Travel – This Mama Cooks! On a Diet™ https://www.thismamacooks.com Healthy recipes & lifestyle tips for busy moms & their families Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:30:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 https://cdn.thismamacooks.com/images/2016/05/cropped-very-large-TMC-badge-512-3-32x32.jpg Travel – This Mama Cooks! On a Diet™ https://www.thismamacooks.com 32 32 Visiting San Diego, CA? Take a day or two to visit Temecula Valley, California https://www.thismamacooks.com/2017/02/visiting-san-diego-visit-temecula-valley-california.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2017/02/visiting-san-diego-visit-temecula-valley-california.html#comments Tue, 28 Feb 2017 12:27:23 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=14153 Visiting San Diego, CA? Take a day or two to visit Temecula Valley, California

If you’re looking for 10 things to do in San Diego, I hope taking Temecula Valley wine tours is one of them!

I had the opportunity to attend a press tour of Temecula, CA wineries and Old Town Temecula. Our first stop was at the Lorimar Winery & Vineyard. I enjoyed their lighter white and sparkling rose style wines that go well with the usually warm San Diego climate.

Before visiting San Diego, check the Lorimar website to plan your trip around their special events. You may want to go for a wine tasting, stay for a jazz music performance, and then spend the night in a nearby Temecula wineries hotel. The following day, you can do a little shopping and dining in Old Town Temecula!

Or you can sample the Temecula wines of the Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards. My tour group had an amazing dinner in the cask room where we learned the difference between American and French oak for aging wines.

The Cask Room at Wilson Creek Winery where we had dinner. Click to get more travel tips on Temecula Valley California wineries.

Wilson Creek Winery may be the one of the best Temecula wineries for families since it has a playground for children. You’re invited to bring your own picnic or dine at Creekside Grille, and shop. But please leave your dogs at home. (You can pet the friendly winery dogs, though.)

I adored all the Temecula wines I tried at Wilson Creek and their Almond Sparkling Wine is my new favorite.

Bring the family to visit Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula Valley, California. Click to get more travel tips on Temecula Valley California wineries.

Picture courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley. Used with permission.

Visit the Temecula Valley website for list of wineries in Temecula.

Can’t make it to the wineries in Temecula? Try the California Wine Club - Start your California wine adventure and save 50% off your first 3 months!

Temecula Valley isn’t just wine tours

Now that I’ve sold you on Temecula Valley wine tours, let me tell you about Temecula Valley. It’s certainly one of the places to visit in San Diego since it’s only 45 minutes north of the city.

Depending on the time of year, there may be events like Summerfest or the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, which is at the end of  May or the very beginning of June. I attended the Balloon and Wine Festival one year, and it’s a blast. It features music, food, wine, crafts, and (of course) balloons. It’s perfect to bring the whole family to, and is something you’d probably want to stay overnight for. There’s camping nearby if you have an RV or you can book a hotel. (Make sure to make reservations weeks in advance as rooms are booked early.)

Visiting the Temecula Valley website can help you find lodging as well as point you to shopping, dining, and other fun things to do when you’re in town.

Spend the day in Old Town Temecula

If you’re planning to spend a day in Old Town Temecula after taking Temecula Valley wine tours, your first stop should be the Visitor Center. It’s located next to the free covered parking garage. They can give you all sorts of advice on where to go and give you maps and brochures and point you to the nearest restrooms. (If you do head to the restrooms, there’s a really gorgeous mosaic of the pioneers there. Worth passing by and checking out.)

As you walk into the heart of Old Town Temecula, stop by the fountain in front of Temecula’s City Hall. Notice how it looks like a woven Native American basket? So beautiful!

Temecula, California City Hall and Fountain. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

Picture courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley. Used with permission.

Let’s go shopping in Old Town Temecula!

I loved shopping in Old Town Temecula. Now you may think it has the same type of shops you may see in other tourist destinations. Not so because these stores feature products that are locally sourced!

For example, the Temecula Olive Oil Company features olive oils from local groves. Stop by for a complimentary olive oil tasting. The olive oil they feature is sustainably grown, 100% California, 100% extra virgin and comes in a variety of signature, varietals, flavors, and blends. I loved how they paired the various olive oils with balsamic vinegars like Vanilla & Fig, Honey Balsamic, and Bianco Pomegranate.

