Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chocolate chip Banana Muffins

Baking is one of the things my kids enjoy more than anything I started baking with Lily when she was really little and she's getting to the point that she can practically do it all on her own! Charlie has fun with it as well and I so enjoy the time that we all spend baking together. Also, baking teaches them a skill that will be necessary for them to have as they get older (being able to cook and read and follow recipes). Yes, even my boys will learn to cook and bake - they will make FABULOUS husbands someday. ;)

While, of course, we love to bake cookies and pies and desserts around here, one of our favorite things to bake are muffins. I have a ton of muffin recipes and we really like making them all - plus there are so many great seasonal ones like pumpkin or berry muffins. However, one if our favorites are the chocolate chip banana muffins. The kids have a blast smooshing the bananas and, of course, licking the bowl - yum! The thing I like best about this recipe is that I usually have all of the ingredients in my pantry. Just add bananas!

Chocolate chip banana muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 /2 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter, softened
1 c. Sugar
2 eggs
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. milk
1/2 c. Chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 18 muffin cups. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, blending well. Mix in bananas and milk. Finally fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25 minutes or into a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Enjoy!

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Easy-peasy apple dumplings

I'm a total foodie. I love to cook, I love to eat and I love to try new recipes. I'm not sure if ANYTHING I have tried has ever been as yummy and as good as this amazing dessert. Don't believe me? Think it sounds a little strange? We'll so did I! But you just wait and you'll see! You'll take a bite and have that moment where you swear the heavens open up and the harps are playing just for you....that's right, it's heavenly!! ;)

My mom gave me this recipe...I'm not sure where she for it from, but she made it a couple of weeks ago and was telling me how she and everyone else who tried it pretty much thought it was the best thing they ever put in their mouth. So NATURALLY I had to try it myself. When I tried hers, it was reheated and STILL to die for! :) So can't wait for you to try it out. Here goes.... 

Easy-Peasy Apple Dumplings

2 (8ct. Pkgs) crescent rolls
2 apples of your choice (I used Fuji) peeled, cored and sliced into 8 pieces. 
2 sticks (1c.) butter
1 c. Sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
6 oz. clear soda (7up, sprite, etc) 

Place one slice of apple at one end of a crescent roll and roll up. Tuck in the ends and place in a greased 9x13 pan. Repeat with all 16 crescent rolls and apple slices.  Line in a single layer in your pan.

In a small saucepan melt butter.  Add in sugar and cinnamon until completely dissolved and pour over dumplings. Pour soda over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until liquid is cooked off completely. Serve warm.  Store in the refrigerator and reheat for an awesome dessert tomorrow (or for breakfast!)

Frugal Facts: This dessert only cost me about $6 + a few pantry items to make and can make dessert for several nights depending on how big your family is :) Check online for crescent roll coupons, they have them available everywhere (sometimes right on the tube!)

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Playing Catch-Up - AGAIN!

One of these days I'll get better about this whole blogging thing ;) Gosh it's been forever since I've written! Time flies by so quickly and this blog always seems to get put on the back burner.  So let's catch up.....

My sweet Henry is almost ten months old!  He is standing on his own and getting ready to WALK. I just can't believe how quickly he is growing.  He has such a beautiful, sweet spirit and I adore him so very much.  Although he was such a surprise, He has been such a blessing to our family!

Charlie is 2 1/2 now and Lily is going to be FIVE in a couple of weeks.  I just can't believe how fast they grow up and become little adults.  Lily is LOVING preschool, which is a huge change from last year and she's so smart!  Charlie is singing his ABC's and counting, and talking up a STORM.  They just make me so happy and I'm so thankful to be their Mommy :)

Matt and I celebrated our 7th anniversary in October by attending a Matthew West Concert that was phenomenal!  We had such a wonderful time and have both been affected by it so much. It was an awesome night that won't be forgotten anytime soon.  If you ever get the chance to check him out live, please do!  It is definitely worth your time! 

While I'm playing catch up I thought it would be a good time to talk about where I want to go with this blog.  Matt and I have been working on simplifying our lives, cutting back on the money we spend on unimportant things (like cable and expensive cell phone bills!) and trying to make it possible for me to continue staying home with our sweet babes. So I'll be sharing some things that I'm learning on living frugally and still having everything we want and need in life.  In a world that seems to be so chaotic and ever changing, we are getting back to the basics.  If you have any tips you want to share, I'd love to hear them!  I know we're all suffering through some hard times economically so I'm sure everyone has some great ideas!

