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Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker Beef Chili

I don't experiment much with chili because it rarely goes well for me and my family. I've slowly adapted my chili recipe over the years, but I've still always used canned chili beans, with a flavored sauce. I've been wanting to try regular beans (whether canned or dried, I wasn't discerning, just didn't want the sauce), so off to the Googles I went rather than trying to recreate the spice blend from my normal canned beans.



Because I was originally planning to make chili in the Instant Pot, that's where I focused my search. Thankfully the recipe I decided to try was adapted from a Slow Cooker recipe, because life got in my way and I wasn't able to make the chili the night before as planned, and I wouldn't have had time to use the pressure cooker with my schedule that day.

What drew me to this recipe was the simplicity of the ingredients. And lack of jalapeno. Because somehow nearly every time I plan chili I forget to buy a jalapeno, even if it's …
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Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Gwyneth loves cake. Well, she says she does. It was the one thing she could talk about for her fourth birthday party. But the thing is, she doesn't really eat cake. Really, she just likes the frosting. But, all she could talk about was a pretty Elsa cake, so pretty Elsa cake she got, fondant and all. (Which, she ate just the fondant, so apparently she does not discriminate when it comes to frosting.)

But the one cake she absolutely loves is Ice Cream Sandwich cake. And that works for me because it is the world's easiest cake, and it is always a crowd-pleaser. We have this at both of our kids' parties, and it's at all of the plethora of warm weather birthday parties for Rob's family.  Because again, easy crowd-pleaser!

Three ingredients. Ice cream sandwiches, cool whip, and whatever cookie and/or candy you want. The sky is the limit, but I usually do Oreo because I'm a sucker for cookies n cream. Really, I'd do mint Oreo if I knew others would obsesses over…

Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Fettuccine Alfredo

I jumped on to the Instant Pot bandwagon on Prime Day 2016. I used my Instant Pot for the first time probably March 2017, aside from the water test just to make sure it worked (and I still wasn't sure 😄). I have not made a lot in it, and that is something I'm trying to rectify.

It really is a time saver IF you plan accordingly. The first time I used it for actual food I did not realize it would take time to come to pressure and release pressure. But once I realized that and started planning for that additional time, I've been able to plan more pressure cooker meals.

I work full time, and usually at the office, so the Instant Pot does come in handy on days that I have things I need to do at home after work, and don't have time to prep, saute, bake, etc. Once the food is in the pot and I turn it on, it is hands-off until nearly time to eat. Which gives me more time to help my son with homework, straighten up around the house, get ready for soccer practice, or hopefully…

Exclusive Pumping - why I did it twice, and some tips & tricks

This is a story I've been wanting to share for several years, in fact one of the reasons I decided to make the switch to more of a life blog versus a food blog. So bear with me here!

I have two children. I tried breastfeeding both of them, and was unsuccessful with both, for different reasons. One wouldn't latch. One my supply was too fast and plentiful. I tried a few things because I really really wanted to breastfeed, but it was stressing me out, so I looked in to other options, which is where I learned about exclusive pumping. 

 What is exclusive pumping (or EP)? It's when a mother expresses her milk to feed her child, rather than feeding "straight from the source". Prior to having Tyler, I knew very little about pumping, but I knew that since I planned to breastfeed and planned to work after maternity leave, I would need a pump. But that was about it. I remember the weekend before he was born sitting on my bed playing with the pump and thinking the manual was…

From Scratch Cheese Potatoes / Hashbrown Casserole / Whatever you want to call it

This concoction of frozen hashbrowns, a creamy cheesy mixture and a corn flake topping is called many things. I grew up calling it Hashbrown Casserole. Rob grew up calling it Cheese (or Cheesy) Potato Casserole. I've also seen it called Funeral Potatoes. Honestly, it should just be called Pot-Luck Potatoes because I bet nearly every pot luck in the Midwest/Central corridor of the country has at least once Pyrex with this dish on the food table. 
And who can blame us? It's cheese, potatoes, and a crunchy topping! Both sides of our family incorporates this dish in to many functions throughout the year. It's not Easter without this on the menu. Both sides of the family make them nearly the same way as well - frozen hashbrowns, cream of chicken/mushroom soup, sour cream, cheese, LOTS of butter, and the cornflake topping. 
Several years ago I was "assigned" to bring them to Easter brunch. Rob was complaining about being sick of them since we have them so often, so I …

Triple Layer Chocolate Pudding Pie

I'm certain I've said it before, but I'm not a huge chocolate fan. But I've always had a soft spot for chocolate pudding. One day, when I was looking through recipes to make for Thanksgiving, knowing others were bringing the traditional pies, Tyler saw a French Silk pie that he wanted me to make. I didn't want to deal with the raw eggs, so I decided to keep looking, but still making a chocolate pie. He'd never know the difference anyway, right?

When looking for new recipes to try, especially for the kids, I base my search on appearances. I'll check Pinterest, but more often than not I do a Google Image search. Which led me to this pie. When I opened and saw it was a Kraft recipe using pudding I knew it'd be simple and delicious. Simple enough that Tyler pretty much made this on his own for Thanksgiving (at 6.5 years old).

He was ob.ses.sed. Every time I needed to make a dessert after then he asked for this pie. The time never came to make it, until his …

Build a (Binkie) Bear - how we finally got rid of the binkie!

Sometimes I feel like I’ve got this parenting thing down. Other times I would look at my 3.5 year old little girl with the binkie in her mouth and wonder how could I have let this go on so long? But, with Gwyneth, I feel like we’re first time parents again, and this was new territory for us. The difference between her and Tyler is night and day! Ty gave up his pacifier at seven months old!
Now, Gwyneth. Girlfriend was an addict! My plan all along was to get her off the binkie by two, but the thing is, we used every single excuse we could come up with to not have to deal with the aftermath of getting rid of the beloved binkie. In a wedding. Moving twice in five months. New day care. Cross-country flight. Transitioning to a big girl bed….
Finally, we were out of excuses, and honestly just over it. That binkie ruled her life.  We tried a few tricks, and nothing worked. Cutting the nub, our Elf on the Shelf and later the Easter Bunny taking it back, donating to babies without binkies. N…