Birthday, Cake, and Pizza!

Happy Birthday

Today is my husband’s birthday! We LOVE birthdays in our family. We like to make a big deal out of them. It’s so fun and it’s that person’s special day, so why not!? Usually, my husband takes off work for all of our birthdays, including his own, but since Bigs is in school now, we decided celebrate in a bigger way on a different day, so that he wouldn’t miss school. But we made my husband’s day special! Happy Birthday Penguin from BigsBigs picked out that penguin graphic for his Daddy. 😀

I made my husband some gluten free, dairy free cupcakes. And let me just tell you…everything I’ve touched today, so far, has turned to poopy. This new recipe was, of course, no exception.

For the cake, I followed the directions exactly. Only one difference. Which isn’t exactly then, now, is it? The only difference I made was in the type of GF flour, which shouldn’t have made the cupcakes try to eat themselves. Oh. I just remembered I did something else different – honey instead of maple syrup. You know we eat a lot of pancakes around here. Maple syrup doesn’t last. But honey should be a very viable replacement. Right??

Let’s rewind, shall we? One of my wonderful friends sent me a recipe that was right up my alley – gluten free, filled with vanilla flavor and healthy zucchini.  But let’s not mince words – It’s not exactly unheard of for me to follow a recipe exactly and have it turn out…um…not so appetizing.

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Let’s call this a case of “I did the best I could”. These cupcakes looked slightly less than decent right out of their trip to the oven. But I knew there was more to the story…that top middle cupcake was already warning me…mocking me.

Within three minutes and a transfer to the cooling rack, those little – I am lacking the correct word for them – “beauties” began to sort of eat themselves.

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I literally have never seen such a thing, even on a soufflé.

Let’s bring on the frosting, because THAT makes everything better, right?

RIGHT??!!

No.

Not always. I’m sorry if that popped any sort of frosting-makes-it-better theory you may have had.

But you’ll be in good company. My frosting bubble is completely deflated.

Sort of like my cupcakes. But not as bad.

This one is my fault though, like, for sure.

The two-ingredient-vegan frosting recipe required chocolate chips (check!) and full-fat coconut milk (che…oh. of COURSE I don’t have full fat, because whilst at Publix earlier on, I did the ‘right’ thing for my slightly less than girlish figure and got ‘lite’ [seriously…lite? you can’t throw a ‘g’ or an ‘h’ in there?] coconut milk).

So. my lovely, fluffly, whipped chocolate frosting turned out to be just a simple ganache. Not normally a bad thing. But totally so, when you are expecting something along the lines of this:

veganchocolatefudgefrosting 4838   2 Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Say it ain’t so.

“So yeah…uh, definitely they were supposed to come out like this!

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Especially that wonky one on the top left…you know I like weird stuff.”

Oh, sorry, just practicing my Happy Birthday speech to my husband, who deserves the best ever cupcakes in the world. So glad I could come through for him. 😀

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I have to admit that I tried one, too. I mean, I can’t put my baking name on the line without trying my product, right?

They were about what you’d think they’d be like, considering my day’s track record.

A bit greasy, half baked, sort of oddly fried on top. And now covered in a too rich, too thick, cloying chocolate ganache.

Yep.

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Soooo…..Happy Birthday. May all your dreams that don’t have to do with delicious food come true.

Happy Birthday Cupcakes

At least they look okay if you squint and only focus on the star sprinkles.

And also at least they were all boys that I served them to and they don’t care.

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I mean, they ate them. They were even better once I’d refrigerated them.

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INSERT: The lovely writer of the recipe let me know that coconut flour cannot be replaced, so ooops! I will be trying them again but with the correct ingredients. My apologies! I have learned a valuable lesson. Thank you Kayla!

We ordered pizza, my husband’s choice for his birthday dinner!

We got a GF, DF pizza from Domino’s:

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And for the rest of us (including one of husband’s oldest friends), we had pan pizza from Pizza Hut – just the best!

