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Friday, February 3, 2017

Ideas for Hosting a Big Game Football Tailgate



 

Invite all your best pals over to a tailgate party right at home for the big game or any other fun time during football season!


   


To get 'the ball rolling', I set out to create an easy and simple tailgate eats for guests to enjoy. When throwing a tailgate, just don't go for the usual spread of food on the back of your truck or car trunk. I made an invitation food cards, mini pennants, cupcake toppers, and LOTS of cuts outs of footballs to give the tailgate spread a bit of flair and fun!
 



For this event, I pulled most of my inspiration from the green of the football fields, brown leather from the football and referee uniforms as reflected in the bands I made for these hoagie wraps. You'll see that adding a strip of parchment paper around the wrap first will prevent any ink from the striped printed paper from touching your food, as printer ink is probably not the safest thing to ingest. I added a football cut out and jute twine for a bit of extra detail and presented the wraps on a square white platter.




 I really wanted to keep the items for the guests to snack on light, portable, but all still keeping with the tailgate theme. We served snacks that were easy to carry and portable. Game Day chili was served in adorable tulip jars by Weck. Fiery and delicious hot wings were placed in a small snack boats that I made using this template that was printed onto kraft paper cardstock and again, making sure to use a square of parchment to protect my food.








I loved how these drink cozies turned out. They really make the bottles of root beer stand out on their own. I created them using a 3" strip of kraft paper and then, ran the paper through my paper crimper and sealed each wrap with a bit of tape. Next, I cut out a football clip art image and glued one on each wrapper for a simple but, fun bottle wrapper!



 Here is a fun way to include the kids when preparing for your tailgate fun. These game day brownies were easy to make with store-bought mix. After baking and cooling we iced the brownie and then allowed to freeze for about 15 minutes, then cut out football shapes and allowed the kids to add the football details with white frosting.




Our game day popcorn and pretzels were served in paper bags and wrapped in parchment paper.  I made simple labels for the bags of popcorn and stuck cute mini pennants into the bags. I created the pennants by cutting out small diamond shapes from the paper pack and then wrapping them around striped straws that I had on hand.

 Each pretzel was placed in a parchment envelope that I made but folding a square of parchment into an envelope shape and simply tying a cord of jute twine around each and adding a football cut out to them.   I also set  out peanuts in a large candy jar....and served individual ones in mason jars.





You should know that, I love making cupcakes for all my events and I certainly don't mind popping a cupcake topper onto them for extra flair. I designed printable toppers and used the green striped stock paper hand to make some of them. Alternately, adding the football cutouts would work great, as well!








Once everyone has snacked on their delicious eats, they can work off they meals by playing a fun tailgate game of ladder-ball before game time! It's sure to be a fun time to be had by all!  I scored a last minute deal on clearance at my local discount store but you can find a similar one here.




If you can't make it to the big game or don't want the hassle of waiting in long lines to enter your local team's stadium, tailgating at home is a great way to get in on the fun of football season.






 Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase printables from this post



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  This post has been updated as of 2/3/2017 and was originally featured as a guest post on MG Party Impressions.  All content, design, styling and photography were all done by me.  


(This post contains affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission when you purchase any of the linked items.  Money generated from such links are used to create and deliver content for this blog. )

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chicken Lasagna Zucchini Boats




How often have you found yourself struggling for ideas on what to make for dinner?  I know my husband and I aren't the only ones.  We're constantly trying to think of different meals that we can make for our family.....especially healthier meals.

Late 2015 I started changing how I eat by following a keto-adapted diet.  I won't get into all of that in this post, but choosing to lead a low-carb high-fat lifestyle has helped me make better meals for my family (and I've lost over 100 lbs.....I'll share how I did it in another post - promise).  While I'm all in and committed to this new way of eating, not everyone in my house is and that's okay.  I'd love if they could all be on board and hopefully they'll get there, but for now....baby steps.

