What We’ve Been Up To + A New Recipe

Hey guys! Happy Friday!!!

Just wanted to pop in today and post a little about what my family and I have been up to, as well as a new recipe I tried from Little Sweet Baker (which was a HUGE hit!).

First off, our little darling girl Emma is growing like a weed! She will be 2 this year and I am too emotional to even think about it. How did this happen so fast?!?! I know that’s the question all moms ask. We’re trying to savor each day and have as much fun as we can in our free time.

This summer, that has included eating lots of ICE CREAM!

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Could you not just kiss all over that sweet face?!?!

Emma LOVES ice cream, and I can’t imagine where she gets it from (…her daddy) hehe.

My birthday was last month and so we had a little shopping day with my mama. Clothes, Italian food, and ice cream – a perfect birthday celebration!

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Not long after my birthday, poor baby girl came down with a horrible case of hand, foot and mouth disease! If you don’t know what that is, and you have babies, I encourage you to look it up. Its highly contagious and is very common in the summer.

(The above picture is her first time back to church after she was no longer contagious. You can see the remainder of the rash on her face, but it looked great comparatively!)

It started as just a fever on a Tuesday night. She hadn’t had an appetite for a couple days, and hadn’t slept well either, so we knew she may be coming down with something. She didn’t have the fever Wednesday morning, so I took her on to daycare. Once I got home from work, I saw a bad rash/blisters had started forming around her mouth, and I knew it was hand, foot and mouth (I have a younger brother who had it as a baby). We went to the doctor the next morning and they confirmed it.

The worst part about this disease is just the pain it causes. Emma couldn’t eat or drink without crying – it causes blisters around and in your mouth – and she was so itchy from the rash spreading to her feet and hands. It was just so heart breaking to watch her suffer. We fed her soft foods, tried to make her drink as much as possible – they have to stay hydrated – and gave her pain meds and oatmeal baths.

We prayed Jesus would heal her quickly, and after Thursday her rash got worse but she started eating and drinking better fairly quickly. We give all the glory to God! We know He touched her.

The sickness ended about 2 weeks ago. Little girl is doing much much better now and is back to her old, joyful self!

{Insert segway from family to food}

So, this recipe I mentioned, it is quick, easy, and delicious for breakfast or a snack! It’s Little Sweet Baker’s Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Muffins.

The reason I found this recipe is from scrolling through my Pinterest boards. I was going to be baking something for the Harvest Showcase that the ladies from my church are involved with. The Harvest Showcase is a county-wide event where multiple booths are setup, selling anything from fresh produce to handmade baskets. There is also singing and entertainment through-out the day. We have a booth filled with baked goods each year to try and raise money for our Ladies Dept.

Anyway, I was looking for something to bake that would be easy and hopefully a good seller. Everyone does brownies and cookies, so when I came across some muffin recipes  I had saved I thought that would be perfect. And these muffins were! I made two batches (2 dozen) and they sold out of them! I even had my mom and husband begging me to make more for just them, which I actually did last night. “Mmmmm” is all I can say about them!

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There’s a whole stick of butter in one batch, so if that doesn’t convince you that these are good, you should talk to Paula Deen – “butter makes it better” baby! haha

These are the pictures I took of the ones I made, but Little Sweet Baker has much better pics if you want to hop over to her blog!

Here is her recipe. I hope you guys enjoy and have a GREAT weekend!

Bakery-Style Chocolate Chips Muffins

*by Little Sweet Baker*

Makes a dozen (12) muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tspbaking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (whole or buttermilk is preferred)*
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & ½ cups mini chocolate chips (you could use regular-sized ones)

*I used 2% because that’s what I had on hand. They turned out perfect for us.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and spray a 12 cup muffin tray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Slowly add to the dry ingredients. Gently fold together until JUST combined.
  4. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups and bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven heat down to 375°F and bake for another 13-15 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes and enjoy warm.

 

Thanks for the recipe Little Sweet Baker!

Mini Meatloaf Squares

Who else is pressed for time during the week?

Between responsibilities of having a family, a job, church events, piles of dishes and laundry, or whatever other activities you have going on, there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get it all done!

