Friday, February 28, 2014

Sweet Carrot Cookies {Recipe}

I love cookies. Well, sweets in general kind of make me crazy. This has proven to potentially be counterproductive with my weight-loss/fitness goals and because I wasn't willing to cut things out of my diet, I wanted something sweet and I wanted it now.

I had just recently gotten the Ninja blender with the food processor and single-serve attachments and I LOVE it!! It also came with a recipe book which is where I found the recipe for Sweet Carrot Cookies. The best part is that I don't feel guilty at all letting Kylie gnaw on one of these because there are only 50 calories per cookie!!



Here's the recipe:

2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1c carrots (peeled and grated)
2c flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Using a mixer on low speed (or the ninja food processor on #1) until JUST combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Push down just a little so it doesn't turn into a cookie ball :)

Bake in preheated oven (350*) for 8-10 minutes. I do 8 because I like them softer.


ENJOY! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Finish Power & Free Alliance of Moms {#CleanItForward}

I was recently asked to join the Finish Power & Free Alliance of Moms which is a network that explores a new product line, Finish Power & Free, featuring less harsh chemical formulas, without sacrificing the power of Finish results – a win for even the tiniest members of your family! If you've been reading this blog for any duration of time, you know that the tiniest member of my family is basically my everything, so I was on board. I am a busy full-time Marketing Coordinator and full-time mom who does the majority of the in-house work (not to discredit my main squeeze, but he does the things I don't want to do (like yard work) and I do what he doesn't want to (like laundry and dishes)).




When I was approached by Finish, I asked myself: What can I do to SIMPLY keep harsh chemicals away from my baby? Switch to Finish® Quantum.

You all know that I am doing my best to change my lifestyle. I had a New Years resolution to run 1,000 miles in 2014 (progress report to come) but the resolution wasn't simply for running. It was to lead a better, healthier lifestyle. Not only for me, but for my whole family. Finish® Quantum is helping me to achieve this resolution.

Now that I have this little tyrant running around making my life a million times more busy exciting than it was before, I also seem to have more dishes (and laundry and general cleaning chores) to do. And let me tell you, we go through a LOT of dishes. Funny how that works, right? Someone so small can increase your daily chores so much... just baffling.



In any case, dishes are no longer on my "chore" list. Yes, they're still a to-do, but it's a feel-good to-do that I actually enjoy doing now because I see amazing results. The best part of these results, apart from the spot-free appearance of my dishes? The knowledge that I am doing my part to reduce the number of harsh chemicals that my child is exposed to. It really is a simple, satisfying, and effective transition.

I was sent a few packages of Quantum™ Power & Free™  to try and quite honestly, I was a little skeptical because sometimes when you hear that something has less harsh chemical formulas, you automatically assume they are less effective than they were when they included the harsh chemicals. In this case, that is untrue. My dishes come out of the dishwasher clean and spot-free! I am confident that the dishes that my family eats off of/drinks out of are clean. Quantum™ Power & Free™ is an effective and healthier alternative.

This may seem like a silly topic that not many people feel the need to discuss, but as moms I feel that it is our responsibility to support our children in any way possible, including the things we choose to (or in this case, not to) expose them to.



I have made the switch to Quantum™ Power & Free™  and encourage you to do the same. You can help put Finish Power & Free to the #FinishMoms test! Share the news of a "less harsh chemical formulas" dishwashing product and help us #CleanItForward!! 

Stay tuned for some AWESOME giveaways from the Finish Power & Free Alliance of Moms!!!

What is special about the Power & Free products products? 

  • Features Hydrogen Peroxide Action to power away the toughest food messes 
  • Detergents (Quantum & Powerball) contains no chlorine bleach, use less fragrances and dyes versus regular Finish detergents 
  • Finish Jet-Dry® Power & Free™ contains less harsh chemicals versus the regular formula 


Finish ® Quantum Power & Free™ is a three-chamber capsule featuring powerful cleaning ingredients with Hydrogen Peroxide Action. This product delivers sparkling clean and amazing shine, all with less harsh 
chemicals than the regular Quantum formula. 

And because I am such a fan of this company, here's a little bit about Finish:

Finish® is the #1 recommended dishwasher brand worldwide and has been a leading dishwashing product pioneer for the past 60 years. The brand is continuously innovating and testing its products to ensure families ultimate clean and amazing shine. This commitment has made Finish’s products recommended by more brands than any other dishwashing brand. The brand’s wide range of products meet anyone’s dishwashing needs.

Finish® Quantum was recently voted a Better Homes & Gardens Best New Dishwasher Detergent of 2013 by consumers. The product was also voted Product of the Year in the Dishwashing Detergent Category based on the 2013 BrandSpark/BHG American Shopper Study.

