Sunday, July 31, 2011

The cell phone "discussion" continues...

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Some may call it an argument, but I prefer to think of it as a spirited mother-daughter discussion.  Number One is all "I really need a cell phone. I really think it's time." And I'm all like "I'm still thinking about it". She's all "what's there to think about? I'll be responsible! Everyone else has one!"  And I'm like "GO CLEAN YOUR ROOM!" (because I throw that in whenever possible) and "mom knows best!"  See - very mature, calm, uhmm...debate.

Kids have no concept of how much things cost! In researching various cell phone options, I've learned a lot.  One, the hubs and I are paying WAY too much for our current cell phone service! I couldn't believe it when I looked into Straight Talk, and discovered that we could cut our cell phone bill more than half!  Of course, we weren't smart, and are currently tied to a contract, but with Straight Talk there is no contract, no surprise billing charges, no credit checks (if that should be a concern) and they have great nationwide coverage.  Also, they provide phones from the same reputable companies that we currently use, such as Samsung, Nokia, LG and more.  They have everything you need for way less money. 

Straight Talk offers monthly plans to fit all your cell phone needs, including Unlimited Monthly Service for $45, which includes calls, text, web, and picture imaging.  There is an "All You Need" plan that includes 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 30 MB of web data. I'm not sure even my tween would need more than 1000 texts! What is it with kids anyway? It used to be that you would call a friend at every opportunity...but now, it's text text text.  My child will send me messages on the computer from another part of the house!  Unlimited texting is probably a must!  They actually provide a plan that allows for unlimited calls, text, picture imaging and web for an entire year, for $499.  Now, that sounds like a lot at first, but I know for us, we spend that on our current cell phone plan in just a few months.  I don't know about you, but I'm sold - hook, line and sinker. We definitely need to switch when our contract is up.

Check out this commercial - I kind of feel like this guy, knowing how much we can save!

I don't have the need for international calling, but there is also Straight Talk International Long Distance Service, which is a flexible prepaid calling service that allows you to call internationally from your home, office or cell.

Furthermore, the phones are affordable, some low as $10, and you can get all the "bells and whistles" if interested.  I have to admit, I'm pretty attached to my smart phone, and glad to know I wouldn't have to give that up!  If you want to hear some actual Straight Talk customer testimonials, check this YouTube video out...

Now, I have to go text someone. And clean my room.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

I know I've mentioned a time or two hundred that I was overflowing with cucumbers and zucchini.  Sadly, all the plants have died :(  However, I tried to make the most of my 'harvest'.  We ate cucumbers everyday, and I made 3 different batches of pickles.  Yep, 3 different recipes, b/c I've never made pickles before and I didn't know which one was best.  So, I thought I'd give y'all a little recap....
I made spears and slices.  Much love to whoever invented the food processor.  And my sister, who is the original owner of above processor. 

For my first pickle making attempt, I went the easy route...Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix! (Again, from my sister. Everyone needs an awesome little sis like mine!)
cukes and a few banana peppers all ready to go
After their 'water bath'. 
Am I the only one who gets excited to hear those little popping sounds of the jars sealing?  Yeah, I'm a nerd.  These pickles were very good!  They stayed nice and crispy, with a good dill flavor (I'm not a sweet pickle fan).  They are a little salty...but they are dill pickles.  My daughter loves them and ate an entire jar in one sitting.  Hypertension anyone?

For the 2nd go-round, I got a little braver.  I wanted to make sour pickles, but was not interested in the whole fermenting thing where they have to sit for days, etc.  Even though from what I've read/heard, that is the best way to make pickles.  I went with a recipe I found online....
Quick Sour Pickles from Cooks.com
  • 25 medium cucumbers
  • 1/2 gallon cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup canning salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup mustard seed
Wash cucumbers and slice lengthwise. Pack into jars.

Combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and mustard seed. Bring mixture to a rolling boil.

Place a canning funnel into jar. Fill to within 1/2 inch of jar top with boiling vinegar mixture. Adjust caps.

Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove to a draft free place to cool using a jar lifter.

Yields about 8 pints.   Submitted by: CM

Verdict?  I love them.  They are not the best sour pickles I've ever had, but they are nice and sour and crisp. And they were pretty simple to make.  I'll be saving this one to make again next year. 

3rd go round...I wanted to try a recipe using pickling spices and fresh dill.  (Fresh dill was not easy to find around here. Note to self - grow dill next year!)
 I went with the Dill Pickles from Ball Blue Book of Preserving (*which I keep mentally referring to as the 'Blue Ball' Book of Preserving - I know I'm going to accidentally say that to someone. And it might be embarrassing.)  I found the recipe here.

(Yield: about 7 pints or 3 quarts)

8 pounds 4-6 inch cucumbers, cut length-wise into halves

¾ cup sugar

½ cup canning salt

1 quart vinegar (white or cider vinegar, 5% acidity)

1 quart water

3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices

Green or dry dill (1 head per jar)

Wash cucumbers; drain. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large sauce pot. Tie spices in a spice bag; add spice bag to vinegar mixture; simmer 15 minutes. Pack cucumbers into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace; put one head of dill in each jar. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Price pints and quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. (note: start counting from the minute jars hit the boiling water canner).

Recipe variation: For Kosher-style dill Pickles add 1 bay leaf, 1 clove garlic, 1 piece hot red pepper and ½ teaspoon mustard seed to each jar. Process as recommended.

Verdict - hmmm, I'm not sure about these.  They're okay.  I've only tried the slices, and they weren't chilled, but they weren't crisp, which I didn't like.  The flavor was unique...something like a bread n' butter with a little more dill flavor - if that makes sense.  So, I didn't not like them, but I didn't immediately love them either. I'll have to get some other opinions and let you know.

then I made this
This has no name and no recipe.  This is a mo'betta creation that has yet to be taste-tested.  It's cucumbers, peppers and onions with the leftover brine from the last recipe.  It was an experiment.  Hopefully it will taste like some sort of edible relish.  I'll let you know!

I was pretty sick of seeing cucumbers after making all these pickles, but now I'm sad that my plants are gone! I hate the idea of buying a cucumber!  Of course, I also made these!  I've yet to try these either, but I was intrigued at being able to freeze cucumbers.

Freezer Cucumbers from Sidewalk Shoes

7 c. thinly sliced cucumbers

3 med. onions, sliced

1 green pepper, chopped

2 c. sugar

1 c. vinegar

1/2 tsp. celery seed

1 tbsp. salt

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Put in containers and freeze. Great side dish in the middle of winter…just defrost and serve!

I'm linking this post up with Homemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, Mouthwatering Monday @ A Southern Fairytale, Skip to my Lou, Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl CreativeDelicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff,  Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs,Blue Cricket Design, At Home with Haley, Lady Behind the Curtain,  Little Brick Ranch, These Chicks Cooked, Miz Helen's Country CottageMangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Fridays, EKat's Kitchen (currently being held at Girlichef), Simply Delish, Feeding Four, It's a Keeper, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo, The Sweet Details for Savory Sunday
Also linking up for Canning Week - Photobucket

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick & Easy

That's today's Share a Spoon theme over at Think Tank Momma - quick and easy meals.  Because it's hot.  I don't mean, it's summer so yeah, it's hot - or I live in the South so it's hot & humid - I mean it's H-O-T.  Record-breaking over the 100 degree mark, super hot.  So who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, over a hot stove, heating up the house when the air conditioner is already working to it's maximum capacity?  Not. me.  So today's theme got me thinking...what are some of my go-to quick and easy meals?

The first thing that comes to mind is PIZZA! I think I love it even more than the kids do.  It's so versatile, the whole family likes it, and it doesn't take a lot of effort.  I love a meal that can be easily customized to fit every one's taste buds. (as picky as some of them are).  My go-to crust is this one - it's made in the bread machine which I find super convenient.  I've also recently discovered this pizza sauce....no cooking required, super simple, and so much better than what I was buying in the jar!

Easy Pizza Sauce III from allrecipes.com
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, Mix together tomato sauce and tomato paste until smooth. Stir in oregano, garlic and paprika.


You can't get much easier than that!  Then you can top it with whatever your family likes.

Another super quick and easy meal are quesadillas.  They are also versatile and you can fill them with whatever you like.  I had some shredded chicken (that had been pre-cooked and frozen - huge time saver!) thawed in the fridge and was trying to decide what to fix for dinner the other night.  When I saw the tortillas in the pantry...I decided on quesadillas.  Chicken, with a little taco seasoning and cheese for the kids...
and buffalo chicken for me...
hmmm, I sort of overfilled mine! This is just chicken mixed with buffalo wing sauce, cheese and fat free blue cheese dressing.  And it's the bomb. This also makes a good pizza!  I cooked our quesadillas in the George Foreman, which worked okay, but a panini press or quesadilla maker would work even better.

OR...if you feel like grilling - which let me just say...I needed a couple of really cold margaritas to cook on the grill as hot as it is - 
Beef and chicken kabobs with potatoes, zucchini, onions and peppers (all from the garden!)
They got a little overdone.  What can I say, that's what happens when you drink margaritas while cooking.  They were still yummy!

And need some super easy veggies?
No cooking required for this cucumber and tomato salad.  It's just cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers with a little salt and pepper, red wine or balsamic vinegar and drizzled with olive oil.  Mix together, and let sit in the fridge for a little while so the flavors can 'marry'.  Very fresh and easy summer dish.

Or, if you feel like turning on the oven, roasted green beans are super easy and a very good way to eat your beans!

So those are a few of my quick and easy meals. What are yours?  Link up with Think Tank Momma!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(not so) Wordless Wednesday - Southern Style Sweet Tea


 


Southern Style Sweet Tea
  • Bring 4-6 cups water just to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and add 2 family size tea bags.
  • Let steep - depending on how strong you like your tea...I usually let my sit for 30 mins to an hour. (I like my tea strong!)
  • Add tea to 2 quart pitcher (minus tea bags of course)
  • add water to fill pitcher
  • add sugar or sweetener of choice (I use Stevia) - Other than brewing, this is the most important step to making tea the right Southern way.  Tea must be sweet enough for you to say "damn, this is sweet!" but not so sweet that you say "ughh, this taste like syrup".  It's a fine line. 
  •  If you use sugar, I suggest about 3/4th cup.  You can go as low as 1/2 cup, but you are getting into Yankee territory there.  You can also go as high as 1 cup, but that's pushing the syrup tasting boundary.
  • With stevia, it depends on the brand.  I am currently use NuNaturals NuStevia Extract - which is pure stevia and only requires 1/4 teaspoon to sweeten an entire pitcher! Awesome.
  • Lemon is optional, but recommended.  That hint of lemon goes well with all that sweetness. 
  • Mint is also optional, but a tasty addition.
Now you are ready to beat the heat - Southern style!

**Sun tea is also an acceptable method of making tea.  Instant tea is a sacrilege, only to be used in cases of extreme emergency.

My 10 year old wants a cell phone!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of TracFone for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It seems that everywhere you look nowadays, kids are talking or texting away on cell phones.  Of course, my 8 & 10 year old want to be in that group.  Especially my 10 year old.  "All my friends have one", she says.  She happens to be right!  Every kid I see at Girl Scouts, the pool, etc, have phones!  So, I've been giving it some serious thought.  Does she need one?  Is she old enough to handle the responsibility?  I had heard about TracFone, with no contracts, activation or cancellation fees, or credit checks.  I really like the idea of no contracts or extra fees.  As a matter of fact, TracFone offers the most affordable way to use and own a cell phone in America.  Check out these real TracFone customers discussing their experiences and you'll see it's true - no surprise bills - which definitely offers a parent piece of mind when handing over a cell phone. 

Of course, not only do I want a cell phone to be affordable, it needs to be reliable.  I want to feel confident that if my child were to need to use the phone in an emergency, that it would have a good coverage area and reception.  This YouTube video shows real TracFone customers discussing the reliability of their phones.  TracFone actually has great nationwide coverage as well as brand name phones from leading manufacturers like Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and others.  You also have the options of simple "Candy Bar" phones to Bluetooth enabled "Smart" phones.  This makes me feel good about the reliability and quality we would receive with a TracFone.  (you can see more real TracFone customers discussing the great coverage!)

So, what kind of plans do they offer? Well, pretty much anything you need.  You can pay as you go online or with cards available from thousands of retailers across the country, get one year service cards - which is a great deal offering double minutes for the life of your phone, and 800 minutes for only $119.00! It's seriously making me reconsider my current cell phone plan.  They have other plans ranging from $9.99 to $30.00 based on your needs.  There are also international calling plans, so there is something to fit everyone's needs.

In addition, the phones are not expensive! If you are just looking for a basic phone for calling and texting, you can get one for under $10!!  This is great, considering how often my children lose things!  However, if you are interested in a phone (maybe for yourself!) that has all the bells and whistles (app capabilities, camera/video, web access, etc.) you can get those for $29.99.  Check out this YouTube video discussing all of the TracFone LG420 Phone features!

In my opinion, TracFone seems like a great option to consider when I finally decide whether or not it's time for my daughter to get a cell phone.  What about y'all?  Do your kids have phones?  What age do you think is appropriate?

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More from the Bridal Luncheon


Weekend before last was all about new beginnings. I attended a beautiful wedding of a young couple, watching them join their lives together.  This weekend was about endings.  My 88 year old grandfather passed away late Thursday night, and we layed him to rest yesterday.  It's always hard to be reminded that with life, comes death.

However, I do not want this to be a sad post, I want to share more from the luncheon I posted about last week, when I shared the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies!  We all know food makes me happy.  I did not take many pictures of the food (I know! Crazy!) but luckily, there were a couple of other bloggers in attendance :)  As I've already posted, we had little mason jars filled with the cookies as favors.  For appetizers, we had pimiento cheese tartlets, 
Zoomed photo of recipe (via) Picture these with pimiento cheese! 
pimiento cheese with crackers,
Bobby’s Pimento Cheese Sandwich Paula Deen's photo, and very good recipe!
and 'pickle rolos' (my sister's name for them)....these have been around forever and were a last minute addition to the apps, and I have to say they were a huge hit! They have different names all around the web, and some people wrap them in different kinds of meat, but essentially it's some form of meat (we use dried beef), layered with cream cheese and wrapped around a pickle, then cut into bite size pieces.  We do love our pickles.
via
Beverages - lemonade, sweet tea, and peach mimosas - yum!

 And the main event - my mom's chicken salad (it's her own special recipe that I've been unable to duplicate), pasta salad with fresh veggies from our gardens, watermelon and feta salad (with the addition of fresh basil and balsamic vinaigrette instead of plain balsamic vinegar), BLT's on mini croissants with basil mayonnaise.  It was all delicious!
My beautiful sister holding our Strawberry-Cream Puff Kabobs.
We added mint to our kabobs and had chocolate sauce for drizzling.
And last, but not least....a classic
Served with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh blueberries!  Of course, I dumped some chocolate sauce on mine ;)

It was a lot of fun and putting this post together has made me seriously hungry!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dark Chocolate, Bacon, and pictures!

Oh yeah. I went there. You knew it was only a matter of time.  However, I did it for a good cause.  My mom, sister and I hosted a Bridesmaid's Luncheon last Friday for one of my sister's best friends.  When discussing the menu options, I found out that one of the bride's favorite foods is BACON!  Of course, my mind immediately went to dessert options....cupcakes with bacon, cookies with bacon...and we decided on these fabulous chocolate-chocolate chip bacon cookies.  I just made a few substitutions and BAM! Yummy, scrumptious, sweet'n'salty combo!!  Yes, it really is good.  Even after baking over a hundred cookies, and possibly consuming an unheard of amount of batter, I still wanted to eat them the next day.
Jars and photo by life is reed-iculous
My sister made these adorable little favor jars, which we filled with the cookies, and used them as favors and place card holders.  They looked really cute on the table.  I thought my mom did an excellent job with the tables. I loved it, but blue and white are my passion.  You know, next to chocolate.
The luncheon went very well, the food was fantastic, and the weather was perfect.  My parents live on the water, so it was nice to be able to enjoy the gorgeous view and walk outside.  The cool front moved in just for the wedding weekend!  It has moved right back out again...over 100 degrees yesterday, and just as hot or hotter today.  Yowza.

So the recipe already!

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies slightly adapted from allrecipes.com

6 slices maple-cured bacon, chopped *you can use this or candy your own bacon

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup softened butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder  *I used 1/3 cup Hershey's Dark Cocoa and 1/3 cup regular cocoa

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks *I used 1 cup dark-chocolate chips.  I didn't want to overpower the bacon and 2 cups of dark chocolate when have been fabulous too much.

Directions

1.Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble.

3.Beat the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy and smooth. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate chips and bacon. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

4.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Let stand 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

I'll do another post next week of the other foods from the luncheon.  Since I was busy eating performing my hostess duties I didn't get many pics, but I can share some recipes!

Y'all have a great weekend!  It's gonna be HOT!

I'm linking this recipe up with Homemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, Mouthwatering Monday @ A Southern Fairytale, Skip to my Lou, Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl CreativeMaking the World CuterDelicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff,  Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs,Blue Cricket Design, At Home with Haley, Lady Behind the Curtain,  Little Brick Ranch, These Chicks Cooked, Miz Helen's Country CottageMangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Fridays, EKat's Kitchen (currently being held at Girlichef), Simply Delish, Feeding Four, It's a Keeper, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo, The Sweet Details for Savory Sunday, Alli n Son, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Eat at Home (Ingredient Spotlight: Cocoa), Eat at Home (Ingredient Spotlight: Bacon)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Wheat Bagels

I've been wanting to make my own bagels for a while now.  Why?  I have no idea.  I just have this compulsion that anything that I can buy in the store, I can make at home and it will taste better and have less crap in it.  "Crap" being preservatives and artificial stuff.  As a general rule, this is true.  Homemade stuff does usually taste better and is better for you, b/c you control the quality of ingredients used, and don't add all that 'stuff' to prolong shelf life, etc. 

I also have an uncontrollable desire to eat carbs.  Lots and lots of carbs.  I love to bake bread, and the only reason I don't do it more often is b/c I eat so darn much of it!  If I buy the store bought loaf bread, I can resist, but a homemade loaf...it's history.  So anyway, in my quest to conquer the world one carb at a time, I decided to try my hand at bagels.  They seemed really difficult...with all the boiling and baking, etc.  I'm not into cooking stuff with a bunch of steps. (No, I'm not that lazy, I just have to be realistic.  It's very hard to do a lot of in depth cooking while taking care of three children. and a dog.  and a house.  and a garden....)  What? Where was I?!  Oh yeah, bagel making...

I looked around for a recipe that seemed simple for the bagel making virgin...and found one in my newest cookbook
The Artisan Bread Machine: 250 Recipes for Breads, Rolls, Flatbreads and Pizzas

Bread Machine Bagels

2 T. granulated sugar (1 T. for plain bagels)
1 t. salt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 T. honey
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 t. cinnamon (omit for plain bagels)
1-1/2 t. instant or bread machine yeast

1.  Add sugar, salt, water and honey to the bread pan.  Spoon flour on top of liquid.  Add yeast.
2.  Select the Dough cycle and press Start.
3.  When the cycle is finished, transfer dough to lightly floured surface and punch down gently.  Divide dough into 6 (*I made 8) pieces.  Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope.  Pinch the ends of each rope together to form a circle.  Place on prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
4.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and preheat oven to 350 F.
5.  Using a slotted spatula, lift each bagel and plunge into boiling water.  Boil for 2 minutes, flipping over halfway through, then return to the baking sheet, placing bagels 2 inches apart.
6.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a bagel registers 190 F.  Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.

Variation - Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: add 1/4 cup raisins 

They are tasty with my Salted Dark Chocolate Almond Butter!

What I learned....these are kind of a lot of work, especially for just 8 bagels! They were very good, but pretty much just like store bought.  My husband really liked them, and he rarely eats carbs, but he made an exception for these.  I'll try my hand at making them again but I want to make a larger quantity and experiment with different recipes. Also, the method of rolling the dough into a long roll then bring the ends together did not work as well as just taking a ball of dough and punching a hole through the middle with your thumbs. The ends that were pinched together came apart in the boiling water.  I'm sure this is due to my inexperience, but I'll stick with the other method I think.  So anyway, something to check off my baking bucket list!  Pretzels are the next thing I want to try :D

I'm linking this up with Think Tank Momma's Share a Spoon.  Today's theme is carbliciousness.  Okay, so I totally made up that word, but head on over and check out the carb wonders.  We'll go Atkins later. (or not)  Or you can check out my roasted or bacon wrapped green beans.

One year ago Mo'Betta postedPesto Pasta (more carbs!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Canning 101

You really do need to make sure your jars are still warm before placing them in a boiling water bath.  oopsies.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roasted Green Beans

I know I just posted Bacon Wrapped Green Beans, but when the garden is producing...well, you gotta cook it, can it or freeze it!  I tried freezing green beans from my garden last year, and they were disgusting.  I don't have a canner, so I can't can them (you are not supposed to use the 'water bath' method for low acidic items like green beans.  Botulism.  Not good.)  So, that leaves cooking them (and giving them away!).  Thankfully, most of the house likes green beans, and when they are roasted like this, they are pretty darn good.  This is also another recipe from Jessica at How Sweet It Is.  What can I say, she makes veggies tasty.

Roasted Green Beans from How Sweet It Is


1 lb fresh green beans

drizzle of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Add green beans to a bowl and drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil on them. Mix with your hands to coat each green bean. Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping once during cooking.

They aren't the prettiest things in the world, but they are very good!  The roasting brings out the sweetness of the green bean, and they get a little crisp.  I can't believe I was just shoveling them in like french fries.  No, they don't taste like french fries, but they are quite yummy.  You know, for a vegetable and all.

One year ago: Healthier No Bake Chocolate Cookies (with almond butter)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Awesome beauty products

This post is a little different for Mo'Betta, as you can't eat what I'm about to post, but I do have a few other interests besides food.  Shocking, I know.  However, I recently became a member of Influenster.  If you're not familiar...
What is Influenster?


Community of trendsetters invited to share their lifestyles and show their influence to qualify for personalized product shipments, special rewards and exclusive deals from the brands they love. Members love testing the latest products, giving insightful feedback, and spreading the word on their favorite finds! from the website

I was fortunate enough to qualify for June's personalized product shipment, called a VoxBox, and all I can say is AWESOME!
 
This is all the cool stuff I got.

The Softsoap Pampered Hands Soap and Pure Silk Shaving Cream are products I've used or currently using (and I like), but I wasn't familiar with the other items. I, of course, had seen Cindy Crawford's infomercial on Meaningful Beauty, but I'm very nervous about trying new skin care products because I have such weird, super sensitive skin.  However, I wanted to try all the products in the box so I could give an honest opinion and hopefully find something that I really liked/and could use. 

Over the past few weeks, I have tried everything in my box, and currently using the entire line of Meaningful Beauty product samples I received.  I am so excited to have found a moisturizer that doesn't cause my skin to break out! Trust me, I have tried hundreds over the years...even expensive products exclusively made for sensitive skin.  The Meaningful Beauty sample pack came with a


SKIN SOFTENING CLEANSER- Mild Fragrance & Oil Free, Gently Removes Makeup

ANTIOXIDANT DAY CRÈME SPF 20 UVA/UVB Protection, Fights Free-Radical Damage, Prevents Premature Aging

ANTI-AGING NIGHT CRÈME- 9 Key Ingredients, Helps Renew Skin Overnight, Fights Free-Radical Damage

LIFTING EYE CRÈME -Helps Smooth Fine Lines, Reduces Puffy Appearance, Diminishes Dark Circles

FIRMING CHEST AND NECK CRÈME- Decreases Roughness, Evens Skin Tone, Refines Skin Texture

I have to say, I am super impressed with the night creme and the chest and neck creme.  One, they don't break out my super sensitive skin.  Two, I had visible results in a short amount of time.  Smaller pores on my face and a noticeable difference in skin tone on my chest.  I have always been a sun-lovin' beach baby...and my skin is showing it.  I have lots of sun spots on my chest, shoulders and upper back.  I rarely wore sunscreen when I was younger - not smart ladies!!  However, the skin does look more even on my chest where I have been applying the firming chest and neck creme - wish I had a huge bottle for my shoulders too!  The spots haven't gone away of course, but definitely less noticeable to me. 

goofy picture of me using my new "products"!

I like the cleanser and other products as well, but the two mentioned above are my favorites.

Another product from the VoxBox that I really love is the Garden Botanika Lip Treatment.  I keep dry lips almost year round, constantly applying chap stick or lip gloss.  This product actually made my lips softer, and healed the dry, flaking skin I was having.  I was pretty amazed! Most other products I use are temporary fixes, the skin stays soft for a short period of time, and then the product is gone and has to be reapplied or the skin is dry and flaky again. Since I've been using the Garden Botanika (and I don't even remember to use it everyday anymore), I haven't had such dry lips!  I can actually wear lipstick again!  Ok, I could wear lipstick.  If I wanted too.  Seems a little much for my pj's and workout clothes ;)

So, those are my opinions...I liked all the products, but the ones described were my favorites that I would like to continue using.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to review these products!


As stated, I received the above pictured VoxBox product samples from Influenster for my review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

It's the weekend.  You should make this,,,
Especially since blueberries are ripe for the pickin'.  At least around here they are.  I love blueberries (and cinnamon, and sugar) and this is like a blueberry coffee cake.  It would be great for breakfast, brunch, or if you are like us, and love breakfast for dinner (brinner?), well, it's good then too!

Blueberry Breakfast Cake from Amanda's Cookin' slightly adapted by yours truly

2 cups all-purpose flour  *I used 1 cup AP and 1 cup whole wheat

1/2 cup sugar *I used Splenda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened  *Smart Balance

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

TOPPING:

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts *I used pecans

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

DRIZZLE  *I omitted

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of milk (more or less to get to a drizzling consistency)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder. Add egg, milk, butter and lemon peel; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the blueberries. Spread in a greased 9-in. square baking pan.

For topping, combine sugar, flour, walnuts or pecans! and cinnamon in a mini food processor or bowl. Add butter and process, or cut in if doing by hand, until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until cake tests done.

(if using) For drizzle, combine the powdered sugar and milk. If too thick, add a few drops of additional milk at a time until it reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzles over the top of the cake and allow to sit until sugar solidifies.

This cake is delicious!  Unfortunately, it's not allergy friendly, but I knew Mr. Three would not eat it anyway - so I went ahead and made it with the egg and nuts.  He is very peculiar about food, and he wouldn't like the crumb topping (texture thing?) and he would definitely not be happy to find a blueberry.  I'm so hoping he outgrows this phase soon.  Anyways, it was yummy to the rest of us!

Have a great weekend! The weather here as been AWE-SOME...it's only been in the 80's with decreased humidity instead of in the 100's with air so thick you couldn't breathe.  Gotta love the South :)
(and I do!)

See ya later y'all

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans!

Leave it to me to take something healthy and ruin it.  Not that adding bacon is ruining it, it's just that whole pesky eating in moderation thing.  Which my husband did not practice when eating these.  It's not my fault...I have all these green beans coming in from the garden, and How Sweet It Is posted Green Bean Bacon Bundles.  What's a girl to do?  Well, make them of course...

Green Bean Bacon Bundles 
from How Sweet It Is

makes about 10-12 bundles *I made 14

1 pound fresh green beans

10-12 slices of thick-cut bacon  *I used regular bacon

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves of garlic, minced  *I only used one

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

Wash and thoroughly dry green beans, then season with salt and pepper. Bundle together about 5-8 green beans – this will depend on your size of beans and the amount of beans you get for one pound. Bundle together as many as you’d like! Using a slice of bacon, wrap it around the center of the beans to hold it together. Lay the bundle bacon seam side down in the baking dish to hold it together. Repeat with remaining beans.
Heat a small saucepan over low heat. Add butter, brown sugar and garlic and whisk until melted and combined. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture over top of each green bean bundle. Cover the bundles with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 (it took more like 25 minutes for me to get the bacon somewhat crisp, and I still ended up putting it under the broiler for a minute) minutes more, just until bacon gets crispy.

Verdict?  Bacon makes everything delicious. Even vegetables. 

The only thing for me is that I baked them in a casserole dish, and the beans cooked in all that grease.  Which may be the point, but the green beans absorb a lot of that grease, which obviously is not good for you.  I think when (when, not if) I make them again, I'll cook them in a roasting pan, with the wire rack, so the beans still get the juices of the bacon while it's cooking, but a majority will drip down into the pan.  That should also get the bacon crispier without having to broil it.  (b/c I almost always burn everything I put under the broiler - see 1st pic)

These were definitely a winner with the hubs, not so much with the kids.  But as you may have noticed, my kids don't like anything!

Since I've been blogging for a year now, I thought it would be fun to look back on previous posts.  Fun for me anyway :)  So...
Last year's PostHealthy Choices (and ongoing struggle fo' sho')

I'm linking it up with Homemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, Mouthwatering Monday @ A Southern Fairytale, Skip to my Lou, Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl CreativeDelicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff,  Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs, At Home with Haley, Lady Behind the Curtain,  Little Brick Ranch, These Chicks Cooked, Miz Helen's Country CottageMangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Fridays, EKat's Kitchen (currently being held at Girlichef), Simply Delish, Feeding Four, It's a Keeper, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo, The Sweet Details for Savory Sunday; Eat at Home (Ingredient Spotlight: Bacon!), Mom-Spot.com, Gooseberry Patch Blog

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parent's Choice Infant Formula Savings Sweepstakes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PBM Products for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice Infant Formula is not only helping babies grow strong and healthy, but it's also helping them go to college!  That's right...college! My children are 10, 8 and 3, but with the way time flies by, college will be here before we know it. 

Parent’s Choice Infant Formula Savings Sweepstakes was created in partnership with PBM Products, LLC (a Perrigo Company) and they will provide one lucky winner with a $10,000 college scholarship in the form of a College Savings 529 Plan.  I don't know about you, but with 3 kids, this sounds all kinds of fabulous to me!  (Not to mention I'll have 2 kids in college AT THE SAME TIME! Yikes!)

The Parent’s Choice Infant Formula Savings Sweepstakes officially begins June 15th, and will run through 11:59 pm on August 1, 2011.  So hurry to get your entry form in!  (Click on any of the links in this post to take you to the entry form, rules or more information)

With a brand like Parent's Choice, which has been providing quality baby formula at affordable prices for the past 13 years, it's so nice to see that they are continuing to provide for children, even as they enter adulthood.  Of course, let's face it, it doesn't matter how old our children get, they will always be our 'babies'!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Need a new recipe?

I tell ya, I still have zucchini and cucumbers coming out of my ears! I'm determined not to waste any of it, so I have been scouring the internet looking for new recipe ideas.  It's so fun finding new ways to prepare things.  What?!  That's not your idea of a good time?!  I love finding new recipe sites that have a multitude of recipes, but some also have great tips (like how to seed a watermelon, and what to look for to pick the ripest melon.  With all the melons I have growing, I'm going to need these little nuggets of wisdom!)  Speaking of watermelons....we have some whoppers growing in the garden!  I think I should be able to pick them any time now!!  The kids can't wait.  We have several watermelons and even more cantaloupe!  I'll definitely be searching for new ways to use these, as several are going to be ready at the same time.  You can only eat so much of one thing before you start to look for alternatives.  Zucchini for example.  How many zucchini recipes have I posted so far?! And more to come....

But anyway, recipe web sites (as well as other blogs, of course!) are great resources.  Have you been getting veggies from your local farmers market?  CSA?  Or maybe you are like me and growing lots of things that you need more ideas of what to do with.  Whatever the case, on-line recipe sites can be an invaluable resource.

I also like that I can get help with meal planning, and find recipes for my family's special dietary needs. With a child that is allergic to eggs and nuts, and a husband that is diabetic, I am constantly looking for new ideas for dinner and for baking.  Baking without eggs can be very...um, experimental.  It's nice to find tried-and-true recipes that you know are not going to result in a big waste of time and ingredients!

A good recipe site will have recipes broken down into easy to find categories, so if you don't want to spend hours looking for a specific thing, you don't have to.  I, of course, love looking through recipes.  I'd rather do that than read a book or magazine! You just never know what you will find that will get you excited to jump into the kitchen.  (It's usually something chocolate that has that effect on me!)

So, the real question is...what's for dinner?!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Zucchini Pasta

I've tried all kinds of zucchini recipes recently, but this is by far my favorite.  It's from the August 2011 issue of Whole Living Magazine.  It's on the cover, and looked pretty tempting.  When I saw the basic ingredient list, I knew I wanted to give it a try.  It's fresh and delicious and healthy.  My mom couldn't believe it when I called and told her I was shoving vegetables into my mouth as quickly as I could, and lovin' it!  Her response was "I never thought I'd hear you say that". Yep, I'm growin' up.

Zucchini Pasta (Whole Living, Aug 2011)

8 oz cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
2 Tbsp torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
2 Tbsp EVOO, plus more for drizzling (olive oil)
Sea salt
1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise, slices cut into 1/4-inch-long strips
*and I added some shaved Parmesan cheese!

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, basil, and oil.  Season with salt.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Toss with zucchini and garnish with basil.
Simple, fresh and delicious.  I experimented with how to cut my zucchini, and using the vegetable peeler got nice thin ribbons, then I did matchstick type cuts for different texture.  I also didn't have cherry tomatoes, but it's easy to make this salad your own and use what you like and have on hand.  Peppers would be a good addition, as well as lemon juice or maybe balsamic vinegar.  The only thing I would do different is use less olive oil next time - or more zucchini!

I'm linking this recipe up with Homemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, Mouthwatering Monday @ A Southern Fairytale, Skip to my Lou, Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl CreativeDelicious Dishes at It's a Blog Party, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff,  Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs,Blue Cricket Design, At Home with Haley, Lady Behind the Curtain,  Little Brick Ranch, These Chicks Cooked, Miz Helen's Country CottageMangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Fridays, EKat's Kitchen (currently being held at Girlichef), Simply Delish, Feeding Four, It's a Keeper, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo, The Sweet Details for Savory Sunday, and
The Healthy Hop at Fave Diets, Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Project 52 - Simple Pleasures

Do you remember the simple pleasure of eating an ice cream cone?
No concerns of calories or saturated fat.
You could just enjoy the utter bliss of eating something creamy and delicious.

This was Mr. Three's first ice cream in a cone, instead of a cup. 
He seemed to like it ;)

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

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