Happy (almost) Halloween 2014!

Tomorrow is Halloween. My boys can’t wait. I asked my Bigs what his favorite part about Halloween was going to be and he said that it was the dressing up, “alllll the caaaannnndyyyy”, and being with us. Bless. It’s going to be a fun night.

Here is his school lunch for tomorrow:

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I made a PB&J ghost and used my black Food Writer and candy eyeballs for decoration. I also packed a few veggie chips, some seasoned corn, two pitted dates (or cockroaches, as my kids call them – perfect for Halloween!), cantaloupe and pineapple, a blueberry yogurt squeezy thing, and a few Halloween candies for dessert (a mini Kit Kat, orange and black chocolate covered sunflower seeds, candy corn). I used cupcake picks and plastic spiders to decorate it all.

And tonight, for dinner, I actually cooked something yummy. Everyone liked it. It’s a recipe I used to make all the time. It’s so easy. And cheesy. And trashy. And naughty. And a little embarrassing.

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I could have eaten the whole pot (almost did, waiting on everyone to get to the dinner table!).

Cheeseburger Pasta:

Serves 1 (HAHA just kidding [sort of])

Pasta of any kind (we used GF)

Ground beef

Ketchup

Mustard

Cheddar Cheese

Pickles

Make. Mix. Eat out of pot. By yourself. In the kitchen.

I told you it was a bit embarrassing.

On a classier note…

I also made a treat for my boys’ teachers for tomorrow. It’s more Christmassy than Halloweeny, but I went with it. I found a recipe for copycat Jason’s Deli gingerbread muffins, after a recent dinner there with my kids. I am ob-sessed with those muffins (and all things gingerbread). These came out just like those! For the teachers, I baked loaves.

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It’s moist, tender, but dense, fragrant, spicy, and sweet. I love it. I’ll be making it a thousand more times.

http://www.thedomesticcurator.com/2013/11/jasons-delis-gingerbread-mini-muffins.html?m=1

I hope you all have a very BLESSED weekend!

Kristin

Hey Mambo, Mambo Italiano! (And a TJ’s Review)

My sweet cousin is in Italy right now. Her pictures look amazing. The food, the landscape, the weather. It all looks incredible. I am, quite sadly, not in Italy right now. But I did try a few frozen Trader Joe’s Italian meals and I’m up for reviewing!

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I tried the Perline Pasta & Proscuitto. They were like little purses. They were ready in minutes and were quite delicious. I couldn’t help but taste them without the sauce. The pasta was firm and held together well. The inside tasted like it had cheese in it, as well as proscuitto. They were delicious. I paired them with TJ’s Party Size Mini Meatballs. Those were also very easy to make. I actually did them in the microwave. They were chewy, but in a good way. They were savory and had a good seasoning to them.

Review Result: Both delicious, great for quick meals.

The second I tried (third, technically, I suppose) was another carb-filled package.

Sue me.

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The Polenta Provencale with Spinach & Peas in a Spicy Cream Sauce. It was frozen, including the sauce. I warmed it up in the microwave and the sauce melted off of the frozen polenta balls, coating all the other yummy bits in the bowl. I had a fleeting thought that it wouldn’t be so good, but after my first bite, I was convinced for the good. The polenta was chewy, yet tender. The spinach, as well as the peas, held their green color and didn’t turn mushy. The sauce was delicious, although not spicy. It was creamy and tangy.

Review Result: Yes! Also a great purchase for a quick meal.

I know pre-packaged, frozen meals aren’t the best for you, but hey, neither is going to Olive Garden and eating eighteen bowls of salad and eleventy six breadsticks.

Not that I’ve done that.

That you know of.

Or that I’ll tell you of.

I am excited to see what else TJ’s has in store (get it?) for me to try!

Kristin

A Pizza my Mind!!

It was Pizza Day in my Bigs’ class yesterday!! You can tell by the number of “!” how excited I was. I am so food-inspired. It’s weird. Anyways, my Bigs was excited too! We love our pizza – OBVIOUSLY. I make a lot of it. We eat it a lot. Even Smalls likes it. And he likes saying it…”Peepoo, peepoo, peepoo!!”. He’s cute.

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Yup.

I made Bigs a pizza-themed lunch, also obviously. It’s what I do.

