Quick and Easy Meal Ideas: Ghost Pizza

This quick and easy meal idea is brought to you by our friends at General Mills. With back to school here and activities starting up, life is hectic for everyone, it seems.  Hectic for us here at the Martin household, moreso than ever before.  I’ve been doing a lot of meal prep and cooking dinner at 1pm on a regular basis.  With activities going after school until 5:30 or 6, I can’t prep dinner when we get home- it’s simply too late. But I still want a balanced meal for my family.  One of my go-to meals is pizza, as it is for many.

With pizza, it’s hard to go wrong.  You can top a pizza crust with just about anything you want- whatever sounds good. So…if we have leftover chicken, taco  meat, or maybe some pepperoni or ham in the fridge, we make it work with what’s there.  Pizza is almost always cooked and ready to serve in under 30 minutes (which is awesome) and that’s why we almost always have a pizza crust or 2 in the fridge.  We usually have a Pillsbury Pizza Crust in the fridge because it’s easy to work with AND all 5 of us like it.

ghost-pizza

It’s a little early for normal people to be thinking about fun and festive (but quick and easy) meals for Halloween, but we’re not normal, we’re a blogging family!  So naturally, in the middle of September we decided to make Ghost Pizza with our Pillsbury Pizza crust.  It took less than 5 minutes extra to make the fun shapes for the cheese and the kids were so happy to eat their dinner- it was 5 minutes well spent!

ghost-pizza-before-cooking

4.0 from 1 reviews
Quick and Easy Meal Idea: Ghost Pizza
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Fun and festive twist on traditional pizza
Author:
Recipe type: Pizza
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Pillsbury Pizza Crust
  • 1 jar Pizza Sauce
  • 8 slices Mozzerella Cheese
  • Ghost Cookie Cutter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Spread crust onto an ungreased cookie sheet (or pizza stone)
  3. ** For a crispier crust, bake crust 6-7 minutes**
  4. Spread sauce on crust
  5. Using cookie cutter, cut each slice cheese into ghost shape
  6. Place cheese ghosts on pizza in any pattern you'd like.
  7. You can use olives for eyes, or small pepperoni for eyes as well.
  8. If you want, use leftover pieces of cheese to write Boo!
  9. (We always make 2 of these pizzas so pizza #2 got all of the cheese "scraps")
  10. Bake 8-10 minutes with toppings on

 What are YOUR quick and easy meal ideas?

Pillsbury Logo

 

Pizza crust that’s deliciously easy! Unroll, bake and enjoy in minutes. Pillsbury pizza crust, it’s the perfect canvas for your favorite toppings.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by General Mills via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of General Mills.

$100 Sephora Gift Card Giveaway

Welcome to the Sephora Giveaway! Get ready for a more beautiful you this fall with a Sephora shopping spree. One lucky winner will receive a $100 Sephora gift card redeemable in stores or online.

sephora giveaway gift card

Prize: $100 Sephora Gift Card

 

Sponsors: Sunshine and Sippy CupsThis Mama Loves[oomph.]Stacy’s SavingsBurning Moon’s Inside AdviceA Helicopter MomGeniabeme Beauty BlogBarbara’s BeatThe Consumer AdviserSassy Sweet Style

 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 9/26 and is open to the US only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Halloween Treat Recipes: Witch Hat Surprise Cookies

I’ve been thinking lots about making some fun Halloween Treat recipes this year. My latest? Witch Hat Surprise Cookies
These are pretty easy to make and you can fill them (or not) with extra candy delights!
Halloween-Treats-Witch-Hat-Surprise-Cookies
What you need:

Package Oreo Ice Cream Cones

Purple Funfetti Frosting (Really, you can do any color, we just thought the purple with green and black looked super witchy)

Famous Chocolate Wafers (You could also use any flat cookie that’s a dark brown/black color)

Candy Corn for filling (or anything you want to fill with)

halloween-treats-witch-hat-surprise-cookies-dunk

First, you dunk the end of your cone into the frosting to coat the edges for the sprinkles to stick. (Or use a spoon- we dunked)

halloween-treats-witch-hat-surprise-cookies-dots

Roll your cone end in sprinkles (the kids are doing the tips here- same idea though)

halloween-treat-recipes-witch-hat-surprise-cookies-filled

Next, fill your cone with candy corn

(Not sure where the photo went for this step, but put a dollop of frosting onto the flat cookie so the cone will stick to it and attach cone)

halloween-treats-witch-hat-surprise-cookies-title

Voila! Witch Hat Surprise Cookies!

