Monday, June 30, 2014

Cheesecake Shooters

An incredibly easy but super yummy no bake dessert that you can make fast. Fourth of July in just around the corner , I used strawberries and blueberries for the red , white and blue theme. You know what's also awesome about this super yummy treat is the homemade strawberry filling. Recipe is provided below too!

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**updated photos 7/28/2014 ( cherry cheesecake shooters below )

Ingredients:

12-15 crushed graham crackers
1 8 oz cream cheese ( if you want it thicker , add 1 more 8 oz package of cream cheese)
1/2 can of condensed milk ( if making it thicker , use whole can)
Strawberry Filling ( recipe below)
Frozen or fresh blueberries


Directions:

Using  a ziploc bag, crush your graham crackers. Crush and smash it like you mean it :)


In a medium size bowl , Using an electric mixer beat your cream cheese and condensed milk until fluffy.

Put the cream cheese mixture in your fridge for about 20 -30 minutes .


 Spoon your graham cracker crumbs onto the small cocktail glass or shot glass. Whatever
 you want to use. Ive used mason jars before, and they are gorgeous!


Using a Ziploc bag ( cut the corners but not so big) or a pastry/icing bag , pipe the cream cheese filling on top of the crumbs.


Top the cream cheese filling with the  ( cooled) HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY FILLING ( hang in there..recipe is provided below)


Top with fresh or frozen blueberries.


Now tell me thats not ridiculously easy..

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HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY FILLING

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Ingredients:

1 cup hulled strawberries, fresh or frozen

3/4 cups sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch


Directions:

Using a small heavy saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Stir it constantly..while slightly crushing the strawberries. Boil for about 2 minutes, it will be thick and chunky. 
Let it cool completely.

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** update **

Our friends recently visited us and I had little time to prepare a dessert. Luckily I have all the ingredients to make this yummy shooters but did a short cut version. Instead of using homemade strawberry filling, I used a canned cherry pie filling. It was awesome! Also, Instead of using 1 8 oz of cream cheese.. I used 2 (8 oz each)  cream cheese and use the whole can of condensed/ sweetened milk.

delish!

 A quick and easy dessert..


I even used mason jars..they're too cute !



Cheesecake in a jar? Yes please!!



Enjoy !!

I would love to connect with you! 


 Recipes on a Budget



 




Friday, June 27, 2014

Meatless Fridays: Spinach Lasagna

 A very easy and quick meatless meal to prepare. Though I do like that frozen package of lasagna that you can buy at the store ( starts with an Ssssss....) , this simple and tasty meal is much healthier. 



Ingredients:

9 lasagna noodles ( or more if you like )
1 9-10 oz package of chopped frozen spinach
1 15 oz cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Homemade spaghetti sauce or jarred sauce


Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain noodles.
Prepare you homemade or jarred pasta sauce. Set aside.
Drain thawed spinach and squeeze out excess water.
Mix spinach with cottage cheese and 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.



Start layering your pasta, sauce and spinach mixture starting with  a ladle full of sauce. Pour it on your baking dish , spread. Add a layer of noodles, about 3 noodles per layer followed by a layer of the spinach mixture.
Repeat the layering process finishing the top layer with the sauce .

Cover your baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 

Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.


Serve warm with your favorite bread. It is good by itself too!








 Enjoy and have a blessed weekend !



I would love to connect with you! 












 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How We Potty Trained Our Two year Old in 1 Week

  Do you get stressed when you think about potty training? Is there a difference between potty training girls from boys?

There was a sense of accomplishment when you had potty trained your child, however just a few things to remember: Potty training is not about who does it faster, sooner or better. A 2-year-old or younger kid may be ready for potty training or not ready at all.  They say it is faster and easier to potty train a girl than a boy.  You have to consider not just your kids' readiness BUT yours as well. Why? Because it takes consistency, patience, and dedication.  You may have the right tools for potty training, but there is no consistency, you will fail.

  There is an abundance of books on different ways on how you can potty train your kid. My only advise on that plethora of information is that you do what fits best for you and your child







UPDATE: SHE IS NOT WEARING PULL -UPS at night anymore. A couple of weeks prior to Lily's 3rd birthday, we noticed that her pull-ups are dry every morning..for consecutive days.  Every morning she wakes up, she goes directly to the bathroom.
 
   This potty training method worked for both of our two girls :
     
  • With Lucy when she was 2-years-old ( she is 4 yrs old now) - NOT a good talker at age 2.
     
