Ham & Cheese Kindergarten School Lunch

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For today’s lunch, I went with a yellowish and greenish theme. Okayyyy, so not really, but that is how it turned out, so Imma go with it. I made a ham, cheese, and mayo sandwich. I also packed some dried jack fruit, cotton candy grapes, cheddar sandwich crackers, charred corn, and a teeny bit less than a half cupcake (a GF chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake I’d made over the weekend).

Happy Tuesday!

Kristin

Watermelon Cupcakes

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It’s safe to say I have a lot of obsessions things I’m really into – donuts, flamingos, buttercream frosting, watermelon, the Giant Squid, vintage anything, shoes, matching my boys to each other and also to me, hair dye, thrift stores. I know what I like. And apparently, it’s a bunch of weird and varied things, and I realize that now as I’m typing it out.

Welp, today, we are going to talk watermelons. They are such a fun fruit. I love their colors. I love their sweetness. I love how I can eat a whole melon for a meal and feel super full. I love how they smell. It might just be the raddest mainstream fruit.

You you what else is rad? Mixing watermelons and cupcakes together.

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Oh, yes, boy.

I’ve made watermelon cupcakes before. From a box. They were really yummy and tasted like Jolly Ranchers (which totally make you feel like you’re teeth are being ripped out, one by one, but also it’s totally worth it). But today, I wanted to try another version, one that used real watermelon in the recipe. I also used LorAnn watermelon oil (I found mine on Amazon) to pony up the watermelon flavor. Watermelon Jell-O might also work.

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These cupcakes came out incredibly tender, full of watermelon flavor, and adorable. They would be a perfect addition for a Memorial Day or Fourth of July party. Or for a simple Summer day.

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I used a white cake mix for this recipe because I happened to have one on hand (I keep a few stocked, when I see them on $1 sales at the grocery store), but your favorite standard homemade white cake mix recipe would work well here. If you have a few minutes to spare, sift your cake mix prior to adding the other ingredients. l almost always sift dry ingredients when baking, and especially with boxed mixes. I do this, because I find that if I don’t, the batter is terribly lumpy, and the lumps show up in the finished product. Sifting also makes for an incredibly tender crumb, once baked.

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Watermelon Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from: Mix and Match Mama
Makes: 24 standard cupcakes or 12 standard + 24 mini cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 box of white cake mix
1 1/4 C pureed watermelon, divided
1/2 C oil (vegetable or canola)
4 egg whites (or 12 T liquid egg whites)
1/2 dram LorAnn watermelon oil
*a few drops of pink or red food coloring is optional. if you choose not to use this, as I have, your cupcakes will turn out peachy colored.*
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line your cupcake tins and set aside.
Puree your watermelon. Set aside.
Sift your cake mix into a medium or large bowl. Add one cup of watermelon puree, oil (I used canola), egg whites, and LorAnn watermelon oil. Mix until just combined. If you are using food coloring, add it now. Be careful not to overmix.
Pour batter into your prepared cupcake tins and bake for 18 – 21 minutes. Mine took 18 and I rotated the pans halfway through. Cool for 10 minutes and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C powdered sugar
remaining watermelon puree (1/4 C)
1/2 dram LorAnn watermelon oil
Few drops of pink food coloring
Sprinkles, optional (I found watermelon colored and flavored sprinkles at Publix)
While the cupcakes are cooling, beat butter, remaining watermelon puree, LorAnn watermelon oil, and powdered sugar until combined. Add more watermelon puree or more sugar, if the icing is too thick or too thin, respectively (I actually needed quite a bit more powdered sugar). Beat in food coloring. Frost and decorate your cooled cupcakes.
Store in refrigerator.
Enjoy!
Kristin
Happy Memorial Day! Please remember to thank a Vet or current Military Serviceman or Woman. These incredible, brave souls are such a big reason we enjoy our freedom.

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

Feeling Chipper

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

-Charles M. Schultz

There aren’t quotes galore about chocolate for no reason. Chocolate has a purpose (a big purpose in my life). It adds a lovely sweetness to desserts (and even some savory dishes!) and it is filled (using Italics to show how important this particular fact is) with antioxidants. Obviously, this is why I eat so much of it. It keeps me healthy. I can’t ALWAYS spend my time at the gym, even though it looks like I am there all the time, what with the sweatpants and all.

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Chocolate has a long history…I mean, the Mayans perfected drinking chocolate, something I find myself turning into a verb at every fondue party this side of the Mississippi. I digress. People love chocolate. I love chocolate. It makes us happy. It affects a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is known as an anti-depressant. So, we aren’t crazy – chocolate makes us feel GOOD inside!

Friends are like chocolate to me. More like chocolate chips…because they stud my life with wonderful little morsels….of sweetness, of knowledge, of humor. And you know what’s great about chocolate, besides everything? It comes in so many different ways! Dark, milk, bittersweet, semi-sweet…(white chocolate isn’t real chocolate, don’t even get me started on that. Who am I kidding though, I’d eat it!). Although I am likening my life as a whole to a cookie (sounds legit), I think the true joy lies in the richness I’ve gotten out of my friendships, all so different, like the many types of chocolate I enjoy. I still have my best friend since kindergarten (with whom it’s been discussed, this notion of being each others’ chocolate chips…some things start young!). I have wonderful friends from all facets of my life – the first friends I made after becoming a Mommy and doing “Mommy” things, my church and church group friends, my friends from years past still going strong, old friends with whom I’ve been reconnected, new friends from surprising places, the women in my family and who have become my family through marriage. I am so blessed with friends. My Mom is also one of my best friends. Can you imagine our history? I mean, she’s known me since the beginning (lol). I get and cherish something from each of these friendships and am so grateful for them all. They have all pushed me to be a better version of myself and to go out of my comfort zone constantly (and to a gal with a healthy dose of anxiety, this is life changing).

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

-Linda Grayson

I try to always be the friend with chocolate.

You know what else is life changing? These cupcakes. These Cookie Dough-Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes. You must do them. As soon as humanly possible. Like yesterday. They were THAT good. And you know what else (I sound like my 3 year old)?? There is enough egg-less cookie dough leftover that you can eat it straight from the Tupperware or dip pretzel sticks in it while you watch Real Housewives dress more cupcakes or freeze for emergency snack attacks. If it even makes it that far.

Here is the recipe I used:

http://www.traceysculinaryadventures.com/2013/04/cookie-dough-stuffed-dark-chocolate.html#.UmRTarPMISk

I hope you try them! They are worth the many steps. Let me know how you enjoy them if you do make them.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Keep me sharp, Friends!

Kristin