Check out our Candy Corn Crunch Recipe too!

And with the blink of an eye, summer is gone #CherishedChildhood

It’s over.  Summer, that is.  We did something new this summer, the kids and I, and had a blast.  We laughed, we played, we swam (a ton) and learned a lot.  We made new friends, visited with old, and have so many new memories. Memories that I will cherish – and hopefully, my kids will too!

sisters-cherished-childhood

We climbed (and lost teeth)

playing-in-rain-cherished-childhood

waited out a storm in puddles

swimming-on-shark-cherished-childhood

swam on a shark

swimming-with-dolphins-cherished-childhood

and on a dolphin

playing-marbles-cherishedchildhood

played marbles with friends

painting-nails-cherished-childhood

and painted toenails when her chin got split open and she couldn’t do her swim lessons.

So many memories to cherish and so many more to make…

The folks at Gymboree want you to join them in celebrating and sharing cherished moments in childhood. Gymboree has created an amazing new video to help kick off this campaign and I am thrilled to share it with you. This video is truly touching and must be watched by all parents. So watch and enjoy, then share your favorite cherished childhood moments in the comments! Be sure to use the hashtag #cherishchildhood when commenting or if you share this video with friends! Without further ado, I present to you “Today we’ve got to play!” sponsored by Gymboree:

 

 

 

Win $6,000 in #6SecondsFlat from Wendy’s #thismamaloves6

This post about Wendy’s #6Secondsflat Flatbread Sweepstakes  brought to you by Wendy’s.  Opinions are my own.

Flatbread sandwiches are all the rage right now.  I just love them because they are easy to hold onto with short stumpy fingers, but also…..

bacon.

Many flatbreads I see have bacon.

Wendy’s Flatbread Chicken Sandwiches are back for a limited time. Try both flavors, Asiago Ranch (it has bacon on it) and Smoky Honey Mustard (only 370 calories).

See? Bacon.

It’s hard to not like bacon.

wendys

So how does bacon + flatbread = $6000?  Well, Wendy’s wants to know how you feel about their flatbreads so they want you to share WHY you love (or hate, I suppose?) them in 6 seconds (hence the 6 seconds Flat hashtag.  Get it? The best video? That video gets  $6,000.

Wendy’s is handpicking the best video entries to re-post from their official Wendy’s social media accounts to be featured on the contest website.

Be sure to check out the sample videos on the 6 Seconds Flat landing page by clicking on any of the video squares.
Tell Wendy’s what you think about their flatbreads in a Vine or Instagram video then send it @Wendys (through twitter, Instagram or Vine) with the #6SecondsFlat AND #thismamaloves6. Each week of September, one lucky winner will be randomly selected to receive a $6000 prize.

$6,000 for eating bacon.

I mean, sure, that’s kind of a loose connection, but you really truly could win $6,o00 for eating bacon and professing your love for it.

Bacon.

$6.000.

Who’s entering?
Visit the sweepstakes landing page for more information and view the “official rules” at the bottom of the page.

Easy energy solutions taste great with Energems #Energems #ad

This is a sponsored post about easy energy solutions written by me on behalf of Energems. I’ve been looking for coffee alternatives for a while- I drink coffee, but not because I’m necessarily in love with the taste. It’s more my need of the caffeine to wake me up. Given that I’m not always in love with the coffee we brew here at home, I’m always adding creamers or sugar- which adds calories.  Which I do NOT need.  So…I’m open to trying new things.  Especially when those things include the consumption of chocolate.Tracking Pixel

easy-energy-solutions-energems-3-flavors

I recently discovered Energems, and I maybe have found a new love. Three varieties of little *gems* which are all CHOCOLATE and a serving of Energems has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Plus, a serving is just 45 calories.  So I can have a little sweet treat and a little energy pick me up whenever I want without the guilt.   AND…chocolate.  They are chocolate.  Did I mention the chocolate?

easy-energy-solution-energems-nutritio

My favorite flavor is the Chocolate Charge, but the Peanut Butter Blast and Mint Fusion are both equally delicious.  I’m just a simple girl who likes plain chocolate.  There’s a little crunch in the outer shell and then it’s just creamy sweet chocolate delight in these little gems.  These little gems are infused with caffeine, B vitamins and an energy mix.

energems-energy

I’ve had more than my share of late nights and early mornings recently, trying to get everyone into the new school routines, helping my husband work on the breezeway (which may never be complete at the rate we’re going!) and trying to keep up with blog work, Girl Scout leader stuff, plus my part time job.  It’s a lot and my energy has for sure been waning because of it. I often feel like I need or want a boost- especially midday!  3 little Energems make me feel a little more pep in my step and give me a little extra energy to get through.  You can have more than one serving per day, but the folks at Energems caution you (as do I) to space out those servings and don’t ever have more than 2 boxes/packages per day.  You don’t want too much energy.

