Root Beer Meringues

I like almost everything about the 4th of July – the fun, cohesive attitude of almost everyone around me, the swirls of red, white, and blue, the fireworks. I love it.


And, I get really excited over the prospect of serving up hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon, and s’mores, and whatever other fun themed treats I come across in my recipe searches.

Yes, the food is always a very important part of any holiday or get-together, for me.

Yesterday, I made some very cute meringues. They are a great go-to recipe for anyone trying to avoid gluten, dairy, and fat. You can make them almost any flavor. I used my root beer extract and added 4th of July sprinkles to make these festive.


The root beer extract was a nice addition. I found it at Walmart, of all places. Sometimes, that place really comes through – new extract flavors, $5 maxi dresses, watermelon bikinis, seasonal and odd flavored Oreos and other cookies. I digress. Anyways, these came out so summery and so light. And festive!

I’ve used this recipe before and it’s easy as pie…good ol’ American apple pie. Well, actually, it’s MUCH easier than that.

Try them. Try out new flavors too.

The recipe link is in this blog post:

I simply replaced the cherry and almond extract amounts with the root beer.





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.


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).


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.



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


They sure knew how to make a girl feel special. ❤

The next day during naptime, I enjoyed one of my birthday presents with some trashy mags.

It was a good time.


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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. 🙂


I still ate it.

All caught up! Have a great weekend!

Blessings, Kristin


Summer Fun Kid Food Ideas

I have been on vacation. Well, not really. My idea of vacation is eating my way through Europe (i.e. croissants in Paris, tea in London [okay, I’ve done both of those, but a girl can dream to do them again!], pasta in Italy, a pint in Ireland, Scottish Eggs in Scotland…are those from Scotland?)…or laying on a white, sandy beach somewhere with a fruity drink in my hand…with an umbrella in it. Anywaaaaayz, the sort of vacation I’ve been on hasn’t really been of that sort. I still get up before 6:30 every morning, still prepare little meals, still wipe bum-bums. I’ve been on a “fun kid food” vacation. As soon as summer break started, my kids got square PB&J sandwiches. And they haven’t complained….thankfully, I suppose. Once school starts back up, I’ll have to get back into my “fun kid food” mode. I have, however, done a few things here and there…just to keep me sharp.


For snack one day last week, I added some of my LorAnn Red Velvet Emulsion (which adds color and flavor) to some vanilla yogurt, put it in a cake cone and added 4th of July sprinkles. They kids went bonkers over it and ended up looking like bloody zombies afterwards. Not cute. But they did love it.

And for lunch one day last week, I went with a watermelon theme.


I cut the boys’ sandwiches into triangles and used my food-safe spray and Food Writers to make them look like little watermelons. I put them on my watermelon plates (Christmas Tree Shop – $1.00 each!!!) and served them with GF veggie straws and fresh fruit salad. They LOVED it.

Happy Summer!


Bake me a cake as fast as you can!

Baking cakes is rarely a fast process.  I prefer to make them from scratch. And that takes a while. That isn’t a snobby thing. I don’t turn my nose down at cake mixes. Nope. I use those, too. If given the opportunity of time, I just like the process of measuring out each of the many ingredients a scratch cake requires. But, this blog post isn’t about a scratch cake. It’s about one made from a mix. I had picked up a few boxed mixes when my Publix had them on sale for $1. I mean, you almost can’t beat that (get it? beat it? like, with a whisk?). I used the Devil’s Food mix for the donuts I made earlier this month. And then I had a yellow cake mix left. What to do, what to do! In keeping up with my trying to use cookbook recipes out of my cookbook collection, I ran across one that would work with the ingredients I had, including the cake mix. Sure, the recipe actually called for white cake mix, but that really isn’t me, using or having the “real” ingredients, now is it? 🙂 The recipe, titled “Aunt Ruth’s Favorite White Cake”, also came with a frosting recipe from scratch.

I had a Great-Aunt Ruth, myself. She was a ridiculously fun, eclectic woman. She had really long gray hair that she coiled into a bun on the very top of her head. She lived on her own little (huge) plot of land with my Great-Uncle after they moved back home from living on an oil rig in Cuba. She cursed (a no-no, but always a funny-at-the-time situation for my big brother and me – we’d giggle nervously), she kept marshmallows in crystal bowls on all the end tables, she would give my brother and I those little Lifesavers books (remember those? you’d open them and there would be a few rows of Lifesavers) every time we’d visit, she had a dog named Shasta that I only ever saw through the pressed cardboard barricading him in the laundry room (we used to think he was a Cujo-type dog because all he did was bark really loudly and slam his huge body against the barricade. We always felt he’d eat us, if given the chance). She had a brick chimney sitting in her yard, from her house that had previously burned down, and she kept it, as she re-built right next to the old plot. Near the yard chimney, was a koi pond, with huge koi fish swimming in it, that my brother and I thought were at least 400 years old (they seemed it, to our little selves back then).

Ahhh, yes, a cake by the name of “Aunt Ruth” was sure to be a delicious, exciting one for me.


Aunt Ruth’s Favorite White Cake

(I’d like to think my Aunt Ruth wouldn’t have the right ingredients all the time, too.)

1 package white cake mix (I used yellow and it turned out great)

1 1/4 C water

3 eggs

2 T vegetable oil

1 t vanilla

1/2 t almond extract

Mix all together, follow the directions on the box. Bake in two 8 or 9 inch greased/floured pans for 30 minutes (mine were done before then, but my oven runs hot).

The frosting intrigued me. I have always been interested in trying a flour-based frosting.

Creamy White Frosting

1 C milk


1 C (2 sticks) US butter, softened

1 C powdered sugar

1 t vanilla

*I also added almond extract to the frosting*

Combine milk and flour in a saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened. Cool.

Beat butter in a large bowl until cream. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in vanilla (and almond, if you are doing that). Add flour mixture and beat until thick and smooth.

The cake came out like a bakery cake. It was moist and fluffy (albeit a little crumbly), and the taste was wonderful. I must admit, however, that the icing was not my favorite. It had a funny texture to me, almost as soft as a Crisco-based frosting, but even more so. It was weird. But I am happy I tried it. I gave almost half the cake to my sweet neighbors and she said it was fantastic.

Recipe taken from: The Cake Mix Bible

Give it a whirl! Or not!


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.


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.


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. ❤



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).


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.


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


We saw the butterfly garden.


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


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.


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.


Another successful summer day under our belts!