Pizza Party Themed Preschool Lunch

This one was so much fun to make! I made a pizza-shaped PB&J (this kid and his PB&J’s!!) and used my food-safe spray to make a golden crust and sort of reddish sauce. I cut out fruit leather “pepperoni” (I add the crusts and bread leftovers back into the bento after picture taking – no one wants to see those things), which served as his dessert. I added pretzel chips and real pepperoni so Bigs can make little snack stacks. Is that even a phrase? He also has an applesauce squeezy fruit. I got such a hoot out of making this. I can’t even handle it.

And obviously, we had to dress the part! I can’t help myself!

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Just a red and white striped shirt (my friend, B, let me know that she found Waldo!!) and…PIZZA EARRINGS. I can’t even.

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Food jewelry makes me happy. Is that weird?

Anyways, I painted pizzas on my nails too. Was it too much?

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All the girls in Bigs’ class squealed with delight when I showed these to them. The boys could care less, although Bigs and Smalls liked it, at home!

I do it for the kids. What can I say?

And Bigs dressed the part too (Smalls always matches big Brother, so he had the same shirt on that day too), wearing a shirt with pizzas having a party.

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I know. I know I’m ridiculous. I admit and accept that.

Bigs’ wonderful teacher had really fabulous pizza themed activity centers! And for snack time, each kid got to make their own little English muffin pizza. It was so fun! I loved seeing how different each pizza came out.

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This has sort of been a pizza week for us. I made Pizza Pasta earlier in the week.

I made it up. I mean, I’m sure it’s been done a time or thousand, but I came up with it on the fly, with what I had.

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It basically came out of when dinner time rolled around and I hadn’t thawed anything. And it worked with our pizza theme.

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I mixed spaghetti sauce with teeny pasta shells (GF for Husband), added mini pepperoni, cheese (none for Husband), and olives, only for me.

I served it with peas and apples. It was good and it totally looked like I planned it.

And today, Friday, I made pizza for dinner. Just to “round” out the week.

I used this GF & DF crust mix:

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It’s pretty good. It comes with a packet of yeast, so it’s at least more like a “real” pizza crust.

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This was the pizza for Bigs, Smalls, and me. GF, but with cheese, ham, and pepperoni.

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My husband’s looked a little more pitiful without the cheese and three lonely pepperonis.

But dessert made up for it (it IS Dessert Friday, after all!!)!

I made vegan Chocolate Haystacks.

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This simple recipe consists only of making a quick, vegan chocolate sauce, mixing it with rolled oats, and freezing. That’s it!

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They came together in minutes and were fantastic!

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I think these would make for a really lovely Valentine’s Day dessert.

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Try them! They are so easy and you probably have all the ingredients!

Here is the recipe:

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

My kind of blogger – “Because I like chocolate”…

ANNNNND, since we are on the topic of dessert, my beautiful friend had a birthday yesterday and shared her cupcakes with some of our other beautiful friends. We had a great time and cupcakes are ALWAYS a plus. 🙂

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Aren’t they just gorgeous? I meannnnnn….. I can barely contain myself where there is a cupcake around. Just wonderful.

I hope you all have had a lovely week and that your weekend is just as lovely!

Kristin

Orange you glad?

So, how has your New Year been treating you so far? I’ve discovered (via friend and styling medias), dry shampoo. It’s sort of the answer to some of my dreams. The dreams of sprucing up this under-showered Mommy.

And we’ve been busy. I’ve been terribly busy today catching up on emails (they get dreadfully behind so easily…not that I am that popular, but it does take some catching up) and I had two weeks’ worth of laundry. Yuck. I can’t stand laundry. I started it at 6:30am and as I sit here writing this, at night, I still have huge (clean), folded piles sitting on the dining room table. Mocking me. I am already over it. The house was in complete disarray today, every single toy out. The boys were pink-cheeked from running around the house so much. Suffice it to say, I was certifiably insane by nap time. And maybe refreshed a little afterwards, but still insane.

The boys started off the day very peacefully. I made them breakfast and they, adorably, played with cars while eating.

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Bigs and his dump truck. And his cereal.

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Smalls and his dump truck digger pusher thing IN his cereal.

It was a very, very cold morning and day. The sort where you love staying inside and wearing your jammies and slippers all day. Which we did.

