Mother’s Day Gift – Shari’s Gourmet Berries

sharis berries feature

If you’re like me and holding out until the last minute to shop for your mother, you’ll want to pay close attention as I share Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate for Mother’s Day. I know firsthand these wonderful edible gifts will be a hit with mom as I got to sample a dozen Swizzled Berries with Dipped Cookies.

These incredibly delicious berries are hand dipped and delivered to the recipient chilled and packaged very well. Every berry and cookie arrived on my doorstep in perfect condition … until I bit into one of course. The swizzled berries I tried came in an assortment of dark, milk and white chocolate with alternating drizzles. The berries themselves are larger than I’ve ever found in a grocery store and packed with juicy sweetness.

sharis berries dipped strawberries

Shari’s Berries are one delicious treat any chocolate loving mom would love for Mother’s Day and there’s still time to order for Mother’s Day delivery!

Buy It

Enter coupon code BERRYGOOD at checkout to save 15% off your order when you order a Mother’s Day gift at www.berries.com.

Disclosure – I was provided with a sample in order to provide this review. Opinions expressed are my own.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Crescent Braid Recipe

broccoli chedder chicken croissant braid

Far too often we have week nights when my husband comes home late from work and we’re left scrambling to come up with dinner at the last minute. The end result of that scramble means fast food more often than I’d like to admit. It doesn’t help that I’m not much of a planner when it comes to meals because I never know what flavors I’ll be in the mood for.

To help avoid our fast food splurges, I’ve been working on a few recipes we can use when time is lacking. This Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Braid is one of those that can be made in less than an hour, doesn’t cost very much to prepare and packs a lot of flavor into one dish (and fits quite nicely on my favorite jelly roll pan).

broccoli chedder chicken croissant braid

recipe card rolling pin

Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Braid
 
Prep
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Type: Main Dish
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 cans Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls
  • 2 cups chicken chunks, cooked
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups broccoli, frozen, steamed and chopped
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 egg yolk
  • fresh rosemary
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, spread both cans of crescents length wise to form a long rectangle.
  3. Press each of the seams to form a single layer of dough.
  4. In a large bowl, combine chicken, cheese, broccoli and mayonnaise
  5. Spread mixture over the center of the croissant dough evenly to create a log.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut horizontal strips 1 inch apart down each side of the crescent dough.
  7. Fold the dough strips over the top of the chicken mixture, alternating left and right to create a braid.
  8. Brush the top of the braid with a beaten egg yolk and sprinkle fresh rosemary on top.
  9. Bake for 28 - 30 minutes until golden brown.

Marriage is about Small Doses

War of Roses

I realize that every relationship is different and couples have a different tolerance level for each other, but really, how many days can you truly spend in the same house with your husband/wife before you start feeling like your life is about to play out like this…

I love my husband very much, I do, but the truth is I can only handle him in small doses before I reach my marriage max and he’s been home for exactly 6 days now. That’s not a small dose, not even close.

For the first few days following the surgery, he was walking around much like a zombie. On pain medication and still drowsy from the anesthesia, it wasn’t so bad. But then he started coming back to being himself again, the singing, the lame jokes, munching on my snacks, all of the annoying little quirks of his personality that I would surely miss if he were gone but can’t stand when he’s here.

To say I’m ecstatic that he’s heading back to work tomorrow would be an understatement. I love the man, but only in small doses. For the sake of our marriage, it’s best if we spend no more than 4 days alone with each other. It’s also important that we make time to be alone and enjoy our own separate interests before we end up needing a marriage fitness session which isn’t neccessarily a bad thing because marriage max teaches how to save a marriage before the problems get too bad.

WW – Photos from Easter Sunday

emma easter 1

This year we had a wonderful Easter full of chocolate bunnies, candy filled plastic eggs and plenty of “mom, enough with the pictures already.” While we didn’t do the typical family get together, we enjoyed a day of leisure and sugar highs.

{the best smile Emma could come up with considering her mouth was stuffed with chocolate}

{Surprise! More Candy … as if they didn’t have enough}

{Trading candy for cash and saving me a dental bill}

Mom Talk – Is My Child Ready for YouTube?

index

I had an interesting question come from my son. The brief conversation went like this …

Mattison: Mom, do you know how to make videos on YouTube?

