Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Best Bread Machine Wheat Bread!



My kids are growing.  Which also means they eat more food.  A few months ago we started eating more than 1 loaf of bread a week.  We don't buy the most expensive bread or the cheapest bread, but adding an extra loaf each weeks adds up on the monthly grocery bill.

I have always loved homemade bread and my mom recently gave me her bread machine.  I was super excited about that!  I love it!  So I decided to start making our bread instead of buying it.  And the bread machine does most of the work for you!  I don't let it bake the bread all the way, just because we think it tastes better.  But that is always an option too.




I tried a few different recipes and came across one that was absolutely delicious!  She doesn't use a bread machine and uses double the measurements to make two loaves.  You can check out One Sweet Appetite for directions without a bread machine.

So here's the bread I make every week!  We even use it for sandwiches.

Ingredients

1 cup warm water
1/8 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 TBSP active dry yeast

Directions

1. Place all the ingredients in the bread machine in the order they are listed.  It's important to put the yeast in last on top of the flour!
2. Turn on the bread machine to the dough cycle.  
3. After the dough timer goes off (mine is 1 hr 40 mins), take out the dough.  Shape it into a loaf and place it in a greased loaf pan
4. Let the dough rise to your desired height.  Some people let it just peak over the top of the pan.  But for sandwich bread I let it rise well over the pan so it's nice and tall.


5. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 mins.

And enjoy!  
I made some for my in-laws for both of their birthdays and they loved it!  I know you will too!

Monday, August 11, 2014

29 Bloggers Round Robin Instagram Giveaway!

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I have an Instagram giveaway going on right now.  And it's not just a prize from me...  
There are 29 bloggers!!!

Each with a different prize in the giveaway.

It's really easy to enter.  All you have to do is head on over to Instagram.  Start with my giveaway post for a $25 Starbucks gift card!  Just follow me on Instagram and then comment on the Instagram giveaway post the answer to my question (What's your favorite thing about Fall?).


Then click on the next Instagram giveaway at the bottom of my post - @xolaurenandjane - to get to the next giveaway.  Just keep clicking through and following and commenting and entering!  You can enter each giveaway for a chance to win each prize!

Here are some of the prizes that we're giving away.

Lots of Target Gift Cards!




And lots of Amazon Gift Cards!


So get on Instagram and start following and commenting!  You could be a lucky winner!




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Peach Orange Banana Smoothie



Welcome back to our monthly Foodie Extravaganza!
Foodie Extravaganza
If this is your first time joining us, the Foodie Extravaganza is a monthly party hosted by bloggers who love food! Each month we incorporate one main ingredient into recipes to share with you and this month that ingredient is one of my favorite summertime treats...PEACHES!

Here's my delicious peach recipe!

I have always loved smoothies especially in the summer.  They're just so cool and light and sweet and delicious!  Everything you need for a great summer drink.  Plus it's healthy!  Always a bonus.

I have a delicious smoothie recipe to share with you!  And my kids loved it!  My daughter kept asking for more and then also the following day.  It's a keeper!

Peach Orange Banana Smoothie



Ingredients

2 peaches peeled and pitted
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 banana (frozen is best!)
1/8 cup orange juice concentrate
2 tsp honey
1 cup water
6-10 ice cubes

Directions

Place all the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.  
I also like to make green smoothies for my kids to help them get a little extra veggies in their diets.  If you want to do this, just add a handful or two of fresh spinach and blend until smooth.

Enjoy!

And here are some more delicious peach recipes from my blogging friends in this month's #foodieextravaganza!


Perfect Peach Treats



Peach & Blue Cheese Prosciutto Bruschetta by Keep it Simple, Sweetie
Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler by From Gate to Plate
Peach Mousse by Love in the Kitchen
Peach Orange Banana Smoothie by We Like to Learn as We Go
Peach Almond Cake by My Creative Days
Raspberry Peach Smoothie by Sew You Think You Can Cook
Peach Donuts by Rae Gun Ramblings
Peaches & Cream Dessert Bars by The Freshman Cook
Fresh Peach Salsa by Rhubarb and Honey
Skinny Vegan Peach Coffee Cake by Baking in Pyjamas
Pistachio Peach Pie Pops by Pantry Friendly Cooking

We hope you all enjoyed our delicious peach packed foods this month and don’t forget to stop by to see what next month’s ingredient is!

If you would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!


