Mama’s Lasagna

It has been a while since I have made this fantastic lasagna. We found out that our son is allergic to milk about a year ago, so this recipe has been on the back burner for a while. I had the opportunity to bring dinner to a family in our ward last night, so I pulled this recipe out again, and I am glad I did. I made up two pans, one to deliver, and one for my family at home.  We had to prepare another dish for my son to eat, but he didn’t complain. (I am so thankful for that! He is only four, and don’t get me wrong, he acts like a four year old in many, many ways! But when it comes to his milk allergy, and not being able to eat certain foods, he is seriously so mature about it! It blows my mind how responsible he is about checking if food has milk in it before he takes a bite.) For my husband and I and our one year old however, this lasagna was a real treat!

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Talk about comfort food! Don’t you just want to sink your fork into that piping hot lasagna? I love that the weather is finally cooling off again, and we can use the oven for an extended amount of time. ( This Lasagna takes and hour to bake!) It makes the kitchen nice and warm and fills the house with a wonderful aroma.

This recipe is pretty easy to throw together, and it makes enough for left overs which we either promptly devour over the next day or two, or we split up into individual serving sizes and freeze for a rainy day. I have also prepared this lasagna and frozen it before baking, and it works out great that way too, it just takes longer to thaw/cook.

Here is the recipe! Enjoy!

Mama’s Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Lasagna noodles(I usually don't use them all)
  • One 8 oz bottle Ragu tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 lb Cooked ground beef
  • Onion powder to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • One 8 oz tub cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella cheese separated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Ferenheight
  2. Combine Ragu with 3/4 cup water. (This will make the sauce runny, but it works out in the end I promise. In this recipe we do not precook the noodles, so the extra water is absorbed by the noodles.)
  3. Cook ground beef, drain excess oil, set aside.
  4. Mix cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, egg and seasonings in a medium bowl, set aside.
  5. Line the bottom of pan with uncooked lasagna noodles.
  6. Pour about half of the runny tomato sauce mixture over the noodles.
  7. Evenly spread all of the ground beef over the sauce.
  8. Layer all of the cheese mixture on top.
  9. Layer with more noodles, followed by remaining tomato sauce mixture.
  10. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  11. sprinkle all seasonings over the top of the cheese.
  12. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 min at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  13. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
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Freezer Friendly Meals

It is always nice to have freezer meals available at home. Whether you are stocking up your freezer to prepare for the upcoming busy school year, or you are getting ready to have a baby, meals in your freezer give you a sense of security. There are a couple different types of freezer meals that I use, ones that are frozen before they are baked, and ones that are cooked and then frozen in individual serving sizes. I personally prefer the latter, but use both.

Precooked Individual Serving Size Freezer Meals:

The meals that can be cooked first are nice because they can be frozen in individual serving sizes. This makes it convenient to pull out the desired amount and quickly warm in the microwave at a moments notice. I especially love doing this with soups and enchiladas. Click the links below to find recipes that I enjoy freezing in individual serving sizes.

Taco Soup

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce (Coming Soon)

Spaghetti

Tatter Tot Casserole (Coming Soon)

Asian Pulled Pork (Coming Soon)

How to Freeze Soup:

My mom taught me this nifty trick for freezing soup without tying up your dishes in the freezer. Check it out.

How to Freeze Soup

Ingredients

  • Soup
  • Muffin Tins
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Sandwich Bags
  • Gallon Bags
  • Permanent marker

Instructions

  1. Scoop soup into muffin tins.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
  3. Set on a level surface in the freezer until completely frozen.
  4. Once frozen, thaw out the soup just a little bit by setting the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water.
  5. Use a fork to remove the frozen soup cups.
  6. Put two or three of the frozen soup cups into individual sandwich baggies.
  7. I like to double bag them to protect from freezer burn by placing all of the individual baggies into a gallon size freezer bag.
  8. Be sure to label baggies with the date and contents.
  9. When you are ready for a single serving of soup, place a few frozen soup cups in the microwave for a couple minutes and it is good to go!
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Recipes That are Frozen Before They are Baked:

These recipes serve their purpose too. Since they are not cooked yet, they take up a larger family sized dish. These are great if you know you will have company, and don’t want to miss out by spending all your time in the kitchen. However, they typically require advanced notice as they can take several hours to thaw/cook. These meals don’t work so well on those nights when 5:00 sneaks up on you and you haven’t prepared anything for dinner yet. You kinda have to plan in advance to use these type of freezer meals, which is why I don’t like them as much as the precooked individual serving size ones. I do however like to use these on Sundays. I let them thaw while we are gone to church, and then come home and bake them for an hour or so. Sometimes it is nice to have a break from all the meal prep and still have a home cooked meal. Some of my  favorite recipes to freeze before they are baked are listed below. Click the links to get my recipes.

