Monthly Archives: March 2013

Strawberry & White Chocolate Muffins

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Feeling under the weather and being a couch potato yesterday helped inspire this recipe. I was watching one of my favorite cooking shows, Barefoot Contessa and Ina was making Strawberry muffins. I haven’t had a muffin in a long time and thought it just might be the comfort food I needed to feel better. I took my inspiration from Ina’s recipe, but changed it up adding white chocolate chips and tweaking some of the measurements. The muffins are so moist, full of flavor, slightly sweet from the white chocolate and slightly tart from the strawberries. These would be delicious drizzled with a little honey. They could easily be breakfast or dessert. A lemon glaze would also be delicious……hmmmm an idea for next time. If you don’t like strawberries or don’t have them on hand, use what you have. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, etc would be equally delicious. Omit the white chocolate if you don’t like it or add more if you are a chocoholic! This is a very easy recipe, use the base of the recipe and make it your own.

Strawberry & White Chocolate Muffins

What you need;

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tbls baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbls cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

How to make;

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon together. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg and melted butter. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in your wet ingredients. Lightly mix with a spatula until combined, add in diced strawberries and chocolate chips. Do not overmix. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or use baking cups. Evenly divide the mixture between each cup and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
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Birthday Party On A Budget

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My baby boy just turned two, we had a Choo Choo Train themed party for him with our family & friends. I had gone a little overboard on the first birthday party so I put myself on a budget for this party. His first birthday was a cowboy themed party complete with western scenes that I painted with cutouts for the kids to put their faces in for pictures, a huge spread of food, a custom ordered cake and about $100 worth of decorations. This year I put myself on a $100 budget to host a Choo Choo Train themed party for about the same amount of people. I had the theme in mind already since Cade loves choo choo’s and we have toy trains that I could use to decorate with. The colors I took from the toy train colors and I really lucked out finding a lot of items on clearance which helped me stick to my budget. Here are some pictures and how I was able to plan a party for about 35 people with a $100 budget.

First I shopped around, I lucked out and found all the plates, cups and napkins at Target on clearance. This all totaled in at $8.00. Yellow plastic cups and white plates with red, orange, green and blue accents matched the theme perfectly. I had plenty of plastic utensils leftover from various parties and I put the red & orange napkins and the utensils in a blue utensil holder that I already had.

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I got the Happy Birthday banner from Dollar Tree for $1.00, the colors matched the theme perfectly! I wanted everything to be colorful!

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I made the cupcake cake and all of the food. 50 cupcakes cost me $4.50 to make. I got cake mix on sale for $1.00 a box, I used 3 boxes. My secret ingredient to making super moist cake & cookies is to add a box of pudding mix. 3 boxes of pudding mix cost me $0.50 each. I made homemade buttercream icing. I had all of the ingredients for this already, as well as eggs and oil for the cake mix. I shaped the cupcakes into a 2 and iced the whole thing in green to look like grass, then I made chocolate buttercream and drew train tracks over the 2 and put a toy train on top for decoration. The cupcakes that didn’t fit were iced and put on a side table.

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I did all cold foods so I didn’t have to turn my oven on and I could make everything ahead of time. I buy all of my produce from Aldi’s. They have the best tasting produce, and it’s much cheaper than a large grocery store. I made fruit & veggie “trains” with toy trains and color coordinated plastic containers I got at Dollar tree for $2.00. I made dollar roll sandwiches, pasta salad and chips and dip. Simple things that everyone likes. The food was the most important part, I had a lot of people to feed. The food came in at $65.00 including the drinks. We always have bottled water so I had to buy soda, tea and juice boxes for the kids. I had coupons for almost everything I didn’t buy at Aldi’s and my local grocery store had select soda on sale for $1.00 a piece. All of the  serving containers were things I already had, and luckily the colors matched!

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I didn’t buy many decorations, so I made some with things I already had. I used a chalkboard to create a train ticket. I used a wreath I already had and wrapped it in burlap and ribbon and bought a train and an arrow at the craft store for $0.60 a piece and glued them to the wreath, this hung on the front door. I decorated around the house with toy trains and I did buy some brightly colored balloons for $16.00 (small splurge). I didn’t want to over decorate, but I think the theme was evident. It was raining so I wasn’t able to decorate outside like I had planned, but I would suggest using suitcases to decorate with by the front door and use tape to make a train track leading up to your front door. Also a home-made railroad crossing sign would be cute too.

