Find Holiday Recipe Inspiration with #PastaFits #Sponsored #MC

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central for the National Pasta Association. I received pasta samples and a stipend to facilitate the creation of pasta recipes as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.


For many the holidays are a time they love to prepare their favorite dishes.  Memories often center around time in the kitchen.   For those of us who enjoy cooking a little less, holiday cooking can actually be a source of stress.  Although I’ve been working to learn more, I still sometimes struggle with coming up with dishes to bring to the many holiday get togethers.  Things always seem to either take too long to fit into the busy holiday schedules, or don’t travel well or reheat well, etc etc

Tortellini-Cesar-Salad-240x300So while it doesn’t exactly scream HOLIDAYS, I was inspired by this  Tortellini Ceasar Salad.  It’s easy but not boring.  And it works great as a cold dish that will travel well when you need to bring a dish.

I loved the recipe just as it was but I decided to try it with exactly what I had on hand.  I made my tortellini salad with our favorite lettuce, ranch dressing and crouton.  And a super easy to prepare cheese tortellini.  Depending on where I was serving it, I might take it as separate pieces and mix it immediately before serving.

If you could use some inspiration for new pasta based recipes for your holiday entertaining this year visit for recipes, nutrition information, contest and promotions, as well as general cooking tips and pasta facts.

Pasta Fits is a nutrition and culinary education and resource initiative sponsored by the National Pasta Association.  Learn how pasta can fit into your busy lifestyle with easy, quick, and wholesome meal possibilities for active families.  It is also a budget friendly option that is versatile enough to please every palate during any occasion. Complex carbohydrates like pasta provide the optimum type of “fuel” to power your muscles and brain.  Pair  it with fiber-filled vegetables and beans, heart healthy fish and oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed poultry and lean meats for a fabulous meal to gather around with your friends and family this holiday season.


Be sure to check out PastaFits online, on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.



CRYSTAL LIGHT and Miranda Lambert Platinum Points Program #CrystalLightWM #MC #Sponsored #RanFan

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for CRYSTAL LIGHT. I received a gift card to purchase CRYSTAL LIGHT products to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

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I was excited to hear that CRYSTAL LIGHT and Miranda Lambert are partnering to launch the Platinum Points Program to reward CRYSTAL LIGHT customers with fun Miranda Lambert gear.  I am a big fan of Miranda Lambert and love CRYSTAL LIGHT.  So earning cool rewards (like an exclusive Miranda Lambert song download or an autographed Miranda Lambert guitar) you won’t find any where else for buying a product we already enjoy is WIN-WIN!!

Have you ever tried to sign up for a rewards program or get your points and found it nearly impossible?  Well CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points Program has made it easy!

  1. Visit CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points Program here to sign-up! You can sign up using your email or Facebook account.
  2. Then simply purchase participating CRYSTAL LIGHT products at Walmart and keep your receipt.  This was probably the toughest part for me as I typically toss my grocery receipts as soon as I get home (sometimes even on my way out of the store).
  3. Go to in your mobile browser and log in, click “Snap,” choose “Walmart,” and then click “Select/Take Photo,” and snap a clear photo of your receipt and click “Upload This Photo.”  When I got home I realized my receipt had pretty bad lines in it like the printer was running out of ink so I was pretty nervous about whether I’d still be able to collect my points but it went through just fine!
  4. Redeem points for Miranda Lambert rewards!

If you just buy one CRYSTAL LIGHT product, you’ll earn an EXCLUSIVE Miranda Lambert song download!

It really is THAT easy.  Here’s a small sample of the CRYSTAL LIGHT options I found at my local Walmart.  I like the canisters for at home, the liquid for my office and the On The Go packs for stashing in our sports bags for when we’re out and about.  I also like that the CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points program allows you to get your points from your reciept as opposed to many which have their codes inside the individual packages so if you use the product away from home you have to keep track of your code until you’re able to enter your points.  With CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points you just snap the receipt and you’re done, so you won’t miss out on the chance for awesome Miranda Lambert rewards.  I only need a few more points to add the Miranda Lambert mug to my mug collection!


