Building Our Story

Friday, September 4, 2015

Meatball Sandwiches - Easy Family Meal





 Creating, preparing and serving easy meals is a necessity in our home.  The scheduled we keep is crazy and non-stop but that doesn't mean that we can forget about good home cooked meals.  When I am at a loss for what to plan for meals for the next week I always pick up our favorite pasta sauce - Mezzetta®.  I know that if I have these Mezzetta® Pasta Sauces on hand that I can always throw together a delicious home cooked meal, even on our busiest evening. 


The Mezzetta® Napa Valley Homemade Pasta Sauces come in a number of varieties, all of which we like to use in so many recipes.  I guess you could say, we are a pasta sauce lovin' family!

Available Flavors:
  • Marinara
  • Tomato & Sweet Basil
  • Spicy Marinara
  • Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onions
  • Parmesan, Asiago & Romano
  • Wild Mushroom


Now, I wouldn't say that my kids are picky eaters but finding meals that they both like has been a challenge - except Meatballs!  Seriously, my kids could eat Meatballs every day!  I cannot complain though, because I am not one to make my own Meatballs so really it is a win win situation for me!  Hello frozen meatballs - so many options for meals!


Meatball Sandwiches




Ingredients:

Frozen Home style Meatballs (or make your own)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Hoagie Buns


Directions:

1.  Add frozen meatballs to a large sauce pan. 

2.  Pour Mezzetta® Napa Valley Homemade Pasta Sauce over the meatballs.  Cover pan with a lid. 

3.  Let meatballs and sauce simmer for 10 minutes, stir.  Let meatballs and sauce simmer for another 10 minutes and stir. 

4.  Layer cooked meatballs on a hoagie bun.

5.  Drizzle some Mezzetta® pasta sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle some shredded Mozzarella cheese on the sandwich. 

6.  Serve HOT and enjoy!


I told you this was an easy family meal - no brainer for a busy family on the go!  Another bonus, usually meatballs come in large packages which means leftovers!  Yummy! 


Reasons we love picking up Mezzetta® Napa Valley Homemade Pasta Sauce:

  • Real Food. 100% hand-selected plum tomatoes. No added sugar. No paste. No shortcuts.
  • Real Farmers. Committed to farming the highest quality ingredients, without compromise.
  • Real Family. Family owned and operated for over 80 years.
  • Real Recipe. Made in the Italian tradition from our Napa Valley kitchen.
  • Real Good. Pull up a plate and taste the difference.



Since September is here we know that the fall weather is just around the corner, time to enjoy the simmering meals on the stove top.  Why not stock up on some of these delicious Mezzetta® Napa Valley Homemade Pasta Sauces for all of your fall flavors!


ENTER THE MEZZETTA “PERFECT PASTA NIGHT” GIVEAWAY

To celebrate, Mezzetta® is giving away a Perfect Pasta Night and several runner up prizes.
• Grand Prize (1): Perfect Pasta Night. Cooking kit includes: Six (6) Mezzetta® Napa Valley Homemade™ Pasta Sauces  + Dried Pasta + Apron + Grocery Tote + Chef’s Hat + Cheese Grater + Recipe Cards + $500 grocery gift card
• Runner Up Prizes (10): Six (6) Mezzetta® Napa Valley Homemade™ Pasta Sauces + Recipe Cards

VISIT MEZZETTA.COM AND ENTER, ITS EASY!




What is your favorite recipe that includes pasta sauce?


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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Blueberry Zing Smoothie #Recipe




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For the last 3 months my best friend and I have been taking some reformer Pilates classes here in Denver, they are amazing.  Seriously the best work out I have had in years.  We usually go once a week in the evening and by the time I get home from class, help get the kids in bed and change out of my work out gear I am starving.  Instead of eating a bunch of food so late in the evening I decided to start making protein packed smoothies to enjoy as I recover from work, Pilates and mommyhood. 