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By the by, here are the two recipes I used:

http://ohsheglows.com/2013/05/20/2-ingredient-chocolate-fudge-frosting/

http://healthyalamode.com/2014/02/simply-healthy-vanilla-cupcakes/

Happy Birthday Husband!

Kristin

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Happy Pancake Saturday!

Pancake Breakfast this weekend

I love our family’s Pancake Saturday tradition. We ALWAYS look forward to pancakes anytime, but especially combined with a Saturday morning, where the hope to sleep in springs eternal, and the rush of the weekday life sees further away.

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The type of pancakes vary (although they are now all gluten and dairy free). There’s usually bacon and some kind of fruit.

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Today was vanilla pancakes (lightly flavored with almond from almond milk).

I can always count on the boys to clean their plates!

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And also…this happened! Dunkin’ Donuts now has their own line of coffee creamers!! I’ve been saying they should do this for forever. It was good! I found it at my Target, where I seem to be able to find all kinds of funky, new, seasonal, and rare food-type items.

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So here’s to a fulfilling, lovely Saturday! Where we live, it’s dreary and very rainy right now, but we are making our own sunshine. ❤

Have a blessed day,

Kristin

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Anniverary Leftovers

We had a great anniversary…because we spent it together. Did we do fun stuff during the day? Ehhh, no. Our little one, Smalls, had an unusually high fever the day before and we’d been treating it. But yesterday, our anniversary, we took him to the doctor’s. It was just too high of a fever. So after two hours of waiting at our Pediatrician’s office, we left with a double ear infection diagnosis. Such a bummer. Pray for him? And to not spread sickness?

BUT…we DID go out to an early dinner without the kids. We went to a favorite of ours – Cheesecake Factory! We love that place! And guess what? They have an entire gluten free menu for my husband!

We started off with Shrimp Spring Rolls. We always used to get those when we were dating, so it was nice to have sort of a ‘throw back’. They were delicious.

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I love the dipping sauces. Once the spring rolls were gone, I used their fabulous bread, simply as a means to scrape more sauce out of the bowls, since licking them in public is frowned upon for some reason.

We shared an “adult” beverage, as well – the Pineapple Mojito! YUM!

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It was gorgeous! I’d not had that drink there before. I love how the aesthetics of it were just as beautiful as the flavor.

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And mint is one of my two favorite herbs (tied with cilantro). YUM.

I enjoyed it…

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…A LOT. 😀

I ordered the Luau Salad. I love ALL their salads, but I was feeling…tropical this time. No matter what salad I get there, I ALWAYS order a side of their house-made ranch dressing. I am sort of a ranch snob. I can pick out a store-bought bottled dressing anywhere. So. I URGE you to get their ranch. To dip your bread in, as well.

I am a pig.

Oink.

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With and without ranch. SO much better. Their ranch is a good accompaniment to any of their other dressings, as well.

Enough about their ranch, or they’re going to have to start paying me.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Husband ordered a hamburger off of their GF menu. It was one of the best burgers he’d (and me!) ever had. It was juicy and with the addition of bacon, the cheese wasn’t really missed.

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It was nice for him to have a meal that didn’t make him wish he wasn’t dairy or gluten free.

Until dessert time…

…when I ordered the Mango Key Lime Cheesecake.

YUM YUM YUM. I am eating the leftovers as I type this now.

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It was the perfect end to a celebration of five wonderful years.

Oh! And to catch up on food from the week, since that’s what I do…

I made yummy Oat Energy Balls!

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SUCH an easy recipe. A friend of mine posted the recipe on FB and it reminded me to make them. They are so easy, delicious, and HEALTHY!

The basic recipe is:

1 C dry oatmeal

1/2 C chocolate chips (I did a little bit less)

1/2 C peanut butter (I did homemade)

1/2 C ground flax seed (Costco sells a huge bag!)

1/3 C honey

1 t vanilla

I also added about 1/3 C shredded coconut. You mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and place in the fridge for about 10 or so minutes. Then you roll them into balls and keep in the fridge for about a week.

