Friday, July 18, 2014

Taco Pasta Bake... A Quick and Easy Family Pleaser

So you may have noticed I have been absent for the last week or so. I've been crazy busy working on a little, well actually it's HUGE, project. My sister in law is coming up to stay with my mother in law for 3 weeks and she had asked me to help her prepare for meals while they were here. I offered to do meal plans and then make freezer meals for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen my prep photos. The plan was to make 60 meals in 3 days but it turned into a much bigger project. Rohrl, my two year old, decided he was done taking naps on day two and then both my boys got sick on day three. So it turned into 60 meals in 5 days and 1 really, really late night. In the midst of this craziness I still was having to, I mean getting to :) ,  cook for my boys and so anything that didn't take much time or energy to prepare I was all for. I found this recipe on Pinterest awhile back and rediscovered it on one of the nights I was in the midst of my crazy cooking/freezing frenzy. I'm so glad I tried it because my guys LOVED it. Seriously... Both my boys had two helpings and my husband had three!  I will definitely be making this one again very, very soon! Bonus... Start to table was only 45 minutes...which included 30 minutes of bake time!

Thanks to Canadian Moms Cook for the recipe!


1lb. ground beef
1/2 bag of medium-large pasta (I used penne)
1 packet of taco seasoning (or approx. 1/4 cup)
1 cup water
4oz. cream cheese (1/2 box)
1 1/2-2 cup shredded cheese (Like always I used Kirkland Three Cheese Mexican Blend but you can use whatever you have in the fridge)


Preheat oven to 350°

Brown ground beef and drain fat.

While ground beef is cooking, cook pasta 2 minutes short of al dente (about 4-6 minutes). You don't want to over cook pasta since you will be baking it in the oven.

After you drain the fat off the ground beef add taco seasoning and water and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.

After 3 or 4 minutes add 1/2 of cream cheese to beef mixture and stir to mix. 
**It's best if the cream cheese is room temperature because it'll be easier to mix. A quick way to soften cream cheese is place it in between two pieces of wax paper and then with a rolling pin, or your hand, smash until soft.

Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. In a seperate large bowl mix pasta with rest of cream cheese and 1 cup shredded cheese.

Add ground beef to pasta mixture and stir to combine. 

Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes.

I served mine with black beans but I might add those into the bake next time and serve with Mexican Rice.

Monday, July 14, 2014

TLC VoxBox from Influenster... A Busy Mom's Dream

A few weeks ago I had one of my best happy mail days to date! I got my TLC VoxBox from Influenster. If you haven't heard of Influenster you are totally missing out! It's a great website where you can take surveys and do reviews on items but the best part is that they are always sending out VoxBoxes! What these are are great little boxes with a specific theme and inside are products, full-size not samples, for you to try! It is a great way for companies to get real reviews on their products and an even better way for you to get to try some great products! Check it out here: Influenster 

To get a VoxBox you have to qualify and they send out surveys via email on a regular basis. This was the second or third VoxBox I took the survey on and the first one I actually got so be patient if you don't get a box right away. To boost your chances you can take surverys and do reviews on products you've tried and are interested in. Also, make sure to link up all your social media accounts as well :)

Now on to the fun stuff!

So this VoxBox was specifically for moms. Moms on the go, moms with busy kids, moms who need a little TLC. And I can tell you it was just what this busy mama needed! It included:

- A Shell Fuel Rewards Card
- A Puffs To-Go with Lotion Pack
- Neo-To-Go (Neosporin)
- Avon Anew Reversalist Complete Renewal Express Wrinkle Smoother
- Ivory Soap
- Coupon for a FREE full size Breyers Gelato

All of the products were really great but my favorite by far was the Gelato! I had never tried Gelato before and now I'm hooked! The Breyers Gelato was great and the flavor was AH-MAZING! We tried the Raspeberry Cheesecake and it was to die for! My husband and I finished almost all of it in one night! I finished it the next day for lunch... Hey don't judge! Once you try it for yourself you'll do the same too! I'm actually trying to perfect a recipe using the gelato and will be posting it soon! We found the gelato at Wal-Mart and it was under $5 but I have also seen it at Target and Smith's.