I love coming up with different recipes of smoothies because they are so easy to change up and customize.  Recently, I was introduced to Born Sweet® Zing™ Zero Calorie SteviaSweetener and have enjoyed adding a little Zing™ to my post Pilates Smoothies.  The best part about Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener is that while I am adding some sweetener to my smoothies I am not adding a funny aftertaste.  I really do love fruit smoothies but sometimes the fruit makes my smoothies too tangy and I need a little sweetener. 

Blueberry Zing Smoothie


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Ingredients:

1 cup frozen blueberries
½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 cup milk
1 small banana
2 packets Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener 

Directions:

Smoothies are so easy, put all ingredients in a blender, I always put the fruit in first so it gets nice and blended, and blend together until it's a smoothie consistency.  

Enjoy immediately while cold from the cold milk and frozen blueberries.  

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This smoothie is so simple to create and also helps me recover from my Pilates workout.  I feel great about adding Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener to my smoothie creations because it is made with only real ingredients.  This sweet goodness is nothing artificial and it has the perfect sweetness found in Mother Nature’s stevia plant.  

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I always have to make extra of my smoothie when I get home and the kids are still awake because they have to have some too.  I cannot deny them a little sippy cup full of any of my recover smoothies because they are packed full of great fruits, veggies, protein and Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener.  

I carry these packets with me to work for my morning coffee and afternoon tea - gives me a little sweet kick to my normal drinks.  Also, I have found that adding some Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener to cut up berries make a delicious afternoon slump snack to enjoy at my desk.  Yummy!

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Now that you have seen how a little Zing™ can make any recipe a little sweeter I am sure you are ready for your own Zing™!  ADD ZING™ TO YOUR LIFE! Give your taste buds something new and amaZING to be excited about -- try new Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener for yourself! Get a Free Sample of Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener and start getting creative with your food!

How would you use Zing™ in your favorite recipes?


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Club Pilates Cherry Creek #Colorado - Review and Giveaway

Disclosure:  I have been given complementary classes in return for my honest review.  No other compensation has been given.


Can you believe it?  I have found a workout that I love!  It is true!  Sure, there are days that I leave my class ready for a massage or a nap but seriously, it is the best fitness adventure I have had in my adult life.

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Since April, my best friend and I have been heading to Club Pilates Cherry Creek at least once a week to our Reformer Pilates class.  Now, you might think I am exaggerating when I say it is the best workout I have ever had but guess what - I am not.   Your entire body works during these 50 minute classes and goodness you feel it!  Feel it good though!  While I am nowhere near the picture of health or my health goals, every class I complete I feel my body and mind getting stronger.   And, we usually leave class with a smile on our face!  We know how to have fun!

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Club Pilates Cherry Creek has a number of different types of classes and levels for everyone.   Currently, we are attending the Level 1 Reformer Pilates Class but have committed to branching out on some other fusion classes that they offer.  

Here are the classes that I have on deck - I will be letting you all know how they go.  


CP BARRE/REFORMER FUSION:

The Barre Reformer Fusion Class is a booty-bustin', quad-quakin' long lean muscle makin' ballet barre workout combined with your favorite Club Pilates Reformer Plus repertoire. This class is reformer based, but also incorporates the amazing benefits of training on the ballet barre. Lengthen, strengthen, ton and define every muscle in your body in this fun and fluid class. Expect to spend up to 20 minutes at the barre and 30 minutes on a variety of Pilates equipment including the reforming and exo-chair to truly give you the best of both worlds. This class offers a proportional full body workout reshaping your buns, abs, arms, and thighs while creating long and lean muscles that are flexible and strong! This class if offered in Level 1.5, 2 and 2.5!



