Vanilla Milkshakes- Kids Cook Monday

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It’s no secret that Nolan has a sweet tooth. He begs for treats all the time and recently he was asking for a “banilla” milkshake. We came up with a somewhat healthier version of one of his favorite desserts. Here’s what my little helper and I whipped up for an afternoon snack…

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Ingredients

5 scoops low fat frozen yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

We simply threw all our ingredients in the blender and blended it until it was smooth. It turned out nice and creamy with a very “banilla-y” flavor. You could easily switch up the flavor by adding strawberries, bananas, or even peanut butter. This recipe made enough for either one very large milkshake or 2 small kid-sized shakes.

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This sweet treat has a surprisingly nice amount of protein thanks to the skim milk and is quite tasty with a handful of pretzels (obviously I had to partake in this snack as well.) And best of all, Nolan approved!

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Rainbow Rice…Kids Cook Monday

Hello KCM friends! We’ve been a little inconsistent with our Monday posts, but the folks at Curious Chef sent us some amazing products that completely inspired us to get back in the kitchen! Brady was SO excited to get his Fruit and Veggie Prep Kit and made it very clear to all of us that they were all his…(much to the dismay of his little brother.) We decided to make a fun rice dish using our tools that incorporated lots of colorful veggies.

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Here are the ingredients we used to make Rainbow Rice:
2 Cups Brown Rice
2 Cups Water (or Vegetable Broth) to cook rice
1 Red pepper
1 Yellow Squash
1 Cup Frozen Peas and Carrots
1 Purple Onion
1 Clove of Garlic
2 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sesame Oil

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Here is how Brady and I cooked up our rainbow rice:

  1. First, Brady used his new vegetable scrubber to clean the pepper and the squash.
  2. Next, we began chopping up our vegetables with Brady’s new super safe knife he got from Curious Chef. It was the perfect size for his little hands, but gave him all the power of cutting up the produce. He was so proud that he could do it himself!
  3. While we were chopping our produce, the rice was boiling away on the stove. (Just follow package directions) You can cook the rice in Vegetable broth if you want it to have a little more flavor.
  4. Once we were finished chopping, we began cooking our vegetables in Olive Oil. We started with the onion and garlic, then added the peppers and squash and sprinkled a little salt and pepper on everything.
  5. When the vegetables became tender, we added the frozen peas and carrots.
  6. Then, we added the cooked rice into our pot.
  7. We seasoned the whole pot with the Sesame Oil, butter and Soy Sauce.
  8. We gave everything a final stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes so all of the flavors could blend together.

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Not only was this dish fun and easy to prepare, it turned out beautiful and my sweet, veggie loving oldest boy, LOVED it!

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We’re so excited to get back in the kitchen and use the rest of our new tools!

 

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Bars- Kids Cook Monday

Happy New Year! And yay for getting back to our weekly Kids Cook Monday adventures. Today we got in the kitchen and whipped up an easy, healthy, sweet snack.

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We used up a super ripe banana and combined it with some wholesome oats and fresh strawberries. This is a perfect sweet tooth fix or quick breakfast idea. Here’s how me and Brady got cookin…

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We gathered our ingredients-

2 Cups Old fashioned oats
1 Cup chopped strawberries
1 ripe banana (mashed)
1/3 Cup of Milk
1 Tbs. Oil (vegetable, canola or coconut could work)
2 Tbs. Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp. salt (to balance the sweetness)

Then we followed these steps-

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and chop up about a cup of strawberries. (you could use frozen!) 20160104_140157.jpg
  2. Mash up one big ripe banana (this gives the bars lots of sweetness) This is a perfect job for a little helper.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine mashed banana, oats, syrup, oil, milk, and salt. Mix it up until it’s all nice and moist and then add in the strawberries.
  4. Spread oatmeal mixture into a greased pan. 20160104_141800.jpg
  5. Bake at 300* for about 20-25 minutes. (Until golden brown and not too wet/squishy when you cut into it.)20160104_144818.jpg

These are slightly sweet with bites of tart strawberries. If you like your treats a little sweeter, try using a banana that’s even more brown or adding a little more maple syrup (you could even substitute honey!) Make sure to store these in the fridge since it does contain fresh fruit.

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Hope these healthy treats make your 2016 a little tastier!

