Best Lasagna Ever

Thanks Tiffany for this delicious meal! Amazing!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups Lowfat Cottage Cheese
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Grated (not Shredded) Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 package (10 Ounce) Lasagna Noodles
  • (add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)
DIRECTIONS
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.

In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).

To assemble:
Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.

Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.

Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

Original recipe available here.

3 Ingredient Breakfast Cookies

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.. too long. A lot to catch up on.. especially in baby world. But for now I’m posting a couple of my fav recipes lately that I don’t want to lose. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup oats
2 bananas

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats and banana; mash banana and mix until well incorporated.

3. Add additional ingredients, should you desire (chocolate chips, peanut butter, walnuts, almonds, raisins, coconut).

4. Bake for 12 minutes.

5. Enjoy!

Stuffed Shells and Cheese

The best shells and cheese you will ever have. Thanks Jess!

These restaurant-quality, cheese-stuffed shells come together effortlessly and make feeding your family or a large holiday crowd easy.

  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yields: 4-6 Servings

Ingredients

12 ounces Mueller’s® Jumbo Shells

2 eggs

2 containers (15 ounces each) ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups spaghetti sauce

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°F; spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Cook Jumbo Shells for 15 minutes; drain well, cover and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly, then add in ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, and salt. Stir well to combine.

Spoon about one tablespoon of cheese mixture into each shell and arrange filled shells in a single layer in the baking dish. Top with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165-185°F.

Cook’s Tip: Use any of your family’s favorite sauces, including those with Italian sausage or ground turkey to make this dish heartier.

Chatbooks

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If you follow me on instagram you know I take (and post) lots of pictures. I mean A LOT of pictures. I mean I do love my kids and think they are cute but the main reason isn’t so everyone will see my cute kids- its really so I can add all of these cute pictures to my kid’s photo books. About a year or so ago I stumbled upon Chatbooks and have been hooked every since. Chapbooks allows you to customize, create and print photo books in zero time. It’s quick, easy and super affordable. You can “subscribe” and get a photo book every 60 pictures of your instagram feed shipped to you for $8. Or you can do what I do and create your own book whenever you want.

I use Chatbooks to create photo books for our kids.. birth to 1 year, 1 year to 2 years and so on. The really nice thing about Chatbooks is you can search a specific hashtag in your account and it will pull all of the pictures you have posted using that hashtag. The means finding all of my son’s pictures from the past year in no time! If you forgot a picture or two or changed your mind about one you can also easily add or subtract pictures. The date is automatically included (but you can also remove that feature) and the caption is as well (but you can delete it if you want to). It’s such a simple (and did I say easy!) way to create custom photobooks that are an excellent quality.

I HIGHLY recommend Chatbooks. Check it out, use my referral code and get your first book free (6J46PC7V) and then let me know what you think! Enjoy!

*For reference, pictured above are 2 hardcover books of about 350 pages (they are also the two on the far right below). 366 pages is the photo limit for one book. The skinniest book in the center below is about 55 pictures and is the smallest I’ve made so far. 50241956530__186a1199-94dc-46ff-b310-a8f350211793

30 Months!

View More: http://rachelmelton.pass.us/harvey-2016

Our boy is 2.5 years old today! Wow how time flies. He is officially our little man and no longer a baby. It’s hard to believe how fast the time goes. Jude weights 29lb and is 36in tall. He wears 2T and 3T tops and bottoms (depending on the brand) – Carters he is mainly wearing 3T – pants are still a little long and Gap he is wearing 2T pants and both sizes in tops.

