LOVE LANGUAGE WITH FAGE®

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This scene is sponsored by FAGE®, but it was a real moment documented at our home;)

Int. House-MOTHER’S DAY


MOTHER

Hayden, what is your favorite thing to do with Mommy?

HAYDEN

Um…what does that mean?

MOTHER

If you could do one thing with just mommy today, what would that be?

HAYDEN

Let me show you.

EXT. HOUSE- PORCH

Hayden takes his mother’s hand and leads her outside to the patio. Points to the outdoor couch.

HAYDEN (CONT’D)

Sit down right here. 

Mother sits.

HAYDEN (CONT’d

Let’s eat oatmeal right here. With yogurt. 

END SCENE

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Most weekdays, after his dad and brother leave, Hayden and I have our special moments. Sometimes eggs and toast, but more often than not, oatmeal. Even if we’re rushed, I grab an oatmeal packet (yes, I use instant often #busymom), boil water, cool if off with a large dollop of Greek yogurt and fruit. I think there’s lots of reasons he loves this. He gets to help me “make” it, even though it’s just combining a few ingredients. And I’ll have my coffee, he has milk. We cheers to the day, say our thanks and he talks. “Remember mommy? Remember yesterday when Hucky was here and….” 

If I grab my phone for something, he takes my face in his hands to let me know this is his time. I got that memo and honor that. Of course, we have moments all day everyday…books, learning our letters and walks and outdoor time and family time, etc. But I know he loves this breakfast time in the morning on the weekdays. It’s our love language. Sounds stereotypical that a boy’s love language is food…. starts early, I know! It may be more that toddlers like structure and habitual activities; Hayden is no exception. 

If you follow my stories, you’ve seen Hayden begging me for yogurt in the morning. It’s pretty funny how excited he gets over yogurt. Specifically FAGE® Greek cause that’s what we keep stocked. And that is actually an understatement… he and Huck beg for it for lunch and dinner, too. FAGE® is so creamy and rich in taste, it’s often dessert for our family. I appreciate FAGE® is Non-GMO Project Verified and all natural, no added sweeteners, no preservatives. All of FAGE®’s products are verified through the Non-GMO project, which offers the highest level of transparency about GMOs. I know exactly what -and what isn’t- going into my little boys’ bodies, and my body!

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I incorporate yogurt in so many dishes. Substituting yogurt in a recipe can lower the fat substantially. From simple things like oatmeal (pictured here), to taco dinners, baked potato (my personal favorite), lasagna and obviously desserts (angel food cake - or biscuits- with FAGE® yogurt and strawberries. Name something better in life!). Scroll down for the recipes. Substituting Greek yogurt in many recipes lowers the sugar and raises the protein (and LOVE) for your family. You can use FAGE® plain to replace butter, sour cream, oil, shortening or milk! I keep FAGE® plain fat free yogurt in our fridge, as well as the 30% less sugar split cups. I also brought a bunch to the boys’ birthday party last weekend. I liked the option to have this for dessert for people that didn’t want to eat cake, but I did NOT expect them to all be eaten. Every single split cup was gone! 

So… if you’re a regular here on the blog, you’ve heard me talk about FAGE®- have you tried it yet? What recipes do you substitute in Greek yogurt? Would LOVE to hear.

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Also, another fun summer idea I learned from FAGE®—- add yogurt to an icing dispenser. Squeeze the yogurt into the opening of raspberries, then let them freeze in the freezer to make frozen yogurt pockets!

See below for other recipes!

light yogurt lasagna
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CALIFORNIA GROWN

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Growing up in the south, we took a lot of pride in our home state of Texas. I could (kinda) draw the shape of my state about the same time I could write my name. Texans love the shape of their state, if you haven't noticed. There's a Texas shaped potholder in every kitchen in that state! In 7th grade, we studied Texas history and I wanted to know everything I could about our great state.  The wildflowers (I would "flower press" the Indian paintbrushes and bluebonnets to glue to homemade cards!), the smell of BBQ floating through the humid Texas air when we would walk our neighborhood at night, the Alamo, TexMex (it’s a very special kind of Mexican food)…. I could go on, but you get my drift. 

So, I want my children to have the same relationship with California, their home state. It’s a special place with so much to offer. California has given me my life in a way…. many gifts. My university education, my career, my family….and amazing food and drink! Can we say Napa Valley wine and olive country? Avocados, berries, vegetables… ok, you get it. And I didn't even mention the gift of the ocean! But seriously, if you are purchasing California Grown products for your family, it’s a good thing wherever you are.

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We recently enjoyed a day at the Farmer’s Market. Have you done this as a family? It’s really fun…but beware, the kids want to eat and touch EVERYTHING. My goal was to show the kids how rewarding it is to go and personally meet the farmers that helped grow, harvest and pick the food that was going to be on our tables. I believe in buying locally grown food. Even in the heat wave we are currently experiencing on the west coast, I prefer the outdoor farmer's market. So, continuing part of the wellness series on the blog, today we're encouraging eating pure, clean and fresh. 

