Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

I know it’s springtime and not soup weather, but it’s been a bit chilly here in CT lately. And with my kids playing sports it’s been freezing out in the fields where they play & practice. Monday night my littlest had soccer and oh my goodness it was cold! The afternoon was hectic, actually the entire day was crazy… so I didn’t have time to prepare dinner in advance. That’s pretty much why I bought the Instant pot right?

I have a pile of IP recipes I’ve printed out over the last few months just sitting on my counter and the IP lasagna soup from ‘Sweet & Savory Meals’ has been one I’ve really wanted to try. Whenever I make lasagna I buy two boxes of noodles and always wind up having half a box leftover. The half boxes are taking up my cabinet so this recipe came in handy to use them up. Here’s the recipe I followed:

Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

The recipe is super easy to follow and most of the ingredients are things we all have in our cupboards. I did use ground beef for the recipe but the leanest I could find, and I used a red pepper since I didn’t have a green one. My IP is the 6 quart so it’s not the huge one. I was a little nervous about how full it was going to be and I’ve never made soup in there before. I was really vigilant to make sure I wasn’t close to the Max Fill line. I’m always scared it’s going to blow up πŸ˜³πŸ˜‚ That being said, I did make some changes and it came out perfect. I didn’t use the second cup of water and maybe used about 3 cups of chicken broth. I went heavy on the noodles, at least 3/4 of a box. I also broke them up smaller than what shows in the recipe picture. Actually my kids did and noodle pieces were flying all over my kitchen! When it was all in and ready to go I saw where I was based on the fill line and added just a little more water but still left about half an inch of space.

When it was finished it was a little soupy but I would say more like a casserole. I added a little more cheese when I plated everyone’s and all the kids ate it. I thought it was awesome and will definitely keep this one to use again. Definitely tastes like lasagna!

~Elena πŸ’–πŸ‘©β€πŸ³


May Challenge: Abs πŸŽ‰

The votes are in and it sounds like we are doing an Ab Challenge for the month of May!! Who’s excited??? 😳😬 πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

Seriously though, in the past I’ve always been more motivated to do these when I know I’m not doing it alone. Accountability! And the last few summers I’ve done challenges every spring and really notice the difference, plus it keeps me motivated even after the challenge is over. I also print them out and keep them in our workout room to reuse and my kids even pull them out from time to time.

I switched up the exercises a bit this time. I wanted to make sure we are hitting different areas instead of just focusing on the middle section. I also threw in a rest day after every third day but sometimes I move those around for myself depending on my schedule for that week. You can switch things up also and make things harder by adding weights. I usually use a 10 lb medicine ball for the Russian twists and my daughter uses a 5lb hand weight. So adjust to make it work for you.

Let’s get started. Tomorrow’s the first day! Let us know if you’re joining in.

~Elena πŸ’–


May Challenge πŸ‹πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

I cannot believe in less than a week it’s going to be May!! This year is flying by already and bathing suit season is quickly approaching! πŸ‘™So we thought it would fun to help each other out with a little challenge.

When the spring comes I usually work a little harder on abs and booty.(To be honest I’ve neglected my squats quite a bit lately 😫) Both Erin and I try to consistently do abs and squats with our regular workouts but it’s time to kick it up a notch. So we thought we would throw it out there for a vote. Once we decide we will post the challenge on the blog page, instagram and Facebook.

Let us know what you would prefer to work on……A 30 day Ab challenge or squat challenge?? Comment your preference.

Misery loves company right 🀣 Just kidding, let’s motivate each-other and we’ll all look amazing this summer! πŸ’πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

~Elena πŸ’–

Food, Uncategorized

Easy donuts for an afternoon treat!! πŸ©

Yesterday was Good Friday, which meant no school for the kiddos and my husband was home from work. It was also our last no meat Friday πŸ‘πŸ»πŸŽ‰

Good Friday Mass was a long one for my littlest to sit through and the big two were Altar Serving. So I figured everyone could use a little treat! When I was young I remember my mom making these donuts in the morning and I always got so excited. My kids are exactly the same. They hover and wait for the warm donuts to come out of the pan and everyone wants to help sprinkle the powdered sugar on. And don’t get me started on the fighting over the donut holes πŸ™„ But these are so easy and fun to make for a little unplanned treat.

