Ever since my children were small we have had a tradition of making a Cinnamon Roll Christmas Tree. The best part about this tradition is that it is fast to create, can be decorated by your kids, and it is something they will look forward to every year.
There is no recipe to this one unless you are feeling ambitious and want to create some easy bread machine cinnamon rolls to make this with, which is something I love to do on Christmas morning!
Shape these into a Christmas tree shape on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake as directed on the packaging. Tint the icing green with a few drops of food coloring and let them decorate the rolls themselves.
I slide the rolls off of the hot cookie sheet and let them decorate while they are still hot, reducing the risk of burn elbows and arms by removing that hot sheet.
This recipe is practically fool-proof, unless you were up with a screaming baby one night and on Christmas morning grabbed blue instead of green.
And maybe you declared it the year of the retro Christmas tree.
Who is ready for a happy & healthy Halloween feast? Halloween is just around the corner and this year Kenmore has you covered with an easy Halloween dish and treat that you can enjoy with your family before or after your trick-or-treating has begun. That’s right, there is no need to order a pizza or stress out about festive snacks, at least not this year! This year I am sharing an easy slow cooker recipe idea and a treat that is not only healthy, but also a festive addition to your dinner offerings!
Did you know that it is possible to make big batches of toasted cheese sandwiches in no time flat? Today I want to share with you my secret for making a big batch of toasted cheese sandwiches in your oven which is one of my best little hostess party trick for entertaining a crowd. You can also refer to it as your lunch lady trick. I am a little bit of both of those around here.
One of our favorite ways to entertain in the Fall months is with a big pot of soup or chili and a loaf of crusty bread or grilled cheese sandwiches. If you are entertaining a crowd, manning the griddle for a big group can take you away from really enjoying your guests and honoring a million different types of cheese or sandwich filler requests can also be overwhelming. Instead of doing that, try this strategy for toasting up your sandwiches
It is so easy that it is embarrassing to provide a recipe for you. Simply butter both slices of bread, stick your favorite cheese or add-in’s into the sandwich, cook at 450 for 6-8 minutes, flip and then cook for 6-8 more minutes. The end.
What you will get it is super HOT toasted cheese sandwiches, evenly toasted bread on the outside, and the gooey cheese inside you are after.
I hope you can give this trick a try in your kitchen!
With the Fall comes all of the game time festivities and today I wanted to share a slow cooker chicken wing recipe that you can enjoy at your next game day festivity. These Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings are the perfect balance of sweet and spicy and are one of my favorite game time recipes I love to share with my family.
Walmart asked me to share a fun game time recipe with you and also would love to remind you that they are a one-stop-shop for all of your game time needs. The best part, of course, is that the will price match those competitor ads for you so you can get everything you need and the best deal on it while you are there. While you are there, I wanted to showcase one of my favorite game day recipes that I love to make for our family!
Making wings taste delicious in a slow cooker can be a challenge, but my trick is to season and broil my wings for ten minutes on each side to give it that beautiful color on the skin and to make sure that the wings start out well-seasoned before being slid into your slow cooker. I love that a lot of the fat renders out of the wings too while being broiled so it is a much healthier option than frying them.
The secret is, of course, in the sauce that they are glazed in. My sauce has a mixture of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, honey, garlic, and that bold and spicy Bourbon flavor comes from a new Sweet Baby Ray’s Kickin’ Bourbon Chicken Wing Glaze that you can find over in the condiment aisle of your store. The more of this you add to your sauce, the spicier it will be. This glaze will be thin, but will coat your wings beautifully.
The slow cooker gets a little crowded with this many wings in there so I do the ultimate slow cooker no-no and open that lid up and shift them periodically. Thanks to broiling them beforehand though, these wings will be done in two hours on high or four hours on low!
Can you believe that school has started for many already, and will be starting for everyone else within the next couple of weeks? It’s crazy how fast the summer goes, yet I always look forward to a brand new school year and that great fresh feeling of fall! Dealing with all the busy schedules, paperwork, homework, and meals during the school week is part of the fun, but also can lead to feeling overwhelmed if not tackled in the beginning.
Now that my kids are a bit older, I’ve found that if I start out on the right track with simple, doable organizing strategies, then the rest of the year goes much better than when I put off setting up simple systems or decide to just wing it.
