Help the medicine go down with Dr. Cocoa

It’s hard watching your child be sick. As a mother, it tugs at the core of my heart. I hate feeling helpless, not being able to wave my magic mommy wand and fix things right away. Like most moms I’ll do anything in my power to get the feeling just like new as soon as humanly possible.

What’s even more difficult is when the thing holding me back from helping them…. is them! It seems that very early in age most children determine that suffering from the symptoms of their illness are far better than swallowing medicine they find unsavory.

sick baby

 

Are you children like that too? It’s funny- just an hour ago a friend on Facebook was expressing frustration at how we’ve had so many progressions in this world but medicines kids NEED to get better still taste horrible!

 

It seems that when it comes time to take medicine, my poor child who was previously weak and ill suddenly conjures up the strength of a superhero in an effort from keeping any and all drops of the “icky” medicine from entering their mouths.

 

Until Dr. Cocoa, that is.

dr cocoa chocolate flavor cough medicine

My sponsor, Dr. Cocoa, has been a lifesaver in these situations! Their new cough and cold medicine is the first ever line of medicine in the U.S. that’s made with REAL COCOA! It taste delicious, and my children don’t even believe it’s really medicine… which is just fine with me.

dr cocoa chocolate cough medicines

Not only does it taste good, it actually works. Dr. Cocoa is for children age 4-13, but the Nighttime Cough and Cold medication (for children ages 6-13) has helped us through the night when my older children were ill. This has now become a staple in our household, and the medicine battle of the fittest is no longer something I must endure.

 

Download your $2 off Dr. Cocoa coupon and grab a bottle for your medicine cabinet today! It’s better to have it on hand BEFORE a sick day, than to wait until it comes.

 

Speaking of sick days; be sure to check out Scholastic.com/HappyHealthy to download your free copy of the Sick Day Survival kit, filled with everything you need to keep your little one comfy from morning to night! This article about helping kids take medicine may be helpful as well!

 

 

 

 

Roasted Cheddar Potato Chips Recipe for Dogs

Roasted potatoes and cheddar make a great snack for dogs, they’re tasty and a healthy alternative to most dog treats. These doggy potato chips are quick and easy to make, even kids can help.

 Roasted Cheddar Potato Chips for Dogs

roasted-cheddar-chips-dogs

Ingredients

2-3 russet potatoes

½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded


potato-chips-dogs-ingredients

Supplies

Mandolin Slicer, with waves if possible

parchment paper

containers for storing

 

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

Scrub potatoes clean, don’t peel because the peel is the healthiest part. Slice wavy potato chips using the mandoline slicer. Lay out potato chip slices on the parchment paper, make sure none are overlapping.


Roast potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the tray out and sprinkle cheese over potato chips. Return tray to oven for an additional 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt.

 

Let potato chips cool off on parchment paper. Store in airtight container for up to a week. Allow dogs two to three potato chip snacks per day.

potato skins for dogs

 

5.0 from 3 reviews
Roasted Cheddar Potato Chips for Dogs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2-3 russet potatoes
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Scrub potatoes clean, don’t peel because the peel is the healthiest part. Slice wavy potato chips using the mandoline slicer. Lay out potato chip slices on the parchment paper, make sure none are overlapping.
  3. Roast potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the tray out and sprinkle cheese over potato chips. Return tray to oven for an additional 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt.
  4. Let potato chips cool off on parchment paper. Store in airtight container for up to a week. Allow dogs two to three potato chip snacks per day.

 

Healthy Fast Food Options #HappyBalance

I’ve gotten over the initial disappointment of summer ending and back-to-school coming into the picture. The constant busy week hustle has actually begun to even fill normal. It’s funny because we tend to think of the summer time being the time to spend with family, but it’s starting to seem like it’s actually the opposite. I’ve had it wrong all this time! While summer did allow us to fit more in, we were also each scattered doing our own thing a lot of the time. Since the school week activities and practices are usually scheduled at times that are convenient for working parents, we attend more events together.

I love it!

