Garden Vegetable Baked Ziti

July 25th, 2014

One of my good friends is a vegetarian, and I always have to get creative when she comes to town. Obviously meat and potatoes isn’t going to go over well (not that she would mind that much if we ate it, she would probably just be pretty hungry.) So when she was visiting for the weekend during Aliceana’s birthday I came up with this garden baked ziti.

garden baked ziti
I got to work and chopped up some fresh bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onion and garlic. Looks great, right? There is basically nothing better than vegetables straight from the Farmer’s Market. Well, except maybe the homemade donuts that we buy each Saturday at the Farmer’s Market, those are absolutely the best. Is it Saturday yet?

garden vegetables

Then I added whole wheat pasta and my homemade marinara sauce. Oh and cheese, lots and lots of cheese.

vegetable baked ziti

We all had seconds, Aliceana had thirds and fourths. She really loved it. I have the weird (in a great way, of course) vegetable loving toddler.

We loved the combination of vegetables, it gave the dish such great flavor.

garden baked ziti recipe

Garden Vegetable Baked Ziti

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • ½ pound of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces whole wheat ziti
  • 2 cups shredded colby cheese, divided
  • 16 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, with juices

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet, add vegetables and saute on high heat stirring constantly until vegetables have cooked down.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to directions in a large stock pot. Drain cooked pasta.
  4. Once pasta and vegetables are cooked combine them with marinara sauce, diced tomatoes (with juices) and ½ cup of shredded cheese.
  5. Cook on medium heat until cheese is melted and sauce is heated through.
  6. Spoon mixture into a greased (I use olive oil) oven safe dish, sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!



This recipe is definitely a keeper, and it’s definitely going to stay in our Summer meal plans!

Aliceana’s puppy dog themed birthday party

July 24th, 2014

Despite the fact that I had no time in our extremely busy Summer schedule (as you’re reading this AJ and I in California for a business vacation,) I some how managed to pull together Aliceana’s puppy dog themed birthday party. Phew! Last year I went way overboard and I wasn’t able to enjoy myself at all, so this year I definitely toned it back, a lot. Instead of DIY everything I cheated and used the party outlet and the dollar store to help me out with the theme. This year every one had a lot more fun, and Aliceana was completely spoiled! (I’m pretty sure my Grandma bought her every single Frozen toy that’s out there, and we splurged and bought her a Nabi 2 kids tablet.)

I did make her cake though! I made this funfetti cake from scratch, and I topped it with my favorite whipped buttercream frosting recipe and some colorful heart sprinkles. I loved this frosting, because it’s so fluffy that you don’t have to worry about the frosting looking all pristine and uniform (I hate decorating desserts!)

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I went overboard on cupcakes too. They were devoured extremely quickly. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and topped them with Reeses Puffs cereal so they would resemble dog food.

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I think they turned out pretty cute!

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I made lemon cupcakes and put chocolate chips upside down so they would look like dalmatian spots.

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Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

July 23rd, 2014

I love carbs, and carbs are so much better when they’re covered in a delicious sauce. I’ve been making my own tomato based sauce for months, and recently I added sugar as an ingredient to turn it into a marinara sauce and I’ll never go back. Seriously, homemade easy marinara sauce recipe is the best.

One of the reasons why I love this easy marinara sauce recipe so much, is because it’s so versatile. I use it as a pizza sauce as well as a pasta sauce. It would be great for dipping too.

Easy Marinara Sauce

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Febreze the Noseblind cure (+ Giveaway)

July 23rd, 2014

This review and giveaway was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Febreze. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.
If you watch TV, you’ve seen the commercials for Febreze. You know, the ones where people are blindfolded and asked to identify what they smell, when they’re stuffed in a car full of garbage or a house after a crazy party.

Well, I got to hold my very own Febreze test. It wasn’t quite as crazy, instead all I did was invite my friends over for a movie night.

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We watched the movie and took a few surveys. Of course we popped some popcorn. One thing we noticed was that the run time of your average movie is enough time for someone to get used to the smell of fresh popcorn. If that’s the case, how long do you think it takes someone to get used to how their house smells?

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That’s what we call being Noseblind.

