Re-think Your Ramen with This Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

Posted 01-4-2017 at 11:42 PM by Jessica

ramen-noodle-stir-fry-pinterest

When thinking of inexpensive meals Ramen has got to be on the forefront of that train of thought. A package usually sells for less than half of a dollar and it’s probably the easiest meal to make. You open the package, boil water, add the Ramen and seasoning packet, stir, wait a couple of minutes, and you’re done.

Top Ramen gets a bad rap though. It’s usually known solely as the meal reserved for broke college-students, and rarely is seen in a more positive light. Honestly, though, those crunchy Ramen noodles can be used in so many different recipes as they’re simply fast-cooking noodles. One of my favorite recipes that I’ve stumbled upon is this Ramen Noodle Stir Fry. It ditches the flavor packet and uses fresh ingredients like garlic, shiitake mushrooms and broccoli! That way you’re still keeping the meal inexpensive as the bulk ingredient is the Ramen noodles, but you’re not just consuming empty carbs and sodium, you’re adding some healthy vegetables in there, too!

For the full Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry recipe by Soup Addict click here.

I’m really curious though; do you prefer your Ramen to be just as it is, or have you found a variation that you like most? I used to think that I liked the standard way best, but that was before I tried a few different Ramen recipes, and now my mind has been changed.

Let me know what you do with your Ramen in the comments. Bon Appetit! 

Diaper Swapers

Winter Activities for a Date or the Whole Family

Posted 12-29-2016 at 11:54 PM by Jessica

 

Snowman family

Whether it’s an activity for the whole family or something meant to be a date for just the two of you, there are lots of great things to do during the winter, in spite of the weather.

Head to a hockey game

Go on a Winter picnic to a park complete with hot cocoa and warm blankets

Rent some snowshoes for a snowshoeing adventure

Go ice skating

Find some snowy hills to go sledding

Pack up everyone in the car to go for hot chocolates

Find the most festive neighborhoods in your city and drive around to see the lights

Look for a free live nativity by where you live

Think up a few random acts of kindness to do together

Watch Christmas movies in your pajamas

Build a blanket fort and drape Christmas lights over the top

Have a cookie or candy bake off to see who can make the best holiday treat

Attend a Christmas play at a local school or theater

Host a game night complete with all of your favorites

Decorate Gingerbread houses together

Indoor S’mores (you can roast marshmallows over an unscented candle or simply microwave them for a few seconds)

I could go on and on; there are so many fun activities that don’t cost much, or cost nothing at all! All you need are a few of your favorite people, a cold winter’s night, and you’re good to go!

What are some of your favorite things to do when the weather gets cold?

Simple Mixer-less Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted 12-26-2016 at 11:55 PM by Jessica

Cookie Dough Bowl

 

I love baking cookies all throughout the year, especially in December as Christmas rolls around. Unfortunately I have been without my mixer for the past month, so I’ve only made one batch of cookies, and those cookies did not turn out. I tried my recipe for my favorite peanut butter cookies, and thought that I’d probably be able to mix the dough by hand vigorously enough to not need a mixer, but I was wrong. I melted the peanut butter in order to keep the dough from being too thick so it would be easier to mix, but then the dough was too runny… Anyways, the moral of the story at that point was that until I got my mixer back I would not be able to bake any more cookies.

But then I ran across this recipe I’m sharing with you today. A no-mixer chocolate chip cookie! When looking through a notebook of my grandma’s favorite recipes I saw “no-mixer” cookie recipe and flipped out with excitement. So if you’re without a mixer, or simply want to do things the old-fashioned way, you’ve got to try this one out. It’s so simple and delicious I’m really not sure why I’ve ever made cookies any other way.

 

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup melted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

—————————–

First, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl whisk the brown and white sugar until they’re incorporated and then add the melted butter and whisk really well. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla, whisking in between.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugary buttery egg mixture (yum), and stir them so they’re totally combined. Set that whisk aside; a spatula or large spoon will work best for this. Mix in the chocolate chips, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes. (If you’d like, scoop the dough into balls and then refrigerate them.)

While the dough is getting chilled preheat your oven to 375ºF.

