The BEST homemade burger seasoning for Labor Day grilling

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Are you grilling this Labor Day weekend? THIS is the difference between a good burger and a great burger. It couldn’t be easier to throw together, and you can make a big batch and use it repeatedly. You can also package this up in a cute little tin with a bow and bring it to your Labor Day party host as a gift. (I know. That sounded a little too Martha Stewart-ish to my ears too.)

This blend of spices is ideal — plenty of salt (but not too much), zing from garlic, onion and mustard, smoke from cumin, depth from basil and parsley, and a bit of heat from the chili. Just add about a tablespoon per 1.5 lbs of ground beef and lightly blend. I like to add slightly less to the meat mixture and then sprinkle the remainder on the top of each burger to make sure each bite gets a burst of flavor first.

We also use this blend on steaks and turkey burgers too. It’s just all-purpose awesome.

Happy grillin’ y’all!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

best burger rub 2

The BEST Burger Seasoning

1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Makes 1/2 cup. Use 1 tablespoon per 1.5lb of beef. Store remainder tightly sealed in your pantry.

This easy silly craft will make you laugh like crazy

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

Googly eyes, amiright?

They make everything funny (sidenote: I may have had to google “googly eyes” to get the right spelling. And then I may have giggled about googling googly eyes.)

We made googly eye magnets last weekend, and now we’re sticking them everywhere.

Silly fun with googly eye magnets!

BWAHAHAHAHAH! I could do this all day. No one who’s ever given me a picture is safe.

Silly fun with googly eye magnets!

#cantstopwontstop

You can use them for more than tormenting your friends and family, though. You can actually be creative with googly eye magnets. Grab a blank piece of paper, attach it to your fridge or dishwasher with the googly eyes, and then draw around them.

Silly fun with googly eye magnets!

We also made some for my tween daughter to use in her middle school locker.

Such a simple craft, so many possible ways to have fun with it (a reminder: do not have magnets around young children who could swallow them. I did this craft with a closely supervised six-year old and her older siblings.)

Here’s what you need:

Silly fun with googly eye magnets!

How to Make Googly Eye Magnets

Supplies:

  • large googly eyes (we bought the biggest ones we could find)
  • adhesive round magnets (make sure the magnets are smaller than the googly eyes)

Silly fun with googly eye magnets!

Instructions:

Peel and stick the magnets to the backs of the googly eyes. If you can’t find adhesive magnets, you can also glue the eyes to the side of the magnet that doesn’t stick to the fridge. Let the glue dry and you’re done!

Now — go nuts! Use them on pictures of people, use them to draw pictures, make magnet faces with googly eyes and whatever other magnets you can find for noses and mouths and ears. Be creative!

For more crafty ideas, try one of these:

A fun garden craft for kids -- make beaded gazing balls!

Beaded Gazing Balls

yellow-and-orange-flowers

Tissue Paper Flowers

April bubbles

DIY Bubble Fun

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

12 ideas for back-to-school organization

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

It’s that time of year again, time to get organized with the kids back in school. There’s always a little chaos that comes along with that at first, but you can get a head start as much as possible by getting organized now.

I started a few weeks ago on my journey to get us organized for the upcoming year. There’s places for incoming papers, a station for homework and even our school clothes have been set aside. I tried to make my systems very simple and get my kids involved in helping as much as possible. Hopefully, that way we will be able to keep this system up all year long.

I have to say, a couple weeks into school it’s already paying off. Our mornings are much smoother and there’s no searching around for items before heading out the door. I’m really enjoying getting back into the routine of school and I think it’s been a successful transition for all of us.

Be sure to click on each image in the slideshow to take you to some ideas for back to school organization.

{Free Printable} A note for school via Hello, Cuteness
Back to school weekly planner {free printable} via NoBiggie.net
Days of the week closet organizer via Uncommon Designs
Chalkboard calender via Thistlewood Farms
Back to School: Dry erase clip boards via 36th AVENUE
Family command station via Sweetaprils.com
How to pack a school lunch printable via ask anna
Lunch packing station via how does she?
Homework station via Better Homes and Gardens
Homework supply caddy via Our Fifth House
School Binder with printables via Thirty Handmade Days
Mini homework station via House of Smiths

Do you have any tricks for staying organized during the school year?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


A genius way to display kids’ artwork

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

So with school starting up again, we’re faced with the never-ending dilemma. What on earth do we do with all the projects and papers they bring home?

