Monday, November 30, 2015

Crock Pot Lasagna

I haven't done many recipe posts on el blog here, primarily because I don't cook all that much, and what I do cook isn't anything blogworthy (in my humble opinion)...however!  I have a new recipe that I've crafted from another one that I totally think is amazing and wanted to bloggity blog it to share it with you.

First off, do you follow the Tasty Facebook page?!  If not, you need to.  The videos are hypnotizing ANDDDDDD super easy to make if you so decide to go that route.

Recently I saw this recipe from Tasty for "Slow Cooker 3 Cheese Lasagna" and thought, "Wow.  This is super easy and I can make it the night before, put it on when I get home from work, and BOOM.  Dinner is ready in 2 hours."  What's nice about the Tasty videos is that the first comment under the video is the recipe, so as cool as the actual video is you don't have to rely on watching that and pausing it over and over again to make the food.  Nice, huh?!

Anyways, the recipe called for cheese lasagna with a bunch of (yuck) veggies.  Um, not how Alex here rolls.  I like meat and cheese, hold the veggies.  So!  I decided to concoct my own recipe from Tasty's and behold!  You have my Crock Pot Lasagna recipe I'm about to share here with you.

I want to emphasize that this is MY recipe now (inspired by the Tasty video), so the amounts and such that I use are different than what was listed in the video.  Again, Alex here likes a lot of meat and cheese.

What you'll need:
  • Crockpot (good size one, 5+ quarts)
  • 1 box of oven ready/no boil lasagna noodles
  • 32oz container of Ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 2 24oz jars of your favorite pasta/marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2lbs ground beef
How to make this deliciousness:
  1. Brown the ground beef on a skillet.  Add salt/pepper or any beef seasoning that you like (I actually leave mine seasoning-less)
  2. Drain the beef and put it in a bowl inside the fridge to cool (I let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so to make sure the beef is not scalding hot anymore)
  3. Get your crockpot and layer the bottom with your pasta sauce (about 1/2ish of a jar)
  4. Lay the noodles on top of that, breaking them to cover the bottom atop the sauce
  5. Spoon the Ricotta cheese onto the noodles (a generous amount--mmmmm, cheese!) to cover the top of the noodles
  6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese atop the Ricotta (about a cup's worth)
  7. Get the cooled ground beef from the fridge and put half of the 2 pounds atop the mozzarella
  8. Coat the beef with the rest of the first jar of pasta sauce
  9. Repeat steps 4 - 8
  10. Coat your creation with another 1 - 1.5 cups of mozzarella cheese
  11. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of Parmesan atop the mozzarella
  12. Turn on high heat for 2ish hours (just watch it to see when the top is bubbling and golden brown)...then cut, plate, and enjoy!
*I do steps 1 - 11 the night before, then put the entire crock pot in the fridge.  2 hours or so before dinner time, I take the crock pot out and do step 12.

Seriously.  This lasagna is amazingly easy to make and oh-so-delicious once cooked!  And yes, you could add onions, peppers, and other nasty veggies to it (and destroy it, if you ask me :) per your liking.  OR!  Stick with my delicious recipe of meat and cheese deliciousness and you'll be oh-so-happy.

ENJOY!  And let me know if you do indeed make this and how you like it!  I'd love to hear!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Solid Food!

I felt like this needed to be a post entirely in itself...because I've been taking about it here on el blog for a good time and finally, a week shy of her 8 month birthday, Rosie is eating solid foods!  WOOT!

I did weigh her this morning, and she was just a shade under 22lbs, so for almost 8 months Rosie has been exclusively on breastmilk and has gained almost 13 pounds since birth because of it.  She's in the tops of the growth charts, wearing 18 month clothes, and it's alllll due to mama's milk.  Not gonna lie, I do feel a bit proud of myself for that :)

Okay!  So!  Finally!  Onto solids!  With Patrick we started right at 4 months old.  With Rosie I had read some stuff and wanted to wait till 6 months, then we had this trip planned for when she was 7.5 months old so we decided to wait until we got back.  Truthfully, I think she probably should have started around 7 months old, because for the past several weeks she's been waking up in the middle of the night (between 2 - 5am usually) when before she was sleeping at good 10-12 hours before she woke it's more like 8ish hours give or take when she wakes up and wants to nurse.  I don't really mind the early morning nursing sessions (actually, I kinda like it cause it's just our time and she always goes back to sleep, as do I), but boy, I'd sure love a straight night of sleep again.  So!  Here's hoping having some solid food in her belly gets her back to her 10-12 hour stretches of sleep :)

