Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Day of School 2014

This is the year that all my Little Love Bugs have flown away from home.  At least for a few hours twice a week.  My oldest girls started school yesterday, beginning 5th and 3rd grades.  This is the first year my youngest is attending school at a Pre-K 3 program.  I could tell she was a little excited, but still a bit nervous to be going off on her own for the first time.  She was sure to ask me many times if I was going to pick her up today.  Poor thing must think I'm going to forget about her.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be a little sad or a little excited for my own free time.  Any sadness quickly turned into annoyance when I realized the quick parents meeting I was expecting after drop off, turned into an hour and a half eternity.  There went the quiet downtime that I planned on having at Starbucks to reflect on my new freedom.  Back to rushing and trying to fit everything into my crowded schedule.  So is my life!  Day 2 and I already dread homework and how we are going to fit everything into my busy girls' schedules.  Every day of the week is already filled and we haven't even fit in volleyball and soccer practices and games!  What were we thinking?



My oldest girls are getting so grown up!  This is the last year of elementary school for E and the first time for A to have to deal with standardized testing.  Big year for both of them.



 These three are so cute together when they decide to get along!  Last day of freedom for the littlest and she was sad to see her sisters go on the bus to school.


Only a day later, but she looks so much bigger!  Ready for her first day of Pre-K 3 with her new big girl backpack.  Where did my baby go?  I didn't cry when I dropped her off, but I just might now looking at these.


Wishing everyone success in the new school year!  Have fun and always try your best!  Love these girls to pieces and wishing their teachers luck and joy as they join to shape the future of my babies.  Happy New School Year!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hashbrown Breakfast Bake Quiche


I don't know where the time has gone this summer!  I swear we just started and school is almost here again.  It all just flew by.  I'm not looking forward to the busy school year schedule.  We have had such a laid back routine, that it will be tough to jump back in to early mornings, homework, dance classes, volleyball, and soccer practices.  With three girls in activities, we have more than one thing to do after school each day.  Hopefully it doesn't become too much and we are able to handle it all.  My other worry is trying to figure out easy meal solutions.  We've been trying new ideas and hope I can keep up with the meals amidst all the craziness.  Occasionally, we like to have breakfast for dinner.  This Hashbrown Breakfast Bake Quiche is the perfect dinner that includes protein and veggies.  Leftovers are perfect to warm up for breakfast the next morning as well.


Hashbrown Breakfast Bake Quiche
by Love Bug Living

Shredded hashbrowns (I used a pkg of Simply Potatoes hashbrowns or about 2 cups)
1 T. vegetable oil
6 Eggs
1 cup cheese
1/2 - 1 cup Broccoli (add in your favorite)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup diced ham or crumbled bacon

Mix together hashbrowns, oil, and 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Press hashbrown mixture into the bottom of a 7 x 11 inch casserole dish.  Bake at 450 until crisp and browned, about 15-20 minutes.  Beat eggs.  Stir in rest of cheese, veggies, milk, and meat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over your hasbrowns.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.  Inserted knife should come out clean.


Whether you are looking for a great dinner or a great breakfast quiche, this Hashbrown Breakfast Bake Quiche will hit the spot.  Hope you enjoyed your summer.  Now time to start planning for the craziness!




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
Ice

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!