Mama’s Lasagna

White Vegetarian Lasagna with Artichokes and Mushrooms (Coming Soon)

I hope you enjoy these freezer meals. Check back often for new freezer friendly recipes, or Subscribe to receive emails about new posts on the blog.

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Spaghetti

This Spaghetti Recipe is great because you can change it up depending on what you have in your fridge. If you are like me, you almost always have the backbones like spaghetti noodles, and spaghetti sauce in your pantry. Just throw in some extra ingredients and spices and you have yourself an exceptional Spaghetti. I like to serve this with salad  or steamed Vegetables and garlic Parmesan toast to make it a meal. To make the toast just butter bread and sprinkle some garlic salt and powdered Parmesan cheese. For extra flare sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Bake in a toaster oven or in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until lightly toasted.

Spaghetti
Spaghetti Vegetarian Style with onions, bell peppers, carrots and celery.

 

Spaghetti

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano,
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Other Ingredients: 1 lb browned ground beef, 1 precooked/cured turkey sausage link sliced, diced onion, diced bell pepper, diced carrots, diced celery, sliced mushrooms, artichoke hearts etc.

Instructions

  1. In a Saucepan combine spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, brown sugar, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, and Other Ingredients of your choosing. I prefer my sauce chunky, so the more add ins the better.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once sauce is at a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer with lid, stirring occasionally.
  4. Simmering the sauce allows the flavors to blend together, dont be afraid to keep it in there for a while.
  5. While sauce is simmering prepare spaghetti noodles according to package instructions and prepare toast, vegetables or other side dishes.
  6. Be sure to taste the vegetables in the sauce to test tenderness before serving.
  7. Serve sauce hot over whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
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Enjoy!

If you have any leftovers, they can easily be frozen and served at a later time. To read more about freezing leftovers go here.

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A Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom

Is anyone else having trouble catching up after the holiday weekend? I tell you what, today has been rough. We usually put the kids to bed at 7:00 pm, but we all stayed up way too late last night doing fireworks for the 4th of July. It didn’t get dark outside till about 8:30 pm so by the time we got started with fire works, it was already an hour and a half past our kid’s bedtime. It was so much fun, but we have definitely been paying for it today. Tired kids really means, cranky, irrational, emotional kids.

As I sit down at the end of the day to write this, I take in a deep breath and sip my lemon water. Now that the kids are both asleep, it is time to unwind from the chaos that was my life today. I am not complaining, because I truly love my job as a Stay at Home Mom. I am telling this story because I want you to know that I am human. I make mistakes, lose my patience, get behind on housework, and let my kids watch TV etc. Hopefully as you read this you will be able to relate.

Let me take you through a day in the life of a stay at home mom:

The baby is crying, It’s morning already? Wow I am tired! I better go nurse her. I’m going to run to the restroom real quick first. Oh good, Anthony (my husband) is going to get her. Hopefully he was quick enough and her crying didn’t wake up her big brother. I rock her back and forth as she nurses. I hope she goes back to sleep, I am still exhausted. I’ll just close my eyes for a minute while she eats. Zzzzzz…..

Now she is done nursing and bright and smiling! It doesn’t look like she will go back to sleep, but how could I not love that face?

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Wait, is my shirt wet? Oh man! I’ll change her diaper then put her in bed with Anthony while I change my shirt. Awe they look so cute cuddling over there in the bed. I want to cuddle too! I hear footsteps! Sounds like big brother is awake. Anthony gets up with the kids and takes them downstairs and lets me lay down for a little longer. I have the best husband! Maybe I will just check Instagram for a minute and post some cute pictures from yesterday. Wow look at the time! It has already been a half hour! Ooops, I better get dressed and get things rolling.

Where are all my clothes? I have nothing to wear! I need to work out more and get this baby weight off. I feel like nothing fits anymore! Maybe I just need to do some laundry, I know some of my clothes fit. How can there be more laundry to do when I already have three clean baskets of laundry waiting to be folded at the side of the bed? Oh well, I will just get another load started real quick, then get dressed.

Wait, there’s a bunch of dirty clothes in our suitcase from this weekend. I better unpack so that I can get those clothes in the laundry too. Oh and there is laundry in the kids rooms, and some on the stairs.

