Easy Lunch Box Ideas: Back to School

Easy Lunch Box Ideas for Back to School

It’s only the second {full} week of school for us and I’m already struggling to think of fun and healthy lunch box ideas.  And truth be told, many days I’d sacrifice either the “fun” and maybe even a “healthy” lunch as long as it’s something Doodle would actually eat.  But if I can pack a lunch that encompasses all three of these things, then I’m really in business.

I have a tendency to pack the same items every single day.  And Doodle isn’t much help unless he’s presented with a list of options.  So, I put one together for both of us.  And maybe you, too?  Just choose one from the main course category, two from the fruits and veggie category, one snack or treat, and a drink.  Easy!

How to Pack a Lunch Box in Four Steps

{If you want to print this list, right click on the image above and then click save. Then just open it in a program like Word and print.}

Doodle has been obsessed with these little milk containers from Horizon Organic.  I spotted them the other day at my grocery store, and they come in 2%, vanilla, chocolate, and Doodle’s favorite: strawberry.  He’s been like a machine chugging these down.

horizon-organic

If you’re packing perishables, make sure to include an ice pack. I also love to tuck in little notes – you can find some great ones here.  And if you’re still looking for a few other ideas, here are some of our favorites:

These little Pepperoni Pizza Muffins are packed with pepperoni and cheese, and are the perfect lunch box food or after school snack!
Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

Forget those boxed bars and make your own - these Funfetti Granola Bars are a fun twist on boring old granola!
Funfetti Granola Bars

cheesecake-fruit-dip
Strawberry Cheesecake Fruit Dip

Connect with Horizon Organic:

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This conversation is sponsored by Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.

XO, Ashley

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How to Entertain with a Cheese Tray

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sargento for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I’m all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

So, small confession here: as a food blogger, I often get a little stressed out when I’m entertaining. People expect you to serve something fancy and festive and quite frankly, by the time I’ve worked all week and gotten the house into a presentable shape, the last thing I want to do is spend hours preparing food.  Cheese trays are one of my favorite ways to entertain, simply because they’re so easy to put together.  I especially love them in the summer months, when it’s too darn hot to maintain a huge appetite or to turn on the oven.

You just need to grab some fresh fruits, jams, crackers, and wine (if you’re into that sort of thing), spread it out on a tray, and you’re good to go.

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

 

However, the specialty cheese case at my grocer can sometimes get a bit expensive.  When I’m shopping for four to five different varieties of good cheeses, $10 or so a piece doesn’t fit my budget.  That’s why I was super excited to find Sargento’s new line of eight specialty cheeses: at a suggested retail price of $2.69, they don’t break the bank!

If you’re like me, you love cheese, but don’t always know what to pair with the different varieties.  So I’ve put together a list of my favorite tips when entertaining with a cheese tray.

First, grab a few varieties of different crackers, pita chips, bread rounds, and/or pretzel crisps.

I loaded up on some over the weekend at Wal-Mart and found a great variety for not a ton of money.

  Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

Next, set out a few of your favorite jams or spreads.

 

After trying this Fig-Proscuitto Pizza, I’ve discovered that fig jam is my very favorite jam to serve with cheese. Below, I used a strawberry jam with Sargento New Zealander Cheese, which was simply heavenly. The New Zealander is a combination of creamy Gouda and sharp Cheddar (two of my favorites!), and I almost ate the entire block during this photo shoot. Oops?

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

 You’ll also want to grab a few cheese knives.

You don’t have to spend a fortune – you can find many for less than $5!

 

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

Fresh fruit is also a must: apples, grapes, berries, pears – even pineapple!

Pineapple and grapes are the perfect compliment to Sargento’s Fiesta Pepper Jack. This variety blends a buttery Monterey Jack with four fiery pepper varieties, and is one of my favorites.

The Medium Asiago cheese is smooth with nutty undertones, and is perfect paired with nuts, bell peppers, and a nice sauvignon blanc.

