Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chalk Christmas Tree Activity

It's 80 degrees today in Louisiana. Even in the deep South, this is unseasonably warm for this time of year. We took advantage of it, however, and spent the day playing outside. One of our activities today was drawing with chalk; with a Christmas twist.

I drew a huge Christmas Tree outline and instructed the kids to decorate it. They spent a solid hour drawing the garland, ornaments, wrapped presents, and, of course, the star on top. And since the tree was so big, all five kiddos were able to decorate it at the same time.

So if you're looking for a way to entertain the kiddos outside in this totally weird, warm-weather spell, add this to the list!



     

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac Tutorial


Louisiana is being weird right now. Even though we are almost halfway through November, it's still running about 70 degrees and higher outside. 

I'm beyond ready for cooler temperatures because my favorite things happen once it gets cold outside. For example: unlimited hot chocolate and tea breaks, crackling fire in the fireplace (even though the downdraft fills our house with smoke momentarily), AND not leaving my house for days on end. 

Another favorite thing is warm and cozy comfort foods, like soup, gumbo, and casseroles...and Chili...and Chili Mac. 

So in direct violation of my imaginary food/weather code, I made Chili Mac for dinner even though it was 80 degrees outside and it was glorious. I threw some stuff together and it was delish!

Easy Cheesy Chili Mac

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
1 can of chili
1 can of Ranch Style Beans
1 can of corn, drained
1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 lb Velvetta Cheese, cubed






Combine all the ingredients and heat through. That's it!

My kids were big fans of this and even requested the leftovers for lunch (and dinner) the next day. I was cool with that because, for some reason, when I don't have to cook dinner for the kids, I forgo the dinner thing completely, make hubby a sandwich, and I eat cereal. 



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Homemade Granola Bars

I try not to keep many snacks in the house, aside from fruits and veggies, but granola bars are one of our favorites and I just can't NOT have them in the house. But I've never been super impressed with store-bought granola bars so I make my own and they are FANTASTIC. At least, we think so. This recipe makes a lot of thick and chewy granola bars, feel free to halve the recipe.

Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients

6 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup oil (vegetable or grapeseed works well)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 cups of add-ins (nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, etc)
                        



Step 1
  
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oats in a 9x13 baking pan and toast (stirring once) for about 15 minutes. 


Step 2 


While the oats toast, heat the oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and heat until the brown sugar has dissolved. Stir in peanut butter and set aside.


Step 3





Add 3 cups of add-ins to the toasted oats and stir. I chose dried chopped figs, raisins, dried cranberries, pretzel pieces, sunflower kernels, almonds, walnuts, and chocolate chips. 


Step 4





Pour the syrup over the oat mixture and stir to coat. With a spatula, press the oats into the pan. Flatten and press the mixture until it's smooth and even. Let cool for about an hour. Then cut into bars. 


Monday, June 1, 2015

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of my favorite dinners. Especially covered in creamy Parmesan sauce. 



Chicken Cordon Bleu with Creamy Parmesan Sauce



Ingredients

3  skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise
12 slices good quality deli ham
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 pound (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Step 1 


Layer the chicken breast halves in a baking dish.

Step 2


Layer the ham on top of the chicken breasts (I accidentally bought ham that wasn't sliced...oops)! 

Step 3


Sprinkle the Swiss cheese over the ham.

Step 4



Sprinkle with bread crumbs. And drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and bread crumbs are browned.

Step 5






While the chicken is baking, make the sauce. Melt the 2 Tbs of butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the milk/chicken broth while whisking. Whisk constantly and cook over medium-high heat until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Add the salt, Worchestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and Parmesan Cheese. Stir until blended.

Step 6


Top the chicken with the warm sauce and serve.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Soufeel Charm Bracelet Review

I hope everyone had a fantastic Mother's Day! Mine was great! My husband and kids spoiled me, like they do every year.

But of course, it was also a day to celebrate the Mothers in MY life! I knew I wanted to do something really special for my Mother-in-Law. She helps us so much with the kids. She's always available to keep them so we can have date nights, or so I can run errands. She even keeps them overnight at least once a week. If you have small children, you can imagine how amazing that is! This year, we decided to go the jewelry route. But we wanted something we could customize for her...something that told her just how special she is to us!


We have looked at Pandora bracelets before but they are a little rich for our blood. We knew we wanted to go the charm bracelet route since that fits her personality. That's when we discovered Soufeel.com. They make beautiful charm bracelets and charms, but at much more affordable prices. Soufeel charms are made from .925 sterling silver, so I wasn't worried about the quality. The charms themselves fit Pandora and Chamilia Bracelets, which is great since my Mom is a Pandora fan.

So we ordered her the Silver Basic Bracelet  and five charms.

The first charm we chose was the Alphabet Charm in W (for her last name).


