Native Texan Livin': November 2015

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Easy Cheesy Meaty Turkey Tray

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone!  Is everyone's turkey thawed for baking...or in our case, frying?  I've been busy today getting some appetizers & desserts ready for tomorrow & wanted to share a super fun & quick kid friendly appetizer.

Easy Cheesy Meaty Turkey Tray
All you need is...
sliced pepperoni
sliced salami
sliced turkey
colby jack cheese
mozzarella slices
cheddar slices
butter crackers

This is the easiest, cheesiest turkey tray you'll probably have tomorrow.  You may even have all of these items on hand already & if you do, you can definitely pull this off in time!  Just alternate the meat & cheeses in a rainbow pattern.  Make a shape of a turkey with cheese or meat in the middle, add peppercorns for the eyes, cut a shape of a beak and gaggle with meat. TADA!

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving surrounded by family & friends!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread (My Olive Garden Breadstick Hack)

Who else just can't get enough comfort food this time of year?  I found a copy cat recipe for Olive Garden's Pasta Fagioli on Pinterest....or as we like to say like Giada...Pashta Fagioli.  It was super yummy & it made so much I was able to take half of it to my mom the next day!

If you're gonna have Olive Garden soup then you HAVE TO have Olive Garden breadsticks!  Pretty sure it's the law!  ;-)  I took a crack at making Olive Garden breadsticks but instead of traditional breadsticks, was gonna make them in monkey bread form.  Yeah, you heard that right...Garlic Parmesan MONKEY BREAD!  This was probably the easiest thing I've ever made & I think it turned out really well, if I do say so myself!

Here's my take on Olive Garden Breadsticks....Galic Parmesan Monkey Bread

Gather your ingredients:
2 cans biscuits
1 stick of butter
Garlic Powder
Garlic Salt
Parmesan Cheese

- Melt the butter
- Mix in as much grated Parmesan cheese& Garlic Powder as you want into the butter
- Add Garlic Salt to butter (I use salted butter so I didn't use much)
- Cut the biscuits into 1/4 pieces
- Layer biscuits in bottom of cake pan
- Pour half of butter mixture all over & mix all around
- Add remaining biscuits & remaining butter mixture
- Make sure all biscuits are well coated
- Bake at 350F degrees for 15-20 minutes

Fresh from the oven!  I let this sit for just a few minutes & then...
Put a plate on top of the cake pan & invert so it comes out nice & neat & ready to eat!

Doesn't this look SO good?!?!?!  The kids loved them & now we have our go-to recipe when we want some Olive Garden breadsticks!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dave & Buster's Friendswood Grand Opening VIP Night

Friday night, Bo & I got to go out sans kids for a VIP Night at Dave & Buster's  Grand Opening of their newest location at Baybrook Mall in Friendswood.  It was very exclusive...with only hundreds of our closest friends! ;-)  I received the invitation from Alexis at Integrate & as always, the events they bring us are amazing!

When we walked in, we were greeted by friendly staff members ready to make sure you had a good time!  They were eager to help & had on glow in the dark headbands & bow ties.  Super cute & festive for the night!

I extended the invitation to my sister & friend since we were all overdue on date nights.  We chose a 7pm dinner time with our RSVP, and along with the VIP invite, we each received 2 drink tickets, a $10 gaming card, 1 appetizer for the table, 1 entree per person & 1 giant dessert for the table.

Needless to say, we started in on the drinks immediately & they did not disappoint!  Who knew you could get an adult snow cone?!?!  Here's some of the food & drinks we ordered:
This was my entree & it was AMAZING!  Definitely recommend you order this!
It' a brownie, it's a cookie, it has ice cream.  
Introducing the Brookie Sundae Tower!  
Yeah, we devoured it!  We sang Happy Birthday to Julie since it was her birthday the next day.

Our table had a lot of fun with our servers....although I'm not sure how much fun they had with us! ;-)   Surprisingly, for the first night open, we didn't run across many problems.  The main issue we had was that one of our dinner orders took FOREVER to come out.  They took care of us & comp'd the meal. ( was already free!)  Although, if it hadn't already been a free meal, I truly think the D&B staff would've taken care of it.  Our waiters checked on us pretty consistently, they were very friendly & they humored us by listening to our "old people jokes!"  Our drinks did take their time making their way to our table but the bar was busy, which was understandable.  But once the men made friends with Manager Kevin, he even brought our tray of drinks over himself.
I'm thinking this will be our Christmas card! ;-)

After dinner, we went to the gameroom to play...

At the end of the night, the staff all lined up on both sides of the aisle, chanting & clapping & high-five'ing you on your way out!  It was a really fun night & will definitely be heading back for a night out again soon.