Whether we’re running errands together as a family, or huddled on the sidelines cheering on an early morning soccer game, it always feels good to be with my fam. One thing that we quickly learned, however, was that trying to find an affordable quick meal for a family of five isn’t always easy.

fastfoodoptions

One place we know we can always rely on is McDonald’s. It’s nice to be able to actually go in and sit and eat together, like we used to when I was a kid. Now we live in the age of constant drive through and eating on the run- taking extra minutes to head inside means we’re eating together. Standing together staring at the menu brings back flashbacks of how exciting it was to visit the Golden Arches. I’m almost waiting for Hamburglar and Grimace to pop back on scene… It almost feels as if I’m back in that time, as cheap as the prices are.

happy-meal-gogurt

Only $2.99 for a Happy Meal. A lot has changed with Happy Meals though.  There are healthy fast food options now, and hopefully more to follow! The fries are a bit smaller, with the additional portion replaced by nutritious apple slices. Later this fall kids will also be able to choose between apple slices or Cuties clementines from Sun Pacific. Heck, you can even replace the fries all together and add a Go-GURT Low-Fat Strawberry yogurt​ instead. The excitement of creative toy series that change often, and a bright, cheerful atmosphere remain the same though.

McDonald’s puts a whole new meaning to comfort food.

 

I received compensation from McDonald’s in exchange for writing this review. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Parsley Carrot Dog Treats Recipe

Tobey’s 13 1/2. He gets spoiled more and more as he gets older. I won’t apologize for it. He deserves it. That includes homemade treats!!  Check out this quick and easy dog treats recipe the kids love to make for Tobey :)

Parsley Carrot Dog Treats

parsley-carrot-potato-chips-dogs

Ingredients

1 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chop the entire bunch, including stems

⅓ cup grated carrots (one large carrot, or two small ones)

2 ½ cups flour

¼ cup grated cheddar cheese

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ cup water

parsley-carrot-chips-ingredients
Directions

In a large bowl combine the fresh parsley, grated cheese and carrots. Drizzle the cooking oil over the fresh ingredients and toss so that everything is coated.

 

In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder and mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the fresh ingredients, tossing the entire time so that the flour coats everything without clumping.

 

Once everything has been combined, slowly add the water a couple spoonfuls at a time to the mixture, tossing everything. Once all the water has been added the dough will resemble wet mush, just make sure that all the dough is wet and there is no remaining dry flour.

parsley-chips-mix

Lightly grease a mini baking cup tray. Spoon the dog treat mixture into each cup, keeping the amount just below the top of the tray because they rise very slightly. Bake in the oven at 350 F for 25 minutes.

 

If you have a larger dog you can use a regular sized cupcake tray and cook at the same temperature for 30 minutes.

 

Allow biscuits to cool before serving. Treats can be refrigerated for 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 3 months.

 

Reese’s Pieces Blondie Recipe

Do you know what makes me smile?? The smell of somethings baking in the oven.  It’s hard to have anything NOT smell fantastic while baking, but one of my fave things is blondies. They just have this amazing aroma that fills the house and makes me feel like I’m back in my childhood kitchen.  Adding Reese’s Pieces is for my dad, who forever has loved chocolate and peanut butter together and separately. Naturally his favorite foods included either or BOTH- bonus points for both.

Reese’s Pieces Blondies Recipe

reeses Blondies recipe

Ingredients –

2 C. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2/3 C. butter

2 C. brown sugar

2 egg

1 tbs. vanilla

½ C. chocolate chips

1 C. Reese’s Pieces + extra to sprinkle on top

reeses Blondies1

Directions –

#1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

#2. In a medium size bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder and set aside.

#3. In a separate bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir until mixed well. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

#4. Stir in the chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces.

