Tuesday, September 1, 2015

French Fry Pancakes (Potato Latkes)


A couple months ago I bought my husband a julienne peeler so he could make more zoodles dishes. It's kind of sad how much we love zoodles...

But, being who he is, he got bored with zoodles and wanted to find something else to do with the peeler. Letting his brain juices run wild he got stuck and ended up fixated on potatoes. Kind of boring, right? That's what I thought too, but the final product ended up amazing.

He made potato latkes, or potato pancakes. They're a simple dish, akin to a hashbrown, but so flavorful, crisp and satisfying. My picky six-year-old daughter loved them and called them French Fry Pancakes, which they kind of are.


These potato latkes work well for breakfast or dinner. They're a fantastic replacement for any potato side like mashed or baked potatoes, and add a nice textural element to a meal. And, yes, they also taste amazing dipped in ketchup.

INGREDIENTS
4-5 medium potatoes
1 egg
3 Tbsp flour
Garlic salt
Onion powder
Paprika
Parsley
Salt
Pepper


PREPARATION

  1. Peel the potatoes, then use a julienne peeler, spiralizer or shredder to shred the potatoes into thin strips. Place all strips into a medium bowl.
  2. Add the egg, flour, spices and parsley (amount of spices and parsley varies according to taste, but not more than 1/2 teaspoon of each). Mix well with your hands.
  3. Heat an electric griddle to 400 degrees and add a little vegetable oil.
  4. Form the potato pancakes by measuring out 1/2 cup of the potato mixture. Place on the electric griddle and press down firmly with the spatula to form a pancake.
  5. Fry on each side for about 6-8 minutes or until the potatoes turn a golden brown and get firm.
  6. Place on a paper towel lined plate to let excess oil drain.

At first glance these may seem dry, but the amazing thing is they're really not. The potato latkes are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. They're a great side that kids will love as much as your inner kid.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Pretend Play Post Office

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #onestopshopforbaby #CollectiveBias
 We love pretend play in our house. Play kitchens, vegetable stand, doll hospital, my girls love to dress up and make believe. Diaper boxes are the best boxes, they are sturdy and can take quite a beating, so every time I end up with a new diaper box, we try and make something for the kids to play with. This time we made a post office!
 When it comes to crafting with a diaper box, any size will work, but I LOVE using the really big Huggies ones from Babies"R"Us, because it gives you that much more real estate to work with.

For this set you will need: 


  • a large diaper box
  • blue spray paint
  • three sheets of blue felt
  • white felt
  • red/pink felt
  • red ribbon
  • vinyl or white paper and Mod Podge
  • scissors
  • sewing machine or needle and thread
  • tape
  • white heat transfer

Find a sturdy diaper box, we use Huggies Little Movers boxes because they are our favorite diapers and they work great! Empty the diaper box and spray paint it blue. It took a few coats of paint to get the color I was looking for.
 I cut out the logo with vinyl, but you could easily use paper and Mod Podge it onto the box.
Cut a square on three sides on one side of the box. Bend down the flap, so it will be easy for kids to get things in and out of. I made the bottom of my diaper box the top of the post office. I taped the box shut again after spray painting and I tape the hand holds closed as well. I sized the logo to fit in between the square and the hand hold and applied it with transfer tape. 
 For the mail bag, take two pieces sheets of blue felt. Overlap them halfway on each other and sew them together. This will give you the flap over the top of the bag. Lay the two pieces sewn together on top of another sheet of blue felt, wrong sides together. Sew the bag together on three sides and then flip right side out. Sew the ribbon on either side of the bag, under the flap.
 You can leave the bag as is, or add heat transfer to the front of the bag to read mail.
 Cut long rectangles of white felt for the envelopes. Fold the felt a third of the way up and sew on three sides. Fold the top down and cut it into a point, creating an envelope. I did this with a bunch of different sizes to make all different kinds of envelopes. I also cut a bunch of heart for my girls to play with and put inside the envelopes.
 It is so much fun to be able to create toys and hours of creative play for my kids out of things I buy anyway like diaper boxes. We buy the new Little Movers Diapers because they feature Dry Touch that absorbs on contact. Keeping my little one comfortable so she can play her heart out is so important to me. These diapers have Leak Lock for up to 12 hours of protection, so I can feel good about using them overnight.
My daughter's favorite thing about these diapers is that they have Mickey Mouse on them. She carries dry diapers all over the house telling everyone about Mickey.
Right now you can get a $4 rebate on the new Little Movers Diapers when you buy them at Babies"R"Us, which is also where you can buy the extra large boxes for crafting!
What pretend play toy would you make with the New Huggies Little Movers diaper boxes? 
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to School Snack Pack®