Thanks again to Alexis & the Integrate Team for including me on this fun-filled night!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What's In My Bag? : Date Night Essentials

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

I don't know about your house, but our house is normally on kid mode all the time.  School, driving, practices, driving, homework, driving, playing outside, pick up from practices, bath time & bed time.  After all that's done, do yall just sit down & pass out too?  Wait, did I see my husband today?

After 4 long months, the hubs & I finally have a date night planned! (More of that to come next week!)  Actually, we did have a mini-day-date a month or so ago, but this one's gonna be a really fun night out!  One thing that keeps me on-the-ready is my bag full of goodies (a.k.a. my Bag-o-Tricks) that I keep in my purse.  I was running low on some things so I went over to Walmart to add more essentials.
Use as directed
We have this amazing night out planned & the last thing we want is to feel crummy before our big night.  Enter the Emergen-C Chewables.  More Healthy Days, More Healthy Nights.  Who couldn't use more of that?!  There are other "mix in water" options but I'm all about the on-the-go choice.
Use as directed
My husband never stops moving.  Ever.  He works all day & then comes home to drag trash cans down the driveway, recycling bins up the driveway, cut down tree limbs, clean the pool, etc.  You name it, he's probably already doing it.  I like to have Advil Liqui-Gels on hand for muscle aches from all that hard work.  Nothing's faster on tough pain (among OTC pain relievers).
Use as directed
Another thing I MUST HAVE ALL THE TIME is ChapStick Total Hydration.  If you know me, you know I'm all about that ChapStick!  It drives me crazy when my lips are dry & this ChapStick Total Hydration instantly smoothes & moisturizes.  It's 100% natural & smells so yummy!  I ended up getting the 2 flavors I found in my Walmart (Coconut Hydration & Fresh Citrus) because I couldn't choose just 1.

This bag is in my purse ALL.THE.TIME.  You literally never know when you'll need something.

Here's a list of most of the things inside my Bag-o-Tricks:
Hand Sanitizer
Emergen-C Chewables
ChapStick Total Hydration
Advil Liqui-Gels
Hand Sanitizer
Phone Charger
Ear buds
Ponytail holders

The nice thing about this bag is that it's so portable.  I can switch out my purse to a backpack, back to another purse & all I have to do is grab this bag & I'll know I have everything I need.  Besides money....I would still need money. (Note to self, make sure to also grab your wallet!) ;-)

Do you keep a bag like this?  I can honestly say it's so useful & easy to just grab & go, especially for a date night.  What else would you add to your bag?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Elf on the Shelf Ideas {& Free Printable Calendar}

Yeah yeah, I's only November 6th, and you might be asking, "WHY are you writing about the ever lovin' ELF?!?!"  I'll tell you why!  Because Thanksgiving is 3 weeks away & then a few days later, our little Elfie's gonna make his reappearance & I need to be prepared!

Our Elfie made his appearance a few years ago & the girls always get SO excited for his arrival.

Real life mom fail moment for a minute...10 years ago when Becca was around Izzy's age, she would come home & talk about this magical elf that was at her friends houses & it would move around every morning & it did fun things.  I was like, WHAT?!?!  In my defense, I was working full time, I didn't have "mom friends" that could explain this to me & Pinterest hadn't been invented yet, so...she never got an elf. :-(  Fast forward to 2012 and POOF, an Elf arrives!  Hooray!  It wasn't until later as we're placing this elf all around the house that it finally hit me!  THIS was what Bec was talking about all those years ago!  In that second, I was like, "Oh my gosh, I'm SO sorry!  THIS was what you asked me about 10 years ago!!!"  Needless to say, it was definitely a major headslap moment!

It seems like every year, we stand around each night in December with an elf in our hands, trying to figure out where to put him before we go to bed.  Those days are now over!  I finally got with the program & created a printable calendar cheat sheet with Elfie ideas for every day!

Here's a better breakdown of the calendar...

1.   Your elf arrives!  Spell out a message with M&M's saying, "I'm Back!"
2.   What elf doesn't like syrup?!?!  I believe it's their choice of beverage!
3.   Place elf somewhere in the Christmas tree peeking out at the kids.
4.   Draw Minion faces on bananas, leave elf in the fruit bowl holding the marker.
5.   Make a bed out of a kleenex with a kleenex blankie or tuck him into a doll bed.
6.   Fill up a mug with marshmallows & 2 straws. Place Elf & Barbie with straws at their mouths.
7.   Stick gift bows all over kitchen cabinets. Elf caught with a bow in his hands.
8.   Fill a mug or bowl with marshmallows & let Elf relax. Maybe make a hair turban! ;-)
9.   Draw mustaches, glasses, etc on a pic with a dry erase marker. Elf left holding the marker.
10. Attach Elf to the fan pull string like he's flying.
11. Spell out "Santa's Watching" in M&M's. Elf sitting with M&M's in lap.
12. Dress up your Elf in doll clothes.
13. Set up Elf over a fish tank. Elf holding a stick with a string dangling into the fish tank.
14. Stuff the Elf into a glass jar full of candy (then the kids can't eat candy all day!)
15. Elf on counter next to open lunch boxes that are FULL of candy!
16. Toilet paper your living room! Leave the empty roll in the tree & Elf holding the end of the TP!
17. Stick Elf in the fireplace looking out at everyone.
18. Set Elf up in the fridge with a straw in a bottle of milk or eggnog.
19. Place Elf among Nutcrackers (or any other decor you have)
20. Make a powdered sugar snow angel on the counter.
21. Attach a candy cane to Elf hands & a marshmallow by the candy cane as if golfing.
22. Tape crepe paper over kids doors. Attach Elf above the door holding a piece of crepe paper.
23. Place Elf on top of a Reindeer (or other decor) like it's riding it.
24. Make a Hot Air balloon with a balloon covered with a bandana, or something round that you can attach to ceiling with a tack or tape. Make a small basket from a solo cup (or similar) & string. Elf is out of the way for Christmas Eve festivities. Elf leaves Christmas jammies for the kids this last morning to wear that night for Santa!  Kids say goodbye!

