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June 2013

I love me some Nektar Honey Crystals AND some ribs - recipe & review

Recently I saw these Nektar Honey Crystals advertised.  They look like sugar granules, but are actually dried honey.  No sticky mess?  I HAD to learn more.  So I wrote to the company to see if I could try them.  They sent me a package right away.  


In a nutshell, these things are GREAT.

I opened the first packet and dipped my finger in to see what they taste like.  Yep, you guessed it.  They taste like honey. I started putting them in everything...

I poured packets in my morning tea...
My son ate a few packets all by themselves...
I even made a dry rub for ribs!

The ribs turned out AWESOME.  Here's the recipe:



Sweet & Spicy Dry Rubbed Pork Ribs

 1tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion

2 Tbsp paprika

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

2 tsp coarse salt

4 packets of Nektar Honey Crystals

Mix all the above ingredients in a small bowl.  Rub into one large rack of ribs or two small ones.  Place the ribs onto a jelly roll pan.  

*Here's a trick: before putting the ribs in the pan, place a layer of thick onion rings on the bottom.  They will help keep the heat circulating around the ribs and give a nice flavor at the same time.   IMG_2115

Put the ribs in a warm 275 degree oven for about 3 hours, flipping them once.  

Slather the ribs with your favorite barbeque sauce and stick them on the grill long enough to seal in the flavors- about 4-5 minutes on each side.  Take the ribs off the grill and let them sit for about 10 minutes.  Cut the ribs individually and get ready to get messy!

The Nektar Honey Crystals really gave these ribs a sweet flavor that matched well with the spicy cayenne pepper.  We loved them!

Check out Nektar Honey Crystals online at nektarnaturals.com or on their Facebook Page.

 Disclosure- I was given a box of Nektar Honey Crystals free of charge.  All opinions on this post are my own.

Congratulations to Alison S. for winning 2 ready-to-eat meals from GoPicnic! Thank you everyone for participating in the giveaway. If you would like to try GoPicnic ready-to-eat meals, use coupon code PR10 when shopping at GoPicnic.com for 10% off your order! (Code valid until 12/31/13)

I'd like to thank the inventor of bread salad - recipe


I wanted salad.  I didn't have any lettuce.  Unlike the time I didn't have any bread but craved garlic bread, this time I was loaded to the gills with bread.  So I used it in my salad instead of lettuce.  

And then I cried tears of joy.

Turns out bread salad is a real thing.  Panzanella, they call it.  Who knew?  Here I thought I created something out of desperation and it's been here all along.  OK, I'm lying.  I knew there was such a thing as bread salad, but I never actually thought to try it.  It sounded so gross!  But when you want something and you are out of a lot of the main ingredients, you try new things.  

So thank you, Mr. Panzanella or whoever you are for the awesome invention!  Anywho, here's my recipe:


Bruschetta Panzanella

1/2 loaf of yesterday's garlic bread - the crustier the better- cut into cubes

1 large tomato cut the same size as the bread

2-3 tablespoons of diced white onion

2 ounces of diced mozzarella (I prefer fresh mozzarella, but tonight I used a couple string cheese sticks.  Hey, Whatever Works right?)

6-7 torn fresh basil leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 cup good olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar

Prepare the bread by placing the cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Put them into a 250 oven to dry out about 30 minutes - tossing the cubes occassionally. Let them cool about 15 minutes.

Add all the ingredients except the vinegar to a bowl and toss together coating everything thoroughly.  Let the mixture sit about half an hour on the counter- not in the fridge.  Serve it with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Serves 1.  Oh wait, that's just me.  In real life it serves about 5.

To me, it's like eating bruschetta without the mess.  The slightly crunchy garlic bread and onions give it a kick while the tomatoes and vinegar give it a sweetness.  I love it and hope you do too!


GoPicnic ready-to-eat meals review and GIVEAWAY! #spon

Since I am typically in front of the computer most of my days, I am always looking for something interesting to eat...something that will hold my attention without causing me to get up and graze the fridge unnecessarily.  As I was wandering through Target one day -during one of those stolen moments without the kids- I came across these little GoPicnic ready-to-eat meal boxes. They were exactly what I was looking for in a lunch.

This little box has so much fun inside



...see what I mean?

I know it's not just me, but I love foods that are compartmental:  Bento boxes, TV dinners, and now these meals.  I like the option of eating one or two things now and saving the rest for later.  But the key is that those things taste good.  These definitely do.

Here is a little more about GoPicnic's ready-to-eat meals:

-GoPicnic meals need no refrigeration.  Everything in that little cute box is individually wrapped and shelf-stable.

-Everything in GoPicnic meals are ready to eat with no extra preparation required. Just open and enjoy.

-They can be purchased online at gopicnic.com, in retail stores like Target and are now available at Regal Cinema Theaters!

-They are very reasonably priced between $4-$6 apiece.

-GoPicnic offers many different varieties of meals including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and kosher meals. If a meal falls under any of those categories, it will be clearly labeled on the box.  Each food item is clearly labeled with its ingredients so you can screen for specific allergens as needed. 

-Each box is filled with 5 different individually wrapped delights to equal 1 complete meal.  Most are under 400 calories.

-Every box has a few fun food facts and a Sudoku puzzle printed inside to help keep you smiling even when your meal is done!


My favorites include the Black Bean Dip & Plaintain Chips meal, the Salami & Cheese meal, the Turkey Stick & Crunch meal and the Hummus & Crackers meal.  I actually just finished a wonderful piece of dark chocolate with sea salt from my Hummus & Crackers meal and it was delicious!

After eating a bunch of different varieties on my own, I thought I would contact GoPicnic to tell them how much I loved them.  They very graciously sent me two meals to review.  And better yet they offered to give two more meals to one of you lucky readers!  All you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  The only mandatory entry is the "Leave a Blog Post Comment", but you can gain additional entries by completing the tasks in the form.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to you! I hope you win!

Disclosure: I was given two meals to review, but have been enjoying GoPicnic ready-to-eat meals for quite some time on my own.  All opinions in this post are my own.

Another great day at the Tuckerton Seaport! A review of the Privateers & Pirates Fest

This post is sponsored by Real Mom Media, but all the opinions are my own.  

As usual, the Tuckerton Seaport got another huge checkmark in my book of awesomeness last weekend.  On Saturday my family & I attended their Privateers and Pirates Fest which we had been excited about since hearing of it.  My son is really into pirates, so this was absolutely perfect for him.  

We even dressed the part!


After meeting up with some of my other bloggin' buddies and getting our treasure map, we went downstairs in the Seaport's visitor center to complete some crafts.  They really went all out with aluminum foil/cardboard daggers and paper parrots for your shoulder.   

Making his dagger


I will call him George!

 I jokingly commented to the lovely woman at the parrot station that she must have been cutting out all those parrot parts for days.  She replied that it was more like weeks!  

After we explored a bit more of the visitor's center which included a sealife exhibit and a real live talking parrot, we ventured outside into the world of the pirates.  My son was absolutely mesmerized. I mean, these were REAL pirates in his eyes (which were twinkling like crazy the whole day).  The first thing that caught his eye was a little plank set up for kids to walk.  He jumped right up there and got his picture taken immediately.


 One pirate asked him if he wanted to sword fight.   

Now that's a serious pirate!

 My son said no, which surprised me.  After we walked away, he advised me he didn't want to do it because his little aluminum foil dagger was not big enough...he needed a "real" sword.  It was easy enough to find one as there were vendors galore with everything pirate related.  They were very reasonably priced, I might add.  We found a $4 plastic sword and went on our way to see a cannon demonstration - always keeping our eyes out for that sword fighting pirate.

BOOM goes the cannon

 After the cannons blasted a few times, we went into the big tent to listen and watch some pirate musicians sing the songs of the sea.  A nice pirate lady with a display of assorted pirate memorabilia explained so much to my son about different types of guns and weapons, I think his head was about to explode with excitement.  He told me all about what he learned on our walk to Perrine's Boat Works to see all the sneakboxes being made.

At that point, my daughter joined us after her soccer game (which they won, woohoo!) and we took a walk over to the Tucker's Island Lighthouse.  We were greeted by a pirate at the doorway explaining some different types of trials pirates endured through the years.  We then strolled up to the top of the lighthouse for a quick pic and headed back down.

