Single Skillet Dinner with #HillshireSausage #spon

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Hillshire. This could include Hillshire providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Growing up Hillshire Farms smoked sausage was a regular menu item.  My mom wasn’t the best cook and many of her meat options hit the table nearly impossible to chew but the smoked sausage was simply and delicious and came out perfect every time!  She typically just cooked it whole and served it along with some veggies and pasta.  So when I had a family of my own and quickly learned that I had inherited her poor cooking skills, I also began making Hillshire Farms smoked sausage pretty regularly.  I got a little ‘fancier’ than she did as I typically slice it and brown it that way.  But probably more out of convenience since I was having to cut it up for 3 kids once it was cooked anyway but I also like it done this way.

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But I have been attempting to branch out and try to be braver with our recipes, so when I was asked to showcase a way our family enjoys smoked sausage I wanted to try something new but that wasn’t so different that the kids wouldn’t be open to it.  So I decided to try this mac n cheese recipe.  First of all it sounded delicious.  Secondly, it was a very simple recipe made in ONE pot.  Those are my favorite kinds of recipes.

So the recipe calls for turkey kielbasa (which Hillshire Farms also makes) but I didn’t see why it couldn’t be make with smoked sausage.  It really was simple.

20150328_161213First I browned the sausage in a large skillet, and set aside the meat.   In the same skillet you boil water, evaporated milk and dry pasta.  In a small bowl you make a mixture of cornstarch and evaporated milk to add to the skillet. Remove from heat and melt in cheese. And finally stir in your smoked sausage.

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For the full recipe including times and measurements visit Table for Seven here.  This was a huge hit and we will definitely be making it again soon as well as checking out lots of other great quick and easy smoked sausage recipes.   I am not sure there is anything else out there that is quite as flavorful while being so simple.  Even when I consider the other meat options that we make, the simplest thing we usually do is using the grill.  But even then those things usually end up getting spiced up with something.  Hillshire Farms smoked sausage is one of the very few things that hits our table ready to eat just how we like it.  And that’s because Hillshire Farm smoked sausage is crafted to be better. Their experts have perfected the pre-seasoning of our smoked sausage over the last 75 years.

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 What’s YOUR families favorite way to prepare Hillshire Farm smoked sausage?

 

 


 

Peanut to Pony, For the Love of Baseball

With the changing voice and the copious amounts of attitude that fill my house it really come as no shock that things, they are a changing and my boy is growing up.  But it never seems to really hit me until I can look back and see the difference.  This week the baseball season officially began for him, kicking off his first season as a Pony player.  He’s only 12 and will be playing with mostly 13 and 14 year old but he has typically bumped up to each level early except for way back when, when he spent a second year in ‘peanut’ baseball so that he and his brother could be on the same time.

It’s funny how big he seemed back then compared to the t-baller he started as when he was just 4.  He loved the game back then.
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And he still loves it today.  These photos are from last season and he’s changed even since then.  But one thing that hasn’t changed is that neither one of us can wait for that first crack of the bat at the first game of the season.10519500_10154305496240510_4419534477085999413_n10394461_10154305497435510_1604062123761530179_n10487456_10154239911315510_5912046510614407104_n

Dream Big or Be Real? #NFLBlogger

10648539_10154508743180510_198426179402531793_oMaybe this is more about life then sports but the topic comes from a piece by DudeMom for NFLEvolution.  It’s about how she feels about letting her kids believe they will become pro athletes.  You can read her full piece here.  But basically she if fully aware of the slim chance that her kids will play professional sports but she is basically making sure they remain well rounded kids (keeping up those grades) and then letting them dream big!

I love that her kids have talked about how they will support her when they make it big. It reminds me first of how I dreamed as a child.  I was going to marry a prince and live in a castle and I promised my dad he could live there with us.  While my dreams shifted over the years I was still daring to dream in high school. I dreamed of a creatively focused career.  And well meaning people who loved and cared for me, convinced me that I should play it safe.  I went away to school with a major I wasn’t passionate about and after 3 colleges I never finished that degree.  Of course there were other factors and maybe I wouldn’t have succeeded in what I dreamed of but since I’ve come back full circle to some of those same passions I believe somehow, SOMETHING would have been different.