#5. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle extra Reese’s Pieces on top of the blondie batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Bars will turn golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Reese's Pieces Blondie Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅔ C. butter
  • 2 C. brown sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • ½ C. chocolate chips
  • 1 C. Reese's Pieces + extra to sprinkle on top
Instructions
  1. Directions -
  2. #1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. #2. In a medium size bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  4. #3. In a separate bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir until mixed well. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  5. #4. Stir in the chocolate chips and Reese's Pieces.
  6. #5. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and sprinkle extra Reese's Pieces on top of the blondie batter.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Bars will turn golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Sour Cream and Onion Tater Tot Casserole

A fresh twist on an old family favorite that even the kids will gobble up.  Out of desperation from having the same old dish week after week I set about creating a new flavor profile for my standby dinner-Tater Tot casserole.  Going heavy on onions and including Hood sour cream makes this dish creamy and delicious, perfect for a hectic weeknight or leisurely weekend dinner. This post is brought to you as part of my partnership with Hood on the Hood Meal Makeover Campaign.  Opinions are my own.

Sour Cream and Onion Tater Tot Casserole

sour cream and onion  tater tot casserole

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef (ground turkey would also work well here- you can also do ground Veggie crumbles to make it Vegetarian)

1  32 oz. package Tater Tots

¾  cup Hood sour cream (use light for less calories)

¼  cup milk (use low fat or skim for less calories)

½ cup chicken broth

1 ½ cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

1 ½ tsp garlic salt

1 medium onion

2-3 tsps. oil mix (90% veg oil, 10% olive oil)

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Thaw tater tots.

Dice onion finely. (I have been known to mince mine- same flavor, but if your kids don’t enjoy the texture of onions, the smaller they are, the less likely they are to notice them in the dish)

Grease a 9×13 baking pan.

Preheat oven to 350

 

1. Saute onions in oil mix  until they begin to become translucent

onions-tater-tot-casserole

2. Add ground beef to pan and cook until done.

3. Drain excess liquid if needed.

4. In a large bowl combine tater tots, ground beef, sour cream , milk, chicken broth, shredded cheese, garlic salt, and onion- stir to combine all ingredients well.

tater-tot-casserole-mix-ready

5. Pour into prepared baking pan.

6.Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.

tater-tot-casserole- before-oven

7. Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden brown and bubbling.

8. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

tater-tot-casserole-baked

 

Chef Alison Milwe Grace, owner of AMG Catering in Wilton, CT, and Olivia Savarese, her Event Coordinator, hosted a group of Connecticut (and one Rhode Island) bloggers last week to learn about using Hood Sour Cream as an ingredient in main dishes, not just as a condiment. The ladies guided us through three recipes: Pork Chops with Sage & Sour Cream Sauce, Portobello mushroom & Kale Stroganoff,and Tarragon Mustard Chicken with Sour Cream. (Thank you to Julie from Happy Strong Home for the pics from the event, I had a fully charged battery in my camera and no memory card! Be sure to check out her Creamy Pumpkin Soup Recipe!)

hood tarragon sauce

Not only did they guide us through preparing these recipes, but they also shared with us several great tips in the kitchen- which I’m always looking for. AMG Catering does cooking classes for adults and children and if you are near the area, RUN to sign up. If it wasn’t almost 2 hours from home, I’d be going regularly. They had me laughing steadily and also, feeling like maybe cooking isn’t so daunting.

hood portobello

Some of the tricks shared by the fabulous ladies of AMG Catering:

Make your own oil blend – Olive Oil burns quickly.  Unless a dish absolutely requires the flavor of olive oil while cooking, use a 90/10 ratio of something like a vegetable oil to 10% olive oil. It’ll save you money and you’ll have more success in your pan.

Buy peeled garlic.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  If it’s already peeled you will save a lot of time! Whatever you do, don’t buy minced garlic in a jar.  It’s not really garlic at that point and won’t give you much benefit or flavor when cooking.

Use Wondra flour to dredge your meats.  You’ll get a nice thin coating and your meats will have a nice golden color to them when cooked.