Mom: Sure, I put videos on there all the time. Why?

Mattison: Well, you see, there’s kids that make videos about Go-Go’s all the time and I want to make some about mine too.

Mom: hmmmmm

Mattison: Please, I already made one and I was kinda quiet but I really want to put it on YouTube.

Mom: Let me think about it and get back to you.

My problem is this, I’m an over protective parent when it comes to my kids using the internet. My son will be 10 in a few months and he has no email address, no Facebook account, no Twitter, not even Internet browsing privileges without me hovering over him. There are a lot of things on the Internet I’m not ready for him to be exposed to (ie Facebook bullying and Porn).

While YouTube sounds innocent enough, especially for a kid talking about plastic figures the size of my knuckle, my instinct still says no. YouTube commenters can be mean, even downright brutal sometimes and I don’t want him to feel bad about himself because the basement dwellers have nothing better to do than pick on people. But then, I think, I can’t hover over him forever and at some point he is going to need some internet exposure beyond what the school system offers.

I just don’t know. What would you do in the same situation?

Cooking with Vapor Technology 360 Cookware Review

360 cookware steamed potatoes broccoli

A few weeks ago I was asked to try a new kind of cookware. Not just any kind of cookware, but something truly different. At first, I was pretty skeptical. 360 Cookware claims that you can cook foods healthier without using oils or butter or even cooking spray.

Before using the 360 Cookware by Americraft, I would have told you it sounded like a very expensive gimmick. After using 360 Cookware, I’m completely blow away by how amazing and delicious the food prepared in it tastes. Really, truly, impressed! More than that, my husband and kids even loved the food.

If you have about 4 minutes, I highly suggest you take the time to watch Celebrity Chef Akasha Richmond explain some of the benefits of using 360 Cookware and even prepare a few dishes. She can detail the cooking process far better than I ever could.

 

More 360 Cookware Videos

How 360 Cookware is Made | Baking with 360 Cookware | Cooking Vegetables

What You Need to Know about 360 Cookware

  • It’s Green Cookware! – No chemicals are used in the manufacturing process
  • It’s Made in the USA – American made supports our economy
  • Vapor Technology – No hot spots. No need for oils or butter.
  • Cooking on a low heat saves you money.

Now that you know what 360 Cookware is, I want to show you what it does. Keep in mind, I’m probably one of the least experienced food bloggers around. While I have a few basic cooking skills thanks to tips from my mother during the past 10 years, I have a lot to learn in the kitchen. All of the credit for this amazing meals goes to 360 Cookware and Vapor Cooking Technology.

Everything I made for dinner was done in one pot, the Stainless Steel 3.5 Quart Saute Pan with Cover. The side dish for our meal started with white potatoes cut in half length-wise along with fresh broccoli florets and sliced red pepper.

360 cookware vegetables before cooking

After just 20 minutes in the saute pan ….

360 cookware baked potato broccoli

The end result was a plate of tender broccoli, not mushy like we typically have it after being boiled and “baked” potatoes.

360 cookware steamed potatoes broccoli

The real test of this cookware was cooking the chicken thighs. Typically, chicken I cook tends to be on the dry side however, bone-in chicken thighs in the 360 Cookware Saute Pan were anything but dry. Before being cooked the chicken thighs were rubbed in a mixture of olive oil with paprika, crushed rosemary, minced garlic and black pepper.

After 20 minutes in the saute pan, these chicken thighs were not only dripping with juices but the meat was so tender it nearly fell off the bone. Even my husband was shocked and made the remark, “wow, did YOU really cook this chicken?”

360 cookware rosemary marinated chicken thigh

360 cookware meal

Before moving onto dessert, I want to point out one feature of this cookware that makes it very user friendly. With most cookware, you have to watch the sizzle of oil or butter to see if the pan is hot enough to use. Not with 360 cookware! Since you’re not even using any fats to cook your food in, the process of checking your pan for readiness is simply water. When you toss a little splash of water into the cookware, you’ll know it’s ready for cooking when the water beads up and dances across the surface. If it doesn’t dance, it’s not hot enough. If it quickly sizzles away, it’s too hot.

