Learning to Love Veggies with Litehouse Foods #SeetheLite

Litehouse Foods is an iConnect: Influencer Management client.

I don’t typically eat vegetables. Well, not willingly anyway. So when I was invited to Philadelphia last week to learn how to lighten recipes for the July 4th weekend with Litehouse Foods, I was excited that their yummy dressing would be involved. Because frankly, I knew the veggies were coming.

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Knowing a food demo would be given by a registered dietician, I was correct in assuming our good ol’ green friends would be key to the menu. But much to my surprise, the cauliflower buffalo bites demonstrated looked nothing like a vegetable!

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If you’re still with me-I could easily pretended to be a veggie-lover so how about some props for honesty?–and I can’t get past the fact than my favorite veggie is now considered a starch (freakin’ corn) then check this out. Litehouse Foods has an entire recipe section on their website for “buffalo” foods that pair nicely with Litehouse Blue Cheese dressing.

AND I ate (and enjoyed) kale salad at the dinner. Perhaps there is still hope for me yet?

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I also learned that Litehouse Foods dressings can be found in the refrigerator section where “it belongs.” I tried both their Blue Cheese and Ranch dressings and later discovered why they were so good. One word. Buttermilk!

The event was a great way to catch up with new bloggers and meet with representatives from the brand which is always a pleasure. While the company is owned now by employees, Litehouse Food began as a family-owned business in Idaho. I love a brand with roots that makes it obvious the product is a quality one that is created with love.

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Thank you Litehouse Foods for the opportunity to learn about your dressings and for allowing me to spread the word. And for having cookie dough desserts on the menu.

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Guest post by Cecelia Mecca. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @CeceliaMecca.

Cure the Cravings with SNICKERS Crisper

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and sponsored by SheSpeaks/MARS. All opinions remain 100% my own.

Hi. My name is Bridgette and I am a chocoholic. While I do my best to eat sensible meals, I always seek the satisfaction of chocolate after finishing my plate. I blame my Grandma who always served a delicious dessert immediately following every meal. As you can imagine, this habit may not be waistline friendly but I have a secret weapon.

Fun Size Chocolate Bars.

Best.Invention.Ever.

Snacking on just one small fun size bar usually does the trick and keeps my chocolate cravings at bay which is much better than diving into a giant piece of chocolate cake. But what about the days when you need a crunch, too? Fortunately, when hunger invents new problems, SNICKERS comes to the rescue.

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The geniuses at SNICKERS recently launched the new SNICKERS Crisper! It’s is a delicious combination of crisped rice and peanuts topped with a layer of caramel and coated in creamy SNICKERS Brand milk chocolate.  You get all of the yummy chocolatey goodness with a satisfying crunch, too!

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And the best part? They come in many different sizes to proportionately satisfy your specific hunger. Are you HANGRY? Grab the SNICKERS Crisper Single. Need a snack as you run out the door? Try the SNICKERS Crisper 4 to Go. Or just have a chocolate craving? The Fun Size is a great option for you (and it’s only 100 calories)!

Check out all of the SNICKERS Crisper offerings at Walmart stores or at Walmart.com. These will make a perfect addition to the perfect Easter basket!

New Orleans Welcomes Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse

Tonight, we had the pleasure of being some of first guests of the newest restaurant in New Orleans, Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse. Located inside the JW Marriott hotel on Canal Street, Fogo de Chao offers a truly unique dining experience. From the beautifully appointed decor to the Brazilian trained gaucho chefs, you immediately feel a sense of hospitality when walking through the door.

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After being seated (I recommend requesting second floor seating so you can take advantage of the balcony views) and a quick explanation of how the dinner would flow, we headed to the centerpiece of the restaurant, The Market Table. Immediately, you will notice the colors of the offerings as the market table is almost a work of art.

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A spread inspired by the grand kitchen tables on the farms of Southern Brazil where family and friends gather to share the finest and freshest from their harvests. We bring you seasonal salads, irresistibly fresh vegetables, imported meats and cheeses, artisan breads and more.

 

My husband and I tried a sampling of many of the foods but my favorite was the butternut squash soup and the brown sugar black pepper bacon while hubby could not get enough of the Feijoada (black bean stew).

