November 17, 2017

Nourished by Lia Huber - Book Review

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Nourished by Lia Huber from the program "Blogging For Books" in exchange for an honest review. Some of the links in this book review post are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no expense to you. 


A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love (with Recipes)

I love to read cookbooks, it's one of my life's greatest pleasures, and it's how I relax. When I flipped open Nourished by Lia Huber, I was expecting a cookbook with some personal stories attached to each recipe, but it was the exact opposite. It is a memoir with a couple recipes included.

Now before I delve further into my review, I should alert you that I recently traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip. It was a life-changing experience and one I hold dear to my heart. So when the Prologue begins by describing a scene in Guatemala where the primary language is Kaqchikel (the indigenous dialect of the Mayan people and the primary language for many in Guatemala), I was shocked and immediately intrigued. I started reading hungrily, both for the story and the recipes.

The story follows the adult life of author Lia Huber and in four parts tells of her adventures through illness, finding faith, becoming a mother, and discovering how food can truly nourish mind, body, and soul. Lia is an unlikely but accomplished food writer, entrepreneur, and recipe developer. Flipping through the pages I learned of Lia's wanderlust spirit, her thirst for meaning in life, and her craving to somehow leave a mark on the world - many of the traits I too meditate and pray about regularly. I could relate in many ways to Lia's story, and she was able to transport me to places I've never been because she is a beautiful wordsmith. I truly enjoyed her elegant descriptions of the foods which sustained and excited her and I appreciated the shared recipes at the end of each chapter.

A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love (with Recipes)

I found the memoir to be a lot like my blog since it focuses on the struggles of motherhood while finding meaning outside the home, how faith has changed and sharped her perspective, and the necessity to remove yourself from comfort zones to experience richness in life. All beautiful and relatable things, but perhaps a little lengthy for a memoir; the hardbound book is over 300 pages long. I can certainly see the value of Lia sharing her personal story and unselfishly giving readers a glimpse into her genuine struggles, however; I lacked a connection to her character, even though the book was all about her. There were several times people were introduced but with little to no background and I found myself lost in a sea of unknown characters, which was slightly disorienting.

After finishing and reflecting on the book, I think the message is there, and clearly, Lia is a talented writer, but overall this one missed the mark for me, and I really wanted to love it. I think if I met Lia  I would have so much to chat with her about ranging from the adoption of her daughter from Guatemala and her continued work in that region of the world, her passion for healthy eating and how food can revitalize your body, and her faith walk and her unwavering commitment to discern God's will in all her decisions, but when it comes to the book I am less enthused. Overall I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

If you liked the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia then this book will be right up your alley since it follows several of the same themes.

A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love (with Recipes)

What are some of your favorite books from 2017? Have you started planning your reading list for next year? If you are on Goodreads, I'd love to connect with you. You can find my profile here.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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November 13, 2017

Twice Baked Sweet Potato Recipe

Twice Baked Sweet Potato Recipe

This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week.

This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week.

This Thanksgiving will be the first time I'm hosting out of town family. Of course, the images of a Norman-Rockwell-style holiday are dancing through my head, but I'm also trying to be realistic about my expectations. The fact that we'll have 3 little ones under the age of 4 years old in our company means anything can happen.

In my opinion, there are just some things that need to be on the table for Thanksgiving. After the turkey; mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, canned cranberries, and green bean casserole are must-haves. Not to be forgotten, are the sweet potatoes. The delicious sweetness intensified with brown sugar, cinnamon, and copious amounts of butter make my mouth water just thinking about them. But sweet potatoes seem to be polarizing - people love them or hate them. You obviously know where I stand, but my husband would be fine if he never laid eyes on them for the rest of his life.

To make sure everyone gets what they want this year I'm going to be making a modified version of Sweet Potato Casserole with this Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe.

This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes + 20 minutes
Yield: 2 large servings

Ingredients: 
2 large sweet potatoes
2 TBS butter
1 TBS whole milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS brown sugar
1/4 C pecans, finely chopped

Preparation Instructions:
Scrub the outsides of the potatoes thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 55 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

Change oven to 350 degrees. Let potatoes cool for five minutes. Cut an oval shape out of the top of each potato and peel back the skin. Carefully scope out potato filling, leaving plenty of room along the edges to ensure you do not accidentally pierce the outer edges. Put the potato filling in a large bowl and with a mixer combine it with the butter, whole milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Once the mixture is whipped and well incorporated, scoop it into each of the potatoes. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and put back into the oven for 20 minutes to continue cooking.

