The Mommyhood Life

Recipes

Easy Mocha Icy Coffee Drink Recipe

I love my coffee, in all forms!  As the warmer weather of spring is nearing, I am dreaming of sipping my favorite iced coffee concoctions outside in the warm sun.
I know I may be getting ahead of myself, it’s only the end of February and in New England, that’s still the middle of winter.  Yet I have that summer itch, so for now I’ll make myself a cup of icy deliciousness and turn the heat up extra high while I dream of warmer weather.

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4 Must Have Items for a Fun and Sparkling Holiday Girls Night ~ Plus a Dirty Shirley Cocktail Recipe! #SparklingHolidays

You must be 21 to consume alcoholic beverages. When doing so, please drink responsibly. No drinking and driving, and no drinking and texting! 
Every year around the holidays, my closest friends and myself all get together for a fun girls night in.  It’s a nice relaxing night in the middle of a very stressful time of year when us girls take a night to simply focus on ourselves and having fun with each other.  We have a simple grab gift, some yummy appetizers and sweets, along with a signature cocktail.

We take this time to unwind, laugh, and act silly while the forgetting about our endless shopping lists, decorating, and all our other holiday errands for the night.
Must Have Items for a Fun and Sparkling Holiday Girls Night:
1.  Yummy Appetizers, We are all escaping our mommy and wifely duties to unwind.  Having something delicious to refuel us is a must.
2.  Small Grab Gift, Nothing that is going to add extra stress to the group, just something small to get everyone giggly and having fun.  One year we did a silly socks theme, another was strange ornament themed.
3.  Games,  We want to unwind and what better way to unwind than with all your friends playing a round of twister or Jenga kid free!
4.  A Signature Cocktail,  No one has time to fully stock the bar and having one festive drink keeps things simple.
This year I was in charge of the signature cocktail and I chose to make an simple yet pretty Dirty Shirley cocktail, featuring DASANI Sparkling Water in Berry flavor.  This was a great refreshing and yummy cocktail that we all enjoyed.  All the girls were excited about using DASANI Sparkling water as our drink mixer, the holidays are overly indulgent as it is, finding a cocktail mixer that has Zero calories, is unsweetened, has zero artificial colors, and to top it off is caffeine-free is a great way to prepare a cocktail for girls night.
Dirty Shirley Cocktail Recipe:

Cocktail Ingredients
2 cups of DASANI Sparkling Water in Berry Flavor
1/4 cup of Strawberry flavored Vodka
Splash Grenatine
Garnish
Cherries
Sugar Crystals
If you would like to rim the glasses, add the colorful sugar crystals to the glasses.  Next fill a glass with ice, add DASANI Flavored Water, Strawberry Vodka, and grenadine.  Then stir and add cherries.
That’s all, no in-depth prep work.  Simple and quick so everyone can make their own cocktails all night.
Ready to make some yummy Dirty Shirleys this holiday season?  Head over to Walmart  and pick up a 12 pack of the 12 ounce cans of DASANI Sparkling Water!
Sparkling flavors available are Lime, Berry, Lemon, and Black Cherry.

Nana’s Almond Squares Recipe and My Big Lots Haul! #BIGSeason

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BIGSeason #BigLots #CollectiveBias
My fondest memories growing up are the ones of me learning to bake in my Nana’s kitchen.  She taught me to make Italian cookies, peanut butter balls, almond squares and so much more.  Leaning to use an electric mixer, grease the pans, and of course do the dishes.  She taught me life lessons of domestication in such a way that it made me fall in love with the art of baking.  That was just the way she was though, in all aspects of life.  She was my Nana, my mentor, and my best friend.

