Knot Genie – How It Changed Our Lives

Knot Genie

Every once in awhile we like to share products that we love. Today I’m sharing my love of the Knot Genie.

One of the most challenging parts of having a daughter is hair. Oh, the battle of taming hair. My daughter is blessed with darling curly blonde hair. However, she is also cursed with snarls like you have never seen. We are talking epic bedhead. Every morning is a hair surprise. As you can imagine, at 18 months she isn’t too excited about Mom ripping a comb through her hair.

This is where the Knot Genie comes in. The combination of the Knot Genie, Minnie Mouse and some snacks has revolutionized the pony tail process at our house. This little brush is a miracle worker. I can easily detangle her hair within seconds without a single tear. Even Dad can get through her hair using it. When I use it alone, her curls deflate and I find that they are a little frizzy.

DetanglerLuc's Lemon Shine Hair Slicker

This is where detangler spray comes in. We use Suave Kids Double Dutch Detangling Spray. It helps us get through the tangles and it adds enough conditioner to help her little curls spring back to life. It also smells delicious. To define her curls, I make a “hair lotion” using Luc’s Lemon Lime Shine Hair Slicker and little bit of water. I simply mix them together in my palm until it creates and emulsion. Then using my fingers, I apply it to her curls.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I have a ridiculous amount of hair. Hair that is long and is sometimes the victim of too much heat styling. This is especially true at this moment as I am in desperate need of a hair cut. As you can imagine, I too, am a tangled mess in the morning. More often than not, I find myself using the Knot Genie to get through my mess of hair. Easy peasy. No pain and no pulling. If it works on my hair, it’ll work on anyone.

Wait! In the comments you will notice Hey Megan says if it’ll work on her hair then it’ll work on anyone’s. This is true. She is the real test. We will anxiously await her results. Also, I’ll tell you it works on the ultra-fine waist length hair of my neice. And man, that girls has some tangles too.

As you know, we never pretend to be experts on anything. We just share what we know. Lucky for you, Cozy of Cozy’s Cuts for Kids happened upon our Guide For A Successful Morning and in her comment she shared with us her professional tips for detangling hair. These tips are great for long hair! Check out her fantastic video guide here.

Disclaimer: This post is full of our very own opinions. Knot Genie, Suave and Circle of Friends don’t know us, but we know them. We are sharing our product love without any financial compensation.

 

Packing Tips for a Long Weekend Trip

Long Weekend Packing TipsSo, right now as this post posts itself, I am on a plane somewhere over Kentucky or maybe Mississippi. I don’t know, actually. But I’d say that’s as good a guess as any, since I’m going to be landing in Atlanta in about an hour. I am en route to Washington, D.C. for the long Labor Day weekend. I am going to visit my best friend from college (shout out to my ginger!) and I am oh so excited. Six days in our nation’s capitol, just hangin’ out and seein’ the sites and doin’ all sorts of best friend stuff.

So, in honor of what will be most people’s last summer vacation of the year, I am writing this post on what I pack for the long Labor Day weekend. Because honestly, who doesn’t need packing tips? Be prepared for epic. Or not. Whichever.

Packing Tips – Bottoms

Packing Tips - BottomsI always pack heavy. Always. I can’t help it. “But what if I say I want to wear this now, but when I get there it’s rainy or it’s too sunny or it’s windy or I just feel like wearing that instead?” You know? Because, I’m female. I just get to. Luckily, there are resources all over the internet that share great packing tips to help you slim down your suitcase.

That said, I am only packing 5 bottoms for 6 days. Wha?! I figure I can reuse one of the pair at least once. OK, actually. Not entirely true. I’m also taking a pair of jean shorts (not pictured), in case it really is too hot once I get there. Darn humidity. Anyway, I like to take a variety of bottoms. I always plan my outfits out for each day of a trip, because I’m OCD like that… but I like to be able to mix and match if I feel like it once I’m there. So, variety. Pair of blue jeans. Pair of white jeans. Pair of black jeans. Pair of khakis. Pair of printed leggings.

Packing Tips – Tops

Packing Tips - ShirtsSo I guess you can tell from these two pictures so far, but I’m all about neutrals. Black, white, khaki. I love mixing and matching these colors. Maybe it’s bland. Maybe it’s boring. But it’s what I feel comfortable in, so by George, I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on with it. As I said above, I like to have the option of mixing and matching outfits once I’m where I’m gettin’ to, so I try to keep things pretty neutral as far as bottoms and tops go. I like to bring the staples with me. And then, I bring a lot of my jewelry and shoes (see below) to dress up those basics.

