Aug 24, 2014

Grill Party made easy with Reynolds Wrap (plus a grilled apple pie recipe)

I absolutely love using my grill for entertaining. My number one goal for parties is to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen once my guests arrive. Which makes cooking on the grill perfect for parties. Everyone gathers in the backyard playing ladder ball while the kids run around and jump on the trampoline. Who wants to be in the kitchen working when all the fun is outside?

Not me!

Which is why for our end of summer party I wanted to create grill recipes from appetizers to dessert on the grill. Not a hard task until you get to the dessert. Even after my husband and I did a 30 day grilling challenge we never made dessert on the grill. But I was determined and I put a grilling spin on an old recipe that turned out great!

Grilling makes it easier to be with your guests during the party. Grilling with Reynolds Wrap makes party clean up a breeze! Instead of using grill pans and pots for side dishes, I used Reynolds Wrap to cook my food. After the cooking was done, all I had to do was crumple the aluminium foil up and throw it away. It couldn't be easier!

Especially when you consider my husband mans the grill so once I prep all the food my work is done!

Here’s some inspiration for what you can prepare for your next cookout, whether it’s a night for enjoying a classic burger or having a fun clam bake for your seafood-loving friends.

Jalapeno and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms 

Honestly, you could make any type of stuffed mushroom. Instead of cooking them in the oven, wrap the mushrooms in a double layers of Reynolds Aluminum foil and cook them on the grill. It was easy and fuss free. Best of all, I had the mushrooms ready to go in the packets before anyone arrived. 

Main Entree 
Steak and Potato Packets

Potato packets are perfect for parties! All you have to do is place everything on a double layer of aluminum foil and fold it up like a pocket. Before everyone arrives you can prep all your ingredients. I had potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, cheese, bacon, jalapenos, onions, and butter ready to go. My guests were able to go through the line and create their own potato packet. Some were plain and others were loaded but everyone was happy. And again, clean up was as easy as crumpling up the foil. 

Grilled Apple Pie

Oh yes you read that correctly! I grilled my great grandma's famous (in my family at least) apple pie. Full disclosure I was very nervous about my dessert. In my head this was going to be great. But in practice I have never grilled a pie before so I had no clue how this was going to turn out. Would the crust burn? Apples not cook? Just be wrong?

There was only one way to find out. 

It was amazing! The crust was flaky on the sides and had a great crispy crunch on the bottom without drying out. The apples were cooked perfectly! Bonus, there are less apples in a grilled pie which makes the crust to filling ratio better. 

You need to cook your pie first so the filling has time to set. My pie cooled for 2 hours before we served it. Honestly it was probably ready after an hour but everyone was too full right after dinner. This pie is rustic in appearance which makes it perfect for a backyard grill party. 

Grilled Apple Pie Recipe 

1 cup sugar
3 T flour
2 t cinnamon
2 t nutmeg
dash of salt
juice of 2 lemon slices
2 T butter diced into cubes
2 pie crusts
8 small granny smith apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil 

1. In a large bowl mix the apples in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. It's best to mix the apples with your hands. Pour in lemon juice and mix. Set aside. 
2. Unroll 2 large strips of foil about 16 inches long. Over lap the foil by 4 inches and spray with non-stick spray. Repeat
3. Place the crust in the middle of each aluminum foil pieces. 
4. Pour half the apple mixture onto the middle of the crust. You want a 2-3 inch edge without apples. 

My girls helped me with the pies

5. Fold the crust over to seal in the apples. Start with a two inch section folded over. Repeat with the next section of crust going clockwise until the whole pie is folded over. 
6. Scatter the half the butter cubes over the top of the apples. 
7. Fold the aluminum foil over the top of the crust edge, leave a little of the crust showing. Tear another large sheet of aluminum foil and wrap around the bottom of the pie. Repeat. 

8. Grill over direct medium high heat for 10 minutes. 

9. After 10 minutes, turn off the two center burners and grill over indirect heat for 30 minutes. Turn the pie occasionally to prevent burning. 
10. Remove from grill and place on a cooling rack for at least an hour. Slice and serve

Do you have a favorite go to grill recipe? What is it?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Aug 20, 2014

Why You Need to Quit Complaining About School Supplies

It's back to school time which means the kids are getting haircuts, shoes, first day of school outfits, and school supplies. Of course this means my Facebook feed is full of parents complaining about the school supply list. Otherwise known as people who annoy me into writing a blog post.

