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As a new mom (again), it’s hard for me to find time for myself. I have a toddler and four month old at home, so my time is spent wrestling both of them while trying to remember to feed them. Once they’re asleep (which they hardly are at the same time), I have to cook, clean, run errands, and sleep. My to-do list is never-ending and I’m never caught up, but all moms have to make some time for themselves sometime!

When Smile Brilliant reached out, I knew it was the perfect for me. I was obsessed with teeth whitening back in high school thanks to Crest Whitestrips, but I haven’t had any time to do it again since. If I can do it while juggling two kiddos, so can you. Here’s why I chose to whiten at home:

1. Time.

I don’t have time to actually go out and get my teeth whitened by a professional. With Smile Brilliant, I have the convenience of doing it at home and on my own time. I never have to leave the house or worry about finding someone to watch my two kids.

2. Convenience.

Like I said before, I don’t have to go anywhere to get it done. Everything is done via snail mail and once I got my molds, I was able to whiten while I watched T.V., do laundry, cook, give my kids a bath, or even swim!

3. It’s a fraction of the cost.

By cutting out the middle man, you’re able to save quite a bit with the same results. For the complete teeth whitening system for light-stains, it’s only $139 as opposed to the $600+ that they would charge you at the dentist.

4. I’ve got nothing to lose.

Smile Brilliant offers a money back guarantee. They want you to be happy and believe in their product so if for any reason you’re unhappy, they offer a complete refund (minus shipping fees). It’s a win win situation.

5. Once you’ve got your tray, you can whiten again in a couple of years without paying full price.

All you need to buy is some additional whitening gel and desensitizing gel. There’s no wasted money on purchasing a tray again (unless you need to!).

Back in the day, Crest Whitestrips worked quite well on me. My teeth were still pretty white from ten years ago, but Smile Brilliant brought it to another level. I’ve become quite the coffee drinker after having kids, and Smile Brilliant erased those years away from my teeth. I show my smile proudly now with my two kids. Don’t believe me? Here’s what 9 days of whitening did:

There’s no editing at all done to these photos besides adding the text. Can you believe it? It truly made a difference in my life!

I did each session for two to three hours every night and slept right after. It didn’t ruin my schedule at all– I simply incorporated it into my bedtime routine. Eat dinner, put the tray in, get the kids to bed, and then catch up on shows until I was done. If I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it at night, I snuck it in after lunch instead.

The entire process was a breeze from beginning to end. Just make sure to read the instructions from start to end before you do anything!

Giveaway & Coupon Code

If you want to give it a try yourself, I have some great news! I’m doing a giveaway for $149 worth of credit to Smile Brilliant to use as you see fit. All you have to do is enter HERE. The giveaway ends in a week, so make sure to enter soon!

If you’d rather purchase right away to get the process started, you can use the code “lovintheoven15” to get 15% off your order online!

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Tooth Whitening Gel

This post contains affiliate links. I was sent product to try for an honest review. 

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I still have so many instant pot recipes that I need to share with you guys. I went on a crazy instant pot kick when I first got it and made a million recipes. Now, I mostly use it for rice since I got a little lazy. It’s so hard grocery shopping with a newborn a toddler!

These beef gyros were delicious. I stuffed mine with a ton of veggies, but my DH left his plain with meat and sauce. 

The meat came out of the instant pot extremely moist and flavorful. I thought the cooking time seemed a little long at first, but it turned out fine. 

You can even eat the beef with rice if you want. It’d also be great in a regular sandwich if you don’t have any pita bread to go with it.

Instant Pot: Beef Gyros

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

  1. In your instant pot, place the onions on the bottom. Put the meat on top of the onions and add the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Close and seal your instant pot. Cook on manual high pressure for 30 minutes.
  3. Let it naturally release for 12 minutes before quick releasing the rest.
  4. Give it a stir and add more salt/pepper to taste.
  5. Serve inside pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, hummus, or tzatziki.
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I think the instant pot is best known for making hard boiled eggs and oatmeal. It truly doesn’t get any easier than this. You throw everything in, close it, and then open it when it’s done!

