Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

It is super hard to believe that this week marks the return to school for my kids. It feels like summer just started. They have been acting so dramatic this week about the start of school. My son has decided that they need longer for summer break and when I asked him how long he thought my summer break was, he replied 1 month? I wish. I suppose I could string together my vacation and a holiday and maybe get about a month off, but that would be awful, having no other vacation all year.

This week we are doing a mix of familiar favorites and a few new recipes. I am determined to clean up that stack of clipped recipes on my counter...and then move on to all those 'clipped' recipes on Pinterest. I hope to post the recipes and will link up after I do.

Our garden is booming right now, so there will be a lot of tomatoes served on salads or sliced on the side this week. I love being able to use garden fresh peppers, tomatoes and onions when I make dinner.

cereal and toast
Cracker Barrel with the family

Baked Nuggets with Creamy Dill Dip and Mashed Potato Balls

Siracha Oatmeal-Crusted Tilapia

Turkey Roast

Chicken Mango Curry



Now that the kids are back to school, breakfast will be cereal, oatmeal or toast most mornings and lunch will be a mix of the hot plate lunch at school or a packed lunch from home. My husband and I will stick with our standard routines. I do hope to get back to packing more. I seem to eat better when I pack, plus I am hopeful that it leaves me some time to walk at lunch.

This post shared on Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

NFL Hall of Fame Game - #HOF #Canton

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary set of tickets was provided by Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau to facilitate the sharing of our experience. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.
NFL/Hall of Fame Game ***Giants vs. Bills in 2014 NFL/Hall of Fame Game*** Unlike other NFL games, the NFL/Hall of Fame Game is played in a historic high school stadium. If you’ve never experienced seeing an NFL game up this close, you won’t want to miss out on getting your tickets for this year’s game. Watching an NFL game from the comfy confines of Fawcett Stadium (right), a 22,000-seat high school venue, is a must on any real football fan’s “bucket list.” There’s not a bad seat in the house!- See more here

HOF Game 08/03/14 (written by A Busy Dad of Two)

It was a beautiful night for a football game and my New York Giants had made their way out to Canton, OH for the annual NFL Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium. Their opponent tonight: the Buffalo Bills. The game won't matter in the standings but for many of the 90+ players on each roster who are trying to make their respective teams, tonight could mean everything. For me it means a chance to see my favorite team without having to travel back to New Jersey and for my son (age 10) to attend his first NFL football game. Joining us at the game were my friend and his son - both Bills fans. How convenient.

We arrived at the Pro Football Hall of Fame complex about 90 minutes prior to kickoff and started to look for parking. Since Fawcett Stadium is a high school stadium, it's not very well equipped to handle a large number of vehicles and so, for what I would imagine is a once yearly occurrence, property owners nearby the stadium rent out their driveways and lawns for people to park at a cost of between $15 and $20 a spot. We parked and made our way into the stadium. Once inside we decided to take a walk around the stadium, check out the concessions and essentially see all that we could see. We snapped a few photos of the players warming up and then decided it might be a good idea to go find our seats. As we were walking back toward our section, it started to become very clear: the stadium was starting to really get crowded. We got to our section - #23, behind the near end zone - and took in the pregame warm ups.
Giants - pregame warm up
We were on the Giants side (cool), so we saw Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and others participate in their warm up drills and pre-game huddles. We even caught a glimpse of Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth who were both on the field prior to kickoff. (They were on hand to call the game for NBC Sunday Night Football.)
View from the seats
Some of the inductee class on the sideline

About 10 minutes before kickoff we decided to head down from our seats to grab a drink. Getting back to our section proved to be a bit of a challenge. Originally built as high school stadium that sat 15,000, additional seating was added to expand the capacity to over 22,000. However, the concourse was not intended to handle crowds of that size. Due to the layout of the stadium, access to some of the sections are limited by several gates that create a small "chute" style walkway that can only handle one-way traffic. This means that people on either side of the chute must wait for those coming in the opposite direction to get through. It's akin to a one lane road with traffic being regulated by a traffic cop. It was frustrating to have to wait, but eventually we were able to make it back but to our seats. This one-lane traffic pattern continued throughout the evening, whenever we ventured from our seats. Despite the fact that Fawcett is an old stadium, you'd think this is something that they could come up with another solution for.