CRYSTAL LIGHT is available at Walmart stores nationwide

Points You Can Earn:

CRYSTAL LIGHT Sugar Free On The Go Packs = 100 pts each
CRYSTAL LIGHT On The Go Multipacks = 100 pts each
CRYSTAL LIGHT Canisters = 100 pts each
CRYSTAL LIGHT Jumbo Products = 200 pts each
Miranda Lambert Platinum CD = 300 pts each

Rewards You Can Get with Your Points:

100 pts = Miranda Lambert Automatic (Acoustic) Song Download
800 pts = Miranda Lambert Platinum CD
800 pts = Miranda Lambert Platinum Mug
1000 pts = Miranda Lambert Platinum Tumbler
1200 pts = Platinum Rhinestone Ladies T-Shirt
5000 pts = Miranda Lambert Logo Guitar
8000 pts = Miranda Lambert Signed Guitar

Share With Friends!

Refer your friends! Not only will your friends earn 25 points instantly for signing up, but you will also receive 10 points for each friend you refer who signs up.

And a bonus Promo Code:  “mirandaic” gives yous 30 free Platinum Points when you sign up!


My boys love ALL the CRYSTAL LIGHT flavors but I will always have a soft spot for my original favorite from way back when, pink lemonade.  But the Randarita recipe feature at right now sounds pretty awesome too!


The Platinum Points Program coincides with Miranda Lambert’s Platinum Tour Presented by CRYSTAL LIGHT.


 So what will YOU use your CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points for?



@BestBuy Helping With #HolidayPrep This Season

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.


I know I know, we haven’t even gotten through Halloween, but I’m definitely thinking Christmas.  I’m very excited to start some new holiday traditions in our new home.  The boys are already loving the extra effort I’ve put into Halloween with actually decorating in anticipation of actually having kids come Trick-or-Treating.  And they can’t wait to put up Christmas lights (because we now have an outlet outside so we can).  But I’m thinking about Christmas baking.
If you’ve read my blog much, you know I’m not the best cook around.  But do like to pretend that I can bake occasionally.  Sometimes it goes well, but not always.  But for me spending a weekend baking Christmas cookies was part of the holiday growing up.  My mom would pull out her recipe books and let me pick out a few cookies I wanted to make in addition to the ones we made every year.  Even after I was out of the house my mom continued this tradition, including the grandkids when they were old enough.  But due to our very cramped kitchen in our old home, I never attempted any REAL Christmas cookie baking.  Instead, we settled for a quick batch of break n’ bake cookies tossed in the oven on Christmas Eve so we could leave Santa some delicious fresh cookies.  But one look at our new kitchen and I immediately thought of how there was enough room for Christmas cookies.  Cooking Campaign Range 2

I wish I could say we’ll make dozens upon dozens of cookies to share with everyone this holiday season.  But since our usual hectic schedule doesn’t really slow down much, even for the holidays, time will likely be our enemy.  So I’ll be happy with what we are able to do.  And the space to function and prepare more than one thing at a time will be helpful.  But how awesome would it be to seriously multitask with the Whirlpool WGG555S0BS, with double ovens that let you cook two dishes at two different temperatures at once, but still fits within the space of a standard range.

There lots of other ways to make cooking easier with the latest appliance technology that you can find at Best Buy, including induction cooking that enables you to boil water in less than two minutes like the Frigidaire FGIF3061NF plus induction reduces clean up time because spills don’t burn on.  This Frigidaire range also includes a convection oven which circulates the air in the oven for quicker baking time.  All of this technology will allow you to get the food the way you want it prepared and saves you time so you can spend it with the ones you love.  Learn more at


Trying to #DropthePop

A few years ago I gave up caffeine.  One day I just got sick of the control it had over me and how much I NEEDED it daily.  I didn’t do it for health reasons or to lose weight (as much as you hope it does help with weight loss) but simply because I hated the addiction.  At some point after that, I did commit to healthier eating and working out and lost 60 pounds.  I felt really good.  And then life happened.  First I wasn’t able to get to the gym and working out felt impossible.  Then I let the eating slip slowly but eventually back into my worst possible habits.  And even eventually feeling the demands of being a single mom without the energy to handle them (most likely thanks to the poor fuel I was putting into my body) I dove back into my sugar filled caffeine addiction, except this time I added not just regular soda but full on energy drinks and sugary coffee creations.

