Category Archives: Cooking

7-Day Switch Up & The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Cleaning Your Floor

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Thanks to Viva® Vantage® for sponsoring this post and for helping me clean up my messes!  

We sometimes have an odd way that we clean our kitchen floor. We turn it into an ice skating rink, except instead of ice, we cover it with water and instead of skates, we use paper towels.  Yes, paper towels!

I pour a bunch of water all over the floor, wrap the kids’ feet in paper towels and let them slide around the room until the floor is (mostly) clean and (mostly) dry.

We don’t do this often because it tends to end in someone wiping out or getting out of the designated “skating area” and soaking the adjoining hardwood.  Plus, the scooting usually causes the paper towels to rip pretty quickly so we end up going through multiple rolls!  But when I DO let them do it, it’s always a lot of fun.  Until the tears and/or yelling begin.

When Viva® Vantage® asked me to try out their paper towels, I thought I’d give it the floor skating test.  The boys were already asleep so I did the test myself.  No wonder the kids laugh so loud – skating around the kitchen was quite entertaining (and I didn’t even fall)!  And the best part: I didn’t have to keep rewrapping my feet because the paper towels stretch, so they didn’t rip!!  I only went through a small part of one roll during my test.  Score!  Speaking of score, maybe I should give them hockey sticks next time they skate the floor clean.  Or maybe not.

I shared this idea recently with some fellow bloggers at the Viva® Vantage® 7-Day Switch Up Party.  It was a great event where we learned more about Viva® Vantage® while having loads of fun!

Viva Vantage 1

We started off the day by decorating glasses with paint pens.  Getting to sit around and “color” was pretty fun, even though my glass was the equivalent of a stick figure to the Mona Lisa masterpieces around me.   Viva Vantage Glass Paint

Next we prepped food while learning some great uses for Viva® Vantage®.  I never knew I could put a paper towel under a cutting board to keep it from slipping on the counter.Viva Vantage food prep

One of my favorite tips was using the paper towels as a colander,   especially because it seems like my colander is always dirty when I need to use it! Viva Vantage colander

It wasn’t all work and no play, of course.  We got to devour all the yummy food.  Nom nom nom! viva vantage food

Then it was back to work again.  Doing dishes!  But the great scrubbing power of the paper towels made cleaning a piece of cake.  I for one hate using a nasty old sponge that’s been sitting around. With the sponge-like absorbency of Viva® Vantage®, sponges can be a thing of the past!Viva Vantage dishes

We were all sent home with rolls of  Viva® Vantage® to do our own 7-Day Switch Up. My favorite feature of these towels when using them at home – besides the fact that they STRE-E-ETCH – is that they don’t leave any icky lint behind when cleaning glass or mirrors.  Viva Vantage group

I invite you to kick off your own “7-Day Switch Up” by visiting for a Viva® Vantage® coupon to purchase and try the product yourself. After experiencing the stretchy-strength and great scrubbing power of Viva® Vantage®, return to the website to dish about your switch and enter for a chance to instantly win a $100 gift card!

Here are some 7-Day Switch Up tips:

  1. Ditch the bulky colander in favor of a paper towel. Place veggies and fruit on a sheet of Viva® Vantage® paper towels under a running faucet to function as a strainer; the stretchy-strength will keep the towel intact when wet.
  2. Keep lettuce fresh longer by wrapping a paper towel around a head of lettuce to soak up excess moisture.
  3. Hand wash and dry wine glasses and other stemware using the cloth-like texture of Viva® Vantage® paper towels for a sparkling finish.
  4. Replace the need for a vegetable scrubber by using the great scrubbing power of Viva® Vantage® paper towels to properly clean mushrooms, potatoes, etc.
  5. Need to chill white wine quickly? Don’t dilute it with ice; wrap a damp paper towel around the bottle and put in the freezer to chill rapidly.
  6. Slip a damp paper towel under your cutting board to prevent it from shifting while slicing and dicing.
  7. Need to get that grime off your stove? The great scrubbing power of Viva® Vantage® paper towels allows you to clean the toughest messes and restore your kitchen’s shine.