So when I got married she gave me one of the best gifts I could have ever asked for, her cookbook!  Called The Joy Cooking, this cookbook is stained, the pages are yellowed from age, and the binding is held together with duct tape, however this is my most coveted cookbook because each stain brings a memory of my Nana back to me and the duct tape well that’s just an extra signature that it was hers. It a prized possession that never leaves my kitchen, family members have asked to borrow it and I can’t stand to part with it so the only thing I can commit to is photo copying the recipes needed.
However with the cookbook, also comes the responsibility of doing a lot of the family baking.  There are two main desserts that she always brought to holiday parties, her Italian cookies and her almond bars.  My uncle will usually take on the Italian cookies, thankfully because my kids eat up the dough so fast that I never get any cookies actually cooked.  I am in charge of the almond bars, and they have always been a favorite of both my brother and I.
As soon as Thanksgiving is over I immediately start to think about my holiday meal planing and all that comes with it, from the almond squares that need to go to parties, to decorating cookies with the kids, and Christmas dinner.  Once my food list is sketched out, my first stop is Big Lots.  I remember several years ago, a Big Lots opened in our town and I was ecstatic.  
I’m a shopper, I love to spend time putting around stores that have a wide array of products.  Big Lots not only has so many things to look at, they also are always getting new and fun merchandise.  I can find a unique gift for a friend, a beautiful serving dish, and my baking ingredients all in one place.  
Last week I grabbed a coffee and set out on a Big Lot’s shopping trip,  I was able to pick up a couple Purex pans with covers that will work out perfectly for transporting all my baked good to parties.  I also found an adorable “I love baking” spatula, 2 Christmas hand towels, a holiday sign that I fell in love with, a snowman plate, and pretty Christmas mason jar mug.
*Disclosure: styles and assortment vary by store*
All this was before I even stepped into the huge grocery section throughout the middle of the store!  I was able to find everything I needed to make the Almond Squares for this weekend.  Sugar, Vanilla, Shredded Coconut, everything I had on my shopping list and everything was within my budget!  This is why my Big Lots is my first stop when planning for the holidays, I am able to get so many high quality ingredients and they’re all at a great price.
Once I got home on a shopping high from the great values I found, it was baking time!  The only thing that trumped my fun shopping finds that day, was pouring the almond extract into a bowl and making my entire kitchen smell like Nana.  
These are a delicious dessert idea, I’m sharing the recipe in the midst of the holiday baking rush.  So make sure you give these a try!
Nana’s Almond Squares


Ingredients:
3/4 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
Shredded Coconut to top


Preheat oven at 350 degrees

Melt butter, then mix together the butter and sugar.
Add eggs and mix for several minutes, until creamy. 

Add salt, vanilla, almond extract, and flour, and mix until well combined.

Pour into a greased pan, sprinkle top with shredded coconut, and cook for 40 minutes. 

Be sure to check out the large variety of baking and meal preparation items at Big Lots.  I’d love to hear what you love to make during the holidays!

   

Easy No-Bake Brazilian Pave Dessert Recipe #CookWithHood

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Hood Cream. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
The first Brazilian restaurant my husband took me to thirteen plus years ago, served Pave for dessert.  I immediatly fell in love with the taste, texture and perfect sweetness.  
After that date I remember scouring the internet for a recipe.  The internet was a lot less vast over a decade ago and the only recipes I could find were in Portuguese, which I wasnt able to speak yet, and the incredients were nothing I had heard of before.  Back then I didn’t even know what condenced milk was, never mind some of the other ingredients I was seeing listed.

Luckily over the years I was able to take a little from each recipe I would find, and as I met my husbands family I would get more recipes.  I remember creating several soupy disasters that ended up in the trash, but I remember making this exact recipe 10 years ago when Anthony was a baby and I was home all day going stir crazy.  I tasted it and was done switching around ingredients for good, I did it, it was the Pave I had been trying to recreate for years.
So here it is, a perfect no-bake dessert recipe just in time for the holidays!
Brazilian Pave
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 sleeves of Maria cookies
1 can condensed milk
Mix together butter and sugar until smooth. Then add egg yolks one at a time while mixing.
Once smooth, mix in 1 cup Hood Heavy Cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth and creamy, do not over beat the mixture or it will become grainy.
Next place the mixture to the side.  Put 1/2 a cup of Hood Heavy Cream in a bowl and dip the Maria cookies in the cream and then place them in a cake pan, creating the first layer of the Pave Truffle.  
Next spread half of the mixture over the cookies.
Dip more Maria cookies and create another cookie layer. Then add the rest of the cream mixture on top of the second cookie layer.
Add a third layer of cookies dipped in the Hood Heavy Cream.
Once you have these 5 layers, put the pan aside and bowl the can of condensed milk with a 1/2 cup of cream until the mixture is thin and smooth.  Remove from heat, let stand for a few minutes to cool to room temperature, and then spread over the final cookie layer.
If the cookies start to rise, use a spatula to push them back down.
Put the Pave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours so that the cookies will absorb the cream and the Pave can set.  I try to make it a day or two in advance because it stays well in the fridge.
Once chilled, you can cut and serve as is, or sprinkle nuts, cocoa powder or add whipped cream to it. 
It’s always important to use a high quality cream so that it doesn’t separate during mixing and helps the mixture set well.  I have always chosen Hood Cream.  It is what I grew up cooking with because that was what my Nana always kept in her fridge, and now knowing that its what top chefs like Chris Coombs choose to use in their restaurants, I know it’s the best.
Want more delicious recipes featuring Hood Cream?  Download the Free Hood E-Cookbook that is available now on the Hood website.  I have been cooking from this cookbook sense it’s release and the recipes are absolutely amazing.  It is so much fun recreating recipes that were created by an amazing chef that has endless ingredients at his disposal, yet he uses ingredients like Hood that we have all heard of.  It also includes some great cooking tips and holiday recipes, the Peppermint Hot Chocolate is a huge favorite in my house.  Make sure you give it a look, it is free!

