Diet Food That Actually Tastes Good {And Is Delivered Right To You!}

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

Years ago a friend was giving away some diet food she didn’t like and I excitedly took it off her hands. I remember taking a couple bites of the first meal and thinking that it was literally one of the worst things I had ever tasted. It was dry and bland and I wondered why anyone would torture themselves with food like that. If that was “diet food” then I wanted nothing to do with it.

Then, this year, I tried Personal Trainer Food and was surprised to find that diet food could actually taste great. Personal Trainer Food is a diet delivery service providing pre-portioned, nutrient-packed frozen meals straight to your door! The food is protein-packed, filled with good carbs, healthy fats and no fillers! You can choose the delivery plan that fits your goals and lifestyle best. From REV! for rapid weight loss to the 14-day 2 meals/day program that gives you the flexibility to make your own breakfasts and some lunches and dinners.

I love that Personal Trainer Food makes life easier. Since the meals are delivered right to my home it saves me time and money at the grocery store. Also, because everything is pre-portioned and stored in the freezer, meal time is simple. It’s as easy as picking out a protein and a veggie, heating them in the microwave according to the time on the packages and dumping them on to a plate.

Best of all though? The food tastes good so you’ll actually want to eat it! There are over 75 restaurant quality menu items which means you have an almost endless variety of meal options. For breakfast I enjoyed the frittata and omelets with maple sausage. My favorite protein items were the meatballs, bacon & cheese chicken sticks and all of the chicken options. Personal Trainer Food even makes vegetables delicious with their line of sauces you can add to them like my favorite, garlic butter sauce.

If you are looking for an easy way to eat healthier, I highly recommend Personal Trainer Food. Now through Friday, 6/9, save 20% Off Any Meal Program + 28 Free Snacks using the code ’20SNACKS’. Learn more about Personal Trainer Food and order here.

How Busy Families Can Make Dinner Time Count

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KidfreshFavorites #CollectiveBias

One of my favorite traditions from my childhood was sitting down to a family dinner every evening. We’d talk about our day as we ate a meal together. This was always a tradition that I knew I wanted to continue when I grew up but I’ve discovered as a parent that it’s a hard tradition to keep. Between sports, school commitments, work schedules and everything else, finding the time to make dinner and sit down as a family every evening is tough!

The best way I’ve discovered to make this tradition happen for our busy family is to stick to simple meals. With easy meals I spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my kids. My favorite meals are ones that I can just heat up and that’s why I love Kidfresh frozen meals for the boys. They are so convenient and perfect for our busy evenings because they are ready in just minutes! It’s a relief to know that I can still provide my family with quality meals, even when I’m short on time.

Not only are they quick to make, but they are meals that I feel good about giving my boys because they are from a credible brand I trust. Created with the help of a top chef and a pediatric nutritionist, Kidfresh meals are consistent with USDA dietary guidelines for all children and they offer the best in kids nutrition. Kidfresh meals contain no artificial flavors or ingredients and are full of nutrients that growing kids need. They also are full of veggies. Each Kidfresh meal is made with up to ½ cup of hidden vegetables so even the pickiest of kids (like my youngest!) will eat their veggies.

Kidfresh at Kroger

We found our Kidfresh meals and sides at Kroger in the freezer cases near the other single serve dinners. For a limited time at Kroger and Kroger family of stores you can save at least 15% off the everyday retail price at Kroger!

There were a variety of Kidfresh choices available including: Wagon Wheels Mac + Cheese, Spaghetti Loops + Meat Sauce, Muy Cheesy Quesadillas, Super Duper Chicken Nuggets, Mighty Meaty Chicken Meatballs, Fun-Tastic Fish Sticks, Totally Rockin’ Tots and SuperBlastin’ Bites. My boys love all of the Kidfresh meals they’ve tasted so far, especially the Wagon Wheels Mac + Cheese and Mighty Meaty Chicken Meatballs.

To keep the conversation going while the boys are enjoying their Kidfresh meals, and to avoid the typical answers of “fine” and “okay” when asked about their day, I created a conversation starters bucket to keep on the kitchen table. I wrote down about 50 questions on craft sticks that would require more than a “yes” or “no” answer and would hopefully start a conversation.

The questions ranged from silly (“if you could stay up all night, what would you do?) to personal (“what is something you like about yourself?”) and from simple (“what is your favorite book?”) to complicated (“describe your dream home”). The best part is that, as the boys get older, the questions can be changed and new questions can be added so they remain relevant to our family.

I then put them all in a small bucket that I decorated with washi tape and letter stickers that spelled out “family”.

I love how it turned out and am excited to use it for years to come.

How do you make your family dinners count?

Take The OREO Cookies Dunk Challenge

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Official rules can be found here: bit.ly/OREOSweepsRules

 

Our family loves OREO cookies so I always make sure to have a package or two in the pantry. It’s one of the only cookies that everyone in our family likes but what is funny is that we all eat them differently. Lucas loves to twist the cookie into two and lick off the white cream filling while Jacob likes to take bites of the cookie so he gets a bit of the cream filling and the chocolate cookie in his mouth together. I love to crumble mine up into pieces as a topping for chocolate pudding so I can slowly enjoy the chocolate treat while Sinisa sticks the whole cookie in his mouth and eats it in one bite.

It’s also fun to dunk our OREO cookies in milk! There are dozens of ways to dunk OREO cookies, including OREO Cookie’s tried-and-true dunking techniques – the Twist & Dunk, the Double Dunk, and the Plunge. Personally, I like to break mine in half before dunking it. Sinisa and the boys prefer to use a larger glass and dunk the cookie in one fell swipe.

OREO cookies wants to see how everyone dunks their cookies and are asking people to visit Walmart to pickup OREO cookies and then post their dunking technique with #OREODunkSweepstakes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Those that do will be entered to win! 40,000 lucky finalists will have a chance to win one (1) of  five (5) VIP Grand Prize trips to a Celebrity Dunking Event in NYC or Los Angeles, plus $2,000! Learn more here.

 How do you dunk your OREO cookies?

 

Get A Taste of the Mediterranean At Home

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

As a busy mom, I am always on the lookout for easy meals. Typically this means we are stuck with quick pasta dishes and chicken, but I’ve recently discovered a new line that lets me add a little bit of Mediterranean flavor into our menu rotation. Wild Garden’s ‘Taste of the Mediterranean’ line features three all natural ten-minute Marinades and three 90-second heat and serve Pilafs.

The Marinades come in three flavors- Shawarma, Turkish and Persian. I love that all of the spices are mixed together and come in a convenient pouch. Just dump, mix with meat and let sit for 10 minutes and then the meat is ready for the grill, skillet or oven. The meat can then be enjoyed as kebabs, put in pita bread as wrap ingredients or used to top your favorite rice.

The Wild Garden website has some recipes and we loosely followed one for wraps. We used the Shawarma marinade to flavor steak and then put them on flatbread with tomatoes, onions and feta cheese. I topped mine with Tzatziki sauce and Sinisa enjoyed his wraps with hummus. We are looking forward to trying the Turkish marinade to make kebabs, one of Sinisa’s favorite foods.

The pilafs are the perfect dinner starter or side for an entree. They come in three varieties- Rice & Lentil, Bulgur and Couscous. These products are sure to become a family pantry favorite because they are so easy to heat in their pouches. I really loved the rice and lentil one. Not only was the flavor great but I like that it has caramelized onions mixed in.

Do you make Mediterranean dishes at home? Which is your favorite?

Easy Lunch Idea For Busy Moms

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LeanCuisine #CollectiveBias

Now that the holidays are over it’s time to get back to my regular schedule. I spend my days working online, my afternoons and early evenings wearing my “mom” hat and driving the kids to their various activities, and my late evenings doing even more work. In the past I’ve been so busy that I worked right through lunch and that is something that I’ve really been working hard to stop doing. There is no reason that I can’t take thirty minutes out of my day to relax and eat something and it’s taken a conscious effort to take that break every day. (With a blog name like Making Time For Mommy you’d think it would be easier for me, right?!)

If you are as busy as I am, you are probably a fan of quick lunch options. Personally, I tend to gravitate towards frozen meals because they are the easiest to make and I can multitask while they are cooking. I can stick them in the microwave, go throw in a load of laundry and in minutes I have a hot lunch that’s ready to eat.

My favorite frozen meals are Lean Cuisine ones. I love that they have always had such a great variety of meals, whether I’m in the mood for a meat filled dish or craving pasta. They are full of flavor and always taste freshly made. I like that Lean Cuisine offers product options that are non-GMO, gluten-free, and high in protein. Some options are even made with organic ingredients (like the LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese that’s made with organic pasta).

While the Lean Cuisine meals are perfect on their own, I sometimes will make a side dish as well. Some days it’s a salad or fresh fruit, but I also like to make a quick veggie sauté on days I have a bit more time. My zucchini and squash sauté is the perfect side for the Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

The best part about this veggie sauté is that it’s super simple and easy to make. I’m not a huge vegetable eater but I’m working on eating more fruits and vegetables and this is a great way to do it. I always make sure to have some zucchini and squash in the fridge because I make this dish at least a couple times a week for lunches and dinners.

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • Seasonings to taste (I tend to use pepper, onion powder, season salt and a chicken seasoning mix)

Directions

Slice your zucchini and yellow squash into pieces about 1/2-1 inch thick. (For faster cooking time you can cut the pieces in half lengthwise also to make them smaller.) Add the oil to your pan or pot and let it heat up on the stovetop. Once hot, add your zucchini and squash and then sprinkle on the garlic and seasonings. sauté the vegetables on low to medium heat, stirring often.

Continue cooking your vegetables, stirring every couple minutes, until your zucchini and squash pieces are cooked all the way through. You’ll know they are done when you can easily stick a fork through them.

These vegetables are perfect with the Lean Cuisine white cheddar mac & cheese. The vegetables are savory and a bit crunchy which pair well with the creamy mac & cheese.

My other favorite meal is the LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Butternut Squash Ravioli that I was excited to discover a few years back. It reminds me of Thanksgiving each time I eat it! When I was at Target this weekend I found that all the Lean Cuisine meals are on sale for only $1.99 (through 1/31) so it’s the perfect time to stock up on them. With their variety of flavorful meals you could try something new every day for weeks.

 What is your favorite lunch to enjoy on busy days?

A Healthier Lunch {Found In The Freezer}

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

I’ve recently written about my journey to get healthier, from exercising more to drinking more water to making better food choices. I’m working on becoming a healthier version of myself. One thing that I’ve been trying to do is making sure that I eat lunch every day. I used to skip lunch because I was so busy working but I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop and take a moment for myself to eat.

My days may be busy but I’ve found healthier options available at my local Jewel grocery store- MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bowls.

Found in the freezer section, they are a convenient option for lunch because they are easy to heat and eat as-is when I’m in a hurry, which is pretty much every day during this holiday season! I like to take a bit of time out of my day to enjoy a nice hot meal and just sit and relax. Being able to get my veggies in while doing so- nothing is better than that!

These Veggie Bowls are not only for vegetarians—they are for anyone who wants a quick meal with lots of flavor. Their CHIK’N POT PIE Veggie Bowls are filled with 100% vegan chik’n strips and lots of vegetables. They even come with a biscuit! I also liked the Italian Sausage Bake Veggie Bowl, made with Veggie Sausage Crumbles™, that I tried.

