Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quick and healthy Shepherd's Pie (Cottage Pie)

Looking for another quick and easy dinner idea to throw in the mix?  This Shepherd's Pie is just that, and healthy too.  All the convenience without the all the processed junk you don't want your family to eat. 

This is one of those recipes that you can just throw together and heat up.  Perfect for those busy weeknights.  You can even prepare it ahead of time, putting it all together in the baking dish.  Once you get home from work, just throw it in the oven to heat through.  You may need to bake it a bit longer since it will be cold rather than coming from the cook top. 

Shepherd's Pie (Cottage Pie)
by Love Bug Living

1T Olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion (diced)
Frozen bag mixed vegetables
Simply Potatoes - mashed potatoes
1/2 - 1 c. Shredded cheese
Salt, Pepper and other seasonings to taste

Add oil to large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté onion until translucent.  Add ground beef and brown.  Season meat with salt, pepper, and any of your favorite seasonings.  Add frozen vegetables and stir until they are warmed through.
Preheat oven to 375.  Spread meat mixture in a baking dish.  Spoon and spread your mashed potatoes over the top of the mixture.  Top with cheese.  Place in oven for 20-30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is bubbly.

Your whole meal is ready to go in this one dish.  My girls loved it and wanted seconds.  It's great for leftovers too, if you have any that is!  Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wedding Initial Canvas

Summer is here!  That means that kids are out of school.  Time for vacation.  And lots of weddings!  Today I wanted to share with you a simple DIY wedding craft gift that the newlyweds can hang on their wall for years to come.  A sweet reminder of the day their lives were joined in one!

You will need a canvas, scrapbook paper, and letter/number stickers.  I used a larger 11 x 13 canvas, but you can choose the size you want.  I used two 8.5 x 11 inch printed scrapbook pages for the initials and a red piece for my heart. 

After searching the internet for the style of letter I wanted to use, I printed my initials out onto a regular piece of paper.  I sized them so they would take up almost all of my 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.  After getting the size just right, I cut them out.  Turning the letter backwards, I traced the shape onto the back of my scrapbook paper.  That way when I cut it out, the letter is facing the correct way.  Do the same with your other initial.  I also found the heart shape I wanted by searching online for heart images and then tracing and cutting it from the red paper.  This whole process would be much easier if you had a Cricut or something, but I like to keep it old school!  Ha ha

I thought about doing the same for my letters and numbers, but they were just too small to cut out and still have them look nice.  So I decided to go with stickers from the scrapbooking section.  I found a letter style I liked and it was the perfect way to use my 40% off coupon a lot of the craft stores offer.  Using a ruler to keep my lines straight, I placed my wedding date on the bottom of the canvas.  Moving up a bit, I used the letters to spell out the bride and groom's names.  The letters didn't stick that great, but it doesn't matter since we are going to Mod Podge the whole thing.  Plus it made it easier to fix any mistakes.

After placing my initials, the heart, names, and dates it is time to Mod Podge.  I used Mod Podge on the back of the initials and heart to keep them in place.  After they dried, I used a foam brush to cover the entire canvas in Mod Podge.  Allow to dry and cover again in another coat.  You can apply as many coats as you feel you need.  After dried, you could also spray paint a clear sealant to the top of your canvas for extra protection. 

Be sure to write a quick note or at least sign the back (I did on the wood edge), wishing the happy couple good luck in their new life together.  This gift is a beautiful way to keep this memorable day alive as their new life begins!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!
Proud to be an American and thankful for our freedom!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Natural Baked Potato Salad

The 4th of July is almost here!  This weekend we will be celebrating America's Independence Day with fireworks, friends, and BBQ's!  What are your favorite picnic foods?  An All-American favorite side seems to be potato salad.  So many different variations and flavors to choose from.  I've previously posted my favorite Lower Fat Baked Potato Salad

While I've always tried to watch my calorie and fat intake, my priorities have changed a bit.  Instead I'm more worried about what chemicals and preservatives are in my family's food.  That means that I'm cooking a lot more of our food at home and from scratch.  The pre-made food I am buying has all natural ingredients, without the preservatives.  Research has shown that the chemicals from artificial colors and flavors in our food can affect behavior, learning and our health.  I've recently started my family on the Feingold diet.  While it is geared for those that have ADHD and similar issues, I have found that this diet can benefit anyone.  What's tough is that it's not enough to just read labels.  There are many loopholes that companies use to get around labeling some of the unwanted ingredients and preservatives that they use.  What's worse is that many labels claim to be All Natural, when really they aren't.  Quite frustrating!  Lucky for me, Feingold has done all the research to track all of these unlabeled ingredients.  I feel much more confident in the food choices I am making for my family.  It is a bit more work sometimes, but I have been able to create all of my family's favorite foods, so we don't feel like we are missing out on anything. 

This weekend will be no different!  We will be celebrating with burgers, watermelon, corn on the cob, and potato salad!  All of our favorites!

Natural Baked Potato Salad

3 lbs potatoes (if using red, make sure no dye has been added)
1 cup Hellman's Real mayo
1 cup Friendship sour cream
1 cup Cabot Extra sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 lb Hormel Natural Choice turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 - 1/2 cup chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 425.  Bake your potatoes for an hour or until cooked.  Allow to cool until able to handle.  Chop your potatoes into about 1 inch chunks, leaving skin on.   Place in fridge to cool.

Combine your remaining ingredients and mix well.  Stir in cooled potatoes until fully coated.  Sprinkle with chives if desired.  Serve cold.