He is full on boy and loves to run and jump and climb. Lots of climbing and jumping! Bounce houses and climbing walls are some of his favorite things. He loves using his “skateboard” (kitchen step stool) to help make pb&j or pizza for dinner. He still loves his paci but only gets it at night time. He likes to talk about the potty a lot and knows he gets candy if he goes but he is still holding strong to those diapers and usually says “its broken” whenever we sit him on the potty to try. 🙂

He loves balls and trucks and so many of his toys. His favorite color is currently purple and his favorite shirt is Superman and favorite pjs are Christmas or spiderman with a cape! He is super sweet and hugs his sisters when he sees them in the hallway at school and always wants to know why they are crying or upset. He is a big helper and will bring them toys as long as they don’t want one of his!

Halloween was a big hit and we are still watching Toy Story’s and Mickey’s Halloween shows on repeat. Hoping we can transition to Thanksgiving and Christmas over the next couple of weeks.

I love our happy and growing boy!

Pumpkin Patch Palooza

I love fall. I absolutely love it. I’m not really into the pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin breads and treats that most other people love- my thing is all the outdoor fall activities! There is so much to see and do and I’m a huge fan, especially when you have 3 kids under 3 years old to entertain on a regular basis. Fall means lots of free, or relatively inexpensive, activities for everyone to see and enjoy. So check out our review of the local farms we’ve visited so far . . .

Burt’s Farm

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Our first stop was to Burt’s Farm. We actually went here the last weekend in September. I’ve never been before but KH  had and suggested we avoid the crazy October crowds and hit this one early. Apparently the lines get incredibly long (even to get int he parking lot!) and with our little 3 that was not something we wanted to mess with.

Pumpkins – Burt’s has LOTS of pumpkins to choose from. All colors and sizes. They even have farm grown squash and other vegetables as well you can buy.

Hayride- They hayride at Burt’s is a MUST. Seriously the best one we’ve been on. Its about 20 min long and they literally have set something up every step of the way for you to see and experience. I don’t want to spoilt the fun but just know you won’t be staring at farmland or woods the whole time. My 8 year old niece said, “this is the best hayride I’ve ever been on!” and I absolutely agree with her. You can’t beat it. Cost is $5/person. 2 and under are free.

Activities – There really aren’t many other things for kids to do. There is a tractor they can sit on but no farm animals or other activities beyond the hayride.

Shopping- We went through the store pretty quickly but they have lots of locally made preserves, breads and other products as well as homemade crafts you can pick up.

Photo Opp- Lots of photo opp spots including this one below with the Burt’s Farm name in the background!

The Draw – The awesome hayride and the variety of pumpkins!

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Kinsey Family Farm

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Out second stop was Kinsey. It’s become an annual tradition as it was the first place we took our son to see Pumpkins when he was only 5 months old and the tradition has continued. It’s a small family farm with an overall great experience.

Pumpkins-  Kinsey has a good amount of pumpkins to choose from, just not as many as Burt’s. Some white ones as well and lots of different sizes.

Hayride- Good hayride takes you around the farm property where you get to see the animals as well as the Christmas tree area. Cost is $2/person. 2 and under are free.

Activities- The farm includes goats and cows which you can feed for a small price to buy the food. You can bet them for free 🙂

Shopping – There is a very small store with jared preserves, honey, pumpkins breads and even a couple t-shirts.

Photo Opp – Plenty of nature spots around the farm and with the pumpkins and hay bales.

The Draw- Kinsey is smaller, easier to get in and out, and a shorter drive than most other places. We like it for the “ease” factor.

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Warbington Farms

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Our third stop was Warbington Farms. We went earlier in May to go strawberry picking and had a great time. This past weekend they had a Pumpkin Palooza with lots of activities and fun for the whole family. Warbington is the only one that charges to actually get in the farm but there is lots to do there. Cost is $10/person. 2 and under are free.

Pumpkins- A very small area sectioned off. I’m not sure if they actually grow the pumpkins there. It’s separate from the rest of the farm.

Hayride- The hayride was VERY short. The price is included in the cost of visiting the farm. We got to see more of the farmland and got to see them feed the cows but that was about it. They hayride is also not actually a hayride but a ride on bench seats on the back of a tractor.  Cost is Free.

