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Product Talk: Special K with Red Berries

Special K with Red BerriesSchool has started and that means making sure my kids are getting a nutritious breakfast in the mornings. They’ve never been cereal types…until now, that is.

This year, I introduced them to one of MY favorite cereals, Special K with Red Berries.

They love how the red berries, dehydrated strawberries, plump up when they add milk, but they mostly love the taste!

Special K with Red Berries is a great source of fiber. It’s made with whole-grains including rice and wheat, and does not contain high-fructose corn syrup. At 110 calories per serving, it does not have any fat, and provides a lot of the vitamins and minerals kids need to get going every morning.

Dine In: Steak and Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel Bites

Steak and Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel BitesSchool started this week, and that calls for a celebration, you know, before the weeks wear you out so much that you can only muster delivery pizza on Friday nights.

My boys LOVE this recipe, and I have to admit that I’m a pretty big fan as well. This is a great recipe for kids to help with, as they can roll pretzel balls to their heart’s content. You can swap out the filling ingredients. We’ve tried ham and Swiss with chopped pickles, roast beef with provolone, pepperoni and mozzarella, and scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. Did I mention we like this recipe?

The secret to the pretzel texture of the dough, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, is the boil-then-bake approach. Don’t skip this step, although it is a bit more labor-intensive. The result is well worth it.

Serve with a salad, and these back-to-school bites make a great meal.

Steak and Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel Bites

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for bowl
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 to 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups rare roast beef, coarsely chopped
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbs water

In the large bowl of your electric mixer, mix warm water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, no need to mix. Let sit for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy.

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Family Matters: Mother’s Day Out

Mother's Day OutAt this age, your little one might be ready for a Mother’s Day Out situation. Lots of kids LOVE to socialize with others their age, while others are a little more hesitant to be left alone.

If you have the latter, ease your child into the situation by starting out small, leaving them for small increments of time. I remember leaving my younger son in the gym’s childcare so I could try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout. I also remember the loudspeaker at the gym asking me to return to the child care area before I even broke a sweat. However, we went consistently, and each time, he held out a little longer before he would cry for me. Finally (and it probably wasn’t that long in the great scheme of things), he played happily in the child care and actually got excited when I dropped him off.

My older son never had separation anxiety. He just took to new situations with ease, which is kind of funny considering their personalities today (total opposite of their baby years).

If you’re considering leaving your little one in a social situation, visit the facility and make sure it’s clean; the staff is competent, warm and friendly; and YOU are comfortable with the whole package. Then, take baby by for a visit, staying with them the first time. Remember, they will pick up on your cues, so if you are excited, you might help them feel more at ease.

Then, try to leave them alone. They might take to it easily; they might be nervous at first. You have to get a feel for your little one. In most cases, there’s no need to force the situation. If they hate it, try again in a few weeks.

Family Matters: Talk To Your Baby

Talk To Your BabyMy niece and nephew just turned seven months.

The twins are as cute as they can be and at an adorable age. I loved the time between six and 12 months. Babies are responsive and interactive, and you can really see their personalities emerging.

Emma is pure sunshine. She giggles and laughs, and her blue eyes sparkle. Her twin, Patrick, is much more serious. He looks at you with his big, brown eyes like he’s thinking deep thoughts.

Emma is having babbling conversations with her parents and her big brother and sister. They encourage her by babbling back and talking to her in voices with different pitches and volumes.

Patrick loves peek-a-boo. His big sister, Claire, will hold a blanket over her face and spring out from behind it, shrieking “PEEK A BOO.” Patrick will laugh and laugh.

Babies will also start to understand that different tones of voice mean different things and can start learning a stern “no.”

Your job is to facilitate this conversation with baby, no matter what form it takes. Baby loves the sound of your voice and can recognize the voices from family members. Talk, talk, talk.

Family Matters: Sleepy Time

Sleeping BabyThe other day, I was looking at my boys, both now in middle school, and missing the newborn days when they slept in my arms for hours on end.

I also remembered just how much a baby sleeps, although it felt to me like they were never doing that good sleep at nighttime.

