Fisher Price Stack and Roll Cups

 

Can I tell you one of the best gifts we bought for Christmas? It was unexpected, but the Fisher Price Stack and Roll Cups have been such a hit around this house, I had to write about it. First, our baby (now 11 months), plays with them constantly. He stacks them, knocks them down, rolls them around. He likes when we snap them into balls too. It is one of his most used toys!

The BIGGEST surprise? Our older kids play with it too! My 3-year-old was playing the cups game with it. He was hiding the top ball under the cups, moving them around, and having us guess where the ball was. He just excidely came to me with it since he was able to stack them all into a ball (see Amazon for pictures), prompting me to write this post. The balls nest in each other as balls and he was happy he was able to get them all in their himself. I even catch the older ones stacking it and turning the cups into balls too… It is a great stacking and ball nesting toy, apparently for a wide variety of ages!

Seriously?!?! Who would have thought an inexpensive baby toy would be so much fun for my kids?!? It has been a lovely surprise. So if you have a baby, or need a gift for a first birthday or for a baby shower, these Fisher Price Stack and Roll Cups are surprisingly a really great toy!

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Lunch Box Bento

I have a cold. It’s lame because I rarely get sick and I’m grumpy and irritable (probably because I don’t get days off and still have 5 kids to feed, get to school, watch so they don’t kill themselves).

I ran to Target to get some of the fancy tissues that have lotion. When you are blowing your nose as much as I am, the standard tissues start to make your nose raw. I apparently ran out of the fancy ones last time I was sick and only had the regular/everyday kind. I grabbed a 6 pack of the fancy tissues and headed to the checkout.

Then I stopped in my tracks. I was soooo Excited! I saw these:

I wrote about them here. I LOVE these Ziploc Divided Rectangle Containers!! When I wrote last, they had been discontinued, but they have brought them back – YAY!!! I still have some from the last time they offered them, but I think I will get a couple more – especially since my boys tend to have a habit of losing their lunch boxes.

I don’t think I can say enough about the Ziploc Divided Rectangle Containers. They are AWESOME! Plus, they are CHEAP! They wash easily in the dishwasher, so keeping lots of little plastic bags out of landfills. They don’t leak either – keeping their lunch boxes clean! The Bento box style also makes sure that my kids get fresh fruits and vegetables in their lunches each day! Can’t have an empty spot right? We do apples, strawberries, grapes, melons, oranges, pears, etc. for fruit, and for veggies we often do carrots, snap peas, cucumber, broccoli, etc. They get whatever is on sale that week at the store! They are a great way for my kids to get a balanced lunch at school! If you have refrigerator space (we do now!! YAY for a second fridge!!) you could make Jello or pudding and pour it into the containers and have it set up in there – no need to buy the expensive individual cups. Plus it looks so pretty and colorful:

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t have them yet (I’ll keep watching). So head on over to Target.com to order Ziploc Divided Rectangle Containers. If you have a RedCard they ship for free and 5% off, or you can order for store pickup!! You won’t even have to search the store for them! I LOVE store pick-up and not having to search for things with kids in tow! Seriously, for the price, I LOVE these! I’ve been using my current set almost every school day for 3 years now! They still look and work great (see pictures!)

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Instant Pot Hamburger or Taco Meat – Cooked from FROZEN!

Whenever I make something with hamburger, my biggest problem is remembering to take it out of the freezer early enough for it to defrost. Well, with my Instant Pot, I don’t have to worry about defrosting it again! I put frozen chicken breast in my crockpot all the time, but never really did it with hamburger.

The taste of the burger was fantastic. I grind my own chicken burger, and it worked really well with my practically fat-free chicken breast burger. I love the hands-off cooking with my Instant Pot!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1-2lb Hamburger – beef, chicken, or turkey
  • 1 cup water or beef stock
  • 1 pkg or 1/4 cup of your favorite taco seasoning

 

Directions:

If making JUST cooked ground burger, place the burger on the rack that comes with your Instant Pot, so the meat doesn’t get all wet/boil. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of your Instant Pot. Close lid and make sure vent is set to seal. Set to 25 minutes on the manual setting. Use quick release method. Break meat apart once cooked and use in whatever recipe you like!

If making Taco Meat, Stir water/beef stock and taco seasoning in the bottom of your Instant Pot. I also tossed some garlic and Montreal Steak Seasoning in. Place meat in the bottom of your Instant Pot. This is what mine looked like (I use Ground Chicken Breast):

Place lid on Instant Pot. Make sure vent is set to seal. Set it to 25 minutes on the manual setting:

Use the vent to quickly depressurize once 25 minutes is done. When I opened it, it looked like this:

I then took a spoon to break up the meat.

I then used the saute setting for about 5 minutes, so the juices condensed. I also added a can of drained and rinsed black beans. YUM!

Instant Pot Hamburger or Taco Meat – Cooked from FROZEN!