To make lunches even better I decorated a special lunch tray for myself. I’m including instructions in case you want to put one together for yourself!

Materials needed:

  • Unfinished wooden tray
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Stickers (I used foil stickers)

To make:

Paint your wooden tray in any color you’d like. I kept it simple by painting it white.

Once you let the tray dry (I let mine dry overnight) it’s time to decorate it.

I used beautiful gold foil stickers to add some shine to the corners of my tray.

Do you take a break from your busy day to enjoy a hot lunch? If so, have you tried these new Veggie Bowls?

One Pot Italian Dinner

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla® and Johnsonville®. The opinions and text are all mine.

During the fall I love finding easy, hearty dishes for my family. Sinisa recently made this delicious, one pot Italian meal and I just had to share it with you all. Not only is it fantastic because you only use one pot to cook everything, but it’s affordable, too!

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz.  of Barilla Blue Box Penne Pasta, uncooked
  • 3 Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage Links
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 12 oz. of mushrooms (optional)
  • Seasoning to taste (we used parsley, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning)
  • Cooking oil

Directions:

Get a medium to large sized pot and add enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of the pot.

Cut the Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage Links into bite size pieces.

Add your onions and sausage to the pot and cook them until meat is thoroughly cooked.

Add crushed tomatoes and broth to the pan.

Then add mushrooms, Barilla Pasta and seasonings.

 Pour cream over the top and then stir well.

Simmer on the stove top for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Your whole family will love this meal and you will love how easy it is on your wallet, costing less than 10 dollars. And cleanup is a snap.

You can find all of the ingredients you need for this meal at your local Kroger store, including the Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage Links and Barilla Blue Box Pasta.

Pasta dishes are some of my favorite dinners to make, and I always have Barilla Blue Box Pasta, Italy’s #1 brand of pasta, stocked in my pantry. Pasta is perfect for busy nights and those last-minute dinner guests that come over before you can get to the grocery store! There are so many varieties of pasta dishes that you can make and you can personalize the dishes to your family’s likes and dislikes.

When we add meat to our pasta we often choose Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage Links. They don’t require any additional seasonings which makes them convenient and flavorful additions to any pasta dish. We usually add them to our spaghetti, but Sinisa also likes to put the sausage in some soups he makes as well.

 What are your favorite pasta dishes to make in the fall?


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Hawaiian Pork Sliders

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield® Marinated Pork. The opinions and text are all mine.

With the nights getting even busier as the school year continues, I’m trying to add more easy recipes to my menu plan. I normally make meals in the crock pot that cook while I work. But sometimes I don’t start thinking about dinner until after I’ve picked the kids up from school, and by then it’s too late to throw something in the slow cooker. Thankfully I’ve discovered the best recipe for nights like that- Hawaiian Pork Sliders!

These sliders can be made with less than 15 minutes of prep time which make them perfect for dinner on busy school nights. They are also a great lunch recipe because you can whip them up quickly before sitting down to watch the football game on Sunday afternoon with your friends and family. I also like that any leftovers can be enjoyed the next day for lunch either as a sandwich or even recreated into Hawaiian Pork Fried Rice. Since I’m really focusing on making sure that I don’t skip lunch it’s always great to have some leftovers in the fridge, and pork is such a versatile ingredient.

To make the sliders I used Smithfield Marinated Sweet Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin. The pork comes already marinated so it didn’t need any additional flavoring or spices added to it which makes busy nights easier. This also helps keep the ingredient list for this recipe low. All you need to create these delicious sliders are four ingredients!

RECIPE

Makes about 8 sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • Smithfield Marinated Sweet Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
  • Can of pineapple slices
  • Bottle of honey barbecue sauce
  • Small round rolls

Directions:

Take the pork tenderloin out of the package and slice it into ½ inch thick slices. Lay the slices out onto a foil covered pan and cook the pork in the oven for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F.

While the meat is cooking you can sauté the pineapple in a sauce pan. Start with a hot pan and cook the pineapple slices for one minute on each side.

Once the pineapple and pork are cooked you are ready to assemble your sandwich. Cut a roll in half and on the bottom piece set a couple pieces of pork, a pineapple slice and a drizzle of barbecue sauce, then top with the other half of the roll.

Hope your family enjoys these sweet Hawaiian Pork Sliders!

You can find Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork products at your local Kroger store in the refrigerated cases of the meat department.

Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork is made from 100% fresh pork and is packed with protein. Their products are available in Loin Filets, Sirloin, or Tenderloin cuts and a variety of flavors including:

  • Smithfield Roasted Garlic & Herb
  • Smithfield Roasted Garlic & Cracked Black Pepper
  • Smithfield Sweet Teriyaki
  • Smithfield Southwest Style Peppercorn
  • Smithfield Slow Smoked Mesquite

While at the store, we also bought the Smithfield Marinated Roasted Garlic and Herb Pork Tenderloin. I’ll be putting that in the slow cooker tomorrow with some potatoes and carrots so we can come home from sports practice to a hot, home cooked meal.

Need more meal ideas? Visit Smithfield for recipes you can make on busy school nights. Their #RealFlavorRealFast recipe index has a bunch of great ideas including Veggie-Stuffed Pork Loin with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Filet Mignon Pork with Buttery Mushrooms. Those sound delicious and are perfect for busy nights because both can be made in 30 minutes or less. They look so fancy, though, and your family will think you slaved all afternoon in the kitchen! Instead, use that time saved to play a new game with your kids, curl up on the couch with a good book or go out to lunch with your friends. You deserve it, Mom!

What Real Fast recipe do you want to try first?

@SmithfieldBrand

Mini Pumpkin Cake Bites

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I’ve been seeing lots of pictures in my Facebook feed of all my friends at the pumpkin patch with their kids and I can’t wait to go pick pumpkins with my boys this year. I thought it would be fun to make some pumpkin mini cakes to celebrate this wonderful time of year (and the fact that fall temps are coming to Chicago this week)!

Ingredients

  • Box Cake Mix (any flavor) and ingredients needed to make the cake
  • Frosting (any flavor)
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Orange Colored Chocolate Candy Melts

Directions

  • Make your cake mix according to the directions on the box and let cool.
  • Crumble cake mix into a large bowl.
  • Add in one can of frosting and stir together.
  • Form into teaspoon size balls and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet.
  • Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, melt candy melts according to the package.
  • Using a fork, dip cake balls into the melted chocolate and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Cut a tootsie roll in half and place on top of the cake ball in the middle.

I chose to use a Funfetti cake mix with Halloween sprinkles for my cake bites but you can make them with any cake mix you’d like. I think a pumpkin flavored cake mix would be fantastic in this recipe.

Candy Corn Haystacks

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Butterscotch haystacks are one of my favorite cookies and one I make often because they are so easy to make. These no-bake cookies only need a few ingredients and, while the inclusion of noodles in this cookie may make you question them, they really taste delicious! They are also versatile. I first shared the recipe for them on my blog in 2010 as a Christmas treat idea. Then this past March made them into nests topped with PEEPS for an Easter treat. Now I’m transforming them into the perfect fall treat by adding a Halloween candy staple to them.

Makes 15-20 haystack cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of butterscotch morsels
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1½ packages (18 ounces) crispy chow mein noodles
  • Candy corn

Directions

Melt butterscotch morsels in a microwave-safe bowl in microwave for 30 seconds on high power, then stir. Continue melting for 10-second intervals, stirring after each one, until smooth.

Stir peanut butter into melted butterscotch and thoroughly combine.

Place crispy chow mein noodles into a large bowl and add butterscotch/peanut butter mixture. Combine until all noodles are coated.

Drop a tablespoon of chow mein mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and repeat with the remaining mixture.

Top each haystack with a few candy corn.

Refrigerate until the haystacks harden, about 30–60 minutes and store in an airtight container or plastic bag.

It’s amazing how the crispy, kind of salty flavor of the chow mein noodles mix with the butterscotch and peanut butter flavors to form one sweet Halloween treat. Hope you all enjoy them!

Mummy Pretzel Sticks

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Looking for a super easy snack for Halloween parties? These Mummy Pretzel Sticks take less than 10 minutes to make and can be a fun afternoon activity for children to help with. Kids (and adults!) will love these spooky treats.

Recipe yields 15-20 Mummy Pretzel Sticks

Ingredients

  • Pretzel rods
  • Package of white chocolate candy melts
  • Candy eyes or black icing (found by the sprinkles)
  • White icing (optional)

Melt the white chocolate candy melts according to the directions on the package

Dip the pretzel rods in the white chocolate and lay them on wax paper

Use the icing to pipe zigzag lines across the white chocolate

Add two eyes to each “mummy” using either the candy eyes or dots of black icing

Aren’t these fun?! What’s your favorite Halloween treat?

 

3 Fun Snack Mixes For Kids

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MixMatchMunch #CollectiveBias

I shared last month about the fall harvest snack mix I made that was a big hit with my kids. I wanted to share three more snack mixes that I made, all with flavors that bring back memories. I made an “apple pie” snack mix, “pb&j” snack mix and “banana split” snack mix.

The best part is that all of the snack mixes are super easy to make. You simply take the ingredients and put them in a bowl or plastic bag and then stir or shake them up together to mix them.

They can be packed in lunch boxes, enjoyed as an after school snack or eaten on the go as you head to scouts or sports practice.

The first one I made was a PB&J snack mix. This snack mix is made with only three ingredients and tastes just like a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pretzel Goldfish® Crackers
  • Dried Strawberries
  • Peanut Butter Morsels

The next one I made tasted just like one of my favorite desserts- apple pie! Again, this mix was made using only three ingredients (with an option of adding more cinnamon flavoring if you’d like).

INGREDIENTS:

  • Baked with Whole Grain Honey Grahams Goldfish Crackers
  • Dried Apple Slices
  • Cinnamon Apple Cereal
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon (optional)

The last snack mix I made for my boys was their favorite and understandably so! I made them a banana split snack mix complete with chocolate and marshmallows. I win mom of the year over here!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Vanilla Cupcake Grahams Goldfish Crackers
  • Dried Strawberry Slices
  • Banana Chips
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Chips
All three of my snack mixes were made using our favorite cracker brand, Goldfish crackers! I never realized that there were so many varieties to choose from. Since we use Goldfish crackers often for lunches and snacks I chose to buy two of the large variety boxes when I was at Walmart. Luke’s favorites are the Cheddar flavor and the Vanilla Cupcake flavor and Jake loves the Flavor Blasted® Xtreme Pizza and Flavor Blasted® Xtra Cheddar flavors.
Of course, each snack mix was paired with fresh fruit from the produce department. I chose to pair the PB&J snack mix with strawberries, the Apple Pie snack mix with apples, and the Banana Split snack mix with bananas. It’s always nice to enjoy fresh fruit as a snack!

If your family enjoys Goldfish crackers as much as mine does you will want to stock up on Goldfish snacks at Walmart because the bulk boxes are currently on rollback for $5.98 a box. There is also an additional deal in store where you can save $1.00 on any ONE (1) Bolthouse Farms® 10 oz. Baby Carrots or Bolthouse Farms(® 11 oz. juice when you buy any ONE (1) Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® crackers 30 oz. or larger.