How do you decide which of your kids’ projects to keep? I tend to favor the ones where I can see my kids’ creativity. Some projects come home and you can tell the teacher told them mostly what to do. But some really seem to show their uniqueness, so I try to keep those first and go from there.

We’ve got a few different ways we show off everyone’s artwork here, but this one just makes me happy. It’s easy. It’s cheap. You can change it up quickly and swap things out during the year if you want.

A genius way to display kids' artwork

 

Yes! You eat on it! Here’s how to do it without ruining everyone’s projects.

Supplies:

  • children’s artwork (if you have more than one child, make sure you have an equal number of everyone’s projects, or feature a different child each month)
  • tape
  • measuring tape
  • clear vinyl

Instructions:

Measure your table. Add 4 inches to each side, so your tablecloth has extra room. Take your measurements to any store that sells fabric. In with the bolts of fabric will be rolls of vinyl (people use it to cover chairs and furniture). Have the vinyl cut to your measurements and take it home with you. Mine was less than $5 — easiest tablecloth you’ll ever make!

A genius way to display kids' artwork

Back at home, lay your artwork out on the table, and tack it down here and there with some clear tape. When you’ve got the table covered, lay your vinyl tablecloth over the top.

A genius way to display kids' artwork

If it’s too long, trim the sides shorter at this point. That’s it!

You can wipe the vinyl down after meals and everything underneath will stay protected. If you want to change out the artwork, just remove the tablecloth and switch up the pictures. Your kids will get a kick of eating on their creations, and it could spark some fun dinner conversations about what they were learning or doing that day.

What do you do with your child’s artwork?

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Easy weeknight meal: Deep dish chicken noodle pasta

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

A really wonderful person made this for me when we moved recently and it was one of those gems I knew I wanted the recipe for. When she sent it to me and I realized it had cream of chicken AND cream of mushroom soup in it, I hesitated just a little to share it with you.

(When you’re a food blogger, nothing is more polarizing than using all the artificial ingredients in cream of chicken or cream of whatever soups. It drives people crazy.)

But I’m okay with using it every once in a while, and when it’s this good, I figured you might be too. If you’re not — hey, no worries.

Nothing about this dish tastes like it’s from a can, I promise. It’s once of those hearty, satisfying meals that you love to feed your family after a long day at school/work. It’s essentially chicken noodle soup in casserole form, so it pleases almost every palate. Creamy and hearty, this is a perfect dish to make on a weeknight or throw together on the weekend and then just come home from a busy day and BAKE!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

deep dish chicken noodle pasta 2_small

Deep Dish Chicken Noodle Pasta
2 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas and carrots
1 (10 oz.) package frozen corn
1 cup milk
1 (10 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 Tablespoon dried minced onion
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 or deep dish 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Boil egg noodles according to package directions. Drain water.

In a large bowl combine all remaining ingredients. Add cooked noodles to mixture. Gently stir to combine everything. Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil.

Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Chicken & rice soup

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

It may not seem like it while we’re still in the midst of the summer heat, but fall is right around the corner. Whenever it starts to get a little bit chilly I start to crave comfort food. Do you? There are many different chicken and rice soup recipes, but this one is definitely a keeper. We recently had a family night where we each brought a different soup to the gathering and I brought this one and everyone loved it so much. It’s a family favorite.

Chicken-Rice-Soup-recipe-NoBiggie.net_

One tip when making this soup is to use a rice cooker. The rice comes out perfect every single time. I can’t believe I lived without mine for so long!

I also love to use rotisserie chicken for this recipe too. Sometimes I’ll buy two rotisserie chickens and I’ll shred all the chicken at once and freeze most of it. It always comes in handy for recipes like this that call for shredded chicken.

Chicken-Rice-Soup-ingredients-NoBiggie.net_

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon chicken soup base
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded small
1 cup cooked rice
½ cup frozen peas
1 carrot, grated fine
6 cups water OR 6 cups chicken stock
¾ Tablespoon salt
1 pinch of pepper
¾ cup milk or cream

Directions:
1. Steam the rice (as directed on your rice steamer), shred the cooked chicken, peel the carrot and then grate the carrot.
2. In a large stock pot add the butter and flour and make a roux. Continue stirring the flour in the hot pan with the butter until the flour and butter creates a brown paste.
3. Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper and chicken soup base. Stir and cook for 30 minutes until well combined.
4. Add in the cooked shredded chicken, steamed rice, frozen peas and grated carrot. Finish by adding the cream or milk. Serve warm with hot breadsticks.

Chicken-Rice-Soup-NoBiggie.net-this-soup-is-total-comfort-food

You’ll have to try this recipe, your whole family will love it!