CP STRETCH-ILATES:

Do you run, cycle or do regular Club Pilates Boot Camp F.I.T workouts? If yes, this class isn an excellent cross training workout for your! Club Pilates Stretch-ilates includes a 10-15 minute full body warm up using the Pilates reformer. After that, we will effectively and safely take you through exercised that will stretch and lengthen muscles head to toe! Expect to use several different pieces of equipment in this class including the reformer, exo-chair, springboard, barre, and trx straps was well as equipment like trigger point rollers. You will learn how to incorporate breathing, active stretches, self myofacial release and muscle contraction repair tight muscles that cause pain and limitations. This equipment and movement based class keeps a slow to moderate flow using the reformer and other apparatus. Try it - your body will thank you, it is like a workout massage! Offered as a Level 1!

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CP CARDIO SCULPT:

Have you ever jumped while lying down? Cardio Sculpt class incorporates an awesome cardio boost into your Pilates practice with up to 25 minutes of low impact jumping while lying on the reformer. We take the harmful effects of gravity with jumping out of the equation. You will enjoy circuit training, utilizing traditional Pilates equipment, TRX and Barre, while challenging your entire body. This workout fuses multiple Pilates modalities to sculpt and trim hard to target areas while engaging the core and strengthening the body proportionally. This class, like all Club Pilates classes, will train your muscles isometrically, eccentrically and concentrically to yield the greatest metabolic response. You will leave feeling challenged yet invigorated. Offered as Level 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5!



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If you are new to Pilates I really recommend going to a Level 1 Club Pilates Reformer class to have your instructor really gauge your ability and level.  Best thing about Club Pilates is that the instructors want the best for you.  They do not want you in pain or out of your fitness level, work with them and they will work with you.  I have also found that on evenings that I am worn down I can simply ask for a modified step if need be.  Exactly how working out should be!  

I am looking forward to MANY more classes with my new Pilates buddies at Club Pilates Cherry Creek and hope you will join me!  Club Pilates Cherry Creek is located in the Cherry Creek Shopping District - 3000 E 3rd Ave #20, Denver, CO 80206.

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The lovely people at Club Pilates want you to start the new season - HELLO FALL - with a new fitness adventure.  It is your turn to experience the greatness that Lauren and I have fell in love with.  TWO of my readers will win 3 classes and a Club Pilates tank!!  So fun!!  All you have to do is enter the giveaway form below.   Good luck!

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Disclaimer - Please only enter if you are in the Denver area to use these classes!  Also, once the classes are activated you will have ONE month to use them. 

Rafflecopter Form:


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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Overnight Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

This week I was asked to bring a breakfast dish to share to a welcome party for my new boss at work and I, of course, agreed.  The challenge was to find a hot dish that could easily be prepared on our busy work/school mornings.  I started doing some research for some overnight dishes and combined a couple recipes to make this delicious one dish breakfast treat.  

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Overnight Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole


Free printable recipe here. 



Ingredients:

6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled 
1 pound ground breakfast sausage
3 cups cheddar jack cheese, divided 
2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 pounds frozen tater tots
1 medium onion chopped 
2 bell peppers chopped
salt and pepper to taste


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Directions:

1.  In a skillet, cook breakfast sausage until broken up and brown.  Once cooked through, drain grease from skillet.  I used turkey breakfast sausage for a healthier version.

2.  Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and then layer the breakfast sausage on the bottom of the pan. 

3.  Sprinkle 2 cups cheddar jack cheese evenly over the breakfast sausage.  

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4.  In a medium mixing bowl combine the milk, eggs, peppers, onions, salt, and pepper.  Hand whisk mixture.  Once mixed pour egg mixture over the sausage and cheese in the baking pan.  

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5.  Layer frozen tater tots over the egg mixture, covering it completely. 

6.  Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.  

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7.  Once ready to bake - preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake casserole for 35-45 minutes.  Eggs should not be runny!  

8.  Sprinkle casserole with remaining cheese and crumbled bacon - bake for another 10-15 minutes.  

9.  Cut into squares and enjoy hot!!    


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This casserole was a hit at work.  It was so tasty and surprisingly easy to prepare the night before and simply put in the oven while we all got ready for the day.  This will be a breakfast dish that will come in handy for the holiday guests for sure!  


