Our Style Cookies

Cookies! Grandkids! They just seem to go together, don’t they?

We did a remodel of our kitchen some years back. Back when we had only one grandchild. (Now we have eight!) One of the must have features that I insisted on was a big island with a large countertop space. I wanted it for making cookies with my grandkids, among other things.

That rolling pin is the one I used with my mother when we made cookies together. Now I am using it with my grandkids. Love!

Well, let me tell you. This island has proven to be priceless for making memories. So many memories!

I love a good cookie recipe just like any baking gramma. But time can sometimes be a problem. Its nice to be able to be spontanious when one of the grandkids says, “Gramma, can we make cookies?” I like to be able to say, “Of course we can!” as often as possible. Isn’t that what a gramma does?!?

That is why I always, always have this Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix in my pantry. My “A” type personality shudders at using a pre-made mix for cookies. But the “B” that I am striving to embrace loves this! Really easy. Super fun. And  a very tasty cookie to boot.

I also found a great recipe for icing to use to decorate them. Yay Pinterest!  What did we ever do before it? You can find it here. Its a great recipe because it uses just three ingredients that I always have on hand. Powered sugar, light corn syrup, and almond extract. This frosting is easy to tint any color the kids want and it looks so pretty when it dries. Glossy and bright!

I am always on the lookout for cute cookie cutters to add to my collection but truthfully, the kids like the simplest the best. Can’t go wrong with a circle or a heart.

And the sprinkles! Oh my. So many to choose from and so many fun ones are available at stores now. Not your grandma’s sprinkles. We are talking princess sprinkles, hearts, confetti, superhero bling, sanding sugar. The possibilities are endless.

The kids cut them out, ice them, and decorate with the sprinkles on their own. I love seeing their creations. I’m sure it is good somehow educationally – tactile, sensory, creativity – but that is not for me to worry about. I just want to see them have fun!

Honestly, this is such a fun activity and only takes about an hour tops! So in the time it takes for their parents to go see a movie you can make these, munch on a few with a glass of milk or cup of coffee, spend quality time with your grandchild, and make a memory. Win/win – for you, the grandkids, and their parents!

PS – I always send the cookies home with the grandkids. They are too tempting to keep around the Hubs and I. They are that good!

 

 

Asparagus Bacon Breakfast Bites

I am not a big breakfast fan. I love breakfast food but I do not like to eat first thing in the morning. Give me two cups of good black coffee to slowly enjoy and I am happy. There might have been times that it’s noon and I forgot to eat! So, so many things bad about that. I know!!!

I think I have found one solution. I have been making these little breakfast bite/muffin things for the last few weeks and they are really good and super easy to make. I can pop one or two in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so to reheat and it’s good to go. They also store well in the fridge for 4 days.

Super fresh ingredients

They are lo carb (2 g.) and have a good amount of protein (18 g.). The Hubs and I are trying cut carbs since we have been home from Kauai. He is a type II diabetic and I am a carbaholic!  I am trying to have healthy food available for us that is easy and quick. These are a win/win.

Choose your own fillings!

You can easily adjust this to add any thing that you have in your fridge. Veggies, cheese, proteins. Anything your taste desires. I did them with broccoli, mushrooms and shredded Mexican cheese last week. They were good but needed some punch. I used Tapatío on them after heating up. Perfect!

Ready for the oven

Let me know if you make them and any flavor combos you tried.

Little breakfast reminder for me!

Asparagus Bacon Breakfast Bites

Makes 12 muffin/bites

Serving size: 2 muffins/bites

Ingredients:

15 eggs – lightly beaten

10 uncooked asparagus spears – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

3 slices of bacon – cooked and chopped

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.

Distribute chopped asparagus and chopped bacon evenly between each muffin tin.

Pour beaten eggs evenly into each muffin tin and top each one with 1 tablespoon of the parmesan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked through.

215 calories per serving (2 muffins)

6 WW Plus points per serving

 

Love Letters

This!

I walked out to my mailbox the other day and this was waiting for me. I cannot even begin to tell you how much joy this brought. What gramma wouldn’t love getting this?

Now, mind you, this grandchild lives  three miles away from me and I see him at least twice a week. And yet, he mailed me a letter.

Letter writing seems to be a thing of the past. Email, texting, FaceTime, or a phone call is the way of the world now. But….. there is just something about a letter.

One of the things that I have done with all of my grandkids is to encourage letter writing. When I am watching them at my house we will get out the paper, markers and stickers and write a letter to their mom and dad. We also write letters to Santa and to their Elf on the Shelf.

When they are too little to write I will let them dictate what they want to say and I write it down for them. Word for word! So fun to see what comes out of their little mouths. As they are able to write their alphabet I write what they dictate on a separate piece of paper and they copy it on to their’s. Of course there comes the time that they are able to write their own letters.

