Caramel Banana Pancakes

Let me just start off by saying that I am not a morning person. My husband can just pop right out of bed (no coffee mind you) bright eyed and ready to take on the day. Me, I take a little coaxing. So for me to get up and make a huge breakfast is somewhat of a rare occasion and I usually have to be awake for a good hour or so before I am actually functioning enough to cook.On a normal days eggs and toast are good enough for me! But on special occasions, like the last time I had family in town or on my kids birthdays, I will make something special and in my opinion pancakes are always a good choice. These pancakes in particular are like having dessert for breakfast. Who doesn’t want that??

Whether you use a boxed dry mix or make it from scratch is completely up to you! Making your own is definitely better but if you want an amazing mix, Bobs Red Mill is our favorite. But any boxed will work just fine.

If you are looking for a great recipe, follow this Pioneer Woman recipe for perfect pancakes. I spent years looking for a great basic pancake mix recipe and hers is by far my favorite.

Now once you have your choice of dry mix, you can move on to creating this  masterpiece!!

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake mix prepared – according to instructions. (I always add vanilla extract to my mix if Im not making from scratch)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 banana in 1/2 inch slices

Butter for cooking

optional* chocolate chips if you are feeling extra sweet 😉

Caramel sauce:

1/4 cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter

4 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla almond milk or heavy cream

Instructions:

Start by Preparing you caramel sauce. With the burner on medium heat, melt your butter. Once the butter in melted, add your brown sugar.

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Whisk until incorporated. Your sauce will start to slowly bubble, lower your heat at this point and then add about a tablespoon of vanilla almond milk. You could also use regular heavy cream but I was once out and used what I had in my refrigerator. The flavor was so delicious that I have stuck with it.

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Whisk to combine and then add your banana slices. Allow those to simmer in the sauce until the bananas are soft. Keep on a very low heat  while you make your pancakes.

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While your bananas are getting soft, prepare your pancakes. Start by melting a tablespoon of butter in a pan. Now the trick to an amazing pancake is allowing that butter to get nice and golden brown before adding your mix. This will give you that perfect crispy ring around the edge of your pancake that, in my opinion, is the best part! If you are going to add chocolate chips, now is the time to do it!!

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See that brown ring?? yeah its magical!!

Add another tbsp of butter for every new pancake you make.

To serve, top with that delicious caramel sauce and bananas, some extra chocolate chips and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

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If this doesn’t cure your sweet tooth and make you a super hero to your children… well I don’t know what will.

Enjoy!!

For the love of Halloween

I am sure I don’t have to tell you how much I love Halloween because Im sure everyone is sick of hearing it. Ive always been really into makeup and creating characters and the darker more “creepy” side of things  so obviously a holiday that celebrates all of that makes me very happy.

My love for this holiday grew of course when I attended makeup school years ago. I was really able to create anything I wanted and it provided me with the giant makeup kit to do so . Thankfully my husband is equally into creating and becoming characters and my children are extremely tolerant (for the most part) of me wanting to test ideas on them.

This post has no set topic. Just a quick little post of all of the things that make me happy this time of year. Unfortunately I didn’t get to create the indoor decoration set up that I had planned but I do have some fun DIY outdoor decorations to show you and maybe we will take a glimpse into some costumes of Halloweens past!!

Our decorations are a combination of DIY and store bought items.

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Halloween Wreath

This wreath is made of items from hobby lobby. I bought a regular green christmas wreath and spray painted it black. It took a few coats to cover the entire thing. Once it was dry, I added this black bird burlap ribbon and then I found this cute wall hanging that says “spooky” and I attached it with wire to hang in the center. This wreath also had some black birds attached with that same craft wire but Im pretty sure my toddler stole them :/

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Hanging Skeleton

This guy is just your average hanging skeleton that we purchased I believe from Spirit Halloween. We love him although his shadow tricks us every now and then and we think someone is on our front porch.

