Friday, March 27, 2015

16 places you are forgetting to clean and a Swiffer/Febreze Giveaway

This post has been sponsored by Swiffer. All opinions are my own.

Every spring we break out the trash bags, dusters and mops in an attempt to get rid of all the dust mites and allergens that have collected in our houses over the winter. Even though we think we are being thorough, oftentimes we are missing frequently-used surfaces that can aid the spread of allergens and germs.

Here are 16 things in your house you need to make sure are on your spring cleaning list.

1.Kitchen Sponge. You use it to scrub your dirty dishes and then just toss it back in your sink. Your sponge is a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure you are sanitizing it in a bleach solution frequently and then toss it when it starts to look dingy.

2. Stuffed Animals. Wash stuffed animals frequently. If your house is anything like mine, your kids' stuffed animals get dragged all over the place and snuggled frequently. They can be full of dust. Make sure you wash them in hot water frequently to remove any germs and dust. You can spray them with Febreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer to keep allergens away in between washings.

3. Couches and Chairs. We so often vacuum our floors and completely ignore the couches. All of your couches and chairs need a good vacuuming to remove dust mites and allergens.

4. Mattresses and Pillows. We change our sheets frequently, but we ignore the other parts of our bed altogether. Make sure you vacuum your mattress frequently and wash your pillows in hot water.

5. Ceiling Fans. We can't see the top of them, so we often forget just how dusty they can get. To get them clean without spreading dust all over your room, either use a pillowcase or a Swiffer Duster. Swiffer Dusters trap 70% of inanimate allergens — more than 3 times more than a feather duster.

6. Behind the fridge and other kitchen appliances. Who really wants to pull their appliances out and clean? Not many people, but so many germs and allergens are hiding there and do you really want those germs in your kitchen with your food?

7. Your remote control and phones. You touch them every day, but do you ever sanitize them? You should. Phones are often the most germ-infested surface you touch throughout the day. Give your phone and remote controls a quick wipe down with a sanitizi
ng wipe to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs. There are special wipes for phones too so you don't damage them.

8. Window tracks. Our windows usually get a good spring cleaning, but we often forget about the tracks. Scrub them with an old toothbrush to keep your windows opening and closing well.

9. Dirty Clothes Hamper. You throw your soiled clothes in it, so it's obviously dirty. Make sure to wipe your hamper our or wash your laundry bag to keep bacteria from spreading. Make sure not to use anything with bleach so you don't ruin your clothes.

10. Makeup brushes. You use them on your face and then throw them back in your makeup bag. Make sure you thoroughly clean your brushes frequently to prevent breakouts on your face.

11. Purses. Your purse is one of the dirtiest things you will touch all day. Wipe down the outside of your purse with a disinfecting wipe and don't place your purse on the floor.

12. Knobs and Light Switches. They are some of the most frequently touched surfaces in our homes, but we tend to ignore them in our cleaning routine. Make sure to wipe down all the switches and knobs regularly.

13, The Garbage Disposal. Think of all of the things you put down your disposal, just sitting there and breeding bacteria. It makes me shudder. Make sure to run your disposal at least once a day to prevent anything from sitting down there for very long and clean it a couple times a month by running orange peels through it.

14. Salt and Pepper Shakers. Do you wash you salt and pepper shakers before you refill them? You should. Studies have found cold and flu viruses on them, and you handle these shakers often.

15. Vents. Make sure you give all of your vents a good cleaning, especially your dryer vent. Build up in your dryer vent has the potential to cause a dryer fire.

16. Broom and Mops. Make sure you are cleaning your broom and mop frequently. If you don't, instead of cleaning your house you are just spreading the germs around. I prefer to use a Swiffer with dry and wet cloths instead of a broom and mop because then you throw away the germs after each use instead of chancing spreading them around your house again.

Did you know, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a lot of people don't spring clean correctly? Instead of removing allergens, all they are doing is spreading allergens around and making their house a haven for them. Select Swiffer and Febreze products are now certified asthma and allergy friendly, including the Swiffer Dry Sweeper, Unscented, which traps up to 70% of inanimate allergens; the Swiffer duster and 360 duster, unscented, which traps two times more dust than a typical dusting cloth; and the Febreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer which reduces up to 95% of inanimate allergens.

As someone who has asthma, keeping my house dust and allergen free is a very important part of life. It allows me to breathe easier and use my inhalers less. I love that these products are asthma certified and I am starting to use them in my home.

Would you like to be able to try out these products in your home? You could win a spring cleaning prize pack including:

  • 1 Swiffer Dry Sweeper, Unscented.
  • 1 Swiffer Duster and 360 Duster, Unscented
  • 1 Febreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer, Unscented

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles with Homemade Baked Tortilla Strips

Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles|

Eating healthy is a goal many people share, but it's hard, right? Not only is it difficult to find healthy meals, but so often these so-called healthy meals are full of ingredients you've never heard of. And even if you find recipes with ingredients you know and enjoy, they're often so devoid of balance that you're still starving after eating.