This January 2014, Finish® released a new line featuring less harsh chemical formulas. The products include Quantum® Power & Free™, Powerball® Power & Free™ and Jet-Dry® Power & Free™.

You can find the Finish brand here:
  • Product Website Product Website Website: http://www.finishdishwashing.com/powerandfree
  • Facebook: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FinishDishwashing 
  • Receive dish cleaning tips cleaning tips cleaning tips from Finish’s Dishwashing Experts: http://www.dishwashingexpert.com/ 
  •  YouTube Channel: YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/FinishDishwashing
  • Check out special offers and discount special offers and discount special offers and discount opportunities: http://www.finishdishwashing.com/news-and-offers/offers/coupons/
disclosure: i received product and payment in exchange for my open and honest opinions/review of Finish Quantum products. These opinions were not swayed in any way, but simply reflect my experience with the product.

Friday, February 21, 2014

California Roll {Recipe}

In the last year, I have discovered I LOVE sushi. Raw fish, cooked fish... you name it, I love it.

Tyler and I wanted sushi and didn't want to pay an arm and a leg to get it, so we decided to have a date night in and try to make it! 

The first one turned out bad... we didn't realize that you only use HALF a sheet of nori so it ended being a giant ugly roll, but now we're basically pros. Today, you can make it too!


We used the Food Network recipe.

Ingredients:

Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
4 sheets nori
1/2 batch sushi rice, recipe follows
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchstick-size pieces
4 crabsticks, torn into pieces
Wasabi, for serving
Soy sauce, for serving

Sushi Rice:

2 cups sushi or short grain rice
2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt


Directions:

Squeeze the lemon juice over the avocado to prevent browning.

Cover a bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap. Cut nori sheets in half crosswise. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic covered mat. Wet your fingers with water (CRUCIAL because sushi rice is extremely sticky) and spread about 1/2 cup of the rice evenly onto the nori.

Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds. Turn the sheet of nori over so that the rice side is down.

Place 1/8 of the cucumber, avocado and crab sticks in the center of the sheet. Grab the edge of the mat closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight cylinder, using the mat to shape the cylinder. Pull away the mat and set aside. Cover with a damp cloth. Repeat until all of the rice has been used.

Cut each roll into 6 pieces. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

Sushi Rice:

Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

 Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi. Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/california-roll-recipe.html?oc=linkback

This was the perfect (and most fun) date night in that we've ever had. We laughed a lot ant ate a ton. SO much fun. Also, we're getting better... :)



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"That Was My Best Dad-Moment Ever"


Have you ever heard someone say something and it just does something to your heart that makes it feel like it will explode out of your chest because it is so full? That's about where I'm at. I am filled with so much love with my family that I feel like my heart will burst.

Not too long ago, Kylie was a little ill. This comes as no surprise though as she's almost always sick with something these days. Which reminds me, I am SO stinking sick of winter. These kids need fresh air and to escape the cootie-filled prisons that are the indoors. I digress.

Anyway, Kylie began to fuss one night after being put to bed so Tyler got up from the couch where we were likely watching a movie or tv or something and went to tend to her. He was in her nursery a little longer than the typical Nuk replacement and when he finally returned, he said it. The thing that caused my heart to grow three-sizes that day (Grinch reference anyone?).

"That was my best dad moment ever. I picked her up and she just laid her head on my shoulder."

That was it. Those simple words that may mean nothing to some, turned me to mush. I knew his feeling. He felt what I've felt before. I could feel the love he had in that exact moment like she was resting her head on my shoulder. I knew that contentment.

I have been so consumed with thinking about how much I love Kylie and the 'look what she did's that I sometimes forget to just sit and spectate. To watch Tyler as he falls more and more in love with his baby. When I glance over at him and notice a smile playing at the corners of his lips and see his focus on his little girl, those are the moments I live for. 

I suppose I am doing a horrible job describing this but quite frankly, the feeling is indescribable. I just want to note it for me. For the future me, to remember those moments that, like every other moment, have to be documented before being forgotten and lost forever. And for Kylie so that she can know and maybe someday remember that those minuscule things meant so much to her daddy and I. All because they involved her. 

And then, my heart exploded. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Homemade Caramel Rolls {Recipe}

Work hard, play hard. Right?

Remember when I said I haven't sacrificed taste for healthy? Well, I may have sacrificed healthy for taste here however it's a rarity and I still ran a 10k... so I am totally at peace with it. Not to mention these are thee best breakfast in the history of breakfasts and I made 8 dozen of them this past winter (not all for me). EVERYONE loves them. No joke.

