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    Summer Splash at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom

    June 15th, 2017

    Summer activities

    It is safe to say that summer is finally here! It taunted us at the end of May but after several weeks of rain and cool weather, it looks like heat and sun has decided to stay. Now that our kids are out of school we have more time to start our longer road trips to fun places. We surprised our girls, announcing that we were going to Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom. My girls LOVE swimming and being in the water, so they were so ecstatic with the news.

    It has been a while since we have taken a road trip because it has been a busy season for us. Reminding the girls that an hour drive is shorter than going to the beach makes the process easier. The anticipation of arriving is non-stop. As we approached the area, the girls screeched as the saw the rides in the distance. As a parent, it is fun to hear your child’s excitement. It fills my heart and makes me happy!

    When we arrived we noticed a lot of school buses so we were scared it was going to be too crowded but it was not bad at all. We put our items in a locker and enjoyed some rides before going to the water park so it could be warmer. After a bit the girls just wanted to get in the water so we all changed into our suits!

    This year the girls were a little taller so they had a few more options to enjoy. Last year I had a third baby who enjoyed the water, but this year I have a toddler who was so excited to follow after her sisters.

    Families and kids of all ages

    Many moms who have the same age kids have already asked if there are plenty of activities for toddlers. I have a 5 1/2, 4 and 2 year old that were 42-inches tall or under. Here is what they enjoyed:

    • Kids Cove

    • Island Water Works

    • Lollipop Lagoon
    • Splash Landing
    • Runaway River
    • Wildwater River
    • Wildwater Cove
    • Wave Pool
    • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

    This is a large list of options for toddlers. My 2-year old enjoyed the Splash Landing a lot more than my older two girls in addition to the Kids Cove, although my youngest was a little scared of the slides. I think it is because the water was cooler than we thought.

    First time experiences

    The newest ride the two older girls got to try was Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It was their first big girl ride because they could not go down the slide with daddy.

    These girls love adventures and at times they were frustrated that they could not go on the ones that required them to be 46-inches tall. I told them not to rush getting older. Good thing there will be many years ahead for these girls.

    The girls also had a chance to try cotton candy for the very first time! I was afraid of the sugar use but I gave them the choice of trying fluffy candy or funnel cakes. Cotton candy definitely was a winner. See their reaction below:

    Do you think they got to finish the whole bag? Heck no, but they sure were excited to keep it for another day.

    Slide show

    Get a little more of a feel of our experience by watching our slide show. Thanks to Blogger Meets Brand and Dorney Park for sponsoring us and allowing us to have a lovely day at the water park.

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    Air-Fryer Parmesan Truffle Fries with OXO Chef’s Mandoline

    June 9th, 2017

    Kitchen adventures

    I enjoy being in the kitchen a lot. I love creating meals that my kids and my husband will enjoy especially ones that are healthy. Most of the time the creating requires little time because the kiddos tend to be needier than usual. Moms know what I am talking about for sure. Meal times tend to be trickier for us moms.

    Sometimes I feel like I am on Food Network doing one of those food basket challenges. I have 30 minutes to bring something from nothing. At least that is how it feels especially when I have no meal plans in place. Now that we focus on eating a lot more fruits and veggies, meals seem to come together a lot quicker. Thank God!

    OXO Chef’s Mandolin

    I had a chance to put a mandoline to the test thanks to OXO. I have to say that I have been a little scared of using a mandoline for fear of losing a finger or two. Luckily, I read through my product directions and went on my way testing and creating with my fruits and veggies. I have heard that when veggies are sliced in fun shapes kids are prone to eat them more. I think it is safe to say that fact is pretty accurate.

    The OXO Mandoline creates up to 21 different cuts with thickness settings in 0.5-mm intervals, straight and wavy blades, and built-in julienne and French fry blades. There is a knob on the side of the mandoline that changes the width of the blade. The blade can easily be removed to go from straight slices to wavy slices. Easy clean up is also great! The handle is easy and comfortable to hold while the other hand focuses on slicing food. A spring-loaded handle protects hand from blade by grabbing the food in place.

    Foods that Love the Mandoline

    I tried a variety of vegetables and I almost had a love/hate relationship with the mandoline. It really does have to do with where you are standing facing the mandoline while slicing. If I stood parallel to the mandoline, I had the hardest time finding the right rhythm to slice foods. When I stood perpendicular to the mandoline, I was able to up and down rhythm as opposed to a side to side rhythm that made things a lot more difficult.