That’s why when my young athlete talks of his MLB dreams (because well he’s at least somewhat of a realist and knows that as much as he does love football he will likely never be built like a NFL player) I don’t exclusively dash those hopes.  I am a realist and we talk often about the chances of college sports and slimmer chances of pro sports but then we also talk a LOT about the endless career opportunities that surround sports besides those few men on the field!  There is NO reason that he can’t be surrounded by what he truly loves while he works in one way or another.  As he gets older we’ll explore those options more and more. But for now he’s too busy making the most of this season and that’s just the way I like it!northwestern universtity il college evanston chicago football big 10 bowl

 

 

AMD FX APU – HP Envy Touchsmart Laptop @BestBuy #AMDFX

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

If you use a computer like I do you need one that can really keep up.  I typically have at least 3 programs open at any one time and I won’t even admit how many tabs are usually open in my browser at the same time.  If you can understand my multimedia, multitasking ways, you should check out the AMD FX APU – HP Envy Touchsmart Laptop  available at Best Buy!

HP Envy Touchsmart Best BuyThis laptop provides extreme performance of AMD’s most powerful mobile processor to deliver exceptional Gaming and Entertainment experience– the AMD FX Special Edition APU*
The HP Envy TouchSmart 15.6” touch screen laptop makes multitasking a breeze so you can spend more time with your family! The Quick AMD FX series processor is great for daily tasks such as managing your personal life or streaming movies or videos and provides great video quality for gaming or catching up on your favorite youtube videos.
The AMD FX Special Edition APU introduces mobile systems with AMD’s highest performing APUs, exclusive at Best Buy. When you are looking for a notebook, the AMD FX Special Edition APU will provide you with unbelievable performance, gaming and productivity. Plus, with the new FX APU powered notebook, be unbeatable and experience the processing power of 10 compute cores (4 CPU + 6 GPU)**!

Why get it at Best Buy??best buy laptop hp

  • Free Shipping
  • on orders $35 and up
  • Free Store Pickup
  • Pick up your order in as little as 45 minutes

Get yours today and start enjoying the amazing graphics and sound while without worry of filling your 750GB of storage!

 

 

Make Your Portraits POP with CanvasPop

Disclosure: I received a complimentary canvas in exchange for my honest review of their service and product. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 20150331_161342I have a love of photography.  It does tend to go in cycles where I’m not great about bringing out my good camera. This Easter I managed to take only a handful of photos and not a single one of any egg hunts.  But one thing I try hard to do regularly is get good shots of the boys to be able to print and hang in my home.  When we moved a year ago I had a lot of fun decorating and decided instantly that the longish hallway we have would be PERFECT for a photo wall.  I decided not to over think it pr overly plan the space. I simply began hanging the frames and canvases I had. I added some small quote pieces I had that fit and as we create more photos I add to the creation. There are a variety of frame sizes and colors and styles.  And I LOVE it.  But some of my favorite things on the wall are the canvas prints of my guys.  They span several years and are taking in a wide variety of settings.  And they all bring back different memories.
My newest canvas was don by CanvasPop.com and I think it came out great.  The shot if from my fabulous photographer friend Stacey Houston Photography.  Some people may look at this shot and think that the smiles could have been better or whatever.  But this shot is 100% the personality of each of these boys. It captures this stage of each of their lives so completely.  It’s the small things that probably only a mother would notice that makes this shot perfect to me.  With three boys in essentially the exact same outfit…jeans in a white button down, it amazes me how they can still make it so completely fit their personality.  It simply IS my boys!
I’m so happy with how CanvasPop made this memory come alive on my wall.  They were fabulous to work with and let me know that the file size I sent MIGHT show a slight pixelation when done at this size but I think it looks AMAZING so if they were worried about this, I have full faith that if they put through a file without giving me any warning that it will come out great.20150331_160809
If you’re ready to try CanvasPop.com be sure to use this  exclusive discount code for 35% off prints ordered on the  website: OBOBOB35
 
The discount code will be valid until June 30th 2015, and it is valid on orders shipping within the US and Canada. The discount is not applicable towards shipping or gift certificates, and it cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.

#TBT Easter Edition

I can’t even remember life when they were this little.GURNEE_20080322_000153

Don’t Miss #PowerRangers Dino Charge this Saturday

sabans power rangers dino charge sabans power ranger parentsThis post is brought to in partnership with Saban’s Power Rangers. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

Hey Power Ranger fans, are you ready for the final new episode of Power Rangers Dino Charge before the mid-season hiatus, which airs this Saturday, April 4 at 12 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon?