Activities- LOTS of activities. They had multiple bounce houses, a giant blob bouncy, slides, a corn bin where kids could get in and jump around among, a corn maze, vendors selling items, face painting, as well as a petting area where we got to pet a 5 DAY OLD cow! So sweet! Couldn’t believe he was only 5 days old! We also got to pet some goats and a big. Bring a good stroller if you have little kids. The activities are all within walking and sight distance but you might need to push around the little ones.

Shopping – When we went there were vendors selling some of their crafts and local items however generally there is no shopping. Just a concession area with some food and drinks for sale. (During strawberry season they sell homemade strawberry ice cream which is AMAZING! but that’s just in the summer!)

Photo Opp – There were multiple picture cut outs to stop and get a picture as well as a sign by the entrance.

The Draw- While its a bummer its so expensive there really is a TON to do for kids and its a short drive as well – just off exit 17 on 400.

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Celebrating 1 Year!

Our baby girls turned 1 this past weekend! ONE! I can’t believe it. It’s so true what they say, “the days are long but the years are short.” And this past year just went way too quickly. To celebrate our baby girls we had a small party at home with a pink and purple theme of course! I LOVE to color coordinate our girls – its just helped over the past year in telling them apart, especially for other people. I’m also hoping it helps them know what belongs to each girl so they have some sense of things belonging to each of them and that they don’t have to share absolutely everything! So Sloane’s color is pink and Maisie’s is purple. A friend of mine with twins calls them their birth colors. She did something similar with her twins. And I love it!

So on to the party details.. Here we go!

The Photo Shoot

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We took one of our office chairs out in the woods behind our house and I took some pics of the girls while KH entertained them and made them smile for me. We used these for the invitation as well as decor at the party.

The Invitation
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I was so glad to find one to match our pink and purple theme! Thanks Shutterfly!

The Outfits

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I found the design on Etsy but them ordered them through a local contact who was able to make them for me. The tutus came from Amazon. $6.50 each and LOTS of colors to choose from! Can’t beat it!

The Decorations 

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I really took advantage of Amazon this year. From high chair decor to streamers to pom poms and banners, balloons, candles, straws and paper products, it all came from Amazon!  Free 2 day shipping made decorating this year a blast! (And really quick and simple)

The Food

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I decided to try and change things up and not do all of my typical “go to” party foods. The caprese sticks and sausage dip are the same but I also added in cheese cubes with pearl toothpicks, a fruit tray from Publix, pink and purple m&ms from Party City, pink (cherry cola) popcorn, purple (grape) popcorn, white (white chocolate candy corn) popcorn and chicago style popcorn all from Heavenly Gourmet Popcorn. Lollipops from Party City were the party favor and pictures were used for decoration. I am missing the main dish in the pic which leads me to these . . .

Ham and Swiss Cheese Slides

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Heavenly. That’s all you need to know. I barely got one before they were all devoured. A definite repeat. Make them!

Cakes

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Publix came through with beautiful smash cakes as well as a larger pink and purple cake for everyone else. I love how the ombre roses came out! My fav! *Note smash cakes are usually free from Publix when you order a birthday cake there. However when you customize it there is a price associated with it. Based on how these turned out though it was well worth it. I LOVED the girls cakes. (And yes they are both crying.. oh well! Glad they look cute at least!)

Family Pic

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A full day but we made it and Sloane and Maisie had an incredible celebration! Big thanks to my besties, Jesslyn and Emily, for helping us decorate and make all the party food. And another big thanks to my mom for taking all the pics so I could play hostess and then just enjoy all the fun as well. And last but night least, of course a HUGE thanks to KH for being the best teammate and husband I could ever ask for. You always make party planning a blast! Love you!