This means dinner must be quick, but also delicious, and healthy if possible. That’s such a tall order some days! Which leads me to my next point: little things cook faster (feel free to applaud me for my brilliant statement, lol).

The recipe that I have for you today is quick, delicious, and can be healthy if you add a side of veggies… we had a side of mashed potatoes and gravy with ours – ha!

 

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(Forgive the TERRIBLE photos. I took them with my phone real quick before we sat down to eat. Next time I make them I’ll try to get better ones!)

We LOVE meatloaf, but during the week it is so hard to make due to the time it takes to cook. Again, little things cook faster! I took a simple recipe for a yummy and cheesy meatloaf and made it into mini squares for a quick and delish dinner that I like to call Mini Meatloaf Squares. Clever right?!

If you do not have a brownie pan like mine (which I got from Pampered Chef), using a muffin pan is just as good. It’s about the taste, after all, not the shape.

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Without further ado, here is the recipe for you. Enjoy guys! Happy Thursday🙂

 

Mini Meatloaf Squares

Servings: 10-12 mini meatloaf squares or muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (we used Colby Jack)

Topping:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all your meatloaf ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Fill brownie or muffin pan with the mixture. Each slot should be filled all the way.
  4. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-35 min.
  5. While cooking, mix topping ingredients together. During the last 15 min of baking, spread the ketchup and brown sugar mixture evenly over the top of each mini loaf.
  6. I suggest you let them cool for 5 min before serving.
  7. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, or the sides of your choice!

Tips & Tricks For Weekly Lunches

Good morning everyone!

I hope you all are having a nice week. I’m just “working for the weekend” as the song says (lol). Although funny, it is the truth sometimes! I’m thankful for my job, and the income and benefits it provides, but sometimes I really just want to get through the week and have another weekend with my family. If only there were a way to extend our weekends without giving up money…

Anyway, today I have a fun post for you (at least I consider it fun!) that involves something my family and I struggle with often – weekly lunches.

Sometimes, it is so difficult for my husband and I to take lunch to work every week day. We know we should to help save money (and probably some calories), but it doesn’t always work out. Through my Pinterest and blog perusing, I have come across a lot of ideas to help make weekly lunches easier to prepare and a little more interesting. I wanted to share some of my favorite tips and tricks to hopefully help you make your weekly lunch break more enjoyable!

Lunch-Break

Put In Some Prep Work

I’m sure many of you have thought of this one, so it goes without saying that prepping your lunch the night before is a great idea! It helps save you time in the morning rush of getting yourself (and maybe kiddos) together for work, school, or your daily tasks. Cut up those fruits and veggies, put that dressing in a to-go container, and make your sandwiches or main dish before you go to bed. Pack your lunch, drinks, and snacks for the day in a sturdy lunch bag, and you can just grab it and go when its time to leave.

 

Leftovers Are Your Friend

When my husband and I got married, he was not a big fan of having leftovers of dinner for lunch the next day. The idea of food sitting in the fridge and having to be reheated somehow made him think leftovers were time-consuming and not very tasty. He has since realized that re-heating food in the microwave is quite speedy, and it still tastes yummy if you do it right. Also, using leftovers for lunch the next day is a great way to save some money! The things I have found that re-heat the best are: pizza, pasta, rice, vegetables, beef, and pork (to name a few). Chicken is very finicky when trying to re-heat it in the microwave. However, I have found that if you’ve cooked your chicken in the Crockpot, it tastes much better re-heated the next day than if it were cooked in the oven or another vessel. So, the moral of the story: Leftovers are your friend!

 

Frozen Meals: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We all know that frozen meals are not the healthiest thing to eat for lunch. However, they are easy to grab in the morning before walking out the door. Although my husband and I don’t do frozen meals as our first choice for lunch, it is still an option. I like to wait until our favorite meal brands go on sale and then stock up with about a week’s worth. Some of our favorite brands are: Healthy Choice, SmartOnes, Lean Cuisine, and Chili’s (<<< my personal fave! Very satisfying). Another issue with frozen meals is often there isn’t enough food to keep you full. We try to combat this by taking fresh fruit or veggies to eat with it. That way, there is a little balance in what we’re eating and we’re also filling up with good stuff too. When I do stock up, we usually will alternate between the frozen meals, leftovers, and prepped lunches, so we’re not doing frozen meals for lunch 5 days a week!

