THE BEST EVER Lemonade Recipe!

The title says it all! This recipe is truly the best lemonade I’ve ever had! It’s so easy to make that my 6 & 10 year old made it with ease. It’s a no-fail recipe. Here’s how:

What you’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 cups of water (1 cup set aside for simple syrup)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (give or take, depending on taste)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, add 1 cup of your water and your sugar. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat and stir making sure the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Set your sugar mixture aside to let cool completely.
  3. Squeeze all of your lemons until you have about 1.5 cups. It was approximately 1 bag of lemons from the grocery store.
  4. Place your remaining 7 cups of water in a pitcher and add your lemon juice and sugar mixture.
  5. Stir and pour over ice.

Enjoy!!! Please be sure to share this blog post and/or video!

~Kelly~

Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner: Bowtie Lasagna!

Here is a recipe for an easy lasagna using bow tie pasta that my stepmom gave me. I filmed this over a year ago when I lived in my old house when I was thinking of starting my blog. This is not a healthy recipe ny any means, but it’s a good one for those nights you want some comfort food, or when you have company coming over. Let me know if you try this recipe!

Heres what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or Italian sausage or whichever meat you prefer)
  • 1 box of bowtie pasta
  • 2 8-ounce pkgs of mozzarella cheese
  • 1 16-ounce container of cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan (optional)
  • 1 24-ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
  • Italian seasoning 1-2 teaspoons.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your pasta. Boil pasta to al dente per package instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, brown your meat until cooked thoroughly. Drain excess fat.
  4. Add your jar of sauce to the browned meat and heat through.
  5. In a large bowl, add 1 package of mozzarella cheese, your package of cottage cheese, your Parmesan, and your Italian seasoning. Add in your cooked/drained pasta and mix thoroughly.
  6. In your 11×13 casserole dish, add your pasta/cheese mixture, covering the bottom evenly.
  7. Spread your meat/sauce mixture evenly over your pasta.
  8. Add your other 8-ounce package of mozzarella on top.
  9. Bake on 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F and cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  10. Allow to sit for a minimum of 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

EASY Homemade M&M Blondies!

Have you ever needed to whip up a delicious, homemade dessert/treat in a pinch? This is the recipe to have in your recipe box because it is so quick & easy & contains ingredients most people always have in their pantry anyway. You could even exchange the M&Ms for something else (chocolate chips, nuts, or even make a glaze to drizzle over the top out of simple ingredients). On occasion I use sprinkles instead to make my confetti blondies! The options are endless, so choose whatever you have or whatever you would enjoy the most!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cups M&Ms (however many you want!)
  • 8×8 inch pan
  • Parchment paper

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Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat your butter until creamy and pale.

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One at a time add your sugar, vanilla, and eggs.

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Then slowly incorporate your dry ingredients.

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Fold in your M&Ms.

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Line your pan with parchment paper and spread out your mixture.

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Sprinkle more M&Ms on the top.

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Bake at 325 degrees for roughly 40 minutes.Cool before cutting into 16 squares. Enjoy!

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Oil Pulling 101

Oil pulling, according to Tummala Koteswara Rao, is ancient Ayurvedic practice. It was introduced to the western world in the early nineties, but its popularity seems to have peaked just in the last few years.

Oil pulling is the act of swishing oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes to “pull” harmful bacteria and toxins. It’s as simple as that. Traditionally sesame oil was used, but coconut oil has become the more commonly used oil due to its antibacterial properties.

I was quite intrigued about oil pulling and decided that since there is simply no harm in it, than why not? I’ve been oil pulling on and off for almost a year now and it has done great things.

There are so many benefits of oil pulling. They are as follows:

  • Whitens teeth
  • Prevents cavities & gingivitis
  • Strengthens teeth and gums
  • Helps TMJ
  • Helps headaches
  • Improves acne, psoriasis, & eczema
  • Cures hangovers
  • Removes toxins from the body

In my experience with oil pulling, I can say with confidence that it has helped whiten my teeth. I’m a coffee drinker, so this is one of my favorite benefits of oil pulling. Also, the first time I tried it I had a terrible toothache where a cavity was developing. The second day my tooth no longer hurt and it seemed to help reverse the cavity! I do feel like it has only done wonderful things to improve my oral health, but I really can’t say that it helped cure anything else; however, that is enough for me! In ancient times oil pulling was how they maintained oral health!

I must say that it’s really hard to get past the taste and texture of the solidified oil in my mouth. After the first 30-60 seconds the oil warms up enough to become liquified and then it is smooth sailing…it actually is only solid up to 76 degrees and then it becomes a liquid. If I remember I will put my jar of oil on top of the oven while it is on and that will liquify it, which makes for a more pleasant experience.

Directions:

Using extra virgin (unrefined) coconut oil, take 1 tablespoon and put it in your mouth. Immediately begin swishing. Continue this for 10-20 minutes. I usually end up going for 15, never any less, and never go longer than 20 minutes because the toxins in which you just pulled could become reabsorbed. When the time is up, spit your oil out in the trash can. Make sure not to spit into the sink because as the oil solidifies and could potentially clog your drain. Do this every morning before eating and before brushing your teeth. Rinse your mouth with warm water and be sure not to swallow any of the oil. Brush and floss. Repeat daily. I usually take a couple of days off per week and I occasionally get out of the habit, but always go back to it.

