Our Mini Family: June 2015


Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites

Another weekend is gone and another Monday is knocking at the front door. 

I'm in denial. I feel like I should still be in bed and sleeping in until it's time for brunch. But alas, it's back to work we go since Monday is here. And today, I'm sharing a comfort food that makes even Mondays look good: fried macaroni and cheese bites!


Adam bought me this awesome deep fryer (affiliate link) last week, and ever since I got my hands on it I've been experimenting and concocting some stellar recipes. Today I'm sharing my fried macaroni and cheese bites--they are soooo good, and if you ask me they're totally worth the calories!

Carnitas & Strawberries Salad with a Chocolate Olive Oil Drizzle

Special thanks to Del Real Foods for providing me with free ingredients for this recipe.
**Help my blog by voting for this recipe on the Del Real Foods site--click here!**

I know what you're probably thinking--carnitas, strawberries, AND chocolate? But trust me. It's not as much of an overpowering flavor pairing as you'd think. Chocolate olive oil can be used in many ways besides desserts--think of this recipe as one step closer to adventure from your standard balsamic; it's sweet and savory, but it's got a little kick to it to make it memorable.


Carnitas are a incredibly diverse ingredient if you can think outside of the box. Me personally, I love having them with something a little sweet (i.e. strawberries with just a hint of chocolate flavoring). The Del Real Food Carnitas were perfect to work with, since I could just throw them in the microwave.

Our Mini Linky Party | Week 25

Good morning and happy Saturday! I hope you're all having a great morning so far!


**Just a quick head's up** We'll be opening up the party early next week, since I know many of you probably have 4th of July plans! Yay! We'll have the linky party next week starting on Friday at 6am PST, and run through Wednesday at midnight like it normally does.

Speaking of which, I got to embrace my love of DIY projects like many of you do, and I worked on a patriotic home decor item! What do you think? I was so pleased when DecoArt provided me with free paint supplies so I could paint my 4th of July flower vase--I hadn't realized I didn't have many red white and blue decorations until this month!




And speaking of 4th of July!
Check out this week's features and link up to join our party! 

30 Minute Asian Wonton Soup

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

I have a confession to make, y'all: I like eating soup even if it's 100 degrees outside. Yes, it's true. I have to say, it feels good that I was able to get that off my chest because I've been dying to share my 30 Minute Asian Wonton Soup recipe with all of you! It is very easy and convenient to make--which is great for busy individuals like myself.


Most of the time, when I want to make soup, I stop myself because I know just how long it can take to get a great tasting soup. Some recipes I've tried take hours in the crock pot, and really I don't have time for that these days! I'm incredibly busy, so if I have a hankering for some soup, I make this recipe with Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Fillets and Birds Eye Protein Blends

Refrigerator and Freezer Cleaning Checklist

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

Every week or so, usually right before I go on a big trip to the grocery store, I like to clean out my refrigerator and freezer. Keeping the place where I store my foods clean is not only appealing, but it's also important to keep my meals from ever being contaminated. Today, I'm sharing my very own refrigerator and freezer cleaning routine with all of you, and I've made my cleaning checklist available for download!


DIY Fourth of July Painted Flower Vase

Special thanks to DecoArt for providing me with free paint for this DIY project! 

Fourth of July is sneaking up on us really quickly! June is nearly over--Father's Day was this past Sunday, and pretty soon it will be time to celebrate Independence Day. And that's when it occurred to me that I should start decorating our place with some red white and blue! 


I had this flower vase lying around and hadn't started any projects with it yet. I remember finding it outside the garbage area at our apartment complex and thinking, "now why would anyone throw this away?" I checked it to see if there were any cracks--filled it with water and no leaks! Such a waste. But alas, I adopted this lonely flower base and gave it some life this past weekend when I painted it with some fireworks!