I could go into all the benefits for the environment (less pollution and byproduct shipping), so pat yourself on the back for doing something good for all of us, but specifically, I like the benefits for the family. I get a more intimate look at the food that will be going into my children’s bodies. And mine! California Grown for me means that it's fresh. It hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse somewhere being preserved, which in turn allows us more of the nutritional benefits. 

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We had one goal that day: making salads from scratch! Don’t laugh. I know that sounds silly. It’s a salad! But for a 6 year-old and a 2 year-old (that follows the leader), it was a fun endeavor to go find the green fluffy lettuce, kale, the cucumbers, carrots, berries, etc. Huck took samples from several California Grown olive oils (we met the people that made it and they explained the whole process). Huck found a “spicy” one (Jalapeño) and thought his dad would like it. I explained we’d use this home grown olive oil on our salads later. It's amazing. When you use FRESH INGREDIENTS, simplicity is the key. Each commodity has so much flavor, you don’t need any tricks or additional products. Simple, straightforward, clean ingredients make the taste buds sing! Tomatoes, pine nuts, avocado, parmesan, lettuce and cucumber with a drop of fresh Jalapeño olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and ground pepper. WOW. (for extra credit, I finely chop the lettuce. AHHH. The best! And I like to aggressively "massage" the kale to soften it before I finely chop.) If you guys have a special salad recipe, I would love to hear it. I recently incorporated grapefruit in this same salad and it was marvelous.

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And all the berries! The blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. We’re making  a berry salad and adding homemade whipping cream to it!  (I think we’re throwing in some peaches, too). The kids and I literally wash the berries and Huck drizzles a bit of the cream over it. If it's a dessert salad, add a bit of brown sugar. (And if it's basically for dessert, add a slice of angel food cake. Too easy!) That's it!

My desire to learn about the different parts of our great country hasn't ceased as I get older… each state has so much personality and specific gifts it offers. What’s the best thing about your state? What is your favorite locally grown product(s)? Is that something you value? What should I try to purchase from your state or at least try when I’m there next? 

To my boys’ home state, (and my honorary home state) I must say, thank you for the love, California! We love you right back. And we support CaliforniaGrown.org. I am so happy to partner with you for this wellness series to share this love!

ps- for those of you that are curious- my dress was just restocked in all sizes;)  I'm wearing a size small. 

And also, thanks for all the support you all showed about B&B. I'll be writing about all that very soon. 

xoxo

AAJ

SHARING MEALS: RECIPES FROM Y'ALL

photo: Mattheus Spinelli for our Thanksgiving dinner with Grub Market

photo: Mattheus Spinelli for our Thanksgiving dinner with Grub Market

With three growing boys in the house (yes, I'm counting Joel, too!)-- it seems I can never get enough ideas of easy ways to create a meal. I'm hoping to start a whole new section of this blog in 2018 with interactive ways to share ideas on cooking. After discussing the slow cooker in these posts HERE and HERE,  I loved getting emails, DMs and comments from some of you with your favorite recipes! I'm sharing a few of them below! If you have one you'd like to share, please send to me in the comments section below or email it (with a picture, if you have one!) in the comments section. THANKS EVERYONE!


FROM MARY B.

PORK CHOP WITH MUSHROOM SOUP

- 4 pieces of pork chop
- Large can of Cream of Mushroom soup

I use about 16 oz. of the cream of mushroom to cover the pork chops and cook on high for 4 hours and then serve it with rice (pilaf, etc.). So easy and my husband and kids love it!

Thanks for sharing your chicken taco recipe. My daughter wolfed down the tacos! For the tortilla soup, I added the below ingredients to the remaining salsa since we like more veggies in the soup (still easy):
- 1/2 ts pepper
- 1 ts ground cumin
- 1 can chicken broth
- 1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
- 1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Cook on low for 4 hours and then add remaining shredded chicken and cook for another 30 mins. Serve with tortilla strips.


From AMY B.

One of my fams current faves: Healthy, super easy, super yummy: CHICKEN ROPA VIEJA

Ingredients
1.5-2 lbs chicken (I use breast)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 TBSP oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 med yellow onion
1 med green bell pepper
1 med red bell pepper
One 15 oz can diced tomatoes
3 TBSP tomato paste
Salt to taste (I actually don't put any in)

Instructions
Trim fat off chicken, place in bottom of slow cooker. Mince garlic (though I cheat b/c time and use already minced), put on top of chicken. Sprinkle oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, and pepper over chicken. Slice onion and peppers into strips, place on top of chicken. Add can of diced tomatoes w/juices, dollop tomato paste on top. Cook on high 4 hours. Shred chicken, stir all together. Serve in a bowel, over rice, or in a warm tortilla.


Name: Susan K.

Message: Hi Ashley -
Wanted to share a super simple Crock Pot recipe my kids love....

