Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mind Blowing Mushroom & Pesto Pizza and Win $500 for #Shroomtember!

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad, LLC for the #ShroomTember promotion. Sponsored by The Mushroom Council, the #ShroomTember promotion gives anybody the chance to win a $500 Visa gift card.
Mushroom and Pesto Pizza #Shroomtember

There's one type of pizza that always calls to me, no matter what pizza place I go to. Unfortunately, many places don't make a good pesto and mushroom pizza. I got hooked on it in high school. There was a small hole in the wall place near where I grew up. It was a college town so this place was open late. Every Friday night my friends and I would make the trek to our favorite place to get the heavenly slice of pie. I would always order a piece of pesto and mushroom pizza. My night would not be complete without it. Years later I still remember the melting cheese, tender sauteed mushrooms, and pesto with just a hint of garlic and basil.

Mushroom and Pesto Pizza #Shroomtember
The hole in the wall pizza parlor is gone now but my craving for this pie is not. This month is #ShroomTember and in our house and we celebrated by creating our own mouth watering pesto pizza made perfect by topping it with mushrooms. The great thing about this recipe is it takes less than 30 minutes to make! It's the perfect midweek meal for busy families. My family (including my kids) couldn't get enough of it.

I love using mushrooms in recipes because they are so versatile. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a meat loving carnivore. However, with using an assorted variety of mushrooms on this pizza I didn't miss the meat. The mushrooms I used are filling and satisfying, not to mention healthy! According to the Mushroom Council, shrooms are low in sodium, gluten free, and when substituted for ground beef can help save tons of calories and extra pounds each year. You can even blend mushrooms with a portion of your favorite ground meat to make your dish healthier and you don't even have to give up your meat entirely. This is great news for meat lovers like me.

Mushroom and Pesto Pizza #Shroomtember
The Mushroom Council and LifeofDad.com are actually going the extra step to help families and by offering a contest this month for anyone to enter. Just follow the link below because they are giving away $500 each week to the best mushroom recipe. Just don't make anything better than my pizza, because I want to win this week!



To make my Mind Blowing Mushroom and Pesto pizza recipe, just follow along below and be prepared to fall in love. Remember this pizza takes less than 30 minutes to make so everyone has time for this.

Also check out #ShroomTember on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see even more mushroom inspiration. When you are on those social media channels make sure and follow Lunchbox Dad, Life of Dad, and The Mushroom Council as well.

Mushroom and Pesto Pizza #Shroomtember
Ingredients
Assorted mushrooms (Portobello, Shitake, etc.)
1/3 cup pizza sauce
2/3 cup cheese
1 ready made pizza crust
1 TBSP crushed garlic spread
Artichoke hearts
Sun dried tomatoes
Pesto sauce
Directions
1. Preheat oven to temperature recommended on the directions for your ready made pizza crust. We used a thin crust because it tasted better with the ingredients, took less time to cook, and is a little healthier. If you prefer regular pan style crust it will work just as well.

2. While your oven is heating up, slice your mushrooms and brown them in a pan on the stovetop. You could saute them in butter or white wine but we like just throwing them in the pan to brown. Stir regularly for about 5 minutes.

3. Smear a small amount of garlic spread on the crust. A little goes a long way!
Mushroom and Pesto Pizza #Shroomtember
4. Spread pizza sauce on crust and then distribute cheese on top of that. Place the cooked mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and sun dried tomatoes on top. The great thing about making your own pizza is that you can put as many toppings on it as you want! We like to make sure every topping can be tasted in most every bite so use the mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and sun dried tomatoes liberally!

5. Cook pizza according to directions on crust packaging. Let cool for 2-3 minutes and spoon pesto sauce on top. Don't use too much but make sure every piece will a some on it.

6. Serve, enjoy, and be prepared for your family to sing your praises. The only issue you will have is figuring out what to do with all of your extra time you have because of making this quick and easy recipe!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lunch and HUGE Giveaway!

TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Lunch and Giveaway

One of my favorite cartoons from the 80's was definitely Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I also had a ton of the toys. My favorite was actually Donatello because I loved his smarts and his bow staff he used as a weapon. My kids are now starting to catch Ninja Turtle fever so I decided it was time for a lunch!

