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

Homemade Lunchables Kindergarten School Lunch (again!)

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I made a homemade Lunchable(s) for tomorrow’s school lunch. I packed plain graham crackers, sliced colby jack cheese, sliced and rolled ham, dried cranberries, pickles, homemade cinnamon applesauce, and a cut up Little Debbie Star Crunch. And just in case you’re wondering…yes, I eat a teeny portion of that Star Crunch each time I cut it.

Kristin

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Kindergarten School Lunch Part II (again)

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My kids told me that they loved their lunches today so much that they wanted the same again for tomorrow. That couldn’t make life any easier for me! I made another pumpkin cream cheese and cinnamon raisin bread sandwich. I also packed cubed colby jack cheese, a little more rolled up ham this time, dried dates, dried cranberries, dried pineapple, snap pea crisps, and a few little pieces of brownie brittle (brilliant).

Almost Friday. It’s almost Friday.

Kristin

Catch Up Lunches

I’m baaack. It’s been a week. My oldest son broke his clavicle at the end of last week. I’ve been so busy with him that a) I’ve made crappy blog-unworthy lunches and b) I haven’t had time to write any posts. Not that you’d want to see them on those lunches anyway. #sorrykids

Here is what I’ve packed for this week so far:

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I made turkey, cheese, and mayo sandwiches on multi-grain bread. I also packed Terra chips, corn (for Bigs), grapes, a Little Debbie pumpkin cupcakes (Bigs), and a few candy corn (Smalls).

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For today’s lunches, I made pumpkin cream cheese and cinnamon raisin bread sandwiches. I also packed cubed colby jack cheese, rolled up ham, grapes, Goldfish crackers, Little Debbie pumpkin cupcake (Bigs), and broccoli (Smalls).

Have a great week!

Kristin

Homemade Lunchables

For tomorrow’s lunch, I made a Lunchables (my inner grammar nerd feels the need for “Lunchables” to be “Lunchable” in this case).

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My kid has been asking for a Lunchable(s) for weeks now. I cut up colby jack cheese and ham (surrrrre, I could have cut the ham into squares, but I’d have ended up wasting some). I also packed Saltines, raisins, applesauce, a mandarin orange, and two red velvet Oreos.

Boo-ya.

I feel like I’d have said that back in the day when eating a Lunchable(s).

Kristin

Kebab VPK School Lunch

It’s kebabs for lunch for my buddy tomorrow!

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I love giving him kebabs. It’s a great way to cut some carbs and it’s a fun way to serve lunch. I found mini skewers at my Publix. I used Applegate Naturals ham and cheese on the skewers. I also packed Trader Joe’s honey wheat pretzels, a whole mandarin orange, TJ’s assorted jumbo raisins, an applesauce cup, and an oatmeal cream pie, because #littledebbieforlife.

Happy the-week-is-half-over-day!

Kristin

Raisin’ the Roof!

Happy Tuesday (I hope it is for you, anyways)! This Tuesday was a pretty happy one for me. My Bigs had a great day in school and worked on writing capital “B’s”. I went jogging with my Smalls and there was a breeze (it’s the small things). I made a delicious dinner (my dinner track record of late hasn’t been so great) and I’ll even be sharing one of the recipes soon. I also made a Cinnamon-Raisin Quick Bread (by Lisa Leake, 100 Days of Real Food). It was a happy Tuesday.

Here is my Biggy Bigs’ lunch for tomorrow:

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I cut one slice of the quick bread and sandwiched it with cream cheese. I also packed one slice of ham, rolled up, and some pieces of cheese, seasoned corn, homemade fruit snacks, and some Sun Drops (colored, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds). I am betting my Bigs will love this lunch. I love the colors of it. So cheerful!

The bread was a breeze to make – it’s not named “quick” bread for nothing!

I love 100 Days of Real Food recipes. They are clean and mostly easy. A win-win!

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The house smelled heavenly while this little loaf was baking. Cinnamon and raisins go so well together in taste AND in smell.

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Yum-o.

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If you’ve got an hour, some whole wheat flour, honey, cinnamon and raisins (and a few other basic ingredients), TRY THIS.

There is no white sugar in it – only honey. It’s made with whole wheat. It’s hearty. It’s good hot, cold, or toasted. What’s not to love?