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Smalls

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The boys, still peaceful, played cars and trains for what seemed like forever.

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I enjoyed a cup of coffee (or three) in my new mug from a friend (the sunflower thing on the top is this neat little suction thing that keeps your drink warm – from my Mom-in-law and I love it).

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Smalls enjoyed catching up on books from his reading list.

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Both boys drew pictures and made squeaky noises with their fingers on the condensation-covered front window (Bigs standing on a chair and Smalls standing in my dog’s toy basket).

Life seemed peaceful. All was right in the world. We were in our warm, little cocoon safe from the world’s troubles and frigidity.

But…

I don’t know if Santa didn’t bring them enough things to do, or they read every book (they seemingly have hundreds) they own, but cabin fever set in for them by lunchtime, which incidentally, that was about the time where every toy in life that these boys have were pulled out and scattered all over the house, as if a toy and book store exploded and I was pulling out my hair.

<<Whiny voice>> It’s just so haaaaaaard, waaaaaah!

Okay. Snit over.

I made a pretend ambrosia salad. I’d have preferred a real one, but naturally, did not have all the necessary ingredients. I had also planned on a tropical cous cous salad for lunch, but also lacked ingredients for that as well. Sigh. Tomorrow’s a new day.

I love ambrosia salad (the kind with marshmallows in it). I love how the sour cream and the acid from the pineapple mix together to break down the sugars in the marshmallows, making a creamy sort of sauce.

Well, I didn’t have pineapple. Not fresh, not frozen, not canned.

So. I used both fresh clementines segments and canned mandarin oranges. It was quite…orangey. I also used sour cream, shredded coconut and marshmallows. I didn’t follow any directions or measurements. Should have (lol).

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Desserts and sides I can do (usually). But lately, I’ve been in a real pickle with cooking dinners. I have the occasional good ones, but with my husband’s newly gluten-free and dairy-free diet (due to his Crohn’s), I’ve been a little overwhelmed. I never know if I should switch us all over to GF & DF (which for some things, I’m not okay giving up completely and also our grocery bill will go significantly up) or if I should cook two different meals or if I should have him sort of pick what he wants and have a go himself. Tonight, despite having a lack of energy, I sort of made two meals. I made a ham and pea pasta and used GF pasta for my husband.

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I cubed some ham (from a previous meal) and browned it in a pan with olive oil and fresh garlic. I added some peas and cooking wine and reduced. I put some in with his GF pasta and then the rest in ours. The bottom picture is the steamy ham and pea mixture.

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It was decent. I added tumeric to Hubs’. It’s a spice that is known to alleviate internal inflammation (a side effect of Crohn’s).

I’d rather have eaten this vegetarian salad from a new local eatery that I enjoyed yesterday. It was really good. It was greens with falafel and a lot of other Mediterranean salads on top. I had it with a yogurt sauce, garlic sauce and tahini. And topped with a cilantro sauce.  I want more. It was really heavenly. It is such a shame I am stuck with my own cooking.

Falafel Salad

Anyways, while we ate, Smalls ran around (he only will stay in his high chair for 2 minutes MAX and then scream like a banshee and worm his way out of the straps, soooooo what’s the point of torturing all of us? I’ve found he eats more when not trapped.), standing on my feet (had my legs crossed).

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He balanced on my crossed foot and got all up on the table. This kid is nuts.

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He also played peekaboo. Has anyone seen Smalls?? Such a goofball. 🙂 I love how he “hides”.

And Bigs ate all his noodles because he was promised that ambrosial dessert if he did. I am all for negotiations if needed. Sue me. At least dessert was half fruit.

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Look at these little wonders.

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They were…um…a little less than decent. The marshmallows were able to break down a little, but the pineapple flavor was clearly missing (in my opinion) and for some reason the coconut was hard. Not quite the ambrosial effect I was hoping for.

Sigh.

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Whatever. It still looked pretty. I might pick out all the marshmallows and then I won’t have to chalk it up to a complete loss.

Because he had marshmallows, Bigs went a little berserk. Coo-coo bananas running all over the house. Sigh.

The night ended with the boys doing downward dogs (my poor pup safely out of the way).

Downward Dog Boys

I hope your day was more/less exciting than mine and definitely less chaotic.

Off to put laundry away. Waaaaaaaah.

Kristin