Okay all the laundry is gathered from all parts of the house, and is now sorted. I’m all ready to start a load. Is there still laundry in the dryer? How did I forget about that? Okay its in a basket, headed to join the other three baskets of clean laundry. Wait, the laundry basket wont fit next to the others until I clean up all these empty water bottles on the floor. I better gather those and toss them in the trash. Okay, now the trash is overflowing. I might as well take out all of the trash upstairs.

I hear my husband say that the oatmeal is ready. Eeeek! “Okay I will be down in a minute!” I have the best husband. I don’t know how I would have gotten all this done without his help with the kids and breakfast. I better gather the trash quickly and get dressed. There’s some yoga pants I just unpacked from the suitcase, I will just throw those on. A mom bun is going to have to do today. Thank goodness for my Creaseless Hair Ties.

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Okay, time for some breakfast after I take the trash to the dumpster.

“You even fed the baby? I love you! Thanks honey! Thanks for making me breakfast too! I’ve got the kids now so you can go get ready for work. Thanks for all your help.”

Wow our floor is dirty! I better sweep and mop in between bites so that the baby doesn’t eat everything that is on the floor.

Why is it such a fight to get toddlers to eat? “Please eat three more bites before you clear your bowl.”He gets up an walks away.”Please don’t leave the table until you are done eating.”

The baby starts whining. “Sorry baby girl, I am almost done mopping, then you can get down from your highchair and explore.”

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The toddler eats his food. “Good job! You took three more bites! What a good eater!”

The baby whines some more “Oh don’t cry, I am almost done I promise! Here are some yogurt puffs to eat while you are waiting. I love you!”

“Thank you for taking your bowl to the sink! What an obedient boy!” I say with a crazy smile as he tracks oatmeal across the freshly mopped floor from the table to the sink. Sometimes it is more work to have him help out, but I know it is good for him, so I’ll just smile through it so he can’t see my frustration. Sometimes we just have to laugh so we don’t cry.

“Mom, can I watch a show?”

“If you unload the kid dishes from the dishwasher and get dressed for the day, you can watch one show, then we are going to do an activity!”

“Sorry sweet girl, I will get you out of your highchair as soon as I get this oatmeal cleaned up!”

Okay, the floor is finally clean. “Do you want on the floor to explore, or are you too cranky now? Why don’t you come cuddle with my while I search online for an activity for your brother.”

“Mom can I watch a show now?”

“Yes! You did such a good job with the dishes and getting dressed! “His shirt is on backwards, but I don’t care, cause he is so proud of himself for getting dressed on his own.

“Okay baby girl, you are getting tired, let me print this out real quick before we put you down for a nap, I don’t want the printer waking you up.”

“Okay bud, I am going to go upstairs to feed the baby and put her down for a nap. You can watch one more episode and then we will do an activity when I come back down.”

The washer is done running. I better forward the laundry real quick so I don’t disturb her while she is sleeping.

Finally nursing and cuddling. This is the best! I wish I could just rock you all day. “Sorry It has been such a crazy morning, lets cuddle for a while and sing some songs while you fall asleep.”

“Okay bud, the baby is asleep, lets do an activity. Today we are going to learn about the months of the year, and the days of the week etc. Once he had heard enough, I set him up with some crayons. “Okay here is a coloring page for the month of July for you to color While I do the dishes.”

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“Mom I am hungry!”

“Okay, why don’t you finish your drawing while I finish loading the dishes, then we can make some lunch together.” He breaks down crying irrationally. “I don’t want lunch, I want a snack!”

“Sorry honey, It is about time for lunch, so we aren’t going to have a snack. Why don’t you put away your crayons, and then we can make some lunch together.” He calms down and cleans up. We make and eat lunch with out much fuss.

“Mom, what is after lunch? “Things are going pretty smoothly now, maybe we can do another project together before the baby wakes up. He had so much fun counting down for the 4th of July with our Scripture Straw Rocket Activity. I bet he would love to make a paper chain to count down to his birthday next month. I could have him paint some paper for the chain.  “After you clear your plate, maybe we can paint!”

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Click here to read more about this activity.

“Okay, I am done!” He clears his plate and helps me get the paint all set up. We decide to use celery pieces as stamps for the paint. He is having such a good time. I feel like a good mom, we are having some good quality time.

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“Mom, can I use my hands to paint?” “Ummm, are you done with the celery? You wont be able to use the celery very well after you us your hands because the paint might get mixed together.” “I’m done with the celery.” He starts mixing all the colors together with his hands and putting finger prints and hand prints on his papers. He is having such a good time.