Ingredients

  • 1-2lb Hamburger - beef, chicken, or turkey
  • 1 cup water or beef stock
  • 1 pkg or 1/4 cup of your favorite taco seasoning

Instructions

  1. If making JUST cooked ground burger, place the burger on the rack that comes with your Instant Pot, so the meat doesn't get all wet/boil.
  2. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of your Instant Pot.
  3. Close lid and make sure vent is set to seal.
  4. Set to 25 minutes on the manual setting.
  5. Use quick release method.
  6. Break meat apart once cooked and use in whatever recipe you like!
  7. If making Taco Meat, Stir water/beef stock and taco seasoning in the bottom of your Instant Pot.
  8. I also tossed some garlic and Montreal Steak Seasoning in.
  9. Place meat in the bottom of your Instant Pot.
  10. Place lid on Instant Pot.
  11. Make sure vent is set to seal.
  12. Set it to 25 minutes on the manual setting
  13. Use the vent to quickly depressurize once 25 minutes is done
  14. Use spoon to break up meat
  15. I then used the saute setting for about 5 minutes, so the juices condensed.
  16. I also added a can of drained and rinsed black beans (Optional)
http://mismashedmom.com/2017/02/instant-pot-hamburger-taco-meat-cooked-frozen.html

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Air Fryer

 

I don’t think I have written about a purchase I made over the holiday’s. My husband has wanted an Air Fryer for awhile. We have a deep fryer, but we rarely use it. Honestly, we should probably just get rid of it, since it’s been so long since we’ve used it. I was able to pick up the Bella Air Fryer on Black Friday for a great deal, and figured it would be a fun appliance to play with.

It is a great little appliance! My daughter loves to use it for cooking her chicken nuggets. It is great for Corn dogs too. I actually don’t like corn dogs (or hot dogs for that matter), unless they are deep fried. However, they are just as good in the air fryer. We have made lots of different items in it, all mostly a success (see below). I haven’t ventured into baking/cooking with it too much yet, but I’ve found lots of ideas and plan to start using it more! I need to try chicken in there…. See if it really tastes fried… (I’m putting that on the menu for this week or next!)

One thing not to put in there is marshmallows. We know this from experience. My husband loves to play with appliances like this. He likes to try and find random items he can fry. Well, he exploded a marshmallow in there not long after we got it. Yeah… that doesn’t smell good!

What I love about the Air Fryer, is that we can get the taste of deep fryer, without all the fat and oil. It is a pretty nifty appliance. Is it needed in a kitchen? No. But if you can pick one up on a good deal, it is fun little appliance to play with and make some yummy, fried-tasting foods that are good for you!

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Butterbeer Fudge

Butterbeer Fudge

Over the holiday’s, this Butterbeer Fudge became a favorite in our house! I think it was more popular that our regular chocolate fudge. When looking online for ButerBeer Fudge, I found most of them basically are the same as our chocolate fudge, and simply replace the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips. It’s really Butterscotch fudge, but butterbeer is just cooler sounding. If you’ve been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, then you know butterbeer is a butterscotch flavor.

This batch was gobbled up so fast, we had to make another. It was gone twice as fast as the chocolate. So this is going to be a fudge that we make often – YUM!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half or evaporated milk
  • 1 jar (7.5 oz) Marshmallow creme
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp imitation butter (butter flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1 bag (11oz) butterscotch chips

 

Directions:

Line a 13×9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray

In a pot over medium heat, add the butter, half and half, and sugars together. Stir to combine. Once mixture comes to a boil, let boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in the marshmallow creme. Once mixed in, add the butterscotch chips and mix until melted. Add in the extracts and thoroughly combine. Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Butterbeer FudgeButterbeer Fudge

Butterbeer Fudge

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half or evaporated milk
  • 1 jar (7.5 oz) Marshmallow creme
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp imitation butter (butter flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1 bag (11oz) butterscotch chips

Instructions

  1. Line a 13x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray
  2. In a pot over medium heat, add the butter, half and half, and sugars together. Stir to combine.
  3. Once mixture comes to a boil, let boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add in the marshmallow creme.
  6. Once mixed in, add the butterscotch chips and mix until melted.
  7. Add in the extracts and thoroughly combine.
  8. Pour into prepared pan.
  9. Refrigerate until firm.
  10. Cut into pieces and enjoy!
http://mismashedmom.com/2017/02/butterbeer-fudge.html

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Traveling with 7 people on the cheap

I have written before how we travel with our large family on a shoestring budget. I have to mention that we did it again. I just booked 6 airplane tickets from the west coast to Washington DC for a total of $375. (baby is free)

Now, I actually could have gotten it cheaper, or even closer to free. Actually, last time we flew to DC, it was free. (My family lives in the DC area). However, I just wasn’t able to get the airline awards/miles on the different airlines to line up. I was tired of trying, so gave up and paid for one ticket. But hey, 6 people for $375 is still a pretty good deal in my eyes!

How did I do it this time? My husband and I both signed up for the Delta Amex card when it had a 50k sign up bonus. With the bonus and the miles from the spending to get the bonus, we had just enough with both cards to get 5 round trip tickets. The fee was waived for the first year, so it cost us NOTHING to get the miles.