360 cookware water beading

Now you may be thinking that was the end of my use of the cookware for the night but it wasn’t. I actually made dessert with the same saute pan I steamed the vegetables and cooked the chicken in. I “baked” a cake!

The biggest difference between 360 cookware and other stainless steel cookware is that instead of cooking foods from the bottom up, it actually cooks from every direction … thus the 360 Cookware name.

In less than 45 minutes, I made a pineapple upside down cake right on my stove top. Amazingly enough, it actually baked just like a cake except it was far more moist than any cake I’ve ever baked in the oven.

360 cookware pineapple upside down cake in skillet

360 cookware pineapple upside down cake

Now that you’ve seen what you can do with this cookware, I want to talk about the price. I did get a bit of sticker shock seeing the price tag attached to each piece in the cookware line. A single saucepan starts at $89.85 and the price increases up to $269.95 for an individual piece with a lid. I’ve never paid that much for a single piece of cookware in my life, but for 360 Cookware I would! In fact, I already have plans to purchase the 8 quart stock pot for large batches of pasta sauce and even cooking whole chickens.

Connect with 360 Cookware

 

360 Cookware

Disclosure – I was provided with one piece of cookware for this review free of cost to me and this article contains affiliate links, opinions expressed are my own.

Dipped and Decorated Rice Krispies Treat Eggs for Easter

candy dipped decorated rice krispies treat eggs

Three simple ingredients combined together make one of my absolute favorite treats of all time.

Butter.
Marshmallows.
Rice Krispies cereal.

We’re talking about Rice Krispies Treats my friends. They’re easy enough for a child to make (with supervision of course) and can be molded into just about any shape imaginable. For Easter, we thought it would be fun to mold our treats into egg shapes.

It all starts with a very simple recipe … 4 TBS butter and 4 cups of mini marshmallows melted over a low heat along with 7 cups of Rice Krispies cereal mixed in.

rice krispies stuffed in plastic egg

 

You simply use any size of plastic Easter eggs, coated in non-stick cooking spray and stuff them with warm Rice Krispies Treats mix and let them sit for about 10 minutes.

rice krispie shaped easter eggs

 

If you’d like to make them extra special, fill the center with a candy before molding the eggs. We used gum eggs for the centers of ours.

 

While I’m sure there are a million and one ways to decorate these, one flavor combination I love is cereal treats and Wilton candy melts. You can dip and decorate the eggs with bright Easter colors and all sorts of candy decorations.

gum ball stuffed rice krispie treat eggs

candy dipped decorated rice krispies treat eggs

 

Tip — To achieve the marbled candy colors seen below, just use a piping bag filled with three different Wilton Candy Melts colors. For these marbled eggs I striped each side of my piping bag with pink, blue and purple.

Another fun way to serve up these Rice Krispies Treat Eggs is to use props. You can put them on sticks with a clear candy bag tied off with ribbon or use these fun Easter Basket Cupcake Wrappers from Wilton.

wilton cupcake basket rice krispies egg

 

No matter what treats you bake this Easter, I hope you have fun doing it. Happy Easter friends!

recipe card rolling pin

Rice Krispies Easter Egg Treats Recipe
 
Prep
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 7 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.
  2. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies cereal.
  4. Spray plastic eggs with cooking spray and coat hands with Crisco
  5. Press cereal treats into plastic eggs and close for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove cereal treat eggs and decorate.


Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean Multi-Protection Rinse Results

crest pro health

About one month ago I began an oral hygiene challenge with Crest Pro-Health Mouth Rinse. Knowing my history of cavities, this was a challenge I took very seriously. I needed a product that would meet my oral care needs and be easy to incorporate into my life. Did Crest Pro-Health Mouth Rinse meet those needs? Absolutely.

My daily life is often busy, unscheduled and full of sugar coated snacks to give me a quick pick-me-up. While I make every effort to brush my teeth three times a day, sometimes that 3 minute after lunch brush gets skipped. What I did find time for was a 30 second rinse with Crest Pro-Health. Even though I felt bad missing a brushing here and there, I felt better knowing that the mouth rinse was killing germs and freshening my breath during those on-the-go moments.