Remove and allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.


This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week.

Do you love or hate sweet potatoes? What are some Thanksgiving must-haves that you are looking forward to this year?

If you're hosting guests this year, don't stress about the turkey. Try this super simple crockpot turkey recipe.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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October 25, 2017

Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe

Disclosure: Some of the links in this Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe post are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no expense to you. 


Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat

It is year one of preschool, and we have already commenced with the borage of after-school activities, field trips, and parent-sponsored party favors. I'd like to complain about the added responsibilities, but the truth is I kind of love it. I love hearing about my kid's school day when they clamor into my car after the final bell rings. I love organizing their school papers and making sure their schedules are carefully noted on the family calendar each month. I love waking up before my little ones to meticulously pack their lunch each morning. I honestly love it all, and I'm trying to fully embrace this stage of their life. I love supporting my kids and watching their imaginations and personalities bloom right in front of my awestruck eyes.

They are each growing so fast and every morning dawns with a new discovery; one of them might learn to say a new word, and the other one is suddenly spelling it. All the while, I'm sitting in the background watching these beautiful little blessings become acquainted with the world and find their place among it. I'm grateful for the opportunities when I get a glimpse into their school life, since it is the part of their day in which I normally do not get to participate. This upcoming week my little guys have a costume parade, and the teachers reached out to the parents for cookies for a banquet after the ceremony of superheroes and princesses. Of course, I'm on board! I put together these fun Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookies, and they were a huge hit with the kiddos.

Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat

Ingredients: 
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
24 mini REESE's peanut butter cups
48 candy eyes
black decorating gel or frosting

Preparation Instructions: 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl cream the peanut butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and egg and incorporate thoroughly.

Roll the mixture into 1-1/4 inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are slightly cracked. Immediately after removing the cookies from oven put the REESE'S peanut butter cups on top and then transfer the cookies to wire rack to cool.

After the cookies are completely cooled, add four black lines to each of the sides of the candy to represent the spider's legs. Then use two small drops of frosting as glue for the eyes.

This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat

Check out more great family-friendly recipes here, including one for a Crockpot Turkey that will help you save your time and sanity on Thanksgiving.

Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookies are the perfect family-friendly Halloween cookie treat

What is your favorite Halloween inspired treat?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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October 17, 2017

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Recipe

Disclosure: Some of the links in this Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup recipe post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no expense to you. 

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup


Game-day food is mandatory at my house for several reasons including:

  1. we watch a lot of football games, and we need appropriate menu options to enhance the game watching experience, like this Crockpot Hot Wing Dip;
  2.  my little ones are always on the go, so we need easy, grab-and-go options to fill hungry tummies as we journey from one activity to the next; finally,
  3. since my kids have smaller appetites, bite-sized meals allow me to feed them a full meal with very little waste or leftovers. 
I was recently visiting a fantastic Atlanta restaurant just outside the perimeter called Universal Joint. They are best known for their delicious burgers and I tried one called The Steinbeck. It is made with pimento cheese, bacon, and jalapenos and to say it was mouth water would be an understatement (seriously look at the picture below and tell me you're not drooling). Mine was served without the without the peppers, but if I could have handled the heat, I know they would have been the perfect accompaniment to this succulent burger. I left the restaurant, and for days I was dreaming about the burger. I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to remaster The Steinbeck into a family-friendly game day recipe, and thus the Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup was born.