We also have plenty of American Airlines (I actually just got a bunch more of their miles), a ton of Alaska miles, and some SouthWest miles. Delta just worked out the best for this trip, so we went with them. Since I still have the card, we will also get FREE checked bags for our trip – SCORE!

I probably could have gotten the extra ticket cheaper had I watched for a sale, BUT we needed the extra ticket on the SAME flights/days/times for us all to fly together, so I just paid the price it was at the time of booking. $350 isn’t a terrible price to DC, but not the best either. A good sale to there would be about $225-275, but considering our restraints, it could have been worse! If we had paid for the extra 5 tickets at that price, we would have paid $1750 MORE out of pocket ($2100 for us all to fly). Let’s say I found a sale, and we had gotten them all for $250. That is still $1250 ($1500 for us all to fly) that we saved. $1250 is ALOT of money to me! Not too shabby for 2 credit card signups! We paid another $25 in taxes for the free miles tickets

This is the way we manage to travel with 5 kids. Once the baby hits 2, we’ll need to hoard even more miles for all of us tickets, but I’ll figure out some way to work it out! There are many blogs out there to tell you when good sign up deals are available. If this is something you are interested in, I HIGHLY recommend you look some up, do your research and decide if it is something that would work for you. Most importantly, remember to use credit responsibly, only charging what you can pay off EACH month. Interest fees negate any savings you get from deals! ALWAYS use credit responsibly! We pay our cards off every month, have a very high credit score that has actually gone UP since I started this. Please do your research before you think this might be something you can do too!

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Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

:Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

I wanted to make a Roast and Potatoes in the Instant Pot. There were lots of recipe options out there, but I thought I would go with our tried and true favorite crockpot roast recipe. Oh boy! It worked just as well in the Instant Pot. YUM!!!

I created a roux and then added the liquid from the pot after cooking. OH MY GOODNESS. BEST GRAVY EVER! Seriously, you will LOVE IT! I think if I slathered it on my arm, I’d eat my arm! This is coming from someone who never eats gravy…  For leftovers tonight, I plan to reheat the leftover gravy, add some more beef stock – making it thinner, thus make a dip for some french dip sandwiches. I’ll place the leftover meat in some hoagie rolls, top with provolone, and dip in the thinned out TO DIE FOR gravy. YUM!! I am really looking forward to our leftovers tonight!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3-6lb Roast (whatever cut you prefer)
  • 1 pkg. onion soup mix
  • 1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning – or salt and pepper
  • 1 can beef stock (14oz)
  • Garlic to taste
  • Potatoes, carrots, onion, etc. Add in veggies depending on preference

 

Directions:

Place your roast in your Instant Pot (or pressure cooker). Add in any potatoes, carrots, or onions you’d like. I used potatoes and an onion. I meant to put in carrots but didn’t remember until my pot had already started. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Seasoning or some salt and pepper. Sprinkle on dry ranch and onion soup mix. Pour the beef stock over the top.

Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

Make sure your vent is set to sealing. Then use the meat setting and set it to forty minutes.

Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

Once cooked, allow natural depressurization to happen. It took mine 20 minutes to depressurize. Here is what it looked like when I opened my Instant Pot:

Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

YUM!!! Slice or shred as desired. Mine was tied up with string at the store, so it sliced beautifully. Usually, I shred it, but this specific roast cut worked well to cut.

To make the gravy (TRUST ME, you want to make this gravy/sauce): Make a roux with 2-3 tbsp of butter and 2-3 tbsp of flour. Melt the butter in the saucepan and then whisk the flour into the butter. SLOWLY add in the pot drippings. Be SURE to thoroughly whisk in each addition before adding more. Otherwise, you will get lumps. Pour on your meat and potatoes. YUM YUM YUMMY!!!

 

Perfect Instant Pot Roast and PotatoesPerfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3-6lb Roast (whatever cut you prefer)
  • 1 pkg. onion soup mix
  • 1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning - or salt and pepper
  • 1 can beef stock (14oz)
  • Garlic to taste
  • Potatoes, carrots, onion, etc. Add in veggies depending on preference

Instructions

  1. Place your roast in your Instant Pot (or pressure cooker).
  2. Add in any potatoes, carrots, or onions you'd like..
  3. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Seasoning or some salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle on dry ranch and onion soup mix.
  5. Pour the beef stock over the top.
  6. Make sure your vent is set to sealing.
  7. Then use the meat setting and set it to 40 minutes
  8. Once cooked, allow natural depressurization to happen. It took mine 20 minutes to depressurize
  9. Slice or shred as desired.
  10. To make the gravy: Make a roux with 2-3 tbsp of butter and 2-3 tbsp of flour.
  11. Melt the butter in the saucepan and then whisk the flour into the butter.
  12. SLOWLY add in the pot drippings.
  13. Be SURE to thoroughly whisk in each addition before adding more. Otherwise, you will get lumps
  14. Pour on your meat and potatoes.
http://mismashedmom.com/2017/02/perfect-instant-pot-roast-potatoes.html

Perfect Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

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