An easy and savory summer salad

I love salads in the summer!  From mixed fruit salads to bowls of loaded greens there is something about a refreshing salad. When it comes to salads, there is so such thing as boring!  I am constantly inventing new ways for salads to be a main dish or a complimentary side dish for a BBQ.

One of my recent favorites is Edamame salad.  It is a super easy salad to make with really just a few ingredients and spices.  Plus it can be served warm or cold.  This is a great dish to go along with grilled chicken or steak or a colorful dish to make quickly for a neighbors BBQ.

edamame roasted

The ingredients are simple:

1 bag frozen organicshelled edamame (16 oz)

1 handful of sweetened dried organic cranberries

4 oz of feta cheese

a few tablespoons of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Start by tossing your frozen edamame with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 350.  Place edamame on a ceramic baking sheet or a parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes.  While the edamame is roasting crumble your feta in a bowl with your cranberries.  When the edamame is done toss it in the bowl with a splash of olive oil and mix it gently with the feta, cranberry mixture.  Serve warm or chill and enjoy!

Edamame salad

Do you have a favorite summer salad?

A Southern Staple

Living in the South, I have learned that ranch dressing is a big part of Southern cuisine. It’s a dip for veggies, a must for chicken wings and a favorite salad dressing of many southerners.  I haven’t bought a bottle of salad dressing in years!  I prefer to make my own.  One of my favorite ranch recipes is for Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch.

Ranch dressing

If you love ranch dressing or if you need help getting your kids to eat veggies or simply want to see how Southern folks make ranch, you must try this recipe.  The ingredient list is long but all you need is a food processor and in just a few minutes you will have creamy homemade ranch dressing.

Ingredients:

1 cup Dukes mayo (if you live in the south you will understand)

1/2 cup organic sour cream

1 clove organic garlic minced

1 spoonful of chopped fresh parsley

2 spoonfuls of fresh chopped chives

1 dash of hot sauce

1 dash of worcestershire sauce

Splash of white vinegar or red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh shaved parmesan

1/2 cup organic buttermilk (could be less or more this depends on your preference of thickness)

Fresh cracker pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Put all ingredients in your food processor with the exception of the buttermilk.  I slowly add the buttermilk because I like my ranch on the thicker side but this is a personal preference.  If time permits put all the ingredients in a Pyrex glass container and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or more.  This just gives all the flavors a chance to really meld together. Tonight I made salads which I topped with the Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch.  Time to dig in!

Ranch salad

What’s your favorite salad dressing?  Do you make your own?  Please share in the comments below!

Creating good habits in toddlers

My toddler is at an age where she mimics everything I do because she wants to be like me. I am trying to capitalize on this behavior and pass on great habits. Lately we have been focusing on brushing our teeth. I received this great oral care set from Nuby to try out. It is perfect because it has a 4 stage system for brushing so whether I have to brush my little one’s teeth or she is brushing on her own we have the right tool for the job!
Nuby oral care set

Whenever we are working on a new skill the most important thing is making it fun!  We brush together, sing songs and even smear a little toothpaste on our face to keep it silly.  Having a cute toothbrush that’s easy to hold and gently on a toddlers teeth and gums is important too.  It’s never to early to start creating great dental habits for your baby or toddler. And at less than $5 dollars at most retailers the Nuby Oral Care Set is the perfect way to get started.

Brushing photo

Nuby Oral Care Set is intended for babies through toddler hood. They are BPA free and can be purchased at your local Babies R Us or online at http://www.Amazon.com. For additional information about these Nuby products, follow Nuby on their social media sites http://www.facebook.com/nubyusa or http://www.twitter.com/nubyusa.

Disclosure: I am part of the Nuby parents blogger team. All reviewed products are given to me in part or in whole for my time to produce a review. All opinions are my own.

You had me at Bacon!

I don’t eat much meat but there is one type of meat I have a hard time giving up. Bacon! There is something about that crispy, saltiness that just tastes good in almost any dish or by itself. Bacon is simply perfect for any meal at any time of day. Bacon, egg, mushroom and cheese omelette for breakfast, a crunchy BLT sandwich for lunch or bacon wrapped scallops for dinner!