 

Freezer Friendly Meals

If you follow foodies on Pinterest, you will normally come across a post every now and then about freezer meals. I love freezer meals because they make dinner time so much easier! But, did you know you can use this same idea for lunch? I’m sure you did, but just by chance that it hasn’t crossed your mind, try it out! Make a couple of sandwiches or wraps – PB&J, Turkey & Cheese, etc. – each week and stash them in the freezer. Leave them on your desk when you get to work and they will defrost in time for lunch. You could also do this with fresh fruit and veggies if you wanted to prep them a few days before you actually take them for lunch. Soups and chilis freeze well too. Use air-tight containers, and once you remove them from the freezer, keep them refrigerated until ready to re-heat in the microwave.

 

Breakfast For Lunch

We’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, so why not breakfast for lunch?! Going along with the previous idea, here are two recipes for breakfast freezer meals you could also try for lunch. They sound scrumptious!

Freezer Breakfast Burritos Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

Make Ahead & Freeze: Breakfast Sandwiches from The Pioneer Woman

 

Lunch Box Tips

Aside from what you may take for lunch during the week, there are also some little tips I would like to share on convenient ways to pack those lunches:

  1. Use ketchup, mustard, mayo and salad dressing packets you have in your kitchen drawer for condiments in your lunch box. A great way to use those up, and you’re also not dirtying more dishes than necessary.
  2. Use plastic utensils for your cutlery to, once again, use up what you have left from parties or other things, and also keep from dirtying dishes.
  3. If you don’t have fridge in your office, pack your cold lunch items with an ice pack.
  4. If you don’t have a microwave in your office, heat up warm items in your microwave and pack them in a thermos. Great for soups, leftover chicken nuggets, pizza rolls (that’s right, I’m talking real life people!), and whatever else you can fit in there!

 

That’s all the tips I have for you today! What are some tips and tricks you use for your weekly lunch box? Comment below; I’d love to know!

Family Update!

Hello, and Happy Good Friday!

I know its been a long time since I’ve posted. Life has been blessed and busy, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

I had the urge to post a little update today, and hopefully start posting more now that life with a baby has become a little less chaotic (emphasis on a little lol).

To start, my beautiful little family if doing wonderfully. My husband and I are keeping busy with our jobs, church activities, and enjoying every precious moment with our daughter.

Here are some pictures we had taken last fall for you to enjoy (if you’re interested in the photographer, it is Southern Sparkle Photography). Although they aren’t super recent, I love looking at them because these were taken before Emma turned a year old. She has already started to lose that “baby look” so these help this emotional momma to cope with that😦

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Isn’t she gorgeous?!?!? I love her little chubby cheeks!

Emma had her 15-month check-up last week. She’s a healthy girl! She’s 98% on her weight and close to the same on her height. She loves to run and play with us and our dog, enjoys her baby dolls and blocks, and has fun-filled days each week with the kids at daycare.

Daycare… sheesh, was that a hard choice to make! For all of you working mothers, I applaud you! It is not easy leaving you children in the hands of strangers for 40+ hours every week. You feel guilty for multiple reasons. But at the end of the day, I trust the ladies that keep my daughter, and know she is enjoying “social time” with the other children. I also know that one day she will appreciate my sacrifice to be able to provide what she needs. It is not common for a household (of even 3!) to make it on one income in our world today. There was no stay-at-home option for us, but that’s ok. We make it work! And it makes the time we do spend with our girl even more special to us❤

And just as a side note, I applaud you stay-at-home moms as well! I love this girl, but some days she drives me up the wall (can anybody say teething?!)! I honestly can’t imagine spending 24/7 with her and not having a couple melt downs. So, bravo to you mothers of multiples who have the ability to keep from muzzling your children after spending 16+ hours with them each day😉 (hehe).