They love folding them up, putting them in the envelope, addressing the envelope and putting the stamp on. Then it is time to walk out to the mailbox and put it in. They love raising the red flag on the mailbox so that the mail carrier knows that there is a letter waiting to be picked up.

I also send cards and letters to them. When the hubs and I are traveling we always send postcards to the grandkids from the places we are visiting. It is fun to find just the right postcard for each grandchild. Animals for the little ones, retro for the older ones, funny for the tweens.

A letter written or received is always a good thing!

How about you? Do you encourage the “lost art” of letter writing?

The Tastes of Kauai

After ten days on Kauai by ourselves, the hubs and I were ready for some company. Our son, daughter-in-love and their two kids (ages 5 and 7) arrived and the trip completely changed from a romantic getaway to a fun filled family vacation.

Snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, swimming, hanging at the beach, playing games and of course eating were all on the schedule.

My son and DIL are experts at finding the best eats wherever they are. They were on TripAdvisor just as soon as they landed and mapped out some places that we NEEDED to try! Some of our favorites were The Fresh Shave, Fresh Bite Kauai, Kalalea Juice Hale, Duane’s Ono Char-Burger, Da Crack, Kealia Poke, Trucking Delicious and NOM Kauai.

The Fresh Shave was amazing. Everything was organic, natural and fresh. Great menu of flavors combos. My favorite was the Dirt Squirrel – cold brewed coffee, cream and sugar. The Caterpillar was a favorite of the kids – orange and creamsicle topped with fresh oranges and sweet cream. YUM.

The acai bowls at Kalahea Juice Hale were so so good and fresh. We told the kids it was purple ice cream and they loved it! It’s purple. It has coconut milk. And it’s frozen. Ice cream. Right?

Yummy acai bowls at Kalalea Juice Hale

I had the Power Salad with added seared ahi at NOM Kauai. It was a large portion and the perfect lo-carb lunch.

NOM Kauai

We bought burgers and fries at Duane’s Ono Char Burgers more than once and took them to the beach for the gang. Good, messy, perfect!

Menu at Duane’s Ono Char Burger

Da Crack was a little family owned hole-in-the wall place over by Poipu. You can pick a burrito, bowl or taco and then you choose your protein, ricin’s and beans, salsa and topping. I had the tacos and they were excellent. And, once again, fresh!

Trucking Delicious in Hanalei serves awesome coconut shrimp and delicious plate lunches. The order of  pork and cabbage fed me for three meals!

One thing that I appreciated about this trip was how easy it was to get good food in Hawaii and not spend a total fortune. Yay for food trucks and hole-in the wall joints! Check out our favorite places to grab a bite on Kauai and enjoy.

Aloha!

Lego® Batman Sets – A Hit With the Grandkids

                 

I love Lego®. All three of my boys loved playing with them when they were young. Truthfully, I think that the two who have kids still enjoy helping their little ones assemble the sets.

The Hubs and I took our two youngest grandkids to Costco recently. Now really, who takes their grandkids to Costco and DOESN’T come home with a little something extra in their cart that the kids found to buy? No one I know!

Our 5 year old granddaughter perused the books, dresses, and toys seeing what was available that day at her “favorite” store. Our 7 year old grandson, on the other hand, walked in, saw the Lego® Batman sets and knew just what he wanted. He chose the Mr. Freeze Ice Attack set.

Our little princess had three different things in the cart that she was trying to decide on. Wonder where she gets that from! Then she saw her brother’s choice and decided that was what she wanted as well. We went back to the Lego® display and she was excited to see that there was a Catwoman Catcycle Chase set. That did it. Everything else went back on the shelves.

Let me tell you. They had a great time assembling and playing with these. The older one helped his younger sister build hers. Even the Hubs and I got in on the assembly. Ok, I admit, I sat nearby and read while Grandpa was helping. But I was there for moral support and super tough Lego® related questions!

It was fun to see them working together to assemble the sets and to also see them playing together with them. I loved watching their interaction with each other while they were playing.

The sets were around $15 each which I felt was a great price for the amount of pieces in each and the size of the completed items. My boys played with Lego® sets all the time when they were younger and I have always appreciated  the quality of the Lego® brand. I love that the Lego® brand teaches kids to follow step by step directions while simultaneously inspiring them to design their own creations.

Yay for Costco! Yay for Lego®! Yay for grandkids!

Easy Cheesy Sausage Pumpkin Pasta Bake

 

The hubs plays in a card game every Wednesday night with a group of friends. Everyone brings a snack. Not an assigned one, just what ever anyone feels like bringing. He tells me that there is always a great variety of food each week. So much for my hours of planning who will bring what to family holiday dinners! Maybe next holiday dinner I will tell everyone to bring whatever they want. Could be fun. Maybe. Maybe not so much.

