The Most Delicious Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies You Will Ever Make

 
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So I got your attention? Let me finish....these cookies are ADDICTING!!! And, y'all know I like easy. Another cookie recipe using cake mix! Easy, quick AND inexpensive? Well, yes, I think I will.

When I made these the first time, we literally ate them all in one day....that could be a problem. You may have to use some self-control when these are done, because they are so chewy and full of flavor. I just kept walking by and picking one up. And then another, and so on. My husband doesn't even LIKE sweets, but he sure had his fair share of these cookies. 

They are a beautiful pink color too, so what better time to make them than Valentine's Day? These literally could be brought to your child's school party, a home-school gathering, or just to kept at home. You could even wrap a few in some cellophane with a pretty ribbon, because they are that pretty.

I am always looking for easy recipes and quick recipes and this one hit the spot. It has 5 ingredients. That's it. I made them very quickly and they cooked quickly. They are very similar to my lemon cookies that I shared here, except I don't roll these strawberry cookies in powdered sugar. I could, but I wanted to try something different. Maybe next time I make them, I will try the powdered sugar! 

The ingredients include: A strawberry cake mix*, 2 eggs, 3 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter and a bag of white chocolate morsels. 

*You can use any strawberry cake mix that you like, and any morsels. These cookies would probably be good with chocolate chips, but I like the look for he white with the pink.

 
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What I used:

Copper Chef Cookie Sheet

Rubber Spatula

Parchment Paper

Sifter

Cookie Scoop


How I Did It:

I first sifted the cake mix to get all of the lumps out. I set it to the side and creamed the butter, cream cheese and eggs. I then added the sifted cake mix and the white chocolate chips. 

 
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Look how good that dough looks! I really could just eat dough….but I didn’t!!

This dough is VERY VERY STICKY. The first time I made them, I used my hand mixer and it literally traveled to the top my mixer every time! So I have used my stand mixer and then eventually my hands! If it is too sticky to scoop into cookies, put it in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. You can then form the dough into balls (I did mine about 1 TBSP a piece). You can use a cookie scoop or two spoons. Like I said, it's pretty sticky, but SO WORTH IT!

I just put them on a baking sheet and baked them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. You definitely need to watch them because they will be over-cooked in a split second and you won't even realize it because the bottoms will get very brown.

 
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When they come out of the oven I can hardly stand to let them cool, but I do (sometimes). I want to make sure that every cookie has enough chocolate chips in them and will dot some on top of the cookies when they come out, if they don't have enough in them.

Look how beautiful they are. I think that I think they are SO pretty because I know how delicious they are.  So, when you are looking for a quick and easy cookie to make, these are your prize! They have wonderful strawberry flavor, they only have 5 ingredients and they are not at all expensive to make! For sure you need to pop these out for Valentine's Day and make your sweetheart swoon all over again.

 
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DELICIOUS STRAWBERRY COOKIES

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 box strawberry cake mix )(15.25oz)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels

Instructions:
  1. Sift the cake mix.
  2. Cream the butter, cream cheese and 2 eggs.
  3. Add the sifted cake mix and combine.
  4. Add 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels. (You will probably have to mix these in with a spoon by hand.)
  5. Drop cookies (about 1 TBSP) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (If the dough is too sticky you can put in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.)
  6. Cook 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Enjoy!

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If you've read any of my blog, you know I love to use cake mixes any way I can. Check out my other cake mix recipes like Lemon Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.


Happy Baking,

Jennifer

23 years....and Counting! 5 Marriage Lessons We Have Learned Over the Past 20 Years!

 
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On November 12, 1994, I went to my brother's best friend's wedding and had one thing on my mind...I was going out later and couldn't wait to go have some fun. Little did I know that the course of my life would change forever that night! I saw a cute blonde-haired guy across the room at the reception and immediately pointed out to my sister-in-law that he was super cute. I watched him most of the night and when the reception ended and the lights came on, he was leaving, with his coat across his arm, and I stopped him and introduced myself. Literally, the rest is history. We REALLY liked each other immediately and it wasn't long after that, that we were married.

We married on February 10, 1996, and it was the perfect day. We couldn't wait to get married and start our lives together. That feeling of pure hope and joy is one I will always remember and associate with that time. Today, we have been married 23 years, and I still have hope and joy, but it's different. People tell you, "Oh wait until you have bills and responsibilities; wait until you have a job, kids, and a house note; wait until you are trying to work, bathe kids, do homework, cook supper and still have time for each other." We have done all of that. And we have survived, thus far! And we plan on continuing to survive! Has it been easy, hell no! Would I want to do all of this with anyone else, no way!

 
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So, I thought I'd take this little minute to share some things that I have learned over the past 23 years. Is it written in stone? No. But, I have gotten some great advice from family and friends and it has really helped me, so why not pass it along?

*Always fight fair and watch your words

  It is very easy, in the heat of an argument, when you are mad and tired and just done, to lay                                              everything on the line. To say every little thing that has crossed your mind over the past week that                               has irritated you or aggravated you. DON'T DO IT! I promise you, that you will regret it! It's hard, but this is a time where you need to use restraint and patience and really think through what you say to your partner. Words cannot be taken back, and I promise you, what you say will not be forgotten. Think about what the issue at hand really is, and how you can discuss it with your partner in a calm and respectful manner. This will keep things calm and productive.