Thanks to our partnership with Power Rangers Bryan got an awesome new sampling of the fabulous Dino Charge items.

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Since our DVR is half full of Power Rangers (there are MANY older seasons on Netflix if you don’t want to fill YOUR DVR but we don’t have Netflix available on the TV in their playroom), he was SUPER excited by this box of goodies.

Now I am not quite the PR enthusiast as he is but I WAS impressed that these Dinos could go from this….

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To THIS…(with a tiny bit of help from his older brother the first time)

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And there are actually many variations they can create using different pieces and placement.  I love that there is a way to bring a TV show he loves in to a real thing he can play with away from the TV too.  And it involves building and imagination!

He was even nice enough to share his new t-shirt with his long time pal.  So he’s all decked out and ready for this Saturday’s new episode of Power Rangers Dino Charge!20150319_162355

 

 

And after you watch this Saturday’s episode, don’t forget about the Deluxe Dino Charge Scanner AppFREE Deluxe Dino Charge Scanner App (Available on: iTunes and Google Play Store) to help you make it through the mid-season hiatus.

In the app you can morph yourself into your favorite Power Ranger or Zord using 3D face tracking, put yourself in the action and create your own explosive Power Ranger scenes with Dinogram, use the scanner to unlock your Dino Chargers and check out the upcoming Power Rangers Dino Charge toy collection, charge up your Dino score to earn great rewards, unlock coupons for great savings on Power Rangers Dino Charge Toys,  exclusive Power Rangers Dino Charge wallpapers and more great digital content within the app, and watch the exclusive preview of the new Power Rangers Dino Charge theme song.

Bryan is still loving the app and likes taking photo of himself with his latest Dino Charge toys!

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You can also find games and coloring sheets at  www.powerrangers.com and follow the brand on FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr and YouTube.

Our #HillshireNaturals Taste Test #spon

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Hillshire. This could include Hillshire providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

This weekend my boys and I made lunch with the new Hillshire Farms Naturals Lunchmeats.

IMG_20150331_083912Because of our busy schedules we tend to eat sandwiches pretty regularly.  Sometimes as lunch, sometimes as a snack after school on nights we will have a late dinner and on occasion when it’s just been a long day and I declare it DIY night and the boys make their own dinner. While I can usually convince myself that a sandwich is better than say a bowl of sugary cereal, I do often worry about the junk I know is in many of the lunchmeats I purchase.  But  Hillshire Farm Naturals™ lunchmeats are crafted to be both 100% natural and 100% delicious.  This helps me feel a lot better about feeding my kids sandwiches so often.

More on Hillshire Farm Naturals™ lunchmeats:

  • Naturally smoked with a blend of hardwoods for incredible flavor (Black Forest Ham)
  • Slow roasted in their own juices
  • Always select cuts of meat
  • Natural goodness
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives
  • No added nitrates or nitrites

And you can try it for yourself with confidence because Hillshire Farm will provide a 100% refund for every package of meat that a consumer is not satisfied with.

Now I’ll be honest.  On a typical day, a sandwich is some bread (usually a whole wheat) and lunch meat and cheese. Of course, everyone has a different condiment preference. One wants NO condiments.  He apparently HATES mayo so don’t even try to sneak it past him.  One wants only mayo. And one insists on mayo AND mustard.

But since we were dealing with some special lunchmeat, we wanted to treat it right.

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We started with some fluffy Italian bread (yeah I know it looks like plain ole white but it cost twice as much so just play along), some fresh lettuce and tomato.  Then of course after a quick taste testing of the four varieties of Hillshire Farm Naturals™ lunchmeats we found at our local store, we couldn’t decide on just ONE for the sandwich so it includes a little of ALL FOUR.  And it was as delicious as it was pretty!!

Everyone ate some variation of this creation and enjoyed the lunchmeat.  But honestly, my favorite thing was eating the honey roasted ham all by its self.  My son pointed out that it tasted just like Easter ham and in our house I don’t think there’s a higher praise than that.

Find Hillshire Farm Naturals™ lunchmeats near you and try it for yourself!

 

 

Sponsored Video: Home Again

This post has been sponsored by Knorr, but opinions expressed are my own.

 

knorr flavour of home

Knorr’s believes in bringing flavour to people’s lives. The brand’s new film, ‘Flavour of Home’, captures this sentiment while celebrating the greatest flavour on earth, the taste of home.