A one-month-old baby needs eight hours of sleep at night and another eight hours during the day. At three months, it’s about 10 hours at night and five during the day. At six months, your little one needs 11 hours at night and about three-and-a-half during the day.

To help your baby get the sleep he needs, try to keep his schedule as consistent as possible. Put him to bed and wake him up at about the same time every day. Let him sleep in the same place each night and in the same place for naps each day.

Of course, if your baby is less than a month old, he’ll probably sleep anywhere and everywhere he can.

It’s not a bad thing to hold your baby while he sleeps during the first weeks of his life. You can’t spoil a baby, but you do want him to get accustomed to his own bed as well.

You might notice a newborn baby can sleep through anything, and there’s no reason to change your daytime routine to accommodate his sleep needs. However, this might change as he gets a little older and becomes used to silence (or noise).

Remember to keep baby’s crib clear of blankets or large stuffed toys. Use a sleep sack or other weather-appropriate pajama set.

Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. The familiar transition will help baby get to sleep more easily and stay asleep!

Dine In: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough FudgeMy obsession this summer has been Andy’s Frozen Custard, specifically a chocolate chip cookie dough concrete with molten peanut butter poured into the middle. Chocolate chip cookie dough is my love language. I pretty much love anything chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s my favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s my favorite “mix-in” at Marble Slab Creamery. Yes, I even eat it raw by the spoonful every time I make cookies, and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

My sweetie loves fudge, and I love cookie dough. Trying this recipe was a no-brainer, a beautiful marriage of confections. It comes together quickly. The only problem with it is that the recipe says it keeps for a week in the refrigerator. In what alternate universe does chocolate chip cookie dough fudge last a week? Not in my house, for sure.

The directions tell you that 4 cups of powdered sugar make softer fudge, while 5 make a stiffer, sweeter version. I split the difference at 4 1/2 cups, and I thought it was just perfect. It had a great texture without making your cheeks pucker from overwhelming sweetness.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs half-and-half
1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the fudge:
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter
pinch of salt
1/3 cup half-and-half
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Using heavy-duty foil or parchment paper, line an 8 x 8-inch pan, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

Make this fudge in 2 parts. First, you prepare the “cookie dough” portion, then you stir it into the fudge base.

For the cookie dough, combine butter and sugar in a large bowl, and beat together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt and half-and-half. Stir in the flour until just incorporated. Don’t overmix. Set aside.

To make the fudge base, combine the brown sugar, butter, salt and half-and-half in a heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla.

Add the cookie dough to the fudge base and stir gently to combine. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish; chill until set, at least 3 hours.
Keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids

Family Matters: Family Fishing

Family FishingThis summer, we have spent a lot of time fishing with our girls, our family and the kids’ friends. Since I was a child, I have always loved to fish, but as our family got busier, we never seemed to have time because something else was always more important. I can absolutely say that everyone has enjoyed not only catching fish but also the time spent laughing, getting fishing lines out of the trees, playing with the worms and the family gatherings to fry up the fish we caught. Nothing is better than the taste of fresh fish, french fries and hushpuppies. My middle brother is always the one that prepares and cooks our fish. No secret ingredient, just soaking it in milk the night before, rolling in yellow cornmeal, adding his seasonings, and frying it up nice and hot. Simple, but delicious!

Our friendly fishing contest consists of the largest fish, the smallest fish and kids against adults. There is midnight fishing, fishing at dawn and fishing until we are all too blistered and sore to move the next day. During this time, we are reminded of childhood memories of fishing with our grandfather or dad, and of being able to share with our kids as we all laugh at the funny things that have happened in the past, good and simple times long forgotten.

As we get older and go through life’s trials, we learn that it is getting back to these simpler things like fishing, sitting and visiting, and just enjoying each other’s company that is really important. Maybe fishing is not for you; maybe it is nature trails and bird watching. Whatever it is, as long as you are with family, it will be time well-spent. Fishing gets everyone out of the house, off the couch and cellphones put up (kids don’t want to drop phones in the water!!)…what better use of our time.

Now, as we move toward school starting and the cooler months, the cousins are all talking about weekend fishing and camping trips together and more family fish fries….what great memories for our kids and family. Fishing stories passed down for generations… Who would have ever thought that fishing would be the bond that “reels in” the family together and reminds us of the important things in life? Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.