Why do they need to bring in dry erase markers? Shouldn't the schools provide those?

Like each kid really needs to bring in 12 glue sticks, that's enough glue for 3 years. 

When did highlighters become a school supply?

Ugh! I just spent $140 on school supplies. I guess we won't eat this week. (said by a mom of 3!)

Look I get that it's easy to complain about back to school expenses. The kids need new shoes and clothes since they have this weird tendency to grow a few inches over the summer. My middle child has managed to outgrow 2 pairs of shoes since summer started. In May the kid was a size 10.5, now she's a 12.5 - she is killing me!

But I'm hear to tell you that complaining about buying school supplies is annoying to anyone who has ever worked in education. Did you know that the average cost of private school is $8,549? Perhaps dropping a few bucks on school supplies isn't so bad when you think about the fact that we have a public education system in this country.

Furthermore it's not like the school sends home a note one week before school starts announcing that you have to bring school supplies for the first time. I'm in my mid thirties and my mom had to buy school supplies for me. This is not a new concept folks! Most districts send the lists home at the end of the school year so you have all summer to buy the supplies. Quite frankly the fact that someone didn't budget for school supplies or buy throughout the summer is their own fault.

In a perfect world teachers would actually make a decent salary and schools would have all the supplies they need. Of course your taxes would have to triple for that to happen and I'm sure that bill would get voted down in a New York minute. Until then, the parents are going to need to bring in school supplies.

So stop complaining already!

Aug 18, 2014

Topsail Beach - A Perfect Place for Families

We went to Topsail Beach last week for an end of summer family trip. Notice that I didn't say family vacation? As most moms know a family trip is no vacation for the parents. Now we made many wonderful memories and we had a great time, but it was not a vacation. I was still cooking, doing laundry, and giving baths-yep not a vacation.

The weekend was a little rainy, but thanks to an indoor pool at the condo resort we stayed at our fun was not ruined. We built plenty of sandcastles, buried each other in the sand, collected 10,000 sea shells, and rode the waves.

This was our first trip to Topsail Beach and I know we will return again next summer. It's not a crowded as other beaches in North Carolina but just as pretty. With three kids, it's nice having plenty of space to build and dig in the sand. Plus the people that were on the beach were families so no loud partying on the beach next to our kids. You know you're a parent when that becomes a priority.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip.

I love going to the beach with my kids. It's not relaxing but it's fun. I love watching my kids hesitate when they first see the waves and then charge into the water.

There is nothing better than playing in the sand with your kids. Many holes were dug and of course you have to bury each other. Watching your kids giggle as they bury daddy in the sand is priceless.

A little sisterly love at dinner. These two are so cute when they're not fighting. 

This last picture is a great glimpse into my oldest child's introverted personality. She is so much like me it's a little scary sometimes. Being around people for too long is just too much for her. She asked for alone time on the balcony everyday while we were at the beach. I know this bothers some people that she needs time to herself to recharge, but I am the same way so I get it. Personally I love that she knows what she needs and isn't afraid to ask for it. 

But now we're back home and school starts next week. I'm still not ready for school to start but in 6 days our summer will officially be over.

Have you ever been to Topsail Beach? Which beach is your favorite to go to with your family?

Aug 6, 2014

Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

I'm originally from Texas and my love of Mexican food runs deep. After moving to Raleigh I realized that Mexican food here is pretty bad. Downright awful at many of the places we've tried. Shortly after moving here they opened a Chey's which made my Tex-Mex loving heart skip a beat. But it's far from my house so we don't go there as often as I would like to eat there.

Thankfully I am pretty good at making Mexican food. I finally mastered the art of making Tex-Mex Chili gravy for beef and cheese enchiladas and Chili Colorado which makes me a bad ass if I do say so myself. It also makes cooking Mexican food cheaper and better. Just don't ask me how many failed attempts I had at learning how to make it.

During my 30 day grilling challenge I decided I wanted to make enchiladas from scratch. I haven't made chicken enchiladas in over a year since I gave up using condensed soup. My original recipe calls for cheese condensed soup. Now I know how to make chicken condensed soup from scratch so I decided to try for a cheese version based off the chicken version.

When I went to assemble the enchiladas I realized that I didn't make or buy any enchilada sauce. Seriously, I don't know what I was thinking. I had three muddy kids in the backyard playing so I wasn't about to run up to the store so I improvised. I decided to add sour cream to the soup and use that as topping sauce instead of a binder. The result was that the grilled enchiladas were absolutely nothing like my original recipe. But they are delicious! And fairly easy. Plus they go in a disposable pan so there is no pan to clean when you're done.