  • With Lily at 2-yrs-old - a good talker and has good communication skills.
Since this post is about potty training, my apologies in advance if I can not sugar coat the terms: poop and pee.  I did try though..so here's a few terms :

Call of nature -- poop
Oopsies -- accidents, both poo, and pee.
Yay -- A successful potty trip
Number 1 - pee pee
Number 2 - poop

We started on a Monday but the day before.. we had our place ready. We have a fabric couch and cleaning it, scrubbing it is one thing that we do not want to deal with. We covered it with a huge trash bag ( cut in half to make it longer).  We then used a blanket on top of the plastic trash bag. A blanket that you really don't care about. We removed the carpet and play mat. Just bare floors. There will be accidents. Lots of them. Easy cleaning is one of the goals too.



We used :
  1. Potty Chair

2. "Gadgets"

This is to keep her from standing up while she's in the potty chair. It will occupy her mind. This can be books, coloring pages or singing with your toddler. Anything that you already have, you don't have to buy extra "gadgets". Just a variety, if your kids are like ours..they get excited when offered something new. Remember the goal is to potty train them, so reinforcement is okay in my opinion.


3. Timer




4. Stickers and books

Stickers for a reward, for a YAY ( see my not so hot terminology above) and Books. You don't have to buy one either, I'm sure your local library has a lot of books about potty.



We made a basket with : ( this was placed on the bathroom sink)

Stickers -- for rewards
Smart Pad -- or any tablet.. to make her sit down for a little longer in the potty chair.


 Lucy who is not a good talker yet at the age of 2 back then, we had to teach her how and what to say when she needs to go potty. A week prior to my potty training days with her, I would bring Lucy to the toilet with me and make her sit down to the potty chair. For some kids, this might be a little too much for them. So a smooth and slow introduction is good. With Lily, who has a very wide range of vocabulary, asking her to tell us when she's ready to go " wee- wee" was a breeze.

  On the first day..the morning they woke up. I stripped the diaper off and told them that today, we would say goodbye to their diapers. Explaining that they are big girls and big girls wear underpants or underwear.  I showed them their potty chair, and told them that is where they will go number 1 and 2.
After their morning milk, I set the TIMER for 15 minutes.  When the timer goes off, we go to the toilet and I tell them again..this is where we go "wee wee" or "pee". While sitting down, I told them that they will get a reward when they go potty in their potty chair. In our case, my girls love stickers! 

   I make them sit for about a minute or two. You can offer a gadget to make them sit still.  Now, don't expect that they will actually "go" right away. If they do not, don't be upset. When my girls did pee, I made a huge out of it. I clapped and told her that it was very awesome and offered the sticker reward.

Now set your timer again for another 15 minutes. Yes, every 15 minutes to start with. You will get a pretty good idea as to how often they actually can go. I eventually changed it to every 10 minutes..then every 20 minutes. Always remember CONSISTENCY, DEDICATION, AND PATIENCE.

1st-day naptime: I did put a diaper on her while she was napping but took it off as soon as she woke up. Why? Honestly, because I was already a little tired and don't want to change the bedsheets..eek!
1st-day bedtime: I moved her last milk of the day to an earlier time. Instead of 8pm, I gave it with her dinner. Before we tuck them in, we went to the potty to do business. We did use a diaper after that for the night.

Note  Expect  a lot of  oopsies or accidents. "Accidents" on both the pee and poop. Our kids had been on diaper for months and we certainly can not expect them to know the drill.

Second day I did the same thing. Stripped the diaper off, went to the potty right away. Give the morning milk and set the TIMER again. Only this time, our daughters know the "program" as they are already aware of the routine. Every time , the timer goes off, they reminded me that it is potty time. Expect less accidents. But still, always remember: CONSISTENCY , DEDICATION AND PATIENCE.

2nd day naptime : I still did put a diaper on her while she was napping and took it off as soon as they woke up.
2nd day bedtime : I still moved her last milk of the day to an earlier time. Before going to bed, we went to the potty to do business. We did use a diaper after that for the night.

Note : There are  still accidents but a lot less. Even though I still have to remind her or ask her about going to the potty, I just kept at it.  They will get it. Consistency. As for the poop part, this time when she did an oopsie/accident, I told her ( with a gesture) that she needs to poo in her potty chair and not her underpants. I reminded her all through out the day. Yes, I sounded like a broken record but I kept my eye on the prize.

Third day: Started the same way as the first and second day. She knew what to expect and as soon as I took the diaper off and went to her potty chair, she did successfully pee without coaching! I stopped using the timer. I just reminded her over and over again: To tell mommy if she needs to use the potty. When I was potty training Lucy (who again at 2 was not a huge talker yet) , even though her words are limited, she can tell me " mama wee..wee" or can answer me a yes or no. As with Lily, she can communicate her need to go restroom fine!

3rd day naptime : I still did put a diaper on her while they napped and took it off as soon as she woke up and resume the training :)
3rd day bedtime : She is still drinking her last milk of the day in an earlier time. Before going to bed, we went to the potty to do business. We did use a diaper after that for the night.