*Remind your partner that you appreciate them and thank them for the little things

     When you first start dating, those little things are noticed and you tend to say thank you and gush  and say how wonderful your partner is. But as time goes on, people tend to get lax. Either in doing nice things for each other or thanking each other. You have to remember how things started, and you need to try to keep them that way. If you truly appreciate your partner, this will be no problem. I know life gets busy, but you have to put your partner first. If Chad brings me a cup of coffee in the morning, I say thank you. I really do appreciate that. I didn't have to get up and get my own cup of coffee. And, he thought enough to think about me and fix me one while he was fixing his. It's sweet, and I like sweet 😃 

*You CANgo to bed angry

 No, I don't have fever....I know this is the opposite of everything everyone ever says. And, when we got married, I would have said "never go to bed angry". But, after 23 years of learning from my husband, sometimes going to bed angry saves us! I told my parents today that the first year of our marriage was the hardest. Sound crazy? Well, we didn't date for very long and we were still learning how to communicate with each other. So when we first got married, I wanted to talk everything out right then and lay it all on the line. Chad, not so much! It was so frustrating, because he would just shut down because he didn't want to get into some big fight and get all emotional and drag it out, and I did! One of his favorite things to still say is, “it takes two to tango”! But, he's right. Sometimes it's best to go to bed, sleep on it, get your thoughts together and re-visit it in the morning when it's not so fresh and volatile. I told my parents today that the first year of our marriage was the hardest. Sound crazy? Well, we didn't date for very long and we were still learning how to communicate with each other. And, sometimes, I realize how whatever we were going to fuss about was so stupid anyway! Which brings me to...

*Don't sweat the small stuff

 It took me a long time to come to this conclusion. A. REALLY. LONG. TIME. Somewhere around 10 years into marriage, I read something that said - what is the issue at hand? How will this issue affect you in 5 mins? How will this issue affect you in 5 months? How will this issue affect you in 5 years? When I say this was life-changing for me, I am not exaggerating. I told it to my girls instantly because some situations are blown out of proportion for no reason at all. If something is bothering me, I use these principals to evaluate is it worth addressing. If it's going to still be a problem in 5 years, you bet I'm going to say something. If I'm going to be mad in 5 minutes but forget about it in 5 months, why dwell on it right this second. Let me give you an example- if I am aggravated about maybe I want to do and Chad wants to do something else, how important is this going to be after 5 mins...probably not very. If it's something major and could still be affecting our relationship in 5 months or 5 years...I HAVE to say something!

*Always put your partner first

This is way easier said than done...I know. You have to take care of your kids. End of story. And hopefully, that's a common goal you and your partner have? Lot's of times I've had to say, "Chad, I'm sorry I've been tied up all night with the kids, but they've needed help with this, and this and this. But, I'm almost done and I'll be to bed." (Or whatever the case may be).  I think he appreciated the fact that I took the time to tell him, I realize I've ignored you all night, but this is why. We also agreed, very early on when we had kids, that we would make decisions together and always try to have a united front. Kids are so good at trying to play their parents against each other, and you just cannot let that happen You and your spouse are on the same team, not against each other. We may not always agree, and we may have to compromise, but come up with a solution we both agree on and can stand behind. Now that our kids are 21 and 17, they know we aren't going to go against each other!

 
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I am not a marriage counselor by any means, and we don't have some kind of fairy tale perfect marriage. But, I have to say that it's pretty darn good. There isn't anyone else I would rather hang out with. He ALWAYS makes me feel better and he tells me that everything is going to be okay. He cracks me up constantly, and we are there for each other. We are in this together and we aren't quitting. So, even though there are bumps in the road, we aren't going to let that slow us down!

I always love our anniversary because it is so close to Valentine's Day, so we almost celebrate for a week! So, take this time to show your "special someone" that you appreciate them and that everyday may not be perfect, but it will be worth it!


Happy Valentine's Day AND Anniversary to Us!

Jennifer - XO

How to Create Individual Pizzas for Your Entire Family the Easy Way

 
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You finish up a long day of work, or you've been at extracurricular activities with your kids, OR you just don't feel like preparing a heavy, labor intensive meal. But, you don't want to go through the nearest drive through either because you are trying to save money AND feed your family 1/2 way nutritious meals! 

What to do? I have a fabulous idea that is so easy and simple you will wonder why you haven't done it before. 

Individual Pizzas.....now I know you are thinking "Jennifer, I have thought of that, you aren't telling me anything new!" Well, I have made A LOT of individual pizzas and I have tried A LOT of different ways to make them. I don't have a pizza oven in my kitchen (I guess like most people), but I still want my crust to be crunchy and hold up to whatever ingredients I choose to put on it.

I think the key to this is the crust! And, I have tried A LOT (the theme here is A LOT!) of different kinds of pizza crusts for individual pizzas. Let's see, I have tried a flour tortilla, canned pizza dough that I cut in small circles, and even French bread. But, none of them have really satisfied my crunch I like in a pizza. They were either too soft, or they wouldn't hold my toppings and they would slide off the whole piece of pizza. I am then left with crust in my hand, and all of my toppings on the plate! Not good.

But, never fear, I found the answer!

What is it?  TA-DA: Pita Bread!!

 
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Yes, pita bread.....and let me tell you it is fantastic! You really can go about assembling the pizza any way you want, but I do have a little method. 

What I used:

Cookie Sheet

Copper Chef Pan

Rubber Spatula

Black & Decker Convection Toaster Oven


Before I started assembling this little gem, I sautéed some onions (sometimes I do mushrooms too, but I didn't have them this day). Anyway, I had everything out and ready to go and it literally took a hot minute to get these together, in the oven, and on the plate. Like 12 hot minutes!