Ellie likes to eat steel cut oats more than regular oatmeal and it usually takes so long to cook. This way, it cooks a lot faster and I can have it ready for breakfast in no time.

I kept my toppings simple since I was feeding a two year old, but you can add more if you’d like! Blueberries, honey, dried fruit, brown sugar, nuts, fresh fruit, granola, etc.

I have quite a few instant pot recipes to post, so be on the lookout for those coming soon!

Instant Pot: Steel Cut Oats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in your instant pot.
  2. Put the cover on and make sure the valve is sealed.
  3. Cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes and then let it naturally release for 10 minutes.
  4. Quick release the rest and mix.
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I was never really into watches until I became a flight attendant. It was required as part of our uniform, so I had to wear one pretty much every day. Once I got into it, I couldn’t stop. Watches were so convenient! Why didn’t I wear them before?!

I started buying them in all different colors and sizes. Leather bands… black bands… large faces… you name it, I got it. I had to switch them every day in order to match my outfits. Well, that’s until I discovered JORD watches. They’re unique wooden watches that match with everything!

The Perfect Gift

Not only are wooden watches perfect for yourself, but they’re also great for gifting. They come in an impressive wooden box (as pictured above) with a magnetic closure. The presentation is unique and memorable. JORD watches come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes to please even the pickiest recipient.

The beauty of wood is that it truly complements every color. It’s light, easy to wear, and effortlessly completes your look. I can dress it up or down depending on my outfit.

About My Watch

The women’s watch that I’m wearing is called the Frankie Zebrawood & Champagne. It has a minimalist look while still being luxurious at the same time.

This spring, I’ll be pairing my Frankie with high waisted denim, maxi dresses, and shortalls. If I had still had a uniform to wear, I’d be pairing it with that too (I’m at home with the kiddos now). It even goes with gold AND silver jewelry! I’m all about mixing metals. 

Another thing I like about JORD is that they’ll customize the length of the watch for you so it’s ready to wear right out of the box when you receive it. It was a perfect fit right away. All I had to do was measure my wrist with the easy printout they provided.

Not only that, they also provide custom engraving! You can engrave your favorite quote, saying, or name on the back of the watch. Don’t want to do it there? No problem. You can engrave the watch box!

Giveaway

Are you excited? I am… because thanks to JORD, I’m hosting a $100 giveaway to one lucky winner for use on the JORD site! You can enter the giveaway HERE. Even if you don’t win, everyone that enters will receive a consolation code worth 10% off of your order. So what are you waiting for? Enter away!

The contest will close 05/06/2018 at 11:59pm CST. Both the $100 and the 10% off codes will expire on 06/03/2018. Good luck!


Luxury Wooden Watch

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Happy New Year! Since it’s actually a bit cooler now in Southern California, here’s a nice roast recipe to warm you up.

Crockpot recipes are super easy, and this one is no different. I hardly use mine anymore now that I have the Instant Pot (it truly does it all!), but it’s nice when you need a bigger pot for your meat or have to serve more people.

The meat practically fell apart with the touch of a fork after it was done cooking– just the way meat should be.

You can serve this recipe with some rice, a salad, or some roasted greens. That’s dinner done in no time!Recipe from Closet Cooking.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Roast Beef

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 pounds Ontario Corn Fed Beef roast such as chuck, round, brisket
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 pound diced potatoes

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the beef and brown on all sides.
  2. Add the onions and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute.
  4. Place the beef, onions, broth, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, carrots and potatoes in a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 3-5 hours.
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Day 12 of my 12 days of cookies; Flourless chocolate s’more cookies. I’m squeezing this last cookie in right in the nick of time. I made these today, but I was a little short on powdered sugar so my cookies didn’t come out quite as tall.

The taste was all there, though. I have to add confectioners sugar to my grocery list and remake these cookies ASAP.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Thank you so much for following along my blog and for all of your support throughout this past year!

This recipe comes from Deliciously Yum.