Do you have a favorite chicken soup recipe?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


The trick that will turn your toddler into a good eater

by

Sabrina Garibian

posted in Life & Home

Almost every mom I know wants her toddler to eat a balanced diet — but sometimes that goes against your toddler’s plans.

My first two children went through painful picky eating phases. But with my third, thanks to a combination of her personality and our experience, we’ve hit a home run. Valentina is 14 months old and she is just entering the toddler phase. When she’s hungry she makes her way over to her high chair and tries to climb in, clapping with delight every time I serve her lunch. She will eat anything we put in front of her. The trick?

Snack trays.

horizon dha milk

I never give Valentina one main meal for lunch. Instead, I serve her an assortment of healthy and delicious fresh foods, served like a tasting plate. I stick to the same basic formula — more on that below — and there are a few staples that almost always make an appearance on her snack tray.

For one, I love to include milk as her lunch beverage. We just recently made the switch to Horizon Organic milk plus DHA Omega-3, and I love knowing that Valentina is getting 32 mg of DHA Omega-3 per serving to support her developing brain. It’s such an easy way to increase Valentina’s DHA intake, and she loves the taste. When I pour milk in her cup she immediately squeals and reaches out to grab it.

I also like to include a rainbow of fruits and vegetables throughout the week. If I give Valentina lots of green foods one day like spinach, cucumber slices, and pears, I try to include different colors the next day.

Here’s my lunch snack tray formula:

Protein or fat: We choose one from this list for its staying power. Otherwise Valentina acts hungry soon after a meal.
Examples: Boiled egg, rotisserie chicken, avocado, cannellini beans

Vegetable: I try to serve at least four to five colors of vegetables and fruit a week. If she doesn’t like something the first time I offer it, I don’t give up. Instead, I serve the same food many different ways. For example, Valentina disliked cooked carrots at first. But one day I steamed carrots whole until they were extremely soft and served them to her that way. She loved them and continues to love them.
Examples: Raw sliced cucumber, cooked whole carrots, red pepper strips, tomatoes

Fruit: Fruit has been the easiest thing to get each of my toddlers to eat, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. So when I find myself serving the same few fruits over and over again I go to the market and pick something completely unexpected to try that week, like papaya or kiwi.
Examples: Cooked apple slices, tangerines, watermelon, blueberries, cut grapes

Crunch: I include something crunchy in each lunch just because it’s fun.
Examples: Pretzels, cheese crackers, graham crackers

Creamy: Sometimes I include this, sometimes I don’t. I like to include something creamy so Valentina gets used to different textures. And sometimes I just need one more tasty thing to fill the snack tray.
Examples: Cheese slices, yogurt, sliced avocado

Milk: I serve a sippy cup of milk with each lunch. A cup of milk rounds out Valentina’s lunch nicely, and she loves how it tastes.

Here are a few of Valentina’s favorite lunches:

1. The Orange Lunch Bunch

horizon organic milk plus dha omega-3

Buckwheat pancake with almond butter for dipping, cooked whole carrot, tangerines, cheese crackers, and milk.

2. The Circle Park Lunch

horizon dha milk

Sliced boiled egg, sliced mini cucumber, blueberries, pretzels, and a cup of milk.

3. The Greek Dinner Lunch

horizon dha milk

Sippy cup of milk, cubed rotisserie chicken, a few sliced olives, sliced rolled American cheese, sliced grape tomatoes, and yellow watermelon wedges

Making Valentina her snack trays are a win-win for us — she gets the nutrition she needs; I get to feel good about the foods she’s eating. Oh, and family meals are peaceful and pleasant when my toddler loves her meal. Make that a win-win-win.

This post is sponsored by Horizon Organic. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Takeout copycat: Chinese beef and broccoli

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

My kids started back to school this week and in the chaos of schedules and laundry and school supplies I found myself reaching for the takeout menu on Day 2.

Ugh. Already?

It’s so easy for us to order Chinese or Thai takeout because everybody likes it. And it’s so darn easy. But some weird voice in my head said I shouldn’t cave yet (it’s the same voice that tells me I shouldn’t eat three muffins for breakfast), and so, I listened. This time.

I wish I could say I had all the ingredients below just sitting in my fridge/pantry ready to go. Of course, I didn’t. But my hubby picked up a few things on his way home from work and I had this ready in time for a late dinner. It was refreshingly easy and really, really flavorful. I will definitely add it to our list of regulars.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

beef broccoli stir fry 2_small

Takeout Copycat: Chinese Beef and Broccoli
I added mushrooms and carrots to this because my kiddos like them. Feel free to take them out/substitute.