A note of caution (you knew this was coming, right? I mean, it’s me…)

These are made of CHOCOLATE.  Which means they can and will get melty if you leave them, say, in your car on a hot day, or maybe next to your laptop fan that’s blowing really hot air.  Learn from me and keep these away from heat sources.

When you are wanting a little easy energy solution – definitely check out Energems.  A great little boost of energy, not too expensive, and CHOCOLATE. Use the code, GETLUCKY, at energems.net to receive 30% off your order!

Please be sure to keep these away from children- these are intended for adult consumption only.

 FREE samples of Energemsare available on  Energems’ Facebook fanpage at http://on.fb.me/152n9pb.

 

energems-logo

Energems are energy supplements that are bite-sized, hard-coated gems made with real milk chocolate. Designed for the modern, on-the-go consumer, they contain caffeine, B vitamins and a proprietary energy blend. Think of them as a great alternative to traditional energy drinks and energy shots!

You can try Energems absolutely for FREE! Just click over to their Facebook fanpage and sign up now: http://on.fb.me/152n9pb

Energems are a delicious and low-calorie way to boost your energy, focus and concentration! Please visit http://energems.net/ for more info.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Energems.

Black Bean Taco Bowls Recipe

This black bean taco bowls recipe post is part of a partnership I have with Libby’s and their PR firm.  Opinions are my own. One of my LEAST favorite things to do is come up with meal ideas. Give me guidance and I’ll happily prepare just about anything. But leave me to figure out the ingredients and stuff? Not always my forte.  I like cooking, especially when the kids are able to help. I just need help with the WHAT to cook sometimes!

black-bean-taco-bowls-libbys-dinnerdilemma

Last week, Libby’s foods sent me a box of their products.  In that box was a few cans of their Organic Black Beans.  I saw them and thought, I should totally make a black bean chili.  So naturally, when I actually went to make dinner, it only makes sense that I decided instead to make a Chipotle-inspired Black Bean Taco Bowl recipe instead.  Right? I loved my “bowl” at Chipotle and the black beans just seemed to fit.  Today was gymnastics and then tap class and it meant we’d not be home before 5:45.  Too late to start dinner when I had a Girl Scout leader meeting at 7, that’s for sure! So, I prepped almost everything while I made lunch and talked with my little one about her day, and she helped me put the chopped veggies on a plate and cover dishes for the fridge.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Black Bean Taco Bowls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Black bean taco bowls recipe
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 TBSP taco seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1 pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Lettuce- chopped-
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Tortilla shells (I got the Old El Paso Stand Alone variety- SO much easier)
  • 1 can Libby's Organic Black Beans
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • Guacamole (to taste)
  • Sour Cream (to taste)
  • Salsa (to taste)
  • Hot Sauce (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Brown meat and drain fat.
  2. Return to pan and add taco seasoning.
  3. As meat browns, warm tortilla shells in oven. (You can "shape" them in muffin tins or mini loaf pans if plain tortillas)
  4. Scoop some rice into the bottom of your tortilla "bowl"
  5. Add some meat on top
  6. Add veggies
  7. Top with cheese
Notes
This recipe is EASILY done ahead of time. I browned, drained and seasoned the beef as I made lunch, as well as made the rice during that time. I chopped all of the veggies up and left them on a plate in the fridge. When we got home, I quickly assembled the bowls and popped them into a 350 oven for 5 minutes to get warm.

Sometimes it really does just take a can to inspire a great meal!  I like keeping beans around- great for you and they have a long shelf life. So….what would you do with a can of black beans? (I have more cans. I want more ideas.  Chili is on the menu for the weekend)

libbys logo

 

@LibbysTable #DinnerDilemma Twitter Week

Each day during the week of September 16-20, five bloggers (including me) will be partnering with @LibbysTable to host mini-Twitter parties dedicated to discussing and solving dinner dilemmas. 

-Monday through Friday, each day will focus on a different theme – from how to cook for kids, to how to plan ahead or how to organize the most efficient and convenient pantry.

-MY party will be 2:30-3:00pm EST- all others will take place from 3:00-3:30 pm EST 

-Each party will allow participants the opportunity to win a #DinnerDilemma themed prize pack!