 
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I started by putting pizza sauce on the pita, and then I put cheese (don't tell me why I always thought the cheese went on top? But, I read something that said to put the cheese on the bottom, then toppings, then a little more cheese, and all of your toppings will stay on your pizza!). Then I put my toppings, a little more cheese, and popped those babies in the oven, and 12-15 minutes later, I am eating me some pizza. And it is good! And the crust is crispy AND it holds all of the toppings!

Now, sometimes, if it's just me and Chad, or I'm just fixing one, I will not heat my big oven in my kitchen. Chad got me a Black & Decker Convection Toaster Oven and it is literally the bomb.com.

It works just like my big oven, but heats up faster, cooks a little faster and doesn’t heat up my whole kitchen.

 
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I mean, doesn’t this look delicious??!!

So if you are looking for a quick dinner OR snack for you, your kids, your hubby, whoever (I fed this to my whole family for dinner), this is the ticket. And, one of the best parts about it, is that you can individualize them to what each person likes!

Ok, so now I got to go, I made myself want this pizza!!


Happy Pizza Making,

Jennifer

Instant Pot No Fuss Chicken Parmesan and Pasta

 
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We Love Italian

When Chad and I first started dating, there was a little Italian place here that served the best chicken parmesan. We would go at least once a week and I would get the chicken parmesan and he would order lasagna and they were both amazing! 

Well, I've given you my crockpot lasagna recipe here, and I promise that you will never regret making it! I have made chicken parmesan a few times, but I don't really like frying anything. Besides the health reasons, I cannot stand the smell of fried foods in the house. I feel like it stays on me and in my hair for days and days.

So, when I got my Instant Pot, I had to try to make it, without the breading and frying and see how it tasted. I made this one night after work, and no kidding, I had it cooked and ready to eat in about 35 minutes. The best part of this, is that the chicken is so juicy! We are funny about boneless, skinless chicken breasts, because when you bake them they have a tendency to dry out, or have no taste at all. After I used them in this recipe, we all agreed they were the best cooked in the Instant Pot!

I didn't bread the chicken or fry it, but I guess you still could do that before instead of just browning the chicken breasts with no breading. I put a little oil in the Instant Pot and put in on sauté setting and browned the chicken breasts. About 5 minutes on each side because I wasn’t cooking it, just browning it.

 
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Building Dinner

After I had browned both sides of the chicken, I just literally added the rest of the ingredients to the Instant Pot. I added minced garlic, tomato sauce, butter and seasonings. I know, it all sounds TOO easy!

Then, all you have to do is turn the Instant Pot on and let it do its magic! It cooked for about 15 minutes and then I released the pressure, topped it with mozzarella cheese (the recipe calls for parmesan, we like mozzarella so that’s what I used), put the lid on and let it melt for 5 minutes. While the chicken was cooking, I boiled some pasta. As it was cooking, one by one, my family came out to see what was the smell....and when i finally took that top off of the instant pot, it filled the entire house with the most wonderul chicken and tomato sauce smell...like our little Italian restaurant we used to go to!

 
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Pulling it All Together

I also had a loaf of french bread that my sister had given me (thank goodness for her), and I spread some butter on that sucker and sprinkled some garlic powder on it and voila'! I had some fantastic garlic bread to go with my Italian meal! To say this meal was a hit is an understatement. It is rare that everyone in my family likes the same thing, but this dish is a keeper! 

And, you know how some dishes taste better the next day because they've been sitting up overnight letting the flavors all blend? This dish is one of them. I had it for lunch the next day and it was even better than the night before.

NO FUSS INSTANT POT PARMESAN CHICKEN AND PASTA

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp shortening
  • 1/3 cups Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, salted
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 1/3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil in the inner pot on saute setting.
  2. Brown the chicken breasts on each side.
  3. Add parmesan cheese, garlic powder, butter and tomato sauce on top of chicken.
  4. Lock the lid into place and seal the steam nozzle.
  5. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  6. Quick release the pressure.
  7. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and replace the lid to let the cheese melt, about 5 minutes.
  8. Cook your pasta of choice according to package directions.
  9. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

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And, you know how some dishes taste better the next day because they've been sitting up overnight letting the flavors all blend? This dish is one of them. I had it for lunch the next day and it was even better than the night before. I will definitely be making this again! If you really wanted to bread and pan fry the chicken, you could do that in the inner pot on the sauté setting. This would also be a great meal for a large family or a crowd, because it goes a long way. We had a good amount for leftovers the next day and still a couple of servings after the leftovers. So, here is another great Instant Pot recipe for you to go try and let me know how much you love it!

Happy Cooking,

Jennifer

Valentine's Day Popcorn That Will Steal Anyone's Heart!

 
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So I realized the other day that National Popcorn Day and Valentine's are in the same month!!! OMG! I love popcorn, and I kind of do love Valentine's Day. Not because of all of the lovie dovie stuff. Our wedding anniversary is February 10th, so we kind of lump the two together anyway. I just like all the candy! (Does that surprise you?) 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to talk a little about both popcorn and Valentine's Day! More about popcorn, and then Valentine's Day Popcorn!


Americans currently consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year! That's a lot of popcorn. And, who knew it was so good for you? At the heart of popcorn is a healthful whole-grain that is naturally low-fat, low in calories, and gluten-free! WHAT? Yep! One serving can provide about 70% of a person's recommended daily intake of whole grains.

FUN FACTS

I have some fun popcorn facts (at least I thought they were fun and super interesting)!

  • Most people think of popcorn as a snack, but in the early 1900's, popcorn was a popular breakfast food - much like cereal today.

  • It is most popular around holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

  • At one time, popcorn balls were one of the most popular foods given as gifts.

  • Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world is grown in the United States, but Americans consume the most!

