Essential Thanksgiving Tools From OXO

This post is brought to you by OXO! I was given product to use for my Thanksgiving feast from a brand I adore. Thank you, OXO!

The past three times we have cooked a turkey, we have used Alton Brown’s recipe. It calls for brining the bird and then roasting it. Every time, we have been blown away by how juicy and delicious it is! A necessary tool for cooking a turkey to perfection is a meat thermometer. This came in handy since he-who-shall-not-be-named left our other digital thermometer outside on the barbecue pit ;) OXO’s Instant Read Thermometer provides quick and accurate temperature readings for cooked meat. The rotating and pivoting head allows you to read the temperature from any angle. A turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so this bird was not quite ready yet.I love how easy it is to use and how nice it looks!Okay, this next tool is one that I totally geeked out over! The OXO Good Grips Good Gravy Fat Separator is magical. The top has a strainer that catches any little bits before they fall into the cup. Then, as the fat separates and rises to the top, the good stuff (aka drippings) are pulled to the bottom. See that little red spout on the bottom? It is kept closed by the handle. When you squeeze the handle, the valve is opened and the drippings pour out to make your gravy without all of the fat! Magic I tell you! It’s also heat-proof and dishwasher safe. Everything you could ever want in a gravy-making tool!Watch this video I made with my little gravy helper, Ada. I love her commentary!

Good gravy indeed! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones and comfort food all around you. Find out more about OXO and their ingenious products here :) 

How to Ensure that Open Enrollment Works for You

Thank you Dignity Health for sponsoring this post. Enroll in humankindness.

If you’re anything like me, you tend to shy away from thinking about or dealing with insurance and healthcare. It can be confusing and overwhelming! As the main caretaker of my children, it is a necessity that I know what my children’s health provider options are and which plan I should be going with. Terms like open enrollment, premium, and deductible can make your head spin! With a little bit of insight, though, you can see that Open Enrollment is a great time to make your family’s quality of life better.

Over 22% of people said that they spent less than an hour on selecting their healthcare plan and providers! 65% of millennials said that they wish they would have spent more time making their selections. Don’t be in that boat – get informed and make educated decisions.

For the most part, I think that I was pretty prepared to be a mother. I’m the oldest child in my family and the oldest of all of my cousins. I have always loved babies and grew up babysitting to make extra money. I had my CPR certification, First Aid binder, crayons and activities for the kids, and treats for when they were good. I read all of the Dr. Sears and What to Expect books. In my almost 8 years of being a mother, not much has been a surprise when it comes to parenting.

The one thing I didn’t plan for? How much time would be spent at doctor’s offices! I can’t tell you new mothers how many appointments you will have throughout your pregnancy and how many babies have. They have check-ups and vaccinations every few weeks. And that’s when they’re healthy! Plan for their first illnesses, unexpected febrile seizures (so scary), and first tumbles resulting in broken bones to be on your way to the doctor’s office. We’ve been fortunate in that Lola, at 6 years old, was our first broken bone in the family. The joys of being a mother: one child getting a cast and the other throwing a tantrum on the floor! There’s another thing to look for – a doctor’s office with a clean floor :)

All of this to say, it is crucial that you choose a doctor that you love! You will be spending so much time talking with their office on the phone, waiting in the waiting room, and taking your children in for check-ups. Most Californians don’t prioritize their doctors when choosing their insurance plan. Meaning that they choose a plan, and then look for a doctor in that network. I would recommend finding a doctor that you like, and then seeing which insurance plan they work with.

For me, the best way to find a good doctor is to ask other parents who they use. During open enrollment is your time to find the insurance plan and doctors that work best for your entire family. For us personally, we like the Health Savings Plan route. We have a separate debit card that is loaded with our pre-tax dollars to use strictly for medical expenses. I pay our family’s copays at doctor appointments, prescriptions, and chiropractic adjustments with that card. It helps us keep track of medical expenses and I like having it separate from everything else.

