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New Year’s Resolutions: Learn How to Eat Healthier & Simplify Meals in 2013

Need tips getting started with Meal Planning?… Last year, I told you guys a few times about my process of getting into meal planning. It is SUCH an amazing time and money saver for busy moms, no joke. Even putting together a basic plan, like Mondays are pasta night, Tuesdays are chicken, Wednesdays for soup and salad – can help organize your efforts. Planning things out, making one master grocery list, and being able to avoid that early evening, “ohmyheck, what am I going to make for dinner?” stress is priceless. So I’m excited to share a sweet deal to help you start the new year more organized…

Tips on meal planning [Read more…]


Real Kitchen Tips for Real Busy Moms

“Approach love and cooking with equal abandon.” – The Dalai Lama… Ok, it’s confession time – I’m not an awesome cook. Yep, I said it. As a mom, I feel like I should be more talented at this dinnertime stuff. But, while I may not have mad-kitchen skills, I do have enthusiasm and creativity. And those do count for something, right? Well, since I’m not a super chef – just a real mom, with a real busy life, who needs to get meals done real quick – I need a few secret weapons to help me out. I’m going to share a couple of them with you guys today, since I’m all about helping other moms get through the day a little bit easier too….

Happiness is Homemade…

So, while I may not be whipping up gourmet meals {but I do get some super awesome simple kitchen tips each week from Whisked Foodie} – Baking is still kind of my thing. I love finding new inspiration on Pinterest to create super fun goodies, especially at the holidays. {Watch this week for a BOATLOAD of cool stuff to be posted on the site. Super excited. And, get this recipe for the Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake Bread here.} Here are a couple of other things that I totally love – year ’round, but even more so at the holidays… I love giving homemade gifts to friends and family. And I love a fun way to present those gifts. {Have you seen my Homemade Gifts Rock board?} And, a trick that I rely on to help me along with both of those, as well as ensure that I have very little to clean up, is to use super sweet tools like Handi-Foil pans.

Handi-Foil cookware and why it rocks

You cook it, you clean it

Have you ever had that as a motto in your house – “You cook it, you clean it?” In my house I think it’s extremely fair – yet it also discourages me from wanting to cook sometimes, lol. Well, remember how I told you about my secret weapons in the kitchen? Well – let me give you a few awesome reasons to use the new Handi-Foil Holiday Baking Pans this season…

  • No clean up: Yep, when you use one of these super affordable – and totally disposable – baking dishes for dinners or entertaining, you have way less mess at the end of the night to clean up. Just eat, enjoy, and then toss in the trash!
  • Gifting: If you love baking homemade gifts like I do, Handi-Foil offers a ton of super festive baking pans that you can use to prepare and present your favorite goodies. You don’t have to spend a ton on buying pretty bakeware, you don’t have to ugly discount containers – you can give your gifts in great quality pans that are as awesome as your gift.
  • Potlucks: Do you have any potluck style parties on your calendar this month? If so, Handi-Foil pans can be a lifesaver! You can bake your dishes or baked goods in pans that are holiday themed and totally presentable – but can leave whenever you need to, without worry of getting your favorite pan or platter back. LOVE this.

These pans work just as well making a regular dinner at home as they do for baking up special holiday treats. See them in action, and get some dinnertime inspiration too…

Cooking is Love made visible

So, maybe I’m not the best cook out there. But I can make some pretty awesome basic meals for my family, on my frugal grocery budget, that look and taste delicious. And when I combine that with some awesome pans from Handi-Foil so that I don’t even have to clean up – I’m mom of the year, right? No more of that, “Sorry guys, after I clean up the kitchen I’ll come play.” No. Now I just throw the baking pans into the trash, and get on with my busy mom life. What’s better than that? And, if you want my super yummy Homemade Shake & Bake with Bacon and Parmesan Recipe, start with the basic mix from Kitchen Simplicity, then follow these easy peasy steps – and if you want the recipe for the yummy bread at the beginning, remember that it’s here: Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake Bread.

