Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Nutella S'more Bars

It's officially feeling like fall in Indiana. Yesterday was cold and rainy. We had a wet morning at the zoo, and I was still cold after the kids' naps even though it was 70 degrees in the house. I just couldn't shake the cold. I decided we needed soup for dinner and to put the oven to good use. The kids got in on the action too, and we made a super easy, delicious dessert.


I love baking, especially during the fall months. I really love baking with Nutella. I pinned this recipe last week and wanted to make it right away. I tried it out on Saturday and loved the results, but there were a few things I wanted to change. The bars were really greasy. They were delicious, but I thought there was too much butter. Is there such a thing?  I really loved the few bites with browned marshmallow on top, but I felt there should be more exposed marshmallow. So with those two things in mind, I tweaked the recipe a little and love the bars even more.



Nutella S'more Bars

Ingredients

14 graham cracker sheets (there are 9 in a package so you'll need two)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Nutella
7oz jar marshmallow creme

Directions:

1. Crumb graham crackers in the food processor until they are finely ground. There should be no lumps.

2. Mix the graham cracker meal with flour and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.

4. Stir the graham cracker mixture into the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until just combined. It should be crumbly.

5. Spread into greased or parchment paper lined 13x9 pan. Keep back 1/4, approximately 1 cup, mixture. It will be used to top the bars.

6. Spread Nutella evenly over garaham cracker crust.

7. Spoon marshmallow creme onto Nutella. You won't use the entire jar. The marshmallow doesn't need to be spread, just dolloped around the pan.

8. Crumble remaining crust onto bars. There will be exposed marshmallow.

9. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Marshmallow should be lightly browned and puffy.

10. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.


Notes: I use parchment paper so I can pull the bars from the pan to let it cool. I have made the crust both with my Kitchen Aid and by mixing entirely by hand. Both yielded similar results. These are amazing while still warm, but cut cleaner if you let them cool for 30 minutes first. The first time I made the bars they were gone within a day, so I'm not sure how long they keep. Store in an airtight container.




H and B were all about their treats. Although, they were just as happy to lick Nutella off their spoons while helping me bake. There are quite a few fall recipes I want to try out, so I'm glad to see they were eager to help bake. We may have found a new activity to pass the time while we're stuck indoors. Our kitchen table is the only place they can sit to help, so be prepared for lots of pictures of them hanging out on the table over the next couple months. 



And now I think I'll go have a bar and a cup of coffee. Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This afternoon was one of those afternoons that you just have to laugh at. It went something like this.  

H and B wake up from their naps. I immediately take Brooke to the bathroom. While she's doing her thing, I notice Harrison has a big knot on his forehead. I help B wipe, and then focus back on Harrison. I'm trying to decide if maybe he fell before naps and I didn't notice it, or if this is a reaction to a bug bite. I decided a spider took a nap with him, so I go to look for the evil arachnid that bit Harrison's face. 

While searching their room, I hear Brooke say she needs to poop. Perfect. I'm glad she's still running around half naked, it saves a step for me. She goes back to the bathroom and I flip over mattresses and check pillow cases. I decide I should take Harrison to RediMed, and start getting shoes, socks, and pants around. 

I get Brooke's panties and leggings on, and then start on Harrison. I notice a brown smudge on Harrison's foot and start to smell something foul. I look around and it dawns on me that I never cleaned the potty seat when Brooke was finished. I then realize the dogs cleaned it for me and then cleaned their dirty mouths on the carpet. I vow not to accept any kisses from them ever again. The next realization is that Harrison has poop on his foot, and oh yeah, I forgot to help B wipe before I put her pants on. Oops. 

Thank God for clean panties, my carpet cleaner, and a fenced back yard. And Nutella. My day ended with dessert, so now I can laugh about the disasterous 20 minutes that followed naps today.
 
   
And Harrison is fine. I overreacted to the bite, and was sent home with a prescription for Benadryl and an ice pack. After of course a $100 copay.   

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Toddler Snacks

As any toddler mom knows, getting your kids to eat what you put in from of them is a challenge. Harrison is a great eater most of the time. Brooke eats well 50% of the time, but when she decides she's not going to eat something, forget about it. There are definitely nights that she goes to bed without eating any of her dinner and only drinking milk. She thankfully loves smoothies at least 374 times more than Harrison, so she gets lots of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning.

