Sweet and sour grape cupcakes are a huge hit with the kids! The purple frosting and cake are full of grape flavor.

Grape Cupcakes Picture

I am the worst school mom in the history of school moms.

The funny thing is, people automatically assume that I am a wonderful school mom. I guess I give off some kind of a good-school-mom-vibe, without even realizing it. Or maybe it’s just the cross all of us middle aged, yoga pant wearing, SUV driving women have to bear. Yoga pants + SUV + ballet flats + grey hairs carefully camouflaged by ombré balyage = Good School Mom Uniform

Although I am well aware that I am a Bad School Mom, I usually can at least keep up with the most minimal tasks required to keep up appearances. Selling candy bars? That’s a firm NO. But showing up at my son’s assembly? I’ll be there. I might have complained to my husband a little (why is my son’s class ALWAYS LAST?! Can I not just be given a time for HIS SPECIFIC PART??), but I’m there.

So you can imagine my surprise the other evening when I had a few of Jon David’s friends and their parents over and someone mentioned the Open House several nights earlier.

The Open House that I not only did not attend, but was not even aware of.

grape cupcakes image

“What Open House?” I asked, and I watched the other two moms immediately exchange A LOOK. It is best described as alarm mixed with judgement. I would know — I practically invented this look.

“Aren’t you on the PTA Facebook page?” one of them asked. Ummmm…that would be a no. Strangely enough, I am allergic to the PTA. Not that I don’t see the necessity of it and appreciate the people who are involved. But I liken it to being a plumber. Do I appreciate plumbers? Without a doubt, most certainly. But I’m not going to take it up as a profession myself. Because as it turns out, in addition to being allergic to the PTA, I’m also allergic to other people’s poop.

“Didn’t you get the voicemail?” the other mom asked. Ummmm…also a no. Do people actually check their voicemails these days because I kind of thought we agreed as a society to just stop doing that? Am I on a different page as everyone else, orrrrr…?? Gosh, this is awkward.

Both women rushed to assure me that I really hadn’t “missed anything,” which just further confirmed my suspicions that they are actually much better humans than me. Not only are they Good School Moms, but they also care enough about my feelings of self-worth to lie straight to my face. And what do I have to offer?

grape cupcakes photo

Cupcakes.

These cupcakes are particularly fun for kiddos, as they are packed with the type of grape flavor we usually associate with gum or candy. The frosting is just the right amount of sour, and I topped them with a sprinkle of sugar for a sour-sweet flavor.

So SO fun!! They almost make up for my failures as a human being.

Grape Cupcakes

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 hours

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 box (roughly 18 oz) white cake mix
  • 1 box (3 oz) grape Jell-O powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • Frosting:
  • 2 sticks salted butter, slightly softened
  • 4 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1 package grape Kool-Aid (unsweetened)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 24 red/purple grapes, granulated sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, combine cake mix, jell-o, milk, vegetable oil, and eggs. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed for two minutes. Add purple food coloring for more vibrant color, if desired.
  3. Fill prepared muffin tins 2/3 full. Place pans in the oven and immediately change temperature to 350. Bake for roughly 15 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched in the center. Let cool completely on wire racks.
  4. Prepare frosting: In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add grape Kool-aid and powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the water -- beat for one minute on high speed.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes. Top with a grape and a sprinkle of granulated sugar.

Enjoy and have a great day!

My weekly meal plans are full of family friendly dinner ideas that are perfect for weeknights and picky eaters!

MealPlan82216

It has been SO cool outside this week and I LOVE it!

And by cool, I mean mid 80’s. But I live in Arkansas, so I’ll take it.

I thought I was still hanging on to the last bits of Summer, but as it turns out, I’m super ready for Fall. I’m already eyeing Halloween candy and cozy cardigans and all things pumpkin. I know, I know. Don’t try to change me!

That being said, my current meal plan might reflect just a bit of my longing for Fall. If I cook all the cozy things and wear lots of flannel, it might come early, right?

As always, please make sure to print out a grocery list. Everything you need for the week is already filled out for you. Enjoy!

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Monday: Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

I LOVE Jambalaya but I haven’t made it in so long! I’ll serve it with homemade cornbread because, yum.

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Tuesday: Doritos Taco Bake

This is the easiest, unclassiest meal EVER but we all love it, so I make it occasionally. Serve with sour cream, lettuce, and warm flour tortillas. Yummy!

**photo credit

potpie1

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie

This is my favorite pot pie recipe on the entire planet. I use shredded rotisserie chicken and store bought pie crust — it’s a breeze to make!

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Chicken-Fajita-Salad-382 Thursday: Chicken Fajita Salad

I’ve been obsessed with this salad since I first saw it on Pinterest. It looks so SO good! I love that it uses chicken thighs, which are flavorful and inexpensive.

**photo credit

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Friday: French Dip Sandwiches

A tried and true favorite that we never get tired of!

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Have a great weekend!

My August Reading List is the perfect way to find your new favorite book!

Aug16ReadingList School is in session!

It’s crazy how much of an adult I am when school starts. I’m up early. We eat dinner at a reasonable hour. I accomplish all the things. By 8:30 pm I’m thinking it’s midnight only to discover that YES, the kids are in bed, the house is quiet, and I can actually SIT DOWN WITH A BOOK.

Hooray for school!

I recently discovered a couple of well-known but new-to-me authors and I’m excited about diving into their books. Sometimes I wonder how a person can read and look at books as often as I do and STILL go decades without hearing about certain best-sellers. Life is weird. And also, my Kindle wish list will never go empty.