Note: Since I was already having a cabin fever by the third day, we all braved heading out to take a breather. I did put on a diaper on her BUT reminded her to tell momma when she needs to go. We took her to  public restroom so she could get use to it. It was also helpful that they are both able to poop before we head-out.




Fourth and Fifth Day: This is the magical day from day 1 where she had 6 accidents and only 2 successful use of the potty chair. You will notice how the accidents declined quite a bit. I logged her "OOPSIES and YAYS" / "accidents and wins". You don't have to do this but I wanted a written account if we were really getting somewhere. Consistency, patience and dedication paid off because not only that she had more successful potty trips. She does tell us when she needs to go. And this was the same with Lucy.

naptimes : I didn't use a diaper this time. I did used a thick towel underneath her, just in case.

bedtime : She is still drinking her last milk of the day in an earlier time. Before going to bed, we went to the potty to do business. We did use a diaper after that for the night.

Sixth and Seventh Day: At this time , my husband and I were totally proud of them. Trust me, consistency is the key.  Both of them had better bladder control during the day.  They were able to hold  more volume of  pee before feeling the need to release it. At this time they were more aware of when they had to go.

naptimes : I  didn't use a diaper and still use a thick towel underneath her, just in case.

bedtime : Same routine and used the pull-ups instead.

Note:  Even though we still buy a pack of diapers for night time, it still has saved us money! One diaper per day/night as compare to 4-6 diapers a day..what a deal :)

According to a leading pediatrician William Sears M.D., children ages between 18-24 months  will  first master nighttime bowel control, then daytime bowel control, followed by daytime bladder control. Nighttime bladder control is the last:  -- this is why we decided not to push the potty training during the night. 

Night time bladder control may take weeks , months , even years to master.  ( See : Reference on night time bladder control )

As with Lucy, even if she was potty trained during the day , her night time bladder control was gained before she turned 3. She is now four-years-old bed and have no bed-wetting accidents.

Lily is potty trained ( hip hip hooray!) and we will trust own body schedule as to when she is ready to be free of diapers at night. Which is not a big deal, potty training her during the day is our goal and that alone deserves a happy dance.

P.S :  What happens if you do not have time to do the 1 week potty training? If you work full time,  We think that 2 consistent and dedicated time is still the key. Start on a Saturday and if you can dedicate your time on just staying at home for 2 days..do so. Again, this may not work for everybody but it did for us.

There will be days when your toddler seems to be pre occupied with playing and you will experience set backs..that's OK .  Just keep at it. A loving reminder of  "it's time to go potty" is good.




http://www.abountifullove.com/2014/08/how-to-teach-kids-to-dressed-by.html


http://www.abountifullove.com/2014/08/skills-your-preschooler-needs-to-know.html





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homemade Pizza Dough ( Easiest and Freezer Friendly )

Our girls enjoys making their own pizza. Even though it can get really messy in our tiny kitchen , it is still worth it..they take pride on their finished product. I love and cherish these moment with them. They are very eager to help and learn! I love their smile and their " Mom , Dad.. looook at what I made " face. All the flour on their faces, floor , clothing.. okay they are everywhere..totally worth it!

This simple, easy freezer friendly pizza dough can be stored for up to 4 weeks. If you prefer to bake it right away, that is OK too! Just roll out ( onto your greased pizza pan) your kneaded dough and add the sauce , toppings you love and bake as directed.






 

Ingredients:

5 cups All purpose flour ( or whole wheat)
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup or less flour for kneading.
Homemade Pizza Sauce -- recipe provided below. ( or a jar of store bought is perfect too)


Directions:

Pour warm water into a medium or large size bowl . Add the yeast and stir to dissolve.
Mix in all the remaining ingredients - flour , salt, sugar and oil.

When all the ingredients are incorporated. Put your dough in a floured surface. Knead it for 2-5 minutes until it is no longer sticky.


If you want to freeze your dough , divide your dough into two parts and place each dough in a separate freezer bag. Make sure you seal it really good.


This dough can be stored for about 4 weeks. When your ready to bake it,  Put your frozen dough in the greased ( with olive oil) bowl and thaw it ( room temperature) for 3-4 hrs. Mine took about 3 hrs to thaw. Not a big deal, since I was serving it for dinner ..it gave me lots of time to do some activities with the girls.


Prepare your Homemade Pizza Sauce ( recipe below) or use store bought pizza sauce.

Have all your toppings ready.. we like pepperoni pizza. 
You can use a whole lot of pizza toppings : pineapple , sausages, vegetables , Canadian bacon..Be creative!


When the dough is ready, Roll it out on a floured surface.


(or you can also roll it out in the greased pizza pan.)

Bake at ( preheated) 500 deg for 8-10 minutes.


Enjoy!


HOMEMADE PIZZA SAUCE


Ingredients:

2 cans ( 15 oz) tomato sauce
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp olive oil

Whisk the tomato sauce with all the ingredients in a medium size saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes.






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