Thursday, September 29, 2016

game day food: chicken bacon wraps

We were first introduced to these glorious sweet bites of goodness almost five years ago at a friend’s house. If I remember correctly, Mike and I kept each other's cover as we took turns snatching these babies up while no one looked. We ended the night begging for the recipe because it really is the perfect pairing for beer on game day or appetizer for any type of gathering.
The combination of salty bacon, sweet brown sugar and spicy chili powder is the perfect balance for any palette. Who can deny any of these delicious ingredients, especially when paired together. I promise these will not go ignored at a party, but will be one of the first plates to be devoured and guests will be asking for more.

  Chicken Bacon Wraps

4 Chicken Breasts, cut into one inch pieces
1 lb. Sliced Bacon, cut into thirds (this may vary based on original size of bacon strips)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1-1/2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Wrap one strip of bacon around one piece of chicken and secure it with a toothpick. Continue with remaining bacon strips and chicken pieces. 
In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, garlic powder, chili powder and paprika. Coat each chicken-bacon wrap in brown sugar mixture thoroughly.
Spray a baking rack with cooking spray and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place chicken-bacon wraps on baking rack and bake 30 minutes.
Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

berry puff pancake

It’s not everyday I get up in the morning to make a fancy breakfast, but truthfully...this is not fancy, it’s so simple. With three babes to get ready in the morning, whipping up pancakes can usually be a task and often reserved for Fridays. However, this recipe doesn’t allow for anymore excuses to not make pancakes during the week and I love it! 
I read through a few different recipes I found and made this one. I added cinnamon and next time I plan to add ricotta cheese into the pancake batter, something I enjoy from one of my favorite diners in Omaha, Amatos. Add a few eggs, milk & sugar and you have yourself a one skillet pancake, perfect for busy mornings. 

Together, the kids and I, mixed everything together. This was Finn’s first time helping scoop, pour and mix ingredients. He wasn’t a fan of taking turns and sharing the stirring duties with Kensi, but thankfully she was understanding and let him do most of it since it was his first time as she gleefully said, "He’s just so excited to help mom!” 
Waiting for the pancake to bake was obviously the hardest part for both of them. Kensi constantly checked the pancake by peering through the glass door and let me know if it seemed puffy enough. 
I imagine this recipe would feed several people, but my babies nearly ate the entire thing. I swear put berries in anything and they will devour it to its crumbs!

Berry Puff Pancake
4 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Lemon Zest
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 cup Berries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Use a hand mixer to combine eggs, milk, flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt.
Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over high heat on the stove. Add the butter and melt. Pour batter into skillet, then scatter the berries on top. Put skillet in the oven and bake until puffed and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Slice and serve, topped with powdered sugar, syrup or freshly whipped cream, if desired.
Source: (Adapted from Martha Stewart's Blueberry Dutch Pancakes)

Monday, September 26, 2016

there’s an oil for that

We had a long weekend visit from one of my best friends from college. Her and her sweet family stayed at our house and you can imagine how fun and crazy it was to have five kids four years old and under running around. We brought them to the Fort Fisher Aquarium which actually turned out to be the perfect day for us to go because we were smothered with rain from a heavy storm. We also spent an afternoon on the beach and if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my post about Mike and I still recovering from just spending a couple hours in the sand with the kids. It’s no joke, days like those are completely draining because it takes so much effort to make the trip successful.
We said goodbye to our friends Sunday morning and spent the afternoon relaxing and getting back into our regular swing of things. That was until Sunday night when Kensi said she was ‘super cold’, didn’t want to eat and just wanted to snuggle. After about an hour of Kensi just not being her normal goofy self we took her temperature and what do ya know...she was running a fever. It never fails, when we have visitors someone almost always gets sick.
Mike and I tag-teamed the situation and thought we had it all under control until Kensi asked for water and it immediately came back up. That’s always the worst. A fever is one thing and bearable, but throw in a stomach bug and I go into psycho-germaphobe-clean-freak-mode. I swear every cleaning appliance we own is in working motion when this happens. My closest friends and family know I don’t usually keep harsh chemicals in our house and label me as crunchy or granola, heck...I label myself crunchy because many people think I’m crazy when I tell them I mix my own laundry stain removers, dust my carpet with baking soda and treat our kids and home with essential oils. But honestly, I just like knowing what I’m exposing our family to and more importantly I love natural ingredients and will always opt for a product containing them. This doesn’t mean I’m anti-chemicals or medications, I still use laundry detergent and dishwasher soap and I love using the wand cleaner for the toilets because it’s so much easier and to me more sanitary than using a toilet brush. There’s a balance in our home. If you happen to be crunchy like me or have an interest in crossing over to the crunchy side you may enjoy essential oils just as much as the next crunchy mama.
We’ve been using essential oils for a few years now and they really work well for our family. We use them for literally everything; cleaning, health + wellness, fragrance, & cooking. With as much as we use EO (essential oils) I recently dove into becoming a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. It took me awhile to jump in, but my priority is making our home healthy with the best oils while being able to save money. It's a win-win for our family. There are several oils we use daily and certain oils we use for specific uses and less frequently. Lavender, peppermint, thieves & lemon are some of our most used oils and here’s a few reasons why...

