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Inside Out Chocolate Cream Pie

This one has some attitude.

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You see it in her eyes, don’t you? You also see it in the 32 layers of lipgloss, but that’s another worry for another day.

I’ve got a little bit of attitude too.

Just to prepare you, I’m going to whine about not being on vacation anymore, so if you think I’m a big baby and you don’t want to listen to my (absolutely irrational) sob story, just scroll to the bottom for the recipe link.

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You see, last week I was toasting housemade root beer with my family, exactly 14 steps from the beach.

It was pretty rad.

This week I’m anticipating a teensy bit of work drama, plus the grind of packing lunches/get to school on time/no, you may not wear your fairy wings to class. It’s going to be rad stressful.

How do you get out of a bad attitude?

I’ll tell you how.

Chocolate Cream Pie, that’s how.

But what if you’ve been doing laundry piles equal to Mt. Everest and you don’t have time to create the dessert that cures all ails?

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Inside Out Chocolate Cream Pie.

I used this chocolate pudding recipe from Taste of Home, mostly because the recipe called for real chocolate chips, not just cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is for suckers.

While the pudding was chilling in the fridge, I scrounged the pantry for graham crackers. Nothing. I finally came up with an opened package of graham cracker cookies shaped like Scooby Doo dog biscuits. I used about a cup of these, puréed in the food processor with a tablespoon of melted butter. Pressed into the bottom of a pie tin, baked for 10 minutes at 350, it made a delightful crust.

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Luckily, no one else in my family eats whipped cream, so there was enough for me to drown my sorrows.

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This was delicious. You should absolutely try it. If you’re not a chocolate person (why???), you could do banana or coconut or lemon…ooh! Lemon!

I still have an attitude.

Miss Rae is still wearing gobs of sparkly lip gloss.

But thanks to chocolate, I think I’ll survive whatever tomorrow brings.

Homemade Cronuts, the cheaters way

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not on the front line of the trendsetters. This is partially due to the fact that raising children is exhausting and somewhat time consuming. Trend-following is not high on my list of priorities. Also, conversations with 6 year-olds tend to be frustrating.

Example:

J Man: (in reference to a deer shaped stencil) “Is that a deer or a buck?”

Matty B: “Well, a buck is a boy deer. A doe is a girl deer.”

J Man: “So, is that a deer or a buck?”

Matty B: “A buck is a deer, but I don’t know if it’s a buck or a doe because I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.”

J Man: (obviously irritated) “Well, I guess it’s just a deer!”

So…trends. The word on the street is that fringe is trendy in fashion. I should have known this because Aunt B has a fringed bag and she’s always at the peak of trendy. I, on the other hand, have a brown canvas shoulder bag full of sunscreen, fruit snacks, and deer (buck? doe?) stencils.

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Cronuts are trendy. You can get in line in NYC at 4:30 am for the chance to get one. Or you can pay $2469 to have them shipped to you.

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Or you can be a cheater and get one of those cans of croissant dough that pop when you poke them.

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I used this recipe but the instructions are easy enough to remember.

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1. Buy a can of dough.
2. Pop it.
3. Fold the dough over three times.
4. Cut into doughnut shapes.
5. Fry in hot oil.
6. Mix powdered sugar with milk to make a glaze and then drizzle drizzle.

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Note: according to the inventors of the internet, Cronuts have been around since 2013. I’m so behind.

Also, I have nothing fringe.

But these are delicious and super fast and luckily, provide ample time to answer questions regarding deer.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

We’ve been having a lot of conversations about “real” and “pretend”.

This was spurred on by the submarine ride at Disney because my two hated it and sobbed about halfway through, demanding to get off. FYI: if your kids haven’t seen Finding Nemo yet, a dark, enclosed submarine with no chance for escape is not the best place to introduce Nemo’s scary shark villain. In case you were curious.

Our assurances that devil shark was only pretend fell on deaf ears but miraculously the ride ended and Mickey Mouse ice cream bars were eventually procured, so all was well. Since then, however, the concept of pretend has not gone unnoticed.

In following conversations, my children have assigned these characters pretend status:

Mickey Mouse (and all his friends)
Dora the Explorer
Boots (I’m told that he is Dora’s monkey?)
Curious George
The Easter Bunny
Arthur and DW
Brother and Sister Berenstain Bear
The Tooth Fairy

And just this afternoon…

Santa Claus

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Yes, my kids still believed in Santa Claus.

Yes, even J Man, Mr. Logic himself, still believed in Santa.

Yes, this stressed me out.

So this afternoon, J was playing Mario Cart and Miss Rae started in on her questioning.

“Is Mario real or pretend? Is Luigi real or pretend? Is Bowser real or pretend?”

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After determining that they were all pretend, she dropped the bombshell.

“Is Santa Claus real or pretend?”

It was one of those parenting moments that I knew mattered. As much as I wanted the magic of childlike wonder to encircle Christmas forever, how could I bail on the Easter Bunny, yet defend Santa?

“Santa is pretend,” I answered, very nonchalantly. “But at Christmas, people like to dress up like him to make other people happy.”

“Ok,” they both agreed. “Can we have a snack?”

And just like that, Santa is pretend.

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These tortilla chips are absolutely real. I know they’re real because I made them from tortillas. Crazy, huh?

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This is the easiest thing ever and so so worth the extra 5 minutes of work.