This post is sponsored by Snack Pack®
School has changed our lives in more ways than one this year. This is the first year that my daughter is packing a lunch from home to bring to school. I wanted to make sure she was eating good food that she actually liked at lunch time, so we have decided to have her bring a home lunch every day. I try to make her lunch fun and exciting, so she is thrilled to open up her lunch bag every day. So far one of her favorite things has been the Back to School Snack Pack®. This was such an easy idea to pull together and it is so much fun to hear your child go on and on about their lunches.
You will need:

  • A Snack Pack®
  • Pretzels
  • Red Melting Chocolate
  • Green Licorice
  • Black Construction Paper
  • Chalk
  • Double Sided Tape

 Cut the licorice into tiny pieces. This will become the stems for your apples.
 Cover your Snack Pack® in black construction paper using double sided tape to secure it.
 Use the side of a piece of white chalk to smudge up the black construction paper a little bit, this will help it look  more like a chalkboard. Write ABC on the paper.
 Place red melting chocolate in a bowl. Microwave it for 30 seconds. Stir and then repeat, microwaving for 30 seconds and then stirring between each one until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Dip the pretzels into the chocolate, while the chocolate is still melted, place a green licorice stem at the back of the pretzel. Lay them on wax paper to dry.

When I pack the Snack Pack® for my daughter's lunch, I include the pudding with the chalkboard paper on it in the bag and then I include a little container with the mix-ins separately, in this case the apples. That way everything stays nice and sealed tight until lunchtime.

This back to school season take a moment to slow down and enjoy a tasty and fun treat with the kids. Snack Pack® comes in a variety of flavors and offers endless mix-in opportunities the kids can help prepare. Each serving of Snack Pack® is fortified with as much calcium as an 8-oz glass of milk,* so you can feel good about serving your kids Snack Pack®. For mix-in inspiration, visit Snack Pack on Pinterest (pinterest.com/snackpack) and Facebook (facebook.com/SnackPackPudding).



** All Snack Pack products contain 30% DV calcium, with the exception of Bakery Shop Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pudding, and Snack Pack Gels.

What is your favorite Snack Pack® mix-in?
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I want to be a clown!

For as long as I can remember, I have joked with my husband that I am going to run away and join the circus. I am kind of thrilled that I actually can now. Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus are offering people the opportunity to be in the show!

Auditions for clowns for the Salt Lake City show are Wednesday, Sept. 23rd from 10 AM -1:30 PM at The Energy Solutions Arena. To register for an audition please visit Ringling.com/clownauditions.

Here is what you need to know before auditioning: Auditionees must be 18 or older and come prepared to show a 3-5 minute routine. This routine should display exaggerated facial expressions and body language, showcase any unique physical skills (juggling, unicycle riding, gymnastics, etc.) and demonstrate an understanding of their comedy, a sense of personality and a true desire to become a member of the world famous, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Clown Alley.

Auditionees should not wear any clown makeup and should not wear any costumes. Loose, comfortable clothing should be worn. It is preferred, but not required, that you bring a headshot and a resume to your audition.

Here is the information on the circus itself!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Circus XTREME is coming to EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake September 24-28.