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

Apples and nuts are always great paired with cheddar cheeses. We enjoyed both the Aged Wisconsin Cheddar and the Aged Vermont White Cheddar along with some apple slices and roasted almonds.  Try serving a glazed nut blend along with the White Cheddar – yum!

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

The Bruschetta Jack was another super fun cheese.  It’s soft and cream and combines the flavor of natural Monterey Jack with staple bruschetta ingredients – you’ll want to serve this one with crisp bread slices and/or crackers and a red wine.  A Zinfindel would be perfect.

Summer grilling season is upon us, and I'm all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.

Whatever your plans for the summer, try entertaining with a cheese tray – it’s pretty much no fuss, which leaves you more time for visiting and relaxing.  And isn’t that the whole point? ;-)

Tell me: what’s your favorite kind of cheese?

You can check out more from Sargento here:

Sargento Tastings | Sargento on Pinterest | Sargento on Facebook

 

XO, Ashley


 


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Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza

This easy Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza is a breeze to put together, is always a crowd-pleaser, and will get even the kiddos to eat their veggies!

This easy Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza is a breeze to put together, is always a crowd-pleaser, and will get even the kiddos to eat their veggies!

My husband loves veggies and Ranch dressing.  I mean, seriously loves it.  While my snack of choice usually gravitates towards the sugary and calorie-laden, the Tall Boy always reaches for carrot sticks and Ranch dressing.  But lately, I’ve really been trying to eat more of the rainbow…and this Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza makes it super easy.

All you need is a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix, crescent dough, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), and your favorite chopped veggies.  Broccoli and/or cauliflower would work great on this, but neither of my guys will eat either of those veggies, so then I’d be stuck eating this entire snack pizza on my own.  Wait, maybe that’s not a bad thing. ;-)

This easy Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza is a breeze to put together, is always a crowd-pleaser, and will get even the kiddos to eat their veggies!

The Tall Boy gobbled up this Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza last weekend during March Madness like nobody’s business.  And that’s even without the shredded Parmesan cheese I forgot to put on top. You should totally do that.

What’s super fabulous about this recipe is that it’s easily adaptable, can be made ahead, and takes almost no time to throw together.  It’s perfect for entertaining or snacking!

This easy Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza is a breeze to put together, is always a crowd-pleaser, and will get even the kiddos to eat their veggies!

Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza

Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza

Ingredients

  • 2 packages Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 16 ounces Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 (1-ounce) package Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh dill, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls and press into a 10x15-inch pan. Press the dough down to seal the seams. Bake until puffy and golden brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. While the dough is cooking, stir together your Greek yogurt and seasoning packet until completely combined. Spread in an even layer over the cooled crust. Top with the chopped veggies and shredded cheese and sprinkle with fresh dill, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve - serve cold!
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/veggie-ranch-snack-pizza/

This easy Veggie Ranch Snack Pizza is a breeze to put together, is always a crowd-pleaser, and will get even the kiddos to eat their veggies!

From dressings and dips to sandwich spreads and side dish solutions, the special blend of herbs and spices makes Hidden Valley the perfect addition to any recipe. For more delectable ranch recipes, visit www.hiddenvalley.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hidden Valley Ranch. The opinions and text are all mine.

XO, Ashley

 

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Sloppy Joe Oven Baked Tacos

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

Sloppy Joe Oven Baked Tacos

So, things have been a little crazy around the Kitchen Meets Girl household lately.

Doodle ended up with strep last week, and as soon as that got cleared up, some nasty internet jerk hacked our computer, PayPal account and g-mail account.  Preparing elaborate and time-consuming meals are not top on my priority list right now.

If you want to know the truth, preparing meals like that are never high on my priority list.  Quick and easy is the name of the game around here.  So when I got the opportunity to sample three of Manwich’s Sloppy Joe sauces, I was all over it.  If you’re not familiar with Manwich, it is a hearty sauce with a sweet and tangy taste–perfect for kids like mine who prefer sweet flavors to spicy.