“Mom, I want more paint.” “You already have a lot of paint, just use what you have.” Then the crying began. “Mom, it is too hard!” Trying to understand what a tired toddler wants is one of the hardest things. Emotions are exaggerated and it’s hard for them to communicate what they want. I finally figure out. He wants to separate the colors from each other again so he can stamp with the celery again, but it is “too hard”. It’s a hard lesson to learn. “The colors won’t separate once they are mixed. I don’t want to get any more paint out when you already have so much on your plate. You can either use the paint you have, or we can be all done.” After a complete meltdown, he decides to do some more finger painting with the remaining paint. Just as he is about to finish the baby wakes up.

What a tender mercy that she slept through all of that. “Okay, lets wash up real quick so we can go get baby sister.” We wash up and get her out of her bed. “Oh wait, you can’t cuddle her yet, you need to take off your paint shirt so you don’t get her dirty!” Another melt down… five minutes later I have forwarded the laundry and his paint shirt is in the wash with some other clothes. I pick up the baby again and she has blown out! Wow! Now both kids are crying! I feel like crying too! I think it is time for some more cartoons while we all calm down.

After she has been changed and nursed, we get some good cuddles and playing in. I cannot believe how brave she is getting. She is using everything in sight to stand up, and starting to let go! She is having a good time so I let her play independently while I finish our every dollar budget for July and pay some bills.

My husband gets home from work and plays with the kids while I finish up the budget. It is 5:00 already? Time to get dinner going! What should we have for dinner? We have no bread or milk. I really need to go grocery shopping. I will have to go tomorrow. There is no more time today. We have some over ripe bananas, peanut butter and eggs. Lets make some Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes and turkey bacon.”Where is my big helper? Lets make pancakes!”

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Thats right, there was only one fried egg. We all shared it. I really needed to go to the grocery store!

Dad finishes loading the dishes that I never got back to, and my son and I make dinner. Sweet baby girl just bounces away in her jumper watching us work. On crazy days like today, it sure is nice to all come together for dinner.

After dinner we all work together to make my son’s birthday countdown chain. It really is nice to spend time together as a family every night before the kids go to bed.

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Then it’s up the stairs for family prayer. Time for bed! What a day! I have a billion baskets of laundry waiting to be folded, but I think I will just work on the blog to help me unwind.

A day in the life of a stay at home mom. The most monotonous, peaceful, chaotic, loving, frustrating, fun, boring, yet exciting day all in one. All this and we didn’t even leave the house! At least I get to do my work with the people I love most. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

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You have 2 overripe bananas left over just sitting there on your counter. They are too ripe to eat, and you don’t have enough to make banana bread. You don’t want to toss them in the trash. What do you do? You make Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes! These are even great as a last minute dinner.

At first I was skeptical of these no flour pancakes, but when I tried them, I was pleasantly surprised. These three ingredient pancakes are delicious even without any flour or sugar. You can’t even tell they are gluten free! You have to eat it to believe it. Give it a try.

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Serve with some Turkey bacon and fried eggs!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: About 14 mini 2 inch pancakes.

Serving Size: 4-6 mini 2 inch pancakes

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 over ripe bananas mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Heat Skillet between 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Grease skillet with coconut oil or butter.
  4. Use a mini cookie scoop to drop batter on the skillet.
  5. Flip when golden brown on one side.
  6. Cook both sides till golden brown.
  7. Serve with fresh bananas on top or with homemade maple syrup.
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Visiting Teaching Handout July 2016

  • Scroll down for the July visiting teaching handouts.
  • If you are looking for a handout for the September visiting teaching message you can check it out here.

image

Here is a link to the Visiting Teaching Message for July 2016: Our Potential for Parenthood. I had way too much fun with it, so I came up with a couple of different handouts. I think it is important to Pray and Ponder over your sisters, and what they might need to hear from you this month. It might be good to focus on different parts of the lesson for each sister you visit.

I first read this message about a week ago, and I have been pondering and praying over it ever since. This particular message has pulled at my heartstrings. It quotes Elder Neil L. Anderson’s talk Children from the October 2011 General Conference. A few months after my Husband and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary, I remember listening to this talk live. It played a big role in our decision to have our first child. I love this talk. I highly recommend you read it. There are a lot of great stories and quotes in it.  In his talk he said:

Many voices in the world today marginalize the importance of having children or suggest delaying or limiting children in a family. My daughters recently referred me to a blog written by a Christian mother (not of our faith) with five children. She commented: “[Growing] up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood. … Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.” She then adds: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”7

Isnt that a great quote? I just love it! Hence, this handout was born. Plus, aren’t Lemons just perfectly Summery?