In trying to merge our traditional weeknight meals that we love with meals that fit into my diet, I've had to adjust meal planning just a bit.  We make meals based around what I can eat....and the kids (and sometimes my hubby) get to have a side dish that I most likely won't eat....like rice, potatoes, bread, etc.  That's the easy part, because I can eat a lot of different foods....which is awesome and I'm not deprived....the trick is being able to mix it up.  Like, well, what if we want Chinese?  We can have Stir Fried Beef with veggies.....no rice for me.  What about Spaghetti....I can make regular pasta for the rest of the family and I'll roast a spaghetti squash and top it with meat sauce.  Everyone wins.  Traditional meals that we love, but I have the option of choosing food that is healthier.

One of my go to meals now when we're trying to figure out what to make for dinner is zucchini boats.  I love making them because you can pretty much add different fillings to them and they're perfect for a keto lifestyle.  Plus, my kids really like them....which is another huge win.



I first heard of zucchini boats after watching one of those fun quick minute meal videos you see on Facebook.  The video showed in several steps how to make pepperoni 'pizza' zucchini boats.  This girl loves pizza - but it's obviously not low-carb....but here was an option to get the flavors of pizza and it is keto-friendly.  I was instantly hooked.  Once I realized how versatile zucchini boats were, it became one of my go to meals for dinner.  We can make cheese steak zucchini boats, crab-filled zucchini boats, taco style zucchini boats.....the list goes on.  They're also great for adding to your meal planning menu.



You can prep these ahead of time by having your meat seasoned and pre-cooked, veggies cut up  and sauce on hand in your pantry.  I used the new Homestyle Ragu sauce for the recipe I'm sharing today.  I love that it tastes homemade, doesn't have high fructose corn syrup (a keto no-no), no artificial ingredients.....and the sauce itself is nice and thick!  I am telling you....I'm a sauce snob....I either make it myself or buy a basic sauce and add extra seasoning to it, but this sauce doesn't need anything extra at all!  It's definitely going to be a staple in our pantry.  Head over to their site and check out some of their delicious recipes!




Making the actual boats is fairly easy.  You just slice them lengthwise, hollow out the center with a scoop (save the scooped out flesh because you will add it to your mixture), then you fill the boats with a cheese mixture just like you would for lasagna!






I always like to try something new each time I make them.  I thought of adding bacon, but since this is an Italian style meal, I added pancetta!  YUUUUMMM!!!  After rendering down the pork, I added a bit of olive oil and seasoned a few pieces of chicken with a bit of salt and pepper....it doesn't need much because cooking the chicken in the same pan the pancetta is cooked in will pick up those flavors.....double YUUUUUMMMM!  Once the chicken is cooked, I add in the scooped out bits from the zucchini, added the Homestyle Ragu sauce and let it cook until warmed through.





The next steps are easy, you just top the filled boats with the meat and sauce mixture, top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a covered dish for about 25 minutes.







I like  to always add a little extra cheese when I'm baking dishes like this.  So, I tend to go back in and add a bit more cheese and let it cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes.

When the zucchini is ready, you can serve it with a simple side salad.  If your family prefers pasta, a small serving of penne or cavatappi would work great with this as a meal, as well.










I'll definitely be creating more dishes like this and making more family traditions with RAGÚ® Here's my recipe for delicious chicken lasagna zucchini boats!  




Learn more about RAGÚ® Homestyle Sauces and discover more recipes for the family here 


LET'S GET SOCIAL!
What are some of your favorite weeknight meals?  I'd love to hear!!!
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Monday, January 23, 2017

2016: A Look Back and Lessons Learned

Before I hit publish, I just want to preface this post by noting that what I write below, may sound sappy and overly sensitive, maybe it is.....there is some for sure rambling (sorry).  It's definitely not a post that I typically share on my blog.  For perhaps, the past three years, I believe I've been trying to figure out my place and space in the super saturated world of blogging.  I've been doing this for almost 8 years now and I definitely don't feel that I have found my footing yet, but I'm getting there.  I wrote this post over a week ago and have been sitting on it.  The thoughts and words I share have been on my mind because I've just felt very stagnant about the direction of this blog.  Blogging is about a journey and about sharing and authenticity, my hope is that I always do my best to bring those into the fold.  I'm not so sure I've always done that or done it well.  My goal has been to always bring fresh, new and on trend ideas to you and simply share what I know and hope that you will leave inspired.  What I share below is just a bit of reflection.....and that's all it simply is.  I know there is another gal, mom, boss chick, out there who is possibly feeling the same as me and as it's my hope to share my passion for creating, it's also my hope that there are others who simply relate to where I'm at.  That being said, I'm glad for the new years and new beginnings and am excited for 2017!......



