Time to Eat

How to get kids to eat vegetables

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in eating/food, Featured, Food, Health, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Apparently, my kids are behind the times and haven’t figured out yet that it’s trendy to dig in and eat every veggie in sight.

I’ve tried engaging them in meal planning, with limited success. Each Saturday, when I sit down with my menu board, coupons and grocery store flier, I plot out the week’s dinners. As I fill in each section, I’ll often ask the girls what they want for dinner and get crazy replies or none at all. But over time, I’ve honed in on them a bit. I’ll sometimes ask each of them directly to just pick one vegetable to go with a certain dinner, and it can’t be one that another child has already picked — otherwise we’d explode in a mountain of corn each week. Then, when their veggie lies on the plate, there’s at least some ownership of that choice.

Another way to go about it is at the actual grocery store, where they can ogle over all the choices in the produce section. This will often lead me to some random things that are harder to put together, like purple cauliflower and eggplant. And somehow less guarantee that the kids will actually give them a try, although you’d think the opposite. I suppose that they’re just like the rest of us, who are spontaneously tempted to buy jicama once in awhile and then have no idea what to do with it when it’s actually sitting in front of them.

This week, we fell down to flat-out trickery.

acorn squash, a.k.a. "brown sugar flowers"

acorn squash, a.k.a. “brown sugar flowers”

I’m in what you’d call a squash period right now. Last week, I roasted butternut squash in chunks with oil and grill seasoning. And it was delicious! I figured the  would take better to it, given that it’s almost like sweet potato. But no dice. So I knew this week’s acorn squash selection was going to be even more difficult.

I prepared it ahead of time, so they wouldn’t see it in its original state. And there was nary a peep about squash. Instead,  chef Daddy presented “brown sugar flowers” at the dinner table, with a wonderful pairing of salmon (also known as “Barbie chicken” for a more palatable presentation), asparagus and multigrain bread.

Alas, Ava moved too quickly and bit into the blechy rind of the flower, which was still intact. Sometimes, one bite is all you get — especially with picky kids like her. However, I’m willing to call that a win, because at least it’s trying something new.

Other tricks up my sleeve include :

  • adding spinach to smoothies, particularly with apple juice or pineapple masking the flavor
  • Capri Sun’s Super V pouches, a gateway toward straight-up veggie juice — someday!
  • veggie soups, which tend to go over easier in our house for some reason, especially blended up
  • dips for raw veggies, or warm spinach and artichoke dip over chicken or pasta
  • zucchini bread, most delicious served warm

If there’s something I haven’t thought of, please share. We could all use the help!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Fall fashion and fun

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Activities, cocktails, eating/food, fashion, Food, Giveaways, Margarita Mama, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal | 3 comments

Fall’s biggest trends in Little Rock shops are on display at The Promenade at Chenal tonight as part of the Lights, Music, Fashion event held in conjunction with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and The Pointe Brodie Creek.

If you have a few minutes to get over there before 7 p.m., you have a chance to win one of these great outfits — which are all about $200. Just take your picture with the model and post it to Instagram using #LightsMusicFashion and tagging @ChenalPromenade and the store you’re in. 

But if you’re on the hunt for a new game day outfit or something to wear on a night out with your girls, these outfits will all be available at the featured Promenade stores for longer. Bold colors and Aztec-looking prints are clearly winners in this lineup, along with everything red. (Go Razorbacks!)

Here’s the picks:

J. Crew's outfit features a Razorback red top and great jeans

J. Crew’s outfit features an eye-catching red top and form-fitting jeans

Altar'd State's pick is a black-and-white scarf, paired with a plum tunic and leggings

Altar’d State’s pick is a black-and-white scarf, paired with a plum tunic and leggings

Ann Taylor Loft's pick of a classic little black dress paired with bling is hard to top

Ann Taylor Loft’s pick of a classic little black dress paired with bling is hard to top

Francesca's outfit features a striking tribal print outer layer with a burgundy  dress and a mixed-materials necklace that ties it together