Packing Tips – Sweaters

Packing Tips - OuterwearListen. If you know me, you know I’m cold. I am always cold. Unless it’s triple digits or I’m in direct sunlight, I’m probably cold. And, honestly, I hate being cold. It’s my worst thing. SO, I always have some sort of outerwear with me. Even in the middle of summer. Because, the church building is cold. The restaurant is cold. The movie theater is cold. The night is cold. The dang airplane is fuh-reeeezing. Can you pick up what I’m layin’ down? Therefore, on my trips, I pack sweaters. And cardigans. And even a jean jacket. I pack neutral of these items (surprise, surprise, I know), to go with my neutral clothes. Again, with the mixing and the matching. I’m a creature of habit, so sue me.

Packing Tips – Shoes

Packing Tips - ShoesAh, shoes! The one department I can NEVER go light in with the packing. You’ll notice, 6 pairs of shoes. And yes, I did say I’m only gone for 6 days. I love options people. I don’t pack many heels because this is a touristy vacation of sorts and I’ll probably be walking, and honestly, I’m not much into heels anyway. Unless it’s Sunday or unless I’m going to the Symphony. You know. I’m a flats type of gal. So, sandals, and flats, and converse, and ankle boots it is. In, you guess it, nuetral colors. And yes, leopard can be a neutral. Try it out, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Accessories – I don’t have a picture of these, but like I said above, I use my shoes and my accessories to dress up my “boring, plain, neutral” outfits. I pretty much bring as many accessories as I can. Necklaces, bracelets, watch, rings, earrings, scarfs. You get it I assume.

So, what do you guys take on your Labor Day long weekend trips? We’d love to hear!

Texas Sheet Cake: Tracey’s Favorite Chocolate Cake

Texas Sheet Cake

I think that it has been established that I love cake. Seriously, I talk about it on the blog, at parties, on the phone — I even talk about it at church. That’s a story for another day. While I don’t discriminate against any cake, I will tell you that Texas Sheet Cake is hands down my favorite cake in the entire world. It is moist, chocolaty and simple. Maybe it is because it is the best way to use buttermilk. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you frost it straight out of the oven and you can eat it almost immediately. There is no reason to delay gratification if you don’t have to. However, it is probably because generations of women in my family have made this recipe. Women that weren’t even from Texas. Texas Sheet Cake reminds me of home, Sunday dinners, and the cozy feeling that you get when you are surrounded by the people that you love.

As you know, I am now a proud Texas resident. I think my love of Texas Sheet Cake along with my Texas driver;s license solidifies that this is where I belong.

Helpful Hints for Texas Sheet Cake

You can easily cut this recipe in half if you don’t want an entire sheet cake. I have quarter sheet pans and halving it works really well. It will also save you from eating a giant cake in 24 hours. The cake will only be about 1 inch tall and you serve it straight from the pan. How easy is that?!

My mom will sometimes add sliced almonds to the top of the cake. She also adds a little bit of maple syrup to the frosting. She says it makes the frosting shiny. Also, if you happen to have a little frosting left over, eat it at your own risk. I have been known just to make a batch of the frosting. It tastes like fudge. I will not be held responsible if you eat a cup of frosting straight from the pan. You’ve been warned.

I mentioned before, this is a great way to use extra buttermilk. We love buttermilk pancakes at our house so I always seem to have it in my fridge. However, if you are really craving this cake and you don’t happen to have a carton, you can easily make your own using this method.

If you happen to love peanut butter — who doesn’t? — maybe give this recipe for Peanut Butter Sheet Cake a try.  You won’t be sorry.

Mugged: We try (almost!) all of Buzzfeed’s ’18 Microwave Snacks You Can Cook In A Mug’

Microwave SnacksThis. Post. It’s a beast you guys. I had no idea what I was signing myself up for. I thought – “This will be so fun! I’ll try all these easy recipes and I’ll share my findings and everyone will be wiser and happier and have full bellies. I will be the patron saint of microwave snacks.” It was going to be perfect. Until I tried to do all of the recipes in one day. Oh my goodness, NO ONE try to do that. At least not by yourself. Form a team, and attack it a more organized manner than I did, for sure. Otherwise, you will undoubtedly suffer from mug fatigue.

