Momma’s Favorite No Bake Cookies

Ever since I was a little girl I can remember my mom whipping up a batch of homemade No Bake Cookies. They were the perfect mix of chocolate, peanut butter, and oatmeal; I could eat an entire batch all by myself. As an adult they have become my favorite dessert to take to parties, or friend’s homes. Not only are they amazingly delicious but they literally take 15 minutes to make and everyone loves them! I adapted my recipe from b-moviestar.com. The ingredient measurements are the same however the process is a bit different (she also has a healthier version on her website; I prefer the not healthy version :)).

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Ingredients
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 tablespoons cocoa
– 1 stick butter
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1 cup peanut butter
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– 3 cups oatmeal (I use quick oats, but you can use traditional)
– Waxed paper

Combine the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a large pot on medium/high heat. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for one minute. Be sure to not let mixture burn. Remove from heat after one minute and add oats, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix all ingredients well (do not allow too much time before spooning out; mixture hardens quickly). Spoon out tablespoon sized drops onto wax paper. Allow to cool and harden and ENJOY!

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Suit UP!

Well according to the crawling temps outside we are nearing summer.  Time for vacations, tan bodies, cool drinks, and que dramatic music BATHING SUITS!  No one I mean no one looks forward to bathing suit shopping (I am excluding the Kim K’s of the world).  It’s a time to trudge into your local department store and scour the store for something that is appropriate to wear around your in-laws, high enough so you don’t spill out the top, and tight enough across the tush to ensure there is not “sagging” (if you know what I mean).

Last year we didn’t do a big vacay so I pulled out my old suits to head to our local pool.  However this year we are going to TX, AZ, and Cali on a family vacation and I have already begun prepping my wardrobe (i.e. I will buy anything that has an oversized palm leaf print on it).  I wanted to at least find one good one-piece that could carry on for a few years and that would still be trendy three years from now.  Here is my one-piece round up, I’ll update you guys later to let you know how the search went.  Hopefully within the the next few weeks I’ll manage to find something!

 

What I love about this one is the classic polka dot pattern and the color blocking, I think this will be very flattering!

What I love about this one is the classic polka dot pattern and the color blocking, I think this will be very flattering!

This look is so similar to the marysia collection which retails for about $200.00!

This look is so similar to the marysia collection which retails for about $200.00!

This is totally afforable and figure flattering with the peplum detailing!

This is totally affordable and figure flattering with the peplum detailing!

All over palm print...I die!

All over palm print…I die!

Check back to see what I ended up going with!

Almost summer…

  
I’m getting my hula skirt ready because it’s almost summer vacation!! Woooot!

Most people think I’m a crazy person for returning to work with only 9 school days remaining. But, I know my little jellybean is in good hands with the care of her GG. Here’s to hoping the days fly by and put us one step closer to a summer filled with family time, new memories, and lots of baby kisses!!

  

Our final attempts to get ready to become parents.

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With it being Memorial Day Weekend, and us not having any family or friends who stayed in the area, it gave us the opportunity to not only prepare some final things before the baby gets here but also to spend some quality time together.  Lance and I kicked off the weekend with a much-needed date night which included, dinner out at a restaurant, and a trip to the mall so Lance could get some new clothes.  Every day ended up being a mixture of “final preparation” as well as some fun things for us to do, and I think it gave us the opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and appreciate what we can accomplish together…just the two of us.

Here are some final things we did to prepare for the baby, which you may not think of:

1. I re-organized my hospital bag and made it two bags.  One bag is for labor….what we will walk in with.  It includes: a robe, slippers, a recording of the baby’s heartbeat and a sonogram picture, and some reading materials, a water bottle, and my birth plan.  The second bag has all of our toiletries and clothes to wear home as well as clothes, and blankets for the baby (including a little knit lion outfit I want to get professional pictures of him in).

2. We made everything for the baby and for me accessible.  All of my clothes are usually on our second floor, and our bedroom is on the first.  We brought essential baby items downstairs, like onesies, diapers, wipes, diaper genie, blankets, towels and things for bathing as well as the glider and pack and play (which he will sleep in) and set everything up in our room.   We also brought my sundresses, lounge wear, and comfy nursing necessities and found a home for them in Lance’s dressers.  This will allow me to be more independent after the baby get’s here especially after Lance goes back to work.