Tonight I am making my version of a BLT for dinner. My recipe is simple. There are only 5 ingredients. But these five ingredients need to be the best of the best. The bacon is the single most important ingredient, so for your health and for taste buy vegetarian fed pork with no antibiotics, no nitrates or certified organic. You can find several great options at Whole Foods. The second ingredient is one soft avocado. Give your avocado a good squeeze and make sure it has a little give but doesn’t squish in your hands. The next ingredient is San Marzano tomatoes. Disregard this suggestion if you live in New Jersey (there is something special about a NJ tomato) or if you have tomatoes from your garden. I unfortunately don’t have any tomatoes growing in my garden and San Marzano are the only tomatoes I have found with any flavor in them. The fourth ingredient is Dukes Mayonnaise. If you live in the South you will understand. If not go with your favorite. Finally the bread. A local bakery is always a good choice but tonight I am going with one of my favorite store bought breads Ezekiel Organic bread. It’s a nutty bread with a slightly sweet taste and the perfect compliment to the salty bacon.

Blt ingredients

Lets get cooking! Start with the bacon. It should be cooked in the oven on a baking sheet (350 degrees for 10-15) or in a frying pan on low so it doesn’t burn. Slow and low is the way to go. Repeat do not put bacon in the microwave. It dries up all the delicious bacon fat and half the flavor is gone. You can always pat the bacon with a paper towel to remove excess grease.

Blt in the works

Next slice your avocados and tomatoes thin so you can properly layer your sandwich. Toast the Ezekiel bread and then slather generously with mayonnaise. Your ready now to layer it up and enjoy! Please note this is a splurge dinner for when you want to indulge. Everyone should one night a week! I can hardly wait to bite into this Bacon, Avocado and Tomato sandwich.  I can only hope there is some leftover bacon for a breakfast omelet too!

Blt finished

What is your favorite meal with bacon? Please share in the comments below.

What does natural really mean?

The word natural on food, personal care products and cleaning products used to mean something. Sadly it doesn’t anymore.  I have to read labels and rely on organic certifications to truly understand what’s in the products I consume and use.  I found a great company that makes this process simple and transparent.  They are called Green Soap Inc.

Green Soap Inc. makes all kinds of soaps of course, from body bars to hand soaps but their product list includes a wealth of personal care products for babies, mammas and even furry babies! They have the whole family covered.

 

Green soap box

I had the pleasure to test out some of Green Soap Inc.’s Bubbly Bar Soaps and Gourmet Liquid Soaps.  I could smell the fresh, natural scents as soon as I opened the box.  The soaps reminded me of a fresh spring rain and the redwood forest.  Clean and close to nature.

When I started reading the labels I discovered, they have a simple ingredient list and included one of my favorite words on products, “organic”.  The ingredient list was short on all their products and easy to read.  A few of the ingredients that stood out were coconut oil, organic rosemary extract, and organic extra virgin olive oil. Many of these  ingredients I have in my kitchen!  Since I cook with these ingredients I felt very confident putting them on my skin.

Green soap variety

When I washed my hands with Hemp and Olive Oil Green Soap they felt soft .  After sometime spent working in the ER, I am a religious hand washer and my hands are typically dry.  Not with Green Soap.  The natural oils in Green Soap kept my hands moisturized even without any lotion.

Green soap counter top1

Green Soap Inc’s Bubbly Bars worked amazing too.  I tried the Tea Tree Lemongrass with activated charcoal in my shower and I smelled heavenly.  I truly felt that I just left the spa.  The  Bubbly Bars have a light scent of fresh herbs, flowers and some even have scents reminiscent of my favorite bakery items. How does a Chocolate Mint bar or Pumpkin Spice sound to you?

Green soap shower bar2

Green Soap is only tested on humans!  Their products are GMO free and Gluten free for those with gluten sensitivities. They are handcrafted in the good ole USA too!  Best of all I didn’t find any unnecessary junk in any of their products.  They are truly the definition of natural. Green Soap Inc is exactly what it seems.  It’s products are green and chemical free.

I can’t wait to try the whole collection including body wash, body lotion, body oil and of course their number one selling lip balms made with organic essential oils.  What would you like to try?  Tell me in the comments below.

Green Soap Inc is also generously giving away their Hemp and Olive Oil Liquid Soap and their Pomegranate Coconut Pucker Pack to 3 winners!  Wow!  GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!!

Enter to win Green Soap Inc.here:   http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d69e0ad711/?

You can try out Green Soap Inc today! You can order all their products here at http://www.greensoapinc.com.

Green soap bars

Disclosure: All reviewed products are given to me in part or in whole for my time to produce a review.  All opinions are my own.

Fishing in the pool

fishing set4I am very excited! Summer has arrived in my part of the country and its time to play outside. We broke out my toddlers baby pool the other day when it hit 80 degrees. My baby girl squealed with delight. If only I could fit in it too!

We just received the Nuby Splash N Catch Bathtime Fishing Set to try out too. Timing was perfect. Although this toy is suggested for use in the bath I thought this would be perfect in her little pool. She wholeheartedly agreed!
fish set 3
My little toddler loved catching the characters in her fishing net and cleaning the leaves out of the pool too! This is just the perfect toy for her pool. A few of the characters got nibbled on in the fun. And I was happy to see that they are BPA free. You just never know when little ones are going to taste something!

fishing set2
The Nuby Fishing set is going to be great for the beach too! I can imagine the hours of fun sifting sand and scooping up shells. I have a feeling my husband might even steal it to find sharks teeth.
fishing set 1
Nuby Splash N Catch Bathtime Fishing Set is designed for children 18 months and older. It is ideal for the bath or pool and can be purchased at your local Tuesday Morning or online at http://www.Amazon.com. For additional information about these Nuby products, follow Nuby on their social media sites  www.facebook.com/nubyusa or www.twitter.com/nubyusa.

GIVEAWAY! Click here to win the Splash N Catch Bathtime Fishing Set for your little one: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d69e0ad710/?

Disclosure:  I am part of the Nuby parents blogger team. All reviewed products are given to me in part or in whole for my time to produce a review.  All opinions are my own.

Stopping the distractions

stop-sign

The other day I was walking across the parking lot carrying my daughter when a car came so close to hitting us that I could almost touch the front bumper. I ran and that was the only reason we were not hit. The driver never stopped. I don’t think the driver ever saw me. The driver was clearly distracted.

Perhaps, they were distracted thinking about what they were going to have for dinner or how quickly they could get home so they wouldn’t miss their favorite show or maybe they were sending a text. I am not sure why. I just know that typically the things that distract us are not that important.

Several people stopped that day to see if I was okay, but not the driver. I was angry at first. But I later realized that could have been me. I drive very carefully but I can’t claim I have never been distracted. There have been times where my mind is wandering and of course there is the overabundance of electronics surrounding me.

Electronics are one of the biggest distractions with most of my friends and family. Cell phones, computers and TV make us forget to take time to play practical jokes on our spouse, write letters or take our pups for a walk every night! Ahh. The little things in life.

With the Mothers Day holiday around the corner it makes me pause and think how can I be more present with my daughter. She is growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss a moment. So I will start with tonight and turn off the TV, put my cell phone on vibrate and play with my daughter until the only thing that distracts me is making sure I don’t pee my pants from laughing so hard.

Going Green for pregnancy and beyond

mommy-greenest-naturepedic-organic-mattress-giveaway-600

Pregnancy changed my way of thinking about food products, cleaning products, personal care items and even furniture. There are so many chemicals in everything we consume and use. I found a great resource to navigate through our chemical ridden world. If you are pregnant, considering getting pregnant or have a friend who is pregnant please share this FREE e book by a fellow blogger Mommy Greenest. http://www.mommygreenest.com/ebook/ It’s an easy read with priceless information, down to earth stories and of course a splash of humor.

In her books she mentions one of my favorite brands, Naturepedic. If you are in the market for a crib mattress or one for yourself, you must check out this brand. Toxin free mattresses are hard to find and this company strives to make the safest and most comfortable mattresses. I never heard of this brand until I purchased a crib mattress and I am thoroughly impressed with their commitment to safe mattresses that I have decided I need one for myself! Check them out at Naturepedic.com

Pregnancy is a great time to do research and make sure you and baby are protected! Happy reading!

Splish Splash it’s time to take a bath!

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My daughter has a ton of toys that sing, light up and talk to her so its refreshing to find simple toys that spur creativity and imagination like the Nuby Splish Splash Bath Time Stacking Cups.  Bath time in itself is a fun event in our home but throw in a few toys and my daughter gets upset when bath time is over.

I love the look of the Nuby stacking cups.  The design is playful, colorful and eye catching.  My daughter didn’t hesitate in grabbing a cup and trying to try to drink from one.  She was puzzled at first when the water sprayed out the bottom. But she soon squealed with delight when she noticed the fun waterfall they made.image

We have some squishy bath toys that my daughter loves but I have had to throw them out. Water was getting trapped inside of them and mold was growing.  I don’t have to worry about those issues with these stacking cups.  They practically clean themselves with the generous holes in the bottom.  I love that! I am so excited to try these out at the pool and on our next beach vacation.  I have a feeling someone may never want to get out of the water!

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Nuby Splish Splash Bath Time Stacking cups are designed for children 9 months and older. They are BPA free and can be purchased at your local Baby Depot at Burlington or online at http://www.Amazon.com. For additional information about these Nuby products, follow Nuby on their social media sites  www.facebook.com/nubyusa or www.twitter.com/nubyusa.

GIVEAWAY! Click here to win the Nuby Splish Splash Stacking Cups for your little one: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d69e0ad78/?

Disclosure:  I am part of the Nuby parents blogger team. All reviewed products are given to me in part or in whole for my time to produce a review.  All opinions are my own.

Road tripping with your furry family

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I am a sucker for puppy dog eyes.  My two furry boys follow me around the house insisting to be by my side constantly.  They don’t ask for much, just some quality kibble, lot of snuggling and fresh air.  So when it’s time for a vacation I hate leaving them behind.

But traveling with pets isn’t easy.  From finding a pet friendly place to stay to finding a place for them to potty during the road trip, there are lots of challenges.  I like vacations to be as stress free as possible so I came up with a few resources and tips to make it easy for you to take your furry family on your next trip.

1. Expect pet fees or additional cleaning fees for pet friendly hotel rooms or vacation homes. Recently I tried to book a pet friendly vacation home and the deposits cost more than the stay.  I was shocked!  A reasonable pet fee will depend on your length of stay but expect to pay between $25-$100 per pet non-refundable.

2. Plan in advance and confirm the hotel you will be staying at takes pets and confirm weight limits too.  From the affordable La Quinta to a more luxurious Marriott you will find that many hotels accept pets now.  But check their policy for fees, weight limits and if you need to bring a crate.  If you prefer a vacation home you can search on sites like VRBO and HomeAway using a pet friendly search key to narrow down your options.

3. Bring the pet beds.  It may take up a lot of extra room but you want your furries to feel safe and comfortable in their home away from home.  Their beds and a favorite toy or two will do the trick. Treats too!

4.  Don’t forget extra blankets and towels.  Be respectful of where you stay.  If you know your pet is obsessed with the couch bring a blanket to cover it.  And for those ocean swims make sure you have extra towels to dry off those sandy paws.

5. Tire them out!  A tired dog is a happy dog and will be more relaxed when you leave the room to go out on non-pet friendly excursions.  Many beaches allow you to bring your dogs and every city typically has a dog park or two.  Check out Trip Advisor to find the best pet friendly attractions in the city you are traveling too.  My furry boys have been able to explore several beaches, mountains, lakes, an outdoor museum, a dog bar, and a few restaurants with patios.

6. Visit places that embrace the fur!  There are certain cities and even states that embrace furry family more than others.  In my experience, California is the best state to visit with your furry family.  In some cities in California there are little to no restrictions on where they can go.  If you are on the east coast my favorite pet friendly areas are Asheville, NC, St Pete Beach, Fl and Folly Beach, Sc.

7. Share your favorite pet friendly places!  Help your fellow dog and cat lovers and review places that worked well for furry family member travel or excursions.  This makes it easier for everyone to have a furry family vacation!

Do you travel with your dogs or cats?  Where have you taken them?  Where do you stay?  Tell me in the comments below.