The second charm we chose was the I Love My Grandkids charm. This charm also had the words "Live, Laugh, Love" on the other side.



The third charm (and my favorite) was the Green Flower Murano Glass Bead charm. Green is her favorite color. And how beautiful is this charm?!


The fourth charm we chose was the Mom Heart Shape charm. It was Mother's Day, after all.



The final charm we chose was the Carved Cross Charm.



I was very happy with the quality of the bracelet and charms. They had a good weight to them, but not so heavy that she wouldn't want to wear it. I also loved that Soufeel had lots of great promotions and freebies! They offer free shipping worldwide with orders over $50 and 365-day return and exchange guarantee. They also offer a free ring with orders over $59.00, free Charm with orders over $79.00, and a free bracelet with orders over $99.00! I love free stuff!

They also send a beautiful box and gift bag with your order so it's ready to give the day you receive it! 






Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase from Soufeel and my Mother-in-Law absolutely loved her bracelet! I've caught her wearing it each time I've seen her since Mother's Day. I think she approves!

And THANK YOU to Soufeel for offering a coupon code to my readers! Use the coupon code "Amanda5" to get 5% off your order at Soufeel.com! Now's the time to check them out, they are currently offering discounts up to 75% off during their After Mother's Day Sale! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Homemade Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTarts


Homemade Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTarts

Ingredients

1 box of refrigerated double pie crust dough
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


1/2 Tbs all-purpose flour


1 egg
2 tsp milk
For glaze: 

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp milk

Step 1



Roll out one of the pie crusts a little, trim the edges to make a rectangle. Cut the rectangle into four rectangles.
Step 2

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour; set aside. In another bowl, whisk the egg and milk. Brush egg mixture on each rectangle. Divide the filling among the four rectangles, leaving a small border of dough.

Step 3



Roll out the other pie crust a little, trim and cut as you did with the first pie crust. Place the top rectangle on the filling rectangles. Poke holes in the top and seal the edges with a fork. Refrigerate raw poptarts while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 4

Bake poptarts in the preheated oven for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the glaze.

Step 5



In a bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Spoon over the cooled poptarts and serve!















Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easy Homemade Chalk!


My kids go through a lot of chalk. Since we homeschool, there is a lot of playing outside everyday. Chalk is a daily activity! This is an easy recipe for homemade chalk and you can control the color and shape, so it's perfect for themed party favors or Easter basket stuffers. 

Homemade Chalk

Ingredients

3/4 cup powdered Plaster of Paris
1/2 cup water
Tempura Paint

Silicon molds

Whisk together the Plaster of Paris, water, and a few Tablespoons of paint. Pour into molds, let harden (about 20 minutes) and unmold. Enjoy right away or package up as gifts!





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Win a Charme Teaposy Gift Set!

For my birthday this year, I received a Teaposy blooming tea gift set. If you have never heard of blooming teas, you're not the only one.



I love tea. So much that when I vacationed in London last year, my only souvenirs consisted of an ENTIRE suitcase of tea. But somehow, I managed to stay oblivious to the existence of these truly beautiful teas! I mean...come on...delicious tea that BLOOMS into a beautiful flower in the tea pot?





As soon as I got home from my party, I immediately went to their website and looked at everything they offered. I spent all of my birthday money on their website. Teapots, teas, cups...I bought it all.


I contacted the company and gushed about how much I loved their products and they generously offered to donate a gift set to a lucky reader! Find out more about this gift set and enter below!! Good luck!

The Charme Posy Gift Set 



This CHARMEing gift set includes:



3 unique blooming teas: heart of love, falling water and lady fairy

2 loose leaf tea sachets: symphony herbal tea

1 16oz (or 500ml) simply glass teapot

1 8oz (or 250ml) simply glass tea cup

ENTER TO WIN A CHARME POSY GIFT SET BELOW!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

GOOD LUCK!

Garlic and Herb Breadsticks (From Scratch)!


It was spaghetti night last night. I'm not usually one that needs bread with my dinner but my husband is. This recipe comes together quickly and only has to rise once so it's super fast! The breadsticks are soft and airy, perfect for any pasta dinner!

Garlic and Herb Breadsticks

Ingredients

1 cup warm water (about 120 degrees)
3 Tbs brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour
Melted butter
Garlic Powder
Salt

Dried Parsley


Step 1 






In a mixer, combine the water, brown sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. 



Step 2



To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and flour. Mix until a dough forms. 

Step 3



                                

                                   Knead dough for 3-4 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic. 

Step 4 



Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12in by 10in. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips about 3/4 inch wide.

Step 5




Fold each strip in half and twist. Place on a greased baking sheet. Let breadsticks rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. 

Step 6 





Bake the breadsticks in a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. When they come out of the oven, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and parsley to taste. Then take a blurry final photo before eating them all in one sitting. =)