USA VPK School Lunch

I am incredibly patriotic. I love my country. I love other countries as well. I think that there is much to be learned from all of them, and that it’s incredibly important to learn from them. And I happen to love learning about them and their cultures. I’ve traveled a lot outside of the States and loved every minute of it. But this isn’t about that. This is about my country. I remember being in kindergarten during the Gulf War and learning the words to my favorite “USA” song – “I’m proud to be an American”. I remember singing it with pride and getting goosebumps, even back then, like I still do. This week in school, my Bigs will be learning about Country, State, and Town. I am very excited for him to come home knowing a bit more American history (for the purposes of tomorrow’s lunch).

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I made a PB&J star and added detailing (my vultures boys ate the scraps). I also packed honey wheat pretzel sticks, a mixture of jumbo raisins, white yogurt raisins, and dried cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and Trader Joe’s yogurt star cookies (I used only the white color for this lunch). I used USA-themed cupcake picks and rings for decoration.

Because, ‘Murica.

Kristin

Sweet Week

I was a Baking Fool this past weekend (it’s an official title, of sorts). I needed some new lunchbox treats. That’s always a fun time for me, finding something new to bake. I chose two recipes that I’d had tucked away for some time – Fairy Bites (tiny, little, sprinkle-y shortbread squares) and Campfire Cookies (all the yummy components of s’mores).

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I’ve had these on my radar for a while and I was happy to finally be able to make them. They were so simple and easy to make and came out so cute.

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Lightly almond and super buttery, these cookies are sure to please almost everyone (as long as “everyone” likes lightly almond and super buttery and cookies, and if you don’t, I’m not sure I want to know you)!

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They are so adorably tiny, which makes them perfect for little hands. Or big hands, like mine. Either one.

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I probably definitely should have added more sprinkles.

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But, I am still very happy with the way they came out.  These are great lunchbox treats and would be so precious at a little tea party (which my boys would straight up annihilate, so I’ll be sticking with serving these in lunchboxes for them and eating directly from the cookie jar for me).

http://pinkpiccadillypastries.blogspot.com/2014/02/fairy-bites.html

Needing something with chocolate??

Me too. Always.

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I had also been wanting to make these Campfire Cookies for a long time. I LOVE s’mores. We have a life-long love affair, me and s’mores. And when the opportunity arises to eat them deconstructed or reconstructed, I’m in.

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These hearty cookies are made with both flour and graham cracker crumbs.

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They are chock full of Hershey’s milk chocolate and mini marshmallows.

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They were so ooey and gooey and melty, fresh out of the oven.

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I highly recommend these.

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/gooey-smores-cookies.html#_a5y_p=1384098

And continuing with the “sweet” theme, for Tuesday’s lunch…

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I packed a heart-shaped ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich, colby jack cheese, assorted raisins (LOVE Trader Joe’s raisins), strawberries, blueberries, and one Campfire Cookie.

Enjoy!

Cookies for Santa (and Mrs. Claus!)

Christmas is almost here! Do you know what you’ll be putting out for Santa to enjoy? I’ve got two very easy recipe for you, should you need them (and don’t we all need extra cookies recipes in our repertoire?).

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The first cookie could not be any easier! I’m sure you’ve tried these at least once in your life. They are no-bake chocolate, oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies. The best of everything!

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 C sugar

4 T cocoa (using dark cocoa really changes the flavor and makes them so decadent!)

1/2 C butter (1 stick)

1/2 C milk (I used coconut milk)

1 C peanut butter

1 T vanilla

3 C oatmeal

Bring sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk to a boil. Let it boil for about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and oatmeal. Drop spoonfuls onto a prepared sheet pan (waxed paper or Silpat). Let them cool and harden (you can do this in the refrigerator).

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They are as equally good freshly plopped onto the pan…

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…as they are from the refrigerator or freezer.

The second cookie is not as easy, because it is a baked cookie, but is equally delicious and completely customizable.

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They are a basic brown sugar cookie with chocolate chips, M&M’s, and sprinkles. All in Christmas colors! I think Santa will be back for seconds (if you ask me, and I would know, wink wink).

