We celebrated my birthday this weekend with a special lunch at All Aboard Restaurant and Grill, an eatery tailor made for children and train enthusiasts of all ages. A train that runs on rails around the restaurant’s ceiling delivers your food!
At noon on Saturday, All Aboard was hopping busy. The line from the counter — where you place your order — stretched straight to the door and curved around a bit. Yet we didn’t stand there for more than a few minutes, and the small play area along the windows helped keep the little ones occupied.
After grabbing our drinks, we sat down and placed the device we were given into its loading station onto the table, so the train would know where to deliver our food.
While we waited, the girls enjoyed watching the TV screen above us play a slideshow of scenic train pictures. But it wasn’t long before the food-delievery train dropped off our first basket, accompanied by plenty of extra choo-choo noises from the crowd at our table.
The girls squealed with excitement as the train’s cargo slowly dropped down toward the table on the mechanized platform. Kayla and Kendall picked chicken nuggets with fruit to share, and Ava chose macaroni and cheese with fruit — all of them were happy with what they got and dug in.
Daddy and I got the fried pickles we ordered as an appetizer via server instead of train at exactly the same time. But that was fine by us, as we got a chance to ask for an extra ranch cup to dip the thickly coated spears into.
Not too long afterward, the train traveling around the restaurant on elevated tracks dropped off our second basket of food: a buffalo chicken wrap with baked potato salad, and a reuben sandwich with chips.
Daddy and I have a habit of splitting our meals half and half so we can try different things, and I was pretty happy with that strategy here. The saucy reuben was tasty without being overflowingly messy or soggy, as they can sometimes get. And the buffalo chicken wrap was meaty but mild-flavored, just how I like it.
Even though the restaurant was packed, the staff remained friendly and helpful, and the bathroom remained reasonably clean. I also thought it was a sweet touch that children’s drawings of trains covered the walls.
The girls clearly had a great time, so I have a feeling we’ll be making a return trip to All Aboard before too long.
This is a sponsored post. All opinions belong to me.
If you’re never been to one of the Talk With Your Mouth Full events, you are missing out.
There were so many yummy bites, it was hard to know where to start. Promenade restaurants — A.W. Lin’s Asian Cuisine, Big Orange Burgers, Bonehead’s Grill, Bravo! Cucina Italiana, Cafe Brunelle, Del Fresco’s Grill, Local Lime, Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream & Treatery, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and YaYa’s Euro Bistro — all had booths at the event, offering up some of their tasty cuisine.
Heidi, aka Margarita Mama, and I were able to sample food from A.W. Lin’s, Del Fresco’s Grill, Local Lime and YaYa’s. Everything was delicious, but I think the Ahi tuna tacos from Del Fresco’s were my favorite. The tuna tartare and guacamole were so refreshing on a warm evening. The restaurant just opened, and I’m thinking Matt and I will have to pay them a visit very soon!
There were also tons of networking opportunities. I will admit — I’m really bad at networking. I get very shy in crowds and would prefer to people watch. Luckily, I ran into one of my fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers and my roommate from the past three years of AWBU. Christie Ison, the founder of ARFoodJobs.com, and her husband, Joe, were at the event. So we chatted for a while, and they introduced me to some of their friends.
It was a fun evening. Heidi and I capped it off with cocktails and spinach dip at Bravo!
Even though it’s hard to pull away from the daily grind of work responsibilities, getting dinner on the table and getting kids ready to start it all over again the next day, a night out once in awhile can be purely restorative.
The Promenade at Chenal’s Ladies Night Out gave me a chance to spend some quality time with my good friend Candy, who I don’t get to see nearly enough. And we had an absolute blast, catching up on gossip, shopping and playing around.A scavenger hunt kicked off the night, and we zipped from store to store, getting our cards punched and window shopping all the cool things we saw along the way. We strategized our stops for efficiency, and many of the stores had drinks or a little something to eat to help keep everyone going. After wrapping up the scavenger hunt, we were ready for dinner and headed to the fairly new Boneheads Grill restaurant to check it out.
I got the tilapia tacos, topped with a pineapple salsa that packed plenty of heat, and tasty grilled zucchini on the side. A dash of their medium piri piri sauce put it over the top for me. Spicy but absolutely delicious! Candy got the sweet honey Hawaiian chicken skewers and was kind enough to let me mooch a bite. That chicken and pineapple combo was amazing.While we were there, we combed through the swag bag that the Promenade handed out to the first 100 shoppers on the scene. Candy was lucky enough to get one that had a $20 gift card inside! And I was impressed with the tokens for free cheese dip at Local Lime and a free shake at Big Orange, a sample from Saggio and some excellent coupons — all really good stuff. After clearing our plates, we headed back to Belle & Blush to experiment with the lipstick for awhile. At some point we set out on a mission to go wild — not something I’m generally known for — and I ended up with a tube of Lipstick Queen’s Hot Rose Sinner. Whaddya think? We wrapped up the night at Charming Charlie, where it’s hard not to fall in love with everything. The color-coordinated bliss just speaks to me. And it’s all so … so pretty. But shortly thereafter, it was getting close to closing time — and my bedtime — so we had to head home. I’m sure I’ll be back there pretty soon, as there’s always more to look at. But next time, I’ll likely have three little princesses in tow with shoppings agendas of their own.