-Follow @LibbysTable on Twitter to learn more!

R4_Libbys_DD_1StartWithACan

 

One reader will win  a Libby’s prize pack including a 17 piece Magic Bullet set and assorted Libby’s products! 

Halloween Treat Recipe: Candy Corn Crunch

Here’s a fun new Halloween Treat Recipe I came up with.  It’s easy and quick to make, plus it’s super festive (and so yummy).

candy-corn-crunch-halloween-treat

Candy Corn Crunch:

Ingredients

Plain  Popcorn (If you buy the microwave kind, you want the natural) , popped, kernels removed

2 cups pretzels, broken

1 bag Wilton Candy Melts (I used Orange)

Halloween-themed Sprinkles/Shots/Jimmies

Candy Corn (small bag)

Directions
Place popcorn and broken pretzels into large mixing bowl.

Melt the Wilton melts in microwave in 20 second intervals (usually a minute or less. I stir with a spatula in between)

Pour melted candies over the popcorn and pretzels and mix until coated.  You can also do this on a large piece of parchment paper.  A note- this really mixes best when done by hand. It gets messy.

After the popcorn and pretzels are coated, add your sprinkles and candy corn and mix just a bit to get everything blended.  Let “dry” for about half an hour and seal in airtight container.

In airtight container, this crunch mix will last a week to 10 days.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Treat Recipe: Candy Corn Crunch
 
Halloween themed popcorn snack
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Cuisine: Halloween
Ingredients
  • Plain Popcorn (If you buy the microwave kind, you want the natural) , popped, kernels removed
  • 2 cups pretzels, broken
  • 1 bag Wilton Candy Melts (I used Orange)
  • Halloween-themed Sprinkles/Shots/Jimmies
  • Candy Corn (small bag)
Instructions
  1. Melt the Wilton melts in microwave in 20 second intervals (usually a minute or less. I stir with a spatula in between)
  2. Pour melted candies over the popcorn and pretzels and mix until coated. You can also do this on a large piece of parchment paper. A note- this really mixes best when done by hand. It gets messy.
  3. After the popcorn and pretzels are coated, add your sprinkles and candy corn and mix just a bit to get everything blended. Let "dry" for about half an hour and seal in airtight container.
  4. In airtight container, this crunch mix will last a week to 10 days.

 

Milk Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Mix

We have family movie night every Friday in our family.  It’s a big deal.  It’s one of our favorite parts of each week- and we pile on blankets and each other and snuggle down for family chill time.  Of course, with movies….often comes popcorn.  Given that it’s fall, we’ve been looking to mix up the regular popcorn we make, so when Kernel Seasons sent us a box of their popcorn seasonings, we decided that this week’s treat would be sweet.  (Next week, we’re on to cheesy). milk-chocolate-caramel-popcorn-mix

5.0 from 1 reviews
Milk Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Mix
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Fun and simple popcorn snack mix
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 bags natural white popcorn, popped with kernels removed (or air popped- about 5 cups popped)
  • 1 bag Wilton candy melts (white)
  • 1-2 cups Milk Chocolate Caramel Candy Corn
  • Kernel Seasons Milk Chocolate Caramel
  • Kernel Seasons Caramel
  • Rice Chex or Pretzels (broken into pieces)
  • Festive sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Pop popcorn and remove unpopped kernels
  2. Melt chocolates (20 second intervals) in microwave or stovetop
  3. Pour chocolate over popped corn
  4. Mix in cereal or pretzels (or both!)
  5. Add sprinkles and candy corn to your liking
  6. Serve with milk or water

 

 

Who left the lights on (again)?

 I participated in a campaign about “who left the lights on”on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Lutron. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

If you live with someone- anyone, chances are, like me, you’ve asked “Who left the lights on?” a time or two.  Or in my case, one hundred and eleventy billion times (each week).  If you have small children, you might ask it as much as me.  It’s pretty amazing just how often kids can leave lights on, given the number of hours they do not spend in the house when they are playing outside or at school. (It’s equally amazing how infrequently they flush toilets, but that’s a conversation we can have another day). To say this is frustrating, not to mention costly, is an understatement. 

I spend a lot of time asking “Who left the lights on” (and really, it’s always in a pleasant, even-toned manner. You know).  and following my littles around turning lights off after them.  Why?  If you know kids, you know that their immediate answer is “not me!”