What are your favorite breakfast dishes to share?



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Monday, August 31, 2015

Henry's Big Star Adventure - Book Review and Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was compensated for this honest review of Henry's Big Star Adventure. 


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It is no surprise to my long time readers that we are a book family.  Maybe it is because I was raised by two teachers and that has formed how I parent too.  This means we are always looking for new books to read with the kids.  Recently, the kids have really loved their bedtime stories with daddy, special time for all of them, so when Scott Schumaker gave me the opportunity to review his new book I was super excited for it to arrive. 

Henry's Big Star Adventure is not a book that Jude and Teagan could read on their own but it quickly became a household favorite when they read it with Jeremy before bed for a few days.  Scott Schumaker is a former Colorado resident so I knew his story would be fantastic - Colorado Proud!  

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Henry's Big Star Adventure


If your kids are like ours they love fairy-tales and adventure books.  Both Jude and Teagan are full of imagination which makes reading a book like this with them so much fun.  Not only is this a well written book but the lesson that is put through out the story is perfect - working together to meet a goal!  Love that!

This book is amazing for all ages, reading level is 6-10 years old, but the story itself will be enjoyed by everyone.  Filled with honesty, compassion, kindness and forgiveness.  Finding good books with all of these great attributes can be difficult at times but with out a doubt this is a MUST have for any at home library.  

The cute story is perfectly paired with the fun illustrations in the book.  So whimsical!  This books was a great read for a few nights before bedtime with the kids and I think they were both sad to see it end.  We have read it a few more times to them since too!  




Scott is a gifted storyteller and I am hopeful that this is not his only book!  Scott wants me to share the book love with my readers.  TWO of you will be able to enjoy this book in your own home with your family!  All you have to do is enter the giveaway below!  Good Luck and Happy Reading! 


Rafflecopter Form:



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Friday, August 28, 2015

Funny Face Snack Pack® Pudding Cups

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Snack Pack®.




Are you smiling?  You should be after seeing those adorable Funny Face Snack Pack® Pudding Cups my kids created.  Back to School is here, Jude has been back in the action for over two weeks already, doesn't seem possible.  If you are anything like me, you probably struggle with the whole snack and lunch prep for school.  I feel like the kids get so bored with the usual so this school year I decided I am going to find easy additions to my snack and lunch prep that will get the kids involved and interested in the food. 


I am not a Bento Box mom by any means, just want to make that clear!  Ha!  That is why I like finding items like Snack Pack® Pudding Cups that are already prepared and ready for packing.  I love pudding and so do the kids, but why not get a little creative with our food?


When you look at these pudding cups they are like a blank canvas don't you think?  A yummy Vanilla, Chocolate or Butterscotch blank canvas.  


The idea of our Funny Face Snack Pack® Pudding Cups came from a simple pack of stickers.  The kids, especially Teagan, love stickers.  I picked up a few random packs and she started making faces out of these eyeballs and mustache stickers.  So funny.  That gave me the idea - a pudding cup with a personality.  


Once I set the stickers and Snack Pack® cups in front of them, they knew exactly what was going on. It was so fun to see them create their own little funny face pudding cups and give them their own personalities.  I told them that now that we have decorated all of these Snack Pack® Pudding Cups they would be ready for fast snacking and lunches.  Jude was very excited to show off his pudding cups to his friends.  


We even had some silly commentary from Jude and Teagan through out our craft time.  Even though this was a food project it was also a great craft for the two of them.  The concentration was adorable - Funny Face creation is serious stuff!  


Once all of our Snack Pack® pudding cups were decorated appropriately they really felt like they needed to eat one.  They twisted my arm and to add a little more silliness to the project we made some hair for the little googly eyed pudding cups.  