What should he bring to cards this week? Our cupboards were pretty bare as I haven’t had time to do a “big” grocery shopping trip since getting back from our vacation.  Maybe I will do a Costco run today.

I did happen to have two of my most favorite ingredients in the pantry.

DeLallo Whole Wheat pasta and Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin pasta sauce.

Now, I know what you are going to say. “Wait, pumpkin is a Fall ingredient.” Well, I am a rebel. So there.

DeLallo is my favorite brand of whole wheat pasta and the hubs loves these Orecchiette shape. I order it from Amazon because I can’t seem to find this shape in a store here.

I stumbled across the Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin sauce on a trip to Sprouts last fall. Oh my goodness. So so good. It contains pumpkin puree, imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, heavy cream, honey, carrot puree, butter, sea salt, basil, parsley, rosemary, cinnamon, and sage. It also has no preservatives and is gluten free. Bonus recipe for Tuscan Cream of Pumpkin soup on the label.  I went back to Sprouts to buy more and they were all out and didn’t anticipate receiving anymore soon. So, back to Amazon and I ordered 12 jars. Hence the abundance of this in my pantry.

I also had some mozzarella and some Italian sausage in the freezer. So, I threw it all together and came up with this. Turned out great. Desperation (and lack of energy to go shopping) is a great cultivator of creativity!

Easy Cheesy Sausage Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Serves: 8

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:

16 oz. DeLallo Organic Whole Wheat Orecchiette (if you prefer a saucier dish use less pasta)

1 Jar Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin pasta sauce

2 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (save a bit for topping)

1/2 lb. sweet Italian turkey sausage, browned and crumbled

1/4 c. grated Parmesan/Romano cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to directions. I undercooked it just a tad. Brown sausage until crumbly.

Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray. Add a little of the sauce and spread around. Layer pasta, sausage, mozzarella, more sauce ending with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano.

Bake uncovered for approximately 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve immediately.

388 cal per serving

10 WW plus points

Bringing the Aloha Back to SoCal

One of the things that I was looking forward to about our trip to Kauai was being able to cook with island fresh ingredients. That is what made renting a house, rather than staying at a resort, so appealing. A real kitchen! Heaven.

I made a big batch of this pineapple salsa shortly after we arrived. Guys, the pineapples in Hawaii are so big, so fresh, so sweet and so juicy. But you already knew that.

This recipe was a hit with the hubs so I made some more. Then I made more and more! Everyone loved it.

Use it on freshly grilled fish, fish tacos, in salads, or for a fresh new take on chips and salsa. Or, if you are like me, eat it straight from the bowl.

BRING THE ALOHA HOME SALSA

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

Serving size: 1/4 cup

Ingredients:

2 cups diced fresh pineapple (you could probably use canned if fresh is not available, I would just make sure you drain most of the liquid off)

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/4-1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (or leave this out if you are one of those people who when they eat cilantro it tastes like soap, This is a REAL thing!)

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2-3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until served.

Calories per serving: 23

Weight Watcher’s Plus Points: 1

Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

Kauai fun – Just us two

 

 

 

Our first 10 days on Kauai were just for us. This gave us some time to settle in and do some exploring. We rented a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom house in Princeville for the month. It was gorgeous! We quickly unpacked and started our adventures.

One of the first things we looked for was food! We had decided that we were going to eat healthy while we were here. Yeah, that lasted a couple of days. But…the first place we did find was super good for you. No guilt eating here! Take a look at this acia bowl from Kalalea Juice Hale. After convincing the hubs that he would like it we ordered. Amazing! So fresh, healthy and yummy. We ended up making many return visits to this great little place.

We spent time lazing on the beach reading, going for walks and drives, cooking with fresh Hawaiian ingredients and just enjoying each other’s company. The days flew by in a tropical haze.

Fresh homemade pineapple salsa

Since we have been home we have discussed whether it would be better to have our “alone” days at the beginning of the trip, the end of the trip, or split them up. Right now I think we are leaning towards splitting them up a bit.

Next post……. kids and grandkids arrive!

Kauai fun

The hubs and I just got back from an incredible 4 weeks on the beautiful island of Kauai. So. Much. Fun! We had time to ourselves, time with immediate family, time with extended family, kid time and grown up time. In truth, the company you keep changes the entire feel of the trip. It felt like we had 4 different vacations. (Yay for variety!) Oh the logistics of it all!! It took a lot of planning, some schedule changes and lots of Venmo transactions!

Would I do it again? That is a definite YES! Everyone had a blast, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. There was not one single person who did not have a great time. All the family said they want to make it an annual event. We might not be able to do Kauai every year but I sure would love to do something. There is just nothing like having everyone under one roof. We hung out at the beach, ate way too much shave ice, went in search of the best food trucks, played cards, laughed and made memories.

I will give you some of the highlights and suggested beaches, food and fun things to do in later posts. Just wanted to check in and give you a flavor for this blog. Aloha!