What a view!

 I had mentioned earlier that we received a treasure map.  That map had various locations in the Seaport listed where we were supposed to visit and get a sticker.  Once all the stickers were received, we could pick a prize from the treasure chest.  That was our last stop for the day! 

Can you guess what he chose? Give up? It was a duck.

 We had a great time once again at the Tuckerton Seaport and plan to go back many times this summer for their many events.  Our favorite is the free Friday night concert series that runs throughout the summer.  We pack up our cooler, grab some glow sticks and snacks for the kids and head over for a great family evening every chance we get.  

For a complete listing of all the Tuckerton Seaport's events, check out their website at : www.tuckertonseaport.org.  You can also visit their Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter @TuckertonSeaprt  

Hope to see you there! 

Whadda ya say, George?



Congrats to MICHELLE G on winning 4 tickets to see Monster Jam on June 15 at MetLife Center! Thank you to everyone who participated. We got some fantastic photos!

Lemonade for a cure to cancer. Let's do this.

I have this beautiful friend named Trish.  Not only is she a fantastic mother of three, a writer with wonderful talent, and owner of the blog Yoke she is an ambassador for Alex's Lemonade Stand.  After learning her daughter Lily had a cancerous brain tumor at 14 months-old and watching her endure several surgeries and treatments, Trish made it her priority to try her best to stop this cancer from hurting any more families out there.  Here is her story:

Beautiful Lily
When life gives you lemons. . .you make Alex's Lemonade!

When my daughter was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I knew nothing about Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer (ALSF). Then one morning in June while she was upstairs at the Children's Hospital of Phildelphia in the PICU recovering from brain surgery, I went downstairs to buy a cup of lemonade.
CHOP was buzzing with excitement--it was the ALSF annual Lemonade Days.   I, however,  was in a bad place. The day before Lily had complications during a procedure. I hated the world. I hated everything and everyone. I was spent. 
Then I heard Liz Scott speak. I only remember one word that Liz said:
Hearing this amazing woman and mother, who lost her child, tell me to have hope, saved me. 
My daughter Lily is  7-year-olds and a brain tumor survivor. She was diagnosed when she was 14-months old, after weeks of throwing up. Her pediatrician kept diagnosing a GI bug and a bladder infection. Finally, we begged for more answers and we were sent to the emergency room at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Within 30 minutes we had our answer: a brain tumor. 

Those are two words, you never, ever want to hear as a parent.
Lily has endured multiple brain surgeries, seven weeks of proton radiation and continued therapies to help improve her motor skills and strengthen her muscles. Brain surgery damaged Lily's overall muscle tone and coordination. Therapy and hard work has brought Lily full circle. The little girl who once could not walk, now runs and tumbles and dances.  She is a shining beacon of hope and strength and love. 

But we know that Lily's battle is not unique.  Everyday, 46 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer. Everyday, 46 mothers and fathers learn that their child will begin the fight for their lives. Seven children die everyday at the hands of childhood cancer. 

46 children is 46 too many.  The suffering has to stop. 

It is because of these children that our family holds an Alex's Lemonade Stand to support ALSF every year.  For the past five years, our family has hosted a Lemonade Stand in our front yard and online to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. 

Childhood cancer research is consistently underfunded and under researched. But ALSF is working to change that. Since 2004, the foundation has made a major impact--raising over $50 million for research.  It all started with Alex--a little girl who was really sick and really wise. Alex knew that every penny counts and every donation adds up. 

This year, our family aims to raise $10,000 for a cure to all forms of childhood cancer. It is an enormous goal--but it is one we hope to reach with the help of kind and generous friends. 
Every donation--whether $5 or $50 counts.  
When you buy a cup (or 100 cups, please!), you will be sipping in the beautiful stories of some of my favorite people in the world, my heroes. In honor of all those children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who fight, have fought and will continue to sell lemonade for their friends, until cures for pediatric cancer are found, I ask, I beg you to raise a glass to these amazing blessings. 

 Together, we will beat childhood cancer, one icy cold, sweet cup of lemonade at a time!

To donate to Lily's stand:

Remember, every single bit helps!  Thank you for your support.