Getting them to eat fruits is never an issue, but finding ways to get enough veggies in their bellies is a challenge. They are getting better about eating raw veggies with hummus (which they love) or ranch as a snack, but often times that results in them putting more in their mouth than they can chew and then throwing up half chewed veggies. They also never want to sit still and would much prefer to snack as opposed to sitting down for a meal.

I am always on the lookout for healthy snacks for them, and especially things that travel well. We used to do berries as snack, but after cleaning mashed berry off of their car seats, and bottoms, we stopped doing berries in the car. We have found a good assortment of snacks that aren't messy and are easy to take on the go. Especially now that the kids are coming to work with me a couple days a week, food that travels is a must.


Eat Your Vegetables Chips - These are our favorite chips. We love the sea salt variety best. Brooke would eat an entire bag of these in one sitting if I let her. There's 1 serving of vegetables in an ounce. Definitely a snack win. We're able to get these at Kroger (Fred Meyer) for $2.50 a bag on sale.

Simply Balanced Dried Peas - Target's Simply Balance line is great. Our favorite part of this line is their freeze dried fruits and veggies. Peas, edamame, and corn are available veggie options.

Snappea Crisps - We can find these at Target and Kroger. These are another one that the kids will finish in one sitting. They're light and very addictive.

Veggie Gos - I discovered these at Earth Fare here in town, and saw them again at PCC in Seattle. H and B both love them. You can buy remnants on their website for much cheaper than the individually packaged leathers.

Kashi Warm Cinnamon Cereal - No fruits or veggies here, but I included this because it is consistently their favorite cereal and they love to snack on it.

Plum Mighty 4 Bars - These are a breakfast go to in our house. They're packed with loads of vitamins and minerals. They contain a high iron content which is a big concern in this house.

Clif Kid Z Fruit & Veggie Twists - These are a little expensive unless you can find them on sale. Kroger regularly has them on sale for somewhere between $2-$3 a box. Clif also makes a just fruit version, but we always go for the ones with veggies.

Happy Tot Pouches - I know, pouches right? Every mom know that pouches are easy and expensive. We used to do one a day when they were younger, but we don't have them too often anymore. When we do buy them, we buy HappyTot brand. They, along with Ella's Kitchen, have twice the iron content of Plum and Sprout pouches.


Obviously eating whole, fresh foods are the best, but sometimes prepackaged foods have to step in. The kids have continuously eaten all the foods listed, and I don't feel bad about letting them eat them. We are always looking for good snacks, and just food in general. What healthy snacks do your kids love?






Monday, September 8, 2014

Our Weekend

Saturday morning the kids and I made a couple much needed grocery stops. We spent a good hour at Meijer and they were great the entire time. The promise of riding Sandy at the end of our trip kept everyone happy while we shopped, and judging by the line of kids waiting to ride the horse, other parents use the same tactic. The new clearance chalk holders they carried the whole time were also a good distraction. After Meijer we hit up Target for pumpkin yogurt which turned into a cart full of stuff. We also ran into a few of our favorite ladies there. Added bonus.


After naps we met Carolyn and Sophie for a little play time and Chipotle. The kids have realized that pretty much every time we go to the outdoor mall it equals Chipotle. I didn't tell them where we were going to dinner, but when they said they were hungry and I asked them what they wanted the response was quesadillas. And guacamole. Lots of guacamole.

Brooke's new ballet flats arrived Saturday and she was so excited to wear them. No joke, as soon as I slid them on her feet she stood up and said, "I a princess." I feel you Brooke. New shoes make me feel like a princess too.


Sunday morning started with an episode of Mickey and then it was football all day. The kids weren't too excited when I switched from the Disney Channel to Game Day Morning. Dress up and trains followed while I worked on getting lunch ready. Our cousins and their adorable baby boy came over to watch the game, and I was super excited to try a new pizza roll recipe. Everything seemed to be going well until I cut into the cooked pizza roll. The dough inside was still raw. I attempted to save it, but didn't have much luck. Pizza was ordered instead, and now I know not to try out new recipes the day of. At least it looked delicious.



H, B, and Baby B played together really well! Baby B and Brooke were super into each other, or more accurately he was into her headband. While the kids napped he happily entertained himself for the majority of the football game. I've never seen a child so happy to play on his own. I was amazed. H and B will independently play, but not for more than 10-15 minutes. They always need attention or at least need me to check in with them.

