September 29, 2010

You are just that amazing! *Closed*

      I love getting feedback and emails from you all. Some even email me recipes, which will be posted on My Side of Life sooner or later. Thank you for emailing me, tweeting me and writing all over the Facebook fan page. I love hearing how so many of you are trying new things, and are hooked on it! New things are exciting, and it's addicting. Not only that, you're teaching your kids to try new things as well. How's that for awesome?
 Kids learn from their parents, and they learn young. If ever there was a time to teach your kids the importance of trying something before they judge it, now is  the time. You'd be amazed at the change in their outlook if you encourage them. Have them pick out a recipe with you, have them make it with you, get them involved and make it exciting to do something brand new. Have fun with it, and enjoy, maybe you'll find yourself liking something you didn't when you were a child, you never know!

Now who's ready for the real awesome part?

     This Monday was made that much better when my awesome followers (that's you) flooded Facebook with my links! We made 200 followers here on My Side of Life! We even grabbed us some new followers on Twitter and Facebook! I will admit I sat here refreshing the page as it shot up, glued to the computer and got all excited about it! Hopefully you all stick around with me for awhile, or at least long enough for me to tease you with food pictures :) I promised when we hit 200 I would host a giveaway, so let's get on with it!

This Contest is Closed, Winner has been picked!

One of my Lucky Readers will have their choice of either a $25 Gift card OR a $25 itunes Gift Card. Winner will pick which they want.

*This contest is open to everyone!* This contest will run for one week Sept.29th to Oct. 6th ending at 10PST Winner will be contacted by email and will have 24hrs to respond before another winner is picked. Winners are picked by

Read more ...

September 28, 2010

A World of Imagination

Kids have very active and wild imagination. What better way to let them build it by playing with realistic and high quality fantasy figurines. Scheich is celebrating 75 years in leading manufacture of these wonder toys. The detail, and craftsmanship to each of the Schleich pieces always impresses me. We all enjoyed the realistic look and amazing detail to each piece. Schleich makes it easy for kids to dive into their imagination as well as fantasy to create and play with their own world of nature. There's nothing like sitting back and listening to your kids create and build their imagination.

I thought I'd share some of the recipe ideas that I was given to be able to host the party!

We made Warrior Wraps

-non fat cream cheese, softened
-whole green onions, finely chopped
-dry nonfat ranch salad dressing mix
-whole wheat flour tortillas
-low fat turkey breast, roast beef, ham or chicken slices
-Lettuce or Spinach
Combine cream cheese, green onions and ranch mix, blend until combined.
Spread evenly on each tortilla. Place lettuce and top with your choice of meat. Roll up tightly and cut into 1/2 or thirds for a snack friendly wrap. You can wrap with plastic and refrigerate for up to two days.

These were so simple and so good. It's been super hot here, so a non-cooking quick kid friendly meal was a great welcome to the table!

 Floindel Flowers

1-Rice cake
Peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds
6 baby carrots, sliced lengthwise
1 celery stalk
1 orange slice halved
Spread Peanut butter on the rice cake. Sprinkle the sunflower or sesame seeds on top of the peanut butter. Arrange the carrot sliced like petals around the edge of the rice cake. The celery stalk is the flower stem and the orange sliced are the leaves.
 My kids ate the celery sticks as well as the orange, so I didn't get a picture of that sadly. It still looked really neat though, and it was a hit with the young ones. I think they licked the peanut butter off and dipped the carrots into dip. Is that considered double dipping?? haha

The Chocolate Nests were a super hit as well but come on, when does chocolate ever not steal the spotlight? :)

The nests were a sticky thing to make, hard on a hot icky day too.
 To make chocolate nests-
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cans thin chow mein noddles
party mix
Line baking sheets with foil. Lightly coat with nonstick spray.
Scrap condensed milk into saucepan or microwave safe bowl. Add chocolate chips. Place on low heat or microwave on high 2-4 minutes stirring every minute (microwave for one minute at a time and stir) until chips are melted. mixture should be blended and smooth.
Put noodles into large bowl, pour chocolate over noodles and toss with a rubber spatula until noodles are coated.
Drop generous 1/2 cups on prepared baking sheets. Lightly spray fingertips with nonstick spray (I forgot this step and had sticky, chocolate fingers! Which isn't all that bad...hehe) Form mounds into nests making a depression in the center to hold the party mix. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. Peel off of the foil, fill with party mix.

**Party Mix **
I didn't have time to make party mix, so I grabbed a bag of chexmix party mix to fill each of the nests up with. Here is, though a simple recipe for a mix you can put together
6TBSP butter
4tsp Worcestershire sauce
1tsp garlic salt
3 cups toasted oats cereal
1 cup salted nuts or pretzel sticks
 1/2 raisins

Melt butter in shallow pan over medium heat.
Stir in Worcestershire sauce salt
Add in cereal and nuts or pretzels and mix gently until all pieces are coated.
Bake in oven at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
 Once baked, spread mix out on paper towels to cool. Serve by itself  or spoon some in the centers of the Chocolate nests.

