Momma Told Me

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4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- AKA: Instant Bliss

4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
Momma Told Me: Less is more.

By now my regular readers know a few things about me. 1. I am personally on a mission to cut back on sugar and eat healthier in general. 2. I bake at least once a week in mass quantities for my bowling league. 3. When I don't have the time, and can't eat the sweets, I am always in need of quick and simple recipes to meet the demand of my league-mates. And that's precisely how this week's recipe was first made. In fact, this simple 4 (3 if you skip the nut garnish) ingredient recipe has been requested so much, I've made it twice since on request.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
I love this particular recipe because there is no added sugar- your sugar content comes from your chocolate hazelnut spread, and you can eliminate most of the sugar by going for healthier Nutella copycat brands. I know, I know, but I love the taste of Nutella, Jenna. Trust me, the struggle is real- that thick, dark, hazelnut goodness gets me every time. Thankfully these cookies are not only easy to make, they're also very rich, you likely will find yourself satisfied after just 1 or 2. Even better, I make them bite-sized, so there's no mess of cookie crumbs when serving them on the go.
It couldn't be easier to toss some Nutella, egg, and flour into a mixer and whip up this dough. You'll notice the dough is initially very crumbly. I panicked at first, worrying it would never mold into solid cookie dough balls, but 15 minutes in the fridge proved me wrong.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
The recipe calls for a tablespoon portioning system- I prefer to just pinch of chunks of dough and hand roll them. If you're not very good at 'eyeballing' your portions a melon ball scoop will give you the perfect portion, but some forming will still likely need to be done by hand given the dense yet crumbly nature of the dough.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
Before you bake your balls of happiness you'll want to make a small well in the center with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Pipe your chocolate hazelnut spread directly into this well. Don't worry, it won't run during the baking process, you can 'pipe' quite high if you're feeling especially decadent. The original recipe calls for crushed hazelnuts to be sprinkled atop. I use slivered almonds because I typically have them in my pantry, and they're a bit more economical, with a very similar texture and flavor when prepared in such a small quantity.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
Bake your cookies for not more than 10 minutes. They won't really 'spread' or rise. For the most part the way they go in is the way they come out, but with more of a fluffy 'baked' texture. Because these cookies are meant to be dense they will crack and fall apart if over-baked. I suggest doing a test batch to start, and removing at 8 minutes. Be sure to pull your cookies off of the hot surface and onto a cool one immediately upon removing from the oven, or the bottoms will continue to brown. The cookies are baked to perfection when the color and texture is even to the center when broken in half. Serve these bite sized cookies war for the biggest impact, or chilled with a shot of almond milk. Now, tell me, do you have a favorite recipe that's 5 ingredients or less? I love new kitchen hacks!

What Daughter Says: Whenever someone asks for this recipe I'm a bit embarrassed. It is so simple I don't think I can take any credit. However, simple certainly can be delicious!

4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies
***Click here for printable 4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies Recipe

Cats VS Dogs: Mischief + D.I.Y Doggy Stairs Tutorial

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewPetNoStains #CollectiveBias
Which causes more mischief? We weigh in! #NewPetNoStains AD
Momma Told Me: Like cats and dogs.

Growing up we had musical pets.

I've touched on the stories before, but it basically boiled down to Momma's need to bring home any wayward animal, often those with serious terminal illness. It taught me compassion for animals, regardless of their stage of life- but it definitely was tough as a child to constantly see pets come and go.

Understandably, as soon as I became a responsible adult with a home of my own I was determined to find fur-ever pets of my own and to provide them with a fur-ever home. Not only was I accustomed to having animals around, but I understood the extreme responsibilities of being a pet owner under many circumstances. What I was not prepared for were the challenges of bringing a puppy or kitten home- essentially a child. Nearly all of the pets of my childhood were senior, definitely adult, animals which required no patience in obedience or house-training.
When I first brought Truffles home she was a tiny kitten, covered in fleas, which fit in the palm of my hand. She had to be bottle fed, as her mother had been unable to feed and ween her, and she slept on my bosom close to the sound of my beating heart for the first several months of her life. It was instant love.

