Monday, September 14, 2020

The Tailgate Takeout Ultimate Watch Party: Taco Bar

 Hi friends!  Today, I wanted to share a fun idea for The Ultimate Tailgate Takeout!  This is perfect for hanging out with your family while watching the game or you can set it up in your driveway for some fun distance tailgating with neighbors.  It's a Taco Bar Party that can be easily made to accommodate every kind of lifestyle.  Go here for more information about The Ultimate Tailgate Takeout.

(This post is a paid collaboration with Prairie City Crossing/Regency Centers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

I headed over to Prairie City Crossing to pick up the ingredients and supplies for my Tailgate Takeout Ultimate Watch Party.  I was able to pick up everything I needed at Safeway!  One of my biggest tips for entertaining is to pick up items that you can heat and serve or are already ready to go.  My biggest focus when I'm hanging out with my family and friends is to enjoy quality time with them.  I can't do that when I'm standing at my stove since it faces the wall.  I like to have a mix of items that are ready to go and super simple recipes so that I can enjoy eating with my loved ones.

The best thing about this taco bar is that everyone is eating the same thing.  Often times when I make food for family that have different dietary needs or lifestyles, I end up making several different things.  I really like how inclusive this taco bar is to everyone.  This taco bar is friendly for people who are vegan, vegetarian, keto, gluten free, and even picky kids.  It does mean putting things out in separate dishes with separate serving spoons but I've collected so many little bowls over the year, it's the perfect way to use them!  

Here's a list of the ready made items I purchased:

- Chile Verde 

- Grilled Chicken

- Guacamole

- Tortillas

- Pickled Jalapeños and pickled veggies

- Sour Cream

- Shredded Cheese

- Salsa and hot sauce 

- Shredded lettuce

- Romaine lettuce 

- Tomatoes

-  Limes 

- Tortilla Chips

- Mexican Wedding Cookies 

- Mexican Sodas

- Paper Plates 

Here's a list of items I quickly prepped:

- Cilantro and onions - chopped and mixed together

- Pickled red onions - I made a brine of vinegar, salt, and sugar then pickled thinly sliced red onions for a few hours in the fridge.

- Cucumbers - I sliced the cucumbers and dressed them in lime juice, salt, pepper, and chili powder. 

- Chickpea taco filling - I took a can of chickpeas and sautéed them in a little olive oil and added taco seasoning to taste.  I used a jar of pre-made taco seasoning.  

- Taco Tater Tots - I air fried some tater tots and tossed them in taco seasoning when they came out of the air fryer.  

-  Mexican Style Corn Salad - I heated frozen corn and dressed it with lime juice and sour cream.  Then I topped it with Tajin and Cotija Cheese.  

I put together some sample plates to show off some of the different creations I came up with for different diets.  I'm especially proud of my Totco creation (aka tater tot taco.)  I'm sure it's been done but I've never seen it before and I'm pretty amused by the play on words.  

Vegetarian tacos on the left, vegan taco on the right.  The Totco can be made vegan if you leave off the cheese.

Keto friendly tacos that are also gluten free.  

Once you put everything out on the table, your job is done and you can enjoy the game with your family.  Everyone can make their own plates to suit their lifestyle and tastes.  Personally, I don't have any dietary restrictions so I just love to mix and match all the different flavors and textures.  This kind of spread also encourages my kids to try different foods and get creative with their meal.  If you have a taco bar, please tag me in a picture on social media so I can see and don't forget to check out Ultimate Tailgate Takeout!  

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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Mother's Day Gifts - Support Local

Hi friends!  Mother's Day is coming up really fast and this year is going to be a bit different than others.  As always, it's so important to support our local businesses.  I have put together a list of local mom and pop businesses that are offering some Mother's Day specials.  Get your orders in soon since not only is Mother's Day coming up fast, but people are going to sell out!

Photo by Capture Create Studios

Bloom Sacramento is a flower farmer and florist who makes bouquets with flowers sourced from Northern California.  They are teaming up with Burly Beverages to deliver a fun Mother's Day gift where your mom can make a cocktail or mocktail or you can get flowers by themselves.