Marinade:
1/3 cup oyster sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

3/4 pound top sirloin, cut into 1/8-inch thick strips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed
1 thin slice of fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
Sliced carrots or mushrooms, if desired

Combine the oyster sauce, sesame oil, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place the steak pieces into a shallow bowl, pour the oyster sauce mixture over the meat, stir to coat well, and marinate for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator (up to overnight).

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and stir in the ginger and garlic. Let them sizzle in the hot oil for about 1 minute to flavor the oil, then remove and discard. Stir in the broccoli (and mushrooms or carrots if desired), and toss and stir in the hot oil until bright green and almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the broccoli from the wok, and set aside.

Pour a little more oil into the wok, if needed, and stir and toss the beef with the marinade until the sauce forms a glaze on the beef, and the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Return the cooked veggies to the wok, and stir until the meat and veggies are heated through, about 3 minutes.

Quinoa fritters

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

A lot of people have strong opinions about brown rice and quinoa. They can generally be used interchangeably, but have you ever compared the two nutritionally? They are so different. Its a little crazy. Just the protein in quinoa alone is reason to choose quinoa every time.

Quinoa-Fritters-so-good-so-easy-NoBiggie.net_

I love to make a big batch of quinoa just to have left overs to use the next day. A great way to use up leftover quinoa is to make quinoa fritters. Am I the only one that giggles every time I say the word “fritters”? – I feel like I need a Country Cousin accent or something :) Anyway, they really are good. Dip them in a homemade (soy free) mayo and they would make a great lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:
2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup of cooked quinoa (ours shown here had chicken and sautéed mushrooms)
3 medium eggs
1 medium carrot, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions:
1. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Saute’ the onion and celery in a pan with coconut oil until translucent. Add the shredded carrots. Once they are mostly all softened, move to a bowl to cool. Now mix the quinoa and all the ingredients into the egg mixture.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to a medium fry pan on moderate heat. Using a big spoon, scoop out the fritter mixture and place in the fry pan and flatten a little. Place as many as you want in the fry pan, trying not to over crowd. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until lightly golden and move to paper towels. Repeat until you use up all the fritter mixture. You may need to add more coconut oil in between batches.
3. Serve warm and dip in your favorite sauce, aioli or mayo

Quinoa-Fritters-recipe-NoBiggie.net_

Do you like quinoa? Have you ever made quinoa fritters before?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


3 tips for back to school photos and one thing I never do

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I love our “first day of school” pictures.

I love that they’re natural, and not too posed, and they show the kids’ real personalities. I used to order the actual school pictures every year, but the photographer who took them gave the kids so many instructions — “Look this way!”, “Not there, over here!”,”Don’t smile, it looks too fake!” — that by the time he snapped the pictures of them, they looked all:

Free first day of school printable and tips for taking pictures

So personally? I much prefer our own back-to-school pictures, taken in front of our own house or school. We’ve been taking them for ten years now, and I’ve collected a few tips over the years to make those pictures go a little smoother. (Also, read on for a free printable to use in your pictures!)Free first day of school printable and tips for taking pictures

Tips for taking first day of school pictures:

  1. Make sure to allow plenty of time. When I plan for our first day of school, I always forget to add in an extra 15 minutes or so for pictures. And the kids don’t take good pictures when I’m yelling at them to hurry up and sit still and just look at me once really quick. It gets especially tricky when you have more than one kid, so be sure to allow enough time to take some nice pictures without having to rush.
  2. Make sure you get candids. love the annual picture in front of our house. But don’t forget to take some as the kids get on the bus, or bike to school, or see their friends for the first time in a while. Those are all fun.
  3. Make sure you get in some. You don’t have to take one like this mom (though if you do, I totally want to see it!!), but make sure you’re in some of the pictures. We moms don’t get in nearly enough pictures, and these milestones are pretty special.

One word of warning, though — be careful of taking pictures with identifying things in the background. I’m leery of publicly posting where we live, or where my kids go to school, but it’s easy to forget that when I’m taking pictures. I try not to take any with our house address in them, or with our school name in them, because I like to share on social media and I don’t want that information out there.

And now — a free printable sign for your first day!

Free first day of school printable and tips for taking pictures

There are printable signs for every year from preschool-12th grade. You can click here for the printables

Good luck!

Do you have any tips for taking great back to school pictures?

Photos courtesy iStock and Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.