Thursday, May 28

Italian Broccoli Pasta

I'm a sucker for all things P-A-S-T-A.  While my waistline can't handle it on a regular basis, I say "everything in moderation". Where's my Kit Kat? Just kidding (maybe).

Most of my beloved pasta dishes are served warm. With a summer heat wave around the corner, I can't imagine sucking down a steaming pile of spaghetti. To satisfy my craving (and keep from spontaneously combusting), I whipped up the following solution to my hankering.

It's so deliciously easy, I think I'll give myself an early release from the kitchen tonight. I almost feel guilty.

I said "almost".

2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
10 ounces bowtie pasta (Farfalle)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons dry Italian salad dressing mix
1/2 cup diced mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup pepperoni, sliced in strips
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Boil pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil.

Pour in large mixing bowl and add broccoli, sliced pepperoni, tomatoes, and parsley. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this bowl...ahhhhhhh.

Whisk remaining olive oil with Italian dressing mix. Pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle salt and stir. Next comes my favorite part, mozz-a-rella.

Say cheese!

Mix it all up and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Reserve a few pepperoni slices and a little fresh parsley for garnish and you have an entire meal in one bowl. Easy, breezy, beautiful summer meal!

(Tip: For leftovers, you may need to toss with a little extra oil to give it new life. The cold pasta can soak up all the original goodness...oil hog!)

Now grab a fork and enjoy!

(The first time my toddler had this dish, he actually said "Mmmmm, good broccoli". Yep, that's quite an endorsement!)

Tuesday, May 26

Tiny Tummies

This is a shout out to all my little friends with Tiny Tummies...and the wonderful people who feed them.

As a parent, I want delicious...homemade meals and treats for my little squirt. He's also at an age where I think it's important for him to help with the process of preparing them. It keeps his hands busy, his mind occupied, and my sanity intact (all while creating moments I'll forever treasure).

Here are a few of our family favorites that are yummy and oh-so-easy!

1. Pecan Pie Muffinettes

5. Cricket Cookies

6. Graham Banana Bites



 10. Peanut Butter Toast Balls

11. Owl Toast

12. Zoom Zoom Fruit

Stay tuned, tiny tummies...more to come!

Thursday, May 21

The Gift of Correspondence

Looking for the perfect wedding gift? How about a Correspondence Crate?

Mixing bowls and hand towels are on their registry but you want something a bit more personalized (and let's face it, more CREATIVE). Why not provide the happy couple with a massive amount of greetings? You can make sending their first "thank you" easy by including a variety of gratitude cards. They can scribble a "just thinking of you" on their new personalized stationery, and seal them with a few initial envelope seals.

It's the quintessential "gift that keeps on giving"!

Ideas for items to include:
Thank you cards
Blank inside cards
Happy birthday (generic) cards
Sympathy (generic) cards
Thinking of you cards
Monogrammed stationery
Envelope seals
Letter openers
Colorful writing pens
I found this cute chalkboard crate at Hobby Lobby for 50% off . The goodies inside, I collected from a few different retail establishments (the Mr. & Mrs. truck cards are from Reeds & Ink Designs). The shower was a display shower, so no wrapping required. Genius!
A little burlap and an adorable bow were the perfect finishing touches! Don't forget the stamps, it's an added expense but makes the whole mailing process much easier for the happy couple.

A cheerful addition to the gift table too, don't you think?
This is also an excellent idea for new moms, graduates, teacher appreciation, etc. A gentle reminder to "be crate-ful"!
Happy Thank You Thursday, friends!
("Be crate-ful" credit goes to the crazy creative, Steve the Great!)

Wednesday, May 20

The Simply Fabulous $6 Sign

A friend and I recently hosted a wedding shower for a sweet pal of ours (stay tuned for more photos). Her colors for the big day are metallics and neutrals, which I find very exciting. Sparkle, shine, repeat!
With the shower planning in full swing, it gave me an excuse to spend unacceptable amounts of time on Pinterest. Happy dance!
I was in love with the idea of initials on the mantle as a sparkly "welcome to the festivities" message. However, when putting my plan into action, I was a bit discouraged. Even the most inexpensive letters (times three) were more than I wanted to pay with all the other glitter d├ęcor we had planned.
So, I improvised and here's what my super-duper-frugal-self came up with...a simply fabulous $6 sign.
It definitely made a statement without breaking my piggy bank. Mission accomplished!

Items you'll need:
1 Foam Board (your preferred size)
1 Ampersand (if needed)
Elmer's Glue
Duct Tape

To start, I measured the height of the board and calculated the distance between each stripe in order to make them centered. Instead of painting (and since the bride's theme was metallics), I chose to use duct tape as a much easier and faster option.

My design included the initials of the happy couple with an ampersand (&). I purchased the ampersand from a craft store for 50% off. SCORE! To make sure they were also centered, I measured the width of the board and ampersand. This gave me an idea of how large the letters could be.

I then sketched (you can also trace them from a template) the letters.

Next, I traced the letter outline with Elmer's glue, filled in the letter, and topped with glitter. Then a little more glitter.

And the grand finale of lots more glitter.