Day 12: Flourless Chocolate S’mores Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup graham crackers, broken into pieces plus extra for topping cookies
  • 1/4 cup mini marshmallows, cut in half plus extra for topping cookies (I didn't cut mine)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats.
  2. Using a stand mixer, whisk together confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add two egg whites and vanilla. If batter seems too thick, add another egg white until batter is thick, but moist. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar.
  3. Gently fold in chocolate chips, graham cracker pieces, and mini marshmallows.
  4. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter per cookie on the prepared baking sheet. Top each cookie with additional graham cracker pieces and marshmallows.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cookies cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.
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Day 11: Oatmeal Toffee Cookies. I know I have a couple of other recipes listed on this blog, but I still haven’t found one that I LOVE and want to stick with for all of eternity.

It’s not bad to be on the hunt– it’s all about experimenting. Once I find the perfect oatmeal toffee cookie, it’ll be that much more rewarding!

These were pretty close, though. I loved the texture of these cookies and the thickness. Maybe I’m just being too picky about finding the right one.

Recipe from Everyday Dishes

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup toffee bits

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cream together the butter and both sugars.
  3. Add the eggs and mix.
  4. Gradually stir in the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon until just combined.
  5. Add rolled oats and toffee chips, mixing well.
  6. Place rounded tablespoons of dough on baking sheet.
  7. Bake 10−12 minutes.
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Day 10 of my 12 days of cookies: Okay, I should really just call this the 12 days of desserts (if I even finish in time!). Just trust me that these pumpkin dream cupcakes are just that… dreamy. 

I love that these have cream cheese frosting. I’ll pick cream cheese frosting over buttercream any day. 

You can bake this into a cake instead of cupcakes, but I made them for a dinner event so I figured cupcakes were easier to serve than a cake. 

They were moist, full of flavor, and the frosting was pretty sweet. Take it easy on the frosting.. you don’t need that much for this cake! Recipe from The Novice Chef.

Pumpkin Dream Cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • For the frosting:
  • 12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line muffin tin with two dozen cupcake liners.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  3. Stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil.
  4. Beat in the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Pour in the milk while the mixer is on.
  5. Fill cupcake liners just over 3/4 of the way full. You'll have some batter leftover and can make a mini loaf pan as well. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes. The loaf pan will need at least 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. For the frosting:
  7. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.
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Day 9 of my 12 days of cookies: Ridiculous Chocolate Cake. Okay, okay… this definitely isn’t a cookie, but I always tend to sneak a non-cookie recipe in just for kicks. This one’s good, I promise.

It also comes from a boxed mix, just doctored up. The best cakes are made with boxed mixes. It’s a wonderful shortcut that I fully support. This original recipe called for chocolate cake mix, but I opted for red velvet. Red velvet is my favorite cake.This frosting made this cake over the top in a good way. It was perfect. Recipe from Cookies and Cups.

Ridiculous Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box chocolate cake mix (I used red velvet)
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) box instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Frosting
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Directions

    Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally spray a 10- inch bundt pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix all of the cake ingredients except for the chocolate chips together until smooth.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert the pan onto a cake plate. Cool completely before frosting.
  5. Frosting
  6. Beat the butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar until combined.
  7. Add in the vanilla and cream and beat until creamy.
  8. Frost the top of the cake and garnish with more chocolate chips (or sprinkles!) if desired.
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Day 8 of my 12 days of cookies: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies. My DH LOVED these. I baked them when I had a little get together with my friends and they were a hit! I used leftover candy from Halloween, so some of my peanut butter cups had Reese’s Pieces in them. 

Like the majority of my cookies, these are extremely soft and chewy. I used Jif as the peanut butter in this recipe, and I’d recommend sticking to that kind of peanut butter when baking. Organic, reduced-fat, or ones that require a lot of stirring are NOT the way to go when you’re trying to make delectable cookies that hold together.
For all the peanut butter ingredients in this recipe, it wasn’t overwhelming at all coming from someone that’s not even a peanut butter cookie fan. That’s certainly a good thing. This also has 5 stars out of 44 reviews on Taste of Home, so you know something’s gotta be right.

My little cookie thief was so excited when she saw the plate of cookies and snatched one right up.

She shoved one cookie in her mouth and immediately went to grab another one. Sneaky little one.
Recipe from Taste of Home.

Day 8: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (about six 1.6-ounce packages)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Gradually stir in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter cups.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
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