Saturday, March 28, 2015

Family Movie Night - Grab Your Copy of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

I received a complimentary movie copy and goodies to start off our family movie night as a Vocalpoint member. All opinions and experiences are my own. #VPMovieNight


We love a good family movie night, and this month we popped our popcorn for the final installment of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD.

I can't believe the first movie came out when I was pregnant with my oldest. In fact, Night at the Museum was one of the last movies I went to the theater to see with my husband before our first baby was born. It left quite an impression on us. It was funny, magical and had an all-star cast of historical and Hollywood names.

The third movie in the series did not disappoint..


We showed the kids the first movie, so they were familiar with all the characters, well except Lancelot (played by Dan Stevens) and British Museum night guard Tilly (played by Rebel Wilson) who joined in the fun for Secret of the Tomb.

To get ready for the fun, we spent a warm Spring break afternoon showing Flat Dexter around the farm. Do you remember this mischievous monkey from the movies? He is a big favorite with all my kids, especially the toddler.


Flat Dexter popped up in our cherry orchard, then started sneaking around the tall grass around our house.

Yes, my kids had a blast seeing what kind of trouble they could get their Flat Dexter into.


He even made an appearance during our movie night. My daughter was so into the movie, it was a while before she noticed her brother had "Flat Dexter'd" her.


We also downloaded a few fun movie activities like these dress-up printables the kids could color and then wear to become Sacajawea, Jedidiah and Teddy.


But of course the main attraction was the movie. Well, my youngest was really into stealing his brother and sister's popcorn, but the older kids fell in love with Night at the Museum: Secrets of the Tomb. My kids enjoyed the suspense, jokes and learning a little about history through the movie.

I thought it was a great movie for my whole family to watch and enjoy together.


Grab a $8 off coupon for your own copy of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and download your own fun printables on the Vocalpoint site. 

I also have one digital download to give away here to one lucky reader! The winner will be able to download this movie through the usual download channels (Google Play, iTunes, or Playstation.

Enter below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Andrea
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tackling the Meatball Mess: Bounty with Dawn

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Bounty. All opinions and experiences are my own. #BountyatWalmart 



There is nothing more enjoyable then a slow roasted tomato sauce with homemade meatballs. It is a stick-to-your-ribs, grandma loves you kinda meal. 

Well, unless you are the one stuck with cleaning the kitchen afterwards! 

Those gloriously delicious balls of meat, simmer in a sauce that just happens to get everywhere. In my rush to get dinner on the table I often miss the loud sputters of sauce as it goes from a gentle simmer to a more violent bursting out of the pot and onto my stove top or counters. 



Truly a delicious, but messy endeavor.

Usually I have to deal with the mess after we eat because the oils from the meatballs and the tomato sauce leave a film on everything. Messes can't just be wiped up, they need something to cut through the grease like Dawn.



I remember after I left for college, my parents started using paper towels for everything. They liked the fact they could be thrown away and didn't harbor germs like a kitchen sponge. I just rolled my eyes. Paper towels just don't cut it, in my book, for using with soap and water. Sorry.

Well, Bounty and Dawn have joined forces to make my cleaning fantasies a reality. Bounty with Dawn is a 2-in-1 product  that combines Bounty's durable paper towels with Dawn's grease fighting powers. Truly the perfect product to do battle against my meatball and red sauce nemesis! 




I ran my paper towel under the sink to activate, then wrung it out before setting to work to tackle those spills and pick up those greasy splatters.




I love that the Dawn in the paper towel sudsed up and took out my kitchen mess. I tackled the whole kitchen with just one of these paper towels. I just rinsed, wrung it out and kept cleaning between spills.

Oh, and they are also handy for cleaning out those messy splatters in the microwave, too. This has my traditional stinky kitchen sponge on notice. When I'm done with my cleaning, I can just throw the paper towel away.



Wouldn't this be a wonderful thing to take while at a vacation home or while camping? All the strength of my handy kitchen rags, without the laundry afterwards. Oh, the possibilities..

Be sure to check your local Walmart for Bounty with Dawn, and grab the Meatball recipe below.



Meatballs
recipe courtesy of New Bounty with Dawn

You will need:

  • lb ground beef
  • 1/4 c. plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pasta
  • red sauce of your choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Combine beef, breadcrumbs, egg, cheese and seasoning in a large bowl. Portion into 1 3/4" balls and bake until cooked through. (about 15 minutes)

Turn the meatballs during this time so they brown evenly.

Cook pasta according to the package directions.

Warm your sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Add cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. 

Serve over pasta and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Enjoy!



How do you tackle your biggest kitchen messes?



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Brown Eggs? Silhouette and Sharpie Easter Eggs


My kids have been buzzing this week about decorating Easter Eggs. It is Spring Break here and with Easter coming up, it seemed like a great way to keep my kids busy and let them get creative.

The only problem is, I don't have any hens that lay white eggs!

This drives me batty every year. I don't buy eggs from the store. I have a great coop just bursting with producing hens. The eggs we eat come from my 15 girls. It just happens to be that the eclectic mix of chickens out back all lay gorgeous brown eggs.