If the dough hasn’t already been scooped into balls do that after it has chilled for 10 minutes, and bake for 10-12 minutes, watching them carefully until they turn golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for about a minute, and then carefully transfer them to a plate to finish cooling.

Enjoy!

 

An Easy Hot Chocolate Bar

Posted 12-25-2016 at 11:54 PM by Jessica

Homemade spicy christmas hot chocolate in a red cup.

Hot chocolate is the best. And it’s an inexpensive drink that just about everyone loves! That’s why having a hot cocoa bar set up at your next holiday or winter party is a must. You can get a really good spread going for not much money at all, and everyone is guaranteed to love it.

First, you need hot chocolate. Make up a big batch and then either store it in large bowls with ladles, or put your crock-pot to use so that it stays hot!

Secondly, you need a pretty table. Lay out a table cloth and bring out some decorative or colorful bowls to fill with the candies! You’ll also need mugs. If you have enough ceramic ones, go for it! Or you can always buy a package of disposable coffee cups, too.

And most importantly, you need the toppings/mix-ins!

-Syrups

Chocolate and caramel are a must. (I’ve also seen Italian soda syrups used before as well!)

-Spices

Cinnamon and nutmeg. And for those wanting a little kick, a pinch of chili pepper can be added, too.

-Whipped Cream

I prefer the real stuff, whipped up and sitting pretty in a glass bowl with a spoon to scoop it into the mug, but the canned kind works great as well and requires less work.

-Candies

Crushed Butterfinger, Kit Kat and Snickers. Chocolate chips are fantastic, and Andes Mints are always the favorite. Crush up some peppermint candy canes, and don’t forget the marshmallows and sprinkles.

There you go! Choose a few of those options and set out a plate or two of cookies and you’re all set!

Anything I missed? What do you love to add to your hot chocolate?

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness to Help Make the Season More Meaningful

Posted 12-23-2016 at 11:53 PM by Jessica

girl blowing on snow

The Christmas season is one of the most chaotic times of the year. Everyone’s running around trying to get their shopping done, houses clean for guests, and usually finishing up extra work so they can take time off. For the past few years I’ve hardly had the chance to get into the Christmas Spirit because I’ve been too busy. Last year I decided to do a few random acts of kindness during the Christmas Season and I absolutely loved it! Not only were they simple and easy to do, but it just warms your heart when you’re helping others. Even if it’s just putting a smile on their face for a few seconds.

Get your kids involved in this! Too often kids think of the Christmas season soley as the time when Santa brings them lots of fun presents. While that’s of course so much fun, it’s important that they also understand that there is so much more to Christmas than the gifts. It’s also about showing love and kindness to everyone!

Here are just a few ideas that I have ran across online:

Leave a dollar taped with a simple note in the kids toy section of the dollar store so that the next little kid passing by can pick out a toy

Tape a few quarters to a vending machine

Pay for a family’s meal when you go to a restaurant or pay for the people behind you at the ice cream shop

Pass out candy canes

Shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk

Pack up old toys to donate to a homeless shelter or goodwill

Find a Secret Santa opportunity and shop for a child in need

Have your kids save up some money to donate to a charity of their choice

Leave nice notes on post-its in a restroom or dressing room on the mirrors

Leave a candy bar and note for the mailman/woman in your mailbox

Give the UPS or FedEx delivery person some cookies and hot cocoa to go

Make homeless care packages to pass out, even if they simply include gloves and granola bars

Volunteer at an animal shelter

It doesn’t take much to bring a smile to someone’s face and make them feel special even for just a moment. Of course acts of kindness should be done all throughout the year, but they can be especially meaningful during the Christmas season for those who are struggling. These are just a handful of ideas compared to the hundreds of kind little acts that can be done. Pick a couple with your family and see just how quickly the Christmas season gets that much more magical.

 

30 Non-Candy Stocking Stuffers for Kids

Posted 12-22-2016 at 11:53 PM by Jessica

Empty Stockings Hung On Fireplace On Christmas Eve

 

Sometimes it seems like kids get more candy at Christmas than Halloween! Though candy canes are always so fun to get in stockings, there are so many non-candy ideas that your kids will love even more, and you won’t have to break the bank to fill it up.