But eating healthy doesn't mean depriving yourself of filling foods you enjoy. Healthy eating is about balance, portion control and replacing unhealthy ingredients with healthier alternatives.

This cilantro lime chicken zoodles dish is a great example of a healthier meal. It substitutes traditional pasta for zucchini noodles (zoodles), dramatically cutting down on carbs and boosting your veggie intake. And with the flavorful chicken, you won't be hungry after eating.

But if your family isn't used to lighter dishes, they may feel something is lacking. That's where the homemade tortilla strips come in handy. While these aren't terribly healthy, they're better than most store-bought options (both in flavor and nutritional content) and add a great textural element to the dish.

2-3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
3-4 zucchini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 jalapeño, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Homemade Baked Tortilla Strips
6 corn tortillas
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

Homemade Baked Tortilla Strip preparation

  1. Cut the corn tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Place individually on a cookie sheet.
  2. Mix together the oil, chili powder, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, salt and cumin. Use a brush to lightly coat the tortilla strips with this mixture.
  3. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the tortilla strips become crisp.
  4. Remove the tortilla strips from the tray and allow to completely cool.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles|

Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles preparation

  1. Cut off both ends of each zucchini. Cradle the zucchini in one hand and use a julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles. After a few strokes you will reach the seeds and the peeling will sound different. This means it's time to turn and repeat on another side. Continue until the zucchini has been peeled, leaving you with a plate full of zucchini noodles. Throw away the core with seeds.
  2. Heat a skillet with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil on high heat. Saute the garlic and jalapeño for about a minute. Add the chicken and continue to saute. When the chicken is close to being cooked through, add the salt, cumin and black pepper. 
  3. Remove the chicken, garlic and jalapeños onto a plate and set aside. Be careful not to remove the juices, as you will use them in the next step.
  4. Place the zucchini noodles in the skillet and saute for about 2 minutes, mixing the zucchini noodles well. (NOTE: if there is not enough juice left from the previous step, you may need to add a little vegetable oil).
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the chicken, garlic and jalapeños. Finish it off with the cilantro lime juice. Top with the homemade baked tortilla strips.

This dish is so flavorful that my wife didn't add salt. Not once. This is a miracle since she adds salt to everything. The zoodles are light, yet filling. They have a texture very similar to traditional pasta and it's hard to notice you're even eating a veggie.

If you don't own a julienne peeler, you can accomplish a similar effect with a grater, vegetable peeler or a knife, but the julienne peeler makes it so much faster, and with better noodle consistency. And if you love this dish as much as my family did, it's definitely worth purchasing the peeler. Happy Zoodling!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies |

I am not a chocolate girl. It's true. Most of the time I don't each chocolate at all unless it is paired with another delicious ingredient. Peanut butter on the other hand, I could eat by the spoonful. My mom's chocolate chip cookies are so delicious that I have never cared that they were chocolate, they were just that good. This week my husband suggested we added a hint of peanut butter to them and it took them from amazing to incredible. The perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter. A match made in heaven. 

You will need: 

  • 2 1/2 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 1/2 C. shortening 
  • 1 C. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bag peanut butter chips

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together until it is fluffy and the sugar is dissolved. Add eggs and vanilla while these are mixing. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add both kinds of chips. 

Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. The cookies may look slightly under cooked when removed from the oven, but they will continue to cook as they cool. This will ensure a softer cookie. 

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Best Books To Read Aloud to Your Children

As a child, my mom read aloud to us every night. We started with books like The Boxcar Children and Dealing with Dragons and eventually as we got older moved on to books like Great Expectations and Tarzan. It is one of my favorite memories and one that I knew I wanted to continue with my daughter. We started reading chapter books aloud a couple of years ago and we have developed some favorites. These are all books that your kids will love!

