Monday, April 30, 2012

Stuffed Mexican Meatloaf

I had a lot of fun coming up with this meatloaf.  Honestly, meatloaf in the slow cooker is about 10 times better than meatloaf out of the oven!  It stays so incredibly moist!

This was a delicious meatloaf!  I literally pulled things out of my cupboards and refrigerator as I was making this!  Sometimes the best recipes come that way! :)  With cheese, salsa and more cheese as part of the ingredients, how can you go wrong?!

I've been really trying to watch my salt intake since having kidney stones, so I decided to make my own "tacoish" seasoning!  I think I did quite well!

Chances are, you probably have most, if not all of these ingredients in your house right now, so this should definitely go on your list of things to make this week!  We served ours with a nice salad, but you can serve it with mashed potatoes, chips and guacamole or maybe even some black beans.

Stuffed Mexican Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef
1 1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend Cheese, divided
2 eggs
3/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
and mix.

In another bowl, place the ground beef, onions, 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese, salsa, eggs and the seasoned bread crumbs you just made.
Mix it all together.

I used a Reynolds slow cooker liner in my crock, so I did not make foil handles to lift this meatloaf out like I usually do.  I was able to lift it out easily, bag and all, place it on a plate and serve it from there.  If you would like to see how I've made the handles in the past, please click here.

Spray your crock or your slow cooker liner with non-stick spray.  Place half of your meatloaf mixture in the bottom of your crock.
Spread the remainder 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top.
Spread the rest of your meatloaf mixture over the top and press the two halves together around the edges.

Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3.5-4 hours.
Here's what it will look like when it's done.

Serve and enjoy!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012 and Keurig Review/Giveaway!!!

Who doesn't like a hot, fresh cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate?!  I mean, really?  If you haven't had the chance to taste one of these beverages from a Keurig yet, you are missing out!  They are seriously delicious!

Thanks to, we are now the very proud owners of the Keurig B31 Mini Plus brewer!  With this Keurig, you can make a 6, 8  or 10 oz. beverage of your choice.  Every Keurig from comes with a variety pack of K-Cups for you to try, so you know what you like and can order it for next time.  

My husband has really been enjoying the different brands of K-Cups, but so far has liked the Wolfgang Puck coffee best, but I am a decaf girl, so I've been enjoying Green Mountain Decaf Variety Pack!  It's been wonderful having the Keurig around because at night, when I'm craving something to eat that's sweet, I can brew myself a nice small cup of decaf, put a tiny bit of sugar and vanilla almond milk in it, and it satisfies that craving for me. currently sells 5 different Keurigs, in case you might be looking for something a bit different than the one I have.  They sell SO many different brands of K-Cups, so you're sure to find exactly what you're looking for.  They have Green Mountain K-Cups, Timothy's K-Cups, Gloria Jean's K-Cups, Coffee People K-Cups, Caribou K-Cups, Newman's Own K-Cups, Emeril's K-Cups, Tully's K-Cups, Diedrich K-Cups and Celestial Seasonings K-Cups.  What a great variety!

Did I mention they have a special place on their website dedicated to sales and weekly specials?!  Well, they do, so you'll want to check there often!  They offer FREE shipping on all orders over $65, so you'll save time and gas money running to and from the store to stock up on K-Cups. have several great ways for you to follow what they have to offer.  They have a blog called "Coffee Break" where you can relax with your cup of coffee and take a break from your day.  They also have a Facebook Page you can follow and a Twitter feed, so be sure to "like" and "follow" them today! has GRACIOUSLY offered one of my readers their very own Keurig B31 Mini Plus Brewer with K-Cup Variety Pack!  
All you have to do is follow the directions below to enter. This contest is open to US residents Only. This Giveaway ends Monday, May 14 at 12:01 a.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen randomly through rafflecopter, and once it is verified the winner has followed the tasks given, he/she will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.  Good luck to you!
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*I received a Keurig and K-Kups from in exchange for my honest review of their site and Keurig/K-Cups. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easy Italian Chicken

Want a simple, yet delicious dinner the whole family will love?!  Don't we all?!!!!!  This will do it!  Seriously, 3 ingredients. THAT'S IT!  Doesn't get much better than that folks!