I made some simple dip plates with cut apples to go with peanut butter, and carrots with ranch dip. Simple, as well as the kids said they looked like flowers. On hot days it's the simple foods that go the furthest around here. Lemonade, punch and plenty of Chocolate Nests to go home kept everyone happy with very simple ingredients and not much of my time trying to put it together.


Disclosure: I was graciously supplied with party supplies in order for me host the Schleich party. I did not receive any monetary compensation. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Read more ...

September 24, 2010

Learn to Make Salsa!

Let's start making all of this

Into some of this :)

This recipe is from the Big Ball book of Preserving and Canning
Zesty Salsa
Along with your canning supplies
You will need:
 10 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes (about 25 medium) *directions for preparing tomatoes below*
 5 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 4 large)
 5 cups chopped onions (about 6 to 8 medium)
 2-1/2 cups chopped seeded chili peppers, such as hot banana, Hungarian wax, serrano or jalapeño (about 13 medium)
 1-1/4 cups cider vinegar
 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
 1 Tbsp salt
 1 tsp hot pepper sauce, optional
 6 (16 oz) pint or 12 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
*This recipe for me all 3 times preparing came to 11 -16oz jars, and 1 -8oz jar. I weighted, measured everything, but that's what I got each time*

---> Things to remember. *Cover your counter with towels so your jars are not going from hot to cold surfaces. *Have everything on hand, and prepared. *Have a timer set to time the water bath. *Measure twice. *Do NOT add anything that is not in the recipe, canning recipes are made for canning for a reason. *Do NOT touch the rim or jar lid after it's processed. Leave it alone for a full 24hrs. *A tip, I set my jars on the towel covered counter and drap another towel over them to prevent drafts after they are out of the water bath. Cold air hitting hot jars can & has cracked them before *If jars do not seal , repeat the entire process with NEW jars, and new lids, or put in fridge right away to eat. *Last but not least, be careful and have fun!!.

Preparing the Tomatoes- Core the tomatoes

To peel tomatoes drop them carefully into boiling water for 30-60 seconds

Take them out and dip them carefully into cold water, the skin should peel right off

Now you can chop them up.
1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.)COMBINE tomatoes, green peppers, onions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce, if using, in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

3.) LADLE hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa.

*This jar had too much, adjust by spooning more out, or spooning more in if needed, pay attention to the headspace, this it where the liquid expands during the canning process*

 -Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until  tight.

4.) PROCESS both pint and half pint jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Want to read more about my canning experiences find them all here.

Read more ...

September 22, 2010

September 21, 2010

Pick a Pepper

My peppers, beautiful peppers came in. Yet the sad thing is, I can never get anything but green ones. No matter what I do, it's always, always green!
 I planted mixed bell peppers seeds, red, orange, yellow. Did I get those? No. Just Green!10 Plants, all Green. Go figure. 

Don't get me wrong, I love green peppers, but I really love the red ones. It would be wonderful to have yellow and orange as well. There's so many things you can do with peppers. As I've said before I seed them and chop them up to freeze. Whenever I need them I just take them out and put them in whatever I'm making.
  The store sells a bag of frozen chopped or julienned bell peppers which I used all the time. Now with my own peppers, or at least even from the store when mine aren't growing, I cut them and lay them out on a baking sheet to freeze. Once frozen I can easily put them into a zip lock bag or container and use whenever. You'll never have to buy another bag of pre cut peppers again! You'd be surprised how often you reach for them when you have them around.

Last week I had my first stuffed pepper! Really can't remember ever having them before, but I've seen them, and my husband had asked the moment I told him the peppers in the garden were getting big. So this was a great first for me. This recipe came from Cooking Light.
   It was a great recipe for me to start with, but I do think the seasonings need adjusting. I added both extra chopped peppers to the beef mixture, as well as minced garlic and some fresh chopped basil. I didn't add all the allspice either which is a good thing, as I'm not a fan of it.
  A good thing to start doing is (with any recipe), add a little at a time, taste it, add more if you want, or leave the rest out. If your adding it all at once, you can't change that. Taste it as you go, and adjust to your likings.

See, doesn't red just look pretty :)
Stuffed Peppers
1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice ( I used 1cup long grain brown rice, that was done on the stove. )
4 medium red bell peppers ( used green too!)
3/4 pound ground sirloin
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups bottled tomato-and-basil pasta sauce divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry red wine (I skipped the red wine)
I added minced garlic as well as chopped peppers to the beef mixture for extra flavor
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Set aside.

While rice cooks, cut tops off bell peppers; reserve tops. Discard seeds and membranes. Place peppers, cut sides down, in an 8-inch square baking dish; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at high 2 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender. Cool.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and the next 5 ingredients (beef through allspice); cook 4 minutes or until beef is lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from heat. Add rice, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, and cheese to beef mixture, stirring to combine.

While beef cooks, combine 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. **Taste the mixture before you put into the peppers, adjust to your taste as I added minced garlic as well as extra peppers at this point for more flavor**

Spoon about 3/4 cup beef mixture into each pepper. Place peppers in a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray; add wine mixture to pan. Cover with foil.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve peppers with sauce. Garnish with pepper tops.