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On every table, you will find the “red light/green light” place cards. When you are ready for the gaucho chefs to begin bringing a selection of meats to your table, simply place the card on the green light and get ready to eat!

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Our Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs carefully select and prepare every item before presenting at your table. From the best cuts of meat to the fresh selections of our Market Table, they ensure every bite will be memorable.

With sixteen variety of meats, you are sure to find something (or many things) that will delight. The gaucho chefs bring a cut of meat to your table on a sword and carefully carve it table-side. Shortly after, another chef appears with another selection until you call it quits by turning your card to the red light. We tried sirloin, bacon wrapped chicken, lamb, and pork ribs along with garlic mashed potatoes, polenta and caramelized bananas. Every dish was seasoned beautifully and cooked to perfection (I prefer my meats medium well so they gaucho chef brought selections to our table that were cooked to my liking).

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If you are looking for a unique date night in NOLA, my hubby and I would highly recommend checking out Fogo de Chao!

Get a Taste of the Holidays at Denny’s

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. As a member of #DennysDiners, I am compensated for my time and effort but all opinions remain 100% mine.

In typical New Orleans fashion, I believe we will have another “shorts and flip flops” kind of holiday. Definitely no white Christmas, roasting marshmallows by the fire, or Jack Frost nipping at our noses as the songs suggest for New Orleans residents this season. Because of the warm weather, I am having such a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit!

With two small kids, we are searching the City to find ways to inject some Christmas cheer into our holiday despite the fact we are selecting our tree in tank tops. Fortunately, we found exactly what we were looking for at Denny’s. With three new dishes and a few returning favorites, guests of all ages are sure to feel the holiday spirit at breakfast, lunch, dinner or any time in between.

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As soon as we walked in, my daughter spotted an advertisement for the new Rudolph Pancake Breakfast and told our server that she did not even need a menu because she was eating Rudolph. The dish includes two fluffy pancakes topped with turkey bacon antlers, whipped cream, chocolate eyes and nose, served with two eggs and crispy hash browns (I will admit that I secretly wanted to eat Rudolph, too).

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But after taking a look at all of the holiday offerings, I am a sucker for traditional turkey and stuffing so I knew I had to give it a try. This dish features the finest tender sliced turkey breast, savory stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, served with a choice of two sides and dinner bread….and was delish! While I was too stuffed to make room for dessert, I can’t wait to go back and try the Santa’s Milk & Cookies Shake made with creamy vanilla ice cream blended with tasty sugar cookies and topped with whipped cream and more cookie crumbles. Honestly, I think Santa would love if we left this for him on Christmas Eve.

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If you need a holiday pick-me-up, take the first sleigh to your local Denny’s and try out the new holiday offerings. This special menu is available through January 6, 2016.

Quality Food, Unbeatable Prices at Denny’s

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. As a Denny’s Ambassador, I am compensated for time and effort but all opinions remain 100% mine.

When I say “Denny’s”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me and my family, it is fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon and sweet syrup. But what if I tell you that Denny’s is so much more than breakfast and offers real quality ingredients such as avocado sliced completely fresh in-store, 100% beef hamburger patties and even veggie burgers made with Amy’s® organic grain patties?

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With a husband who is very health conscience, these facts definitely caught his attention and he was ready for a taste test. Scanning the menu for fit-fare items, he finally decided on the Wild-caught Alaska Salmon (which is wild, natural and sustainable) which comes with a side of steamed veggies.  While healthy options can sometimes be bland, hubby (who admittedly is not a huge fan of salmon), cleaned his plate and said the dish was full of flavor and quite filling as well.

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Of course, the kids still opted for breakfast items (who can resist the pancakes, right?). But, I love that they both opt for seasonal fresh fruit with their meals. Denny’s uses completely fresh fruit and rotates the option based on the season. You will find nothing coming from a can in this dish!

Operation “quality ingredient” was a huge success. The meal was delicious, satisfying and fresh. I am sure we will return soon as my daughters spotted the Holiday Menu complete with Reindeer pancakes that peaked their interest. Till next time, Denny’s!

