Pumpkin Bars with Maple Pecan Glaze

We have officially entered one of my favorite times of year, pumpkin season! I am one of those people who loves anything and everything pumpkin. I came across this delicious recipe for pumpkin bars that looked amazing (http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/recipes/grain-free-pumpkin-bars-with-maple-pecan-glaze).

It turns out this recipe is grain-free and dairy-free, which would normally scare me away (I like all food groups too much to eliminate any of them from my diet), but I can assure you that you won’t even notice those items are missing. I also thought it sounded complicated, but it was rediculously easy! Here’s a tip though, DO NOT skip the maple pecan glaze. The glaze (mine turned out more like a cream consistency) absolutely makes these bars to die for. The pumpkin bars by themselves are just ok, so definitely make that delicious glaze 🙂

The ingredients needed to make this recipe include:

For the bars:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (I used cashew butter because I had some left over from the Asian salad that I made)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

  
I started by heating the oven to 350 degrees and greasing an 8×8 baking dish with a little coconut oil. Then I mixed all of the ingredients for the bars together in a mixing bowl.

  
I poured the smooth batter into my baking dish and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes.

  
Once the pumpkin bars were cool I cut them into nine squares.

  
Next, I put all of the ingredients for the maple pecan glaze into a blender and blended on the sauce setting until smooth, maybe about a minute or so. Like I said before, mine came out more like a cream consistency and less like a glaze. I think adding a little more water would have thinned it out a bit, but I actually really like the cream.

  
Finally, I spooned the glaze over the bars and sprinkled some chopped pecans on top. It was so good!

  

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Butterfly Wreath for Baby

In just a few short weeks we will be welcoming baby Violet to our family! I wanted to make something that my sister could add to her beautifully decorated nursery. I found this adorable butterfly wreath that goes perfectly with her theme (http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/how-to/celebrating-baby-ken-wingards-butterfly-wreath).

One of my favorite things about this wreath is that the butterflies have a 3-D effect that makes them appear to be fluttering around the wreath. It’s such a whimsical look that is perfect for a little girl’s room.

Materials needed to make this project include:

  •  Scrapbook paper
  • Butterfly paper punch 
  • Wire ring
  • Floral wire
  • Scotch tape
  • Glue
  • Ribbon

  
I started by using the paper punch to cut out 20 butterfly shapes from the paper.

  
Then, I cut 10 pieces of floral wire about 5 inches long.

  
Next, I used the glue gun to glue a butterfly at each end of the wire.

  
Once the glue was dry, I bent each of the wires in half.

  
Then, I taped each wire to the ring, one after another.

  
Next, I wrapped the ribbon all the way around the ring, weaving around the butterflies. The glitter ribbon was adorable, but super messy.

  
Finally, I tied a bow to the ring on the opposite side from the butterflies.

  
This was an easy project and super cute! I hope baby Violet likes it 🙂

Tic-Tac-Toe

I love making things where I can use materials that I either already have on hand or can buy inexpensively. I was scrolling through Pinterest one night and came across a cute homemade tic-tac-toe game (http://www.realsimple.com/new-uses-for-old-things/new-uses-living-room/rocks-as-tic-tac-toe-game?crlt_pid=camp.slCsweMcGy9G) and I immediately thought of the left over polished river rocks I had from my fairy garden project. That means all I needed was a board and paint or something to draw the x’s, o’s and lines.

I happen to be looking through the $3 bin at Target (one of my favorite stores) and saw the perfect wooden tray to use as the board. I was so excited, but I still needed something to draw the lines with. I didn’t really want to buy a whole jar of paint that I might not use again, so I decided to try white-out. It’s sort of like paint, right? It only cost $0.95. That means this whole project cost me less than $4.00!

Materials needed to make this project include:

  • 10 rocks (preferably flat)
  • A small tray
  • White-out (or paint)

  

 I started by drawing the X’s and O’s on each of the rocks using the white-out. 

  
Next, I drew the lines on the tray. In was pretty tricky, so the lines aren’t perfect.  

  
After it dried completey, I put it all together and played a game of tic-tac-toe! I’m starting to teach my son how to play. He hasn’t quite figured it out yet, but he has fun trying 🙂 

  

Home Remedy Cough Medicine

Our house has already been hit by a back-to-school cold. Both kids having runny noses, sore throats, and bad coughs. At their ages, they can’t take cough medicine to help ease the coughing that keeps them up at night. 

I found a recipe on Pinterest for a healthy alternative to cough medicine (http://nancyvienneau.com/blog/articles/home-remedy/). It’s made from safe ingredients you may already have in your kitchen! The recipe does contain honey, which is not recommended for children under the age of one.

The ingredients needed to make this home remedy cough medicine include:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (using organic is preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon honey (using raw, local is best because it contains the most health benefits)

  
I started by mixing together the cayenne pepper, ground ginger, water and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl.

  
Next, I stirred in the honey. It took a good minute or two of mixing to get the honey to incorporate into the liquid.

  
Made in this small quantity, there is no need to refrigerate any leftovers. I poured the mixed liquid into a small jar I happened to already have. This was pretty convenient because I could easily shake it up when the ingredients naturally separated.

  
The website I read didn’t have any exact dosages, but I figure it’s about 1 tablespoon at a time. I tried this on my three-year-old son and only gave him 1 teaspoon. As you can imagine, he wasn’t a fan of the flavor. The pepper and ginger make it a little spicy, but I thought it was pretty good. A lot better than the cough syrup you buy at the store.