The kids woke up shortly after the game was over. They all played and colored for a little while before our cousins had to take off.




Thanks to two trips to Chipotle in the last 4 days, there were plenty of burrito bowl leftovers in the fridge. I used the leftovers to make the kids a couple quesadillas and then I ate the rest. Rob decided to eat the pizza roll failure, so I guess it wasn't too terrible.

We went for a walk after dinner and took the kids to the playground so they could run around and slide. There were a few other kids there, so we had to work on taking turns. Still a tough subject for us, especially B. They're both getting better at it, but we still have a way to go. After a quick potty stop at home we went for a short walk with the kids' mowers. The bugs were terrible by 7:30, and I regretted agreeing to a second walk. We had to rush to get the kids home before they suffered anymore bites. The mosquitos have been especially fond of Harrison. He has at least 12 bites on him right now. :(




Once the kids were in bed Rob and I watched the Broncos beat the Colts. I called it a night at halftime, and Rob finished out the game. It was a great weekend, and I'm so happy football season is back! 

The weather is a bit cooler this week, and we're loving it. We can actually spend more than a few minutes outside without the kids getting too hot. Plus cooler mornings mean I'm drinking hot coffee again. I love iced coffee more than words, but nothing beats holding a hot mug of coffee in your hands. I am morning some extra hours at the daycare this week and Rob moved into a new position at work, so it will be interesting to see how we all survive the week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Chicken Enchiladas




I discovered this recipe a while ago thanks to a fellow blogger. The first time I made it, it was instantly added to our favorite recipes list. I make it usually every couple weeks and have varied the recipe a bit over time. I've made these enchiladas for company quite a few times, and they always go over well. The last time I made them was while we were in Seattle, and everyone loved them. Angie and Michelle may have arm wrestled over the leftovers. Ok, so that didn't happen, but the leftovers were coveted by everyone in the house.

We love Mexican food around these parts, and we also love the crockpot. The meat for these enchiladas is cooked in the crockpot. I've done the meat on the stove before, but the crockpot yields better results. Once the meat is done, it only takes a few minutes to roll up the enchiladas and about 30 minutes to cook. It's an easy recipe from start to finish and perfect for a weeknight dinner or company.

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

Ingredients

1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing
1 pound chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen shredded spinach (optional)
3/4 cup salsa
3/4 cup ranch dressing
2 - 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
8 soft taco/burrito size tortillas

Directions:

1. In a crockpot combine taco seasoning, ranch dressing packet, chicken, chicken broth and spinach (optional). Cook for 4-6 hours on low.

2. Remove chicken breasts from cropckpot and shred. You can return the chicken to the crockpot and let it continue to cook. The chicken will become more moist, but it's not necessary to cook the meat any further.

3. Mix the salsa and ranch dressing. Pour half the mixture into a bottom of a greased 13x9 pan.

4. Layer enchiladas in the following order: tortilla, 1-2 teaspoons salsa/ranch mixture, large pinch of cheese, 1/8 of shredded chicken.

5. Continue to roll remaining tortillas. Lay them in the 13x9 pan on top of salsa mixture.

6. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of enchiladas. Bake at 375* for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is fully melted.

7. Use any remaining salsa/ranch mixture, and drizzle over enchiladas.



Notes: I save the remaining broth from the chicken and use it in Mexican Rice-a-Roni. Instead of water, I use the broth. It makes a perfect side. Adding rice or peppers to the enchiladas is a nice way to mix up the recipe. Both whole wheat and white flour tortillas produce good results. I usually use a medium salsa to control the spice level. Using a hot salsa or adding a little cayenne to the chicken would be two great ways to kick up the heat. I very often throw the chicken in the crockpot still frozen. Add an hour or two of cook time if using frozen breasts.



Harrison and Brooke are always excited to eat this, and Rob and I are too. Making a full pan leaves us with a few lunches of leftovers, and they always get eaten right away. As I'm writing this blog post, I'm also thinking about when the next time I am going to make these, probably tomorrow. I love this recipe that much. Seriously, make this recipe tonight, you won't be disappointed.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

I feel like this summer has completely flown by. Probably because we've had a few big weeks thrown into the mix, but it feels like it was just Memorial Day a few weeks ago. We had quite a bit of doen time this weekend, but also managed to fit in a lot of fun.