Side Note:
If I'm hosting my family for Christmas Eve or if I'm hosting a party in general, I may switch up my schedule to make sure Elfie is out of the way in case other people get the urge to touch him.  We don't want him losing his magic!  

And PLEASE for the sake of your kids & Christmas Magic.......PUT THE ELF AWAY!
I "put Elfie away" last year in my nightstand & was gonna go back to box him up later.  I forgot & Maggie went digging & found him!  She ran out telling me Elfie was back!  I realized immediately what had happened & while she was telling the other kids what she found, I snuck it out of the drawer.  Poor thing just looked like she made it up when she & the other kids went to find it again! :-(  I just told her Elfie was probably checking in to make sure they were behaving! :-)

My kids were really sad thinking about Elfie leaving last year, so thinking ahead, I ordered these plush versions of the Elf that are touchable!  We got a boy & a girl and they were left wrapped under the tree from Elfie! :-)  These elves are actually meant to be held & says so on the packaging.  For whatever reason, other kids at our school will bring elves to school in December, so now my kids can bring these!

I'm really excited to use the calendar this year!  Please do yourself a favor & print this 2015 Elf on the Shelf calendar to make your life a heck of a lot easier.  It's not like we don't have enough to think about this time of year, but throw an Elf into the mix & forget it!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Easy Jalapeno Cornbread

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

Well, we survived the Rainageddon that just passed through Houston the ENTIRE weekend!  It almost ruined our Halloween but by Sunday, it was just a constant rain without the storms.

BUT it still meant we were stuck in the house!  We spent our day together as a family, doing puzzles, playing games, jumping in puddles & watching movies.  Crummy weather doesn't have to put a damper on family time...and this was the perfect weather for me to make Tortilla Soup & Jalapeno Cornbread.

Earlier in the week I went to Fiesta to get La Morena jalapenos & a pack of Coca-Cola bottles.  Gonna make Mexican food?  Gotta get the real deal!  La Morena products really have that authentic Latino flavor.  These jalapenos also have sliced carrots in the can!  I reserved those to use for a different dish at a later time!

Before I could start, I pulled out my mom's trusty box of family recipes.  Do yall have one of those?  My mom kept all of her recipes in an index card box & each one is organized with care.  I was so happy when she gave it to me & it's always within reach in case I need to reference a recipe.
I gathered my ingredients:
1 1/2 boxes cornbread mix
1/3 cup Vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use a Mexican blend)
2 eggs
1 can Creamed corn
La Morena jalapenos; chopped

Mix all of the ingredients EXCEPT the jalapenos if you're not going to make the entire cornbread spicy.
My kids don't do spicy, so I only add the jalapenos to half of the skillet.  Pour the Cornbread batter into a buttered cast iron skillet & mix the jalapenos around until fully mixed.

I've seen cornbread waffles on Pinterest & have always wanted to give it a try.  I reserved just enough cornbread batter for 2 waffles.  Within a couple of minutes, the green light turned on & our waffles were ready.  It worked!
OK, moving on...our cornbread is ready to bake.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (or until done to your liking)
I cut myself a piece from the Jalapeno side & it was so moist & flavorful & spicy!  There were chunks of jalapeno in every bite! Good thing I had my ice cold Coca-Cola to cool my mouth down!

Not wanting to get rid of my La Morena jalapeno can, I cleaned it out & filled it with Fall leaves. What do you think?  I love seeing empty cans used as vases & I think this one looks perfect with its Fall colors.
This Jalapeno Cornbread is so easy to make!  The holidays are hectic enough, so I hope you take an "index card" from my family & add this to your own Family Recipe Box.  For more amazing recipe ideas using La Morena & Coca-Cola products, just search using the hashtag #MejorRecetas.

Buen Provecho!