The kid-stopping power of Manwich makes meals a messy-licious treat to be enjoyed with both hands – giving moms and dads an easy, quality ingredient to bring the family’s attention back to mealtime and away from everyday distractions. Plus, each can of Manwich is free of artificial flavors and preservatives, and offers a full serving of vegetables.

Score one for mom. ;-)

Sloppy Joe Oven Baked Tacos

Manwich comes in three flavors: Original, Bold, and Thick & Chunky.  If you’ve been around my blog much at all, you know that the Tall Boy and I love spicy foods, so I decided to put a spin on our usual taco night.  I simply browned some hamburger, added in some cumin, and then a can of the Manwich Bold sauce.  I filled our taco shells, sprinkled ‘em with cheese, and popped them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes – just long enough for the cheese to melt and the shells to warm.

Doodle loved the sweet Sloppy Joe taco filling, and I loved the ease of having dinner ready and on the table in a flash – perfect for those busy nights when we’re in a rush {um, that’s most nights!}.

Sloppy Joe Oven Baked Tacos

Sloppy Joe Oven Baked Tacos

Sloppy Joe Oven Baked Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 can (15 oz each) Manwich® Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup shredded shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 12 taco shells

Instructions

  1. Cook turkey or beef in large skillet over medium-high heat 7 minutes or until crumbled and no longer pink, stirring occasionally; drain. Stir in Sloppy Joe sauce and cumin; simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Line taco shells in a 9x13 pan and evenly divide Sloppy Joe mixture in the shells. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and place in oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and shells are warm.
  4. Divide lettuce evenly between taco shells.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/sloppy-joe-oven-baked-tacos-2/

And guess what?  One of YOU will have the change to win a $100 prize pack that includes:1 sample of each of the three Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce varieties, 4 mess-friendly Manwich bibs (1 for each member of the family), Manwich wooden spoon, Calphalon saucepan, Mess-free wipes, $30 gift card for groceries.

How to enter:

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Sometimes the form takes a few minutes to load. You will need to login to the Rafflecopter form using your email address. Be sure to use an email address you check often, as that is how you will be notified if you win.

Fine Print: You must be 18 years or older to enter. Giveaway runs through February 12, 2014. Winner will be notified via email within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway and has 48 hours to respond to said email or a new winner will be chosen.  Sorry, open to U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more family meal inspiration (and to see the kid-stopping power of Manwich in action), view the Manwich TV Ads here.  And be sure to check out their easy, family-friendly recipes here: Manwich Recipes.

XO, Ashley

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by Manwich, but all opinions are 100% mine.


 


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Making Healthier Choices with Weight Watchers

Thank you to Weight Watchers for getting my new year started off right. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.

Making Healthier Choices with Weight Watchers #SimpleStart

Hi guys. I wanted to check in with you one more time after starting my journey {again} with Weight Watchers. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this isn’t my first rodeo with Weight Watchers, although their Simple Start plan is new to me. And now that I’ve had a chance to try it out for awhile, I have to tell you:

I really love it.

If you’re familiar with Weight Watchers at all, you know that historically their plans involve counting points, and that constant tallying can sometimes drag you down.  If I’m being honest, I actually kind of like counting points.  To me, it’s sort of a challenge to see how much food I can eat in a day and still stay within my point allowance.

But it’s nice – really nice – to not have to worry about points.  All you do is eat from a list of {power} foods that you can find in any grocery store.  They give you lots of delicious meal ideas or you can make your own.

It’s so simple!

When I’m eating healthy, I feel so, so much better.  And that’s really my end goal here.  While fitting into those skinny jeans would be super duper nice, what I really want is a healthy body and to set a good example for my son.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring – it’s all about making healthier choices.  So if you want a cupcake every once in awhile, then have one – and don’t beat yourself up over it.  Just get back on track, and remember: each day is a new one!