 

Ham and Swiss Sliders

My party food has gotten a little redundant lately, so for our baby girls’ 1st birthday party I decided to try these sliders instead of my regular pigs in blankets or alternative meat dish. And I’m so glad I did!  Let’s just say they went fast and I’m lucky I got to try one! So please excuse the picture, I was planning to get a pretty pic of a full plate of these things but they were almost gone by the time I got to them. A definite winner for appetizers, party food, or just lunch in general for a spin on ham and cheese. Big thanks to my friend Emily who made them while we finished decorating! Hit of the party!

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Ingredients
  • 24 white dinner rolls, I LOVE King’s Hawaiian Rolls
  • 24 pieces honey ham
  • 24 small slices Swiss Cheese
  • ⅓ cup mayonaise
  • ⅓ cup miracle whip
Poppy Seed Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1½ Tbsp. mustard
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. minced onion
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and miracle whip.
  2. Cut Rolls in halves. Spread mayonaise-miracle whip mixture on each side of the roll. Place a piece of honey ham and Swiss cheese on one half of each roll. Fold back into sandwich form.
  3. Place rolls close together in a greased 9×13 pan until pan in completely full.
  4. Mix together all ingredients of Poppy Seed Sauce. Spread evenly over the tops of all the rolls. *NOTE* I did not use all the sauce. Let the rolls set until the butter has set up a bit. Cover with aluminum foil and Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Rolls can be made a day ahead and stored in fridge until ready to bake.

Original recipe available HERE.

1 Year!

 

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I can’t believe its already been a year since we welcomed our sweet baby girls into this world and our family! Happy Birthday Sloane and Maisie! Seems like only yesterday and forever that we were in the hospital holding our precious and tiny babies.

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Sloane Anne. Born first but I had to wait to hold you second. It’s so funny how I originally thought you were so “laid back” and then quickly realized you have a little bit of sass in you. I love how you go after what you want and lead the pack in what the next adventure is going to be. I love how you throw your head back when you want us to throw you in the air. You steal toys and pacis like you’re the boss but only with your sister. You are content to play on your own but only as long as someone else is close by, especially your brother or sister. You are big talker and love to squeal, talk, dance and laugh. I love how you suck your thumb when you’re tired and hold your wubanuub’s left with your hand. I love how you will eat anything we put in front of you – as long as we feed it to you. I love how you say “mama” and clap when we say “yay”. I love how you keep us on our toes and always seem to find a piece of dog food on the floor to nibble up. I love how much fun you are. And I love that you are ours.  I love you Sloane Anne. Happy 1st Birthday!

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Maisie Lynne. Born second but I got to hold you first. You gave us a little scare those first few days but I love how you quickly bounced back and made it home in record time. You are a fighter and adventurous but you are also so snuggly and sweet. I love how you laugh- big, loud, belly laughs. I love how you always have to be moving and doing something. I love how sweet you are and how you always try to hold your sister’s hand (which she doesn’t like). I love how you love to explore and how much you stand and travel from the couch to table. You are so close to walking! I love how you want to be in the middle of all the action and have everyone around. I love how you only cry when you’re tired and want your paci. I love how you eat everything we put in front of you (including what’s on Sloane’s plate) and want to do it all yourself. I love how you try to mimic what we do and clap when we say “yay”. I love how much fun you are. And I love that you are ours.  I love you Maisie Lynne. Happy 1st Birthday!

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Our baby girls transitioned from formula to whole milk over the past 1-2 weeks. Mainly because we ran out of formula and didn’t want to buy anymore. They have no problem drinking milk however we are having to work with them to get them to drink out of a hippy cup instead of bottle and cold milk instead of warm. We are working on it though! Their sample food schedule is below.

1 Year Schedule:

  • 6:30am – 7oz bottle of milk (working on transitioning to sippy cup and cold milk)
  • 6:45am- Breakfast
    • Eggs, Oatmeal, Cheerios, Fruit smoothies, etc
  • 11:30am- Lunch
    • Milk
    • Finger foods including meat, cheese, veggies, fruits
    • Pouch or Applesauce
    • Cereal bar or other teething foods
  • 3:30pm- Snack
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Pouch
    • Baby food if needed
  • 5:30pm – Dinner
    • Milk
    • Samples of whatever we are eating for dinner!

