Shark Week Cookie Cake

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{I’m still here! I know it’s been 70 days since I last posted (who’s counting?!), but I’m still here. And my little, loyal blog was here, waiting for me, all along. And I hope you were, too. I hope to get back into feeling good, and feeling inspired, and delivering better-than-subpar blog posts and recipes.}

Do YOU know what week it is? SHARK WEEK! We just love Shark Week in our house! My boys just love sharks and we get a kick out of having a whole week devoted to them. I always like to make a fun treat. This year, I made a cookie cake!

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It is an enormous chocolate chip cookie, “choc” full of chips.

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It is covered in creamy, vanilla frosting ocean water, its frothy waves lapping up to shore, meeting the gold, glittery beach.

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Let’s hope that the owner of the surfboard went for a walk! Yikes! Those waters are super shark infested!

Shark Week Cookie Cake

Serves:  A lot of hungry dudes and dudettes

Recipe adapted from: Doughmestic Housewife

1 C softened butter

1 C sugar

1 C brown sugar

2 eggs

1 t baking soda

3 C flour

2 C chocolate chips

Mix the first 5  ingredients. Then add the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. Press into a greased cookie/pizza pan. Bake 18 – 25m at 350F.

Frosting:

4 C powdered sugar

1 C shortening

4 T milk (plus more, if you need to thin it out)

1 t vanilla extract

Food coloring

Mix together until you have the right consistency (spreadable, not too runny). Split the frosting into two parts. Color half of it blue (I used both green and blue to make a turquoise-y color).

Extra materials:

Graham cracker crumbs

Gold and blue sugar sprinkles

Fish and dolphin sprinkles

gummy sharks

Plastic palm trees, surf board, umbrella

After the cookie caked has been baked and cooled, frost half of it with the white frosting. Cover most of it with the graham cracker crumbs and gold sprinkles. Leave a little bit of white frosting showing, for the waves. Next, add the blue water. Then add the sharks and sea animal sprinkles, blue sugar sprinkles, palm trees, surf board, and umbrella.

And there you go, little surfers!

Hang then! Don’t let the sharks bite you!

Kristin

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Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole (and another squirrel themed lunch)

It is THAT time of year again! I adore Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Not just for the food, although that’s a huge part of it. I love the tradition, the memories I have of Thanksgivings past, the new memories made with family, the way people become so introspective about thankfulness. I love the traditional food that I make each year, and the new recipes I come up with. I love the crafts. I love every part of it. It makes me happy.

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I always seem to make mini Thanksgiving meals in the weeks prior to the Big Day, in hungry anticipation. Last week, I made a turkey and cranberry meatloaf which I paired with my traditional macaroni and cheese casserole, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole (#casseroleallthethings). This week, I paired a new sweet potato casserole with a honey and dijon mustard glazed ham. And this SPC was SO dang good, that I just had to share the recipe with you. It also happens to be dairy and gluten free, which for my family, is a bonus!

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It’s creamy on the inside, studded with little jewels of dried fruit, and topped with two kinds of marshmallow, which have been toasted just the perfect amount.

**Caveat** This recipe has raisins in it. I know for a fact that many people do not like raisins. I don’t care for them in cookies. They ruin cookies for me. But in this? They added a chewy, lovely texture.

Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

Recipe serves 2 adults and 2 kids, with leftovers

3 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 T melted coconut oil

splash of coconut milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

3/4 C dried cranberries

2/3 C golden raisins

1/2 small jar marshmallow fluff

1/2 bag of mini marshmallows

Boil the peeled and chopped sweet potatoes until they are tender. Using a hand mixer, blend together the next three ingredients, until creamy and smooth. Fold in the dried fruit. Pour into a greased pan (I used a 9×9) and bake in a 350F oven for about 25 minutes. Melt the marshmallow fluff in the microwave. Pull the casserole out and spread the fluff over the top. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows over that and place back in the oven, with the broiler on high. Make sure not to burn the marshmallows, but see that they get nice and brown!

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It is dang good. ENJOY!

Also. I made yet another squirrel themed lunch. This is my last week of fall and Thanksgiving themed lunches, so I am doing repeats allll day.

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I made squirrel shaped sunbutter and grape jelly sandwiches. I cut acorn shapes out of fruit leather for the little tree rats to snack on. I also packed goldfish crackers, dried cranberries, more dried fruit, colby jack cheese (Bigs), a mandarin orange (Bigs), green grapes (Smalls), and a Linzer cookie for each.

Peace ‘n’ Blessins’,

Kristin

I did it all for the cookie(s)!