    I sliced sweet potatoes, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, jicama, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples. I loved having the perfect slices for my food especially if I was going to have a dinner party. Having uneven slices of anything is just strange. I made crinkle zucchini that seriously tasted better because they were sliced up so nicely. 🙂 I tried making sweet potato waffle fries but those seemed to give me a hard time. Want to know what I fell in love with?

    Air-Fryer Parmesan Truffle Fries

    The French fry setting was so much fun to use. I did not think I would get anything at first but as I sliced and finished, I had a perfect pile of evenly sliced French fries. I created a quick recipe for an appetizer that I normally would love to order at restaurants. Truffle fries are my weakness so I decided to make my version using an air-fryer which means it has a lot fewer calories.

    Air-Fryer Parmesan Truffle Fries

    by Noelle Kelly

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

     

    Ingredients (2 cups)

      Air-Fryer Truffle Fries

      • 2 large gold potatoes, peeled
      • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
      • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
      • 1 teaspoon black pepper , crushed
      • 1/2 teaspoon truffle salt
      • olive oil spray
      • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

      Instructions

      Using a mandoline with a French fry setting, slice whole potato using the spring-form handle to slice in to French fries.

      Place sliced potatoes in a bowl and spray with olive spray for about 3 seconds. Add garlic powder, black pepper, parsley flakes and add to air fryer basket.

      Cook for 7 minutes on 392 degrees. Take out basket and flip fries in order to evenly cook the fries. Cook another 8 minutes and remove and add to a bowl. Sprinkle with truffle salt and parmesan cheese.

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      Disclaimer: I received this product to review. My opinions are my own.

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      Sun Basket: Delicious Meal Kits for Busy Families

      June 7th, 2017

      I received these meal kits for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

      Motherhood is no joke

      Nothing has changed around our household other than the fact that I am no longer holding a full-time job as a pharmacy technician. Despite not having that job since September, my work load seems to have doubled. Perhaps it is mostly in my head but when you have three little kids running around and the house looks like a disaster, cleaning seems like number one priority. Now I know that is not remotely possible but I know there are a lot of mothers out there like me.

      One of the things I purposed for myself is to relax and have fun with my kids. Now that summer has started for my family, activities are steadily adding to each day. I never imagined motherhood to be so busy. It is one that requires juggling many roles and doing them with a good attitude too! That is hard for me truthfully but I am a work in progress.

      meal kits

      Mealtime craziness

      I love cooking which is why I have a blog. I wanted to share the recipes I make on a daily basis. Some days, I am like any other mom who doesn’t feel like cooking or coming up with a meal. When Moms Meet challenged me to review Sun Basket meal kits, I knew I had to try them. When it comes to dinner time, it is mostly when my kids are the most demanding. It is  crazy but I have chatted with other moms expressing the same frustration. Would it not be nice to have a kit that had all your ingredients ready for you to put together within 30 minutes?

      This also gave me a chance to also get my kids involved in the kitchen with prepared bags to make into a meal. There is nothing like dealing with stress before having a meal. It should be a relaxing ordeal but this meal kit sure gave me a nice break from coming up with a meal plan on 2 days.

      meal kits

      Sun Basket Meal Kits

      These meal kits are delivered in 100% compostable and recyclable packaging which contain organic, non-GMO produce from the best farms and sustainably-sourced, hormone-free meats and seafood. Here are a few things that it features:

      • Kits include kid-friendly, easy, healthy 30-minute recipes designed for minimal cleanup.

      • Recipes are developed by an award-winning San Francisco chef.

      • You can choose any recipe you like each week, regardless of your meal plan.

      • All recipes are approved by an in-house nutritionist.

      • Packaging is carefully engineered to sustain freshness even after it arrives on your doorstep. Box should be refrigerated within 8 hours of delivery

      What I really liked about it is the fact that they offer family menus that feed 2 adults and 2 children with 2 recipes that I chose from their weekly menu. Since I started on Weight Watchers I have been vigilant what exactly I am eating. Sun Basket offers gluten-Free, paleo-friendly, vegetarian, breakfast and chef’s choice recipes. The recipes came with nutritional information as well and allowed  for me to pick and choose even what I put in my own plate.