The above photo, which has remained my phone wallpaper for 6 years (through 5 phones), captures Truffles at about 1 year of age, curled up and sleeping peacefully. It remains my all time favorite photo of her, which is saying a lot for a cat photographed every day, despite the somewhat comical circumstances of her scene. One lesson I'd never learned growing up- cat's in 'heat' and how completely delightful they can be on the ears. When I took this snapshot I was quite literally making an appointment for her to be spayed, and thankful for the 5 minutes of peace and quiet!
When I brought Nora home she weighed less than Truffles had, but was twice the size thanks to a thick coat of 'fluff' I have a hard time calling fur. We drove 4 hours, each way, to bring her home and it was clear from that first car ride Nora was not your typical dog. Through her first years of life we thought we'd never see her potty trained (it wasn't easy going living in a second story condo with a dog) and that we'd likely never get any sleep. Nora wanted to play all the time!
#NewPetNoStains AD
Of course, much like with human kids, any good pet parent knows the secret to staying sane through the 'toddler' years is patience, and a few top secret weapons. In our case we kept plenty of sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, and carpet cleaner on hand to promote deep breathing and serenity during Nora's first year. Ideally we would have had STAINMASTER® Carpet installed to help keep our pad pet friendly, but, as renters we couldn't so easily tear up the flooring just to welcome our new pet. Thankfully STAINMASTER® has a brand new product line designed to help new pet owners (really ANY pet owners) keep their sanity through the bundles of messes that come with bringing home a new furry friend.
Pick up Stainmaster Carpet Pet Stain Remover from a Target near you, or buy online today, for fuss free removal of pretty much any stain your pet throws at you. #NewPetNoStains AD
Naturally pet accidents are one of the lest fun aspects of being a pet parent, and tend to happen most with puppies or kittens, during that 'potty training' phase. However, you might find yourself needing STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover on hand if you have recently moved (territory issues), have an elderly or ill pet (UTIs are quite common with house cats) or introduce a new family member into the home. STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover is designed to not only quickly clean on contact, but to also help repel future stains and odors thanks to powerful ODOR REMOVE™ technology. And, while it works great with a variety of pet related stains, it's also powerful against coffee, ketchup, and pretty much any other typical household carpet stain while leaving no sticky residue.

I was able to pick up new powerful STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover at my local Target in Ventura, California but STAINMASTER® Carpet is currently only available at select Target locations nationwide. CLICK HERE to find STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover at a Target near you, or to order it online and have it shipped free to your local Target store. Click the button below to save 25% on STAINMASTER® Carpet Pet Stain Remover with Cartwheel at Target now through March 4, 2017. This is especially useful for anyone hoping to adopt a new pet in the coming months!
As both a cat and dog mother I'm often asked which animal I feel is 'easier' to care for. I think this is a rather silly question, really, because every animal (much like humans) has their own unique individual personality. How a pet is raised definitely contributes to it's behaviors, but there's also a large element of the animal's own personality that will always remain their own. Because our cat out weighs our dog by half a pound, I think she has the upper edge on mischief-

BUT, cats are also generally unrestricted in their territory. They can jump, climb, and crawl into pretty much any corner, height, or crevice. This allows a lot more freedom than the average house-bound dog has. For instance, while Nora might investigate and try to eat a house plant if she was given the opportunity, we keep our plants up in alcoves she could never reach. So the job of plant tipping, and eating, is left all to the cat.