Sounds pretty good right?

These have some serious heat to them. You can take it down a notch by using less chilies and jack cheese instead of jalapeno jack.

Grilled Chicken Enchiladas 

filling ingredients
5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 T chili powder
juice and rind of 1 lime
2 T garlic powder
1 T salt and pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T Mexican Oregano
2 T olive oil
1 1/3 cup diced sweet onion
1 - 7oz cans chopped green chilies
1/2 cup chicken broth - if making the next day

Sauce ingredients
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 - 7oz chopped green chilies
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup jalapeno cheese
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt and pepper

Extra ingredients
corn tortillas
1/2 -1 cup jalapeno jack cheese
9X13 disposable pan

1. Place water, oil, chili powder, lime juice and rinds, garlic powder, oregano, and onion powder in a gallon sized bag and mix together. Add in chicken breasts and marinate for 1 hour up to over night.
2. Grill chicken over med/high heat until cooked through. Shred the chicken.

  • I made extra chicken the night before I made the enchiladas and we had chicken salads for dinner. I didn't want to have to cook the chicken the same day as the enchiladas but you can. 

3. In a large skillet saute onion over high heat in olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes. 
4. If you cooked your chicken the night before, add the chicken to the skillet and 1/2 cup chicken broth and heat up the chicken. If you grilled the chicken the same day, just stir in the onions to your chicken-you don't need the broth. 
5. Pour chicken mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
6. Make a roux in your skillet. Melt 2 T butter over medium heat and add 2 T flour. Stirring continuously until your roux turns brown. Pay attention not to burn your roux, if you do start over. 
7. Add 1 1/5 cups chicken broth and 2 cans of green chilies. Keep stirring until mixture is smooth. 
8. Lower heat to med/low and add  1 1/2 cups cheese, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally allowing the sauce to cook and thicken. About 5 minutes. 
9. Stir in sour cream. Cook additional 5-10 minutes and then turn off the heat. 
10. Meanwhile, run water over your flour tortillas and place on a microwave safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel and cook for 30 seconds on high. Allow the tortillas to sit in the microwave until you're ready for them. I did mine in two batches. 
10. Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce into enchilada pan. Fill corn tortillas with 2-3 T of the chicken mixture. Roll the tortilla and place in the pan. Repeat until filled and top with remaining sauce. I had enough for a 9X13 pan and 8X8 pan.

11. Cover with foil.
12. Place pan on grill and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and top with 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese. It's up to you how cheesy you want your enchiladas. I started with a 1/2 cup and ended up going for the whole cup. Cheese is too good to skimp on.

13. Cook 5 more minutes uncovered until the cheese is melted. Remove from the grill and allow to set for 5 minutes. Serve.

PS-This is why I wasn't willing to go to the store.

Aug 5, 2014

Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash Giveaway

Between the beach, pool, and heat our skin takes a beating in the summer. In order to maintain healthy skin I use a hydrating body wash everyday. The Dial brand sent me a sample of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash in exchange for this review. All opinions are mine.

Until recently I haven't had the highest opinion of Dial soap. When you read Dial soap do you picture the old orange bar from your childhood? The bar that dried out your skin and didn't smell like a girl? If you did, you have the same perception of Dial that I did.

I tried Dial's body wash a year ago for the first time. After trying the Coconut Water body wash I like it much better than the Vitamin Boost formula. While I need a body wash that is moisturizing, the second thing I look for is a great scent. I absolutely love the smell of the mango body wash. The smells reminds me of the tropics. I like that the scent is subtle after washing it off. While I like having a body wash that smells good in the shower, I don't want to walk around smelling like a mango all day.

Coconut water is a leading trend right now since it's rich in antioxidants and electrolytes that provide replenishing hydration for your skin. Mango is known for being a rich nutrient. Combining the two was a great idea.

For more information, check out Dial's website and Facebook page. I'm sure you want to try the  Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash for yourself. Three lucky winner will receive a coupon to try out the product. Enter on the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 1, 2014

30 Day Grilling Challenge

Our 30 day dinner grilling challenge has come to a close. This is by far the easiest 30 day challenge we have attempted.

The Challenge: Cook dinner every night on the grill-only prep work is done in the kitchen. Exception-Crock Pot.