These were really good, but I didn't taste the cheese at all. Think next time I'll add sharp cheddar, and try it out with ground turkey instead of the beef.  My kids loved adding salsa on it! One of my kids didn't like it at all until I scooped the filling out and put it on a bun like a sloppy joe. Hey whatever gets them to eat, I'm perfectly fine with it!

Read more ...

September 20, 2010

Bake Shoppe Cookie Dough Miniatures Review

     I had the delight to review Bake Shoppe Cookie dough Miniatures this past week! They are perfect bite sized chocolate covered cookie dough morsels. Oh. So. Yum! They taste just as if you've dug your spoon into the batter of the cookie dough!
Bake Shoppe Cookie dough miniatures, are made with real butter in the batter and no egg or hydrogenated oils.Bite sized for popping in your mouth, and the perfect pick me up to a crazy busy day when you only have time to grab and go. They taste just like cookie dough and yet I didn't have to clean up after the usually mess! Even better, they are made with real brown sugar, and don't require refrigeration!

  I was very excited to try out Bake Shoppe Cookie dough miniatures, for the pure fact that they were bite sized. There are very few treats in my house, first off the kids go wild on sugar, second my husband is diabetic. Making a batch of anything needs to be cut in half as well as put away out of view. The saying "Out of sight out of mind" works just perfectly but more often than not I just don't have anything in the house too tempting as far as treats go. It is not easy to go without a treat once in awhile. The Bake Shoppe Cookie dough miniatures are the perfect stand in for a small yet flavorful treat that can cure a tweet tooth with a few small morsels.

Bite sized cookie dough covered in chocolate, what's not to like about that?!
They fit right into movie night with the family. Or even tossed into a party mix bowl to sweeten up the snack!  My kids loved how they tasted and even came up with a wonderful idea on how to enjoy them even more. Serve them with ice cream! We will be trying that out soon enough, my mouth just waters at the sound of it.
 Here they are tossed into some party mix on movie night.

 Bake Shoppe Cookie Dough miniatures are fun, delicious and a great spin on an old time comfort sweet treat!

*I was not paid for this post. I received the items mentioned above so that I could review them. All opinions are my own!*

Read more ...

September 17, 2010

Dear Tomatoes

It just doesn't seem like I tell you I love you enough!

The garden is flooding with Tomatoes now, I am making something every night with them! Salsa took a big chunk out of the ripe ones last weekend ,but two days later I'm nearly to full max again. Even though of course I won't ever say I have too much, sometimes it does become challenging to find different ways to use them up.

I love tomato sandwiches!The easiest way to eat up a whole tomato, slap it into a sandwich :) Here's one of my favorites!

Heirloom Tomato sandwiches with Bacon and Basil Aïoli

Bacon and Basil Aïoli-

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1.In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, basil, and bacon. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Heirloom Tomato Sandwich
2.Spread bread with approximately 2 tablespoons Bacon and Basil Aïoli each. Layer each bread slice with 1 lettuce leaf and 2 tomato slices. Sprinkle tomatoes evenly with salt and pepper if desired. Top with remaining bread slices. Serve immediately.

 The Spread is very delisous, a quick, simple way to put a twist on any sandwich. Fresh basil makes a difference here. I used Light mayo as well and it came out just as fine! Enjoy!
Salsa Recipe will come next week :) It turned out wonderfully!


Read more ...

September 16, 2010

It's Time!!

To introduce Creative Corner!
 It's taken me awhile to get to it, but I promised to add more to the blog. First addition is Creative Corner!
   The idea behind this is to share some creative ideas, and crafts for both kids and parents. I'm already working on having some wonderful creative friends of mine share some things with you in the coming months, so stay tuned!
     My idea for creative fun with my kids, can be anything that gets them involved to create something. We work in the garden to plant , they love to pick the vegetables and pull weeds to keep the plants happy. We collect bugs to snails and they try to feed them. They love to help me cook, decorate cookies and of course eat them.That's just as crafty as cutting paper or gluing some sparkles to me. If it gets the kids involved and  are having fun, don't question it, just keep doing it!

Creating and having fun is the point here. Kids have a very big imagination, so why not let them use it? I hope to share many ideas with you so keep coming back !

A couple weeks ago I came across this awesome little craft kit for kids. By Alex Toys

There's so many of these kit boxes you can find them at and most likely any craft stores. I was lucky to find it at a yard sale, and they are so much fun!

Each kit comes with pre packed labeled supplies, for your kids .

They come with bright colorful kid approved Directions!

I think this kit is wonderful for smaller kids (3+ yrs) , as everything is already pre cut, and the directions are easily read to see how to put it together.

My oldest had just as much fun though :)

He decided glue wasn't useful and taped everything. I do mean everything down! haha

The finished result of our afternoon!

 Aren't they so cute!?

Kids are messy, be OK with that and see just how much fun you can have together!

Read more ...

September 15, 2010