Francesca’s outfit features a striking tribal print outer layer with a burgundy dress and a mixed-materials necklace that ties it together

Layers are the thing at Apricot Lane, which is showcasing a brightly printed sweater over a tunic top and a cross-body underlayer with a bold gold, white and blue necklace

Layers are the thing at Apricot Lane, which is showcasing a brightly printed sweater over a tunic top and a cross-body underlayer with a bold gold, white and blue necklace

White House/Black Market's pick is a warm and cozy faux fur-trimmed sweater, accented by layers of necklaces

White House/Black Market’s pick is a warm and cozy faux fur-trimmed sweater, accented by layers of necklaces

At W by Azwell, the showcase outfit is a standout red-and-white floral dress with a chunky black and gold necklace

At W by Azwell, the showcase outfit is a standout red-and-white floral dress with a chunky black and gold necklace

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

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Veggie Soup

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in eating/food, Lucky Mama, main dish, Recipes, soup, vegetarian | 2 comments

My family, especially my husband, loves to eat soup. My husband could eat it all year long — but I’m not a fan of soup when it is 100 degrees outside, so I generally pass on it in the summer.

So on the first day the weather turned chilly this month, my husband was making soup. In this case it was his veggie soup, which is one of my absolute favorites!

I highly recommend serving this with your favorite bread — we lean toward crescent rolls, but a good crusty bread works well too.

Veggie soup is perfect on a chilly night!

Veggie Soup is perfect on a chilly night!

Matt’s Veggie Soup

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs red potatoes chopped into bite size

1 lb carrots chopped to bite size

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. garlic, minced

4-6 stalks celery, chopped

1 bag frozen green beans

One can kidney beans, rinsed

* 2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning — it may not seem like it, but this a KEY ingredient!

1 32 oz package of Vegetable broth

One can stewed tomatoes

Cooking Instructions:

In large pot, heat olive oil. (1) Add potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, salt and pepper and ½ Old Bay Seasoning to the pot. Saute until onions are clear, about 5-6 minutes, adding more oil if needed.

(2) Add broth, kidney beans, stewed tomatoes, and rest of Old Bay Seasoning, adding a bit more Old Bay if needed. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

(3) Add frozen green beans and stir well. Cook for 30-45 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Voila! Dinner is served!

 

Three easy steps and you've got veggie soup

Three easy steps and you’ve got veggie soup!

Talk With Your Mouth Full

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Activities, eating/food, The Promenade at Chenal | 5 comments

UPDATE: Congratulations to Becky Layes! She is the winner of two tickets to Talk With Your Mouth Full!

 

Note: This is a sponsored post; however, all opinions expressed are my own.

The Promenade at Chenal is hosting “Talk With Your Mouth Full,” in conjunction with the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Sept. 25 from 5-7 p.m.

The “Talk With Your Mouth Full” event offers a perfect time to network and nosh on some delicious food from 8 restaurants at The Promenade. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door — pretty reasonable for all of the yummy bites you get a chance to sample! Food and conversation — what could be better?

And Little Rock Mamas has two tickets to give away! Keep reading for the details. :)

But first, how about a sneak peak at the menu?

A.W. Lin’s Asian Cuisine — Red curry chicken, vegetable fried rice and spicy scallion chicken

Big Orange Burger — Tzatziki, chicken salad, pimento cheese with veggies to dip and Kennebec potato chips with dip

Bravo! Cucina Italiana — Crab cakes, Pasta BRAVO and Insalata Fresca

Café Brunelle — Assorted crostini bites, mini savory rolls and cinnamon rolls, mini desserts (think cookies and bars) and coffee and tea shots to sample

Local Lime — Various appetizers including Queso dip, salsas (red and zucchini), guacamole and market corn

Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream & Treatery — Ice cream in sweet cream and dark chocolate flavors, low-fat yogurt in vanilla and chocolate, and sorbet in mango and raspberry

The Tavern Sports Grill — Award-winning smoked buffalo wings and a strawberry salad

YaYa’s Euro Bistro — Hummus and pita, Spanish meatballs with saffron tomato sauce, and phyllo dough cups with lemon curd and blueberries

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine definitely is!