With this in mind, I’ve put together 21 Back To School Organizing ideas to inspire you and help you get the year off to a good start for you and your kids. I’ve picked some classic tried-and-true Mom Advice systems that work for us and gathered a few other amazing ideas in three main categories:
Back-to-school means it’s time to start thinking about packing your kids lunchbox. Every day. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to get in a rut of sandwich-fruit-chip/pretzels, but with a little bit of planning and thinking – dare I say it? – outside the box, we can get out of the rut and create a bit of lunchbox fun!
With that in mind, I’ve searched the Mom Advice archives for some of my kids favorite lunchbox foods, visited our lunchbox Pinterest Board (lots more ideas there, by the way!) for ideas, and then searched for even more creative and healthy ways to bring a little lunchbox fun to the school year!
Since we’ve been having a run of rainy weather where we live, I thought it would be a great idea to pull together some fun rainy day summertime activities (and even one outdoor project that uses rain!) to help get you through those inevitable wet, summer days.
You’ll find a few kid-friendly recipes, some projects to give to others, and fun classic indoor games and activities to inspire you to take advantage of summer’s rainy days.
The best part? This is only the tip of the iceberg of summertime activities – both indoor and outdoor! You’ll find oh, so much more on our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board – 2013 edition. And if that weren’t enough, there’s the 2012 and the 2011 editions of 100 Days of Summer boards, too. So, no excuses – take some time to have fun with your kids and make some memories!
If you have been a reader of mine or have checked out my book, “The Good Life for Less,” I am sure you are familiar with our easy homemade slushies recipe that we use throughout the summer months. Making your own slushies is fun, frugal, and a sweet summertime pastime for my kids. In fact, as soon as school got out, they asked if they could have mom’s infamous homemade slushies to celebrate their last day of school.
The great thing about our easy KOOL-AID slushies is that you can make a different batch every time. We love trying new flavors and now you can find fun ones like watermelon, mixed berry, and even strawberry kiwi.
I am always tweaking my recipes and have tried everything from sugar-free Kool-Aid to make slushies (they did not turn out for us) to reducing the sugar in our slushies to see if the kids notice a taste difference. We decided to drop the sugar to a 1/2 cup in our batch (originally 2/3 cup) and we found that we didn’t notice a big taste difference, but I felt better about sharing this treat with my kids with the lower sugar content.
Do You Have a KOOL-AID Creation To Share?
KOOL AID is working with the Nickelodeon boy band, Big Time Rush (BTR) during their 2013 summer concert tour and would love if you uploaded a unique “KOOL AID Creation” to participate in their fun summertime contest! Perhaps, you can create your very own slushie creation or other fun project with KOOL-AID?
Walmart shoppers who purchase $6 worth of KOOL AID products can upload an image of their Walmart receipt to the free Shoparoo app on their smart phone or to Shoparoo.com. You will receive a unique code for an exclusive ticket price of $50 for (4) four on Big Time Rush tickets. The ticket purchase can be made at Walmart Ticket Master kiosks, Ticket Master online or through Ticket Master phone orders.
Winners will receive (2) VIP tickets to one of the 37 BTR concerts this summer and an autographed BTR KOOL AID tee , Meet & Greet including photo with the Band.
How fun is that?
We don’t just love our slushies though, I had to showcase these adorable double-insulated mason travel mugs that Walmart has over in their seasonal section of their store. Our slushies stayed super cold and there were no worries about slushie spills. I ended up buying four of them for myself, so I could sip a little iced cold iced tea or iced coffee on my patio this summer!
As my kids get older, I am beginning to learn more the importance of cooking with them. Today I am sharing our family’s favorite summer pasta recipe of Rotini With Turkey Meatballs and I wanted to share with you a fun way to involve your kids in the cooking process.
Walmart wanted to give us the chance to share about the Gourmet Garden herb line that you can find at your store. We are no strangers to the beauty of Gourmet Garden though and I guarantee if you open my fridge on any given day, you will find a tube of herbs in there.
There are several reason why I genuinely love these handy herbs in a tube. For us, it offers a little money-savings for seldom used herbs that need to be added to dishes. I hate throwing out herbs that go bad within a week where I simply need a pinch or so to create a dish. Garden Gourmet herbs last for up to three months, giving me the chance to make that dish many times over before I have to give my tube a toss.
The second reason I really love these herbs is because it is an easy way to bring your kids into the kitchen with you and get them cooking and spicing dishes with you, without ever getting out that knife and cutting board.
