Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Photos From a Luau Dinner




Last Friday we attended a little Luau dinner for our FFA. The setting was gorgeous and the weather cooperated perfectly. It's always nice having an evening off from cooking dinner and wonderful to just hang out with the family. We ended up winning a hand made little 5 foot boat too - a $10 raffle ticket that paid off! Wayne had a big ol' smile on his face when we took the boat with us.

I love themed events and evenings. It makes for a little magic and mystery for the kids. It makes me long to create something like this at my house again. I guess the creativity runs through my veins. :)

~Melissa

Monday, July 21, 2014

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Treats Made with a Special Drink

 I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop

The other day we kind of had an impromptu family day together and ended up going to the movies, doing a little shopping, and ended the day with a BBQ on the back deck. At Walmart I ended up buying something that I don't buy very often - Kool Aid. They have new 96 oz. bottles and even though I grew up living on the classic drink, we don't have it in our house very often, so for my family it's definitely a summer treat. 

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop

While we were hanging outside the topic of our end of summer celebrations came up. Normally in August we have two large events - I have an End of Summer Celebration and Anika has a birthday party. Since one of my best friends is getting married at the end of August, I'm not sure if I'll have the time (or energy!) to host my party this year. The thought of not doing it makes me sad, but this summer is going so quickly already this year, I'm not sure I could squeeze it in everyone's schedules either. 

I do know though that we will have a party for Miss Anika though, I'm just not sure what to do yet - and her birthday is on the 12th!! We've talked about doing things we've done in the past, like a backyard sleepover or even a hotel stay (like we did last year), but in any case to make a long story short, the two of us began brain storming on what food she'd like to have along with all of the treats and goodies (that are a must when you want to celebrate), and then a light bulb went off in my head.

Flavored treats made with Kool Aid.

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop
Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop
Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop

It sounded like something easy to make that we could customize to make whatever flavors we wanted - so I gave it a try and they turned out perfect! We tried pink lemonade first but our favorite was orange cream.

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop
Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Treats

Ingredients:

6 cups of rice cereal
3 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 package of orange flavored Kool Aid (unsweetened packet)
10 ounces of marshmallows
cooking spray

Directions:

1. Grease 8" x 8" pan and set aside.

2. Warm butter in a large pot on medium heat until melted, then add marshmallows and stir until they are melted as well. Pour in vanilla and Kool Aid packet and mix well.

3. Take pan off of heat and mix rice cereal in. Pour mixture into the pan then spray your hand with butter spray (so it won't get sticky) and then press the mixture into the pan with your hand.

4. Place pan in the refrigerator until cool, then cut and enjoy!

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop
Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop

 Depending on Anika's birthday theme and colors, I can see us getting even more creative and cutting the treats with cookie cutters into shapes to match - perhaps even making them favors for her friends. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.... now to plan the party! :)

Orange Cream Rice Cereal Bar Treats #KoolOff #Cbias #shop

If you live in South Carolina ( I know a few of your do!) There will be a fun promotion going on that you should check out for me!

" Jim Dillard, pro fisherman, could be coming to your local Walmart to help promote the new 96oz bottles! There will be product giveaways, t-shirts, games, and more fun activities!

Friday August 8th 5-7pm:
360 Harbison Blvd Columbia, SC WM Supercenter

Saturday August 9th  3-5pm:
1326 Bush River Rd Columbia, SC WM Supercenter

Saturday August 9th 6-8pm:

2401 Augusta Rd West Columbia, SC WM Supercenter "


~Melissa

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. Thanks #CollectiveBias for letting me make #KefirCreations.
Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

Last week was so busy with things going on that I really felt like we didn't sit down together and really enjoy our meals much and that is something that is very important to me, so I decided last night to go ahead and change that. I went ahead and took a little extra time preparing a meal that I hadn't made in a long time - Beef Stroganoff. Normally a stroganoff recipe calls for sour cream, but I changed mine up a bit and used 2 cups of plain Kefir low-fat cultured milk smoothie. 

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

Wayne came home and said he could smell it from outside and that it was making his mouth water! By taking a little extra time and using good quality ingredients it really turned a good comfort dish into something even more special. 

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

We love Kefir because it's got a smooth and tart taste, not quite a sweet as yogurt, and its packed full of 12 live and active Probiotic cultures. It also has no artificial sweeteners and I know that Lifeway only uses milk from cows that haven't been treated with pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic growth hormones. All of the cows are grass fed and GMO free - so it's a really tasty option that the kids love to drink. There are several different flavor options to choose from as well. 

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations
Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

To make the stroganoff you really only need a few ingredients. I used red wine in my recipe, but you can always use beef broth instead if you'd like.