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Help your Community by donating School Supplies #BagItForward

July 22nd, 2014

This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Motherhood, all words are my own. #BagItForward

If you’ve been in any store lately you’ll know that school supplies are out, and you can get quite a few deals! I don’t have any school age children, so these deals don’t help me that much. Then out of curiosity I did a quick search to see if any local programs needed school supplies. I found that our local Boys & Girls Club are in need of school supplies year round.

They need items like glue, scissors, construction paper, markers, and other school supplies that you can find on sale right now. I enlisted some help of family and friends and we went shopping for school supplies. I love giving back, and the fact that I could help out my community by shopping some of the best deals definitely gave me a great feeling.

Here are some of the items we gathered to donate:

donate school supplies #ad

The Boys and Girls Club of America is a great place for kids. They provide a safe place to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, life-enhancing programs and character development experiences, hope and opportunity for children.

I actually went to the local Boys & Girls Club when I was younger. I still remember all the fun art projects, help with homework, field trips, and the one mentor I worked with the most, her name was Robin and I thought that even her name was the coolest.

The original Boys & Girls Club in our town was destroyed by floods, but they now have a brand new location where I dropped off our school supplies. It was so much fun to see! The new location is huge and it was filled with kids of all ages. I think Aliceana wanted to stay forever.

Here we were right before donating with our huge tote of school supplies. Aliceana was extremely curious, I’m pretty sure she wanted all the “colors” for herself.

Boys and Girls Club
It was definitely a really great experience. I think I’ll make this an annual family outing, it was so much fun shopping for everything they needed  and so gratifying to drop it off. They even asked for our address so they could send us a little “thank you” note, how nice is that?

I definitely encourage you to find a great place in your community to donate school items. This time of year even 5 or 10 dollars can buy a ton of great new school supplies. If you can’t find a place to donate school supplies you can take part in Champions for Kids’ SIMPLE Giving program this summer! Visit your participating Walmart store between July 7 – August 1 and look for the purple product display and yellow donation bin. Choose school supplies and donate them right inside the store to help children in your local schools!

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Did you donate school supplies, or are you planning to? Let me know who you helped out in the comments below!

 

Find your Fun Side with Juicy Fruit

July 21st, 2014

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JuicyFruitFunSide #CollectiveBias

I love chewing gum, it will always take me back to my rebellious grade school days, when we would have to sneak gum from the teachers, even though they almost always caught us. Back then one of our favorite gums to chew was always Juicy Fruit. Juicy fruit has grown up quite a bit since then and it’s now available in some really fun forms!

find your fun side with juicy fruit #JuicyFruitFunSide #shop

I’m in love with these little bottles, it makes the gum so easy to share and so easy to transport. These bottles have your gum ready to store in the car, home, or office.

I put together a list of some of the most important times when Juicy Fruit gum will come in handy.

Chew Juicy Fruit on Airplanes!

I know I’ll be packing Juicy Fruit for my trip to California this week. You don’t want that unpleasant feeling of having your ears “pop.” Fun fact: This will only be my second flight ever! So I’m a little bit nervous. How great is Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum for plane rides? The flavor that you love in chewy bubble gum form, you better believe that this will be on hand!
bubble gum #JuicyFruitFunSide #shop

Bring Juicy Fruit to the beach.

This adorable Juicy Fruit packaging is just begging to come along to the beach, don’t you think? I think the Groovy Fruity flavor will be just perfect while we’re relaxing on Carmel Beach. I can easily fit the container in my bag for sharing on our mini-roadtrip.

juicy fruit purse #JuicyFruitFunSide #shop

In your purse or diaper bag.

The other day I had a chiropractor appointment, and right as I was stepping into their office I realized that I probably should have brushed my teeth. I hate that feeling more than anything. I need to have gum on hand to get myself out of those sticky situations. I’m always wishing I had gum when I take Aliceana to the park, now I can stick it in her diaper bag and I’ll always have it with me.

Juicy fruit in your diaper bag #JuicyFruitFunSide #shop

Would you like to try the new Juicy Fruit flavors? Juicy Fruit demos at Walmart stores across the country.

