Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Healthier Cupcakes


I don't know about your family, but mine loves dessert.  Over the past couple of years our family has become a bit more health conscious.  So, in turn we've been experimenting  with different recipes.

We've made several different desserts with zucchini.  Such as Zucchini bread, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies.  We loved to add chocolate chips to give it something extra special. 

While shopping at our local thrift store, I came across a cookbook.  Hungry Girl by Lisa Lillien (it has tons of great recipes).  The cookbook has a recipe on page 180, calling only for Dark Chocolate cake and a can of pumpkin.  We tried it, but it seemed a little tasteless.  I thought to myself what if we embraced the pumpkin flavor. I then thought, maybe spice cake would offer flavors more resembling pumpkin pie and offer more intense flavors.

Preheat your oven to 400.

Mix together one box of your favorite spice cake mix and one 15 oz. can of pumpkin.


My mother used to make pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips.  We have tried them with or without, both ways are delicious.
If you want the cupcakes to contain chocolate chips, add half a bag and stir in.


If you like, use cupcake liners in your pan for easier clean-up.
Otherwise, spray with non-stick cooking spray.


This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. 
The cups will be almost completely full.


Bake for 20 minute at 400.

They rise quite a bit, but straight up.


If you did not use chocolate chip, you might consider filling or covering with cream cheese frosting.

We hope you enjoy!

If you like this post, you might also like:

pork chops

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How I Got My Kids To DO Their Chores

My kids are getting older and I was feeling like they were starting to take advantage of the fact that I am a stay at home Mom.  They are pretty good kids, but they started leaving more and more messes.  So, my husband and I decided it was time for more chores.  However, they were even slacking on their chores doing the bare minimum.  I would ask why they didn't dust or something, and they would say "I didn't know that was part of the chore!"  The worst was they weren't getting their chores done the day they were suppose to.  This is all in the last year or two.  Well, I have never paid my children an allowance.  I always believed doing chores was part of being able to live in a home.  We all make messes, we all clean up!  So, I decided I needed to tackle this problem head on, or I knew this would cause a daily battle. 

I thought of each problem I was starting to have with my girls:

  1. They weren't getting their chores done the day they were assigned.
  2. They were only doing the bare minimum.
  3. They thought since I was home all day, I should do all the cleaning. 

Let's just say we had a very heated conversation about problem #3.

They said, "We have to go to school, that's like our work!"  

I said, "You go to school to better yourselves, and provide a future for yourselves, because you aren't living with me!  We aren't raising rebound babies!  The better you do at school, the better job you will be able to get.  When you grow up, move out, and have your own place, you will have to go to work and come home to clean and cook.  You will also have to take care of children and have many other responsibilities.  Bottom line is if you want to live here, you will do your share of the chores.  You help make the mess, you help clean it up!"

I have always thought children who don't have chores are being neglected of learning responsibility.  This is a big problem in today's society.

I came up with a chore book for each child.  This chore book was theirs for one month, at which time they would trade with their sister for a different chore book.  I have three children, so I made three chore books.  I later decided to make a master chore book for myself, so I knew who to get after if something wasn't done.

The chore books were made in a 3-ring binder with a clear slip sleeve cover.  Inside the cover was a paper saying which chore book it was, and which child it was for that month.  Inside the chore book were daily chores outlined in detail, with boxes to check when each part of the chore was complete.  This was to tackle problem #2 they were only doing the bare minimum.  Each day was in a clear page protector, so they could write and erase with a wet erase marker (we liked it better than dry erase). 

Each child had a daily dinner/kitchen chore, pet chore, and cleaning chore.

I decided to start paying my kids a small allowance.  However, this allowance had strict rules.  If you did your chore the day it was assigned you got paid a $.25.  If you put it off until tomorrow, you still had to do the chore, but you didn't get paid.  If by the following day you still hadn't done your chore, you owed me $.25 and you still had to do it. If the chore was never completed they owed $1.00. Depending on how much money you want your kids to be able to earn you could set the amount accordingly.  I know, some people think I'm cheap, but remember my kids weren't getting an allowance before this chore book.  The allowance really is just an incentive to get their chores done on time, problem #1.

I also listed bonus chores.  If they wanted to make extra money, they could ask to do one of the bonus chores listed.

At the end of the book was a chore settlement sheet.  At the end of the month we go over the settlement sheet together.  We add up all the positive $.25 for the chores that were done on time and all the -$.25 for all the chores that were late.  We reach a agreed upon settlement and they get paid.

Chore Book #1 

Sunday is our day of rest. 

Wednesday is busy at our house,
so it's a day off or checkup on chores.

Chore Book #2

Sunday is our day of rest. 

Wednesday is busy at our house,
so it's a day off or checkup on chores.

Chore Book 3

Sunday is our day of rest. 

Wednesday is busy at our house,
so it's a day off or checkup on chores.

Everyone's home is different and what chores you actually want your kids to do are different, so I hope you use this as a guideline to come up with a plan in your home.  It has worked great in our home, but I admit one child still struggles.  But, they can't say they didn't know what was expected of them.  Chores can be a struggle, but they are essential to raising well rounded responsible children.

Let us know if this has helped you, or if you have a great plan that works in your home.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

How to remove sticker residue

cut your own long hair


family calender

Monday, January 9, 2017

Taco soup

This soup is a family favorite.  I first learned how to make it from my sister using a Crockpot, but it can be made over the stove or in an Instant Pot as well.  I just got an Instant Pot for Christmas, I love it.  Highly recommended!

You will need:
1 lb. ground beef
1 can of corn
1 packet or 3 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning
(I recommend Hidden Valley)
1 packet or 1/4 cup taco seasoning
(I recommend McCormick,
use the Gluten free packet if needed.)
2 cans of red kidney beans
2 cans of tomatoes
(you can substitute for Mexican tomatoes or Rotel for a spicier version)
2 cans worth of water

sour cream
Fritos or any corn chip

Brown your ground beef.
If using an Instant Pot, use your sauté feature and brown right in the pot.

Add your 2 cans on tomatoes.

Using your tomato cans, add 2 cans worth of water.

I always like to drain and rinse my beans for better flavor.

Add 2 cans worth of drained and rinsed beans.

I also like to drain and rinse my corn.

Add 1 cans worth of drained and rinsed corn.

Add 1 packets worth of dry Ranch seasoning mix.

Add one packets worth of taco seasoning.

Stir and cook.

For the Instant Pot use your Chili/Bean option for 20-30 mins.
For the slow cooker (or slow cooker option on the Instant Pot) 1-4 hours.
(Your really just heating it up and letting the flavors marry a bit).
For the stove top, bring to a boil reduce heat to simmer for 20mins.

To serve add a dollop of sour cream and top with cheese. 
Eat with your favorite corn chip, we like Fritos for this particular soup.

*As of the date of publish, all ingredients listed are gluten free, but recipes and manufacturers are always changing. 
Always verify continued gluten free status on your own.

If you liked this recipe, you might also like:


pork chops

slow cooker ham and cabbage