An apple and/or orange (for some reason, kids get so much more excited about fruit if they find it in their stocking)

Mini Bubbles

Stamps

Small hand-sanitizers

Notepad and pen

Watercolors

Sidewalk Chalk

$5 gift card

Toothbrush (this was always a staple in our stockings, and we loved it!)

Stickers

Markers/Crayons

Small coloring book (or free printed coloring pages)

Playing cards (UNO, Go Fish, Pokemon…)

Mini Play Dough

Shopkins

Small stuffed animal (Tsum Tsums would be a big hit!)

Bath toys

Fluffy socks

Chapstick or lip gloss

Yo-yo

Slinky

Hot Wheels cars

Finger puppets

Mittens

Bouncy ball

Silly putty

Kinetic sand

Flash cards

Rubiks cube

Balloon animals

 

The stocking was always the first thing that we got to open Christmas morning. We’d dig through it pulling out each individual item one by one, getting excited even about the toothbrush that Santa picked out for us.

Stockings don’t have to have expensive things in them for them to be so much fun for the kids. As I mentioned before, one of our favorite things to see was the apple and orange, not because we didn’t have access to those already, but because it was a tradition and something we could always look forward to. As you pick out gifts for their stockings try to choose one or two things that are easy to get a hold of and include them in their stockings each year, they’ll be thrilled!

What did you used to get excited about seeing in your stocking? And what do you make sure to always have in your kids’ stocking these years?

 

Happy Holidays!

Easy Ways to Help Your Child with Their Spelling

Posted 12-21-2016 at 01:03 AM by Jessica

Spelling - education sign

 

 

Being able to spell does not come easily to most. It takes lots of practice and requires self confidence as well. If your child is having a hard time with their spelling there are quite a few methods you can help them use to improve.

Make sure their pronunciation is correct.

Kids will often spell the word the way that they pronounce it, so make sure that they are speaking the word correctly; it can help them make sure they aren’t accidentally using an ‘e’ instead of an ‘a.’ Of course, the English language is not an easy one, and there are lots of our words that don’t always sound the same as they’re written, so this doesn’t always help.

Read, write, speak, spell…

The mind can form memories more easily if multiple brain processes are used. If your child only ever writes out the words, he or she won’t retain the memory of how it is spelled as easily than if they are writing it, speaking it, and spelling it out loud as well.

Play games with the words.

Crossword puzzles, scrabble, word searches… And that’s just a few of the many that are out there. You can even cut up each word into it’s individual letters and race each other to put the words back together. Or make a game of spelling card memory. Type or write each word onto two pieces of paper and play a game of memory! Adding a little fun and competition always seems to help.

Use spelling boats when writing.

A

Ai

Air

Airp

Airpl

Airpl

Airpla

Airplan

Airplane

Yep, that’s it! Then outline the words so that you’re drawing a triangle shape and add a little round boat to the bottom to complete the sailboat. Taking the word one letter at a time and utilizing repetition can be really beneficial with helping your kiddo to really slow down and focus on the order of the letter in that word.

Get rid of the boring pencil.

Break out the finger paints! Or, let them use the computer to type into a word document with a big colorful font. Just mixing up the medium they use can make it more engaging.

Record them.

Take a video of them spelling out the word. Bonus points if they put on a silly costume while doing it.

Let them teach others.

Do they have a sibling they can teach the word to? Or even a pet? Teaching someone else is one of the best methods for solidifying the information, so if they can explain to their goldfish or sister that “airplane” is spelled “a-i-r-p-l-a-n-e” they’re more likely to remember it much better come spelling test time.

Every child learns very differently. Some kids just need a more visual approach in order to really get the words down. Others need to say it out loud or play a game to make it interesting enough for them to fully engage. Play around with a few of these techniques and you’re sure to find something that helps your child gain the confidence and skills he or she needs to perform better on their next spelling test.

Make an Old-Fashioned Cranberry Garland with Your Kids

Posted 12-18-2016 at 12:52 AM by Jessica

Cranberry and pine tree branch. Christmas background.