Visiting Teaching Handout.

The above quote that Elder Neil L. Anderson referred to in this talk is found in an article titled Motherhood is a Calling by Rachel Jankovic from the Blog DesiringGod.org. This is also a fantastic read.

Click Here for your Free Printable Download of this ‘Squeeze” Handout.

Ideas to Supplement this Handout:

oil vile
1. Add a doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil Sample to this Handout.
  • Not sure what Lemon Essential Oil is good for? Click here to find out.
  • Want to obtain some for your sisters? Go here to purchase from my friend and neighbor.
Visiting Teaching Handout Ideas
This is how my final product turned out.
This is a great paper cutter for making crafts.
I bought this EK Tools 1/2 inch Circle Punch to get the perfect sized hole for the sample lemon oil, and to make sure my Handouts were cut perfectly straight I used my new Paper Trimmer. It is always exciting to get a package in the mail, and I was so happy I had the right tools to make this project look so nice!
Visiting Teaching Hand out Ideas-lemon squeezer
2. Another Idea is to add a Lemon Squeezer like this one.
Yummy lemonade for my visiting teaching lesson.
3. Or you could add some Lemonade. Yum!

 

Being Sensitive:

Not all sisters have “Picture Perfect” families as mentioned in  Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me April 2016 General Conference.

God loves children. He loves all children. The Savior said, “Suffer [the] little children … to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”1

Children today find themselves in many different and complex family configurations.

For example, today, twice as many children in the United States are living with only one parent than were 50 years ago.2 And there are many families that are less unified in their love of God and willingness to keep His commandments.

In this increasing spiritual commotion, the restored gospel will continue to carry the standard, the ideal, the pattern of the Lord.

In the Visiting Teaching Message it says:

Though not all of us become parents in this life, we can nurture children of every age. We enjoy the blessings of being part of Heavenly Father’s family, and we experience the joys and challenges of being part of an earthly family. And for many, parenthood awaits them in the eternities ahead.

Some sisters haven’t been blessed with children yet. Some have lost children. Some have children far away at college, or on missions, and some may be estranged from their children. I believe that knowing and loving your sisters can help you magnify your calling as a visiting teacher. One of the best ways I have found to do this is to pray for them. You can ask Heavenly Father to help you see them like He does. Perhaps you will be prompted to refocus your lesson on the fact that we are Heavenly Father’s Children and He loves us very much.

I taught Sunbeams last Sunday and the lesson was I belong to a family.  It says:

Heavenly Father and Jesus love every family

Show picture 1-7, A Loving Family. Explain that some families have a mother and a father, and some families have only one parent. Some families have a grandparent or other person helping to take care of the children. Some families have many children, while other families have one child or no children. Help the children understand that every family is different and Heavenly Father and Jesus love every family.

I love that even the lesson for the 3-4 year old sunbeams emphasizes the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus have for every family no matter their circumstance. Isn’t it cool that the lessons in all 3 meetings seem to have related themes? Last week in Sacrament meeting one of the talks was based on Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk from the April 2016 General Conference that I mentioned earlier in this post. I thought they correlated perfectly. I think there is some divine guidance there. In the July Visiting Teaching Message it says:

“It was essential that God’s spirit children have mortal birth and an opportunity to progress toward eternal life,” taught Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “In light of the ultimate purpose of the great plan of happiness, I believe that the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity.”1

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For your Free Printable Treasures Quote Handout click here.

We are Heavenly Father’s Children. We are His treasures!

Make some Hidden Treasure Cookies for your sisters and give them this recipe card.2016-06-26 08.42.18

For your Free Printable Download of the Hidden Treasure Cookies Recipe Card click Here.

Chocolate Caramel Hidden Teasure Cookies. Yum!
Don’t these Hidden Treasure Cookies make your mouth water?
Visiting Teaching treat!
Don’t have time to make cookies? Attach your Treasure quote to some chocolate gold coins.

I hope you find some ideas here that you can use. You can customize your handouts to meet your sisters needs. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I know He can help you to see them like He does, like Children of God. We are children of the King of Kings. Now that really is a treasure.

Hidden Treasure Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24+ 2 inch cookies

Hidden Treasure Cookies

Delicious Chocolate Cookies with a Surprise Caramel Center.