What snack mix would you make with Goldfish crackers?

Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad On A Pita

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This post was made possible by iConnect and Litehouse Foods. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine. #SoldinCold

 

Lunch has always been a meal that I tend to skip because I’m so busy working that I forget to eat. I’ve started making “eat lunch” an appointment on my calendar to remind myself to take a break and eat something. Since I only have about 15 minutes or so to eat I try to make things that are easy and quick. Today I chose to make myself a chicken bacon ranch salad wrap for lunch and it was so delicious I had to share it with you all!

Ingredients:

To make:
  • Slice your chicken, onion, tomato and pepper
  • Layer your veggies, bacon and chicken on your pita
  • Sprinkle cheese on top
  • Drizzle with Litehouse dressing 

This lunch was filling and delicious. I love Litehouse’s Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing but had never had any of their ranch dressings before. I love this one flavored with avocados and real bacon. They also have Homestyle Ranch and Jalapeno Ranch flavored dressings. You can find Litehouse products in the refrigerated produce section of your local supermarket.

What is your favorite lunch recipe? I’d love for you to share in the comments below since I can always use more ideas!

Autumn Snack Mix For Happy Snacking

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MixMatchMunch #CollectiveBias

In preparation for back-to-school I decided to come up with some new after school snack ideas. I wanted to make something that we could easily bring with us to afternoon sports and activities. Since Lucas loves Goldfish® crackers so much I wanted to incorporate them into a snack mix and, with fall around the corner, I thought it would be fun to make a fall harvest themed one.

I used two varieties of Goldfish crackers- the Mix (which includes Xtra Cheddar and Pretzel Goldfish crackers) and the Original Cheddar flavor.

Along with Goldfish crackers I included a handful of other items that reminded me of fall. Since apple picking is a favorite Autumn activity I added some dried apples into the mix, along with raisins and dried cranberries. For a sweet touch, I also added in orange, yellow, red and brown chocolate candies and a bit of sprinkles in little leaf shapes. To add an extra crunch I included some plain popcorn in the mix.

To make the snack mix just add each ingredient to your bowl and then stir it together!

Lucas loved the mix I had created and I love that I found a fun snack that he and Jacob can enjoy all year long. There is nothing better than seeing my kids smile with joy over something I’ve created for them!

Another simple snack the kids enjoy is Goldfish crackers paired with fresh fruit. Their favorites are grapes and strawberries and personally I like to pair mine with apple slices. It’s such a simple snack the whole family can enjoy.

Bulk boxes of Goldfish crackers are on rollback now for $5.98 at Walmart! I love that I can buy them in bulk because they are a staple in our house! You can also save $1.00 on any ONE (1) Bolthouse Farms® 10 oz. Baby Carrots or Bolthouse Farms(® 11 oz. juice when you buy any ONE (1) Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® crackers 30 oz. or larger.

Which Goldfish crackers variety is your favorite?

Easy Dinner Solution & Kid’s Placemat Craft

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FindingDelicious #CollectiveBias

Dinner time is usually rushed during the busy sports seasons of spring and fall so I need to find delicious options that are quick and easy to make. Soup is something both of my boys will eat and something Jacob really loves. My favorite soup brand is Campbell’s because it reminds me of my childhood, and the boys were really excited to see Dory, and her friend Nemo, from Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory on the soup can at our local Target store. The can is full of fun-shaped pasta (sea shell, Dory, and Destiny) in chicken broth. Luke’s favorite snack, Goldfish® crackers, also have our favorite fish characters on their Goldfish® Special Edition! Cheddar Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory Crackers packaging with special edition colors (colors sourced from plants). Together, with some fresh fruit, these make a great kid-friendly meal I can make within minutes.

©Disney/Pixar

To celebrate the new Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory branded packages, the boys and I made fun fish shaped placemats for our table. They are easy to clean so any dribbles of soup or crumbs can be wiped off.

What you’ll need:

  • Clear contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Colored tissue paper
  • Dry erase marker

Directions:

1) Cut the colored tissue paper into small 1-2 inch squares

2) Peel a portion of contact paper from it’s backing and lay it sticky side up you’ll want the exposed piece to be a little bigger than a typically sized placemat. Note: Do not cut the contact paper from it’s roll.

3) Put pieces of tissue paper on the contact paper. Your children can make patterns or put them on randomly and they can overlap. Repeat until the majority of the contact paper piece is covered by tissue paper pieces.

4) Carefully peel the contact paper back more and fold the contact paper over so you are covering the tissue paper with the sticky contact paper you just exposed. Go slowly, smoothing the contact paper as you go so that there are no bumps or air bubbles and that the contact paper matches up with the other piece you put the tissue paper on.

5) Cut the contact paper from the roll like you would wrapping paper

6) Use a dry erase marker to draw a large fish shape on your contact paper

7) Cut out the fish shape you drew

You can find both the special edition Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory branded Campbell’s soup and the Goldfish® Special Edition! Cheddar Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory Crackers at Target. They had a special display at the end of one of the frozen food aisles.

©Disney/Pixar

What’s your favorite go-to dinner that’s easy to make?

Blueberry Chicken Salad Recipe

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I was challenged by Nature’s Harvest bread to come up with a Finding Dory themed sandwich recipe to share with my readers in this sponsored post.

Disney – Pixar’s “Finding Dory” is almost out in theaters! Are your kids as excited as mine? I wanted to add a little Dory fun into our typical chicken salad recipe so Sinisa and I created this amazing blueberry chicken salad recipe. Typically, if chicken salad has fruit in it, it’s either grapes or apples but I figured why not add some blueberries instead to celebrate the movie coming to theaters since Dory is blue! I love the mix of flavors that this sandwich has.

Here’s what you will need to make the sandwiches:

  • Nature’s Harvest Bread
  • 3 Cups of diced chicken
  • 1/2 a red pepper
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1/2 cup of green onions
  • 1/2 cup of mayonaise
  • 2 tablespoons of greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of pecans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This chicken salad is easy to make!

1) Mix together all ingredients other than the blueberries (and bread of course)

2) Gently fold in the blueberries

3) Put between two slices of Nature’s Harvest bread

 

Select packages of specially-marked Nature’s Harvest® bread will feature the lovable characters from Disney• Pixar’s “Finding Dory,” which hits theaters this Friday.

 

For kid’s sandwiches you can use a cookie cutter to cut out a fish, whale or seashell from the bread before you put the chicken salad on the bread. Serve with goldfish crackers for a fun lunch!

Want even more Finding Dory fun? Nature’s Harvest® bread is hosting the Make A Splash with Whole Grains Sweepstakes on its Facebook page now through July 7th, where fans can enter for a chance to win weekly prizes, including movie tickets, autographed posters and more. No purchase necessary. See official rules here.

Have you ever added blueberries to your chicken salad? If not, would you try it?

 

Hard Rock Cafe’s World Burger Tour

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One of our favorite restaurants to eat at in the Summer is the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago. I love the outdoor patio and the atmosphere of the restaurant and so does my family! I worked with them a couple years ago to share about a new kid’s program they had and I’m happy to be partnering with Hard Rock Cafe again this year to share about their new World Burger Tour.

This Summer, Hard Rock Cafe locations in North America are celebrating the start of burger season with their Hard Rock World Burger Tour, a menu showcasing international Local Legendary™ Burgers. The limited-time World Burger Tour menu is available through Thursday, June 30, 2016.

Throughout May and June, Hard Rock Cafe menus* will feature the following World Burger Tour offerings:

English Breakfast Burger (London, England) – a Certified Angus Beef® patty topped with sliced ham, a sausage patty, a fried egg, a portobello mushroom, arugula and garlic aioli and served with a side of baked beans.

Java Lava Burger (Seattle, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty grilled and dressed in a house-made espresso rub and topped with lava sauce, crunchy java onions, bacon, melted Cheddar cheese and garnished with a fried jalapeño.

Tandoori Chicken Burger (Mumbai, India) – a dark meat chicken patty seasoned with aromatic spices and fresh herbs, topped with mint mayonnaise and served with a side of cucumber

Jamaican Jerk Burger (Montego Bay, Jamaica) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with banana pepper rings, mango jalapeño cream cheese and jerk mayonnaise.

ATOMIC! Burger (Las Vegas, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with Atomic beer-battered peppers, pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, garlic chipotle ketchup and chipotle mayonnaise.

Tango Salsa Burger (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with andouille sausage, Monterey Jack cheese, chips de batata, a fried egg, salsa criolla and garlic aioli.

Greek Burger (Athens, Greece) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with arugula, feta cheese and a tomato slice.

Aloha Burger (Honolulu, United States) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with Portuguese sausage, Monterey Jack cheese, a grilled pineapple ring with sweet soy glaze, guacamole, pico de gallo, served with Furikake french fries.

This is the burger I’m most looking forward to trying:

Hard Rock Cafe has created cocktails that perfectly complement World Burger Tour offerings. Served in Hard Rock’s iconic mason jars, adult guests can order with the suggested pairing or mix it up with any other burger from the limited-time menu. New cocktails include:

All Jacked Up – created to balance the Jamaican Jerk Burger’s spicy flair, this cocktail features a mix of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, PJ, Orgeat and lime juice, garnished with orange and pineapple wedges and a cherry.

Crisp Sipper – inspired by the Aloha Burger’s sweet and savory taste, this cocktail features a mix of Hendrick’s gin, Monin Cucumber, lemon, orange and raspberry, topped with tonic and garnished with rosemary and thyme.

MelonPalooza – designed to complement the fresh flavors of the Greek Burger, this cocktail features a mix of Midori Melon Liqueur, Malibu Rum, Hard Rock’s house-made sour mix and PJ, garnished with slices of pineapple and strawberry.

Sweet & Fiery – inspired by the ATOMIC! Burger’s spicy flavor, this cocktail features a mix of Absolut Peppar Vodka, Canton Ginger Liquor, Blue Curacao, lemonade and ginger beer, garnished with a red pepper.

Black Cherry Melonade (non-alcoholic) – created to complement the rich espresso of the Java Lava Burger, this mocktail features a mix of Black Cherry Real and Monin Cucumber, topped with ginger beer, garnished with a cucumber slice and a cherry.

This year, Hard Rock is also offering a literal World Burger Tour, a travel package that takes the most adventurous burger enthusiasts on the road (and the skies) to sample offerings from the World Burger Tour menu at Hard Rock Cafe locations in London, Athens, Buenos Aires and Seattle! For more information, you can visit www.worldburgertour.com

More Time To Make Memories

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

Food is a big part of the holidays and usually what I’m still needing to shop for the couple days before Christmas. Creating delicious meals and party favorites brings joy to many but unfortunately, shopping and preparing foods during the holidays can get hectic and add more stress to an already busy season. I love grocery shopping and sometimes lose myself while walking down the aisles looking for ideas and foods to inspire me but sometimes that leads to me spending too much time in stores which is not something I have an abundance of this time of year.