My whole family ate this!  Gavin is now on table foods and tremendously enjoyed every bit of this!  We served our Easy Italian Chicken with "Steamed" Artichokes.  My whole family loved those too!  This would be great with any side dish, really.  The tanginess of the dresssing against the sweetness of the onions was simply DELICIOUS!

While I used Ken's Northern Italian with Basil and Romano, you could easily use an Italian Dressing you already have in your refrigerator or pantry and just add some Parmesan.

Easy Italian Chicken

2 lbs. FROZEN boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup Ken's Northern Italian with Basil and Romano Dressing
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

Place your chicken in the crock and cover with onions.  Pour your dressing on top of that.

Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3.5-4 hours.
Serve and Enjoy!

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"Steamed" Artichokes

Like most of us, the extent of most people's "artichoke knowledge" is the kind that come in the jar and we make spinach and artichoke dip out of!  I'm here to tell you, there is more to life than jarred artichokes!  FRESH ones are seriously delicious!

Growing up, my friend Tammy's mom used to make these all the time.  We used to sit around the dinner table and dip our artichoke leaves into some yummy ranch dressing.  These are a great "snack" when you're craving something to eat, but don't want to waste calories on something not good for you!

It takes literally nothing to make these.  You just put them in your crock, add a bit of water so they can "steam" and let them cook!  That's it!

"Steamed" Artichokes

2-4 Artichokes (depending on the size of your crock-I used a 6.5 Quart)
1/2 cup water

Place your artichokes in your crock and pour in the water.
Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3.5-4 hours.

Now, here's how I serve them....
Cut the stem off like so...
Simply pull the leaves off one at a time.  
At the end where you tore it off, there is a bit of "meat."  You just scrape it off with your teeth.

We like to dip ours in some ranch dressing. Just a tiny dab will do ya!
Yummy, Yummy!
Eventually you'll get to a point where the leaves are very tiny and you'll have a pile of leaves to discard like this...
You're not done yet!  There's more goodness to come!  Pull the rest of the end off with the leaves like this.
(The part on the left is the rest of the tiny leaves.  The part on the right is the piece you're going to eat!)
There's some "hair" that you need to scrape out with a spoon, so scoop it out gently.
Now, enjoy the last nice hunk of "meaty" artichoke!!!!
As you can see, Gavin REALLY enjoyed the artichoke!!!!!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

A Responsibility Chart for Toddlers/Preschoolers

So, we were struggling with out daughter's behavior as soon as she hit 4 years old.  My husband and I are both teachers, so you know she's not allowed to get away with ANYTHING!  We run a pretty tight ship around here.  In the mornings, it was becoming increasingly difficult to get out of the house on time without some sort of breakdown from my daughter.  There is nothing more nerve-wracking for me than the prospect of being late for work!

Here is where I would like to thank Caillou!  Caillou is a cartoon about a little 4-year-old boy.  We recently saw an episode where Caillou and his mommy make a responsibility chart and Caillou makes his own stickers to put on the chart.  I kind of took it to the next level!  LOL

With all the ideas running through my head to make the best responsibility chart EVERY, I went to the Hobby Lobby.  It's like Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics, but better!  I saw on Pinterest a responsibility chart that used a mirror with magnets so I knew I wanted to do something similar.  As I wandered around the store, I found this.....
a really cool pink and white damask metal hanging "board!"  From there, my idea "took off!"  I ended up buying a package of small round magnets and a bunch of puffy sparkly stickers....ones I knew Ella would LOVE!  

On our way home from daycare that day, I talked to Ella about the "project" we were going to be working on.  She was SO excited!  She couldn't wait to start making her very own magnets for her very own responsibility chart....JUST like Caillou!