Here’s the recipe:

http://www.parents.com/blogs/food-scoop/2014/09/04/health/100-days-of-real-food-could-you-do-it/?socsrc=pmmfb1409067

Have a blessed Wednesday!

Kristin

Gettin’ ham ‘n’ cheesy with it!

My Bigs had a great first day in VPK! And guess what? He ate his whole lunch! Every crumb! I think making raccoon masks and spelling works up an appetite. I know it does for me. For tomorrow’s lunch, I made him a ham and cheese sammy.

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I found Martin’s whole wheat mini potato rolls at Publix when I last went. I hadn’t seen those before, in mini-size or in whole wheat! I put Applegate Naturals ham and provolone cheese on it, with a light smear of mayonnaise. I put a flamingo pick in his sandwich, for fun. His class mascot is a flamingo – I couldn’t believe my his luck! I adore flamingos! I also packed a fruit salad (raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple, and nectarine), Trader Joe’s banana chips, seasoned corn (just a little bit of S&P), and applesauce for dessert. I think he’ll love it. By the way, he told me that the Trader Joe’s pizzas from today’s lunch were “really yummy” and that they were “so good he wants to eat all of them”. I’d call that a positive review!

Have a blessed day!

Kristin

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

– 1 John 5:12

Egg-cellent!

This Easter week and a half have been so busy! I finally got around to starting a post. It’s been filled with lots of good food, lots of Easter eggs (some smashed…will get to that), and lots of fun.

About a week ago, I went to a new to me restaurant. It was one that specialized in rustic Italian food, but with a modern, farm-to-table-esque atmosphere. We sat almost in the kitchen.

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There was focaccia bread and olive oil.

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I ordered a side of polenta, which was creamy with mascarpone, mint, and hazelnuts, and chives. Serious comfort food.

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I almost licked the bowl. I’m serious. You can ask my friends. It was heavenly.

My friend and I shared the Diavolo Pizza (house pepperoni, Italian long peppers, oregano, and ricotta salata).

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Spicy and salty on an earthy crust.

The next day, we had another playdate. This one goes down in the record books. It was a public library showing of “Frozen”, which we had not seen yet. When we first got there, we played while we waited. There were two hamsters that they boys loved looking at, especially Bigs, since he’d learned about mice earlier in the week.

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Then a boatload of kids showed up. There were about 25 kids from various schools and playdates, in addition to our playdate. My boys were good (as long as I was feeding them) for about a half hour. Then things went downhill, as they say. Smalls came up to me and pointed to his bum bum, saying, “Wet!!”. I have no idea how that even happened. I still don’t know if it was pee. I didn’t have a change of shorts, so he rocked his mystery-liquid-soaked shorts. Then he fell off of an adult-sized chair and got a goose-egg on his forehead. And then things were just over. No more “Frozen”. No more library.

We left. Sometimes, you have to know when to fold. That was a folding moment.

We “Let it go”, as Elsa (?? or Anna??) sang.

We walked to a little cafe where we picked up lunch and smoothies. My friend and I shared this:

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The top left is a carrot chicken salad, which was delicious. I loved the addition of carrots. We also had hummus and cukes, falafel with a yogurt dipping sauce, and the most delicious tabbouleh I’d tasted, and some warm pita. That made wet pants and goose-eggs worth it.

The kids ended up having so much more fun at the park than at the movie.

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There is this great, big, old tree in this park that looks downright magical. The boys loved hanging on it and climbing it.

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There was also lots of mud. Mud which must have looked delicious to my Smalls. He can’t resist putting everything in his mouth. This kid.

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He actually ENJOYED his first mud pie! I asked him to stick his tongue out so I could see the extent of his dirtiness. It went way back into his throat. He’ll do it again for sure.

This park is also right by a train station (and the Farmer’s Market we go to).

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My boys LOVE a train. They watched as it pulled into the station, as people disembarked, embarked, and as it left the station, waving the whole time. Choo Choooooooo!

Dinner was ham! Always a good-eating night in our house.

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I glazed it with cherry preserves and served it with marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes and corn.

The next morning was a volunteer day at our church. We packed backpacks for girls who had just been rescued from the Human Trafficking Circuit. I love having my kids learn to serve others.

That night, we took them to the grand opening of a new gelati/ice cream shop that opened right by our house. We love this place and used to travel 25 minutes to get to it. Now it’s only five. Yippee!