The demo dates are:
July 25-27, 11:00am-4:00pm
August 1-3, 11:00am-4:00pm on Friday/Saturday and 1:00-6:00 on Sunday

I purchased Juicy Fruit at Walmart and you can too!

Juicy Fruitat Walmart #shop
Want to know more about Juicy Fruit and all of their fun flavors and packaging? Check Juicy Fruit out online.

 

Enjoying my favorite food with Pepcid Complete

July 21st, 2014

 

This post is part of a sponsored conversation on behalf of Mom it Forward and Pepcid, all opinions and words are my own.

I went 23 years before experiencing heartburn. It was our babymoon/early 1 year wedding anniversary, I was very pregnant and we were out to dinner and my first case of heartburn struck me hard. I never knew how terrible heartburn was until that moment. My pregnancy with Aliceana definitely helped bring on my first ever heartburn, but now, two years after being pregnant I still get heartburn!

I find that fried and/or spicy foods are what normally triggers my heartburn (and pizza lately,) but there are lots of triggers! Some of the most common heartburn triggers are; tomatoes, fried and fatty foods, chocolate, garlic, raw onions, mints, vinegar, citrus fruits or juices, spicy foods, ketchup and mustard, and coffee. Those are some of my favorites! So this foodie needed a heartburn solution.

I love using Pepcid Complete. You use it at the first sign of heartburn for relief, which is perfect. I don’t experience heartburn enough to have to take a daily dosage, so I love knowing I have Pepcid Complete for those nights that heartburn sneaks up on me. Only 1 tablet is needed to treat your heartburn and acid indigestion symptoms all day or night, and it only takes seconds to kick in. I think that means it’s time to order a pizza (maybe even a side of spicy wings) to truly enjoy without worrying about heartburn.

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Netflix the New Entertainment Evolution

July 19th, 2014

This is part of a sponsored conversation on behalf of Netflix, I’m a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and all opinions are my own.

Normally the Emmy’s are not on my radar, but when one of my favorite shows racks up 12 Emmy nominations I definitely pay attention. Of course I’m talking about Orange is the New Black. Netflix actually has 31 nominations in all, which is so exciting.

I think we should all celebrate with a mimosa.

It makes you wonder how long traditional television will be a part of society. Maybe even how long the “TV room” will be the heart of the home. There are so many great aspects of Netflix streaming services (and the competition, but I haven’t seen anything else really worth subscribing at this point,) that it really makes you wonder. Is Netflix  pioneering the new entertainment evolution?

Here are some of my favorite perks that come with a Netflix subscription.

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#shopcartons to Save Trees this Month!

July 13th, 2014

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Choose Cartons. All words and opinions are my own. 

My family loves to make eco-conscious purchases, whether it’s groceries or cleaning products. I love buying grocery items in cartons instead of cans.

Not only are cartons eco-friendly, they’re also so convenient. They keep food fresh (and a lot of times you can reseal for up to a week after opening!) They take up way less space. They’re also recyclable and renewable. Our family absolutely loves cartons.

During the month of July, you can help donate a tree just by tweeting! The folks at the blog, Choose Cartons , are partnering with Trees for the Future to donate a tree each time the hashtag #shopcartons is mentioned!

Donate a Tree

By partnering with Trees for the Future, Choose Cartons, an Evergreen Packaging initiative, aims to help replant as many of the valuable resources they use for their packaging as possible.

In fact, they are donating up to 10,000 trees during the month of July. All you have to do is tweet.

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Live the Look (+ Giveaway)

July 9th, 2014

I received a promotional credit to conduct this review, all opinions are my own.

I’m not a fashion blogger, but I still love to dress nice. My friends are almost always annoyed by the fact that I’m almost always dressed in a pretty dress. I say dresses are the lazy girls way to look presentable. I love sundresses in Summer and a dress with a pair of leggings in Winter.

I often spend too much time browsing clothing websites. Live The Look is one of my new favorites, a fun new way to shop.

You can shop by your favorite style including; bohemian, edgy, glamorous, ladylike, preppy, casual, sporty, or modern. They have a great collection for each of these styles.

Cameron Diaz;Jason Segel

The other way you can shop is by your look. Do you need a top to go with your favorite pair of blue jeans? How about accessories to go with your favorite little black dress?

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