The Best Lemon Bars

I shared a bit earlier this summer that my kids have declared this the summer of cooking with mom.  We have spent a ton of time in the kitchen whipping up all kinds of treats from cookies to fresh donuts.  The kids have taken turns picking what the next thing we make together will be.   It was recently my oldest daughter’s turn to pick.  Emily begged to make lemon bars.

I love lemon everything (if you can’t tell by my blog title!).  Lemon meringue pie, lemon poppy seed muffins, lemonade, lemon bread…you name it.  I have a recipe for lemon bars that I love but the kids have complained in the past that it is too tart. However, I love the tart flavor of these bars! I’m not sure where I got this recipe but I’ve been using it for years. I was hesitant to make them with Emily when she asked but she was adamant that she wanted to make the sour lemon bars. Thankfully, my kids’ taste has seem to matured a bit and they appreciated these lemon bars much more than the last time I made them.

The Best Lemon Bars

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1/2 (1 stick) of melted butter

For the filling:

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest together with a wire whisk. Using a hand mixer beat the melted butter into the flour mixture until it becomes dry and crumbly.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a slightly greased 9 x 9 pan. Use your hands or the back of a spoon to press the crust and even it out.
  • Bake your crust for 16 to 19 minutes until it is firm and slightly browned.  While the crust is baking make your filling. Using an electric mixer, mix the eggs, lemon juice, and sugar until well combined.
  • After your crust is done baking, poor the filling over the crust while it is still hot.  Bake the bars for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the filling is set. The filling should be firm and not jiggle much when the pan is shaken slightly.
  • Allow the bars to cool completely. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  When you are ready to serve them, dust the bars with powdered sugar and serve.

Best Baby Products for the First Six Months

Our youngest set of twins (babies number 4 and 5!)  turned six months old this past Saturday!  The past six months have flown by.  They are growing so quickly and it breaks my momma heart a little bit.  I am just not ready for these babies to grow up so fast!

I have reached the point in my motherhood journey that I have become the one giving advice instead of asking for it.  It feels weird to be giving the young women who are becoming moms for the first time advice.  I’m happy to share my experiences with them though.  One of the things I am often asked about is which baby products have I used the most.  So, in honor of my babies’ half birthday I am going to share the list of must-have baby products that I have compiled after having five children.

Best Baby Products for the First Six Months According to a Mom of 5

  1. Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

    Seriously guys, this thing is a lifesaver!!  Unfortunately, these didn’t exist when my oldest three kids were infants.  Our oldest three hated their bassinets so I knew I didn’t want to spend more money on a bassinet with these newest babies.  So many people recommended that we try a Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play.  I’m so glad that we decided to get two of them!  Both of the babies love them and sleep in them every night.  They are slightly elevated which seems to help our little guys sleep and the seat cradles them perfectly in a way that mimics being held. I really recommend getting the more expensive version that has the automatic rock feature.  Just plug it in and let the soothing, rocking motion work its magic.  Several people told me that their babies only fit in a Rock ‘N Play until about four months old but our babies are still sleeping in them every night at six months old.  This has also replaced a swing for us.  We really don’t need  a swing or something similar because this does a wonderful job soothing our babies.

  2. NoseFrida

    I know, I know.  This is kind of gross…or at least my husband, Daniel, thinks so.  He is convinced that this is the most disgusting thing on the face of this planet and absolutely refuses to use it.  I, however, LOVE it. I have given birth to babies in August, September, and October which means I have suffered with tiny babies during cold and flu seasons a few times.  When babies are small, there isn’t much you can do to help them when they have a cold except run a humidifier, use saline nose drops, and suction as much snot out as you can.  With our three oldest, we used the suction bulb the hospital gives you but I never felt satisfied with it.  I always felt like there was still so much snot left in their little noses and it wasn’t helping at all.  Then, I discovered the NoseFrida.  This thing is AMAZING.  You essentially put the tip of the tube on their nose and use the red mouth piece to suction the snot out.  It is so much gentler on their noses and it gets so much more snot out!  Like I said, Daniel thinks it is nasty but it saved us this past winter.  It was a huge help in January when both babies had RSV.

  3. Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat

    We were given two of these last summer before the babies were born.  I love them so much!  When the older kids were babies, we used Bumbo seats but I think these are so much better.  They are more secure than a Bumbo and provide more support since the back of the seat is higher.  We still have Bumbo seats with these new babies but rarely use them.  We prefer these Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seats and I think the babies prefer them as well.  Because of the added support, we were able to use these at an earlier age compared to the Bumbo seats.  You do really need to wait until your baby can support his or her own head to use these but they are wonderful.  I often put the babies in their floor seats and bring them with me in the kitchen when I’m cooking or cleaning.  I also use them when I’m doing laundry. These make getting household tasks while taking care of babies so much easier!

  4. Boppy Pillow

    A Boppy Pillow is one of those items that I have used with all five kids and still love it!  If you are planning to breastfeed, it is a must have!  This pillow has saved my back during my breastfeeding days. It allows you to support baby and bring him or her closer to the breast without bending down and straining your back.  My husband also uses the Boppy when he gives the babies a bottle.  It is just a great way to get some support and help holding baby during those feeding sessions.