  • Most of the popcorn grown in the United States is grown in Indianan, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.

  • Microwave popcorn became popular in the early 1980's and is one of the main reasons people use microwaves. Most microwaves have a "popcorn" control button.

  • It is a great snack for diabetics as well as people on a low cholesterol diet. 

Who knew all of that about popcorn? I surely did not. I knew it was good for you, but I definitely had no idea that we consumed that much, or that people used to eat it for breakfast!


I always associated popcorn with the movie theatre. You know when you walk in the theatre and that fresh popped popcorn smell hits your first thing? Also, in a gym at a basketball game....that was random. Look, my dad was a basketball coach, so the smell of popcorn and the sound of squeaking tennis shoes and whistle's blowing is comforting to me - I may or may not need counseling....

Anyway, you may or may not know that my mom has Multiple Sclerosis and was diagnosed with Lupus in 1983-1984. Part of her early treatment was chemotherapy. She would be in a hospital in Houston, TX, for extended periods of time to receive treatment, and then she would come home for a few weeks to recuperate, and then head back to Houston. Most of the time, when she came home between treatments, she did not feel well. She was experiencing all of the side effects that come with chemotherapy. One of which was nausea. Most anything made her sick, but she loved some movie theatre popcorn. My sister or my dad would drive me to the theatre to get her some popcorn and it made her happier than happy. She loved it and would eat it for days. The people at the movie theatre got to know us very well. I never wanted a ticket, I just needed to get to the concession stand! I'll never forget getting her that popcorn and how much she truly enjoyed eating it.


My kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE popcorn. My youngest daughter, Emily, likes it a lot, but kind of has to be in the mood for it. My oldest, Katelyn, Lordy watch out. That child can eat some popcorn. And she goes on binges. She tends to eat it late at night and she will eat it nightly for weeks and weeks. And then is done with it for a while. I popped some today and she perked up...I'm sure she'll be back on the popcorn kick tomorrow! Anyway, I thought what better way to celebrate National Popcorn Day and Valentine's Day than with Valentine's Day Popcorn?? 

 
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Did you hear the bells and cheers? Oh, well, they are going off over here. Because popcorn AND chocolate? Sweet and salty? Yes ma'am I think so! I have seen a few recipes for sweet and salty popcorn, but most of them seem to use caramel. I decided to try white chocolate and popcorn, and to make it for Valentine's Day, I added some red and pink M&M's....I did...I really did. You know what I'm going to say...O.M.G....it was delicious. Like so delicious, that after Valentine's Day it will just be M&M popcorn!!! 


I literally popped some microwave popcorn and melted some white chocolate. I drizzled the chocolate over the popcorn and let it set. I then mixed the white chocolate covered popcorn with Valentine M&M's and mini pretzels. I then continued to eat almost the entire thing! This should be called Valentine's Popcorn Crack...I could not stop eating it...it's salty and sweet and it's just the perfect combination. Ok, let me tell you what I did so you can get on out there and make it!


What I used:


Cookie sheet

Spatula

Metal Buckets (you could use ANYTHING)

Microwave popcorn

White chocolate morsels

Valentine M&M's

Mini Pretzels

VALENTINE'S DAY POPCORN!

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn
  • 1 package of white chocolate morsels (11 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp shortening
  • 1 cup mini pretzels (or however many you want to use)
  • 1 cup Valentine's M&M's (or however many you want to use)

Instructions:
  1. Pop the bag of popcorn in the microwave. Once it is popped, pour it onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips and shortening in 30 second intervals. Stirring every 30 seconds to ensure you do not burn the chocolate.
  3. When the white chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the popcorn. Add the M&M's and the pretzels and gently fold it together.
  4. Set the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help the chocolate set.
  5. Keep the popcorn stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  6. If it is left out of an airtight container for too long, the popcorn will become soft, so ensure once it is served to cover it back up.

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When I tell you to make this with caution…I mean be careful! You will eat the entire thing! OR, better yet, make it for your Valentine and steal their heart!! :)

Happy Valentine’s Popcorn,

Jennifer

February is American Heart Month

 
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February is American Heart Month and a year ago, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. It's horrible of me I know, but I didn't personally have anyone in my immediate family affected by heart disease or heart problems. Until May 23, 2018, and we all really got the scare of our lives. I have told the story before about my mom having a heart attack that day, and you can find it here. Since then, I have continued to research heart disease and it's risk factors. I have continued to learn new things about how to decrease your risk, and keep your heart healthy!



Here's the problem in my head. I am a dietitian, I learned all this crap in school, read the books, did the case studies, blah, blah, blah. But two things!


One, you never think it will happen to you or that it will affect you personally.


Two, my mom has always been the most educated person about health and food. What's good for you, what's not. What's going to cause acne and bloating and what's good to get rid of it. Listen, believe, me, she told us and still tells us that anything going on with us is probably related to something we ate. When I was about 13 or 14 and no one even TALKED about skim milk, but my mom was slick. She started taking whole milk and mixing 3/4 whole milk with 1/4 skim milk. She did this for about 2 weeks and then did 1/2 whole, 1/2 skim, and so on until we were just drinking skim milk. 


BUT WE HAD NO IDEA!!! I have three brothers who would've freaked out if they thought mom was switching to skim milk on us.....I guess she figured we didn't need to know! She eventually got tired of putting the skim milk in a whole milk jug and one day we saw that skim milk jug in the fridge and we were like, "No way, not happening, nope". She basically laughed at us and told us that we had been drinking it for at least 6 weeks and we had no clue!