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Horror Sign

This is probably my favorite decoratation of all. My husband and I worked on this together which only adds to its charm lol. Ive seen these sold in store but I wanted ours to look more authentic and I wanted to be able to customize the wording on each sign. So I had my husband cut some barn wood pieces into varying shapes. From there I chose the writing and colors I wanted to use and we painted away. We used acrylic paint and then sanded over each sign with sand paper to remove some of the color and give it an aged and distressed look.

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Grave Yard

This little grave yard is my favorite set up and background for halloween photos. I had previously used the foam ones that you can find at the store but those never held up and always broke so we made our own out of wood. The tombstones were all made by my husband and we let our oldest son choose the wording and he also helped paint them. We used the same technique as we did on the sign above. We used a stone grey acrylic paint all over, obviously black for the words and we used the black to deepen the natural cracks in the wood. When that was all dry we hit it with sand paper. My husband just attached wooden stakes to the back with wood glue and hammered them into the ground! The skull and bones I found at target.

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Bench Decor

For the bench on our front porch I just added this cool pillow that I found at target in the dollar section!!! It was only $3. I couldn’t find it online to link for you 🙁 I also layed this gauze fabric over the side to resemble creepy graveyard fog!

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My husband did make me a few of these awesome wooden bats that I have placed around my house. He drew free hand onto a 1/2 inch thick pine wood. He used a band saw to cut them out. If you don’t have one you can find a jigsaw for pretty cheap. I created this little mini display on a shelf behind my couch. The Raven picture also came from target for $3 and the book I bought at Barnes and Noble not specifically for halloween but I am actually collecting all of their classic books. The little doll came from Savers Thrift store.

Now just for fun here are some pictures of our costumes from years past.

2011 Darth Maul

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2012 we were fresh on that Walking Dead craze!!

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2014

Wednesday Addams, The Joker, baby Jack Skellington and The best Jack Sparrow!

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2015

Mad hatter, Chucky, The headless Horseman and Moses

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2016 To Be continued…

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Happy Halloween!!

Kalamata Olive Aioli

I feel that I should warn you that this dip has caused many addictions. Just ask my family!! In Fact, as I sit writing this, my father in law is sitting next to me devouring the one you see in this post lol. He just happened to stop by the second I finished. It must have called him to our front door.  It is so good that its  hard not to eat it with a spoon straight out of the bowl.I am a lover of any sauce, dip or dressing. I think I actually enjoy them more than any meal. I just care what kind of sauce it comes with lol

I had an olive aioli as an appetizer once at a restaurant and had to go home and figure out how to make it myself. That was quite a few years ago and I’ve been making it ever since. I think this is my most requested dish for family get togethers and holidays. And it is always the first thing to go,  leaving the children wiping the bowl clean with their little fingers.

Since I made such a small batch for this recipe I used my little 1 1/2 cup mini food processor . If you are making any more than this, I would suggest a regular food processor or an emulsion blender.

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives

1 cup mayo (or your favorite mayo sub)

4-5 Basil leaves

1/2 a lemon

pepper ( I do not salt this because the olives are so salty on their own)

Optional* 1 clove of garlic minced

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I start by putting just the olives into the food processor. I pulse these first before adding the other ingredients. 1. to get them started and 2.to make room in my mini machine for everything else

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Then add lemon juice, basil, pepper and mayo (and garlic if using)

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I pulse a few times to ensure that everything is combined before holding  it on and letting it mix for a minute or so. Th texture is up to you. I leave it pretty chunky.

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I usually serve with toasted baguette with some more fresh ground pepper on top but this is also delicious as a sandwich spread, veggie dip, on a  greek style burger,or served with fries. The possibilities are endless!

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I apologize in advance for any addiction you may develop after consuming. ENJOY!!!

 

 

 

Small Shop Sundays: Apple Jax

A bib or scarf for any occasion!

Everyday

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Game Day

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Halloween (my personal favorite)

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Disney fun

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It brings me great joy to write this weeks post. Not only do I love the product from this line but the mom boss who runs it happens to be one of the coolest women I know! I have become a bit obsessed with accessorizing my children but I can’t help myself. Especially since this particular product is multi purpose. They aren’t just cute but they also save my children’s clothes from excessive amounts of drool and food!! How horrible would it be to have a soaked shirt all the time?? And I was never a huge fan of the traditional bib. I didn’t use them on my first son because they were just always so bulky. The bibdana is such a great alternative. I am a big fan and this brand is my favorite by far!!

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The Shop: Apple Jax

Apple Jax is a line of hand made minky dot bibdanas and infant toddler snap scarves. They are so adorable, affordable and are the perfect addition to any outfit. They come in a multitude of patterns for any occasion. Now that my little guy is teething and also eating food, I put one on him every day. The minky dot fabric on the back of the bibs makes them really comfortable for babies neck. These are also made to fit perfectly. I had tried many before these and they were either too big or too small. These are just right and somehow still manage to look good on both my infant and my toddler. This woman works magic.  They wash well, stains come right out, the fabric doesn’t fade and the minky stays super soft. The scarves are perfect as well for both infant or toddler. My 3 year old wears them no problem. He usually isn’t a huge fan of accessories but the scarf has a loose fit so once I put it on him, he really doesn’t even notice that he’s wearing it and now that its getting colder here in Utah, I feel like they will serve the purpose of keeping my babes warm.

The Creator: Brittnie 

Brittnie’s story is definitely an inspiring one. She knew what she wanted and is making it happen. All for the love of her little boy. At one time she was told that she would not be able to have children and as any woman who wants kids can understand, that was deviating to hear. You can imagine her surprise and excitement when she found out that she was in fact pregnant. From that moment she knew that she wanted to be able to stay home with her baby and give him all of the attention he needed. Thus began the creative thought process behind Apple jax. Brittnie is naturally crafty so while pregnant the concept was establish and in July of 2015 the business was opened. This talented lady has dabbled in making pretty much everything but the bibs are her main focus and with how quickly her popularity grew, they keep her pretty busy!! She is able to work from home here in Utah, run her business and spend time with her beautiful baby boy!

contact and where to buy:

Brittnie is currently running RTS (ready to ship) sales on her Instagram account. Follow ShopAppleJax on  Instagram  or Facebook for up to date information, products and sales. You can also message her on either account with any questions.

 

Slow Cooker Chili

There are few things better than a bowl of chili on a cool Fall day. (Especially if its Sunday and you are watching football!) This recipe is amazing. In fact, my oldest son told  me that I should call this “Mouth Watering Chili.”  It is super easy to make as long as you have the right ingredients and in a slow cooker, you get to throw it all together and forget about it! The flavors simmer and come together all on their own. Its a magical thing! Everyone has their own preference as to how hot they want their chili but here is how I make mine.

Prep time: 30 min   Cook time: 4-8 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of Ground Meat (we used half beef half bison but turkey or all beef would also be fine.)
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 jalapeños diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1-2 bell peppers diced (green, red, or you can use both)
  • **1/2 cup water if needed

spices:

  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • a good amount of salt and pepper

 canned goods:

  • 2 cans of beans:Do not drain (we used 1 can of an organic trip blend and 1 can of organic pinto)
  • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1  6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can of fire roasted corn

In a large pan, brown your meat. Once its no longer pink, drain the fat and set aside.

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while the meat is cooking you can dice your veggies!

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In the same pan you cooked your meat in (don’t wash it in between. You want that flavor!) cook all of your fresh veggies (onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño) until soft and the onions are translucent.

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Put the meat, veggies, and beans into the slow cooker. We did not drain the beans. Put them in liquid and all.

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add your seasonings (I like to coat everything in the spices before adding the liquids but thats probably me just being weird. I am sure everything would be just fine if you threw it all in together)

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add your canned goods, brown sugar and lots of salt and pepper!

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Stir until its all combined. Add a 1/2 cup of water for a bit more moisture.

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Cook on low for 3-4 hours or longer if you have the time.

