Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars

My team at work got together the other night for a good ole southern summer back porch BBQ. Complete with BBQ on the green egg, homemade mac n cheese and all the fixings. One of the favorite desserts of the night were these crunch bars- the perfect combination of chocolate, peanut butter and a little crunch. Great for kids as well because they don’t fall apart in your hands. Enjoy!

marshmallow-crunch-bars-singleIngredients:

For the Brownie Base:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Toppings:
1 bag (10½ ounces) miniature marshmallows
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter (don’t use natural peanut butter)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.

2. For the brownies: In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and ¾ cup of the semisweet chocolate chips over medium heat. Stir occasionally while melting. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl , whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Stir the melted ingredients into the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in the dry sifted ingredients and mix well. Fold in the remaining ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the corner of of the pan comes out with moist crumbs.

5. Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately sprinkle the marshmallows over them. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the milk chocolate chips, peanut butter, and tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Remove from heat, add the Rice Krispies and mix well. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.

7. Spread the mixture evenly over the marshmallow layer. Refrigerate until chilled before cutting.

Original Recipe available here.

Nap Time. Baby Book Time.

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Nap time and bed time often mean baby book time around here. I’m slowly trying to keep the girls’ baby books updated so I don’t forget the early days while they still feel somewhat recent.. emphasis on “somewhat.” 9 months seems like a long time and most of it definitely has become a blur. Thankfully I use a baby book that doesn’t seem overwhelming, the pages and prompts are simple- and I love the sleek modern design. Mushybooks has become one of my favorite baby items and I use them for all of our kid’s baby books.

When you order a Mushybook you choose your design and then it arrives with a nice cover protector. The baby book covers everything you could need from birth to 1 year. Bonus features include additional pages for showers, toddler years and more. I just completed the first toddler page for Jude now that he has turned 2.

For the pictures in all of the books I like Social Print Studio (formerly Printstagram). Social Print Studio pulls from your Instagram account (or your camera roll and albums if using the iPhone app) and gives you the ability to select the photos you want to print. I use their 4×4 square photo option to print pictures. 24 pictures for $12 (plus $6 shipping) isn’t horrible. Especially if you plan out the pictures you need for each page ahead of time and knock it all out in one or two packs of 24. The pictures are a matte finish and arrive on a thick white paper. I love how they hold up and I love how they match the modern look of the Mushybooks.

I’m an overall happy customer and big fan.

 

9 Months!

IMG_9053 2The girls turned 9 months old today! We are pretty sure Sloane will be the first to talk and Maisie will be the first to crawl. Maisie has learned how to pull the tabs off her diaper and Sloane is an expert at stealing toys and pacis- even though Maisie is quick to steal them back. Sloane loves to wave and Maisie loves to be held. Both girls are doing great with all their puréed fruits and veggies and have enjoyed everything except black beans. They still have “stranger danger” but are quick to warm up to anyone who talks in a high pitched voice and makes them laugh.

Sloane weighs 16 lb, `13oz and is 27.5 in long. Maisie weighs 16b, 12.4oz and is 27.25 in long. They are both true to size in clothes except for pajamas. Most clothes are size 6-12 month or 9 month. The only exception is pajamas due to their length. They both wear 12 month pajamas.

Here is their current feeding and nap schedule which we transitioned to between 8-9 months old. (Still hold onto 3 naps which is amazing!)

  • 6:30AM – Wake and eat 8oz bottle
  • 7:30AM- Eat pureed baby food or oatmeal (about 4 oz)
  • 8:00AM- Nap
  • 10:30AM- Eat 7oz bottle
  • 11:00AM- Eat yogurt (4 oz)
  • 12:00/12:30 PM – Nap
  • 2:30PM – Eat 7oz bottle
  • 3:00PM- Eat pureed baby food (4 oz combo of veggie and fruit)
  • 4:30PM- Nap*
  • 6:00PM – Eat 7oz bottle
  • 6:30PM – Bath
  • 6:45PM- Bed for the night

We love our sweet baby girls. 9 months. Can’t believe it! ?? Happy Birthday girls!