Thanks so much for coming to read and see what we have going on :)  I've got some great new recipes to share soon too, so please keep checking back! 

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Monday, May 13, 2013

A path to enlightenment....

It's been a long time since I have written.  Why?  Honestly, it was because I wasn't sure what to write about.  Since birthing my sweet baby number three, Henry, I have been soul searching. Searching for spiritual comfort, a place for my heart to rest.  Not necessarily was I searching for religion, although I do feel like I am now closer to God than ever, but for new spirit in my life.  I know I was put here on Earth to be a wife and a mom, and I honestly love every moment of it. But I felt like my own womanhood was slipping away. I needed to find out who I am, and what I want out of life.

When I started this blog I dreamed of a beautiful blog filled with homemade, easy recipes and a look at a little glimpse of what life is like for a young Mom.  But in looking at my blog title "A Sweet and Simple Life" I realize that that is my ultimate goal in life.  Simplicity. Sweetness. Beauty. Inspiration. Peace. Love. Although I thought these were always goals in my life, I wasn't quite living them.  Especially the simplicity part.

In looking at my life I realized how much clutter is in it. How many things I have in this little house that I do not need. How much junk I have in my life that I do not want. As a Mom, when I was getting a few spare minutes to myself, I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with it!  Should I read? Write? Crochet? Bake? Scrapbook? Listen to music? Read some blogs? Check out pinterest? Look at a magazine? Clean? Organize something?  Usually what I ended up doing was just cleaning up messes that I had already cleaned a million times.  I didn't know what to do with myself because I had too much going on.  Not enough simplicity.

So I've begun with my home, cleaning out, decluttering, getting rid of the junk that I don't need. Cleaning out closets, going through bookshelves, through my kitchen cabinets and simplifying.  My kitchen has been the worst so far....I had two crock pots jammed into a tiny cupboard that were stacked on top of each other and usually at risk of falling on my head. I sold one.  I had a blender that I've used about four times since I was given it for my wedding, because I always use my food processor   I sold that too.  An entire bin of kitchen utensils that I never touch because I have all the ones I need in a crock by the stove.  I got rid of those too. It's amazing how much easier it is to keep my kitchen neat when I don't have so much STUFF.  Because of this, I spend less time cleaning, jamming things into cupboards and drawers and I have more time for ME, more time for my family, for my children.

More than anything, the biggest reason I have started this is because of my children.  One morning, not so long ago, we were spending the day inside because we were having one of those great all-day rainy days.  My children, with shelves crammed full of toys and books in their rooms were "bored." I said well lets get out some toys to play with!  And my four year old daughter said to me "But I don't have ANYTHING to play with!  I don't have anything do DO!" That was when it hit me.  She has SO MUCH stuff that she can't even see what she has to play with.  So I dove in and cleared an entire toy shelf out of her room.  I gave up bags of broken toys, stuffed animals, toys that never got played with or had been outgrown, or things that we just never liked. I removed the extra, empty bookcase to avoid having it be filled up again, and organized what was left.  Since then, my daughter has rediscovered her toys and enjoyed them all the more because it was so much less overwhelming.  She has not complained once about having less toys and instead, is enjoying having less.

I'm not saying you should throw away all of your kitchen necessities or your childrens' toys.  But as the quote says:

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: 
Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful 
or believe to be beautiful.” 
~William Morris

If it makes you happy, keep it.  If it doesn't, get rid of it.  You'll be amazed at how it changes your life.  I know it's changing mine. Getting rid of the things that you don't need gives you more time to enjoy the things that are important in your life.  To have more time to yourself while your kids are napping or away at practice, to sit down and read a book that stirs your soul, or to sit outside and feel the breeze across your face while you're drinking your morning coffee or tea.  

The best way to start?  Find that drawer that you have to stuff before you can close it, or the cupboard that something falls out of every time you open it.  Clean it out!  You'll feel better, I promise! :) 

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Best. Pot Roast. EVER!!

Being a busy Mom to two, I absolutely love any recipe that I can throw in the crock pot in the morning, and have a delicious dinner ready 8 hours later.  There is NOTHING better than coming home after a busy day of running errands and having dinner cooked, smelling great, and ready to eat!