Santa and Cookies

I need an elf. Like a real, live, breathing, HELPING elf (Sorry Duncan! I still love you, but you are stuck in a Mason jar right now and obvi cannot help.). I need one that can follow simple instructions, like cleaning cookie sheets or rolling dough into balls and coating the with granulated sugar. Yesterday was Christmas Cookie Baking Saturday.

Christmas Cookies

And I was exhausted. I still sort of am. Yesterday yielded 225 cookies. The ones I chose to bake this year were White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal, Ultimate Ginger, and Eggnog Cookies. I really wanted to go with a theme – a classic Christmas flavor theme. I love a theme!

Christmas

My day started with getting the boys up (Just kidding. They woke me up with their “I’m-ready-to-get-up signaling noises”.) After breakfast, it was all about the cookies! I went through several pounds of butter. Isn’t it therapeutic to watch butter sticks melt? Oh. Just me?

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I love the smell of melting butter, too. It’s heavenly.

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My right-hand-helpers (no thanks to Duncan), my Kitchen Aid stand and hand-held mixers, were very busy, whirring and stirring for hours.

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I made the batter for the White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies first, as it had to sit in the fridge for two hours.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/10/white-chocolate-cranberry-oatmeal-cookies-recipe.html

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When I finally did bake them, they came out perfectly – browned on the edges and bottoms (due to the one pound of butter in the doubled recipe), cranberries glistening, oatmeal giving off the perfect amount of chewiness, and the white chocolate offering up little pockets of creamy sweetness.

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The Eggnog Cookies were next. These were an easy-peasy recipe to use. I love how they turned out. They are very simple, letting the true flavor of eggnog shine through.

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Sprinkled with extra nutmeg, these little sweeties are sure to conjure up lovely holiday memories! My kids and I have gone through at least 2 gallons of eggnog this season so far. It’s so delicious. Bigs calls it “Santa Milk” since some of the jugs of it have Santa on them. I love how kids see things so differently from us old, haggard, jaded adults.

http://iwasborntocook.com/eggnog-cookies/

Next and lastly were my Ultimate Ginger Cookies. I love love ginger cookies. I think you know that, by now.

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This is the second year in a row I’ve done a variation on a ginger cookie. These came out delicious! I love Ina Garten’s addition of crystallized ginger.

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I love how rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar before baking returns a crunchy, but chewy and soft, cookie that looks like it’s been sprinkled with icy snow.

http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=341&S=0

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All of them, together, in harmony, on a plate. The beautiful flavors that epitomize the season – eggnog, ginger, cranberry.

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These sure would have been a lot easier to make if that elf would have helped! And, sadly (but not really sadly, for this is the purpose!), for as much time as I put into them, these cookies got packaged up (neighbors, teacher, friends, church family, mom group) and doled out quicker than I could say “YULE LOG!!!”. All I’ve got left is crumbs. That’s okay. That’s what it’s all about. I’m sure we’ll receive lots and lots of cookies from other people…right?! Are you cookie-making friends listening?! 😉 I jest (sort of).

Speaking of that elf, he’s been in several different spots since we last spoke.

Elf on a Shelf Day 6

He’s made a mess of toothpaste. Thanks for THAT, Dunc.

Elf on a Shelf Day 7

He’s crammed himself into a mason-esque jar. It wouldn’t so creepy except that I had an almost-too-small jar and I had to sort of almost damage Duncan’s neck to get him in there. Oops.

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And he made coffee filter snowflakes! What a clever elf he is!

Well, we’ve been very busy in our house, not only baking cookies (me) and wrapping gifts (me), but indulging in the traditions of the holiday (all). Bigs watched “The Polar Express” last year, but didn’t care so much (or understand). At three and a half, he now gets it and LOVES it! I pulled out some old Christmas books I had as a kid (and saved…they are in muy delicado condition, I’d say!) and we’ve been reading those, too.

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If you haven’t seen or read The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg, you MUST. It was one of my favorite books as a child. It is adorable.

And Bigs now tells me that all he wants for Christmas is a new water bottle. Not a bouncy carrot. Great. Well, I’m sure he’ll forget he reneged on that and enjoy the dog toy shaped like a carrot that Santa is bringing him.

So, off to church – the second Sunday of Beautiful Advent. Have a very sweet, blessed Sunday.

In Christ,

Kristin

Alexander the Not-So-Great

Have you ever read the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I loved that book growing up and still have the same book I owned and read when I was little.

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Today has been a day like Alexander’s. I mean, literally everything I’ve touched has gone terribly awry.