What Can Crest Pro-Health Do For You?

  • Kills germs
  • Reduces plaque
  • Helps prevent gingivitis
  • Keeps teeth cleaner longer (vs. brushing alone)
  • Freshens breath
  • Invigorating sensation

Want to learn more about Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean Multi-Protection Rinse? Check out the Crest Pro-Health product details online.


Disclosure – I wrote this review while participating in a test drive campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Crest and received a sample to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central Consulting sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Ahnu Prevention Mission to Support Breast Cancer Fund

ahnu windsor footwear

As most of us already know, Breast Cancer Awareness Month starts and ends with October but the disease of breast cancer never quits. However, The Breast Cancer Fund works year round to help expose and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer and Ahnu Footwear is stepping into help with the Prevention Mission.

Committing to prevention, Ahnu will donate $5 from the sale of every women’s Numentum™ performance shoes to the Breast Cancer Fund in an effort to raise $100,000 this Spring.

How Can You Help?

The answer is simple — purchase any pair of shoes from the women’s Numentum™ performance line. Not only are you supporting a wonderful organization but you’re getting a great pair of shoes.

ahnu footwear

I got the opportunity to try the Women’s Windsor shoes in mood indigo color. This particular style was designed for the female runner hitting the trails or pavement. After a few short walks in our parks wooded and un-level terrain, I found the support and positioning benefits to far outweigh the lack of cushioning. The breathable mesh allowed air to circulate throughout the shoes providing a level of comfort that made me want to wear them all day long.

ahnu windsor footwear


Disclosure – I was provided with a product sample. Opinions expressed are my own.

 

2012 Wilton Yearbook Cover Revealed for Wilton Moms & Fans

wilton 2012 yearbook

Today is one of the biggest days of the year for cake decorators, Wilton moms and fans … the reveal of the upcoming Wilton Yearbook Cover. Building excitement for the June 2011 sale date, the 2012 Wilton Yearbook cover was released today in a fun video sharing not only the Sweet Celebrations Candy Store Cake cover but also offering a sneak peek page of what can be found inside. This special yearbook even includes a special section on Wilton’s newest product line, Punch. Cut. Decorate! — a scrapbook style approach to cake decorating.

2012 Wilton Yearbook Reveal

Sneak Peak Pages

2012 Wilton Yearbook Cover

Watch for more info on the 2012 Wilton Yearbook sales in the coming weeks … until then, spill it, how many Wilton Yearbooks do you own?

Easter Basket Goodies the Kids will Love

unique easter candies

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this but Easter is just a few days away and I have yet to really plan Easter baskets for the kids. Typically, by now I’ve found the perfect baskets, searched stores for unique candies, stuffed eggs for the hunt and have everything put together beautifully. Excuses aside, there’s no reason I can’t get the baskets together for a wonderful day of fun and celebrating.

Unique Candy Gifts

Make it Yourself – With Wilton Candy Kits you can quickly and easily make unique candy gifts the kids will surely remember. My personal favorite is the Easter Marshmallow Candy Kit that allows you to make fun treats on a stick using marshmallows and delicious pastel candy melts.

Shop Local – Growing up, I always remember having my basket filled with Easter candies from Pease’s Candy Shop, a local place that makes the best seasonal and year round candies. You can find giant personalized chocolate eggs, pastel bunny heads (my favorite) and unique boxed treats.

Prank the Preteen- If you’ve got a tween or teen that might be a little old for Easter baskets, still surprise him or her with something fun. Recently, we tried a box of Jelly Belly Bean Boozled candies which pair identical nice and nasty flavors in one box. Watch out for the Rotten Egg one, it’s horrendous .. but fun.

unique easter candies

Easter Afternoon Activities

There’s nothing more fun for kids than dying Easter eggs. For years we’ve always turned to the fun Paas Egg Dying Kits that come packaged with dye pellets and all sorts of fun decorations. This year we tried the new Paas Pirate Princess Kit that includes 90 stickers for easy application of decorations for young children.

paas easter egg girly pirate

Fun Baskets and Fillers

Homemade Easter Baskets – Desiree at MommyReporter.com shares a instructional video on how to make your own homeade Easter Baskets with nothing more than a balloon, colored string and sugar-water. It’s quite a unique project that even allows the kids to get crafty and personalize their own baskets with beads or glitter.

