Hasselback Twinkie with Strawberry Sauce

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Twinkies. I received samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I don't know about you but I've been seeing Hasselback potatoes everywhere on the internet. If you aren't familiar with them, it's a potato that is very thinly sliced, but not all the way through. Then it is baked in the oven. They look really neat and they fan out a little as they bake. Now, how does that that relate to Twinkies? Well, when I was challenged to create a recipe using Twinkies, I immediately thought about how awesome a Twinkie would be if it was sliced Hasselback style with some fresh strawberries stuffed inside. I was right, it was awesome. I decided to take it to the next level though and make a homemade strawberry sauce!

Girls Night Out at P.F. Chang's

Today I'm telling you all about my fun Girls Night Out that was sponsored by P.F. Chang's. Make sure you stick around to the end of the post so you can find how to to enter the ultimate foodie trip to Boston!
We've only got two weeks before school starts. Before all the homework schedule and extracurricular activities have us running around crazy, I thought it was time for a Girls Night Out. I grabbed my two best girlfriends and we headed to P.F. Chang's to try out their seasonal summer menu. This was actually my first experience at a P.F. Changs and I loved it! The seasonal menu is filled with bright flavors that really remind me of summer.
For starters, we tried out the Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Spring Rolls. They had lemongrass chicken, carrots, celery root, cilantro, peanuts, Thai basil and mint wrapped in rice paper.  I loved how bright, light, and refreshing this appetizer was. The spring rolls were served with a sweet chili dipping sauce which I loved!

It was nice to have three of us at dinner so we each ordered an entree and then shared so everyone got to try some of everything. My favorite entree was the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken. The coconut-curry and Fresno peppers really give this dish a spicy kick! I loved the vibrant yellow color of the noodles and chicken from the curry too. I definitely need more curry in my life.

Another big hit at our table was the Orange Peel Shrimp. These are fried shrimp with a Hunan chili sauce and fresh orange slices. I loved the citrus flavor and the Hunan chili sauce was delicious. The shrimp flavor didn't always come through to me, but it was the favorite dish for both my friends.

Lastly, we tried out the Cantonese Lemon Chicken. Think of the lemon chicken at your local Chinese take-out and elevate it to about the 11th degree. Now you are getting close to the Cantonese Lemon Chicken. Between the crispy chicken and the warm lemon sauce, there was a nice strong lemon flavor going on. I love broccoli and so the broccolini salad with the lemon sauce on top, might just have been my favorite part of the dish.

The portion sizes are nice and generous and we ended up having some of everything left to take home. Of course, you have to end your meal with a fortune. I guess I had better get practicing the piano!

We paired all of our dishes with water since we don't drink, but P.F. Chang's has the adult beverage pairings for all of their seasonal meals. They even have a few cocktails just on their seasonal menu. You can check out the Pink Cherry Cosmo and the Spicy Paloma on their menu.

P.F. Chang's is giving away a trip for two for Boston! You can also win one of 25 $100 P.F. Chang's gift cards for sharing the contest with two friends. It's really easy to enter the contest. Go to the contest page, fill out the form, and fill in the blanks to this sentence: P.F. Chang's Asian-inspired dishes go with craft beer like ________ and ________! Here's an example sentence,   "P.F. Chang's Asian-inspired dishes go with craft beer like Cats and the Internet." The contest runs from July 11 - August 18 so hurry and enter!

Good luck to you all! The best pairing wins, so get creative.


Summer Fun: The Cookie Doughjo +Giveaway

This summer is just flying by for us! I'm trying to find a fun mix of outings with independent play. Unfortunately it's 110 degrees outside, so I can't really just shove the kids outside and tell them to go play. This has led to a lot of summer movies and activity classes. Last week, Vanessa from See Vanessa Craft was kind enough to invite us to the Blogger Night at Cookie Doughjo, a new bake shop, where your kids do the baking! How cute is that name?

You can sign up multi-week classes, just a single class, or even walk-in and make cookies on your schedule. I do not do a lot of baking in the summer, remember that 110 degrees I told you about. This was so fun for the kids to go and make their own cookies, and it didn't even have to heat up my house!
To try and avoid total picture overload, here's a collage of our cookie making.

The gals at the Cookie Doughjo came around and brought the different ingredients to the kids and then the kids mixed them all together. The kids got to scoop their own cookies and then they added M&Ms. While the cookies were in the oven, the kids got to color and decorate their cookie box. My kids had a lot of fun with that!

The employees were so nice and sweet with the kids. They were also there to help with anything the kids needed. Creaming together butter and sugar by hand can be a challenge for a 6 year old! For next time, I think it would be nice if the kids could measure their own ingredients. I don't know if that's realistic or not, but it would be fun to add in that math element to the experience too.

I asked both kids what their favorite part of the whole experience was. The 8 year old liked putting the M&Ms on the best. The 6 year loved scooping the cookies on the tray. That's funny, I thought for sure they would both say, "Eating the cookies!"