Plus, Designer Daddy (who also does Super Lunch Notes) partnered with me for the lunch and an amazing giveaway. He drew four awesome TMNT lunch notes to go with this lunch. You can check out his talent on designerdaddy.com and on Instagram HERE

If you enter our huge TMNT Power Lunch Back-to-School Giveaway you can win a $50 gift card to Toys-R-Us, 4 Designer Daddy hand-drawn TMNT lunch notes, a TMNT action figure, an Eco Lunchbox Solo Cube, and Sharpies and Post-It Notes to make your own lunch notes! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below. You don't want to miss this prize pack!


TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Lunch and Giveaway

Here are the directions for my TMNT lunch. It really is pretty simple, plus my kids love the mini whole wheat pizzas. I made it in an Easy Lunch Boxes container with a Funkins reusable napkin as the background.


TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Lunch and Giveaway
Ingredients
Red Grapes
Toothpicks
Whole wheat mini pita pockets
Shredded cheese
Pepperoni
Green apple
Orange
Pretzel sticks
Edible modeling dough
Cooked pasta (or other background)
Black and blue food coloring
Orange sweet pepper (or orange peel)




Directions
1. Cut apple in half and slice wedge from one half. Cut matching sized wedge out of orange. Put orange wedge inside apple where you cut the apple wedge from. Make shallow cuts for the eyes and mouth and peel off apple and orange skin. Use a little blue food coloring on the orange peel for his eyes.

2. Cut second piece from orange and trip to shape of mask "tail." Also rub orange juice on apple to prevent browning.

3. In main dish place head and mask "tail." Pack pasta around turtle so it doesn't move. Break pretzel sticks in half and mold modeling dough around each piece as shown for Michelangelo's nunchucks. Mold ninja star for an added effect. Place nunchucks and ninja star in main dish. You can also write "Cowabunga" on black food coloring on sweet pepper or orange peel. This is his catch phrase.

4. In side dish place grapes. For a few of the grapes push toothpick pieces though for eyes and put them on top of the pile. These reminded me of the original footsoldiers from the 80's cartoon. 

5. Cut mini pita pockets in half and sprinkle on cheese. Cut one piece of pepperoni in tiny pieces and place on top of cheese. Heat up in microwave for a few seconds. Once they are cool, place mini pizzas in second side dish.
TMNT Super Lunch Notes and Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Lunch and Giveaway

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Field Trip Disposable Lunch

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Ziploc® and The Huffington Post. I received compensation for participating in this promotion.

Here at Lunchbox Dad, I usually talk about how great reusable lunchboxes are. We use them everyday in our house. However, there are those times when you have to make a disposable lunch. Maybe it's a school field trip or a sporting event, but for one reason or another you must have a disposable lunch. We had this happen to my family as we were taking a road trip during vacation. For this event we unfortunately had to buy a disposable box lunch for our kids. I would have given anything to have this one instead. The one we bought was not very healthy and my son hated it. We won't make that mistake again.


The fun thing about this lunch is the PB & J Sushi Rolls. It is a different take on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When your kids need a disposable lunch, they are likely on the road and need something that is finger food and bite sized. This way they don't make a big mess and don't get all sticky. Plus, with a paper bag you can draw games (like Tic-Tac-Toe) on the outside and include stickers. Just because it's a throw away container doesn't mean it has to be boring! 


The veggie bag is all about presentation. Pack the tomatoes, sweet peppers, and snap peas in tight rows in a Ziploc® Snack Bag. You want your kids to see a colorful rainbow. They will stay that way if you packed them in tight enough. If your kids enjoy another type of fruit or veggie, feel free to substitute it in.

The main component of this lunch are the PB & J Sushi rolls. My son is addicted to these! They are fairly simple to make and the best part is there is no mess because they are bite sized pieces. Just cut the crust off your slice of bread. Place the bread on a cutting board, cover with wax paper, and use a rolling pin to roll it out as flat as you possibly can. Put jam on one half and peanut butter on the other. Roll bread tightly. Use a sharp knife to cut roll into small sections.
The last part of the lunch, besides the decorations for the bag and awesome lunch note, is dessert. We didn't want to make this lunch with a ton of sugar, so we mixed a little treat cereal with popcorn. It works best with a chocolate cereal. Plus, it's fun to share your treat
on a school trip and this easy dessert is made for sharing. 

Hopefully this helps you have some ideas for a fun and convenient lunch for your kids. No matter what trip they are going on, a good lunch is essential. Don't give in to an unhealthy box you buy at the store, mine only takes a few minutes and is just as fun! 