Want to see some examples of healthier options?  Here are a few of my favorites {click on the photo for the recipe}:

Guilt Free Blueberry Muffin from www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com - bursting with blueberries and a cinnamon struesel topping, these muffins are just 6 WW points+ each!

How to Bake the Perfect Potato: get crispy skin and a fluffy inside with this easy method! #SimpleStart

Szechuan Orange Chicken on www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com - tastier than takeout in less than half an hour, and under 300 calories!  Use Minute brown rice to speed up your weeknight meals!

Filled with fruit, Greek yogurt, and a bit of flaxseed, this berry power smoothie is a #simplestart to a new you!

Tell me: are you interested in seeing more Weight Watcher recipes here?  

While it may not always look like it based on my blog posts, we do usually eat healthy most of the time around my house. ;-)

XO, Ashley

 

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Learn to Make a Classic Béchamel Sauce

So you guys. I have a confession.

Growing up, I hated cooking. I wanted nothing to do with being in the kitchen and was pretty much as uninterested in food as a person could get. I realize now I missed out on gathering a lot of great knowledge from my grandmother, who was basically the best cook ever {grandmas are like that, right?}.  So yeah, I was pretty stoked when I discovered Craftsy.

bechamel-sauce

But now that I have a family of my own, the bonding time spent talking and laughing around the dinner table is one of the best parts of my day. Obviously, my cooking knowledge basically comes from trial and error, and not from any formal training. And so I decided to look into some cooking classes here in my town…to build a solid culinary foundation by learning some of the basics and how to manipulate those to make them my own.

And you know what I discovered? Those classes? They’re kind of expensive. Not only that, but they’re a fair distance from my house, they conflict with Doodle’s karate schedule, and I’m left wondering how I’m going to fit that in with the rest of my life. I mean, my “me” time is basically 9:30 pm and later…and last I checked, it’s pretty difficult to find a cooking class that starts at 10 pm.

Well, until now.

I recently discovered Craftsy, which is basically an online classroom that offers crafting classes, taught by world renowned instructors.  Seriously, I just took A Modern Take on the Mother Sauces taught by James Peterson, who has 15 cookbooks and won the James Beard Award 7 times.  Not only that, but I took it at 10 pm in my pajamas.

photo

Awesome, right??

Not only can you enjoy the classes entirely on your own schedule, but they are available to you anytime you want for as long as you want!  With each course, you’ll get several hours of HD-quality video content.  Plus, you’re able to ask your instructor questions, upload photos, and get personalized responses, and participate in discussions with your classmates.

Believe me when I tell you these classes are worth checking out.  I’ve already signed up for one on pizza making, bread baking, and Italian sauces.  I’m going to be a carb-eating machine.

I tried to compensate by roasting some cauliflower, but then I used my new-fangled culinary skills to turn it into cauliflower gratin, and well…the cream and cheese kind of cancelled out all of the veggies.  But it was worth it. ;-)

cauliflower-gratin

Here’s just a sample list of the types of cooking and baking courses offered by Craftsy:

Perfecting the Pie Crust
Artisan Bread Making
Sweet & Savory Food Gifts
Decadent Chocolate Cakes
Secrets of Slow Cooking: Mastering the Braise
A Modern Take on the Mother Sauces
Homestyle Pan Sauces
Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know
…and many more!

I know there is at least one topic on that list that inspires you!  Click here to check out the Craftsy courses (and save up to 25%!).  They make great holiday gifts for all of your foodie or inspiring-foodie friends.

Take your holiday traditions to a whole new level with Craftsy’s holiday gifting and cooking courses. Craftsy is also offering my readers up to 25% off a full-length Craftsy course! Whether you’re a pie perfectionist or gift-giving guru, Craftsy has something for you. Learn more about Craftsy and how to turn your ideas into reality!

Click here to get your special discount on this course!