Soft & Cuddly Filler – One of my favorite stocking stuffers during the 2010 holiday season was the new Sing-a-ma-jigs and now they’re back for Easter with a fun new twist. In addition to the harmonic sounds, a special Easter Sing-a-ma-jig sings “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”. If you like to surprise the kids with non-candy options, the Easter Sing-a-ma-jig would be a fun addition to stuff inside a giant plastic Easter egg or nestle in the Easter basket.


Disclosure – I was provided with a Sing-a-ma-jig product sample and PAAS coloring kit sample free of charge. Opinions expressed are my own.

WW – Photoshoot with Mommy at the Park

cat and kids

Before mother nature unleashed a series of storms and cool weather on us, we actually got to enjoy some of the best things about Spring. The flowers, the sun, the warmth … it was perfect! I finally got a chance to take some new pictures of the kids and let the girls run wild at the park while I snapped a couple dozen hundred pictures of them.

I can’t wait for more days like this!

Home Farming Challenge | Building a Raised Vegetable Farm Bed

L shaped raised bed garden frame

Now that we are well into April, I’m really excited to share with you my home farming updates, which include the construction of our raised bed farm and seed planting. Before diving right into the construction process, I think it’s important you know that as a family, we are novices in the world of home farming. My one previous attempt at a vegetable farm was a sad, very sad attempt that resulted in very little crop to harvest and an abundance of pests. My hope is that if you are a first time home farmer, you’ll be able to learn from my experiences as I dive into this project with no more knowledge or experience than what HomeFarming.com has provided me with.

With my “big brown thumb” disclaimer out of the way, I want to share our raised bed farm. Building this with the help of my father was an amazing experience that left me feeling like I can do anything.

The tools and materials we used to build our raised bed frame to create approximately 80 cubic feet of farming space, included:

  • (3) – 2 x 12 x 8 untreated pine boards
  • (2) – 2 x 12 x 12 untreated pine boards
  • 1 box of 3 inch outdoor wood screws, 18 screws used
  • (6) corner wood braces
  • 1 box of 1-1/2 inch outdoor wood screws, 18 screws used
  • power drill with drill bit

 

raised bed garden supplies and tools

Being the adventurous, overachieving kind of person that I am, I chose to go outside the box so to speak and create an L-shaped raised bed farm to fit in the corner of our property. Not only does it conserve space usage but it becomes an appealing part of our landscaping.

Together, we simply pre-drilled 3 holes at the corners of each piece of lumber and used 3 screws (per corner) to join the frame, with the help of my daughters passing out screws of course.

Raised Bed Garden Toddler Helpers

 

During the construction process we questioned the ability of the frame to withstand the pressure the soil would place on it so we added braces to each corner to help provide support. It’s an inexpensive addition to the raised bed frame that just may save you a disaster later on!

Raised Bed Garden Corner Brace

 

One thing we quickly learned through this process is that building a raised bed farm is without a doubt, a two person job! While shopping for our lumber we noticed that it is rare to find a board that is perfectly straight. While we were finishing the last few corners, it was necessary to have one person bend and hold a board in place while the other person drilled and placed the screws. It was a relatively easy process that I think any person capable of lifting heavy boards could do!

L shaped raised bed garden frame

 

For our family, one of the best things about creating a home farm, aside from the vegetables, is the fact that it’s an educational family activity. Throughout the process my 9 year old son has learned basic tool skills, a few math and geometry lessons while building the frame and the concept of manual labor. As a parent, I understand the importance of education and more so, the importance of hands on learning, outside of the classroom.

Family Gardening Project

 

The biggest tip I can share as part of this initial process is to search your local paper for supplies! A raised bed farm doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, we’re completing this project under $300. Our biggest money saving purchase, especially with a raised bed farm of this size, is to skip buying the bagged soil. Many contractors and farmers have premium garden soil for sale that can be purchased by the truckload at a much more reasonable price.