Homemade Shake & Bake Chicken with Bacon & Parmesan


  • Homemade Shake & Bake Mix:
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese {or cheat and use a can if needed}
  • Bacon. Fresh is best, but again, using a jar of REAL bacon bits is ok too. Moms are busy.
  • Dash of pepper
  • Chicken breasts


  1. Put together the basic Shake & Bake mix.
  2. Add the additional dry ingredients, one at a time, mixing to combine.
  3. Don't feel guilty if you're not using fully fresh ingredients. You're doing your best mom - so give yourself a pat on the back for not resorting to delivery pizza.
  4. Dip each chicken breast in a bit of water, and splash it around into the seasoning mix, on both sides, to cover fully. Press in just a bit, and then lay each piece into the Hand-Foil baking pan.
  5. Once finished, use any extra seasoning coating to sprinkle on top of chicken in the pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes - or until no longer pink inside.
  7. Serve with your favorite Rosemary Fried Potatoes or other side, and make sure to use your other Handi-Foil pans to create your favorite dessert too!



Join Me for the #LittleChefs Twitter Party!!

Join me for a crazy-awesome Twitter Party to celebrate special holiday moments with family in the kitchen, inspired by The Little Chefs Project, the first-ever crowd sourced e-book on cooking with little chefs! In partnership with Chef Boyardee, The Motherhood let me be a part of the 40 fantastic mom bloggers chosen to write a virtual book that truly makes you feel like a kid again. From creating family time in the kitchen to bonding over everyday and holiday fun, we have tips and recipes for creating kitchen magic with your family. It was a blast to make – and I hope it’s just as fun for you to read!

cooking with chef boyardee [Read more…]


My Suprising Secret Weapon for Kitchen Success….

“If You Don’t Like My Cooking, Lower Your Standards.” – Unknown… For most of my adult life, I lived alone. And preparing meals for one doesn’t exactly lead to gourmet cooking skills, know what I mean? Add in that I was a vegetarian for 5 years {so I didn’t learn to cook meat until a couple years ago, and am still learning} – and that I have pretty simple tastes, and you get a chick with solid basic cooking skills, but nothing especially impressive. Flash forward…. 3 years ago, within a 2 month time frame, I found out I was pregnant, extended family moved in with me, my boyfriend moved in, pets moved in – and I was suddenly managing an extremely full house! Since I was in charge of most of the cooking, I had to give myself a crash course in cooking for a crowd 101. Well, I’m proud to say that I’ve learned a LOT in the past couple of years. And can I tell you my best secret for success in the kitchen? It’s not cookbooks or classes, it’s not marinades or sauces…..

retro aprons from flirty aprons

Fun Retro Aprons are my Secret Weapon

Nope – my secret weapon to kitchen success is a super cute apron and accessories. Sound silly? Hear me out… Think of how clothes or uniforms totally change your mindset. A pretty cocktail dress can totally boost your confidence. Putting on your business suit puts you in a take charge mood. Heck, just getting up and fully dressed – and out of the “Frump Mom” look of pony tail and sweats can help you get more motivated to tackle your day, am I right? Well for me, throwing on a super pretty, retro styled apron makes me feel more at home in the kitchen. A bit of a domestic goddess even. I’m a big fan of making everyday challenges a little more fun by using cool products and gear – so things like zebra print cleaning gloves, polka dot pot holders, and aprons with ruffles and bows make me enjoy chores around the house a lot more. Try it – you’ll see what I mean.

flirty aprons sugar and spice

Retro Aprons and accessories from Flirty Aprons

I have several styles and accessories from Flirty Apron… I’ve bought gear from other sites too, but these are always my favorite. I buy TONS of gifts here too – my girlfriends love ’em. This one above is my all-time fave – it’s called the Marilyn Sugar n’ Spice, and there’s a matching little girls size too. Love it, right? It’s pretty enough that when we’re throwing parties {which is like, all the time…} I can wear this even after guests arrive. It looks trendy over a cute black party dress – and ensures that when I take it off and scoot on out of the kitchen, my dress isn’t a mess. {Do I sound sooooo 1950’s? Maybe a little. But I do kind of enjoy the whole homemaking thing…} If you want to check these out too, there is an uh-MAY-zing deal right now I wanted to share… One of the best buys I’ve seen on Flirty Apron in a long time:

$30 of Aprons, Kitchen Gloves and More at for Only $15!