Nothing in life feels as good as a mother’s hug.  No matter how old we get, we always have moments when what we long for more than anything is to be able to feel the warmth and love from our mom.  Unfortunately for far too many of us that isn’t always possible.  Whether separate by thousands of miles or, in my case, by death we can’t always experience the literal embrace of our loved ones.  But if you’ve ever doubted that you can FEEL the love without being face to face watch this video.

 

 

Nothing feels better than being ‘home’ and I don’t think there’s anything that can make you feel more at home than mom’s cooking.  My mom was NOT a great cook.  There were plenty of recipes I prayed she’d never try again.  But there were certain things, like her split pea soup and her home made spaghetti sauce that I am certain I will never be able to beat.  Yet in the moments when I need to ‘feel’ her with me I will make my best effort to create the flavours we shared together.  It must be hereditary because I, too, am not a great cook.  But I hope that there are a few things that my boys will take with them, that will remind them of me and that will give them the ability to feel my love even when I am not able to be right at their side.

 

 

Get More Rest with Roomba from @iRobot at @BestBuy #iRobotatBestBuy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

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I spent many years of my adult life, not having people over to my house because I was embarrassed by it.  Because of it’s size it was cramped and horrifically cluttered.  The longer we lived there the more stuff we accumulated and the longer we went without visitors the less I worried about it.  But then last year we moved.  We have more space and a beautifully updated home.  We also live in an area where people aren’t afraid to come to visit and where the kids friends are free to wander to friends homes.  We now have company very regularly.  This is great.  It makes life more enjoyable.  It also forces me to keep the house in drop in guest shape.  For the most part that’s not an issue as the boys are older and able to chip in to help so that the weekly type chores are manageable even given our busy schedule.  But the one battle that we still had all the time was the floor.  We have gorgeous dark wood floors.  Gorgeous when clean, but they show every bit of dust and dirt.  And for some reason I am certain that the boys now drop more food on the floor then when they were babies.  I mean at 7, 11 and 12, should there REALLY be cereal on the floor EVERY morning? Well, I don’t think so but there is, EVERY DAY!  But as much as we felt like we were trying, every time we put the broom away we turned around and saw more stuff on the floor.

870_STAND.13_1But then Best Buy and the iRobot® Roomba® 870 came to our rescue.  I have admittedly been longing for a Roomba for years but never quite thought it would work in my home with worries of too much stuff or random items being left around.  I mean, what would happen when the Roomba encountered a stray batting glove in the middle of the living room.  And the socks…oh the socks are everywhere!  But is iRobot® Roomba® 870 has some amazing iAdapt® Responsive Navigation Technology with cliff-detection sensors that allows you to have cleaner floors, every day with so little effort.

 

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The powerful AeroForce™ Performance Cleaning System has 5x the suction and removes up to 50% more dirt, dust, hair and debris.  After just the first use of the Roomba 870 I was impressed at how much better our floors looked. I love that you can just press Clean or schedule Roomba to vacuum when it’s most convenient for you. And because it automatically returns to its Home Base® to recharge between cleanings  you won’t have to hunt Roomba down.

And all my worries about fitting into our home were quickly taken care of.  iRobot truly has figured it all out from  Roomb870_carpet_1a’s slim profile that lets it clean under furniture, including beds, skirted furniture, tables and cabinetry while the spinning side brush grabs dirt and debris from tough places like wall edges and corners. I was thoroughly impressed with how well it worked around our dining room table and chairs.  And thrilled that it could easily navigate the small incline from our wood floored living room and dining room to the the tile in the kitchen.  The 2 Virtual Wall Barriers keep Roomba in the rooms you want to vacuum & out of the ones you don’t. (Perfect for those bedrooms that are too messy to even tackle.  Then when they’ve been picked up, just turn off or move the virtual wall.)  And unlike any other vacuum I’ve used the tangle-free AeroForce™ Extractors are virtually maintenance free, making it even easier for Roomba to tackle daily dirt build-up and leave more time for you to enjoy your day.  And Roomba’s large HEPA filter keeps dust, dander, and other allergens out of the air – ideal for homes with pets and allergy sufferers.

And because I KNOW you’re wondering…the cats probably won’t be riding the Roomba anytime soon, they’ve quickly gotten used to it’s presence in the house.IMG_20150318_174015

                Find the iRobot® Roomba® 870 at Best Buy stores or online.