So here’s the thing, I’m not going to lie.  A good coffee (one that doesn’t really taste like coffee anymore) makes me HAPPY.  Like it feels like it brings joy and meaning to my life.  Yeah, I know that’s bad.  AND expensive!  When the budget’s tight and I feel the withdrawal headache coming on, I’ll opt for a quick run through McD’s for a large soda (no ice of course cuz that’s just less soda!)  I’m right back where I was years ago and even the boys know, when mom’s crabby they suggest a good caffeine fix!

So when my brother posted his Wake Up and Be Happy challenge, I wasn’t exactly in love with the idea.  And I honestly haven’t taken the full leap and done 100% healthy eating BUT I have committed to dropping the pop and trying to kick the caffeine addiction…again.  I’ve also cut out obvious sugars.  I’m sure there’s lots of hidden sugars, and we’ll keep working on those but I’m working on baby steps here.  So today is day three with no soda or coffee…if you can’t find me…check under my desk, I may be napping!

Get the Philips Airfryer @BestBuy and Start Frying Healthier #PhilipsatBestBuy

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.


Why is it that the best tasting foods are often the worst foods FOR you?  Sure, we all know we should be eating more whole fruits and veggies, but sometimes you just really want a big ole pile of french fries.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have those fries with a lot less guilt?

Enter the Philips Airfryer to help you out.  With the use of Rapid Air technology you can get great tasting fries with 70% less fat*!   How is this possible?  Well, the Airfryer circulates hot air around a metal mesh cooking basket, requiring little or no oil as it fries, bakes and grills. The starfish design on the bottom of the Airfryer facilitates air circulation, ensuring your favorite foods cook evenly. So now you can eat healthier without giving up the taste and texture of your favorite foods.

Customize the settings to cook your food exactly as you want. The Airfryer’s integrated timer allows you to preset cooking times up to 30 minutes. The fully adjustable temperature control allows you to preset the best cooking temperature for your food up to 390°F. The Rapid Air technology also lets you grill, bake and even roast your favorite dishes for a one stop solution for all of your meals

The Airfryer comes with a recipe book full of of low-fat fried food recipes that you can make in the Airfryer. It also introduces you to recipes that showcase the versatility of the appliance so that you can grill, bake and even roast food healthier, faster and more conveniently.

And if you’ve ever fried food you KNOW what a mess it can be but the removable nonstick coated drawer and the food basket are dishwasher safe for a quick and easy clean up.


It sounds too good to be true, right?  So here’s the real scope I found after using the Philips Airfryer in our house.

First of all the unit is a little large, it works in my kitchen because I have the counter space and the storage space.  But when deciding whether you can make it work it’s comparable to a large food processor or a slow cooker in space required.  But despite it’s size I wasn’t sure that it could really hold enough of food to feed my crew.  The cooking basket simply didn’t look that big but it actually held way more than I would have guessed.

Secondly, I’ll be honest when I heard of this I was ready to start making some serious fried foods that I could consider not AS bad for you.  You know, think carnival food.  Well the thing isn’t magic, it won’t make me a guilt free fried chocolate bar.  But the recipe book did have a few recipes that created whole new worlds of ideas and I haven’t tried them yet but you can make donuts in it!