When both letters were glued and glittered, I set it aside to dry overnight.

Finally, I attached ampersand with hot glue and taaaaaaaaaaaaadddaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...FABULOUS!

Look at her shimmer! It's a job well done!

Inexpensive, fast, and perfect for any type of celebration!

Wednesday, May 13

The Power of a Cookie

Tuesdays are story and craft time at the local library.

Little Man is usually pretty excited about attending. This time was a bit different and I should've known better by his reluctance to go.

Between the ants in his pants, his very short attention span, and his inability to use his "inside voice", I was praying for reading time to conclude and craft time to begin. I'm sure it was only ten pages but that book seemed like the children's edition of War & Peace!

Finally, as if reading my mind, the woman uttered the words I'd been longing to hear, "The end".

Whoosh, surely glue sticks and sequins will keep him interested.

As I'm searching for a paper beak to adorn his spring chicken, he begins a kicking match with the boy to his right. It was quickly diffused by the "mommy look".

A few minutes later, a heated "" conversation with the girl to his left. OH, GOOD GRIEF!

The final straw was when he smacked said girl for trying to steal his chicken wing (this stupid bird is going to send me straight over the edge).

And yes, you guessed it...what came next was a standard mother/son "trip to the bathroom". I'll spare you the details but let's just say he had a completely different attitude when we emerged.

With a somewhat sincere "sorry" to the now pouting little girl, we grabbed our partially deformed chicken and headed to the car.

On the way home, we further discussed his misbehavior. When asked why he acted with such defiance, he promptly responded...

"Mama, I just needed a cookie!"

And there you have it folks, even toddlers get "hangry" (hungry and angry).

While my outside was trying to enforce discipline, my inside was screaming "I HEAR YA, BUDDY!"

Never underestimate the power of a cookie!

Tuesday, May 5

Cinco de Mayo Salsa

The only true way to celebrate the 5th of May is by consuming large amounts of salsa (and sopapillas, but my unhealthy addiction to carbs is a completely different post).

Am I right?

I've posted my favorite salsa recipe before but this little gem is a close second. It's so delicious, I might be able to serve it with Super Hunky Tacos and convince the boys to join me in wearing sombreros.

Chances are slim but I'll keep you posted!


1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 cup black beans
1 can chopped green chiles
1 can fire roasted tomatoes, diced
1/8 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Dash of paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt & black pepper to taste

Slowly pulse tomatoes in food processor until chunks are slightly blended. Add to medium mixing bowl with corn, beans, and green chiles. Stir.

Add spices and continue stirring until thoroughly mixed.

Lastly, add lime juice and mix.

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving. Combine with your favorite chips and dig in!

Yes, to say Little Man LOVES this is a gross understatement. In fact, this is him saying "Lord, please let Mommy stop photographing so I can EAT!

Because I love it so very much!"

I'll have a hamburger on Cinco de Mayo, said no Juan ever! HA!

Have a wonderful 5th of May, from our family (hopefully, wearing sombreros) to yours!

Monday, May 4

Crock Pot Lasagna

Yesterday was my weekly meal planning day. Before you roll your eyes and judge me for being one of "those" moms, let me clarify. Sunday is usually the day where I glance at the calendar for the coming week and plan the nights that will call for my trusty slow cooker (or cereal). Five minutes of list making and the week goes much more smoothly!

Crock Pot Lasagna is a family favorite and makes enough for two days of leftovers...SCORE!
I don't usually make lasagna unless I have a good amount of uninterrupted time...can you sense my sarcasm? Let's face it, it's a bit labor intensive.....browning, mixing, boiling, more mixing, straining, more mixing, get the big, exhausting idea!

Here's the solution for your lasagna craving, without all the fuss. The only difficult part is trying not to eat the whole thing by yourself!

Good luck with that! :-)

Crock-Pot Lasagna
  • 1 lb ground beef (you can also use pork sausage to add a little more flavor)
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) sliced mushrooms, rinsed 
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 zucchini (8 oz), trimmed and grated
  • 24 oz marinara sauce (see Meatball recipe for marinara sauce recipe)
  • 1 container (15 oz) cottage cheese
  • 7 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 12 traditional lasagna noodles, uncooked 

Coat crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Place ground beef into a nonstick skillet and cook over medium to medium-high heat until cooked thoroughly.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, combine mushrooms, carrots, zucchini and 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Stir remaining sauce into the beef.

In a medium bowl, stir together cottage cheese, 1 cup of the shredded cheese and the basil.

(Well, this is not my greatest photographic work...and I forgot to add the basil.)
Begin layering: Break 3 noodles into thirds and spread on bottom of crock pot. Top with half the vegetable mixture, spreading level, and 3 more noodles, broken into thirds. 

Spread noodles with meat sauce and top with 3 more noodles, broken into thirds. Spread noodles with cheese mixture and remaining 3 noodles (in thirds). 

Repeat layers until mixtures are gone. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Isn't she lovely (you're singing it now, aren't you)?

Until we slow cook again...

(Little Man says "Mom, you're a good cook"! I need to give credit to the crock pot but I just don't have the heart...look at this face!)
(Original recipe from