Olive oil tasting at the Temecula Olive Oil Company. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

While I was shopping in Old Town Temecula, I was tempted to buy some olive oils to take home. Since I had flown in, I was nervous about taking bottles home in my luggage and having them break or leak. No problem as they have a Simply Olive Oil Club where they’ll ship olive oil to you on a regular basis! I’m tempted to join.

Also located in the heart of Old Town Temecula is the Temecula Lavender Company. They feature locally grown and produced lavender products. I had no idea anyone was growing lavender in San Diego!

This charming and lovely smelling boutique features pure, natural, and healthful lavender products for the bath, body, and home. It’s hard to decide what to take home so come with your holiday gift lists in mind! Don’t forget that you can also cook with their wonderful lavender pepper, too. They also have an online store.

Some of the items for sale at the locally sourced Temecula Lavender Company. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

Speaking of cooking, don’t forget to visit Old Town Spice Merchants. If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll be in culinary heaven wanting to take home packets of all the locally created spice blends and barbecue rubs. They also make their own signature-teas like Old Town Thin Mint, Spiced Mint, and Spearmint Sunset. Visit their online store.

Love all the spice mixes and rubs at the Old Town Spice Merchants in Temecula, California. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

While touring Old Town Temecula, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the Old Town Rootbeer Company and trying her homemade root beer. It’s made with honey and cane sugar and the label features pictures of her grandkids! The store stocks over 300 varieties of every soda you could ever imagine. Such a fun store!

Can you believe all the sodas for sale at the Old Town Rootbeer Company in Temecula, California. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California. 

I also had time to visit the Old Town Sweet Shop and try out their fudge. Oh my goodness was it fabulous! They had awesome flavors including red velvet and jalapeno chocolate. The store also features all your favorite candies from “back in the day” and fresh caramel apples. Check out their online store as well.

I also had time to visit several antique stores in Old Town such as Fourth Street Antiques and saw that there were some antique malls just outside of Old Town, as well, so I can’t wait to visit again and do some more antiquing!

Fourth Street Antiques in Old Town Temucula. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

Picture courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley. Used with permission.

Dining out in Old Town Temecula

I spent two days in the Old Town area so I was lucky to have the chance to dine at Crush & Brew as part of my tour and at the PUBlic House the day after during the conference I attended. Both were terrific.

I didn’t imbibe at Crush & Brew. It was lunch and I had a full day ahead of me. But next time I’m there, I’d be tempted to try their handcrafted cocktails just as much as their beers. Any place that knows how to make a Sazerac with Peychaud’s, Rye and Orange is A-OK with me!

My tour group shared a round of several types of Crush & Brew’s signature fries (Bacon Parmesan and Dill and Cheese) and they were amazing. Really, I could go to Crush & Brew for fries and a drink. That’s it.

Dill & Cheese Fries from Crush & Brew in Temecula, California. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

We also shared the Lobster Mac and Cheese. OK, next time I come, I’ll get the fries, a cocktail, and the Lobster Mac and Cheese. And I won’t eat for a week afterward. It was terrific. Then I made the mistake of ordering a flatbread dish for lunch. It was delicious, but the entrée was enough food for a family of four! So I recommend that you and a few friends order a couple of small plates or maybe an entrée and share.

Lobster Mac and Cheese from Crush & Brew in Temecula, California. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

The next day, my friends and I dined at the PUBlic House. I had the Kobe on Que – a Kobe beef burger. Absolutely amazing and perfectly cooked. We ate outside on the patio, and our service was terrific, especially for a busy Saturday night. Best of all, at $16.50, I thought it was reasonably priced, because (along with a side of fries) it was a very large portion of food

Kobe on Que – a Kobe beef burger - from PUBlic in Temecula, California. Click to get more travel tips on Old Town Temecula Valley California.

I’m so glad I had this opportunity to visit Old Town Temecula and Temecula CA wineries, and discover places to go in San Diego I didn’t know about. Can’t wait to go back!

Top pictures courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley. Used with permission.

Originally posted on June 27, 2015

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How to plan a progressive dinner out https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/12/how-to-plan-a-progressive-dinner-out.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/12/how-to-plan-a-progressive-dinner-out.html#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2016 14:51:46 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=17690 How to plan a progressive dinner out

AARP-D3

Have you ever participated in a progressive dinner? You know, where you go to one house for drinks and appetizers, another home for dinner, and finally a third home for dessert? They’re loads of fun.

However, if you’re one of the hosts, it’s a big effort to prepare dishes, make sure everything is done on time, and then clean up afterwards. Instead, why not avoid the hosting part and go out for your progressive dinner? It’s a terrific way to meet up with friends. Or it could be a fun date night idea for you and your significant other.