She was also the one that no matter where we went, she wanted a salad (with the dressing on the side) and steamed vegetables (no butter)! So, I was surprised when she had a heart attack.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. About 610,000 people die in the United States a year from heart disease.


The 3 MAJOR risk factors are:

  • high blood pressure

  • high cholesterol

  • smoking

At least half of all Americans have at least one of these risk factors. My mom had slightly elevated cholesterol, but nothing to write home about. Her blood pressure was super, super low. Like we used to joke and ask if she had a pulse. But the smoking. She smoked for probably 20 years when she was younger. She quit smoking about 40 years ago, but I guess that 20 years of damage was done. Thank goodness she stopped when she did!


Several other risk factors that can contribute to heart disease are diabetes, overweight and obesity., poor diet, no physical activity, and excessive use of alcohol.


HOW TO KNOW

There are some major warning signs and they are sometimes different for men and women:

  • chest pains

  • discomfort in the arms, back, neck or jaw

  • shortness of breath

  • nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats


My mom had ALL of these EXCEPT chest pains.  The day I really knew something was wrong is when I called to check on her that Sunday morning, and she could hardly talk. She was literally gasping for air and I could tell over the telephone. I mentioned it to her and she of course never wants any of us to worry about her so she quickly said, "I'm fine, I'm fine, y'all don't worry about me". 


Well, the rest of the story is in my post and it boils down to the fact that, thank goodness we did worry about her and had someone check her out the next morning. She had a stint put in one of the blocked arteries, and is taking meds for the other. I have a very close family, and we are thankful for every day that we have together!

One of the things that you can do to help decrease your risk of heart disease is by following a healthy diet and getting physical exercise. 


If you would like to find out more, I have put together a little pamphlet for you that includes the basics of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and a 2 - Day sample menu!


Enter your name and email below, and it will come right to your inbox!

Happy American Heart Month,

Jennifer



Perfect Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

 
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The Instant Pot Story

So, my sister, Tracy, got an Instant Pot last year in December, and she has told me all year how much she loved it. And, I have seen all over the internet and all over Pinterest that it was the "rage". 

I was hearing things like:

-You can put all of your ingredients in the pot together and cook them for 30 mins to an hour and have supper just like that!

-It cooks everything super fast and it still comes out tender and delicious.

-You will never cook hard-boiled eggs the same again.

And, that is why my sister is a die-hard fan. 

You see, Tracy makes these deviled eggs THAT. ARE. TO. DIE. FOR!! She makes them every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and we literally have to hide them until it's time to eat because we will ALL eat them ALL before lunch has even started.

Anyway, she said this Instant Pot was a game changer when it came to hard boiling eggs.

You know, I've always boiled them on the stove, and quite honestly, it's hit or miss. Sometimes they are perfect! Easy to peel and the yolk is a perfect yellow color...but usually, it's not that fairy tale story. More often than not, I'll at least have a few that are hard to peel, and there is a not so nice gray outline around the yolk. 

Searching for the Perfect Hard-Boiled (Pressure Cooked) Egg

Ok, so guess what? I got an Instant Pot for Christmas! Yay! I got THIS ONE and I love it! I couldn't wait to use it either. Mine didn't come with a basket, so my sister did what any good big sis would do....she ordered me one:) She ordered me one LIKE THIS and she knew what she was talking about. And, yesterday, I decided I was going to try doing hard boiled eggs in it. (I will link both of these at the bottom of the post with pics).

Well, I don't ever doubt my sister, because she's older than me and she knows what she's talking about (I tell her that all the time, UNLESS I'm telling her what to do!!!). And, again, she was right. I hard boiled 8 eggs and they were perfection. Now, I read up on hard boiling eggs in the Instant Pot and there were so many options, it kind of made my head spin...super soft boiled, soft boiled, medium boiled, hard boiled, super hard-boiled. I'm like, just cook the dang egg!

I did figure out that I don't want that yolk soft or super soft....I DO NOT need a squishy boiled egg. So it I cooked the eggs for 8 minutes (which is the second to last hardest yolk) and they were perfection. The directions say to take them out of the pot and put them directly in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

 
These eggs hanging out in their ice bath!

These eggs hanging out in their ice bath!

 

The Result!

So, I did as I was told. I let them cool about 15 minutes and took to peeling....and they really were the easiest I have ever peeled boiled eggs. Like EVER. The eggs, with the peel off, were so smooth. I don't think I've ever made eggs like that. Mine usually have a few holes in them and part of the white pulled off.

 
I mean look at these, they kind of don’t even look real!

I mean look at these, they kind of don’t even look real!

 

So, I cut one of them open and it was the prettiest yellow yolk you've ever seen. It didn't even have that dark line of gray that it normally has!

I looked at them for a long time, just in satisfaction because I have battled boiling eggs for years. And then I decided I had to do something with these 8 eggs! So, I decided to make deviled eggs (which I didn't photograph and they didn't taste near as good as Tracy's). But they were good and my family devoured them. And I'm so glad I finally got the chance to try cooking them in the Instant Pot. My days of boiling them on the stove are OVER. 

 
egg inside.JPG
 

This INSTANT POT has been a game changer for me. I mean, I've read lots of reviews of people that love it, and I've even read quite a few people who have said it is way over-rated. Well, let me tell you, I love it and I have used for so many things just in the past month I've had it. It has changed the way I cook supper for the better.

I can't wait to show you all more of the things that I am making in the Instant Pot and you will see how fabulous it is!

Okay! Here is the recipe that I used!


