Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Brunch Menu

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpringIntoFlavor #CollectiveBias
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

This past Sunday we accomplished something we had yet to do this year – enjoy a brunch on the back deck.  Get ready for a photo overload here because we lucked out and had a gorgeous morning with lots fresh food and colorful flowers.

Meals on the back deck could possibly be one of my favorite things that occur during the warmer months – we break out the grill and use it nearly daily – even for brunch.

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

Another one of my favorite things about the spring and summertime is all of the fresh produce that begins showing up, with all of the naturally vibrant colors.

For our Sunday morning brunch I served:
  • Sweet Potato Hash
  • Fresh Mint Fruit Salad
  • Applewood Smoked Bacon and Ham
  • Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins
  • Eggs ‘n Rings
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Assortment of Fresh Fruit
  • Orange Juice and Coffee

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

Now, don’t ask me where I come up with these ideas, but this Sweet Potato Hash tasted so well and it was quick and easy to make because I used Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries! I love using Alexia products because they are high quality and very versatile - they are great to use for snacks, dinner, and even brunch!


Sweet Potato Hash

What you need:

1 Bag of Alexia Sweet Potato Fries (can also use sweet and spicy)
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
¼ diced onion
Feta cheese
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Begin with cutting Alexia Fries to the size you desire for your hash (or leave them whole!) – I used approximately ½ of the bag for my family. Dice the zucchini and peppers, then add everything except the feta cheese to a cast iron pan and fry over low/medium heat in olive oil until cooked thoroughly and slightly browned. Add the desired amount of feta cheese and serve straight from the pan! The feta gives a nice balance of tangy and sweet to this dish, and everything – even the sweet potato fries – are all natural!

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

Next I made a tasty fresh mint and fruit salad, which can be created with whatever kind of fruit you prefer, but I used:
  • 2 small Red Delicious Apples
  • 1 Bosch Pear
  • ½ cup diced strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup red raspberries
  • Minced mint leaves
  • 1 TBSP fresh lime juice

It was delicious by itself; however it would be really tasty if you topped it with homemade whipped cream!

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

Now for the eggs…I knew I wanted to make something fun for the kids and I have seen eggs inside of onion rings before – but I wasn’t sure what would be the easiest way to create them. After a suggestion from my husband we found a way that worked well for us. 


 Start off with placing the Alexia Onion Rings on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and crack each egg into the center of the onion rings and return to the oven for approximately 10 more minutes, or until the eggs are baked. By cooking the onion rings for 10 minutes first, it heated up the cookie sheet so that when you crack the eggs they will not spread too far and will remain contained inside of the onion ring! I then topped the eggs with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and they were a big hit!

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

Spring time always makes me think of brunch – and I’m glad we finally had the opportunity to enjoy one!

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

What are your favorite things to serve for brunch?

Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad
Spring Brunch Photos + Menu with Sweet Potato Hash, Fresh Fruit Salad and more! #SpringintoFlavor #ad

You can find all of the Alexia products in the frozen potatos section at Walmart!


~Melissa

Monday, April 13, 2015

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining

Compensation was provided by ConAgra RO*TEL via Mode Media 

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

I still can’t believe that we are already well into spring – it seems like just yesterday it was Valentine’s Day! There are quite a few events happening for us over the next month like Noah’s birthday, his preschool graduation, Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and of course Memorial Day – lots of excuses to celebrate!

Noah and Emma will be starting T-ball soon, Anika’s soccer is well underway and the two sports will overlap until the end of May, so I’m hunkering down for 6 weeks of crazy fun. I've been collecting some quick and easy recipes and stocking up on snacks and beverages to have on hand for when parties happen or last minute friends arrive.

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

Planning ahead and picking up a few extra things while shopping really helps me eliminate any last minute anxiety that I may have for parties or entertaining. I always like to have extra food and drinks around, in case the party is bigger than anticipated, or just to have available if a friend randomly stops by for a visit.

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL
3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL
3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

One of the recipes I've found and filed away for future reference is RO*TEL’s Rockin’ Guac – it’s a really easy to make homemade guacamole that  tastes good and seriously only takes a couple minutes to create. You use one can of RO*TEL’s Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies in the recipe which gives the guacamole a little zesty flavor.

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

All you need:

3 pitted and peeled avocados
1 can of zesty RO*TEL Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained
½ cup chopped onion
A squeeze of lime juice

All you do:
Mash the avocados in a bowl, stir in remaining ingredients, then season with salt and pepper.

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

The recipe can also be found on the RO*TEL website, which has a how-to video and other great tips.  I also like to buy a variety of chips, crackers, and other things like carrots and celery to have on hand because they can quickly create a tasty appetizer/snack tray.

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

I have plenty of juice boxes and water at my house, but I like to buy a few special adult beverages drinks to have available for guests (or myself!) and I've recently discovered Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas – if you like margaritas these are a great option to serve quickly with the same great margarita flavor – and it happens to pair well with the RO*TEL's Rockin’ Guac!

3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL
3 Things to Have on Hand For Spring Entertaining #zestyinadash #sp @RO_TEL

So I have chips and crackers, adult beverages, and lastly I know that this sounds ridiculous – but always make sure you have ice! I know many of you have an automatic ice dispenser in your freezer, but for those of us who are behind on the times – always make sure you have plenty of ice on hand to quickly cool down a drink, or to keep food at appropriate temperatures. We make our own ice cubes the old fashioned way, but I like to keep a bag of ice in our second freezer because it’s come in handy more times than I ever would have thought.