Santa’s Chocolate Chip, M&M’s, and Sprinkle Cookies

Recipe adapted from: “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie”, http://www.dinnersdishesanddesserts.com

3/4 C softened butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C sugar

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1 T vanilla bean paste

2 C flour

2 t cornstarch

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 C chocolate chips

3/4 C M&M’s (I picked out the red and green ones)

1/4 C sprinkles (I used Christmas colors)

Cream butter and both sugars together, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and vanilla bean paste. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, M&M’s, and sprinkles.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes. I covered it, and left it in the fridge overnight. I had to let it thaw a bit before baking. Chilling the dough makes for a thicker cookie.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop out dough. I rolled mine into balls. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on the sheet pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

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These were just a really fun take on the classic chocolate chip cookie, which goes over well with almost everyone I know. And to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know you if a chocolate chip cookie doesn’t go over well with you. #nooffense #moreforme

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My boys loved helping with these, especially knowing that “Santa” would be enjoying them (and indeed SHE will). They dumped in all the chocolate and sprinkles.

Enjoy! Only a few days left to get your baking on!

Kristin (aka Mrs. Claus, aka Cookie Queen)

Fluffy Speculoos Cookies with Fruit & Nuts

Have you started your Christmas cookie list yet? I haven’t either. But I made some cookies tonight that might end up on it! My sons’ school is having a Thanksgiving feast for the teachers tomorrow and my contribution is cookies. They don’t want anything I’d have to cook. It works out much better this way.

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I found a recipe on a food blog that I follow and tweaked it a little bit for the ingredients I had (incidentally, I didn’t have brown sugar on hand and had to make some from scratch), and also made some additions. These are so easy to whip together. They only use one bowl! Those are my favorite kinds of desserts. I hope you try them and love them.

Fluffy Speculoos Cookies with Fruit & Nuts

Recipe adapted from: Biscoff Cloud Cookies, Cookies and Cups

http://cookiesandcups.com/biscoff-cloud-cookies/

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup creamy Speculoos Spread (Trader Joe’s answer to Biscoff)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup mixed nuts and fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, pistachios, and almonds)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cream together the butter, Speculoos and both sugars for about 2 minutes with a stand or hand held mixer.
  4. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add in salt, cornstarch and cinnamon and mix until combined.
  6. Add in flour and mix on low, until combined.
  7. Add in your nuts and dried fruit mixture. Only stir until incorporated.
  8. Use your cookie scoop (or spoons) to drop onto prepared sheet. These cookies won’t spread.
  9. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden. Cool on cookie rack.

These are SO easy, so festive, and even more importantly, delicious. You can customize them for any holiday, as well. The Speculoos spread (or Biscoff) is filled with a buttery, almost caramelized flavor, complementing chocolate, dried fruit, or nuts.

Give them a try!

Blessings,

Kristin

It’s the end of the week as we know it (and I feel fiiiine)

It’s in your head now. Right? You’re welcome. R.E.M. rocks! Do people say “rocks” anymore? Do young people say “rocks” anymore? I wouldn’t know.

So, the end of the week is here (yay). It’s been such a crazy week. I haven’t even had a second. But now I do. So, I’m taking my second to show you food.

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Bigs’ Wednesday lunch was a breakfast theme! I packed a pancake “sandwich”, made with two gluten and dairy free pancakes, peanut butter, and honey. I also packed one slice of turkey bacon, cut up, some assorted raisins (Trader Joe’s big bag of assorted raisins ROCKS [#cantstopwontstop #imold]), a colby jack cheese slice, an orange, and granola (Trader Joe’s again).

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Bigs’ Thursday lunch was another turkey lunch (this time with ham and cheese!). I used my Food Writers and a turkey cookie cutter to make him so cute (if I can say so myself). His hay bale is crusts. I also packed grapes and applesauce. Bigs told me he was “staaaaarving” after eating this, so I made sure to pack more tonight for Friday’s lunch.

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So. For Bigs’ lunch tomorrow (Friday), I was sure to pack more food. I went with a Fallish squirrel theme. I made a ham and cheese sandwich, shaped like a squirrel. I used my Food Writers for his eye detail and cut out a little piece of fruit leather in the shape of an acorn. I also packed pretzels, seasoned corn, grapes and pineapple, an organic yogurt squeezy thing, and Trader Joe’s ginger cookies for dessert.

He’s going to go nuts! Get it? I love a pun.

And for my Smalls’ lunch today, I packed a Mickey Mouse(ish) lunch. And to prove it, here’s a blurry picture:

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Three baby Mickey Mouse shaped PB&J’s, some organic Trader Joe’s PB crackers, grapes, and TJ’s school house letter cookies. He ate all the grapes this time!

