Everyday Mom's Meals

Monday, July 27, 2015

Whole Grain Challenge with Nature's Harvest® {A Feature and Giveaway}

"Whole Grains." Everybody is talking about them, and you can't go down the aisles of your grocery store without seeing them around every turn. That's because they are an important part of a nutritious diet! The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends that adults eat 48 grams or more of whole grains daily and children ages 4-13 years old eat a minimum of 40-48 grams per day. However, studies have shown that the majority of children and adults are not consuming the recommended amount of whole grains.

This is why Nature's Harvest® Bread is so excited to launch the Whole Grain Challenge to encourage families to include 48 grams of whole grains into their diets every single day.  From July 13 to August 10, participants can take the whole grain pledge on the Nature’s Harvest® Facebook page and they will automatically be entered into a weekly sweepstakes.

If you've never tried Nature's Harvest®, let me tell you why you should! 

Each variety of Nature’s Harvest® bread is baked with:
At least 8 grams of whole grains per serving
No artificial flavors or colors
No high fructose corn syrup 
Since ALL Nature’s Harvest® breads are baked with at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving, it’s an easy way for moms to provide her family the whole grains they need… no matter the variety.
Nature’s Harvest® bread is now available to consumers nationwide and come in delicious varieties including:
100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread
Honey Wheat Made with Whole Grain Bread
Butter Top Made With Whole Grain White Bread
Butter Top Made with Whole Grain Wheat Bread
Now you can have bread that is soft, flavorful and perfect for every day use that your family will love that you can feel absolutely great about giving them. With back to school time just around the corner, and all those pb&j sandwiches going with the little ones, it's the perfect time to make the switch!

I was super excited when my friends at Nature's Harvest® asked me to try their bread and come up with a fun recipe to share with all of you.
One of our favorite supper time combos inspired me. Soup and Grilled Cheese. It's an American classic, and while 99% of the time, it's the standard tomato soup and American cheese, this time I decided to switch it up. I took that grilled cheese sandwich to the next level! I basically took one of my favorite appetizer dips and stuffed it between two slices of bread. Genius, I know. 
With busy school days almost here, simple, tasty, fast meals we can get on the table and still feel good about are a must, and using Nature's Harvest® for a soup and sammy meal gives us just that. Oh, and the great folks at Nature's Harvest have also provided me with a fun giveaway for you too. Just scroll down under the recipe to see how to enter! 
Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese
1 loaf Nature's Harvest Butter Top Made with Whole Grain White Bread
Margarine or Butter, softened
1 (14 oz.) can artichokes, chopped
6 oz. fresh spinach
3 TBS olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 TBS sour cream
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
3 c. finely shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook garlic in oil for 30 seconds just until fragrant. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add artichokes and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and Parmesan, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread margarine on one side of slices of bread. Lay margarine side down in large skillet. Add about 2-3 TBS mozzarella cheese, and 2-3 TBS of spinach mixture to bread. Top with another slice of bread, margarine side up. Cook until browned on all sides. Serve with a cup of your favorite soup.


Leave a comment telling me your favorite sandwich! Include an email address so I can find you easy. 
(1) Winner Will Receive:
(1) $5 off coupon for Nature's Harvest® Bread
(1) $25 Visa Gift Card

Contest Ends: August 7, 2015
Disclaimer:  The information and coupons have been provided by Nature’s Harvest® so that I could try the product and share my thoughts and information about Nature’s Harvest® bread. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Nature’s Harvest®. They also provided me with the prize package for the giveaway, but I am in charge of running it and choosing a winner.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Missing Florida

A month ago at this time, I was laying in a lounge chair, next to my favorite pool in the world, just steps away from our favorite beach in the world. Yes, we were on vacation, and yes, we've been home for nearly 3 weeks now...and we are still going through withdrawal.

We can't help it. It's not that we don't love our Hoosier home, but the sand, the surf, the relaxation, the freedom...all of it is so appealing, but especially when you get back into the daily grind and your already busy life explodes with more and more to do.

Now, this week it did get a tad easier because we "discovered" a great public pool about 20 minutes north of our house that is such a fun time, the boy literally spent an entire afternoon playing and swimming. (I say discovered, because it's been there for years, and I've known about it, but this week was the first time we actually went.) So after a fantastic day poolside, I wanted to make something with a little tropical feel to really complete the "almost like Florida" vibe.