(We’ve left it over night before and we’ve also eaten it after just an hour 😉 but it is definitely better the longer you can control the urge to devour it. )

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Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese!!!!!

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Seasonal Mood Swings: Theres Something About Fall

 

A series of recent, not so pleasant events, got me thinking. My moods have patterns. Not sure what prompted me to try and figure out this pattern but when I did I realized that there definitely is one. What I had always attributed to just random events actually isn’t random at all. These patterns mimic the change in seasons. Do I sound insane? At first, I thought so. I figured I had finally lost it. I had stooped to blaming the seasons for my roller coaster mood swings.

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In looking back at this year I noticed that once those summer months approached my life went into a giant tail spin. I did give birth to my third child which of course was amazing but that was followed by a series of crappy things that I felt unable to deal with which is unlike me because I am normally pretty resilient and try to take things head on and fight. During this time, I didn’t want to fight. I wanted to curl up in my bed and ignore everything and everyone. Turns out avoiding things just causes more problems! 😉 Things happen and thats just life but how we deal with life’s struggles, I feel, plays a huge part in the outcome. It seems to me that my ability to take on challenges and appropriately handle situations greatly decreases during the summer. I don’t know as I would go as far as to call it depression, but maybe a bit.

I had to research. I wanted to know if other people felt this way or if it was just me. Turns out its a real thing! The name for this change in mood is called Seasonal Affective Depression or S.A.D. I had heard of seasonal depression before but what was  funny to me was that all of the articles I read talked about the “winter blues.” That most people are happy during the summer when the sun is shining, days are long and temperatures are warmer. They say that this depression or change in mood starts in the Fall and continues into the Winter months and much less often does this occur in the Spring and Summer. Hmmmm well its not uncommon for me to be a part of the weird, backwards group of people.

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For me its the exact opposite. In the summer I tend to feel sluggish, moody, uninspired and less likely to want to get up and go!! There comes a time, usually around mid September (possibly because thats around my birthday) when I start to feel….uplifted. The air is crisp and cool and as cheesy as it may sound, I feel more alive. I feel awake and want to go outside and explore and take my kids on these fun adventures. I feel happy and things don’t bother me as much. My ability to deal with problems and function like a normal human being returns. I cook more, I argue less. I get this excited feeling in the pit of my stomach as the leaves change and people start to put out their fall decorations.

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Ive always preferred boots, sweaters knit socks and hats to sandals and tank tops!

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Activities seem to be more enjoyable. We hike more, camp, play outside and explore.( And of course theres Halloween which brings a whole new level of excitement )

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and I especially love getting my babes all bundled and seeing their little red noses and cheeks

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I could go on and on about all of the many reason why I love fall/winter but Ill stop myself here. I just felt compelled to write on this topic because I am so curious to know if others experience this. Maybe you have been looking for an answer or feel a little crazy at certain times during the year. Well I am here to tell you that you aren’t the only one!

Hopefully now that I am more aware that this isn’t just completely random and I do have a harder time in the summer, I can try to prepare for it. Not sure what that entails but I guess I have a few months to try and figure out a solution! Like I said, I know that things happen,good and bad, all year long. Im not blaming the seasons for the events that take place but our ability to handle these things is so important. Lets pray that I can up my summer coping skills for everyones sake haha!! But for now I am totally going to enjoy how amazing I feel in this moment.

Sweet Potato Wedges

Perfectly sweet and salty! A great alternative to french fries. Great as a side dish or as a snack. My kids love them!!

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

3-4 tbsp honey

fresh rosemary (optional)

Italian seasoning

Grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450

whisk olive oil, vinegar,honey, herbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl

Cut your sweet potato into wedges.

Toss wedges in the oil and vinegar mixture

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Lay on a baking sheet

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Bake for about 30 mins depending on how strong your oven is and how crispy you want your wedges. My oven tends to be on the weaker side so I just kept checking until I was satisfied.

Remove from the oven and toss with parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper. Because of the honey, they should have a sticky layer on the outside when they first come out of the oven so the parm sticks perfectly!!

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