I also made Thanksgiving this week! I don’t think you can have it enough. I made a meal for a friend and doubled so my family could enjoy it too!

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I can’t wait for the REAL Thanksgiving! It’s going to be the bomb! (Do they say “bomb” anymore? Or is that done-zo?) For us, I made gluten free Turkey and Sage Meatballs.

Turkey and Sage Meatballs

1 lb (ish) ground turkey

1/2 C gluten free breadcrumbs

1 egg

S&P

1 1/2 t of ground sage or poultry seasoning

Mix together, roll into balls, place on greased pan, bake for 30 – 45 minutes (depending on size of meatballs) at 350F.

I covered our meatballs with a homemade cranberry orange sauce.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 C fresh or frozen cranberries

1/4 C frozen orange concentrate

1/3 C water

1 T sugar

1 packet of plain (unflavored) gelatin

Place all ingredients, except for gelatin, in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the gelatin and simmer until thick.

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Roasted turkey breast for my friend. I seasoned it with S&P, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, and olive oil. I roasted it according to directions.

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I made green bean casserole, all of which I could have eaten by myself. I love it.

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I made sweet potato casserole. I didn’t have marshmallows, but I DID have marshmallow fluff. And being the resourceful woman that I am, I swirled that ooey gooey fluffy goodness around in the sweet potatoes and it came out just fine.

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I made cheesy corn and cornbread casserole.

http://jareskepinterestrecipes.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/corn-casserole/

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I made my first ever pumpkin pie (weird that it’s my first!). I used a basic recipe. And I overdid it. But I love my friend, she didn’t even care.

And lastly, I made an old fashioned Cranberry Fluff Salad. I took a picture, but it looked awful. Like bad awful. But it was good. SO good. I am on the molded and gelatin based salad train. Doesn’t that sound like a gross train to be on? It’s not. It’s amazing. If you like that sort of stuff. Which I do. I DID have to change the recipe, due to my lack of marshmallows. Again, I used the fluff. I thought it might work since that IS one of the names in the recipe. And it DID work, maybe not as successfully as marshmallows would have, but it was still really good!

http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/cranberry-fluff/

Do it. That could be your Thanksgiving, right there.

Have a BLESSED end to your week! We are ending our week right with our church/school’s Fall Festival tomorrow night! It’s going to rock!!

Blessings,

Kristin

Friday Re-do

Last night, in our parenting class, we talked about the 5 Love Languages. Do you know yours? Do you know your kid’s love language? I’ll be taking the tests to find out what love language I am (although I think I already know) and which one each of my kids have (I have an idea about my 4 year old). I think it will help me understand them better and help me communicate to them on a level that they get, that they need. This parenting course (Danny Silk’s Loving on Purpose) has been life-changing for me. Understanding their love languages will also help me find appropriate repercussions for their misguided actions. I’m so encouraged by this course, the teachings, and the wonderful teachers. It has been so refreshing for me as a parent, which I needed. This parenting thing is hard. With the encouragement of other seasoned parents, it’s given me an entirely new perspective on things, what I’ve done wrong, how I can strengthen myself as a parent, and also my bond with each of my boys.

Since yesterday was such a rushed day (I was Helper Parent at the Co-op and we had our wonderful parenting class), I had to make a hurried lunch for my Bigs.

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It was basic. And that word, when applied to this lunch, makes me giggle. I packed a PB&J (square HA!), goldfish crackers, squeezy fruit applesauce, Trader Joe’s ABC cookies, raisins, and a few PB&J balls I bought on a whim.

Basic.

While I was busy making his lunch (and little Brother’s since we’d be running around all day today), Smalls comes up and takes a HUGE bite out of Bigs’ sandwich.

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I just had to laugh. Smalls will be finishing that sandwich today. 🙂

I usually type my blog posts at night, but I just couldn’t find the time. I’ve got time now…you know why? My truck wouldn’t start. Nope. Not even a little. It choked. I had both boys buckled in, we were ready to go. They wanted their breakfasts (which they were supposed to eat in the car since we were, of course, running short on time). So I’ve got time now, to post this, as we watch Disney Junior TV and await the arrival of AAA to get me a new battery. Oh yes boy, I need a re-do of this day! I am quite grateful, however, that this happened while at home. Best place to be!

Have a BLESSED day and may it be an easy one for you!

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).

Valentines

Have a sweet night!

Kristin

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