Just treats

We had a blast on Halloween, as usual. For the past five years, we've celebrated with our friends with a potluck dinner and trick-or-treating.  

For our contribution this year, we brought mac and cheese for the kiddos and these fun spider cupcakes. 

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L announced around this time last year what she intended to be for Halloween this year. Inspired by her live of ballet and the production of Swan Lake that we saw last Fall, she wanted to be Princess Odette, also known as the white swan.  

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Interestingly enough, I didn't like Halloween as a kid. I was terribly shy, plus I thought it was weird to knock on people's doors and ask for food. Ha! As adult, however, I couldn't live it more. We always have so much fun, especially since being a mom. Already looking forward to next year! 

Dinner for Daddy

In anticipation of What's Cooking Wednesday, and bearing in mind that we have been on sweets overload lately, I wanted to try to come up with a different option. When I mentioned this to B, he suggested lasagna. Brilliant!

Lasagna isn't something I make often, but always love to eat. I also almost never follow a recipe, because I don't know why- I guess it just seems like something that would be easy enough to throw together. But then I always have to sort of wait to see how it turns out. I cooked the ground beef and added store-bought sauce to it to cook on the stove. L helped grate the cheese, and then after I showed her how to do the first layer, she assembled the rest of the lasagna, declaring the process "so fun!"

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Well, it turned out great, and just how I like it- noodley and cheesey (no ricotta!) and a a little bit meaty and saucey. Here's what we did:

Sprinkles Lasagna

  • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 28oz. jar marinara sauce (we used Rao's Marinara)
  • 1 big ball mozzarella cheese, grated
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet, brown ground beef in olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Add marinara sauce. (I also added a little bit of water to the jar after I poured out the sauce to get the rest of the remaining sauce and dumped the saucey water in with the rest.) Stir to combine and let simmer. Grate the cheeses and set aside. Start to assemble the lasagna. Ladle some sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13" dish. Add a layer of (uncooked) noodles. Sprinkle with cheese. Then another layer of noodles, sauce, and cheese. Repeat. When the dish is full, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Enjoy!

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Lucy thoroughly enjoyed assembling the lasagna- it was like a craft project! WIN! It's noteworthy that she doesn't eat lasagna, or any pasta with marinara sauce, for that matter. She is a strictly pasta-with-butter kind of gal. But I was somehow able to convince her to try this, and lo and behold- she liked it! She ate a little bit for lunch, and more for dinner! WIN-WIN! Oh, and B and I liked it, too! WIN-WIN-WIN!

Birthday Eve (aka Father's Day)

In lieu of a big birthday party, we decided we would have a special family day with L the day before her birthday. And then we realized that the day before her birthday was Father's Day. Oops! Lucky for L, she has such an amazing Dad who would be happy to spend his special day doing fun 6 year-old birthday activities.

We started the day off watching Inside Out at the amazing El Capitan Theater. Our extra special treatment today included reserved seating, 'complimentary' snacks, and a special live show preceding the movie. If you haven't seen a movie there yet, but ever have the chance, I highly recommend it- it's such a fun, memorable experience!

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The movie was wonderful! As the case with pretty much all Pixar movies, I cried. But at least I was prepared. ;) Lava, the short film attached to the movie, was also wonderful. And I give it extra points for reminding me of home.

After the movie, we had lunch and then took L to a surprise activity: cupcake decorating at Duff's Cakemix. We were excited to take her there, since she loves to do anything baking-related, and also knows Chef Duff Goldman from one of her favorite shows, The Kid's Baking Championship on the Food Network. I'll have to devote an entire post on Duff's Cakemix, but for now suffice it to say that it's pretty cool! We opted for the cupcake package, which included cupcakes, icing, fondant, toppings of her choosing. She had a blast!

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Happy Father's Day to B, the most wonderful, loving, and devoted husband AND dad. We feel so thankful and lucky that he's ours.

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The perfect summer yummer: no-bake cookies

No-bake cookies are perfect for warm summer days when the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven, yet still want a sweet treat. And/or when your kiddo wants to bake something and you want something pretty simple and not too time consuming, and want to try to use ingredients you already have on hand. This is an easy recipe to assemble, so I let L do almost all of it on her own. She usually does the measuring and some of the mixing when we bake together, but this is the first time she took the lead. I did have to help with the stovetop portion, but she was okay with that. ;) She was excited that I let her pour the vanilla extract.

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They may not be the most beautiful cookies ever, but L enjoyed making them (and got a kick out of the fact that we didn't need to bake them). And they taste delicious!

14/100: Stone fruit season is the best season

I especially love our farmers market during the summer months, when this particular vendor is full of stone fruits. I never knew there were so many different varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots! The pluots are my favorite.

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On any given day, there will be at least 1/2 dozen to a dozen different kinds. It's early in the season and I haven't seen some of my favorites yet, but that just means more to look forward to over the next few months! Yay!

Fun Friday!

Well, our first Fun Friday of the summer is in the books and it certainly lived up to its name. The day started off with L having a breakfast date with one of her best buds (and me with one of mine)! They are so fun to watch together, as they are truly fond of each other- they have the funniest conversations and make each other laugh.

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After breakfast, L was off to a swim lesson, followed by some much needed down time, and then came Fun Friday, part 2: L and cousin time!! She loves her cousins like whoa. They are so amazing with her, and she looks up to them and completely adores them. L was in heaven!

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And if those two things weren't enough, along came a Fun Friday bonus: super cute and yummy omiyage from Baked by Melissa in New York City. I have never seen cupcakes this tiny! And the sprinkles for me: cupcakes with a macaron top- two of my favorite things in one thing! L couldn't wait to try one. And even though she mostly just licks the icing and leaves the cake part (whose child is this??), she gave the cookies & cream cupcakes a thumbs up. :)

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I'm not sure how we'll be able to top this Fun Friday, seeing as this first one involved some of her favorite people, but we'll sure do our best to try.

Potato chip cookies

Let that marinate for a while. I mean, how could potato chips and chocolate chips, in a cookie, ever be anything but delicious? Sweet and salty - the perfect culinary combination! Yes, please!  

L loves potato chips and chocolate chips, so naturally she was excited to bake these cookies.  

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Oddly enough, as much as she loves to bake (and she LOVES to bake), she almost never eats the finished products. She insists on tasting everything as it's being assembled (Cookie dough? Of course! Batter? Heck yeah!) but she doesn't eat most of what we bake. She inherited the baking gene, but seemingly not the eating gene. I don't understand. But whatever, more for the rest of us! We love to share. :)