Kitchen Table (East Sac) is a great shop full of wonderful kitchen items!  They have everything from treats, to kitchen tools, linens, pantry items, and more!  They are offering delivery in their immediate area, porch pickup from their location, or shipping.

A Gift Inside is a Lodi based company that makes gift baskets with fresh fruits and snacks.  They also have treats and dried fruits.  They have organic baskets as well.

Jillian B Designs is a jewelry designer based out of Elk Grove.  She hand makes beautiful and sentimental jewelry pieces.  She is taking orders until May 3 for Mother's Day and also has gift certificates available.

Salt and Shea is a small batch handmade apothecary.  Jayme is a licensed esthetician who has allergies so she created a natural line of skin care items that are good for your skin and soul.

Sola Bee Farms is a wonderful honey farm that has partnered with lots of local partners to put together adorable gift items.

Imagine Play Elk Grove is offering Mother's Day bags full of fun finds for the trendy mom like color changing lip sticks and scrunchie.  They have shipping, local delivery in Elk Grove, or pickup options.

Sheldon Wine Shop is putting together wine and champagne gift baskets wrapped in cellophane and perfect for gifting.

Be the Light Collective is a jewelry store with a 3 year old CEO who hand makes gemstone and diffuser jewelry.

Andy's Candy is a local Sacramento basked candy shop that sells fun and unique candies.  They have boxes of chocolates available or gift sets of different kinds of candies.  They offer free local delivery to the Sacramento area for orders $30+, curbside pick up, and limited delivery.

Bailarin Cellars is delivering their wine within an 20 mile radius and they are shipping wine as well.  For local people, kits of cheese and charcuterie can be added on as well.

Strapping Store Oak Park is a gift shop that offers a variety of different gift items from elegant to funny.  They have Mother's Day gift sets and a variety gift items that can be shipped.

The Pomegranate Boutique in Midtown has clothes, accessories, and gift items.  They have free delivery in Sacramento and free shipping on orders of $45 or more.

These are just some of the options for buying a great gift for your mom or the special mom in your life while supporting local businesses.   It is so important to support our local businesses in this time as many were not able to get any loans from the government.  Not only that but they are bending over backwards to help us by offering delivery, inexpensive shipping, and great deals!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins - Grandma's Recipe

Hi friends!  Today, I'm sharing a Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe that was created by my husband's grandma.  I saved the recipe from a blog post that his aunt and cousins wrote a long time ago but they have since deleted that blog.  I asked permission to write this post and they told me yes, roughly a million years ago.  I get asked for the recipe for these muffins every time I post them on social media so I figured I should write a blog post.  Also, as for all recipe blog posts, I will take you on a journey of 900 words about that one time I visited a banana farm in Connecticut with my great aunt Patsy in her vintage Mustang...  But wait... none of that is true or makes sense...

I will preface this recipe by saying that it is a plain and simple recipe and it's not particularly healthy. It has bananas so that's healthy, right?  I find that a lot of older "grandma" type recipes tend to have few ingredients and fewer steps.  If you are looking for gourmet or interesting muffins, these are not them.  These are literally the basic muffins that your grandma used to make.

My daughter goes crazy for these muffins.  I have so many pictures of her staring lovingly at these muffins... how come no one every stares at me like that?  She is also a strange little girl that doesn't like chocolate chips so I just bake up some batter for her before adding the chocolate chips for plain banana muffins and they turn out great.  She loves them.  Is that enough rambling for the Google?  The world may never know...

Grandma V's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 stick of butter (I use salted)
1 cup of white sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups of flour (you can substitute half for wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 mashed RIPE bananas
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream soften butter and sugar.  I use a stand mixer but you can use a handheld mixer or beat by hand.  You can also use 1/2 cup of shortening instead of butter if you want to.
3. Add vanilla.
4. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated.
5. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined.  Don't over mix muffin batter.
6. Mash your bananas and add to batter, mix.
7. Add in chocolate chips or nuts or toffee bits or whatever mix-ins you like.  Or don't for plain muffins.
8. Scoop batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 20 mins.  OR pour batter into a greased bread ban and bake for 1 hour for a loaf.  You can check doneness by poking a muffin or the loaf with a toothpick and it should come out clean when it's done.  Avoid poking a chocolate chip.
9. Cool and eat!