The Universal Joint - The Steinbeck Burger - Pimento Cheese, Bacon and Jalapeno Peppers

Ingredients: 
Pizza dough for 1 pizza - I use Pillsbury Pizza Crust
1/2 lb of ground beef, browned
1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
Jalapeno peppers, diced to accommodate your tastes (I leave them off when serving my kids)
1 TBS burger seasoning. I use Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning
1/2 cup of pimento cheese
6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Preparation Instructions: 
On an ungreased cookie sheet spread out the pizza dough. Use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch the dough out as much as you can without creating holes; all the while, keeping the dough within the boundaries off the cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a hot skillet, brown the ground beef and drain. Return the meat to the skillet and add the burger seasoning, cook an additional 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and add the onions and jalapenos to the meat mixture, stir. I do not add peppers when I make this for the kids, but you can customize this to your family's tastes.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Ingredients

Next, spread the pimento cheese evenly onto the pizza dough, leaving approximately 1/4 inch space along all the edges. Sprinkle the meat mixture and then the bacon evenly on top of the cheese. Carefully, roll up the dough in a jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Pinch the seam to seal and tuck the ends under the rollup. Place the seam side down in the center of the baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, cut four to five, 1/4-inch deep slits along the top of the loaf. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm with ketchup and mustard for dipping.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup

This recipe quickly became a family favorite and a game-day menu must. I've made it several times since football season kicked off and my kids are always asking for "burger rollup" for dinner. In fact, my oldest said he wanted this served for his birthday!

As the weather gets colder, this is an easy, comforting meal option that is taste-bud and family friendly. It's not fancy, but it sure brings back all the taste sensations of that delicious burger I had at Universal Joint.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Recipe

Have you ever been so inspired by a restaurant meal you've tried to recreate it or remaster it at home? If so, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below. 

Also, don't forget to enter to win the free Smile Brilliant at-home Teeth Whitening Kit giveaway here

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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October 10, 2017

Regaining my Confidence with Smile Brilliant

Disclosure: I received the Smile Brilliant Sensitive System for free in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.

I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit.

If you had to identify your best physical feature what would it be? For me, it's my smile. Ever since I was young, I remember people complimenting my smile. I was blessed with very straight teeth, and I've  never worn braces or even had a cavity. I take particular pride in my teeth, and I've never been afraid to wear my favorite accessory, a smile. That is until lately. After two kids, my coffee intake has increased over the years, and the stains it deposited on my teeth became more and more evident over time. I found myself almost ashamed of the evidence my need for caffeine was leaving on my (no-longer) pearly whites.

I love being a mother, and I'm proud of my body for producing two beautiful blessings, but I'm not immune to the pressures of motherhood and the longing to regain some of the confidence I had before children. Whitening my teeth was a great way for me to start feeling better about sharing my smile with the world again and regaining some of my confidence. To achieve whiter teeth I decided to try Smile Brilliant, a teeth whitening kit perfect for busy, coffee drinking moms like myself.

Smile Brilliant sends you everything you need to get the smile you've been longing for by shipping a box straight to your doorstep. Inside you'll find catalyst and base pastes to create custom molds of your teeth, plus whitening and be desensitizing gels which you'll use after your custom fitted trays arrive. 


I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit.

It was easy to incorporate Smile Brilliant into my day-to-day routine because each night during my kid's bathtime I'd wear my custom whitening trays. I'd merely apply the whitening gel along the sides of the trays and fit them into my mouth for a relaxed, comfortable fit.

I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit.

After only a couple applications I started to notice a difference in the color of my teeth. The coffee stains were disappearing little by little, and I was beginning to see my pre-baby smile emerge.

I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. These before and after pictures prove the teeth whitening system really works!

I personally used the Sensitive Whitening System since I have slightly sensitive teeth. I whitened every 2-3 days due to a slight sensitivity on my gums, which is a normal side effect. A great way to combat sensitivity when using the Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening System is to add a layer of coconut oil or Vaseline to your gumline before you begin a whitening treatment.

I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit.

I've been using Smile Brilliant for about three weeks now, and the results really do speak for themselves.

I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. These before and after pictures prove the teeth whitening system really works!

If you're an overly caffeinated, coffee-drinking mom like me and you're interested in boosting your confidence, try a Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit. You can save 10% off on your purchase by using promo code "everydaythoughts10".

Smile Brilliant is also gracious enough to give one of my loyal readers a chance to win their own teeth whitening kit (worth $139) simply by clicking the link below.

Brittany
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September 27, 2017

Why I'm Kneeling

Why I'm Kneeling and teaching my children to do the same - a parent's perspective on prioritizing raising God-fearing children.