In fact, one might think our dog's life is quite dull-

As a toy breed she is primped and pampered, grooming wise, often, and she has an over abundance of items your ordinary dog would be too 'dog' to own. Her wardrobe is bigger than Jay's and she has a trough of toys we bought solely because they would 'look cute' next to her, that she'll probably never really get to. And then there are the constant 'naps' on her favorite couch, with her favorite human. Truth be told, if one of them is down for the count and out of mischief, than the other is attached at the hip behaving them-self, too. I especially love those moments.
Meanwhile, Truffles, the cat, is busy scaling every household surface, opening cabinets, and attempting to claw on any surface she hasn't directly been told not to scratch, yet. As of lately I'll usually catch Jay and the dog napping on the couch while the cat proceeds to fit herself into every nook and cranny of Jay's work desk. The truly hilarious part? That cream thing on the left side of the photo above is a rather expensive cat tree. Nobody tells a cat where they'll loaf, I guess!
Just because the cat's always getting into something she probably shouldn't, don't think that she gets to have ALL the fun. After all, the dog is the one who gets to leave the house. In the past year alone Nora has been on 2 plane trips (cross country) and 3 road trips (up North), and she rides along to pretty much any event we attend where we're not explicitly told animals aren't allowed. And, of course, there's also the beach- if I don't bathe her immediately upon re-ntry into the house I'll find my carpets have been transformed into a sandy oasis for weeks.
At the end of the day, though, the house is a playground for the cat and the dog's relatively grounded. In the spirit of making her world a little more accessible I decided to make some simple dog stairs for our living room couch. Dog stairs might sound absurd if you have a larger breed animal, such as a Labrador, but many ages (and breeds) of dogs can benefit from having home access assistance at one point in their life or another. For example, older dogs often suffer from joint pain, while dachshunds simply weren't built to make large leaps. And other dogs, such as Nora, aren't keen about the sudden drop when coming off of the couch.
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
There are many materials one could use to make dog stairs, and some dogs may even require a ramp. In planning my dog stairs I spent hours searching online for inspiration. In the end, I wasn't really able to find anything I could easily assemble with my limited woodworking ('shop') skills and tools. The end result was some creative visualization. In fact, I actually found the base for my structure in the children's bedding department of Target. Simple wooden storage bins just happened to provide the perfect building blocks for my steps.
After an hour or so of rearranging 3 wooden storage bins in every configuration I could imagine I settled on a simple 2 bin composition. Using wood glue I attached the two bins, then added some side brackets for extra stability. In this case I used a pair of hinges leftover from another project. They didn't serve a purpose, hinge wise, but I rather liked the aesthetic of the design.
Next I gave my stairs a quick coat of white paint and allowed it to dry for 6 hours. Because I knew I wanted the stairs to look worn as part of their final design I then put on gloves, eye protection, and a face mask and grabbed a few sheets of varying grit sand paper. Focusing on the edges, and anywhere wear would naturally accumulate I roughly sanded to remove some of that fresh coat of paint. Make sure, once you're happy with your finish, that you wipe down any residue and give your stairs a nice clear top coat and seal.

If you'd like to add more depth to your aging you can even add a light layer of color atop your white base and 'wet sand' over that once the paint has halfway dried.
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
I have to say, considering this project didn't require any wood work, I'm quite pleased with how my stairs turned out. They're the perfect height for Nora, and really subtle against the couch in our main living room. The stairs themselves lean against the couch for extra stability, and are very lightweight and easy to move from room to room. I just might make a set for Nora's bed!
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
I have to say, the stairs seem to be just another piece of furniture our pets immediately claimed as their own. It took a while for Nora to figure out she was 'allowed' on them, but after the initial hesitation we've caught her sitting on them. She's even been spotted trying to find a way to lay down across them.
DIY Doggy Stairs- No woodworking skills required! Grab your supplies at Target! #NewPetNoStains AD
In our household the cat definitely gets into more shenanigans than the dog- but I wouldn't say she has all the fun. These two have even been known to play with one another from time to time. Heaven help me if they ever decide to team up on their mischief- I may have to invest in STAINMASTER® stock! One thing's for sure- whether you're bringing home a new puppy, or tossing a ball of yarn to your senior cat, pets rule our homes, not the messes they make! Now, tell me a little bit about a time when your pet caused a little mischief of their own.

