Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Earth Day Pledge 2014

We're a pretty Earth friendly household already so when it came time to think of this year's Earth Day Pledge and giving back to the Earth I drew inspiration from my last 3 months working on an organic farm. Turns out we rarely buy local herbs, I've tried growing them in my garden but failed to ever have enough to make even one pesto pizza let alone enough for a family of 5 for the whole year so we typically ended up buying packaged dried herbs from a big box stores. 

It's time for a change!! Our Earth Day Pledge this year and for the future is to buy locally grown organic herbs and continue buying local produce and hopefully there's some chickens in our future too!

We have almost two million farms in the USA and more than 2/3 of those are family owned small-scale farms. These farm sell their products directly to the public. They do this via CSA programs,Farmers' MarketsFood Coops, u-picks, farm stands, and other direct marketing channels. 
Large scale chemical agriculture is poisoning our soils and our water, and weakening our communities. By buying direct from a family farm you can help put a stop to this unfortunate trend.

I used an Ecological Footprint calculator and found that food was the second largest part of our consumption taking up 24% of our overall footprint. Buying local will help reduce our numbers.

Calculate your footprint at Earthday.org

 Earth Day Pledge 2014: Buy locally grown organic Herbs & Produce

this post was inspired by RedEnvelope’s #redgoesgreen project : www.redenvelope.com

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Best Greek Yogurt Taste-Off !!!!!

We're pretty big fans of greek yogurt as a snack or with breakfast, it even finds it's way into our baking. Our family loves the thick rich taste of greek over regular style yogurts. So when we heard consumers across America participated in a national taste test and results showed that they prefer the taste of Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry yogurt to Chobani Simply 100 Strawberry we had to try it out ours.

Just the mention of a blind taste-off and my kids were jumping with excitement!!! 

One by one we tasted the yogurt and surprisingly some of us could not tell the difference between the two yogurts the first time around so we had to repeated it and I'll have to admit my aim is bad so they may have ended up with a yogurt facial and a big laugh. But in the end the Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry yogurt won the taste-off with 4 out of 5 of us picking it over Chobani Simply 100 Greek Strawberry yogurt. The Yoplait was sweeter while the Chobani seemed to lack a strong strawberry flavor. Most of us felt the Chobani was to plain tasting and not sweet enough.

We've taken the Yoplait Taste-Off and picked Yoplait Greek as the winner, now it’s your turn! Let me know who won your taste off!!

Looking forward to trying out some of the other Yoplait Greek Flavors:

Twelve Flavors
- Strawberry
- Blueberry
- Black Cherry
- Strawberry Banana
- Vanilla
- Peach
- Key Lime
- Lemon
- Mixed Fruit
- Tropical
- Apple Pie
- Strawberry Cheesecake"

Thanks to Yoplait for sponsoring today's discussion

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Marshmallow Peeps Rice Krispie Treats

I've been making rice krispie treats for over 20 years and never thought anything of it. It's a pretty simple dessert just white marshmallows, butter and rice krispie cereal, totally yummy and the kids eat them up. I recently had comment left on my candy filled rice krispie treat eggs post mentioning how she felt they looked bland, which got me to thinking. First I tried the colored marshmallows pink lemonade and blue raspberry flavored, they tasted awful. So I happen to have packages of marshmallow peeps in the house and thought why not!

They turned out so pretty and taste really great, keeping their peep flavor and color to give the treats that pop!

Take the peeps out of the packaging (10 peeps) and in a glass bowl microwave them until they
 are nice and fluffy, about double their original size. It took me 45-60 seconds in my microwave.

Then add in the rice krispies, I didn't measure but so start with 1 cup then add 1/2 cup at a time 
until it's the ratio you like. Then spread it into a greased 8x8 inch pan.

Let them sit for about 30 minutes to firm up and then cut into squares and serve.

 I would never have tried using marshmallow peeps if it wasn't for a fellow blogger!! Comments can spark ideas and lead to new and great things! Please feel free to share your thoughts on my blog.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Reduced Fat Cheese For a Balanced Snack and Dinner? Yes please!