But for ME, the Airfryer comes in most handy for making some of the things we already loved, just in a new way.  For everything from french fries, fish or chicken strips the Philips Airfryer can make them quickly and deliciously whether you are using frozen or homemade.  The quickness if a fabulous feature for because of our hectic schedule, it helps me not lean on fast food and carry out so much.  The other thing that made me fall in love with it was that in addition to making these types of things better tasting than baking them, and better for you than frying them by using the Airfryer there was no noticeable heat added to the house.  For me this is huge in the warmer months when you’re battling to keep air conditioning costs down I often default to not wanting to cook as I don’t want to heat up the house with the oven.


Find the Philips Airfryer at Best Buy online.



 *As shown in a laboratory using fresh fries, canola oil and compared to a deep fryer

Join Me and #Manwich for a Twitter Chat



Join me and the fabulous @MommaCuisine on Thursday for a #Manwich chat.  Chat with fellow parents about having family meals that everyone will be happy to sit down for. And of course there will be prizes like kitchen tools and even a VISA gift card to help you plan the perfect Manwich meal!


Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014

Time: 7:00 p.m. CDT

Host: @MommaCuisine

Co-Hosts: @Lisanoel03, @aliciamarie112,@taranoland ,@BenSpark and @Daddymojo

Hashtag: #Manwich and #NoPhoneZone

Find Healthy Pasta Ideas From #PastaFits #MC #Sponsored

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central for the National Pasta Association. I received pasta samples and a stipend to facilitate the creation of pasta recipes as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

roasted garlic parmesan noodles pasta

As a busy mom, figuring out easy, quick, and wholesome meal possibilities can be tricky .  For our family pasta is often the answer.  When paired with fiber-filled vegetables and beans, heart healthy fish and oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed poultry and lean meats it can make a delicious meal that will satisfy my troops.  Pasta sometimes gets a looked down upon by so many trying to lose weight but complex carbohydrates like in pasta provide the optimum type of “fuel” to power your muscles and brain.  This is especially important for my young athletes! It doesn’t hurt that its a budget friendly option that can is versatile enough to please even my picky eater.

If you need help finding some new and healthy pasta recipes offers recipes, nutrition information, contest and promotions, as well as
general cooking tips and pasta facts.  Pasta Fits is a nutrition and culinary education and resource initiative sponsored by the National Pasta Association.

I made my first recipe from this week and it was fabulous.  All of us are a big fans of garlic and Parmesan so this Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Noodles recipe jumped right off the recipe page and called my name.  When I clicked and found it only had a few ingredients (that I’ve actually heard of), I was sold.  If you’re a regular reader you know that I’m not exactly an expert in the kitchen.  And this recipe was no exception.

I mean it started easy enough preheating the over and boiling noodles…that I can do!


But then…well what sounded simple tripped me up.  The directions said to cut the tops of the heads of garlic.  That SOUNDED easy.  But whether I lack the proper tools or know how, or whether mine were technically pre cut I want’s really sure but there was no way to cut any more of the ‘top’ off without destroying the entire head.  So I do what I do…I improvised and crossed my fingers.  I cut my heads of garlic in half and proceeded.


It didn’t take long before the boys came looking for what smelled so good.  Once they were done it took me a minute to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing when it says to “squeeze the roasted garlic into a small bowl” but I swear this recipe is idiot proof because it quickly made itself evident and I tossed the garlic into my hand chopper with the rest of the ingredients and a couple minutes later we were eating.


I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re not a garlic fan because…well there’s not much else too it.  But I think it would be a great pair with so many proteins.  We had it with baked pork chops but I think it’d go well with any milder flavored meats.  When I make it again (and I will) I will probably use more Parmesan because I added more on my plate and it toned down the garlic perfectly.

Be sure to check out PastaFits online, on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.



What’s for Dinner? #BeefCheckoff #MC #sponsored

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Beef Checkoff. I received products to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.


As a mom of three quickly growing and very active boys, it can be challenging to find good for them meals that are quick enough to prepare in our hectic schedule and that they actually enjoy eating.  Admittedly, I default to the fast food crutch a little too often.  But this summer I have made a conscious effort to try and cook at home more.  This can sometimes lead to later nights as I cook after we return home from sports etc.  But I’m learning so short cuts and finding that honestly with some planning and organization it’s actually quicker to make fresher homemade items than my previous go to frozen type items.

