Category Archives: Holiday

Lunches Lately



Am I the only one who feels like Christmas is next week? I’m frantically brainstorming Christmas gift ideas and we haven’t even sliced the Thanksgiving turkey yet. Well, we sliced the ‘Friendsgiving’ Turkey yesterday with a few of our close friends- a new tradition I’m adoring. A gal I love invited a bunch of people over and cooked us a feast complete with homemade cranberry sauce all while keeping a deliciously adorable 3 month old happy. Gabs can barely keep her hands off him. Gah! My baby is 9 months old!


Later this week we are party-hopping to both sides of my family on Thanksgiving Day- the main feast with my husband’s side and then dessert with my side later in the evening. {Who am I kidding- we’re snagging pie at both feasts} it should be a wonderful day of family and focusing on all the good things in our life. It’s my favorite! Loving this idea from Pinterest for when I host my first family Thanksgiving.

I heard somewhere once that lunch is supposed to be the biggest meal of your day- not sure what the science is behind that, but rarely is that the case for me, especially during Thanksgiving week! I like a hearty breakfast and a light lunch usually. Gotta save room sometime. Here’s what I’ve been having for lunch lately:

1. Whole Wheat toast // almond butter // my sister in law’s homemade (&home harvested) pomegranate jelly


2. roasted sweet potato // hummus // low fat cottage cheese20131125-070711.jpg

3. beets // goat cheese // spinach // balsamic  {{ordered this by accident the first day on my honeymoon- then had it daily for lunch!!}}20131125-070602.jpg

4. whole wheat toast // peanut butter // sliced cukes // sliced tomatoes {{ another weird but DELICIOUS combo a friend discovered for me in college}} hey. living on a budget, okay?20131125-070549.jpg5. roasted sweet potatoes // roasted brussel sprouts // crumbled trader joes sausage-less sausage // spicy thai peanut dressing


These are my easy go-to lunches – what are yours? Off to get owned at spin, yet again.



Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs., Holiday, Uncategorized

Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Nutella S’more’s

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I hope today is a lovely day for you regardless of whether you are ‘with someone’ or not! Whichever field you fall in, makes no matter with these s’mores. They’ll love you either way.


I really did make these for my sweetheart of a husband, but there is a litttle bit of me that feels selfish because… well, I just love s’mores so much it’s kind of a gift for both of us. Really, between s’mores and jelly bellies the past two days,  I think I may need an intervention. Baby VS, come take these sweets away from your momma!! But seriously… you can come anytime.





I’m totally in love with how these little treats look! It’s like the cute wife of the big, boxy, brown normal s’more. She’s all chic with Nutella instead of milk chocolate and she’s got that womanly heart-shape of a bod. Mr. Normal S’more didn’t stand a chance! They fell in love and got married. On Valentine’s Day. It’s a true love story of the s’more.


Oh yum. Side note: Excuse the blue band-aid there… totally chopped my thumb the other day when I was making enough chili to feed 30 people with my mom. Colored band-aids have been proven to help owwies heal faster, that’s why I wear them. 🙂

These don’t take long to make at all, in fact it could be a fun little project for little ones to cut out the heart shapes with you! Otherwise, they’re a totally sweet little gift to bring a friend to remind them how much you love them!

Everyone deserves a red velvet nutella s’more.



Red Velvet Nutella S’mores

Adapted from: Something Swanky


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 7 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 tablespoons buttermilk (or 5 TBSP milk mixed with vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp red food coloring
  • Nutella for spreading
  • Marshmallows for roasting (approximately 12)


    1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl.
    2. Mix in the butter cubes, until crumbly.
    3. Mix together the honey, buttermilk, and red food coloring. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.
    4. Roll the dough out onto a well floured surface until it’s about 1/8″ thick. Try to keep the thickness of the dough consistent throughout.
    5. Cut into squares or use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Bake at 350 on a lined cookie sheet for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until hardened (like a normal graham cracker). *** I had to leave mine in for about 10 minutes to get them not so ‘cookie-like’. I also popped them back in the oven at 170 degrees for 30 minutes to crisp them up- they’re definitely more graham cracker-like the next day!
For the S’mores:
  1. Spread Nutella on one cracker and proceed to roast a marshmallow and assemble S’more like normal.