Mexican Street Corn- Kids Cook Monday

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Mexican Street Corn

We love Mexican food around here. In fact my hubby lived in Mexico for quite a while, so he often talked about the corn on the cob they used to sell on the streets. When he described it with mayonnaise lathered on, I have to admit that sounded odd, but go figure, it’s delicious!! Brady absolutely loves corn on the cob, so I thought we’d give this Mexican Street Corn (or Elotes) recipe a try.

Ingredients:
5 Ears of Corn
Package of Mexican Crumbling Cheese
1/2 cup of Mayonnaise
About 1Tbs. Chopped Cilantro
1/2 tsp. paprika (or chili powder for some heat)

 

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We started by picking up some fresh corn on the cob. It’s so cheap and tasty this time of year. Brady and I got to shucking.

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Please excuse the shirt-less-ness. He’s 4 and it’s summer.

Then, the hubby brushed the grill with some olive oil and grilled up our corn.

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Brady and I then lathered each piece of corn with some mayo using a basting brush.

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We then rolled each piece of corn in some Mexican crumbling cheese. (Brady also ate handfuls of cheese during this process)

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Last we sprinkled our corn with some chopped cilantro and a little bit of Paprika. Traditional recipes call for Chili Powder, but I wanted to keep the spice to a minimum since this recipe was for Brady.

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He adored this recipe. Corn + Cheese= Heaven for Brady.

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Vegetarian Taquitos! {Kids Cook Monday}

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T is for TAQUITO!

We Smiths have been on the go lately. We’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s Day and took a 12 day road trip this month (more on that in another blog post!) It’s been a while since we’ve done a Kids Cook Monday meal so we were excited to get back in the kitchen. Today we made some yummy, vegetarian taquitos packed with veggies and protein. We baked them, so they are virtually guilt free. I mean, there is some low fat cream cheese in there, because you gotta live a little!

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Ingredients

Corn Tortillas
1 pckg.low-fat cream cheese (softened)
1 cup of salsa
1 can black beans (drain and rinse)
2 ears of corn (cooked and cut off cob)
2 cups of spinach leaves (chopped or torn into small pieces)
Olive Oil (for brushing tortillas with)
A pinch of salt (to sprinkle on the tortillas before baking)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional for topping)
Optional Dipping sauces: salsa, guacamole or sour cream

This is a super easy recipe. All we did was mix, blend, fill, roll, and bake! We started by blending our softened cream cheese with our salsa. You could seriously just eat this stuff with a chip. So tasty on it’s own!

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Then, we prepared our veggies. You could throw in anything you like here. We used up some leftover corn on the cob, spinach leaves and black beans. Chopped peppers or onions would be tasty as would ground turkey (if you weren’t making this for Meatless Monday!)

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Perfect way to use all that sweet corn that’s in season right now!

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Look at this little helper getting in on the action- just ripping spinach like a champ!

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Well this sums up life right now with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. “Whaaa! It’s my turn to stir!”

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Still chip-worthy!

Then, we went ahead and pre-heated our oven to 400*. We brushed our tortillas with a little olive oil, and filled them with our cream cheese mixture.

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We sprinkled a little bit of salt on the outside of each taquito and put them in our hot oven for about 10 minutes.

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When they had just begun to brown and get a little crispy, we added some shredded cheddar cheese on the top of some of our taquitos for fun. Then we stuck them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

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Once the cheese had melted and the taquitos were all golden and bubbly, they were ready to come out!

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These came out super hot and gooey. The outside is crispy but the filling is soft and yummy! The kiddos and I loved these because they’re easy to eat and have so many of our favorite ingredients packed inside.

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I love all the hidden nutrition stuffed inside these little guys. Lots of flavor and fun to eat! Also, taquito is just plain fun to say. Taquito!

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Asian Noodles {Farmer’s Market Finds} – Kids Cook Monday

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On Brady’s last day of school, Nolan and I enjoyed our last little bit of one on one time together by heading downtown. We spent the morning exploring the Science Museum and hitting up the Farmer’s Market again.

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Sometimes I have an ingredient in mind that I’m searching for when I go to a market, and other times I just go see what looks good and come up with a meal based around what I’ve found. This week I spotted some snow peas that looked tasty and decided to make some yummy Asian noodles- kind of a spin on Lo Mein.

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Lots of goodies at the Hilltop Farm booth that day. The snow peas just spoke to me!

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Brady helped me get our Snow Peas prepped for our Asian Noodles. He washed them up and then snapped the ends off each one (tasting a few along the way.) Even Nolan wanted to test them out! Slowly but surely I am getting that kid to try healthy foods…

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Here’s how we made our “Asian Noodles.”