If you are sick of hearing and reading about the wrongs and rights of activists kneeling during the National Anthem, keep reading. If you are undecided or firmly rooted in your ideas about our First Amendment rights and how they are expressed before, during, or after the playing of a song that represents our country, I beg you to stick with me. If you think there are too many voices screaming too many messages without a sympathetic ear listening to their left- or right-wing counterparts, then you are in the right place, because while I certainly have an opinion on the political climate in our country, I'm not about to share it. I'm not afraid to express my opinion, but I made my stand when I went to the polls last November, and until the next election, I'll be kneeling, in my home and in my church, and anywhere where God's grace is needed.

Aside, from First Amendment Rights, we also all have an opportunity to express our opinion on the second Tuesday, after the first Monday of November, every four years. In between those years, it's up to each individual to advocate for their side in whatever manner they deem appropriate to win the wavering hearts of onlookers or sway their adversaries. I'm taking an active stance, I have a lot to say, and I'm doing it through action rather than expressing my opinions. I'm doing it by teaching my children to kneel before their Heavenly Father and pray. I'm teaching these little minds and tiny hearts how to love their neighbors, how to care for the disenfranchised and poor, how to comfort those who need comforting, and remember the forgotten. Most of all I'm trying to teach them that the most important thing you can kneel in front of is the Cross. My action and commitment to my cause starts within my home, with children. 

I am growing where I'm planted, and right now I'm called to be a guiding light for two inquisitive minds with whom I share a roof. God has entrusted me to teach them the virtues of love, hope, faith, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, charity, and fortitude. I'm not a perfect mom, and I'm not teaching my children perfectly; I'm doing the best I can with the time and resources available to me. I am not bothered by men and women sitting, kneeling or standing. Peaceful protests are an incredible privilege to us as American citizens. 

I don't feel the need to fill your Facebook wall or your Twitter feed with posts and think they will change your mind. You're smarter than that and far too educated to be swayed by 140 characters. Plus, I'm too busy trying to change the hearts and minds of my tiny prayer warriors. The greatest gift I can give this world is two faithful, honest, pragmatic, and educated children with their own opinions and the ingenuity to make their voices matter. Children who know Their Father has abundantly blessed them with the right to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves and kneel for their Savior and any cause they believe worthy of their prayers.

Why I'm Kneeling and teaching my children to do the same - a parent's perspective on prioritizing raising God-fearing children.


Be Blessed,
Brittany
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September 20, 2017

KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush

Disclosure: I received the KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush for free in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.

It always happens sometime between serving them breakfast and their morning playtime. I start to hear squeals as both of my children become anxious about one of their favorite and most anticipated activities of the day. Their little feet start to swing frantically forward and backward from their perch high on their bar height chairs and my youngest starts repeatedly asking to "brush his teeth" in a language only the mother of a two-year-old can actually understand. 

I don't know where their love of minty-fresh breath and glistening pearly whites comes from, but as a mom, I'm certainly not complaining. 


KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind

Recently, we had the opportunity to make brushing teeth a little more exciting for my oldest. We tried a revolutionary new toothbrush which not only makes it easier for my four-year-old to brush his teeth but it also ensures he is getting all those hard-to-reach places and it cuts down on how long it takes to complete the job. The KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush is a uniquely designed toothbrush with a three-sided head, meaning in one stroke it simultaneously brushes the child's teeth in the front, the back, and on the top. The shape of the brush aligns with the natural shape of the mouth, and it easily fits and glides across teeth. 


KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind

Designed by a pediatric dentist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, the KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush is now my preferred toothbrush option for my children for its practicality and ease of use. It is intended for children 3-years-old and up, and it comes in two sizes; medium and large. My four-year-old used the medium size, and I think it's a great fit for his size and age. 

Here is a quick breakdown of some of the pros and cons of the KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush:

Pros:

  • Ergonomic design makes brushing kid's teeth easier than ever regardless if they need assistance or if they can brush on their own;
  • it cuts back on the amount of time it takes each morning to brush; 
  • the three-headed brush ensures children clean all those hard-to-reach places; and
  • it will soon be available at select Publix Pharmacies. 
Cons:
  • it comes in limited colors and designs, and 
  • the three-headed brush fits molars perfectly but takes a little more maneuvering around the incisors and canines. 
If you want to see some of our first impressions check out our Facebook Live video and demo here.



KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind

What are some of your favorite tools, tips, and tricks for making brushing teeth fun for your little ones?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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