Faster Meal Prep with the Thaw That II

This post is written by Experimental Mommy contributor, Erin. While a sample was received to facilitate this post, all opinions remain 100% honest.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I am horrible about planning dinner during the busy work week. I tend to have so much going on that I wake up, go to work, come home and realize that I didn’t think about what we are going to eat for dinner. After debating with my husband for a while, we finally decide on a recipe at the last minute only to realize that some of the necessary ingredients are still frozen.

I hate to defrost food in the microwave because I feel that it compromises taste and texture. By this point, our only option is running to grab take out.  I’d like to say that this cycle causes us to then think about planning ahead next time, but with such busy lives, that normally doesn’t happen. But now, we have discovered the Thaw That II.

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This product creates a very easy, fool proof way to defrost food in half the normal time.  You simply put the item you would like to defrost on it and let it sit. I recommend flipping the food over every hour or so. This product does not require any electricity, no hot water, no batteries, all you do is simply put a piece of food on it and let it do the work!! My food was defrosted in only a few hours as compared to the old way of it defrosting for a day in the refrigerator.

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Thaw That II has a very small unnoticeable slant to it. The concave thawing surface directs all liquid from the defrosting food to the center and it is naturally collected by the attachable drip-catcher so you don’t have to worry about the liquid from the food all over the place.

 

We used the Thaw That II last week during another forgotten dinner plan.  Our chicken defrosted quickly and thoroughly allowing us plenty of time to prepare dinner before it got too late. The finished dish was very tasty and I did not notice any difference in taste or texture by using the That That II.

The Thaw That II retails for $59.95 and should be a staple in every kitchen!

NOLA Cooking Classes for Kids: A Spoonful of Sugar Sneak Peek

For those of you that know me, it comes as no surprise that I am a novice in the kitchen. I do not enjoy cooking, baking or really anything that involves the stove, oven or mixer. So when my daughter started showing an interest in cooking and asked me to teach her, I did my best not to break out into hysterical laughter.

After taking 5 minutes to show her the extent of my knowledge (boiling water like a boss, making gourmet grilled cheese and brewing one mean cup of tea), I knew I would need to seek help. But in my search for cooking classes for kids in the New Orleans area, the options were extremely limited. Fortunately, A Spoonful of Sugar is opening it’s doors on September 12, 2015 in Lakeview and we are able to get a sneak peek!

Cooking Classes for Kids in New Orleans

A Spoonful of Sugar offers many cooking classes for kids including Mom & Me (ages 4-6), Cooking 101 and 102 (ages 6-12), and Cooking for Scouts to name a few. We opted to try Cooking 101 since even Mom can admittedly use some kitchen skills.

Cooking 101: Learn basic cooking principles. Practice chopping & cutting, measuring & mixing, and safety rules.

When we arrived, the girls were given aprons and name tags and asked to have a sit for a quick introduction. Basic first aid and the importance of washing hands before cooking was discussed followed by a serious talk about knife safety. Once all hands were washed, Ms. Betty and Ms. Daisye introduced the recipe of the day and it’s ingredients.

New Orleans Cooking Classes for Kids

Heading into the kitchen, the girls were excited to be making “Fruit Sushi” which included rice krispie treats, fruit roll ups, strawberries, kiwi and a vanilla drizzle. First, Ms. Daisye taught the girls the proper way to slice the fruit which acted as the sushi filling. I will admit, I was nervous about having my kids handle sharp kitchen knives but I learned that A Spoonful of Sugar uses kid safe knives that were efficient but would not harm the kids if they made a mistake.

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Following slicing and chopping skills, the girls learned how to use a rolling pin to create the base of their “sushi.” After assembling and rolling the sushi, the kids practiced measuring and mixing skills while creating a vanilla drizzle. The finished product was so cute and delicious! My girls had a blast and cannot wait to return. As a Mom, the facility was spacious and immaculate, the staff was very friendly and the activity kept the girls’ attention and interest. I highly recommend it!