I also really liked the Neo-To-Go. It's this cute little spray that fits perfect in my diaper bag; but is small enough it would fit in your purse too! It is a spray vs. your typical gooey Neosporin in the tube. Rohrl, my two year old, really likes it and it has helped calm him down twice after falling and getting hurt. I never want to see my kids get hurt but one of the things Influenster asks you to do is film a video using the Neo-To-Go. Rohrl is usually pretty graceful and careful and doesn't get hurt so I was thinking I would probably have to just make a fake video using it. But one day he was running outside and totally face-planted... well he saved his face with his elbows. I brought him inside and showed him the Neo-To-Go and told him it was "Special Medicine" and as soon as I sprayed it on he was all better. It is a light formula and, just like the regular Neosporin, helps heal scratches quickly. Since the first time I have used it two other times and it has worked great! Definitely a product I will be buying again once this one runs out! I've seen it at Wal-mart for around $5. To see our video of the Neo-To-Go click here.

And of course every mommy knows having tissues handy is a must! The Puffs with lotion tissues are also a great product! Since I ran out of Kleenex in the spring I have yet to go buy more, lazy I know. And when I got these beauties in my VoxBox it was one less thing I needed to buy. I'm usually not a brand snob but I think I'm only going to buy Puffs with lotion from now on when I buy tissue. Little Statham, my one year old, got a summer cold about a week ago and usually with his colds he gets a bright red nose because of all the tissues catching his boogs, but not this time. These extra soft tissues didn't change his nose color one bit and he seemed happier when I was blowing his nose too! If you, or your kids have sensitive noses definitely try these tissues. Bonus: The packaging is super bright so it's easy to find in my mess of a diaper bag! You can pick these up at Wal-Mart or Target, or pretty much anywhere I'm sure and they are less than $1/pack.

The product my boys enjoyed the most was definitely the Ivory soap! I've seen on Pinterest for awhile now how to make a soap cloud out of a bar of Ivory soap and the microwave. We don't use bar soap generally in our house so I have never tried it. But I definitely think we will have to have Ivory soap in stock at all times now! It was so neat to watch and to see the look on my guys' faces was priceless! All you do is put the soap on a plate, or you could probably do it just straight in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. With-in 20 seconds you'll see the cloud start to form. Not only is it awesome to watch but it makes your house smell clean for hours! You can also use Ivory soap to make homemade laundry detergent, which is also on my to-do list, or just as good ol' soap. I'll keep you posted on what other fun things we do with this! You can buy a 10 pack of bars at Wal-Mart for $4. Check out my Pinterest board for other great ideas with Ivory Soap: #SudLife 

The Shell Fuel Rewards card was a nice perk too! When you sign up you get $.25/gal on your second fill-up!  For the first fill up and every fill up after it's at least $.03/gal! Cha-ching Cha-ching more money for gelato or other treats too! Plus you can link your Mastercard to your rewards card and get an additional $.10/gal. You can also earn rewards ($$$ off at the pump) by shopping and eating out! Best part is it is absolutely free! Just like have a rewards card at the grocery store. To learn more go to their website here.

Check out my happy face!

The only item I wasn't super impressed with was the Avon wrinkle smoother. But to be fair I don't really have wrinkles so I don't think I'm a great reviewer for this product. What I did like though is that it is a great moisturizer and base before I put on my concealer. If you have wrinkles or lots of laugh lines this may be something you'd like to check out! I think it sells for $30 and you can buy it here.

Sorry for the stock photo... Statham likes shiny things and somehow got his hands on this and now it's missing :(  I promise though that I have it and have tried it! Thank you to for the photo.

Overall I was very, very impressed with everything included in the TLCVoxBox and can not wait to get another one! Almost every item in the box I am still using weeks later and plan on buying in the future. Thank you Influenster for putting together such a great program!