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I woke up before the alarm (and this happens most of the time). Automatic fail. I decided to start laundry early, since I was up. I do that often, but today I left some of the freshly dried piles in the basket. All wrinkled. Husband’s work clothes – totes wrinkled. And I’m not an ironer.  Gah! My little one, Smalls, likes to fight me during diaper changes. He writhes and wiggles and arches his back and tries to leap off of his diaper changing table (which he’s done). Anyways, I was so fed up with not being able to get his new diaper on, I just let him walk around without it, in protest. Big fat joke on me. What was I thinking?! He walked into the bathroom and peed all over it and the hallway. Puddles everywhere. It’s like he was saving it all for that one moment of diaper-freedom.  He also spit his already-been-chewed Raisin Bran breaky all over his highchair and put it on the floor. I also broke my green ceramic plate by dropping it in the sink. Shattered into a bajillion tiny pieces. At least it wasn’t on the floor. The boys played with their slime (a party favor from a birthday recently – made from glue and borax, etc.)…

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Smalls

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Bigs

…and it got all over my Christmas tablecloth and into Smalls’ hair. See that slime?

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I mean…it won’t come out. He’s going to live with slime in his hair forever. He probably doesn’t even care. I love that slime and the boys do too. It is really fun to play with and usually it is contained. But not today. Because nothing is easy today. I decided to make a giant gingerbread cookie for Bigs’ class tomorrow and the dough (used boxed mix) became so sticky that there almost wasn’t enough for the gingerbread pan. Most of it was on my hand because I had to wet them and pat down the dough to coax it to Gingy’s appendages. Appetizing.

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We lost a piece from the hat of Bigs and Smalls’ new nutcracker decoration and for sure my dog will eat it. Or Smalls will. And get sick. She (the dog) and he (the baby) alway finds the lost pieces of things…with her and his mouth. I also had the baby gate up to my room and rushed into there, thinking it wasn’t there and totally took a spill. Like, the hardest spill of my life. I just had to lay there in this awkward position I landed in for a few minutes after falling. I wasn’t even sure what to do with my broken self. It really stunned me. And it was so offensive. That dang gate. My outfit choice today (totally my fault) makes me look like an actual sumo wrestler. I walked out of the room for one teeny second and I came back in to see Smalls standing on the dining room table holding (and about to chuck!) one of my Christmas village houses that I have as a centerpiece.  I folded up my stroller and put it away in my trunk with a piece of pizza in the bottom of it (don’t even ask) and a lady yelled at me and tried to run me over with her motorized cart, while we were out and about. And I made chili and put it in the crock pot this morning and accidentally used the can of tomatoes and spicy green chilis so the entire thing was going to be spicy. The small hope I had that Bigs and Smalls would even eat this meal went right out the window! And not to mention, well, to mention, my husband’s new GI health issues cannot handle spice, as he used to be able to. So. It’s jus’ me and my HUGE pot of chili. Just the two of us. And Bigs has been telling me that ALL he wants for Christmas is a bouncy carrot toy. I have no idea what this is. Quite frankly, HE has no idea what that is. When I ask questions (do they have one of these and school or church or does a friend have one), I get no response. Santa??? Are you there? It’s me, Kristin. Help me help YOU help me!! What is this bouncy carrot? I need it. Today. Or at least before Christmas. But sooner would ease my anxiety.

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Bigs’ letter to Santa, asking for a bouncy carrot.

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Smalls’ letter to Santa, asking for… ?? 🙂

Today is of the hot mess sort. I’m what’s called “done” for today.

I’ll say it – it’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Things can only get better.  Right?? Right!!

My day did get better. Naps helped. I watched The Holiday while the boys slept and that ALWAYS puts me in a good mood. And I finished Bigs’ big gingerbread cookie. Here’s how he turned out. I think he’s pretty cute.

Gingerbread Boy Cookie

That is one big cookie! It’s a HUGE pan (larger than the standard cookie sheet). I’d say the gingy is about 12 inches or so. I hope they enjoy their surprise!

And Duncan was here again!

Elf on a Shelf Day 4

The little rascal is sitting in a bowl of mini marshmallows and is decorating my gumdrop tree and stringing up the marshmallows. Sweet-toofed elf.

Annnnnd, here’s the dumb chili that I’ll be the only one eating for eighty weeks. I browned ground beef with some celery, light salt, pepper, chili powder and onion powder (Out of actual onions…because even though I went to two different stores to get the supplies for this mess since I forgot all the supplies on my first trip, I didn’t get onions. Just because having them would make life too perfect.). I drained the beef and added a packet of no-salt (Hubs watches sodium intake) chili seasoning. I added a can of stewed tomatoes with green chili (unfortunately for my kids), a can of kidney beans and a can of northern beans (all drained). I dumped this all back into the crock pot and kept it on low all day. I served over brown rice. And for 75% of my family, I just served rice, no chili. :/

Chili

I realize my “problems” could be worse. And some days they are. I just needed to get my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day off my chest. Hoping for a much better day tomorrow.

Blessings,

Kristin