      Meals for our Family

      The first meal we enjoyed were the Turkey Kebabs with Carrot and Snap Pea Salad with Tahini Dressing. This came with couscous as an additional side but it was just too many carbs for me to enjoy. My kids enjoyed the new “pasta” with the kebab especially fun since they were stuck with a stick. It was quite amusing. Middle Eastern food is one of my favorite cuisine so this recipe won my heart. It was super easy to prep and cook. The Carrot and Snap Pea Salad required a little more work because I had to make carrot ribbons with my peeler. That was fun. It was just a fresh and delicious meal all together!

      I chose a vegetarian meal as our second choice because we try to have one meatless meal a week even though I would like to have more than one. The Vegetarian Ramen Bowl was a nice tasty surprise. Before I had kids I used to eat a lot more tofu but after kids it all went away due to an aversion. Slowly I have tried to bring it back because it is really a great source of protein. The recipe from Sun Basket was great in many ways. I love international cuisines so this bowl hit the spot with the savory and spicy aspects. The tofu was baked and placed in a hot broth ending with a soft-boiled egg on top. The ramen noodles were the only thing I did not eat in excess. I had only a quarter portion and subbed with zucchini noodles. It was a great lower carb option and no extra work for me.

      Special offer for Readers

      Anyone interested in trying Sun Basket can now save 50% on their first order!! What a treat to try this meal kit service to make life a little easier especially when it offers healthy options. Click HERE to be directed to the site to order directly and save on your first order!

      Check Sun Basket on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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      Grilled Mushroom and Hummus Topped Brown Rice Cakes

      May 10th, 2017

      I have partnered with Sabra to create these Grilled Mushroom and Hummus Topped Brown Rice Cakes as part of their Tastemaker program. While I have been compensated for this post, my opinions are entirely my own.

      Snack time for a Busy Mom

      One of the things I am learning as a mother of three young girls is that snacking is so necessary even for me. Many times I thought that not eating would be better especially since I was busy with the girls and life in general. Since I have changed my way of eating since January, I have learned that it is so different from what I imagined. Eating frequent healthy meals is a MUST!! Here I was planning snacks for my kids and forgetting about myself, not realizing I was doing myself more a disservice.

      Self-love and self-care are words that I am learning to keep in my vocabulary. As a hypoglycemic, I was the worst person delaying my meals because I was serving everyone else. In fact, being a mom martyr was not my calling. Loving my kids meant taking care of myself and what made me a better person. Learning to eat healthy and having ready made snacks was essential for a happy household.

      Meal planning on steroids

      At the beginning of the week, I make an assessment of what I have in my refrigerator. If you open my refrigerator you would see it stuffed with vegetables. Some weeks it is overwhelming to think about preparing those vegetables but then I think of the rushed and stressful feeling of not being prepared in the week and then it is all worth it. I mostly roast and steam my veggies so they are ready to pair with either brown rice and grilled chicken or fish.

      Snacks are also important to plan ahead especially if on the go with little ones. Having things prepared ensures that I can just quickly pack and head out the door. I do not like to dine out lately because I am easily swayed by making a wrong choice especially if I am terribly hungry.

      The Unofficial Meal

      Let me talk about my latest easy snack and my go-to Unofficial Meal. It is about 11am and 3pm that I have my normal every day snacks. I have seen my metabolism get back in track by adding and incorporating little pick-me-up so I could make it to the next meal. Sabra hummus is definitely helpful to have on hand because we are always eating hummus in our household. My oldest daughter, age 5, can eat a whole tub if I do not monitor but then again, hummus is so healthy and is usually the protein of the meal, so I cannot complain.

      My Unofficial Meal is usually very satisfying and is focused on being vegan or vegetarian. I am all about filling meals so I like giving more bulk to my snacks by adding a good portion of fruits and veggies. I keep hearing that snacking is totally not necessary and that they are bad habits that keep people eating all day, but I really do not care about that statistic. I do what works for my blood sugar and my families.

      Grilled Mushroom and Hummus Topped Brown Rice Cakes

      When people ask me what my favorite snack is, I usually cannot really tell them because I am constantly creating new snacks and meals. Personally I think it keeps the healthy eating journey exciting in order not to sway to unhealthy choices. Something that I keep in my pantry are rice cakes. They have really gotten a “bad rap” for being so boring or unexciting but they are in fact so fun to eat and very low-calorie. When they are paired with the correct toppings, rice cakes can easily become a mini Unofficial Meal for you to share with your friends or loved ones.

