Valentine’s Day 2015

Happy Half Off Chocolate Day!  Just kidding, that would be the old cynical me talking.  Yesterday was the big, hearty, red holiday that I used to hate, never missing an opportunity to make a snide comment about the Hallmark Holiday’s origin.

How’d I celebrate this year?  With my kids and my husband doing all things pink, red, and heart shaped.  Naturally.  What?  Who hates Valentine’s Day?  No one, especially not me.

It started with breakfast.  Pink, heart shaped, chocolate chip pancakes.  Did I cover everything cliche in that sentance?  I think so.  Adorable right?

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Pancakes are more or less a staple in my house on the weekends.  These were made with Pomegranate juice and pureed strawberries in lieu of red food coloring to keep them “Ike friendly”.  I just used the combo of fruit juices in place of the water in the “just add water” pancake mix.  And sprinkled in chocolate chips while they cooked on the first side.

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Then there were these gems that I saw on Turn it up Tuesday by Fry Sauce and Grits.

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I made them for the girls.  Ike is still a little small for that amount of sugar (he got enough from the pancakes) so he settled for a balloon.  That he has been dragging around the house since yesterday morning.

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Then we went for an ever so romantic trip to Ikea to buy Ike a kid-sized table and chair.

Later that evening, Isaac and I went to the Melting Pot for dinner, just the two of us.  The cheese and chocolate fondues were both amazing.  I can’t wait to go back.  Then we made a reservation at the ‘lazy boy’ movies (AMC Phipps) for 10:15. I fell asleep at about 8.  So, in conclusion, I totally won Valentine’s Day, but I was much too exhausted to enjoy it.

It’s All Rainbows and Ponies

…Until somebody goes and turns five.   Who?

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Cousin Mei!

When I first met little Mei she was just under 2!  She was shy, and quiet, and she didn’t talk to me for weeks.  Now she’s an incredibly smart, beautiful, and outgoing little girl who will talk your ear off if you let her!  She can run, jump, and play.  She can dance and speak Spanish and Mandarin.  She’s kind and thoughtful and she knows how to cheat at board games and get away with it!  She’s pretty awesome.

Her party was at Catch Air Indoor Playground this past Saturday.  She had a blast.  When we got there she was already pink face and sweaty.

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They played her a special song and Queen Elsa came out and danced with her, if you don’t have a little girl in your life then I should mention, this is a HUGE DEAL!

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Then there was pizza and cake and juice boxes, which my son tried to steal from everyone.  I think it was a thinly veiled excuse to flirt with all the girls.

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Ike had a good time at the playground, eventually.  The changing light and screaming and fast-paced children was a bit overwhelming at first.

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Her theme was My Little Pony with Rainbows.

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I made her a rainbow fruit tray with cloudy vanilla fruit dip.  It went over very well with the children and the adults.  The fruit tray was really easy to put together; but the recipe is below:

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Rainbow Fruit Tray

Strawberries (red)
Cantaloupe (orange)
Pineapple (yellow)
Kiwi (green)
Blueberries (blue)

Dip

one package of cream cheese
1/2 cup yogurt (plain)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar

Whip all ingredients of the dip until well combined.  Arrange fruit in a semi-circle (made infinitely easier using a round platter).  Pipe fruit dip in a loose shape of a cloud and fill in with the back of a spoon.  Easy peasy!

We had a great time enjoying Mei’s birthday party! I think that she did too.

Georgia Style Banana Pudding

Hint: There’s extra richness in it, that makes is Georgian, because just milk and bananas isn’t creamy enough!  There’s also special cookies inside, not a plain old vanilla wafers.

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Start with the usual suspects plus 8oz softened cream cheese (it must be upside down for the recipe to work) and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Line the bottom of a pan (I used 9×13 inch) with cookies.  Then slice up the bananas.

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I used a disposable pan since this dessert is going to my husband’s pot luck, and neither of us are very good about picking up our containers.

Line the cookies with bananas.  And if you are like me add more cookies and more bananas for more YUM!