Disclosure: I received all these items compliments of Influenster and their partners but all opinions are my own.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cherry Lemon Berry Slush... A Festive 4th of July Treat

Most people when asked what their favorite holiday is say "Christmas" or "Thanksgiving" because it's the time of year that family comes together. I love spending time with my family too but in November and December it is just so dang cold!! My favorite holiday, and it has been ever since I can remember, is the Fourth of July! It has everything I could ever want in a holiday... It's warm, well hot actually, but that's ok! Family and friends come together. I get to fire up the grill! Light off fireworks! Plus the sun is out longer so we get to celebrate even longer. I know, I know every day has the same 24 hours in it but it just seems like in the summer there is so much more you can do outside! Fourth of July, and the 24th here in Utah, have always been my favorite holidays, and probably always will be!

I created these cool summer treats with warm summer days in mind. You can use any flavors you like and you can read more about how I came upon this recipe here. But for now... On to the fireworks!!


1 envelope of Cherry Kool-Aid powder mix
1 envelope of Mixed Berry Kool-Aid powder mix
1 lemon (or about a tablespoon of lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 cups club soda
6 cups ice (about 3 trays or 45 ice cubes)


Crush one tray, about 15 cubes of ice. Set aside.

In blender add Cherry Kool-Aid mix, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup club soda. Puree for about 30 seconds until all sugar is dissolved.

Add crushed ice and puree for 10-15 more seconds. *** Don't over mix or you're slush will become more liquid.

Add 1 cup club soda and puree again for 10-15 more seconds.

Pour into six glasses and put in freezer for about 1 hour or until mostly frozen.

Crush one tray, about 15 cubes of ice. Set aside.

In blender mix juice from one lemon, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup club soda. Puree for about 30 seconds or until all sugar is dissolved.

Add crushed ice and puree for 10-15 more seconds. *** Don't over mix or you're slush will become more liquid.

Add 1 cup club soda and puree again for 10-15 more seconds.

Pour on top of Cherry slush and re-freeze ***The lemon part will be more runny so you will want to freeze for closer to 2 hours.

Crush one tray, about 15 cubes of ice. Set aside.

In blender add Mixed Berry Kool-Aid mix, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup club soda. Puree for about 30 seconds until all sugar is dissolved.

Add crushed ice and puree for 10-15 more seconds. *** Don't over mix or you're slush will become more liquid.

Add 1 cup club soda and puree again for 10-15 more seconds.

Pour on top of lemon slush.

Freeze for 1 more hour.

Serve with a straw and/or star shaped fruit.

Note: You will want to let them thaw for 5 minutes or so before trying to insert straws.

This recipe makes six 2.5 cup servings. You can make more smaller servings or half the recipe if you are only making these treats for a few close family and friends.

I hope you all have a Happy & Safe 4th of July!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Copy Cat Sonic Slush

Nothing says summer to me like a cool, refreshing Sonic slush. I'm not afraid to admit I have a serious addiction to them! I could drink 3 or more a day... but I settle for my 3-4 times a week trips. When I was pregnant with little Statham the Sonic slush was my #1 craving! My poor, sweet husband could be found at our local Sonic many a night at 10 or 11 o'clock. Seriously, they knew our car and order right when we pulled up! It was great!! 

This year Sonic added a flavor add-in I was a little skeptical about... Nerds candy. We got the Blue Raspberry with Nerds for Rohrl, our 2 year old, not thinking we would like it and my favorite the LemonBerry....let's just say I'm lucky Rohrl is such a good little sharer. We (Jeremy and I) LOVED the Blue Raspberry with Nerds!! The Nerds give it a little extra sour kick and it is amazing!!

I was so excited when I saw this recipe on Facebook from 30 Handmade Days I could not wait to try it out! And you know what... It was a success!!! These aren't as thick and icy as the Sonic slushes but the flavor mix of the Nerds and the Kool-Aid Blue Raspeberry Lemonade definitely nailed it! Plus at less about $.10 a cup to make it is a whole lot more affordable!! And when Rohrl wants a "blue drunky" as he calls slushes I can easily divert a tantrum and just whip one up!