We reached out to D & L Contractors in the Springfield, IL area who provided us with 80 cubic feet of soil, which they delivered, for only $125. Compared to buying bagged soil, we saved over $300 and filled our raised bed with premium, black top soil. Also, with the advice from Home Farming expert, Paul James, we are adding organic matter to prepare our raised bed soil properly.

L Shaped Raised Bed Garden

 

We also tested our soil to determine the PH and nutrient levels, which revealed that the Nitrogen is Medium, the Potash is Low, the PH level is Neutral and the Phosphorus is Very Low. To provide lots of nutrients for the vegetable plants, we’ll be incorporating mushroom compost. Plus we’ll add peat moss into our soil, which helps loosen up the soil.

home farm soil test kit colors

 

I have to say, the best part of this experience for me so far has been planting the seeds. I may have gone a little overboard with my selections but I really wanted a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables available to me throughout the summer. About half of our home farm was started by seeds in Peat Soil Pellets and the rest will be planted as small plants in the coming weeks.

The variety of vegetables and herbs we are growing includes:

  • Herbs – Mint, Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Oregano, Lavender, Spearmint
  • Seed Veggies – Chili Peppers, a variety of Carrots, Romaine Lettuce
  • Plant Veggies – a variety of Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Garlic, Onions

 

seeds planted in jiffy pellets

In addition to the construction of our raised bed farm and seed planting, we also got a bit crafty with the addition of vegetable markers to not only help identify the vegetables and herbs we’re growing but to create a more visually appealing farm space.

vegetable garden markers

 

Now that all of the construction is behind us, I’m more excited than ever to see how our farm will grow in the coming weeks. If you’d like to follow my journey and daily updates, be sure to follow @3kidsandus and the #HomeFarmingDay hashtag on Twitter.

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys

DisclosureThis is a compensated, sponsored post for Triscuit. All ideas, thoughts, experiences are my own. Be sure to check out my posts as well as the other bloggers participating in this challenge on Better Homes and Garden’s Home Farming Challenge page.

New at Target | Calypso St. Barth Limited Edition Collection

target blue calypso dress

Kicking off Spring in style, Target is bringing a limited edition collection of products to stores in rich shades of blue and coral. The Calypso St. Barth collection features apparel for women, kids, toddlers with plenty of accessories and home goods to complete the look.

target calypso st barth

 

One of the best things about Spring and Summer is that our daughters get to enjoy the carefree and breezy style of dresses. We sampled the Toddler Medallion Dress in Turquoise, priced at just $14.99, this dress is perfect for play dates at the park, an afternoon toddling at the zoo or a cover up after swimming at the water park.

target blue calypso dress

 

This unique collection is only available for a limited time in Target store and Target.com from May 1st through June 11th.


Note – Target provided us with a product sample. Opinions expressed are my own.

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups with #HuntsHealth Tomatoes

vegetable lasagna rollups

Since first starting my home farm last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about fresh vegetables and how impatient I am knowing I won’t be able to bite into a juicy, ripe tomato for three more months. Fortunately, I do get to enjoy tomatoes year round thanks to Hunt’s canned tomato products. They’re a constant part of our weekly menu in one way or another.

Recently, in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, tomatoes were highlighted in an article, Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits, demonstrating the significant nutritional advantages of increasing tomato consumption.

Knowing there’s a relationship between consum­ing tomatoes and tomato products with a reduced risk of certain cancers, heart dis­ease and other conditions, I felt good knowing I was creating a heart-healthy recipe for my mother, who has been plagued with many heart issues in recent years. Along with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and knowing the benefits of tomatoes, I feel confident that I can make healthier dishes for myself and the people in my life I love the most.

The best part of creating this lasagna dish was that it was so easy to sneak in all sorts of healthy vegetables and they taste amazing together!

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 package lasagna pasta
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, matchstick size
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach, cooked & strained
  • 20 oz ricotta cheese made with skim milk
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 can Hunt’s Tomato sauce, 29 oz
  • 1 can Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes, 14.5 oz

Let’s get Cooking!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the diced onions, peppers and matchstick carrots for about 5 minutes, just enough time to make them tender. Strain and set aside.