I would ask trusted friends for recommendations if you are looking for new medical providers. Then you have a better chance of finding one you like. Sometimes people like different things, and you may end up switching after a few visits. For this reason, I like going to a practice where there are multiple doctors. That way, you can schedule your appointments with the one you get along with best. For us, trial and error has given us the experience to know that we like the Health Savings Plan for our insurance plan. Find what works for you, then make your selections during Open Enrollment to ensure a happy, healthy year for your whole family.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.On the beautiful Central Coast of California, we have heat waves in the fall. While everyone else is celebrating Autumn with turning leaves and pumpkin spice everything, we are having beach weather! I never want to turn on my oven on these hot days, so I want to share one of my favorite salad recipes with you. This has been on our family’s dinner menu rotation for years and it never fails to please. I serve it with some bread and butter and it makes for the perfect dinner on a hot Indian Summer day!  I have two ways to make this salad easier at dinnertime. 1. Use a rotisserie chicken 2. Wash and prep all of the ingredients early in the day and pop them in the fridge. I try and get it done during June’s nap time and it makes dinnertime a breeze!  The black beans and chicken give you lots of protein and make this a very hearty, filling salad. S&W Beans have so many different varieties of beans to add to your salads! They have all organic, 50% less sodium, and chili style which have onion and spices included. I have tried buying off-brand beans and have been so disappointed by them. There’s nothing like opening up a can of beans, pouring them into the strainer to rinse, and having them fall apart under the water. It feels like such a rip off! With S&W, there is none of that business. Their beans look great AND taste great! They’ve been doing this for over 120 years, so I guess you could say that they’ve got it down to a science. Here is the recipe, below. Scroll to the bottom of the post if you’d like an S&W Beans coupon!

BBQ Chicken Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • cheddar cheese, shredded
  • tortilla chips, crushed
  • Ranch dressing
Instructions
  1. Stir cubed chicken in with the BBQ sauce until coated, set aside.
  2. Toss together the lettuce, cilantro, green onions, corn, beans, and chopped veggies.
  3. Top with chicken, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. Drizzle ranch dressing over salad and enjoy!

Now through 12/31/2017 S&W Beans is offering $1 off 2 cans of S&W Beans. Get (and print) your coupon from the S&W Beans website here: S&W Beans Coupon

A Home of Our Own

Hello! It’s been so long since I’ve posted on the blog, and this is why! We bought our first house!!

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It was a crazy whirlwind and we are so happy to be where we are.

It all started when our landlord sent us a letter saying that he was upping our rent by $200/month. We were thinking, “Okay, this is ridiculous for a 3 bedroom house. We could be paying a mortgage on our own home instead of rent with that money!” So I messaged my buddy Pat who is a realtor and told him we were on the hunt for a home. He set up the MLS for us and I checked it like a crazy person on the daily for new listings.

We looked at a handful of houses, but nothing felt right. We looked at one house that was clean and beautiful but as we pulled up, Pat said the selling realtor just texted him saying that they had an accepted offer. On a house that had been put on the market THAT MORNING! Needless to say, the housing market was/is crazy here. While walking out of the house, Pat saw that I had bird poop on my shoulder! I totally got pooped on when I was walking into the house. I said, “Hey! It’s good luck! It means we’ll find a house!” as Matt wiped it out of my hair with a baby wipe :)

Our landlord was not sympathetic at all to our search. We were upfront with him and let him know we were looking, but he wouldn’t let us go on a month-to-month lease. Even though we’d lived there for 2 years and were great tenants. He wanted us to sign a year lease, then if we found a house, he would charge us a fee to break the lease. $$$ We went back and forth and he wouldn’t budge.

In the end, it turned out that if he had waited ONE DAY, we wouldn’t have had to pay a fee. But, we felt like we did the right thing by signing a year lease like he wanted. If we had a crystal ball, we wouldn’t have, but I believe in doing the right thing, putting good in, and getting good out of life.

It was so stressful not knowing if we’d have a place to live the next month or have to move out without an accepted offer on a house! Usually, I am the confident and calm one. This was not one of those times! I felt so frustrated by everything happening, it felt like we would never be able to buy our own house and like we’d forever be paying money to greedy landlords. Matt was so sure and just kept saying, “It’s all going to work out. I just have this feeling that we don’t have to worry and we will be okay.” It was one of those times in our marriage where I had to lean on his faith to carry me through!

My grandpa called me one morning and said that his friend down the street had put his house on the market. I got so excited and told Pat right away that we wanted to go see it! We went on the day it was listed and already 4 people had looked at it. The minute we walked in, we knew it was the one. Matt didn’t even go upstairs! He knew, and I knew. So, we put an offer in the next day.

My cousin in San Diego told me about how she wrote a letter with a picture of their family to give the sellers with their offer. It got them the house! So, I did the same. I wrote a letter talking about how I lived on this street for a year as a child and have such fond memories here, how perfect this house would be for us, and put our family picture on it. I sent it to my sister who worked her magic and worded everything perfectly.

Long story short, our offer was accepted!! There was some back and forth with termite damage, repairs, etc. but Pat was awesome and handled all of it. If you are local and in the market, he is your guy! He answered all of our questions and walked us through every part of the very new process of buying a house.