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Filed under Cookies/Bars, Dessert, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs., Holiday, Holiday Baking




Well well well… here we are in 2013! Now that we are a couple days into the New Year, hopefully you have had a few moments to slow down and take a breather after all the holiday festivities! I’m finally taking a break to sit, write, and think about all the things that this new year is going to bring… the chart topper being Baby Vander Schaaf coming in just a few short weeks!! I think its safe to say that this is going to be a GREAT year- despite the upcoming sleepless nights and countless other warnings of ‘New Parenthood’, most of the advice we have received has been more along the lines of, “the best thing you’ll ever experience.” Sounds like a good plan for 2013 to me!


We had a blast for our New Years celebration with a few close friends of ours- we went to Torii, a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant with Jon and Katie to end the year with a bang- highly recommended for a fun evening out! Teppanyaki (for those who don’t know) is the style of cooking where they use an iron griddle to cook your meal right in front of you! If you’re lucky, you’ll even get a chef who will flip the food into your mouth as he cooks. I’m happy to say, you don’t eat your whole meal via the chef tossing it to you- otherwise I would have starved. I only caught 1 out of 4 flips!! Ouch. The group even got persuaded to try sake bombs for the first time! I was fine with my iced tea 😉








After dinner, we drove around a while looking for an open frozen yogurt place. We tried >;;>;;3<;;<;; different froyo places before abandoning our quest for the sweet treat- no place was open!! It seems no one but us thinks that frozen yogurt is necessary on New Year’s Eve!? Sad Panda.


Frozen Yogurt IS going to happen for me and Baby Judah. And soon.


Anyways, fast forward to New Year’s Day, I was able to coax the secret family recipe for Olie Bollen from a dear family friend of ours- which I promptly set to preparing so that we could bring it to a few families who work with Joey on the dairy. Every year, they bring us tamales on Christmas Eve, and we reciprocate by bringing OlieBollen on New Years! Its a sweet deal.


This recipe is absolutely incredible.. it helps that I have mastered the skill of yeast doughs now, too. I made one batch of apple, and one plain for the families on New Years- they turned out awesome! Last year I made them too big and the insides didn’t get cooked all the way. Totes embarrassing. I’m happy to say that this year was a redeeming year for me in the OlieBollen department!


In fact, it was such a great recipe that I made ANOTHER batch this morning to take over to Joey’s family- they just got back from a family vacation to Hawaii late last night and totally missed out on all the fresh Oliebollen! If you’re Dutch, you know that is pretty much like missing Christmas. (The fam went to hawaii to celebrate my in-laws’ 30th anniversary! We were so bummed to stay home, but we decided to be safe and not fly over the ocean this late in the pregnancy)

So we got OlieBollen TWO days in a row. 2013, I love you.


Now, time for a Green Monster and maybe froyo for dinner?



By the way, HAPPY anniversary to K and Curtis! Today marks the third year of marriage for them- they are truly meant for each other and I’m praying that 2013 brings their family yet another year of God’s richest blessings!


Here is the Oliebollen recipe! I got permission to share this with you all, and hope you love it! I know we did.

Dutch Oliebollen

recipe from Ann Jean Vander Veen


2 packages yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup warm water

1 tsp sugar

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

3 TBSP melted butter

3 cups warm milk

6-7 cups flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

3 cups chopped apples, OR 2 cups raisins, OR leave dough plain (choose which flavor you’d like)


Mix together the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a small bowl until the yeast activates and rises. Set aside.

While the yeast is activating, beat together in a separate bowl the eggs, sugar, and melted butter. Once mixed, add in the warm milk and yeast mixture and stir ’til combined.

Then add: 6-7 cups flour (one at a time) stirring until completely mixed in with each cup. Also add the cinnamon & salt. (and the apples/raisins, if desired.)