What started out as a joke became a challenge to see how many things we can cook on our grill. I was in a serious cooking rut and I wasn't motivated to cook dinner. Making my husband cook dinner every night would be an obvious solution if the man could cook. Even though he can't cook, he can grill. Provided that I marinate and prep everything for him.

I wasn't about to allow a grill challenge to get in the way of our eating vegetarian a few nights a week or pasta. Yes friends I cooked pasta on the grill. One meal was an epic failure! I made lasagna foil packets that looked good on Pinterest. Holy crap that pin did me dirty. It was disgusting. Don't fall for the pretty picture. But I did make Chicken Spaghetti and garlic bread on the grill and they were awesome.

What I learned

A grill is basically an outdoor oven. I hate using my oven in the summer since I don't want to heat up my house. Anything that normally cooks in the oven went on the grill. I bought some disposable lasagna pans to grill baked pastas and enchiladas. Not only did I not heat up the house using my oven but I also didn't have to clean the pan! The burner on the side of my grill actually works for cooking pasta noodles and making sides.

Obviously the flavor of the food from the grill is different since you get the char and smokey flavor. The time it takes to cook your food is different too. My food cooked much faster on the grill than it cooked in the oven even though the temperature was the same. I like faster cooking!

I do not grill enough vegetables. I've done the obvious ones; asparagus, peppers, onions, corn, and zucchini. During the challenge I branched out to broccoli, cauliflower, squash, potatoes, and carrots. The broccoli was my favorite. Grilling gives broccoli a smokey flavor while bringing out the sweetness you get if you roast broccoli.

Meals We Made

Pulled Pork Pizza - Normally made in the oven. I will only grill pizza from now on. If you haven't tried it yet you are missing out! Grilled pizza was such a hit we made a different one once a week during the challenge.
Pulled Pork Baked Potatoes
Veggie Tacos - We made these several times since everyone loves them!
Chicken Kabobs
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers - vegetarian recipe
Chicken Enchiladas
Zucchini Pasta
steak kabos
potato foil packets

Greek Chicken Burgers
Chicken Fajitas
Lasagna Foil Packets - again they were awful, don't try them!

Chicken Gyros
hot dogs
Grilled Meatloaf 

My Takeaway

I do not take advantage of my grill enough. I am definitely going to use it more often. Brett being in charge of getting dinner was a nice change. Plus the kids liked to be outside with Daddy while he grilled so win/win.

Jul 28, 2014

Summer Bucket List Update

At the beginning of the summer I made a Summer Bucket List hoping that we would make many memories this summer without feeling the need to over schedule ourselves. There is nothing worse than realizing that school is going to start soon and you still haven't done any of the activities that you wanted to do during the summer.

Here was my Summer Bucket List.

With exactly 4 weeks of summer left, we have crossed off 17 items off our bucket list. Even if some of those activities were complete and utter fails, we did them. Well tried to do them anyway.

Summer Wins

Nature Trail Hike-no ticks this year!

I love Regal's Dollar Movie Days!

Pig Fest - The kids loved the pork pizza!

Molly caught the most fireflies in her jar

You didn't have a childhood if you never played in the sprinklers.

Beach day - it started rainy but it was a great day!

Love these sweeties!

Hands down the best part of our beach day was getting to eat at Cappriotti's. If you are in Wilmington, NC you have to go eat there! We had Cappriotti's in Las Vegas and I miss it. Their pastrami and turkey sandwiches are worth the 2 hour drive even if you're not going to the beach. My husband and I were extremely happy to have these delicious sandwiches at the end of our beach day. We're heading back to the beach in 2 weeks and I'm already dreaming of the pastrami. 

Summer Fails

Planting herbs was a disaster of epic proportions. It's clear to me that I am not designed to grow anything. I couldn't even get basil and rosemary to grow from seeds. It's very clear to me that if aliens exist and decide to attack I will starve to death once society breaks down.

Swim Lessons for Mark
The girls are doing amazing in swim lessons and Molly is completely fearless. She jumps off the side of the pool and swims independently to the side. Pretty impressive for a kid who wouldn't even put her head in the water last year. But Mark is terrified of the water and he has made no progress this year. I've decided to forgo lessons and teach him myself at a slower pace. I did teach swim lessons as a teenager and spent years on swim team so I can handle it.

Movie in the Park didn't happen. One week we were planning to go it was rained out. The next time we attempted it the kids were behaving terribly and I didn't want to reward their behavior so we skipped it. It's ok we've done many movies in the park in the past and I'm sure we will attend many in the future.

How are you doing with your summer bucket list?
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