I have Barred Rock hens, Cochins, Buff Orphingtons, several different crosses (for better egg production), a Silver Laced Wyandotte, etc. It is quite a colorful crew in the yard, but their eggs are all, pretty uniformly, brown.

Remember folks, those coveted brown eggs just come from breeds that lay brown eggs.They are not better or more nutritious. Those white eggs come from a breed that lays just white eggs.

But, have you ever tried the traditional Easter Egg kits with brown eggs?

They don't come out so pretty and colorful.

This year I decided to use the same technique I used to make my favorite "Mom" mug on our beautiful brown eggs. I started by "blowing" the eggs to remove the yolk and albumen, then I washed and dried them. I am blowing out the eggs this year because I can only take so many hard boiled eggs in a week.


This little tool works for poking a hole in the bottom of the egg and then to manually blow out the contents. If you plan to do a lot of them, save the eggs for a quiche or frittata.



For this craft you will need:

  • Eggs
  • Sharpie Markers in bright colors
  • Sticker shapes or cut stencils on the Silhouette

Place the sticker or stencil material onto the clean egg. I start at the middle and work outward, trying to smooth down the edges the best I can.


Select your markers and start dotting. Be sure to get the dots heaviest around the edges and details of your shape. This will help to make the silhouette image or design stand out.


When finished, I removed the clear stencil material and my image showed through. My daughter also worked on her own designs. It was a colorful and simple way to create unique Easter Eggs.

Even on brown eggs!




Andrea
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chile Reno Casserole

This easy Chile Reno Casserole recipe is a great way to enjoy your favorite Mexican Dish deconstructed and without being fried.


Spring is off an running. In our house that means longer hours of farming, dirtier children and a lot of outdoor play. Thank goodness, I think the little ones were tired of being cooped up indoors.

Despite the longer daylight hours in the evening, it seems like my days are shorter. There is so much to do and dinner has to be easy and plentiful. My crew has been working up quite an appetite lately.

A few months ago I tried my hand at chile renos and it was amazing! Fresh is always better, isn't it? Unfortunately, roasting, filling and frying takes a fair bit of time and effort in the kitchen. It was a successful recipe that I filed under "special occasions" because it was more than I can pull off for a typical evening meal. It also created quite a whirlwind of mess in my kitchen!

Chile Renos are my number one thing to order when we go out. I love them! You can ask my husband, I measure a Mexican Restaurant by how good their chile renos are. I prefer them to be fresh, homemade and cheesy.

So the solution was simple... just like the Eggs Benedict Casserole that was perfect for serving up to a hungry crew, Chile Renos could be made into one big casserole. Brilliant, right?  Oh, and this recipe gets bonus points for not needing any frying. I promise you won't miss that part.


It contains all the same great flavors... and cheese... but, with far less fuss. It also means my husband can grab as large of a piece as his heart desires.

Grab a few simple ingredients, along with a whole bunch of beautiful poblano peppers, and let's get started!


This recipe is great for breaking up into separate steps. I roasted all the poblano peppers early in the morning. I rubbed them with a little olive oil and kosher salt and popped it under the broiler till they were all charred.

Then I put them in a big bowl and covered it with kitchen wrap. The steam from the hot peppers helps to loosen the outer skin on the peppers. Once cooled, it is pretty easy to remove with just a paper towel and my hands. Then I sent the sliced and seeded peppers aside till I was ready to assemble the casserole.


Making the sauce is so simple! The tomatoes, garlic, milk and chicken stock all go into a saucepan to simmer through. Then the mixture gets poured into the bottom of a large casserole dish.


Then let the layering begin!

I cut my poblano peppers in half and put a good layer on the bottom to cover the tomato sauce.


Then add a layer of cheese and the remaining peppers on top of that.


Then pour the egg mixture over the whole thing and top with more cheese. I used Monterey Jack and Cotija Cheese in the middle of my casserole and mixed the Monterey Jack with a little sharp cheddar on the top.

This baked for about 45 minutes or until the eggs were done and set.

Enjoy!


Chile Reno Casserole

You Will Need:

  • 8 - 10 Poblano Peppers
  • Olive oil, enough to rub peppers for roasted
  • a pinch or two of Kosher salt
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. milk, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (I used a combination of Monterey Jack, Sharp Cheddar and Cotija Cheese)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cumin
Rub poblano peppers with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with Kosher salt. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they will blister and char quickly. Turn and repeat on the other side. Place charred peppers in a large bowl and cover with kitchen wrap to let them steam. When cool enough to handle, rub off the outer layer with a paper towel, or peel with your hands. Slice in half to remove the seeds and stems. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9"x13" casserole dish with non-stick spray.

In a saucepan, combine the tomatoes, chicken stock, 1/2 cup of milk, garlic and salt and pepper. Bring up to a simmer and soften the tomatoes for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool slightly.

Pour the tomato mixture into the bottom of your dish. Top with half the roasted poblano peppers, then  1/3 of the cheese. Repeat the layers of peppers and cheese.

In a separate dish, whisk up the eggs, remaining 1/2 c. milk, flour, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the casserole and top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through. Serve warm and enjoy! 