 

hood badge
 

Check out some of the other Hood Meal Makover Bloggers’ Recipes Below!

ravioli-creamy-herb-sauce-recipe

5.0 from 4 reviews
Sour Cream and Onion Tater Tot Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Rich and creamy version of tater tot casserole
Author:
Recipe type: main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 32 oz. pkg tater tots
  • ¾ cup Hood sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 tsps. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Thaw tater tots.
  2. Dice onion finely.
  3. Grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  4. Preheat oven to 350
  5. Saute onions in olive oil until they begin to become translucent,
  6. Add ground beef to pan and cook until done.
  7. Drain excess liquid if needed.
  8. In a large bowl combine tater tots, ground beef, sour cream , milk, chicken broth, shredded cheese, garlic salt, and onion- stir to combine all ingredients well.
  9. Pour into prepared baking pan.
  10. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden brown and bubbling.
  12. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Simple Back to School Tips #HappyBalance

It’s amazing how fast the luxuries of summer can fade, only to be replaced by the sudden onslaught of organization and the need for structure. It seemed that the hours of the day were short enough during the summer, and now a majority of daylight hours are consumed at school for the kids and catching up on all of the projects I procrastinated around for the entire summer…and early fall.  Are you in the same boat? I’ve put together a few tips that have helped me to get back in the swing of things.

3 Simple Back to School Tips

back-to-school-tips-parents

 

Organize a Command Center:

If you don’t already have one, this would be a great time to create it. A command center can look how ever your family would like, but the purpose is essentially the same across the board. It should be a central area where your family can pass notes, pass off papers, store keys, and have a collaborative calendar. The concept of this, and even the location, will be different for every family. Whatever works best for yours! Ours is below. We are actually adding a weekly calendar for each kid in the breezeway for them to remember library, gym, activities etc.

organization board

Have Quick Meals On Deck:

While it’s fun to spend a day in the kitchen whipping up some comfort food, it’s important to be realistic during the school year. Some days will call for a much quicker approach to nutrition, and it’s helpful to have some ideas in mind beforehand. My kids are very active so we love McDonald’s kids meals. I love they are adding healthy options for my kids that are quick and easy.

happy-meal-gogurt

Did you know that since July, kids can choose between a go-gurt and apple slices in their meal? There will even be clementines available later this fall. Ever since 2013, when they partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, McDonald’s has made a commitment to nutrition. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to fruit, veggies, and low-fat dairy.

Establish Morning and Bedtime Routines Early On:

How your day starts and ends plays a major factor in what happens between. Setting a schedule early is the best way to keep things flowing smoothly. It’s a great idea to have clothes, backups, lunches, and more in place the night before. Scrambling for things in the morning is not fun and puts everyone on edge.

Likewise, a consistent routine at bedtime is comforting and makes it much easier to fall asleep. Both for the kids, and the parents.

While I’m not COMPLETELY done pouting about the end of summer just yet; I do have to admit I’m quickly adapting to the sweaters, boots, fallen leaves and football!

What’s hardest for you to adjust during back-to-school season? You will be entered to win a $25 McDonald’s Arch Card by answering this question with a thoughtful response. Good luck!

 

I received compensation from McDonald’s in exchange for writing this review. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Duct Tape Flower Hair Clip

Duct tape is one thing that has so many uses, you should always have several rolls in stock.  In addition to helping you to hold things together, duct tape is now highly popular to use to make fashion accessories.  Although it may look difficult, duct tape is very easy to work with and allows you to make a wide variety of items.  Duct tape can be put together to use as a fabric in addition to it’s normal sticky form.

 

You can easily make cute flowering hair clips utilizing a variety of duct tape colors, a little hot glue (or glue dots), one rhinestone (or button) and a hair clip.   It only takes a few minutes from start to finish.  These flowers can be made in any contrasting colors to match your favorite shirts.  If you’d like a smaller flower, simply make your flower petals smaller and use a smaller barrette.