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The favors were a Thomas The Train coloring sheet that I personalized with “Choo Choo Cade is Two”. I printed one for free online and added the personalization and made copies of the coloring sheet. I bought a pack of 8 small crayons for $2.00. I rolled the coloring sheet and attached the crayons with ribbon.

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The birthday boy had lots of fun at his party and really enjoyed everyone singing happy birthday to him. My grand total was $99.70, just under budget! I was very happy with how everything turned out and even more happy that I stuck to my budget. It took a little more planning and a lot more work, but I saved a lot of money and got the exact result I was looking for. Cade had a memorable 2nd birthday party and it didn’t break the bank! My sister made Cade his conductor hat and the overalls were a birthday gift. They said “Engineers Crew” and worked perfect! He looked adorable!

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Here’s the buttercream icing recipe I used….

  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbls milk

Cream together the shortening & butter, add vanilla, gradually add the sugar. Icing will appear dry, add milk one tablespoon at a time until light and fluffy. Makes about 3 cups. Add 3/4 cup of cocoa to make chocolate buttercream.

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

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This recipe couldn’t be easier! Also very friendly on your budget, coming in at under $10.00 total to feed 4+ people & the slow cooker does all the work! I make this when pork tenderloins are on sale and the rest of the ingredients are cheap or I already have them.

What you need;
Pork tenderloin (mine was about 1.5 lbs)
2 lbs of potato, cut into bite sized pieces (I used yukon gold)
1 bag of baby carrots
1 can cream of mushroom soup (lower sodium)
1 pkt onion soup mix
1 stick of butter
1/2 of a yellow onion thinly sliced

I layer the crockpot like this;
Onions on the bottom, then potatoes, pork on top of potatoes, carrots around pork, season with about 1/2 tsp of salt & pepper, sprinkle onion soup mix over the top, scoop cream of mushroom soup over everything & a stick of butter on the very top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

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Everything comes out really tender. The pork is moist & full of flavor!

My slow cooker is my best friend in the kitchen. I love how inexpensive ingredients can be turned into a delicious meal with little effort!

Twelve Things Happy People Do Differently

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I saw this on Pinterest and it has alot of meaning to me. I’ve always been happy, but not like I am today. I a truly happy now, free of jealousy, harbored bad feelings, hate and everything that use to hold me back. These twelve things really are things that happy people do differently. Read each one and think about how you feel about them. Are you really happy? Do you do these things? If you don’t, then it’s time to CHANGE! Life is too short to live any way other than HAPPY! Starting this blog and selling my scarves has made me happy. Spending time with my family & friends has made me happy. Living life the way I want to live it has made me happy. Do what makes YOU happy! When you are truly happy, you will find yourself doing these things. Doing these things can also bring you happiness. It all starts with being grateful for what you have and realizing that everyone lives and leads different lives. Be respectful of that and don’t compare your life to others. Everyone should live for themselves!

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A Mother’s Love

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It’s the eve of my son’s second birthday, my hubby & I finished shopping for his gifts & wrapped his presents tonight. I put him to bed for the last time as a 1 year old. He’s such a big boy, he wants to lay down and snuggle up with his blankie & giraffe & looks up at me & says “bye, love you”. He only lets me rock him when he’s sick, where did my cuddly baby go? I’ve been reflecting on the past year & how much he’s grown & changed. He amazes me everyday & I often wonder if he knows how much I love him. I tell him a hundred times a day & I show him with patience, care, fun & kisses, but does he really know? I don’t think a child ever knows how much they are loved until they have their own child. You literally worry yourself sick over them, you put yourself in harms way to protect them & you discipline them even though it breaks your heart to prepare them & teach them. You constantly second guess yourself & wonder if you are doing a good job. You find the best diapers, bottles, clothes, car seats, strollers, toys, etc to keep them happy & comfortable. You sacrafice things for yourself to give them the best. You know all the theme songs to their favorite shows because they like to watch them. You do everything in your power to make them feel better when they are sick. You adjust your entire life for them and they won’t ever truly realize how much you care & love them until they have a child of their own. I know I didn’t realize these things until I had Cade & I’ve never had more appreciation for my parents. I realized everything they did for me was out of love. Now watching them as grandparents is such a gift. I get to see their love from the outside looking in. They often tell me “you just wait” & I know I’m in for it if Cade is even close to the stinker I was, but I’m up for the challenge. This little boy has brought me so much joy, peace, meaning & love to my life! I thank God for him everyday! He’s just what Jake & I had imagined to start our family, the perfect combination of each of us with the sweetest personality. I can’t believe 2 years ago I gave birth to my precious angel, I don’t even remember life before him. Mommy loves you so much, Cade Robert! You are the sunshine in my day, the warmth in my heart & what completes my soul! Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