What do you serve on busy weeknights? Do you have a favorite casserole to make?
Andrea
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Hope to See You at SoFabUOTR Seattle!

I am writing this post as a member of the Social Fabric community. I received a grant and ticket to SoFabUOTR in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions & experiences are my own. 


I really enjoy working with Social Fabric. I haven't been a part of other networks or communities that encourage, educate and promote their bloggers like this they do. I really do owe a lot to this supportive community.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you have probably noticed that I have better photos in my posts, I've worked with some amazing brands and have had a chance to share our lives with you. All of this has been encouraged by Social Fabric and the bloggers I have met there.

But until now, I haven't had a chance to attend a blogging conference. Babies, busy schedules and life have prevented me from taking that next step.

So I am over the moon to say, SoFabU isn't just putting on one conference this year, but instead SoFabU is hitting the road and traveling across the country to connect bloggers to brands, bloggers to new ideas, and bloggers to ...well, other amazing bloggers.

I will be heading up north to meet all my blogging buddies in Seattle next month! 


SoFabU On the Road Seattle  
April 18th at the Crown Plaza 

Check out all the details for Seattle, or see which other cities SoFabU will be stopping in - http://ontheroad.socialfabric.us/



I will be tweeting out photos and posting on Instagram during the day, but will be back here to share highlights when I return.

Follow the fun with hashtag #SoFabUOTR


Andrea
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Creating a Letter Marquee


One trend I am enjoying right now are the Marquee letters and signs. Have you made one yet? You might have seen ideas for making your own marquee on Pinterest. But, I found the easiest way to whip one up in just a few minutes.

While shopping with my daughter at Michael's, I spotted these Marquee letter kits and embelishment line from Heidi Swapp. Isn't this cute?


 They have everything from the paper letters to colored lights, glitter, washi tape and glue. I grabbed a "K" for our last name and a few supplies to get started on my own letter.


The basic letter comes with a paper letter, bulbs, light strand and a letter template.

I wrapped the silver striped tape around the outside edge of my letter. I used the edge of my scissors to smooth down the tape, and love that I could pull it up and re-position when necessary.


Then I moved onto coloring the inside of my letter with a little paint and silver, chunky glitter.


And then it was time to add the light bulb covers and lights. The bulb covers, which came in a variety of colors, fit in the front...


The battery pack, which takes 2 AAA batteries and string of lights, fits right in the back. It tucks away so the letter can be displayed anywhere!


After all the tutorials I have looked at, this is definitely the easiest way to get your customized Marquee letter fix.

So, what do you think? Have you tried making Marquee letters yet?






Andrea
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Mini Samoa Bundt Cakes - #BundtBakers


Just this past week I bought a box of Girl Scout cookies in front of the grocery store. All dressed up and smiling, this little girl asked me if I would like to buy a box of cookies. My son is in Cub Scouts and I can tell you their candy bars are a lot harder to sell than the famous Girl Scout Cookies.

That right there is hard. Do I need the cookies? No. I don't need them.

Do I want the cookies? ... well, maybe.

The sale is made though with that sweet smile and eager face. How can you say no to a Girl Scout?

Yes, I went home with a box of cookies, Thin Mints for my husband. But my favorite Girl Scout Cookie of all time are the Samoas.

BundtBakers

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

This month's host was Kelly from Passion Kneaded  http://passionkneaded.blogspot.com/A big thank you to her for coordinating all of us.  She challenged us to use mint in any shape, way or form to create something magical this month. I went with these Mini Samoa Bundt Cakes this month and I wasn't disappointed.


For this challenge I wanted to make mini bundts. I mean, samoas are so sweet and decadent, who would want to share? I love mini bundts because mini desserts just seem like more fun.


For the cake I chose a simple vanilla bean cake. I wanted it to be moist, but simple. It needed to compliment the stronger flavors of Dulce de Leche and toasted caramel on top.


The Dulce de leche I found at Trader Joes, but I have been seeing it pop up in more of my grocery stores lately. Good stuff. My husband would say it only needs a spoon, but I think it is perfect for recreating samoas instead of using regular baking caramels.

But try it for yourself, and tell me what you think. The recipe is listed below.



Mini Samoa Bundt Cakes

You Will Need:

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. + 2Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans, scraped)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
  • Dulce de leche sauce
  • 2 c. toasted caramel
  • candy quick, melted for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease the mini bundt pan.

Start by sifting the dry ingredients together into a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the vanilla bean paste, and eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each egg. Mix in the lemon extract. Then alternating between dry and wet, add the buttermilk and dry mixture to the bowl. Mix till just combined.

Spoon the batter into the mini bundt pan and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Allow the cakes to cool, then decorate them. In a small saucepan fill halfway with water, place the opened jar of Dulce de leche in the pan and bring up to a simmer. Turn off the heat. Spoon the Dulce de leche onto the top of each mini bundt. Cover with toasted coconut, then drizzle with melted candy quick.

Enjoy!



Looking for more bundt-spiration? Check out all the other #BundtBakers participating in this month's Girl Scout Cookie Challenge:
Andrea
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