I actually finished all of the books on last month’s list! I LOVED all of them except Truly, Madly, Guilty…which is disappointing because it was the one I was most looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong — it was entertaining and definitely readable…but it didn’t live up to my high hopes at all. The big reveal that took nearly the whole book to work up to…didn’t pay off. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you read it!

Another book I just finished is Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry. If you were obsessed with Serial (I was), listened to the Undisclosed Podcast (I do), or are crazy about true crime (yep…me), I highly recommend it! I actually did the audiobook version because Rabia narrated it and I enjoyed hearing the story from her own voice. This book really dives into Adnan’s life, both in prison and out, and there are several long letters that he wrote for the book.

Here are my picks for this month:

Hopeless

 Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

I actually finished “Hopeless” last week and really, really liked it. I had never heard of Colleen Hoover until my babysitter recommended her…and then one of my favorite blogger friends recommended this book a few days later. It’s YA romance, but mature enough that adults will enjoy it. I found this book REALLY hard to put down!

Via Amazon:

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

WeCouldBeBeautiful

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

This book has mixed reviews, but the synopsis is intriguing enough that I’m willing to take the risk. I’ve seen this book everywhere lately!

Via Amazon:

Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty.

She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she’ll never have a family of her own.

One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine’s parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone . . . ” Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth?

StillLife

 

Still Life by Louise Penny

Louise Penny is another new-to-me author that I keep hearing about lately! A podcast about books that I listen to every week has mentioned the Inspector Gamache series several times, with glowing reviews, so I’m excited to check it out!

Via Amazon:

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

RedemptionRoad

Redemption Road by John Hart

This book is everywhere and the reviews are SO good! I’m familiar with John Hart, but I don’t think I’ve ever read any of his books. This one sounds perfect and like it might be really hard to put down! I love character-driven books, and this sounds like it is just that.

Via Amazon:

Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

This is a town on the brink.

This is Redemption Road.

Brimming with tension, secrets, and betrayal, Redemption Road proves again that John Hart is a master of the literary thriller.

 

That’s it for this month! As always, I’d LOVE to hear what you’ve been reading (and loving) lately!

This peanut butter s’mores brownie pie brings summer indoors! Perfectly gooey and fudgy, toasted marshmallows and a thick graham crust are the perfect touch.

Peanut Butter S'mores Brownie Pie

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Campfire® Marshmallows. Although I was paid for this post, all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Can we talk about pie?

I am a pie fan (hashtag TEAM PIE) but honestly, it’s kind of a pain in the butt to make. Why do you think everyone gets so excited about pie? It’s because no one ever makes it for them, this is completely obvious. I have never been at a friend’s house and randomly been offered pie. Cookies, yes. Pie, no.

It’s possible that I am  hanging with the wrong crowd, but more likely that while people love EATING pie, no one really feels like preparing it. All the rolling and baking and nerve-wracking slicing. Will it ooze all over the plate? Will the crust shrink up? It is for this very reason that I prefer making pies with graham crusts — it’s entirely less of an emotionally fraught situation.

Peanut Butter Smores Brownie Pie Image

I am not sure that we’ve ever discussed this, but I am already an extremely emotional person. One conversation with me and I’ve probably hugged you awkwardly, cried, asked if I can pray for you (I know. STOP BEING WEIRD, KRISTAN), tried to learn all about your hopes, dreams, and secret fears, or asked you if we can be friends and immediately started sending you weird emoji texts five minutes after our initial meeting.

Needless to say, I have no room in my life for fragile desserts that might disrupt the delicate balance of my psyche. Which is why I LOVE this simple, sturdy, decadent Peanut Butter Brownie S’mores Pie. It’s the best of all the things in the universe, and gorgeous to look at to boot. No muss, no fuss, just all rewards.

I started with a thick graham cracker crust that I pressed into a springform pan. I have found that graham crusts made in a springform not only look prettier, but they also slice easier. I filled this with brownie batter and fudge swirls, just *barely* underbaked it, and topped it with regular Campfire® Marshmallows that I then gave a quick toast under the broiler.

campfire marshmallows picture

I always have a stash of Campfire® marshmallows on hand! With the weather staying warm as long as it does in Arkansas, an impromptu s’mores party in the backyard as late as November is never unheard of! Jon David has reached the age where sleepovers are a regular thing, so s’mores happen pretty often.

If the weather is cool or rainy, s’mores are easy enough to whip up inside — I just pop my marshmallows on a sheet pan and let them get toasty under the broiler!

Peanut Butter Smores Brownie Pie Photo

I’m just saying that I’m not sure how you’ve lived this long without this pie in your life.

Peanut Butter Brownie S’mores Pie

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 3 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • Gooey Peanut Butter Brownie:
  • 1 box fudgy brownie mix
  • 1 small box (3.4 oz) chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • Topping:
  • 1 bag regular size Campfire® marshmallows

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar,and melted butter until combined. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, pudding mix, water, oil, and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Pour into prepared crust. Spoon peanut butter into a bowl and heat in the microwave for approximately 20-30 seconds, until softened considerably but not liquid. Spoon into brownie mix and swirl with a knife. Bake pie for 30 -40 minutes until just barely underdone -- a bit of fudgy, gooey batter is okay, but you don't want the middle of the pie to be raw. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack to room temperature, then chill several hours for easier cutting and serving.
  3. Top with whole Campfire® marshmallows, then place in your oven set to broil for several minutes, until the top is golden. Slice and serve.

Notes

Spray a sharp knife with nonstick cooking spray before slicing to prevent the toasted marshmallow from sticking to the knife.

Make sure you follow Campfire on Facebook for lots of fun and easy recipes and treats!

Enjoy and have a great day!