5 Must Haves for a Girls’ Night In {and a Giveaway!}

Life has been hectic around here lately.  Between spring cleaning, spring fever, sports, after school activities, traveling and the upcoming Flowertown Festival, I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath.  Let alone catch up with my girl friends.

So I decided to have a Girls’ Night In.  I didn’t feel like putting on anything but yoga pants, let alone go out on the town, so I invited the ladies in my Bible Study to have a Spa Night at my house on Monday.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever had one, but Girls’ Night In is the best.  It’s just about some good food, good drinks, and good friends.

Now, I love to entertain, but I just wanted to relax for this party, so I invited my friend Allison over to pamper us with some of her awesome Arbonne products.

1. Good food.  Have a mix of healthy, sweet and savory things to eat.  I like to make everything finger foods if possible to make nibbling easier.  For this evening party, I had pound cake cubes, a fruit platter with whipped cream, and a cheese cube and mini club cracker platter with honey.  I found colorful spring plates and napkins to complete my buffet.  Toothpicks replaced silverware!

Girls' Night In Ideas: Bite Sized Foods {both treats and healthy!} are a Must Have

2. Good drinks.  Keep in mind the tastes of the guests at your party.  At this particular one, I chose to serve chilled white wine and homemade Skinny Sangria.  I found the recipe over at Living Locurto if you want to try it.  Some said it was too sweet, but most of us loved it!  Low on carbs and sugar…

Skinny Sangria: One of Five Ideas for a Girls' Night In

3. Good SWAG.  You know me.  I am all about some free stuff.  So when I have parties, I love to give out little favors, or have a little something that my guests can take home.  When I threw my Pinterest project party, we all made a reclaimed wood sign to take for our homes.  When I threw Millie’s Mermaid birthday party, the little girls got to go home with a silky pearl hair clip.  For this party, spring was in the air…so the takeaway was little pots filled with gardening tools, seeds, and {of course} some Arbonne samples.

Girls' Night In Ideas: Favors or Crafts to match the theme of the night

4. Good Friends.  I’m blessed to be surrounded by many wonderful people that I can call friends.  I have a group at church, a group in my mom’s club, a group in my neighborhood, etc.  So when I plan my Girls’ Night In nights, I try to stick to one group at a time to keep it intimate.  That way everyone pretty much knows everyone else and can feel comfortable and relax.

Girls' Night In Ideas: Spa Night with Close Friends and Arbonne

5. Good Entertainment.  Whether you are watching the latest {or a classic} chick-flick, applying fun Jamberry Nail wraps, or even just laughing around a campfire, there needs to be a focal point to the gathering.  On Monday, it was a spa night courtesy of Arbonne.  Allison has us all wash our faces and apply a Seasource Sea Mud & Body Mask to our faces….which appropriately turned us green for St. Patty’s Day pics on Instagram!

Girls' Night In Ideas: Mud Masks, Foot Soaks and Homemade Sangria!

While our face masks were working their magic, our feet were soaking in buckets of warm water and Aromassentials Unwind Bath Salts.  Glass pebbles from the dollar store at the bottom of the buckets gave our feet a nice massage as they soaked, and we scrubbed Awaken Sea Salt Scrub to exfoliate.  My feet were so soft even the next day, which worked out well since I had a podiatrist appointment for my Plantar Fasciitis!

We also got to try out a ton of facial products after we took off our masks, including some spray toner {so you don’t have to waste cotton balls}, instant lift gel, and an intensive renewal serum…all of which tightened, toned and smoothed our faces.  After all the pampering, my face felt and looked fantastic!

Giveaway Time!

Arbonne Gift Set Giveaway! from Palmettos and Pigtails

Today I’ve got a fabulous Arbonne Giveaway worth $87.  Its the Complexion Perfecting Set, which includes a Purifying Cleanser + Toner, an Oil-Absorbing Day Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen, and a Mattifying Powder.

The Purifying Cleanser + Toner cleanses and tones, visibly reducing oiliness for refreshed-looking skin.

The Oil-Absorbing Day Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen helps absorb oil and provides sun protection, leaving skin with a fresh, matte appearance.

The Mattifying Powder takes away unwanted shine, while reducing the appearance of redness for a perfect, matte finish. It dusts on lightly over or under moisturizer or makeup.

This giveaway ends at Midnight on Thursday, March 26th.

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Good Luck!