For over a decade I have enjoyed shopping at Sam’s Club to save time and money around the holidays. I can find a great variety of quality foods and save even more time this year with their new Club Pickup. Their Club Pickup is a free, “personal shopper” service that is focused on making shopping more convenient for members. Club Pickup provides an easy and quick pickup option through seamless ordering online at SamsClub.com from any computer or mobile device. The service is available at all 653 Sam’s Club locations. I love how this is done. In this tech-savvy world we all use apps and online shopping so Club Pickup is something that is very simple to do. I can place the order on my phone while waiting for the kids in the car pick up lane at school. During very hectic times (like this week!) there is also an easy reorder feature as well which is a great tool that lets me order go-to items quickly by creating a list of my past purchases.

One thing about Christmas that rings true is the plentiful parties and meals. Fantastic desserts and treats and great recipes that bring smiles to all.  That is one of the biggest reasons I shop at Sam’s Club around the holidays. I can stock up on all kinds of party favorites and new side dishes that also guarantee I will have leftovers (which is one of my favorite things about hosting).

This year we tried some new side dishes like sweet potatoes with pecan butter and marshmallows. We also bought the staples like scalloped potatoes. Sam’s Club has something for everyone.

The 200% satisfaction guarantee on high-quality produce, meat and baked goods is the number one reason I keep going back and why I am always eager to try new offerings at Sams club.

We also purchased Holiday decor from Sam’s Club including Christmas plates and a festive, fresh wreath for the front door. Being able to check one thing off the to-do list without leaving the couch gives me more time to make memories with my kids.

Fresh Seafood Anytime

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Seafood meals are my favorite. Something about seafood reminds me of home and summers spent on the Adriatic Sea riviera. Fish and seafood always sounds great for lunch or dinner. I love going out to seafood restaurants but since I have a busy schedule that’s very rare and only reserved for special occasions. Recently I have discovered Bumble Bee’s SuperFresh® line of products and it has been a life changing culinary experience for me. Now I can serve my family delicious seafood meals on a regular basis- without having to leave home!

Bumble Bee SuperFresh® is a complete line of naturally-seasoned, restaurant quality, “fish-forward” prepared seafood solutions for the home. It raises the bar for what seafood lovers can expect from frozen food! Bumble Bee SuperFresh seafood is no mess, and no fuss; just pure perfection, time after time. Their premium Salmon and Tilapia come with their own parchment paper baking pouch and go from freezer to table in under 25 minutes. High in protein, richly seasoned with pure and simple ingredients that let the fish shine through! I could hardly wait until it was on my plate while I was cooking. The smell that filled the house was amazing and the flavors were beyond words. The biggest reason I fell in love with Bumble Bee SuperFresh line is that Bumble Bee SuperFresh® offers unparalleled quality. The seafood is “fish forward” – with nothing to hide under heavy breading, sauces, or a long list of unpronounceable ingredients.

The meals can be made in less than 30 minutes which is great. I can have lunch ready quickly on my days home from work to have a middle of the day getaway from the honey do list. The new line is frozen fresh and comes with specially made parchment paper envelopes for each fillet so the fish stays juicy while baking quickly. Suddenly I was a top chef.

The first creation I made was the Tilapia with Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was so easy to enjoy a delicious Premium Tilapia fillet! Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Tilapia has ground black pepper, fresh garlic, sea salt and extra olive oil – making every flaky bite fantastic! For me it naturally made sense to jazz it up with some salsa and pair it with a side of spanish rice and beans for a tex-mex flavor that would make an amazing lunch.

The next one I tried was Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Salmon with Garden Pesto. Salmon is my favorite fish. I could literally eat salmon every day. Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Salmon with Garden Pesto is richly satisfying with Parmesan cheese, basil, almonds and a touch of garlic. It is so flavorful, made with all natural ingredients and has no preservatives. I paired it with a fresh garden salad with tuscan dressing and cheese tortellini in a light red sauce. The whole meal felt like an upscale dinner I’d eat at a restaurant but was super affordable and quick to prepare in my own home.

A long time ago I had a friend and I told them seafood is awesome, but they disagreed. My response was let me cook you a seafood meal and change your mind. Now I wish I had Bumble Bee SuperFresh® to help. Unfortunately I can not cook for everyone, but I can do something better. I want you to visit the Bumble Bee SuperFresh® website for a coupon so you can try these delicious SuperFresh® products for yourself! Leave a comment below telling me which product you’d try first.

<p><i>I was selected for this opportunity as a member of <a href="http://clvr.li/OHjC82" target="_blank">Clever Girls</a> and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.</i></p>


Feeling At Home With Endless Shrimp

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As a boy I loved going to the fish market. Looking at all the varieties of fish and thinking of the great ways to prepare it was almost more fun than eating the fish. No matter what the occasion, shrimp has always been a food I could not turn down. As I have my own kids now I love that I can introduce the world of shrimp and tasty flavors to them. I cherish family time and love going out to dinner so I choose Red Lobster to help me enjoy both tasty seafood and time with my kids trying to get them to fall in love with some of my favorite foods from the sea. Now is a great time to do so as Red Lobster is celebrating the return of endless shrimp.

Endless Shrimp is going on now for a limited time at Red Lobster! At Red Lobster, Endless Shrimp is the number one guest-requested event. Guests don’t have to choose just one sauce or flavor – they can enjoy as much shrimp as they like, any way they like, and can even mix-and-match different preparations. This year, guests can choose two out of five shrimp preparations for their initial order, including NEW! Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites, featuring a balance of sweet and spicy flavors, and guest favorite Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp. Knowing all this, I got the kids hyped up and issued a challenge (my boys love competition) to see who can taste more flavors. Ok, I win, but in the long term we are all winners at Red Lobster and my kids get a taste of awesome shrimp flavors.

I started my meal by ordering the Sweet Teriyaki grilled shrimp and Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites. It was an amazing flavor meant for a spicy food lover. The sweet Teriyaki shrimp also comes with wild rice so that enriches the meal.

The next serving of endless shrimp was the Shrimp Linguini Alfredo. It was creamy and delicious and almost too big of a serving for this Dad.

As the night moved forward I ordered delicious Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Hand-Breaded Shrimp with cocktail sauce. So much flavor and even more shrimp. It was a never-ending celebration of shrimp on my plate.

The best way to make Endless Shrimp better is to have a great drink with the meal. Red Lobster serves all sorts of beverages, wines and cocktails. I am a big beer lover so I tend to stick to beer if I’m drinking. This time Red Lobster got my attention with their new beer based cocktails.

 

Red Lobster introduced two new beer-based cocktails that pair perfectly with Endless Shrimp dishes – the Seaside Shandy and Angry Lobster, available exclusively during Endless Shrimp. Crisp and refreshing, the Seaside Shandy features Shock Top Belgian White Ale, Cointreau and fresh citrus. Bold and spicy, the Angry Lobster features Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider, tropical fruit juices and a kick of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. Both cocktails are served in a beer can-shaped commemorative glass with the Red Lobster logo that patrons can take home with them. Since I am a very busy Dad I took this opportunity to try them both and have a relaxing evening with my family. Both cocktails were good and enhanced my dinner.

As we wrapped dinner up the kids were left wondering what new flavors of shrimp they can order next time. My oldest especially, as he is starting to like some seafood. Red Lobster is always a great destination and it will make you feel like home away from home without taking a vacation. I can not wait to see what new flavors they will come up with next and what exciting new cocktails show up.

 

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Fueling Up On Game Day

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

We made it through another busy football Sunday. We raced out the door this morning at eight, went through the drive thu for some caffeine, and got Jake to his pre-game practice just on time. By the time the game was starting Lucas had found a friend to play with and we had great seats on the sidelines.

Not more than half way through Jacob’s game and Lucas was already hungry. We gave him a choice of apple slices or pretzels to dip in peanut butter and he chose pretzels first but then changed his mind and picked apples- well really, just the center of the apple slices, and then proceeded to hand peanut butter coated leftovers to me.

Once his tummy was full he was back to his game of tag with his friend and Jake’s game was in the final minutes so my focus was back on him. I like watching him play and seeing how much his skills have grown over the past couple years.

Once the game was over we let the kids play on the playground for a few minutes while I got lunch out of the car. The kids had Uncrustables® Sandwiches, Smucker’s® Fruit-Fulls® Blended Fruit, cheese crackers and juice boxes which I bought from Walmart, our “SNACKATION” destination. Everything was easy to grab on our way out the door and eat on the go. The Uncrustables® were frozen when I put them in the bag but by the time lunch rolled around they were ready to eat which was great and the peanut butter gave them the energy they needed.

Within ten minutes we were back in the car and headed to Luke’s game which was at a field across town. I really love it when they are on the same field but that’s not usually the case. After we got there and unloaded the car again I was ready for a nap but it was time for more football.

This is Luke’s first year playing football and our experience at his games are a lot different. There is a lot more confusion on the field and it’s pretty entertaining. Some of the kids even run the wrong direction (Lucas included). While watching Lucas play, I had to also keep an eye on Jacob who stayed busy playing catch with some of the older kids.

At the end of Luke’s game both were exhausted from running around and it was time to eat again. At this time I was very happy I stocked up on their favorites at Walmart because these boys eat a lot. (And yes, I know they are just going to eat even more as they continue to grow!) Once they were fueled up with Smucker’s® snacks they were ready to go conquer the rest of the day.

 

Getting Ready For Game Day

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

Sundays during the Fall for our family mean one thing- FOOTBALL SEASON! Not only do we love to watch it but my children both play on youth football teams. We love our busy schedule but some days Sundays can get a bit hectic and challenging. There are days when we juggle and everything seems to be done in a time crunch so we spend a lot of time in the car.

Most of our Sunday snacks and lunches are on the go because one kid has a game, then there is a few minutes for them to eat and then the other kid has a game. There is no time for a sit down meal so we rely on easy foods to keep us fueled. Two very helpful allies to us as parents in such times are Walmart and Smuckers.

Walmart is our “SNACKATION” destination for all the busy sport Sundays. Not only do we love their low prices, but it is also convenient. When I went there to pick up extra mouth guards (because the boys chew on them) I stocked up on food for game day.

We like to look for foods we can enjoy either in the car or on the sidelines. Smucker’s® is a great choice for all parents due to their extensive line of products that are both kid approved and made to be enjoyed on the go. From Jif ‘To Go’ Dippers to Smucker’s® Fruit-Fulls® Blended Fruit to Uncrustables® Sandwiches everything is easy to throw in the sports bag for Sunday funday. Add in something to drink, like juice boxes and water, and we are all set for our busy game day.

What snacks do your kids enjoy when you are on the go?

 

Adding Variety To The Lunchbox (Gift Card Giveaway)

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

Back to school is a special time of year for our family. The boys love making new friends and all of the activities the school year brings. They especially love two times of the school day: recess and lunch.

We spent weeks preparing for the school year and buying everything we needed. Most things were one time purchases but we also have daily costs like lunch. We let the boys get school lunch one time a week and then the rest of the week they pack lunch. As with any purchases, we as a family look to save money and time, and we can do both at Save-A-Lot while getting a variety of delicious choices to fill the lunchbox.

Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to my kid’s lunch boxes they love having plenty of choices. With Save-A-Lot our money gets more juice boxes and yogurts and snacks and every lunch is packed with fun. When my youngest tries to make his own lunch for school he always grabs a million things and it feels great seeing his excitement and joy.

We try to give the kids a balanced lunch and a healthy snack for each one that might not be so nutritious. We want them to enjoy eating it but, at the same time, don’t want to pack it full of junk. Save-A-Lot helps the most here because I know that I can find healthier, affordable options at their stores. I also buy bigger bags and we portion them ourselves to save even more money that way.