Easy and Delicious Peppermint Hot Chocolate Recipe from the Hood Cream Free E-Cookbook! #CookWithHood

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Hood Cream. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
The holiday season is my favorite time of year as a mommy.  As soon as November 1st is upon us, we put away our apple cider and start enjoying hot chocolate as often as possible.
This year is unlike most, with each day this week being in the high sixties.  Usually living in New England means that by November we have already pulled out our winter coats and snow boots, and on most years we have already had at least one snow storm.  So as you can imagine, a great hot chocolate recipe is a must!

For me there is nothing better than sipping on hot chocolate with the kids while decorating, wrapping Christmas gifts, and watching movies at night.
We are thrilled to have this easy and delicious new hot chocolate recipe thanks to the free Hood Cream eCookbook!
The Peppermint Hot Chocolate is a must try!
Ingredients:
1 cup Hood Light Cream
1/2 cup Hood Heavy Cream
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
Directions:
Bring the Hood Light Cream, Hood Heavy Cream and sugar to a boil.
Remove the cream mixture from heat and whisk in the dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt until chocolate is fully dissolved.
Add the peppermint extract last, then pour into cups and enjoy!

Serves 2-3 
This recipe was super easy to make, it only took about 10 minutes, so I loved it.
It tasted amazing and was perfectly sweet so the kids loved it more!
I have always been a fan of Hood Cream, It was what my Nana kept stocked in her fridge so the brand loyalty goes through generations in my family.  Now, knowing that it is also the brand choice of top restaurant chef’s, makes me feel like a better cooker every time I reach for it.
Now my recipe collection including Hood Cream has grown thanks to the Hood Cream E-Cookbook that launched on September 28th!  I am obsessed with all the delicious recipes it includes using Hood Cream by renowned Chef Chris Coombs!
The Hood Cream E-Cookbook is free and available for download here,  Make sure you head over and take advantage of this great opportunity to learn how to make more than 25 mouth watering recipes! 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie! Getting Ready for The Peanuts Movie #PeanutsMovie

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Safeway. The opinions and text are all mine.
I have a new reason to celebrate!  The Peanuts Movie is coming out on November 6th!  Snoopy and Charlie Brown are two of my all time favorite characters and I can’t wait to share that with my children with this new movie.
I have started getting into The Peanuts Movie spirit with some yummy peanut recipes, and shopping at Shaws which is a member of the Albertson Safeway Family that is the exclusive grocery partner of The Peanuts Movie.
One of my kids favorites peanut recipes is my No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie.  It’s a quick and easy dessert that I can have ready in minutes.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie


Ingredients:
Cookies
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Pudding Cups
Pretzels
Whip Cream Topping
Chocolate Syrup
Peanut Butter Syrup
Sprinkles


Line the bottom of a pie pan with cookies.

Next spread a layer of peanut butter.
On top of the peanut butter spread on a layer of the chocolate pudding cups. 
Next add a salty layer with pretzels.
Then the top layer being whipped cream.
Now to make the pie pretty, I drizzle chocolate and peanut butter syrup all over the top.
Since it’s Halloween season, I like to make it a bit more festive and add some holiday sprinkles to the top.
That’s it!  Finished in minutes.  You can serve it right away or put it in the fridge for later.  The pie gets better with time, the longer it sits and the cookies absorb the chocolate and peanut butter the more tasty it becomes.
Make sure you head over to Shaws to stock up on all your The Peanuts Movie necessities!  
While supplies last if you buy 3 items from participating brands, you will receive a Peanuts branded trick-o-treating bag!
Plus head over to and enter to win this awesome Charlie Brown Sweepstakes!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Safeway. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Gooey Halloween Cereal Bars ~ The Perfect Sweet Treat! #SpooktacularSnacks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpooktacularSnacks #CollectiveBias #Ad
It’s almost Halloween and that means everyone’s favorite Halloween cereal is back!  General Mills Count Chocula®, Boo Berry® and Franken Berry® is back in stores with a fun twist, Target’s exclusive packaging has a cool build-able castle on the back of the boxes.  This had my kids jumping with excitement over the perfect combination of a yummy treat and a fun activity.
Once we got home from our shopping trip, the kids were ansy to start building their castle.  This meant I needed to pull out the cereal bags from the three boxes.  So there was no better time to whip up some Gooey Halloween Cereal Treats!
These are incredible simple to make and the perfect sweet treat to celebrate the Halloween season.  Here is my recipe:

Gooey Cereal Treats
prep time: 30 minutes + a couple hours of letting treats set
makes 12 large bars

Ingredients:
6 cups of cereal
4 tbs Butter
10oz bag of mini marshmellows
Melting chocolate or chocolate chips in choice of color
Holiday sprinkles
Melt butter in a large sauce pan on low heat.  Add marshmellows and stir continuously so that the marshmallow doesn’t get stuck to the pan.
Once the marshmallows are fully melted, stir in the 6 cups of cereal and mix everything together.  Mix until all the cereal is coated with gooey marshmallow.
Remove from heat and spread the mixture over a tray or pan.
Add sprinkles as desired over top of mixture, then set aside for a couple hours while marshmallow hardens.
Once the treats are set, cut them into bars.  You can make them any size you’d like.
Next dip the bottoms in chocolate.  For Halloween I chose orange melting chocolate.  Once they are all dipped, place them in the fridge for a couple minutes to harden the chocolate.
Once the bottom chocolate layer is hardened, turn them over and drizzle chocolate over the tops of the treats.  You can also add more sprinkles to make them extra festive.
Place the treats back in the fridge for a couple more minutes so that all the chocolate is hardened.
That’s it, your Halloween sweet treats are ready to be devoured!
Before we sat down to enjoy these yummy treats, we had fun making our Halloween castle.
On the back of each of the Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry cereal boxes from Target have the pieces to the castle.
Once you’ve collected all three boxes, cut out all the pieces of the castle.
Next fold both sides of the Count Chocula piece along the solid lines, and cut the marked slits at the bottom and top of the castle piece.
Once the Count Chocula piece is set up, next take the Franken Berry castle side pieces and cut the marked slits.  Then attach them to each side of the Count Chocula center piece.  Tape the top of the pieces together for added strength.
The last piece of the castle is on the Boo-Berry box.  Insert the castle’s tower into the slits on the top of the center piece.
After the castle is build, you can put together the characters and accessories to add to the fun.
You can also pull out your craft supplies and add your own personal touch to the castle.  We sprayed ours down with glitter spray because Lilly says “every castle needs some sparkle”!  Not sure Dracula would agree, but Lilly loves our new spooky castle.

Halloween is a fun time to put a festive twist on everyday recipes.  What’s your favorite Spooktacular treat?
 Find other great recipes and snacks here!

Hood Cream e-CookBook is now Available! #CookWithHood

“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Hood Cream. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”
Do you remember my Hood Cream Immersion Dinner post?  Remember all those delicious entrees I had the opportunity to try?  It was amazing to see how perfectly Hood Cream makes a meal taste light and creamy.  However those meals were cooked by a top chef, Chris Coombs, so how could we come up with recipes that make our taste buds sing like those at the immersion dinner?  With a cook book created by Hood Cream and Chris Coombs, that’s how!
The free eCookbook was launched on September 28th and features more than 25 recipes created by Chris Coombs himself!  The eCookbook is currently available on Hood Creams website and will be available soon on platforms like Barnes and Noble and iTunes.
Best of all this cook book is packed with tips directly from Chris Coombs on cooking with cream.
I am so excited to step up my game in the kitchen this fall while trying out all these delicious recipes on my own.  One of the dinners I can’t wait to create are Spring Carbonara, This is a great pasta dish that will help get a good amount of veggies into my kids, although I may skip the yolk on their portion.