How to plan your progressive dinner

If it’s with friends, you’ll need to coordinate the progressive dinner and plan everything out. First, make restaurant reservations, especially if you’re a large group. Then text or email everyone the times and locations of all the restaurants. Some friends may want to carpool, too.

If your progressive dinner plans are for just you and a date, one person may want to coordinate the details and surprise the other!

Love progressive dinners but don't want to cook? Click to check out these tips on how to plan a progressive dinner out.

When picking the places you’ll be dining at, you should consider some progressive dinner theme ideas, such as all Italian restaurants in your city’s Little Italy section or picking restaurants in a few blocks radius from each other. That way you can walk from place to place – and work off some of those calories.

Think outside of the box for your progressive dinner themes. For drinks, you may want to start at a brew pub with a great appetizer menu. Or for dessert, visit an ice cream pallor or bakery. If it’s nice weather, you could visit a food truck or order your meal to go, and eat at the picnic tables at a local park.

Also, you may be tempted to order more food than you can eat, especially if it’s just you and your date. There’s nothing wrong with sharing an appetizer or dessert, or splitting your dinner entrée. Don’t be shy about asking for a to-go container for your leftovers, too.

Our progressive dinner through the Seoul of the South

Recently, my husband, Paul and I were invited on a culinary tour of Atlanta’s “Seoul of the South” area to try out amazing Korean restaurants. It was done in the form of a progressive dinner.

Appetizer and drinks

Our progressive dinner through the Seoul of the South - Suwanee Chicken & Pizza.

It’s a Korean tradition to go out for KFC and beer after work with friends. No not the Colonel, but Korean Fried Chicken! Such a place would be perfect for the appetizer and drinks part of your progressive dinner. We visited Suwanee Chicken & Pizza. Yes, they also serve Korean style pizza and a variety of beers by the can and a few on tap.

Paul and I tried both the fried chicken and the various pizzas. Amazing! We can’t wait to take our kids here because one child loves chicken wings and the other loves pizza. Be warned that this is a lot of food, so plant to bring most of it home.

Main meal times two!

Our progressive dinner through the Seoul of the South - Stone Grill.

For our main meal, we went to two places. The first was The Stone Grill, a Korean barbecue restaurant. For a second appetizer or first dinner entrée, I would recommend the spicy ribs that you dip in melted cheese. It’s a fusion sort of dish, since cheese fondue isn’t a traditional Korean food. It’s super spicy and amazingly delicious.

Our progressive dinner through the Seoul of the South - Honey Pig.

Afterwards, we went to the Honey Pig, another Korean BBQ restaurant. What makes the Honey Pig unique – besides the pig theme décor – is that they use iron-cast lid called “Ssot-Dduk-Kung” to grill meats, kimchee, and bean sprouts.

The lids are shaped like an upside-down wok with a cylindrical handle at the center, which is heated by a flame beneath. Since the grill exhaust hoods are above you, you may leave smelling a bit smoky. Your dog will love you when you get home!

At the Honey Pig, Paul and I enjoyed a variety of meats, seafood and vegetables. Incredibly delicious and of course, I ate too much!

Dessert

Our progressive dinner through the Seoul of the South - Arte 3.

Finally, we stopped at Arte 3, a Korean style bakery. Again, I recommend sharing as there as so many things to choose like patbingsu, which are Korean style ices, or waffles with ice cream.

I loved the bungeoppang, which are little fish shaped pastries stuffed with red bean paste, custard, or sweet potato. You may want to share a few drinks, too. Paul and I tried the misutgaru frappuccino, a Korean multi grain shake (more of a breakfast drink), the sweet potato latte, and yuja-cha, Korean citron tea.

Our progressive dinner was an amazing evening out. We tried new foods and restaurants, and can’t wait to go back for more meals!

How to help fight hunger during your progressive dinner

Not only is a progressive dinner a fun date night with your spouse or a unique way to get together with friends, you can also help fight hunger by dining out with the AARP Credit Card from Chase.

That’s right! By charging your meal, you can help Chase donate $0.10 to the AARP Foundation for every restaurant purchase – up to a total of $1 million in 2017.

You see, Chase and the AARP Foundation are working together to fight hunger by taking steps to feed those who are hungry now, while also developing long-term, sustainable solutions that proactively address the root causes of hunger among those 50 and older. That’s really important; because over 10 million Americans aged 50+ are affected by hunger.

