Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

I don't know about you, but every time I eat enchiladas, they have meat in them. Either chicken or beef, and I do like them that way.

But I have been seeing so many people talk about how fabulous and delicious butternut squash is that I decided I would try it, along with black beans, in some enchiladas.

This recipe is now a favorite of mine, to make again and again. It is really good, hearty and filling, with a sweet tang from the squash. And it passed a huge test when my son-in-law the true enchilada lover, said it was great and asked for seconds.

Recipe for Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas


1 cup red enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into I/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
1 1/2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup water
10 regular or whole wheat flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
4 tablespoons chopped green onion


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno and cook 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add cubed butternut squash, Rotel tomatoes, black beans, water,  cilantro, cumin and chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

Place about a generous 1/3 cup filling in the center of each tortilla and roll, place on the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with the remaining filling. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
Cover dish with foil and bake until heated through, and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.
Top with green onions and serve.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thomas & Friends Spills & Thrills DVD Review and Giveaway #sponsored

When you have four small grandchildren like I do, you start becoming familiar again with popular cartoons and their characters.

Thomas and Friends are some of their favorites, and it's always a fun time when the kids watch him.

It's all aboard for Spills and Thrills with Thomas and His Friends in this fun, new DVD. Bonus features include Biff Bash Bosh Game, Go Go Thomas! Karaoke Music Video, and Guess Who? Puzzles.
And introducing New Engine Porter!

Your kids or grandkids will enjoy this new addition to the fun filled Thomas &Friends DVDs.

We are giving away one copy of Thomas & Friends Spills & Thrills to one of our readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Feb. 25, 2014 and ends on March 11, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.

* I was provided a copy of this DVD for review. All opinions are my own.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Apple Cake Recipe From Smitten Kitchen

One of my very favorite food blogs is Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman is such an inspiration, and what I love about her recipes is that they are all completely doable, even for beginning cooks.

This recipe for an apple cake is from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Let me just say that I think this is the most delicious thing I have ever baked. This cake is so moist, so full of apple tasting goodness, and it will fill your whole house with the most wonderful scent.

It is now on my list of fall and winter favorite desserts to make. And it's certainly a dessert that would be welcome for a party or celebration of any kind.

Recipe for Smitten Kitchen Apple Cake


Butter or nonstick spray for the pan
6 apples (2 1/2 - 3 pounds) McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups plus 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Confectioners' sugar, to finish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan, or coat it with nonstick spray. Peel, core, and chop the apples into 1/2 - 3/4 inch chunks. Toss them with all of the cinnamon and the 5 tablespoons  granulated sugar, and set them aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, and remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, then scrape down the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Stir in the walnuts if you are using them.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread half the apple chunks over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples, and arrange the remaining apples on top.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean, then transfer to a cake rack to cool.
Cool completely before taking cake out of pan and place onto a serving platter. Dust with Confectioners' sugar and serve.

Serves 12-16



Monday, February 17, 2014

Giada De Laurentiis' Turkey, Kale, and Browm Rice Soup

I love eating vegetables. I love shopping for them too, and I can't wait until warmer weather, and the Farmer's Markets open up again.

Meanwhile, I have found this wonderfully delicious soup from Giada De Laurentiis' new book. Even if you are not a fan of kale, this delicious soup just might change your mind.

This soup is hearty, healthy, and a really lovely thing to make and eat on a cold winter day.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 to 6 large shallots, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 large red bell peppers cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups
  • 8 ounces ground white turkey meat, broken into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 small bunch kale, coarsely chopped (about 4 packed cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrots and bell pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ground turkey and stir until the meat turns white and begins to color very slightly around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the herbes de Provence and stir, 1 minute. Add 4 cups broth, tomatoes and rice. Bring to a boil. Stir in the kale and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with parsley and Parmesan, if using, and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Making A Natural Probiotic A Part Of My Healthy Lifestyle Plan

Even though I still feel young, the reality is that I'm in my mid-fifties now. So I've developed a healthy, everyday morning routine that includes, a glass of orange juice, a women's multi-vitamin, and a natural probiotic that aides my digestive system balance.

I've come to realize that it isn't just one thing that keeps me healthy, but a combination of things that are smart and easy for me to do. I know how important it is to start taking better care of myself if I want to have decades of life ahead of me.

I have wonderful grown children and grandchildren that I want to enjoy for many years to come. And a pretty long bucket list of things I still want to do and accomplish.

For me, a major part of feeling well is having good digestive health. I think we all know what it feels like when our digestive system isn't working properly. Terrible, right?