I also can’t wait to try my hand at the Pan-Roasted Cod Loin.  I haven’t attempted to cooked seafood more than a dozen times in my life because there is something about it that intimidates me.  However after tasting this dish at the immersion dinner, I have to try to recreate this!  It was delicious!
I also can’t wait to make the Tomato Gazpacho and introduce my family to a cold soup.
I have high hopes of impressing my husband with all these delicious meals.  However this breakfast will surely bring smiles to the kids faces!
They all love french toast, so I can’t wait to serve up Brioche French Toast!  I never included Hood Cream in my french toast before, so this will be a fun twist.
Another recipe I never thought to include Hood Cream in, is Creme Caramel.  In our house it is called Pudgim, which is from Brazil.  I can’t wait to see how it tastes when I add Hood Cream to it!
With winter coming to fast, my family will be sipping Hot Chocolate as our nightly treat.  However I have never heard of it made with Hood Cream!  
There are so many delicious recipes in this eCookbook!  I can not wait to get busy creating amazing meals.  Hood Cream is a key ingredient that is used by top chef’s in some of the best restaurants across the nation and its an ingredient that is available at all our local grocery stores!  That makes me feel awesome knowing I’m cooking with some of the best ingredients available.

Halloween BOO’ing Kit Tutorial & Candy Bar Brownies Recipe! #BOOItForward

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BOOItForward #CollectiveBias
It’s one of my favorite times of year, Halloween!  I love the feeling of this month, the pumpkin picking, the Halloween parties, trick-o-treating, everything!  It is such a fun time of year.
Now I have started another fun tradition for this time of year, BOO’ing.  I recently started hearing about this fun way of sharing the Halloween spirit with friends, family, and neighbors and now I’m hooked.  It is so much fun for everyone involved!
So what exactly is BOO’ing?  You create a fun little package of candy and Halloween themed items and leave it anonymously on someone’s front door.  Now that person has been Boo’d!
This is the BOO kit I created this Halloween:

It was easy to make, contains some of my favorite treats, and the mommy perk is that I was able to pick everything up in one trip to Walmart.  Saving time while building fun traditions makes for a great day. 
Products needed to make this BOO kit:
Plastic Pumpkin
Piece of Styrofoam
Wood Dowels 
Glue Gun
 Sunkist® and A&W Root-beer 8oz cans in the adorable Halloween cans.
Bag of MARS Candy, I chose the Mixed Minis bag because it had my favorite, SNICKERS®!  Plus TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, and 3 MUSKETEERS®.
Once you’ve grabbed all your supplies, its time to have fun building your kit.
Start by lining the bottom of the pumpkin with the Halloween soda cans.
Next take your piece of Styrofoam and cut it to fit into your pumpkin, resting on top of the soda cans.
Cover the foam with a bunch of the mini candies.
Next heat up the glue gun, grab your dowels and pick out which candies and how many pieces you want on each stick.
Put a line of glue on the dowel and stick a piece of candy onto it.  Hold it for a few seconds while the glue cools, then keep going down the line.
Once your candy sticks are done, stick them into the foam within the pumpkin, wherever you’d like.
WaLa you have a delicious BOO kit, but it’s not quite finished.
You need to print out this fun “You’ve been BOO’d” greeting card along with the “We’ve been BOO’d” sign.
That’s it, simple to make and fun to give.
We decided to BOO my niece who just got here from Brazil.  This is her first time in the United States and has never experienced Halloween before.  I think getting a cute suprise pumpkin filled with a perfect combination of sweets and soda will make any teen excited for the upcoming holiday.  But shhh her BOO’ing is a secret!
Now that you’ve created an awesome BOO kit and BOO’d a unsuspecting friend.  What are you going to do with the left over candy?  While it probably would have been devoured within 24 hours at my house.  I wanted to do something different with it.  So I made up some of my hubby’s favorite Candy Bar Brownies.
Ingredients:
Brownie Box Mix and ingredents listed on the box.
Mini Marshmellows
MARS Candy Mixed Minis
Halloween Themed Sprinkles 
Make Brownies as directed on the box, but subtract 15 minutes from the cooking time.
Once the brownies are firm, take them out of the oven and top them with tons of Mini MARS Candy Bars.
Next sprinkle on the Mini Marshmallows.
Place the pan back in the oven and cook for the remaining 15 minutes.  After everything melted on top pull them out of the oven and top with your favorite Halloween sprinkles.
Then let the brownies sit and cool for at least 30 minutes while the melted chocolate bars harden back up a little.
Top with whip cream and serve with a Halloween can of soda!
The Halloween cans are available in Canada Dry, A&W,  7UP® and Sunkist®.
And ENJOY!
Be sure to check out other great BOO Kit ideas. I’d love to hear about who you are BOO’ing this year to celebrate Halloween!

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