You can use any flavor Kool-Aid packet you like. So far the Blue Raspberry Lemonade has been our favorite. 


1 packet Kool-Aid powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups soda water
2 1/2 cups crushed ice (I use one tray of ice or about 15 ice cubes) **Next time we are by Sonic I am going to buy a bag of their ice and see if it makes these homemade slushes more Sonic-like
Optional: About 3 teaspoons Nerds candy (Or 1 teaspoon per cup of slush)


In blender crush ice and set aside.

On puree setting mix together Kool-Aid, sugar and 1 cup soda water for about 30 seconds (or until all sugar is dissolved).

Add in crushed ice and puree for about 15 more seconds. Don't puree too long or it will become more of a juice than a slush.

Add second cup of soda water and puree again for about 15-20 more seconds.

Pour into cups and put in freezer for 30 minutes-1 hour. *** You can skip this step for younger kids or if you are really, REALLY craving a slush. Putting it in the freezer just solidifies it a bit more. The longer it's in the more Sonic-like it becomes.

Take out of freezer and pour nerds on top. 

Add straw and enjoy!

This makes about 3 one and a half cup servings. You can make more with smaller servings if you'd like.

Bonus- When I was doing research on how to make these slushes even better I found out that Sonic uses 5 pounds of sugar per 1 gallon of water when they make slushes. FIVE POUNDS!!! So even though there is sugar in these, They are still a teensy-wheensy bit healthier than the real deal.

What's your favorite Sonic slush flavor? My next attempt... LemonBerry :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Meal Planning 101

This post has been a long time coming! I have been meaning to post my meal plans twice a month when I make them. By the time I find the recipes, make the lists, go shopping and put everything away I completely space it. I then remember I was going to post it two weeks later when I make the next list and the whole cycle starts again...AAAAHHHH! Not this time! I made this meal plan about a week ago and as I was deciding what on the list I was going to cook last night I remembered I was going to post the meal plan. So I put this at the top of my to do list for the day! Yes, it is 3pm and the day is mostly gone..but it's still on the top of my list. You can see now why I don't accomplish much these days. That's why my to do lists and meal plans are so important to me. 

I thought while I was sharing this week's plans I would also include some tips if you are new at meal planning or feel you could use a little help in that area. By no means am I an expert in this field. These are just things I have learned over the last 2 years planning meals.

*Decide how often you want to do meal planning and coordinate that with how often you want to go grocery shopping. At first I was planning meals on a weekly basis and going to the store at least once a week. That worked great until little Statham was born and then taking a 14mo and a newborn shopping weekly turned into more work than fun. That's when I switched to doing 2 plans a month. Not only does it cut down on my number of trips to the store it also helps me save quite a bit of money too. I went from spending $50-$60/week on groceries to now spending $60-$70/major trip, which I do twice a month. Now of course I can't buy everything for the 2 weeks in that trip. Fruits and veggies get eaten or get bad or bread gets moldy. So when I am making my grocery list I actually make 2 different lists. One for my major trip and one for a secondary trip I make in between.

*Have the current ad for the stores you shop at the most handy while meal planning. I do our major trips at Smith's every time and I always have their ad next to me when I'm planning meals. Why you may ask? Because I can plan my meals around what is currently on sale. For example if chicken is $1.79/lb I will plan more meals that have chicken as the main ingredient vs. ground beef or steak that is $3.99/lb +. I can also see what other side items are on sale and stock up on items if they are a good price.

* Going along with the previous tip is knowing what is a good price. This is something that comes with time. You won't know you're first time going into a store whether the sale price is really a good price it takes going back time and time again to know whether a price is good or not. There are also websites that can help with this too and give you links with coupons and alerts when different products are on sale. A few of my favorites:

Totally Target
The Krazy Coupon Lady
Cuckoo for Coupon Deals
Raining Hot Coupons

*Keeping with planning tips... Plan out your week, or two weeks. If you know that you are going to a family dinner or have plans to eat out figure that in to the meal plan so you don't buy food you're not going to eat.