How to make a duct tape flower hair clip

how-to-make-duct-tape-flower-hair-clip

Supplies Needed:

  • 2 colors of duct tape
  • Hot glue gun or glue dots
  • 1 Rhinestone or button for flower center
  • Hair clip/barrette

Directions:

1.Cut 20 inches of each color of duct tape.  Combine the two pieces by placing the sticky sides together.  Start on one end and align the edges, slowly matching them as you continue to the end.

ducttapeflower1

2. Cut out a petal shape that is approximately 1 inch wide with a flat bottom and point at the top.  Cut these out across the length of your duct tape.

ducttapeflower2

3. Fold each petal with the same color on the inside.

ducttapeflower3

4. Add either a drop of hot glue or glue dot on the outside base of the petal and attach another petal.  Repeat until all the petals are attached, affixing the final petal to the outside petal’s base.

ducttapeflower4

5. Cut a 1.5 inch square of each color of duct tape and again, place the duct tape pieces together to form a square.  Glue this to the bottom of your flower to help secure it.

ducttapeflower5

6. Affix your flower to the hair clip/barrette with a few drops of hot glue/glue dot.  Add a small piece of duct tape across the bottom of the barrette to help secure the flower.

ducttapeflower6

7. Flip your flower over and glue your rhinestone onto the center of your flower.

ducttapeflowerhairclip_final

 

Mini Turkey Trifle

My kids LOVE to help make things for holiday gatherings.  This mini turkey trifle is great for kids to make and decorate- and then enjoy later as a healthy snack!  Great for Thanksgiving Day pre-dinner snacks!

Mini Turkey Trifle


mini-turkey-trifle

Ingredients

1 each – red, yellow and green pepper

ranch or veggie dip for dipping your peppers

brown paper bag

scissors

orange, red and black marker (I used the kid’s Crayola markers)

Scotch tape

 mini-turkey-trifle-vertical

Directions –

#1. First, make your turkey. I free cut the shape pictured out of the brown paper bag and then drew on the eyes, nose and turkey gizzard.

#2. I then used some tape to adhere it to the mini trifle dish. Easy.

#3. Slice the top off off each pepper and then remove the seeds. Cut them each into slices and arrange in the trifle dish to look like turkey feathers.

#4. Serve with ranch of veggie dip.

*Makes 1 serving but you will probably have enough veggies to make 2 mini trifles if you wish.

Lightweight Cat Litter Makes me Happy #FreshStepCats

This post brought to you by Fresh Step Lightweight Extreme Litter. The content and opinions expressed below are that of this mama loves.

Remember I was complaining sharing about how I’m not a fan of cat litter last week? I mean, I understand the purpose. And I embrace that it’s a necessary part of having a cat in the family. Or cats, as the case may be.  But the packaging of litter and by the makeup of it- it’s all bulky and heavy and hard to purchase, transport and bring into the house. Never mind the scooping and changing of the litter!

I found the new Fresh Step® Extreme Lightweight Litter available at Target– right on an endcap, on display AND on sale! Plus I scored big and found a coupon on my package to save an extra $1.50.  Not too shabby for my tabby! (Get it? Get it?)

The new Fresh Step® Fast Lightweight Extreme cat litter is 30% lighter. LIGHTER.  That means getting it off the shelf, paid for, into the car and into the house is easier, and less of a struggle for me. Now I can have strong odor control and NOT struggle with the heavy, bulky container. (Truthfully, the container is still bulky, but it’s a LOT lighter and I can deal with some bulk.  How sleek can we expect cat litter packaging to become, really!?)

I wish I could tell you that Rosie and Lloyd are both loving the new lightweight cat litter as much as I am. Rosie’s been happy to use the new litter, even in the upstairs box, which she normally hates to use. Sadly, Lloyd got outside about a week ago and hasn’t been seen since.  We’re still looking and have friends and family, and neighbors looking, but we’re starting to lose hope that he’s still alive.  We have a lot of coyotes in our area. We’re still looking, but it’s starting to look like we’re a one cat family again.

Rosie, understandably, is out of sorts, as Lloyd has been with her every day of her life- they were littermates… and we adopted them together. I was really concerned about Rosie with this litter because she’s a little finicky about things and really only likes to use the litter box in the basement and makes it known if there’s a change in the box.  Thankfully, she’s taken to this one (yay! I save my back, she saves me changing two boxes daily) and has been using the upstairs box more frequently with this lighter weight formula. 

Have you tried lightweight litter? How did you like it? More importantly- how did your cats like it?
 

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