The Life of Jennifer Dawn: June 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Behind the Blog: FREE Printable Blog Planner

There are content ideas, social media platforms, share threads, monthly stats, income reports, and more to keep up with when you're running a blog. How do you keep up with it all? If you're looking for a simple, easy to use planner to get your blog on track, you are going to love what I'm sharing today!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Farmer's Market Meals and A Little Bird Told Me Link Party #181

One of our family's favorite activities is to visit our local Farmers' Markets. With summer in full swing, the local markets are bursting with fresh produce, herbs, eggs, and other items straight off the farm. Even our own garden has herbs, onions, tomatoes, and other goodies growing with eggs on the way from our young chickens. There's is something richly satisfying in preparing a meal with farm fresh ingredients. When you shop Farmers' Markets, you're not only getting the freshest ingredients, but you're also supporting local businesses and farms. Hmm...what can you prepare with all of that fresh produce? Here are six delicious ideas! Oh, and don't forget to check out my own recipes for Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce, Apple Pie Popsicles, and Homemade Almond Milk. Alright, off to the market!

1. Healthy Mason Jar Salads / One Little Project
This Shrimp and Feta Cobb Salad from Savoring the Thyme is just one of the many mason jar salads that Debbie has pulled together in this round-up.

2. Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad / Morgan Manages Mommyhood
I love pesto and this Pesto Pasta looks amazing! Serve as a meal on its own or as an accompaniment to dinner.

3. Lettuce Wraps / Seven Graces
Inspired by P. F. Chang's wraps, Kristy has come up with her own delicious version!

4. Vegan Chickpea Flour Omelette / Strength & Sunshine
What a delicious, healthy way to start your day! This omelette is filled with leafy green and fresh veggies.

5. Green Beans in Potato Salad / Olives & Okra
Grilling out? This would make a delicious side. Veggies and flavor abound in this warm side dish!

6. Grilled Green Goddess Wraps / Strength & Sunshine
Love greens? This delicious wrap is bursting with them!

Now it's time for...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to Make Almond Milk

Looking for an alternative to dairy milk? Homemade Almond Milk is a delicious, nutritional option. It's great used in baking, poured in cereal, or enjoyed plain in a tall, cold glass. And it's actually much easier to make than you might think.
My youngest son was diagnosed with a severe milk allergy when he was about five weeks old. For the first year of his life, he had to have a formula that was both dairy-free and soy-free due to both his milk allergy and his soy allergy. From there we tried rice, coconut, and eventually almond milk.

The almond milk seemed to be what he liked the best, but there were some brands that were making his stomach sick and causing him a great deal of tummy discomfort. What in store-bought almond milk was making him sick? When I looked at the ingredients for the almond milk from the store, I was shocked to see all the additives and ingredients with names that didn't sound healthy or natural. Something on the ingredient list was making my little guy sick, so I decided to try my hand at making some from scratch. (There is one store-bought brand we've found that doesn't make him sick. If you'd like to know which it is, I'd be happy to share it with you privately. Just send me a message through e-mail or social media. BUT if you'd like to make your own, read on to learn my recipe.)

Was it a crazy notion--making my own? I was convinced it was going to end up being hard and complicated. I quickly learned how wrong I was though! It turned out to be a super simple process that required only a few ingredients and a nut milk bag. The best part? I knew exactly what was going in the milk.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

6 Recipes for Campfire Cooking & Grilling Out and Link Party #180

The warmer days of summer call for backyard barbecues, camping adventures, and meals enjoyed in the great outdoors. Step away from boring hot dogs and hamburgers with these sizzling recipes. From sliders to sides and kabobs to stuffed burgers, you're sure to find a crowd-pleasing recipe for your next outdoor meal!
1. Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Burgers / Simply Stacie
Stuffed with a creamy, spicy filling, these are NOT your ordinary burgers. Prepare your taste buds for a kick of delicious flavor!

2. Thai Flank Steak Kabobs / Simply Stacie
The secret is in the sauce for this recipe. Bring the Thai flavors of lime, chili, and peanuts to your next backyard barbecue!

3. Popcorn Shrimp Sliders / The Gracious Wife
What a perfect recipe for a summer meal! The best part? They take only 30 minutes to make!

4. Lemon Orange Roughy / Lou Lou Girls
This easy seafood recipe requires only six ingredients--many of which you probably already have on-hand. How's that for a simple meal prepared from your grill?!

5. Campfire Corn / Saving Money Camping
These corn cobs are bursting with the flavors of fresh cilantro, lime, and chili powder. Make plenty because they are sure to be gobbled up quickly!

6. Grilled Cheese Bruschetta / Oliver & Tate
The tastes of grilled cheese sandwiches and traditional bruschetta combine in this appetizer that is fresh and full of flavor.

