Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rediscovering Quesadillas

*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.
We have a new favorite, quick and easy meal or snack at my house - Quesadillas. They are so simple to make from whatever you have on hand. I am completely surprised by families sudden enthusiasm for quesadillas. When they were little, my kids would always turn their nose up at the option of quesadillas when we went out for Mexican. The good news is that they ate Mexican food and didn't just ask for the hot dog or chicken nuggets.

Anyway, back to the quesadilla explosion. It all started one day with leftovers. We had grilled some chicken the night before and had some leftover. Most of the chicken was eaten as a topping for salad, but there was a small amount left and my husband asked for a quesadilla. We took the leftover chicken and chopped it up, placing it on one tortilla in a small skillet and then added peppers, onions and cheese and warmed it up to melt the cheese. Since that day, they have become a go to request for a leftover or grab what you want type meal.

I generally have some tortillas on hand because soft tacos are a popular go to menu option, but lately I have had to add tortillas (Chi Chi's tortillas are our go to brand) to my 'pantry' shopping and make sure that I have an extra pack on hand, so that we don't run out.

I think my favorite part is how versatile a quesadilla can be. You can chose to have no meat or whatever meat you have on hand (typically leftovers) - chicken, ground meat, sausage, pepperoni. You can use any type of cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, goat. You can add a variety of vegetables - onions, hot peppers, bell peppers, squash. You can serve it with any number of dips - sour cream, salsa, queso, ranch, pizza sauce. Essentially, you can make it your own and everyone can have their own variety with ease.
My small skillet is the perfect size to fit a soft taco shell. It's non-stick and the quesadilla only takes a few minutes to warm over a medium heat. I also like that it is easy for the kids to make their own too. It may just be a phase, but for now quesadillas are a quick, easy snack or meal option for our family.

What is your go to snack? How do you repurpose leftovers?

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 samples for my family to try. I also receive thought starters, information and photos that can be used in a post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna White

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
There is nothing like a good book to transport you. With the lovely days that we are having, I find myself sitting on the porch or in the kitchen with the gentle breeze blowing and as I begin to read my book, I find that I am suddenly somewhere else - another time, another place. The story line so engaging that I simply don't want to put the book down. I know that there is laundry to do and dishes to wash, but that can surely wait. Who attacked Brook and what were they after? Would Justin and Brook recognize what they have before it is too late? What exactly was in that journal and what would it reveal about their lives?
Those were some of my thoughts as I enjoyed reading The Lost Heiress this past week. I really enjoyed the read. It is the first book that i have read by Roseanna White, but it will not be my last. She did a good job developing characters through the progression of the story, revealing things about some of the characters right up to the end of the story. Her story was so engaging that I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I needed to know what happened next - there was never a good spot to stop. It had the perfect balance of romance, adventure, mystery, intrigue, deception and faith.

I thoroughly enjoyed the setting in Edwardian England. I still am fascinated by the idea that the women wore multiple dresses a day and that they had a ladies maid to help them with clothing changes and doing their hair. I loved that Brook was ahead of her time and although every bit the lady, had a bit of a wild streak and a love of adventure running through her blood. Character traits that allowed her to persevere.

This book was the first in a new series, Ladies of the Manor. I can't wait for the next story.

About the book:
The Lost Heiress
Ladies of the Manor, Book 1

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

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.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Red Robin's Burger for Better Schools Program #Giveaway

No compensation was received for this post. The Red Robin information and gift cards (one for my family, one for the giveaway) have been provided by Red Robin. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.
When I first graduated from college, I took a job with a company that had a training program that included rotations at two different production locations. It was an awesome experience and gave me the opportunity to live in two different cities and meet a lot of amazing people (including my husband). While on my second rotation, I was living in South Jersey and working in Philadelphia. It was a really fun rotation. I had a roommate that was there for a co-op assignment at the same plant and we had a blast exploring our new community. In addition to meeting new people, it also gave me a chance to catch up with some of my friends from college that had moved to the area years ahead of me. One weekend, I went and spent a couple of days with a sorority sister who lived about an hour away from my apartment. While visiting with her, we went to dinner at a restaurant that was new to me at the time - Red Robin. I remember they had a great hamburger selection and that the food was very good.

It has been several years (several, like 18 years) since I had last been to a Red Robin. For a long time, I didn't live near one and then when I moved 'close' to one, it was still a good half hour away from me and although we shopped in the area, the crowds generally kept us from stopping to eat, instead opting to head home to eat. They would come to mind when we had cravings for a good burger, but we hadn't been.

When Red Robin reached out about their new way to support local schools with their Burgers for Better Schools program, we decided we should make the journey - it helped that I had a work event near the Red Robin and the family came down and met me there for dinner.

Burgers for Better Schools is an extension of Red Robin’s loyalty rewards program, which gives members the opportunity to support local K-12 schools simply by dining at participating Red Robin restaurants and using their Red Robin Royalty member account. When a Red Robin Royalty member’s account is presented at the time of purchase, Red Robin will donate one percent of the total bill (excluding taxes, gratuities and gift card sales) to their school of choice.