The Cookie Doughjo is located in Peoria, AZ at Beardsley and Lake Pleasant Parkway. You can visit the Cookie Doughjo website to get all the info on classes or walk-in sessions. Oh and the Cookie Doughjo offers birthday party packages too. All the fun of a baking party with none of the dishes. Sounds like a win/win to me!

Giveaway time. You can enter to win two classes at the Cookie Doughjo plus an apron. Enter below in the rafflecopter form. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: We were invited to a complimentary cookie making session at the Cookie Doughjo. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Patriotic Wedding Part 2

As promised, here are some more pictures from my sister's beautiful July 4th wedding. The wedding colors were red, white, and blue. The whole wedding was just a wonderful patriotic affair. I have lots of varied details to share from the popcorn bar to the star luminaries so stick with me!

When guests arrived, there was a table for gifts and this neat wedding cake card box that my sister crafted.
We took a set of nesting boxes and painted them white and added lots of iridescent glitter. The bottom tier had a hole cut for the cards and a rhinestone trim was added to give it a finished look. A fabric rose trim was added to each layer and a heart topper put on top.

Wedding Mad Libs - Wedding Activity

Over the next week or so I'm going to be showing you some of the fun details from my sister's wedding. She was married on July 4, 2013 so the whole wedding was red, white, and blue! Everything was so beautiful, classic, and fun all at the same time. I was so honored to be able to help out with a few details in the wedding.
Today's post is going to be about the Wedding Mad Libs that we did. It was a fun way for the bride and groom to get some funny thoughts and advice from the guests. It was also something fun for the guests to do in any down time. The cards and pens were at each place setting when the guests came in to the reception .

Wedding Mad Libs

Office 365 from GoDaddy - small business tools + Giveaway

This post brought to you by GoDaddy. All opinions are 100% mine.
*Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end!*
Things have been so busy at my house. The kids are out of school, I'm trying to blog, and oh yeah I'm writing a book. :) There will be much more information about that soon! I have found that I am having a hard time being productive. I really needed a better way to make the most use of my time. Enter Office 365 from GoDaddy.
I'll let you watch the video first and then tell you what I'm loving about Office 365.

Here's some of the features I appreciate most:
  • Synch email, contacts, and calendars across all devices. Currently I do a lot of work from my desktop, phone, and laptop. I love that everything can be synced up. 
  • Online meetings, screen sharing, and video conferencing. I do most of my communicating online, and this is great for collaborating with other bloggers, PR reps, and my editor. Email is great but sometimes you just need to be able to show someone your screen or talk to them in real time. 
  • 25 GB of storage space. It's so important to have an offsite back-up of your work! I try to have my original photo/document, a back-up to an external hard drive, plus something offsite too! Plus when you use GoDaddy storage space, you will have access to your files from anywhere.
Office 365 from GoDaddy is really geared towards small business owners that might not have an IT department. The set-up is fast and easy and they have technical support ready to help 24/7.  You don't have to know how to everything yourself. The tools are familiar so you will be up and running in no time. Successful people know when to bring in help. You can focus on growing your business and GoDaddy can handle a lot of the technical end for you.
As a blogger, I can see so much value in using Office 365. I know lots of crafters that are small business owners too and I can also see how valuable it could be for them too. I really can't think of any business owner that couldn't benefit from the productivity tools available in Office 365.
Giveaway time! So now that you're all amped up to increase your productivity, I'm giving away a 1-year Office 365 GoDaddy Business Essentials plan and a 1-year .COM, .NET, or .ORG domain name registration. Awesome! It's really easy to enter too! Are you small business owner? Leave a comment letting me know how Office 365 can help you better manage your business!
What features of Office 365 from GoDaddy are you the most excited to use?
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25 Spectacular Spinach Recipes

A few years ago I had heard that eating raw spinach didn't have an many health benefits as eating cooked spinach. Your body can't break down the spinach enough to get the nutrients. My mind heard, "raw spinach is useless, don't ever eat it." In my attempt to eat healthier and take better care of my body, I decided it was time to actually do a little research on spinach and get my facts straight!

Turns out what I heard, or thought I heard about spinach had a sliver of truth, but was mostly wrong. Cooking spinach will get you three times the health benefits of raw spinach because it is broken down and easier to digest. Raw spinach is still good for you.  However, it looks like the very best way to eat spinach is in raw juice form, like a green smoothie. If I had to guess, I would say that juicing it breaks the spinach down even more making it easy to digest.

Here is one more little tidbit about spinach. When you are choosing your spinach, pick small tender leaves. Larger leaves have a greater likelihood of being stringy or tough. Oh and one more thing. Freezing spinach can cut down on the nutritional value, so buying fresh and using right away is the best best.

After I did my research, I thought it would be a good idea to round-up some spinach recipes. So here are 25 different spinach dishes you could make.