Ingredients

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Rolos

Instructions

  1. Combine cake mix, oil and eggs.
  2. Form cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  3. Hide unwrapped Rolos inside of each dough ball.
  4. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
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To check out the handouts for the August Visiting Teaching Message click hereVisiting teaching handouts August 2016

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Healthy Snacks You Can Buy Online

Here are some of the top items I recommend for healthy snacking. Don’t feel like battling the crowds at the grocery store? Want to purchase them now before you loose the motivation? You know when you go to the grocery store you are going to see all the tempting cookies, ice cream and potato chips. Avoid all that distraction by shopping online. Did you know that with Amazon Prime you get free 2 day shipping? In just a few clicks, these healthy snacks could be yours! Click the links below each picture and put them in your Amazon Prime shopping cart. Not a Prime Member? Click here for a free 30 day trial.

Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Almonds
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Breakfast Essentials
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Cashews
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Craisins
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Dole Pineapple
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Mrs. Dash
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
Triscuits
Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
V8 V-Fusion

Click here to see more healthy snacking ideas, and what I pair these items with.

Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!

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Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks

 

Such Great Ideas for Healthy Eating!You are as busy as a bee and hunger strikes again! We have all been there. The question is, do you run to the pantry, or your drawer at work, and grab whatever processed garbage you can find, or do you try to find something healthy? Perhaps if you had a list of delicious healthy ideas you would stop going for that Twinkie or Ding Dong. Wouldn’t that be convenient? Oh wait! There is a list of healthy snacks right here at your finger tips! Now you can eat healthy snacks and get back to work instead of sinking into a food coma.

 

Quick Throw Together Snacks:

  1. Yogurt and Granola. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Pop the top off a yogurt and sprinkle on some granola. My favorite yogurt with granola is strawberry. If you have a little time, you can cut up a banana, and a few strawberries too, to make the yogurt even more filling and delicious. This also makes a yummy breakfast.
  2. Crackers with Cottage Cheese. Spoon a teaspoon of cottage cheese over whole wheat crackers and sprinkle with Mrs. Dash .This spice mix packs a great punch of flavor, and doesn’t contain salt! Definitely a winner in my book. In case you have never heard of Mrs. Dash, you can find it here. I like the Original flavor. Growing up we used to eat this on Ritz Crackers, but now I use Triscuits as a healthier option.Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
  3. Green Smoothie. The key to a good fruit smoothie is the right ingredients. Start with frozen tropical fruits including Strawberries, mangoes, peaches, pineapple, grapes etc. It is usually cheaper when you buy it in bulk.  Add a leaf or two of washed kale. Some people are deterred by the green color of the smoothie, but kale has such a rich green color, I think it is just beautiful.  Add a dollop of low fat plain or strawberry yogurt to make it nice and smooth. Pour in at least a cup (8 oz) of V8 juice. Just make sure you use the right type of V8. The V8 Splash flavors contain high fructose corn syrup so steer clear of them. I always use the V8 fusion flavors. I like the strawberry banana,  mango peach, and strawberry pineapple flavors best. My favorite thing about V8 is that each 8 oz serving contains 1 whole serving of fruits and vegetables! You can almost get your five daily fruits and veggies all in one cup! Can you tell I like V8? Blend it all until its nice and smooth. It’s like drinking pure energy!
  4. Bagel with Tomato. Toast half of a whole wheat bagel and spread 1TBS low fat whipped cream cheese over the top. Top with a slice of lean lunch meat and sliced tomatoes.  Eat open faced. This snack is filling yet doesn’t weigh you down. Delicious!
  5. Warm Peanut Butter Drizzled over Apple Slices. Since it’s a warm snack, it’s nice to eat this one at night when the munchies set in. Just plop some peanut butter in a mug and microwave for about 30 seconds. Drizzle it over sliced apples and eat with a fork. Sprinkle some mini dark chocolate chips or granola over it if you are feeling dangerous.Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!
  6. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple. I like to use low fat cottage cheese and Dole  pineapple in pineapple juice. This snack reminds me of my childhood summers. My mom and I used to eat this together. Just mix the pineapple and cottage cheese together and enjoy. Be sure to add the pineapple juice too! It is super refreshing and gives you a burst of energy. I hear that people like to have cottage cheese with peaches or mixed berries too, but I have never tried That. Maybe that will be my next adventure.
  7. Chocolate Banana Shake. I love Breakfast Essentials! They are quick, filling and delicious. They taste even better as a shake. Just toss 1/2 a banana, one cup of ice, one cup low-fat milk, and a packet of rich milk chocolate breakfast essentials into a blender, and it creams up real smooth like a milkshake. Sometimes I even drink it as a recovery shake after a taxing workout. Can’t go wrong with this one. If you don’t have banana’s on hand, no biggie, throw in some strawberries, or mixed berries instead. My Bella Rocket Blender works great for this shake. Since it is a single serve blender, it is less mess to deal with when I am done.
  8. Homemade Trail Mix. In a small bowl combine ¼ cup each of raw almonds, craisens, and unsalted cashews. I like to toss this mix in a small kids cup with lid, you know the ones you get from restaurants? Yeah, we are “those people” the ones that take the kids cups home. We wash and reuse them. Don’t judge, they are super convenient.  It fits conveniently in the cup holder in the car, or even in your stroller. If you aren’t taking this on the go, try adding a few dark chocolate chips for a little extra flavor.Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!Prep Ahead of Time Snacks:
  9. Hummus and Veggies. The hummus I purchase the most is probably Sabra brand. You can find it at some stores for around $4. I like the roasted pine nut flavor. You can eat this with all kinds of veggies. My favorites are baby carrots, sugar snap peas, red or yellow bell peppers (the green ones aren’t as good), celery, jicama, cherry tomatoes, broccoli etc. Here is where the prep comes in. Slice up a couple days worth of veggies and place them nicely on a plate so they look appetizing. Having it all prepped will help you to actually eat it. Remember, you are a busy person, and you don’t want the thought of meal prep to deter you from eating healthy when hunger comes creeping in. Believe me, it will be worth it!
  10. Guacamole and Veggies. At first I thought this would be weird, because Guacamole was intended to be consumed on crunchy corn chips or a greasy taco right? But I went to a church activity where they served only veggies instead of chips, so I thought I would give it a try. Boy was I pleasantly surprised by the amazing flavor of the guacamole on the crisp veggies. Plus if you are already planning to chop up veggies for hummus, just make a little extra for the guacamole and you are good to go. I always make my own guacamole. Just mash an avocado with a fork and add some lime juice to help keep it fresh. Leaving a pit in the guacamole helps with this too. You can add some sea salt and pepper or even some diced tomatoes or onions if you are into that.
  11. Hard Boiled Eggs. My son loves these, and I can let him snack on these guilt free! Just place some raw eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water until the water line is one inch above the eggs. Boil the water. Once you have reached a rolling boil turn off the burner and let the pot sit for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs carefully with tongs and allow them to cool before refrigerating. I also like to eat this as egg salad on wheat toast. To make the egg salad, dice the egg and mix in a little plain yogurt, mustard and lemon pepper.

Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!

You may have noticed that a lot of the ingredients repeat themselves. This cuts back on waste. I like to try and keep these items on hand so I can pull them out at a moment’s notice.  I hope this gives you some inspiration to eat healthy and feel good! You can do it! What are your favorite healthy snacks? I would love to hear from you.

For your convenience, I have added a link to purchase some of these snacks on Amazon Prime.

If you would like to share my content, please provide a link back to my website. Please do not use my images without permission.

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Top 11 Quick and Healthy Summer Snacks. Yum!

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

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Don’t forget to pin it so you can reference the recipe later!

If you are anything like me, your summer is sprinkled with barbecues, receptions, showers, parties, and traveling. While I thoroughly enjoy all of the delicious food that comes along with these great events, my scale does not. And to be honest, I am eating a scrumptious Apple Fritter from Winder Farms as I type this up. Also tonight we plan on going to the World’s Best Corndogs Food Truck for dinner. That’s right, I have been known to splurge from time to time. Today is definitely not an A+ in the book of health.

In between the parties, and junk food however, I like to try to feed my family some healthy meals. But who likes health food that tastes like wood, or dirt? Nobody! That’s why I love this Balsamic Chicken and Vegetable Stir fry! It is healthy and has a great flavor. So tonight come join us at the corndog truck, and maybe tomorrow you can make this healthy dish for dinner.(We had it last night!) Hope you Enjoy it!

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Whisk together the Italian dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey and crushed red pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl.
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Marinate the chicken in this mixture for a few hours or overnight. I have marinated it for as little as 5 minutes, and it turned out fine too.
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Warm the coconut oil over medium heat before placing chicken evenly in the pan. Reserve the remaining marinade for latter.
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Use tongs to flip chicken when it is done cooking on one side.
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When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and place it in a separate dish.
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Add remaining marinade to the pan and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes until it gets nice and thick.
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Pour in the frozen stir fry vegetables and coat evenly with the marinade.
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Continue to fry for about 10 minutes, rotating frequently until vegetables are tender.
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Place the chicken back in the pan and serve warm over rice or quinoa.