A benefit of us waiting till now is she's much more coordinated than she was at 4 or even 6 months.  This proved nicely for our first oatmeal food session this morning -- she actually didn't make that big of a mess (as compared to what I remember it was like first with Patrick!).  Plus, she's got 4 teeth (almost 6, the side top two are justtttt about to poke through).

Anyways, so she didn't hate it -- I know that because 95% of it made it into her mouth and stayed there!  However, she wasn't a huge fan of just the oatmeal...which, duh, it's kinda bland.  But I don't think she really liked it.  She definitely wasn't opening her mouth like she wanted more.  But what got into her mouth stayed and she chewed it up (or gummed it) and swallowed it.  SUCCESS!

At lunch time we decided to do some mashed bananas in with the oatmeal as well and she seemed to really like those a lot more!  She ate almost the entire container of bananas (yeah, we buy baby food.  I'm too busy to make my own and I just don't care that much that I don't make it and buy it myself.  Judge away.  Whatever.)!  Again, she kept it in her mouth and didn't spit it out.

We're going to try some more bananas and oatmeal again with dinner tonight...and I'm hoping she starts to go back to her sleeping through the night again!  I mean, it's not that big of a deal, but I really think she's just hungry (a lot!) because she is big and gets fussy and irritated when she's not full (don't we all?!!) here's hoping that some solid foods make our big gal happier and plumper and start her on a path to eating and enjoying just like her big brother.

OH!  And we are going to do a bit of Baby Led Weaning (BLW) as well eventually...more on that later when we start.  We're not completely doing BLW though; still doing the pureed food as well, so kinda a hybrid of both types of "solid food" eating for babies.  Riveting stuff, isn't it?!!  Ha.  I'm sure there'll be a'many more solid food posts to come oh-so-soon...stay tuned friends! :)

Thanksgiving and the Road Home

Whoa, where to begin?!!  So much to recap on since I last posted on I guess I'll just resume where I left off with the play-by-play of our Floridan adventure.

Wednesday night we had a real treat: we got to go to my aunt and uncle's country club for dinner!  It was absolutely delish and the kiddies were both very well behaved.  I'm so glad we got a whole family picture too after din din, and that Ro Ro got her picture with Phyllis (my aunt Sally's mom) as well.  Phyllis just loves the kiddos and I think had a blast watching them run around and play!

Before we went to dinner thought I wanted to take advantage of us not in tshirts and (attempt) to snap a few family pics (sorry Scoots) for Christmas cards.  Well, we were running a bit late to meet the gal I was donating my 100oz of pumped milk to, so we kinda rushed through pics.

They turned out okay (I like the ones of Ro Ro and I), but wasn't smitten with any on in particular.  The setting and light was great, but the smiles and looking at the camera from everyone wasn' I tabled these pics for the time being to see if we'd maybe be able to get another family pic before we left that I could use for Christmas cards...if not, these would have to do.

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving, we decided to head to the beach for some morning sun and swim.  We had yet to be to the beach on the Gulf side, and when we arrived I was completely taken aback by how sugary the sand was and how peaceful the tiny waves were.  I did like the waves on the Atlantic side, but boy, this beach topped it.  Now I remember why I love Naples so much!  THE BEACHES!

I obviously brought my big camera to snap some pics...and LOVE how they turned out.  I will admit I didn't even edit out anyone in the background cause there really wasn't that many people out on the beach where we went (thanks Mickey and Linda for letting us use your private beach!!).  Patrick had a jolly ol' time throwing the sand and running back and forth from the water a zillion times.  Rosie kept her RB face in tact and gave us some nice scowls indicating her displeasure of the beach and probably her wanting to be at the pool.