The mix-in options with Snack Pack® are truly endless.  We have added candy, whipped cream, sprinkles, popcorn and even pretzels to our pudding cups.  For our hair I decided to crush up some chocolate and vanilla cookies.  Such a simple process - simply fill a reusable bag with cookies and crush them with a rolling pin until they are your desired consistency.  


The kids topped their Funny Face Snack Pack® Pudding Cups with the crushed cookies to create some hair.  Adding the hair was such a cute idea too.  Miss Teagan felt the need to add A TON of hair, Jude seemed to like his pudding guy bald.  This was such a fun project and snack with the kids.  


This back to school season take a moment to slow down and enjoy a tasty and fun treat with the kids. Snack Pack® comes in a variety of flavors and offers endless mix-in opportunities the kids can help prepare. Each serving of Snack Pack® is fortified with as much calcium as an 8-oz glass of milk,* so you can feel good about serving your kids Snack Pack®



For mix-in inspiration, visit Snack Pack® on Pinterest and Facebook!

** All Snack Pack® products contain 30% DV calcium, with the exception of Bakery Shop Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pudding, and Snack Pack Gels. 



What Mix-Ins will you be adding to your back to school Snack Pack®?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Snackation" Silly Face Sandwiches

Disclosure:  I was asked by The J.M. Smucker Company to share how we prepare for a SNACKACTION! All opinions are my own.


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Packing snacks and meals is a great way to save money on any adventure.  This summer we have been pretty busy but as the summer comes to an end we decided to enjoy some of our local activities.  We decided to take the kids to our local outdoor mall that has a splash pad and great playground and fun free concerts on the weekends.  I ran to Walmart to pick up some items for our dinner and snacks for our fun activity and got to work on my bigger plan.  

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Smucker’s® is our go to when we need to buy our PB&J materials.  I especially love the squeeze jelly - so easy and mess free!  As I was preparing our sandwiches I heard a little voice behind me, "Not again!"  We love PB&J but this summer we have enjoyed a few of them on our adventures.  Little did Miss Teagan know that when she opened her lunch box she would have a little surprise.  

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I will never be a bento box lunch making mom - and that is okay.  But when I have the time to get creative with my kids' food I do it.  My kids love stickers which means we have every kind of sticker you can imagine.  As I was preparing my shopping list I stumbled across these eyes and mustache stickers and the little bento box wannabe in me got super excited!  I can do this!  EASY!

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I would love to give you a step by step tutorial but the reality is - there isn't much to this creation.  Just the way us busy moms like it.  Simply make the sandwich, put it in a plastic reusable bag and then decorate the bag with stickers of your choice.  Make faces with stickers, draw faces with a marker, or even leave a note on the bag.  Endless options.  

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SO CUTE!!  I packed the kids' lunch boxes with their Silly Face Sandwiches, baby carrots and our favorite on-the-go Smucker’s® Fruit-Fulls fruit pouch.  We were set, and I could hardly wait to surprise them with these fun sandwiches.  


Our weather in Colorado recently has been either rainy or super hot.  Thankfully the day we decided to head to the splash pad it was HOT.  The kids loved playing in the fountains and we had fun enjoying the live music.  


Even though Teagan isn't heading to school just yet, I feel like we are enjoying the last few weekends of summer before we are ready for the fall activities with the kiddos.  We all had such a great time just enjoying the whole outdoor experience.  

After a lot of splashing, running and playing both of the kids were ready for dinner.  We set up one of the tables at the mall and created a little picnic.  The kids absolutely loved our Silly Face Sandwich creations and asked to save the bags for another time.  Who knew that something so simple would give the kids such smiles!  


Once we filled up on our sandwiches, fruit pouches and carrots we were ready to dance!  Check out Jude's sweet moves - he throws a little Taekwondo into his dancing.  So fun!  Memories made, money saved, and awesome snacks!

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As you plan your last few summer adventures make sure you stop by Walmart, your Snackation destination, to stock up on go-to summer snack solutions.  


How do you make your child's lunches and snacks more fun?



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