Another thing that changes during the school year is breakfast. Kids have less time in the mornings now to lounge around but we still want them to eat something before they leave for the day. In our house, cereal is the king of breakfast (mainly because it’s so easy)! We portion cereal in plastic bags so they can eat it while they are getting ready or in the car if we are in a hurry. Cereal serves as a friendly snack as well so we always make sure to have extra boxes on hand.

School is in session and the kids are falling into routines so the days aren’t so hectic. One thing that helps us feel prepared is to have breakfast and lunch snacks ready to go so we start our day off on the right foot. How do you make school days easier?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Gift Card to Save-A-Lot

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post sharing a back-to-school tip.

For an extra entry, share this post on social media and leave a second comment.

Giveaway ends 9/19/2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Sandwiches Are Cool Again (Gift Card Giveaway)

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(Disclosure: Nature’s Harvest® provided me with a gift card and coupons for ingredients so that I could share my thoughts and information about Nature’s Harvest® bread.)

Back to school presents certain challenges. For me, one of the biggest challenges is making the kids school lunches in ways they are always eaten and never boring. Kids get bored with food easily and staying creative can get tough. Luckily I have 2 boys so the easiest creation is a timeless one, the sandwich. Even in today’s times, the sandwich is still king of homemade lunches.

The key ingredient to a great sandwich is not what is in the sandwich, but the bread. My kids love bread so for their sandwiches I have to choose the bread very carefully. As my boys are growing it is important to choose better quality breads and we have discovered a great brand called Nature’s Harvest®Bread . Nature’s Harvest® Bread is Nature’s Gift to your family. Your family gets the wholesome goodness you can feel great about serving them – like oatmeal, stone-ground wheat, honey, grains and seeds- without the high fructose corn syrup you don’t want to give them.

Nature’s Harvest®Bread wants to say “goodbye” to boring school lunches and “hello” to a new and exciting way to lunch!  Nature’s Harvest® Bread is holding its “Nature’s Harvest® Sandwich Art Photo Contest” to encourage moms to have a little whole grain fun with their kids’ lunchboxes.  From now through September 6th, parents can visit the Nature’s Harvest Facebook Page to submit a photo of their sandwich art creations, using Nature’s Harvest® bread, for the chance to win fun prizes!  One grand prize winner will receive a “kitchen crash” from Celebrity Chef Kelsey Nixon, where she’ll cook sandwich-centric meals and provide tips to the winner’s family

My kids tend to like simple sandwiches so I chose a few of their favorite ingredients to make something easy yet flavorful. Both boys like chicken so I chose to go with that for the meat (though turkey probably would have worked as well). Instead of mayo or mustard and cheese I decided to use an herbed cheese spread to give it that creamy taste we all love. The spread is also very kid-friendly so the boys can help make the sandwiches. For a little crunch I added red peppers since Jacob loves them and I thought it would add a little color to the sandwich.

Once the sandwich was made the boys chose their sides and grabbed a juice box and just like that lunch was ready! Nature’s Harvest®Bread has kid approved taste and texture and I love that it’s so good and healthy for them. What do you pack in your kid’s lunch?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Visa gift card and one (1) coupon, valid for $5.00 off Nature’s Harvest® bread

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite sandwich filling

For an extra entry, share this posts on a social channel and leave a second comment

Giveaway ends September 20, 2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Flavors Of Summer

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Thanks to IHOP for providing a gift card to sample their new Summer Stacks.

One of the things on our bucket list this summer was breakfast for dinner so we headed to our local IHOP restaurant to enjoy the special meal. While french toast and bacon are my ideal breakfast meal, Sinisa is all about crepes and the boys love their pancakes. IHOP has something for us all!

This summer, IHOP is inviting guests to savor the flavors of the season by offering three new signature pancakes. The three flavors are perfect for summertime- Blueberry Lemonade, Banana Pudding and Blackberry Peach Cobbler. Since we love to try new things our family ordered one of each.

Blueberry Lemonade: Blueberry pancakes topped with lemonade cream and fresh blueberries.

 

Banana Pudding: Buttermilk pancakes topped with silky banana pudding, sliced fresh bananas, whipped topping, powdered sugar and Nilla® wafers.

Blackberry Peach Cobbler: Buttermilk pancakes topped with juicy blackberries, sweet peaches, crunchy honey oat pecan crumbles and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The boys loved the Banana Pudding ones the most. My favorite flavor were the Blueberry Lemonade ones. They were the perfect amount of sweet and tangy. The Blackberry Peach Cobbler ones were good as well- I liked the crumble on them, my mom thought the peaches were delicious. and the ice cream on them was a hit with the kids.

Some restaurants offer short stacks of these special pancakes but others, like our local restaurant, serve them as part of a combination plate, with two eggs, hash browns and a choice of crispy bacon, pork sausage links or grilled ham slices.

Want to try one of these new flavors yourself? Hurry because Summer Stacks are available at participating IHOP restaurants only through July 26th.

Pasta Carbonara and Tuna Cake Recipes

pasta carbonara and tuna cakes

This post was sponsored by KRAFT and I was compensated to write it. Regardless, what I have written is my own opinion and experience, and I hope you find it of use.

Dining out at a nice restaurant can be one of the best experiences a family has together but, during the school year and sports season, it can be hard to find the time to dine out with everyone’s hectic schedules. I myself find my own family pressed for time but wish to have a great dinnertime bonding experience over a delicious dinner that was made quickly. I discovered that KRAFT had recipes online that could help me  ‘Twist That Dish’ while saving time and money.

With KRAFT products, many ordinary items that are already in the pantry or the refrigerator can be turned into amazing restaurant quality dinners in just 10 to 15 minutes. When the kids ask for seconds you will know you have won big time. The biggest time saver for me is shopping at Sam’s Club and getting KRAFT products in bulk so at any time I can make many different recipes with a new twist on favorites.

I fell in love with two recipes on the Samsclub.com/kraftrecipes website that when put together create a gourmet dinner worthy of sit down restaurants. I chose PHILADELPHIA Quick Pasta Carbonara and Tuna Cakes.

As with all great dinners a good deal of multitasking is involved but, with recipes provided by KRAFT, everything was simple and easy. I started by mixing the tuna cakes mix. I gathered all the ingredients and mixed them. I did this first because the mix needs to rest in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

While the mix was resting I got started on the Pasta recipe. I cooked the pasta according to the instructions on the box of fettuccine noodles I had in my pantry.

Just before the pasta was completely done I got to working on the sauce. The first step was to fry up the bacon. I used Oscar Mayer Bacon with Maple which made the pasta a bit sweeter (which is my trick for the picky kids).

Once the bacon was done, I stirred the rest of the ingredients in the grease as per the recipe provided by KRAFT. The key to this sauce recipe is to make sure the sauce is creamy and consistent and the cheese does not burn.

Once the sauce was ready I added the cooked noodles and the bacon and stirred well.

Once the pasta and the sauce were combined it was time to fry up the tuna cakes. To do this, use a non-stick skillet and an ice cream scoop to make portions. Cook them on both sides until golden brown.

The hardest thing about creating these KRAFT recipes was trying not to eat anything before plating the food.

 Everything turned out amazing and even the kids loved it. I am glad all KRAFT food products needed for these recipes can be purchased in bulk  online and in-club at my local Sam’s Club. I hope you enjoyed these recipes and will check out samsclub.com/kraftrecipes. Which recipe will you try tonight?

Making Breakfast A Habit

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Today I jumped out of bed at 4:30am. Most of my mornings don’t start that early but even on the days I get an hour or two more of sleep, mornings are too hectic to sit down and eat breakfast. Luckily I have discovered belVita Bites. A delicious healthy and fulfilling breakfast for someone on the go like me.

A study by NPD Group Inc. found that Americans have an average of just 12 minutes a day for consuming breakfast. That is about half the time we spend on lunch (28 minutes) or dinner (24 minutes). This is the most important meal of the day and so many people don’t eat a quality breakfast like they should.

Eating breakfast sets the tone for the day because it gets our blood sugar up which makes our brain function better the rest of the day. It gets our metabolism going. It reduces cravings later in the day. And it puts us in a better mood.

belVita Bites, paired with fresh fruit and yogurt, are a great way to enjoy a quick breakfast on the go. Each pouch provides: 230 calories, 4g of fiber* and 20g of whole grain. Did you know that dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease? That is a great reason to try them.

To encourage breakfast fans to trade in their spoons in favor of a balanced breakfast, belVita is taking over National Cereal Day (March 7). They have teamed up with Registered Dietitian Keri Gans, Life Coach Christine Hassler, and author of Eat It to Beat It David Zinczenko to provide a few tips for a healthy breakfast and a smooth morning routine. Last Wednesday belVita Breakfast Influencers had a breakfast panel to discuss the changing American breakfast and how nutritious, convenient solutions like belVita can help on-the-go families stay energized all morning long.

For someone like me who is always on the go at early hours of the day this is the obvious better choice of breakfast. It was simpler and tastier and healthier. Here are some of the great tips that they shared:

“Being that people today have no time to cook, they are looking for options with nutrition’s latest buzzwords – protein and fiber. belVita paired with a serving of non-fat yogurt and fruit hits on protein, fiber AND whole grains.”-David Zinczenko, New York Times best-selling author of Eat It to Beat It! and the Nutrition and Wellness Editor at ABC News

“Doing something 40 days in a row moves it from a change to a habit. Making a complete breakfast a habit starts today.” -Christine Hassler, life coach and Author

So lets make better choices and form great habits. Let Belvita be a start to a balanced breakfast and join me tomorrow as I trade in my spoon.

Shrimp Tacos With Mango Salsa Recipe

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

Getting started on a meal menu plan is not an easy task. When planning meals for the whole family there are so many things to consider especially when you have little kids. As much as I focus on kid friendly meals there is at least one meal a week that is designed for my soul. This week is no different. I personally love fish and would love to eat it every day, so for this week I chose a simple recipe for shrimp tacos with mango salsa. Most of my shopping is done at Jewel and with the help of Jewel’s new app MyMixx. It helps me to remember everything by creating a grocery list and inspires me with recipes and even sends me paperless receipts.

This is a very easy to make recipe and importantly all the ingredients are available fresh year round. All the ingredients blend perfectly together to make you fall in love with your meal. Shrimp is great because it will keep its texture and stays juicy through the cooking process and it can be flavored in so many ways.

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 1 mango
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno fine diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cucumber chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 20-30 medium size shrimp without the tails

Procedure

In a medium bowl combine the onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro with a pinch of salt. Mix well and drain.

Once the mix is drained well add the chopped mango pieces.

 Next add the cucumbers, sugar and the lime juice. Mix everything together so you can see all the colors. Chill the salsa before serving.

While the salsa is being chilled, the shrimp can be prepared. Lightly heat up a teaspoon of olive oil and toss the shrimp in a skillet. Season to taste with either a fajita seasoning or a hot sauce. There is no wrong choice. I chose to make today’s meal not spicy.

Once the shrimp is heated through, heat up the tortillas and serve. Place the shrimp on tortillas and top with mango salsa. Add cheese and sour cream if you wish to.