You see, the whole premise of “5 minute mug-whatever” is incredibly deceiving, because it implies that the prep is somehow easier than traditional baking. But that’s not the case at all – the cooking time is greatly reduced, yes, and the amounts are smaller, but you’re still lugging out all the same ingredients, taking roughly the same time to measure and mix them. In fact, traditional baking gives you more down-time while it bakes, which I view as a plus. If you’re mixing all the ingredients directly in the mug, clean-up becomes simplified, but even that’s not always the case. In short, most of these recipes are fine if you need a warm, sweet snack RIGHT AWAY. However, very few hold up as truly useful or even tasty in their own right. But there was one – a wonderful, savory surprise that just about made all this madness worthwhile.

But I’ll get to that. First, please realize that for your sakes, I’m splitting this post in two, because there are eighteen different mugs to judge. At first it may not seem like much, but let me tell you, it becomes overwhelming fast. And hey, no laughing at my iPhone photos of everything. You want pretty food photos I suggest you check out Tracey’s delicious cookie post. Now with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the reviews:

Nutella Mug Cake, Chocolate and Caramel Mug Cake, Chocolate Fudge S’mores Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake

Microwave Snacks - Chocolate Cake

These recipes are grouped together because 1) Apart from various toppings, they look identical coming out of the microwave, and 2) The idea is the same: gussy up that standard chocolate mug cake recipe with whatever flavors suit you. How do they taste? Fine, across the board, but fine was as good as it got for me.  The s’mores cake lost point for having SO MANY steps. In that instance and with the peanut butter cake I found myself preferring the ease of an actual s’more or a batch of homemade peanut butter cups. The Nutella cake tasted surprisingly little of Nutella, and the caramel from the chocolate caramel sank to the bottom, leaving the rest of the cake spongy and kinda boring. Would I make any of these again? Can’t say I would. However, I will note that my children happily devoured each one of these after I was done tasting them, so you might keep these in mind as an extra-special after school snack.

Chilaquiles

I had insanely low expectations for this one. Salsa, chips, and cheese did not sound particularly good to me at the time. (What’s wrong with me? I don’t know.) Looking over the recipe, I thought for sure I would end up with a mug of overcooked egg dotted with soggy chips. When it came out of the microwave, I still wasn’t very optimistic.

Microwave Snacks - Chilaquiles
It’s so…appetizing…

Though with the recommended garnishes it certainly perked up a bit.

Microwave Snacks - Chilaquiles
Amazing what a little makeup can do.

And then I took a bite. Guys. This one is good. Really! The chips add a variety of textures while the cheese and salsa give it plenty of flavor – more than the sum of its parts, for sure. It’s satisfying and very simple to throw together. Admittedly, I’d call it more of a cross between migas and chilaquiles – like a tex-mex breakfast casserole – but you can bet I’ll be turning to this in the mornings for something fast, hot, and filling. Also – 180 calories? Please and thank you, Microwave Miracle.

Cookie in a Mug

Microwave Snacks - Banana Bread

Pretty solid. I liked how the whole recipe was mixed in the mug itself, with ingredients I already had on hand. The end result was a cross between a cake and a cookie, but would certainly satisfy a pizookie craving once a scoop of ice cream is added. Not a bad option for a sweet midnight snack, and unlike most of the cake recipes that towered like souffles and easily made two servings, the amount filled about half of my 12 oz mug – not too much, but still plenty.

Banana Bread in a Mug

It's even uglier in person, trust me.
It’s even uglier in person, trust me.

This was a DISASTER. It is quite possible that I did something wrong, but I’m afraid I’m just a bit too traumatized to try this one again. Everything about it was unappealing, from appearance to smell to texture to taste to the fact that I had to mix the dang thing in separate bowl only to end up with some horrible slug monster on my kitchen counter. I made the mistake of promising banana bread to my daughter only to have her poke the thing suspiciously and promptly return to her memory game. For what it’s worth, I am reasonably certain I followed the instructions correctly, but the recipe makes a large amount of batter, so maybe my smallish mug couldn’t cook it properly. From what I could gather, even if this had somehow turned out right, I doubt it would have tasted much like proper banana bread as much as a banana snack cake. Consider yourself warned!

Sticky Date Pudding in a Mug

Microwave Snacks - Sticky Date Pudding
Just like the picture, guys.