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Mix two 3.4oz boxes of French Vanilla instant pudding mix with 3 cups of cold milk.

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In a separate bowl beat condensed milk and cream cheese until it’s smooth (it will start out curdly, don’t worry).  Combine the two mixtures and mix until well combined and just divine!

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Fold in a container of Cool Whip (defrosted), and spread the pudding over the cookies and bananas in the pan.

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Top it off with MORE COOKIES!  Also, don’t eat all of the cookies for the top while you are making the pudding.

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Voila!

Honestly, this dessert took me all of about 15 minutes to prepare.  It is always a crowd pleaser.  I would recommend this to anyone that is short on time but big on promises (ME!!).  You can get it done quickly and everyone you serve it to will be full, fat, and happy.

Georgian Banana Pudding

2 3.4oz boxes French Vanilla instant pudding mix
3 cups of cold milk
2 packages of Biscoff cookies
6-7 bananas
8oz frozen Cool Whip (defrosted)
8oz cream cheese, softened
14oz sweetened condensed milk

Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan with cookies, bananas, extra cookies and bananas if desired.  Whisk pudding mix and milk until smooth.  In a separate bowl beat cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth.  Combine pudding and cream cheese mixtures and mix until blended.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Pour pudding mix over the cookie/banana pan.  Top the pudding with remaining cookies.  Refrigerate until served.

It went over quite well at the pot luck. I am told it was the first thing gone.  Apparently some people were not quite ready to say goodbye.

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This is an easy, delicious dessert for all those pot lucks  coming up this holiday season!  It could be made substantially lower calorie with the following swaps:

3 cups SKIM milk
Fat Free sweetened condensed milk
Light Cool Whip
Neufchatel cheese (in place of cream cheese)

Enjoy!

What we’ve been eating lately

We have too much stuff in the freezer.  Most of it is milk for Ike because we leave for the mountains next week.  But there is also a lot of random foods.  I read online all the time about these insanely organized mommas who cook and freeze meals in huge batches and then pull out meals and serve their families with the snap of a finger (or the push of a button on a slow cooker).  We have a lot of food in the freezer, but zero meals.  There’s random slices of awesome bacon from Indiana, a container of amaze-balls shrimp and corn soup from New Orleans, some frozen chicken, three to four different kinds of fish (but only one filet each), lots of frozen corn and peas, some baby food, a package of Trader Joe’s naan, two open bags of tater tots (who even eats tater tots in my house?), and several unmarked bags of beans…Cooked? Uncooked? Red? Chili? Baked? I have no idea…

I had this great post planned to show how I was going to figure out meals based on what we have on hand in the freezer.  To free up some space in there, and to save some money on groceries this week, and just be general awesome and resourceful.  Yeah.  So this is how the week actually ended up.

Monday. We went out to eat to watch the Mexico soccer game.

Tuesday. We went to the food truck park in Smyrna.  Worth it for this pic alone!

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Wednesday. I did make chicken alfredo using veggies from the freezer and chicken from the freezer.  I forgot to take a photo of it though.

Thursday. Defrosted some fish, got tired, made sick husband soup and ate a grilled cheese with a glass of wine (the wine I was supposed to take to a Bachelorette party).

Friday. Bachelorette party finger food-y dinner.  Fam is on their own.  They can eat those tater tots in the freezer, that would help the cause I think.

So ANYWAY, in lieu of posting awesome pictures of creative meals made from things I found in my freezer, here are pictures of what I had planned to make but never got around to it.  (The pictures are most definitely more impressive than what I would have produced anyways).

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Chimichurri Grilled Steak Salad from EatingWell.com

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Southwestern Black Bean, Quinoa and Mango Medley from Skinnytaste.com

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Orzo Power Salad with Salmon, Walnuts, and Greens from ericasrecipes.com

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Mediterranean Chicken Kebab Salad from Skinnytaste.com

 

Right, there’s always next week I guess.  Off I go to buy more wine for the party!