This was a tasty, light meal. Very easy to create and even easier to buy the ingredients. With Jewel’s MyMixx app I save so much time and I get inspired to create awesome meals using only the finest ingredients. The whole family loves the app and we can’t wait to see more recipes and the deals that come out weekly.

Improving Breakfast With BelVita

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

As the rooster crows, my very hectic day starts (I actually woke up the rooster) and its time for breakfast. Let me tell you- breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me because its gets my energy flowing. It sets the mood and the tone for the day to come. When I do eat the most important thing I want from my breakfast is nutrition that will sustain me and replenish my energy long enough until lunch and sometimes dinner. But honestly, as a foodie I know that great taste is king. Early in the day I will not eat just anything. Great nutrition needs to be key and sometimes every smart person needs a bit of help every now and then, especially when we are on the go because of sports and school and work. I found both great nutrition and sustaining energy combined with great flavors with Belvita. Their breakfast biscuits have always provided great world taste and energized us for the whole day. BelVita Bites Breakfast Biscuits make breakfast easy and fun but also very healthy and nutritious, convenient and delicious.

The new size and packaging makes it fun and easy to have a great breakfast that combined with fresh fruit and some yogurt will make a complete and balanced breakfast. With all the best stuff in it like fiber and whole grain and no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oil and no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Can we say awesome?

Besides being great, BelVita wants to revolutionize your breakfast. It still holds true that most breakfast meals are cereals even at an age everyone is looking for a healthier choice. March 7 is National Cereal Day and BelVita aims to take over and encourage breakfast fans to trade in their spoons in favor of a balanced breakfast.

On March 4th at 11am ET BelVita will be hosting a breakfast panel leading up to National Cereal Day entitled, “The Changing American Breakfast.” Here is all the information:

Twitter Party Details

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Time: 11:00 AM– 12:00 PM ET

Moderator: @MomCentral

belVita Breakfast Influencers: @ChristinHassler, @Kerigans, and @DaveZinczenko

Topic/Focus: Breakfast has always played an essential role in our diets but times have changed.  As today’s modern family has evolved, consumers’ morning routines and breakfast eating habits have changed as well. A panel of nationally renowned experts will discuss the changing American breakfast and how nutritious, convenient solutions like belVita can help on-the-go families stay energized all morning long

My family is set on trading in our spoons. As a foodie I am excited because I know my day will be better with the tasty BelVita breakfast biscuits and also a healthy nutritious breakfast.


 

Menu Planning With The MyMixx App

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

These days life is too hectic. Making time for family dinners is very important, and making great tasting healthy meals is simplified with Jewel’s MyMixx. During Lent I want my boys age 6 and 5 to eat fish and seafood meals often, and the key to them sticking with it in the future is variety and exciting recipes. MyMixx helps with that tremendously. There are easy to make recipes for  appetizers, breakfast, lunch and dinner. and even more. Everything is searchable and the best part is MyMixx creates a shopping list for each recipe selected.

Since Lent season started my personal search of recipes and ideas is more focused on fish and seafood entrees. The biggest benefit to my family is that seafood is healthy if prepared right. MyMixx basically does all the work and then it saves me money by creating coupons I can use the next time at the store. As this is 2015 my kids are very visual and they love seeing their food as we talk about what will be for dinner. They enjoy scrolling through the pictures of the recipes and especially the desserts.

As parents we encourage our boys to at least try new foods that are introduced to them. So in continuing with that spirit I asked both boys to help me choose a recipe for this post in the MyMixx app.

Jake is the older one. He is almost 7. His tastes are developing more and he does understand healthy eating so he chose a recipe that looks and sounds familiar and safe (and therefore edible to a child). Jake chose Fish tacos, a very tasty recipe he saw on the MyMixx app.

My  younger child is the pickiest child ever, and would choose to eat sweets more than anything. With some bribing and guidance he found a recipe that he liked and also insisted on a dessert recipe. He actually just wanted dessert. One exciting part of all this is that he likes cooking and wants to help prepare the recipe so he is excited.

I truly love the MyMixx app. It saves me time and money. It helps me and my family eat better and with great variety. Most importantly though, the MyMixx app helps me to bond with my kids over technology and with cooking. MyMixx is a powerful app to use to create a life of ease in relation to cooking and grocery shopping. We will be making the two recipes above for a special dinner next week.

 

 

Discovering New Recipes With MyMixx And Jewel

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

I enjoy cooking and creating tasty memories but during the busy times, between working all day and kids activities, all the magic disappears. Home cooked meals are very important to me because they are the strong glue to a family bond. Also it is economically more sound and it teaches my kids the basic skills for their futures. These days to save time and to find inspiration I turn to Jewel’s app MyMixx because it helps me find recipes.

MyMixx has featured recipes and all sorts of categories, so there is something for everyone. I love that I can browse recipes and instantly create a shopping list and find coupons to save money all at once at Jewel.  There is also a section called What’s Cooking. There you can find articles and recipes and news on healthy living, special diets and organic foods. You can also learn about special food events happening at your local Jewel.

 As a parent I try to cook as healthy as possible, but also think about heart healthy meal plans for myself. Jewel and MyMixx help me with this greatly. With meal plan recipes that can be customized and articles on healthy diets and food replacement Jewel provides an excellent customer experience with MyMixx.

I am most excited about exploring all the different categories of recipes, especially seafood. I grew up off the coast of the Adriatic sea that connects to the Mediterranean to the south so I enjoy freshly grown cooked meals with plenty of variety. With MyMixx it is easy to find tasty recipes and create great feasts even on a busy weeknight. Jewel has a great offering of fresh fish and meats and awesome veggies for an ultimate surf and turf dinner. And lets not forget the breads and sweets baked fresh daily. And now I am already planning my next meal.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post as I will cook and grill and create recipes with MyMixx and post every tasty savory bit. It will be amazing as Lent is starting soon and Fish is in season.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

10 New Cookie Recipes To Try

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#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include the Intel Corporation providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is bake cookies with my family. I tend to make the same cookies year after year but this year I wanted to make some new varieties. I headed to Pinterest to see what I could find and wanted to share 10 of my favorites with you all! One of these will be in the oven on Christmas Eve but I’m still deciding on which one I want to bake.

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Eggnog Cookies from Cooking Classy

Pecan Snowballs from Southern Bite

No-Bake Peppermint Bark Cookies from The Suburban Soapbox

Strawberry Pinch Cookies from Eating on a Dime

Melting Snowmen Cookies from Better Homes and Gardens

Pecan Pie Cookies from Spend With Pennies

Hot Cocoa Cookies from Glorious Treats

Ultimate Grasshopper Cookies from Your Cup of Cake

Mocha Crinkle Cookies from Cake Whiz

I love being able to bring my tablet into the kitchen and follow recipe directions on it. I used to have to print out the recipe or write it down but now I can skip that step. Some websites even provide quick video tutorials and I can watch them while following the step by step directions as I watch. I like the crisp, clear images and the videos load really fast on my tablet all because of the Intel processor that’s inside of it. In fact, Intel Tablets have 1.9x better web performance than other tablets which means I can spend less time searching the web and more time baking this holiday season!

A Holiday Meal For Under $25

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#spon: I’m one of the #SaveALotInsiders and am required to disclose a relationship between our site and Save-A-Lot. This could include Save-A-Lot providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Holiday dinners are some of the best meals of the year. They can also be some of the priciest. In an effort to save a bit of money I headed to Save-A-Lot to fill up my cart and create a simple holiday meal for less than $25.

One of the side dishes I love during the holidays is sweet potatoes. They can be made fresh but when I’m short on time I use candied yams that come in a delicious syrup. I add marshmallows on top and then bake until the marshmallows are slightly toasted. It is so easy and everyone loves them!

To complete our holiday meal we had ham and freshly baked rolls. All the ingredients (including half a ham which gave us leftovers for days) was less than $25!

Here was the cost breakdown (prices may vary):

  • Spiral ham: $19.52
  • Rolls: $0.99
  • Candied yams (2 cans): $2.58
  • Marshmallows: $0.99

What is your favorite side dish during the holidays?

For the chance to win a $25 Save-A-Lot gift card, check out the Smart Shopper Sweepstakes on the Save-A-Lot Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SaveALot.

Delicious Selections For Christmas Dinner

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

For many families, Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without ham. In my family this hasn’t always been the case. See, I actually used to believe that I didn’t like ham because I had grown up eating salty ham. Enter HoneyBaked ham with their sweet, crunchy outsides and I discovered a couple years ago that I actually love ham. It just has to be the right kind of ham! I ate leftovers of this ham for days, most of the time just picking pieces out of the bag in the fridge because I couldn’t wait for it to hit my plate.

HoneyBaked Ham has such a great selection of items to complete your Christmas meal, from meat to sides to dessert. With picky eaters and a different taste buds this variety is important. Macaroni and cheese was a big hit with the kids and the adults enjoyed a little of everything.

Once dinner was over it was time for dessert. The kids were so excited to see the dessert tray they got to choose from. There were cookies, chocolate brownies and cheesecake slices.

Which one would you pick?

From now until 1/11/15 you can enter to win a $25,000 HoneyBaked Kitchen Makeover when you buy a Ham and Turkey Breast bundle.

Check out this amazing limited time coupon for $8.00 off any Bone-in Ham and Turkey Breast or Boneless Ham and Turkey Breast from HoneyBaked Ham to help you make your holiday dinner easy and delicious! (This offer is valid only at the following locations: Rolling Meadows, Orland Park, Villa Park, Morton Grove, Naperville, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, Mesquite, Hurst, Lewisville, Houston, Austin, Spring, Clear Lake, Sugar Land, Indianapolis, Ferndale, Grand Rapids, Roseville, Birmingham, Troy, West Bloomfield, Livonia, Flint, Dearborn Heights, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Canton Township, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Mechanicsburg, Monroeville, San Antonio, Bellevue, and Lynnwood. For store addresses click here.)

Donate $1.00 to Feeding America during checkout at the register of any HoneyBaked store. $1.00=10 Meals!

Baking Christmas Cookies With Betty Crocker {Prize Pack Giveaway}

Christmas cookie baking

Thanks to Betty Crocker for sponsoring this post and giveaway.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is baking Christmas cookies. I still remember all the fun I had in the kitchen when I was growing up and love reminiscing as I bake cookies with my own boys. When I was younger my favorite cookies to make were sugar cookies, corn flake wreaths, and peanut butter chocolate balls. Now that my kids are helping bake they generally are in charge of picking which cookies get made and their choices are chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies (with lots of frosting and sprinkles!)

This year Betty Crocker sent us some baking supplies and my boys were excited to see their two favorite cookie mixes in the box. Luke decided he wanted to make the chocolate chip cookies and then use the frosting and icing to decorate them. He enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with daddy for some father/son bonding time :)

Betty Crocker wants to encourage you to spend some time in the kitchen with your loved ones this holiday as well! They have created a “kid’s corner” on their website and shared the top 10 cookies for kids. Each recipe also has a short how-to video as well. Tweet your cookie creations with the hashtag #GetYourBettyOn to share them with the folks over at Betty Crocker!