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My husband can’t keep his hands off of them. And I’ve been putting them in Bigs’ lunchbox for snacks.

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Try them! You can almost put anything in them, as long as the protein and sticky components are there.

I also made arepas. Have you had those?

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Nothing beats an arepa straight off the flat top grill from an outside cart in Miami, but hey, we aren’t there, so I make my own. Unfortunately for my DF husband, no cheese (no GOOD cheese) is allowed on these, but they were still so good! They remind me of my in-Heaven Southern Grandma’s hoe cakes. These are the Latin version.

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I used Harina PAN cornmeal. Super easy – recipe on back. Nothing fancy.

Hmm, I think that’s it for now.

Have a wonderful Friday (FINALLY here!!),

Kristin

 

Five Years of Wedded Happiness

   I have found the one my soul loves

Five years ago today, I married my best friend. It was a perfect (yet, surreal) day (that started off with bacon sliders…as any good wedding day should). We had a sort of backyard reception following a courthouse wedding, only a handful of friends and family there. Just what we wanted.

We ate our beautiful wedding cake that my Mom made for us, topped by the mouse married couple (hilarious) wedding topper she and my Dad had on their own wedding cake.

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It was delicious…dense (I think wedding cakes should be dense) vanilla cake, raspberry filling, smooth buttercream frosting. I still remember it, even though it was five years ago.

Sprinkles in my Lunchbox Wedding Cake 1

When we said “For better or worse”, we meant it. I can’t possibly be an easy person to live with, with my OCD-like tendencies and ever-present anxieties. Not only does my husband “put up” with them, he helps me see the humor in them. That’s not an easy thing to do (or deal with). With the challenges of being parents to two boys under 4, health scares from both them AND us, day to day stresses…yes, we’ve seen some better or worse. But I always feel like we can get through them. My husband has always been that proverbial rock for me….my cool, cool cucumber, my chicken whose feathers are rarely ruffled. Such a stark contrast to my often frazzled state.

Me and You

I am so grateful for these last five years. We’ve had so much fun. It’s awesome to be married to your best friend. We’ve laughed together, cried together, had two beautiful boys together. We were meant for each other.

Sure, life is hard. We have ups and downs. That’s just how it goes. But I am so grateful for him and the life we have built together.

1 Corinthians 13

I a SO far from a perfect spouse. So I feel extra blessed to have such a kind, caring, wonderful, thoughtful, funny, best friend as spouse. My husband shows me more patience with me (with our children, with our life) than I can ever show in a lifetime. I am so grateful for him.

He’s the peanut butter to my jelly, the sprinkles to my donut, the bacon to my eggs, the frosting to my cupcake, the gravy to my mashed potatoes, the milk to my cookies, the syrup to my pancakes, the sprinkles in my lunchbox (I could go on and on with food imagery!).

He’s my everything.

THANK YOU, Husband, for these wonderfully, fulfilling, beautiful five years together, as husband and wife. Here’s to our lifetime of happiness!

I love you, Chicken.

Kristin

Two if by sea…

Tomorrow, Bigs is learning about boats and water transportation in class!

Here’s his special lunch:

Boat Themed Preschool Lunch

I did two boat shaped PB&J, whale shaped cheese crackers, one lemon Oreo, seasoned corn, and an applesauce squeezy fruit. This kid eats a lot.

Have a nice night,

Kristin

One if by land…

That’s all. Just land. Today is Land Transportation day in Bigs’ class. Here is his fun lunch!

Land Transportation Themed Preschool Lunch

It’s a race car and semi truck (sans the tractor trailer part) shaped and decorated PB&J (crusts placed back in after picture). He also has some cinnamon graham crackers and one (new!) lemon (!!) Oreo, corn off the cob, and an applesauce squeezy fruit.

And he’s wearing a coordinated shirt because I cannot physically help myself:

Funny Bigs

Have a great one!

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