While we were waiting in line to return to our seats, several parachutists dropped in to Fawcett Stadium - a sight to behold. It looks so much easier on television but watching in person - the amazement factor goes up by a thousand percent. It was a very cool thing to see.
We ultimately did return to our seats in time for kickoff - the moment had arrived for my Giants to beat up on the Bills.
Just after kick-off
Some people told me that since Fawcett is a high school stadium there are really no bad seats in the entire place. Being seated in the end zone did have it challenges, it was a little difficult to judge depth on the field and often our view of the action was blocked at just the right angle by the goalpost crossbar. We did, however, get a great view of Corey Washington's 73 yard TD reception (which gave the Giants the lead and the win) but action near the other end zone was not the easiest to see.
Halftime Entertainment

Towards the end of the game we decided to make another brief trip to the concourse before heading back to our seats for the final two minutes of action. Unfortunately, as we were heading back, we found that the walkway back to our seats was completely blocked off. The reason, we were told, was because they needed to keep the section clear for when the players ran off the field. I understand why this has to happen but it didn't make me any less frustrated that we couldn't return to our seats for the end of the game. Essentially we missed the last 2-3 minutes because we were not permitted to return to our seats. However, this negative situation soon turned into a positive experience. Sure, we missed the end of the game, but now we're in a prime spot to see all the Giants leave the field. A few Giants came over and signed for some fans and Eli Manning ran over and tossed his wristbands to a young fan who was sporting a Manning jersey. After the team had left the field, former Giant and current analyst Carl Banks meandered over and signed for a few fans - including us! As an older Giant fan, I thought it was pretty cool to get #58's autograph. My son received a brief history lesson on Carl Banks during our exit from the stadium.
Carl Banks signing for fans

As we made our walk back to the car, we took the opportunity to review the evening's events. We all agreed that we had a fun time at the game. Even my son, who in the days prior to the event couldn't muster a ton of excitement about it, had a lot of fun. For me, it was about seeing the Giants. I don't get to New York often (if at all) and a chance to see the Giants play is hard to pass up.
This will forever be remembered by my son and me as a great father/son bonding experience and for that I'm thankful. And if the Giants win it all this year we can look back at this game and say that it all started in Canton, at the Hall of Fame game, with a victory over the Bills.
No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary set of tickets was provided by Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau to facilitate the sharing of our experience. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Little Green Pouch - review

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary sample was provided for the purposes of this review. All images courtesy of Little Green Pouch.

It seems to me that lately, there are more and more items available at the store in pouches. I think I first tried a pouch product in the baby food aisle. I thought the concept was interesting, a squeeze pouch that could allow your young child to feed themselves fruits or vegetables without the need for a spoon. Then, I tried a product that was designed for adults - I can't remember the brand now, but it was a during exercise type of snack that would give you energy on the go. I liked the idea of a snack that I could put in the bag on my bike and enjoy on the way.
A while back, I was contacted by someone from a company that is offering a new product - Little Green Pouch. The product is a reusable pouch, that is dishwasher and freezer safe. It opens at the top with a interlocking zipper bag closure (like on your sandwich bags), to allow for easy filling of the pouch.
I told them that I would love to try this product and share it with my readers.

The pouches are very easy to clean. I cleaned them by hand the first time and then used my dishwasher. The zipper opening allows you to easily fit a bottle brush inside to clean. Trying to reach your hand in with a washcloth is a little bit harder. The dishwasher - simple. Open up your pouch, invert it and place over one of the tines in your upper rack.
The opening created with the zipper, allows for the pouches to easily be filled. They even have a little picture on the back of the pouch to suggest that you use a spoon, a funnel or a pitcher to fill. We tended to fill most with a spoon, or a pitcher (blender). Once filled, seal the zipper and remove the cap on the spout to enjoy the contents.
Each pouch can be filled with up to 7 oz of product, but I found that closer to 4 oz was the level to which I could fill and have the contents consumed. Coincidentally, this is also close to what are found on many of the other pouch items. The pouch does have a graduation on the back that shows you 2 oz increments, as well as the 7 oz max fill, which takes the guess work out of filling the pouch.

Each pouch also has a label spot on the back, so that you could mark whose pouch it was. I don't know about your house, but at my house it seems to be very important to my kids that they don't share a straw, a spoon, or cup...so this makes it an easy way to keep each person's pouch as their own.

We filled our pouches with an assortment of items. I liked that not only could I choose what to put in them, but also that I had more control over the ingredients and texture (some of the pouch items that I have bought and tried were too smooth, I like a little texture to my nourishment). I used them for yogurt - easy to consume and a great way to eat it on the go. We mostly enjoy blended yogurts at my house, so there weren't to many pieces of fruit...if you used fruited yogurt, might have to check and make sure it won't clog the spout. I also used them for pudding when I made some homemade pudding for the kids. We used them for smoothies, which we are a big fan of at my house. It is not only a great way to use up the assorted fruit in the house, but you can even sneak in some veggies for more nutrition.

