Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lightened Up Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Cassrole

It has been pouring here, literally all. day. long.  The temperature dropped about 10 or more degrees, and the wind has been howling.

Blame it on the pregnancy hormones, or maybe it is just the monsoon going down outside, but ever since lunch time I have been craving comfort food.

So, I decided to do what any woman in her right mind would do, and took to Pinterest to search for the perfect recipe to accommodate my needs.  Naturally I was tempted by the apple cider caramels and pumpkin-sour cream coffee cakes that popped up in my feed, but then I stumbled across this recipe for creamy chicken and broccoli casserole, and I just knew, it was exactly what I was longing for.

Now I'd be lying if I said that the cooler weather doesn't instantly make me want to ditch the grill and head straight for my crock pot, and that cheesy, creamy goodness doesn't make me weak in the knees. However, in the spirit of trying not to gain 100+ pounds this pregnancy, I instantly began wondering if I could make this recipe at least, somewhat, low-fat.

After a trip to the grocery store, and a few ingredient substitutions, I was ready to throw together my version... which in my opinion, has to be just as good as the original.  I didn't feel like anything was missing while eating this, it totally satisfied my cravings, and hopefully I spared myself a few added pounds... Even if I did go back for a second helping, you know, for the baby.

Lightened Up Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
(adapted from this recipe found on Pinterest)


3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 cup of light sour cream
1 cup of shredded 2% milk cheddar cheese
1 cup of 2% milk colby jack shredded cheese
1 bag frozen broccoli florets, thawed and chopped
s&p to taste

Cook chicken and shred (I love cooking chicken breasts in the crock pot on low in chicken broth to shred and have on hand for the week for recipes, so that is the method I used, but you could certainly just boil your chicken.)  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Transfer mixture to a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve over rice.

This was super easy to throw together and will no doubt be great leftover.  The perfect simple dinner for a chilly rainy night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Becoming a Party of Five

Well friends, if you haven't already heard, allow me to share the news... we're having another baby!!! That's right, baby number three is on the way, and due to arrive in early April.

The number of responses we have received, upon disclosing our little secret, have ranged from the ever popular, "congratulations!" to "good God, you guys are crazy!".

I have to admit, that from the moment that little plus sign popped up on the home pregnancy test, I too was thinking we might be a bit nuts.  Mike and I have both always agreed that we wanted a big family, but with this being my third pregnancy in under 4 years, I can't say I'm not beginning to feel a little like my body is no longer my own.  Aside from that minor detail however, if I'm being honest, I couldn't be more thrilled about welcoming another little one into the world, and I'm feeling truly blessed to be in this position once again.

Despite the fact that there are times when I feel like I have totally lost my mind around here, I'm kind of at a point, where I live for the loud and chaotic days that have become our normal. They are full of just so much love and so many happy memories.  The pros far outweigh the cons.

This time around, pregnancy has been so different from the previous two for me.

I was fortunate to rarely deal with nausea while pregnant with both M&E, but this time, I have not been so lucky.  My first trimester was plagued with days where I wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch.  A mere whiff of coffee (one of my very favorite things in the whole world), has had me running for the toilet.  I have been so exhausted, that my kids have gotten to enjoy more "movie days" than I care to admit, and the fact that I started to show around 9 weeks had me begging my doctor to check again to make sure there wasn't another baby in there.

Perhaps it's the fact that I didn't get around to losing all of my "baby weight" after having Ella.  I'm starting this pregnancy off weighing more than I did either of my previous pregnancies, but there's not much I can do about it now.  I'm making every effort I can to get to the gym at least 3-4 days a week, but sadly had to drop out of my half marathon training, when the nausea was just too much to bear.  

Carbs have become my best friend through these past 3 months (bagels, I'm talking about you), but now that I've hit the second trimester, I'm finally starting to crave healthy foods again.  Hopefully it stays that I way.

Thinking about the jump from two kids to three is so different from how I felt about the jump from one child to two.  My pregnancy with Ella was filled with anxiety over whether or not I could love another baby as much as I loved Max, whether or not my heart was big enough to be infatuated with another soul as much as I was with my first born... naturally the moment I first held Ella in my arms, that anxiety instantly melted away, and I learned very quickly that the love only grows... It grows so much.