This makes a terrific sweet side to any summer meal, or wait and serve it for dessert. If you're having a pool party or maybe a get together at the lake, it's super cute for those too. To me, it's a little like the classic ambrosia I've made a thousand times, but just with a little something sunnier. Oh, and if that pool party happens to have kids at it, be sure to spring for the tiny umbrellas. The boy thought they were the best part!

Creamy Tropical Salad
1 ( 20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
1 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut, reserve a little for garnish
Maraschino cherries, for garnish

In a large bowl combine pineapple and oranges. In a small bowl whisk together sour cream and vanilla until combined. Pour over fruit. Stir until combined. Fold in marshmallows and coconut. Chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Garnish with extra coconut and cherries. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Salad...Hold The Mayo

I love summer. I love everything about summer. The sun. The heat. The water. The FOOD! I crave summer time foods year round (Yeah, I'm the girl that you will find making potato and macaroni salad while the snow falls!) but they never taste quite as good as they do in the backyard on a warm summer evening.

However, the one thing I find that most of our favorite summer dishes (especially the sides) have in common is mayo. Now, I love mayo. I eat it by the bucket loads...on sandwiches, in salads, from the jar with a spoon..okay that one might be pushing it; but it's probably my most used condiment. But during the hot summer days, sometimes mayo isn't your friend.

One, depending on the time of day, mayo can seem a little heavy. We like to eat later in the evenings during summer vacation, and a few times, salads with mayo have just seemed a little too much at that time of day. And two, this being the biggest issue, mayo and sunshine do NOT mix. If you're having any outdoor party or meal, those mayo filled salads must be kept chilled, and let's face it, that's not always practical.

So, I set out to make a delicious, summer quality salad/side dish that didn't have one ounce of mayo in it. Not one drop. I wanted something with a lot of veggies, but a light dressing that would could hold up to the heat and sunshine.

This is what I came up with. I was inspired by artichokes and olives because, well, if I'm being honest, I was just hungry for them. And the hearts of palm? If you've never had them they fall into that same category of salty, briny...mmm good. They are one of Mr. E's favorites, so I threw those in too. If you go to look for them, they are usually right next to the canned artichokes.

Feel free to add whatever veggies you love, pretty much anything would be delicious in here. In fact, I wanted to add zucchini too, and simply forgot it at the store, so it's definitely going in next time!

Summer salads are so tasty, and we all love the creamy mayo filled ones. But after you've eaten 100 lbs of those this summer, maybe something lighter could go on the menu too!

Quick Artichoke Salad
1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 (14 oz.) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, well drained
1/2 c. black olives, sliced
1/2 c. green olives, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
 2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 TBS dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine and toss all veggies. In a small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar lemon juice and garlic powder. Pour over veggies. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Our Day At The Zoo 2015

Any long time follower of this blog knows that while 99% of the time I blog about food, and lots of it, I also love to write about adventures we have as a family; and fun things we find to do in our hometown. And many of you, especially if you live around here, know from a young age one of little man's favorite places to visit is our very own Fort Wayne Children's Zoo,  which has been voted one of the best in the country time and time again. 

Last summer we were invited out to enjoy a day at the zoo and then share that day with all of you. This summer we were once again invited out to enjoy a fun day, but with an exciting new twist! We were able to try some of the menu options at the zoo, and learn more how they feed all us visitors every day. 

First off, if you haven't visited the zoo lately, you might be surprised to see all of the new options they have to feed you. With the remodel of the Australian Adventure, there is a brand new patio area with plenty of seating, and two new places to find something yummy to eat, Ray's Barefoot Grill and Matilda's. This happens to be our new favorite spot in the zoo, so we were excited to have lunch from Ray's. 

Such a beautiful spot, with plenty of tables! 

Ray's has delicious grilled options from burgers to chicken.
We quickly found what we wanted to try. For me? A grilled chicken breast sandwich and little man wanted the fried chicken tenders. Both came with delicious french fries, which appeared to be hand cut and fresh. The chicken was juicy and flavorful; both of us went on and on about just how tasty the whole meal was. It was the perfect portion too, for a light lunch while exploring the zoo. 

Every bite was yummier than the last.
This time around, we were so lucky to be able to meet Head Chef Matt!!! Yes, the zoo has a head chef!! Don't worry if you weren't aware, either were we!! The zoo is fun on it's own, but Alex is such a foodie, this was an added bonus! But he was so kind to meet us, talk to us a little and then answer some questions we had after our visit!