WHEN:          
Thursday, September 24                    7:00 PM
Friday, September 25             3:30 PM & 7:00 PM
Saturday, September 26                    11:30 AM, 3:30 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, September 27                       1:00 PM & 4:30 PM
Monday, September 28                      7:00 PM

WHERE:        
EnergySolutions Arena – 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

TICKETS:  
  Ticket prices range from $20, $35 (VIP) and $65-70 (Front Row)*
  Kids (ages 2-12) tickets available for only $10 each for select seating on weekday shows

So..... are you going to be the next Circus Clown?
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

How to Connect with your Tween/Teen



A couple of weeks ago my mom and youngest sister moved in with us. I went from dealing with a 6-year-old and 1-year-old on a regular basis to throwing a tween in the mix. It has been a really smooth transition as I remember being and emotional tween myself, but there have been many times I have been absolutely baffled as to why she is upset and said silent apologies to my parents for the crazy I was in the teen years. Not bad crazy, just emotional crazy. Here are my tips for staying connected to your tween based on when I was one.

1. Take an interest. When I was a teenager, I suddenly became very interested in exploring other religions. My parents who are very religious never freaked out. They bought books and drove me to services for other churches. They had frank discussions with me about their religion and other religions. They were so loving and involved in the entire situation that it ended up being a very positive learning experience for me instead of a rebellion. They took an interest in something that was important to me and took something that could hurt our relationship and used it to make it stronger.

Whenever I see parents are concerts for their child's favorite band I want to give them a big high five. You are showing your kid that their opinion matters. It can be hard to not tell them to shut off their noise. I am guilty of it quite a bit, but showing them that you care about what they care about goes a long way.

2. Find one and one time. I am one of six kids. One and one time with your mom can be hard to come by. My parents took small opportunities such as driving to practices, dentist appointments and even just long Sunday drives with just one kid to reconnect to us and to get us to open up. There were many things I didn't want my siblings to know so I didn't talk about them until I was alone with my mom. My parents were also VERY good about not talking about one child's problems with another. It drove us crazy as kids, we wanted to know the dirt on the other siblings, but I am grateful for it. Since my siblings and I are very close, we often told each other anyway, but it helped that it was always on our terms.

3. Make your house the place people want to be. My parents always worked hard to make our house the fun house, Some it was purchases, like a pool table, and some was just the laid back atmosphere. My parents decided early on that they would rather create an environment that we loved to be and our friends loved to be. It made it very easy to stay involved in our lives without seeming overbearing.
Capture the Flag during a Family Night. 
4. Have a family night. Growing up, there was one night a week that we weren't allowed to schedule extra things. No practices, no study sessions. Obviously it wasn't completely unavoidable but for the most part that one night was special. Some of my best memories come from those nights. My brothers once quoted an entire Jim Carrey movie for us, complete with acting out the scenes. I am not sure I have ever laughed that hard and I am glad my parents gave us the opportunities for such memories.

5. Eat dinner together as a family every night. This one is HUGE in our family. Dinner is non-negotiable. Did you know that kids who regularly eat dinner together as a family feel happier and more optimistic about life than the peers who don't? (source) If as helping your teen feel happier wasn't a reason to have family dinner by itself, they have also found that having family dinners decreases your child's change of obesity and substance abuse AND frequent family dinners leads to better grades. There is pretty much no down side to sitting down with your kids once a day to catch up and share a meals.

I know it can be so hard to want to cook and have a meal after a long day at work, which is why this summer we have been using Dream Dinners. I assemble 12 meals at a time, freeze them in my freezer and pull them out 2-3 at a time to use during the week. We have had a delicious, healthy meal every single night with literally no effort. I love it because on nights I feel like being gourmet chef, I do it and on nights where I feel like cooking is way too much effort, I throw in a Dream Dinner and family dinner is saved.



I love that it is all great food, like ribs. It isn't liking throwing in a TV dinner, it is about making good wholesome food. You can find out more about my experience with Dream Dinners here.

How do you connect with your tween?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fail Proof Scones

I was given honey butter to try for this post. I wasn't compensated and all opinions and recipes are my own.
Every October, my family has a big get together. As kids it was full of elaborate meals, homemade cinnamon rolls and scones. I can't even tell you how much we loved the scones. My mom used to have to double and triple the batch to keep up with the five hungry mouths who could eat them as fast as she could fry them. I have always thought that making scones had to be hard. Any time I have to let dough rise I am wary, but this dough is so easy to work with that these truly are fail proof scones.