The reason I choose coconut oil is because it is amazing! It certainly isn’t the cheapest, but with its antibacterial properties I find it to be the obvious choice. Here are some other awesome uses for coconut oil:

  • Cooking with a high smoke point
  • Add to food or drinks
  • Use in place of lotion…it makes your skin feel AMAZING
  • Makeup remover
  • To help diaper rash
  • Prevent age spots
  • SPF 4
  • Prevents stretch marks
  • Kills yeast
  • Hair treatment
  • Chapstick
  • In place of lanolin
  • Helps eczema and psoriasis
  • Helps increase milk supply for breastfeeding mothers
  • Improves insulin levels
  • Sunburn relief
  • Shaving cream and aftershave
  • Season cast iron pans
  • Helps get rid of cellulite
  • Has anti inflammatory properties to help with arthritis
  • Soothes bug bites
  • Tanning oil
  • Stimulates hair growth when applied topically
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Natural deodorant
  • Helps with cold sores

There are skeptics out there, but from experience I can say that it is a great practice with proven benefits. My daughter, who is almost 10, also does oil pulling…always ask your doctor, but it is safe for children (who are old enough to not swallow any), and those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. I hope you’ll give it a try; there is certainly no harm in it!

How to Make Santa’s Favorite Cookies!

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I heard once that Santa’s favorite cookies are M&M cookies! So we make them for him each and every year. I wanted to share with you all! Here’s how…

You’ll need:

22 1/4 cups all purpose flour

31 tsp salt

41 tsp baking soda

52 sticks (1 cup) butter

71/2 cup granulated sugar

61 cup firmly packed brown sugar

102 large eggs

111 tsp pure vanilla extract

123/4 cup chocolate chips & 3/4 cup M&Ms

13Reserve some M&Ms to put on top of cookie.

 

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F.

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Sift together your dry ingredients and set aside.

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Cream together your butter, sugars, vanilla, and eggs.

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18Slowly add in your sifted dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
25Add your chocolate chips and M&Ms.26After everything is combined, use a cookie scoop to put identical size scoops of dough 1 to 2 inches part on an ungreased cookie sheet. Add a couple of christmas colored M&Ms on the top of cookie so they all look the same.
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30Bake cookies for approximately 9-10 minutes. Times will vary depending on your oven.31

32Cool on cooling rack and put out for Santa Claus!
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Merry Christmas!

DIY: Christmas Ornament Decorating

This week we decorated our salt dough Christmas ornaments! We used acrylic paint, glue, and glitter.

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Alana using crafting ribbon to hang the ornaments on the tree!
2015-12-05 20.49.43Noah’s little handprint! 
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So my final conclusion is that it was fun. I would gladly do it again. More than anything, this will be a memory that will last a lifetime. It was a great bonding experience with my kids for 2 weekends in a row:)

Gingerbread Man Recipe

This week’s video is a recipe and demonstration for my gingerbread man cookies!

Here is the recipe:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks)

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. In a standing mixer, beat your room temperature butter, add your brown sugar, molasses, and then your egg. Slowly add your dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and work until a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or freezer for 20 minutes). Again on a floured surface, knead your dough and roll into a ball. Coat your rolling pin in flour because this dough is sticky. Roll put to 1/4 inch and then cut out your men with your cookie cutters. Bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees. Place on a rack to cool completely.

To make the royal icing:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Using your whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat your egg whites until frothy and begin to slowly incorporate your sugar. Whip for a few minutes until smooth and has a shiny appearance. Add food coloring if desired. Spoon icing into a piping bag and snip just a bit off the tip. Decorate cookies.

How to Make a Tornado in a Jar!

 

Tonight’s experiment was so fun for the kids! Basically you vigorously swirl the jar to create cintrifugal motion. It is actually quite amazing how defined the tornado was! Our first try didn’t work because we used a tad too much soap. You need the smallest drop you can produce and then you’re in business! Watch the video to see how it’s done!

Chipotle’s Corn Salsa Recipe

Just a quick recipe for tonight! I was craving Chipotle tonight, so I decided to make their corn salsa. I have never made it before and didn’t look up a recipe. I just threw in what I thought would go in it and it tasted precisely likes theirs. I didn’t measure anything, but I’ll do my best.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 package of frozen sweet corn
  • About 1/3 of a red onion, minced
  • About 1/8 of a jalapeño  (I removed almost all of the seeds because you only want subtle heat)
  • About 1-2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • About 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • The juice of half a lime

Just mix it all together and adjust to taste. I’m going to use it for taco night and to eat with some tortilla chips…yum!

My most treasured photos…

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I wanted to share with you all my most treasured photos that I carry with me on my phone! I have them all saved in clouds, computes, phones, tablets, and hard drives. The first two are my older two kids Christmas portraits that I took in 2012. Next is my older kids holding their new baby brother in 2014. Then a photo I took of my daughter at her Christmas concert for school last year. She looks stunning in the photo and it truly captivated her beauty. Next is a photo I found of my daughter when she was only 3 years old (I treasure this photo so much because it is SO her at that age…back when she was an only child; a true princess). Next is a random candid photo of me and my husband at our wedding in 2005, both of us look so young! Then there is my youngest Noah on his 1st birthday a couple of months ago. And lastly…an irreplaceable photo that I treasure so much of my brother Mike and I dancing to Coldplay’s “Fix You” on my wedding day. I remember everything about this moment…the way the crisp autumn air smelled, the pride I felt when my big brother asked to cut-in and dance with me at my wedding, and that comforting/safe feeling that I felt when hugging him. My brother passed away just over 4 years after this photo was taken. Someday soon I will write about him because I have SO MUCH to say…about the grieving process, being a bereaved sibling, and so much more. This January will be 6 years since I lost my only brother! This photo of us is my favorite of us as adults…