As for my cooking, most days of the week we do have a homemade meal. I’ve tried a few new recipes since my last post, but mostly things I have found on Pinterest. I’ve really not had much motivation to create new things. Our weeks are so busy sometimes, dinner usually is a crock pot meal or something I’ve made so many times I can do it in my sleep. However, I have a feeling some recipe creating will be in my near future, so keep your eyes peeled…

I will mention that this week I made this delicious Balsamic Roast Beef Recipe in my crock pot. We made French Dip Sandwiches out of it as it suggested here. Oh. My. Word. This recipe will be a keeper! The meat was tender, juicy, and the dip… as Joey Tribbiani would say, “forget about it!” You guys have to visit the Add A Pinch blog and try it out!

 

Moving on to the upcoming weekend, what are your plans for Easter? Tomorrow we have an Easter egg hunt at our church, and I cannot wait to see Emma hunting for eggs! Last year she was only a couple of months old, so we carried her around and showed her eggs, but she wasn’t very interested lol. This year, she’s already got a taste for it from a hunt they did at daycare earlier this week. So fun! We also have my niece’s 1st birthday party to attend. Her and Emma were born just 4 months apart, so its been a blast seeing them grow together. Then, of course, we have our Sunday service where we get a chance to worship and celebrate our risen Savior! What a sacrifice the God of Heaven made for us. I can’t thank him enough for what He has done and who He is! Following church, we have a big Easter meal at my momma’s house. I can already taste the food! I love family get-togethers❤

I hope you all have a very blessed Easter weekend!

Crockpot Chicken “Stir-Fry”

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I vanished for a few months… Life as a new mommy is hard, exhausting work! But I will say I am loving every minute of it!

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(^Emma’s first Easter!^)

I am slowly trying to make my way back to my blog, so just bear with me as you see my random, sporadic posts🙂

In case anybody is wondering, Miss Emma Grace is doing wonderfully! She is 6 months old now, eating baby food, sitting up, and has two teeth.

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She loves to laugh and play, especially with our Corgi, Nigel. We have a feeling she will be crawling soon just so she can keep up with him!

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Yes, life as a mommy is fun, for sure!

Part of my job not only as a mommy but also as a wifey is making sure dinner gets on the table. That can sometimes be a daunting task that I am just not crazy about. This is when I turn to my crockpot!

Just this week things were hectic and I wasn’t sure what to do for dinner last night. We had church, so I knew it would need to be something quick. Before heading into work yesterday morning I glanced in my freezer and spotted some chicken and a bag of stir-fry veggies. I thought I could make it work, and boy was I right!

Although stir-frys are known to be cooked on the stovetop, I could not think of what else to call this dish. It has all the flavors of a stir-fry, so why not just go with it?! Whatever you choose to call it, though, this last minute crockpot meal turned out to be one my husband and I really enjoyed, and I plan to make it again and again! It just requires 4 main ingredients and a couple seasonings, that’s it folks!

I had some leftover onion and green pepper in my fridge I needed to use up before it went bad, so I added that in too. That is completely optional for this dish, but it was nice to add some extra veggies that we both enjoy, so try it out if you’ve got some handy!

I did not plan for this to be a meal I would post, so I did not take any pictures. Next time I make it I will be sure and do so! Until then, enjoy the baby pics😉

I hope you enjoy this easy weeknight meal as much as we did!

 

Crockpot Chicken “Stir-Fry”

Ingredients

  • About 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen; I used 5 frozen breasts)
  • 1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies
  • 1/2 white onion, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup worchestshire sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Put chicken in crockpot and layer veggies on top.
  2. Pour sauces over items, sprinkle on seasonings, and give it a little stir to coat everything.
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Serve over white rice.

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

Have I mentioned my love of Pinterest before? If not, now is the time for me to share my obsession: I could spend HOURS (and honestly my whole day) on Pinterest! In fact, when we hit slows periods at work, I often use that time for “pinning”🙂 But shhh, don’t tell anyone! lol.

This recipe is one I found on Pinterest a couple years ago and have made many times over. My husband is crazy about these Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps, and I am too! They’re like every type of Mexican “wrap” you can find combined into one. They’re awesome!

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These wraps have so much going for them: spice, creaminess, bite, and just pure yummiliciousness (Yes, I believe that’s a word, don’t hate)! If you’re a lover of Mexican food, you’d be crazy not to try them!

And just to give credit where its due, the original recipe was created by Mel of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. And I applaud her for her creation. We made a couple adjustments to fit our tastes, so feel free to tweak this recipe however you choose. I just hope you try it out!