Kind of a random dish to translate to mug cookery, don’t you think? But it is an Australian recipe, so I’m guessing this is a popular dish over there. At any rate, I did not have dates on hand (although I often do, so I might try this again when I do have some) so I attempted this with raisins instead. Also, I’ll admit I cheated and simply drizzled on some caramel sauce from the fridge rather than making my own. And? Not bad. The crumb was tender instead of spongy, and the raisins added a homey sweetness, like what you get from an oatmeal raisin cookie. This is another recipe that would benefit from some ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream on top. Would I make this again? Maybe, if only to see if it’s markedly different with dates.

Mac-N-Cheese in a Mug

Microwave Snacks - Mac-N-Cheese

I’ve seen this done with some success on another blog, but I gotta tell ya – no such luck. While this is definitely the right recipe – there’s one floating around Pinterest that tells you to microwave the pasta, milk, and cheese all at the same time, but don’t do it! – I still couldn’t get the cheese and milk to blend together to make a proper sauce. The pasta did cook fine, and I’ll probably use that in the future to make a fast noodles-and-spaghetti-sauce snack, so there’s that. Also, if you’re the type that likes their mac and cheese with literally just macaroni with some melted cheese, then this should make you happy. If you use evaporated milk instead of the called for 1%, I’m pretty sure it would work much better (because science), but who has small amounts of evaporated milk waiting to be used up? Finally, if you do attempt this, I suggest adding in some salt, because I found it very bland.

Allllll right! We’re halfway there! See what I mean about this taking a long time? Stay tuned for microwave snacks 10-18 to find out which one tasted like something entirely different from what it advertised, which one is actually pretty healthy, which one should not even be on the list, and what bonus recipe I give you instead! Have you tried any of these recipes before? Did they turn out better or worse for you?

Update – Part Two has arrived! Check it out here.

Momofuku Milk Bar Corn Cookies

Corn Cookies

 

The hubs has been intrigued with Momofuku Milk Bar since we saw them featured on the Cooking Channel. Despite the fact that Austin has fantastic food, we do not have a Milk Bar. Fortunately, the people at Momofuku were kind enough to include the recipe for their Corn Cookies on the Amazon listing for their cookbook.

What The Heck are Corn Cookies?

These corn cookies are FANTASTIC!  I don’t even know how to describe them.The texture is perfect! They are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. The corn adds an unexpected flavor that you wouldn’t anticipate in a cookie. However, once you try them you find yourself wondering why you wouldn’t put corn in a cookie.

There are couple of ingredients that take a little bit of hunting to find. If you live in Austin, you can find freeze dried corn in the health food section of HEB. They also have Bob’s Red Mill corn flour on the baking aisle. For those of you outside of Austin, I would suggest trying a grocery store that has a fairly large selection of specialty items. Whole Foods may be worth checking. If you can’t find the ingredients locally, you can always hit up Amazon. They carry both items.

As a side note, Ben used salted butter in the cookies. I personally love the salty flavor of his batch. However, I’m pretty sure they recipe means unsalted butter. Do whatever feels right.

Since Momofuku was kind enough to include the recipe for corn cookies free on Amazon, I’m not going to repost it. Check it out HERE. Maybe while you are at it, pick up the cookbook. I know it is on my wishlist.

Now, I’m off to try to convince Ben that we need to buy some vanilla ice cream to make an ice cream sandwich with my corn cookies.

Not Just a Target Shirt, part II

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to introduce this post. I’ve written and deleted and written and deleted about 17 times now. Nothing has been good enough. It’s 7 o’clock on a Friday evening. My part-time job has been just about full time the past two weeks and my bum is oh so tired of this here computer seat it’s currently occupying*. I have severe writer’s block. I want to eat, but need to cook it first. (My inner dialogue sounds very much like “Ha! Yeah, right. Cook… Psh.” right now.) My energy is kaput. The man of this house is in the garage doin’ man stuff… fixin’ his bike or something. I dunno. He’s probably gonna want to eat too, I think. Rats. All I want is to curl up on the couch with something sugary and fattening (did I mention I’m sugar-free right now? Ugh.), and a Dirty Doctor Pepper, and a good redbox.