 You will need: 


  • 1 Tablespoon yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 3 cups f lour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • Oil for frying
  • Honey and Butter for topping the scones
Mix the dough in a stand mixer or by hand until well incorporated. The dough will be kind of crumbly. Add flour to your counter and knead by hand, adding a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough is soft. I do it this way because it helps ensure the right amount of water every time. All the dough to rest in a warm place. I usually let the dough rest for about a half an hour or so. Then I roll the dough out and cut it into squares. 

 Heat 1-2 inches of oil over medium heat for 5 minutes before you start frying. Test that the oil is hot enough by putting a small piece of dough in the oil. If it starts to bubble around the dough right away, it is hot enough to fry your scones. DO NOT use high heat, the oil will get too hot and the scones will burn on the outsides before they cook through the middle. Let each scone fry until light brown, flip it over to the other side and let that brown. Using tongs to remove the scones from the oil and allow them to sit on a paper towel to drain the oil.
 Top the scones with your favorite toppings, powdered sugar, honey or Honey and Butter and serve hot.

My personal favorite topping is Honey and Butter Raspberry Topping. It is creamy like honey butter with just a hint of raspberry. My daughter loves that it makes her scones pink!
 There is nothing that takes me back to my childhood like hot scones and honey butter. It is the ultimate comfort food to me.
Check out Treasure Food's Page for more Honey Butter recipes. What is your favorite thing to put honey butter on?
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Creamsicle Sprite Floats and How to Grill a Pizza

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


 School has been in session for just one week and already I feel like I am in over my head. With soccer three nights a week, the PTA, my job, my husband's job and all the other things that pop up, I swear we are busier than ever before. We have had to let a lot of things go, but one thing we are adamant about it family dinner. At family dinner we talk about our day, the projects my husband worked out, my upcoming posts, how school was for my 6-year-old and if I am being completely honest, there is usually a dance party thrown in there with some ridiculous music and moves. It is truly the best part of our day and no matter how busy we get, we make sure it happens.

With how crazy life is for us right now (we have some BIG changes coming up, eek!) I don't have the time every night to devote to a huge meal production. One of our favorite quick fixes is a grilled Marketside Pizza and Creamsicle Sprite Floats. The floats make the meal feel really special, even when it is a quick fix.

For Creamsicle Sprite Floats You will Need: 


  • Orange Sherbet
  • Sprite
  • Orange Slice Candy
  • Whipped Cream

 Scoop sherbet into each cup.
 Add the Sprite.
 Top with LOTS of whipped cream!
 Add and orange candy slice to complete the float. We love these floats! The creaminess of the whipped cream combined with the orange flavor makes it taste just like a creamsicle! My kids get really excited when they realize that this is dessert!
 We love to serve our Creamsicle Sprite Floats with a grilled pizza? Why would you grill pizza instead of just tossing it in the oven? The crust is so crispy and delicious, that once you grill a pizza I swear you will never go back. 

Turn your grill on high. For my grill, I turn on the propane and then turn all of the burners on to high and the light the grill. Allow your grill to heat up until the temperature gauge says the right baking temperature on the grill. At this point, I turn off two of the burners and lower the others, to keep it from getting much hotter. Place the pizza right on the grill or on a grill mat if you would like.
 Grill the pizza for a couple of  minutes under what the box recommends for cooking in the oven. The grill is a much more direct source of heat, so the pizza shouldn't need as long. Remove the pizza from the grill using a large spatula or tongs and place on a cookie sheet. Cut up and serve hot!
Walmart has quite a few different Effortless Meals to make your school weeks easier including a rotisserie chicken option and our favorite the 16 inch pizza and a 2 liter Coca Cola Product for under $9! We really like their pizza and it is so big one feeds our entire family! They are easy to find with the signs and convenient to purchase, with everything all in one place. I love that everything is fresh and it provides us with a healthy option even during the busy back to school time. 
How would you serve your Effortless Meal
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