NOTE: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions/statements/ideas included here are my own, of course.
It looks like we’ve got at least few more rainy days ahead of us until springtime finally breaks through for good. That means there’s a little more time for cold-weather comfort food, right?
We don’t tend to stock up on a huge amount of pre-prepared boxed or frozen foods in our house, primarily because we try to keep our meals both a little healthier and a little cheaper. However, Daddy sampled Kroger’s frozen meatballs during a grocery store run with the kids recently, and they all found them pretty tasty. So I indulged the crowd and picked up a bag a few weeks later to make sweet and savory BBQ meatballs and mashed potatoes, with green beans on the side.
I don’t make mashed potatoes very often, but when I do, I make sure there’s flavor in them. I nearly always go for Yukon gold potatoes. And there’s got to be milk and butter, salt and pepper, and Martha Stewart’s secret ingredient: nutmeg. Once you give it a try, it’s hard to go back.
Meanwhile, I’m a little bit in love with fresh green beans. They’re a bit more work than their canned or frozen cousins, but if you get them just right, it’s worth the effort.
Trim the ends off, then saute in a big pan with a touch of olive oil and grill seasoning. After they start to get just a touch of blister on them, pour in a bit of chicken broth — but not so much that they’re swimming in it — and stick a lid on it. They’ll soften right up while you go onto other things.
For the main attraction, I decided to go with sweet and savory meatballs that I hoped would keep the kids on board. (Although I baked a few plain ones as a backup, it turns out that effort was unneeded.)
I poured a considerable amount of Sweet Baby Ray’s honey BBQ sauce into my trusty Le Cruset pot along with the meatballs and cranked the heat up. Yet something didn’t seem right — the sauce wasn’t really sticking to the meatballs in the way I’d hoped.
Searching for a fix, I reached into my brain and remembered that it’s kind of an old crockpot party thing to add grape jelly to meatballs. I had never tried it before and thought it sounded kind of weird, frankly. But it was just the trick I was looking for. Suddenly, it all melted together into a beautiful, shiny glaze that tasted amazing.
Every single person in the house was happy with meatballs for dinner. And it came together pretty quickly, too. Hard to beat that combination.
Snowed in? Tired of leftovers? Kids driving each other crazy?
That all sounds about right this week.
With another wintry blast headed our way, there’s only one thing to do — bake something easy and delicious.
I actually made these banana carmel bites as part of our Valentine’s Day breakfast, along with a little sausage and fruit. But these would be super as dessert on a cold night, too.
I’m still in a puff pastry period right now, clearly. It’s super easy to whip something up with it that everyone in the house falls in love with. And it seems So Fancy, a la Iggy.
I didn’t think this one out much in advance. I just looked around to see what we had that would go together, and this is what I ended up with.
- puff pastry
- 2 bananas, cut in slices
- Philly brown sugar and cinnamon cream cheese
- jar of caramel
- chopped pecans
Thaw the puff pastry on the counter while you’re getting the rest of your bidness together. When it’s just slightly chilled, right before it’s about to turn sticky, it’s go time.
Spread the cream cheese first, then layer banana slices on top. Then drizzle the carmel and top with chopped pecans. When it looks like this, it’s time to roll.
After I rolled it up, I cut slices and placed them on a greased baking sheet, then brushed the tops with a little egg wash. Bake according to the puff pastry’s package directions, which may vary with the brand. These took less than 15 minutes.
Plate and top with an extra banana slice or two, a bit more carmel and a little more pecans. Sooooooo good. And perfect for sharing the love — we could all use a little more of that.
A hearty yet simple meal that’s sure to please a crowd is Greek pork paired with mediterranean-flavored rice and a crisp salad.
Cube up a pork loin, liberally sprinkle on greek seasoning, a good steak seasoning blend and lemon olive oil. You can also do this a day ahead of time — the longer it marinates, the more delicious it will turn out.
When you’re ready, skewer ’em up and them get sizzling on a stovetop grill pan.
Meanwhile, make a pot of rice. When it’s finished, add in some olives and grape tomatoes sliced in half. A touch of seasoning there helps, too.
Done — and delicious. Even the little girls in our house dug into this one, and that doesn’t happen every day.
What’s on your dinner plate tonight? I’d love to hear!
The best thing about football season, hands down, is party food.