3. Cleaned and got ready for guests.  Now I know what you’re thinking…I have gone too far, right?  Okay, but listen to my reasoning, here.  I like to have a clean house.  I find it stressful to have a messy one.  Lance helped me clean the bathrooms and all of the floors in the house while I made the guest room beds.  You never know when family will want to come see the baby an ours live far away.  I just wanted to be prepared so it wasn’t stressful for me later.  I know no one expects me to have a clean house now, or even after the baby get’s here, but it makes me feel good.

4. I did something I have always wanted to do.  I have always wanted fresh herbs and a few veggies, but our wild-life inhabited yard has always made things difficult.  At 37 weeks pregnant, I can’t really do major yard work, either, so we got some flower boxes and some fresh herbs and I planted away.  I made sure to sit down in a chair and drink plenty of water under our porch umbrella, and filled the flower boxes with potting soil on top of a table (instead of on the ground).  I was comfortable, happy, and didn’t need Lance’s help!  Not to mention, we will have tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, sage, mint, rosemary, lavender, and basil this summer!

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5. We had fun together.  We ate a lot, had ice-cream almost every night, and slept in every day.  We went to dinner not once, but twice and sat outside together to watch the dogs play.  With our other to-do’s, there was just enough time to enjoy one another and to truly treasure some of our last moments alone as a family of 4…Lance and I and our two dogs, Max and Koa.

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6. We took care of our pets.  We washed our dogs, and got their nails clipped, and brushed them.  We called and made sure they were up to date on their shots, and got the due dates for their next ones.  We are good to go until August with their vaccines, etc. so no need to take action, now.

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Friday Favorites!

Here’s what I was loving this week!

1) Keurig® 2.0 K350 Brewing System-This amazing appliance was my Mother’s Day gift and I am obsessed with it. Not only can you brew your coffee it to be stronger, but it also comes with a carafe! That’s right, a carafe! I love this feature not only for myself but for when we have company over. I always hated brewing one cup at a time with my old Keurig, but now I don’t have to. I also love how quickly it heats up and is ready to brew.  If you are in the market for a new coffee maker I strongly suggest this one!

Thank you coffee Gods (and my husband) for this magical appliance!

Thank you coffee Gods (and my husband) for this magical appliance!

2) Stacy’s Simply Naked® Pita Chips and Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Hummus-This one is a two-for. Lately this has been our go-to snack. The girls love it, it’s easy and healty-ish. The pita chips are always super fresh and the Hummus is gluten free, lactose free and vegan. Both iteams I feel good about putting in my body and serving to my family.

Yummmmm!

Yummmmm!

3) Target toddler shoes-I.WISH.THEY.CAME.IN.MY.SIZE. I’m obsessed with my daughter’s shoes, that’s all there is to it. They are adorable!

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4) Threshold™ Indoor Outdoor Flatweave Area Rug-I needed a new rug terribly, our old one had seen much better days so when I came across this rug (on sale) I couldn’t pass it up! It’s the perfect pop of color for our living room and it’s super easy to clean.

Feels like summer in my living room!

Feels like summer in my living room!

5) Women’s Mid-Rise Rockstar Skinny Jeans-I love these jeans. They are super comfortable and easy to wash, not to mention you can dress them up or down.

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What were your favorites from this week?

Raccoon Creek State Park

The past two weekends we’ve had were semi free, in the fact that we didn’t have to rush from here to there and everywhere.  E has been able to do yard work and I was able to get my potted plants; planted.  In saying that Rachel called me two Sunday’s ago and wanted to go hiking.  After her quick search they came up with Raccoon Creek State Park.  About 40 minutes from here it was a place that was tucked away just enough but was very easily accessible.

They picked us up and we headed out.  We made sure to pack a bag with enough water, snacks, and flips for the way home.  The park is laid out with numerous trails, so if your hiking, biking, or even horseback riding there is a trail for everyone.  I am linking the map that we’ve used the past two trips to scout out the best routes.

Our first trail out we did hit a trail with a ton of hills.  It wasn’t so bad but it was definitely more than any of us bargained for and we ended up going about 5 miles that day.  The trails are super scenic and very very backwoods.  We seemed to be the only one on the trails but this was one of the first really nice weekends.  This past Sunday Rachel mapped our course including the fresh mineral spring on our hike.  It was really awesome and we ended up connecting to some of the other larger trails before heading back to the car.  The only draw back was that it had rained the day before and the ground was super muddy.  Ask Rachel and Mike’s Tom’s who feel victim to the sludge.  All in all this trail was around 4 miles with fewer hills but still the same great scenery.