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe!  Tag me on social media if you make them!

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Support Sacramento Area Businesses from Home

ETA: With the new recommendations, it is more important than ever to help our local businesses!  Thank you for taking the time to visit this page and to support local businesses!

Hi friends!  We are in an uncertain time and I know that most people want to hole up in their house.  However, our local businesses are suffering due to the fact that people are too afraid to visit.  While looking on Facebook, I saw a GREAT idea that is a simple way to help your local businesses without even leaving your home.  All you have to do is go online to their website and buy a gift card.  Then, as soon as you feel comfortable, you can go get your meal, salon service, gift items, etc...  To take it a step further, I am compiling a list of local Sacramento area small businesses that offer online gift cards and I'm linking them here.

Please keep in mind that these businesses are owned by FAMILIES in our community who have to feed their children too.  The brick and mortar places still have to pay the rent and utilities for their spaces as well as the bills at home.  If you are able to contribute to them a little bit in this time, they will be so thankful.

Don't forget that this is also a WONDERFUL way to shop for gifts.  Easter is coming, maybe get your kids a gift card to their favorite ice cream or boba place.  Mother's Day is in a couple months, get your mom or wife or whoever a massage or meal at their favorite restaurant.  If you have a kid who is going to have a birthday, you can get them a gift card to a play place or a store to pick out their own gift.  There are also local store who have put their inventory online which I will list as well.  We have to ban together to help our local businesses!

Here are the businesses that have reached out to me or been sent by friends:

Imagine Play Elk Grove is offering 20% off gift cards.  They are an indoor play space for children.

Craftopolis Crafting Club - water marbling classes and events.

Flatland Brewing Company - 21 years and up, craft beer.  Gift cards and merch online or order beer online and pick up with ID.

Safe Space Bodywork - massage therapy.

LashesxGiselle - eyelash extensions.

Bloom Sacramento - beautiful farm to table floral arrangements.

Maycup by Yenisei - Elk Grove based makeup and beauty services.

The Kitchen Table - kitchen boutique, also offering curbside pickup.

A Seat at the Table Books - progressive, inclusive book store.

The Pomegranate Boutique - clothes and accessories for women, men, and children in a variety of sizes.

River City Sass - handmade wooden and leather jewelry

Kalani Kakes - island inspired desserts

Comic Crate - Comics for kids delivered to your home.

Tomato Alley Collective - Kitchen goodies and tools.

Baby Face Makeup - non toxic pretend makeup for kids.

Tough Little Piggies - soft sole shoes for babies and children.

Snug Bub - stain resistant expandable baby clothes.

New Glory Craft Brewery - 21+ craft beer gift cards and merch.

Ruby Dot Designs - Personalized gift items.

Beautigirl Esthetics - Rocklin, CA based salon.

Tanya Martin Skincare - Folsom, CA based skincare studio.

Harlow's Music Venue - 10% off gift cards to redeem at later.

Gather Studio and Market - Granite Bay, CA studio for arts and crafts with local makers market.

Sugar Coated Cupcakes - Elk Grove, CA home bakery

Bogle Vineyards - 21+ Clarksville, CA winery 20% off wine until April 1, free shipping for Bandwagon Members.

Little Chances - Woodland, CA children's boutique with gift cards and their inventory available online.

Green Gifts Elk Grove - delivers package free or refillable household and personal care products right to your front step

WaxBare Elk Grove - gift cards for body hair removal.  Use code STAFF for a discount AND to have your proceeds help supplement staff member income during slow downs.

Crystal Rising - Healing crystals, gifts, and accessories.

The Good Rub - Plant powered body care, use code LOCAL10 for 10% off.

Lodi Wine Tours - Limo tours through Lodi wineries.

Hoshall's Salon and Spa - Folsom, CA gift cards and products available to ship to your home.

Another resource is DapIt App where you can find local gift cards and purchase from the app.