I used the Great Value biscuits because that’s all they had left when I was at Walmart last week but any brand works. And it’s just the super cheap carton of biscuits, not the fancy big ones. For my family of 5, I use two cartons and I usually don’t have leftovers. On a flat surface I flatten by hand each biscuit as much as I can and then make a hole in the middle. For the hole I just use the top from a water bottle, it’s the perfect size and easy to use. Get your powdered sugar ready now because you want to be able to sprinkle the donuts as soon as they come out of the pan. Heat up a little bit of oil in a pan, just enough to cover the bottom. I use canola oil bit you can use vegetable oil. When it feels warm above the pan I usually drop one of the donut holes in first. If it starts bubbling around the donut you’re good to go and if not you can wait another minute and try again. They cook really quick so after about a minute you need to flip each donut. You want each side to start to get a little golden. After each side cooks for a minute or so, pull out each donut and lay it on your plate. While they’re still hot use your sifter to cover them with powdered sugar. And that’s it! So easy even Erin can do it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ

Seriously though your kids will love these and they take very little effort and cost maybe $2. Perfect for a dessert or breakfast and they don’t take more than 30 minutes of your time start to finish.

Who else had these growing up?? 🍩

Happy Easter 🐣

~Elena πŸ’–


Quick, healthy and easy sheet pan dinner! πŸ“ πŸ‹

We’ve been away for a week and I have zero groceries in the house. I ran to the store quickly yesterday after dropping the kids at religion just to grab a couple of things until I could make a big Aldi trip. So I really wanted an easy dinner. It was in the 70s yesterday so after unpacking and inside catching up we decided to start our spring yard cleanup. All 5 of us were outside working for most of the afternoon but there comes a point where everyone starts complaining they’re hungry and I can’t possibly make a big, intricate dinner when I’m outside working as well. I decided to throw together an easy sheet pan meal and it was perfect!

We ate WAY too much cruising last week so everyone is looking forward to scaling back a bit and eating healthier. I had 5 lemons that were about ready to be tossed but still usable for juicing. My littlest helper did some squeezing πŸ‹ and we managed to make some lemon-garlic chicken, red potatoes and broccoli. I’m not usually a recipe follower and often try to throw something together based on recipes I’ve used in the past. So no link to follow but super easy and fast!

Recipe: 🍽

*Cover a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray or drizzle with olive oil. In a large bowl mix some olive oil, lemon juice (we used 3 lemons because I like it super lemony) and some minced garlic. Cut up your potatoes, I used small red potatoes, and toss them in the liquid. Lay the potatoes on one side of the pan. Then toss your chicken in the remaining liquid mixture. I bought breasts but cut them into tenders because it cooks faster and smaller portions for my kids to eat without wasting. Lay chicken on the pan as well, pour remaining liquid over top. Sprinkle everything with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and cook in a 425 degree preheated oven. Depending on your chicken it will take 35-45 minutes to cook. Cut up your broccoli and toss in some olive oil and lemon juice. You can make room on the same pan or use a new pan, but the broccoli only needs to cook for the last ten minutes. You could even switch up your veggies and use green beans or zucchini, so many options! And that’s it!

Seriously so good I had to leave the table to stop myself from eating πŸ˜¬πŸ™ˆ Let me know if you give it a try!

~Elena πŸ’–


Ten Things I’ve learned from my divorce.

So I am coming up on the one year mark of my divorce. It’s crazy how much can change in a year. Divorce is a lot of change by itself but I was naive to the trickle effect it would have in all areas. I knew things would change and may never be the same, but I was expecting some things to remain the same. I’ve always had this hope within me that some things will last forever but I’m learning that it’s just unrealistic. So here are 10 things I’ve learned during my 1st year of divorce.