Thanks Viva® Vantage® for sponsoring this post and inviting me to participate in this campaign (and par-taaay!).  While this is a sponsored post written on behalf of Viva® Vantage®, all thoughts and opinions are my own! Photo credit to Big Bash Photo.


Pizza Pasta Recipe That Everyone Will Love

Hillshire Pizza Pasta
Thanks to Hillshire Brands for helping me share this recipe by sponsoring this post via the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. All thoughts, opinions and yummmmms are my own.

My kids all have very different taste buds so most dinners range from a solo whine to a full out chorus of complaints.

When I cook something that all 4 will happily eat, bells and whistles sound and fireworks go off.  This meal is one of those rare moments.

Since it is a family favorite in our house, I thought I’d share it with you!

We actually refer to it as Panther Pizza Pasta because it is my go-to dish for the high school football team pasta dinners.  I triple the recipe but always bring home an empty dish!

The beauty of this recipe is that you get the entire food pyramid in one dish!  Plenty of protein from the sausages, beef and pepperoni, bell peppers give you your veggie serving, pasta for grains, dairy is taken care of by the mozzarella and the tomato satisfies the fruit group. Yes, a tomato is botanically a fruit regardless of what the supreme court ruled way back when! 😉  Mushrooms are really none of the above, but they are still good for you.

This is one of those recipes that I usually don’t measure ingredients but I did this time…just for you!  You can use different “toppings” every time you make it – it will seem like a different dish and you’ll never get tired of it!

Pizza Pasta
Recipe type: One Dish Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 16 ounces Rigatoni
  • 36-48 ounces Spaghetti Sauce*
  • 3 cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • ½ pound Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage
  • ½ pound Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
  • ½ pound Ground Beef
  • ½ pound Pepperoni Stick
  • 2-3 Bell Peppers
  • 1 pound Mushrooms
  • Other pizza "toppings"
  • 1 Additional cup of Mozzarella Cheese, if desired.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta per directions for al dente.
  3. Dice Peppers and Mushrooms.
  4. Cut half of Smoked Sausage and Pepperoni into small chunks.
  5. Cook Hot Sausage and Ground Beef in a skillet on medium-high until brown.
  6. Add chunks of Pepperoni and Smoked Sausage and add Peppers and Mushrooms.
  7. Cook until Peppers are soft.
  8. Drain.
  9. In a large pot, combine the Rigatoni, Spaghetti Sauce*, Meat/Veggie mixture and 3 cups of Mozzarella Cheese.
  10. Cut other half of Smoked Sausage and Pepperoni into slices.
  11. Put in large casserole dish and top with Mozzarella Cheese and sliced Smoked Sausage and Pepperoni.
  12. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  13. *Make it a bit saucier than you think you should...because it dries out some when it bakes.

*You may notice that there is no pepperoni in the photo…because I missed that item on my shopping list.  Oops!  But just goes to show there are many variations for the recipe, right??

Hillshire Ingredient Collage with text

I shopped for my ingredients at Safeway.  Did you know they have eliminated the need for paper coupons with their J4U program?  I always have good intentions when it comes to couponing but I either (1) forget to bring them with me or (2) try to use them after they have expired.  With J4U, you can get eCoupons linked to your Safeway card that will be deducted from your bill.  No paper, no cutting, no organizing! No brainer!

Hillshire coupon

Now go check out these other great recipes in the Hillshire Brands and Safeway Blog Tour! I am definitely making the zombie and mummy ideas for Halloween!

Pie, It’s Not Just For Dessert Anymore

Me: Greg do you want some chicken pot pie now?

Greg:  Sure.  But what’s for dinner?

Me:  Chicken pot pie.  It is not a dessert kind of pie.