1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This is hands down my favorite Cinderella story. If you have seen the movie, don't let it keep you from reading this book to your kids. It is clever and funny. There is still the same basic cast of characters, Ella, the evil stepmother and stepsisters but in this version you add in some crazy fairies, ogres and giants too!
2. The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks by Nancy McArthur. This book had as rolling on the floor as kids. What's not hilarious about a plant that eats your dirty socks? This book is about two brothers a neat freak and a walking disaster area and the crazy sock-eating plants they grow together. I loved it as a kid and so did my brothers.
3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling. We have started reading Harry Potter with my 6-year-old and she is completely captivated. She can't stop giggling about Moaning Myrtle living in a toilet and she brings me the book begging for one my chapter. Since my daughter is still a kindergartner we are only planning on reading the first three together for now and then we will hold off until she is a bit older.
4. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  The first book is a story of survival of four children after their parents die, the subsequent books are children friendly mysteries that take the main characters Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny all over the place. My daughter absolutely loves this books.
5. The Magic Tree House Books by Mary Pope Osbourne . These are perfect beginning chapter books to read out loud. They have a picture every few pages and are relatively short. When my daughter is really interested in one of them we can read about half of a book in one night. The main characters are brother and sister and go on all sorts of adventures in the magic tree house including to see dinosaurs and knights.
6. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). This fun series is about a princess who likes to fence and practice magic and doesn't want to marry a boring prince, instead she runs off to live with the dragons instead. She becomes a dragon's princess and actually talks the knights who come out of rescuing her. I haven't read this series to my daughter yet, but it is on my list for sure.
7. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverley Cleary. How can you forget this classic? My husband was actually the one to read this book out loud to my daughter and it was so much fun to listen to them giggle while they read.
8. The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My daughter absolutely loves these books. She is fascinated by all the stories of panthers and bears as well as harvesting and surviving the winter. She played Laura Ingalls Wilder for a long time after we read these books. They gave us the opportunity to try many old games and dig up fun recipes to make.
9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I always shake my head when people talk about how much they love the old Willy Wonka movie, because it is nothing like the book. Both my daughter and I love the crazy fun way that Roald Dahl wrote Willy Wonka. This book is just plain fun.
10. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. I have actually read this one out loud to my daughter twice. She loves the performing penguins and we had lots of fun looking up penguin facts while we read this one.

Other great read aloud books: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl, Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, Amber Brown is Not a Crayon by Paula Danzinger, Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene, The Hardy Boys by Mark Turner , The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, Dragon Slayers Academy by Kate McMullan, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Seriously perfect for about 4th grade,) Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Holes by Louis Sachar, Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.

What are your favorite read aloud chapter book?
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Leftover Ham Pillows

Ham is delicious. It is. The one downside, of course, is the leftovers. It doesn't seem bad at first -- ham is good so leftovers will be great, right? -- but it's amazing how long it takes to use up that leftover ham.

It's hard to find good ham recipes too. Well here's one that's delicious, doesn't taste like leftover ham and will fill up your family: leftover ham pillows. It's a twist on one of my childhood favorite meals, chicken pillows, and it's wonderful winter food.

1 pkg crescent roll dough
1 1/2 cups leftover ham, cut into small cubes
1 cup mushrooms, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Black pepper
Garlic salt
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Bread crumbs

  1. Combine the ham, mushrooms and cheeses into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the mayonnaise, adding dill, pepper, garlic salt and parsley to taste.
  3. Lay out the crescent dough into individual triangles.
  4. Place a small amount of mixture in the largest section of the triangle. Roll the dough into a pillow, pinching all ends so the mixture is sealed.
  5. Roll each pillow in the melted butter and then coat in bread crumbs. Place each pillow on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the outside is a light golden brown.

Serve with rice and peas.

This is a quick and tasty fix, perfect for those winter nights when you're too tired to make something, but know you should.

Southern California Vacation Giveaway (Disneyland, Seaworld and More!)

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Disclosure: This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is sponsored by Get Away Today.
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Friday, March 20, 2015

World's Best Guacamole

The World's Best Guacamole |
Guacamole is one of my all time favorite foods. I make it for pretty much every occasion. Is is perfect for Taco Tuesdays and I love it with breakfast burritos, I knew my guacamole would be the perfect combination with the El Monterey Breakfast Burritos.

When we lived in Texas, I set out to find the world's best guacamole. Something simple without all of the extra stuff, but amazing. We tried recipe after recipe and we finally settled on one we love. This recipe is fresh and just needs avocados, a onion, jalapeños and a little bit of lemon juice. The perfect combination.

You will need:

  • 3-4 medium Avocados, with the skins and pits removed
  • 1.5 medium jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped (seeds are what make your jalapenos hot, so make sure to seed them well unless you want super spicy guac.) 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped (optional, but I really like it) 
  • 1/4 of an onion finely chopped
  • salt

Add the onion, garlic and the jalapeños to the food processor and chop to make sure everything is really fine. Add 3 avocados and then chop again. Taste your guacamole, if the onion or jalapeño is too strong, add the fourth avocado. Lastly add your lemon juice and mix until everything is a smooth consistency.
This guacamole is perfect for dips, grilled cheese sandwiches and of course breakfast burritos. One of my favorite meals is a egg and bacon burrito, I love that they now have a microwavable version for quick on the go mornings.
You can find a $1 off coupon for El Monterey's breakfast burritos here. You can use the coupon on their Egg, Sausage, Cheese and Potato Burrito, their jalapeños Egg and Cheese Burrito, Egg and Bacon Burritos, and Meat Lovers Burritos.
What do you like in your breakfast burritos?
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