Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Planning for Thanksgiving

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.

Are you the host for Thanksgiving? When I am planning for an event, I love to be able to get as much done ahead of time as possible.

For the past 8 years, I have done a traditional turkey dinner for my daughter's birthday and the realization quickly set in that with only one oven, the only way to pull it off is to work ahead. For me, this starts with roasting my turkey the night before the event. Once roasted, I can let it cool before carving. This is great because it reabsorbs much of the cooking broth in the process, resulting in moist turkey. Plus, I can get the turkey cleaned and the carcass thrown out and get the kitchen cleaned up. I place the turkey into a 9x13 (or a little larger) glass pan, add a small amount of broth, cover tightly with aluminum in set in my refrigerator. The next day, I put it in the oven with my other dishes and cook it for about 30 - 45 minutes to cook it through. I also gather the remaining broth and set in the refrigerator to use to make gravy the next day.

I also like to prep my side dishes. The first I always do is next day mashed potatoes. I boil the potatoes and mash them with some added ingredients, like cream cheese, and put in another glass pan. The potatoes take about 45 - 60 minutes to cook the next day. I also do my sweet potatoes, because I do a mashed sweet potato casserole. They take about 45 minutes to cook the next day. I also prepare my stuffing, although I suppose since it never sees the turkey it is technically dressing. I usually use a few pieces of the carved turkey and a little of the cooking broth in the preparation of my stuffing...which I can only do if I prepare the turkey the day ahead.

I also do all of my cutting and chopping for my fruit salad and vegetable tray. Then, the day of, I can quickly set out the vegetables and have plenty at the ready for refilling the tray. I assemble the fruit salad day of, in order to keep things fresh.

I typically prepare my vegetable dishes the day of the event and put them in the oven along side the other dishes that are cooking. I like to do a broccoli and cauliflower dish, but this year I think I am going to try the Bacon and Green Bean Casserole Deluxe featured on the Hormel site.
It is much like the traditional one, with a kick of bacon bits - after all, everything is better with bacon. We don't do mushroom soup, so I will swap in cream of celery or onion to give it a good creamy texture. Best thing is, you can make this one the day ahead and then simply warm and serve.

This year our celebration will just be the immediate family, so we are trying out the Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkey Breast. I must say, I am intrigued by this one, it "goes straight from your freezer to your oven". I am so used to thawing. It comes in an oven ready back and you simply pull out of your freezer, remove from the outer bag and put it in your oven in a roasting pan. I will have to let you know how it goes. I also will not be prepping the sides, because I will not need a full casserole of mashed potatoes and can just make up a small pan day of.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product and some of the information and images for this post.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Qrunch Burgers Review and Giveaway!

No compensation was received for this post. The manufacturer provided the coupons for the giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.
A few months ago, on a week where my husband was doing the grocery shopping, he came home with a new product that he had tried and a few coupons from the demo stand. The product was Qrunch burgers. As recently as a year ago, I would have been surprised that he had bought some, but lately he seems to be more open to new foods. We don't have any dietary restrictions or try to eat a certain way, other than just an overall balanced, healthy diet with reasonable portions (at least most of the time).
Qrunch burgers are made with Quinoa and other vegetables/beans depending on the variety. The products are Gluten-free, Soy-free, Wheat-free, Nut-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free, Corn-free, Animal-free, Light Sodium and use Ancient Grains (Quinoa). Looking at a list like that might make you wonder about the flavor, which by the way is great. Not only are they flavorful, they have a nice crunch when prepared too.

The product is so easy to prepare. You can make them in your toaster. Put it through two cycles in your standard toaster and your Qrunch burger is ready to eat. We eat them like a burger, placing them on a bun and topping with tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, etc.

There are five varieties of Qrunch burgers - Original, Spicy Italian, Green Chile, Sweet Curry and a new one that I am going to have to find - Saucy Buffalo. We have tried the first four flavors. The family favorite is the Spicy Italian, but my husband also likes the Original and the Green Chile. I am sure that when we find Saucy Buffalo, that will be a favorite too.

At just about 200 calories per Qrunch burger, varies slightly by variety, we find that they fit well in our diet.

Have you tried Qrunch burgers? What did you think?

Giveaway!
Courtesy of Qrunch Foods, I have several $1.00 off coupons that I can giveaway to A Busy Mom of Two readers. The coupons are good through the end of the year.


