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Today is my oldest friend’s birthday. Oldest not as in age but as in the friend I’ve known the longest. Kristin and I were born just 12 days apart, and since our mom’s are best friends, we were naturally thrown together at a young age. When you’ve know someone your entire life, there is really no end to the things you could write about. So this is the condensed version.

When I search for my first memory of Kristin, a few fuzzy things come to mind. I remember standing in a little strawberry patch outside the farmhouse where she lived. Her mom Jill was pointing out the empty skin a snake had shed to Kristin, her younger brother Eric, and me. I think Kristin thought it was cool, or maybe that was Eric. I thought it was scary and gross.

I also remember making personal pizzas and getting a makeover at what must have been one of Kristin’s birthday parties when we were pretty young, maybe five or six years old. I remember this party because most of our friends made their pizzas into the shape of hearts, but Jill helped me shape my pizza dough into a skull. I also got talked into having my face and hair painted silver.

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Kristin is on the right end in the bottom row. I am on the left end in the top row.

As we progressed through childhood, Kristin and I took dance lessons together. I think we would both agree we liked dance, but we loved the trips through the McDonald’s drive through after dance.

As time moved on, Kristin and I moved apart, which is really no surprise given we always had different interests. When we were very young, Kristin and my sister would play with her dolls, while Eric and I would play with his dinosaurs and He-Man. As we grew up, we both ditched dance; I played sports and she focused on music and performance.

We toured Ball State together during our senior year of high school. While Kristin chose Ball State for undergrad, I made the better choice of Ohio State. She came to her senses and subsequently to Columbus for grad school where we lived together for a year. We graduated, got real jobs, and moved to different states.

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Laura, Kristin & LeAndra at Kristin’s wedding reception

A short time later, Kristin and her then-just-a-honey Eric (not her brother, a different Eric!) took time out from a visit to his mom in Florida to meet up with me. Not too much later, I was standing in a church with Kristin as she promoted Eric from honey to husband. Today, she lives in Indy, a working professional and mom to two adorable little boys, while I live a selfishly single life in Charlotte.

Pineapples are a symbol of welcome, and since they can also stand for friendship, I baked pineapple upside down cookies this morning. These cookies can be baked as plain pineapple cookies if you choose to forgo the trouble of cutting up pineapple rings and placing them on the cookies. Though be warned the cookies without the pineapple rings have only a sweet rather than a distinct pineapple taste. If you like coconut, you may also want to consider adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut to the cookie dough batter.

As for the caramel sauce topping, after burning two batches of sugar and my fingers, my third batch of caramel ended up with a consistency closer to hard tack candy than soft, chewy caramel. If you are anything like me, you may want to consider topping the pineapple cookies with store bought caramel.

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Laura, Eric, LeAndra, & Kristin

Not many people are lucky enough to say they’ve been friends with someone for their entire lives. Happy Birthday Kristin!

Pineapple Upside Down Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (plus 1 additional cup for an optional caramel sauce)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple rings
  1. Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed.
  3. Add the egg the vanilla, the pineapple, and the pineapple juice and beat until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and continue to beat until just combined.
  5. Place a tablespoon of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Cut a pineapple ring into six to eight equal pieces and press 4 to 6 of the pieces into the top of the cookie.
  7. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough and pineapple rings.
  8. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until very lightly browned.
  9. If desired, drizzle caramel sauce across the top of the baked cookies.
To make caramel sauce, melt one cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. The sugar will burn very quickly once it begins to melt, so be sure to keep a close eye on it. When liquid, very slowly add one quarter cup of water to the the saucepan. The mixture will bubble up very rapidly, so be very careful! Stir until smooth, remove from heat, and spoon over the cookies.

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