Fortunately, since I was close by, I was able to time my arrival just enough in advance of the family, that I was able to wait the wait out by myself and we were seated within minutes of my family arriving. The kids each got kid's menus, which came with the tiniest crayons, they were sort of cute.
They also have tablets at the table, that allow you call the waitress, explore the menu, and play trivia. We were a little bummed that trivia came with a cost, especially since with it being on the tablet, it would be real easy for a kid to start playing without realizing. We asked why they charged for the trivia, when so many other places use the trivia as an additional draw to get crowds to come in and linger longer. The waitress wasn't sure, but agreed that it might be nice for it to be complimentary like it is elsewhere.

Then came time to explore our menus. I was very pleased by the selection and quickly narrowed it down to my top three or four options (I'm not the best decision maker when it comes to what do you want to eat...I want it all). As he explored the regular menu, son's eyes were bigger than his stomach, but fortunately, when we asked they have a plan for that...he was able to get a smaller version of his preferred burger from the adult menu. He went with the Burnin' Love.
He opted to try the cole slaw for his endless side. I have to tell you that we all thought it was really good.

My husband went with a different spicy burger - the Chili Chili Cheeseburger, with a side of fries. He was disappointed that it was not spicy and had to order some ghost pepper sauce to spice it up to what he wanted.

I was torn between the Royal Red Robin, which comes with an over easy egg on it and the Guacamole Burger. I went with the Guacamole Burger and the Garlic Herbed fries for my side. There was an extra charge for the Garlic Herbed Fries, but they are still bottomless.

My daughter chose the Little Red's Burger from the kids menu for her meal. She upgraded her drink to a Root Beer float. It was a small drink, but it was bottomless, which meant that there was enough to meet her expectations.

When you were ready for more sides, all you had to do was ask and they would bring out another basket.

Everyone was very pleased with their meal. We thought about dessert, but the food was so tasty that we all ate our meals and didn't have room for dessert. When we were ready, we were able to use the tablet on our table to pay our bill, including tip and print our receipt.
My husband liked this, he has often talked about how he would love to be able to pay at the table, so that the credit card was never out of of his control.

In addition to enjoying a great meal, we were able to help our local school out to. We had registered before going and the school we chose will get one percent of what we spent.

We are already planning our next visit.

Information about Red Robin’s Burger for Better Schools Program:

· Burgers for Better Schools is an extension of Red Robin’s loyalty rewards program. Red Robin Royalty provides members with added perks when they dine at Red Robin restaurants throughout the year, such as granting every 10th item purchased as free, a free birthday burger, exclusive surprises and more

· Burgers for Better Schools gives Red Robin Royalty members an opportunity to support local K-12 schools simply by dining at participating Red Robin restaurants and using their Red Robin Royalty member account. When a Red Robin Royalty member’s account is presented at the time of purchase, Red Robin will donate one percent of the total bill to their school of choice (excluding taxes, gratuities and gift card sales)

· Participating in Burgers for Better Schools is as easy as becoming a member of Red Robin Royalty. Red Robin Royalty members can sign up for Burgers for Better Schools on their account dashboard on Red Robin’s website or by visiting If you are not already a Red Robin Royalty member, sign up for free and select your child’s school BEFORE your visit!

· Through the Burgers for Better Schools dashboard, Red Robin Royalty members can select their school of choice to receive support, and change their school selection at any time throughout the year

· Members who have opted into Burgers for Better Schools can follow their progress in supporting a K-12 school of their choice on their Red Robin Royalty account dashboard. Details include individual contributions, how many others are supporting that school, and total donations raised by all supporters

· At any time, Red Robin Royalty members can donate an additional sum to the school of their choice by using the credit card option featured on the Burgers for Better Schools homepage

· Red Robin also makes it easy to help spread the word about the Burgers for Better Schools program at school, online and socially with a variety flyers, website banners and social media-friendly content in the online digital tool kit

Information about Red Robin:

· Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is the Gourmet Burger Authority, a place where families and adults alike can enjoy a great dining experience

· The first Red Robin restaurant opened in Seattle, Wash., in 1969, and now there are more than 500 Red Robin restaurants across the United States and Canada

· Red Robin is famous for serving more than two dozen craveable, high-quality burgers with Bottomless Steak Fries® in a fun environment welcoming to guests of all ages. In addition to its many burger offerings, Red Robin serves a wide variety of salads, soups, appetizers, entrees, desserts and signature Mad Mixology® Beverages

· Red Robin is proud to offer fresh, high quality ingredients and every meal is made-to-order. Red Robin’s commitment to food quality includes Gourmet Burgers made with fresh, never frozen, all-natural, domestic, USDA-inspected beef; hormone free poultry and locally sourced produce that is hand-selected by its suppliers and freshly prepared in-house

· To sign up for the Red Robin Royalty program and become eligible to support your local school through Burgers for Better Schools, visit

You can find and connect with Red Robin
* Red Robin website

* Red Robin Burgers for Better Schools

* Red Robin on Facebook

* Red Robin on Twitter

* Red Robin on Instagram


Thanks to Red Robin, I have the opportunity to give one A Busy Mom of Two Reader a $75 gift card to check out Red Robin.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through October 9th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. Winners will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winners will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. The Red Robin information and gift cards (one for my family, one for the giveaway) have been provided by Red Robin. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
There is something very good about a book that can draw you into the story in the first chapter. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary that happened, a silly mutt had gotten away leaving it's family to locate it. But Shelley Shepard Gray with her straight-forward style and the way that she reveals enough about the characters to pique your interest, pulled me right into her new book, A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn.

