Do you know what my favorite thing about get togethers is? Summer, spring, winter, fall? Dips.
I adore dips. Sweet dips, savory dips, sweet-and-savory dips. Dips for chips. Dips for fruit. Dips for pretzels and cookies and, well, spoons. Basically, I could eat an entire course of just dips. An entire meal even!
My children have inherited my love of all things dip. They love dipping everything from chips to fruit in any number of dips. So when Hershey’s asked me to make something with their delicious syrups, I decided to make… yes, you guessed it: dip!
I made three different-but-the-same dips with three of their Hershey’s Syrups: Strawberry, Caramel, and Special Dark. They each are crazy easy to make, kids can help, and are a great addition to any get together. Or, in our case, “summer is ending and we need to celebrate with something that tastes amazing” little party we had with the friends who came to play regularly this summer.
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix with a blender. Put in a bowl. Voila!
All of these dips are best served chilled.
Seriously, I told you these dips were easy. Some suggestions I would make to add a little fun to the dips or change it up a bit: chocolate chips in any of these dips (folded in with a spoon, not a blender), little pieces of dried strawberries in the strawberry dip, dried coconut in any of them (but I really, really love coconut, so you may want to ignore me), or butterscotch chips for the Caramel dip. Or, really, let your imagination take you where you want to go.
As far as dipping goes, we tried:
honey wheat pretzels
Other dipping things that would be fantastic: pound cake, brownies, grapes, cherries, marshmallows, other kinds of cookies, regular pretzels (I love salt and sweet, don’t you), and so on. What you dip in these dips is really kind of taste based. You could honestly grab a spoon and just eat them as well, because they tasted delicious. (And, oh, I wish I had some lemon cake in the house when I made the strawberry dip because I imagined it tasting fantastic together. Someone needs to do this and report back, immediately.) Oh, and I after I wrote this post, I realized I forgot to cut up the strawberries to dip into these dips. Whoops?
The boys loved the dips as they got a pre-taste before their friends arrived.
Me? I made sure to hoard some of the strawberry dip before their friends showed up because it was my favorite. But they were all delicious and greatly appreciated by a bunch of little kids celebrating the end of a fun summer.
Thanks, Hershey’s, for the fun you brought to our home this summer.
*This post is sponsored by Hershey’s. All ideas and images are my own. Be sure to visit CelebrateWithHersheys.com for more dessert and syrup inspiration.
ASICS America contacted me recently to see if I’d like to try a pair of their shoes. Never one to turn down shoes because shoes, I said yes. I had my pick of any running shoe on their site, which felt awesome and overwhelming at the same time. ASICS has been a brand I love watching run past me (remember, I’m a middle pack runner, so people pass me; it’s okay, I’m fine with it) because they’re always so colorful and fun. I also helped my husband pick his first pair of running shoes earlier this year, and they just so happen to be a (brightly lace colored) pair of ASICS. I thought it would be fun to brightly match!
So at first, I looked through the site to find the brightest, most colorful shoes. SO. MANY. CHOICES.
Then I got serious and started searching for a shoe that would be the best fit for my feet. Literally.
I underpronate. The rest of the world overpronates or lands neutrally, but I’m a Special Snowflake, and my foot rolls out instead of in. Or, you know, instead of landing normally. This is why I ended up with a strained foot after the EQT 10 Miler last year: two races, too close together, with a shoe that wasn’t keeping my foot from rolling out, rolling out, rolling out. (And yes, when I think about underpronation, I sing, “ROLL OUT.” Every time.)
63 options for an underpronator is like heaven. Normally brands leave us roller-outers with one or two ugly, clunky options. Nope, not ASICS. They were like, “LOOK AT ALL THESE SHINY SHOES.” I briefly considered the GEL Kinsei because the color options were downright fantastic, but ended up with the GEL Nimbus 16.
I’ll be totally transparent: I adored the pink and green color combo and that played heavily into my decision. If the Nimbus hadn’t had any nice color options, I might not have ended up with this particular shoe. But if ever there was a shoe that said, “I’m made for Jenna,” it’s one that’s pink and green. I mean, obviously. The brighter the better. The people who complain about brightly colored shoe options aren’t my kind of people.
My ASICS arrived while I was in California, so I put them on within 20 minutes of returning from the airport and took off on a six mile run. Not always the smartest move, as a 1-3 miler is often suggested to “break them in” and see how they fit with your arches, soles, toes, and so on. Me? I just needed to run. Six hours on a plane with a back that wasn’t feeling all that hot required six miles on the road.
I was very pleased with my first run. My feet didn’t roll. They didn’t feel heavy or clunky, though heavier than some neutral shoes I’ve worn to avoid the heavy/clunky problem. I finished the run with happy feet despite fighting my six hour flight sore back.
And so, I wore the GEL Nimbus on every training run for the following week.
That included the previously mentioned 6.13 miler, a 3.03 miler, a 4.01 miler, a 4.00 miler, and and a 6.01 miler.
I will say one thing: Road running in a shoe that doesn’t let your foot roll out is a smidgen more difficult. Think about it for a second: When you run on the side of the road, you are angled with your left leg and foot lower than your right leg and foot. As such, my right foot, being unable to roll at all, was stuck at an odd angle as I ran on the side of the road. I definitely felt the difference, and then tested the middle of the road and our local (flat) trail. Perfection. Absolute perfection. My foot was held the exact way it needed to be held.
As such, I would wear the GEL Nimbus in my half marathon as I don’t run on the edge of the road. I tend to run on the left side, closer to the middle of the road. I should be absolutely fine with these shoes for 13.1 miles—and the training that goes along with it.
If you are an overpronator and you want to stop rolling out, I’d give the GEL Nimbus 16 a try.
I was provided a free pair of shoes from ASICS America. I was not required to post a review.
But I had to cut back recently. I drink one cup in the morning, and if I’m feeling like I need it or if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll have an afternoon cup as well. It’s been good for me, and I adjusted really well to less caffeine. But one thing I’ve learned in this whole “let’s drink less coffee” thing is that I want good coffee for my 1-2 cups per day.
I was recently asked if I’d like to try out Market District’s new coffees, and I said, “WELL YEAH!” In my hunt for good coffee, I’m definitely up for trying new things. I haven’t been disappointed.
I was sent two medium roasts, Moka Java Blend and Kenya, and one flavored coffee, French Vanilla. I’m super pleased.
Right now my favorite is the Moka Java Blend. It has a deep, rich flavor that really helps perk me up in the morning. It also makes my kitchen and office smell amazing. That’s one thing I have noticed about my good coffee hunt: I am super sensitive to the smell of the coffee. I can tell if I’m going to like it before I even taste it.
As for the French Vanilla, I love it as my afternoon or early-evening/post-dinner cup of coffee. It’s light, it’s fun, and it tastes yummy.
Of note: I drink all of my coffee black, the way God intended.
I’m actually interested in trying some of their dark roasts, like the Espresso or the French Roast. I think I’m going to grab a bag or two after we make our way through what we have now. I may also grab a bag of the decaffeinated Breakfast Blend. I never understood why people would drink decaffeinated coffee until I cut back my caffeine consumption. Now I miss the taste of coffee!
Would you like three bags of Market District Coffee? Good! I’m giving them away!
I have a bag of each of the flavors we’ve tried—Moka Java Blend, Kenya, and French Vanilla—to give away to one lucky winner. To win, simply leave a comment on this post telling me how you drink your coffee. For an extra entry, share this post on any of your favorite social media outlets, leaving an individual comment for each social share. I will draw a random winner on Thursday, May 15, 2014 and contact the winner by email.
Disclaimer: I was given coffee in hopes that I would like it and share it with my readers. If I hadn’t liked it, I wouldn’t have shared it. I’m nuttin’ but real up in this piece, n’at.
I love cooking for my family. I love making uber-fancy things that take all day to simmer and cook and bubble over onto my stove. But I’m also a working mom with two busy boys, a husband, a dog, and a social life. I don’t always have time to make a super fancy meal on a weeknight. While I love making a pot pie from scratch, I am thankful that Burgh Baby taught me a trick to make a quicker and still-so-yummy version using Campbell’s condensed soups instead of a homemade roux.
I make a pot pie — chicken, vegetable, or otherwise — about once a meal plan (every two weeks) during the colder months. Nine times out of ten, I go with the quick and easy method because, well, it tastes good and takes less time. My favorite part about using Campbell’s soups and this easy meal? My kids eat it up. They’re not overly picky, but they’re weirdly picky. Meaning that the meal they ate last week is suddenly off limits this week. This meal, in all its variations? They gobble it up. Whether I use Cream of Chicken & Mushroom, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Chicken with Herbs, Cream of Mushroom, or Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic (I’ve used them ALL), they absolutely love it. I mostly use Cream of Mushroom, like I did this time, because I like mushrooms in this mix. Plus, my kids like it a lot — and the Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic.
Ingredients you need:
1 premade frozen pie crust in the pan
3 cups frozen veggies of your choosing
1 can Campbell’s cream soup of your choosing
Shredded meat of your choosing (I prefer chicken)
2 tablespoons milk
1 flat/rolled up refrigerated pie crust
Salt, pepper, spices of your choosing
Anyway, here’s the way to make this easy meal.
1. Take your premade pie bottom and cook it per the directions on the box. (If you forget and don’t cook it ahead of time, it will be gooey and not as good.) (Not that I know.) (I know.)
2. Microwave your frozen vegetables for six or so minutes. They should be warm to the touch, but not drying out. You know your microwave better than I know your microwave. If you don’t have a microwave, just toss them in a pot and warm them at medium low for about ten minutes.
3. Mix in your choice of Campbell’s creamed soups and milk. Add any spices you wish. I sometimes add a little pepper because I like pepper. I’ve also thrown in garlic salt, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, and really, just whatever I reach up and grab.
4. Add in any of your pre-cooked meats at this point. I normally save some chicken from another meal earlier in the week purposefully for making the pot pie. Leftover turkey works really well in this dish, too.
5. Pour it into your baked pie crust.
Don’t eat it yet. It will be even yummier soon!
6. Cover it with the rolled up pie crust topper. Ten bucks says you make better edges than I do, whether you crimp them or pinch them or peel off the extra and eat the raw dough. What? You don’t do that? Oh. Me either.
7. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes. We have a fancy pants convection oven now, so we have shaved a few minutes off of that time. You want the crust to be a nice golden brown, not deep, burnt brown like the first time I made it in the new oven. Sigh.
Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting, and voila! Easy, healthy, happy meal for the family!
Note: If anyone wants to buy me a pie lifter for Christmas, I obviously need one. Obviously.
If you want some other recipes for picky eaters (or, like my kids, weird eaters), Campbell’s has helped out with The Wisest Kid in the Whole World™, bringing you recipes your kiddos won’t be able to refuse. (And you might like, too!) Also check out their new recipe destination, Campbell’s Kitchen, for even more recipes.
I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Advil®, as a part of the Advil® Relief in Action campaign. I received compensation for this post. While all opinions stated are my own, I make no claims about Advil® as a product or its effectiveness.
I never meant to inspire anybody with my running.
I just wanted to run. Or, really, I just wanted to move again, to feel my body and all of its parts working together for good after nearly two years of pain, both physical and emotional. A back injury that left me nearly unable to walk almost decimated my belief in myself, in my abilities, in my personhood. So when the doctors fixed me up and sent me on my way, I started putting one foot in front of the other again.
I kept on putting one foot in front of the other. Over and over. Slowly at first and for short amounts of time, I’d hit the road in my neighborhood or a local trail. I’d gain a little distance, lose a little speed and then gain a little speed and lose a little distance. I kept on going, kept on lacing up my shoes, kept on moving my body. Some days hurt as the pain in my back sorted itself out, worked its way back out of my body as I began to use muscles that I hadn’t used in quite some time. I pushed on, through the pain and, mostly, through the self-doubt.
And of course, because we live in this technological, share-it-all age, I tweeted. I updated my Facebook with monthly run totals. I shared photos of runs achieved — and runs failed — on Instagram. I blogged. I talked about it during weekly coffee meetings with close friends. They all encouraged me, cheered me on. I was the one being inspired by the love and encouragement of my friends, online and off.
Then, less than a year after my return to running, I ran my first half marathon. I felt pretty good about myself, inside and out. I felt new. I felt whole. I shared.
And then people shared with me.
“Your running has inspired me. If you can do it, I can do it. I’m going to run a 5K.” “You’ve inspired me to train for a half marathon.” “I’m going to start running because of your journey.” Multiple messages rolled into my inbox, all sharing this same theme. What I believed to be the simple — though difficult — act of running back to myself through residual physical pain and emotional barriers was inspiring others to do the same, to do more.
I blinked at my computer screen.
Me. Inspiring others. To go and do something more, to be more, to feel more. Me.
I haven’t always felt like the kind of person who inspires, who pushes people to do good, to be and do more. I’ve been the girl who looked to others. Even through this journey, I looked to the words and actions and sharings of others to find my inspiration: fast runners, accomplished runners, real runners. I wasn’t fast or accomplished and, most days, I didn’t feel real — despite having run 13.1 miles. And yet, here were others telling me that they had been looking to me, from the days when I started walking the neighborhood all the way through my training plan. Some weren’t planning on running — just moving more, just being more active, just getting up and going out.
I chased my boys through the yard a few evenings ago — something I wasn’t physically able to do in the midst of my worst days. Giggles pouring forth, I stopped and caught my breath, a smile on my face. Inspired to run or not, I hope that people understand that the point of my journey was more about this — being active with my family and being happy while doing it — was what inspired me most, was what became my relief in action on those days that I just didn’t want to get up and lace up and go out and run and run and run.
All of that said, it took inspiring others with my mere acts of getting up and running to remember the joy of helping and serving others. Or, maybe it was the day I was out running and my sons held up signs as I passed the driveway over and over — the joy on their faces evident. Now that I feel like me — inside and out again — I am reminded of the need to get out and help others feel like themselves again, and not just by posting running updates online.
One of our local pregnancy resource centers was destroyed in a storm last year. As you know, helping moms — young or old — be the best moms they can be remains a passion of mine due to my experience with my daughter, adoption and a system that doesn’t always work as it could or even should. As I thought about what my daughter might think someday, knowing that her birth mother runs half marathons, I made some calls to get myself back on the lists as a resource for mothers — pre-birth or postpartum — who are dealing with situations that often involve a lack of support, living below the poverty line, and sometimes scary domestic issues. If my simple act of running can inspire people to get up and go, then sharing my story, putting my arm around the shoulder of an expectant mom who feels alone and saying, “I’m here for you; this is my story,” can surely inspire as well.
The Advil® Relief in Action campaign honors and supports people who don’t let pain get in the way of helping others. You can Follow @ReliefinAction on Twitter and Instagram. Share how you see Relief in Action by posting a photo with the hashtag #ReliefinAction on Instagram and Twitter. Visit http://www.advil.com/reliefinaction to learn more.