What Daughter Says: It's not easy raising productive pets of society- cat or dog, big personalities can result in even bigger messes. Lucky for them, we wouldn't have it any other way.

At Home Photo Booth Fun

D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
Momma Told Me: Express yourself.

I don't have kids.

Every time I say that I feel like it's a bit of a lie. Every time I fill out a survey or form and it asks me to list my children, there are at least 20 that come to mind. Sure, I can't claim them because I didn't give birth to them, and they don't go to sleep under my roof- but, whether they're blood related (nieces/nephews) or just children from the daycare, I feel a bit of a stake in the quality of their lives. I don't have children, yet, I would do just about anything to see the children in my life happy. And, really, there's a reason they say 'It takes a village.'

But, before this post gets off on an entirely different tangent, about how people can have consciously chosen not to give birth to children, at this point in their life so far, and it doesn't mean they don't like children- (Yes, that is a stereotype I get a lot) Let us all agree that it takes next to nothing to make a child happy. In most cases, simply your time. And that the time spent is always minimal compared to the rewards.
So, whether you have children of your own, or nieces or nephews, or maybe are a childcare provider- you likely know that 1. Kids can find fun in just about anything if you point them in the right direction, 2. Kids have amazing personalities and 3. As constantly changing as children are, it's important to capture every moment you can.

When I was a child I was obsessed with capturing the world on camera- Momma and Pop had a Polaroid that was my absolute favorite, but I was only permitted to take 1 photo a week, given the cost. Of course I had a disposable camera too, and it always seemed like an eternity to get my prints back from the drug store. These days it's free, and easier than ever, to capture moments and memories in images thanks to smart phones and electronic devices with built in cameras.
One would think this would make the concept of taking photos a dull one, to the modern kid- but I've found there's still something magical about having the camera turned on them. It may be a little vain, but the kind of kids I hang around just adore to see themselves on screen, or in print. This is great because, as easy as it is for the modern parent to chronicle the childhood of their children most parents often don't think to stop and take photos that will actually be displayed. Sure, you pay ridiculous prices for the digital format of your children's school photos- but do they really capture the essence of who your child is in that particular moment and year?

And that's exactly why I decided our activity of the week, at the daycare, would be a carnival themed photo booth. It may sound a bit elaborate, but it really cost me less than $15. Photo props can be purchased on Amazon quite cheap; I bought a 65 piece set for just over $10. For our 'booth' we really just set up a background by clipping some leftover fabric to an oversized appliance box. To really help the kids' personalities shine I even offered to do a little face painting.
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
I might not be the world's best artist, but I truly enjoyed listening to each child talk about what they wanted, and how the painting's subject inspired or empowered them. Sure Spiderman or 'rainbow triangles' (the 3 year-old's request) might not be 'in' next year, but that's the fun of capturing this day in time on film.
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
At first some of the kids were a little shy. Though we'd broken the ice with some face painting, many of the children expressed that photos were for 'nice faces' and only taken when something important happened at school, or for a holiday. As soon as they got the idea that they could truly bring any mood to life, things really began to get fun.
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
D.I.Y Photo Booth for Emotional Growth and Cooperative Play
"Photo Booth" is now the most requested Thursday activity in our little group- and, while I don't want it to lose it's special charm and become novel, we're always looking for ways to take this simple concept and work it into something else.For example, a photo booth can be a great way to discuss emotions, build creative play and cooperative skills, or help boost self confidence in diversity and individuality. Of course, the best part of this little project was printing out the photos for parents to take home. Now, tell me a little bit about your favorite photo of your child, or your favorite photo of yourself from growing up! Mine is a photo of 2 year-old me with a stuffed beaver backpack, in diapers with my hair a hot mess, standing in my mother's shoes, just crying red hot crocodile tears. I always knew turning on the waterworks would get attention from my father, haha!

What Daughter Says: Treasure every moment, capture everyday character!