Over the past year our kitchen has undergone a major renovation thanks in part to our partnership with KitchenAid. We have posted about our journey (and yes if you’ve ever been through a renovation know that it is indeed a journey) every step of the way. Now that the kitchen is finally complete (cue balloons, confetti and music) we’re so excited to share our opinions on ALL of our KitchenAid Major Appliances in the KitchenAid “Kitchen Envy” series on Viewpoints. If you’re planning on purchasing major appliances and want to save a chunk of change, this is a series you don’t want to miss.
It’s back to school time! Are you jumping up and down too? I can’t deny I did do a little happy dance on the first day of school. Summer is long and hard people. Sniff Sniff. I’m pretty much worn out come end of August. It was definitely time to get back into a routine. I will admit now that they’re off I do miss them. It’s true. Along with their weighted down back packs (who needs that many books, have you tried carrying these things?) I send them off to school with a nice healthy lunch. We’re most definitely brown baggers, all three of our little ones. Very rarely do they purchase a school lunch. I like to know what I’m sending and what they’re eating (hopefully they’re not trading too much food ugh).
Let’s face it, we all want to have white teeth. I know I do. My love of all things coffee and wine though were coming between me and that dazzling smile despite trying every tooth paste with whitener on the market. I even tried those whitening strips. Have you tried those? I couldn’t get them to stay in place to save my life. Maybe it was user error but they didn’t work for me. Because of my love for said coffee and wine admittedly my teeth were looking a little dull and dingy so I welcomed the opportunity to try out Smile Brilliant compliments of the company.
Arm & Hammer is a brand that we all know. Their baking Soda has been helping families for over 165 years, including mine (well not for that long, I’m not that old people, but yes for a long long time). Growing up, I watched my Grandma and Mom use it in hundreds of different ways (yep it’s not just for baking cookies or to get those yucky smells out of your refrigerator). No other product does more throughout your home and yes I’m going to show you. As a member of The ARM & HAMMER™ Influencer Network I will be sharing my thoughts and experiences about that powerful orange box as well as various other ARM & HAMMER™ products with y’all over the next few months. They’re all versatile and budget friendly. As a family of 5 (plus an additional fur baby) I can definitely appreciate that.
It’s no secret that summer is coming to an end. Sigh. We all knew it had to happen. I’m slowly getting back into my jeans and t-shirts routine but I’m refusing to give up my flip flops (with rhinestones of course) for as long as I can. Yes I am sad about summer coming and going like a speeding train. It stinks but I am taking this time to enjoy as many fresh fruits and veggies of the summer of 2013 (doesn’t quite have the ring to it as summer of 69 does it?) before they’re gone. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time then you know that Spaghetti alla Carbonara is my all time favorite pasta. Like ever. This end of summer version is a variation of that dish that I think you’re going to like as much as I do.
I’m gearing up for back to school. It’s in 11 days (not that I’m counting or anything. Totally counting who am I kidding). During the school year I bake A LOT of cookies. Not everyday because honestly I’m not June Cleaver, I don’t even look good in an apron and Bobby pins hurt my head. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. I TRY to have homemade cookies for the kids at least once a week. Nothing like seeing their faces light up when they walk in from school, drop their bags, shoes and everything else on the floor, sigh, and see a tiered tray of cookies waiting on them. Serious Mom bonus points I tell you, and I can use all that I can get.
Am I the only one who feels like this summer has flown by? I blinked and it’s August. Since school let out back in June we have tried to squeeze in as much family fun as possible. We have visited the mountains of Virgina and the beaches of North Carolina and then last week we all boarded the Carnival Fantasy compliments of Carnival and took off for for 5 days to the beautiful blue Bahamas for our last big hoorah before school starts back in 11 days (not that I’m counting or anything ehem). This warm chocolate Nutella melting cake is what’s helping me get over my end of summer blues and I think it will help you too.
Have I ever told you I’m quasi obsessed with black beans. I am. Not only are they nutritious they’re magically delicious. Okay okay they’re not magical and now do you have a leprechaun in your head? I do. Focusing. Tacos, we’re talking tacos today. If you’re looking for a meatless Monday (or any other night of the week meal) option I think you’ll like this one as much as we do. In fact it’s a vegetarian version than even your hard core carnivore friends will love.
It’s time to get stacking. Zucchini stacking that is. Don’t you do it? It’s what all the cool culinary kids are doing. Well maybe not but these zuc stacks are delicious and because they’re oven baked are pretty healthy to boot. 3 ingredients and about 20 minutes are all you need. You can spare 20 minutes for a little deliciousness right? If you have a garden then you probably have zucchini growing out of your ears right now. Which is a good problem to have. I’m always looking for new ways to treat them and these oven baked beauties are an awesome option. No garden, that’s not a problem, hit up your local vegetable stand or farmer’s market and you’ll be a okay.
