Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies

I found this recipe online somehow and it sounded to easy and too few ingredients to be true. If you've ever made peanut butter cookies, you know the list of ingredients can be much longer than this. Since it has only 4 ingredients, it seemed too easy and couldn't possibly hold together or taste good.  Of course I had to try it out since peanut butter is my *fave* thing to eat! And believe me, I wasn't disappointed!

Peanut Butter Cookies
1cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4tsp baking soda

1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Roll into balls and if desired, make criss-cross pattern with a fork on top.
2. Bake at 350 for 8-10min.
(Notes: I used chunky peanut butter, but I'm sure creamy would work just fine. I did do the criss-cross pattern and I also sprinkled just a touch of regular sugar on top like you would a regular PB cookie.)

These turned out great. Unlike other PB cookies I've made, they are not dry or crumbly at all! Very moist and delicious! And of course, super easy! They'll be made again!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Brayden's Birthday

Over the weekend we celebrated our friend Brayden's 4th birthday!

It was a pretty nice day-although not really warm enough to enjoy the pool like we were supposed to (although a few brave kids went in!). The girls had fun on the swingset though!
Carly and Cassie

Avery and Cassie
We had some pizza and wings and some yummy homemade ice cream cake! Delish!

Birthday boy!
Brayden's Grandpa made this cool cut out of him-it was traveling around through the party and was really neat! After cake, it was present time with cut-out Brayden!

After presents, we did a lot more playing before heading home. As always, it was a super fun party at their house!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Lions Say "Roar"!

Last Friday I took the kids to the zoo along with my Sister-in-Law, niece, and nephew. The kids had been asking to go, so it was great timing that Molly suggested it for a get together!

We got there right around when it opened and waited for them to arrive. The girls liked watching the rhino break apart a stick.
Once they arrived, we were off to see the animals!  I didn't get a ton of pictures this time, but we all had a lot of fun. It was pretty crowded that day (the parking lot was crazy!), but didn't seem all that bad once inside. We worked our way back to the safari area....
Avery, Cassie, Bianca, Owen

Avery, Bianca, Cassandra
and we stopped there to have lunch. After lunch, we saw the lions and the kids played on the safari bus for a very long time. Then we found the baboons and were cracking up at them sleeping. They were all in funny spots and funny positions totally passed out!
Yes, he's asleep!
We saw the elephants and then the kids played in the sandbox for awhile. After that, we started the trek to the front of the zoo to try and get them headed out! Of course that meant stopping at the playground for a half hour (which was crazy busy) before I could drag them out. On our way to the car, Avery asked if I wold take her picture with the meerkats!
And ever since our visit, Cassie will say, "The lions say "Roar" and the elephants go (insert elephant sound here)." It's so funny!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dairy Free

Remember that cough I told you about months ago?

Well...it's still around.

Cassandra responded great to the 2 meds (Singulair and Nasonex) at first. Then we tried weaning her off and it's been a nightmare since. We cut out the Singulair and the coughing started right back up. So we put her back on it....but she didn't respond to it.  Back to the allergist we went (in April) and she was kept on those 2 and they also added in 2 inhalers for her as well. One to do twice daily and once as a "rescue" inhaler for her coughing "fits".  

She responded well to those so we were told to keep her on them for a month. We stopped in mid-May and she was ok for about 2-3 weeks.  Then the cough returned. We went to the allergist again in June and he told us to keep her as she is for about 6mos. Basically 3-4 meds a day for the poor girl.

I've also been talking to my chiropractor a lot about it (she has a degree in nutrition as well) and she strongly feels that the inflammation causing her asthma is tied to food and an unbalanced "gut". She suggested trying going dairy free for awhile because I guess dairy is a big trigger for inflammation in a lot of kids. That along with adding in some probiotics and Vitamin D should help clean her gut out.

Well...about 2 weeks ago or so we had another really bad night of her coughing so we decided to bite the bullet and give it a shot. So on Friday 7/11 we started her on a dairy free diet. 

I'm not going to lie....it's hard.

Some days have been easy and some have been challenging. I've had moments in Wegman's where I want to cry because everything I normally buy has dairy in it. I've also had moments in Wegman's where I'm thanking God that something doesn't have dairy in it.

The hardest part has been milk (to drink) and yogurt and mac-n-cheese. Thankfully most of the other stuff we feed the kids doesn't have dairy in it. I've tried a few different yogurts for her and she's not really thrilled with them. I found one mac-n-cheese that she ate-if she will again who knows! But the drinking milk is very hard. I tried almond milk first since it seems a lot of people like it. Nope-she knew right away it was different and drank a few gulps and that was it. Every meal I gave it to her and every meal it sat there. This week I bought rice milk and she's not thrilled with that either. She'll take 1-2 sips at a meal and that's it. And it's only because I sort of make her drink a sip. She doesn't do it on her own. I might try coconut milk this weekend and see how that goes. Beyond that, I'm stumped.