By using the AARP Credit Card from Chase, not only would you be helping Chase reach their $1 million goal in 2017 to help end hunger when you’re going out for your progressive dinner, you’ll also get unlimited cash back rewards.

Get cash back rewards on dining out with AARP Credit Card from Chase

The AARP Credit Card from Chase gives you 3% Cash Back rewards on restaurants and gas. It also gives you 1% Cash Back rewards on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee and you get $100 Bonus Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Your cash back rewards are given either as a statement credit or a direct deposit into a savings or checking account. You can also redeem your rewards for gift cards and travel. All my credit cards are cash back but they only give me statement credit. While that’s nice, I like the direct deposit feature of the AARP Credit Card from Chase since you can use your cash back rewards for something special like a vacation trip – or another progressive dinner date night!

Planning a progressive dinner out with friends or as a date night is easy. Get tips on how to plan a progressive dinner, and why you should use the AARP Credit Card from Chase when you dine out. Not only do you get 3% cash back rewards, but you’ll be helping Chase raise $1.1 million to feed the hungry. Click to find out how! #sponsored #AARPChaseCreditCard #EndHunger

I am participating in a VN campaign. This is a sponsored post by AARP Credit Card from Chase. The content and opinions expressed below are my own. I am in no way affiliated with AARP Credit Card from Chase and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

 
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How to travel by car with kids https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/12/how-to-travel-by-car-with-kids-tips.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/12/how-to-travel-by-car-with-kids-tips.html#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:43:14 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=17564 Tips on how to travel by car with kids

Are you headed for a long road trip with the kids this holiday season? Before you head on your way to grandma's house or that family vacation spot, here are some stress free tips on how to travel by car with kids.

Make sure your car is in tiptop shape

Who wants to be stranded on the road with a carful of little ones? Before leaving, take your car in for a “trip check” to make sure all the fluids are topped off, breaks and windshield wipers are in good condition, and tires are in good shape.

If don’t already have it, sign up for a roadside assistance plan with your auto insurance company. If you’re going from your warm area to a cold one, don’t forget to pack a windshield ice and snow scraper, too.

Assemble an on-the-road first-aid kit

Pack it with adhesive bandages, antiseptic ointment, and any medications and vitamins you and your kids may need. You should bring child and adult versions of fever reducer and anti-histamine, too. Don't forget the bug spray and sunscreen if you're traveling to warmer climates.

Tips on how to travel by car with kids

Keep things tidy while traveling with kids

I like taking my car in for a full service carwash so we start off the trip with a clean car. It just feels nicer and helps inspire everyone to keep the car clean and tidy.

When traveling by car with kids, you should bring along a roll of paper towels, some grocery store bags, and a couple of kitchen trash bags. Every time you stop for gas, toss or empty your trash. If you have kids that get car sick, have them keep a trash bag next to them just in case. (We did this for my son after learning the hard way.)

To keep the kids (and you) clean when traveling, bring along hand sanitizer and hand wipes. Hand wipes work well for mom and dad after filling up the car with gas, too.

Going a on a long car trip? Here are tips on how to travel by car with kids.

Stay hydrated while traveling with kids

When car traveling with kids, everyone needs to stay hydrated. But you don’t want to overdo it and have to stop every hour for a potty and diaper changing break. Many moms find that having individual sports bottles filled with water is ideal since kids tend to drink water only to quench their thirst.

Mom and dad should bring their favorite travel mugs and water bottles, too.

Keep the kids entertained

These days, most parents have a smart phone or tablet to keep the kids entertained. Take time before your long car trip to load your devices with family friendly movies, TV shows, and game apps. Don’t forget extra charging cords (both for the car and hotel room) and extra ear buds. (My kids tend to lose or break both.)

If you prefer more old fashioned entertainment when traveling by car with kids, pack coloring books, markers, crayons and pencils, easy card games (my kids love Uno), and road bingo for the whole family. Bring along lap desks or make your own with a 3-ring binder or a metal cookie sheet.

You can find wonderful holiday coloring pages and road bingo sheets online. You can also find kid’s activities and tips for parents at CheeseAdventures.

Going on a family car trip? Here are tips on how to travel by car with kids.

 

Car traveling with kids? Make sure to pack some snacks!

While many truck stops, gas stations, and fast food places are offering healthier fare, packing your own healthy snacks is a great way to save money and avoid junk food temptation.