Now back to the giveaway: to win the two tickets, leave a comment on this post telling me which of the menu items you would most like to try. I will choose a winner in a random drawing on Monday morning, so get those entries in!

Also, the tickets will be left for you at Will Call, so you will be able to pick up the tickets at the event.

Talk With Your Mouth Full

 

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in casseroles, chicken, crockpot, main dish, Recipes | 1 comment

I cobbled this together using several recipes. Very easy!

Ingredients

Four boneless chicken breasts

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of chicken & herbs soup

1 stick of butter

small container of sour cream

2 15-oz cans of chicken broth

1 package of egg noodles

Directions

Salt and pepper chicken breasts and place in crockpot. Combine soups and broth and add to pot. Slice butter into smaller pieces and add to pot. You can cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Remove and shred chicken. If the crockpot isn’t already on high, turn it to high. When liquid begins to boil, add noodles and stir in sour cream to desired taste and thickness.

 

Who’s ready for some football?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Activities, Ava, daddy, family, Food, football, Margarita Mama, pasta | 4 comments

It’s already that time — the time of the year when most of the weekend is filled with yelling, stomping and pouting. But this time, it’s not from the kids.

Football season is upon us!

Last year's game day gear

Last year’s game day gear

Ava asked this morning on the way to school if it was “time for the Razorbacks yet.” But she doesn’t particularly want to watch the game.

Instead, she’s excited because I promised her some “girl day” time together this football season while Daddy is off in Hog Heaven. And then heavens of every other SEC team out there. And then the purgatories that are the rest of them.

We’ll be doing a little shopping and maybe stopping for special treats, like ice cream. Perhaps going to the library and the park, too, along with more boring duties like heading to the grocery store together. As the season stretches on, I’m sure I’ll have to get a little more creative. So if you’ve got ideas out there, I’m all ears.

I’m generally all about trying to find fun gameday snacks, too, to keep the herd happy. Pinterest, I’m headed your way. Can we top last year’s peppers stuffed with cream cheese and little smokies, then wrapped with bacon?  Oooh, I don’t know.

In the meantime, Woo Pig Sooie! And Go Big Red, my Nebraskan friends!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Dinner in a dash

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in eating/food, Food, Health, Margarita Mama, pasta, Recipes, side dishes, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Have you been to Sam’s Club lately? I’m not there as frequently in winter, but picnic and party season has arrived, so that’s my kind of jam.

I headed in recently to pick up a ton of supplies for work, along with a few things for us and was pleasantly surprised to see family sized grab-and-go meals that were both fairly healthy and delicious.

This caprese chicken pasta salad was a hit at a reunion-style potluck we attend in each June in a tiny township near Camden. It’s also something that could be easily duplicated at home for guests — chicken and pasta in a creamy pesto sauce, topped with mozzarella balls, fresh tomatoes and basil. (Just let ‘em think it was all you.)

caprese pasta salad

caprese pasta salad

Now, for dinner. This chicken parmesan wasn’t at all on my Type A, OCD meal-planning schedule for the night. But it was getting late, Daddy was out at a work event, and Ava — who NEVER eats outside her comfort zone — took one look and said this looked yum. Sold. We paired in with a bag of Sam’s frozen, microwavable broccoli, which is a staple in our house since its florets are so much better than most of the bits and pieces you get from most brands. All three kids made a happy plate, and so did mom. There was also plenty leftover for dad to have a late dinner plus a lunch the next day, which is a big win in my book.

chicken parmesean

chicken parm

Now, I’ll admit I didn’t bring this green bean side dish home, but I really wanted to. If Daddy had been home for dinner, it may have been another story, but I knew those onion slices would have wigged out my crew. Those monsterously huge chunks of butter also gave me pause — I’m sure I’d have removed at least half of that. It seems like a good dish to add to the mental recipe file, however.

green bean almandine

green bean almandine

If anyone else out there knows of great places to jet in and pick up family dinner while running errands, I’d love to hear them. I know Whole Foods sometimes has family sized pastas, and they’re pretty good, too.

