Creamy Broccoli and Sun Dried Tomato Fusilli

I have really come to look forward to the nicknames my kids come up with for meals in our house. Do anyone else’s kids do that? My boys will name dishes based on varying characteristics and it sticks and thats what the dish is called from then on. This particular dish has been renamed “Christmas pasta” for obvious reasons. It is made up of red, green and white ingredients. Then theres the fact that my kids call broccoli “trees” and I guess grated parmesan looks like snow. So with that being said I figured what better time to post a recipe for Christmas Pasta than right now!

This recipe is based off of a pasta dish from one of my favorite restaurants in California. I would order this dish almost every time we were there. I think the first time I ordered it, I was in high school. Once I started cooking I had to figure out how to make it myself. I decided to make a few changes. Theirs did not have a sauce. They simply tossed everything in olive oil which is also delicious but I am a sucker for cheesy sauce on pasta. So I took the fresh ingredients they used and added my own rich and creamy sauce. I think its a winning combination.

**You can make this a vegetarian dish by leaving out the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Ingredients:

1 box of fusilli pasta (rotini would also work)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup of broccoli florets

1/2-1 cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped (I love them so I like a lot! but they are potent so use as little or as much as you like)

Salt, Pepper and Italian Seasoning

Sauce:

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

3 cups of chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions: (If using chicken, make your sauce in the same pan that you cook the chicken in!!! If not then skip straight to making a roux! )

Get the water boiling for your pasta that way its ready by the time you are done prepping everything else. In a smaller pot, boil water to blanche the broccoli. You dont need to cook it too long. Just long enough to become tender but not mushy!!! Just around 8 minutes should be enough. Drain and then place in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

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Sautee’ your chicken in your cooking oil of choice. I used olive oil for this recipe. I usually use coconut oil but ran out!!! Season with salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning.  Make sure not to over cook your chicken since it will continue cooking a bit in the sauce. Cook until just golden brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside. Then set it aside to rest before cutting it into cubes.

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Lower the heat and add butter to that same pan you cooked the chicken in. Let the butter melt, add flour and whisk to make a roux. Let that cook for a minute or so.

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Add the chicken (or veggie) broth. Let that simmer until thick.

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Add cream!!

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Whisk until incorporated. Then add the cheese…

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Whisk until everything is combined. If you feel like your sauce is too thick at this point you can always add more broth if you have some left over or some milk.

Chop up your sun dried tomatoes and toss them in along with your chicken.

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Let that simmer for a few minutes to allow the tomatoes to soften a bit. Then add the broccoli and the pasta.

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Top with pepper and more grated parm to add to that “snow” effect!

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Happy Holidays!!

XO,

Brittany

 

Magical First Snow

Ive recently hopped on the Gilmore Girls wagon and all of this talk of snow being magical has come at the perfect time. We just got our first big snow of the season and that magic and excitement took over my  house. We woke a few mornings ago to our entire neighborhood and backyard completely blanketed in the most beautiful and brightest white you could imagine

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We all gathered on our couch to look out and watch the snow fall. The kids were so excited and the baby was just instantly mesmerized. He sat and watched completely spellbound for longer than I have ever seen him sit in one place.

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We turned on the heater, lit candles and well… my coffee tasted better on this particular morning.

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The kids were so anxious to get outside and play and with my toddler being insistent on dressing himself these days he took on the challenge of putting on his snow clothes which ended up being a bit small. That didn’t phase him at all.

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Luckily the next day we received a package from grandma and grandpa with all new snow clothes and the kids did not hesitate to put them on and run out into the yard. This was the babies first snow suit and I probably laughed for a good 20 minutes after putting it on him. He could barely move and would just roll over to one side.

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But he was just happy to finally be able to get in the snow with his brothers instead of watching from the side lines. My toddler refers to icicles as “ice carrots” and kindly shared them with his brothers.  Watching kids experience things like this for the first time has to be one of my favorite things about being a parent.

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My kids are outdoor boys especially when it snows so they ended up being outside for hours. Then some friend of our invited us to take the kids sledding. This was probably the most fun my kids have had in a long time. They were frozen solid by the end but their smiles were priceless.

I have recently been asked how I dress my babies for the snow. I will put a thinner one piece pajama underneath whatever snow suit or fluffy one piece they are wearing. My babies tend to get hot quickly so any more layers than that and they would be too hot. I will also put a warm hat or beanie on them that covers their ears and mittens or gloves if the outfit they have on doesn’t have them built in. If I know I am going be outside for a long period of time I will bring my baby wrap and a warm blanket to wrap around . Being wrapped tightly against mom or dad is like a furnace!! In the summer I couldn’t wrap the baby unless he was just in a diaper because we would both get too warm so its perfect for cold weather. For my older boys I make sure they have on thick socks and snow boots of course!

