Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

Since starting a regular workout routine, I’ve tried to keep my diet as healthy as possible. Some days it hard to fight those urges that come from my VERY large sweet tooth! 

On days like these I like to treat myself to one of my “comfort food””recipes. As a reward for a week of healthy choices and the little bit of progress I’ve been seeing as the weeks pass.

Who doesn’t love warm peanut butter cookies fresh from the oven with a big glass of milk?

 Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm so good, 

ok I’m back from my snacking day dream haha! 

If you’re in the mood to treat yourself to something yummy try my recipe for these classic cookies guaranteed to satisfy your sweet craving! 



Classic Peanut Butter Cookies


1 Cup unsalted butter (room temp)

1 Cup granulated sugar 

3/4 Cup brown sugar

2 Large eggs (room temp)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Cup peanut butter ( I used smooth this time, but crunchy would work too!)

3 Cups + 2 Tbsp of flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

(Optional) 1/4 cup of granulated sugar + 1 tsp of brown sugar mixed together for rolling

Using your mixer, in a large bowl cream together the butter and both sugars until smooth. Add the eggs and mix until combined, (about 1min). Add the vanilla and peanut butter and mix on high until combined. Set aside

In another large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will seem thick and sticky.

Cover dough tightly and chill for minimum 3 hours, maximum overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease two large cookie sheets

Roll dough (about 1 1/2 tbsp) into balls, then roll cookie balls into sugar mixture.

Place balls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets, then press a fork into tops of cookies making a crisscross pattern. Bake for 11 minutes until very lightly browned on slides

The centres will be very soft and seem not done, but remove the cookie sheet from the oven allowing the cookies to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Baked cookies will stay good for upto one week.

You can even freeze your cookie dough balls for upto 3 months. You can back from frozen adding an extra 2 minutes to your cooking time.

Treat yourselves today to these amazing cookies, 

Don’t forget the glass of milk!

enjoy,

Fran

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The Big 3-0

With just a few days until I leave my twenties behind, I’ve found myself reflecting on my life so far. For me 30 is a big deal.

Am I really going to be ………old????

Beyond a doubt these last 10 years have been an amazing and at times devastating adventure.

Meeting Mike at 20 years old, by 21 we were dating and married by 23! I learned at a pretty young age to be a wife, take care of a home and pay bills, while most of our friends were still living at home. Moving into our little two bedroom condo, we quickly learned about independence and responsibility. It was a big wake up call for both of us.

By 25 I had suffered 2 miscarriages within 4 months of each other, by far the darkest time of my life. With that experience I learned to let anger go. Things will happen to you good or bad, if you hang on to anger it will eat you alive. I was angry, I was upset and I wanted answers! Why me? Why us? In my situation there were no answers. “just bad luck” was what our doctor told us. I mourned our losses and turned to my faith. I held on to the hope I had in my heart that one day it would happen, my dream would come true and I would be a mother. That time in my life taught me that I am stronger person than I ever thought I could be. I started to appreciate everything I once took for granted; family, friends and just waking up every morning to a new day.

The November after my 25th birthday I found out I was pregnant again. I was terrified. I found it hard to become “too attached” to the little life growing inside me. Putting off buying furniture for the nursery and setting up his bedroom. August 4th Frankie came into this world, I learned what true love and true joy is.

I dedicated every waking minute to him, for the first time in my life putting someone else before myself. Sharing his excitement and joy with every new accomplishment and encouraging him while being there to pick him up after every time he fell down. With his arrival I felt that my life finally had true meaning. I was finally whole, living my dream.

2 and a half years later, we left our little condo and moved into our new house. We were now a little further from our parents, one town over instead of the previous 5 minutes away. I had to learn to be even more independent, no one could run over to visit at the drop of a hat. Visits to our parents were fewer and less frequent from the multiple times a week we used to do. We were once again learning to come into our own.

We talked about trying again for another child, I was terrified and kept putting it off.
Finally we agreed.
The day after my 29th birthday we discovered number 2 was on its way!

Terror, guilt, happiness, excitement all of these emotions running through me. Those 9 months flew by. We prepared Frankie for the life changing event that was about to come. November 7th Emilia was born. I didn’t know that my heart could get any more full but it did. With her arrival I learned the love of a daughter and mother. I learned about pride watching Frankie love his sister, helping us take care of her and turning into an amazing big brother.

As I grow older, I worry about the superficial things. Grey hair (yes I found 2!) and wrinkles. The thought of being “Old” terrifies me. I think it’s amplified by seeing family members around me grow older and start to fail. I see my grandparents who once took care of me on a daily basis find it hard to walk. Forget names, and slowly begin to lose their independence. In this I’m learning the importance of keeping family close. Never taking your time for granted and carrying on traditions.