Out with the ladies

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Activities, drinking, eating/food, lady stuff, Margarita Mama, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

Had a GREAT time last night at The Promenade at Chenal‘s Ladies Night Out! Every mama needs a break now and then for a little kid-free relaxation with good friends.

Selfie fun!

Selfie fun!

The rain put a little damper on the fashion show, unfortunately. But it cleared up just in time for us to enjoy the very best part of the rain-free portion of the festivities, free cocktails and desserts. The mini strawberry shortcakes were totally my jam.

Dessert bites from YaYa's Euro Bistro. Fabulous!

Dessert bites from YaYa’s Euro Bistro. Fabulous.

Cocktail hour!

Cocktail hour!

Champagne spritzers, thanks to The Pointe Brodie Creek luxury apartments

Champagne spritzers, thanks to The Pointe Brodie Creek luxury apartments

Then we had a delish dinner at A.W. Lin’s, where the server told us that they’re going to start doing Ladies Night specials every Thursday. Whoo hoo! Who doesn’t get excited about half-off appetizers and drink specials? The sangria was quite good, I must say.

A sampler of appetizers

A sampler of appetizers

My chicken teri don dinner was practically a work of art.

My chicken teri don dinner was practically a work of art.

When mama's happy, everyone's happy

When mama’s happy, everyone’s happy

Next up at The Promenade will be a men’s heath weekend in June. Stay tuned for more details, and have a great weekend!

promenade ad

 

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Note: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.

The Main Cheese

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in eating/food, Lucky Mama, reviews | 6 comments

Margarita Mama (Heidi) and I were very fortunate to get a sneak peek of The Main Cheese on Monday night.  And according to the restaurant’s website, you can go check it out for yourself now! WooHoo! Cheese for everyone!

A Main Cheese booth

A Main Cheese booth

I LOVED the orange chairs in the waiting area

I LOVED the orange chairs in the waiting area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Heidi, I have been sooooo excited about a restaurant dedicated to cheese. I love cheese in so many of its varieties, except for bleu cheese — just never been a fan of that one. And grilled cheese has always been one of my favorite sandwiches. So The Main Cheese sounded great to me. I’m pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint.

Heidi and I decided to split an appetizer and then try different sandwiches and desserts so we could give you guys a better picture of the restaurant. What can we say, we’re givers. ;)

We started off our meal with the Caponata, which included eggplant, diced tomatoes, black olives, capers, garlic and basil, and was served with pita chips. The Caponata was our second choice — we both really wanted the Artichoke and Cheese Dip.

The Caponata wasn’t my favorite. It was served cold and I think it might have been tastier at room temp. Also, the pita chips were seriously too hard and thick. It was very hard to bite them, which isn’t a good thing when you’re eating a messy dip.

Caponata, $5.25

Caponata, $5.25

Next up for me was The Big Dipper sandwich. I love a good roast beef sandwich with au jus to dip in. This one was pretty tasty. The roast beef was sliced thin, which is always a good thing in my opinion. The homemade au jus had a great flavor — yum! I do wish there had been a little more provolone cheese on the sandwich. I would say The Main Cheese used about the same amount of cheese on their dipper as everyone else does on theirs. I wanted more cheese from a cheese restaurant! So the sandwich was very good, but didn’t cross over into the realm of truly special. More cheese please!

The Big Dipper, $8.45

The Big Dipper, $8.45

Close up of all of the yummy roast beef on The Big Dipper

Close up of all of the yummy roast beef on The Big Dipper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I might be one of the few Southerners in the world who doesn’t like coleslaw. So I swapped my coleslaw for seasoned chips and a dipping sauce. Oh my word, those were some tasty chips! They had a little kick, but not enough to require one to guzzle a glass of water. They were crisp, but not burnt. All in all, definitely worth the extra $1.