As far as the effectiveness goes, I’d say it worked well. I gave my son the cough medicine just before bed and he didn’t wake up coughing until around 4am. The night before, he woke up coughing at 11pm. I started getting a sore throat and took a tablespoon this morning, then another tonight, and my throat does feel better. Let’s hope this cold doesn’t go any further.

Mason Jar Bathroom Organizer

I am probably the most unorganized person I know. It would be embarrassing if anyone looked in my bathroom closet. Any time I reach in to grab a cotton ball or q-tip, things fall off the shelves. I came across a very clever idea on Pinterest that used a mason jar and glass votive candle holder to organize cotton balls and q-tips (http://beautifullybellafaith.com/blog/50-organizational-tips-thatll-make-you-go-ah-ha-part-2/).

This almost seems too simple, but it’s so useful that I had to share. I added a ribbon around mine because I thought it needed a little something to jazz it up.

Materials needed for this project:

  • Mason jar
  • Glass votive candle holder
  • Ribbon (if you want)

  
It’s a little silly to do a step-by-step tutorial because this is so simple, but I took the pictures so I figured why not? I removed the mason jar lid and placed the votive in the jar opening.

  
I tied the ribbon in a bow around the top of the jar.

  
Finally, I added my q-tips and cotton balls and put it on my bathroom counter. So easy, but totally useful and one step closer to organizing my bathroom 🙂

  

The Best Way to Make Corn on the Cob

Sadly we are approaching the end of summer, but that means deliciously fresh corn at local farm stands and farmers markets! I’ve seen a ton of posts on Pinterest that claim to be the “best” way to make corn on the cob, so I had to try it (http://spicysouthernkitchen.com/best-way-to-cook-corn-on-the-cob/).

I took the kids to a great local farm stand and picked up half a dozen ears of corn. It’s so much fun to let them help pick out the food they are going to eat and get excited about eating it!

Ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 6-8 ears of corn
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of salted butter (you could also use unsalted butter and add about 1/4 tsp of salt, which is what I did)

  

 I started by filling a large pot with water about half way and bringing it to a boil.
  

 Next I added the salt, milk, butter and stirred it until the butter melted. 

  
 Then I added the corn and put a lid on the pot and simmered for 6 to 8 minutes.

  
 Finally I removed the corn from the liquid and added it to my dinner plate! Since there was so much butter in the water, there is no need to butter the corn before you eat it. I just added a little extra salt before I ate mine. I’m wondering if I wouldn’t have to do that if I had used salted butter. Either way, it was delicious! I will be making corn on the cob this way every time I make it now 🙂

  
 

Gluten-Free Meat Lasagna

A friend of mine recently had a baby and I wanted to bring her a meal so she wouldn’t have to cook. Speaking from experience, new moms are way too tired to cook when there is a new baby in the house. She made me meatballs when I had my daughter and I wanted to return the favor 🙂

I wanted to make something that could freeze and reheat easily, and I also needed to make sure it was gluten free because my friend has celiacs disease. I came across this recipe for a gluten free lasagna from the host of America’s Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball (http://www.recapo.com/today-show/today-show-recipes/today-show-chris-kimballs-gluten-free-lasagna-recipe-new-cookbook/#_a5y_p=1470081). The only difference between this lasagna and a regular one is the gluten free noodles, so this recipe could easily be made with traditional lasagna noodles.

I only made a couple of changes to the original recipe. He called for diced tomatoes that he put in the food processor. To save that step, I just bought crushed tomatoes instead. Also, it called for fresh basil, but I bought canned tomatoes with Italian seasoning instead.

Here are the ingredients for this recipe:

Noodles & Sauce Ingredients

  • 12 gluten-free Lasagna Noodles (10 ounces)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 28-oz can Crushed Tomato with Italian seasoning
  • 1 chopped Onion
  • 6 minced cloves Garlic
  • 1 lb Meatloaf Mix
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 28-oz can Tomato Puree

Filling Ingredients

  • 16 oz whole-milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 lb shredded Mozzarella Cheese

  

 I started by puting the oven rack to the middle position, and preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

Then, I boiled some water in a large pot and added the lasagna noodles and some salt to the water to season the pasta. Once the noodles were cooked, I laid the them out on a baking sheet and set them aside.

  
 Next I added the olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat and sauteed the onion until softened. Then I added the garlic and cooked for about 30 more seconds, until fragrant.  

 
 Next I sprinkled in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and added the meatloaf mix. I broke up any large pieces with a wooden spoon and cooked until no longer pink.

  
 Then I added the cream and cooked until the liquid evaporated and only the rendered fat remains.

  
 Then I added the crushed tomatoes and the tomato puree and brought it to a simmer. I reduced the heat to low and cooked until the sauce thickened. It took about 15 to 20 minutes. 

  
 While the sauce was simmering, I started on the filling.

I combined the ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

  
 Once the sauce was finished, I spread a layer of the meat sauce evenly over the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch disposable baking dish.

  
 Then I arranged 4 noodles in a single layer on top of the sauce. Don’t mind my broken noodles, I had issues removing them from the pot!

  
 Next I spread each noodle evenly with some of the ricotta mixture. 

  
 Then I sprinkled 1 cup mozarella on top of that entire layer.

  
 I repeated this layering process of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce two more times. The final layer was the last three noodles and a remaining 1 cup of sauce. At the very top, I covered it with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella.Then, I covered the dish with aluminum foil sprayed with vegetable oil spray and baked for 20 minutes. 

  
I removed the foil and continued to bake for about 20 to 25 minutes longer.

  
Hopefully she likes it and enjoys a much needed break from cooking!