*Talk to your family and see what kind of foods they like. When I first started I was making recipes that sounded interesting to me and was always wondering why sometimes we had so much leftovers from a meal I LOVED... If your family isn't going to eat it, no use in wasting your time and money making it right?! Make notes of meals everyone, or even a particular family member, likes and keeps those in the rotation on a regular basis. Same thing goes for snack foods. If your kids don't like munching on carrots and prefer bananas... Don't buy carrots, buy bananas!

*Plan meals with similar ingredients to help cut down on costs. One of my first successful meals was Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken with rice and brown sugar carrots. The chicken and carrots had almost the exact same ingredients so it made it less expensive to buy; but more importantly they tasted good together. If you are cooking a spicy main dish don't make your side dish sweet... it just doesn't flow well.

*Go meatless at least once a week. Not only does this save money but it also gives you a chance to try new things you may have not tried before. I started doing this about 6 months ago and I love it. We usually have 3-4 meals per plan that are meatless now. And it doesn't have to be anything too extravagant... it could be as simple as Spaghetti with tomato sauce and garlic bread.

*Try to plan at least one grain, and one vegetable per dinner meal. Sometimes I'll swap the grain out for potato if we are having fries or baked potatoes. But it's always good to have at least 2 sides so there is some variety and just in case you have picky eaters and they don't like one thing.

*Plan 3 meals a day and 2 snacks a day. This sounds like a lot of work! But it really isn't. For us we usually have the same thing for breakfast during the week (eggs and toast) and get a little fancier on the weekends (French toast, pancakes). Lunches are similar... there are 3 or 4 options and we rotate those (Turkey wraps, grilled cheese, PB&J, leftovers). You guessed it.... same thing with snacks. I plan 3-4 different snacks and that's what we have to munch on through out the day. The only meal that has diversity in our home is dinner. It does take extra time to plan 3 meals, 2 snacks/day but, for me at least, it makes for a much happier family and is one less thing I have to worry about. I know there is always going to be something to munch on anytime someone is hungry.

*Learn what your family likes/eats lots of and stock up when it's on sale or buy it at the warehouse clubs. We make 2 trips to Costco a month and buy the same things every time (We buy the certain things on the 1st trip and certain things on the 2nd trip). The only thing we buy more than once a month there are eggs. Our usual monthly Costco trips consist of:
Eggs (2x)
Shredded Cheese
Apple Juice
Fruit Snacks

Sometimes there will be sugar or flour if we run out but I always like to keep the above list on hand (especially diapers ;) )

Wow that turned into more of a meal plan/budgeting tips section. Let me know if you would like me to do a post on how I stick to a $300/month grocery budget post and I can put together more tips. 

Now on to the last few weeks meal plan!

Eggs and Toast (x10)
Strawberry French Toast Cannolis
French Toast (x2)

Turkey Wraps
Grilled Cheese 

Fruit Snacks
Corn Dogs
Homemade Pretzels
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fruit (Strawberries, peaches and grapes because they were on sale)


Mayo Chicken with Rice and Green Beans
BBQ Sloppy Joes with Mac n' Cheese and Green Beans
Ranch Burgers with Fries and Corn on the Cob
Teriyaki Chicken Sandwiches with Fries and Grilled Zucchini
Cheeseburger Casserole with Zucchini
Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken with Rice and Green Beans
Baked Three Cheese Pasta with Zucchini
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Porcupine Nachos
Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps with Fries and Green Beans
Spaghetti with Garlic Bread and Zucchini
Eggplant Parmesan with Angel Hair Pasta

We have 2 family dinners planned so I only made 12 dinners for this plan. As I build my recipes on here I will leave links to recipes as well.