The book takes place in Pinecraft, an Amish community nestled in Florida. For those that have read earlier books in the Brides of Pinecraft series, it revisits old characters and introduces many new. For those that are new to the series, there is nothing lost in having not read the earlier books.

The story is universal in it's storyline, the chance meeting, the common challenges, the shared issues and the opportunity for more, despite the unique setting and Amish characters. I think that is one thing that really appeals to me about this book (and others like it). Although it is Amish fiction, and their religious ways come into play, at the heart the stories are about people and emotions, something that we can all relate to. Gray does a great job developing the characters in the book and the reader is easily pulled in and watches as they open themselves up and close back down in worry, as they grow from experiences and come to discover that there is more out there, as they find love and worry about losing it.

If you are looking for an easy, enjoyable love story to read, you should definitely consider A Wedding at Orange Blossom Inn.

About the book:
A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn (Avon Inspire, September 2015)

A wedding brings together two young widowed parents . . . and gives them a second chance at love.

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband, Sanford, passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. Though several years have passed, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty---a handsome widower with three young sons of his own---Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. Still, she is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship---and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband's memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Emma's gentleness with Jay's boys stirs something in his heart that's been quiet for far too long. But when his oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son's joy, Jay wonders if it's time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.

Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Find Shelley online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Learn more about the book and read other reviews 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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lucy Leid's Gather Around the Amish Table

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

It's no secret, I love to spend time in the kitchen. Whether baking or cooking, it is a time that I really enjoy. Spending the time in the kitchen with my kids makes it even better. When I was given the opportunity to check out and do a review of Gather Around the Amish Table, I was happy to try out some new recipes. Especially because I have dined at local restaurants that feature Amish food and I know that I enjoy the home-style goodness of the dishes I have tried, from main courses to sides to desserts. The cookbook was authored by Lucy Leid, who is Amish.

When we received the cookbook, my son started perusing it right away and marked several recipes for us to try. I love the little stories that were shared with several of the recipes - some talked about specific memories around the recipe or a story around the source of the recipe. Stories and anecdotes about the food help create a connection and pique interest in trying the recipe.

One recipe that we tried was the Onion Rings. I have made a lot of breaded sides, but I'm not sure that I have ever made a battered side. I was surprised at how easy it was and how delicious it turned out. They were great fresh from the frying pan and the leftovers were equally tasty warmed in the oven the next night for dinner. This recipe is definitely a keeper and one that makes us want to fry other veggies.

Another recipe that we tried was the Chewy Molasses Cookies. Warning - the recipe says it makes 6 dozen cookies, which didn't sound that big to me, but they must be huge cookies! I cut the recipe in half and it barely fit in the bowl of my stand mixer.
I don't do raisins, so I left those out. I quickly learned that because of the directions to plump them in water that they were more than just a mix in. I wound up adding some oatmeal to give the cookies more body. Next time, I will still use oatmeal as my alternate to raisins, but will 'plump' it versus just mixing in. The cookies weren't pretty because of my modifications, but they were very delicious and were soft as promised. Can't wait to try them again.

We have not been disappointed in any of the recipes that we have made. Based on our experience, we will definitely be spending the next few months working our way through a number of the other recipes that we have marked in the cook book. There are several recipes that based on our flavor preferences we aren't likely to try, but I've never found a single cook book where every recipe appealed.

If you are a fan of homemade style food, I recommend that you check out Gather Around the Amish Table.

About the book:
Gather Around the Amish Table (MennoMedia, September 2015)

Straight from Amish kitchens to yours, this cookbook offers favorite family recipes and charming stories from Amish and Mennonite cooks.

Bake the pecan rolls that taste best after an ice-skating party, or try the hoagies that a community sold to help an Amish family with hospital bills. Discover the cocoa cupcakes with instructions to "stir by hand" that one young cook took literally, or whip up the whoopie pies that one Amish woman took to market in her horse and buggy.

These cherished recipes speak of comforting traditions, lively communities, and strong Christian faith. Gather your family around the table to sample the nourishing fare and trademark charm of the plain people. In the words of one cookbook contributor: "Bake someone happy!"

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Lucy Leid is an Old Order Mennonite wife, mother, and cook in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Learn more about the book and read other reviews 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.