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

Kefir Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
Olive Oil
1 lb. Sirloin Steak
5 cups of sliced white mushrooms
12 oz. whole wheat wide ribbon pasta
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups of red wine
2 cups of Lifeway Kefir Plain Low-fat Cultured Milk Smoothie
1 Packet of Stroganoff seasoning

Steps:

1. In large pot, boil water and cook noodles per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in frying pan and sear the steak on both sides. Turn temperature down to medium and cook steak until internal temperature reads 165 degrees.
3. Meanwhile in a separate frying pan, melt butter on high heat and then add the mushrooms. Sauté until they are tender, then add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add minced garlic and set aside.
4. Remove the steak from the fry pan and slice into 1/2" inch pieces. Pour red wine into the fry pan that the steak was in to and head over medium-high heat, and then add the Kefir, steak, and mushrooms and onions mix. Pour packet of stroganoff seasoning into mixture to thicket sauce up, or you can thicken it up with flour instead if you'd like, until you get the right consistency. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
5. Place noodles in dish and then pour the mixture on top of the noodles and serve.

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations
Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

 If you love Kefir or want to try some out for yourself, you can save a little by signing up to receive Lifeway coupons HERE.

Kefir Beef Stroganoff Recipe #Cbias #shop #KefirCreations

Why not make an ordinary meal time a little more extraordinary? See if you can make a recipe a little more special with the time and ingredients you use. Celebrate the little things sometimes. ;)

~Melissa

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Comfort Zones and Cool Dinners


When I began blogging a couple of years ago I had no idea what I was doing, I simply found out that half of all of the websites I frequented were actually blogs - and I thought that was pretty cool. Fast forward to today and I really still couldn't tell you exactly what I'm doing here on my little slice of the online pie, but I can tell you that I must be doing something right because I've never been so excited about life. 

I think that coming from a healthcare background, I'd seen way too much sickness and sadness over the past decade, and it really made me take a step back and think about how precious life truly is - how much I want to actively live my life in as many ways possible and to not let my own insecurities get in the way of it. 

One thing that has happened since I began blogging is the number of amazing opportunities that allows me to try new things - see new places, and taste new foods that I would normally had never of ordered for myself. It has also forced me to jump out of my comfort zone by traveling solo in the unknown, attending events without knowing anyone there, having to talk about myself (which I know seems silly since I write about myself all of the time, but words flow so much easier for me when typed up with images that I choose to share). 

It's been extremely rewarding for me both professionally and personally. I've made several good acquaintances and friends. 


I've had the opportunity to attend several events at Whole Foods Market lately. They do an amazing job here to get community involvement together and really have some fun things going on! Thursday evening I was invited to a Brew Dinner with Fort George Brewery and all of the stars aligned and I was able to attend. I live about 30 miles from Portland, so mileage wise it's not that bad, but the traffic can be nasty at times, and unfortunately Thursday was one of them. It took a total of an hour and forty minutes to travel those 30 miles, and I was stressed out because I was going to be late, and I hate being late. It's like I get a flashback to my childhood, when I had to stand up in front of the class or something and all eyes were on me.

For a moment I thought about not going. I knew I was going to be at least 15 minutes late for the dinner, but I swallowed my anxiety and plunged forward. I couldn't just not show up after I had RSVP'd. 

I was so glad I went

I arrived during the first course and everyone was seated at a community table and I quickly spotted another blogger that I knew - but there were no seats next to her so I snagged one of the three available ones left. I was greeted with an Artisan Cheese Plate and their Quick Wit beer which turned out to be one of the best beers I have ever had. 


As I sat there and introduced myself to a couple of people, two others came in and sat down beside me and I was so relieved that I wasn't the only one late. I was glad that everyone else seemed to be chatting and I happily listened to their stories.

I like hearing others speak.

The second course was a 3-Way IPA with Scallops, greens and beets in a pea puree sauce. I was a little nervous about it (even though the colors were gorgeous!) but I was pleasantly surprised at the flavors when it was all combined.


Next up was Halibut with tomatoes, potatoes, and sherry bacon vinaigrette paired with a glass of Tripel Au Poivre. I am not much of a seafood or fish eater with the exception of smoked salmon, but the halibut was great because it didn't have a fishy flavor and the sherry bacon vinaigrette with the vegetables was delicious.


Lastly for dessert was a Walnut Stout Float. A vegan chocolate cherry ice cream was served and we poured the stout on top of the ice cream to create a grown up treat. It sounded a little odd to me at first, but when they were mixed together I really couldn't even tell I was drinking a beer float.


When the dinner was over we did a little chatting before heading home.

Sometimes by stepping out of our comfort zones we open up a whole new world of opportunities, like cool dinners. It's rumored that the Whole Foods in Portland will be hosting a dinner event every month with a different company to do food and drink pairings. It's open to whomever wants to come, and it was only $25 total. If you live in the Portland area you should check into it. Who knows, maybe we'll both be chatting over a meal someday.

~Melissa