1) Kids are resilient.

My number 1 concern was my girls. How will they ever get over this? Will they ever be the same? Did I ruin their lives? Obviously it hit them hard emotionally but they have grown and overcome way more than I could have at their age.

2) Being alone is better than being lonely in a marriage.

I would take the loneliness of being alone any day over the loneliness I’ve felt being in a bad marriage.

3) I’m a better mom.

When you’re in a toxic relationship everyone suffers. You can’t be a good parent when you’re unhappy and angry all the time.

4) Date someone for at least a year before you marry them.

I only dated my ex-husband 8 months when I walked down the aisle. I think if we were both honest we knew we had made a mistake within the first year of marriage. We didn’t know each other!!

5) You are stronger than you think.

I honestly stayed married longer than I should have because I didn’t think I could make it by myself. But here I am still making it, barely but I’m making it. 🀣

6) Healing takes longer than you think!

Don’t think it happens over night. I thought by being out of that house, out of that marriage I would be instantly happy. And don’t get me wrong I experienced a relief and freedom like never before. But you also have to deal with the baggage that came with it. So it’s a process, a very long process! 😱

7) A Parents love and support for their children never ends.

My parents have been my biggest support mentally and financially. I have put them through a lot over the years but they’ve got my back like no one ever has.

8) You’re not a failure

I thought I was a failure that my marriage ended. I tried so hard for so long for the girls and I felt like I failed them. But I wasn’t doing them any favors by staying.

9) Your Life isn’t over.

I thought my life was over and in some ways a part of my life was over. But I’ve realized it is just the beginning and it’s exciting.

10) You can only control how you are.

Just because your ex talks poorly about you to your children and other people doesn’t mean that you have to. They are the father/mother of your kids and in time they will see for their self who they are as a person.

I want to end by saying it’s important to have at least one good friend to get you through. Thank you Elena for listening to me vent and sharing in my pain. You and your family mean the world to me.

-Erin πŸ’•


2019 Reading Challenge -Update πŸ“š

I finished a book the other day, Nine Perfect Strangers…which was a pretty long read. I’ve been keeping track so I went to write it down on my list and realized it took me about a week and a half. I was immediately annoyed with myself because looking at my list it seems as though I’ve been doing one book in a week max. I’ve been using almost every spare minute to read. I read on the treadmill, when I’m waiting in the car to pickup kids, at doctors/dentists appts, waiting while my girls do gymnastics, and I even keep a book with me while we run errands as a family so I can read while I’m trapped in the car with 3 bickering kids. And I try to read for at least 15 mins every night before I go to sleep.

After my initial reaction I realized ‘Holy Cow I’ve been reading about a book a week!!’ It’s the last week of March and I am just starting my 13th book!! That’s pretty awesome for me. I see so many blogs and Instagram accounts that share a new book they’re reading every other day and I’m a little jealous. Jealous in a way that I’m super impressed and it pushes me to try harder. Life is busy and I have to squeeze in 15 minutes here and there but I’ve definitely switched my free-time from screen time to book time.

This is what I’ve read so far this year: πŸ“–

* The Other Woman

* The House on Foster Hill

* The Rumor

* Our Souls at Night

* Every Breath

* Give Me Your Hand

* The Night Olivia Fell

* An Anonymous Girl

* The Exes Revenge

* Luckiest Girl Alive

* Elizabeth is Missing

* Nine Perfect Strangers

For the next few months our days are still hectic with after school activities, sports and religion, but come summer I’ll definitely kick it up a notch. This week I started *No Exit* and I still have these 2 ⬇️ on my nightstand waiting (don’t mind the ever growing pile behind them 🀫)….aside from the 8-10 holds I’m waiting on from the library 😳😬.

What are you reading and what do I need to add to my list??

~Elena πŸ’–


National chip & Dip Day!!

Apparently it’s National Chip & Dip Day and I obviously don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate any day that celebrates food!!