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The boys shared a sugar free sour apple and tangerine mixed with vanilla soft serve, my husband got pina colada, and I got salted caramel and raspberry mixed with vanilla soft serve. Yum yum.

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Then the boys played in the yard until bedtime. Smalls is really good at doing somersaults. Bigs is too now, but he wasn’t as much so when he was Small’s age. So Smalls does them everywhere – concrete, grass, whatever. That’s probably why he has a black eye right now, poor fella. I’d prefer him to do it on grass.

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Peekaboo!

On Sunday, after church, I made a one-bowl chocolate cake for my Mom group the next day. It was easy to put together and delicious! I’ve used this recipe before and it always comes together this easily.

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I had to add my trademark sprinkles, of course. 🙂

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Dat icing.

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Mmm yes.

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Fudgy, dense, moist chocolate cake with a rich, cocoa-y, fluffy, chocolate buttercream.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/06/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-made-from-scratch.html

It was a hit with my church group. I brought only two teeny pieces left. And it fed a lot – it was a 9×13 pan.

On Tuesday morning, my wonderful neighbor brought me some Jewish pastries from a local bakery.

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She got me three different kinds of hamentashen – raspberry, apricot, and prune. All three were delicious, but one flavor stood out to me. The raspberry was incredible! She also gave me a cream cheese roll and a nut bun. All delicious! Food gifts are the best!

That was a nice treat after taking my boys to their first swim lessons of the season (and Smalls first ever swim lesson). They are four times a week for about six weeks.

Tuesday night, my husband had a doctor’s appointment after work. It also happened to be Family Night at Chik-Fil-A…with goats. And bunnies. And ducks. And chickens and roosters, too. And an egg hunt! Yes please! Anything to get me from dinner time to bath time, when I’m by myself with the kids, I’ll do!

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This brings me to the Easter egg hunt. Smalls and Bigs were the only ones in the hunt area at that exact moment. Each kid was allowed to pick up 10 eggs. Well. Smalls stomped (with gusto) on about 14. Not a gentle tap of the shoe, but like a ground-shaking sort of stomp. The type that breaks eggs. :/ At least he wasn’t doing that to the animals. I should be thankful.

He continued the stomping habit when Bigs brought some hard boiled eggs he’d dyed at school. I had his little basket on the hood of my truck and the wind knocked it over and everything fell out and Smalls zeroed in on the eggs stomping them to their sad demise.

On Wednesday, we met one of my oldest friends at a “fancy” mall in between each of our houses. She also came bearing a food gift:

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Sesame balls (if you know me at all, you know my obsession!), shrimp chips, some rice candy, Pockey, and Hello Panda treats! All from my favorite Asian grocery!

Food gifts are the best! Did I already say that? 😉

For me, the best kind of Easter basket is the one filled with giant sesame balls.

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🙂

If you’ve not tried a sesame ball, I encourage…implore you to try one. And then let me know if you like them!

For lunch, I had a salad from a vegetarian Mediterranean place.

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Loads of veggies, lettuce, spinach, beets, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cous cous, cabbage, garlic, and cilantro. My kind of salad!

Thursday, after swim lessons and dropping Bigs off at school, I made treats for his class. His wonderful teacher asked me to make something Easter-y. I love love being asked to make stuff!

I decided to go with gluten-free rice krispie treats, shaped to look like little Easter baskets.

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Bigs has a friend in his class who is gluten free so I work closely with her Mom to make sure all the ingredients are free of anything that could cause a reaction. It’s so fun to have a challenge! And a plus is that my husband can eat and leftover treats I make (when also made dairy free).

I made GF rice krispie treats and formed them into cupcake wrappers (Peeps!!) in a cupcake tin. I made a little dip in the center to hold little treats. While those were setting up, I dyed some shredded coconut green to act as the grass.

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I added the “grass” and then some GF jelly beans. They came out so cute! But I knew what would make them even better….

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Don’t Peeps always make stuff better? I’ve found that most people have very strong feelings about Peeps. They either cannot stand them or they are obsessed. I’m obviously in the obsessed camp.

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They were a hit. Mostly. I’d say with confidence that most of the kids thought the coconut was not a good addition to the dessert, as a whole. Sometimes I get too fancy for kids. 🙂 It was a lot of fun making them though!!