 

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Craftsy. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

XO, Ashley

 

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Pumpkin Pie in a Glass

Thumb_a04efdec-5050-11e3-8c03-22000afd2dc7Thumb_a04efdec-5050-11e3-8c03-22000afd2dc7

This Pumpkin Pie in a Glass is my new favorite drink for Fall.  Now you can eat your pie – and drink it, too.  

This Pumpkin Pie in a Glass is my new favorite drink for Fall.  Now you can eat your pie - and drink it, too.  #KahluaHoliday

It’s the time of year for entertaining, and if you’re like my friends and family, you can’t get enough pumpkin pie anything.  My cousin is actually known for layering huge scoops of whipped cream between two slices of pumpkin pie and eating it all herself {we call it the double-decker}.  Granted, she did this as a teenager {a few decades ago}, but it’s still the main topic of conversation around the dessert table at Thanksgiving.

And if you’re really like me, you’re stuffed to the brim after the Thanksgiving meal {or any holiday meal, for that matter}…but you still want that something sweet.  Sweet potatoes don’t count: those are vegetables, no?

That’s where Pumpkin Pie in a Glass comes in.  Seriously, this drink is rich, creamy, and delicious, and tastes just like pumpkin pie.  Plus, it has Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice in it, so it’s perfect for my family functions. ;-)

This Pumpkin Pie in a Glass is my new favorite drink for Fall.  Now you can eat your pie - and drink it, too.  #KahluaSpirit

It’s also just as delicious served right along these no-bake mini pumpkin pies.  Because who needs a double-decker when you can drink your pie and eat it, too?

If you want to be a little decadent, add some of the Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice into your whipped cream.  I taste-tested it for you, and it’s pretty darn yummy.

mini-no-bake-pumpkin-pies-PM

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass

Ingredients

  • 2 parts Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 part hazelnut liqueur
  • 2.5 parts heavy cream
  • 1 part pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake to combine, and then pour into glass. Serves one.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/pumpkin-pie-in-a-glass/

Mini No-Bake Pumpkin Pies

Mini No-Bake Pumpkin Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 count) mini shortbread pie shells
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is also fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, pumpkin sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Carefully spoon pumpkin pie filling into shortbread shells, and top with whipped cream.
  2. For the whipped cream:
  3. Beat together cream, powdered sugar and Kahlúa until peaks form. Dollop cream on top of pies.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/pumpkin-pie-in-a-glass/

 

Want more holiday recipes and ideas? Be sure to follow Kahlúa on Facebook and Pinterest.

 To get inspiration for more great recipes and entertaining ideas with Kahlúa and for a chance to win the ultimate holiday party, please visit www.kahluaholiday.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kahlúa. The opinions and text are all mine.

XO, Ashley

 

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Cinnamon Cookie Martini

I don’t know about you, but when something is labeled “Cinnamon Spice,” I’m pretty much all over it.  I’m not going to lie, sometimes our extended family holiday functions warrant sneaking a little something extra into my coffee.

Get into the holiday spirit with these festive Cinnamon Cookie Martinis! #KahluaSpirit

So when I saw this Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice sitting on the shelf at my liquor store, I pretty much had to have it.  Um, Merry Christmas to me!

{Side note: Christmas is just over a month away.  Let that sink in for a minute, then have a mild panic attack along with me, while I wonder how in the world 2013 passed by so quickly.}

Right now, our temperatures here are still in the 60’s by mid-afternoon, so while imbibing a shot of this Kahlúa in my after-dinner coffee would taste fantastic, a cool, creamy cinnamon cookie martini goes down just as nicely.  Plus, it looks fancy, and every now and then, I like to appear sophisticated, even though it’s likely I’m drinking this in my spaghetti sauce covered sweatshirt.

Get into the holiday spirit with these festive Cinnamon Cookie Martinis! #KahluaSpirit

I love chocolate, and it’s the perfect pairing with this Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice. With a hint of chocolate, the creamy factor from the chocolate milk, and the notes of cinnamon and spice from the Kahúla, these martinis go down easily.