This is the first oil we began using because it's kind of a catch all oil. When in doubt use lavender. When we moved into our house Kensi was scared of the dark and somehow thought there were monsters. We decided to mix up our own ‘monster spray’ for bedtime. I use a 2oz bottle and add eight to ten drops of lavender oil and fill the rest with distilled water. The lavender has calming properties and helps Kensi relax. She spritzes it on her pillow and sheets, her closet, under her bed and every other square inch of her room and Finn’s room. 

I also enjoy using lavender in the laundry room. I use a free & clear detergent which doesn’t have a fun scent. Adding a drop of lavender to our detergent with each load makes all our clothes smell heavenly. Sometimes I’ll also add it to our cloth dryer balls or a washcloth and throw them into the dryer for some added scent. 

My favorite properties of lavender include the oil being an anti-histamine and anti-microbial which makes it great for using on cuts, scars, scrapes, wounds, bites and burns. Just last week Mike burned his hand on our cast iron skillet. I gave him one drop of pure lavender oil to rub on the burn. By the next morning the burn had lost its sting and was already healing. Within a couple days, after he continued to rub a drop of oil each day, his burn healed with no blistering or scarring. Lavender can seriously be used for almost anything!

Peppermint oil is our go to oil when we’re not feeling well as it helps relieve headaches, reduces fevers and helps prevent nausea. I used this for Kensi by rubbing diluted peppermint oil on the bottoms of her feet and tummy and also diffusing it near her bed for 30 minutes.
Peppermint can also help deter mice, ants & other bugs...a great way to use it inside and outside the house such as the garage!

Thieves & Lemon
These two oils work well on their own or together. Both are anti-fungal and anti-viral and are best known for cleaning. I love the smell of thieves as its base oil is clove. It smells great! I like to use thieves as our main cleaner in the kitchen and bathrooms and it works well when I need to really disinfect the whole house by diffusing it and wiping down door knobs, chairs & handrails.
We tend to go through lemon like it’s going out of style because we add it to our dishwasher. It’s great for degreasing and leaves us sparkling clean, fresh smelling dishes. It’s also great for dusting and we even add it to our water for detoxing and fighting off colds.
Whenever we use essential oils (which is everyday) the house smells amazing and I feel better knowing I disinfected everything naturally and I’m making our home healthier. 

I really love the versatility of essential oils and when used properly & safely the health benefits for our family and home. If you’re interested in EO and would like to make them part of your daily life, I’ve added a tab at the top of the blog where you can learn more or you can CLICK HERE. I’d love to help you make your home even healthier!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

game day food: nebraska runzas

I flaked out the past week with blog posts. I had every intention of sharing our Runza recipe in time for Saturday’s game day food post and it didn’t happen. We had a busy week and I let it get away from me, but I also admit when we made Runzas for dinner earlier in the week for this post specifically, they turned out looking terrible and I quickly called my big sis to save me so I could fix my mistakes and have it blog worthy. So I apologize for anyone who wanted this recipe for the weekend, but I hope you can enjoy for our next game day. 