Mix until combined, then let rise for 3-4 hours. My mom taught me a good trick for a prime ‘yeast-rising’ environment- it has worked for me every single time. Set your oven to preheat to the very lowest setting (my lowest setting is 170 degrees.) Once it has reached 170, turn OFF the oven, let a little of the heat escape, and set your covered bowl of dough inside the lukewarm oven for the duration of time it needs to rise. **You do not need to continually RE-preheat the oven to stay warm!**

Once the dough has risen, heat up vegetable oil in a deep saucepan (or deep fryer) to 350 degrees- once heated, drop by tablespoon into hot oil, turn when browned on one side, and remove and drain on paper towels. It is important to keep the size of the balls smaller- this allows the insides to get cooked all the way.

Roll fried dough in a mixture of cinnamon sugar, and eat!


Filed under Family, Food Stuffs., Holiday, Holiday Baking

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know we did- lots of games, a walk with mom’s dog, really really good food, and a healthy dose of family 🙂


M taking a peek at my AWESOME cookbook….she’s a great gifter. 🙂 Can’t wait to share some of these recipes!


M and Joey passed Winnie the Pooh back and forth all night to practice for baby Judah! 🙂


Tamales! Our Christmas Day dinner tradition


M and Lindsey had a ‘nunchuck/wrapping paper roll/sword’ fight….




M and Joey on our dogwalking expedition 🙂


Gibbs may have bitten off more than he could chew….he almost knocked me on my butt trying to run to Curtis!!


Curtis and me on our walk!


Merry Christmas from M and K!!!

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’

Luke 2:14


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Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs., Holiday, Pets, Vacation

School’s Out!!!



This is what I’ve been making for dinner lately. I’m not knockin it, it’s delicious. And I’m not gonna lie, either- I almost always have one in my fridge at any given moment. But this past week especially.

M was supposed to let ya’ll know that I was gonna be absent for a bit during the last week of school for finals…….she just got distracted by all the yummy things she was making and fun stuff she was doing. Whilst I sat at the table and slaved over papers that were due (no, I did not have all semester to do them, I never procrastinate.) and studied for tests I was super excited about. Actually it wasn’t that bad, but you get my drift. Finals week, even if you are prepared, is a big, nasty, stressy stressball that is never fun to go through. And it’s finally over. Curtis took me and my friend Tim (or soon-to-be-cousin-in-law, whichever is easier for you to remember) out to the YardHouse for drinks, food, and celebration after our last final. They have hundreds of beers on tap and delicious food, so it was a great end to the semester.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza- melts in your mouth.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza- melts in your mouth.

Thanks M, for keeping this thing afloat while I was away!

Keepin this one short, I just wanted to say a quick hi before running off to our Girl’s Christmas. A group of our girlfriends gets together every year for a nice potluck style dinner, gift exchange, and time to catch up and wind down. It’s so much fun!!! There will be pictures later, I promise.

Hope everyone is able to relax a little before Christmas 🙂 Have a great Friday!


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Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Fridays, Holiday

Christmas Cookie Roundup 2012


I am a huge lover of Christmas baking. More importantly, the Christmas cookies. Mm mm mm. I know you can eat cookies anytime of the year, but something about the holiday season almost makes it a LAW that you have to indulge. If I’m wrong, I don’t want to be right.


So in the spirit of the cookie baking season, I have rounded up a list of my favorite things to bake for my Christmas platters!

1. Peanut Butter Blossoms

2. Scotcheroos

3. Eagle Brand Cookies

4. Old- Fashioned Sugar Cookies

5. Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

6. Peppermint Bark

7. Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

8. Reindeer Chow

9. Marshmallow Snowmen (use as stirrers for Hot Chocolate or coffee!! SO cute!)

10. Amaretti’s

11. Brown Sugar Shortbread

12. Almond Tarts

13. Snowball Cookies (AKA Mexican Wedding Cookies)

14. Nutter Butter Balls

15. Hot Chocolate on a Stick


The pictures of some of the goodies are the courtesy of the original bakers of these goodies! I can’t wait to get started… Joey and Baby Judah are the best taste-testers out there. 😉


Merry Christmas!