Well, NOT ME doesn’t live here. I’m sure he (or she) is fun to play with, but all this little friend does is leave lights on, doors open, packaging open and never flush the toilet. So I’m not sure I’d want NOT ME to live here even if I did find a way to see the magical elfin being for myself.

Given that this little stinker “Not Me” doesn’t exist except to take the blame for things done all around the world, I’m taking matters into my own hands.

I guess you could say I already did, when I turned off lights left on.

lutron-occupancy-sensor-switch

But I’m going a step further. I’ve installed a motion sensor light switch.

Works with all  kinds of light bulbs (which is good since we have one of every kind ever produced, like ever, in the basement)

Senses daylight and only turns on when needed.

Now, I was going to put this into my son’s room because he’s the worst turning-the-light-off remember-er in the house.  But then I remembered, his light is also a ceiling fan and if the light shuts off, the fan shuts off, and he could be hot in his room.  Not fair.  So I went with the next light with the highest frequency of being left on.  The light in the dining room above the table.

The Maestro Occupancy Switch is also available with as the Maestro Occupancy Sensor CL Dimmer (which we don’t have, but maybe someday?)

This is a GREAT product concept. People forget to turn lights off, they go off automatically.  People walk into the room, light goes on automatically.  Imagine all of the dollars you can save if you have this in the rooms you find lights left on the most?  I’m thinking the bathrooms and living room in our house, and also the hallway light upstairs.  That’ll be a big help, especially if the kids get up in the middle of the night.  One of them isn’t too much a fan of the dark, so having that light go on as you step into the hallway will be really great (and safe) for everyone!

It’s just that I probably should wait a week or so before I ask my husband to HELP me re-install the Maestro where  it won’t be on a 3 way switch.  Thankfully he agrees with me that it’s a great idea and we’re both looking forward to seeing how it works.
A few notes about installation:
1.  Read the instructions.

light-switch-no-sensor-occupancy-switch

Read the instructions again to make sure that you are not Brett Martin and you aren’t trying to install this on a 3-way-switch.  It won’t work.  I mean, the light will work, and YAY! but the whole 3 way thing won’t work and chances are, your spouse won’t be too happy at having to fix that 3 way light switch in your 75+ year old house…

2. After you’ve read the instructions and NOT done what I did, you can make sure you have all of the tools required to finish the job, a flashlight for just in case, and all of your parts for the switch laid out in front of you. You’re going to need a screwdriver, electrical tape, and some needle nose pliers.

light-switch-lutron-sensor-switch

3. Proceed to follow the instructions carefully.

I was pretty impressed both with how easy the instructions were to understand AND how easily I could follow along.  That says something because I am clearly not an electrical genius (if you missed why, see above) and also, our house is 75+ years old with the 75+ year old wiring still in place in some areas…including this switch. I could still successfully connect the wires all by myself.  It took less than half an hour from start to finish.  (I did them correctly, I just sort of didn’t  stop to think about  notice  the whole “3 way switch” detail). I was pretty proud of my handiwork. I still kind of am.

4. Watch your savings grow.

I think the Lutron line can also double a little bit as a security measure- if someone’s trying to sneak into  your house, a light going on when they walk into a room is definitely going to stop them in their tracks and make them think twice about staying!  Mostly, Lutron switches offer a great way to help you to ensure that your hard earned dollars aren’t being spent on lights left on when not in use!  Practical and ingenius- as soon as I’m out of the doghouse I plan to get a few more for some other lights in the house.

Lutron-survey-infographic FNL (2)

Want to check out a Maestro Occupancy/Vacancy Sensor Switch for your house?

25% off Maestro occupancy/vacancy sensor dimmers and switches on LutronStore.com PLUS one free Claro single-gang wallplate ($4.90 suggested list price) with each qualifying item.

Promo Code: wholeftthelightson

          Code expiration date: Sunday, Oct. 31, 2013(subject to change)

You may be wondering why I decided to share what really happened during the installation process.  I don’t want nor intend to lie to anyone on this site. I’m real. This is me, for good and for bad.  I screwed up.  Had I not been sick over the weekend, we might have had time to re-install this switch, but no one felt superb in this house and I had a fever for almost the whole weekend. SO…it got delayed until today. Since my husband took the switch OUT for me to get the dining room light working properly (and safely, I might add) I wasn’t able to get a video review of the whole process. The few minutes I enjoyed it, it was fabulous.  But I’ll be updating again in a month or two and I’ll give you a much less OOPS report on how things are going and what we’ve noticed about leaving lights on.

**Update***

Video of install!! It’s here!