This time around, the fears are different.  There isn't a doubt in my mind that I can love another baby (or 10) as much as I love the ones that I already have.  This time around the fear is more "holy crap, can we do this?"  Deep down, I know for sure that Mike and I have it in us, but come spring time we are going to be out numbered by three zany little people.  Our kids aren't calm and quiet... they are loud, wild, and full of personality... just like us... so I can't wait to see just how much more crazy our days are about to become.

Either way, I am bursting with joy right now over all that God has blessed us with, thrilled that we could finally share our secret, and excited to share what's to come with all of you.

Looks like it's time to start shopping for a minivan!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Swoon Worthy

Happy first official weekend of fall!

It seems it is now socially acceptable for our house to be fully decorated for autumn... even though it has been since the first week of September (fall enthusiast over here!).

On this weekend's agenda is an attempt at a family trip to the apple orchard, followed promptly by indulging in warm homemade apple crisp, and we'll be rounding it all out with copious amounts of time spent lounging on the couch/watching football... With the occasional chore around the house thrown in for good measure.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share with all of you, with what I'm swooning over this week.  Allow me to break it down for you...

1.  Target's fall line.  In particular, this pillow, this pillow, and this mug... all of which I picked up this past week.  I want one of everything.

2.  I am totally falling for the poncho trend this fall.  This one, paired with some skinny jeans, and heeled booties, might just be my go-to autumn outfit!

3.  In case you missed this post earlier this week, do yourself a favor, and make these this weekend!

4.  One of our favorite companies just release a new version of their popular plates.  Naturally, we hopped online and ordered a few.

5.  This genius concoction sounds like the perfect fall cocktail.

6.  I have finally hopped on the arm knitting band wagon, after stumbling across this book.

7.  We'll be making this healthy fall snack ASAP!

8.  Feeling this handbag style this season.

9.  Are these tights not the cutest???

10.  Lastly, the Adam Lippes for Target line drops tomorrow, and since I can't get enough of plaid, I'm dying to see it.

Also, if you didn't already catch it, my Etsy shop, kozy & co, is now opening again, featuring our fall line.  Be sure to check it out!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Simple Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

If you haven't figured it out by now, I, like most people of sane mind, am totally in love with all things pumpkin.

As soon as September hits (or even late August under certain circumstances), I commit to indulging in as much pumpkin-y goodness as I can possibly take, until about Thanksgiving.

My husband, likes pumpkin just alright... as in he is not a gourd addict like myself... he is however, an avid cinnamon role lover.

How, I asked myself, can I combine two of our favorite things into one amazingly delicious seasonal treat?

I give you this recipe for super simple, quick-to-make Mini Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls!


for rolls

1 tube of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (the recipe creation sheets are perfect for this, but if you can't find them, regular crescent rolls will do. Just be sure to pinch your seams together.)

1/2 stick of softened (room temperature) unsalted butter

2 Tbs canned pumpkin puree

1/8 cup brown sugar

1 Tbs ground cinnamon

for the icing

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 Tbs milk (or... if you feel like really kicking up the pumpkin flavor, you can do what I did, and use pumpkin spice flavored coffee creamer

1.  Roll out crescent dough onto a cutting board, or baking sheet.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together butter and pumpkin puree.

3.  Spread pumpkin/butter mixture evenly over surface of crescent dough.

4.  Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the top of the pumpkin mixture.

6.  Roll up dough, the long way, into one long tube.

7.  Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 equal size slices.

8.  Place all 12 rolls into a greased 8x8 baking dish.

9.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

10.  While rolls are baking, mix confectioners sugar and milk (or creamer) in a small dish.

11.  Remove rolls from oven and allow to cool.

12.  Top with icing, and enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Our Weekend

Happy Monday, friends!  I live for fall weekends, and although I know it isn't "officially" fall yet, this weekend, it sure felt like it was.

After a week with temperatures in the high 80's, it finally cooled off on Sunday, giving the air that autumn crispness that I wait all summer for.

So, with my PSL in hand, we headed out to enjoy Farm Fest... complete with hayride, piglet sightings, and fresh apple cider!

M&E had an absolute blast, and to be honest, so did Mike and I.

After all of that fun, it was back home for an afternoon full of football and lounging on the couch.

I cooked our favorite brisket, and we had sandwiches for dinner, which was followed by a nice early bedtime!

We kicked off Monday with our usual trip to Target (shocker, I know), where we picked up the ingredients to make our favorite ranch pretzels, and perused their amazing fall decor line!

I thought I would share our recipe for the ranch pretzels... I know there are about a million of these on Pinterest, and they all vary slightly, but this is how I make them.  We like them extra ranch-y, and these usually don't last more than a day around here!