I actually didn’t realize this was a day until a few hours ago πŸ˜‚ but luckily I just happened to make some snacks last night to watch some March Madness. It was a meatless Friday so I was struggling to find something without meat that isn’t our usual go-to of pizza or pasta. I went with baked potatoes and all meatless toppings, but for starters I made this Cowboy caviar and it was awesome!!

Cowboy Caviar Recipe

This was super easy to follow and light & tasty! 2 of my 3 kids even loved it…the little one wouldn’t go near it once she saw the onions πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ can’t win em’ all!!

~Elena πŸ’–


Buffalo chicken casserole is delish!!

For years I’ve been following the Six Sisters’ and always find theirs recipes easy, delicious and family friendly. They have a bunch of cookbooks, are always sharing recipes on social media and even have a meal plan program if you need a little extra help staying organized. If you haven’t heard of them yet you need to check them out. Six Sisters’

I also follow them on Instagram and recently they shared their Buffalo Chicken Casserole. I love everything buffalo chicken so I immediately printed it out.

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Surprisingly my kids also love buffalo chicken. Granted they are constantly asking for water refills 🀣but I’m lucky they eat it so I can make things like this!

This recipe was a bit lighter than some of the others I’ve seen because it called for Greek yogurt in lieu of cream cheese. I also used the Aldi lite version of cream of chicken soup and their lite ranch dressing, and I used just enough cheese to cover much of the top without having to use the full amount called for. The recipe was super easy from start to finish. I cooked my chicken in a pan with just enough water to cover it, salt & pepper and let it simmer a bit until it was done and shred easily. I’m sure rotisserie chicken would work just as well. I also served it over rice.

This is one of those recipes you can put together quick & easy on a week night, so I will definitely be doing this again! And I have plenty left over so I’m checking the clock every five minutes to see if it’s lunchtime yet 😬

Let us know if you give it a try !

~Elena πŸ’–


What kind of life do you want?

This past weekend we used our living room fireplace three nights in a row. You might not see how that’s a big deal but it actually is for us. We moved in to the house we currently live in 3 years ago. The first year I don’t know if we used our fireplace more than twice that winter. Our first summer in our new house and we may not have eaten on our patio or used the fire pit more than once. Instead we were constantly going here and there, eating at restaurants with friends, at peoples houses, parties, get togethers etc. If you know anything about me you know that I’m a homebody. I rarely drive more than 15 minutes from home and I will avoid going out of my house as much as I can. But we were being social, not wanting to say no to things or people and life was chaotic. Life is chaotic enough with three kids, sports, after school activities, religion, work, meetings, etc. but this was a whole different dimension added.

At some point we reflected on our first year in our new house and realized it wasn’t spent the way we would’ve liked it to be. We had wished we had more family dinners on the patio, more fires and marshmallows, more watching family movies on the couch by the fire…so we made a conscious decision to do better. We’ve put more time in to our family, ourselves and our home…and oh my goodness it’s been so rewarding and has had such a domino effect on so many aspects of our lives!

At one time we talked about making our basement more suitable for entertaining but instead we did a 360 and made ourselves a home workout room. And it’s used daily!! My husband, myself and all 3 kids are down there pretty much every day. When the kids aren’t working out with us, they’re playing ping pong, doing gymnastics or basketball while we workout.

Since we aren’t eating out as much and socializing with food & alcohol we are eating so much healthier, in better shape and no doubt saving money. We’ve done more movies with the kids, family reading hour- where we all sit together and read (my favorite πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ), family games, hikes and so many other family activities. Life has totally changed, so many memories made and heaven knows these kids won’t always want to be in our company.

I saw this post shared on Instagram the other day:

It really made me think about the choices we’ve made. It’s so very true.

What kind of life do you want?

Don’t worry about pleasing others. Don’t feel bad about saying no to things. You’re not living for others. One of my biggest issues is that it’s always been hard for me to say no to people, well I officially quit that!

This past weekend we had 3 fires! I fell asleep on my couch reading by the fire! I’m pretty sure I haven’t done that in at least ten years….possibly more. 😳🀣

~Elena πŸ’–