Spicy Summer Pasta Salad

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

Summer is such a great time for taking my regular recipes up a notch--since it becomes unbearably hot outside in Arizona this time of year, I find myself spending a lot more time indoors looking for things to do.  Recently, I amped up my regular pasta salad that I make with some El Yucateco Red Habanero Hot Sauce and it was incredible! Adam was excited that I wanted to make our pasta salad spicy too, since he prefers his food on the extreme side of the hotness scale. Today, we're sharing our hottest and spiciest pasta salad recipe, along with a deluxe grilling sweepstakes giveaway! 

Our Mini Linky Party | Week 24

Good morning! How was your week? I hope this weekend is a relaxing and also productive one for you!

I'm excited to host yet another week of the Our Mini Linky Party installment on our site--and I was really glad to see some new faces at the party this past week! To those of you new to the party, welcome! Stick around and share your posts with us, and also take a moment to check out some other posts from some of the other party participants. Here's a quick update on what I was up to this past week:


Lots of great projects are going on with the blog this week, and in-between all of the cooking/crafting/blogging Adam and I even had the chance to have a date night this week!


 We spent our date night cheering on the Arizona Diamondbacks in Downtown Phoenix! #GoDbacks


This weekend is going to be mostly work, and only a little bit of play. Adam and I both have a lot going on with work, and we'll also likely be staying inside since it's supposed to be as hot as 120 degrees (F) here in Phoenix! Yikes!! We're definitely in the midst of an early season heat wave!


Continue reading to see this week's features and to link up & join our party! 

The "Gilbert Burger" Recipe and the Smart & Final Grand Opening

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


I love the homestyle and small-town feel to Gilbert, Arizona! Living in Greater Phoenix usually means there is a lot of hustle and bustle, and lots of big corporations residing in our city (and thankfully bringing lots of jobs to our community at large). But honestly, sometimes I miss the feel of a small town. And luckily for me, whenever I visit Gilbert I can fulfill that need; there is something remarkably cozy about downtown Gilbert, AZ. The qualities of downtown Gilbert have inspired me, and today I'm sharing a burger recipe that represents my love for this city. I'll also be sharing my experiences from attending the Smart & Final grand opening in Gilbert, AZ!

Vanilla Bean, White Chocolate and Oreo Crumble Ice Cream

I was standing in line at Michael's the other day with a cart filled with craft supplies and a handful of 40% off coupons. I normally don't succumb to impulse purchasing, but when I laid eyes on my ice cream maker (affiliate link) I just knew I had to have it! Just days later, I decided to experiment and make two homemade ice cream flavors of my own. Today, I'm sharing my Vanilla Bean, White Chocolate and Oreo Crumble Ice Cream recipe! 

Our Mini Linky Party | Week 23

Hi and good morning! I hope you are doing well on this lovely Saturday morning!


Adam and I have had a busy week--we both went through our entire closet and wardrobe and donated almost half of what we had. About 3 trash bags filled with shoes, winter clothes, summer clothes, etc all got donated to St. Vincent de Paul. After we did an overhaul of our closets, we went and bought gigantic plastic bins and organized everything in the bedroom.

And now our bedroom looks INCREDIBLE! Although, now I am kind of kicking myself for not taking a 'before' photo to show you all the true transformation; I'll try and paint a picture for you--imagine the Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil came swooping into our bedroom and that's essentially what our closet looked like before we did this!

Sorry for the poor photos---took these real fast with my iPhone 4 haha
But needless to say, I am really proud that we finally did something about how much stuff we had, and more importantly that we finally got organized! I'll be totally honest--it got to the point where it was so bad that we actually just had a pile of clothes on the floor inside the closest. Eeek! But it's okay because now that pile is gone!

We also shared a few posts on the blog this week--including an ice cream recipe inspired by the upcoming Disney Pixar movie, "Inside Out!" Check it out:




Thanks so much to everyone who linked up last week! Check out the features from this week:

Creamy Orange Dreamy Smoothie from EazyPeazyMealz via ILS Learning


Raspberry Almond Cake from Food Hunter's Guide


Penne au Gratin from What's On the List


Easiest Recipe for Make Your Own Play-Doh from ILS Learning


Continue reading to link up to this week's party!