 

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (you can also use shredded pork or beef)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red or green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (we use a Mexican-blend)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • 6 burrito-sized flour tortillas

 

Directions

  1. Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, except for cheese and sour cream.
  3. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. (Optional: Mel said “I like to dollop little bits of sour cream over the cheese before arranging chicken and rice mixture down the center – it makes the wraps delightfully creamy.” I do this as well, and its great!)
  4. Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open and slightly flatten the wraps with the palm of your hand.
  5. Spray seam-side of the wrap lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat.
  7. Arrange wraps, seam-side down, in pan or griddle and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. (Cooking them seam-side down first helps seal the long edge so they don’t fall apart.)

**Original Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe**

Emma Grace {10 Weeks}

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Today I’m sharing a little update on Miss Emma Grace!

Our beautiful girl turned 10 weeks old on Tuesday, Feb 24th. It is so hard to believe she is already past 2 months! She just grows so much each week.

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Right now Emma weighs 11 lbs., 5 oz. The doctor said she is looking great and healthy. But before I give too much current info, let me tell you about the first few weeks of Emma’s life.

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The first 7-8 weeks Emma had colic (BAD), and it hit its peak at about 6 weeks. Things were so hard! We had many sleepless nights, lots of crying (from Emma too😉 ), and we just felt helpless all the time. (For all you mommas whose babies have gone through colic, I totally understand your pain now!) The worst part about it is we knew the poor baby was hurting, but there was nothing we could do to soothe her for a few hours each night. Even during most days she was gassy and fussy when she was awake. My husband and I honestly didn’t think we would ever have a happy baby. But, when she hit about 8 weeks, there was hope! She quit fussing so much during the day and was actually content. And the night screaming had finally stopped. We are so glad to finally say that the colic is gone and she really is a normal, happy baby! LOL.

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(^After her first Sunday church service^)

 

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(^Before her first Wednesday church service^)

Emma started smiling around 6 1/2 weeks, and it was the sweetest thing I had ever seen! It made my heart melt. Since I worked full-time before she was born, I would be returning after about 7 weeks of maternity leave. I was so worried she would smile the first time when I was’t home. Luckily I got to see it while I was home and now she smiles all the time🙂 I can’t wait until she starts laughing!

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Emma’s sleeping patterns are a bit complicated right now. While she had colic, the only way she would sleep was on my chest. And since we all needed sleep to stay sane, I had to do what I had to do. Unfortunately, since the colic just recently went away, she is still sleeping this way, so my husband and I are starting this week to try and get her to sleep in her cradle. I’ve purchased a baby monitor that detects sound and movement so I can have peace of mind at night. I am going to have some separation anxiety from her not sleeping with me though. That was always our special time, and with me being back at work, I don’t get to see her as often, so I cherish bedtime even more now. But, I don’t want this habit to continue because she needs to learn how to sleep in her own bed. Wish us luck! I know it will be a process.

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Emma’s eating patterns right now are normal according to her doctor. She eats about 4 oz. of formula and cereal mixture every 3 1/2 to 4 hours. She’s a hungry little munchkin! She wakes up during the night to eat too, but hopefully she will start sleeping through the night very soon.

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(^One of her favorite faces to make! LOL^)

One thing that has changed in the past couple weeks is her distaste for diaper changes. When we used to change her, she would throw a huge fit! She hated her tush to be exposed. But now, she’s fine as long as she is not hungry and you talk to her. However, bath time… I can not say the same for! She has always hated taking baths, and that has not changed. She screams the whole time during the bath and while I’m lotioning her up after. I don’t know if it scares her or what, but its not a fun time. Hopefully she will learn to enjoy it, especially when she can play with toys in the tub.

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Emma has a really strong neck! She’s held her up really well since she was 3 weeks old, and it just gets better each week. She can sit in a Bumbo seat already and loves watching cartoons. She coos at the TV screen when they’re on. Some of her favorites (we think) are Micky Mouse and Winnie The Pooh. But honestly, she loves to watch anything colorful on the TV. We’ll know her true favorites when shes a little older😉

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I think that about sums up our little Emma Grace right now. She’s a bundle of joy and love and we can’t get enough of her!