Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Philly Burgers- Hungry Girl to the Max cookbook recipe review

We found another winner in the Hungry Girl cookbook! First and foremost, I could eat philly sandwiches every day for the rest of my life. Like for real, it's almost a sickness. So, when I stumbled across a recipe for Philly Burgers I knew I had to give it a try.

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped green peppers
1 ground raw extra-lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 slices fat-free American cheese

 Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and stir the onion, mushrooms and and green peppers until they are slightly softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer veggies to a large bowl and pat dry. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper to the veggies. Mix thoroughly and form into 4 patties. 

Spray a skillet with non-stick spray to medium high heat. Cook patties 4 to 8 minutes of each side, or until cooked all the way through. Top each patty with a cheese slice and cook until the cheese is melted. 

These were epic. I've tried a lot of different Philly recipes and this was my favorite ever for sure. 
We had these with Sweet Potato fries for a yummy low fat dinner. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Recipe Review- Carmelized Onion Cheese Quesadilla

As you all know, I have been slowly trying some new recipes from the Hungry Girl to the Max cookbook. This is the first time in my life that I have ever counted calories and it did not take me long to realize that trying to cook low calorie dinners is not an easy task!

Last week we tried out a few recipes and I am sharing the ones that we tried and loved. We have actually been marking them in the cookbook with a smiley face if it something we all liked and want to have again.

This one got a big fat smiley face.

This recipe makes one. I just quadrupled the recipe. :)

Caramelized Onion Cheese Quesadilla

1 cup diced sweet onion
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1/4 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican-blend cheese
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese
1 medium- large high fiber flour tortilla with 110 calories or less

Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to a medium-low heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook until caramelized, 15-20 minutes.

Transfer onion to a medium bowl. Add shredded cheese and cheese wedge and thoroughly mix.

Lay tortilla flat and spread one half with onion-cheese mixture. Fold the bare half over and press gently to seal.

If needed, clean skillet. Re-spray and bring to medium-high heat. Cook quesadilla unit hot and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Slice into wedges and enjoy!

 This recipe was so good and I know it’s because of the Laughing Cow Cheese. These quesadillas reminded me a lot of some amazing spinach enchiladas I tend to get at Monterey’s every time I go in there. (Without the spinach obviously) In fact, I think these would be great with some spinach thrown into the mix… and I will have to try that out sometime.

Everyone at the table LOVED these. And since they are low calorie it was an amazing guilt free meal! (292 calories!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Recipe Review~ Buffalo Chicken Portabella Pack~ Hungry Girl to the Max

This week my family is working on trying out a few recipes from the Hungry Girl to the Max cookbook that I picked up last week! I'll be posting the ones that were big hits in our house!

This is a recipe for 2 servings. I just doubled the recipe to feed the four of us.

Buffalo Chicken Portabella Pack

2 large portabella mushrooms, stems chopped and reserved
2 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
3 ounces cooked and finely chopped skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping
Aluminum Foil

Preheated oven to 375 degrees. Lay a large piece of foil on the baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray.

Place mushroom caps on the baking sheet with the rounded sides down.

In a medium bowl stir together the cheese wedges with hot sauce until the mix is smooth and uniform. Stir in the chopped mushrooms stems, chicken, and onion. Scoop the mixture into the mushroom caps. Sprinkle with Parmesan style topping. Cover with another large piece of foil.

Fold the foil together and seal all four edges of the foil pieces forming a well-sealed packet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft and tender.

Cut the packet to release steam before opening entirely.


After we are trying out each new recipe we are marking them off in the book to indicate if we liked it or not. Smiley face or sad face...

This one got a big ole smiley face.

OMG this was amazing. First off, one of my favorite foods in the entire world is stuffed mushrooms.  I had never thought of stuffing large mushrooms, just like I do with the smaller ones.

My kids loved them, my husband loved them... and I could eat them every day. If you like stuffed mushrooms you will LOVE these. And each mushroom only has 131 calories! Score!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Branson Missouri Vacation Days 2 & 3 Recap

Happy Sunday Afternoon!

This is a continuation of a previous blog post from last week, recapping our family vacation to Branson, Missouri.

On Day 2 we woke up bright and early, and headed out to breakfast before starting our next adventure. We decided that we definitely needed to go to Ihop to get a good breakfast to start our day. (Our nearest Ihop is too far away to ever visit for breakfast.) The first thing I noticed when walking into Ihop was the fact that there was guy stationed just inside the breeze way, and he was selling tickets to local shows, Silver Dollar City, etc.  I'm sure some people find this helpful, I found it slightly annoying. So annoying in fact, that I was sure to tell the kids to "look down, make no eye contact!" on our way back out of the restaurant.

Anyway, our meal was pretty delicious. I had a spinach omelet, that was bigger than my face. I only managed to eat about half of it and I took it back to the hotel room to throw away at a later time, since I never had time to finish it.

