The other day I was going through the cupboards trying to find something to satisfy my sweet tooth.  I wanted to make something for dessert that was quick and easy, but something that my family would enjoy.  I found a box of Jello strawberry cream pudding.
I have made a few other desserts using pudding, and I like the fact that it is so versatile.  I had also bought some strawberries earlier in the day so I thought, why not make a cute little dessert that would have a Valentine’s Day theme?  So I give you my simple Valentine’s Day dessert!

I think it is a great Valentine’s Day dessert to make with your kids, or a simple, yummy dessert to make for your hubby on Valentine’s Day.  I know my husband liked it!!

*The following directions are for if you are using 2 relatively large dessert dishes. If using smaller dishes, use a smaller amount of pudding.

1) You simply make the pudding according to the package directions.  Let it set, then pour a 4th of it into a dessert dish (I like using my water goblets, they have the same effect).

2) Then you can either put whipped cream (homemade or store bought, it doesn’t matter) or cool whip on the next layer.

3) Cut up some strawberries in verticle slices (they should look like little Vs) and layer them on top of the whipped cream/cool whip.

4) Put another 4th of the pudding on top of the strawberries.

5) Top with a dollop of whipped cream/cool whip and garnish with a strawberry slice.

How do you make the strawberry look like a heart you ask? Very simple. Take a larger piece of sliced strawberry (it should already look like a V) and then use kitchen scissors to round out the tops.

Once I figured out that the strawberries ressembled hearts I wondered what other cute Valentine’s Day desserts I could make?  I bet this same recipe would be even tastier with some chocolate mixed in.  Strawberries and chocolate…Is there any better taste combination?!

What I liked about it was how amazingly easy it was to put together and yet it came out so pretty and seems like a Valentine’s Day dessert to me!

Enjoy!

What desserts do you like for Valentine’s Day?

Please send me some recommendations/comments about desserts you like.  I would love to try them out!

 

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Every so often a product comes along which I love so much that I feel the need to tell everyone about it.

The product I am focused on today is a panini press: Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler.  We received it as a wedding present and it is one of those items that never leaves the kitchen counter because it gets used so frequently.  The reason I love it is that it is so versatile and easy to clean.

One might ask, “Isn’t this almost the same thing as The George Forman Grill?”  My answer is no and I will tell you why.

The grill pans are reversible and removable so when you are done, you simply remove and throw in the dishwasher or scrub by hand.   There is also a drip pan underneath that is easy to remove and clean. When you fully close the grill the pans lie completely flat and parallel to one another.  Even if you are grilling something uneven like a chicken breast, the grill compensates by making the same amount of space on the backside so you get even cooking and grill marks every time.

One side of the pan has the grill and the other side is completely flat like a griddle. You can also open The Griddler completely and have two flat surfaces to cook something like pancakes, two grills to have a flat grilling surface, or one of each. (This works for if you are making small portions of items and want them all cooking simultaneously.)

When you are done you simply remove the pans and drip pan.

The Griddler also has add on pans that you can buy seperately to turn your Griddler into a waffle maker.(Cuisinart Waffle Plates) We recently bought them and have been very pleased. It is nice to only have to store extra pans and not a whole appliance. I will say that the waffles are on the small side, but it makes 4 at a time and that is perfect for us.

The things I make most often on the Griddler are bacon (grill side), pancakes (griddle side), and hot press sandwiches.  It has made my life easier in so many ways.  It also really doesn’t take up all that much space (just slightly larger than a George Forman, but does way more).   If you are looking for a fast and easy way to grill and much more, then I would recommend The Griddler by Cuisinart.

**I have had it for 5 years now and it is still going strong! This thing is built to last.

Check it out!


Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler

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More and more I am seeing spaghetti squash used in many dishes.  It has a nice consistency and is a healthier replacement for pasta. For those who are living a gluten-free lifestyle or eating paleo, spaghetti squash is the way to go!  I decided to try some spaghetti squash in the traditional sense and make it with some meatballs. We loved it and have used it for many recipes since!

The spaghetti squash isn’t difficult to cook, but it is a bit time consuming. There are several ways to do this, but my favorite way is to poke holes everywhere with a fork and then set it directly on the top oven rack, bake it in the oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.  When you cut it in half afterwards, the squash is very tender and easy to remove.  You simply remove the seeds and pulp and scrap the “spaghetti” out with a fork.