<Eric walks in>

Greg (to Eric):  We are having pie.  For dinner!  All I know is that it has chicken in it.  And popcorn.

Me:  Popcorn?

Greg:  Yeah.  You said it is chicken popped pie.


Remember my never-made-a-pie-before-confession?  (Obviously that included chicken popped pie also.).  Well, now I have!  Jake brought his grades up and as a reward I did it.  I baked a chocolate meringue pie.  And not an Oppan Costco Style pie.  I didn’t even use instant pudding.  And I made meringue too!  Aren’t you proud?____________________________________________________

I usually post jokes and less than stellar moments about my children because no one wants to hear about the sweet, well-behaved moments.  Those are just boring.

But I have to share this little note I found scribbled in the notebook I keep next to my computer.  Very heartfelt for a 13-year-old…

Note From Jake

I will keep it handy for the next time he is screaming how much he hates me.


You can show me some love too…

Best Moms Blog banner #2
Just a click on the “We’re #2” will help get me to #1.
top mommy blog banner
And click here!

P. S. Here’s the pie recipe if you are interested.

If You Give A Kid A Bag Of Pancake Mix

Jake:  Can I make some Krusteaz pancakes?  (That’s the pancake mix brand but Jake says it more like Crustyass).

Jake:  How many should I make?  12-14 or 18-21?

Me:  Depends how hungry you are.

Jake:  I’m going to share too.

Me:  Then make the biggest batch size.

Jake:  There’s one for 260-280 pancakes.

Me:  That should be good.

Jake:  Where’s the cord for the griddle?  What temperature?  Is this bowl ok? Where’s a spatula? Where’s the wisk? What are the instructions?  Where on the bag?  (I nodded, pointed and held up fingers to answer)

Jake: So did you say I should do 18-21?

Me:  If that’s what you heard, sure.

Jake:  Where’s the griddle? (Yes, one would think that question would have been asked when he looked for the cord.).  Why isn’t the griddle in the same cabinet as the cord?

Me:  We like to keep you guessing.

Jake:  Can I make chocolate ones?

Jake: Can I add chocolate chips too? (more nodding)

Jake:  What the heck??  They are Buttermilk pancakes but the recipe doesn’t have any milk???

Me:  Weird, huh?  Some recipes just add water.

Jake:  I don’t care what the recipe says.  I’m adding milk.  Buttermilk pancakes have to have milk.  And butter.  And Ovaltine.

Me:  You rebel.

Eric:  Owww!  Moooom, Jake threw something at my foot.

Jake:  No I didn’t.  The wisk fell out of the bowl.

Me:  Eric, if he was going to throw it at you, he wouldn’t aim for your foot.

Jake: I can’t get all the lumps out.

Me:  Those are chocolate chips.

Jake:  Was I supposed to turn the griddle on?

Me:  You did.

Jake:  But it’s off now.

Me:  It does that when it gets hotter than 350 and then turns back on when it cools off.

Jake:  That’s dumb.  Why can’t it just stay at 350?

Me:  It likes to keep you guessing also.

Jake:  It turned back on.  You can relax now people.

Jake:  Why are you typing?

Me:  I’m writing my blog.

Jake:  You aren’t writing a blog about me making pancakes are you?

Me:  Pssh, no.

Jake:  Was I supposed to Pam this?

Me:  No, Pam doesn’t need to help.

Jake:  Moooom, they are burning.  Oh, nevermind.  I forgot they are brown because they are chocolate.

Jake:  I made a straight long one.  Who ever said pancakes have to be round?

Me:  Well, the “pan” part kind of implies the shape.  You really are a rebel.

Jake:  It only made 6 pancakes and the batter is already gone.

Me:  That’s because they didn’t expect you to make them the size of the entire griddle.

Jake:  I can’t flip it.  Where’s a back-up spatula?  I need 2.  Oh man, it ripped.  Can I glue it?

Me:  Yes, but call it icing.

This one either needs a nose job…or is an Angry Bird!