After the magnets were done, and Ella was in bed, I got to working on Ella's actual chart.  I wanted it to be something that could be reusable.  Because she's only 4, I knew I needed to use more pictures than words.  I made template for the chart in excel and then waited for Ella to help finish it the next day.

I sat down with my daughter and asked her what things she thought she could do all by herself, without mommy and daddy helping.  Here is the list she came up with:

  • Get myself dressed
  • Go potty by myself
  • Put my dishes in the sink
  • Clean up my toys
  • Lay out my clothes
This was a great list!  I was really proud of her for coming up with these things!  I had her sit at the computer with me and pick out images to go with each of the things she wanted on her responsibility chart.  I wanted there to be a spot on the chart for "extra" things she did to help her dad and me. So, she picked out pictures of some butterfly "jewels" for that spot.  Here's how it turned out.
She picked out all the colors and pictures!

I laminated this chart and put it on her board, then hung it up in the kitchen.
I put all her pretty, colorful magnets around the outside of it.

Here's how it works....
Each day we encourage all the things on her chart by saying "Can you go do _____ for me, so you get to put a magnet on your chart today?"  She runs off to do it.
We're 9 days in now, and she does most of it without us even asking!  We still say encouraging things like, "Good job getting dressed by yourself, Ella!  That was really helpful to mommy and daddy!"  Positive encouragement is key here!

We changed a few things around the house in order to make this endeavor more successful.  The TV doesn't go on in  the morning until AFTER she gets dressed and goes potty.  (She used to watch about 20 mins of TV while I finished getting ready and THEN got dressed.)  She also likes to watch Caillou before bed, so the TV stays off until her clothes for the next day are laid out, her teeth are brushed, and she's gone potty.  This works PERFECTLY!!!!

At the end of the day, we stand at her chart talk about each of her responsibilities.  She gets to choose one of her fun magnets to put on her chart for each responsibility she has completed.

This week, she filled in all the spots on her chart and earned 6 "extra" magnets for doing extra things that helped her dad and I this past week.

Now, here's how it works.  If ALL the spots are filled in on her 5 responsibilities, she gets to put a handful of fruit loops into a jar.   This is a big deal in our house because we don't buy sugar cereal!  It's purely a colorful, cheap way to fill a jar! 

 This is the jar we are using....
This was the jar we used when potty training Ella. It was a cheap plastic jar from Walmart filled with super cheap "prizes" each time she went poo poo on the potty. It was decorated with pretty stickers.  It's been sitting around my house and I've finally found another use for it!!!  It is now her "Responsibility Chart Jar."
If there are empty spots on her chart, she can use the magnets from her "extras" spot to fill in the blanks.

This week, her chart was full, so she started with one handful of fruit loops in the jar.
That's a couple fruit loops you see in her mouth.  I made the mistake of telling her she got to eat the ones she dropped.  Oops!  LOL  She tends to "drop" a few now!

Here's where the really fun part comes in!
Because Ella had 6 "extra" spots filled in, she got 6 EXTRA handfuls of fruit loops in her jar!!!

Here she is after 7 handfuls of fruit loops in her jar!

When this jar is all full, Ella gets to go with me or her dad and pick out a $5 prize.  It's gonna be a while, but the prospect really excites her!

Now, it's your turn to get creative!!!!  You know your child best.  Pick responsibilities you know your child can be successful at.  Stick with a fair number of things that are doable.  You don't want your child to be discouraged from the get-go!  You don't have to give prizes if you don't want to.  The reward for filling up the jar could be special time with mommy and daddy.  Our prizes will change over time so that she doesn't get stuck on the prospect of just one thing.  We want to keep it "fresh!"  As Ella grows, her responsibilities will change.  We'll go back to the excel document and edit as we need.

I hope this inspires you to get your child on the "Responsibility" bandwagon!  Just today, Ella told me,  "No mommy, that's MY responsibility!"  I LOVE hearing those words!  She said it with such pride!  It warmed my heart!  I know we're doing right by her.  We're so proud of her!