When considering “What’s for Dinner?” the given is that there WILL be meat.  My boys are carnivores.  And I am a firm believer that healthy beef choices are a good way to get their bodies the things they need to keep growing and maintaining their high activity levels.  Did you know that there are 10 daily essential nutrients to be found in beef?


click to enlarge


One of my favorite time saving tips that I learned from some other great moms is to buy high quality lean ground beef in larger quantities and spend some time on a weekend or whenever I have time and brown it all.  Then, I divide it into approximate meal sized portions and freeze.  From that I can easily make sloppy joes, tacos and meat sauce just to name a few.

Another favorite way to prepare beef is on the grill.  I especially love this in the summer when I really don’t want to turn the oven on.


click to enlarge


Another way I’ve been learning to cut down on the time I spend in the kitchen is using my slow cooker.  It’s amazing to me how a few simple ingredients in a slow cooker can end up so delicious.  I was looking for something I’d never made before so I headed to and checked out their Easy Dinner Ideas.  One idea that jumped out at me was the Four-Way Slow Cooker Shredded Beef.  I probably shouldn’t admit this but I’ve never attempted shredded beef because I always envisioned it taking too long to shred the beef.  See my BIGGEST weakness in the kitchen (of which I have many)  is that I struggle with prep tasks such as slicing, chopping and dicing.  I tend to end up with hacked, smooshed and mangled.  But I was on a mission to try something I hadn’t before so that was it.

5520.00 SlowCookerShreddedBeefFour Ways_pwm

Want to see how I fared?  Check out this quick video…

I should mention that the absence of liquid in the recipe made me nervous so I added a cup of water which I don’t think was necessary at all but it didn’t mess it up so I give any recipe that MY changes don’t mess up extra bonus points.  But I seriously LOVED how easy this was.  I bought a beautiful boneless chuck roast, chopped up an onion (which I left in large pieces so they were easy to get around for my pickier eaters) and tossed it in my removable crock the night before all seasoned etc, not that it took more than 5 minutes to prep and clean up so I could have done it in the morning.  But since it was done I just pulled the crock out of the fridge and put it in the slow cooker and took the cooker on and was done in seconds in the early morning.  In less time than it took my sides to be done I was able to pull out the meat, get it shredded and prep half of it as BBQ.  Both versions were loved by the boys.  And clean up was almost equally as easy!  Shredded beef will definitely be back on the menu again…soon.  But first we’ll have to try some of the other great easy dinner ideas at .


Learn lots more dinner ideas, flavor ideas, nutrition info and get YOUR beef related questions answered at .


What’s the Beef Checkoff? The Beef Checkoff was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It’s a  national marketing and research program funded by America’s cattle farmers and ranchers.
Who directs the Beef Checkoff? Cattle farmers, ranchers and importers direct the national checkoff program, which uses funds toward research and promotion efforts designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for beef. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board and USDA oversee the collection and spending of these beef checkoff funds.
What’s the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association? The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is a contractor for the Beef Checkoff and manages research and promotion programs on behalf of America’s farmers and ranchers with oversight from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and USDA. One of the checkoff programs NCBA manages is the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand.

Pinterest Wins and Fails

Ok well I won’t claim to be pinning nutritious recipes but I DO have a ton of yummy looking recipes pinned.  But they have to be fairly simple for me to actually attempt them.  I recently tried three of these recipes, two were huge hits and one bombed!186477240790764219_q921nsvp_f


This yummy looking Grilled Cheese Pull Apart Bread from, looked good and sounded easy so I decided to give it a try.  It called for a bundt pan, which I didn’t own but there have been a few other recipes that used one so I decided it’d be worth the purchase.  And it totally was.  This was so awesome, I don’t think I’ll ever eat a regular grilled cheese again.  It smells amazing while it’s baking too.  Only thing I will add is that on my first attempt the outside was browning while the inside was still not cooked all the way through at the recommended time.  I covered it with foil and kept cooking and it was great.  It wasn’t until I made it again that I realized I used way more cheese in the first batch then it called for which probably messed with the cooking time.  I think I may have added 2 minutes to recommended time for perfect results the second time.IMG_7935a-1024x672