*About a week after our girls turned 9 months we dropped the last nap of the day. They started to take a long time to fall asleep at night and weren’t as tired anymore. Once we dropped the third nap they were back to their usual selves and fell asleep almost instantly once we laid them down for the night.

Easy Fruit Pizza

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been hosting our community group at our home. We’ve made a lot of our favorite recipes but this week I decided to try something a little different. A neighbor posted a picture of a fruit pizza she made with her kids and I knew that this would be the perfect summer treat. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup each of fresh berries (we used raspberries, blackberries and strawberries). I also recommend using kiwi if available.

Steps

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan (or 13×9 pan) with cooking spray. In pan, break up cookie dough; press dough evenly in bottom of pan to form crust. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Spread mixture over cooled crust.
  • Arrange fruit over cream cheese. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. T
  • To serve, cut into wedges or squares. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pizza.

Original recipe available here.

Toys for 1-2 Year Olds

Over the last couple of months I’ve notice a transition as Jude has stopped playing with some toys and become more attached to others. Below is a list of some of our favorite toys for ages 1-2 (and still favorites for growing 2 year old). In no particular order…

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Tupperware!

OK so I realize this isn’t a toy but seriously anytime I unlock the “Tupperware cabinet” and let this little boy dive in and pull everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, out he LOVES it! It honestly captures his attention for a good solid 20-30 minutes (which is a long time in baby/toddler world!)

 

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Kid Trax Toddler Quad

We got this on sale at Babies R Us right before Christmas. As you can see Jude LOVED his Christmas morning ride. This is a motorized ride on specifically for 18 month olds. It goes slow enough for this age group but is also an introduction to a motorized car which is a lot of fun.

 

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Sidewalk Chalk and Play Doh

When I need some “me” time 🙂 or time to get some stuff done chalk and play doh are some all time favorites. They are perfect for toddlers because it keeps them busy and they can do it on their own. When it comes to playdoh I usually put Jude in his highchair and he will play for a good 20-30 minutes. These are great toys that don’t take up a lot of space and are a “must have” for your toddlers.

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Little Tikes Lawn Mower

Jude is in the stage where he wants to mimic everything we do. He still loves any toy that lights up and makes sounds and has pieces that come off and on – but he also loves being able to do exactly what we are doing when we do it. The little tikes lawn mower is super cute with lots of little features and special additions. We liked it better than a bubble mower. And before you think this is only for little boys, we also have the “Just Like Home” vacuum cleaner as well that makes sounds like a real vacuum. Jude loves to follow me around and help me vacuum and then will take his mower outside and help his dad mow. We love these toys!

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Mr Potato Head

We took Jude to the store in hopes of picking out a Woody or Buzz doll for Christmas when he was 1.5. Instead we left with Mr. Potato Head. There is something special about this little guy.. it might be the addiction Jude has had to the movie Toy Story but all of his little pieces also make him very fun to play with and provide hours of entertainment. “My Head” is played with everyday and is a must have in our home!

 

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Little Tikes Car 

And saving the best for last.. Jude actually received this for his 1st birthday. It has remained a long time favorite (and still is). There are many different colors and version but the little tikes red car is an all time favorite.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 9.27.25 AMOther ideas (especially for boys of this age) include duplo blocks, balls, cars, firetrucks, dump trucks, school buses, planes and trains 🙂 Seriously.. when it comes to boys you can’t go wrong with some trucks and balls to play with.

Toys for Under 1

Most of my blog posts are the result of friends asking me questions about my experience. Having 3 under 3 doesn’t make me an expert but it does mean that babies and toddlers are on the top of my mind ALL THE TIME. I love our 3 and I love talking baby. Probably because its something I can get excited about and feel like I know at least a little something about. So this post is in honor of a dear friend who has a baby boy a couple months younger than our girls and was looking for some toy recommendations for babies under 1. While we try to stay minimalists in the toy area (we try- I didn’t say we are successful) we certainly have our share of toys around the house.  These stick out as some of our favorites that all of our kids have used and enjoyed.

