Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's in the Box Wednesday?

It's a special edition of What's in the Box Wednesday!  Today I am reviewing the Cooking with Trader Joe's Easy Lunch Boxes cookbook.  Kelly Lester, the author of this book and creator of the EasyLunchbox System, sent me a digital copy to peruse and try.  The girls and I browsed through the book and they each chose something for me to try in their lunch.  Here's how it turned out!

Caroline chose this cute Sombrero Man lunch with a bean and rice burrito.  And I have to give a shout out to my husband.  I don't have the cutters for this, so he cut everything out by hand with kitchen shears.  Thanks honey!  Isn't this adorable?

Addie chose English Tea Sandwiches.  These sound so good to me.  They are egg salad, avocado, and smoked salmon on gluten free bread.  Addie is pretty adventurous with food and she likes all of these ingredients, but I think it would be just as delicious without the salmon for pickier kids.  You could also use regular bread.  In the small compartments are meringue cookies and chocolate covered prunes.  Here are some photos from the cookbook.  The presentation is lovely and eye-catching and the recipes are easy to follow.  And all of these ideas are not just for kids.  There are some great options for your work lunchbox.

There is not a Trader Joe's anywhere near Northwest Arkansas (hey Trader Joe's, we'd love to have ya!), but that's okay.  You can find ingredients for most of these lunches in a regular grocery store.  And I was happy with the girls' choices.  I was able to try one that was a little more involved, and a super easy one.  All of the recipes in the book are very doable and there are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.  Sometimes it's easy to get in a rut and run out of ideas for school lunches, so there are plenty of great ideas here for inspiration.  For more information about this book and EasyLunchboxes go here.  You can buy the book on Amazon here.  I can't wait to try it out more!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving and Shredded Brussels Sprouts

It's been a fun Thanksgiving weekend so far.  We went to Oklahoma to celebrate with the family.  Wednesday night, Caroline and my great-niece Kiley made cookies.

And here's Kiley's sister Kendall.  She's learning to walk, but she doesn't walk, she runs! 

Thursday morning we had fun prepping food and watching the Macy's parade.  We ate at noon and all of the food was delicious as usual.

Caroline and my great-nephews Samuel and Easton

My sister's pecan pie


Okay, so we like pie...

Mom's dressing.  It's the best.
My sister asked me to make salad and Brussels sprouts.  I made a warm bacon dressing spinach salad.

 For the Brussels sprouts, Mike found a recipe on that he thought might go over better than the regular little cabbage heads.  So I made Shredded Brussels Sprouts.  I modified it just a tad because the original recipe called for pine nuts and I didn't have any.  They were actually very tasty! 

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

1/2 pound sliced bacon
1/4 cup butter
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, shredded ( I used the slicing attachment on my food processor for this)
3 green onions, minced
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook bacon until crisp, drain, and reserve 2 tbls grease, crumble, and set aside.

Melt butter in the pan with the bacon grease over medium heat.  Add the Brussels sprouts and green onions to the pan, season with the salts and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the sprouts are wilted, about 10 - 15 minutes.  Stir in crumbled bacon right before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Easy Potluck Desserts

This past weekend was Mike's annual hunting weekend with his Dad and Brother, so the girls and I went to Oklahoma.  I had a good time overdosing on The Food Network (we don't have cable or satellite), going to Breaking Dawn with my Okie Twilight fans, and having a wiener roast at Mom and Dad's.  Mom had a couple of church dinners to cook for, so I helped with the desserts.  She wanted to keep them quick and easy this time, so we made Dump Cake and Caramel Brownie Trifle.  They were both delicious.  Just make sure your trifle dish is large enough.  Hers was a little smaller than mine, (although much prettier).  I didn't want to miss out on any of the goodness, so I kept trying to squeeze in all the layers and we had some drippage.  Ha.  It all worked out though and it made it to church without any problems.

Dump Cake
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can raspberry pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
2 sticks butter, melted
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Dump the pie fillings in a 9 x 13 pan and stir together.  Sprinkle on the cake mix.  Pour the melted butter on top and sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 for about 50-55 minutes.

Caramel Brownie Trifle

1 recipe Brownies or boxed brownie mix prepared
1 8 oz container whipped topping
2 small boxes chocolate pudding prepared
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 package Heath Toffee bits

Cut the brownies into small pieces and place in the bottom of the trifle dish pressing down to fill gaps.  Spread half of the whipped topping, half of the pudding, half of the caramel topping, and half a bag of toffee bits.  Repeat with another layer and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pancakes and Pajama Birthday Party

Saturday Caroline celebrated her birthday with her friends by having a Pancakes and Pajamas Birthday Party.  I wanted to write more about it, but it's been a busy week, so this will mainly be pictures.