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Not the most flattering photo of us to say the least! But at least we were having fun!

 

A few things I’ve learned from hiking in Western PA is wear bug spray!  I got eaten alive and I had long pants on!  Purchase proper footwear.  We are planning on making this a regular occurrence and wearing sneakers is ok but does not provide a lot of support.  It was really nice to get out and see explore parts of PA that I’ve never been too.  You don’t have to go far to find out somewhere new and exciting.

First Month Favorites

As a first time mom, I spent a lot of time researching and compiling a list of must-have items for when Ainsley arrived. I talked to friends and family members, and also used some of my favorite blogs as a shopping guide. So, I wanted to share some of the things I felt were a huge help as I tried to navigate through the first month of motherhood. 

1. Chuck pads….hello time saver! These convenient little blue and white pads save your life when midnight diaper changes turn into a full blown bathroom disaster. I’ll spare you the details, but these pads make cleanup a breeze and protect your changing pad cover from the washing machine each day.

See that blue and white pad lining the changing table? It may not be the “cutest” baby necessity, but it’s worth it!

2. My Breast Friend– I’ll be honest, I originally registered for a Boppy, but when one of my friends gave me this pillow, I was so glad she did! The thick foam made it easier to position Ainsley and the pocket in the front allowed me to keep my lanolin close by. (Lanolin is also a must-have item for breastfeeding!)  I also liked that I was able to clip this nursing pillow around my waist for added support.  

3. Rock n play– It’s simple….you can’t live without this baby item! I was one of those people who thought I would come home from the hospital and immediately place Ainsley in her crib.  I didn’t want to start any bad habits from the beginning, right? Well, that idea was short lived when they determined that Ainsley had a mild case of acid reflux and needed to lay on an incline for a minimum of 30 minutes after each feeding.  The Rock n Play was the best solution- it’s inexpensive, lightweigt, collapsable and easy to move from room to room.   

Our first night at home. Rock n Play to the rescue!

  

 4. Skip Hop diaper bag– I love how easy it is to stay organized with this diaper bag. The inside is lined with pockets and the outside is water resistant (aka it is super easy to keep clean).  I selected the French Stripe pattern, but they have a variety of patterns available to suit the style of any momma. 

   

5. Sound machines- I’m not sure who enjoys this more, Ainsley or her daddy!  😉 We currently have two sound machines that we use on a daily basis: one in the nursery and a portable one for her car seat.  Ainsley likes listening to white noise but a variety of sounds are included on each machine.  

  

Braised Beet Salad with Baked Goat Cheese

In recent weeks Michael and I have transformed to cable-less freaks of nature to Verizon Fios drones!

Just kidding, but we did get cable and now I just can not turn off the food network!  It has been very inspiring and now all I want to do is cook.  It has always been a hobby of mine, but lately I am enjoying it more than ever and doing it as much as I have time.

Last night I made a braised beet salad with baked goat cheese.  The truth is – I only eat beets so that I can eat goat cheese.  Goat cheese is a slight obsession of mine.  Michael was craving beets (Who craves beets?).  So it was a win for everyone!

I have made mention before to our favorite cooking show (not on the food network) called America’s Test Kitchen.   These two recipes come from the Test Kitchen.  You can watch re-runs of recent episodes on Amazon Prime Instant Video.  Unfortunately they force you to join a membership in order to watch or grab recipes directly from their website.

Here is what you need:

For the beet salad –

  • 3-4 Beets, well cleaned, and halved.
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 almonds, chopped and toasted

For the goat cheese –

  • 2 oz goat cheese ( or preferred amount of goat cheese, I did 1 oz per person, split into a total of 4 balls)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse dry garlic (or garlic powder)
  • 1-2 tablespoon of your favorite herbs, chopped (I used basil, lemon thyme, and parsley because its what I had)

This recipe will take you about an hour.

