The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Easy Cheesy Vegetable Rotini Recipe

This post is sponsored by Black Creek, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

What would you like for dinner? It's the dinner dilemma question that moms everywhere find themselves asking towards the end of each day. And after a long, hot summer day that's a question that's best answered with a quick and easy one-dish meal that's a tried and true family favorite like this Cheesy Vegetable Rotini. Packed with garden-fresh vegetables and smothered in a delicious cheddar cheese sauce, it's sure to become a favorite for your family too!
What's on the menu tonight?
So what is for dinner tonight? When you ask your kids that question, what answers do you typically hear?

For my kids, it's usually one of two responses depending on who is doing the asking. With Mimi (my mom) the kids give a loud, unanimous shout of, "Pancakes!" Let's face it. Few people make better pancakes than Southern grandmothers. When I ask the question, the answer is an excited, bubbly chant of, "Pasta, pasta, pasta!" Pancakes and pasta--the two meals my kids love most.

As you might imagine, our family frequently eats pasta (and pancakes--not together. Although...that might make for an interesting meal. LOL!) And since pasta is a weekly staple on our dinner menu, I'm always looking for new ways to prepare delicious, nutrition-packed pasta dishes for my family like the Cheesy Vegetable Pasta I'm sharing with you today.

Tastes of Summer
Our family garden and our many visits to local farmers' markets keep our kitchen stocked with fresh produce and products all summer long. Most of the meals I prepare during summer are loaded with farm-fresh products. For this particular recipe, we're cooking up broccoli and carrots that were purchased from a local market.

One thing I haven't been able to purchase locally is cheese made from farm-fresh milk. That's why I love finding cheeses like this Black Creek® Cheddar that isn't loaded with tons of ingredients that I can't even pronounce. They pride themselves on making great cheeses that starts with great milk from the cows of Wisconsin. And I've just got to say that this is one of the tastiest cheddars I've eaten.

The pasta recipe I'm sharing today requires one 7 oz block of cheese, but I suggest you stock up with a few blocks for all your summer cooking and grilling.
It's dinnertime!
Move over mac and cheese! You've just been dethroned by a cheesy, vegetable-packed pasta. Ready to whip up this quick and easy dinner option that will have your kids shouting for seconds. Grab the cheddar and a few other ingredients, and let's start cooking!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Old Fashioned Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Calling all chocolate lovers! If you're craving a rich, chocolatey dessert that's easy to whip up, this recipe for homemade chocolate pudding is perfect for you. If you've never tried made from scratch pudding, let me assure you that it is amazing. So skip the boxed pudding mixes and try making your own with this simple recipe for decadent chocolate pudding.
"I'm going to have to try some more to decide which I like best," my Dad would grin and announce as he'd help himself to another serving of my mom's homemade chocolate pudding and her vanilla pudding.

When I was a little girl, my mom would frequently spend an afternoon making two batches of homemade pudding to serve for dessert--chocolate and vanilla. My dad's dilemma on which flavor he liked best was his sly way of making sure he always got seconds. He'd feign indecision, scrape his bowl clean, and finally concede that both flavors were equally delicious.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

DIY Marbled Paper with Shaving Cream

Art with the kids this week for homeschool was DIY marbled paper! And, oh my, was it fun! This craft offers up vivid colors, awesome designs, and the perfect excuse to play with shaving cream! Who wouldn't love that?! Seriously! Kids and adults alike will love this marbling technique that creates ripples of bright, beautiful colors with a little shaving cream and a whole lot of fun!
Before letting the kids dive into this paper marbling project, I tested it out with various supplies and techniques to come up with what I consider to be the easiest and cheapest method. You'll find all my best tips below. As far as supplies, let's take an in-depth look at the ones that were tested. I tried the shaving cream with food coloring, kids' washable paint, and suncatcher paint to see which would work best for marbling paper with shaving cream. Indulge me for just a moment. My inner teacher just had to create a chart for this...
As you can tell, the food coloring scored the highest marks in every area but washability. The suncatcher paint washed off a little better, but the squeezable bottles for the food coloring made it super easy to use. Oh, and the food coloring by far produced the most vivid colors! And, of course, we all know how inexpensive food coloring is. There you have it! Food coloring and shaving cream are my picks for paper marbling with kids.

Yes, I know! Letting kids loose with shaving cream and food coloring is making some of you a little nervous just thinking about it. BUT I have a solution for that too!