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We spent our summer scraping popcorn off ceilings, retexturing, painting, ripping up carpet, laying self-leveling cement & laminate, and having carpet installed. We are at the point where we are moved in, living day to day life, but still have boxes to unpack. And a long list of things that still need to be done on the house :) We are chipping away little by little as we can on those projects and it’s coming together beautifully! It’s a 5 bedroom which means that Matt has his own home office, and we have room to rearrange bedroom situations down the road if we want to.

We are so grateful. Grateful to be in a home that our daughters will grow up in; a home of our own. Grateful for all of the support and love given to us by family and friends. I called this summer “Nonnie Day Camp” because my girls spent so many days with my mom so that I could work on the house! We had so much help with the renovations, moving in, and getting settled. We are a 3 minute drive to the girls’ school and less than a mile from my mom’s house. We love that our girls can ride their bikes up the street to go see their great-grandparents. Such a blessing!

White Chicken Chili with S&W Beans

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I love a good bowl of chili! It’s hearty, filling, healthy, and my whole family will eat it. You can’t go wrong with a one-pot meal that will do that! My girls especially love crunching up tortilla chips and blowing/sprinkling them on their chili a la Nacho Libre :) S&W Beans sent me a big old box of beans to try out and I was excited to see some new (to me) varieties in there! The White Chili Beans on the left were perfect for this recipe, as pointed out on the label. I’m so creative ;) Have you ever opened a can of beans before and they aren’t the best quality? I recently bought an off-brand and was so disappointed while rinsing them. They started to fall apart in the strainer! S&W Beans aren’t like that. They’re better…they look great and taste great. It’s no wonder, since they’ve been holding the bean industry to the highest standards for over 120 years! Their beans are beautiful to look at and healthy to eat. One of baby June’s most favorite foods right now is beans! She loved these after they’d been softened, cooked, and cooled down of course. I love having another healthy option to feed her, and all of us for that matter!  This chili won’t be around for long. My husband was scraping the pot for the rest of it once he had a taste and realized how healthy it was! If you don’t like heat, I’d add less jalapeño pepper and cumin to start. To get a great deal on your own S&W beans, see the coupon link at the bottom of this post!

4.0 from 1 reviews
White Chicken Chili
 
Prep time
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can S&W white beans
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can S&W white chili beans
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1 medium Anaheim pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream, for topping
  • Tortilla chips, for topping
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse the canned white beans, set aside.
  2. Add the canola oil to a large French oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cumin (less than 1 Tablespoon if you want to stay on the mild side) and chili powder and continue to sauté for 1 more minute. Pour in the chicken stock and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes. Use an immersion blender, or transfer some of the chili to a blender, to blend to desired consistency.
  3. After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary. Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and cilantro.

Enjoy!

S&W Beans has a coupon for $1 off 2 cans of S&W Beans! Get and print the coupon, good through April, from their website here.

Meal Milestones with OXO tot!

OXO sent me products to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions are 100% mine!

Baby June has been all about feeding herself recently! At 6 months, I introduced purees to her. She gagged, winced, and made faces no matter what I gave her! Fruits, veggies, rice cereal mixed in…she was NOT a fan. I was worried because Ada and Lola were both great eaters and had no issue with purees.

Well, after some failed attempts I backed off for a while. I was worried that we had a picky eater on our hands and I didn’t want to ruin food for her. Then, while I would eat, Junie would say, “Mmm!” and try to pry my lips open. I started giving her little bites of soft foods and she was in LOVE! I would put things into her mouth and she had to pull it out, inspect it, and then put it back in her mouth and eat it. She is a little independent eater!

As you can imagine, it’s a messy business. She is so happy, though! I am loving OXO’s Roll-Up Bib because it has a pocket at the bottom that catches all of the food that doesn’t end up in baby’s mouth. Then, when not in use, it rolls into itself. They think of everything! Even the On-the-Go Feeding Spoon comes with a plastic case that is perfect for tossing into the diaper bag.

June is loving sipping water and learning how to drink with the Transitions Sippy Cup Set. See how she’s tipping it in the pictures? It doesn’t even spill! Then, when she’s old enough, there is a grown up training lid that mimics an adult cup.

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New Beauty & the Beast Trailer!

Tickets are on sale now, and March 17th can’t come soon enough!!

This trailer has finally answered one of my lifelong childhood questions: how the heck did Belle lift that giant Beast onto her horse all by herself?! :)

New character posters are here too!

I’m so excited for Gaston, he’s so over-the-top and Luke Evans looks like a perfect fit!