It seems like every kids’ Christmas movie shows a Christmas tree with a cranberry garland, so I grew up thinking that cranberry garlands were absolutely essential to each Christmas tree. The fun of making them as a child has extended into adulthood as I still like to chill on the couch with a Christmas movie stringing cranberries together. If you haven’t made one before, you’ve definitely got to try it. It’s so easy, and it’s the perfect craft for your kids to join you in.

All you need:

Cranberries (3 bags will make about 12 feet of garland)

String (any color works as it will be covered by the cranberries)

Needles (stronger needles work better as you’re pushing them through some tough cranberries. If you have younger kids that want to help they can always use children’s plastic needles!)

Instructions:

This is pretty simple, thread about 6 feet of string through your needle and double it up so that the ends touch and you have a length of 3 feet. tie a knot into the ends so that the cranberries won’t fall off, and start threading the cranberries onto the string! (Make sure you don’t thread the mushy cranberries; set those aside and only use the firm ones. After you fill up the first stretch make another and tie them all together to create a long garland that you can wrap around your Christmas tree.

That’s seriously it. This is such an easy craft, your kids will love it! And it’s perfect for teaching early motor skills, too.

Let me know how you like it! I know lots of people have added popcorn to their garlands as well, but I’ve never done it. I’ll have to give it a try this year and share how it goes!

 

 

Easy Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Posted 12-18-2016 at 12:51 AM by Jessica

tomatillos in containers

 

Salsa Verde is so great because it is so versatile! It can be used as a salsa for dipping tortilla chips in, it can be used to make enchiladas, you can smother a burrito in it or you can drizzle it over a tostada. Whatever you choose to do with it you’re sure to have a delicious dish.

I’ve always just bought the canned stuff thinking that making up a homemade batch would be too much work, but I am happy to say that making homemade Salsa Verde is actually really easy because basically all you need to do is prepare the ingredients, boil them for a bit, and then put them into a blender! Sure, simply opening a can of the stuff is easier, but this isn’t that much more difficult to make it homemade and it’s totally fresh with no weird preservatives.

Ingredients

Directions

Place all of the ingredients including the water into a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the tomatillos soften. Carefully pour about 1/4 or 1/3 of the mixture at a time into your blender and puree until smooth so that you don’t overwhelm your blender and make a big mess.

As I mentioned, use the salsa to dip chips into or make a nice big batch of enchiladas with it! The options are endless.

 

What do you prefer to use salsa for? Let me know what you think about this recipe in the comments!

 

4 Tips for Drinking More Water

Posted 12-16-2016 at 12:49 AM by Jessica

Very cold mineral water with ice in a misted glass bottles, dark background, selective focus

 

I am the worst at drinking water. If I drink one full glass a day I call that good. Which isn’t good, that’s actually quite awful. I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting more headaches lately, which I know can definitely come from being dehydrated, so I’ve made it my goal to get drinking more water! Here are 4 of the tips that really helped me a lot with increasing my water intake.

1. Flavor it. I know some people don’t like those Crystal Light flavoring packets, but honestly there are so many different brands and flavors of water enhancers out there you’re bound to find something that you will like. My personal favorite is the MiO brand. They even have some with some caffeine for an energy boost!

2. Get a large water bottle. I really like this HydroFlask because it keeps my water cold (I can’t get myself to drink room temperature water, so the low temperature helps so much!) and it holds a lot, so I don’t have to refill it as often throughout the day.

3. Track it. I get a post it note and stick it to my water bottle and keep a tally of how many bottles I have finished. I’m not sure why, but adding a tally mark is a huge motivator for me to finish each water bottle.

4. Take it everywhere. This should be a no brainer, but make sure that you always have the bottle easily accessible. I used to just keep one in the fridge so that it would stay cold, but that led to me forgetting about it. Now I make sure to take it with me everywhere since I have a bottle that keeps the water cold.

There you go! It’s not rocket science to coax yourself into staying hydrated, but it does take some time to form the habits.

Let me know what tips you like best, and what you personally do to make sure you’re getting enough water!