{Recipes} Brown Rice Jambalaya

Please excuse my lack of pictures for this post, I was in a rush to get it cooked thanks to a screamy little one at my feet! This recipe is originally from About.com, one of my favorite recipe sources, but I changed it up a little bit to suite our tastes a little better. It makes a very spicy, but not too hot jambalaya that is healthier than most options and quite tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz Andouille sausage sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:

    1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sausage and chicken and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Saute the spices for 1 minute, and then add the tomatoes. Cook stirring for a few minutes to let some of the liquid from the tomatoes evaporate. Add the bell pepper, celery, and  onions; cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
    2. Stir in the rice and mix well. Add the stock, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and check the rice. It should be just tender; if it is still too firm cook longer. When the rice is tender, add the shrimp, stir in, and cook covered for 5 minutes.
    3. Serve & enjoy!

{Recipes} Homemade Fruit Gummies

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I tried so many recipes for this before I finally decided just to make my own! It is a super simple recipe and it makes enough to last a while in the refrigerator!

ImageIngredients:

  • About 2 cups mixed berries (This is whole fruit, not chopped, so there is a lot of empty space – use less if chopped or small berries like blueberries or raspberries)
  • Juice of 1 large naval orange and 1 large lemon
  • 4 packets unflavored gelatin (about 3 tbsp. bulk gelatin)

Directions:

      1. Combine fruit and juices in a small pot, and cook over medium heat until boiling. Boil about 6 minutes, while stirring, until the fruit begins to break down.
      2. Puree in a blender until no chu
      3. nks remain. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
      4. Transfer back into pot and wisk in gelatin one packet at a time, ensuring no chunks form.
      5. Pour into your molds and refrigerator until set, about 4 hours.
      6. Remove from molds and store in a sealed container.

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I can’t tell you exactly how long these last because they go pretty quickly, but at least two weeks! They do need to be refrigerated…when they aren’t they tend to melt unlike the store-bought ones, but for the price and the ease (and no added ingredients!) these are amazing!

{Recipes} Perfect Lasagna

This was another recipe from allrecipes, changed a bit to suit our tastes even better!

Ingredients:

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound lean ground venison
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tbsp italian seasonings
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Directions:

    1. In a large pot, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
    2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining italian seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
    3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
    4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a quarter of the mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
    5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Peach Picking

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Two Saturdays ago we decided to take the morning and head about 45 minutes up the road to Eutawville to go peach picking! There is a fantastic orchard up there and the peaches were ripe for the picking so we packed up a lunch and headed out as quick as we could! We got there around 9am and spent about an hour wandering around the orchard and finding the best peaches (and Josh was taste testing as we went!). We got a half bushel (about 27 pounds) for $17. You can’t come close to that at the grocery store…and they were local! We got enough to freeze, turn in to jelly & chutney and muffins! Josh really enjoyed the experience. When we were checking out I asked about a place to have a picnic nearby and I was pointed in the direction of a park about a mile away that was on Lake Marion. They had a great playground and dock as well. When we were out of the dock we looked over and saw what looked like a beach about a tenth of a mile away so we took a little walk, and lo and behold, it was a tiny gem of a beach just waiting for us to explore it! We couldn’t believe our luck! We stripped Josh down to his shirt and diaper and he had a great time splashing around and burning off some energy before his nap!

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Nature Walk & Creek Exploration Playdate

Our backyard buts up to woods and there is an amazing creek about 1/4 mile from our house that we go and splash around in every once in a while. I decided to host a playdate and invite all of our friends to come and splash with us!

ImageI made bags of toddler trail mix filled with homemade cheddar crackers, apple chips, raisins & pretzel rods for all of the kiddos to munch on.

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I made sure to tell everyone to wear play clothes and expect to get a little muddy! We left out once everyone arrived (15 moms and 18 kids, oh my!) and took the quick (maybe 10 minutes?) walk to the creek. It was a bit muddy thanks to all the rain we’ve gotten lately, but oh my goodness was the creek worth it when we arrived! It was moving a bit quicker than normal, but it was so nice and amazingly cool! The kids had a blast playing & splashing for about an hour before we headed back to the house to swing, slide and have fun in the pool!

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(Can’t you just see the excitement in my kid’s eyes 😉 )

It was overall a great playdate, and if you know of any creeks near you I urge you to use them – – it was so nice to break out of the standard backyard playdate mold!

Car Tire Painting

This one is only for you if you don’t mind a huge mess! I got this idea from a friend of mine whose son loves trucks and loves a mess! I took a roll of paper and taped it to our concrete slab and filled a baking dish with some red, yellow & blue paint and gave Josh a few cheapie trucks to use. You put the tires in the paint and then paint tire tracks with them! Such a neat idea! At 16 months, I was suprised at how quickly Josh got the hang of it too! He then decided that stepping in the paint was fun too, so we got a few good footprints, as well as handprints and general swipes! He had a blast!

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{Recipes} Homemade Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers

ImageI recently read that Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies contain Autolyzed Yeast Extract…which is basically MSG…so I went on the hunt for a homemade replacement and found this from Weelicious. 4 ingredients & super easy to make? Count me in!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash salt-free italian herb seasoning (any salt free/herb seasoning will work)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
    2. Place the first 3 ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.
    3. Add the butter and pulse and until a ball forms.
    4. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick on a floured or parchment-covered surface. Slice into crackers or cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
    5. Bake for 8-10 minutes (or longer depending on cracker size). Should be just browned on the edges and firm in the center.

Enjoy! These aren’t salty enough for my tastes (see no added salt) but Josh really enjoys them, and bonus, they are cheap! This makes a TON of crackers!

And for everyone wondering — these are the Fox Run animal mini cookie cutters from Amazon!