Ingredients:

1/2 box Spaghetti Noodles (we used whole wheat)
2 cups Snow Peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 Scallions
1 Tb. Sesame Oil
3 Tb. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes(optional) to taste

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Steps:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally and cook noodles until they’re just tender.
2. In a large pan, begin to sautee mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
3. Add carrots and snow peas to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if you would like it a little spicy.
4. Drain noodles and add to veggie pan (once veggies are tender).
5. Add Sesame oil and Soy sauce to the large pan.
6. Toss all together with thinly sliced scallions.

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You can always add a little more soy sauce if it seems to need it, so I recommend putting it in slowly and taste testing as you go. (You can’t take it out once it’s in!) Another option is to use Chili Oil in place of Sesame Oil if you (and your kiddos) can handle a little more heat.

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We love this meal because you can use just about any vegetable you have on hand. The snow peas worked great because they were just a little sweet to help balance the salt of the soy sauce. And the scallions (also a market find!) brighten the whole the dish up.

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Another perk of this meal, is that you can totally eat it cold too. It makes for a tasty side dish or can be substantial enough to be a meal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmer’s Market Inspiration!

I’m loving this Spring weather! We have had some gorgeous days with perfect temperatures and today was one of the best. Nolan and I took the opportunity to go downtown and check out the Raleigh Farmer’s Market. It just started back up recently and I couldn’t wait to get back down there to see what was new this year, eat some tasty food and let Nolan jam out to the music. (I should note that he also really enjoys the free samples.)

They close off a portion of Fayetteville St. and set up right between the buildings.

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We got some gorgeous scallions from the Wild Onion Farms booth. (locally grown & organic!)

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Nolan was pretty into testing out the different waffle and granola flavors.

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And I couldn’t quite leave without stopping at La Farm Bakery for a baguette.

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Mmm it’s carb heaven.

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Our Farmer’s Market finds!

We decided to use some of our market goodies to make a snack. We also used some of our herbs we’ve been growing to make these yummy “Scallion and Herb Cream Cheese Cucumber Sandwiches.”

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Brady helped cut up our scallions from the market while I chopped up some basil, thyme, and parsley. We mixed them all in a bowl of softened cream cheese and a little lemon zest and salt.

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Here’s our bowl of creamy goodness!

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We spread the Scallion Cream Cheese mixture onto some slices of our market baguette and topped each one with a thin slice of cucumber.

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These were so light and refreshing. They’d make a delicious appetizer or finger food for a party.

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The fact that some of our ingredients came straight from local farmers and bakers, made this snack that much tastier!

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Crunchy, creamy, and satisfying!

 

 

Strawberry Yogurt Pops- Kids Cook Monday

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It’s strawberry season here in Raleigh! Recently we went to a farm by our house to pick a whole ton of strawberries (and there may have been some tasting along the way.)

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Strawberry goatee! Clearly someone was doing more tasting than collecting.

We enjoyed our strawberries on strawberry shortcakes made with lemon poundcake (yum!), and smoothies, and just eating them plain, but I decided to use some for our first attempt at homemade popsicles. One of my besties, Lindsay, sent Nolan a popsicle kit for his birthday recently, so this was the perfect time to try it out.

These were extremely simple to make and with 4 basic ingredients they were a much healthier alternative to store bought pops. Brady did most of the work for this recipe. Here’s how it went down…

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Ingedients:
About 2 Cups of Fresh Strawberries
1 container of Greek Yogurt (we used Vanilla)
About 1 Tbs. lemon juice
About 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey (sweeten to taste)

Steps:

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Add strawberries, yogurt, lemon juice, and honey to blender. Blend until completely smooth. Taste test- Add more honey if needed.

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Pour fruit mixture into your popsicle mold. Set in freezer for at least 4 hours.

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Use a little warm water to loosen the popsicles out of the molds, and then enjoy! The boys sure did.

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Thanks for the sweet gift, Auntie Lindsay! I’m sure we’ve got a lot of popsicle making in our future this summer. So easy, and so yummy!

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Earth Day- Kids Cook Monday

This Wednesday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. I recently saw a post from the website, http://www.produceforkids.com  about some easy ways to celebrate this special day with little ones. I will admit, I was expecting a list of complicated tasks that inevitably would include a Pinterest-y type project…although I’m not exactly sure how that would help our Earth. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised to see the list was so do-able, and that we (and probably you too!) love doing many of the ideas mentioned. Here’s some of the ways us Smiths are celebrating Earth Day this week- and most weeks!