GIVEAWAY:

One person will win a Betty Crocker prize pack that consists of:

  • Kitchen tablet stand
  • Betty Crocker™ Mixing Spoon
  • Betty Crocker™ Oven Mitt
  • “Get Your Betty On” Apron
  • Gingerbread Cookie Cutter
  • Betty Crocker™ Sugar Cookie Mix
  • Betty Crocker™ Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
  • Betty Crocker™ Whipped Vanilla Frosting
  • Betty Crocker™ Holiday Recipe Booklet 2014 – feat. The Top 10 Cookie Decorating Ideas of 2014

HOW TO ENTER:

Comment below with your favorite Christmas cookie

For an extra entry, share this giveaway on a social network and leave the link in the comments

Giveaway ends December 15, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Easy Thanksgiving Meals With HoneyBaked Ham And Turkey {Giveaway}

honeybaked leftover meal

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

Hosting Thanksgiving this year? What if I told you that you could have a delicious Thanksgiving meal cooked and on the table in less than an hour? Now THAT is something to be thankful for because it means you can get out of the kitchen and do more important things like spend time with family and watch football (especially since my Chicago Bears are playing!).

Sinisa headed to our local HoneyBaked Ham store and picked up ham, turkey, five different side dishes, a Pecan pie and a dessert tray. Everything but the turkey was ready to heat up in the packaging they were in which meant less dishes for me to wash. To make things even easier, the ham and turkey came with detailed instructions on how to heat up the meat.

One thing I love about the ham and turkey is that both have a delicious glaze on them. They are also pre-sliced. (Told you this was a super easy meal solution!)

The very best thing about the Thanksgiving meal, as everyone knows, is the leftovers. We had four adults and four children for dinner and we didn’t even eat a quarter of the food we bought. That means I have a week worth of delicious leftovers. Today I made myself a plate of food for lunch but for dinner I’m making turkey sandwiches, one of my favorite ways to use up the leftover turkey.

I’ll share more about the sides and desserts in my next HoneyBaked Ham post so stay tuned!

***

From now until 1/11/15 you can enter to win a $25,000 HoneyBaked Kitchen Makeover when you buy a Ham and Turkey Breast bundle.

Check out this amazing limited time coupon for $8.00 off any Bone-in Ham and Turkey Breast or Boneless Ham and Turkey Breast from HoneyBaked Ham to help you make your holiday dinner easy and delicious! (This offer is valid only at the following locations: Rolling Meadows, Orland Park, Villa Park, Morton Grove, Naperville, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, Mesquite, Hurst, Lewisville, Houston, Austin, Spring, Clear Lake, Sugar Land, Indianapolis, Ferndale, Grand Rapids, Roseville, Birmingham, Troy, West Bloomfield, Livonia, Flint, Dearborn Heights, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Ann Arbor, Canton Township, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Mechanicsburg, Monroeville, San Antonio, Bellevue, and Lynnwood. For store addresses click here.)

HoneyBaked Ham is giving away $500 in Gift Cards to some of your favorite places! You can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tray Talk: Learn More About Healthy School Lunches

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This summer I had the privilege of attending the School Nutrition Association’s National School Lunch Conference on behalf of the SNA. I wrote about everything I learned here. I was amazed by how much school lunches have changed since I was in school. I am happy to partner with them to share this post.

The School Nutrition Association has a great website called Tray Talk that was created for parents to get the facts about school meals. Parents can get answers about the nutritional values of lunches, how school nutrition programs are working to make healthy meals kid-friendly, learn more about how special dietary needs are handled and a variety of other questions.

The site also gives parents ideas of how to get involved. The three simple steps the site suggests include:

  • Review cafeteria menus with your child and encourage them to try new menu items. Prepare new foods – especially fruits and vegetables – at home and your child may be more willing to try these foods at school.
  • Visit the school cafeteria to make your own observations and have lunch. Check with the principal first to make sure that is allowed!
  • Inquire about volunteer opportunities in your school cafeteria.  Some schools request parent volunteers to help usher students through the lunch line and encourage them to eat their fruits and vegetables.  Many school districts have a wellness committee comprised of community volunteers, to help establish district nutrition and physical activity policies.
I also loved reading about the success stories that other schools have shared. It’s fun seeing what other districts are doing to get their children excited about eating healthy meals. I wish they had things like cooking contests, spinach-strawberry salads, and farm tours to see how food was grown when I was younger! Want to learn more? Check out Tray Table on Facebook!

An After-School Snack Kids And Moms Can Share

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(Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Arla Dofino. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.)

This has been a busy season so far, with football taking up four to five days a week. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday night the boys come home from school, we do a bit of homework, Jacob changes into his practice gear, we grab water and snacks, and then we are out of the house within the hour. Those days are hectic and we don’t get a chance to eat dinner before we leave so we pack snacks to enjoy once we get to the field.

I try to pack healthier options but it’s not always easy do do when we are running out the door. Recently I figured out that if I packed snack ahead of time it was really easy to bring something with so I wasn’t tempted to grab something unhealthy. What’s great about the most recent snack platter we brought to football practice was that it’s portable, easy to put together, and the kids can help!

I headed to my local grocery store, Jewel, and bought a divided plastic container, two varieties of Arla Dofino cheeses, wheat crackers and a pack of mini-peppers. I also bought some bottled water since I’m trying to kick my iced coffee and soda habit.

I cut the peppers and the cheese. The boys helped me take the seeds out of the peppers and then put the cheese and peppers into the container to keep in the fridge. Right before leaving for practice we put the crackers into the container and grabbed a few bottles of water.

While sitting waiting for practice to start we enjoyed eating the snack and chatted about the school day. The boys loved the snack and so did I. I thought it was filling and would get them through practice until we could have dinner at home. No more unhealthy snacks for football practice!

I discovered Havarti cheese a couple months back and it quickly became my favorite variety of cheese. I hadn’t had Gouda cheese in a while but I realized that I liked that as well. I enjoyed the Havarti with the crackers and paired the Gouda with the red peppers. Looking for Arla Dofino cheese near you? Here’s the store locator.

There’s also a sweepstakes going on until 10/4. Like the Arla Dofino Facebook page and enter for your chance to win a semester’s worth of cheese! Find Arla Dofino on Pinterest, too.

Twitter Party Alert: #Manwich #NoPhoneZone 9/18 7pm CST

Manwich

(Disclosure: I’m being compensated to co-host this Twitter party but thoughts are my own.)

I’m excited to be co-hosting the #Manwich #NoPhoneZone Twitter party promoting phone-free family time around the dinner table. The party is this Thursday, September 19th, at 7pm CST and is hosted by Johanna of Momma Cuisine, along with co-hosts Lisa, Tara, Ben, Trey and I.

We are giving away 5 wonderful Manwich prize packs, each consisting of:

  • Pyrex Saucepan
  • Branded pot holder
  • Electric can opener
  • Branded wooden spoon
  • Branded apron
  • $30 VISA gift card (for grocery purchase)
Check out Johanna’s post to enter to win. Looking forward to chatting with you! :)

Time For Lunch At Applebee’s

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What did you have for lunch today? Nothing? Your kid’s leftovers? A sandwich? Do you even remember? Occasionally I have something small or leftovers but normally I have nothing so I was really excited to partner with Applebee’s on a recent campaign. They gave me some gift cards to go out to lunch with my loved ones and have a memorable meal. With over more than 200 lunch combos, ranging in price from $6.99 to $8.99, there was lots to try!

WARNING: Delicious food pictures ahead! May cause your stomach to growl ;)

I loved almost everything I ate. My favorite was the Grilled Shrimp N’ Spinach Salad. Not sure what the dressing was but I thought about this salad for days after I had it and had to go back and get it again when I took my sister out to dinner a week later. Sinisa’s favorite was the Artisan Grilled Chicken Chiabata Sandwich and also the Tortilla Soup.

The prices are so great that if you still have room for dessert you can afford to order it. What would you choose from the great lunch menu at Applebee’s?

4th of July Treat: Sweet & Salty Sparklers

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Looking for a Fourth of July treat that is festive and everyone will enjoy? Family Fun magazine shared these sweet and salty “sparklers” with me and I just had to share them with you all! Layered with white chocolate and studded with sprinkles and M&M’s, these pretzel treats add flare to any party spread.

Directions: Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips in a medium, heat-safe bowl according to the package directions. Use a spoon to drizzle 1pretzel rod at a time with chocolate (you’ll have enough chocolate to make a dozen), then lay the rod on the prepared sheet and scatter it with red and blue sprinkles and M&M’s. Chill the pretzels in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.

Bread & Butter: My Italian Dinner Staple

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Today I’m partnering with La Brea Bakery, as part of their Breaking Bread with La Brea Bakery tour stop in Chicago, to show how easy it is to make flavored butter and create a bread banquet for a large Italian meal. I’m not Italian but I love eating pasta (like my mom’s homemade cheese lasagna recipe). To start I headed to Jewel to buy bread from the bakery department. There was a whole La Brea bread display so I picked up four different varieties: Italian loaf, French loaf, three cheese, and a garlic loaf.

I bought five different cheeses and then decided to do something I’d never done before….make my own flavored butter! I bought some crushed garlic, green onions and fresh herbs. I had planned to make a savory butter to go with my garlic and cheese breads but once I got home from the store I decided to make a sweet butter instead. Since my favorite thing to add to toast is cinnamon and sugar I thought this would be a nice addition to the spread.

The flavored butter was extremely easy to make. I let a half stick of butter soften at room temperature before I cut it into large chunks in a small bowl. I then added a packet of seasoning I had in my spice cabinet that consisted of sugar, cinnamon and vanilla beans. The last step was to whip the butter and spices together and refrigerate once they were all mixed together. You can do really any combination of flavors that you think sound good. The next one I’m going to make will be garlic and parmesan cheese flavored.

Once your homemade butter is made you can transfer it to a prettier dish or container. I chose to use little plastic sauce containers that I put into red polka dot cupcake wrappers to go with my red, white and blue themed table. This worked well for the spreadable herb cheese that I bought as well. No ugly store bought plastic containers allowed on the table ;)

The next step was to set out all the sliced loafs of bread and cheeses. I used little cheese stakes in the cheeses and cute decorative toothpicks in the bread so everyone would know what flavors they were eating.

Here was the finished bread banquet:

Learn more about La Brea Bakery on their website. If you live in Charlotte, North Carolina, try free samples of La Brea Bakery’s delicious bread June 12th-15th and June 18th-21st.

Easter Celebrations With HoneyBaked Ham

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

I love hosting celebrations. Creating a party around a theme, spending time with family, and enjoying good food makes me happy. Cooking though? Not so much. When it comes to food I tend to stick to easy to eat main course dishes. For past birthday parties I have had things like hot dogs, chicken and burgers.

Some occasions call for more than BBQ-type foods. Easter is coming up and I don’t think a big family meal of burgers is going to cut it so we decided to get our food from the local HoneyBaked Ham store. Sinisa bought a ham dinner complete with side dishes. This is the perfect way to make sure I get my big fancy meal but still don’t have to do much cooking.

Everything is ready to heat and serve and then all I have to do is transfer it to some pretty dishes and enjoy the yummy food with my family. It’s easy to prepare and easy to clean up- my type of meal!