We love cheese!!  If we can have it with every meal we do. So finding a healthy yet tasty
 option was a must. I was happy to find out that most varieties of Alpine Lace® Deli Cheese 
are reduced fat, perfect for snacking on the go or adding delicious flavor to your favorite
 meal. Its great taste comes from high-quality ingredients, and it provides a good source of
 protein and calcium but most importantly my kids eat it up!

This is one of our favorite go to dinners, it's quick and easy and just a hand full of ingredients.

A friend gave me a helpful tip about using potato in dishes, cook them half way first!
 It will cut down the baking time and keep everything else from overcooking. Definitely good advice.

So first boil the potatoes for 15 minutes then thinly sliced them.
We like to use fresh from the farm organic potatoes.

Next combine buttermilk, flour, garlic, salt, pepper and parmesan in a sauce pan
bring to a boil and let simmer until it thickens like a cream sauce.

In a baking dish pour some of the cream sauce to coat the bottom then a layer of sliced potatoes,
next the Alpine Lace Swiss Cheese from the deli.
Then another layer of potatoes and finally pour the remaining cream sauce over the top of the potatoes.
 I sprinkled some parmesan over the dish (optional)

Bake at 385 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

The kiddos were so hungry a quick healthy balanced snack does the trick to hold them over. 

I just sliced the apples and rolled them up in some Alpine Lace® Swiss Cheese.

Everything's better rolled up in cheese!

For nutrition info on all cheese varieties visit Alpine Lace and visit them on Facebook.

Thanks to Alpine Lace® for sponsoring today's discussion

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Paddy's Day Parade

I loved watching the sea of green heading into the elementary school today from tutus to 
face paint, hats and boots, what a fun but chilly day to be Irish or well at least look it!

This year we decided to go to the "Old Neighborhood" parade since they forecasted the weather to be half-warm 
??? which really means 30 degrees on Saturday and not the 15 set for Sunday, brrr!
Last year we froze even in snow pants and yes we froze again the wind was blowing, but it turns out
candy is magical and kids don't complain!

Hey St. Patrick I heard you weren't Irish! Who knew?! Well no worries neither are we. Even if my son's name would fool anyone and I always always gotten mistaken for being Irish,  
but it can't possibly be from my green eyes and freckles, can it?

So much fun! 

Now into the kitchen to try making my first Irish soda bread and some yummy cabbage.

Friday, March 14, 2014

DIY: Shrinky Dink Rings

It's been a long time since I've done a Shrinky Dink project and I forgot just how much fun they are!
There's so many options and ideas but I decided to try and make some rings. Sounds easy enough,
though it wasn't without a lot of trial and error and some sore finger tips, even slight blistering can occur with this project.

First off was to track down the supplies, I didn't have any recyclable #6 plastic so I needed to buy the actual Shrink Dink sheets.
The local craft store had them in clear, solid white or inkjet printable. I just needed the clear for this project.

I also had to find the right ink, sharpie wasn't working as well as I had read. On the packaging it lists several kinds of ink to use.
It MUST be a permanent ink. (I found sharpie markers and paint markers to wipe off)

Finding the right length and width for the rings took some time.
 Then we needed something to wrap the rings around while they cooled. 
A medicine syringes tended to be the right size, the ones Target gives you for children's medicine.
I also heard that Chapstick works for some, not in our case. 
Just take a ring you wear and find a cylinder shapes object it slides snuggly over and that heat won't damage.

Measurements for Shrink Dink rings are:

5 inches by 3/4 inches - ages 5-8

5 1/4 inches by 5/8 inches - ages 8-10

5 1/2 inches by 5/8 inches - ages 11-14 
(young adult or women with slender fingers)

5 3/4 inches by 1 inch - adult female

if making the fox ring for ages 11-14:
6 1/4 inches in length by 5/8 inches
(length is longer since the face and tail must overlap)

Stamp the design onto the plastic sheet then measure, cut to size and round the ends.

Bake at 325 degrees for 2-3 minutes

Here's the tricky part, it cools in 5 seconds!!
So I didn't even remove it from the oven and just rolled it right on the pan slightly pulled out from the oven.
It will be hot, I did not get burned and it isn't any worse than using a hot glue gun.

My best project tip:
** The rings can be reheated for 2 minutes and reshaped over and over again**

Got a fun Shrinky Dink project, leave a comment and share!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Inspiration #5

Especially with 2 older sisters and a brother, it's hard being the youngest.

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