The kids and I worked on Friday evening and came home to an amazing pink box on the porch. I saw it as soon as we pulled in the drive and couldn't have been more excited. Pink Fed Ex boxes = Georgetown Cupcakes! The kids and I ate dinner and then opened broke into our sweet treat. Thanks to the hubs for the amazing surprise!



Saturday morning we headed to the lake for the day. This will most likely be our last lake weekend, so I wanted to make sure we got to enjoy it. When we arrived, I noticed our friends down the way were out, so we ran down for a minute to say hello. I remember being 6 years old and seeing the neighbor girls playing in their yard. I stood behind a tree watching them play unitl I finally got the courage to say hi. We were pretty much inseparable for every summer after that. I love seeing all of our kids at the lake now, and can't wait until they're all running around playing together.


Harrison was dying to go for a boat ride, so we quickly loaded into the pontoon and headed out on the lake. We of course had to drive through the tunnel and honk the horn. The wind continued to pick up all morning, so our ride didn't last too long. Back to the cottage for lunch and naps we went.



Naps were of course a failure. Harrison napped for about 30 minutes. Brooke was over tired and never made it to sleep. I decided swimming was in order. Brooke finally decided to do the stairs on her own and was up and down over and over and over again. Harry couldn't decided what he wanted, so we headed to the beach with Grandma. That made everyone very happy.





After an hour or so at the beach, it was time to head back to The Fort. Rob got off work around 6, and we all met at home for dinner and more cupcakes. The kids were off to bed shortly after dinner, so Rob and closed out the night with a little Arrested Development on Netflix.

Sunday morning we had lunch plans with a few of our favorite ladies. We met a couple of H and B's Aunties at 11 for Indian buffet. Harrison at almost everything on his plate. Brooke ate all of her naan bread and then refused anything except for melon. Once we were all thoroughly stuffed, except Brooke, we walked down to Fresh market to pick up a few things and enjoy samples. 

After naps we had a party to head to at another Auntie's house. It is my BFF's b-day today, so she hosted a birthday day cook out. The H and B loved running around with the other kids. Harrison's shirt got dirty, so we let him go sans shirt. Then Brooke wanted to go sans shirt and we had two had dressed kiddos running around. 



We decided to give Shandy Floats a try. We did peach frozen yogurt and Leinie's. We made a n/a version too with Raspberry Lemonade Lizzie Fizzy's. The kids asked for refills, so I think they were fans. I like the float, but think it would have been better with actual ice cream or sherbet. I will definitely be trying it again soon.


The kids crashed in Lynn and Eric's bed, and we stayed up playing beer pong and Kings. I'm so happy with how well the kids did sleeping somewhere they weren't familiar with. We've recently made the transition out of cribs, so we're on a new learning curve in the sleep department. No more setting up pack and plays while we're out. 

Rob had to work today, so the kids and I were on our own. We ran to Target for a couple returns, and diapers. Of course we left with a cart full of stuff. The rest of our day consisted of naps, laundry, a walk, dinner, and popsicles to close out the night. We did get daddy home for dinner and popsicles. At least the dealership didn't keep him there all day.


Now that Labor day has passed, fall can come any time. Although, we will enjoy every last warm day summer throws our way. Our fall clothes can happily wait in the back of our closets for another few weeks. 


Friday, August 29, 2014

All About Gray

I love gray. My favorite shirts are all gray. I love Brooke and Harrison's gray jeans. The only grays I don't love are the ones that keeping popping up on my head.

When it comes to dressing the kids, gray is a perfect option for coordinating their looks. It doesn't matter if they're wearing different shades of gray, because ash gray matches heather gray just as well as it matches slate or silver. The same can't be said for yellow or coral. With fall just around the corner, I've been doing a little shopping and a lot of online browsing.



Some of these items we already own. Some we're waiting for a good sale before we snatch them up. Others we may never own. The H&M knit sweater isn't carried in our store, and it is out of stock online in Harrison's size. I love pairing grays with bright leggings and accessories for Brooke or with jeans and a character tee for Harrison.

As much as I am loving the last few days of summer, I'm looking forward to fall so we can break out our fall clothes, and maybe fall candles and PSLs too. I refuse to drink one until the weather cools down. We are excited to be celebrating the last unofficial weekend of summer. We have a party to go to with some of our favorite people Sunday, and maybe a last trip to the lake, weather permitting. I hope all of you have great weekend plans to celebrate summer coming to a close. TGIF!!