If you have questions, or would like me to email you the excel document so you can use it with your child, please email me at

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Boba Carrier Review

Can I tell you how excited I was when my Boba package arrived at my door?!!!!  I'm a huge, Huge, HUGE fan of baby wearing, as you might already know.  I've been baby wearing Gavin since he was born, and now that he's 13 months, he STILL loves to be worn by me. I honestly don't think I would have made it through as many excursions I've been on with my two kids so effortlessly without it!  It's been a life saver!
This is a picture my daughter took of my husband, Gavin and I in our  Boba Wrap (formerly Sleepy Wrap).  Gavin was 2 1/2 months old here.
As soon as I got my Boba, I took it right out and got to reading the directions. It's seriously very straight forward.  Before I even let it near my son, I made sure I adjusted everything that needed to be adjusted before I put him in it.  I actually had my husband stand with me and the baby, that way I could adjust, try it out, adjust, try it out, etc.  I suggest working with your husband/partner so you can get it properly adjusted before you go anywhere in it.  Baby wearing doesn't do anyone any good if it's not safe!

The first few times I wore my Boba, I did not have it adjusted completely right.  It's kind of hard to know exactly how to adjust it until you wear it a few times.  I suggest going on short trips the first few times you wear your Boba.  I went on a few short grocery shopping trips and found that the front of my legs were really hurting.  It wasn't until I was at the zoo, carrying Gavin around for a long while, did I figure out what I needed to adjust so my legs didn't hurt anymore.  I needed to tighten the strap around waist.  I thought I had it tightened all the way, but there are straps on each part of the buckle you can adjust.  

I am a petite woman.  I'm 5'1/2".  The Boba Carrier fits adults from 5'0" to 6'3".  As you might imagine, Most of my straps are tightened doesn't really get any smaller than I have it adjusted.  I find for me, as a petite woman, the shoulder straps themselves are wider than my shoulders.  Now, they're not going to slip off or anything because there is a buckle at the top of my shoulder blades holding the shoulder straps up, but it doesn't feel quite right for me.  If I had a slightly wider frame or was a bit taller, I'm sure they would fit perfectly.  I do wish they made a model specifically for petite women.  With a few very slight adjustments, it would be easy to do! ;) (Hint, Hint Boba!)

I really like that there are so many cool features built into this carrier!  There is a purse strap holder, pockets, removable foot straps and many more!  You can even nurse in this carrier!  How cool is that?!  Here is a complete list of the features the Boba offers.

The Boba holds babies from 7lbs. to 42 lbs.  That means I could actually still wear Ella in my Boba if I really wanted to!  I haven't tried it.  I'm not sure she really NEEDS to be carried in a carrier at 4 years old, so I'm not in a hurry to try it!  LOL

I had my husband take pictures as I put my Boba on and put Gavin into it, so you can get a feel for how this works.  It's really easy to do!

First, you buckle the Boba around your waist.
Pick up your baby and face him/her toward you with their legs wrapped around your waist.
With the opposite arm you're holding your baby with, pull that strap over your shoulder.

Now, wrap that arm around your baby and pull the other strap over your other shoulder.

Now, this is where you reach behind you and connect the buckle just above and between your shoulder blades.  P.S. This buckle moves up and down so you can actually reach it ;)  (I didn't know that until I asked my husband to look for me!)  It can be adjusted back down after you've buckled it to make it sit in a more comfortable place.

See how high that buckle is?  It can be slid down so it's lower and makes those shoulder straps more comfortable.
Now, you're baby's in and you're hands free!

Now, lucky you!  You have a chance to WIN your very own, Boba Wrap!

Enter for your chance to win a Boba Baby Carrier, a Boba Baby Wrap or a Boba Travel Pack! All products can be seen at With Boba products it is easier than ever to enjoy Freedom Together as a family and Boba wants YOU to get a chance to use their products. To enter to win, “Like” them on Facebook ( and for an additional two entries, follow them on Twitter (

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*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. I was compensated with a Boba Carrier in exchange for my honest opinion and review of the Boba Carrier and asked to take part in the giveaway. Print Friendly and PDF