1. Preheat the oven to broil.

2. Slice a flour tortilla into wedges.

3. Spread them out on a baking sheet, not touching.

4. Broil for exactly 60 seconds on each side. If you do 65 seconds, they will burn. Watch them like a hawk.

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5. Try to wait 45 seconds before shoving these in your mouth. They will burn you.

I can’t recommend these enough. They’re light and crispy and so delicious. You could sprinkle some garlic salt or taco seasoning on, if you were so inclined.

I like them plain. With avocado, beans, sour cream and salsa.

That’s real.

Carlsbad, CA

The university has a wellness plan for employees. It is a points based system. You get points for exercising, for drinking water, for participating in “healthy” meetings (in which the term “healthy” is apparently debatable as I was in a healthy meeting the other day that offered cupcakes).

Not surprisingly, I’m way over the required number of points for this quarter because I’m already a little bit healthy, and absolutely a lot competitive.

However, there has been one way to accumulate points that (up until now) I haven’t even tried. Go electronic free for one night.

In my world, this feels impossible. Not only do I have this little blog that I like to maintain, but I also have a number of duties for my job that require fairly consistent social media monitoring, etcetera. And honestly, I don’t really want to be electronics free.

And then we went to San Diego/Carlsbad. For 6 days. And not only did I not use electronics (okay, very sparingly), I didn’t even want to. Truth? At Disneyland, I left my phone in the car. All day.

It was absolutely liberating.

The only thing I missed out on was the pictures because I snap all photos with my phone. Luckily, Matty B was around and he takes better pictures than I do anyway.

We went on vacation. I have no proof, other than Matty B’s photos. It was the best.

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Lego Land

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Face Painting

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Disneyland

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Visiting Aunt B at Pannikin (where she works- and she’s not mean- it just looks like it.)

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And the very very very best part: the beach.

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We miss you already, CA!

P.S. I’m totally claiming my wellness points for being electronics free.

Joy

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“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Helen Keller

Five on Friday

1. I’ve gotten pretty lazy in my entertaining. I mean, we’re still inviting friends over, but the exhaustion of life means I’ve lost all pride in presentation.

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Former veggie trays might have been on a plate, or at least separated by vegetable type. Not anymore. Pile of raw veg? Good enough. At least I washed them…

2. A trip is in our future and I’m finally starting to get through to my family.

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Hot Tamales are a travel necessity. Thanks, Matty B! Also, I’ve got enough crayons, stickers, and coloring books for the entire plane.

3. There’s a wolf on the loose!

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WWU’s mascot is a wolf and his head was down in our office for a photo shoot. J Man was visiting me for a few minutes the other day, disappeared, and then returned, channeling “Wally”. Future college student employment?

4. Speaking of colleges, Matty B’s alma mater was in town and we went to their alumni gathering. He snatched a few souvenirs on our way out the door.

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It only hurts my heart a little to see them waving those flags…

5. Miss Rae is smart. Super smart. Unfortunately, she’s growing up with mini-Einstein, so I tend to forget about how brilliant she is. Girl knows all her letters. All of them! I was shocked (I don’t know why- her preschool is awesome).

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Here she is with her favorite letter. Naturally.

WIAW: trying to clean out the fridge

I think I’m pretty good with money. Contrary to what Matty B might say, I believe that I’m fiscally responsible although I want some of those trendy ankle boots. I shop clearance racks and sales. I use coupons when possible. I try not to buy things that we really don’t need (I’m actually kind of terrible at this, but at least I acknowledge that it’s a thing) and I’m all about the hand-me-downs.

In all reality, other than major expenses (mortgage, private tuition, etc.), our biggest expenditure per month is our grocery bill. There’s a reason for this. Actually, there are three:

1. We rarely go out to eat. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it, but our options are somewhat slim and I’ve yet to enjoy a relaxing meal out with our two youngsters. Soon. Just not yet.

2. Sadly, healthy food is expensive. My kids love Granny Smith apples. I bought 5 of them the other day and paid $10. Ridiculous. Do you know how many packets of Ramen you can buy for $10? A lot.

3. I really love grocery shopping. I get inspired to create in the kitchen and sometimes I get to go solo which is sort of wonderful. Naturally, if the grocery store is my happy place, I’m going to spend more money.

With all that being said, even though I don’t mind spending a fair chunk of change at the supermarket, I really don’t like wasting food.

We’re going on vacation. I’m on a mission to eat the food in the fridge/freezer and not go to the store this week. So far, I’m winning.

Breakfast:

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Oats, banana, almond butter, chia seeds, walnuts. Technically, I’m cheating with this meal because the majority of these foods were from the pantry. However, the bananas were looking sad and no one wants a mushy banana plain.

Lunch:

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Some random carrot and celery sticks, two hard boiled eggs and the last yogurt. Obviously I was still hungry after this, so I got a coffee from Dutch Bros. I didn’t take a photo, but the lid message said “I love you” and I believed it.

Dinner:

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Mashed potatoes, frozen peas, some sort of soy meat steak thing and a few leftover mini cornbread muffins.

Dessert:

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A couple cookies from one of those Pinterest-y layered mason jar cookie mixes.

Other than my coffee, I purchased not one thing and only cooked from the kitchen! Success! And all the money I saved can go into my new ankle boots fund, right Matty B?

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