Ready for a super simple mom hack that makes crafts like this sooooooo much easier with kids? Keep a few packs of Kleenex Wet Wipes with your art and craft supplies for easy clean-up of messy hands. Each pack is less than $1.50 at Target stores and They provide a gentle clean whenever you need it--even right in the middle of art time!
Alright, let's start crafting. Grab your supplies. Call the kids. And let's have some colorful fun with this easy paper marbling method. It's a sensory activity with an artistic twist. If your kids are anything like mine, they'll beg to try this again and again.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Easy Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits

We love our biscuits here in the South, but these buttery, flaky cheddar biscuits are on a whole new level. Bursting with the flavors of cheddar and garlic, they're a savory biscuit that's truly irresistible. It only takes minutes to mix up these fresh, made-from-scratch biscuits. And the mix and drop technique not only makes them quick and easy but also gives them that simple homemade look.
Birthdays have always been a BIG deal in my family. So...when my oldest daughter recently asked for cheddar biscuits and popcorn shrimp for her birthday dinner, that's exactly what she got. Can you tell what her favorite restaurant is? We don't have to eat at Red Lobster to enjoy their signature cheddar bay biscuits, though. This simple recipe is just as good--if not better than the original. Yes, these cheddar and garlic biscuits are really that good! They certainly met with the birthday girl's approval.
Dorot Gardens!
I know I already mentioned how quick and easy this recipe is. Do you want to know what made it even easier? Dorot Gardens! If you've ever wanted to snap your fingers and instantly have all the washing and chopping of your fresh herbs done, this is your answer!

I absolutely LOVE cooking with fresh herbs during the warmer months when we have a garden bursting with fresh herbs and vegetables. With risks of frost still, we haven't planted our herb garden for this year yet.

Dorot Gardens to the rescue, though. They have done all the work for me--from growing to prepping. It's like having my own personal sous chef. All I had to do was drop in some of the pre-portioned herbs and garlic into my cheddar biscuits, and I was good to go!
If you're craving warm, delicious cheddar biscuits for your next meal, this recipe is your answer! They are quick and easy to make, but the fresh flavors will have everyone thinking you spent hours preparing them! Ready to mix up a batch? You'll only need 8 ingredients! Yes, that's it! Here's my super simple recipe for Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Easy Homemade Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Make your morning delicious with a fresh batch of hot cinnamon rolls. This made-from-scratch recipe can be pulled together in about one hour. That means you're only one hour away from sitting down to a plate of warm, soft cinnamon rolls dripping with a sweet, sugary glaze. Oh, and they require less than ten ingredients to make. Yes, that's it! And did I mention they're made with almond milk and are completely vegan? Here's my simple recipe for Homemade Vegan Cinnamon Rolls!
"Mmmm, momma! Wha's that smell?"
"That's the cinnamon rolls that I'm baking in the oven, sweet boy. And guess what?"
"Wha', momma?"
"There is no dairy in them, so you can have them too! I made them with your almond milk."
"Yay! I so es-cited!"

And there it is! As my four-year-old skips out of the kitchen laughing and exclaiming to his brother and sister, I can't help but smile at how happy he is knowing he'll be able to indulge in this batch of ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls. He is, after all, my main reason for baking with almond milk.

I've been working around my little guy's food allergies since he was first diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy--among other allergies--at only three weeks old. My first big breakthrough was right before his first birthday when I was attempting to make him a dairy-free cake and I discovered a little baking secret. With a good nut milk and vegan butter, he could still enjoy all my baked confections. Now, most of my cakes, bread, and other baked goods have these simple substitutions so the whole family can enjoy them together.

Dairy allergy or not, almond milk is a delicious, creamy alternative. I don't even have an allergy and nut milk is the only milk I'll drink now. It's that good!
Non-dairy Options
From frozen desserts to yogurt and creamy beverages, So Delicious has numerous dairy-free options. We've enjoyed the yogurts and ice creams for years, so I was excited to discover their new almond milk. The So Delicious Organic Almondmilk with Cashews comes in three varieties--original, unsweetened, and vanilla. All three varieties are organic, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and made with 7 or fewer ingredients. They're also perfect for all your baked goods like these soft, delicious vegan cinnamon rolls.
Relaxed Mornings are for Baking!
Not to change the subject, but did you know we are a homeschool family? One of the perks of homeschooling--and there are a lot--are those mornings when I can take the time to bake what my kids fondly call "a hot breakfast." What's on the menu for this particular morning? Cinnamon rolls! You just can't beat a relaxed morning spent baking while the kids start their lessons and the aroma of cinnamon wafts through the air. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Even if your mornings aren't relaxed, all you need is about one hour to put together these soft, warm cinnamon rolls. Proof the dough, roll it out, bake, and enjoy! That's it! These are so easy! Ready to mix up a batch for yourself and your family? Here's the recipe straight from my kitchen to yours!