I found these invitations on Etsy.  I thought the little girl looked like Caroline.

Goodie Cereal Bowls.  The bowls have built in straws.

I made these cupcakes from the Hello Cupcake book.  The Ghost book is my favorite.

The table pre-party.

More Goodie Bowls.

Waiting for breakfast.

Birthday Girl

Decorating "Number 6" pancakes made by Daddy.

Happy party guest

Decorating pillowcases

Making Cereal Necklaces

Daddy giving safety instructions.

First swing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's in the Box Wednesday and Birthday Girl

Today Addie's lunch has a Wholly Guacamole snack pack, (I love these myself!), Tostitos multi-grain scoops, strawberries, and slices of roast beef spread with chive and onion cream cheese and rolled up.

Caroline has mustache sandwiches with chicken breast and cheese on whole wheat, smoky bbq Wheat Thins, and red grapes.

Yesterday was my Sweet Caroline's 6th birthday!  She wanted pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries for her birthday dinner.  Mike is the pancake maker.  He makes multi-grain pancakes and maple syrup nearly every Sunday morning before church.  So I got the night off.

She also wanted to go bowling, so that's what we did!

I really just wanted to break 100, but alas, I choked at the end.

Afterwards, we stopped at Starbucks and Caroline had a cake pop and some milk.  I had a Gingerbread Latte. Yum.

And we ended the evening with presents! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Arkansas vs. Tulsa

I went to my first Razorbacks game Saturday since moving here in 2008.  They happened to be playing Tulsa, my Alma Mater.  I had mentioned to my boss awhile back I wanted to go and he got some tickets from one of his buddies who wasn't going to use them.  The kids stayed home with a sitter and Mike's Mom and Sister drove over to go to the game.  His brother-in-law actually played football for TU and was supposed to come but he couldn't make it.  So it was the 3 of us girls in our blue and Mike in red to balance us out.  I told my boss later it was a little intimidating being a speck of blue in a sea of red since we were sitting in Arkansas season ticket seats!  We had a good time though and the weather was great.

I asked Mike if he's participating in No Shave November.  He said, "No, I'm just lazy".

I think the last time I was at a Razorback game was in college when TU played them and I came over with The Sound of the Golden Hurricane, the band.  I was in band all through high school and college.  I had to go to so many football and basketball games all those years, I got my fill of it, which is probably why I don't  make more of an effort to attend sporting events now! Oh, and I can understand why people tailgate with all of their fancy food.  The food inside the stadium is terrible!  The hot dogs are white and taste weird.  Definitely not a ballpark dog!

My favorite part is still the band

The Tulsa Flags

I had more fun watching the people on the big screen than the game.  Rosemary, from the Rincon family blog, and her two cute daughters made it on there!  It was hard to get good pictures of it with my phone though.

It was a fun day.  Maybe we'll try to make it to more games sometime!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Science of Halloween

Yesterday was a busy day.  Addie's school had an apple tasting lab as a part of the Farm to School program and they needed extra hands, so I volunteered.  There were 3 types of apples brought in from local farms, the Gold Rush, the Stellar, and the Arkansas Black.  The kids formed a hypothesis about which apple they thought they would like best and why.  Then the facilitator gave facts about the apples and the kids tasted.  I sliced a lot of apples through 4 science classes.

On the back of the lab sheet where they'd recorded the facts about the apples, they also wrote down notes about the taste, smell, appearance, and texture of the apples.

 Then on the other side was a table to rate the apples from 1-3 on those characteristics.  They added up the columns to conclude which apple was their favorite.  One of the questions of the experiment was to find out if other things besides taste affected their choice.  A lot of the kids initially thought the Arkansas Black would be their favorite.  It really was the prettiest of the 3.  But the Gold Rush, which was kind of spotted and didn't look that appealing, was actually the favorite of many.  It was my favorite!  Very sweet and juicy.  Every time I cut those, I got sprayed in the face!  They'll eventually compile all of the lab sheets from both grades that participated and find out the favorite apple of the entire school.  I enjoy volunteering at the kids' schools.  The kids in Addie's class have changed so much since we moved here in 2008.  I love being greeted by waves and "Hi Mrs. Walker!" when I'm there. 

After school, it was time to get ready for trick or treating.  I made this for supper and it was delicious. I used turkey breakfast sausage and turkey bacon.  After eating, we headed 1 street over for a group neighborhood picture. This is just a sampling of the spooks that were out.

Here's the candy we passed out.  We didn't keep count, but a neighbor down the street tweeted that he counted 224 trick or treaters at his door.

 The girls posed for a few pictures before heading out.