Cooking Classes for Kids

A Spoonful of Sugar not only offers cooking classes, but also many options in manners and etiquette, too. Children’s birthday parties will be available and the facility can also be rented for baby or bridal showers.

Kids Cooking Classes

On September 12, 2015, you can join A Spoonful of Sugar for their Grand Opening Fairy Celebration and Open House! Reservations are required and space will be limited so don’t miss out! Details are below!

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Celebrating 41 with #DennysDiners

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Denny’s Restaurants. All opinions remain 100% my own.

After surviving topping the metaphorical “hill” when I turned 40, this birthday seemed like a breeze. Turning the Big 4-0 was such a big deal, that I was looking forward to a more relaxed way to greet 41. I requested a low key, family focused, offline, relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of day and I am so happy that my message was heard loud and clear.

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After sleeping in a bit, I headed to my favorite day spa for a full body massage which can only be described as heavenly. Stopping for my favorite sweet tea, I met up with the family for some window shopping (ok, maybe I splurged on a thing or two) and a delicious lunch. When we returned home, my littles surprised me with a homemade chocolate cake and plenty of very thoughtful gifts when we returned home.

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When time for dinner, I remembered that at Denny’s, not only would the kids be thrilled, but this birthday girl could get a free Grand Slam! Score! I simply could not have asked for a more perfect day. While the hoopla of 40 was certainly fun and memorable, the quality time with my family wins every single time.

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

#YouShareWeShare and Give Back to #NewOrleans

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Subway blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Over the last 7 years here at Experimental Mommy, I have had the great fortune of working with a local charity that I truly admire which is making a major impact in my community.  The Second Harvest Food Bank is leading the fight against hunger in South Louisiana by providing food access, education, advocacy and disaster response. In fact, they supply over 23 million meals to 210,000 people annually, a truly magnificent achievement.
The lazy days of Summer are carefree and allow kids to just be kids.  For some.  However, there are children in my community that rely on the steady meals provided by their schools. When the school year ends, these children no longer have access to hot meals and nutritious snacks. Fortunately, Second Harvest Food Bank supplies Summer Feeding programs at local schools, community centers and camps to ensure no child is left without food.

For all of these reasons, I am thrilled to learn that SUBWAY® Restaurants in the USA and Canada are joining forces with several charities this summer to give back to local communities through the “You Share. We Share.” program.  I could not be happier to see that Second Harvest Food Bank will be the recipient of this generosity in the New Orleans area. The “You Share. We Share” campaign encourages the community to get out and share their weekends with SUBWAY® Restaurants, and SUBWAY® will share right back by donating a percentage of weekend sales, up to $100,000, directly to a local charity in need.

While you are out and about on the weekend (through August 31st), soak up some quality family time at SUBWAY and feel good about helping your community, too! Even better? Find your local SUBWAY® and entice your family and friends by sharing photos of your meal on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #YouShareWeShare.

Learn more about Second Harvest Food Bank by following them on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Subway blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Be a Superhero with Denny’s Fantastic Four

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Denny’s. All opinions remain 100% mine.
It’s summer in New Orleans. It’s hot. Did I mention the humidity? Outdoor activities that don’t include swimming are all but impossible. So, we have taken to air conditioned activities to fill our summer fun.  Our favorites? Taking in a movie and tasting new dishes at local restaurants.

Lucky for us, on August 7th we can enjoy both! One of our favorite restaurants to visit with our kids, Denny’s, is partnering with 20th Century Fox to bring the adventure of the summer movie event ‘Fantastic Four’ to diners across the nation. After being immersed in the movie, you can fly over to Denny’s (don’t forget to wear your superhero cape) and dine on the limited time ‘Slamtastic 4’ menu. Even though the movie is not out just yet, you can taste the new menu offerings now which include themed items such as the Human Torch Skillet, The Thing Burger and the Invisible Woman Slam.

To celebrate the new yumminess and the highly anticipated movie, Denny’s is offering one lucky Fantastic Four fan a trip for two to the movie premiere on Aug. 4!  Simply visit the sweepstakes page before July 19th to enter for a chance to live like a superhero!

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What are you doing to beat the heat this Summer? Do you plan on seeing the Fantastic 4?