Of course I can’t wait to see Ewan MacGregor as Lumiere, I’ve loved him since Moulin Rouge :)

Rest Easy with Plum Organics® Grow Well® Infant Formula

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

When my first baby was just 2 months old, I had to go to the Emergency Room. I was up all night with horrible pain in my back and side and throwing up. It turned out to be a gallbladder attack :( As my husband was driving me to the hospital, I remember being so worried about my baby girl (Ada) because I was exclusively breast feeding her. We had some formula samples at home, so I knew if I wasn’t home in time to feed her again that Matt could make her a bottle. When the hours passed, Matt texted me that he had tried feeding her some formula and she screamed! I was so heartbroken, feeling helpless and horrible.

That experience taught me to give baby some tastes of formula from a young age. With our next two babies, we have introduced formula to them even though I breast feed them. Just a bottle here and there to get them accustomed to the taste so that I can feel confident if I leave that they can be happy with a bottle of formula. I have left bottles of pumped breast milk thinking, “there’s no way the baby will go through all of that,” to hear from my mom that baby has guzzled them down and she was mixing a bottle of formula for them! Nothing worries a mama heart more than thinking of your baby crying and hungry while you are away!

If my baby isn’t getting my breast milk, I want to know that what they are getting is top notch. Enter Plum Organics® Grow Well® Infant Formula. It’s organic and non-GMO with no corn syrup solids added. Lactose is the most abundant carbohydrate found in breast milk, which is essential for baby’s quickly growing brain. Plum Organics’ carbohydrate source is from cow’s milk lactose only. Their infant formula is primarily cows’ milk, broken down into components and fortified with nutrients found in breast milk. I love being able to rest easy knowing that baby is getting the best product with no harmful ingredients.

Start Your Year Refreshed with Healthy Snacks at Albertsons

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and the Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #StartYourYearRefreshed #CollectiveBias

It’s the New Year! Can you believe it? Don’t you just love a fresh start? It makes me feel like I can conquer my loftiest goals!!

After the holidays have died down, the kids go back to school, and it’s time to get back into a routine. For me, I need to meal plan. Otherwise we end up eating out way too much! I have to plan down to the snacks I have on hand because my girls come home from school absolutely starving.

After school today, I was cutting apples while the girls ate snack number one. Lola asked, “Mommy, why are you cutting apples? We already have yogurt!” I responded, “Because I know the minute you are done with your yogurt, you’ll still be hungry. When you ask me for another snack, the apples will be ready for you.” Sure enough, Lola giggled as she threw away her yogurt cup and grabbed her plate of apples!

Albertsons makes having healthy snacks on hand so incredibly easy for you! Have you ever seen their fresh sliced fruit packs? They’re in the produce section near the deli.

They have many different combinations ready to grab and go. Right now, Albertsons has a promotion where if you buy $15 worth of participating items, you get $4 off your Fresh Cut Fruit via Catalina.

That means when you check out, you will receive a coupon/credit for your next purchase of Fresh Cut Fruit! I let the girls each pick out a bowl for our fruit salad.[Continue Reading…]

Oribel PortaPlay Convertible Activity Center

This post is in partnership with Oribel thanks to The Motherhood. I received product in exchange for this review. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Kara in the Kitchen!

June is going to be 7 months old tomorrow! She is at the age where she is grabbing everything and exploring the world around her. oribel-portaplay-convertible-activity-center-karainthekitchen-com-1I knew I wanted to give her an activity center for Christmas, so when this opportunity came about, I was so excited! Oribel’s PortaPlay Convertible Activity Center is the perfect gift for new or expecting parents. oribel-portaplay-convertible-activity-center-karainthekitchen-com-1-3June is in love with all of the different toys to play with on the top. She is using the PortaPlay in the lowest setting. It has a bouncy seat that rotates 360 degrees and legs that are adjustable in height as your child grows. oribel-portaplay-convertible-activity-center-karainthekitchen-com-1-4 Once your baby has grown out of the PortaPlay, it transforms into an activity table! I love that this will be a toy we won’t have to pass on once June grows out of it. It will grow with her as a budding artist :) You can purchase a roll of paper and stools for the activity table separately. oribel-portaplay-convertible-activity-center-karainthekitchen-com-1-5 I LOVE this aspect of the PortaPlay: the legs fold down for easy storage. Genius! oribel-portaplay-convertible-activity-center-karainthekitchen-com-1-2The PortaPlay is available on Amazon.com here: Oribel PortaPlay Activity Center – Forest Friends

Check out Oribel’s Porta Play video for all of the features: