Sunday, July 28, 2013

Inside Out BREs

I know this has been on Pinterest and craft/design blogs before, but I thought I'd share my own creation here.

Lots of business reply envelopes have really cool patterns inside -- for security purposes. I get business reply envelopes from one business with this very cool pattern inside. I decided to deconstruct them and turn them inside out.

The final product is a really cool-looking design.

Hopefully the recipient will enjoy receiving this quick note inside a cool envelope as much as I enjoyed creating it!

When was the last time you mailed a card, note or letter to someone? Do it! It will make your day and theirs, promise!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini

I took advantage of having the house to myself last night and hosted an amazing, incredible and awesome evening with about 20 friends. It was so easy and casual and I loved every minute.

I asked everyone to bring something to drink or something to eat, but to not let lack or time to do either to stop them from coming. I did worry a bit that the ratios wouldn't work out, but it all ended up perfectly -- with an abundance of food and drink, even though a few people did indeed come empty-handed. (I was SO glad they just came!)

I, myself, didn't have time to get to the liquor store so offered up some wonderfully cold water that had been marinating (?) with sliced cucumbers for the day. (One of my favorite things about going to a spa is the wonderful cucumber water--why had I never done this at home before?) I also had time to put together a quick and delicious appetizer.

I had pears, goat cheese, honey and olive oil on hand. On my way from work to the Metro I stopped by a bakery and picked up a baguette. (Then spent my Metro ride wondering where that amazing smell was coming from! Silly me.)

It was easy and delicious. By the end of the evening, the pears were turning a bit brown, so this isn't really something you can put together in advance but it only took me about 20 minutes start to finish, including about seven minutes in the oven.

Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini
Slice baguette, place slices on a cookie sheet.
Brush or drizzle slices with olive oil.
Toast in oven until warm and a bit crunchy.
Move to serving plate, top with goat cheese, then a thin slice of pear.
Drizzle with honey.

Absolutely delicious!

Well beyond the yummy food and drink, I was so grateful to have a houseful of awesome women I'm lucky enough to call friends -- and to meet a few new ones! Good for the soul.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

REAL® Seal Challenge: Creamsicle Float

Isn't it funny how sometimes things from your childhood which loom so large as the best thing ever don't live up to your expectations as an adult? Take creamsicles for example -- orange popsicles filled with ice cream (or perhaps an ice cream-like substance?!) just aren't the same as they used to be.

So when REAL® Seal asked me to participate in a recipe challenge using REAL® Seal ingredients, and offered me a gift card to pay for them, and then Lucas suggested ice cream floats, I wondered if I could recreate -- and perhaps even improve on -- my fond memories of creamsicles.

And oh my goodness, I sure did!

These creamsicle floats have been the begged-for dessert in our house over the past week. They are delicious and the perfect treat for the oppressive heat wave we've been experiencing in Maryland.

I bought a six-pack of those adorable mini cans of soda, in orange flavor, of course. Then I scoured the ice cream section for a brand with the REAL® Seal.

Here's the quick and easy recipe:

Smiling Mama's Creamsicle Floats
Scoop one scoop of ice cream into a glass.
Add a few ounces of orange soda.
Top with another small scoop of ice cream.
Add straw and spoon and enjoy!

We eat a lot of dairy in our house. Our milk is delivered fresh from a local farm in throw-back glass bottles. But we buy our yogurt, cheese and ice cream from the grocery store. I know my kids are getting delicious, healthy milk and I want to make sure that the rest of their dairy is high quality as well. When Lucas was a toddler, I used to think that he subsided on cheese and yogurt alone. Now Nathaniel is the picky one who eats yogurt daily -- and often multiple times a day.

I never knew that the REAL® Seal is a really easy way for me to know that products we buy are from 100% US cow milk. Products bearing the seal must must meet specific guidelines and be certified by their dairy processing or food manufacturing companies.

And I'll be honest, as a full-time work-outside-the-home mama to two crazy boys, uber-involved community member and blogger, I don't have a lot of time to put together fancy, complicated desserts. I mean, we're lucky to get a well-rounded dinner on the table every night. And because dairy is such a huge part of our diet, I'm grateful to know that the REAL® Seal gives me assurance at a quick glance in the grocery store.

So, here are a few things I love about these creamsicle floats:

  • I can feel good about the quality of the REAL® Seal ice cream.
  • Even though I just used a few ounces of orange soda, the boys feel like it's the most exciting thing ever because they are getting soda.
  • They can be put together in just a few minutes.
  • They're amazingly refreshing and, of course, delicious.
  • Any excuse to use jelly jars and paper straws to make them feel extra-special is a WIN for me!
  • And, finally, it's such a treat to see my kids enjoy something similar to such a strong childhood memory for me.
This is one satisfied customer!
Thanks, REAL® Seal for helping this busy mama feel good about our family's dairy choices and for funding this recipe challenge which was a fun trip down memory lane for me and hopefully is helping to build some fun childhood memories for my kiddos, too.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!