I will be adding more to this list.  If you'd like to be added please leave or send me a link directly to your gift cards or online products.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Our Braces Journey with Surfside Kids Dental

Ever since my kids were toddlers I've been told by dentists that they would need braces even though their tiny baby teeth grew in perfectly straight and evenly spaced. As they grew older, the doctors were right and their adult teeth did in fact come in with little room and out of whack. To ensure proper jaw growth and development we decided to invest in our eldest son, 12, first set of braces at Surfside Kids Dental. With this commitment, it was super important for my family to choose an orthodontist that we trusted and whom was financially accommodating.

This post is in collaboration with Surfside Kids Dental.  All opinions are 100% honest and my own, as always. 

Having been to a few Sacramento dentists over the course of the years it has been a real challenge finding a practice that my whole family has loved. Personally, we've gone through many trial and error experiences to lead us to the right place. I am happy to say though we have finally found a dental home perfect for us! 

Here are some tips I suggest when looking for the best dental office for your family: 

1. The vibe. I know it may sound silly but when you are going to be spending a lot of time in a place it is necessary that you feel comfortable, your kids enjoy the environment and everyone feels at ease from start to finish. That includes not only the visual atmosphere but also the energy that the people in the office create. 

2. The doctor and assistants.  Being that these are the people in direct contact and treating your child, it is so important that you educated throughout all steps of an appointment and comfortable talking to them. Additionally, observe how the team interacts with your child, it's imperative that your child feels good and trusts them in their care.

3. The front office staff.  No matter how much you may like the doctor or assistants, if you don't vibe with the front office staff that is a red flag! These are the people whom assist with patient scheduling and whom deal with your personal information. As the front office staff are who initially set the tone for your visit, I encourage you to pay attention to how you feel when communicating with them. Personally, I look for professional etiquette with friendly, warm and relatable conversation. As organization is really important as well, I am always grateful when the office handles my insurance and billing matters with care and in a timely manner.  

We first went to check out Surfside Kids Dental after many of our friends sung their praises.  Upon entering, my kids loved the decorative beach themed office! There were many things for the family to indulge in the lobby like toys, TVs showing cartoons, computers, and video games.  They also have an area for complimentary water, coffee or tea. Oh, and we can’t forget about the massage chairs for the parents. The staff were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable while being warm so that the kids are at ease. A small detail I loved is that the office has your child fill out a fun facts form to get to know them better. 

At our Elk Grove location orthodontic consultation, we had Dr Plewe as the orthodontist. He is a very calm and reassuring man. My older children do not like a bunch of fake friendly or hyped up energy.  Dr Plewe was friendly and made sure to get to know both my sons and never was abrasive or over the top. Another thing that really impressed me was that even though we had both of our sons checked out, Dr Plewe told me assured me that we were fine to wait on my younger son’s treatment and that believed in his case, everything may correct itself over time. I appreciated that we were not immediately pushed into a treatment case.  I felt like Dr Plewe wanted what was best for us, and not just to put braces anyone who may be interested. 

Surprisingly, putting braces on only took about 1 hour after the consultation and paperwork.  It was not a huge ordeal and they do it right in the office with all the other kiddos getting their teeth cleaned and check ups.  My son was able to watch the movie that was playing on the ceiling TV and wear headphones during the application.

Here is a video of our process:

Afterwards, they set us up with an electric toothbrush, flossers, toothpaste and aftercare papers.  My son was sore for the first few days after as he adjusted to having the braces in his mouth.  He should wear the first set of braces for 18-24 months depending on how well he takes care of them and how his teeth respond. 

I'm so happy that we got them done at this tween age before he had to consider possibly what his peers may think, or care too much about his appearance. From a mother's perspective, I felt so much ease that I was doing the best thing by getting him in easy for an orthodontic evaluation and moving forward a treatment that was best for him and his oral health. I can't wait to see what his smile looks like when we are done! 

If you'd like to keep up with our journey, I will be sharing a bit on my Instagram Stories. Follow me there to see our check-ups and any other dental related stories we might have for you!

An orthodontic consultation is always free of charge at Surfside, be sure to tell them “Ashley Newell said Hi” if you make it in! 

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