Just when you thought we’ve grilled everything possible this summer we throw a salad on the grill. It’s a crazy like a fox move. If you haven’t tried it you should. A smoking hot grill or even a grill pan will get the job done. 2 minutes on the grill and another 3 minutes to pull the dressing together and you’re on your way to enjoying what will possibly become your new favorite summer salad.
I kind of love Chef Symon. There I said it. Okay it’s more like I dig his cooking and the fact that he is obsessed with pork. He has pig tattoos, I’d say that goes beyond liking something and I’m totally okay with that. Honestly he’s a big reason I watch The Chew on ABC. But then there’s Mario and his awesome orange crocs, Daphne, Clinton, and Carla. Okay all the hosts are a hoot. Do you watch it too? It’s not a typical talk show, this one is tasty! It serves up everything FOOD and tips that help you make life fuller, more flavorful and fun.
Are you saying what in the world is an endive right now? Well you’re in luck, since I’ve become an endive ambassador I’ve learned a thing or two about this versatile veg this year and I’m happy to pass along that knowledge to you. Endive is a member of the chicory family (think radicchio, escarole, frisee and curly endive). It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a bit of mild bitterness. That smidge of bitter flavor and crunchy texture makes it an ideal candid for salads! Today we’re tossing it with cucumbers, tomatoes and my good as gold pine nuts and topping it with a dressing that will have you licking your fingers. Don’t act like you don’t lick your fingers.
Are you thirsty? I mean who wouldn’t want to buy a glass or two of ice cold lemonade from those cuties? They worked really hard putting together their stand, and by working hard I mean they watched their Daddy dismantle palettes and scour through scrap wood, grab manly power tools and then after a little blood sweat and tears (okay maybe just sweat but that doesn’t sound as good) the boys had their very own lemonade stand. It’s over 6′ tall and on rolling casters. If you’re a parent of boys then you know I’m afraid that they’re going to try to ride that baby down a hill but until they figure that out (they’re boys how long can it be) they’re open for business in our driveway.
I’ve partnered with my friends at Hidden Valley Ranch to create a few recipes. I don’t think my kids have ever been so excited about a partnership. I kid not, to them, Ranch is a food group. For my first two recipes I created SOUTH WESTERN RANCH CHICKEN SALAD and CRISPY HONEY RANCH WINGS . Which you promptly made and loved right? This month we’ve taken the taco road. Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch Sauce. Another recipe you’re going to need a few extra napkins for. Messy meals seems to be a theme with me lately.
Disclaimer: I am working in partnership with the Tyson Foods and I am receiving compensation for my participation in this campaign.
Chicken to me is like a chameleon. It takes to flavors like a horse to water (did you Grandparents say this? Mine did. All the time). Making it perfect for any cuisine out there. It’s also something that my entire family can agree on. No hard selling the one bite rule when chicken is on the menu. Clearly I didn’t invent chicken lettuce wraps but I did come up with a quick an easy 15 minute version that you’re going to love.
These milk chocolate cookie sandwiches are for those days when you need something sweet and fast. Something to delight your tastebuds stat. It’s the type of treat that I keep in my back pocket (not literally because well that would be messy) when we want to celebrate something like a small achievement: a day without a talkative note at school, for picking up your clothes without being asked, OR because you just need chocolate and NOW. These sandwiches are for those moments. Finding delight in the small things. It’s a good thing.
I love eating outside. Let me clarify, I like eating outside in the spring time when the weather is nice and the bugs haven’t started swarming. There’s something so relaxing about dining al fresco (so much fancier than just saying outdoors). Last weekend after years of complaining suggesting what an awesome idea it would be, we finally bought a small outdoor dining table for our deck. Since then we’ve eaten outside almost every night (read I was right) since and I couldn’t be happier.
Just go ahead and get an extra package of napkins because you are going to need them. There is no lady-like, polite way to eat ribs. If you try you’re going to just end up with a rib in your lap and a nice big stain on your pants. And napkins are way cheaper than a new pair of pants. Truth. I love ribs. Ribs are serious business here in the South. Once you’ve decided on the actual rib itself (pork please) there’s the choice of whether you rub them down, get saucy or both. The sauce is in another category all to itself. There is tomato based, mustard based and vinegar based – which much to my North Carolinian friends dismay I strongly dislike as in I’ll take a pass dislike. What can I say I am a mustard based girl.
I have a love – hate relationship with the grill. Meaning I love for my husband to grill because I’m not so great at it, in comes hate. When he’s not around (meaning at work and I have something that MUST be grilled) I break out my trusty grill pan. I have control over my gas burners and we all know how much I like to be in control. Type A much? It works like a charm and made quick work of these, get ready for it, Pina Colada grilled pineapple skewers.
There’s something about being able to pick up your food and eat it with your hands that’s appealing or maybe I just like pretending I’m a cave-girl. Regardless I’m all for it. Give me a plate of ribs and/or wings and I will go to town. The saucier the better. That’s what napkins are for. Or better yet, wet wipes, lemon scented please.