As I look back and reflect on how my blogging year went in 2016 I can say that I may not been as 'with it' as I initially set out.  In January 2016, I shared how much I wanted for this blog and what I wanted to share with my readers.  I was gung ho to do 'all the things' and make it work.  i bought all the goal setting books and had plans written out.....and then at some point....I hit a wall.

I know for sure at some point during the middle of the year....I was just OVER IT....over trying to make things work with this blog.  My intention was always to share all the many things happening with my party business and lots of fun at home party, craft and DIY ideas.....but I honestly struggled with another aspect of blogging that has evaded me for a while.....which was maintaining and acquire various ways to monetize this blog.  I mentioned last year that blogging isn't easy....when you want to reach a certain level of blogging, there is a lot of work that goes into it.  I sooooo wanted to get there and I just could not.  I haven't.  I could say I was in my own way....but I really think I was just not into it.



Monetizing a blog takes work, time, patience, effort.  As a wife, mother, who works a full-time job, my blog, my Etsy shop and my party business naturally has to come in last.....but my blog, Etsy shop and party business bring me great joy.  There's a lot of creativity and passion that go into them.  My family is my biggest passion and my job, my work is a necessity.  It's how our family stays clothed and fed.  If I'm going to put energy and time into the other aspects of my life with blogging, running an online shop and having a business....it better well be worth the time I take from my family and benefit us financially.  But that's just not what it's all about, is it?

You see, I love writing, I love creating, I love making, I love cooking, I love organizing, I love planning and I love doing fun things with my family.  These are the things I want to share, these are things I want to bring to my blog and you!  Getting all of that into a post well, it takes a lot of time.  The reality is, while I want to share, I do wish to do it in the most authentic way possible.  My struggle has been trying to focus on monetizing the blog in various ways while staying true to myself.  You know, at the end of the day, the truth is....if I just stay focused on doing what I do, sharing what I know and be my most true self, everything else will fall into place.  That's where I'm at right now and where I intend to stay.  Right now, I can honestly say, I got caught up in the hype....trying to 'do all the things' that needed to be done to grow my blog and make money from it.  When I started, all I wanted to do was use my blog as a way to reach other moms who I could share my ideas and creativity....that was all.






Don't get me wrong....if opportunities arise for me to earn money to help this little blog grow and for me to keep creating ideas and content....I'm all over it....just not at the expense of making it a priority or making it drive me nuts!  I realize now after reading that beginning of the year post from 2016 and going through some of the most popular posts that I didn't really check in with myself.  I thought I did.....but I didn't.  I lived most of my year frustrated about the things that were just not working with my blog.  I (again) lost the purpose and intent of why I started this blog.  Also, my life just got in the way.....and other priorities took precedence.  I mean...that's okay....it's obvious that family, work, home and self care supersedes so much more than what I'm posting....but, this blog is FUN for me.  As I've said, I love writing, I love creating, I love sharing and if those three things combined can help someone, well....that's all I need.

When I set out to write this post, I thought, well, I'm going to list again all the great things to come for this blog.  I have it written down in a list of goals for the year and I'm adding new blog ideas almost daily....but, I feel that will set me up for disappointment.....not because sharing it with you wouldn't be something that holds me accountable, it totally would....it's that late last year, I realized that life is about moments, moments filled with memories....and that's what I want to really share what's REAL.  I do have lots in store for this blog.....ideas I've been sitting on, posts that I have yet to publish.....and other changes that are on stand-by.  Until that time, I'll be working on preparing my posts, deciding what will work for my life and if what I intend to share on this blog that will be helpful to others.






Much of what I shared at the beginning of last year is certainly still on my radar, some things are not, but I truly wish for this blog to be a place where I can share my creativity in all the different aspects of my life and the things I love......and my hope for myself this year and for this blog is that I will stay focused on bringing you awesome ideas and creativity!  I want to stay true to myself and what I love, pray that it transcends and if that happens....everything else will fall into place as it will.

Here's to a fun, fabulous, AUTHENTIC, 2017!!!!




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