BUT! I love you guys. And I love Target. And I promised last night (via Instagram) that I’d be posting today. So, a-good-post-introduction be darned, I’m going to crank this thang out, even if it kills me.

target
(Image courtesy of Google)

Remember, part 1 of this series? Last time, I did everything via the interwebs—found all the clothes on Target’s website. This time around, I actually went into the store, picked a few of my favorite tops, and then everything else to go along with them all. Pretty sure the fitting room attendant hated me when I told her I had “waaaay more than 6 items.” (Sorry, Betty!) But, it was soooo worth it! I am craving every single one of these items. ALL of them. I could get months of outfits JUST from these pieces. AND LET IT BE KNOW: I walked out of the store empty-handed. I am convinced that is a feat worthy of at least a couple pats on the back (see Ryan’s Hey Girl meme, up there^). My husband gave me two high fives when I told him. TWO!

I’ll be back though. Erika needs some of those cardigans in her life. And probably the palazzo pants too.

All accessories are my own.

Outift 1 – Tee and cardi. My go-to. There is nothing more comfortable, more versatile, more classic. And then pair a good set of harem pants that combo and you’ve got comfort to the max. Seriously. I wasn’t a fan of the harem trend until I saw these bad boys and tried them on. They are comfy and cute and trendily acceptable! Win win win for this outfit. This cardigan will probably be in my closet in the not-too-distant future!

NJATS1 outfit1

Outfit 2 – Harem pants continued into this outfit, but paired with a super trendy, super cute, black-and-white, printed peplum top.

NJATS2 outfit2

Outfit 3 – The peplum carries over into this next outfit. I saw these studded jeans and I HAD to add them to my pile. How cute are they! NJATS3 outfit3

Outfit 4 – One trend I haven’t had the lady balls to buy yet, but that I just looove is camo.  I’m super afraid that it’s going to be one of those trends, where I’ll buy a piece and within just a few months it’ll be outdated. BUT for now, it’s perfect! And if you DO have the lady-balls that I lack, then you should definitely give in to this trend. You can dress it up with some heels, or dress it down with some cut-off, distressed shorts. In the look below, I went for more of an edgy look by pairing it with the studded denim and a faux leather jacket. I seriously crave this entire outfit so hard.NJATS4 outfit4

Outfit 5 – MY FAVORITE! I seriously am obsessed with this look. Know, I hated the palazzo pants trend that I saw popping up different places. I thought it was a little tacky to be honest. So if that’s what you think about the outfit below, I don’t blame you. BUT, go to Target. Try these pants on. You, too, will change your mind. These pants were THE single most comfortable pants I’ve ever had on. And they are frickin’ adorable. I am probably headed to Target tomorrow to buy these. Paired with a slightly oversized black tee. It’s the perfect look. Ob. Sessed.

(Not sure why the picture below made the shirt look grey… it was black. I promise.)

NJATS5 outfit5

Outfit 6 – FAVORITE with a twist. My favorite outfit from above, with an added chambray, you know, since we’ll be heading into fall soon and you may get a bit chilly. Now this outfit is perfect, made better!

NJATS6 outfit6Outfit 7 – Here it is again… my go-to! Cardigan, plain tee, and jeans. Black jeans in this case. Which are reversible and turn into camo jeans. Uhm, what? Yes. Please. Love it. After I tried it on, this cardigan walked around the store with me while I picked up the rest of what I needed. I managed to stick it back where it belonged on the shelf right before I checked out. But I’ll be back tomorrow, because it’s on sale this week. And I have a coupon for 15% off. Yeah. It’s THAT good.

NJATS7 outfit7Outfit 8 – I figured I needed at least one outfit that wasn’t just pants. And then I found this amazing skirt. It has POCKETS. And not just any pockets. Stud-lined pockets. With a graphic tee and my new favorite cardigan for chilly nights? So. much. yes.  So oh, hi! Are you still reading? Get up and go to Target and get this skirt! Or anything from this post. OR anything from Target, really! You can’t go wrong.

NJATS8 outfit8 outfit8a

*Please note, I am by no means complaining about how many hours I’ve had to work. I am very, very grateful to have a job that I enjoy and that I am [relatively] good at. I really am pretty darn lucky. In mentioning the hours I’ve worked, I was hoping to just relay how exhausted I feel right now.