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{eMeals} Beef Stew Recipe

Y’all, we have had a busy, COLD, week!  My mother-in-law surprised us with a quick visit from Florida, so we’ve been soaking up some “Sue Sue” around here.  The last thing I wanted to do was spend my evenings in the kitchen…too much catching up to do!

So tonight we are keeping warm with eMeals’ Low Calorie Beef Stew Recipe.  But, since I don’t eat beef {let alone cook it!}, I subbed in chicken and it was so, so good.  Talk about some great comfort food!

eMeals Beef Stew Recipe from Palmettos and Pigtails

Ingredients

  • 11/2 lb beef chuck roast, trimmed {or 6 chicken breasts, cubed}
  • 3/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped sweet onion
  • 3 carrots, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

 

Instructions

Cut roast into 1-inch pieces; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 6 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer beef to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and tomatoes. Whisk together broth and cornstarch; add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours until beef is tender. Divide into 6 servings.

Stay warm, and enjoy!Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

Meal Planning made Simple and Cheap!

Valentine’s Day Peppermint Patties

I’m a firm believer in telling my family I love them multiple times a day, but heart-shaped peppermint patties also are an excellent way to spread some Valentine’s Day cheer!

So take a break from your New Year’s Resolution Diet…and make some of these yummies…you won’t be sorry!

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesInspiration and recipe found from here …however I modified it a little and took my own pics!

Here’s how I made them:

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesP.S.- You’ll also need a couple of unsweetened baking squares of chocolate.

Combine 3oz of cream cheese, 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract and 1/2 tsp of red food coloring until creamy.  Slowly add between 2 and 2 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar….I added it 1/2 cup at a time to prevent the powder from going everywhere!  Add the sugar until the consistency of the mixture is slightly crumbly.

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesScoop out the crumbles and form them all into a ball…they will stick together once you start working it with your hands…..then flatten it into about 1/2 inch thick disk.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out your patties.

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesPlace your patties (separated by parchment paper to prevent sticking) in an airtight container and stick them in the fridge for about 1/2 hour to firm up.

Valentine's Day Peppermint Patties Then, cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  I originally used cookie racks and foil-both of which FAILED (so disregard that aspect of the following pictures!).  Just use a cookie sheet (or other flat surface that will fit in your fridge) and parchment paper for easy removal.

Dump half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a couple of unsweetened chocolate baking squares into a deep, microwaveable container.  I used a big coffee mug.

Valentine's Day Peppermint Patties

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesMicrowave the chocolate for about 30 seconds and stir to mix until all the chocolate is melted.  If it’s too thick….add a little vegetable oil.  It should drip off of a spoon pretty easily.

Here comes the messy part….

Use a spoon and tongs to completely cover each patty, gently tapping the tongs against the side of the mug to get any excess chocolate off of the patty.  Carefully place the patty onto the parchment papered cookie sheet.  Use a toothpick to spread chocolate over any exposed parts of the peppermint patty.

Valentine's Day Peppermint Patties

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesIf you’d like, use a shaker and sprinkles to decorate your peppermint patties.

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesWhen your cookie sheet is filled, stick it in the fridge to help the chocolate solidify.  Then store your patties in an airtight container with parchment paper in between each layer.  Keep them in the fridge (although, if your house is like mine….they won’t last too long!!)

Valentine's Day Peppermint PattiesIf you know of a better way to get the chocolate to coat them, PLEASE leave me a comment.  These were super easy to make, but I’ll admit the chocolate coating was messy and a bit annoying.  But then I tasted them, and it made it all worth the trouble!!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

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I’m linking up here this week!

Tortellini Soup

Another cold day, another warm dinner!

I made this eMeals Tortellini Soup recipe last week and it was a huge hit.  Well, the soup was…the tortellini was not.  What kids don’t like pasta?  Mine apparently.  Tortellini is one of my favorites…I keep it stocked all the time.  But my kids ate their way around the noodles.  Go figure.

Anyway, we got this GORGEOUS new orange Le Creuset Cast-Iron Braiser from Dave’s grandmother for Christmas and I’m always looking for an excuse to use it.  Even though this recipe is definitely more of a soup, it worked perfectly in the braiser.  Lots of protein from the beans, and low calories {only 490 calories including cheesy muffins!!}.  And because I keep tortellini all the time, and the rest of the ingredients in the soup are staples, it was super easy and fast to make {only took about 45 minutes total}.