We chose to get both ham and turkey. Though ham is more popular for Easter, I like giving people a choice. Lucas, my four year old, who has not ever liked ham when he has had it in the past, devoured this ham. He loved the sweet outside skin on it and I think the fact that it was nice and juicy helped a lot.

We chose to get three different side dishes: cinnamon apples, sweet potato souffle, and potatoes au gratin. They can be microwaved or heated in the oven. We chose to make them in the microwave but for the sweet potatoes I would suggest making them in the oven so the top gets crunchy.

The sweet potato souffle was a big hit with both the boys (that extra brown sugar I sprinkled on top may have swayed them). It didn’t cook properly in the microwave but we stirred it instead of having it like a casserole and I think that made it perfect. Personally, I enjoyed the cinnamon apples the most and the sauce from the apples made a delicious dip for the ham and turkey.

Want someone else to make your Easter meal this year? HoneyBaked Ham has some great deals going on right now. They are currently offering:

In-Store Specials:

  • $54.99 Easter Ham & Turkey Combo – Pair a Turkey Breast (approx. 3 lbs.) with your choice of a Boneless Ham (approx. 3.5 lbs.) or Quarter Ham (approx. 4.5 lbs.)
  • $22.99 Turkey Breast (with any Half or Whole Ham purchase)
  • $24.99 Easter Brunch Bundle – Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake and Honey-Spice Bacon
  • Heat & Share Sides: Two for $13.99, three for $19.99

With Coupon:

  • $5 OFF Half Ham (Bone-in) or Become a HoneyBaked VIP at honeybakedfoods.com (Save an extra $1 when you sign up to become a HoneyBaked VIP at honeybakedfoods.com: $6 OFF )
  • $3 OFF Boneless Ham or Quarter Ham

 

New Sweet & Salty Snack {Costco Gift Card Giveaway}

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Ever have those times when you are craving something to snack on but can’t decide between something sweet and something salty? If so, I have the perfect snack for you! Fisher Nuts recently sent me their new product to try out and share my thoughts with you all. They just launched a new snack product – Fisher Nut Exactly – exclusively at Costco stores in the Midwest for a limited time only. This sweet yet savory snack contains no artificial ingredients and is created with the perfect combination of crunchy roasted almonds and whole grain popcorn, rolled into a snack-sized bite that’s dipped in rich 66% cacao dark chocolate.

They have been a great snack for me to eat while driving the boys to Spring sports practices because they come in small poppable pieces. The combination of the nut and whole grain are filling enough to tide me over until we get home for dinner. The chocolate on them is just the right amount to give me that sweetness I’m craving.

These are also a nice snack to serve at your March Madness party tomorrow or really any get-together you are having this Spring. The key to any party is easy to eat food and this snack fits perfectly in that category!

Want to try it? Costco stores in the Midwest are having tastings this Thursday, April 10th. Live elsewhere? The giveaway below is open to everyone in the USA!

GIVEAWAY:

One person will win a $50 Costco gift card and package of Fisher Nut Exactly

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to win

2) Share this giveaway on the social network of your choice

3) Comment on another blog post

Giveaway ends April 17, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident, 21 or over to enter.

Lunch Combos At Applebee’s {Gift Card Giveaway}

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(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Applebee’s. Thoughts are my own.)

What did you have for lunch today? A sandwich? Leftovers? A TV dinner? Did you even eat at all?

I normally skip my mid-day meal or I graze on whatever I can find in my fridge or pantry while I’m working. I try to take lunch breaks every day but since I work from home I often get sidetracked by the laundry, the phone, or my overflowing email inbox. Over the next month I plan to treat myself to a real lunch at least once a week.

Since I don’t have time to cook I’m headed to Applebee’s to enjoy one of their 200 lunch combos. I was checking out their website and the food looks so good. I’m hungry just looking at all the options! Follow me on Instagram this month to check out which combos I pick and stay tuned to the blog for my review of their lunch menu. Make sure to enter the giveaway below so you can enjoy the lunch combos at Applebee’s, too.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $50 Applebee’s gift card

HOW TO ENTER:

(Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do)

1) Tell me why you want to win

2) Tell me which combo you’d pick

3) Share this giveaway on social media

Giveaway ends April 27, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to win.

Learning More About Gluten-Free Food Options

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(Disclosure: I participated in this program on behalf of Udi’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.)

Most people go Gluten-Free because they have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance but I have considered going gluten-free (and casein-free) in the past because some people say it is a good diet for children who have Autism. The biggest thing holding me back was that I didn’t think Lucas, my four year old who has Autism, would do well with the limited diet. I just thought about all of the things he wouldn’t be able to eat at school and birthday parties. He is too young to understand the change but yet too old for us to pretend all these foods don’t exist.

Thankfully, I’ve learned about Udi’s Gluten-Free foods this month. I had heard of them before but had in my mind that foods labeled “gluten-free” tasted like cardboard. After tasting an assortment of their products, I can say that this is definitely not the case with Udi’s products. Lucas can still have the foods he loves, just a gluten-free version of them. I love this quote from Udi’s as well: “Udi’s changed the way consumers think about gluten free. We made can’ts, cans. We removed the restrictions that made living gluten free a struggle and made the transition seamless.”

Udi’s products I sampled included breads, bagels, muffins, chips, granola bars, tortillas, cookies, and granola. I want to focus on the sweets and snack items for this post because I think that those would be the items that would be the hardest to give up if we went gluten-free so it’s important that good tasting, gluten-free options exist. My absolute favorite item out of the bunch were the Snickerdoodle cookies. They were delicious!

The other two desserts I had were really good as well. The dark chocolate brownie bites tasted pretty close to a non-GF brownie. The Salted Caramel Cashew cookies had a great taste as well, though were a bit crunchier than I like my cookies.

Another snack item I tried were the chocolate chip granola bars. I tend to stick to one main granola bar brand so these didn’t taste exactly like the ones I normally eat but they are pretty comparable to other brands of granola bars that are on the market. If I went Gluten-Free these would definitely be in my purse and in the soccer bag.

I like to eat granola cereal for breakfast but I also eat it as a quick snack by itself or sprinkled on yogurt. Udi’s Blueberry Cashew Granola was very good. I loved that the clusters were huge which made it easy to snack on.

Curious about the other items that Udi’s has? Learn about all their gluten-free products on their website.

Winter Is Almost Over!

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(Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Campbell Soup Company and I am being compensated as an Ambassador.)

Exciting news!! Winter is ALMOST OVER! It was 56 degrees here today! 56! See all of the exclamation points in the previous statements? That is how excited I am.

Along with winter, my time as a Campbell Wisest Kid Ambassador is also coming to an end. I have enjoyed introducing you to The Wisest Kid in the Whole World and sharing Campbell Soup Company recipes.

Some of my favorite recipes have come from the Campbell’s Kitchen. I especially loved the mini green bean casseroles since that’s a fun take on one of my favorite side dishes. My kids love the mini macaroni & cheese cups the most. Checking the website again today I see another recipe I am going to add to this week’s menu plan, the mini cheesy chicken enchiladas. So many ways to use soup that I didn’t even know existed!

Wondering which recipes were the most popular? Below are three top ranked recipes from the site. Which one was your favorite?

If you are still looking for indoor activities, consider cooking a delicious meal with your kids, a lunch full of dunkables with Campbell’s Condensed Tomato soup, or one of the fun ideas featured in this video below.

A Special Family Dinner At Houlihan’s {Gift Card Giveaway}

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(Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Houlihan’s via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Houlihan’s or Momtrends.)

Going out to eat at a sit down restaurant is normally reserved for special occasions in my family but we decided to break the routine and go out to eat last night. We went to Houlihan’s which I hadn’t been to in years. After a short wait we were seated and I ordered one of the few adult drinks I like called a “Miami Vice”.

The boys checked out the kid’s menu and stuck with their typical corn dog and chicken tenders. I liked that there was a variety of foods for kids and the sides weren’t just the typical ones you’d expect to see. Lucas chose fresh strawberries for his side and Jacob chose tortilla chips and salsa. Along with the entree and side, kids get a drink, dessert (ice cream or flavored apple sauce) and an appetizer of carrot sticks with ranch dip. With all this included I was surprised to find the kid’s meals were only $5.95!

For our appetizer I ordered the Parmesan Frites not realizing that was just a fancy way of saying french fries. They came with three dipping sauces, my favorite of which was the garlic parmesan dipping sauce.

Sinisa chose the salmon dinner with asparagus and mashed potatoes as his sides. I wanted to save plenty of room for dessert so I ordered a pulled pork slider and side salad. I loved that the pulled pork was a chunk of meat and not little pieces. It also came with fried pickles on it which is a delicious combo.

Nobody could decide on dessert so we chose a few! I had to try one of the seasonal specials, the chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. It was absolutely amazing and was one of their light choices at only 410 calories. We also got a brownie sundae and doughnuts with a caramel apple dip. It was a delicious way to end our family day!

Houlihan’s had a great atmosphere. I like that they do their best to source the highest quality ingredients from partners committed to traditional farming practices and responsible stewardship of the land. Wherever possible, they choose smaller, artisan partners and make every effort to choose ingredients that are free of preservatives, antibiotics, and hormones. I also love their website design along with it is really creative sayings like “if you like it, put a pin on it“.

Giveaway:

One reader will win a $50 gift card to Houlihan’s

How to enter:

Leave a comment telling me why you want to win

Extra entry:

Share this giveaway on a social network and leave a comment below

Giveaway ends March 25, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 years of age or older and a US resident to enter.

Breakfast Shakes That Are Actually Delicious

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(Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Quaker. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

I’ll be honest, in between getting the boys ready for school, checking email, packing Luke’s lunch, and starting my work day, I don’t ever have breakfast if Sinisa isn’t home to make it for me. Normally I will just have some coffee and that’s it. By mid-morning I am starving and checking to see what snacks I can grab to eat while working.

When I heard about Quaker’s new Breakfast Shakes I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love a number of Quaker products but normally breakfast shakes taste like flavored ground chalk. {Well they do! Don’t they?} I remember drinking my mom’s when I was in elementary school and junior high and they were grainy in texture and not that appetizing.

I’m happy to say that the Quaker Breakfast Shakes were absolutely delicious. Even though they had oats in them there was not a single bit of texture in the shakes. The oats were ground so fine that the shakes were silky smooth. I loved the chocolate shake the most. I tried the strawberry one and found that I enjoyed that one as well.

The best part about the shakes is the fact that they are truly a “breakfast”. Having one in the morning filled me up and I didn’t find myself digging through my fridge and my pantry to find something to snack on. That’s a lot of calories I’m avoiding each day just by avoiding the chips or candy.

Being able to drink them while checking things off my to-do list or running an errand. That’s just a bonus! I will be buying some next time I go to the grocery store to make sure I’m starting my day off right.

Truffula Tree Cupcakes

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In preschool classrooms everywhere, the March 2nd birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel {aka Dr. Seuss} is widely celebrated. My family has celebrated in different ways over the years {including DIY Seuss themed socks for Silly Sock day} and there are literally hundreds of ideas on Pinterest.

Target has a fun Seuss themed treat on their blog and they asked me to share it with my readers if I thought you all would be interested. I took one look at how adorable these were and had to share!  These Truffula Tree Cupcakes were created by Courtney Whitmore of Pizzazzerie.

Find the recipe on Target’s blog here.