Chef Matt and Alex! Foodies unite!

What questions you might ask? Well, we had a few for Chef Matt, and here is what he had to say!

1. Did you always know you wanted to be a chef? And more specifically, a zoo chef?
I started washing dishes in a restaurant when I was 14. At that point I knew I liked the kitchen. I continued to work in restaurants as I went to school for marketing. Ultimately, I decided to go to culinary school and strived to be the best chef I could be. Working in zoos did not cross my mind, but a friend of mine became a chef at a different zoo and asked me to work with him. At that point I was hooked.   
2. What are some of your responsibilities as the head zoo chef? How does the menu get created?
Some of my responsibilities are client relations, sanitation, proper food handling, ordering, cost of goods, scheduling, menu design, and new concept development. Menus tend to get created in our off season. These reflect what guests want, what food is trending, and what we see works in other locations.
3. What is the most popular food item at the zoo? What's your favorite?
As of now chicken tenders and fries are number one. My favorite would have to be the deep-fried peanut butter and jelly with candied bacon and powdered sugar.  It’s a special we run from time to time at Matilda’s.
4. What new things would like to bring to the zoo menu?
I would like to bring BBQ to the zoo, and possibly lemonade shake-ups.  
5. Are you able to provide foods for people with special dietary needs?
Yes, we do have vegetarian options and can typically take care of vegan needs. We’re looking into providing more gluten-free options.  
The other really cool (pun intended) new addition to the zoo we discovered was the Icee Station located in the Indonesian Rainforest! Yep, you can build your own Icee from one of the delicious flavor choices like Mango, Pina Colada, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Lemonade and more! My little dude was super excited about this one! 

If you are planning a trip to the zoo this summer, be sure to take the time to explore all of the delicious, and in my opinion rather affordable food options they have. There are so many amazing things to see, why not include a tasty treat too? For a list of menu options and prices, click here.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary day at the zoo in exchange for this feature. Plus tickets for a giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


To Enter: Leave me a comment telling me your favorite animal to visit at the zoo! Be sure to leave an email address so I can find you.
(1) Winner will receive (1) Family 4 pack of tickets for the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.
Contest Ends: July 30, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Yay!!! He Was Home

Back when Mr. E and I were first married, he was 100% in charge of the grill. I didn't even know how to start the thing let alone cook anything on it. And it wasn't really an issue because we were both working, home around the same time, and while I worked on the "inside" part of the meal, he would man the grill. 

But after he and little man started training in Taekwondo, there were many evenings he would have to go straight to the dojang (the school) from work, and he wouldn't eat supper until after class; and that left Monkey and I on our own if we wanted something grilled. So...I learned. I put my big girl panties on and started grilling more and more. And I have to say, I was pretty proud of my skills. I became almost the grill master he is....almost. 

See, there is still one thing I just can't quite get the same results he can. Bone in chicken. I can handle boneless like a champ, but for some reason when I try to cook legs, thighs or breasts on the bone, they don't come out as tasty as his. So, I figure since I can grill so many other things, I will leave those to him. But that can get tricky when planning the menu. I have to make sure it is an evening I know he'll be home, or on Sundays. Those are our allowed bone-in grilled chicken days. 

In fact, this was our supper last Sunday. I was craving some grilled drumsticks and wanted that bright, pungent flavor of lemon. Lemon on chicken is so perfect. It gives it tons of flavor, and helps to keep it so moist and juicy too. 

So many of us are grilling out every chance we get this time of year, and it's easy to fall into a chicken rut. Put some life back into yours with this flavorful, simple and delicious dish!

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
7-10 chicken drumsticks
1/4 c. olive oil
2 TBS lemon pepper seasoning, divided
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Non Stick Spray

 Combine chicken, olive oil,  1 TBS lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 8 hours. 30 minutes before ready to cook, allow chicken to come to room temp. Spray with non stick spray. Sprinkle with other 1 TBS lemon pepper seasoning and drizzle with half the lemon juice.  Preheat grill to high. Spray with nonstick spray. Sear chicken for 1 minutes on all sides. Reduce heat to heat to low, cook, and turn often until chicken is cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle with remaining lemon juice.

Shared at Weekend Potluck