INSTANT POT HARD-BOILED EGGS

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • Large Eggs - any amount - I used 8
  • 1 cup water (for 8 eggs)

Instructions:
  1. Put 1 cup water in Instant Pot insert.
  2. Place eggs in the instant pot basket.
  3. Close the lid and the steam valve.
  4. Set Instant Pot for 5 minutes on Manual at HIGH pressure.
  5. Allow pot to release the pressure naturally for 5 minutes, then very carefully quick release any remaining steam.
  6. Take the eggs out and set in an ice bath for at least 5 minutes
  7. Remove eggs from the ice bath and either peel or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

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Happy Instant Potting,


Jennifer

Easy Chocolate Chip Cake Bars

 
choc chip bars - blog.png

So, I was thinking about this title and I thought, Chocolate Chip Bars? Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake? I don't know. There's so many things this could be called, but it boils down to delicious. And, quite frankly so easy it should be against the law...

Literally 5 ingredients, didn't even have to pull out my mixer!

And guess what else? I used a yellow cake mix.....radio silence 😃

I have made chocolate chip cookie bars from scratch, but I decided to try these with a yellow cake mix just to see if it tasted different and if it tasted good? But, you literally, dump 5 ingredients together, mix with a spoon, and pop it in the oven.

It really couldn't be easier.

I mean, you could go buy some from the store (although I haven't actually seen these in the store)....anyway, you'd still have to get in your car, go to the store, go IN the store and blah, blah, blah.

Ok, enough jibber jabber...here's how I did it:

A yellow cake mix - any kind any brand.

 
bar cake mix.JPEG
 

Add 1/2 cup melted butter.

 
Bar Butter.JPG
 

Then add 2 eggs. I mean are you winded yet?? Tired? - my sarcasm is killing me! :)

 
Bar eggs.JPG
 

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 cups chocolate chips.

 
Bar chips.JPG
 

All you have to do is mix it up and put it in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow them to cool and cut into squares.

Doesn’t this look delicious?? I cannot get into eating raw cookie dough because I would incriminate myself!

 
Bar Raw.JPG
 

CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE BARS

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix )(15.25oz)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate morsels

Instructions:
  1. Combine cake mix, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  2. Add 2 cups chocolate morsels.
  3. Put in a 9 x 13 baking dish and cook 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Enjoy!

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I like to use my Pyrex dish like this and it has a cover, so if I am going to a party or a friends house I have a cover, or it’s awesome to just cover it to keep them fresh!

Y’all go make these (i’m sure you have everything in your pantry already)! And let me know how much you like them!!

Happy Baking,

Jennifer


 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie *Copycat Angel Food Smoothie from Smoothie King*

 
Copy cat Angel Food Smoothie_Smoothie King- blog.png

I’m on my smoothie making spree again. This time, I did strawberry banana and I have to say…it is pretty amazing! I made it once to make sure the recipe was the right flavor and consistency, and I have probably made it at least 2 more times in the past week! So, it’s a winner.

Like I said in my Mixed Berry Smoothie post, I use the NINJA, BLENDER/FOOD PROCESSOR, to make my smoothies. I had a blender, but I have found that the Ninja just blends everything better. In a blender, the blades are just at the bottom, but in a Ninja, the blades are all the way through the center of the pitcher. It’s quite fascinating can you tell? lol! Another thing I LOVE about the Ninja, and especially the set that I have linked, is that it comes with different size pitchers AND it includes a lid to go on it. So, when I’m in a rush, make a smoothie, don’t drink it all, I just pop the top on the pitcher and stick it in the fridge!! It’s amazing! (At least in my world this is amazing!) I have added a picture of the Ninja that I purchased, at the end of this post.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Ing.JPEG

Here is the recipe and I, of course altered the original recipe, because that's what I do!!! The original recipe calls for vanilla yogurt, and I used strawberry yogurt. I wanted more strawberry and less banana taste, because, in case you didn’t know already, I DON’T LIKE BANANAS!!!!

Also, if you notice that little stainless steel straw in the smoothie below? I. LOVE. THOSE. THINGS. They have a wider mouth (which is better for drinking smoothies and milkshakes) AND they keep it so cold. I bought them here, and I will put the pic and link at the end of this post. We use them for everything because they are awesome!

STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE

Makes: 2 servings

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana, sliced, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • honey to taste

Instructions:
  1. Combine frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, yogurt and milk
  2. Blend well in blender/smoothie maker
  3. Add honey to taste
  4. Enjoy!

*If you do not have a frozen banana, add 1/2 cup more yogurt and a handful of ice.

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So, go try this smoothie and let me know how you like it! My family thought it was a for sure hit! And you can add anything to it. If you add a protein powder or energy mix, just add it in and blend it!

Happy Smoothie Making,

Jennifer

 
 

6 Ways to Create Healthy Habits for Your Kids

When I first had my kids, I really had no clue what I was doing (but I guess don't we all have no clue)? Well, when it came time to start feeding them, I felt like that is one thing I could handle. I had been in school for five years and was working as a dietitian at WIC (Women's Infants and Children). I did nutrition education all day everyday, for pregnant women, infants, children and postpartum women. I mean, what else did I need?

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JENerating A Good Year - 2019!

Have you heard it? Seen it? I know you have….Now is the time to lose weight, start new habits, lose some weight!

Your New Year’s Resolution!!!….that 90% of people DON’T keep!

It's like people are cramming it down your throats! Well, I am not disagreeing with the fact that we can all eat a little healthier and do something different everyday to feel better about ourselves and make some changes.

But why not do it on your terms.....I mean, every plan doesn't work for everyone. You kind of have to look at yourself, look at your habits, and do what works for you. I'm sorry, but you shouldn't lose 10 pounds in a week, it's not healthy and it's not going to stay off....I call myself a realist, my husband calls me "the dream crusher"! -HA!