The best way for me to describe a Runza is that it’s similar to a calzone, except it’s filled with an onion-cabbage-hamburger mix with special add ins. The typical Runza is filled with cheese and that’s it. Our favorite is the mushroom-swiss version and we do this by sautéing baby bella mushrooms with butter, adding it on top of the hamburger mixture and then topping it with swiss cheese before sealing the pocket of dough. Mike is not always a fan of the cabbage added into the basic mixture so my quantities are probably different than my sister’s original recipe. 

Nebraska Runzas
makes 8 
1 lb. Hamburger 
1/2 White Onion, finely chopped
1/2 bag Cabbage, shredded
16  Rhodes Frozen Dinner Rolls
1 - 8oz bag Shredded Cheese of choice, (we recommend Swiss or Cheddar)
Melted Butter for brushing

Begin by browning the hamburger and onion together in a pan and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, thaw the Rhodes Rolls in the microwave for 15 seconds on each side. The dough should be pliable. Stack two rolls on top of each other and roll out gently. When done, there should be 8 flattened rounds of dough. 
Once the hamburger is done, drain off any extra fat. Add the shredded cabbage to the hamburger mixture and cook until just wilted and remove from heat. 
Now it’s time to fill our Runzas. Place about 1/4 cup of the hamburger mixtures and place on one half of the rolled out dough. Sprinkle cheese of choice on top of the meat mixture. Fold the dough over the meat + cheese. Brush the edges of the inside of the roll with water. To seal either use a fork or your fingers to pinch shut. We like to use a pastry crimper. Continue with remaining dough and hamburger mixture and place Runzas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each Runza with melted butter and bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

let’s add color

We're almost done painting everything Classic Gray by Benjamin Moore to bring in more light. It really neutralized each living space and gave each room a fresh, clean slate, and it works well for us, especially me more so than I would have ever thought because I change my mind frequently when it comes to decor. The neutral colors looks good, but it can be boring so now we're ready to add color, character and personality! 
Earlier this year we purchased new white sofas and recently found an ottoman to go with them. The ottoman is black, tufted and square shaped. I found it on Joss and Main and we waited a few months just watching and waiting for the price to drop. Waiting can really pay off, as we saved nearly $60 from when we first saw it. It looks pretty in the picture, but lets get a little real. Some of the fabric on the corners that tucks is loose and I ended up hand stitching it down so it wouldn’t pull. Also, the feet screw in, but they seem a little bowed. Mike is still trying to come up with an idea to make it more secure with the kids because kids are kids and they like to climb on top of it. Both the ottoman and the sofa set are plain jane, but I like having basic pieces because they can be styled in several different ways with color and texture. Right now our living room looks boring, but it's definitely brighter than before and I'm on the search for a rug and fun pillows. One of the most challenging areas to design for our living room has been our main wall that holds our television. There's nothing there and it screams 'HELP ME!!’
After much Pinterest searching and bouncing ideas off Mike, we've come up with possibly painting the wall a pop of color or adding wallpaper (I would LOVE this!!!!) and turning it into a gallery of photos. The photo wall makes sense for us because we don't have much of anything up on any wall. Here are a few saved from my Pinterest board that I’m using for inspiration. 
We’re excited to add pops of color through pillows, throws and artwork. Over the weekend we found a few fun pillows and fabrics to begin adding to our living room space. I’ve always loved muted colors and I’m really falling for teal and raspberry color combinations. I think mixing it in with some simple black and white patterns and natural wood elements is so much fun. I’m so excited to have some color to liven up this space! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