In another large pot of boiling water, cook lasagna pasta for 8 – 10 minutes, just until tender. Strain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

diced peppers onions carrots

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, carrots, onions, peppers, Parmesan cheese and spinach.

On a clean surface, lay each lasagna piece down and coat with vegetable-ricotta mixture.

vegetable lasagna roll filling

Starting at one end, roll each filled pasta piece until it forms a tight roll-up.

vegetable lasagna rolls

In a large baking dish, pour the can of Hunt’s Petite Diced tomatoes in the bottom along with 1/2 of the Hunt’s Tomato Sauce. Add each roll up, seam side down into the bed of sauce. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

hunts tomato sauce filling

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cheese is melted and serve!

vegetable lasagna rollups

This recipe was created as part of a project in association with Hunt’s and The Motherhood. I received a stipend for my time and recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own.

Wilton Introduces New Sugar Sheets with Punch. Cut. Decorate!

wilton punch cut decorate

From Wilton.com

Punch. Cut. Decorate!™ is the new way to decorate everyone will love! The Punch. Cut. Decorate! system features Sugar Sheets Edible Decorating Paper, punches and cutting tools that make it easy to create decorations in dazzling colors and shapes.

wilton punch cut decorate

As someone who truly loves to design cakes in my spare time, I’m so excited about the launch of Wilton’s new sugar sheets and the Punch. Cut. Decorate! technique. While I haven’t had a chance to try this new line of products yet, I can tell you they are rumored to hit store shelves in early summer and I will be first in line to try them out. As an alternative to the over priced Cricut Cake product line, sugar sheets (priced $4 each) can be cut and used to decorate cakes and cupcakes without the use of a cutter machine and utilizes shaped punches, similar to what you would use for scrapbooking designs, all priced from $5.99 to $14.99.

wilton new punch products

From what I can tell from looking at examples, the possibilities with this new product line will be endless for cake decorators of any skill level. Gone are the days where you have to have a steady hand and perfect piping skills to create a beautiful cake!

Want more information? Watch in as Eric Erwin, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at Wilton, introduces the new product line.

Be sure to visit the Punch. Cut. Decorate! section on Wilton.com to view the new products and decorating ideas they’ve already come up with!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

harry potter giveaway

For years we’ve watched Harry Potter grow into the wizard he was meant to be and today, that magical story begins it’s conclusion with the release of the download Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I on iTunes. Part I of this exciting story can be watched right now, onDemand or you can add the Blu-Ray/DVD Combo pack to your collection which hits store shelves today.

If you missed the theater release like our family did, you can check out these exciting clips and videos.

harry potter deathly hallows movie clips

 

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I Synopsis

Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s immortality and destruction – the Horcruxes. On their own and on the run, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever…but Dark Forces in their midst threaten to tear them apart. Meanwhile the wizarding world has become a dangerous place. The long-feared war has begun and the Dark Lord has seized control of the Ministry of Magic and even Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting all who might oppose him. The Chosen One has become the hunted one as the Death Eaters search for Harry with orders to bring him to Voldemort…alive.

harry potter deathly hallows box art

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Wildflower Photography with the Nikon D5000

Toddler with Wild Flowers

For months now I’ve had my fingers wrapped around a beautiful piece of photography equipment … the Nikon D5000, which I recently learned was discontinued shortly after we bought it. Technology seems to move more quickly than I can keep up with it these days. But isn’t that true for everything?

One thing I did have time for, perfect timing in fact, was catching the most beautiful flowers peeking above the leaves from last Fall. I wish I knew the name of these particular flowers, perhaps one of you could tell me? They are such a beautiful mix of shades of violet and blue.

Bell Shaped Blue Flowers

Of course we all know of these tiny little Violets that turn into such an incredible ground cover in the Spring. Have you ever taken the time to look at one up close?

Wild Violet Flower

My daughter noticed the flowers too!