So many things have happened over these last 10 years. The only thing I know for sure is that I’ll carry all of these lessons and memories with me. I look at my children and feel blessed everyday. I thank God that I got through the terrible times in my life. I feel excited for the things to come, Frankie starting school, family vacations and making new memories.

The last 10 years have been quite an adventure. The highest highs and lowest lows.

I am the person I am today because of those times.

I am proud of that person.

As the clock ticks down to the end of my twenties, I guess I can say that I’m ready to say goodbye…

Let’s see what the next 10 years have in store for me!

I’m still not looking forward to the grey hair and wrinkles, but there’s always hair dye and Botox…..right?

xo Fran

BLT Pasta Salad

With all of this cold weather, I find myself dreaming about summer and the food that goes with it.

During the summer Mike is in charge of the grill and I make the sides. I’m always looking for new ideas that taste good and are also on the healthier side.

Fortunately Frankie isn’t a picky eater so I don’t have to hide veggies in his food, they can be right out in the open. He often chooses them over everything else on his plate. I can tell you that this pasta will please even the pickiest of eaters!

This recipe includes cherry tomatoes, spinach (to substitute for the lettuce) and bacon! Yes, lots of bacon! Everything tastes better with bacon.. right?

I love bacon at all times, but I made this pasta when I was pregnant this summer and at that time I really really loved bacon! I would have added it to anything. I often sent Mike out on many a BLT run at all hours of the day and night.

So I thought, what about a BLT pasta salad??

With that this recipe was born!!

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BLT pasta salad

1 lb of pasta shells ( I used the mini)
12 slices of bacon sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
5 oz baby spinach
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

2. While pasta is cooking. Place chopped bacon in a large nonstick pan and cook until crisp. Remove from pan and place onto paper towel to drain excess grease. Save about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease dumping the rest.

3. In the same pan (with the 2 tbs of bacon grease) add tomatoes and garlic, cooking until tomatoes are slightly soft. About 2 minutes.

4. Drain the pasta keeping 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water. Return the drained pasta to the pot and add the spinach, bacon and tomato mixture with one cup of the reserved water and Parmesan cheese.

5. Stir well until spinach is welter and everything is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining pasta water as needed.

Serve warm with additional Parmesan cheese for topping.

It is the perfect side for any dinner no matter the weather. Our family loved it and it will definitely have you thinking of summer days and barbecue dinners!

xo
Fran

Braided Nutella Bread

With almost everyday for the last few weeks having an extreme cold weather alert, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors.

I’ve also discovered that we have an over abundance of Nutella in this house!

My family knows my love for it and I even get it for Christmas! ( I’m looking at you Aunt Jane!) It also seems to make it’s way into this house at least once a month! ( That one is directed at you my dear father in law!) Even though I really do appreciate that they spoil me with my favourite treat, my jeans do not share that same appreciation!

So what to do with all of this Nutella….? In all honesty my first thought is to hide somewhere that I won’t be found, I’m thinking the laundry room, (Since everyone else around here seems to be allergic to that room lol) Get out a spoon, and dig in! Probably not a good idea…..

In order to save myself some dignity I logged onto pinterest and searched for some recipes!

I stumbled upon a recipe for braided Nutella bread on Inspired by charm. It looked delicious so I decided to give it a try!

I received this hazelnut spread for Christmas (which by the way is super delicious!) so I substituted it for the Nutella in the recipe.

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The recipe was super easy to follow and even though mine didn’t turn out as pretty as the original recipe, it was sooo good! No complaints from my mini taste tester who’s smile was covered in chocolate by the end of snack time! It’s something I will definitely be trying again in the VERY near future!

Try this recipe out for yourself! You will not be disappointed!
http://www.inspiredbycharm.com/2013/09/braided-nutella-bread.html

This was my finished product!

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xo Fran

Our LOVEly Long Weekend!

This weekend was Valentines Day of course!

It was also Family day long weekend here in Ontario. We lucked out this weekend with Mike having Friday off so we got to enjoy a 4 day weekend together!

We started the weekend off on Friday with a trip to the local library, which was having a special Valentines activity day!

It was a lot of fun! It was also some special one on one time for Frankie and I, while Mike also got some quality time at home with Emilia!

There were stories and crafts, we even stayed a little longer and read some books just the two of us. I could tell Frankie had a blast and so did I!

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After that we visited my parents so Frankie could hand deliver his Valentines!

The next morning our day began with both my little loves piling into the big bed to exchange the gifts they had bought for each other!

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They really do love each other and I’m so happy I captured these special moments between them.

Also Emilia was very happy about the Minnie Mouse her brother picked out for her!

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Mike spoiled me with a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner! He truly knows that food is the key to my heart! Ha ha!
Not to mention the beautiful bracelet and picture Frankie made me!

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We spent the rest of the day watching movies, playing games and just being together as a family!

Frankie loved his afternoon snack,

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I loved spending the day with my loves!