I tend to stick with the same winners over time — veggie tray, Rotel cheese dip, chicken wings. But for this Super Bowl, I experimented a little bit. And I have to say, I was pretty happy with the results.
Buffalo cheese pinwheels are a spicy little bite, and they come together in just about 20 minutes. Can’t beat that!
This snack is super easy. All you need is frozen puff pastry, a beaten egg and something to put in the middle. This time, I grabbed a container of prepared buffalo and blue cheese spread. Boom.
Just thaw the pastry on the counter. Then brush with the egg wash and spread on the cheese fairly evenly.
Roll it up, slice it and place the pinwheels on a greased baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden.
Voila, that’s it. So good. Enjoy!
Now that the new year has begun, I’m ready to detox a bit from all the holiday treats and sweets that surrounded us the past few weeks and get back in the school-days routine.
In our house, a good part of this will include planning out our family’s lunches so that mom and dad are not grabbing something unhealthy in a time crunch and that Ava will find her meal delicious and filling. (The twins are still eating daycare-provided lunches, so they’re all set during the week.)
Ava would eat the same thing every single day if I let her. Her palate is generally limited to Lunchables or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with either an applesauce GoGo Squeeze or a yogurt tube. So I’d like to get her to branch out a bit.
Every once in awhile, I can sneak in a pasta salad of some kind or cut up squares of cheese pizza. Maybe even a bagel. But we could use a spark of inspiration.
Here’s a few handy tips on healthy kid lunches that QualChoice of Arkansas has offered:
PORTIONS: The USDA recommends tennis-ball sized portions of vegetables and whole grains, golf-ball sized portions of fruit and lean protein, and a pink pong ball portion of low-fat dairy. (Prepackaged items can often be a little more expensive, but I’ve come to realize that the portion control and ease of packing is a good tradeoff.)
PRODUCE: The great thing about fruits and veggies is they deliver lots of nutrients and they don’t require cooking. It’s best to keep produced washed and cut in the fridge so there isn’t a lot of prep work. Great options for this are: cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, berries, apples, pears and grapes. (Ava always loves her carrot sticks with a little cup of ranch dressing.)
WHOLE GRAINS: For a crunchier side, pack multi-grain chips or pretzels instead of potato chips. Whole grain pita pockets and tortillas are also a great alternative and are easy to fill with lunch meats, salad mixes and more.
PROTEINS & DAIRY: Proteins come in many forms – not just meat. You could pack a wrap or sandwich with lean turkey, or you could include a hard-boiled egg. Also, sharp cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt offer a great source of protein and dairy.
HYDRATION: Instead of juice boxes, include a small bottle of frozen water. The ice will keep the rest of the lunch cool, and will melt enough by lunchtime to be drinkable.
SNACKS: After school or on the weekends, healthy snacks can help curb overeating later. Pack a baggie of popcorn for a 100% whole grain snack, or try almonds mixed with dried fruits, whole fruits or pretzels.
Happy lunching out there! And if you have more ideas or handy tips, I’d love to hear them. Please share!
Got this one from a cookbook — Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution — that Hubs picked up at work.
We made it the other night and found it to be quite yummy!
2 lbs poblano chiles, stemmed, halved and seeded
2 onions, chopped (I used just one due to Hubs’ aversion to all things onion)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 cups chicken broth
One 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
3 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice, plus extra for seasoning
Toss poblanos, onions, garlic cumin, coriander, oil and chipotle together in bowl. Spread mixture in a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Broil until poblanos start to turn black in spots and other veggies start to soften. Flip halfway through cooking. (This will take about 15 minutes or so.)
Transfer half of the mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to slow cooker. Process the remaining mixture until smooth. Transfer to slow cooker.
Stir in broth, tomatoes (and their juice) and 1/2 teaspoon salt into slow cooker. Nestle chicken in cooker as well. Cover and cook three to five hours on low, or until chicken is tender. (Note: I sauteed the chicken briefly before putting it in the crockpot.)
When chicken is tender, transfer to cutting board and shred. Return to pot. Add cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with baked tortilla chips, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, etc…
A couple of people asked me to share the recipe for this dish after I made it for our newsroom potluck. Ya’ll, this is so, so easy and yummy! I first tried these at our neighbor’s house, when he threw a birthday party for his wife. My kids inhaled these meatballs, so I asked him for the recipe. He told me the main ingredients and one Google session later, voila. If you want to make your own meatballs, go for it. Just don’t make them Italian-style. If you’re preparing this in a hurry and want to use frozen meatballs, make sure you get the Homestyle ones and NOT Italian. — Arkie Mama
1 can (14 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 package (32 ounces) frozen fully cooked homestyle meatballs, thawed
Mix and heat the first six ingredients until sugar dissolves. Add meatballs. Cook until tender. You can do this in a pot or crockpot, depending on your timeframe.