  1. After cleaning your beets, remove the tops and bottoms.  Place in a saute pan with high sides and top with 1 and 1/4 cup water (and salt).  Bring to a boil, then cover, and move the heat to low.  Allow to simmer for 45 minutes or until a knife falls through the center with no pressure.
  2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Whisk egg and dijon. In a separate bowl Mix bread crumbs and coarse dry garlic.
  3. Roll your goat cheese into balls.  Roll balls into/on top of chopped fresh herbs.    Toss cheese ball into egg mixture.    Toss cheese ball into bread crumbs.  Press on centers to create a disk shape.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove beets from skillet and let cool.  Once cool, use a paper towel to pull the skins off of the beets.  Add light pressure with the towel and twist like a door knob.
  5. Continue to cook beet juice/water until it becomes a syrup consistency (when you drag your spatula through the glaze, it will leave a trail behind).  You may need to bring your heat up to get to this point.
  6. Add vinegar and brown sugar.  Cook until a full glaze.   Then pull from heat.  When cool stir in shallot, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. This is your dressing.
  7. Place cheese in oven for 7-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye.
  8. Cut beets into 1/2″ pieces.  Toss in dressing.  Top with mint, thyme, and almonds.

VIOLA!  I chose to set my beet salad and baked goat cheese up top of arugula with olive oil and sea salt – but really it was not necessary.  I was hoping to turn the recipe to a summer dish with the arugula – but it took away from the star : beets.  Michael suggested a little less lemon zest next time around, so that is something to consider while you cook! My opinion?  NEEDS MORE GOAT CHEESE !

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Enjoy!

 

 

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

It’s taken me a while, but something I have finally mastered are eggs, in almost any form.  The one I still haven’t gotten the hang of are poached eggs, but I promise to blog about it as soon as I do!  Recently a co-worker of mine was peeling her hard-boiled egg, and I could see by all the divots in the egg white that she wasn’t making them correctly.  So, this one’s for you, Courtney.

1. Put your eggs to be boiled out on the counter so they aren’t so chilly.  This will help them from cracking in the hot water.

2. Bring a pot of water to boil.  How much water?  I would say to fill your pan about 3 inches high or just enough to cover the eggs.  PSSST!  Don’t put your eggs in until the water is boiling, silly!

3. Once the water is at a rolling boil, use a serving spoon or a ladle to lower the eggs into the water.  Be extremely careful not to let the egg bounce to the bottom.  Treat it like the raw egg it is!

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4. Set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes and let the eggs boil.

5. While the eggs are boiling, fill a container with ice and water to make an ice bath.  This is what the boiled eggs will go into straight from the pot.

6. When your 10 minutes are up, get your eggs out of the pot with your serving spoon/ladle and submerge them into the ice bath.  Let them in the ice bath until they are cold.

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7. Dry them off and put them in an empty egg carton for storage.

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Tip:  When you’re shelling them, gently tap them on a hard surface to put cracks in the egg and roll the egg while you’re tapping it, so you’re putting cracks all around.  Start peeling them by lifting the shell and the clear skin layer underneath, and it should come off very easily.

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I love to eat hard-boiled eggs for breakfast with Red Hot!  I also like them on salads and I LOVE egg salad sandwiches and deviled-eggs!  They’re a great source of protein, and delicious.

A little Momma sap for your Friday…

20150428_174505Last night I was lying in bed and it hit me…these are my people. My husband and I created them, they are all ours…forever. It makes me wonder what in the world did we do to deserve this. My husband and I often have moments where out of nowhere we say to each other “can you believe they are ours’?” We are blessed by these two crazy, silly, wild, independent, incredibly beautiful little girls. Our days are filled with giggles, sloppy kisses and dirty faces. It’s amazing how quickly time goes by when you have people other than yourself to focus on.

I can’t remember anything before them that has made me more happy or proud. I wake up thinking about them and go to bed praying for them. That someday (if they so choose) they will be blessed with their own children; that they are able to follow and fulfill their dreams, that they never fear talking to Nick and I about the hard stuff, and that they always know where home is, no matter what. To me they will always be those wide eyed babies who need me, they will always be the girls who scrape their knees and need mommy and daddy to kiss it better, they will always be the sisters that hid behind curtains and giggle at each other, they will always be our’s…forever.

My entire life I grew up knowing that my life’s mission was to be to be a wife and momma. My dreams and expectations have been far exceeded and even on our worst days I take a step back and feel so blessed to have these healthy, perfect children and a husband that works his butt off so I can be home with them. My life by no means is perfect but to me it is pretty darn close. I cannot wait to see what and who they grow up to be; every once in a while they give me a little clue, a little hint at how their lives are going to pan out; but for now we are living in the moment and enjoying our sticky, silly, messy life.