Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mac N Cheese with Hidden Cauliflower

I'm REALLY pregnant and my ankles  cankles are very pronounced these days.  Yet, I still wanted to make some homemade macaroni and cheese along with dinner last night.  I always serve a vegetable with the meal, and maybe one teeny tiny top of a broccoli floret will get consumed by my kids.  Last night I had an idea -- a brilliant idea.  I made my cheese sauce with 2 full cups of cauliflower.  Much Vitamin C was consumed last night.  My husband, who tends to hate cauliflower, was even fooled!  I cannot believe how well this meal both tasted and hid the veggies!

Cauliflower Mac N Cheese

One 16 oz bag of frozen cauliflower, steamed
One stick of butter
2 7oz bags of shredded cheese (I used mac n cheese blend)
One box of pasta (we used macaroni, but I've used rotini with good results too)
1/3 cup of heavy cream
1 tsp of garlic
salt to taste
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, divided
Parmesan cheese (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cook pasta according to directions and drain.

In a food processor, chop the stick of butter and the steamed/drained cauliflower to a fine consistency.  Add the cheese, cream, garlic, and salt and use the chopper to mix.

In a baking dish add half the pasta and half the cheesy cauliflower mixture.  Then, sprinkle the top with half the Panko crumbs and half the Italian seasoning.  Repeat with the second half of the pasta, cheesy cauliflower mixture, Panko crumbs and Italian seasoning.  Finally, sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese if desired.  Bake about 30 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are slightly brown.  Deliciousness!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Newcomer's Guide to Creation Northeast

Last summer I attended a day at Creation NorthEast in Shirleysburg, PA.  Although I've lived only 30 miles from the largest Christian music festival for the past 12 years, I had never made the trek with my youth group.  (They went, but I didn't.)  The night before I scoured the internet for some good FAQ, but found little.  So, I am creating one.

What can I bring?
You can bring just about anything into Creation, except fireworks/sparklers, alcohol and drugs.  Coolers are completely fine.  You'll see them everywhere.  Umbrellas are also fine.  I left mine home assuming they were a No-No, but there were tons of people with them and they didn't really obstruct views.  (I'm referring to umbrellas that one normally uses for rain, NOT beach umbrellas). No pets.

What should I wear?
Since Creation is at the end of June, it will likely be hot.  Modest attire is required (no crop tops) so shorts and T-shirt is the norm.  Half the crowd seemed to be wearing a shirt from the many Christian colleges given them out for free.  In the evening it does get cooler, so be sure to pack a sweatshirt or jacket. Shoes were a question for me and a debate about our youth staff.  I chose hiking sandals because they could just rinse off if they got muddy.  I mentioned how next time I'd wear old sneakers as there were speakers in the woods and sticks and sandals don't mesh.  Our youth pastor mentioned how miserable that would be if it rained, which is why he chose sandals.  Be prepared though--it is very dusty and muddy.

What should I bring?

  • WATER.  LOTS OF WATER.  It is hot, and unless you want to spend a day's wages on water alone, you'll want to bring some.  I drank 6 bottles of water, 2 iced coffees, and one can of soda during my one day there.  Our group brought two coolers with water and soda (I'd go heavy on the water side of this) and just left them at our tarp all day.
  • A tarp.  At Creation it appears your territory is marked with a tarp.  You can place your tarp as early as 5:30am.  We got there at 10am and still got fairly good seats, but off to the side.  Then, we placed camping chairs on the tarp.
  • Camping chairs.  We left ours at our spot at the main stage, but others would carry them to the fringe/indie stages or speakers.
  • Water.  It's that important.
  • Snacks.  There are tons of food trucks there.  Think county fair.  But I brought along some crackers and a cereal bar so I didn't spend too much on food.  The food prices were fair for event pricing.  For lunch I had a chicken gyro for $8.  An ice cream cone was $3. For dinner I had a "gourmet" chicken salad sandwich on a pretzel roll for $5.  My iced coffees (two different stands) were $2 and $2.50.  Milkshakes were $3-$4.  There was also Chinese, pizza, burgers, pretzels, hot dogs, sausages and more I can't recall.
  • Hand Sanitizer.  The restrooms are either portopotties or outhouses. The portopotties had hand sanitizer inside, but by the end of the day many had run out.  I brought both hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for before I ate.
  • Ziploc bags.  We were fortunate it didn't rain, but if it had, these would have been helpful to protect expensive things like cell phones.
  • Emergency ponchos.  You can find these at dollar stores or mass merchandisers for about $1.  These would be nice in the event of rain and they are small and light.
  • A towel or paper towels.  We had a spill on our tarp.  Glad I had a towel.
  • A small blanket.  Not a necessity, but it was nice to have when our group was eating lunch near the food area.  Plus when it got chilly in the evening.
  • SUNSCREEN.  Wow, this should've been mentioned before.  You are in the sun all day.  This is a must.  Apply liberally and more than once.
  • Sunglasses.  It's sunny.  The main stage must face east, because as we looked at it in the evening, we were staring right at the setting sun.  Sunglasses.
What is the day like?

We arrived fairly early in the morning for a bunch of teenagers and their leaders: about 9am.  We paid for admission and were kindly directed to a parking spot.  It was muddy.  We had to walk quite a bit to the area of the main stage where we sought out a spot that was not already claimed by blankets or chairs.  We were fortunate to still find a great spot near an aisle on the right side.  We set up our chairs, cooler, and blankets and headed out to look around.  There were other stages (such as fringe), a leader's oasis room (air conditioning!) and lots of food carts.  What surprised me was the food was pretty reasonably priced for food stands.  I enjoyed iced coffee from two different stands.  We looked at a schedule and marked out what bands and speakers we wanted to see.  We split between Main Stage, Fringe Stage and a speaker that was in an area in the woods.  (Note: if you want to see the speaker in the woods, bring something to sit on or bugs will find you!)  The day was very relaxed and we had plenty of time to enjoy some awesome music.  The teens in our group enjoyed visiting the vendor and getting lots of giveaways as well.  After the last band, we headed back to our car and had no trouble exiting the venue (maybe a few minutes of traffic) and back on to the road toward civilization.

Even though I don't have too many questions here, Creation is in a less than 4 months (June 24-27, 2015), so I'm going to post this.  If you have ideas for other questions, please comment below and I will address them from my experience!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kleenex Brand Review

I’m a member of the Crowdtap Kleenex Brand® rewards program, and Kleenex® Brand sent me their tissues with lotion and their anti-viral tissues to review.
Prior to receiving this sample I thought there was just one brand of tissues with lotion. I didn't realize Kleenex also made lotion tissues! Two of my children came down with colds and having lotion tissues in the house was great to sooth sore noses.
These lotion tissues were a big hit.
With so many illnesses going around the country presently, this product gave me piece of mind that illnesses one child brings might not be spread to other children in the home. Kleenex Anti-Viral helps insure that germs in the tissue won't necessarily be transferred to other surfaces on the way to the trash. #crowdtap #sponsored #KleenexBrandBelievers
I didn't receive any monetary compensation for these reviews, but I did receive the products for free.
Kleenex also wanted me to share a $1.50 off coupon with my blog readers, but it doesn't seem to be working right now.  If the link is repaired, I will update this post to reflect it!