Toddler with Wild Flowers

Republished – 10 Years Ago Today…

8years

I married my husband. April 14, 2001 at 2pm in the Washington Park Gazebo, 8 years ago 10 years ago today. There are a lot of things that slip my mind over time but that day I will never forget.

8yearsIt was spring, sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and the air was warm with a slight breeze that would give you a little chill if not standing directly in the sun. Little did I know that the 15 minutes before I was to walk down our make-shift isle debating on whether to run and standing in the sun would also give me a sunburn I would later regret that evening. It was probably my punishment for even thinking of running as fast as I could in the opposite direction of that gazebo. To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind even before that moment when my dad, who was standing with me said “we can still run if you want, I’ll go with you”…his exact words. I love my dad, always looking out for me. I swear that man can read my mind sometimes.

And don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t because I didn’t love Jon. It’s actually silly to think back on now, but I was considering running from the wedding because I was horrified at the thought of being the center of attention and everyone staring at me.

But I didn’t run, instead I laughed and said, “let’s go dad” and we made that long walk from the parking lot to the gazebo where he gave me away (or so he thought) and I said “I do”

I had just turned 18 and gasp, I was also 5 months pregnant with our son, Mattison. What can I say, we were young and “in love”. We met a year before but didn’t actually start dating until August of 2000, by November we were engaged, December pregnant, and April married. Everything was a whirlwind. Oh and that comment about my dad giving me away…they (my parents) never completely got rid of me. In fact, the day I moved out and in with my fiance I was back at their house within hours taking a nap and begging for his famous grilled cheese all because my brother in law and future husband didn’t put our water bed together right and it leaked all over our apartment. But that’s a whole other story.

Looking back, it’s been a crazy 8 years that has been much more terrifying than any roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Over the course of 8 years we’ve been through our fair share of marriage problems, a few years in serious need of marriage counseling, talks of divorce, trips to Jamaica and Florida, making 3 beautiful children, and moves from apartments to owning our first home. But here we are even with the odds stacked against us after being married so young and his career (high divorce rate), still together and still in love (most days). I’ve come to learn that the best way to save a marriage is work at it. Every single day. And here we are, 8 years later 10 years later, still working at it, still loving each other and still thankful that we choice each other.

Spring Garden Party with @Target #Spritz Party Supplies

Target Spritz Garden Party Table

Yesterday, I invited my daughters to a very special and very exclusive party created just for them. Together, we celebrated Spring with an outdoor garden party complete with decorations and party favors from the new Target Spritz collection. These fun party supplies have no theme or holiday design and come in such vibrant colors making them perfect for any occasion!

Target Spritz Garden Party Table

 

My personal challenge was to create a party that is not only unique, but affordable. And that we most certainly accomplished with some pretty Spring cupcakes decorated in candy grass and little pink icing flowers along with our seeds to plant, party cups full of fun outdoor favors all surrounded by the beauty of Spring flowers. It was the perfect setting for my daughters to soak up the sunny weather while planting some flowers and herbs.

Target Spritz Garden Party

 

If you’re in the mood to celebrate, consider these fun party ideas:

  • Taco Tuesday – brighten up the table with decor from the Spritz line along with an open taco bar with lots of colorful toppings so guests can customize their tacos.
  • Easter Egg Coloring Party – the Spritz party cups are perfect for dunking eggs in dye, just don’t drink it :)
  • more ideas … Sundae Fun-Day, Cupcake Decorating Party, Family Game Night, Student of the Week Celebration.

Note – Target provided our family with Spritz supplies to host our Garden Party. Opinions expressed are my own.

WW – April Showers Brought Me Beautiful Flowers

Saucer Magnolia Purple Base

With all of my home vegetable farming talk lately, I’ve forgotten to enjoy all of the beautiful flowers blooming around me. One day the were little green buds and the next thing I knew they had all bloomed into gorgeous, vibrant flowers … with the exception of the tulips I planted last fall. The few that have survived the kids and their careless feet are still sprouting for the sky and will hopefully bloom in the next week or two.

Small Pink Purple Flowers

Tulip Top Focal Color

Bright Orange Tulip

Purple Hyacinth Flowers

Magnolia Blossom

Saucer Magnolia Purple Base