I discovered this recipe when my husband and I were very first married.  It was in one of my many Gooseberry Patch cookbooks ( I couldn't tell you which one now!) but I've never tried another pot roast recipe again.  This one is just too GOOD and too EASY to try anything else!! ;)

So here we go, my recipe for the Best. Pot Roast. EVER!!

Sunday Slow Cooker Pot Roast

2-4 pound pot roast (English Cut!) *
2 c. water
1 packet Ranch Dressing mix
1 packet Italian Dressing mix
1 packed brown gravy mix
3 cans whole potatoes or 4-5 potatoes peeled and cubed **
baby carrots

*I like to buy a 4 pound roast. It feeds my family of four easily, and leaves enough leftovers for lunch for my hubby the next day and a Sheperds Pie or two!  If you're not into leftovers, a 2 pound pot roast should feed a family of four easily. I recommend English cut because it shreds the easiest.  If you prefer sliced roast, you can use whatever you like! 

**CANNED potatoes you say?  I always use the canned ones because it's what my parents used when I was growing up, so I like them the best ;)  The real thing is probably better for you, but you may want to add them after the roast has cooked for 2 hours so they don't get mushy :) 

Pop your roast in your slow cooker and pour water over the top. In a small bowl, combine Ranch, Italian and Brown Gravy Mixes and mix well. Pour over roast. Add in potatoes and carrots, cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours. Transfer to a serving platter and let sit for 5-10 minutes before shredding!  Top with homemade gravy!  **See recipe below**  ENJOY!!!!  

If you'd like to make your own gravy and haven't done it before, it's SUPER easy!!  Plus it only takes about 2 minutes and it's better (and cheaper!) than the stuff in the jar. 

1 c. juices from your slow cooker
1 Tbsp. Flour

In a small bowl, combine flour with enough water to make a paste.  Use a fork to stir to the right consistency.  In a small saucepan, add juices and gradually stir in flour paste with a fork.  Allow to bubble and simmer until gravy thickens. It usually only takes a minute or two! 

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!  It's so simple and quick to throw together, but tastes like you spent the whole day cooking (and those are always the BEST recipes!).  I hope you all have a fabulous evening!!!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!!

I can't believe how quickly this past year flew by!  It seems like it was just yesterday that Charlie was born, now he's 19 months old and my daughter, Lily, is four! This year I started school, my husband started a new job, we became pregnant with baby number three, and dealt with a lot of health issues in my family.  There were a lot of great things in 2012, but a lot of not-so-great things, and I'm looking forward to a fresh start in 2013!!

I always love a new year, a new beginning.  It seems like the start of the year is a chance to change whatever it was you were unhappy with in the past and start all over again!  I'm not usually one to make New Years Resolutions....every year we all do the same: lose weight, get in shape, be healthy, read more, cook more, whatever it is, I don't think most of us keep them. *sigh*

This year I'm setting goals for myself instead.  Things I hope to accomplish this year...a goal sounds a little more serious than a resolution....Right?  I'll keep telling myself that..... ;)

So what are my goals for this year?

-Blog More
-Finish School (after a break for Baby)
-Finish Unfinished projects
-Keep up with the housework better (I've already got my cleaning schedules ready to go!
-and of the best Mommy ever ;)

So the two that I think will be the toughest are my school (yikes!) and blogging goals.  Blogging? you say.  Yep!  I always start out so excited with my blogs, I write a lot at the beginning of the year and then life gets in the way and I lose interest (and time, and ideas...etc.)   This year I want to keep up with it much better!  If anything, it's a great way for me to keep a journal of my life with my kids and remember how quickly time flies by.

So how about you?  Will you be setting goals for yourself this year, or resolutions? Do you think you'll stick with them?  I'm going to try really hard to keep mine this year!! :)  The best of luck to each of you if you choose set them as well!

2013 is going to be a big year for us!  Baby Henry will be here any day now, and if not I'll be induced on the 14th!  So two weeks from now at the latest, I'll be able to snuggle my sweet little boy, kiss his cheeks and tell him how much I love him! I absolutely cannot wait!!  (Not to mention I cannot WAIT to not be pregnant anymore as well ;) )

So whatever you do in 2013, I hope you do what makes you happy!  We all focus so much on what we need to do or what we should do, but I hope we can all take the time to do things that pure and simply make us feel joy and happiness and love! Wishing you all the best and most beautiful New Year!!

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