* The red snow suit pictured above covers the babies hands perfectly so that he can play in the snow without his hands getting cold. Snow suit and my toddlers grey jacket and pants are from Old Navy! (thanks granmda and grandpa!)

I 100% agree with Mrs. Lorelai Gilmore “Everything is magical when it snows. Everything looks pretty”

XO

Brittany

 

Holiday Marshmallow Pops

When we first moved from LA to Utah I was overwhelmed by how friendly our neighbors were! Not in a bad way but it just wasn’t something we were used to. I don’t think we knew a single neighbor in Los Angeles. Once the holidays rolled around we started getting knocks on our door from sweet neighbors bringing treats and small gifts. I quickly realized that I needed to embrace this act of kindness and share in the holiday spirit. Although it wasn’t what I was used to, It was definitely a refreshing change.

I quickly took to baking cookies and wrapping them in cute little holiday boxes. Last year I made Toffee bars. This year I wanted to do something a bit different and something that my kids could help with and also really enjoy eating. I decided on marshmallow pops. They are easy to make and easy to package. You can also use whichever toppings you want. I chose just 2 topping this year to keep it simple as this is my first holiday season with 3 kids and my time in the kitchen is limited! I went with crushed peppermint candy and ginger snaps.  these 2 things paired with white chocolate mmmm magical.

what you will need: Amount needed obviously will depend on how many you need to make.

lollipop sticks (I had bamboo skewers so I cut them in half but they do sell lollipop sticks at Michaels or any craft store)

Marshmallows

Melting Chocolate

Peppermint Candy (my kids crushed mine but they do see them pre crushed in stores)

Ginger Snaps

**and any other candy or topping you might want to use. Nuts work well. Shaved coconut would also be really good paired with milk chocolate. Ive also used toffee bits which are my fave!!!

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Start by melting your chocolate. I used a double boiler. You can also just heat it in the microwave. Ive definitely done that before but I like the double boiler better as it is easier to regulate the temp and it keeps the chocolate from cooling and hardening before you are done.

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Once completely melted you can start to assemble the pops. I coat the end of the stick before placing the marshmallow on top. I feel like since the chocolate hardens, it secures the marshmallow and prevents it from sliding off.

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allow that to sit for a second and then start the coating process!

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Twirl the marshmallow in the chocolate to get an even coat and then do the same in your candy/cookie toppings!! Set them aside to cool before eating or packaging if you are giving these as gifts. You can find little pop bags and ties at any craft store.

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Happy Holidays!!

Xo, Brittany

Thanksgiving Shepherds Pie

We love Thanksgiving and we look forward to the amazing food that we get to share but we are usually left with a ton of leftovers that take over our entire refrigerator. Usually we make those delicious Thanksgiving sandwiches for days after which  while tasting great, doesn’t really help with the amount of space those leftover containers take up. So this year I wanted try something new. Something that would consolidate everything into one dish.

Shepherds Pie is something that we eat often in our house. I ate it as a child and I love making it for my family. I usually make it with ground beef or sometimes group turkey, a veggie (my family likes corn or peas) and mashed potatoes. I figured why not swap out the ground beef for the leftover turkey and then just top it with the rest of the leftovers. You can literally put almost anything in this dish and its going to taste amazing. Here is how I made ours.

Ingredients: 

Turkey

gravy

any leftover veggies. I had green bean casserole so I used that.

mashed potatoes

Instructions:

Layer!!! Start with your turkey. Then add a layer of gravy to prevent the turkey from drying out in the reheating process.

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Add a layer of veggies. I used leftover green bean casserole but you can use anything. If you made carrots, peas or roasted veggies. Pretty much anything would work.

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Then top with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.

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Add salt and pepper and you can add shredded cheese to the top if you want. That will just get nice and brown and add a crispy layer to the top.

This doesn’t have to be baked right away. You can assemble it and refrigerate. Just bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes when you are ready to serve it. I also set mine under the broiler for a few minutes  to brown the top

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serve with cranberry sauce for the full Thanksgiving experience!!

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I had some turkey left after making this dish so here is another option:

We have these mini loaf pans so I made cute little personalized pies. These are great to just quickly pop in the oven. I followed the sam process of layering turkey, gravy,  veggies and then mashed. With these I used peas.

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These do not need to bake as long. 10 Minutes in a 350 degree oven is perfect. Then brown the top!