All you have to do to snag these sweet savings is to head to Spotted Fox, a new favorite site of mine. Take 1 minute to log in,  click “Today’s Deal” – then scroll down the side a bit to find the Flirty Aprons deal. Once you purchase it {and hurry – it ends in 4 days!} – you’ll get a coupon code to use on their site. And – if you’re joining as a new member from this special Sunshine and Sippy Cups referral link, you’ll get a bonus $5 in credit too! Easy peasy – and you’re getting half off. You can even use this on any sale items on their site too. Awesomesauce.

A little bit about Flirty Aprons…

First off, let me tell you this from my own experience – these aprons rock. I’ve had one of mine for over a year, and wear it a TON. It’s been through so much wash and wear, but honestly you can’t tell at all. These have great details, are well made, and are sturdy enough that you don’t have to worry about spilling on them. Because that would kind of defeat the point, right? Lol.

  • Flirty Aprons has been featured on dozens of publications and TV programs including Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Daytime, The Bonnie Hunt Show, Best Desserts and many more!
  • So many colors and prints to choose including mint, red and chocolate, cherry, zebra, florals and more.
  • 30-day money back guarantee on all purchases.
  • Over 50 different apron styles to choose from, and all orders ship in one business day.

There is no limit to how many vouchers you can purchase – but you can only use ONE voucher per purchase at Flirty Aprons. That means that this could be an uh-MAY-zing way to start stocking up on super affordable holiday gifts. Buy an apron to go with a plate of homemade cookies, and you’ve got a super sweet gift for your favorite neighbors. Add an apron to a gift basket with a fun cookbook like Hostess with the Mostess: A Galaxy of Retro Recipes or Vintage Cocktails: Retro Recipes for the Home Mixologist – and a few super cute kitchen gadgets like these faves of mine: Animal House Monkey Peeler, Head Chefs Spatula Man, or Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters – and you’ve got a perfect gift for just about any woman in your life. {It’s ok if they’re not usually a cooking or kitchen-lovin’ type. I’m telling ya, fun stuff like this motivates anyone to have more fun with meals.} Or you could even send an apron and a spa gift card to your best girlfriend – so she can enjoy her days more inside AND outside of the house. Love it.

Friend don’t let friends pay full price – share this sweet deal too!



Chef Boyardeelicious Party – & HUGE Contest Too!

For men, the phrase that sends their stress level rising is – “Honey, we need to talk…” – For many women, it’s, “Mom, what’s for dinner? I’m staaaaaarving!” Followed by whines of, “But I don’t like that!” in response to any dinnertime suggestion you come up with. Ah, motherhood. One food that will put a smile on just about any kids face is Chef Boyardee. So, Chef Boyardee came up with some fun new recipes to help you put a great meal on the table that will please everyone by featuring some of their products that are already family favorites. Save time, money, and stress – Make it Chef Boyardeelicious!

Cooking with Chef Boyardee, recipes, food/cooking

Family Dinnertime Favorites

You know I’m a big fan of sorta-homemade cooking. I love to cook and bake and create in the kitchen – But I have way more enthusiasm than I do cooking skills, lol. So recipes that feature simple ingredients, that are easy to prepare – but still let me look and feel like I made a home-cooked meal are totally my style! That’s why I love the new recipes from Chef Boyardee – they totally fit my style of cooking, and so far, my family has loved them all. And don’t think that because these recipes start with a canned pasta that they can’t be healthy – With the addition of some veggies, and using the whole grain versions of these great pastas, they make a great balanced meal. Our very favorite is the Taco-Roni!

Taco-roni, recipes

Chef Boyardee Taco-Roni – Love it!

We made a few changes to the original recipe – used Doritos instead of tortilla chips, since that’s what I had on hand, used diced tomatos with green chilies instead of regular, and added a few more veggies {chopped onions, peppers, and olives}. The kids asked for seconds – which is pretty rare around here!

“Chef Boyardee Beefaroni combined with tomatoes, black beans and corn, topped with cheese and crunchy tortilla chips for a taco-inspired dish, try Chef Boyardee Taco-Roni tonight!”