favorite fall finds: babe style

Around July I always get the itch for fall and I start searching through my favorite shops and stores for early fall arrivals. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons and I can hardly contain my excitement for them. I especially love finding great fall wardrobe pieces for everyone in our family. I’m a sucker for a great pair of boots, flannel, vests and cute dresses. This year I found some great pieces for our babes and the best part is some of the pieces can be worn by both genders as long as we wear them well. My ultimate favorite pieces this year are from Childhoods Clothing. They are amazingly soft and comfortable for our kids. Kensi loves her sweater dress and Finn pulls his skinny sweats out of the laundry pile if he sees them. I even got Olivia a pair of bloomers this year and they are seriously by far the cutest thing on her little body. They’re simple and can be paired dozens of ways, the best part for me is I can buy Kensi, Finn and Olivia all the same color in different items for a matching look!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

halloween costume planning

It’s that time of year again, prepping for Halloween costumes. Last weekend, while we were getting pummeled with rain, we ventured to Target and scored a few Halloween items from the dollar bin. Kensi got so excited finding a few small pumpkins to set up for decorating. She’s already asked if we can go back so she can add a couple more to different rooms in the house. If only I could say she’s just like her mama, but the reality is Mike was just as excited and put a few items of his own in our cart. I guess we’re kind of holiday freaks.

We’ve been discussing a few different ideas for our family theme the last few weeks and with as crazy as our lives have become with three babes, I would LOVE to do a circus theme, but it’s getting overruled by Kensi. We tried explaining to her that next year Finn will have some say in what he would like to be (since he’ll be nearly 3), but of course she’s only 4 and doesn’t understand and we’ll probably have a HUGE meltdown next year when it comes to picking our costumes. Kensi really wants to be a princess this year and I’m for it, unless she so happens to change her mind between now and when I go to the fabric store. Life of a girl.

So with ‘princess’ being the center of it all, we’re planning on going with a fairy tale theme. Yes, it’s been done millions of times, but I think it will be really cute and so much fun. Plus, let’s let kids be kids. I don’t want our holidays and festive fun to be forced by any means. Knowing our kids get to dress up how they want makes everything much more enjoyable and they’ll remember for what it should be.
I need to get myself in gear and start making the costumes, especially since I have FIVE to make this year, SIX if we include Stella. Kensi and I sat down last night and began planning out some of our ideas. She loves picking out every color of the rainbow for the costumes. We’re going for a whimsical color combination and using this gorgeous bouquet as inspiration.

I definitely have my work cutout! I’ll try my best to give little sneak peeks at the semi-homemade costumes through my IG account, come find us as we’d love for you to follow along.

What are your littles wanting to dress up as this year?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

game day food: white queso dip

One of our favorite elements of fall is college football season. Neither Mike or I were never really into the NFL so our game days are typically Saturdays. We grew up in Nebraksa and were raised as Husker fans so you'll hear us chanting GBR or Go Big Red. 
Aside from a good game, we love game day food. My family often hits up some of our favorite local pizza joints or everyone chills at someone's house while we make homemade Runzas or egg rolls. What's a Runza you ask? It's a sandwich stuffed with seasoned ground beef, cabbage and cheese, and t’s native to Nebraska. My oldest sister has perfected our family's homemade version and it's easy to make. Bonus, the stuffing freezes well to make from week to week. We’re making some for tomorrow and will share the recipe in the coming days for anyone who would like to make them for next weekend.
A little throwback to Kensi’s first Husker football party. She was so tiny and I just loved her crazy hair!

Over the last several years since we've been away from family so we've come to make our Saturday game days our own. We love trying new recipes and pairing them with different brews. Some of our other favorite go to foods are hot wings, chili, beer cheese soup and an array of dips. I thought it would be fun to share a game day recipe each week in honor of college football. Hopefully I can make our team proud by delivering some killer recipes. 
Last weekend, we made this easy Five Ingredient White Queso Dip I found on Pinterest from The Baking Fairy. This dip would be great for any party, especially for football, but even better for a self serve nacho bar. I love this idea and think it would be so much fun and plan to set one up for our friends in the next few weeks. The dip itself is very easy to put together and can be made on  he stovetop or in a small Crock-Pot. Mike and I both love queso and always eat way too much for our own good, but typical homemade queso dip is made with artificial cheese which completely grosses us out. There aren’t any artificial ingredients in this recipe which makes this the perfect dip for the party!
Happy Game Day!

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