Enjoy your 4th of July knowing that your family is eating real food, without all the chemicals.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Smoothie

I'm not really a breakfast making person.  That is more my hubby's thing.  He's our go to guy for yummy weekend breakfasts.  During the week I'm always looking for easy, healthy breakfasts to make for my girls.  This week I made oatmeal for two of my girls.  I used the quick rolled oats and added a scoop of Skippy dark chocolate peanut butter for flavor.  Quick, easy and delicious.  Plus, much better for you than the pre-packaged kind that adds a bunch of sugar and stuff you don't need. 

I don't know what I was thinking, but I made two servings, which is a lot when one of the kids is only three.  I had quite a bit of oatmeal leftover.  Instead of throwing it down the drain, I wanted to find a way to incorporate the leftover oatmeal into another recipe.  Again, it had to be quick and simple. 

For lunch, I decided to add the oatmeal to a smoothie, which my kids love.  Smoothies are a great way to add in ingredients that your kids might not really want to eat (like spinach)!  No veggies in this smoothie, but a great way to use that leftover oatmeal. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Smoothie
by Love Bug Living

1 cup Milk or dairy substitute (I used coconut milk)
Leftover oatmeal (or about 1/2 a serving, prepared)
1 frozen banana
2 Tablespooons dark chocolate peanut butter

Blend all until smooth.  Serves 2.

If you don't have chocolate peanut butter, you can use regular peanut butter and add in a few chocolate chips.

This would be a great afternoon snack or a quick breakfast on the go.  It's yummy enough to pass as an after dinner treat!  Easy enough for the kids to help make as well.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 World Cup! GO USA!!

Source: US Soccer
With all the buzz of the 2014 World Cup, it seems like I've come across quite a few articles and comments from people saying how hot soccer players are.  Even Shape magazine named their own 50 Sexiest Soccer Players in the World Cup.  All that us soccer girls can say is, "Duh!"  Maybe I didn't realize it when I started playing at 8 years old, but as I played through high school and college, most of my boyfriends were soccer players.  It didn't hurt that we shared a passion.  I continued on to play on a semi-pro team and then in adult and coed leagues, where I met my now husband.  We both still continue to play soccer and hope at least one of our girls will enjoy it as much as we do.  Soccer has gone beyond a sport we play and has formed the community that we are a part of.  Most of our closest friends are people we have met through soccer.  This community of friends has been through a lot over the years.  Sometimes it can feel a bit like high school, but we always have each other's backs. 

With this being said, it was such fun to cheer on our US Men's National Team as they do their best to capture the World Cup!  I feel all of us soccer players are part of some huge club that loves to cheer each other on in the sport we love.  It was only fitting that our small soccer community get together to cheer on the most well known members of our club.  It's even more fun to have a local player to cheer on as he makes his World Cup debut.  Graham Zusi's home is only 15 minutes from mine and grew up in this soccer community that I now call home.

Eight years ago we were lucky enough to win a trip to Berlin, Germany and the World Cup Finals!  We got to spend a couple of days exploring the city, visiting the fan mile and cheering on Germany in the third place match along with the rest of Germany. 

For the final match between France and Italy, we had third row seats to enjoy the game.  The atmosphere was indescribable.  So much passion for the game.  The closest I can compare it to is maybe the Super Bowl, but only if the rest of the world cared about it as much as the US does. 

Unfortunately, the US didn't make it out of group play, but we did manage to tie with the eventual World Cup Champions: Italy!  That trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one I will never forget.  I'm so glad I got to share it with my hubby, Dad and brother.  Although I do feel bad for one red faced airport security guard when he realized, after questioning me, that the strange object in my suitcase was a breast pump.  I was just as embarrassed, but my travel companions were quite amused!

I hope you will join me and the rest of the world as we cheer for the World Cup.  Some Americans don't appreciate a tight 0-0 game.  They just don't understand the skill and intensity involved in a game like this.  I can say that I'm not a big fan of the flopping and dramatics, but I've seen plenty of basketball players do the same.  No other major sports take the energy and stamina that a game of soccer does.  It can be a physical and demanding sport that can keep the fans on the edge of their seats.  Every one loves a goal, but a true soccer fan can appreciate the excitement of a great shot, a fantastic save, or an incredible move. 

The US Men show just how hard they can fight, scoring a late goal to seal the win against Ghana.  Let's hope that injuries don't keep us from playing the game we can as we take on Portugal on Sunday evening.  If we are to move on to the next round, we need a great showing here.  Let's go USA!!

One Nation.  One Team.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tic Tac Toe Board Game

Today I wanted to share with you an easy craft for the kids to make this summer.  This Tic Tac Toe Board is one I made for my Dad.  I thought it would be a fun and easy game that he could play with his grandkids.  This is simple enough that the kids could make their own Tic Tac Toe game to play on a lazy summer day.


You will need a square piece of wood.  Mine was a spare piece we had leftover from another project.  You can also find some square pieces at a craft store like Michael's.  Measure the length and width of your square, making marks to divide the piece into thirds.  Make your marks on all four sides.  This will work even if your wood is a rectangle.  Use a ruler to connect your marks, making your Tic Tac Toe lines.  I made my lines in pencil.  Once I was happy with how it looked, I traced over it in a copper sharpie marker. 

You will also need your board game pieces.  If you look in the wood section of your craft store, they have these ready made wood pieces in both small and large sizes.  First pick which size works best for your piece of wood.  Then pick which theme you would like to use.  I went with a sports theme and picked the football and soccer balls.  You will need five of each.  There are so many cute game pieces to choose from!

Now it is time to play your game.  Pick your game pieces and go.  I also found a small mesh bag with a ribbon tie to keep my game pieces in when we weren't playing.  Don't want to lose any!  Are the kids bored already?  Have them make their own Tic Tac Toe Board so they always have a game to play!