INSTANT POT MAC AND CHEESE

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe is incredibly easy to make with simple ingredients. It comes together in no time and is creamy and delicious, with the just the right amount of cheese!

Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot, and in a bowl.

Guys…if you haven’t hopped on the Instant Pot train yet, it’s most definitely time! 💜 I’ve been using mine for years now, and it’s totally changed the way that I cook. While it’s definitely not truly instant, it does cut down on the cooking time of many recipes quite significantly. One of my absolute favorite recipes to make in mine (I’ve made it an embarrassing number of times during quarantine, not ashamed) is Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.… Read more

BLENDER SPINACH MINI MUFFINS

These blender spinach mini muffins are a healthy, easy, kid-friendly recipe that are full of wholesome ingredients. They’re perfect for breakfast and snacks, and are vegan and free of refined sugar!

These mini muffins have saved us over the past few months as quick breakfasts/snacks for Chloe (and ourselves, on occasion 🙂 ). After making quite a few batches of them, I figured I should finally sit down and share the recipe! These muffins are just as their name – Blender Spinach Mini Muffins – suggests:

  • They’re thrown together quickly in the blender (no other bowls or mixing required!)
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EASY FLOUR TORTILLAS

These homemade flour tortillas are chewy, soft, and full of delicious flavor. They’re quick and easy to make with simple pantry ingredients (including one surprise ingredient!) and taste so much better than store-bought tortillas!

Stack of flour tortillas.

For our family, one of the best things to come from quarantine are these flour tortillas. ♥️ A few weeks ago, I was making tacos for dinner and realized that we didn’t have any tortillas. I also couldn’t go out to the store just for one ingredient, but we were dead-set on having Taco Tuesday. 😉 I scoured the internet for inspiration, and after some tweaks and many, many taco nights (I’m not complaining!)… Read more

BERRY OATMEAL BARS

These berry oatmeal bars are made with just a few simple ingredients, plus berries of your choice. They are hearty, healthy, and perfect for the whole family! (Bonus: they’re also vegan!)

Berry oatmeal bars stacked with strawberries.

Hi, friends! Am I the only one who feels like I absolutely live in the kitchen these days?! Many of us are spending so much extra time in our kitchens these days, cooking three meals per day for our family. And as much as I love cooking, all of this extra time coupled with working from home, caring for a toddler, and keeping up with the regular household tasks…it’s a lot!… Read more

EASY, CHEESY GROUND BEEF PASTA

This easy ground beef pasta comes together quickly and is full of delicious cheesy flavor. This is a comforting meal that the whole family will love!

Ground beef pasta in saute pan.

Please tell us that we’re not the only ones craving allllll of the comfort food during quarantine?! The amount of carbs, cheese, and sweets we’ve eaten over these past few weeks has been, umm…eye-opening, to say the least. We’ve decided to be kind to ourselves, though, and you should too during these difficult times – eat what you crave (with some greens thrown in there too, for good measure!) For us, that means this easy, cheesy ground beef pasta.… Read more

FREE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES FOR KIDS

Girl online looking at educational resources.

These are some weird times, huh? How are you doing? I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy during this pandemic. These past several weeks have been absolutely crazy, and have obviously brought many changes and challenges for all of us. I am balancing teaching my fifth graders via the internet each day with caring for Chloe, who takes great pleasure in running around like a maniac all day long. 🙂 I wanted to pop in today to share some free online educational resources for kids – my students have been loving them, and I hope your kids do too!… Read more

TZATZIKI SAUCE

This is the BEST authentic, easy, and quick Greek Tzatziki Sauce recipe! It turns out perfect every time – it’s full of flavor, ready in 10 minutes, and is perfect for dipping or topping your favorite dishes with!

Tzatziki with lemon and dill.

We love Greek food in the Downes home. Like….L-O-V-E. In fact, when we have date nights, we more often that not end up at a Greek restaurant (Barry’s standing order is octopus, and mine is Spanakopita). I was lucky enough to visit Greece on a high school trip, and I absolutely fell in love with the cuisine while I was there (whole blocks of Feta cheese on salads, Moussaka, the freshest produce…and of course, copious amounts of Tzatziki sauce <3).… Read more

HOW TO THROW A SIMPLE WOODLAND THEMED BIRTHDAY PARTY

Our fuss-free guide to throwing an adorable woodland themed party in no time! Featuring items from Amazon, this party couldn’t be simpler (or cuter!)

Hello as we (finally!) emerge from the land of Winter sickness. 😛 Chloe turned one year old on January 11th, and right afterwards, got her first cold. She had a miserable couple of weeks, complete with a fever and lingering cough. I consider us lucky to have made it an entire year illness-free, so I’m definitely not complaining. However, I’m glad she’s feeling like her usual self, because having a sick little one is absolutely not fun!… Read more

SHEET PAN SAUSAGE, POTATOES, AND PEPPERS

Sheet pan sausage, potatoes, and peppers is one of our favorite quick and healthy, one-pan meals. It’s perfect for busy weeknights or when you need dinner on the table quickly, with barely any prep!

Sheet pan sausage, potatoes, & peppers.

Our love affair with sheet pan meals has been going strong for months now. There’s something so satisfying about adding a few simple, healthy ingredients to a sheet pan, tossing them with some olive oil and herbs, and baking until they’re hot and flavorful. Sheet pan meals have transformed the way I cook dinner during the week – I used to dread coming home from work and having to spend much of my evening cooking.… Read more

FLUFFY EGGNOG PANCAKES

These fluffy and soft pancakes are made with the rich, delicious flavor of eggnog! They are the perfect Christmas morning – or anytime – breakfast!

Fluffy eggnog pancakes stack in front of Christmas tree.

Are you an eggnog lover or hater? I find that most people are either one or the other, but their opinion is strong either way! It’s almost like how so many people are torn about cilantro (huge fan here!) or mayo (BIG thumbs down from me!) We happen to love eggnog in our home, and last weekend I decided to try my hand at making some eggnog pancakes. These came out DELICIOUS, and would be the perfect Christmas morning (or, let’s be honest, the perfect anytime) breakfast.… Read more

INEXPENSIVE AMAZON STOCKING STUFFERS FOR BABIES

Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers for him - collage of items.

Today is the final part of our three part stocking stuffers series – Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers for Babies! If you missed our first two posts, here they are:

Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers for Her

Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers for Him

Today is my favorite post of all, because it focuses on the babies! This is Chloe’s first Christmas, so we’re extra excited about it. As someone who loves stockings most of all, I cannot wait to fill her stocking with fun little gifts. Here are our top inexpensive Amazon stocking stuffers for babies. We own these items and they are all Chloe-tested and approved!… Read more

INEXPENSIVE AMAZON STOCKING STUFFERS FOR HIM

Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers for him - collage of items.

Today is part two of our three part stocking stuffers series! On Monday we featured our tried-and-true, Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers for Her, and today…it’s all about the fellas! Here are our top inexpensive Amazon stocking stuffers for him. We (well, Barry!) own these items (a couple of them are similar to ones that he owns, due to them being unavailable currently) and use most of them daily. Each item is affordable, and can easily be purchased from Amazon while sitting on the couch in your pajamas. What could be better? 🙂

1. Wallet Ninja

The little gadget is the coolest multitool – it’s a bottle opener, can opener, ruler, screwdriver…and so much more!… Read more

INEXPENSIVE AMAZON STOCKING STUFFERS FOR HER

Inexpensive Amazon Stocking Stuffers pin - collage of all items.

Happy December! I make it my personal goal every holiday season to do all of my shopping online, and my absolute favorite type of shopping to do is for stocking stuffers. Even as a kid, I enjoyed opening up my stocking the most – I loved to see what little treasures I would find in it! For some reason, all of the little things excited me even more than larger gifts! Today I’m comin’ at ya with the first of three stocking stuffer guides – inexpensive Amazon stocking stuffers for her! I own all of these items so they are tried and true, and the best part is that each one is very affordable, and can be purchased from Amazon.… Read more

HAPPY FRIDAY!

School supplies - pencils, colored pencils, markers, rulers.

After a crazy couple of weeks with beginning the new school year at my current school, my life is about to get even crazier…I am actually starting a new teaching position on Monday! A great opportunity came along that I couldn’t pass up, and luckily now I’ll be closer to home at a new school. I’ll also be moving to fifth grade, and teaching several subjects. I am grateful for this opportunity, but in the meantime…I’m soaking up this weekend with my family before the grind begins on Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

What are your plans for the weekend?Read more

CAULIFLOWER FRIED RICE

This quick and easy, low carb cauliflower fried rice is customizable and makes the perfect side dish to any meal. Add a protein of your choice to make this a complete meal!

Cauliflower Fried Rice Pinterest pin.

Hello? Is this thing on? 🙂 Hi, friends! We missed you. Life has been crazy over here – we enjoyed the last bit of our Summer, before jumping into a new school year a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been busy meeting my new students and getting into the swing of being back at work. For these crazy hectic days, I’ve been turning to my tried and true recipes that can be prepared quickly after a jam packed day.… Read more

SHORTCUT THAI BASIL CHICKEN

This flavorful, spicy Thai dish requires only a few staple pantry ingredients and comes together in no time!

Shortcut Thai Basil Chicken.

Since I’m off during the Summertime, I like to use my extra free time to experiment in the kitchen and stray from my, oh, five dinner recipe regulars. 🙂 Barry’s absolute favorite dish from our beloved local Thai restaurant is Thai Basil Chicken (known as Pad Krapow Gai). One of my cooking goals this Summer was to try to recreate this dish at home, with a few tweaks to make it even simpler to prepare. I think I’ve done it with my Shortcut Thai Basil Chicken!… Read more

HAPPY FRIDAY

White bridal shoes and bouquet in the grass outside.

We apologize for being a little MIA for these past few weeks…Summer has been flying by, and we’ve been enjoying every moment! I gear up to go back to work in a couple of weeks, so we’ve been savoring these past few weeks together and have done lots of fun “first” family outings (a local marina, the aquarium, the zoo, etc.) with Chloe!

This weekend, we’re attending our friends’ wedding (congratulations, Tara and Brian!) and are looking forward to a fun celebration with my closest friends from college. On Sunday we’re celebrating my brother’s birthday with a family lunch.… Read more

PERTH AMBOY, NJ HARBORSIDE MARINA

Last weekend we were out running some errands, and we found ourselves at the Perth Amboy, NJ Harborside Marina. I am a lifelong resident of New Jersey, and until now, I never knew that this little gem existed! It’s complete with an ice cream shop, waterfront restaurant, and marina with beautiful views.

Perth Amboy Harborside Marina.

THE BAYSIDE CREAMERY

There is a free public parking lot, so we parked our car and first headed to what initially caught our eye – the Bayside Creamery.

Bayside Creamery in Perth Amboy, NJ.

We were super impressed with this ice cream shop – they had many delicious flavor options, and it was packed to the brim with people (always a good sign!)… Read more

HOMEMADE AVOCADO BABY FOOD

Avocado and avocado baby food puree.

After trying carrots and green beans as Chloe’s first solid foods (both were big hits!) we decided to give avocado baby food a shot. Funnily enough, Barry and I both HATE avocados (unlike the rest of the world, it seems 😉 ) but I just had a feeling Chloe would love them.

Avocado cut open.

The best place near us for avocados is Aldi – we can usually find them there for just $0.57 each! What a steal! You could just mash up an avocado and give it to your baby if he/she doesn’t mind the extra texture, but for our first time feeding it to Chloe, we wanted to puree it.… Read more

HAPPY WEEKEND

Glass of birthday champagne.

We are a day late posting this, but happy weekend regardless! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in New Jersey (with a real-feel temperature of 110 degrees!) so we are planning on staying indoors most of the weekend to stay cool. It’s also my birthday on Sunday (the big 3-0! How did that even happen?!) so we’ll be celebrating with a lunch out.

What are your plans this weekend?Read more

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