I love this picture Jake took of us on our recent vacation. A sweet moment between mother & son!
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Low Carb Breakfast Bake

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I had my oven on for dinner last night so I decided to try a new breakfast recipe. We had eaten all of our ham and egg cups I made for the week so we needed something for breakfast today. I had lots of small portions of items in my fridge that needed to be used up, along with 7 eggs. I mixed this up and baked it in a 9×9 casserole dish. Omit what you don’t like, add things you do. Substitute sausage or bacon for the ham or any lunch meat you have on hand. Use the base and make it work for your family.

Low Carb Breakfast Bake

The Base

7 large eggs, splash of milk, salt and pepper to your liking

The add in’s

About 1/2 a cup of each of these items is what I used. Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, chopped broccoli, diced ham, diced yellow onion, diced green pepper

Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in add in’s. Pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until eggs are set and top is light brown.
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Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna

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We are lasagna lovers in my house, my husband requested the real thing for his birthday dinner this year and he often orders it when we go out to eat. I came across a recipe for zucchini lasagna and decided to try it, it was good the first time but I followed the recipe exactly and decided my second try I would use my traditional lasagna recipe but exchange zucchini for the noodles. If you aren’t low carb and are looking for a good regular lasagna recipe, all you have to do is substitute lasagna noodles for the zucchini.

I don’t like to waste, I had some small portions of veggies in the fridge and decided to use them up in the meat sauce. It added so much flavor and texture! You don’t have to use these exact veggies, I suggest you use what you have in the fridge to maximize flavor.

Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna

What you need;

  • 3 medium-sized zucchini (all the same size/length)
  • 32 oz of your favorite spaghetti sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tbls Italian seasoning
  • 1 container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of each of these cheese’s – parmesan, mozzarella & provel (if you don’t have provel, use an Italian blend)
  • 1 pound of ground beef or pork sausage
  • About 1 cup of each of these veggies (use what you have) – green pepper, yellow onion and mushroom

How to make;

Saute the veggies you’ve decided on. I used green pepper, yellow onion and mushroom. Saute until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Brown the ground beef or sausage and drain. Return meat and veggies to pan and pour in spaghetti sauce, heat until warmed through. Mix together the Italian seasoning, ricotta cheese and only 1/2 a cup of each of  the cheese’s – parmesan, provel and mozzarella (the rest is for the top). Slice your zucchini long ways into 6 strips per zucchini about 1/8 of an inch thick. You should yield 18 zucchini slices. This will make 3 layers.  Laddle about 2 scoops of the meat sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (I used a 8×12 dish). Lay 6 zucchini slices on top of the sauce. Spread half of the ricotta  mixture on top of the zucchini layer then top with 2-3 scoops of meat sauce. Lay another 6 slices of zucchini on top of the meat sauce and spread the remaining ricotta mixture on top of the zucchini,  top with 2-3 more scoops of meat sauce. Lay the last 6 slices of zucchini on top and cover with the remaining meat sauce. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, remove foil and top with remaining cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes at 400 and then 2 minutes on broil to get the cheese bubbly and lightly browned. I suggest putting your casserole dish on top of a baking sheet because my lasagna exploded over the sides and now I have a mess in my oven to clean……

 

This is one layer of sauce on the bottom, one layer of zucchini, one layer of ricotta mixture and the start of one layer of sauce.
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This is the start of the second layer, next goes ricotta mixture, sauce, another layer of zucchini and then top with remaining sauce.

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Finished product! Let this sit for about 10 minutes before you cut into it. It’s a little messier than a traditional lasagna, but ohhhhhh SO GOOD!

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