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Filed under Food Stuffs., Fridays, Holiday, Holiday Baking

Cranberry Bliss Bars

So the Cranberry Bliss Bar from Starbucks comes back on Tuesday for the holidays and I simply couldn’t wait the last two days to have one. Mom gave me this awesome book (recipe is also on their website on for Christmas a few years ago so I busted it out in search of the recipe and thank goodness it was there!

They were a 4 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10 mainly because there were three different parts to the recipe and also finding candied ginger was harder than tearing Curtis away from the TV on Superbowl Sunday. That’s a huge exaggeration. I just thought it was going to be in the baking aisle with everything else and it wasn’t. It was in the bulk ‘scooping’ part of Pak ‘N Save. For a few minutes there I thought this whole recipe was going awry and all I really had to do was ask for help 😛

So, anyways, once I got past my difficulties these were quite relaxing to make!

Candied cinger is super photogenic!

This is what candied ginger looks like- that also may have been part of the problem, I didn’t know what exactly I was looking for! However, I have learned from shopping with my mom and sisters that you should never be afraid to ask for help! Especially when such a delicious recipe is at stake.

So first I mixed, using a blender, the brown sugar and butter. Once that was thoroughly blended, I added eggs, ginger, vanilla and salt and continued mixing until it was smooth.

P.S. The ginger needs to be diced….

Stages 1, 2, and 3 of the candied ginger

After that was all mixed up and lookin’ delicious, I added the flour and baking powder and (after that was mixed) I added the cranberries and white chocolate.

Now, this recipe suggested using Ghirardelli’s White Chocolate, but Nestle’s White Chocolate Morsels were on sale and they tasted fabulous.

The whole ‘morsels’

….and the roughly chopped ‘morsels’

I didn’t want them to be completely whole so I just chip chopped my knife over ’em a couple times and called it good. And oh, they were.


Smoothed it out in the pan and popped it in the oven at 350 for 32 minutes! (recipe said 25-30)

While it was bakin’ away, I made the frosting and drizzle in about 2 minutes.

the old ‘I don’t want to buy a frosting bag so I’ll use a sandwich baggie with a corner cut off’ trick

The bar-part came out of the oven looking and smelling SO GOOD. I’ve told M numerous times I wish we could send smells via text cuz sometimes pictures just can’t do it justice. However, in this case, that’s not entirely true. This is a photogenic recipe.

I love it when the edges toast a little

Let it cool completely, then frost

Spread the frosting, sprinkle some dried cranberries, and drizzle the drizzle!

Fancy, fancy!!! The way they’re cut in the store is in little rectangles, then into triangles. So I went all the way and cut them the same!

The texture is phenomenal

See? You don’t need smell….yeah, not true. I totally wish you could smell ’em.

Anyways, I made these about 2 hours ago and there’s half a pan left. Curtis has some friends over for the game (which one is that, you ask? Well, you’re asking the wrong person.) and they devoured them. A hit? I think so.

So, if you have a party to attend where a little sugary snack is desired, these are a delectable choice that is far cheaper than the ones at Starbucks and they taste Oh So Good. 10/10 on the Tastes Like Heaven in My Mouth Scale. Yes, it’s a scale.


Cranberry Bliss Bars 


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup chopped dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)

1/2 cup white chocolate cut into chunks


4 ounces softened cream cheese

3 cups (yes, cups!) powdered sugar

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Preheat oven to 350.

Make cake by beating the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt and beat well. Gradually ix in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix the chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks into the batter by hand. Pour the batter into a buttered 9×13 inch baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Allow cake to cool.

Make the frosting by combining the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium owl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the cake.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of copped dried cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

Make the drizzled icing by whisking together powdered sugar, milk and shortening. Drizzle this icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion with a squirt bottle or fill a small plastic storage bag with the icing and cut off the tip of one corner.

Cover the cake and let it chill out in the fridge for a couple hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times, making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally, creating 16 triangular slices.

Makes 16 bars.

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Filed under Cookies/Bars, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs., Holiday