This is just the first of many more meal plan posts... I hope you enjoy it :) And happy planning!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Loaf

When I was in high school I worked at Chuck E. Cheese... and it was the BEST job ever! I loved it!! I've always loved kids though so I'm sure that was the main reason I enjoyed it so much. But I also made some life-long friends working there too. I have such fond memories of hanging out with friends, eating incorrectly ordered pizza and cheese bread... definitely my favorite high school memories! I loved when we took Rohrl there for the first time when he was almost 2 and watching his eyes light up with all the rides and the characters on stage. He did get a little freaked out when Chuck E. got close to him. One thing made me sad though...the food was not as good as I had remembered it being. Granted when you're 15 all pizza tastes the same, but I was really hoping to love the pizza and cheesy bread like I did 10 years ago. The cheese bread was my absolute favorite thing to eat in high school! I could eat a whole order by myself! I was lucky working kept me on my feet or I would've been the size of an elephant!! When I tried this cheese bread I found from Lauren's Latest I was hoping it would taste good but I was blown away when it tasted JUST like my beloved Chuck E. Cheese cheese bread! I probably could've ate the whole loaf by myself again... well maybe not; but the hubby and kids loved it too! It is so easy to make and definitely something I will be making again and again.


1 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast 
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1/2 cup garlic butter (I mixed 2 teaspoons minced garlic and 1 teaspoon garlic powder with 1/2 stick of melted butter)
1 cup cheese (the original recipe calls for sharp cheddar slices but I used shredded three cheese blend and it tasted great!)


In a large bowl combine water, honey and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add salt and then flour 1 cup at a time. Once all 3 cups are added knead dough for 5 minutes. When done dough should be smooth and not stick to your hands.

Grease the bowl and dough and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for 1 hour.

Punch dough a few times and then cut into two equal pieces.

Grease a cookie sheet and make two long loaves. I twisted mine and it helped it hold shape. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°

Remove plastic wrap and bake for 20 minutes.

Brush the garlic butter on loaves and cook for 5-7 more minutes or until bread turns golden brown.

Let cool then cut 1 in slats about 3/4 of the way through the loaves and brush garlic butter in between. Then stuff slats with cheese. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Mine aren't the prettiest but they sure do taste amazing!! Great to make for parties, snacks or to go with spaghetti!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Man has it been a crazy few months for us! It seems like all winter one of my boys, if not both of them were sick... Which i wasn't really prepared for. Rohrl was the healthiest baby and never got sick. The only time he had a fever is when his first teeth came in. But it has been a completely different story with Statham. That poor kid has had everything under the sun and it just makes my heart break seeing him sick. :( Once we finally had both kiddos healthy for a week we decided to test the waters and list our home for sale. Then BAM 6 days later we had an offer and 20 days after that we were moving! So needless to say, I have neglected this blog a bit. Don't worry I've still been cooking, except for the week of the move, we were bad and I was lazy and we ate out every night. I've got lots of pictures and recipes to catch you up on!

This one is our new favorite in our house. Rohrl actually asks for it by name "Terry chicken" and he will eat it like there is no tomorrow! Statham is a big fan of it too.. Even though he more just sucks the sauce off the chicken. But hey what more can you ask from a one-year old?! Oh yeah, we also had Rohrl's second birthday and Statham's first birthday all within the last 60 days. To say my life has been crazy is an understatement! I've learned one thing now that my guys are getting older and I can bake them cakes for their birthdays... I am a much better cook than I am a baker...need more practice in that department!

But any who this Teriyaki chicken is super easy to make and really delicious! Plus there is always leftover sauce so you can put it on rice, or noodles or veggies or whatever! Recipe adapted from Budget Savvy Diva .


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 425°

Mix together cornstarch and water. Combine with all other ingredients (excluding the chicken).

Heat sauce over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

I've started cutting my chicken breasts in half lengthwise and it helps it cook quicker and also cuts down on how much we eat. You can do this too, or if you prefer a thicker piece of a chicken, skip this step and add 10 minutes to bake time.

Place chicken in greased casserole dish and pour half the sauce over chicken. Make sure the entire chicken has sauce on it.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

You can pour the rest of the sauce over the cooked chicken or do what we usually do, pour it over our cooked rice and veggies. Served here with my Parmesan Zucchini