We find out their weights at their doctor appointment on Tuesday. They currently wear 12 month clothes and 12-18 month pajamas.

Anniversary Getaway to Highlands, NC

Kyle and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary on August 20. Our (or really my) original vision for our 5 year was to head back to our beloved honeymoon spot and go back to Kauai, Hawaii. We LOVED our honeymoon there and I have been ready to go back every since we left. However, having 3 kids in a little over the last 2 years changed that plan up a bit and so we decided to stay a little closer to home this year. Having already travelled to a lot of the nearby towns within a short driving distance (Savannah, Charleston, Destin, Asheville, etc) we decided to try a new spot and go to Highlands, NC. We didn’t know what to expect but we were thrilled! In short, it was the perfect getaway. Only 2 hours from home, lots of beautiful scenery and hiking. Incredible food, great shopping and even wine tasting. It was the perfect little getaway for us and gave us the peaceful, relaxing, and fun vacation we desperately needed.  Check out the list of everything we did below.

WEDNESDAY

    • Left around 10 am. Easy drive up to Highlands.
    • Lunch at Wild Thyme
      • Kyle had the salmon BLT and I had the fried shrimp sandwich – both served with homemade sweet potato chips.
      • Hiked Glenn Falls (difficulty rating is HARD and it was accurate! Tough hike but incredible falls and great views). We hiked 2.1 miles of the trailIMG_1196

 

  • Shopping Downtown. Our favorite store was Bear Mountain Outfitters. Lots of great outdoor items. We got clothes and shoes (Toms of course) for the kids, and I got a swimsuit for myself.
  • Dinner at Ugly Dog Pub – a local hotspot!
    • Kyle had the 1/4lb Dog House pimento cheese hotdog, made with local beef
    • I had the Dog House salad with smoked chicken
    • Apparently Wednesdays are live music night so it was hard to find a seat at 6:30 when we arrived but luckily we got a seat at the bar
  • Walked back toward our hotel from dinner and stopped for Ice cream at Kilwins of Highlands
  • Sat on balcony of the Main Street Inn where we stayed overlooking main street

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THURSDAY

    • Breakfast at Mountain Fresh Grocery (we split French toast, eggs, grits, hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, and amazing French press coffee)
    • Chattooga iron bridge and river cliffs trail – hiked about 2.5 miles

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    • Lunch at Sports Page Sandwich Shoppe (basic but tasty sandwiches and sides)
    • Pedicures – oh yeah!
    • Shopping down Main Street
    • Wine tasting at Mountaintop Wine Shop
    • Dinner at Wolfgang’s Restsurant and Wine Bistro – Incredible!
      • Hand breaded fried brie with a cranberry walnut compote, a lemon dijon vinaigrette and crustini as an appetizer
      • Kyle had the crab cake on lobster cream sauce and pecan crusted shrimp with  vegetables, orange molasses dipping sauce with a hint of scotch bonnet
      • I had the cajun BBQ shrimp with asiago grits and andouille scented collard greens
      • We also split a piece of the frozen peanut butter pie- it was pretty good but not as good as the appetizer and main dishes.

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FRIDAY

  • Breakfast at Bake My Day- well known for their croissants and they were very tasty!
  • We planned to hit up a couple spots on our way out but decided to head straight home instead and snuggle our babies.

Here is a list of everything we want to do the next time around that we didn’t get to:

  • Visit/hike to Dry Falls
  • Hike to Sunset Rock (at sunset of course)
  • Satulah Mountain
  • Stumphouse Tunnel Park
  • Ugly Dog Pub (again). Great food and really fun atmosphere.
  • I’d probably go back to Wolfgang’s again too. Perfect date night spot and SO. YUMMY.