Now it's time for...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Father's Day Gift Ideas and A Little Bird Told Me Link Party #179

Have you been on the hunt for the perfect Father's Day gift for your Dad, Grandfather, or Husband? How about a handmade gift from you and the kids? These thoughtful gift ideas are the perfect way to let HIM know how much you love and appreciate him. From edible gifts to Dad-themed office supplies, you're sure to find the perfect gift for the Father in your life!
1. DIY Leather Coasters / Love Create Celebrate
These leather coasters are both practical and stunning. Dad may find it hard to believe that they didn't come from a store.

2. Personalized Name Mug / Meet the Sullivans
Whether Dad uses this at the office or at home, he's sure to love a personalized mug from the kids!

3. Doughnuts for Dad / The Simple Sweet Life
These Cinnamon Toast Crunch Doughnuts would make a sweet gift packaged together in a box and tied with baker's twine. They'd also be perfect served with coffee for a breakfast in bed.

4. Father's Day Mason Jars / The Country Chic Cottage
These are the perfect storage containers for Dad's pens and office supplies! The best part is that they are super cute and super simple to make!

5. BBQ Rub / The Country Chic Cottage
This gift is perfect for the Dad who loves to grill! Don't forget to print off the cute labels to top off your jars of homemade seasoning.

6. Grill Platter / Gluesticks Blog
Here's another idea for the Grill Master of the family! I love kid-made gifts! I'm sure Dad will love this unique idea too!

Side Note: I know I missed a few weeks of hosting the party. I plan on explaining why later. If you follow along on Facebook or Instagram, you probably already know. For right now, I don't want to put a damper on the party. I'll collect my thoughts and share with you what's been going on soon. Thanks for following along, sweet friends!

Now it's time for...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Homestyle Goulash

"Jennifer's favorite!" That is what's written next to the recipe for goulash in our family recipe book. The story goes that momma and daddy didn't know what to fix for dinner one night, and they were due for a grocery run. I was less than two years old at the time. They started rummaging through the pantry and came up with a recipe for their own version of goulash. I LOVED IT! My mom knew it was a "keeper" as soon as I took that first bite. So they wrote that it was a favorite and kept it in our family's collection of recipes.

The recipe sits there among our traditional holiday recipes and recipes that have been passed down through multiple generations. My momma has always had a reputation for being a wonderful cook, so anything that has made it into the book has been tried, tested, and perfected. Each recipe has that homestyle taste that evokes those comforting memories of home and Southern hospitality.
There are often unwritten additions and tips that my mom does when preparing a dish. Does anyone else's mom fail to write those things down? If you ever run into a problem with a recipe from the family collection, it's probably because you didn't complete an unwritten step that my mother just naturally knows to do. For this reason, I always consult her before trying one of the family recipes. "Do you have any tips to offer?" "What if I make this substitution?" Trying to make her goulash was no exception. I altered the recipe to make it my own but consulted her on those changes first.

The recipe I'm going to share with you today is a reflection of the original my parents made over 30 years ago, but it contains a few changes to suit my preferences. There are three main things that I did differently:

1. I used vegetarian beef crumbles instead of real ground beef. I stopped eating meat when I went off to college and mostly make vegetarian recipes for my family. I know! Shocking. A Southern vegetarian! You are welcome to put in the real deal though.
2. Since I have a garden filled with vegetables and herbs, I used fresh herbs instead of dried flakes. I even pulled some onions fresh from the garden to use for this recipe.
3. My parents used a can of tomato paste and water to create their own tomato sauce. I simplified the recipe by using a jar of the NEW! RAGU Homestyle Sauce. It was a delicious substitution that stayed true to the homestyle taste of the dish. I used the Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce, but all of the new Homestyle sauces have been simmered to perfection and have a bold, flavorful taste! Hey, there's nothing wrong with taking a few shortcuts! Right?
Ready to try this delicious recipe for yourself? From prep to plate, it will be ready in less than 20 minutes! How's that for quick and simple? I hope your kids enjoy this healthy, hearty meal as much as I did so many years ago and as much as my own kids do now.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Breakfast Banana Pops

Popsicles for breakfast? Why not?! These frozen banana pops coated in chocolate and General Mills gluten-free cereal make a delicious breakfast treat or even a fun afternoon snack!
Two of my favorite childhood snacks come together for these tasty Breakfast Banana Pops. When my sister and I were growing up, my mother would treat us to all sorts of delicious snacks including chocolate-coated, frozen bananas. We'd help her dip the bananas in the chocolate and then wait anxiously for them to freeze. Cereal was another favorite snack! We'd often have some for breakfast, but we'd also eat it dry in a little bowl at snack time. What do you get when you mesh these two snacks together? You get Breakfast Banana Pops coated in both chocolate and cereal and frozen to perfection!
General Mills is widening their selection of gluten free cereals. Strawberry and Chocolate Cheerios and Lucky Charms have joined the mix of gluten free cereals, so there are even more delicious options for gluten avoiders than ever before! That's great news for our family. My youngest child loves cereal, but it's been recommended for him to cut gluten from his diet. Gluten free options are just what he needs!

This is a great treat for the kids to make. Frozen banana pops are even more fun with a coating of cereal. And each child can pick their favorite cereal to sprinkle on their treat. Here's how we made ours...