We haven't had the challenge of going out to dinner yet or going to a party, etc. I know those will be hard. I found a bakery that makes dairy free cupcakes so I think I'm going to stock up on those for when we have a party to go to. At least she won't feel left out!

And it's really hard telling her she can't have something, especially if she sees someone else eating it. We always will say "no" and she'll ask why. Our answer? "It has milk in it." Lately she'll just say "ok."  At first, many tears were shed when we said no, but I think she's starting to catch on. And it's funny because now Avery will ask "does that have milk in it?" before we give something to Cassandra. So she's looking out for her too.

I could see this being easier if your child had a life threatening allergy to something and you had to cut it out of their diet. But doing it by choice is hard for some reason. And like Gabe said, I never imagined we'd be one of those families that has to read every label before feeding it to our child. I'm not sure how long we'll do this for. Ideally 3-6months, but really we're just taking it one day at a time.

If any of you have any suggestions for us, we'll take all of the help we can get!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

I've had this recipe around for awhile and even had it written on here awhile. And I'm finally getting to posting it now! I got this from the same Rachael Ray magazine as I did the stromboli recipe-they were on the same page to be exact! Just like the stromboli, this is another winner!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp oil
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 scallions-whites and greens separated and chopped
1 large head of butter lettuce, leaves separated

1. In small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce and soy sauce with 1/3 cup water.
2. In large skillet or wok, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add chicken and cook, breaking apart until browned.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add the carrot and 1tbsp oil-cook 2mins. Add garlic and scallion whites and cook 1min. Stir in hoisin mixture and cook until sauce thickens, 1-2min.
4. Divide the lettuce leaves among 4 plates. Top each leaf with chicken mixture, sprinkle with scallion greens.

(Notes: I used ground chicken for ours. And I didn't sprinkle the scallion greens on-I just threw them in the pan at the end instead! I can't remember if this suggested a dipping sauce at all-I know we didn't use one, but it might be a good addition to the recipe.)

This was very good, but to me it wasn't very filling. It's meant to serve 4 people and I think Gabe and I split the recipe and I was still on the hungry side. I probably should have made a side of veggies or something. It would also make for a great appetizer as well! We'll be making this again for sure!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Frozen Birthday-Party 2

This year Avery really wanted a birthday party for her friends at school (aka daycare). We figured since she's starting real school in the fall, she could have a party since it would be one of her last time seeing some of these friends.

The party was the week after her family party so the decorations were the same and were kept up between parties. (I hate to admit that a month later, they are still up! There might be some serious meltdowns if they come down. Just sayin')

For this party, I decided to do cupcakes instead of a cake. They're just easier with kids!  And I found a Pillsbury cake mix that was the perfect shade of blue! Add on some homemade buttercream, some white sugar and some snowflakes and voila....frozen cupcakes!
And here are the rest of the treats-candy sticks, blue gumballs, swirl suckers, mints, white M&M's and some white chocolate covered snack mix.
We set up the bounce house for the kids and again we lucked out with the weather. It was hot and muggy out and I think it rained an hour or two after the party ended....yep, we totally got lucky!  The kids loved the bounce house though!

We also filled up a ton of water balloons-I'm not sure how many but there was a lot-probably close to 50 or more! And they went through them in about 5mins!

We kept the food simple-pizza and the rainbow fruit tray along with the snacks we did at the family party too.
Kathryn, Avery, and Gina
After lunch, it was present time!

Little stinker!
Then we did cake and ice cream!

Before the kids left, they did the scavenger hunt and found their goodies to take home.

The party went pretty well for our first "kid" party. It went from 11:30-2 which was perfect. I think she had a lot of fun and so did the guests! I'm sure there will plenty more friend parties in our future...just maybe not at the house! Haha!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jodi and Tony

Still playing catch up from the past few weeks...

Last Friday (also Avery's birthday), we had my cousin's wedding in Buffalo.  It was at 5pm so Gabe worked a half day and then we dropped off the kids at my in-laws for a sleepover (they were so excited!).  Then off to Buffalo we went!

They had the ceremony right at the reception site, but it was held outside. It was such a beautiful day out too!
Tony with the Mom and Stepmom of the Bride

My cousin Jessica and escort

Jessica's kids-Cayden and Madyson

Jodi with her Stepdad and Dad


Exchanging rings

The kiss!

The new Mr. and Mrs.!
After the ceremony, we went inside for the reception.

Family photo:
Aunt Pat, cousin Rachel and her family
They had a buffet dinner which was good and shortly after, the fun began!
First Dance

Father-Daughter dance
Of course we had to get a pic of us together since it doesn't happen too often!
We stayed probably until about 10-10:30 since we had to drive back home. We had a really great time! It was the first family wedding since ours and my cousin's back in 2008!  Congrats Jodi and Tony!! Beautiful day!