Because I love my 3 faithful blog readers oh-so-much, you get to see our family Christmas card pic!  I didn't post the above pics on FB or Instagram...but am on my blog cause I love them so and LOVE how they turned out!  I mean, in a perfect world Rosie would have been smiling too, but you can't win them all.  At least she was looking at the camera!  So I'm excited we managed to get a good beach snap for our Christmas card this year (which I already ordered, thank you Black Friday Shutterfly sale!).

And a few beach selfies were snapped before we packed up around 1pm to head back to Jack and Steph's to start cooking our Thanksgiving feast.

Well, wouldn't you know it?!  After a bit of swimming EVERYONE (except mama bear here) passed out -- Patrick even ASKED (what?!!!) to take a nap!  Rosie only slept for a little bit so her and I got to hang out a bit while we cooked and the boys continued their siesta before dinner.

Shockingly I have ZERO pics from actual Thanksgiving dinner!  Oops!  I guess we were just too engrossed in the oh-so-delicious meal to snap.  OH!  Which reminds me: if you check out the #moonpepvacay hashtag on instagram you can see oodles more pics that we all took this past week.  Just a little FYI for you.

After we finished eating and stuffing ourselves stupid we called it a night rather early because we were getting up at 3am (OMG) to start driving home the next day.  Our 'plan' was to try and make it back to STL in one day, but knowing that it may take us two if the kids weren't having the 18+ hour drive.

I woke sister bear up here at 3:15am to feed her and then laid her back down for a bit and snapped this pic, cause, her hair = on point.  LOVE it.  Patrick was super hard to wake up shortly afterwards--dude was TIRED.  Haha.  Fortunately we got all the kiddos and our stuff (car packed to the gills!) in the car and rolled out of Jack and Steph's by 4:09am EST.

Fortunately both kiddos were ROCKSTARS and fell back asleep till after 8am.  WOOT!  But once they awoke from their slumbers is where things were going to potentially get worrisome for me.  How was I going to feed Rosie?  How would I pump?!  Not gonna lie, these were my biggest concerns and I thought for sure it'd take us 30 hours to get home.

I shocked myself and was totally wrong -- pumping in the car was a breeze (thank you car adapter and pump wipes!) and Rosie took a bottle that I'd just pumped like a champ as Mike or I (depending on who was in the passenger seat) turned our arm around to feed it to her.

Both kids were happy and sooooo good for 90% of the ride.  Yes, there were some screaming episodes.  Yes, there was a meltdown or two, but overall, they were absolute gems.  And we were making amazing time (no traffic AT ALL--unheard of!) -- with minimal stops (only twice for food), it looked like we were going to be home by 8:30 or 9pm CST.  WOW.

I made the mistake just into southern Illinois to comment to Mike how great the kids were being and how great of time we were making and how good the kids were being...and then, not kidding, 5 minutes later, BLOW OUT.

Luckily Mike was driving, but the back passenger tire literally exploded.  Fortunately, even in the middle of nowhere and in the pouring rain we were able to make it off the highway an into a gas station that had a roof where Mike could change the tire and put the spare on.

However, with the spare we were only able to go 55mph (as everyone else zoomed by us at 75+ mph), so instead of arriving home by 8:30pm, we didn't get in until 10pm.  Not gonna lie, it was a wittle stressful with the whole tire situation AND not knowing if the spare would make it the 150 miles (in the rain!!) we still had to go.  Fortunately the Big Guy upstairs was looking out for us and all of a sudden we were seeing this:

Ahhhh, home sweet home.  WE MADE IT.

Since I have a wittle bit of OCD when we got home and got the kids bathed and in bed, I unpacked and put away everything and then at 11:15pm instead of going to bed Mike and I had a pizza and caught up on our favorite TV Show, Guys Grocery Games that we missed watching last week.

It was nice to come home to a clean house (our lovely cleaning lady came during the day Friday) and clean everything -- I spent the night before we left a good many hours doing 10+ loads of laundry washing EVERYTHING so the bedding, towels, etc... would be nice and clean when we got home.  Well worth it to do those things peeps.

Today the kiddos woke up at 8:30am (!!!) and Patrick enjoyed some 'ucky charms' with breastmilk (oops.  We were out of 2%!) and helped me trim the tree while Mike went to the grocery store.  Rosie also FINALLY started on solid foods...but that's a story for another post.