Monday, August 4, 2014

8 Awesome Preschool Apps



Do your preschoolers love to play games on your phone and tablet?  Mine sure do.  They can be really great distractions when you need a few minutes and a lot of them are really educational.  For the past 2 years we've downloaded loads of apps - some paid, some free.  And it's pretty easy to tell which ones are worth keeping and which ones to delete when I start running out of space on my phone...we've all been there.

So I wanted to share with you some of our favorite apps!

Most of these do cost money, but my husband has an app that tells you when apps are free which is often how we find new apps for the kids.  So you can buy them now or wait until they're free again!

Here are our top 8 apps!

1. Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Games - ABC letter training - This is a new one we just tried and my preschooler loves it!  She's really getting into identifying letters and this app helps you learn to write them!  And in the car today she told me that kangaroo starts with K!  (That is on the app).  The app says it's free, but just a preview is free so it allows you to see if your kid will like it.  The rhyming words and mazes are a little more difficult for my 3 year old, but I think 4 and 5 year olds would love it!  They also have Kids Games for Boys and Girls which helps kids identify letters and learn to write numbers.




2. Peekaboo Barn - There are a couple of different apps this company does, but Peekaboo Barn is our favorite!  There's a little barn that the kids can tap and it opens with an animal, their sound, and a kid voice tells you what animal it is.  It helped my girls learn to identify animals.  It's simple enough for a 1 year old, but my 3 year old still uses it too.  We also love Peekaboo Wild.  This is probably the one I've had on my phone the longest.


3. Nighty Night! - This super cute app takes place on a barn and the kids have to put all the animals to bed by turning out the light in each room.  During winter you can set it to winter mode and it snows and has a little snowman that sings "Jingle Bells."  My girls really love that.  It's a fun interactive app.


4. Princess Fairy Tale Coloring - My kids love to color, even on phones. This is a fun app that has uncolored pictures and you just tap on the different parts of the pictures and it colors in the right colors for you!  I love this for the younger kids because they don't have to try to find the colors and get frustrated when they can't.  The colors are preset.  And as you color, more things appear in the pictures!


5.  Kids Academy Bingo - Do your kids like to sing?  Mine sure do!  And they love music!  This is a fun interactive app that sings the Bingo song and my girls love to sing right along.  The graphics are fun and there are a lot of other songs for you to buy as well!  The only thing I don't like about it is that when you open the app, it pops up an ad for one of their different songs or apps which of course my kids click on and then get all frustrated that they aren't seeing the song.  Other than that, it's definitely one of the best kids songs app I've seen.


6. Kapu Forest - This app has a lot of different activities for each of the forest animals on the main screen.  My kids will do these over and over and they catch on pretty quickly.  Most are just fun little activities to do.  There is one activity that teaches shapes and another that sorts colors, but most are just for fun.


7. Pepi Bath - My kids love this app! It teaches hygiene like brushing teeth, washing hands, taking a bath, going to the bathroom, and washing your clothes.  It's super interactive and you know when you're finished with each scene when they give you a round of applause.  I'm pretty sure it's a British app because there are a few different things than what we do in the US.  Like pulling a chain to flush the toilet or hanging your clothes to dry.  But my kids didn't seem to notice.  We also downloaded Pepi Doctor and Pepi Tree which are also great!


8. Sago Mini Forest Flyer - This fun little app is about a little bird that flies around the forest and comes across lots of little things.  It's very entertaining and also has a seasonal aspect as well.  It keeps my kids entertained for a while.




What are you favorite apps?  We're always willing to try a new one!






Friday, July 11, 2014

Surviving Hitler - The Unlikely True Story of an SS Soldier and a Jewish Woman



Doesn't that title just pull you in?  It sure did for me.  How could a Nazi soldier and a Jewish woman ever fall in love?  But it happened!

This is an amazing story about two individuals that were greatly affected by WWII.  It turned their lives upside down.  With death and destruction around them all the time, somehow Agnes and Gustav survived.  And not only did they just survive, they married and had children.


This book is so interesting.  It dives into Agnes' life who was a Jew by descent and not by religion.  She was actually a practicing Catholic living in Hungary.  I had no idea that they were sent to concentration camps as well!  Because her grandmother was Jewish, Agnes was considered a Jew and was sent to Auschwitz with her parents.  