The next day we headed over to
Mike’s parents house to deliver even more valentines!

We spent Monday relaxing around the house, no cooking no cleaning. Just lounging around the house in our pjs, ordered take out for dinner and enjoyed the last day until it’s back to reality, and Mike is back to work.

It’s not often that we get 4 full days together. This weekend was great, we made new memories and started new traditions for years to come! I can’t wait to do it over and over again as my two little valentines grow up!

I hope you all enjoyed your Valentines Day as well!

xo
Fran

Mommy guilt

Going from a mother of one to a mother of two has honestly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

The day to day things like cleaning, cooking, and laundry are no sweat!
Instead it’s the nights like this one, when they’re both asleep my mind starts to recap the day.

Did I cuddle Emilia enough? Did I pay enough attention to Frankie? Answer all of his questions? Play with him long enough?

When it was just Frankie and I, from the day he came home from the hospital, every second of my day was devoted to him. Being a stay at home mom we did everything together. He even helped me clean the house (and still loves to now). He was the youngest grandchild on my side and only grandchild on Mike’s side. He was the star of the family, spoiled by everyone included me.

When we found out we were expecting Emilia, I cried thinking about how much Frankie’s world would change so drastically in just 9 months! Don’t get me wrong, Frankie has adjusted far better to a sibling than I thought he would. Let me tell you though the looks I get when I have to tell him “just a minute Frankie, I’m doing something for your sister right now.” Make me die a little every time.

I constantly question everything I do. I think of Emilia not being as advanced as Frankie was (he started stringing words together before his first birthday.) because I can’t devote the same amount of time to her. Or Frankie falling into a depression because his days aren’t as fun anymore.

Dramatic I know!

It’s gotten to the point where I feel so guilty when I have to give him a time out or when I need to take a toy away. Because I don’t want him to think it’s because I don’t love him as much anymore.

I’ve made a conscious effort to do special things with just him when Mike is home. Unfortunately those days don’t happen as often as I would like. I include him while caring for his sister and tell him stories about what he was like at his sisters age.

I don’t think my time will ever be divided equally between them. On any given day one might need me more than the other.

I just never want one to think I love the other more. Some days I see the frustration in Frankie’s eyes and my heart breaks. Then other days he could care less about what I’m doing, being too caught up in his toys!

I think I’ll always have these feelings, even when they’re both off and married with families of their own. Ha!Mike always says I’m “too much”, that I’m going to drive myself crazy!

I know I’m not really a terrible mother, it’s just so hard to not let that thought creep in some days!

I know these issues won’t be going away anytime soon, I guess I’ll have to take it day by day. Knowing that in my heart I love them both more than anything in the world and hope they know it too!

I know other mommies have gone through this or are presently going through it.

Any advice for this guilt ridden momma?

– Fran

Be My (non candy) Valentine!

With next week being Valentines day, our family did our usual trip over to Target to let Frankie pick out his valentines. Even though he isn’t in school until next year, he loves handing them out to our family and friends!

With his first year of school coming so quickly, it got me thinking about next year, and what fun things we could create at home for Frankie to hand out to his classmates.So off to Pinterest I went!

Valentines Day is usually a day filled with chocolates and candy. I know some schools and frown upon bringing non healthy treats to school and I’m sure other parents would appreciate them getting less sweets to add to that inevitable high that always seems to follow! (Myself included!)

I found some ideas that I thought little ones would enjoy even more than chocolate! (Hard to believe, I know..)

1.

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These bouncy ball valentines are adorable and so simple to make for the step by step instructions head over to http://www.freetimefrolics.com/2013/02/10-valentines-for-classmates-and.html?m=1

2.

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Who says bugs are gross? You can get a bag of these plastic bugs at your local dollar store and then check out http://www.dandee-designs.com/2012/02/love-bug-valentines.html?m=1 for their free bug jar printable!

3.

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Glo sticks! http://www.creativegreenliving.com/2014/01/10-cute-printable-valentines-for-kids.html?m=1
Has your free printout

4.

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Crazy straws! These straws can make any drink fun! This idea comes from http://kinzieskreations.blogspot.ca/2013/02/valentines-2013.html?m=1

5.

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I found these army men on Etsy but they can easily be done at home!

6.

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Every kid loves play doh! This valentine idea will provide hours of fun! http://the-wilson-world.blogspot.ca/2012/01/play-doh-valentines-with-printable.html?m=1 has your free printout for this idea!

6.

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This was one if my favorite ideas it’s adorable and perfect for little ones. http://sweetcsdesigns.com/tiny-animal-valentines-perfect-boys/
Has a set of 4 printables to help create this adorable cards!

These are just a few ideas I’ve come across to help make Valentines day fun! (And sugar free!)
Follow my Be Mine board on pinterest to see even more!

Xo
Fran