 

The meatballs I make are very simple too.  I take about a lb of ground beef and simply add garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and bread crumbs (you can use a little gluten-free flour if you want it to be gluten-free). Normally I would add an egg as a binder to get everything to stick together, but my husband is not a fan, so instead I mix in a little plain greek yogurt or sour cream.  Then I broil them in the oven on a foil lined cookie sheet. It takes about 6 minutes for them to cook through.

Lastly, I heat up some pasta sauce and mix it in the spaghetti squash. The pasta sauce adds a savory element.  It really blends well with the spaghetti squash. Of course we add a little parmesan cheese on top.  I highly recommend spaghetti squash as an easy and healthy alternative to the standard spaghetti!

**Little friendlymom tip- If your kids just aren’t having it, make up a small batch of normal spaghetti for them and mix in a little spaghetti squash! That way they get to have their pasta with a little veggies mixed in. 😉

 

What dishes do you make with spaghetti squash?  Please share your recipes! I would love to try them out!

 

 

 

 

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Often times the weekly grocery trip can seem daunting. What are we going to need for the week? What will we eat? And so on and so forth. Not to mention how difficult it can be to figure out what to make for dinner after running after the kids all day long.  Often I don’t have the energy to go looking for recipes.  How do I fix this scenario you ask? By planning ahead with a weekly menu.  I am going to share with you how we eliminate some of the stress of food planning for the week by being organized. Continue reading

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Since having my daughters, I noticed that my husband and I had a difficult time with eating at home. We were so busy and always running after the kids.  The stuff that we did make at home had to be quick and easy.  While we thankfully weren’t eating fast food all the time, we needed the food at home to be made “fast”.  So we resorted to the easy-to-make box dinners.  Continue reading

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So I have a 3 year old who LOVES to paint. I am very happy to oblidge her but her little sister always wants to join in the fun. The problem with this is, the 1 year old is always sticking everything into her mouth!  I have non-toxic paint, but still. I wanted them to both be able to enjoy themselves without having to worry about my 1 year old eating everything in sight, so I decided to go looking for a recipe for edible paint.
20160708_125234

I came across Momtastic. She has a great many things on her sight, but I was draw to her little how to video on homemade edible finger paint.   http://www.momtastic.com/diy/171489-edible-homemade-finger-paint/ Continue reading

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So I have talked before about how my kids don’t like veggies. I put things on their plate, regardless, but I can’t tell you how many times I have heard ,”I don’t like broccoli!” In order for me to feel better about their veggie intake, I will sneak veggies into a dish. I can’t take credit for this idea. I first learned about it from a great book called The Sneaky Chef. She suggests still serving veggies, but making purees and mixing in fruits and veggies into foods kids like and you know they will eat! So I have a variation of a recipe I found online, mixing in a few things. My girls love this chili and don’t even notice the carrots and red pepper!20160607_165729 (1)

Chili with Sneaky Veggies

Total Time: 35 min

*There are two ways to sneak the veggies in. Either chop them up small or if your kids are really observant, you can puree them and mix them in. To puree, simply put the veggies in a food processor/blender with a little water.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chopped tomatoes , or larger
  • 1 (26 ounce) carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 a red pepper, chopped OR 1/2 cup red pepper puree*
  • 2 carrots, chopped OR ½ cup carrot puree* (you can cook the carrots beforehand for a smoother texture)
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chili beans
  • ¼ cup of shredded cheese (can be cheddar, jack, whatever you like!)

Directions

  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with cooking spray and set it over medium heat. Add the oil and onions and garlic. Cook until soft, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle the ground meat with chili powder, salt, paprika, and pepper. Add the meat to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. About 5-6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes. Add the broth, red pepper puree, carrot puree, cornmeal, and stir well. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the beans and cook a little longer. About 5 minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with cheese

20160607_172502-1 (1)

Please let me know if this recipe works for you and your family! And what ways do you sneak veggies into your meals?

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This is a huge topic for moms. My oldest child is almost 3 and this is something we have been working on for a while now.  Just hearing the words “potty training” gets me all stressed out and wound up! All the questions one has as a mom who is just starting to deal with it. “When is the best time to start? How do I know if it’s time? What if my child fights me on it? What if they never learn how to use the potty?!?!”

potty chair

I am here to tell you, that it is going to be okay! Your child will get there eventually. Very few children get to their 5th birthday without knowing how to use the potty! But I think the most important thing for you to know is, it isn’t a race. With the social networking aspects of society these days you can’t turn around without being informed on how your friends’, neighbors’, and co-workers’ kids are doing.

“Hey, Billy is out of diapers!”

“Isn’t Billy only 18 months old?”

“Yep! He decided he was done!”