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Chicken tenderloins
  • 1/3 Cup Light Italian Dressing
  • 3 ½ Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • 1/8 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Coconut oil
  • 1 lb Bag of Frozen Stir Fry Vegetables (any brand)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the Italian dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey and crushed red pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Marinate chicken in this mixture for a few hours or overnight. I have marinated it for as little as 5 minutes, and it turned out fine too.
  3. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat before placing chicken evenly in the pan. Reserve the remaining marinade for later.
  4. Use tongs to flip chicken when it is done cooking on one side.
  5. When chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and place it in a separate dish.
  6. Add remaining marinade to the pan and let simmer for 5-7 minutes till it gets nice and thick.
  7. Pour in the frozen stir fry vegetables and coat evenly with the marinade.
  8. Continue to fry for about 10 minutes, rotating frequently until vegetables are tender.
  9. Place the chicken back in the pan and serve warm with white rice or quinoa.
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Friday French Toast with the Family

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This morning the boys requested French Toast for breakfast. My little helper and I got everything gathered and went to work. I am a firm believer in letting children help out in the kitchen. As long as you teach proper safety and cleanliness it can be a great learning experience for both you and your child. My son learns new skills each time we work together in the kitchen. Each age brings new abilities in the food prep process. Today Big M helped me with cracking the eggs. He does a much better job now than he did a year ago. Back then, eggs were cracked in some less fortunate places. Cooking with a helper definitely requires patience, but has created so many great memories for both of us.

This french toast is delicious. Here is how to make it. First mix the eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg in a shallow bowl.

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Place your whole wheat bread in the egg mixture.
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Coat it real good.
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Flip it to make sure both sides are covered evenly. Little helpers may need some assistance with this part. We probably wash our hands 10 times throughout the whole process.
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Once coated, place the bread on your skillet and top each piece with coconut oil (healthiest option), butter (tastiest option) or margarine (cheapest option).
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Then sprinkle on some cinnamon.
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Carefully flip the french toast so it can cook on both sides.
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It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. They won’t learn if you don’t let them try. I am really proud of how good Big M is at this.
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Now it is time to flip them onto the plate.
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The perfectionist in me wants so badly to rearrange the french toast in a beautiful pattern on the plate. But what kind of message would that send to my son? That it wasn’t good enough! I would never say that to him! So I shouldn’t say it with my actions either. Actions speak louder than words, especially to children.
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Besides, look how proud he is! Look at his beautiful accomplishment and creation. Little kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for.
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I have to refocus my perfectionism sometimes because my life isn’t just about me anymore, it is about my family. Instead of perfecting things, I try to perfect myself. I can do this by being patient, loving my son unconditionally, and instilling confidence in him. This can be very hard at times, but I keep trying, and I like to think I am becoming a better person because of it.

 

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Today, I just want to soak up the fact that he is interested in spending time with me. They grow up too fast!
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Besides, I can make it look pretty on my own plate.
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Baby B wishing she could try some of this delicious french toast.
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Patience beautiful girl. One day you will eat solid food.

One day I will have all the time in the world to make my food perfect and beautiful. Today is not that day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The smiles on my children’s faces are far more beautiful than any food will ever be, and I know I will look back on this time and wish I could relive it. So right now, I’m just going to soak it all in. Life is good!

What funny cooking experiences have you had with your kids? You know the ones where you are forced to laugh so you wouldn’t cry? We have these canisters on the counter that I keep all our baking staples in, flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon etc. One afternoon, I came into the kitchen to find a  chair pulled up to the counter, and Big M was no where to be found. I always get suspicious when there is a chair by the counter. I took a look at the canisters and all of them were empty, except for the large flour one. Yep, you guessed it! He dumped all the contents of all the canisters into the flour! When I asked him about it he said,  “I Mixa Mixa it real fast!” No Shame for that little guy! He kills me! Tell us about your funny cooking stories!

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French Toast

French Toast

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 -8 pieces of sturdy bread (I like whole wheat, or sour dough)
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat eggs, milk, nutmeg and vanilla.
  3. Butter/ grease griddle.
  4. Dip bread one at a time in egg mixture and place on griddle.
  5. Top each bread slice with about ½ tsp butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Flip when bottom of bread is golden brown.
  7. Allow both sides to become golden brown.
  8. Top with butter, syrup, fruit, strawberry compote, whip cream etc.
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