Do you have any special recipes that you use for spring entertaining? What is the one thing you always have on hand for guests?


~Melissa
Zest up your fiesta with RO*TEL’s Rockin’ Guac and Bud Light’s Lime-A-Rita.
Bud Light Lime-A-Rita® is a registered trademark of Anheuser-Busch.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

3 Shortcuts Every Parent Needs to do to Make Meal Times Easier

This post is sponsored by Mott's.
3 Shortcuts Every Parent Needs to do to Make Eating Times Easier #Mott'sGood&Honest #ad @motts

I have a confession to make: a few weeks ago I did something terrible – I forgot to add lunch money on to Anika's account at school…a few days in a row.

She came home, slammed her bag down and immediately ran over to our snack cupboard and grabbed some beef jerky and a Mott’s® Snack & Go pouch and plopped herself down on the couch. I asked her how her day was and she proceeded to give me “the look” that pre-teen girls seem to have perfected. “I didn’t have any money on my lunch account, so they would only let me get fruit, salad, and water!”

Oops.

My point in sharing my little mistake is that we all goof up sometimes and forget things (sometimes even when we get an automated call from the school the night before!) and you know what? Life goes on. Unfortunately I’m sure she was a little embarrassed, however no harm was done and I think that it is a good thing for our kids to see that we aren't perfect and that we all are trying our best.

With that being said, I know that I’m a busy mom and there are some little things I do to make things like after school snacks and on-the-go meals a little easier for everyone.

1. Keep a snack cupboard. The first thing I do is stock the snack cupboard – I’m not very good at preparing an after school snack every day for the kids, so I don’t worry about it and leave that up to them. They have their own designated snacks cupboard filled with things that they can get without assistance like jerky, crackers, protein bars, and Mott’s® Snack & Go applesauce pouches. That way they have a variety of things to eat that all provide them with some sort of nutrition – the applesauce is convenient because each pouch is a serving, I can keep them in the cupboard vs. the fridge, and they are an excellent source of vitamin C.

2. Freeze Breakfasts ahead of time. I've talked about this a time or two before; most days the kids are happy with cereal or oatmeal, but on days that we are running late it’s nice to have something available for them in the car, so I always have breakfast bars on hand and will try to keep frozen breakfast sandwiches or burritos that I've made ahead of time that can be quickly warmed up in the microwave. If I’m going to spend any time prepping for meals or snacks, this is the first thing I will do.

3. Make the kids help. Now, I know what you are thinking…this doesn't make it easier! I know that initially it takes more work to teach your kids to help make a few meals and it does take a greater effort on your part – but what you are doing is making an investment towards more free time later on. Teaching kids to make simple things like grilled cheese sandwiches, oatmeal, and pancakes will not only help them learn responsibility, but can help you later on with dinners too. At least a couple of times a month I have Anika in charge of dinner, and she’ll make waffles or soup and sandwiches, and by spending a little extra time teaching her the way to do things, it’s made life a little easier here and there for Wayne and I.

Do you have any shortcuts that help make mealtimes easier for your family?

Mott’s® Snack & Go is the nutritious applesauce kids love in a squeezable pouch they can take with them wherever they go. Mott’s is also the only applesauce brand with Box Tops for Education, helping to support kids’ schools. Visit us on motts.com to learn more.



~Melissa
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Motts® via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Motts®.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How I Keep My Kids Clean and Happy

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PurellWipes #CollectiveBias
How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad

My kids – oh how I love them – those crazy little beings. We fight, we argue, but I’ll never forget these silly little moments when they are in their element – playing outside in all of the glorious dirt and mud and having fun.



You guys know that I’m a nurse, so I know all about germs – but thankfully I don’t let them get the best of me. If I worried about germs all of the time I would go crazy! Thankfully, I too was raised playing in the outdoors and my imagination ran wild in the grassy fields and beneath old plum trees – and you know what? For the most part the saying is true, ‘dirt don’t hurt.’ 

How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad
How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad

However, when the kids clean up I still like having a peace of mind that they are, you know, actually clean, and lots of times I’d keep PURELL® Hand Sanitizer on hand for such jobs, but now there are new PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes which are absolutely amazing! Not only do they clean up dirty hands and faces, but it also wipes away the germs as well and is perfect for those moments when you need to both clean and sanitize your hands.

How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad
How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad

 They are located in the household cleaning aisles at Walmart and come in a 70-count clean refreshing scent canister as well as a 35-count fragrance free canister.

How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad
How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad
How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad
How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad

PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes have been proven to reduce the transmission of germs in households!  A study recently conducted by a leading researcher at the University of Arizona showed a significant reduction in risk of infection with use of PURELL® Wipes in the home at least once per day. Used with or without alcohol-based gel hand sanitizers, a superior form of reducing germ transmission, wipes have the added convenience of removing soils. Wipes are a convenient way to both cleanse the hands and reduce transmission of germs – which makes this mama happy!

How I  keep My kids clean and happy #purellwipes #ad

PURELL® also has a loyalty program you can check out as well as a coupon for  $1.00 on any PURELL® Wipes canister or Save $1.00 on any two PURELL® products!

Kids should be happy and have the freedom to create however they want. Let them play in dirt, fling paint, smash chalk – after all, they are only little once! Do you agree?

~Melissa