Next, we headed out to Silver Dollar City! This was another surprise for the girls. We got there on a Wednesday morning around 10 am and that place was already packed. We stood in line to ride a trolley from the parking lot for about 20 minutes. Which wasn't terrible at all.

We spent the entire day at Silver Dollar City. We rode two water rides. The American Plunge was a lot of fun, and was enough to take me scream my head off. Basically, you sit in a fake log and it takes you up in the air, 5 stories before sending you splashing down into water, and soaking you head to toe.  I'm not a roller coaster kind of girl, but I still enjoyed it. My favorite ride was definitely the Lost River of the Ozarks.  This is a six person ride where you sit in a giant tube go on a controlled white water raft ride. I would have seriously rode that one over and over again. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was soaked and it was HOT outside. Another must do is definitely the train ride. But watch out for the train robbers that interrupt your ride! We also spent a good part of the day doing some shopping and watching the on site artists. The girls were particularly amazed while watching pottery being made. The glass blowers were pretty amazing as well. :) We had a fantastic day at Silver Dollar City, but while looking at the website I am realizing there is quite a bit that we didn't do. It would have been worth it to spend two days there.

Here are some items I suggest you take to make your trip to Silver Dollar City more enjoyable.

*Hats for everyone (I think my head was sunburned in the first 30 minutes)
*Bottles of water
*Small snacks (Buying a ton of food from the vendors adds up quickly!)
*Ziploc bags of all sizes. Think cell phones, cameras, car keys, purses. You will want all of these items protected while you are on water rides and Ziploc bags can help get the job done. I wouldn't completely count on plastic bags, but it will help. 
*Change! There are lockers available for the Lost River Ride (and possibly others?) as well as plastic bags for sale. I had NO change when we first arrived I was completely bummed out because I did not grab a Ziploc big enough for my purse.
*Backpack. This would have carrying stuff around a lot easier, I didn't think about it ahead of time and walked around with a reusable shopping bag all day. I would have loved a backpack to distribute the weight more evenly on my back.
*Cash for spending money!
*A camera

After we were done at Silver Dollar City we (six hours was about our maximum), we ran back to the hotel to clean up and head out to dinner.

We grabbed dinner at Joe's Crab Shack at Branson Landing. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, but that was fine. They took my cell phone number to text us when a table was ready and we did some light shopping!

I went directly to $1 Jewelry Amore and stocked up on some cheap jewelry. (I'm a sucker for cheap jewelry.) Here's what I got.

Our dinner was amazing. And seafood just seemed right after a long day of hanging out in the heat. I had the East Coast Platter. The shrimp, crabcake and onion strings were to die for. I didn't have a chance to eat my fish because I was stuffed.

After we finished up we ran back to the hotel room, changed again and headed for the water park. We stayed until it was about time to close, going down the water slide ONE MORE TIME and then went back to the room to shower and crash.  What an exhausting day!

On Day 3, it was shopping day! We got up and packed up all of our stuff that was all over the hotel room and checked out at about 8 am.

For breakfast we accidentally found a Krispy Creme Donut shop. I had a cinnamon bun, but there were so many amazing options. And I'm sure my butt grew considerably while we were standing in line.

After that healthy breakfast we headed out to the Tanger Outlet Mall! Our first stop was the Coach Outlet (of course!). That was the most exciting moment of my life... not really but I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was handed a 50% coupon when I walked in and this just thrilled me even more.

I could have probably spent all day in that store, Rae on the other hand wasn't so excited that I drug her through there. ;) I ended up walking out with a purse and a wristlet for a total of $110.00ish after tax. This is true love boys and girls.

 We also hit up just about every other store in the outlet mall. We managed to score big at the Disney Store, Underarmour, Old Navy and Toys R Us.

We also went back to Branson Landing to eat lunch at Charley's. I had an amazing Cheese steak Sandwich. Cheese steak is my all time favorite food and I've never met one I didn't like.. but this one was definitely my favorite. The Man Child ate there very often when he was stationed in Germany and now I know why he always raved about how amazing it was.

 We did a little bit more shopping at Branson Landing. We visited Bass Pro, Charlotte Russe, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and went back to the $1 Jewelry store. I got an adorable cross wallet for $12.00! (I couldn't bear the thought of using a camo wallet with my pretty Coach purse. haha!)

 Branson is definitely a place where you could just go away for the weekend and spend the whole time eating and shopping.  I obviously didn't start counting calories until after this trip.

Before heading home we had to stop and ride go-karts, just one time. I'm proud to say that Rae stomped her competition.

All in all we had an amazing family vacation. And I know it is one that the girls will always remember!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Burlap Flower Wreath

Hey everyone! I have been dying all.day.long. To show off the fun wreath I put together yesterday. I ran into Hobby Lobby on Tuesday night for the first time in probably a month (gasp!).

Here is what I walked out of there with.

What you will need:
A medium sized grapevine wreath
An unfinished wooden letter
Chevron Burlap ribbon
5 burlap tulips
craft paint... i used Americana Desert Turquoise
Hot glue gun (not pictured)
Twine (for hanging, also not pictured)

I have to say that I am in complete love with these burlap tulips. 

I have never seen them before and thought I was going to die from excitement. Hobby Lobby has a huge selection of burlap flowers. I WILL be back for more. Believe you me. ;)

I started out by painting my wooden letter. When painting unfinished wood I like to lay out some wax paper to use as a surface. It not only keeps paint off my counter, but it also won't stick to the wood like newspaper will.

Next I plugged in my trusty ole glue gun and played out with the layout while it warmed up. I pulled the sticks out of the tulips and glued everything into place.

I wrapped a piece of twine around the top of the wreath to make a loop for hanging. (Make sure you do this before adding the bow.

I cut off a piece of burlap ribbon (about 15 inches long) and formed it into a bow. All I did was make it into a circle by gluing the ends together... And then I punched the middle together and tied it in place with a piece of twine. I hot glued that to the top of the wreath.

Here is my finished project. All together the material cost me less than $25. (I used a 40% off coupon on the burlap ribbon.) Assembly took me about 15 minutes, not including drying time. 

What do you think? Have you tried any fun projects using burlap flowers?

I'm linked up at the Craft-O-Maniac Link Party! Come check it out!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Branson Missouri Vacation Recap Day 1

A couple of weeks ago the Man Child and I took the girls on a fun summer vacation to Branson, Missouri. If you aren't local(ish) to me, then you probably have no idea what I am talking about. 

Branson is a town in Missouri located in the Ozark Mountains. But it is anything but a sleepy little mountain town. In Branson you can do it all from visit amusement parks, see live shows, eat ridiculous amounts of food and do a ton of shopping. 

The girls had never been to Branson and it had been a few years since the hubby and I visited, so it was a fun trip for all! And we had a few tricks up our sleeves for them. :)

When we arrived in Branson, I knew that we could not check into our Hotel until we were done for the day, so we decided to do some sight seeing. 

When you first pull into Branson on the strip, there is something to see from every direction. I did not manage to get a picture of the strip, but here is a picture I borrowed from www.getbranson.com.

 The first thing we did with the girls is take them to visit the Titanic Museum. You can find information on the Museum here.

There is no photography allowed inside the museum. Which was kind of sad, because there was sooo much to see! We did get a shot of the outside before we ran in.

 Once inside we were given cards with information on actual passengers from the trip. This made the tip even more interactive and fun for the kids because they were looking everywhere for themselves.  At the end we found out that both of the girls passengers had survived the crash. Me and Justin's passengers weren't as lucky. ;) We, of course, had to purchase copies of the pictures that the museum staff took of us. I could not find any coupons online for the museum, but I was able to find a coupon for 10% merchandise in gift shop. The coupon was in one of the visitor guide/Branson map brochures.

It was a lot of fun, and we got to see all sorts of neat stuff. If you have a kid that is Titanic obsessed, this is a must do.

After we left the museum we went do went the road to the Hollywood Wax Museum. Here is the outside of the building.

Once inside they take pictures of your family with a giant King Kong Statue. I got a coupon off of the website for a free 8x10 copy of one of the photos.

Here is the one we picked.

I got a ton of pictures inside the museum. You can pose with all the statues, and we posed with just about all of them. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the museum.

After we left the museum we ate way too much food at Olive Garden and then moved on to our hotel.

Here's the deal, the girls knew NOTHING about the hotel we had chosen. And it had been killing me for about 2 months, because I knew they were going to lose their minds. 

While we were driving thru town there was a lot of teasing going on in the car. We told the girls the hotel didn't have a pool, then we admitted they had a pool... but we pulled up next to a hotel with an empty pool... and told the girls that was our hotel and they forgot to fill the pool up.

Little did they know at the time, we booked a hotel with an indoor water park. When we did finally arrive at the hotel Rae read the sign out loud and they both started freaking out. We stayed two nights at Castle Rock Hotel.  Inside the water park they had two water slides, a lazy river, a kiddie pool, an indoor pool and two outdoor pools.

Here's a picture from their website.

We spent the first night in the pools and on the water slides for about 2 1/2 hours before going back to the room and falling into bed face first. I can't even count the number of times the girls thanked us for taking them on vacation. 

That's all for now. I'll get information up about days 2 and 3 in the next few days. :)


Saturday, July 6, 2013

No cost front yard facelift.

Happy Saturday! Thus is what we are working on this afternoon! (and by WE, I mean the Man Child.)
Apparently a previous homeowner decided it was an excellent idea to fill the flower bed with millions of white rocks. 

Like for real, millons of white rocks.  Above is the truck bed being filled with rocks. Pretty huh? My poor husband is hard at working shoveling it all up and grunting ("what are you going to grow in a bed full of rocks, cactus?!") and yes I am being super helpful by supervising, grocery list making and blogging.

Just kidding. After I typed that I threw on my boots and got to work. I helped toss bigger rocks into the truck, washed the shutters and gave the mailbox a quickie makeover. 

It's amazing what a little bit of hard work (and some spray paint) can do...

More to come! <3