Whew!  What a fantastically awesome trip we had -- and even a fairly smooth (minus the tire incident) trip home!  It was such a fun week with family that I am so appreciative and lucky that we were able to do this this time of the year.  It really kicked off this Christmas season with a bang!  That's about all I have today friends.  I hope you've enjoyed reliving our journeys as much as we did taking them! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

You Snooze You Lose

That was the caption of the above pic I posted on Facebook and Instagram this afternoon...after swimming all morning, we decided to hit up our favorite ice cream place, Royal Scoop for some yummy chocolate peanut butter ice cream!  Well, Patrick fell asleep about 10 minutes before we got there and we decided not to wake the sleeping beast and let him snooze...therefore he didn't get any ice cream!  We promise to make it up to him one day :)

Anyways, my last post was all about our time in West Palm Beach on Singer Island.   We got to see an awesome sunset before heading out to dinner--where Rosie decided the table was the perfect teething toy for her ((eye roll))...and mother of the year here let her chew away.  It kept her quiet.  Don't judge.

My mom made this delicious homemade chocolate fudge for our ice cream after dinner and OMG it was to die for.  Patrick obviously concurred.

We left there yesterday morning and headed out to Bonita Springs on the other side of the state via Alligator Alley...but not before I snapped some pics of the burritos on the balcony one last time before we left.

Like I said before, I'm mildly nervous about our 18ish hour drive home later this week...but our 3+ hour drive on Tuesday gave me hope that it SHOULD be okay, cause, my kids love technology.

Hoping their digital pacifiers keep them sane and happy for a few (or twenty) hours.  Fingers crossed.

I was soooo hungry I resorted to snapping car pics to pass the time until we made it to lunch.  Before lunch though we stopped by our old friend Jean and Clem's nursing home to say hello and oh boy were they happy to see us and meet the kiddos!  The last time I saw them I think it was in 2002, but even though it's been like 13 years I don't think they've changed one bit!  It was great to see them and catch up.

We made it to my uncle Johnny and aunt Sally's in the afternoon on Tuesday and Patrick wanted to swim (duh), so he hopped in the pool for a quick bit before we headed to my cousin Jack and his fiancee Steph's where we were staying not too far away.

I snapped this pic on the way into Jack and Steph's place -- um, I'm a sucker for palm trees (just like my aunt Mary!) and I could just look at them through the sun

We had a bit before dinner after we got to Jack and Steph's, so Patrick got in his third pool in a 24 hour period and swam some more!  Rosie was the trusty lifeguard :)

We then went with everyone, including Jack's grandma Phyllis, to this delish pizza place for dinner and it was sooooo good.  I had a calzone and it quickly trumped Dewey's as my new favorite.

After dinner we all were dead tired and decided to come home and fall asleep...I think everyone was asleep within 30 minutes of getting home!  Haha!

Today we woke up (Rosie, see above, was chipper and happy as usually when she arose from her slumbers) and decided to hang out at my uncle Johnny's club pool and it was the most perfect day.  Seriously.  The kiddos both had a blast (and Rosie got a siesta in the lounge chair!) and Patrick swam and played until his little heart's content...

...and I obviously snapped the GoPro like crazy in the pool.  Haha.  Tis my jam lately on vacay, huh?!!  Oversharer much Alex?!!  Hehehe.

Anyways, once we left the pool we decided to hit up Scoops and that's when both kiddos fell asleep so just Mike and I got some ice cream...and then we decided to leave the kids both asleep in the car (where they slept for an hour and a half!  WOOT!!!) while I sat with the door open in Jack and Steph's driveway and edited pics and wrote this here blog post (you're welcome!).

We are getting ready to leave here in a bit to go make a mama's milk drop off for the gal I found to donate to down here...and then head to the country club for dinner.  It should be a fun night!

Tomorrow we're spending Thanksgiving day at the beach (don't be too jealous :) and then heading back to my aunt and uncle's for a big Thanksgiving feast before we head back home really early Friday morning.

Well, the kiddos are starting to stir (cue Patrick screaming cause he doesn't know where he is.  Oops!) so I'm done here...that's about all I've got for today...have a wonderful Thanksgiving and family time friends!
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