Ranch Pretzels

1, 1 pound bag of pretzels (mini, sticks, nuggets, whichever you choose)
1 packet of ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp dry dill weed
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients, but pretzels.
Pour pretzels into a gallon-sized ziplock bag, and pour seasoning and oil mixture into bag, moving around so that all pretzels get coated in seasoning (you can certainly do this in a large bowl, but I'm a big fan of any method that results in less dishes).
Spread pretzels into an even layer onto large baking sheet.
Bake for 40 minutes, stirring around every 15 minutes or so.
Allow to cool, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Swoon Worthy

It feels really good to get back to Swoon Worthy posts after taking a few weekends off while we were on vacation.

I truly missed scouring the internet, perusing magazines, and reading countless blog posts so that I could share fun finds with all of you.

Let's get right to it, shall we?

1.  I love a good caramel apple in the fall, but this apple pie caramel apple sounds off the charts good.

2.  LWPH just launched her fall line, and it's safe to say, I'm totally smitten.

3.  It's buffalo plaid season again friends... my heart is happy.

4.  Finding new and fun ways to serve quinoa is always so satisfying, this quinoa salad sounds delightful.

5.  Anthro-inspired at a fraction of the price... The Pioneer Woman's new line for Walmart is pretty impressive.

6.  Have you ever seen more beautiful bibs?  In love with everything from this handmade shop!

7.  If you know me at all, you know that I'm a freak for all things pumpkin.  I picked up some of this tea while we were in Maine, and I literally can't stop drinking it.

9.  Sweater season can't come soon enough!!!

10.  And last but not least a little shameless plug sneak peak of some of the stuff of been working on for the re-opening of Kozy & Co, next week!  I can't wait for you guys to see the fall line!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Halloween Pajamas for Littles

I realize that many of you are probably thinking, "Halloween pajamas, already???", but here's the way I see it... If I'm going to invest in holiday-themed pajamas (which I happen to love, and can't pass by when I see them in stores without throwing them in my cart), then my kids might as well be able to wear them for more than just a few weeks.  So don't be surprised, if you catch them rocking them in photos, likely from now until Easter!

Here are a few of my favorites this season...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Maine Rewind

It seemed appropriate, today being #tbt and all, that I throw it back a week... to last Thursday... when we were still on vacation in Maine.

For those of you who are new around here, or didn't already know, I was born and raised in Maine, and it was my belief, for most of my life anyway, that I would live in Maine until the day I died... But then along came a boy from Pittsburgh, or so the story goes, and before I knew it, I was in love and packing my bags to relocate and be with my future husband.

Fast forward several years, many moves, and a couple of kids later, and it seems I have now become a tourist in my beloved home state.

Last week we packed up the car, and took off with the M&E for a week long vacation in Kennebunkport, where we rented the most adorable, nautical themed, cottage I have ever laid eyes on.

If you have never been to Maine, I highly suggest you go if you ever get the chance (particularly in the summer months).  I am by no means a world traveler, but I have seen my fair share of US states, and I can say with absolute certainty that Maine possesses a multitude of attractions that you have to see in person to truly appreciate.  Of course I may be biased, but I honestly took my surroundings for granted when I was a resident of the state.  It is only now, as an adult, and a "tourist", that I have truly learned to appreciate what it's like to spend time somewhere where natural beauty is so abundant.

I could literally go on and on about how charming Maine is, and how stunning the views of the ocean are, but I'll let this overload of photos speak for itself.

Our week was chalk-full of lobster boat rides, drives along the coast, trips to the beach, seafood dinners, shopping in various boutiques and shops, and visiting with family and friends.  It was as relaxing as you can imagine a vacation with a one year old and three year old could be... Between chasing Ella up and down the beach as she chased after seagulls, yelling "hi birdie!", and watching as Max learned all about catching "monsters" (lobsters), but my heart was so full!  Seeing my kids and my husband enjoying all of the things that I grew up around and considered so commonplace, made me feel complete... that and the fact that I got to smell and breath fresh ocean air for a full 7 days.

Maine will always hold a piece of my heart, and even though I may not live there year round, and now only get to visit, I will always consider it home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Replay Recycled Review and Giveaway

I have a confession to make.  I'm kind of a toddler eating utensil hoarder of sorts.  You name the brand, I've bought it.  I'm embarrassed to even tell you how much money I have wasted testing out different brands of sippy cups... So when I say I am excited to share a little bit with you all about the amazing Re-play Recycled, you can rest assured that I have road tested enough brands to tell you, that this one is by far a favorite in our house.