The bonus in all of this though is that these herbs are organically-grown and gluten-free; two things that we know are important to many of our readers!
Basically, we love them and have been true Garden Gourmet enthusiasts for a long time!
Throw on your mom’s apron, should you so choose, and let’s get cooking in the kitchen this summer with your favorite helpers. Both of my kids were very excited about getting to help make this dish since it just so happens to be our Dad’s favorite dish.
Meatballs are fun to mix, to shape, and…of course, to eat! We made our meatballs with Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (we just remove the meat from the casing for preparation) and mix it up with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, a little squeeze of ketchup, lightly beaten eggs, and the Garlic and Italian Herbs from the Garden Gourmet herb line.
Roll out the meatballs into roughly the same size shape and place them gently on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake these at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. The size pictured above were ready in about 12 minutes.
Rinse four cups of cherry tomatoes and then (with mom or dad’s help) cut the tomatoes in half for the sauce.
Let the kids shape those meatballs while you prepare the sauce for the dish. I used the Garden Gourmet Chunky Garlic paste, the fresh tomatoes, and a little chicken broth to make a light summer sauce. If your kids aren’t a fan of the big tomatoes in the sauce, utilize an immersion blender or carefully pour the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sauce back to the pan and slide your meatballs into the sauce until they are warm.
Prepare the pasta as directed on the packaging and drain.
Finish by tossing all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and add fresh Garden Gourmet basil in the dish and lightly toss until everything is incorporated.
Sometimes I forget how much fun it really is to cook with my kids in the kitchen and just how proud they are when they contribute to the dish. They couldn’t wait to show their Dad their meatballs they made and we all agreed that they were far more delicious than the ones I make by myself.
I hope you can get in the kitchen and mix up something delicious with your family and that our recipe offers some inspiration for your family cooking time together!
Father’s Day is just around the corner & today we wanted to share a monster of a Father’s Day gift with a cute spin on the monster theme with easy monster cookie bars and printable monster cards for a special Dad in your life.
This week’s challenge from Walmart was to create an inexpensive Father’s Day gift that would wow your Dad. Well, if your dad is anything like our Dad, he is certainly wowed with homemade treats and funny cards with a great sense of humor. Our idea was to mix up a batch of thick and delicious Monster Cookie Bars made with rolled oats, peanut butter, mini M&M’s (found over in their candy aisle), and chocolate chips.
Monster Cookies can be a bit of a monster to create as a drop cookie because of their monster size. I choose to echo the words of an amazing woman I once heard speak these wise words…
“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Bar cookies get a big fist pump from this busy mom and if a celebration requires a cookie, I often rely on these chocolate chip cookie bars to get us through whatever baking requirements are made for those occasions. These Monster Cookie Bars are equally delicious and offer that crusty exterior with that soft interior that makes, in my humble opinion, the perfect cookie.
What Father’s Day would be complete without a card to accompany your sweet gift? We are so excited to debut these adorable Monster cards that you can print out to attach with your Monster Cookie Bars for your favorite Dad. We have included three fun printable cards for Father’s Day and then 1 that could be used for any occasion to accompany your sweet treat. Print these printables out on white card stock and you will be all set for this Father’s Day!
I can admit that this family has had Monsters on our brain after getting a sneak peek at the Monsters University movie that is set to hit theaters on June 21st. While our family was at the Disney Social Media Moms conference, we got an exclusive sneak peek at the film. It is FANTASTIC, and dare I say it, even funnier than the first one. I have no doubt that your family will love it!
Our Monster Cookie Bars would really pull together a fun family night out to see this fantastic film and you can find loads of fun Monsters supplies in the party favors aisle of your Walmart store including fun cups, plates, and other party favors for an inexpensive night to enjoy while tackling your summer bucket list or our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board.
Now that you have the printables, here is the deliciously easy and tasty recipe for these Monster Cookie Bars. We recommend preparing these in a metal 9×13 pan for best results!
Monster cookies made easy in a bar cookie. Be sure to pair these easy cookies with our free Monster printables.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups creamy peanut buter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini M&M's (approximately half a bag)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
Mix in oats until well combined.
Stir in chocolate chips and mini M&M's
Press dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and set in the middle. Let cool completely in baking dish then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.
Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dad readers (I know you’re out there!) and here’s hoping you get spoiled by a few of your favorite monsters!
Be sure to check back this week for more great Father’s Day gifts on a budget!