When I was shopping at Walgreens awhile back, I came across Insync Probiotic. Now, I've used lots of different kinds of probiotics before, but Insync is a #naturalprobiotic.

This is a gradual release probiotic that includes six strains of natural probiotics to help keep your digestive system healthy and functioning.

Our digestive system plays such an important role in our overall health, that I am happy to take my Insync Probiotic caplet every morning. I like that the box includes two bottles, so that when I am done with one, I'll know it's time to head to Walgreens again for another box. No running out of it, like I do with other brands when I am down to my last dose and forget to buy more.  #CollectiveBias                                 

I am so lucky that I love all kinds of fruits and veggies, and eat some every day. They provide fiber that our bodies need to be healthy.

I've learned to love kale, and it's very good in salads, soups, or sautéed with olive oil and a little garlic. And avocados contain healthy fats that are good for us, so I put them in my salad or on my sandwiches whenever I can.

What I choose to eat is within my control, and so I'm really trying to eat a healthy diet because I know how important it is. Eating healthy certainly does play a role in good digestive health, I know how my system gets out of whack when I don't.

I enjoy walking for exercise, but in the winter months, the freezing rain and winds usually keep me indoors. That's one of the reasons I love my yoga so much, I can do it at home or in a class, and it doesn't matter one bit if we are having bad weather.

I've been doing yoga for a few years now, and I honestly can't say enough about how good it is for me. It helps me maintain flexible joints, steadies my balance, keeps me calm, and there are even poses that help you digest your food better.

There is such a difference in how I feel when I take my daily probiotic and do my yoga, that I really try not to skip doing either of them.

I still have to have my early morning cup of coffee with creamer, and I don't want to give that up. But instead of having more coffee during the day, with all that sugar and calories, I've started drinking green tea.

There are lots of different kinds of green tea, and my favorites are with lemon, or mint. Green tea is actually very healthy for you, and offers so many benefits to drinking it.

I slowly cut back on the sugar I added, and now I can drink it and enjoy it with no sugar at all.

Of course, like lots of other people, my New Year's resolution was to lose weight and be healthier.

That went out the door, about three days later, because all those yummy holiday treats were still around, and I couldn't help myself.

That's when I knew I had to take control of my body, and do everything I can to make it as healthy and well functioning as I possibly can.

So, I'm eating better, doing my yoga, drinking my green tea, taking my multi-vitamin, and my Insync Probiotic caplet.

 And my digestive health is really good right now. My tummy feels good, morning and night, and that makes me happy.

If you'd like to find out more information on Insync Probiotic, you can visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Disney on Ice Rockin' Ever After in Sacramento CA Show Review #ad

Disney on Ice Rockin' Ever After is in Sacramento until Feb. 17th. It is the perfect opportunity to take your family to see their favorite Disney princesses and Mickey Mouse. We attended the show last night as our family Valentine's Day activity. We had a wonderful time seeing the show. This winter was the first time my son tried ice skating and went to Disneyland so this show was a perfect family event to go to.

The children attending the show we so cute! Many of the little girls were dressed in Disney character outfits and bringing along their favorite Disney toys. I brought my son's Mickey Mouse ears from Disneyland but sadly forgot it in the car. I know for next time that he can dress up in his Buzz Lightyear outfit and he will fit right in. This show is somewhat geared towards princesses but my little prince had a wonderful time.

The best part of the show for my family was when we first saw Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the crowd went wild. My son was genuinely giggling when he saw Goofy being silly. Having just been to Disneyland my son was talking about each character we saw and the ride or event he saw them at.

My son with his King Triton trident 

Rapunzel from Tangled and Merida from Brave are two princesses that my son considers to be "cool" enough to get excited about. He clapped along with the songs and was wowed by the lights. I thought it was a well put together show that kept the kids interested. I loved the ice skating and my favorite Disney princess, Belle. My favorite scene from Beauty and the Beast where the dishes all come alive was displayed with wonderment. I will never forget what my son said when Beast gifts his whole library to Belle, he said " Mom so sweet!" I love that he was so into the show that he could see the love between the characters in the story. My son does not know about Belle, Beast and Gaston but I am sure after this show I will have to let him see the movie.

The lighting and the props of the show were great. The finale to the show was perfect! This is my first time attending a Disney on Ice show and I highly recommend it for Disney fans. The Rockin part of the show was nice too, they included non Disney music and dancing that had everyone dancing in their seats and many kids dancing in the the aisles. We did sit very far up in the arena seating so I do recommend spending a little more money and get seats close enough for your kids too see the ice skating. We did still love the show from any seat we were in. I think this would be a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day. The show in Sacramento at the Sleep Train Arena will be going on now until Feb. 17th, 2014. You can purchase your tickets from Ticketmaster.

*This is not a paid post. We were guest of the show and was provided tickets to attend.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day Sprinkled Sugar Cookies

On Sunday it snowed like crazy around here. We were totally stuck at home, but when you have treats to eat, a big cup of delicious coffee, and the house is cozy and warm, it really is kind of nice.

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I knew it would be a good day to make these cookies for my grandchildren.

I have made a lot of sugar cookies that weren't all I'd hoped they would be, but this is the best recipe I've ever used. The cookies are moist and delicious, and very easy to make.

The kids loved them and I had such a good time making them. And of course, you can use different kinds of sprinkles for different holidays, they will all look great on this cookie.

Recipe for Sprinkled Sugar Cookies


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large or extra-large egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. Add flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar, and mix until it forms a dough.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of sprinkles, and fold the rest into the dough. On a cookie sheet lined with foil, place heaping teaspoons of dough, spacing evenly.
Press down on dough just enough to get a flat surface. Sprinkle with reserved sprinkles.
Bake in preheated oven 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet before removing.

Makes 18 cookies.



Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day Giveaway: Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection #sponsored

With Valentines Day approaching love is in the air. I love a great romantic movie where it makes you fall in love with the characters and feel heart ache with them. One of the writers that I enjoy for romantic novels and movies is Nicholas Sparks. One of my favorite movies based in his book is The Notebook and Dear John since Channing Tatum is in that movie.

I absolutely love movies, my husband and I watch one together several nights a week. Its our way of escaping life stress for a few hours together. Watching a romantic one together is super sweet!

This Valentine's Day Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing the Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection. Available for the first time in one collection, the gift set features seven films based on the best-selling author’s novels, including Safe Haven, The Lucky One, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle and The Notebook.

You can own it on DVD January 28, 2014 from the WB Shop.

About the Films:
Safe Haven (2013)
This deeply moving romantic thriller tells the story of a young woman’s struggle to find love again after she arrives in a small North Carolina town.
When a mysterious young woman (Julianne Hough, Rock of Ages) arrives in Southport, her reluctance to join the tight-knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex (Josh Duhamel, Transformers franchise), a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and finds she must rely on the power of love.
The Lucky One (2012)
Zac Efron (17 Again) stars with Taylor Schilling (TV’s “Orange is the New Black”) and Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents franchise) in this romantic drama directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks (Shine, 1996). U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq with the one thing he credits for keeping him alive — a photograph he found of a woman he doesn’t even know. Learning her name is Beth (Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.
Dear John (2010)
Directed by Lasse Halström, Dear John tells the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum,Magic Mike), a young soldier home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried,Les Miserables), the idealistic college student he falls in love with during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by John’s increasingly dangerous deployments. While meeting only sporadically, they stay in touch by sending a stream of love letters which eventually triggers fateful consequences.
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
This rich tale of hearts awakening stars Richard Gere (Arbitrage) and Diane Lane (Secretariat). Gere is Paul, a surgeon who long ago unwittingly traded family for career. Lane is Adrienne, a devoted mother trying to move on after her husband’s infidelity and struggling with his desire to return to their marriage. At a remote inn on the Outer Banks, both separately expect to do some serious soul-searching. But an approaching storm forces each to turn to the other for strength, setting the stage for a life-resonating romance.
The Notebook (2004)
The Notebook is a story of lost chances, growing up, and the power of enduring love. Spanning six decades, the romantic story focuses on two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) who fall in love during one summer but are tragically forced apart. When they reunite seven years later, their passionate romance is rekindled, forcing one of them to choose between true love and class order.
A Walk to Remember (2002)
The inspiring coming-of-age story about first love, A Walk to Remember is about two very different North Carolina teenagers: Landon Carter (Shane West, TV’s “ER”), a troubled, unmotivated but very popular student, and Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore,Tangled), the serious and conservative daughter of a preacher. As love pulls them closer, peer pressure and lifestyles seek to break them apart. Directed by Adam Shankman (Rock of Ages), A Walk to Remember co-stars Peter Coyote (Erin Brockovich) and Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill Vols. 1 + 2).
Message in a Bottle (1999)
In this tale of love lost and found, grieving widower Garret Blake (Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves) may know how to build boats, but cannot rebuild his life. Theresa (Robin Wright, TV’s “House of Cards”), a lonely divorcee and researcher for the Chicago Tribune, comes to his North Carolina village to find him, knowing that Garret is the author of the message she found inside a bottle on a Cape Cod beach. And she knows the message spoke to her in a way that profoundly touched her heart. Directed by Luis Mandoki (When a Man Loves a Woman), the film co-stars Paul Newman as Garret’s father.  


Win a copy of Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection for Valentine's Day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 *Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Feb 10, 2014 and ends on Feb. 15, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jungle Book Inspired Healthy Fruit Pizza

I can't really think of any Disney movies that I haven't loved. But The Jungle Book holds a very special place in my heart.

Released in 1967, I was ten years old, and it was the very first movie I had ever seen in a movie theater. We were there to celebrate my best friend's birthday, and the day was completely wonderful.

So I'm super excited that Walmart is releasing The Jungle Book Blu-Ray Combo Pack Diamond Edition, and now I can share it with my grandchildren.

I'm sure they will love this movie as much as I do. And to celebrate it's upcoming release, I thought it would be fun to make yummy, #JungleFresh inspired fruit pizzas. These are healthy, quick to make, and so delicious.

When I went shopping at Walmart for the fruit and other ingredients I needed to make the fruit pizzas, I saw this ad for the release of The Jungle Book, available for sale there on February 11th.
 So exciting!!

Walmart is the only place where you can receive a free Jungle Book Lunch Box with the purchase of the Diamond Edition.

I love that Walmart has such a big selection of fruits and veggies. My family and I eat lots of both, and I'm happy that my grandchildren love fruit, and ask for it often for their snacks.

I knew they would love eating and making the fruit pizzas. They are also a great snack for me, and we can personalize them with our very own favorite kinds of fruit.

I gathered up the ingredients we needed for making the pizzas. I used healthy whole grain pita pockets instead of pizza dough, and they were the perfect size.

I made an easy yogurt based dip to spread on top of the pita pockets. Blueberries are a staple at our house because they are so amazingly healthy for you, and they taste great, too.

Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and kiwi were the other fruits we used, but of course you can customize your fruit pizza with your own favorite kinds of fruit. Shredded coconut and granola are what we used to sprinkle on top.

Just whisk together the yogurt, honey, and brown sugar until smooth. It smells so good!!

Them with a spoon, spread a medium layer of the fruit dip on the pita bread. Add your already washed and cut pieces of fruit, as much as you like, and top with coconut and granola.

This is just like making regular pizzas, but with fruit. And these fruit pizzas are so good and healthy for you. The kids love them, and it's always fun for them to help in the kitchen.

My granddaughter Ashley was happy to be given free rein to make her own pizza, and she used her favorites, blueberries, strawberries, and tons of coconut.

I can't wait to share The Jungle Book with her and her brothers, I know we will have fun watching it together. We will add it to our beloved Disney movie collection that just keeps growing.


Recipe for Jungle Book Inspired Fruit Pizza:


For Yogurt Honey Fruit Dip:
1 cup Vanilla-Honey (or regular vanilla) Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For Pizza:
4 regular sized whole grain pita pocket bread
1 cup (or more) sliced strawberries
1 banana peeled and sliced
1/2 cup small pineapple chucks
1 cup blueberries
1 medium kiwi peeled and sliced
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 granola

To make fruit dip, mix Greek yogurt, honey and brown sugar in a bowl, and whisk until smooth.
Spread dip evenly over pita pocket with a spoon. Cover pita pocket with assorted fruit.
Sprinkle with coconut and granola. Cut into wedges.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Old Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple upside down cake really is one of my favorite desserts. Not only is it delicious, but it holds a happy memory for me, because I remember coming home from school, and my Mom would give me a piece, with a cold glass of milk.

I actually only made this cake a couple of times for my own kids when they were young, but now that they are all grown up, I have more time to bake from scratch.
I know how tempting it is to use a box of cake mix instead of baking from scratch, but it really isn't that much harder, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Anyway, this is a recipe from Martha Stewart, and it's actually quite easy. I've made it a few times and it has always come out moist and delicious.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ready To Win GO SEAHAWKS!!!

I am not a huge football fan, it's really more about the family getting together and eating some really delicious food and acting silly.

But I couldn't let today go by without saying how proud I am of my Seattle Seahawks and wishing them good luck today in the game. The fans here are incredible, and the support for our team is so awesome.

Have fun today everybody, and GO HAWKS!!!!
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