Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes (One Pot Meal)

Fall brings with it the desire to indulge in comfort foods. One of my go to comfort foods is soups and stews. Not only do they hit the spot on a cool Autumn day but they make wonderful leftovers for lunch. With the weather getting colder and colder, I'm challenging myself to take our favorite soups and lighten them up a bit. Today I want to share with you a beef stew that is full of flavor but low on SmartPoints.


This recipe makes a ton of stew which makes it perfect for get togethers or for dinner two, maybe three times a week. You could even freeze a portion for later. You'll get 9 servings at 3SP per 1 cup or 7SP for 2 cups. Pair with warm bread or a grilled cheese (you all know I love a good grilled cheese) and you have the perfect meal to keep you warm this season.

BEEF STEW WITH CARROTS AND POTATOES
{3 Smart Points for 1 Cup}

INGREDIENTS
1 pound lean trimmed sirloin roast, cut into cubes
2 cups red potatoes, cubed
2 cups carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 8oz cup lite grape juice
6 cups fat-free beef broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


DIRECTIONS
Prepare vegetables by washing and dicing into bite sized pieces. Set these aside. Trim any excess fat from meat. Cut into 1" chunks. Lightly season beef chunks with salt, pepper, and onion powder. In a large pot or Dutch oven* lightly sear seasoned beef on all sides. Use 1/2 cup of beef broth in place of oil when cooking.Once the meat has seared and is mostly cooked through (7-8 minutes cook time), add in grape juice and beef broth. Cook on high for additional 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients to pot/Dutch oven and stir well. Simmer mixture on medium heat for 3 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent vegetables and meat from sticking and to help flavors blend together well. 

*You could easy put this in your crockpot as well. Cook the meat before and simply add the ingredients, cooking on low for 4-5 hours. 


Looking for more Fall recipe ideas? I've got you covered. A handful of bloggers and I have put to together a Fall Recipe Blog Hop. You'll find more recipes than you know what to do with but you'll also have no shortage of meal ideas. Enjoy!




Monday, October 16, 2017

October ... How I Love Thee!

We are mid-way through October and for the first time in a long time, I just want to freeze time. While I am usually more than ready for the Christmas season to arrive, this year I'm really loving Fall and the fun our trio has been having! So much is happening and I don't want to miss out on sharing those details so that's what I'll be doing today. Here's a bit of this and that from our month so far...


ONE | COMFORT FOODS



I will never NOT love pasta. I've mentioned before that we are huge fans of Chef'd's meal delivery and our love continues to grow. This month we tried the Cajun Chicken Pasta and the Summer Pasta. Both dishes got 2 thumbs up from James, myself and my Mom. The Cajun dish is full of flavor, with just enough kick. We served it with a veggies to balance it out a bit. The recipe as is is perfect. The summer pasta dish was equally as tasty. I opted to add chicken to the dish for more protein. The summer squash and zucchini were a fun addition to pasta for us. Both dishes provided us with leftovers. If you'd like to try Chef'd, here is $10 off your first order*.

TWO | BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS



Last week, James and I surprised Connor with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge and to see PJ Masks Live. You would have thought this little fella has one the lottery! He was beyond excited. We agreed that this would be our birthday gift to him. Turning 5 is a bit deal so we decided to splurge a bit. And if I'm being honest, James and I had just as much fun as Connor. The show was awesome and spending 2 days at the water park wasn't too hateful either.

THREE | HALLOWEEN COSTUME? CHECK! 



We've nailed down Connor's costume for this year and it's not at all what I thought he would pick. He toyed with the idea of being Steve from Minecraft but that didn't stick. He then said he wanted to be Owlette from PJ Masks (and I was okay with that) but ultimately landed on something else. I won't spoil the fun but I do plan to recap the holiday and hope you will join us! Swing back by November 3-10 and link-up all your Halloween fun!

FOUR | FLOWERS


Life is full of to do's and often times we our focus is on parenting, work, blogging and just live in general and don't always make our relationships with our spouses are top priority. James and have been having monthly date nights since January and I cherish our kid-free nights. We get to just be us - James and Stephanie, husband and wife. While I know date nights can be hit or miss for many, I thought I would share 10 ways to say I love you, I appreciate you or I'm thinking of you easily throughout the day/week.


I love the Honey Bee flowers* I sent to James. Flowers for men can be tricky but 1-800 Flowers.com has so many fun options. Be sure to check out their Party Animal collection. There is an adorable cat design that would be perfect for Halloween.

FIVE | FRUGAL FINDS


October has brought with it cooler temperatures and I couldn't be happy! I've shared before that I've been picking up new pieces to add to my wardrobe since losing weight and this outfit from last week was one that I'll be repeating often! Let me share the details of this outfit: black boyfriend tee (Old Navy, size down) and jeans (Old Navy, found at Goodwill for $4.99), my $17 WalMart oversized “Grandpa” cardigan and Target slip on’s. I’m no fashionista but I think I do pretty well every once in a while.

The remaining half of October is going to be packed full -- 2 birthdays and Halloween -- and I am eager to celebrate my 2 best guys and usher in the holidays. I am also in awe that the New Year is just 10 weeks away! 2017 has flown by, hasn't it?

I am teaming up with a handful of other bloggers today to share with you what we are loving this month. Feel free to stop by their space and let them know Stephanie sent you! 


*Disclaimer: I was not compensated to share my review of these brands. I was given both products at no cost to my family to then share with you. The opinions are my own and as always, I would never share something with you if I wasn't a fan!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake

'Tis the season for comfort foods, family gatherings and pumpkin picking. When looking for a sweet treat infused with pumpkin this Fall, I have you covered. Today I want to share with a recipe that includes Stevia In The Raw®, my go to baking sugar. This Bourbon- Spiked Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake has all the Fall flavors you know and love!


This twist on the classic bundt cake is worth the extra work. It's full of flavor, combining the pure pumpkin with the bourbon (or apple juice) and the caramel topping. You have to give it a try; it's perfect for this time of year!


Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake made with Stevia In The Raw®
PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES | COOK TIME: 25 MINUTES | MAKES 12 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS
Cake
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Stevia In The Raw®
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 can 100% pure pumpkin (15-oz.)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking powder
Sauce
1 cup caramel ice cream topping
2 Tbsp. bourbon or apple juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans

PREPARATION
Heat oven to 325°F. Spray 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray. Beat brown sugar, Stevia In The Raw®, oil and eggs until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder; beat on LOW just until mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 60 to 70 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine caramel and bourbon/apple juice in a small bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake and sprinkle with pecans

Nutritional Information
Per Serving: 460 calories, 24g fat (2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat), 60g carbohydrates, 6g protein, 3g dietary fiber, 190mg sodium, 18g sugars


Why do I prefer Stevia In The Raw®? Here are some perks of using this particular sugar for your baking needs:
  • Stevia In The Raw® is a zero-calorie sweetener, perfect for any baking and cooking needs. It contains an extract from the sweet leaves of the stevia plant 
  • Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag measures cup for cup with sugar so it can easily be used in recipes to reduce sugar and calories with no conversion necessary 
  • Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag is formulated so that 1 cup has the same sweetness as 1 cup of Sugar 
  • When using Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag for baking recipes, it is recommended that the user replace about half of the sugar in order to achieve the proper browning, rising and caramelizing that only sugar can provide 
  • Up to 700 calories are saved for every cup of sugar that is replaced with Stevia In The Raw® Bakers Bag 
I love pulling in the flavors of the season -- give me all the pumpkin! -- when baking! What pumpkin flavored dessert are you looking forward to making this Autumn?

Don't miss out on my In The Raw giveaway!
Good luck! 


Disclosure: The opinions shared are my own. I was provided free product along with gift cards for today's post. As always, I only share with you products we know, love and fully support.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dresstember | Completed!

When I originally decided to host the Dresstember challenge it was with one goal in mind: I wanted to wear the clothes hanging in my closest.

For those of you who haven't experience a large weight gain then loss you may not get the thrill of wearing your "old" but totally "new to you" clothes again. Many of the dresses worn in September have been hanging in my closest for a good 2-3 years. Perfectly good clothing going to waste.

I wanted to push myself to continue to lose weight and the perk of doing so was to wear these dresses. I'm happy to say Dresstember was a success. Not only did I hit a weight loss milestone but I also made the very most of my closest.



Top: Target Maxi Skirt: LuLaRoe Sandals: Target


Dress and Sandals: Target


Dress: LuLaRoe Sandals: Ollie Marie Boutique


Dress: Old Navy Sandals: Target


Top: Old Navy Maxi Skirt: LuLaRoe Sandals: Target


Top: Sam's Club Maxi Skirt: LuLaRoe Sandals: Target


Dress: Pearl & Monroe Boutique Sandals: Target


Dress: LuLaRoe (Carly) Vest: Target Shoes: Keds


Dress: Pearl & Monroe Boutique Shoes: Target


Dress and Sandals: Target

As the host of the challenge, I knew I had stick with it and complete the task; that's what a good host would do right?. The best part? I didn't even mind wearing these dressier outfits. The planner in me choose my dress days in advance. If we were going to have a lounge at home day, I wasn't going to be doing it in a dress. Instead I wore these outfits when I had MomsNext meetings or breakfast dates or when we were going out with friends.

Thank you to those of you who joined in. You can see many of the participants on IG; follow our hashtag to see this challenge in action: #10daysofdresstember.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Books, Crafts, Printables & Recipes -- All Things Fall!

It's officially the first week of October which means it's all things Fall in our home. Bring on pumpkin everything with a dose of Halloween and a helping of seasonal fun and adventures. Each season or holiday I gather up themed books to read to Connor. We have a pretty amazing kids library in our hometown, providing us with plenty of books to read (over and over again). This month we are all about pumpkins and Halloween and you can tell by our bookshelf, it's overflowing with Fall. Here is what we are reading...



Each and every one of these books have been read over and over again since we picked them out. I often opt to pick up 10-15 books each library visit so Connor has a selection to choose from. His favorite this round was Curious George Goes to a Costume Party, Pumpkin Heads!, The Perky Little Pumpkin: A Halloween Story and The Bumpy Little Pumpkin. 

This is always a busy month for our family. Between birthdays, Fall fun and Halloween, we are often on the go each and every weekend. If you are looking for fun ways to enjoy Autumn here are the top 5 most popular Fall recipes and craft posts from Wife Mommy Me. 

CRAFTS & PRINTABLES

RECIPES

Cool weather has arrived and we've been outside every chance we get. It's been such a fun year with Connor. He has grown so much and is able to go, do and explore like never before. I am fairly certain 4 1/2, almost 5 has been the best age yet. But then again I say that about every season it seems. 

Happy October -- and of course... Hello Birthday Month!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Currently #Basic | October 2017

It's October which means it's officially 2 things: Fall and Birthday Season. Both of which are my favorite times of the year. Birthday Season for us includes James's and Connor's birthdays later this month and mine the first of November. Those special days plus all things Fall leave me being on very #basic girl this time of year! Here's what currently going on with us this month...


Styling -- my current closest to make the most of what I have. I have more than enough clothes, there's no doubt but I'm trying to really work what I have so that I don't have to buy clothes only to replace them when I lose a bit more weight. I'm comfortably in a size M and my jeans and bottoms have enough room for me to a lose a bit before needed to replace them. Ideally I would love to not have to buy anything new till the Spring. Is that even possible?