A winter staple at our house....Tortellini Soup form eMeals and Palmettos and Pigtails

Tortellini Soup with Cheesy Toasted Muffins

490 calories, serves 6, 45 min

Ingredients in Soup

1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup sliced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups fat free, reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14.5 oz) can navy beans
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 (20 oz) pkg three-cheese tortellini
1/3 cup basil pesto {I used the Costco brand}
{and I added a Tbsp of shredded parmesan cheese to the top too…not included in calorie count}

Soup Instructions

1. Saute onion, carrot, celery and garlic in hot oil in a Dutch Oven {I used my new braiser}, for three minutes.

2. Stir in broth, beans and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

5. Add tortellini; cook for 4 minutes or until done.

6. Divide into 6 servings, and top with pesto {and cheese if desired}.

Ingredients in Cheesy Toasted Muffins

3 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese, cut into quarters
3 multigrain light English muffins, split

Cheesy Toasted Muffins Instructions

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Arrange cheese pieces on muffins.

3. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese melts.

Let me tell you, this soup had so much flavor!  And although the girls didn’t care for the tortellini, they asked for seconds of the soup broth and beans.  So tasty!  In fact, I think next time I make this, I will double up on the liquid/bean ingredients and keep the amount of tortellini the same, so we can stretch it a bit further.

One more winner from eMeals!  Don’t forget you can try any one of their 19 different meal plans out for 2 whole weeks!  That’s half a month of daily meals!!

Meal Planning Made Simple

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*Palmettos and Pigtails is an affiliate for eMeals.com.   Any purchases made from the eMeals links on this page help support my website.

Palmettos and Pigtails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

As always, all opinions in the post are 100% my own.*

Budget Friendly Recipes: Smoky Chili for a Wintery Day!

*I am an affiliate blogger for eMeals .  This means that when you click on and/or purchase anything from the links in this post, I will get reimbursed.  Of course all opinions are 100% my own!*

Smoky Chili: A Budget Friendly Recipe from eMeals

I’m not sure where you live, but I live in the South.  I’ve lived here for about 10 years now, purposefully moving here from the North.  To get away from the cold.  Yet today’s high here in South Carolina was 32. Degrees.  As in, that was the warmest it got.  Not cool.  {Freezing!!}

So I thought I’d share with you one of our family’s favorite recipes.  It’s the Smoky Chili from eMeals.  The liquid smoke that’s added last is what really makes it comforting to me…reminds me of campfires!

1½ lb ground beef
½ (9.6-oz) pkg ground pork sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1½ cups homemade chicken broth
2 (15-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15.5-oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ (15-oz) can corn, drained
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp liquid smoke

Cook ground beef, sausage, onion and bell pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbly; drain. Stir in broth and all remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
 

Feel free to play around with the ingredients to customize it for your household.  For example, we use ground turkey and omit the sausage.  I also add a can of undrained chili beans…it thickens the chili up and adds a little more kick!

This recipe is also on eMeals’ new “Budget Friendly Meal Plans .”  This is a brand new option that combines weekly sale prices with stock items from your pantry that allows your family to stay on budget while still eating delicious and easy meals.  We just switched our plan over to the Budget Friendly Recipes, and are spending an average of $85 a week for 7 dinners!  It’s the prefect way to help keep our financial resolutions, as well as stay healthier by eating at home.  And I keep it all organized by using my Meal Planning Worksheet.  Head over to the eMeals page and check out ALL of their meal plans!  If you wanted to get started right away with a 2 week trial of Budget Friendly Recipes, go to http://emeals.com/lp/budget/, and click “Try Us” at the top right hand side of the page.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and keep warm!

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{Guest Post} Peppermint Cake-In-A-Jar Recipe

Betsy’s back today with another delicious recipe for you!  Just in time for the holidays!  I had one of these the other day…and it was the highlight of my day!  Delicious!  Take it away, Bets!
Hey there! With the holidays suddenly super close, I thought I’d share a quick and easy homemade gift perfect for teachers, neighbors, etc. I started making these when one of my closest friends moved to Texas to be a traveling nurse and said how she missed my cakes and cupcakes. I wanted a way to send her a cupcake from time to time without having to worry about the frosting getting all messed up and the cake drying out. Thus, the cake-in-a-jar was born!

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsI first saw these mini mason jars when Shara gave me a little jar of honey butter when she was up in Maryland this fall. It was delicious, and when I finished it off I wanted to send her back the jar with something in it (one of my favorite little niceties to practice!). I had been thinking about trying to cake-in-a-jar thing for my Texas friend, so I decided to use Shara as a guinea pig for sending these in the mail because the little jelly jars were a great size. I went out and bought some extras so that I could make more than just the one going to Shara. I found them in a 4 pack at Target in their small canning area. Hobby Lobby {on sale for .99 each this week!} and craft stores also have them.