Looking for more ideas? On their website, they offer several recipe ideas for things to make and fill in the pouches. They have recipes for sweet and savory - one savory option that I noticed is Chicken, Sweet Potatoes and Kale puree. They even have a separate search to find Paleo friendly recipes. I really think that the options are endless...anything you can puree, can go in the pouch.

What would you put in your Little Green Pouch?

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary sample was provided for the purposes of this review. All images courtesy of Little Green Pouch.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trying New (to me) Products

*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.
I have been lucky enough to be a part of the Hormel Extended Family Blogger program for some time now. Through the program, they frequently share recipes and ways to use their family of products, but they also share with me samples of their products so that I can experience them. Over the time that I have been a participant, I have been surprised to learn that the products were part of the Hormel Foods product offering.

One brand that I did not know was part of their portfolio was House of Tsang. When I receive the samples, some of the items are things that are components in my regular menu plan. Others, I do have to plan a special dish to give the new (to me) products a try.

As I was reading through my back log of recipes last month, I came upon a recipe for tilapia that immediately caught my eye...the flavor combination sounded good and I had never prepared fish in that style. As an added benefit, it was easy to make a few swaps to allow me to try some of the House of Tsang products that I had received and was not familiar with. The original recipe called for soy and grated ginger, but I thought it would be a great way to try the House of Tsang Ginger Flavored Soy. Of course, the recipe includes sesame oil too, another product available in the House of Tsang portfolio.

You can find the recipe for Ginger Soy Tilapia here.

The family enjoyed the dinner and it has been added to our family cookbook as a dinner option in our regular menu plan.

Have you tried any of the House of Tsang products? What have you tried and how did you use it?

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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown!

No compensation was received for this post. This promotion was shared with me by Litfuse Publicity, through my blogging relationship.

Susan May Warren's newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers' and critics' hearts alike. With critical reviews like, ". . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem," and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you're not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan's blog on the 13th to see if you won!

You can find my review of When I Fall In Love here.

No compensation was received for this post. This promotion was shared with me by Litfuse Publicity, through my blogging relationship. I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purposes of reviewing it.

Menu Plan Monday

We have had a few busy weekends in a row, so it was nice this past weekend when we discovered that we had an entire weekend with absolutely nothing planned. We tried to plan a spontaneous road trip to Columbus on Friday, but learned that the Ohio State Fair was going on and that there was a Thirty-One convention that was wrapping up in Columbus. The issue, most of the hotels that we would normally select actually had no rooms available. So, we ditched that and instead, took the kids to the Melting Pot for dinner and did some shopping at the outdoor mall. It made for a nice evening out as a family.

Saturday was a great day to get a lot done. I did some cleaning, lots of laundry, some baking, some sorting through and listing of the clothes my kids had outgrown and my husband had shrunk out of. We made a quick bike ride as a family to a nearby convenience store and got the kids each a milkshake. My husband did the grocery shopping, allowing me to wrap up a few things and sneak in some time for reading.

Sunday was a nice relaxing family day. We went to the pool, before the rain came and then came home and played Monopoly, while I made dinner. After dinner, the rain was gone, so we went out and played catch and found some time to weed the garden.

This week's menu plan is brought to us by my son. While at the library, he picked up Guy Fieri's Guy On Fire cookbook and spent some time reviewing the cookbook and marking several recipes. I took four of the recipes that he marked and included them on our menu for this week. I actually feel like I could make and eat most of the dishes that my son marked. I can tell you already though that I will have to make some slight tweaks, like reduce the amount of cheese in the Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls - but as my son said, "this is definitely a keeper".

Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls (from Guy on Fire)

leftovers (the egg rolls reheated nicely)
homemade pizza - Pepperoni-Cheese, Prosciutto and Mozzarella, Cheese/Kalamata Olives-Cheese/Jalapenos/Onions-Cheese

Mac n Cheese with Roasted Chicken and Bacon (from Guy on Fire)

Danger Dogs (from Guy on Fire)

Creamy Chicken Florentine

Grilled Chicken Wings Two Ways (from Guy on Fire)



Now that it is summer, the kids are in camp and are packing lunches. Breakfast is generally a bowl of cereal or oatmeal before they head out. For my husband and I, lunch is a quick sandwich, microwave meal, leftovers or something on the go. Breakfast is a banana and a protein shake or bar.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie.