Spreading Cheer with Cookies and Giveaway!

The holiday season is for giving back, spreading happiness and some cheer! 7 years ago I baked a batch of cookies for our local Firefighters who work the Thanksgiving holiday and dedicate their lives protecting us, our friends and our homes throughout the year. We continued the tradition this year but with a big change, the girls baked the cookies without my help! It was kind of a mini bake-off between the three of them, I supervised of course and answered questions, but I never had to cracked a single egg (Think it was a mini Christmas miracle). Betty Crocker’s easy to bake mixes are simple enough for the kiddos to handle but yummy enough for anyone to enjoy!

The hardest part was deciding which cookie mixes to choose. The girls and I headed to our local Walmart to pick out their 3 favorites, sugar cookie, chocolate chip and peanut butter, there were so many to choose from, deciding on just 3 was the hardest part of this. 

The biggest complaint about baking is usually prep and clean-up and usually when we get done our kitchen looks like a tornado came through, but not this time. Betty’s cookie mix packets had easy to read instructions and reduce the kitchen mess to under 10 minutes.

From simple sugar cookies to a gingerbread masterpiece, Betty Crocker makes it easy to celebrate your favorite people. Give back to those that mean the world to you this holiday season by surprising them with fresh-baked goodness made straight from the heart. They have a wonderful variety of cookies, Betty’s Maple Bacon is next up on our grocery list.

After all that, it was time to package the fresh baked cookies for the Firefighter, I labeled them by cookie and who it was made by, Betty Crocker has wonderful label to print out to use for when you make your Spreading Cheer baskets and don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

We’d like y’all to join in on spreading cheer and show us who will you be baking up the next batch for?!
#SpreadCheer Giveaway
 I have a $20 gift card giveaway to share with one of you!

Simply complete the following:

• Visit the Betty Crocker #SpreadCheer page

•Create your own #SpreadCheer basket and post an original photo of it on social channels with the hashtag #SpreadCheer (and also nominate your friends by tagging)

• Last, confirm your entry by commenting on this blog with a short description of who you chose to  #SpreadCheer to AND a link back to your social post.

Be sure to download and print out the Betty Crocker Coupon and save $0.50 when you buy ONE (1) Betty Crocker™ Cookie Mix.
This post is sponsored by Betty Crocker, all thoughts, opinions and holiday cheer is my own. 


Injury Prevention, Today’s Smarter Athletes

Sports injury prevention and the rise of soccer in the United States ever been hotter topics at least not in our house. We wear protection whether it’s soccer, bike riding, rollerblading or even ice skating, injures are nothing to take lightly. 
Storelli Next-Gen Soccer Protection is a revolutionary concept that will help them keep their head in the game, in the zone, and play their best, FEARLESS. Help Storelli bring up a generation of smarter athletes – the “next-gen” athlete.

Parents and athletes need to band together to protect the ‘next generation’ of soccer players.
The notion that ‘soccer is not a contact sport’ is fading fast. Injuries are a big part of the game and the physical effects can be painful, not to mention expensive. Every moment spent on the sidelines is an opportunity lost, and the psychological effects of being benched can become a serious barrier to enjoying the game. Not only on the field but off we learned the hard way when my son broke his femur over the summer during a game of tag, he’s having a tough go trying to get back on his feet, even after 4 months, learning to walk all over again at age 11 isn’t easy and he won’t be playing sports for a while. The psychological pain is still there, injures are serious, prevention is everything.

 Storelli Next-Gen Soccer Protection, a new equipment concept built to withstand the physicality of the game and keep players “in the zone.” Head of Design,  specifically the BodyShield line which acts as more of a second-skin, mostly hidden away, with a ‘stealth’ fit (and look) that does not interfere with your performance on the field.

Storelli products, like the ExoShield Head Guard, are NOT a silver-bullet against concussions, the ExoShield Head Guard significantly reduces the force of impact to covered areas, there is no conclusive data showing that our head guard prevents concussions, whether it reduces impact, we can definitely say it made her look a lot tougher out there on the field.

A brand built for a smart generation of athletes who play to fear nothing and give everything, and want to help make a difference. 

Do your dream.

Be sure to stop over and visit Storelli.com and sign-up for the newsletter to receive $10 off next purchases and keep up with the latest news from Brooklyn.

 Many thanks to Storelli for sponsoring today’s story.

Holiday Olive Sloppy Joe Sliders Recipe

During the holidays, families and friends gather around the table bringing their favorite foods to share and the stories behind what maybe was Grandma’s winning dish at the county fair. I adored my Grandmother, watching her in the kitchen, learning to make her favorite go to recipes and with 16 children she needed to create easy, yet tasty meal to satisfy them. Now I’ve passed along those recipes to my kids. Sloppy Joe was one of my favorites of hers, being a vegetarian I’m missed eating the original recipe, so with help from my youngest chef, we’ve created a new version adding our families favorite ingredient to it, Mezzetta Kalamata olives! Adding the red and green olives gives my grandmother’s sloppy joe that colorful holiday twist.

Do you have a favourite holiday recipe? Is there a dish that makes you nostalgic?

Holiday Olive Sloppy Joe Sliders
in under 30 minutes

Frozen veggie crumb 12 ounce package
(ground beef or turkey can be used for a non-vegetarian version)
1/2 cup hot water
2 TBSP dry fajita mix seasoning
1/2 cup tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1/4 barbecue sauce
1 tsp basil
Mezzetta Kalamata Olives (chopped)
6 Whole Mezzetta Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olives

in a skillet pan add the frozen veggie crumbles and hot water until thawed, then add in the tomato puree, fajita seasoning, barbecue sauce, mixing together well, let reduce for 5-7 minutes then add in olives.

Spoon sloppy joe mixture onto an italian type roll and top with one Mezzetta Bleu Cheese stuffed Olive and place the top of the roll too the slider and serve.

Makes 6 sliders
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 10 minute
total time: 20 minutes

 Family owned since 1935, the fourth generation of Mezzetta family is continuing the commitment to bring our customers the highest quality foods available. We source the finest fresh produce from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece and prepare them according to our Italian family recipes at our state-of-the-art production facility in the Napa Valley. 
thanksgiving 2014

The Holiday Memories Sweepstakes:

• Grand Prize (1) – Instant Print Digital Camera plus a Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket including Mezzetta Olives, Olive Spoon, Cutting Board, Olive Bowl, Cocktail Napkins and Recipe Card.
• Runner Up Prizes (10) – Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket including Mezzetta Olives, Olive Spoon, Cutting Board, Olive Bowl, Cocktail Napkins and Recipe Card. 

Entry: First Name, Last Name and Email Address

Expires: December 31

Winners Chosen at Random

Click to enter Sweepstakes here!
Winner will be notified and will receive prize within 2 weeks”
Thank you to Mezzetta for sponsoring today’s post!

Buffalo Gal Style Veggies

Growing up in Buffalo, chicken wings were just that, they came in varying degrees of hotness from mild to atomic. Lately in the grocery stores I’ve been seeing a trend, now you can have even your veggies “Buffalo Style”  with Birds Eye® Flavor Full, they have a variety of vegetables in bold, unexpected flavors like Buffalo Cauliflower and Ranch Broccoli! Ready in just minutes so now it’s easy to serve your family vegetables every day of the week. My family went straight for the cauliflower, a perfect side dish to our favorite dinner, veggie burger on english muffin(another Buffalo style tradition) and our barbecue corn sloppy joe.

We are vegetarians but getting my kids to eat whole veggies can be challenging, and can get boring, that is until now!

Harvested and flash-frozen at their peak freshness, Birds Eye® uses only the highest quality vegetables for all its products. From pure and simple vegetables, to mixed medleys, to easy-to-prepare vegetables in sauce, any cook can have a host of nutritious menu options just minutes away. With so many choices, it’s no wonder Birds Eye® is America’s first choice in frozen vegetables, and has been for generations.
And you’re not from Buffalo unless you put blue cheese dressing on your spicy food. It was a perfect compliment to the Birds Eye Buffalo cauliflower, especially for my kids who need their spicy toned down a bit. I even managed to get my absolutely no cauliflower or broccoli kid to eat hers!

Birds Eye® Flavor Full helps turn your family into veggie lovers by transforming vegetables with bold, unexpected flavors. With eight varieties and easy preparation, it’s now easy to serve your family vegetables every day of the week.  The unique and delicious flavors include Buffalo Cauliflower, Ranch Broccoli, Sour Cream & Onion Potatoes, Teriyaki Broccoli, Barbecue Sweet Corn, Sweet Chili Carrots, Wasabi Peas and Fiesta Lime Corn.

I create a new dish ever couple months to keep the kids excited at meal time, this is my latest recipe, I added the Birds Eye Barbecue corn to my kalamata olive sloppy joe and it’s amazing! For the original Holiday olive Sloppy Joe Sliders recipe click here.

  Barbecue corn and olive sloppy joe
 Try Flavor Full veggies by downloading a $1.00 off coupon

 Many thanks to Birds Eye for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to! 

Ideas on sharing for the Holidays

We’re get ready for cold and flu season and my first priority was to stock up with this exclusive winter collection from Kleenex® and Sam’s Club. The must-have combo includes 8 tissue boxes of Kleenex® Lotion, plus 3 tissue boxes of Kleenex® Perfect Fit® Winter Designs. Look how perfect it goes with my winter bouquet of camellia and cotton blooms, and just as soft too! Kleenex® Lotion facial tissues feature 3-ply construction for thickness and absorbency, and Aloe Vera and Vitamin E for a soothing touch to delicate skin and as of last night we have our first cold of the season, 80 degrees outside,and we’re curled up in bed.

The holiday season is a great time to reach out
and connect with someone close to you or even a stranger and a perfect time to give back and teach your kids about caring for others. Our family decided to “adopt” a Troop that’s stationed overseas. It’s a weekly commitment and we are excited! So the kids help gather  some needed items, a box of tissues is a required items for the care packages as are many things we take the luxury of on a daily basis. The Kleenex cube with lotion was a fit perfectly into the shoebox we are preparing to send and will accompany the sweet holiday card that signed by dozens of local community residence thanking our Troop and wish them a happy holiday! 

They always have the best designs, matches my decor to a T. The kids love the cylinder shaped Kleenex and as my oldest daughter and allergy prone child stated, it’s her favorite time of year, mostly because our house is stocked with Kleenex in every room.  Kleenex® Perfect Fit® tissues feature 2-ply quality, an upright box that is the right size for small spaces and winter designs to brighten up any home or office space.

 I gifted a Sam’s club membership to my sweet, kind friend who is always doing for others and after recently being involved in a bad car accident, she definitely needs a one stop shop when it comes to stocking up on goodies for the holidays! If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership, there are so many reasons to have one,especially this time of year!

Many thanks to Kleenex® Brand for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to spread comfort and cheer! 

A Truly Thankful Hallmark Holiday Season

On Veterans Day we wanted to do something special and start a new holiday tradition, so we loaded up in minivan and headed to the Gold Crown Store to pick out three cards from the Hallmark Truly Thankful collection for our local Veterans and the Troops overseas. 

We truly enjoyed creating this video of our new holiday tradition inspired by Hallmark Gold Crown cards and gifts!

After picking out the cards we attended the local Veterans Day ceremony, the kids and I walked around collecting signatures and words of gratitude and thanks from members of our community. It was truly a wonderful experiences, the stories we heard of loved ones who had served and those currently stationed overseas warmed out hearts. My favorite was how the night before Veterans Day three local Veterans who happened to be stationed on the same ship over 60 years ago were reunited, this brought tears to my eyes. Life is remarkable and giving thanks is to those who serve to protect it is the least we could do.

Veteran’s Day Fairhope,Alabama
So if you haven’t been in a Hallmark Gold Crown store lately, go today! Seriously, they have the cutest gifts for the holidays and their Peanuts snow globe collection is beyond adorable!

There’s everything from stocking stuffers like itty bittys to pillows, mugs, holiday signs and decor to make your house perfect for the holidays, not to mention the Star Wars gifts are amazing even if your not a fan, yet. Fair warning you’ll need a couple hours to browse.

 Today’s post is sponsored by Hallmark Gold Crown, but my love for their [Hallmark Holidays] option is all my own!

Thanksgiving Prep: Pumpkin Whoopie Recipe

 Our Thanksgiving feast usually takes over 5 hours of cooking and this year with the kitchen only halfway through the remodel, I needed to get a few of the dishes made in advance. Our freezer isn’t very big so Hefty Slider Freezer Bags were at the top of the grocery list.
  Pumpkin Whoopies are an absolute must for Thanksgiving, the kids look forward to them every year so I decided to make the pumpkin cookies in advance and freeze to save hours in the kitchen so we can enjoy more time with our guests at Thanksgiving. 

Enjoy our family’s favorite Thanksgiving dessert recipe:

Cream the butter in a mixer adding in the sugar and pumpkin until fully incorporated, then add in the eggs, flour and remaining dry ingredients until there’s no lumps. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes (bake time depends on the size of your whoopies)

Blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, milk and butter until completely smooth

I’m freezing about 3 dozen cookies and will make the filling a day ahead of our feast. Whoopies are so easy to make, the kids have volunteered to assemble them… I bet there’ll be more eating than making. 

This year I baked up a batch of gluten free brownies to make a dozen whoopies for those guest who have wheat sensitivity. Bake goods freeze really well but using a good heavy duty freezer bag like Hefty is a must to keep out odors and flavors from other foods and keep your Thanksgiving prep perfect!

Thank you to Hefty for sponsoring today’s post and sharing recipes and tricks to host Thanksgiving!