      I quickly sautéed some button mushrooms with white onions with garlic and then added sliced green and black olives and some sweet peppers. I then used my favorite Sabra hummus dip and layered the rice cake with 2 Tablespoons of hummus and about 1/4 cup of the mushroom mix. To make it vegetarian I sprinkled some gorgonzola or feta cheese on top or if I wanted it vegan I added some nutritional yeast. It is an amazing informal meal and was a hit with my husband too! After a day, I chilled the mixture and it was even more delicious chilled.

      Recipe

      May 13th is National Hummus Day so this recipe is an easy way to celebrate! Grab your favorite Sabra hummus dip and make your own Grilled Mushroom and Hummus Topped Brown Rice Cakes. If you are on Weight Waters, each serving is 3 smartpoints.

      Need a few more ideas? Check out my Baked Turkey Sausage Pizza Bites, Spicy Mexican Sopes, Mediterranean Gorditas, or these Summer Vegetable and Basil Hummus Phyllo Pockets.

      Grilled Mushroom and Hummus Topped Brown Rice Cakes

      by

      Prep Time: 15 minutes

      Cook Time: 10 minutes

      Ingredients (6 servings)

        Mushroom Mix

        • 1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
        • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
        • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
        • 2 garlic cloves, ,minced
        • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black paper
        • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
        • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
        • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced
        • 1/4 cup hot and sweet cherry peppers, chopped

        Additional ingredients

        • 1 tub Sabra garlic hummus
        • 1 tub Sabra spicy hummus
        • 6 rice cakes
        • 1/3 cup gorgonzola crumbles (for vegetarian version)
        • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast ( for vegan version)
        • 1/4 cup flat parsley, chopped (for garnish)

        Instructions

        Mushroom Mix

        In a medium non-stick pan, heat pan on medium heat. Slice mushrooms and onions. Spray with olive oil and add mushrooms and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, salt, pepper, and dill and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the black and green olives and then the sweet peppers. Remove from heat and set aside.

        Spread about 2 Tablespoons of either the Sabra garlic or spicy hummus onto one rice cake. Top with 1/4 cup of the mushroom mix and top with either 1/2 Tablespoon of gorgonzola or 1/2 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Repeat with the rest of the rice cakes. Sprinkle the cakes with chopped parsley.

        The mushroom mix can be made ahead of time and served chilled and it is quite delicious.

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        Cinco de Mayo and Friday Frenzy

        May 4th, 2017

        Everyone excited for another holiday? Happy Cinco de Mayo folks. How will you be celebrating? Do you have recipes we could use for the fun foodie day? Link them up below and we’ll go check them out. Drinks, crafts, recipes are all welcome. Just make sure you invite your friends over so they can join in on the fun as well. Thanks!!!

        image describing friday frenzy

        Welcome to the Friday Frenzy. Your place to share the best of your crafts and recipes on the web. What makes us so special? Four blogs means quadruple the exposure for maximum traffic. But we can’t do that alone–we need each and every blogger to go and visit the other bloggers who link up. Go say hi to AT LEAST three of your fellow bloggers!

        Friday Frenzy Link Party and Your Hosts:

        Please follow your hosts 🙂

        Laura at Little House Big AlaskaPinterestFacebookInstagram

        Rachel of Trampling RosePinterestFacebookInstagram

        Noelle of Opera Singer in the KitchenPinterestFacebook – Instagram

        Kelly from Kelly Lynn’s Sweets & TreatsPinterestFacebookInstagram

        You GUYS! Check out this dream life outdoor dining room from Penny’s Vintage Home. In some other life I dream that I can put together a room like this. It’s so dreamy!

        Dreamlife Dining Outside

        Right now though my life is more about getting control of junk and NOT losing it. Check out how the Thrifty Frugal Mom corrals stuff in her home. And on a budget thankyouverymuch! I was actually relieved to see I was partially doing it right.(WHEW!)

        4 every day items to organize with

        And how about a new and interesting side dish? These Salt and Vinegar Potato Wedges from Savory Moments look like something my kids would love. Ok fine I would love them too!

        Salt and Vinegar Potato Wedges

        What have you been up to this week? Why not drop a couple links, new or old favorites, and share it with all of our readers? Be sure to also stop by and say hi to your fellow bloggers!


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