It is so difficult to listen to how these other kids are doing without comparing your child’s progress. But don’t! Every kid is different and has different needs as far as when and how they will potty train. My daughter and I have been working on it since she was around 18 months old, and it honestly has been a very frustrating journey. Not because she had a difficult time, but because I think I tried to push it on her too soon. Many  experienced moms had told me, “You have to wait until she is ready”. I know it sounds like simple advice, but it is so true. You can waste a year pushing and pushing and getting no where OR you can look for the signs that your child is ready, and wait until then. (Honestly I think this happens for most kids around 2.5 years).

So what are the signs that s/he is ready?

1) Being uncomfortable in dirty diapers. S/he will tell you s/he wants her/his diaper changed.

2) Showing interest in potty behavior. S/he will want to follow you in the bathroom and see what you are doing. S/he might also imitate potty behavior.

3) Having a dry diaper for an extended period of time. This one has to do with her/his physical development. Their little bodies will start to be able to hold it in, which in turn will result in dry diapers more often.

4) Understanding multiple step directions.  S/he responds to something like, “Take off your socks and throw them in the hamper.”

5) Is becoming more independent. S/he can do things on her/his own most of the time.

6) Is using language to respond to you. This is a big one! S/he needs to be able to come to you and tell you that s/he need to go potty.

*If your child shows all of these things, then s/he will probably be ready to start potty training. 

I have read quite a few books on the topic because I was seeking knowledge! The list above comes from the similar things I read in the books. If you are going to venture to start potty training, just know, there is no one way to do it. I know people will swear by a method because it worked for their child, but that doesn’t mean it will definitely work for you. It isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing. Each kid is different, and temperament plays a big role.  For example, my daughter has a very “slow to warm up” temperament. Meaning it takes her a long time to adjust to change. So potty training her over a weekend, did not work. We were unsuccessful with that method. Also, the  more I pushed her, the more she resisted. So I had to really follow her cues.

The last piece of advice I will give you on this topic is, emphasize being dry! I read this in a book and it was like a revelation to me! Most parents praise and reward a child when s/he used the potty. While that step is important, it is even more important to praise and reward them for being dry during the inbetween times. Being dry, afterall, is the goal. I used “dry checks” about every 40 minutes or so and would reward my daughter for being dry. This was a very useful tool for us because it gave her the self awareness to check and see that she was dry. Now she does it on a normal basis, without reward.

I hope you have success in your potty training journey! If you ever have any questions or need some advice you can email me at friendlymomdotcom@gmail.com !

Good Luck!

 

 

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It is a new year. I am not usually one of those people who makes “resolutions”, but this year I definitely want to make some changes in my life.  I may call them goals instead. For some reason I have a problem with the word “resolution”. It makes it seem like we need to resolve a problem. I just want to make some changes for the better. I want to be an overall healthier person and I plan on doing this with some measurable goals that I have put in place. Examples- drink more water (at least 5 tumblers a day), Exercise more (at least 30 minutes a day), Eat more earth grown nutrients and cut back on carbs (make low carb dinners and snack on fruits and veggies during the day).

healthy mom

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I don’t know about you, but I have been seeing people posting about “make your own play snow” all over the place! I am a Pinterest addict, so of course I have been looking on there for ideas.  I finally felt it was time to try it out and see what all the hype was about!

play snow

It is actually very easy to make. You just need:

-1 box of baking soda (16 oz/ 1 lb)

-shaving cream (you add this in increments as you go)

*Some people like to add of drop of essential oils to make it smell nice. Whatever scent you would like!

Instructions

  1. Have your child/ren pour the entire container of baking soda into a bowl/pan. (I liked using a cake pan because the sides are a little lower which made it easier for little hands to access the snow.)
  2. Slowly add a few squirts of shaving cream and have them kneed the snow.
  3. Keep adding shaving cream until you reach desired consistency. Have fun!

play snow 2

My 2 year old was having so much fun playing with this stuff! She kept giggling and squishing it with her hands. I thought it was such a great little activity for her to do in the kitchen while I could wash dishes, clean, etc.

Well, I turned my back for a minute or two to get to my dishes and when I turned back around I realized she was having even more fun flinging the snow off of her hands in all directions! We ended up with a floor covered in snow. It looked like we had left the door open in a snow storm!

play snow 3

So word to the wise, make sure to do this activity in an area that is easy to clean! Luckily the snow was fairly easy to sweep up! (I guess that is thanks to the baking soda.) It really did end up having a similar consistency to real snow. It was a lot of fun to play with!

If you put the snow in an airtight container you can save it for a while so you can come back and play with it again.

What fun activities do you like to do in the winter?

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