'Inside Out' Inspired Ice Cream!

Today, I want to celebrate the upcoming movie premiere of Disney Pixar's Inside Out with an ice cream flavor inspired by the movie!  If I had to choose just one emotion from Inside Out that I resonate the most with, it would definitely be Amy Poehler's character, Joy! 


Her vibrance and positivity inspires her fellow mental pals to be better and keeps everything in balance. I'd like to think that I am inspiring those around me and helping everyone feel centered every day--so that's why I love Joy, and why she inspired me to whip up this most colorful and bright ice cream I've ever made!

Image Source

What Social Sharing is & Why Bloggers Should Care


Today, I've partnered with Find Your Influence to share some information with you today about what social sharing is, as well as why it's important to you if you're a blogger who wants to one day make money with your site!


What's New with iOS 9?

For those of you who missed WWDC 15, no worries! I've got all of the vital information you need to know about the new iOS 9 for your iPhone and iPad!

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went to Phoenix Comicon

Last week, I surprised Adam with a Saturday pass to Phoenix Comicon--and I am so glad we went! But, there were some things I wish I knew first before I went to my first comicon.


Here are the 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went to Phoenix Comicon:

One Pan, Pollo Asado Parmesan Pasta Recipe

Here's What You'll Need:

One Pan Pollo Asado Parmesan Pasta

Ingredients:
  • 1 package of Del Real Foods Pollo Asado
  • 8 oz of penne pasta
  • 1 3/4 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
Directions:
  1. Pour uncooked penne pasta, heavy cream, garlic powder, black pepper, and chicken broth into a large (deep) pan on the stovetop. Mix well. 
  2. Bring pan to a boil. 
  3. Once it comes to a boil, immediately turn it down to low and cover the pan. Simmer completely covered for 15 minutes.
  4. When it nears the end of the 15 minutes, heat up the Del Real Foods Pollo Asado in the microwave. 
  5. When pasta is fully cooked, add in shredded Parmesan cheese and mix well. 
  6. Chop up Del Real Foods Pollo Asado and add to the pasta.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!
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One pot pasta dishes are delicious! I usually make pasta at least once a week.


There is something seriously magical about freshly shredded Parmesan cheese!


I love that this Del Real Foods chicken is already pre-cooked for me, so it keeps my recipes fast and delightfully easy throughout the week.


Do you know someone who'd love this recipe? Share it with a friend!

Our Mini Linky Party | Week 22

Good morning--happy Saturday, everyone!


Did you have a nice week? I sure did! But I am even more happy that it's the weekend, because Adam and I have been so busy we haven't been able to spend a lot of time together. This weekend, I'll be putting most of my blogging tasks aside until Monday (so I can enjoy some time with my hubby).

This past week, I shared a variety of posts: travel, breakfast, mac & cheese, and DIY! My Logan's Roadhouse Macaroni & Cheese Copycat recipe has pretty much gone viral--it totally took me by surprise! A lovely surprise, of course. I get so excited when other people get equally as excited as me about the food that I make and share on the blog. It's weeks like this that inspire me to push myself to come up with my "next big thing!"

What is YOUR most "viral" blog post?
I'd love for you to link it up to our party this week (even if you've already done so in the past), and comment below and tell me about it! I want to feature your most viral posts on my Facebook and Twitter next week, and show off all of your amazing DIY and food posts!

Thanks so much to everyone who linked up last week! Check out the features from this week:

A Summer Reading DIY Popsicle Stick Bookmark from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom


Peanut Butter Cup Rice Crispy Treats from 3 Boys and a Dog


Spiral Wire Earring Jackets from Jewelry Making Journal


12 Flag Crafts Roundup from Crystal & Co.


Continue reading to link up to this week's party!