You can find the rest of the great recipe ideas on their site too – Cheeseburger-Roni, Chili-Roni, Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake {another kid favorite!}, and Ravioli Lasagna {a sneaky way to get the kids to eat spinach!}.


Chef Boyardeelicious Party Time!

We received a super fun package of supplies, so that we could try out a bunch of the new Chef Boyardee recipes at a rockin’ in-home party. I love any excuse for a party, and love to share great new products with my friends – so this was very cool. We got some awesome baking dishes that I used to make a couple of the recipes I found on the Chef Boyardee site, and coupons so we could stock up on a TON of different varieties. {I have a super adorable photo of Abby and I in our Chef Boyardee aprons too, that I’ll post this weekend, along with a couple more recipes we came up with! Stay tuned…} I already have a house full, with me, my Mister, and Abby – Plus my brother and my nephews, and Grandma! But we invited over one of my best girlfriends and her family too – to see what recipes were favorites. I tried to get creative with the products, and come up with recipes not on the site. We made deep fried raviolis as appetizers, Beef-a-Roni on a Bun {think sloppy joe}, and mac ‘n cheese biscuit cups. I’ll get the recipes written up to show you soon!

Enter to WIN!!!!

Ready to put your kitchen creativity to the test, and see what Chef Boyardee recipes you can come up with? They’re running a super cool contest on Facebook – and you can win big!

  1. Enter the Make it Boyardeelicious Recipe Contest on the Chef Boyardee Facebook page for a chance to win a grand prize of free groceries for a year!
  2. Now through March 11, 2012, you can submit an original recipe that uses Chef Boyardee as an ingredient. Simply upload a photo of the recipe, and share why your family loves it.
  3. Each week, a winner will be chosen based on creativity, all-family appeal, ease of preparation, and palatable appeal by an expert panel of judges. {One of the earlier week winners is a new favorite of mine too – Braided Spaghetti Loaf!}
  4. The weekly winner receives a $500 prize as well as $75 in Chef coupons. If you don’t win in one week, you can re-enter again the next week!
  5. Each of the top ten finalists from all the accumulated weeks will have the chance to win the grand prize of free groceries for a year. The winner will be chosen based on a combined score of taste points and voting.
  6. The voting period lasts March 26-April 8, 2012. Voters get entered into a daily sweepstakes for the chance to win $100. Share it on Facebook and get an extra sweepstakes entry.

So even if your not a creative cooking genius – you still have some awesome chances to win! Make sure to check out the other winning recipes {mmmm, they look goooood!}, enter your own, and then come back and vote to be entered for more prizes. Love it, right?

{Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a In Home Party campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Chef Boyardee and received product samples to facilitate my party and review, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.}



My Bacon Interview with Burger King Chef Koch!

Burger King, Bacon, Chef, John Koch, InterviewWho Loves Bacon?

In my house, we are total bacon junkies. We believe every single dish can be improved by the addition of bacon. I recently got the opportunity to submit my questions about all things bacon to the Bacon Master himself – John Koch, the Executive Chef and Director, Product Innovation for Culinary Research and Development for Burger King restaurants {imagine trying to fit that title on your business cards, lol} – and was glad to see that he agrees with our family – There’s really nothing you CAN’T improve with a bit of bacon!

Check out my exclusive interview with Chef Kock…

“Porkchops and bacon, my two favorite animals.” – Homer Simpson

John Koch’s career is filled with experience in nearly every restaurant segment in the industry. From family dining to fine dining, with bar & grill, micro brewery, casual dining and chef/owner roles along the way, John has a clear and real understanding of who eats what, where they eat it, and why.

My own Favorite Bacon Recipe

In the video interview, Chef Kock mentions Bacon Jam – and he’s right, that stuff is so dang good. Here’s my favorite bacon recipe, including the uh-MAY-zing bacon jam…

Mmmmm…. Breakfast with Skillet Bacon Jam!!

What’s your favorite bacon recipe?

I’d love to hear how your family uses bacon – Is it simply a perfect breakfast food on it’s own? Do you have any unique recipes or ways that you add it to your meals? If you’ve got a great recipe, link it up in the comments! You guys always have the best ideas.