Thanks for reading and remember to follow me on all my social media channels so you can get even more ideas like this one.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Perfectly Pink Oatmeal Smoothie


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Quaker. I received compensation for participating in this promotion.
Perfectly Pink Oatmeal Smoothie #QuakerUp #ad
For the past month, I have had a blast partnering with Quaker and their Creative Oatmeal Officer, Sam Stephens from the New York City restaurant, OatMeals to bring you some fantastic kid friendly (and simple) breakfast ideas to keep busy school mornings easy and fun for all. For my last weekly installment, I decided to switch it up a bit and offer a drinkable breakfast option! 

Pink is the new black for boys and girls, right? This pink oatmeal smoothie not only tastes great, but the oatmeal keeps your kids nice and full so they are ready to take on the school day. Not only that, but this smoothie can be conveniently poured into reusable food pouches and frozen. That makes it easy to throw in kids’ lunches or for a quick snack! See the recipe and pictures at Oatmeal Chef Sam’s blog: www.oatmealchefsam.tumblr.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Fruit Ant Picnic Lunch

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Ziploc® and The Huffington Post. I received compensation for participating in this promotion.
Fruit Ant Picnic Kids Lunch #bento #spons

My kids love making things. If you walk around our house you see drawings, and crafts everywhere. In fact, just this past weekend they made art on each others faces. They came down and my son looked like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld when Elaine draws the angry eyebrows on his face. My daughter looked like, well, we just won't go there. If you are a parent and your kids have ever gotten into makeup, you know what I'm talking about. 

Anyway, this week we decided to combine our lunches with a craft. This ant was so fun to make and all you need is a Ziploc® Snack Bag and some pipe cleaners. You can fill a reusable container with whatever picnic type food you want so I am going to focus on telling you how to make the fruit ant in this recipe.

Directions

1. Fill one corner of the Ziploc® bag with raisins or other similar dried fruit. Make sure the bag opening is folded to the bottom. Put two pieces of cereal on top of fruit for eyes. When pipe cleaner is used, it will hold eyes in place. 

2. Wrap pipe cleaner tightly around bag to seal of fruit from rest of bag. Make sure to leave extra on both ends for legs.

3. Fill next part of bag with cereal. Wrap another pipe cleaner around bag, repeating step number two. 

4. Fill last part with dried fruit. Seal bag completely and make sure top is folded under the ant. Wrap another pipe cleaner around the back for the third set of legs. Wrap one more pipe cleaner around the front to make the antenna.

5. Form pipe cleaners into leg and antenna shapes and your ant is finished!

Fruit Ant Picnic Kids Lunch #bento #spons


A Prehistoric Soup and Sandwich Lunch

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Ziploc® and The Huffington Post. I received compensation for participating in this promotion.

Sometimes simple is best. There is nothing wrong with a little soup and sandwich combo for your kids. My daughter won't eat this everyday but it is a great special occasion lunch when you are on the run and only have a few minutes. What's the secret? I just dug out my old dinosaur cookie cutter. 

Cookie cutters are a parent's savior when you trying to make a fun lunch fast. Reusable containers work well for both the sandwich and the soup. If you have been putting off trying a fun lunch because you thought it would take too much time or be too complicated, this is the one to make. It doesn't get much easier than this! So make your kid's day and help them be the envy of their class at school. 

Remember to follow me on all my social media channels. I post different fun and funny parenting pictures, quotes, and tutorials on each. Don't miss out!

Directions
1. The dinosaur cookie cutter can be any shape. Use the cookie cutter on two pieces of bread, your child's favorite lunch meat, and cheese. Put it all together in a sandwich. 

2. Place lettuce and sandwich in a Ziploc® reusable container. If you want, use a sugar googly eye on top of the sandwich. You can "paste" it on with a dab of cream cheese. Drop yogurt covered raisins in the bottom of the container for dinosaur eggs.

3. Carve baby carrots into dinosaur bone shapes. Many kids won't touch carrots, but they will at least try one in the shape of a dinosaur bone. Arrange carrots wherever you want in the container. 

4. Pour your child's favorite soup into a reusable bowl that stays shut and is microwave safe like this Ziploc® container. Don't forget the spoon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Unending Search For Yogurt, Lunch Notes, and a Craft Just Ended

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Ehrmann USA. I received compensation for participating in this promotion.
Ehrmann Mixim Yogurt #MiximLove #ad

One thing I don't talk about very often is a little special touch I put in the lunches for my daughter. It isn't complicated, takes little to no time to do, and is one of my daughter's favorite things. You want to know the secret ingredient? It's a lunch note. Bet you didn't expect me to say that. People always ask what are some ways that parents can get started making fun lunches for their kids. Lunch notes are one of the first things I say to work on because they are a simple place to begin.

Ehrmann Mixim Yogurt #MiximLove #ad
One of the really fun ideas I've seen for back-to-school is from Ehrmann MIXIM yogurt. They have designed a number of different tools for parents to help with making lunches for their kids and add a little #MIXIMLove. It is called "Love in the Lunchbox." I like the title because it is what I try and show to my kids with every fun lunch that I make them. My favorite tool from MIXIM is their free printable lunch notes. You can download them right here: http://bit.ly/LoveintheLunchbox. Keep reading to see the great craft I came up with that uses these lunch notes in a creative way!

A funny thing happened after I downloaded MIXIM's "Love in the Lunchbox" tools, however. My family tested and fell in love with their Greek yogurt. I know what you're thinking, "Unicorns, leprechauns, and fat-free kid friendly Greek yogurt all belong in the same fantasy category." I swear to you this is real! The taste and the texture are what won my family over. In every container of MIXIM you get two toppings that you can mix in a little at a time or all at once. There is always a sweet fruit and a crunchy topping that go great together. The container is heart shaped and divided into three chambers to keep the toppings and yogurt separate until you are ready to mix them. The heart shape of the container (and their printable lunch notes) are what gave me the idea for the fun kid's craft you will find below.

Ehrmann Mixim Yogurt #MiximLove #ad
One of my favorite flavor combos is the Strawberry and Granola, but my daughter absolutely loved the Blueberry and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites. She had it for an afternoon snack and immediately asked for other flavors in her school lunches. There are seven different flavors ranging from Blackberry With Pomegranate and Granola (only 145 calories) to Cherry and Dark Chocolate Curls (only 160 calories). MIXIM is available now at your local grocery store. 

I can't forget one of the coolest things that Ehrmann MIXIM does. Here at Lunchbox Dad I like to help parents anyway I can and Ehrmann is helping kids and parents in a big way. They are a partner and contributor to The Children's Heart Foundation, which helps children with congenital heart defects. In fact, for every download or share of their "Love in the Lunchbox" idea tagged with #MIXIMLOVE, Ehrmann MIXIM will donate $1 to the Children's Heart Foundation (*Up to $7,500). So download their free "Love in the Lunchbox" ideas before September 30 to help out the cause! You can learn more by following Mixim on Facebook HERE or on Twitter HERE.

Here is my #MIXIMLove idea. It is so easy any parent can make it for their kids and many children can even make it to give to their friends! It's my Heart Shaped Bracelet Bead Kit made with an empty MIXIM yogurt container. The idea is that it can easily be taken to school and kids can make bracelets with their friends. Plus, every time your child sees it they can read the lunch note on top that you wrote them! Below are the directions and a graphic to pin on your Pinterest boards with step by step pictures. 

Have fun packing school lunches and showing your kids love this year. Believe me, every little special thing you do they remember and it makes a difference!

Make A Kid's Bead Kit From Mixim Yogurt Container #MiximLove #ad

How to Make a Kid's Bead Bracelet Kit With a MIXIM Yogurt Container

1. Wash out an empty MIXIM Greek yogurt container. Print and cut out a "Love in the Lunchbox" note from http://bit.ly/LoveintheLunchbox. Choose whichever note fits your child best. Gather cardboard, transparent tape, scissors, pen, and rubber cement or a glue stick. You will also need string and beads to make the bracelets.

2. Turn cardboard over to back and place MIXIM yogurt container upside down on it. Trace around container with pen.

3. Cut traced heart out of cardboard.

4. Flip cardboard heart over and tape it to top of the yogurt container. Use two pieces of transparent tape, one on each side of the top of the heart.

5. Use two pieces of tape on the bottom of the heart. These will be the "latch."

6. Sign printed out MIXIM lunch note. Brush rubber cement on the bottom of note. You may use paste instead.

7. Place lunch note on top of cardboard heart and smooth until it is glued down. 

8. Fill with beads and string. Give to your child as a surprise in their backpack or lunchbox!
Make A Kid's Bead Kit From Mixim Yogurt Container #MiximLove #ad