Saving -- gifts for Christmas that I've scored at amazing prices from We Heart Deals on Facebook. Many of you will recognize the admin from the group, Lizzie. I love the deals she shares on her page, especially those found on Amazon. Hello free 2 day shipping. I've got a great pile of present hid and plan to start wrapping them soon, making a list of who I've gotten gifts for and what is still needed. I would love to wrap up the bulk of Christmas shopping by early December.

Searching -- for the perfect outfits for our family photos. We have them scheduled for October 14th and while I would love to add a bit of color and pattern, I've been struggling with finding the perfect color. Mustard yellow was my first pick but that's been hard to shop for this season. I am half tempted to stick with black so that we can really focus on us and not busy clothes or bright colors. We will get it sorted out and I can't wait to get photos taken and share them. Our photographer is amazing!

Picking -- Connor's brain for birthday gift ideas. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday he quickly said "people already now what I want". He thinks people just know. What he doesn't get is that Mommy is hard at work answering questions about what he would like. He has said time and time again "Last year for my birthday, I didn't tell anyone what I wanted for my birthday but everyone got me exactly what I wanted." Life is funny like that, C. Where's the credit I deserve?

Making -- holiday plans with family and friends! It's almost that time of year and I like to have things in place so that I know we will get to see and do all we want during the busiest time of year for many. We have plans to travel to Columbus for Christmas with friends, I want to take C to the Zoo to see lights this winter and most importantly, I want to really take advantage of the cool Fall weather before the winter freeze comes along. 

And because I did title this post "Currently #Basic" I wanted to share my answers to this month's TBB Asks. It's 100% Fall theme and makes me wish it was more Fall-like here this week. Go away 80's and shorts weather. I want jeans, scarves and booties! 


1. Favorite Fall Sweet Treat? Anything and everything pumpkin. I am a totally freak for all things pumpkin spice.

2. Red, Yellow or Green Apples? Red apples only.

3. Favorite Fall Sport to Play? Soccer to play, football to watch.

4. Best Drink for Fall? PSL but not this year thanks to all the points it sucks up. So.. maybe just something warm with a hint of caramel.

5. Favorite Fall Activity? Hikes with my guys.

6. Must have Fall Purchase? I don't think anything is a must have. But something I'd like to treat myself to is a new pair of black riding boots.

7. Pumpkins: Pick your own or store bought? Pick your own. I love finding the perfect pumpkin to carve.

8. Real or Fake Pumpkin? Both are okay with me when decorating. Depending on the weather fake pumpkins tend to last longer outside.

9. Favorite Halloween Costume? Connor's Jake Halloween was awfully adorable. I just love the hair he got to rock.

10. College Football or NFL? Both -- Ohio State Buckeyes and Cincinnati Bengals. And yes I know Cinci is 0-3. Welcome to being a Bengals fan.

11. Fall or Halloween Decor? Give me all the decor. Our home is currently decked out in a combination of Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

12. Raking Leaves or no Leaves to Rake? We have ZERO leaves to rake which is pretty nice if you ask me.

13. Favorite Soup? All of them! I am huge fan of soups and stews. My current obsession is this one: TURKEY TACO CHILI

14. Favorite Fall Candle scent? Bath and Body's Pumpkin Pecan Waffle. Holy amazing!

15. Love or Hate Pumpkin Spice? Love. All the live long day.

16. Short Booties or Tall boots? Both! My new tan ones will be worn every chance I get this Fall.

17. Favorite Halloween Candy? I don't have one but will share that I am not a huge fan of candy corn.

18. PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte): YES or NO? Yes but only when I'm being brave and want to use all my SmartPoints.

19. Hayride or Corn Maze? Both. Give me all the fun that comes with Fall festivals and such. But I don't do anything haunted or scary. No way.

20. Favorite Fall TV Show? I am loving This is Us of course. Will & Grace was hilarious last week. I am excited for Scandal to come back on. I can't forget The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Clearly I watch only the best ;)