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsSo, to start off I just made a batch of cupcakes. I made sure not to fill them too full with batter because I wanted them fairly level to the wrapper and flat not domed. I used a box mix because I wanted to do red velvet for a Christmasy look and red velvet is a pain to make from scratch and knew Shara wouldn’t judge me anyway.

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsAs they cooled, I made a batch of vanilla buttercream. My buttercream recipe starts with these below and then I add things to customize the taste:

1 cup butter
1 cup Crisco
1 2lb bag powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

For this batch, I added peppermint extract and a handful of peppermint chips {I found these at Target in the baking aisle}.  For chocolate, omit the vanilla extract and add about a cup of cocoa powder {to taste}.

Peppermint and Red Velvet Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsI also made a batch of chocolate ganache for an extra special touch. Here’s the super easy chocolate ganache recipe I found online a few years ago:

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

Microwave heavy cream for 1 minute, stir, then again in 30 second increments until it bubbles. Add chocolate chips and stir, stir, stir, until you have delicious thick ganache. I could eat this by the spoonful!  And added to chocolate cake and chocolate frosting, it’s decadent!

Chocolate Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsOk, so I got too excited by the ganache while I was working on Shara’s cake-in-jar. I knew I needed to let it sit for a bit to set up, so I left it alone while I cut each cupcake in half and started laying the bottom layers into each jelly jar.

Peppermint and Red Velvet Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and Pigtails

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsThen I poured in a layer of ganache. It was great that it was still liquid enough to pour, but I really should have waited longer for it to set up because it made for a less attractive side view of the jars as you will see in the pictures.

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsNext I took some of my vanilla peppermint frosting and piped it into the jar on top. If you don’t have a piping bag, I’d recommend using a large Ziploc baggie with a 1/2″ hole cut in one corner to help make sure you get a nice clean, even layer in each jar.

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial, with bonus recipes for ganache and buttercream! Palmettos and PigtailsThen I layered the top half of each cupcake on top and squished it down in a little bit.   Some were a little shorter than others so any that had a little extra space before putting the lid on I layered one more thin layer of frosting and sprinkled a few extra peppermint chips on top. The rest I lidded just as they were.

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsFor Shara’s I made sure to get it in the mail right away. I packed the box with blankets I was sending to Lincoln anyway, and she said it made it just fine! Yay! For some of the others and other batches I’ve made since, I got cute and decorated the jars with a little ribbon and flower sticker. These would be great Christmas gifts with a little Christmas ribbon on them!

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsI’ve also since made these with scraps from larger cakes I’ve made instead of a batch of cupcakes. After leveling a regular round cake that I had made for another occasion, I just cut holes in the excess cake using the jar lids as a guide.

Use scraps from homemade cakes to create Cupcakes-in-a-Jar: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and Pigtails

Use scraps from homemade cakes to create Cupcakes-in-a-Jar: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and PigtailsIt’s a fantastic way to use up cake scraps {without eating them yourself!}, and show a little love to your mailman.  Or your bus driver.  Or your favorite blogger. {Just sayin’!}

Cake-in-a-Jar Tutorial: The perfect neighbor or teacher gift! Palmettos and Pigtails

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Homemade Irish Cream Recipe

The weekend after Thanksgiving is reserved exclusively for turkey sandwiches, fat pants, and decorating for Christmas.  But this year, I’m adding one more must-have to my list.  My friend Nikki posted this recipe on Facebook the other day and I just had to try it!  I tweaked it just a bit, but it’s super easy to make, and I had most of the ingredients already on hand.

I’m thinking in a smaller batch, this would be a terrific gift as well…I would have LOVED to get this as a teacher gift!  Haha!

Homemade Irish Cream Recipe from Palmettos and Pigtails

Homemade Irish Cream Recipe:

1 can sweet condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp brewed coffee 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract {or coconut extract}
1 1/3 cup Irish whiskey
Homemade Irish Cream Recipe from Palmettos and Pigtails

Using a whisk, mix it all together until smooth and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.  I made a double batch {not shown} to last me through the winter!

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Avocado Tips and Tricks

love avocados.  I could live on sliced avocados on top of an avocado salad, with a side of guacamole!  And I’ve been eating them for 30 {ahem} some odd years!  But only recently did I find out some tips and tricks to making these delicious fruits even easier to eat!