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6 Gift Ideas for a Teenage Girl, AND They Can Be Here by Christmas!

 

It December 14th and you still have a few gifts to buy (or more than a few if you’re like me!), and you don’t have time to head out into the wonderful world of shopping at the mall…..AND teenagers are some of the HARDEST people to buy for!!! Well, here I have 6 gift ideas for a teenage girl AND if you order them now, they will be here for Christmas! So, enjoy!

Gift Guide for Teenage Girls.png

1 TOUCHSCREEN GLOVES // 2 VELVET HAIR TIES 
 
3 BUN/PONY BEANIE // 4 HOOD JACKETS 
5 APPLE WATCH BAND //6 MAKE UP BRUSH KIT

So go ahead and get to shopping so no time is wasted!

Happy Shopping,

Jennifer

 

White Chocolate Hot Chocolate

So in Louisiana, really cold days are rare....and most people around here either love them or despise them! I LOVE them....my oldest daughter DESPISES them! She is cold in the summer here though, so she can't be trusted! :) Anyway, we have had some unusually cold days here lately and I love hot chocolate when I am cold. Normally, I do the Swiss Miss thing, heat the milk or water, open the packet and voila'! (Which there is nothing wrong with that-quick and easy!)

 
The Most Amazing White Chocolate Hot Cocoa! - blog.png
 


BUT, I was alone one night (gasp-I spent years wishing for a night alone, and now I'm alone A LOT! Teenagers and a working husband will get me there I guess?) ADHD alert.....I decided to make homemade hot chocolate and I found a recipe for White Chocolate Hot Chocolate, and thought "why the heck not? I'm home alone, I don't have to make 2 tons of it, no one will tell me it looks terrible, stinks, whatever else they can say..:))". And, I love chocolate. I am not a huge fan of white chocolate, but I decided to give it a try!!!

O.M.G.....(I'll bet you knew I was going to say that!) It was so, so good. Like, I think I made enough for 2 servings and yep, I drank both of them.  And it was so easy! I literally heated up a few ingredients and I was drinking homemade white chocolate hot chocolate! It literally probably took me 6-8 minutes total, which after the way it tastes, I will make anytime I have the time to do it, instead of the packet. So, now you want the recipe?  Ok, I guess....

WHITE CHOCOLATE HOT CHOCOLATE

Makes: 2 servings

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 8 ounces of white chocolate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • whipped cream, or marshmallows, more chocolate, anything you would like to top it with

Instructions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Whisk frequently, until the chocolate has melted and the hot chocolate is smooth. DO NOT allow the hot chocolate to boil. You will have curdled milk!
  3. Serve hot, with whipped cream, marshmallows, shaved chocolate, sprinkles, or anything that you like to top your hot chocolate with.
  4. Enjoy! And repeat! :)


I had all of these ingredients in my kitchen already because lots of my recipes call for half and half or whipping cream and I keep all kinds of chocolate! I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the white chocolate so much, but it was smooth and cream and delicious! 


Now, I'm looking for a good regular homemade hot chocolate recipe....any suggestions?


Happy Sipping,


Jennifer

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How I Increased My Pinterest Average Monthly Viewers by 640% in about 6 Weeks!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission should you chose to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my link and you will not be charged extra. It’s okay – I love all of these companies anyways, and you will too!



 
How I Increased Pinterest Pageviews by 640% in 2 Months.png
 

Ok, so I am a dietitian and I write about nutrition, meal planning, healthy eating, and recipes. So, why am I writing a post on how my Pinterest viewers increased by 650% over a few weeks time? Oh my gosh, because I am really new to blogging. Like 6 months new, and I have slowly educated myself on LOTS of things pertaining to blogging. So, I always like to share what I have learned and some helpful hints along the way. That’s a huge part of how I learned, by reading other people’s blogs and taking some of their advice!

I have been a Registered Dietitian for over 20 years, and have worked in a variety of settings. I now work with the Child Nutrition Program in our local school district and I love my job! One night, in the middle of the night, I just kind of woke up, and couldn't go back to sleep. As I lay there, I started thinking about my life and my job, my education and my career. My kids are 21 and 17 now, and they still need me, but not like they did when they were 8 and 4. So I thought, "Self, you are not using your education and knowledge to its fullest potential"! I don't know what I thought "Self" was going to do....but an hour later, I was still laying there wide awake. I also would not have minded a little extra cash every month for my family! So, with this business, I wanted to make some money. I have a full time job, so I can't open a Consulting Business and operate it during the day, but why couldn't I open it and operate it online??? I did a little research, and people are doing this! The rest is history, I was off and running. There Jennifer Lee Coburn Nutrition was born!

What's your long drawn out point Jennifer? I. HAD. NO. IDEA. WHAT. I. WAS. DOING....So, I took a course called Digital Nomad Nutritionist by Amie Tollesfund...and it was a game changer. It was very easy for me to understand and it told me step by step how to do everything that I needed to do to get up and running with my website. I initially thought that I didn't want to spend the money for the course, but I have quickly figured out that you have to spend money to make money. You have to invest in yourself, and this was a great investment. Amie has offered a promotion for $100 off the course when you sign up by December 31, 2018! Go check it out here, and go ahead and sign up before the cut off so that you can receive that awesome discount! I promise, you will not be disappointed!