I want to warn you that this recipe makes 4 dozen rolls so you may want to divide it up if you don't want that many. If you make them in advance of an event, freeze them so they don't go bad. Otherwise we keep them in the fridge until we eat them and when we do eat (devour) them, we warm them in the microwave for 40 seconds with a dab of butter on top. Oh. My. Yum. 

This is a Betty Crocker recipe from the 80s I think and I've basically summarized it below. I may have lacked a little description though so if I did, ask and I'll provide tips. They're time consuming to make but totally worth it. 

Caramel Rolls

  • Make 4 c lukewarm milk with Dry Milk
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 c soft shortening
  • 4 pkg yeast dissolved in 1 c warm water and 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 eggs slightly beaten
  • 14 c or less of flour (try to get by with 13)
  • ½ c light corn syrup
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • ½ c butter
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ c white sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup

Make warm milk and add 1 c (one stick) Crisco shortening.

Add 1 c sugar.

When cool enough (so they don’t cook), add eggs and beat.

Add salt.

Take the 4 packages of yeast and 1 tsp sugar and put in 1 cup of warm water. Let bubble. ** do not stir. If there are dry parts on the side of the bowl, jiggle or shake the mixture. Once the yeast has risen, add it to the milk mixture.

Add 14 c of flour and knead until mixed.

Place in a greased bowl. Let it rise until it doubles in size or you stick your fingers in it and the finger holes stay. Punch down, flip over and let rise again (until double)

*** While dough is rising, prepare caramel mixture in a 9”x13” baking dish (I like to use glass)

½ cup melted butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup

When doubled, slice the dough into 4 equal pieces

Sprinkle flour on your flat surface as well as the top of the dough and roll out into a 9” by 18” oblong.

Spread 2 tbsp butter over surface of dough and sprinkle with 2 tsp cinnamon and ½ cup sugar.

Roll dough and pinch sides so they are not exposing any sugar or cinnamon.

Using thread, cut into 12 equal pieces and place on top of the caramel mixture.  (I highly suggest using string to cut. I have a YouTube video demonstrating if you want to see it)

Bake the rolls at 375* for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.   

Using a knife, go around pan to loosen rolls and to prevent them from sticking to pan.

Turn onto waxed paper. Scrape out the remaining caramel and put on top of the outside rolls.

Let cool and put into a 2 gallon bag to freeze. When eating, thaw and eat room temp or microwave to warm.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars (Muffins) {Recipe}

I have been watching what I eat for almost 100 days now and not ONCE have I had to sacrifice taste for health. This is one of those amazing, go-to breakfast recipes that I will likely use over and over again as not only did I love them, but so did my kiddo!

These turned out so delicious AND Kylie scarfed one down this morning so I would call that a double win. They are super easy and I made some slight modifications from a recipe I found somewhere on Facebook so bear with me.



Granola Bar Muffins

Makes about 2 dozen. 144 calories per muffin.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c unsweetened applesauce (I used homemade applesauce with apples we cored, peeled, and sliced last fall and froze)
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1.5 tsp stevia 
  • 1/4 c ground flax
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 c milk (I used skim)
  • 5 c oatmeal (I used quick oats)
  • about 1 cup milk chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana, stevia, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mixture will be creamy.

Slowly stir in the milk and finally, fold in the oats.

Place liners in two muffin tins. Fill cups evenly (will be about to top of muffin pan holes (is that the technical way to say it??)) and sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Bake in a 350* preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You'll want to keep them in an airtight container in the fridge OR freeze them. 

Yum.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Card Organizer

This past Christmas, I was at a TOTAL loss for what to get for my grandma, Tyler's grandma, and for my dad. I mean, what do you buy for the people who have everything? Then I thought: what is one thing that people buy often that I could give them so they don't have to buy it? Better yet, what can I make them?

My dad likes to get cheap cards and add a ton of value to them by writing long notes or really customizing them. This inspired me to make a Card Organizer!!

Every one of these three people LOVED their presents and have already begun using them. The best part is, for all three of them, I spent less than $150 and they are complete.

You will need:

A file tote (Walmart has them on sale all the time)
A stack of greeting cards
A permanent marker

Boom. Done.


I went to the dollar store and got a ton of 2 for $1 cards AS WELL AS Goodwill! I never would've thought that Goodwill and other second-hand stores would have NEW cards for sale, but they do! And they are only 10-25 cents! Also, for the Thank You tab, you can buy STACKS of Thank You cards at the dollar store... for ONE DOLLAR!

Take the file tabs out and label them with your permanent marker. To get started, I have provided you with a list of topics I used for labels:


Sort the cards so there are a few for each occasion and close it up!

Seriously, this gift is so easy and so practical. The tote makes the cards easy to find and by filling it up with some cards in advance, you are giving them something they can use in a bind! Happy sorting!

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