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Giveaway will remain open through December 1st. Winners will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Coupons are only good until 12/31/14 and will be mailed to the winners. A Busy Mom of Two is not responsible for lost or misdirected mail.
No compensation was received for this post. The manufacturer provided the coupons for the giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I recently had the chance to read the latest book from Leslie Gould - Becoming Bea. This book is the 4th in The Courtships of Lancaster County, but the first that I read. Jumping in in the middle of the series was not an issue, as the author did a great job of providing back story as needed.
Bea and Ben had known each other since they were in school and as scholars, there was always a competition between them. They had courted briefly, but something had brought that to an end. This really hit home for me, as there was a guy that I went to school with that I was always competing with and even had a crush on at one point. I never dated the guy from school, but used to wonder what if. I really like how the author developed the lead characters because it made them easy to relate to. Like many young adults, finding herself in a new environment helps Bea learn things that she didn't know about herself and overcome fears that she had. This learning helps her become a more confident and slower to react to things around her. Of course, if you want to find out more about Bea, what she learns and what happens, reading the story is the best way.

As with much of the Amish fiction that I have read, the fact that the characters are Amish seems to be more of a component of the background or scenery, nuances in the story. The story transcends their faith and could be about anyone, anywhere.

I enjoyed reading this book by Leslie Gould and plan to read her other books - perhaps starting with the earlier books in the series, to learn even more about some of the characters that I met in Becoming Bea.

About the book: Can Bea and Ben Turn Rivalry Into Romance?

Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows.

One person she'll never be able to find peace with though is Ben Rupp. They've known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

Purchase a copy here.

About the author: Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller The Amish Midwife, a 2012 Christy Award winner; ECPA bestseller Courting Cate, first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; and Beyond the Blue, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She and her familyl live in Portland, Oregon.

Find Leslie online: website, Facebook, and Twitter

You can find more reviews and information on the blog tour landing page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sarah E. Ladd's A Lady at Willowgrove Hall

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Recently, I had the opportunity to read A Lady at Willowgrove Hall, by Sarah E. Ladd. The book was set in England in the early 1800s. Historical fiction is a genre that I find very enjoyable. I'm not sure I fully understand the intricacies of the class structure, but still I find it intriguing. The properness of the relationships and the interaction between men and women is very interesting. There is something inherently romantic about period literature from my perspective.

I really enjoyed the book. From the beginning, the reader was brought right into the story and felt a quick connection with the characters. The author did a fine job developing the characters. The secrets that they held were slowly revealed, as needed to better understand the characters.

Reading this book left me wanting to read more period pieces and I certainly will check out the other works by Sarah E. Ladd. In fact, after completing the book, I discovered that it was actually the third book in the series.

If you enjoy period pieces or romances, I would recommend you read this book.
About the book:

Her secret cloaks her in isolation and loneliness.

His secret traps him in a life that is not his own.

Cecily Faire carries the shame of her past wherever she treads, knowing one slip of the tongue could strip away everything she holds dear. But soon after accepting the position of lady's companion at Willowgrove Hall, Cecily finds herself face-to-face with a man well-acquainted with the past she's desperately hidden for years.

Nathaniel Stanton has a secret of his own --- one that has haunted him from birth and tied him to his father's position as steward of Willowgrove. To protect his family, Nathaniel dares not breath a word of the truth. But as long as the shadow looms over him, he'll never be free to find his own way in the world. He'll never be free to fall in love.

When the secrets swirling within Willowgrove Hall come to light, Cecily and Nathaniel must confront a painful choice: Will they continue running from the past . . . or will they stand together and build a future without the suffocating weight of secrets long suffered?

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/CsnBw

About the author:

Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Find Sarah online: website, Facebook, Twitter


Find more reviews from the blog tour and information about the book here.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip #Hormel #Dip

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.
The other weekend, we hosted a game night at our house. We have always been a big game family and have always enjoyed having friends in for game night. This most recent evening was a smaller gathering with only three couples able to join us. One tradition is that everyone brings a snack to share. One of the women that I met when I first moved to town 12 years ago brought along a dip that my kids both loved. So, when we hosted family for a birthday party this weekend, I reached out to get the dip recipe to make it for party. The recipe called for bacon, to make it easy, I used a jar Hormel Real Bacon Pieces. It actually was less bacon than the recipe called for, but was just right in my opinion. I loved that it made prep quick and there was no mess from frying bacon that I had to clean up. The dip was a hit!
Bacon Cheddar Ranch dip

16 ounces light sour cream
1 package ranch dip mix
2.8 ounces Hormel Real Bacon Pieces
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients. Chill. Serve with pretzels, crackers or chips.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product and some of the information for this post. The recipe was shared by my friend, I don't know the original source.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Winner of the 4-pk of tickets to Cedar Point HalloWeekends

Congratulations to Amanda! Her entry was selected as the winner of the 4-pk of tickets to Cedar Point HalloWeekends.

An e-mail has been sent to the winner.

Stay tuned for more giveaways coming this weekend.