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LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table

This is actually a great toy around 9 months when babies are starting to try to pull up and stand. Jude didn’t start walking until he was about 13/14 months so this toy was still great in the early 1 year old days for him to stand and play and push buttons.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 8.31.26 AMVtech Walker

Another great toy for the early stages of walking as you can adjust the wheels to have more or less resistance. The girls also sit in front of this toy and can push and play with the buttons. Jude is 2 and will still grab this occasionally and push it around.

 

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Baby Einstein Walker

We actually got this toy for Jude when he turned 1. He liked it for about a week and then quickly realized he could move around a lot more not “constrained” in this walker. He then went to pushing it around instead of riding it which kind of defeated the purpose. Our girls are now 8 months old and one of them is in this at least once a day. They love it and they can move around in it really well pushing on the floor with their feet. It is perfect for their age and will be used a lot until they start walking.

 

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Evenflo ExerSaucer

When one baby is in the walker, the other is in the exersaucer! This has been a family favorite for all of our kids. There is lots to look at and play with. It has lights and sounds and is great for jumping as well. You can even take it apart when they get older and change the shape to make a “table” that they can stand at and still play with. While exersaucers do take up space – having one has become a necessity.

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Rattles, shakers and other miscellaneous toys

I still have no idea how we accumulated all of these little random rattles and stuffed shakers.. but we did. From soft toys that make noise to harder toys that light up to balls with shakers inside and little dolls with rubber hands and feet that act as teethers- all of these random little toys seem to mysteriously appear all over our home but at this age they are actually perfect for our girls to play with. When your baby is too small to sit up or is just learning to sit up but can’t move around yet, having some small teether toys that they can learn to hold and pass from hand to hand and chew on is actually pretty important. It helps them learn and gives them something to do at this stage. So while these toys might add to the clutter they are a helpful addition for this short time frame.

 

Veggie Enchiladas

It’s Monday… which means the start of another week and the need for some easy weeknight meals. A fun fact.. I used to be a vegetarian.. for about 2 years… for health reasons. It was a huge adjustment for us as we were newlyweds and I was trying to figure out how to cook yummy meals for my new husband each night. My husband who loves meat. Loves it. And so I began the quest to find yummy vegetarian meals that would satisfy us both – even the toughest meat-eating critics. Here is one of our favorites that I recreated again tonight.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium organic corn, rinsed and drained
  • fresh cilantro 
  • 6 low carb multi-grain tortillas (8 inches)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (or homemade)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
 

Directions

  • In a large skillet, saute the onion and green pepper in oil until crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the beans, corn, cumin and cilantro; cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Spoon 1/2 cup bean mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with enchilada sauce and cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25 minutes or until heated through. 
  • Yield: About 8 enchiladas.
 Original recipe available here.

Battling Reflux

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This has been a pretty incredible week- life changing to say the least! If you’ve ever dealt with a baby (or babies) with reflux you can certainly relate!

When our girls were born they started Similac NeoSure to help get their weights up. After about 2 months we went to Similac Advance. We quickly then switched to Similac Sensitive. Why all the changes? REFLUX. It really is one of those things that makes you feel helpless, frustrated, sad and overwhelmed all at the same time. There are different types of reflux. Our girls started with the spitting up phase (which basically resulted in one or both throwing up their entire bottle immediately after finishing it) and then silent reflux where they would constantly push away their bottles and struggled to even get 2 ounces down at each of their feedings.

After trying two different medicines and switching formulas I went to one of my mommy boards (twin moms to the rescue!) and begged for help. The result.. Similac Alimentum. It’s a different formula I hadn’t heard of .. more expensive and it definitely has a different smell to it that reminds you that your baby is drinking something man made but IT WORKS. It works! After a week of mixing it with their previous formula (so we could slowly get them used to the new taste) our girls are finishing their bottles and wanting more. With over 4 months left of formula this has already become a game changer for us. (Not to mention the girls also started holding their bottles on their own this week as well!)  I can’t get over the difference and in just a short time. We’ve even stopped their medicine completely. So if you’ve got a baby with reflux give Alimentum a try – it just might change your life.

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