Simple Birthday Party Ideas – Non-Pinterest Birthday Party

Simple Birthday Party IdeasOk. So we need to take a minute to talk about birthday parties. Why don’t you see  simple birthday party ideas online?  I love fancy themed birthday parties. I could spend hours upon hours pinning my little heart out planning the perfect party. Someday I would love to throw extravagant parties for my children. I just don’t have the space or the money.

But let’s get real here for a second. Don’t you think sometimes we are placing the expectations a little high? Are we throwing these parties for our kids? Are we doing it because it is what our kids want or are we doing it because we want to give them something that we think they want? Is our version of an amazing party the same as their version?

I’m not saying that this is always the case. I have friends who LOVE to throw fantastic parties. They are good at it. Their kids love them. I also know that some kids have definite ideas about what they want in a birthday party. As a mom, you absolutely want to make your kids happy. I’m just wondering if maybe by throwing these parties we are creating unreasonable expectations for ourselves and therefore our kids as well.

So thanks to my friend Andrea, here is my new mantra, “Capitalize on low expectations.” And lucky for me, my kids have low expectations. My kids just don’t care. Seriously. They just want to play with friends, have treats, blow out candles and open presents.

Since Sam’s birthday is next Monday, which happens to be the first day of Kindergarten, I knew (and the parents of his besties knew) we needed to have a party this week. We kicked around a couple of ideas: bowling, swimming, Chuck E. Cheese, water parks. I just kept struggling with the cost and preparation time involved. I needed to come up with some simple birthday party ideas.

After hours of researching and calculating I finally decided we were throwing the easiest, last-minute party you’ve ever seen. Splash pad. Batman cupcakes. Treats. Juice boxes. That’s it. I decided Monday morning. Called and texted friends, had the party Tuesday morning. That’s how we roll.

The Location:

I rented a pavilion at our favorite splash pad, The Quarry Splash Pad in Leander, TX. If you live in Austin and haven’t been, get yourself there quick. The pavilion had three tables, shade and the perfect view of the small end of the splash pad. I paid for admission for most of our friends—it is a $1 per person. Cost: $25 for the pavilion, $16 for admission.

The Food:

For food, originally I had planned on making cupcakes. Here’s the deal. Sam doesn’t even like cake. However, he knows that it is part of birthdays. He also loves to blow out candles. Last year, I made him some Angry Bird cupcakes. They were intricate and darling. They also took forever and required tons of supplies.Before cupcakesThen the Texas heat happened.

After Cupcakes

So instead of killing myself making albeit cute and delicious cupcakes, this year I hit Walmart. The lady in the bakery had a dozen frozen Batman cupcakes. (Seriously, I love the Walmart bakery ladies.) I bought another dozen for the adults. The cupcakes went straight into my freezer at home.  They were perfect by the time we decided to eat them.

Freeze your cupcakes, people.

Twenty-four cupcakes: $12. More than I would have spent had I made them myself. Time I saved by buying them? At least 2 hours. Totally worth it.

I also bought a bunch of water, Capri Suns, apple juice, fruit snacks, cookie snack bags and a giant bag of Pirate Booty.  Perfect. Food cost including paper goods: $40

Cost Breakdown:

 Pavilion $25 + Splash park admission: $16 + Food $40 (including cupcakes) = $81

So, for the bargain price of $81 we had a fantastic party with 20 guests (Four friends, their mothers and siblings, along with my aunt, cousins and grandmother). Sam had fun. Our guests had fun. I had fun. Best of all, it totally wiped out all of the kids for afternoon naps.

In closing I just want to say, don’t kill yourself. Plan a party you all can enjoy. If that’s a big party, go for it. If you can get away with it, take the Tracey route.

Stay classy San Diego.

Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Treats

So here’s my thing. And I probably shouldn’t admit this, in writing, to a blog whose target demographic is women. Because, will this information make me less of one? But I’m going to share it anyway. And before I divulge my little secret (not so much a secret, really… most people close to me already know this), you should know that I have an intense sweet tooth. Nay, sweet teeth. All of them. I love sugar. As in, I really luuuuurve it. In fact, my husband told me so much and so often that I eat way too much sugar that I am currently trying out a sugar-free diet. For the sake of trying to be healthier. It’s been 3 days. Who knows how long it’ll last. But who cares about that. So anyway, here it is. I don’t like chocolate.