Bottoms up!

Cinnamon Cookie Martini

serves 1

Cinnamon Cookie Martini

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 parts Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
  • 1 part chocolate liqueur
  • 1/2 part Absolut Vanilla Vodka
  • 1/2 parts chocolate milk or heavy cream
  • pinch ground cinnamon, optional
  • chocolate shavings and cinnamon sticks for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients, through cinnamon, into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake to combine, then strain into glass. Top with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Drink is intended for those whom alcohol consumption is appropriate. Always drink responsibly.

http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/cinnamon-cookie-martini/

Please note: the labeling on the bottle has changed slightly from the images I’ve shown in my photos above.  This is the current labeling:

kahlua_cinnamon_spice

Connect with Kahlúa here:

Website Facebook | Pinterest

To get inspiration for more great recipes and entertaining ideas with Kahlúa and for a chance to win the ultimate holiday party, please visit www.kahluaholiday.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kahlúa. The opinions and text are all mine.

XO, Ashley

 

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Lean Cuisine – Honestly Good!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO.

If I had to guess, most of you are just as busy as I am.

My days go something like this: up at 5:30 am to get Doodle ready for school and me to work.  Most days I work through lunch, and snacking on whatever I can scrounge out of my desk drawer by mid-afternoon, when I’m tired and completely over staring at my computer screen.  Pick Doodle up at arrive home around 5:00; change and head to karate class or other after-school activity.  Home by around 7:00, trying frantically to complete homework and prepare dinner, while simultaneously throwing in a load of laundry and/or cleaning apple juice off of the floor.

Does this sound like your day, too?

By the time bedtime rolls around, I’m beat…and I don’t often have time to put a lot of thought into what I pack for my lunch the next day.  I know, that sounds awful, right?  But let’s be honest here.  I’m lucky to make it out of the house with matching earrings in the mornings, let alone a bento box of healthiful lunchtime eats.

Thank goodness for Lean Cuisine.

pomegranate-chicken

No, really.  I absolutely mean that.

True, there was a time in my life when eating frozen meals just wasn’t going to happen…but well, things have changed.  And boxed meals from the freezer section aren’t what they used to be.  These are really, really…good.

Lean Cuisine has launched a NEW collection of Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals featuring six different varieties full of 100% all natural, wholesome ingredients with a sauce you can add yourself.  Cool, right?

Not only that, but together with their farmers, Lean Cuisine is donating a portion of the vegetables grown for LEAN CUISINE HONESTLY GOOD meals to local communities.

The new Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals are: Honey Citrus Chicken, Lemongrass Salmon, Pineapple Black Pepper Beef, Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish, Pomegranate Chicken, and Roasted Red Pepper Chicken.  I had the opportunity to try a few of these meals I picked up at Target, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The first meal I tried was the Roasted Red Pepper Chicken.  It’s described as a whole grilled chicken breast filet, with whole grain cavatappi pasta, sea salt and lemon-seasoned broccoli florets, and a roasted red pepper sauce.  Take a look:

red-pepper-chicken

All of the meals come with sauces in individual pouches, which you submerge in a cup of cold water while the meal is in the microwave.  The sauces are full of full, rich flavors, and offer a fresh spin on what’s often perceived as a bland, box meal.

What I was most surprised about was this Lemongrass Salmon.  Look, I’m not normally big on eating frozen fish cooked in the microwave.  In my experience, the fish usually comes out tough and rubbery.

But since I’m really trying to get fish into my diet at least once a week, I decided to give this one a try.  And I’m so, so glad I did.  Described as whole coconut-crusted wild caught salmon filet, brown rice with wheatberries, snap peas, orange and yellow carrots, edamame, and ginger lemongrass sauce, this meal did not disappoint.