Slow Cooker BUFFALO CHICKEN SANDWICH

Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (@ 17 oz bottle of your favorite buffalo wing sauce- divided)
1/2 of a 1 oz package dry reanch salad dressing
2 tablespoon butter
6 of your favorite rolls (whole wheat, whole grain or plain hoagie)

Directions:
Place clean chicken breast into slow cooker and pour 3/4 wing sauce and the ranch dressing mix. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Once chicken has cooked, shred the chicken finely with two forks. Add the butter and mix well.
Pour over rolls and serve.

A great "game day" party meal - I add a salad and your done.


 

 

 

If I can make it....! The easiest recipe.

I recently wrote a post about the re-discovery of the slow cooker. I'm continuing that thought process here...IF I CAN MAKE IT, SO CAN YOU! My mom makes a roast with carrots and potatoes for the family. Joel has his own version. I now have mine. I had no idea how easy it was to do (sad to say, I realize) with a slow cooker! The meal always looked so much more complicated than it is. So, recipes on this blog are really for people like me -- if you are a seasoned chef/cook, this will seem too basic! Greatest part of it all is that you can prepare it so quickly, then leave the house and it's done when you return. Joys of slow cookers. If you're only cooking for 2 people, you can easily cut the recipe down and cook it for a shorter period. The pot will (should) turn itself to warm at that point and it'll be ready when you get home! 

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EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING ROAST

You'll need:

  • 3-4 lbs of meat (I like the leaner cuts- for our family we used 3 lbs.)
  • 3 potatoes sliced (we bought a bag of small ones and cut in half)
  • 3 carrots (or a bag of baby carrots)
  • 1 stalk of celebry
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 small can of Rotel (optional)
  • salt and pepper

If you look at our pictures, we're the lazy preparers! We barely chop anything. We put the carrots down first directly in the pot of the slow cooker (we use this version of the slow cooker ---on sale right now), then put the meat directly on top. Wash all veggies before cutting. Add the potatoes, celery and onion. Salt and pepper (I'm generous with the pepper). Then, empty the can of rotel on top (you could do this half way or from the beginning). Cook on low for 4 and half hours. That's all we did. Joel likes to test the temperature of the meat to make sure it's thoroughly cooked. 

And, of course, this makes excellent leftovers! Sometimes it's better the second day! Scroll through the gallery of pictures below to see more. Oh and ps- Joel wanted two options for the pot inside the slow cooker. So he bought this one we used today to have on hand....ceramic white insert.

.....and last but not least- I'm collecting recipes you all have sent via DMs or emails or comments here on the blog. Stay tuned for post written by you all. I love sharing recipes now, so this is really fun for me. 

xoxox


 

RECENT POSTS:

 

 

 

SLOW COOKER EASY RECIPES!

Hello!! A quick couple of things... I've started wanting to cook more, but a) am not great at it and b) hard to find the proper time needed. If you follow me on INSTAGRAM and watch the stories, you've seen us trying out new things in the kitchen... from Hello Fresh delivery system to the slow cooker. I've trying to learn the best new ways to be time efficient and healthy. I'm not so good at it all, but the intention is there! I recently discussed it all in a new column for Soap Digest, too. ps-This post was suppose to go up over a week ago. Somehow, it never got published. So, forgive the delay, please, and thank you for your patience. 

Photo by  @Ographr

Photo by @Ographr

My girlfriend Willa Ford (@wfordinteriors) shared these simple gems with me below. I'm just starting out discussing more food items on the blog, so bear with me here. Not caught up yet on great photos and such, this is a work in progress. If you're well versed in the kitchen and with the crock pot type dishes, this may seem remedial. But, maybe you'll find a new twist on an old faithful recipe. Hope so!

SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS - so easy, it doesn't seem right.  You will need:

  • 4 chicken breast

  • 2 large jars of Pace Picante Salsa

  • tortillas

  • Your favorite toppings-- mine are shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, low-fat sour cream, diced avocado

Put chicken breast on bottom of slow cooker. Pour the salsa on top. Cook on slow for 8-10 hours or high for 6 hours. If frozen, cook on slow for 12 hours.  Remove chicken when done and shred in a different bowl. 

Make tacos as usual. I can't get enough of these. It's so easy and the salsa gives you so much bang for your buck!! Tastes much more gourmet than it is.

For extra credit: Use the juice left to make chicken tortilla soup. Add potatoes, carrots to thicken soup. Cook another 3-4 hours. 

MEATLOAF 

  • 1.5 lbs of ground beef or turkey

  • French onion soup packet

  • Chicken stock

  • Bread crumbs

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp of minced garlic

  • Chopped onion

Mix all ingredients together. Make two smaller long dome shaped loafs. Put in crockpot. Smother the tops with ketchup. Cook on slow for 6-8 hours. Voila! 

Here are two options (high and low) for slow cookers:

 

I will be adding more recipes! I enjoyed getting recipes from you all, so I added THIS POST.  I'd LOVE to SHARE MORE OF YOUR favorite slow cooker recipes and photos of the finished meal. Please feel free to contact us sharing your favorites (or post in comments below). Happy Weekend!