Yeah, you read that right. I’m not a fan of chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate bars, chocolate chip cookies. It’s bitter! It doesn’t leave a good aftertaste in my mouth. I’m just not a fan. When I make chocolate chip cookies, I always pull a little bit of the dough aside and substitute white chocolate chips instead—and everyone knows, those are my designated cookies. I always, always will pick a fruity candy over a chocolatey one—starbursts, skittles, gummy bears, hi-chews, sour worms. You get the idea. And when I make s’mores, I substitute a Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bar for a regular Hershey’s bar. (You guys have got. to. try this, by the way.)

Ah, the Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bar. So much delicious in one candy bar should probably be illegal. And then they debuted the Cookies ‘n’ Creme cereal. The first time I saw it, it literally stopped me dead in my tracks. I was just meandering down the cereal aisle, when I saw the Hershey’s logo out of my periph. I stopped dead and thought, “What is that logo doing in the cereal aisle?” I turned to see what it was and, without hesitation, put the box in my cart. That box has been in my cart at least once a week since.

And one morning, as I was eating my favorite candy bar cereal for breakfast, I thought, This needs to be my afternoon snack too. Because, clearly that much sugar at 8 am isn’t enough. Enter this recipe. It’s a copycat of the well-known Rice Krispie treats we all love, but with a my chocolate-hating, personal spin to it.

Also, note that there are two recipe options. The first makes the treat a little stiff, because the chocolate is melted into the marshmallows, and once the treat is cooled, the chocolate gets a slightly hard. I like it that way. If you don’t, try number two. And most of all, enjoy! Tell us what you think 🙂

hersheys2

Winner Winner Bento Dinner! Or Lunch.

Back To School BentoWe have winner!!!  Congratulations to Amy H!

Amy is actually one of our original readers! She has been telling me (Tracey) that I should have a food blog for years. This is quite the compliment coming from someone who actually HAS a food blog.

Amy

 

As the mother of four boys, (yes, FOUR BOYS) Amy knows a lot about feeding families.  Go check her out. Maybe we can convince her to do a post on kid’s lunches.

I just want to know who is going to luck out and get the Bento Box.  My money is on her husband.

Congratulations Amy!

Disclaimer: This is a non-sponsored post. We bought our own stuff and Amy was chosen by Rafflecopter. We just happen to love her and her blog so we thought we’d share. Now, go try her salsa. 

300 Calories Or Less – Fitness Magazine’s Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Photo from fitnessmagazine.com
Photo from fitnessmagazine.com

Listen, I love food. It’s no secret. Eating and cooking are givens, of course, but I certainly don’t stop there. Food history, food science, food lifestyles – it’s fascinating. Also, I enjoy what might best be described as “food matchmaking”; listening to others tell about their cravings or dietary restrictions or favorite restaurant and being able to say, “Try this recipe,” or “Go here, too!” It’s not that I’m flawless at it, but I find it fun! I once overheard a friend say (lovingly), “She’s totally indecisive until you ask her what you should eat, then she’s all business.” Hopefully an exaggeration, but perhaps not much of one…

So. With Tracey being awesome and meeting her running goals, (Go, Tracey!!!! I’m seriously so proud of her!) she talked about wanting to make some eating changes, too. Right now that means meeting certain caloric goals each day. And, as with most people adjusting to something new, she soon found herself on the hunt for recipes that worked with her goals.

Enter, me! While I’m not a registered dietitian by any stretch, I do my best to stay informed nutrition-wise. But really, it comes down to pretty simple stuff: Eat whole, plant-based foods in abundance, and add things like meats, dairy, oils, and processed starches in moderation. This approach guarantees filling, nutrient-dense meals with fewer calories than your “typical” American meal. Furthermore, I’m not really the type to exchange diet versions of ingredients in order to make a dish more “healthy”. These things can work in a pinch to cut back on calories when you simply can’t fight a craving, but I tend to like the idea of eating a small, reasonable amount of your not-so-healthy food, and rounding it out with plenty of vegetables and some fruit.

Plus there are tons of great recipes that are simple, inexpensive, and not “diet-y” at all, yet still manage to be great low-calorie options. I’ve collected some great ones, and I’ll be sharing them in this new series. First up? Chicken Lettuce Wraps! So easy to make at home, and easily adaptable. I’ve changed Fitness Magazine’s recipe slightly, including swapping cashews for almonds and taking out the snow peas and radishes for ease of preparation – but feel free to try the original version! Chop up green beans instead of snow peas, or add some shredded cabbage – whatever floats your boat!