DIY Tic-Tac-Toe Coasters & a Dark Chocolate Dr Pepper® Cherry Float

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

Summer break is such a magical time as a child--I remember each year on the last day of school when it felt like all was right with the world. Days after school had ended and I was hanging out at home, it was great to have a break! But every year, like clockwork, I'd get incredibly bored since I wasn't in school! If you know what I'm talking about you either have similar memories, or you're a parent to kids at home who are already telling you that they are bored. Well, I can empathize! Summer is meant to be filled with fun--but not all fun has to be planned! Enjoy the break with some spontaneous summer fun.


Today we're sharing a DIY on how to make your very own, tic-tac-toe coasters (which are sure to inspire some impromptu tic-tac-toe challenges between siblings, friends, and family members alike!) We'll also be sharing an awesome #ShareFunshine sweepstakes, and also a little dessert featuring Dr Pepper® Cherry!

Hearty Granola and Banana Breakfast

Enjoying a hearty and healthy granola breakfast is easy thanks to Fresh n' Lean (who sponsored this post)! Come Wednesdays, I can really feel the weekend coming and just need a little boost of energy. Sure, the whole mid-week celebration helps (especially the recurring "Mike! Mike, Mike, Mike! Guess what day it is? HUMP DAY!" camel). But if I am feeling sluggish and just want a little pick-me-up, I honestly look for something like hearty granola and fresh fruit to help me make it to the weekend!

Travel isn't a Necessity to Live--it is a Necessity to Thrive

Wanderlust is something we can all relate to. 


At some point or another, we've all just felt the innate urge to get up and go somewhere exciting and new! And then there are some of us who constantly feel antsy if we're not constantly on the go, or continuously exploring new places. My mom raised me in a certain way that encouraged wanderlust; she wanted me to explore and push myself to try new things in places I did not know.

From an early age, I started getting sent off to summer camps and trying activities with people I'd never met (and in places I'd never seen before). As I got older, she encouraged me to join new extracurriculars and dip my toe in a variety of activities. When my junior year in high school rolled around, she did not even have to ask me where I wanted to go and visit--I had already mapped out all of the destinations around the U.S. I wanted to check out and see if their university was right for me; I ended up in the great state of Arizona, and earned my B.A. degree from Arizona State University (Go Devils!) While I was at ASU, I traveled like crazy! There were lots of opportunities to branch out, and I seized them whenever I could. 

I owe all of those amazing, unique travel experiences to my mom--the woman who taught me that having wanderlust is not only ok, but definitely healthy (and good for the soul!) It is because of her that I travel.

Traveling isn't a necessity to live--it is a necessity to THRIVE!

I live in Arizona--a state that is filled with endless resorts and luxurious hotels. My husband and I take a staycation as often as we can--we travel somewhere new in our own state and have our own luxurious travel excursion with an affordable budget. 

Living a colorful and exciting life comes easily to people who regularly travel. And by travel, I don't necessarily mean people who have to whip out their passport at the airport. I'm talking about seeing new places and creating long-lasting memories. Majority of people cannot afford to travel all across the country, let alone to another side of the world! Traveling is possible for all incomes--so long as there is a little bit of planning and saving involved!

What are your thoughts? 

Logan's Roadhouse Copycat Mac and Cheese

Happy June!

During the summer time, one of our favorite (and affordable) date nights that Adam and I have is to go and have dinner at Logan's Roadhouse. Why? Because it's super affordable, and we're kind of obsessed with the two-for-$15 deal! But sometimes, we just don't want to leave the house to eat our favorite thing on the Logan's Roadhouse menu: their macaroni and cheese. 


Seriously, if you've never had the macaroni and cheese at Logan's Roadhouse you are really missing out! But luckily, now you can eat some since we've finally nailed our copycat recipe! 
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