Which brings me to Pinterest. Let me start out by saying that Pinterest is my greatest source of traffic BY FAR! Everything you read tells you that Pinterest is not concerned about followers! It is a search engine and it is based more on how many people put their eyes on your content. The more people see your content, the higher you will rank in their logarithm and your pins will go to the top of their feed! So, I decided to invest in a course called Pinning Perfect. It is fantastic and it taught me so much. It literally breaks down how to produce a pin that is beautiful, informative AND leads the reader to valuable information. It also shows you the method to pinning your own pins, plus other people's pins, in order to be recognized on Pinterest. Y'all....I had no idea that blogging was a science!!! For real, there is a method to this, and things change every day. Let me say, that after taking this course and following their lessons, my traffic did increase greatly. And the content is available forever, so if I ever need to go back and look something up or get some new ideas….I just go right back to the course and read up on it!

So, how did I increase my pageviews? You're expecting me to say Tailwind right? Well, I do love Tailwind. It is also discussed in the course and it is fabulous because it is an automated pinning program that lets you schedule out TONS of your pins ahead of time so that you aren't pinning all day everyday. They also have "tribes" that you can join that are related to your niche and this is a place where you can share your pins and they get seen by so many more people. When you sign up with Tailwind via this link, there is a special promotion for new bloggers that when they sign up, they will get one month free. Just try it out and see. You will be hooked!

But, the way I increased my viewers on Pinterest by 652% is by SEO. Search Engine Optimization. When they say that Pinterest is a search engine, they are not kidding. There is a whole part on SEO in the Pinning Perfect Course! I was just looking at my Pinterest account one day and thinking I needed to update some of the boards and maybe add a few more. So, I did just that...I changed the name on almost every board and I went in and spiffed up the descriptions and hashtags...and can I tell you that during that very weekend, my views skyrocketed. I thought it was some freak of nature so I got on the Pinning Perfect Facebook Group Page (another perk to taking the course - it's a private group where you can ask all kinds of questions) and asked if they thought it was legit. Well, needless to say, it has been four weeks and my numbers are still climbing. My views have gone from 40,000 to 390,000 in about 6 weeks. Best news, my google analytics show it too! Which increases the pageviews to my website, which helps with ads and people looking at my other content! It was a WIN/WIN and I couldn't believe it was all from changing my boards and cleaning up my descriptions and hashtags!


Here is a picture of my Pinterest analytics from October 28:

 
Pinterest Analytics Oct 28.PNG
 

And here is a picture of my Pinterest analytics from Nov 12:

 
Pinterest Analytics Nov 12.PNG
 


I mean, need I say more? Nope. I couldn't believe, it, so I kept checking it and then checking my Google Analytics and they both showed a huge increase! I did figure out that my most popular posts were 5 Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal Ideas for Busy Moms That You'll Want to Try Tonight AND The Secret to Making Amazing Take Out Fried Rice from the Comfort of Your Own Home! So, I did go back and make sure that those posts and titles had Search Engine Optimization, and I created a couple of new images for Pinterest for them, and they took off even more!


I thought I would share this little tidbit of information, because everything I read about increasing your views on Pinterest are usually geared toward Tailwind (which I love!), but was floored when I saw what SEO had done for my account. So go ahead, go look at your boards. Do the titles for your boards make it clear about what is being pinned there? Do you have too many? Or too few? Then check your descriptions. You should be using keywords that are popular on Pinterest at the time and incorporating them in your description AND your hashtags. If any of you go and do this and see some kind of improvement, PLEASE let me know! I promise, it will knock your socks off. AND, it's FREE!!! 

Happy Pinning,

Jennifer


10 of the Best Christmas Cupcakes for Your Holidays

Christmas desserts are the best!! And cupcakes are a perfect dessert to bring to parties, dinners or just to have around for the holidays. This list of the best Christmas Cupcakes include great ideas for children, adults, co-workers, anyone you could think of….but be careful! After working on this post, all I wanted was a CUPCAKE!!!

Santa Hat Cupcakes courtesy of Midget Momma


Christmas Light Cupcakes courtesy of Baked Bree




Grinch Cupcakes via Make Bake Celebrate





Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes courtesy of Beyond Frosting




Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes courtesy of Baker by Nature




Mickey Mouse Santa Hat Cupcakes courtesy of Two Sisters Crafting





Snowflake Cupcake courtesy of Glorious Treats

North Pole Cupcakes via It is a Keeper!

Gingerbread Cupcake via Cooking Classy

Whew! That was fun….and appetizing! Go ahead! Get to making some of these and let me know if you do!! I want one of each please! :)

Happy Cupcaking,

Jennifer











Christmas Bullet Journal Ideas That You Don't Want to Miss!

So, I got back into my bullet journal over the Thanksgiving break and started a few Christmas pages....to say it was therapeutic AND fun is an UNDERSTATEMENT! I love the holidays, and this just got me a little more excited. I think making those pages doesn't take A LOT of my brain power, so it's kind of relaxing...now, I am NO artist, so that's a whole other issue! But, it's just for me (and I'm showing y'all), so what does it matter? Right? Ok, right! Anyway, here is a peek of some of the pages I did (while I probably should have been cleaning my house!).

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Don’t Want Your Thanksgiving Leftovers to Go to Waste? 5 Ideas to Transform Them Into Entirely Different Dishes!

You plan and organize and stress over Thanksgiving. You have family coming and you want everything to be perfect..or you are just fixing for your immediately family and you still want everything to be the best that it can be. And it is! The turkey is perfect, the dressing is to die for, and dessert hits the spot. And then it's over. All the hype, worry and preparation, and it is over just like that, AND you are left with a ton of leftovers...ughh. What are you going to do with all of this leftover food? Well, I have gathered a few ideas to help you decide what to do with these things.

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