Feeling good about my success, I was ready to take on another new recipe.  This Bacon BBQ Cheeseburger Quesadilla from sounded like something we’d all love.  I did cut out the onions and used more bacon and BBQ sauce as I didn’t measure them because…bacon…you can’t have too much!!!  (I also used precooked bacon to make this even quicker/easier.  I MAY have used the entire package of bacon.) I also use a ton of cheese in my quesadillas and don’t measure.  So this one is really easy to adjust to your tastes but it is another one that smells awesome and the whole family REALLY loved.  It also goes a long way.  I usually use 14-16 tortillas easily when I make plain cheese quesadillas but a package of 10 small tortillas was all I needed for us all to be pleasantly stuffed to the gills with bacon-y bbq-y goodness.



I’ve very glad I didn’t totally give up on trying new recipes after a massive pinterest fail.  I wish I would have taken photos but I attempted to make these Cheesy Bacon Bombs for a party.  I got all the ingredients to make a double batch.  Followed the directions to a T.  And could NOT get them to properly cook no matter what I did.  As soon as I posted about my disaster on Facebook a friend told me that you have to use HALF a slice of bacon instead of a full one.  As I rolled them I checked several times to verify that it was a full slice because it seemed like a lot.  I’m not at all sure how she got it to cook using a full slice but I ruined 4 pounds of bacon lots of cheese and biscuits and I tried baking them, frying and then baking, baking then frying. Not a single one looked good enough to try.


Take Part in the Summer of Giving Project

I participated in this program on behalf of Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

get involved champions for kids visit walmart

Have you heard Champions for Kids and Walmart are joining with sponsors Tyson, Birds Eye, and State Fair brands for the Summer of Giving Project, to help provide 5 million meals to hungry kids?

While summer means fun days in the sun and trips to the beach for many families, it means not getting enough to eat for far too many children.  While many families today tend to live paycheck to paycheck, for the most part we make ends meet.  But the reality for many is that there simply isn’t enough to make ends meet.  Families and especially children should never have to know the meaning of true hunger.  Through programs at schools children from struggling families are able to get lunch and in some areas breakfast during the school year.  But very few places have programs that extend into the summer.

So what can YOU do to help?  Join in on the Summer of Giving Project!   All you have to do is shop the Walmart freezer section and support the sponsor brands, Tyson, Birds Eye and State Fair. When you do, you’ll be helping to feed hungry kids in your local community.  If you’re not a regular shopper at Walmart or purchaser of these brands look for these type of displays to help you locate the products that are part of the Summer of Giving Project with Champions for Kids.  I’m sure all stores are different but if your stores is like ours, you’ll find the Tyson line in the meat area of your store not with the other frozen items.

champions for kids

Help reach the goal to provide 5 million meals this summer – then share your story – and you could be eligible to win $25,000 for your school! It’s easy, just visit your Walmart freezer aisle June 9 – July 9, purchase products for children in need, then share your story here. You could be one of seven finalists featured on our Facebook page and in the running for $25,000 for your school.*

*Click here for Full Details, Rules and Regulationsget involved champions for kids


Did you know that 10 percent of U.S. children live in food insecure homes? That’s millions of children who don’t know when, or if, their next meal is coming. This is especially true during the summer months when school meal programs are no longer in effect. This is not okay. Not in a country where so many have so much –and are willing to share it. That’s where YOU come in. Champions for Kids is about harnessing the power of people. People like you who are willing to help make sure kids don’t go hungry this summer.

Our family will be shopping this weekend for some of these items to donate to a local charity to help in OUR community thanks to Champions for Kids!  Being a kid in the summer should be about riding bikes and running through sprinklers, not wondering when you’ll get to eat next.  Won’t you do YOUR part to help this summer?