1. Go “meatless” once a week. You guys, this is so simple. There are so many yummy meatless meals out there and if we all participated in this, it would make such a difference for our planet. For instance, did you know…?!

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2. Shop for local produce and ingredients. We’re so lucky to have lived in places with great access to local, fresh produce whenever we needed it. Our family loves to hit up Farmer’s Markets to see what looks tasty and is in season. We have a really big market that is open year round and you can really find some great deals. Plus, the kids enjoy going and you really cut down on the amount of fuel/costs needed to transport your food to you.

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Brady- “I’ll take those carrots. Those right there.”

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Our market finds this week.

3. Plant a garden. In Pennsylvania we had produce out the ying yang. There was a peach tree, pear tree, plum tree, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and squash in our yard. It was awesome! I’d love to get back into that kind of gardening again, especially now that the kids are at a fun age for helping me with it. For now, we are starting with some potted herbs. I love having fresh herbs on hand for all kinds of recipes. And what better way to teach kiddos about taking care of the Earth, than by showing them how we can grow and care for our own produce.

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Brady was smelling the mint!

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We’re growing Thyme, Mint, Basil and Flat Leaf Parsley.

4. And finally, my favorite way to celebrate Earth Day is to cook together! You can never underestimate the importance of teaching our kids where their food comes from and how to prepare it. Think of the impact we could make on our planet if the next generation focused on cooking and eating real food and we could reduce the amount of pre-packaged food waste that we create.

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Today we used our market Asparagus and made a super simple tasty side dish. (Even Nolan ate some Asparagus!!) All we did was wash and chop our Asparagus, sauté them in some Olive Oil and butter, and then tossed them with some lemon juice and some of the Thyme and Parsley we just planted. Finally we topped it all with some shredded Parmesan cheese. So easy!

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Herbed Parmesan Asparagus. This bowl just screams Spring!

Happy Earth Day Y’all! May you find lots of tasty things to grow and eat on our Earth!

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Dinosaur Cupcakes- Kids Cook Monday

The other day we had a boring, rainy day in Raleigh. Chris was out of town and it was too wet and cool outside to do anything fun outdoors with the boys. In other words, it was the perfect day to bake something. I told Brady we should bake something fun and asked him if he had any suggestions. He quickly replied, “A Dinosaur Cake!” While I was not exactly sure how to pull that off, I knew we had to make it work because he was so proud of his idea.

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This cooking session with B-Man was not necessarily about trying a fancy new recipe or pulling off some elaborate Pinterest project- but more about getting messy in the kitchen and having some fun. We didn’t pay attention to swapping out ingredients for healthier alternatives, in fact we used a boxed cake mix we had in the pantry. We indulged in sugar and fat and loved every minute of it. No regrets.

First, we made a list of the steps for making some really cool dinosaur cupcakes. We got out all of our ingredients and got to work.

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Our to-do list for making cupcakes. He loves lists! He’s so my kid!

 

We used a boxed cake mix (watermelon flavor!) for our cupcakes. Actually, we used half of a package of cake mix because we really didn’t need that many cupcakes. We added 1 egg, 1 cup of water, and 3/4 cup oil. Brady helped crack the egg and stir up the batter. We put our cupcakes in the oven and got to work on our homemade frosting.

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I used this recipe I found online for our frosting. http://www.supercouponlady.com/easy-buttercream-frosting-recipe/ Brady helped me use the blender to make it nice and fluffy and then we added in green dye-per Brady’s request.

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While our cupcakes were cooling, Brady got to work picking out some of his favorite dinosaurs to top our cupcakes with.

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Sidenote: Stop what you’re doing right now and go find watermelon flavored cake mix at Target. Smelled and tasted amazzzzzing!

 

B gave them all a bath so they were nice and clean.

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Decorating the cupcakes was definitely Brady’s favorite step. He was so proud of how they turned out and even wanted to bring some to our neighbor’s house.

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I loved this time in the kitchen with my Brady-Boo. He was so involved and so happy to be making his “vision” come to life! Also, despite the fact that he is not usually a dessert loving kiddo, he ate every bit of one of these cupcakes. He must’ve tasted the love in them!

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Best. Rainy. Day. Ever.

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I love that little finger sneaking into the picture trying to get a taste!