  5. Munchkin Dishwasher Basket

    We have four Munchkin Dishwasher Baskets and with twins at least one of them has become a permanent addition to our dishwasher.  These are the perfect little contraptions to wash all those babies things.  It has two compartments.  The top compartment is perfect for bottle nipples and pacifiers. I use to bottom bigger compartment for lids and nipple rings from baby bottles.  When the babies get older and begin using sippy cups, these baskets are great for washing the stoppers that prevent leaks from from sippies.  These are also really great to throw small kitchen gadgets, plastic straws, breast pump parts, and medicine dosing cups in as well.  We’ve been using these since our oldest, Emily, was a baby (almost ten years ago!).

  6. Moby Wrap

    The Moby Wrap is another one of those products I have been using for the past ten years.  I have bought a new one with every pregnancy.  Babywearing with the Moby Wrap gives me a chance to get some stuff done around the house while still keeping my babies happy.  I like the Moby Wrap because it is so versatile.  Since it is a long piece of fabric there are numerous ways to tie it and to hold baby.  It grows with baby and you can use it from the newborn stage well into the toddler years. I absolutely love that it lasts so long.  It does have a learning curve and I highly suggest watching several YouTube videos to learn all the different holds and ways to tie it. Once you get the hang of it, it is super easy.

 

This is certainly not a comprehensive list.  There are definitely other products you will need the first six months of your baby’s life. These are certainly ones that have made our lives so much easier.  There are a number of other products that I have found particularly useful in the second half of our children’s first year and I hope to compile that list and share it with you this summer as we approach the twins’ first birthday!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

Valentine Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

It isn’t technically spring yet but it sure feels like it here in Arkansas.  We’ve enjoyed springlike weather with temperatures in the 70s and 80s all week.  I’ve absolutely loved it and it has kindled my desire to make spring treats and fire up the grill.

Every spring there is a little, local store run by a farm that opens in our town.  They have fields and fields of strawberries and the kids and I love to load up on fresh strawberries from this store.  We typically by a couple of huge boxes of those sweet berries and make all kinds of yummy treats in addition to just enjoying some fresh berries.  We usually make fresh strawberry jam and strawberry muffins but my favorite treat to make with the kids is chocolate-covered strawberries!  Our little, local farm store won’t open until April so we had to settle for strawberries from the grocery store but the girls and I got a head start on strawberry treats this afternoon.

 

Since this spring weather has put us in the mood for spring treats and it is the weekend before Valentine’s Day, Emily, Lauren, and I headed to the kitchen to add a Valentine’s spin to chocolate-covered strawberries.  Chocolate-covered strawberries are the perfect thing to satisfy my sweet tooth and one of the easiest, kid-friendly things to make in the kitchen.

We began by washing our strawberries off.  The girls do a great job at rinsing the berries and then using a paper towel to gently dry them off.  The chocolate becomes watered down and doesn’t stick to the berries if you don’t make sure they are dry.

Since this is a treat that I tend to make with the kids every year, I definitely try to make it as easy as possible.  One way I do that is by using Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate.  Guys, I love this stuff!  It is so easy and it tastes sooooo good!  Open the package and stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir the chips around with a spoon and then stick is back in the microwave for another 30 seconds.  Repeat until it is all melted.

Once your chocolate is melted, gently grab a clean, dry strawberry by the stem and dip it into the melted chocolate.  Set the dipped strawberries on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and let them sit until the chocolate had hardened.  Since it is so close to Valentine’s Day, my girls and I decided to get creative and add some Valentine’s sprinkles but the plain chocolate ones are still my favorite.  For the white chocolate ones, we used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Baking Chips.  We used these the same way that we used the Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate.  We put some of the white chocolate in a small, deep bowl and melted them for thirty seconds at a time in the microwave.  We then dipped the strawberries in the white chocolate just like we did in the Bakers Chocolate.  If you want to add sprinkles, then make sure you sprinkle them on the strawberries immediately after you dip them and before the chocolate dries.

Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate provides such a wonderful, smooth coat of chocolate and isn’t too hard when it dries.  It is so smooth and creamy once it dries on the strawberries!  One container usually does a pint of strawberries, give or take.  For the five of us in the house that can eat them, we usually make two pints of strawberries and use two of these dipping chocolate containers.

This treat literally took less than twenty minutes for my girls and I to make.  Even allowing the chocolate time to dry, these strawberries were ready to eat in under an hour.  You can pop your cookie sheet with strawberries in the refrigerator for a few minutes to make the chocolate harden quicker.  Also, they will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

During the spring and summer months, we usually make these a couple of times a month.  They are a quick and easy treat.  I would much rather my kids eat fruit with a bit of chocolate than having something like a brownie or cookie for a snack so I consider it a win on the healthy eating front as well.  We don’t generally add sprinkles to our strawberries but we thought it would be fun for Valentine’s Day.  You can omit them though or add different colors for different holidays.  Green for St. Patrick’s day or pretty pastels for Easter would be cute!  Give it a try!  The next time you are creating your grocery order for your Walmart grocery pickup (best thing ever!) throw some Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate and some strawberries in your cart for a quick, sweet treat!  Happy dipping!

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small commission.