For dinner on Thursday, I made steak and homemade macaroni and cheese (husband got brown rice). The macaroni sauce (a basic roux sauce with cheddar added) was extra creamy.

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I served fresh watermelon and pineapple with it. Smalls ate none of it, Bigs ate all of it. It’s always a toss up! I thought it was good.

The boys played in the yard until bedtime again.

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Loving on the neighbor’s dogs

Whew. We are all caught up. I hope you all are having a blessed Holy Friday. Bigs and I have been discussing Jesus and his painful death a lot. He knows that Jesus went through all of that to save us and to give us eternal hope. I hope you know that too.

Be blessed,

Kristin

Hammy Time!

What a week. Seriously. I know I say that all the time, but what a week. Both boys had doctor’s follow up appointments (both better – yay!), both boys had a little kid gym class (they go each week on different days), both boys had a make up little kid gym class (on different days), Bigs had school and one on of those days, I worked in his classroom. And also Smalls got reinfected with pink eye and had another fever night (booooo). But he’s better again. But seriously. Whaaaaat? Why does this keep happening?!

I absolutely love working in Bigs’ classroom. The parents of the kids switch off days, so that every day has a helper parent. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know our kids’ teacher, classroom and procedures and learning itself, and classmates better. I absolutely adore Bigs’ teacher and classmates. He’s expressed that he never wants another teacher again. Just the one he has. 🙂

I showed up to class rocking my donuts. You just might recall how much my Bigs and I love donuts. It’s sort of a thing for us.

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I put on my donut sweatshirt and earrings. And then I remembered that I had a donut necklace.

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So I put that on, too. Because…you can’t just wear SOME of your donut stuff. Sure I looked like Flava Flav a bit. And maybe also a clown. But you know what? The kids (and adults) thought it was a hoot. And I did too. Love donuts. And someday, probably not too far off in the future, my Bigs will be (and I hope he isn’t!!) mortified when I show up like this. I gotta capitalize on him loving my wackiness now.

Tootsies

My feet matched. I try to do that.

It was a blast of a day, hanging out with my big buddy.

So, back when I’d posted about this sweatshirt, I sort of mentioned that it was a Christmas gift to myself and that my husband didn’t know it yet. I’d already purchased it and was going to give it to him to give to me. But sweet Husband took it upon himself to get it for me before knowing I’d already done the dirty work. It was quite a hubbub to return it. So I EXTRA appreciate it!

Besides the boys not taking naps yesterday, which by all scale-of-tiredness-accounts they should have (and I needed one!), it was a lovely day.

I also made a ham dinner. For some odd (and I DO think it’s odd), Bigs’ favorite meat is ham. I feel like kids Bigs’ age (almost 4) would rather chicken. But I’m glad he likes it! Especially because he’s having it for dinner again tonight. 🙂

Hammy Ham Ham

I glazed it with cherry preserves. I also made a cheesy hash brown casserole.

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This is from the copycat recipe for Cracker Barrel. Do you have those near where YOU live? If not, just get off on the next interstate exit and go immediately. That place is so good. For this recipe, it calls for a cream of soup and sour cream. I didn’t have enough sour cream but I DID have a tub of ricotta cheese. I threw that in, hoping it would help make up for my lacking ingredient amounts. It turned out great, you couldn’t even tell.

I also made beans.

Beans

I sautéed a mix of carrots, green beans, and wax beans in coconut oil with whatever seasoning feels right (lemon pepper this time) and freshly grated garlic. I add dried cranberries when it’s almost done. This time, I burned the lot, but it still tasted good. And, oddly enough (my life must be “odd” because I find myself saying this a lot!), this was the only thing Smalls ate last night. He literally turned down cheesy potatoes and frozen yogurt (I froze actual yogurt for the boys to have for dessert) for beans. That kid is something. But I’m glad that if he’s eating anything, it’s beans.

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It was yummy.

Dinner

And like I said, we’re having it again. I love leftovers.

Yummers

Just yes.

Oh yes ham

After such a long few weeks of sickness and not really having the energy to cook, it was really nice to have a homey, comforting meal to eat.

And I love knowing that no matter what happens today, we’ll get that same homey, comforting meal again. And I don’t have to even cook it again.

Have a wonderfully blessed Friday (seriously TGIF!!)

Kristin