so excited. But I ammmm!

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I was surrounded by love today at my church’s Mom group. Those are such strong women. And I always love getting together with them.

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We had a speaker today (who is a mentor at my table AND reads this blog) who shared her story about how her sweet, loving husband unexpectedly passed away last year on Valentine’s Day.

Although the pain of what she and her family went through (and still is going through), she is honoring her husband’s legacy by sharing how she’s grown from the heartache, in God’s love.

What a poignant lesson to hear, on a day so close to Valentine’s Day and his Heaven Anniversary. And what a lovely reminder to always love those who are important to us. To SHOW them love.

Thank you, E, for sharing your difficult journey with us. I know it’s hard. It isn’t all for naught. Part of God’s purpose in your journey is helping us young wives and mothers remember to take the time to show our love, in all our incessant busyness. Blessings to you!

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Here is Valentine’s Week Lunchbox #2:

Valentine Kebab Preschool Lunch

I made a PB&J sandwich kebab for Bigs! I used my small Valentine’s Day cutters to make various heart shapes and then stuck them on a kebab stick. I also put in carrot sticks and an applesauce squeezy fruit. And for dessert, a smaller kebab made from two tiny pink wafer cookies flanking a cupcake shaped marshmallow. I think he’ll like this one.

Have a blessed Tuesday!

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– Kristin