Lemongrass-Salmon

 

The last of the three meals I tried was this Honey Citrus Chicken.  This meal boasts a whole grilled chicken breast filet, with whole grain radiatore pasta with spinach, slivered almonds and sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli florets, yellow zucchini, and a honey citrus glaze.

honey-citrus

Even better?  Every single one of the meals I tried kept me full and satisfied for the remainder of the afternoon.  Since I’m a snacker by nature, I expected that I’d need something by mid-afternoon…but I didn’t.  I felt completely satisfied, and not weighed down by the unhealthy food I often grab from the drive-through window.

No joke, these meals are going to be a lifesaver in my already jam-packed work weeks.  No more spending time (I don’t have) in the evenings packing lunches, and no more unhealthy, high-calorie lunches out because I didn’t take the time to pack a lunch.  I can grab one of these in the morning, toss in an apple and a yogurt, and I’m set for the workday.

What’s your go-to lunch for the busy workweek?

 

XO, Ashley

 

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Jacked-Up Chicken Salad Sandwiches

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sargento Foods, Inc. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

These jacked-up chicken salad sandwiches are my favorite lunch-time meal.

Colby-Jack, that is.

Make lunch time fun again with these {colby} jacked-up chicken salad sandwiches! #SargentoCheese #sandwiches #recipe

I’ll be honest: lunch is typically not my favorite meal of the day.  I’ve worked outside of the home for the last 13 years, and taking a sack lunch day after day can get boring.  But going out to lunch can be expensive – not to mention bad for the skinny jeans.

If you’re like me, and want a little more pizzazz in your workday lunches, you need to try these Jacked-Up Chicken Salad Sandwiches.  Full of flavor, but light{er} on calories, you can feel good about taking a real lunch with you {or sending with your kiddos} when you head out the door.

I started by taking one piece of Sargento colby-jack reduced-fat cheese and slicing it diagonally to make two triangles.  Place the cheese into a pita pocket {I used a panini bread here, because that’s what I had on hand – but pita bread would work better and create less mess}.

Make lunch time fun again with these {colby} jacked-up chicken salad sandwiches! #SargentoCheese #sandwiches #recipe

Next, mix up your chicken salad: I used just a little plain Greek yogurt mixed with some buffalo sauce to make the dressing, and added in some diced celery and carrots for crunch.  Since I don’t often have a lot of extra time during the work week to pack lunches, I stirred in some precooked chicken I purchased at the market.

If you have the time to cook and shred your own chicken ahead of time, more power to you. ;-)

Make sure to keep your chicken salad filling in a separate container until you’re ready to eat – otherwise, your sandwich will get soggy, and no one likes that.

I chose to use colby-jack on these sandwiches because it’s Doodle’s favorite.  But I think pepper-jack or mozzarella would be just as awesome.  Quite honestly – you can’t go wrong with cheese.

Make lunch time fun again with these {colby} jacked-up chicken salad sandwiches! #SargentoCheese #sandwiches #recipe

What’s your favorite brown-bag lunch?  If you need more cheesy lunch ideas, make sure to check out my Take A Real Lunch Pinterest board!

 photo 1bf050ab-3488-4cc1-ac11-a58262cac36a_zpsf75a1da0.jpg

Jacked-Up Chicken Salad Sandwiches

makes 2 sandwiches

Jacked-Up Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons buffalo-wing sauce (like Frank's) - start with 1 tablespoon of wing sauce, and adjust to meet your desired heat level. We used 3 tablespoons and it was very spicy, but we like things HOT.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry ranch seasoning mix
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 6 ounces cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 2 sliced Sargento reduced-fat Colby Jack cheese
  • 2 pita pockets

Instructions

  1. Cut cheese squares on the diagonal to form 4 triangles. Place 2 triangles into each pita pocket.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt, buffalo wing sauce and ranch mix until smooth. Add additional wing sauce, if desired. Add in carrots, celery, and chicken, tossing to coat.
  3. When ready to serve, spoon half of the chicken salad mixture into each pita pocket.
  4. Enjoy!
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/jacked-chicken-salad-sandwiches/

XO, Ashley


 


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