For starters, let me give you a little bit of background info about the line.

Re-play products are made right here in the USA from recycled milk jugs, making them an awesome alternative for parents who are looking to make the planet a better place for their children as well as future generations.

One pound of recycled plastic, equivalent to 2 of the gallon-sized milk jugs they use to make their products, saves enough energy to power a 60W light bulb for 6 days, charge a smartphone for 31 weeks, power a 32" LCD TV for 3 days, and charge an electric car for 6 hours.

As if all of that isn't awesome enough, their products are super affordable, with most of their individual items, as well as their sets, priced at under $10.

Now let me tell you some of our favorite features of Re-play products...

These items are super thick and durable, which means they hold up to getting chucked from high chairs, a past time we've become quite fond of around here.  They are also dishwasher safe, which is a huge plus in my opinion.

I'm a big fan of color, and the variety of choices that Re-play offers is impressive.  This makes it easy for me to designate specific colors for each of my children, so there is no confusion over whose cup is whose.

Re-play products are BPA, Phthalate free, and PVC free... always important, especially when it comes to my kids.

Our #1 Favorite Thing- 
Re-play's No-spill sippy cups really are NO SPILL!!! My kids are rough with their cups.  They drop them, they throw them, they kick them... no matter what, these cups NEVER leak... and they are literally the only ones we own that don't, which makes them our go-to everyday cup.  As soon as I discovered this awesome feature, I stocked up on these cups!  Don't believe me?  Give their No-Spill Challenge a try.

Re-play products can be purchased online through Amazon, or at  You can also find them in select Wal-mart stores, Whole Foods, Kroger, and other grocers.

You want to know the best part?  Re-play has kindly allowed me to give away a set (like the one pictured below), in the color of the winner's choosing!  All you have to do is enter below!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don't Forget to Brush Your Chiclets

Our sweet little Ella has been "teething" for approximately 5,327 days now it seems.  Exaggeration, yes, but that's how long it feels like it's been around here.

Those adorable bottom two middle teeth popped through before her first birthday, and thankfully didn't cause much of a fuss.  Surely (we thought), the other teeth would follow suit, and be making their way into the world in the near future.  Max had most of his teeth shortly after he turned one, and we all know, that babies are all alike (sarcasm at its finest)... Not so much.

Months seemed to pass without so much as a glimpse of anything white poking through Ella's gums.  Then low and behold, those lateral incisors arrived... before her top middle two teeth... and so we had a baby vampire on our hands.

Despite Ella's laughable (mostly) toothless grin, I was well aware of the importance of instilling a good sense of dental hygiene in her from early on.  Enter Nuby's 4 Stage Oral Care System...

My friends, this product is genius.  I'm a sucker for convenience, so a set that has us covered from that gummy baby grin all the way through to a toothy toddler smile is right up my ally (plus it's BPA free #winning).

Since Ella was mostly toothless during the first year of her life, we stuck with the first stage; a super soft silicone massager that fit on the tip of my finger.  This stage totally helped get her used to the idea of the feeling of brushing while still being gentle on her sensitive gums.

We have since moved on to a combination of stage 2 and 3.  Stage 2 is a soft massager that is perfect for older gums and new teeth while stage 3 is for cleaning the gums and teeth during the teething process.  We generally stick with the stage 3 brush, but on days that I can tell a tooth might be on its way and her gums seem extra sensitive, we'll take a step back to stage 2. 

Seeing as Ella is only 16 months old, I still have to help her a bit with the brushing process, but she totally enjoys holding the brushes herself and gnawing on them to help soothe her sore gums, annnnnd, since it's never too early to get started with good oral hygiene care, I like to let her think she's doing all of the work!

The Nuby Oral Care Set can be purchased at Babies R Us and on, and if you're interested in more information on this and other Nuby products, follow along with their social media sites:

As for us, Ella's top middle teeth have finally just popped though, so I'm hoping that there is some light at the end of this teething tunnel, and that we will finally be moving on to stage 4 (soft nylon bristles for brushing new teeth)!

***Disclaimer:  Contemporary Domestics is a part of the Nuby Parent Blogger Program.  We were sent these products to test out and review, however all thoughts and opinions are (as always) entirely my own.


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