Healthy Living: Back-to-School Breakfasts

Back to School BreakfastThere’s no disputing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for our kiddos going off to school each morning. Eating breakfast stabilizes blood sugar, revs up the metabolism, and gives the body and mind fuel for the day ahead.

The best breakfasts are the ones that combine protein and a complex carbohydrate.

Here’s a list of breakfast ideas that will get your child powering through the school day:

  • Whole-grain waffles spread with natural peanut butter
  • Steel-cut oats with Greek yogurt and fruit
  • A whole-wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs and some cheese
  • A toasted, whole-grain English muffin with Canadian bacon and an egg
  • Scrambled eggs mixed with veggies like onions, peppers and mushrooms
  • An egg white omelet with zucchini, tomatoes and cheese
  • A fruit smoothie with a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread
  • Egg “Muffins.” Mix 6 eggs, 1 cup baby spinach, 1 cup black beans, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and 4 ounces ham. Pour into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners. Bake at 350° F until set, about 12 minutes.
  • Breakfast roll-ups. Press refrigerated crescent roll dough into triangles. Top with sausage, ham or bacon, and scrambled eggs and cheese. Roll up; bake at 375° F for 8 minutes.
  • Peaches and cream: Slice peaches and top with Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
  • Oatmeal topped with blueberries and slivered almonds
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Yogurt parfaits. Layer yogurt, fruit and granola in a pretty glass.

Family Matters: Back-To-School Time Savers

Busy Day Italian-Style Rump RoastIt’s back-to-school time, and we all know how busy school nights can be! With so much to do during the day, from getting kids up in the mornings and making the PTO meeting, to running them to soccer and dance after school, it’s easy to forget about making healthy meals—at least until it’s dinnertime!

For a lot of parents this can be an overwhelming time of the year. We send our kids off to school expecting them to keep up with all their classes and not lose any of their school supplies. Yet as we head to the kitchen to figure out what’s for dinner tonight, we begin to feel inadequate, unorganized and so wish we had a meal-planner genie!

As an out-of-the-home working Mom, I have found a few tricks that help me maintain sanity while putting a delicious meal on the table most nights of the week. For our family, mealtime is a wonderful time to sit down together, relax and talk about the day’s events.

Make a big pot of homemade soup, double the recipe of a casserole or lasagna and freeze half of it for a later evening when you have no time.

Prepare entrees you can mix together the night before, store in the refrigerator and then transfer to the oven right before dinnertime.

This has got to be the easiest way to have dinner ready the minute you walk in the door! There are hundreds of slow cooker recipes online to suit your family from chicken and beef recipes to appetizers and soups. Did you know you could even bake breads and desserts using a slow cooker?

One of my family’s favorite meals is a roast cooked in the slow cooker. With a boneless rump roast and your slow cooker handy, this meal is almost a no-brainer.

Busy Day Italian-Style Rump Roast
Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

3 lbs boneless beef rump roast, well-trimmed
5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
1 package McCormick Slow Cookers Savory Pot Roast Seasoning
1 cup red wine or water

Place beef and vegetables in slow cooker. Mix seasoning mix and water until blended. Pour over beef and vegetables. Cover. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter. Stir sauce before serving.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

Family Matters: Gerber Bitty Bites

Gerber Bitty BitesToddlers love to snack, and it’s good for them, too! The average toddler should eat about two snacks a day, and Gerber Bitty Bites provide good nutrition that can easily be enjoyed at home or on the go.

Gerber Bitty Bites come in great flavors like blueberry and strawberry. They are made with a whole-grain blend of corn, sorghum, millet, brown rice, teff, amaranth, quinoa and wheat bran, providing five grams of whole-grains per serving. They are also a good source of vitamin E, iron and zinc.

Bitty Bites are easy to pick up and great for toddlers to feed themselves. There are no artificial flavors or sweeteners and best of all, no mess!

Perfect for toddlers 15 months and older, these snacks are kid-tested and mom-approved.


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Posted in: Baby, Kids, Nutrition

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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