Gustav was a farm boy in Norway who got wrapped up in the big talk of socialism.  I thought it was so interesting that no one ever told him the right people to follow.  He was young and had to choose his own path.  After being told by the National Socialist Party that he could be a police officer, he was actually taken to boot camp and made into a guard to a prison filled with mostly Jews (which he didn't know at the time).  He hated the job, but the only way to get out was to become an SS Soldier and fight on the front lines which is what he did.

It's amazing to hear their stories and how many different times they were individually protected and saved from death.

One of my favorite things about this book was that it wasn't too gruesome and horrifying which I know WWII was definitely both.  Some details were mentioned, but nothing that made me not want to read the book.  I know really bad things happened in the war, but I just can't read about it.  This book was very well balanced.

I love that this story was about hope and Agnes found ways to serve others even while being a prisoner.

I also love that this story is told from the memories of Agnes and Gustav and told in first person (who are both still living!).  It also shares facts about the war to supplement and give a little more background about the war.

This book is definitely worth reading.  You can learn about the lives of these two amazing people and all that they had to overcome to eventually leave the war behind them 
in Surviving Hitler at Deseret Book!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BBQ Chicken Salad Recipe






I love salads in the summer.  So light and fresh!  We had BBQ chicken salad the other night and it was awesome!  I also have a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette recipe  to share with you to go on top.



Here's what you need for the 
SALAD

BBQ chicken
corn
avocados
cheese
tomatoes
green onions
lettuce
croutons
and anything else you want on it

For the chicken, I put 2 chicken breasts in a crock pot and covered them with BBQ sauce.  I also added a little water at the bottom because my crock pot cooks really hot.  Cook the chicken on low for 5 hours.

You can also use fresh corn or frozen corn.  Mine was frozen and I cooked it according to the package.  Then dice up your other veggies and shred the cheese.

Fill your bowl with lettuce and add as much of the veggies, cheese, chicken, and croutons as you like.

Now for the 
HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE
adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
1 tsp Gourmet Garden garlic (or 1 garlic clove minced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Whisk in the vinegar until smooth. While whisking, pour in the olive oil and mix until fully combined.  The salad dressing will keep in the fridge for about a week, but it may separate so just shake before using it again.

Drizzle over your salad, mix, and serve!

Delicious!


And make sure you check out Gourmet Garden!  They are a company that packages fresh herbs and spices in convenient tubes.  They are organic herbs that are washed, chopped, blended, packaged, and sent to your local store!  I love this because when I buy fresh herbs, they go bad pretty quickly.  But these are packaged and long lasting so you can use them for all the recipes you need!  You can find Gourmet Garden products at stores like Smiths (Kroger), Walmart, and Fresh Market.

They also provide different recipes on their website to help you find ways to use their great products. They have herbs like basil, garlic, ginger, oregano, and parsley!  Perfect for your cooking needs!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mountain Camping with Toddlers



I grew up camping with my family.  But being in California, we went camping at the state beaches.  
So camping to me = the beach. 

My husband was raised in Utah.  There are no beaches in Utah.  And no, lakes don't count.  So camping to him means = the mountains.

Since we live in Utah, if we wanted to go camping it was going to be in the mountains.  This is a new adjustment to me, but I've liked it.  There are some great things about camping in the mountains and some fun things to do with little kids.

For our first camping trip this summer we decided to just stay one night.  I think it's good to start small when you have small children.  We got there in the afternoon and set up our tent - which by the way, setting up tents has become way easier since I was a kid.  No more huge metal poles.  Now they bend and pop up easily!  





Then we had hot dogs for dinner and s'mores for dessert over a fire pit.  Make sure you talk about safety with your children about being around a fire pit.  We make sure our kids stay away from them and don't throw things in them.


The nice thing about camping in the mountains is you can go on walks and hikes.  We took the kids for a fun walk and pointed out the flowers, trees, bushes, water, birds, and even found a caterpillar!  They loved looking at nature and noticing all the little details.  Make sure you pack sunscreen, hats, water bottles, and bug repellent!  Because you'll need them all!


We also just let the kids play in the dirt around the campsite.  There's something about rocks and dirt that just seem to pull at kids and they have to play in it!  So bring lots of baby wipes and hand sanitizer.  Because you'll need those too. 



The kids had a blast!  Even little Nate enjoyed it.  And since the mountains are a bit cooler at night, we made sure we bundled the kids up extra well with sleeping bags, blankets, and sweaters.
Have fun camping!