Avocado Logo Square

I like to buy several avocados at a time, and then place a couple in a brown paper bag, next to some bananas on the counter.  This helps them ripen faster, and within a day or two, the firm avocados have become slightly soft when you gently squeeze them.  That is your first clue that they are ready to eat.

Avocado Tips and Tricks- Palmettos and Pigtails

The second tip to check ripeness is to pop off the little stem thingy {yes, that’s the technical term thankyouverymuch}.  If it’s greenish on the inside, then your avocado is ripe!  The trick with this though is to only pop off the stem if you’ve already checked the fruit for a little squishiness… because if you take the stem off and it’s still brownish, then you’ve used up that opportunity to check for ripeness.

Avocado Tips and Tricks- Palmettos and Pigtails

After slicing the avocado lengthwise, use a sharp knife {one that has a wide blade…no pairing knives} to “Hi-ya!” into the pit.  Again, another technical term.  You will hit the pit straight on with your life, hard enough that it sticks into the pit.

Avocado Tips and Tricks- Palmettos and Pigtails

Then gently twist the knife, and the pit will slide cleanly right out of the fruit.

Avocado Tips and Tricks- Palmettos and Pigtails

Then, if you want cube-ish pieces, draw a grid of lines with your knife through the flesh {be careful not to cut through the skin}.  If you are using the avocado to make guacamole, feel free to not cut a grid, but just scoop out the flesh into a bowl for mashing.

Avocado Tips and Tricks- Palmettos and Pigtails

Use a spoon to gently scoop around the edges of the flesh, scraping the inside of the skin…and all of the cube-ish pieces will come right out into your bowl.

Avocado Tips and Tricks- Palmettos and Pigtails

For avocado salad, add some mozzarella balls and tomatoes with a little white or balsamic vinegar.  My favorite healthy lunch!

I don’t have a photo, but if you are making guacamole, prepare it fully in your serving bowl, then take a piece of cling wrap and lay it directly onto of the guacamole.  Make sure all of the top of the guacamole is touching the cling wrap, ensuring that there is no air in between.  Seal off the guacamole all the way to the edges of the bowl and up the sides.  Then take a second piece of cling wrap and lay it over the top of the whole bowl.  Your guac shouldn’t turn brown, as long as there is no contact with air!

Enjoy!

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{From the Archives} School Lunch Ideas

This is an oldie, but goodie!  My school lunch ideas round-up has been one of my most popular posts ever!  So I thought I’d repost it for you with a couple of new ideas at the bottom too!

AND…Don’t forger that I have a giveaway going this week for some Jamberry Nails!     Click here to enter!

It’s that time again!  School starts next week, and this year I’ll need lunches for two kids!   So twice a week for Millie, and 5 days a week for Jayna, I have to come up with fresh, healthy, and portable food to eat.  And their routine lunch of peanut butter and jelly, heated up leftovers, a bunch of grapes, and a fruit snack won’t work at school.  And yes, they really does eat all of that!  And to top it off, I’m just not that creative {or a morning person}….so I can’t be one of these moms.

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

 Source

So I’ve been scouring the internet {aka Pinterest} for some easy, make ahead meals.  Preferably ones I can maybe freeze too.  Here’s what I came up with:

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

I love the idea of smoothies.  Healthy AND yummy.  But they are kind of a pain to make every morning…..but, if I make several and freeze them, by the time Jayna’s lunchtime rolls around, they shold be nice and thawed in her lunchbox!  This site has a bunch of different flavor ideas.

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Meet the Dubiens

And I found a bunch of cute ideas of muffin-tin lunches.  Although the kids won’t have access to a microwave, I’m hoping if I heat them up and wrap them in foil, they’ll stay pretty warm.

Little Potpies stocked with veggies and meat and topped with Bisquick!

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Betty Crocker

Don’t you just love the tiny pepperoni?

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Really From Pinterest

Here’s one I’ve actually made before.  The personalized mac and cheese bites are definitely a crowd pleaser!

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Bites Recipe - A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

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And the next two are from my friend Jaima….she has tons of great freezer and toddler recipes on her site.

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

 Ring Around the Rosies

And the seven layer dip that we bring to um, every single party? What if I just make them in little individual Tupperware instead?

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

The Girl Who Ate Everything 

I also had a few of my own ideas too! {gasp!}

  • I make these little cream cheese pinwheels for parties using tortillas, cream cheese and dry ranch dressing….I’m thinking of doing those again, but adding more veggies (like peppers, broccoli, carrot strips,etc.) inside before rolling them up and slicing them.
  • We routinely make stuffed crescent rolls for dinner and it has become a favorite quick dinner.  We’ve done pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes….cheddar, apples and onion vinagrette….and of course string cheese, pizza sauce and pepperoni (I’m sure you can find that on pinterest!!).  What about ham and cheese?  Or bacon and eggs inside?  Super portable and freezer-friendly!
  • I also thought about making little burrito bowls.  Taco meat, cheese and salsa in a Tupperware in the freezer.  Thaw it out and top with sour cream for the lunchbox? Hmmmm…..

I also plan on stocking up on and pre-washing, cutting and bagging various fruit, veggies, cheese cubes, dried fruit and crackers.

How about you?  Got any ideas for me?  Leave me a comment!

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13 Freezer Meals {with a free printable!}

Since having Lincoln back in May, we have been on the go…non-stop.  Between figuring out life as a family of five, summer camps and vacations, doctors appointments and work commitments, cooking dinner has not even been on my radar.

Luckily, we have a FANTASTIC support system of friends between our neighborhood and church, who graciously provided us meals every other day for about six weeks straight.  Like, hot meals.  Hot meals that my kids would eat.  Hot meals that made great leftovers too.  Hot meals that usually came in disposable containers {aka no clean-up either!}.

Needless to say, we’ve been blessed {and quite spoiled!}

But now we’re back to the real world.  We’re settling in and the kids are actually expecting me to start cooking again.  Too bad I’m not really ready yet!  So, it was a good thing that I prepared for this day ahead of time!  About a week before Lincoln was due, I scoured Pinterest for yummy freezer meals that I could make in bulk, ahead of time.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

I chose 13 of my favorites, and then mapped out how I could prep, and then freeze, all of them for after Lincoln arrived.  Here’s a list of the recipes I made, and where I got them from:

1. Healthy Mama Barbecue Chicken    (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
2. Stephanie’s Goulash (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
3. Enchilada Casserole (www.joyfulmommaskitchen.com)
4. Chicken Curry  (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
5. Quesadilla Casserole (www.joyfulmommaskitchen.com)
6. Sausage & Peppers (www.bakedinthesouth.com)
7. Stromboli (http://joelandkitty.com)
8. Stuffed Shells (http://joelandkitty.com)
9. Chicken Tacos (http://joelandkitty.com)
10. BBQ Chicken and Veggies (www.allthingskatiemarie.blogspot.com)
11. Baked Oatmeal Cupcakes to Go (http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com)
12. Café Rio Chicken (www.mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com)
13. Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken (www.ringaroundtherosies.net)

Here’s an example of what the spreadsheet I made looks like.  It lists the meal number and name {and source}, the ingredients and prep work for each ingredient, how to assemble and store the completed meal, and then what you’ll need to do to thaw and cook.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

It took Dave and me about 4 hours total to prep and assemble everything…which was well worth it so we could have more time to stare at this cute little guy now!

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

 The first worksheet you’ll need is the one labeled “Steps.”  This is an overview of everything you’ll need to do to prepare all of the meals.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

Next is a more detailed list of the most efficient order of prepping all the food, and what meal {and bag} they go with.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

I highly recommend labeling all of your ziplock bags with your meal number, name, thawing directions, cooking directions, and garnish/side dish list.  Then line up your bags in order and fill them as you prep!

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

And for Number 15 on the “Steps” worksheet, I made a list of all the other ingredients that you don’t need to prep, and which bags they will need to go into as well.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

 

For the couple of meals that aren’t slow cooker meals, I recommend getting disposable foil pans from the dollar store.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Here’s an example of the list of ingredients and storage materials you will need, listed by aisle in the grocery store {very handy to print out and take to the store with you!}:

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

And I didn’t list it on the materials list, but I stacked all of my completed bags on jelly roll pans and cookie sheets, so they would freeze flat for optimal freezer storage.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

If you’d like to download and print your own copy of the 13 meal plans and prep worksheet, click here.

We’ve only tried a handful of the meals, but so far, Meal #3 Enchilada Casserole has been our favorite!  I can’t wait to try the rest!  And if you try any of these meals, I’d love feedback {I didn’t create any of them, so I won’t take it personally!}.  And leave a comment if you have a tip or recipe alteration that you’d like to share…be sure to specify which meal # it’s for!  Thanks and enjoy!

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