Seasoned chips and dipping sauce, $1 substitution

Seasoned chips and dipping sauce, $1 substitution

I also had a bite of Heidi’s Gulf Shores sandwich. That was heaven on a plate, y’all. There was so much delicious cheese and seafood in each bite, I’m drooling a little bit just thinking about it. And the fries were also delish, definitely worth that $1.50 substitution charge.

Now it was time for dessert. I admit, I had been dreaming about The Main Cheese Donut since I first read about it. I love donuts and I love cheese — but the two of them together. I was curious and determined to try it.

It didn’t disappoint. A young man at the table next to us described it as one of the best things he had ever eaten. He wasn’t exaggerating. A glazed donut was cut in half and toasted, with cheese (I think they were using fontina last night) melted between the two halves. I don’t know WHO thought a donut and cheese would go together — but they were a genius. The sweet and the cheesy goodness were the perfect compliment. Yum!

The Main Cheese Donut, $3.50

The Main Cheese Donut, $3.50

All in all, my meal at The Main Cheese was really tasty and the staff was really friendly. They have a small, but good, beer and wine list — my Blue Moon went well with everything I ordered. There were a couple of small tweaks I’d make to certain dishes, but for a soft opening, The Main Cheese seems to have already worked out a lot of the kinks. I’m already making plans to go back and take the family. :)

A very pleased Heidi

A very pleased Heidi

A sneak preview of The Main Cheese

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in eating/food, Food, lady stuff, Margarita Mama | Comments Off

Deep breath, friends. The Main Cheese is open!

Just about every woman I know has been talking about this restaurant for weeks now. It’s all about cheese! A cheese-centric restaurant! That serves wine!! And dessert!!

Lucky Mama Yavonda and I got a sneak peek last night at a soft-opening event, and whoo, this place is not going to disappoint.

We attempted to start our meal with the artichoke and cheese dip, but it had unfortunately been all gobbled up already. So we shifted gears and went for the caponata instead. It was pretty good, but it didn’t knock my socks off. Perhaps because there was no cheese in it.

caponata with garlic pita chips

caponata with garlic pita chips

The star of the night was clearly the Gulf Shores sandwich I picked out. It wasn’t listed on their sneak peek menu, so it threw off my game plan. (Seriously, I was way too excited about this. Spent hours thinking about what I was going to eat. Clearly, I don’t get out much.)

Gulf Shores sandwich, with fries (an upgrade)

Gulf Shores sandwich, with fries (a $1.50 upgrade)

Now, this may not be the prettiest looking thing I’ve ever had. But it’s surely one of the best — slightly chewy, slightly crusty bread with crab, shrimp, cheese and just a super slight touch of jalapeno. It’s a lot like the similar dish at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, although I dare say this was significantly better. I spent the whole time saying “mmm mmmm mmmmmm” to myself. Embarrassing but true. It’s not cheap at $9.25, but that was money gone to a good cause.

They accidentally brought us out some slaw, as well, in a small mixup with Yavonda’s order. It’s standard with all meals —  chips or fries are an upgrade, and fruit, salad and soup is on the menu separately — so I’m glad I got to give it a try. I’m not a huge coleslaw fan, so I’m a bit on the picky side about it. This one was slightly sweet but a little bland. It probably would have been helped with a zing of citrus, which I noted on my comment card.

A veggie slaw to balance out your cheesy meal

A veggie slaw to balance out your cheesy meal

And last but not least, by far, was dessert. Yavonda had been drooling over the idea of a cheese donut, so I veered in another direction. (She shared a couple of bites, and that donut was FABULOUS. Sounds bizarre, but someone is a sheer genius to put those things together.) In keeping with my Gulf Shores selection, I picked the key lime pie.

key lime pie to round out the experience

key lime pie to round out the experience

I’m not generally a crust lady, but this one was pretty darn good. It was buttery thick and had a teensy bit of coconut in the crust. The filling was on the mild and creamy side. I’d appreciate a bit more limey zip, but Ava, who’s also a fan of key lime pie, is going to go gaga for this.

We left happy!

Happy and full Yavonda!

Happy and full Yavonda!