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HappyHolidays!!!! xo

Where do I shop for my kids?

I often get asked where I buy my kids clothes. The answer is I have a few  favorite stores and they are different for each child. I also try to mix store bought items with original items from small shops that I find online.

For my toddler I have to say that probably 70% of his clothes come from Crazy 8.  They have great sales and I always find what I’m looking for. When he was about a year old, I bought him a pair of their “rocker jeans” The fit was amazing and I have been re purchasing these jeans ever since. As soon as he out grows one pair, I am right back at the store buying him a replacement. They also come in different colors so I usually get one dark denim pair and then one in a fun color like the red pants I have pictured below.

I also love this store because I can shop for all 3 of my children here. There sizing starts at 6mo and runs all the way up to a size 14!! Meaning I can shop baby. toddler and pre teen all in one trip. My toddler definitely has the most items from this store but I’m sure my littlest baby, now that he is 8  months, is soon to follow in his brothers footsteps.

(click any of the banners or links below to shop their current sales) 

In the picture below, all items are from crazy 8. The thermal, the rocker jeans and the striped cardigan. I got the thermal on sale for $5!!

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Here are those red “Rocker Jeans” all jeans are On sale now for $8.88 (shirt not from old navy)

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Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

These adorable white “terry joggers” are our favortie!! Currently only $7.73

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They have great sales going on right now so head over to their website to check it out.

www.crazy8.com

Green Bean Casserole

I think I was raised on the green bean casserole that we all know and love. But let me tell you that once I made it from scratch, I will never eat it another way again. It really is so easy and so worth it. There are a few dishes that scream Thanksgiving to me and this is one of them. I can’t really imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without it! Plus no matter how you make it, the flavors still give you that nostalgic feeling that only  the Holidays can give. Here is what you need:

Ingredients:

Apporx. 4 cups of green beans (trimmed and cut in half)

1/2 white onion (diced)

2 cups mushrooms (sliced)

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

4 cups broth/stock  (veggie or mushroom if you have)

1 block of cream cheese (softened)

A cup of fried onions (pre packaged or you can use the remaining half of your onion and fry your own)

Instructions:

First pre heat  your oven to 350

Then prepare your veggies.

Trim the ends off of your green bean and cut them into equal halves. Also chop your onions and slice your mushrooms if you didn’t buy them that way.  Also start boiling water for your green beans. Now you can start cooking.

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Melt  butter in a large pan. Add your onions and mushrooms and sauté on med/high until mushrooms are tender and onions are translucent.

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Lower your heat and sprinkle in your flour. Stir to coat.

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Add your broth and whisk to incorporate all of that flour and to get all of the bits of flavor off  the bottom of the pan.

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Allow that  to simmer and thicken. This should take about 20min.

While that simmers, boil your green beans. Not too long! Keep checking them to make sure they do not get too soft but also aren’t too hard. Ours took about 10 min. Once they are done remove them immediately and put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and keeps them that pretty bright green color .

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Once your space has thickened and is nice gravy like consistency, add that block of cream cheese. Allow this to heat up and melt then whisk until smooth. Their may be chunks at first. Just keep whisking. It will become a smooth and creamy texture I promise! If your sauce ends up too thick, which it shouldn’t but hey things happen, so if it does just add some cream or milk. Then add lots of pepper!!

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Place your green beans into a baking dish a pour in that delicious mushroom gravy soup mixture. Top it all with those fried onions.

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Bake in the oven for approx 25 Minutes until bubbling and the onions are crispy and golden brown on top.

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Happy Holidays!!

 

 

Freshly Picked: The Must Have Children’s Shoe

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There is something very special about a babies first pair of shoes. Its seems to come up so quickly. They are wearing cute little fluffy socks and before you now it they are starting to crawl and walking around in their walkers needing protection for their little toes. I always have a hard time getting rid of my children’s first pair even long past them being too small. I am sure I am not the only parent who is a little picky when it comes to buying my kids shoes. Whether they are a babies first pair, for an early walker or for your toddler. kids shoes need to have certain qualities.

  1. They need to be comfortable
  2. They need to be easy to put on
  3. They have to be functional
  4. They need to hold up to everyday wear and tear
  5. and of course they absolutely have to be CUTE!

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Well Freshly Picked moccasins are all of those thing! Let me tell you why that is. The creator of these adorable baby moccasins designed them from a moms perspective. She was not satisfied by what she was finding for her kids on the market so she decided to create her own!! What better way to insure the quality and function that you (and every mom) need. This soon developed into a small business that is now a very successful and extremely popular brand.

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These shoes are so popular because they are literally perfect. They fit true to size with room to grow.My children tend to have extremely wide and chubby little feet so it can be difficult to find shoes that fit them properly but I have no problem with our moccasins.  The leather is soft and flexible which makes it easy for a baby to move around while still being able to feel the floor. This is so important when they are first starting to test the waters and transition into their first steps. They are also made with a stretchy elastic band around the ankle that makes it so easy to put on yet keeps baby from being able to pull them off!!(As kids get older it tends to be an ordeal trying to put their shoes on so they really do need to be easy!!) FP’s  style selection is endless! I think they are made in every color and pattern under the sun so no matter what your style is I am positive their is something for everyone.

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Freshly picked offers shoes for all ages. Their moccs fit up until about 4 years (Depending on shoe size of course.) Their  “Next Step” hard soled shoes are great for older kids. Another thing I love about them is how versatile they are. Shoes can get expensive! Especially when you have more than one child. You really don’t want to be buying a different shoe for every occasion. These can be worn casual but can also be dressed up.

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Make sure you follow Freshly Picked on their social media accounts for some exciting things over this Holiday Season.

facebook

Instagram

and check out their website.

They will be having a Black Tuesday sale on November 22!! This is huge and has only happened once before. So you really dont want to miss it.  Everything on their website will be 25% off and they are offering free shipping on orders over $49. Seriously such an amazing deal and a great time to stock up Moccs for your babes or gifts for friends.

http://freshlypicked.com

Also, if you don’t already , follow me on Instagram for some more excitement happening within the next few days 🙂

 

Creamy Pistachio Pesto

We love pasta in this house!! (This pesto can be used for so many things, not just pasta. You can use it as a sandwich spread or a dip. I just say pasta because this is what I have mainly used it for. ) I am constantly trying new recipes to keep things exciting. I was starting to feel like I had made every type of sauce imaginable. I needed inspiration. Then my husband took out his giant bag of pistachios. something that usually leaves me extremely annoyed because between him and my two oldest boys, the shells end up all over the floor. This time I was excited! It was just the inspiration I needed. I have made pesto before and I’ve had pistachio pesto but I decided to make a few very small changes. I wanted to tweak a few things and that doesn’t always work out in my favor lol but luckily this time…. it was a win!. This has now become a favorite in my house. Especially with my toddler. He has started asking for “stachio pasta” every few days. My husband loves it, of course, but I figured he would with his already established addiction pistachios. Its creamy, salty, and rich. A nice change from the usual red sauce or alfredo.

This recipe feeds 2 people (and maybe a toddler lol) for a larger batch, just double the ingredients. This will make 1 cup of sauce once prepared. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of shelled pistachios (plus a 1-2 tbsp chopped for serving)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan (plus a few tbsp for serving)

4-5 basil leaves

2 mint leaves (use more if you love mint!)

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

(optional* juice of half a lime)

Healthier Alternatives:

Use an avocado in place of the heavy cream. This will be much thicker so you will need a splash of liquid. Just a few tablespoons should be enough. Broth would be best but water will work just fine. You aren’t using enough to make it watery just enough to make the sauce easy to blend.

If you are using for pasta I suggest a quinoa or brown rice pasta instead of regular.

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Instructions:

I used my Nutribullet for this and it was so quick and easy but a blender would work just fine.

Its a simple as adding all of your ingredients to the blender and turning it on!!! Blend until smooth.

Thats it! Spread on sandwich or serve in dish as a dip.

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or add directly to cooked pasta and to with shaved parm, chopped pistachios, salt and pepper.

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Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pre Teen Boy Holiday Gift Guide

I cannot believe Halloween is over and Christmas is just around the corner! I feel like every year it creeps on me so quickly and I am always left unprepared and scrambling for gift ideas. I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow that to happen again! With three babes this year, I really have to get things done early.

Gifts for the littles are pretty easy. I don’t really feel like I need to stress or put too much thought into what they will enjoy. My oldest boy on the other hand…. it gets a  bit harder every year. It seems that as he gets older he becomes more picky and the items on his list become more expensive. This means that I have to get a list of exactly what he wants and If I am going get him something that he hasn’t specifically asked for, it has to be very creative and well thought out. Which makes it a little harder (but not impossible) to surprise him with gifts.  The good thing about this age (he is 12 by the way) is that it seems all of his friends, for the most part, are interested in and want the same things. So in researching for this gift guide I was actually helping myself out!! I was hoping I could get some inside info from his friends and maybe be able to sneak a few surprises into the mix.

This pre teen age is kind of tricky. I feel like they still enjoy some childlike activities (even if they won’t admit it to their friends) They will mostly all ask for some sort of gaming system or phone. thats obvious. So I wanted to put together a list of gift ideas that strayed from those things. I try to give gifts that will take away from tv, iPads, video games and all other electronic zombifying distractions. Although I know that the use of these is inevitable, and we have gotten the giant gaming system and Ipad in years past,  we  try to limit the amount of time our son uses them. Here is my best effort at collecting ideas for creative, out side of the box gift ideas. (All ideas came from real life tweens!! lol) I hope you find this useful!

Just click on the image for prices and full description.

>>>Brain games and Building sets<<<

Under $10

*Rubiks Snake

(Both my 3 yr old and My 12 year old love this thing. They both have one and will sit and create shapes with it for hours. okay I’m lying not hours but in children time, they will sit for awhile. There are videos you can find on how to make animals and all sorts of other things. Its a great stocking stuffer!!)

$10-$20

*Perplexus

(This puzzle ball thing is super cool.  We have one and my 12 year old loves it. He will sit forever and try to solve this puzzle. Its a great brain game. He says “its awesome!”Its great for car rides, camping trips and times when we are trying to keep him from using electronics!)

*Klutz Juggling Balls and instruction book

*Laser Pegs

* Estes Model Rocket

(This comes with everything you need! such a great activity for dad and son bonding time)

*Logic Tangram

(Classic puzzle problem solving brain game!! My husband loves working these out with the kids)

>>Outdoors and Adventure<<<

Aside from gift items in this category, one of my sons friends had a genius request on his Xmas list! He asked for a day of Skiing/Snowboarding. how smart is that? I think that is a great alternative to buying a normal gift. Buy them a gift card or give them money towards an activity that they enjoy!!

$20-$50

*Bao feng Two Way Radio

*Canany Waterproof Sports Camera

(when you don’t want to drop the cash on a GO PRO!)

*Spooner Freestyle Board

(This thing is so awesome! You can pretty much do tricks that you would do on a skateboard but on a flat board without wheels! so cool for kids who eventually want to skateboard or even if they don’t, its really fun. I may or may not have used this a few times.)

*MineLab Go Find 20

Over $100

(This one is a bit more pricey at just around $100 but so cool for the adventurer who wants to search and dig for treasures and maybe earn some extra money!)

>>>Arts and Music<<<

Under $10

*Klutz Paper Airplane book

$20-$50

*Soyan 3D Printing Pen

(who doesn’t want 3d pen?)

*Casio Mini Keyboard

(The kids are always trying to play on dads expensive keyboard….so let them have their own)

*Toca Wood Bongos

(This might be my favorite item not this entire list. If you are a msucial family like we are, these are perfect! We love having little drum circles. )

>>>Books<<<

*Michael Vey book series

(This is supposedly a really popular Adventure series among all of my sons classmates. He says he is always trying to take these books from the library but they are always out!.)

*Percy Jackson and the Olympians boxed set

(This is a Fantasy series about Greek Gods! Sounds awesome to me!)

 

 

Gift Cards are also another great idea. I would suggest either an amazon card since they sell everything or my son also loves iTunes gift cards. That way he can purchase music or apps.

although we try to limit video games we understand that they highly desired among most kids this age so if you are looking to purchase a game system for your home the most popular one is the xbox one or the xbox 360

for a handled game system the nintendo 3ds is a good one.

I hope you guys found this useful!! Comment below if you have any other suggestions!!

 

 

Caramel Pecan Orange Rolls

This recipe has been in my husbands family for years and for very good reason. He made these for me on our first Thanksgiving together and I have asked him to make them every year since. They are the perfect amount of sweet and tart. They also fill your home with the sweet aroma of oranges and brown sugar. You can eat them with your meal or as desert and by chance there are any leftover, they are so good warmed up for breakfast the next morning! Once you make these I guarantee they will become a staple on Thanksgiving or whenever you are looking for a super decedent breakfast treat.

Ingredients: 

1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed or store bought with pulp)

1 cup brown sugar

1 stick of butter (and some extra to grease your pan)

3 7.5 oz cans of small flakey biscuits

1/4 cup chopped pecans

about 1 tbsp orange zest

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Generously butter a bundt pan and add your chopped pecans to the bottom.

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Fan the biscuits around the bundt pan.

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In a sauce pan combine oj, butter and brown sugar. Bring to low boil then lower heat to simmer until it thickens slightly (about 20 min)

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Pour the mixture over the rolls. Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Until the tops of the rolls are golden brown.

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Remove from the oven. Place your serving tray onto of the bundt pan and flip the rolls over onto the tray.

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Enjoy!!