Here’s a list of a few healthy snacks my family and I like to take on road trips:

  • Hard boiled eggs – peel and salt them ahead of time
  • Easy to eat fruit like grapes, bananas, oranges, and apples
  • Dried fruit – buy the kind without the added sugar
  • Beef jerky
  • Healthy crackers and snack bars
  • Healthy homemade trail mix
  • Marvel® Avengers String Cheese

Traveling with Marvel® Avengers String Cheese makes road trips more fun

Are your kids (or you!) passionate about all things Marvel® Avengers? Then you have to check out Marvel® Avengers String Cheese – so cool!

Marvel® Avengers String Cheese is made with milk and is a good source of calcium and protein. (Protein helps tummies feel fuller longer, which means less "I'm hungry" complaints while traveling.) They're a super convenient on-the-go travel snack. (Marvel® Avengers String Cheese is also great as an afterschool snack or to put in your kids lunchboxes.)

Having Marvel® Avengers String Cheese on your road trip makes parents’ lives easier and adds fun while being a wholesome snack choice. Travel tip: Along with your Marvel® Avengers String Cheese, download some Marvel® Avengers coloring sheets and movies for a fun, theme-filled trip!

I found Marvel® Avengers String Cheese at Walmart in my area at a terrific price. Use a $1 off coupon on Marvel® Avengers String Cheese at CheeseAdventures.com (expires 1/15/2017) to stock up before your trip! Don’t forget to check out CheeseAdventures.com for more fun kid’s activities and tips for parents, too.

 

 
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In search of Korean barbecue with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/08/korean-barbecue.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/08/korean-barbecue.html#respond Sun, 07 Aug 2016 11:21:05 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=16020 Are you in search of Korean barbecue in the Atlanta area? Then you need to check out Breakers Korean BBQ & Grill. Don't forget to use your AARP® Credit Card from Chase to get 3% cash back rewards when you dine out! #sponsored #AARPChaseCreditCard #EndHunger

Living in Georgia, I’m surrounded by great Southern style barbecue restaurants. However, my true passion is for Korean barbecue. Luckily for me, the area centered around the I-85 corridor extending from Duluth, Georgia to Buford Highway in Northeast Atlanta is considered the “Seoul of the South” because of the abundance of Korean stores and restaurants.

A few months ago I was invited on a press tour of Korean restaurants in Duluth where I was introduced to the premier Korean BBQ restaurant in Georgia, Breakers Korean Barbecue & Grill. Since the tour, I’ve gone back with my husband and insisted my family take me there for Korean BBQ on Mother’s Day. We usually order the all you can eat dinner, which is ideal if you have ravenous teenagers like I do. My favorite dish is Beef Bulgogi, which is magnificently seasoned, though the Pork Belly comes in a close second.

Breakers is a wonderful place to take your kids because you cook your meal right at the table. It’s fun, but you don’t have to worry about smelling like grilled meat afterwards because of the state-of-the-art downdraft grills that are built into the table. If you’re unsure how to cook your meal, or need a drink refill or extra sides (like kimchee, bean sprouts, pickles, and radish wraps), you can always press the hidden button on your table for help from your server.

When we go to Breakers, I make sure to charge our meal to a credit card that gives me cash back rewards for going out to eat. Don’t have a credit card that gives you cash back rewards at restaurants? If you love to dine out, then you need to check out the AARP Credit Card from Chase. This card gives you 3% Cash Back rewards on purchases at restaurants and gas stations. If your favorite restaurant is a bit of a drive (Breakers 45 minutes away from my home) getting a cash back reward on the gas is an extra that makes me feel less guilty for wanting to drive out to Breakers every weekend.

Get cash back rewards on dining out with AARP Credit Card from Chase

Besides 3% Cash Back rewards on restaurants and gas, the AARP Credit Card from Chase also gives you 1% Cash Back rewards on all other purchases. Even better, there’s no annual fee and you get $100 Bonus Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Your cash back rewards are given either as a statement credit or a direct deposit into a savings or checking account. You can also redeem your rewards for gift cards and travel. All my credit cards are cash back but they only give me statement credit. While that’s nice, I like the direct deposit feature of the AARP Credit Card from Chase since you can use your cash back reward for something special like a vacation trip.

Fighting hunger with the AARP Credit Card from Chase

If cash back rewards on dining out aren’t enough, Chase and the AARP Foundation are working together to fight hunger since 10 million Americans aged 50+ are affected by hunger. This year, Chase is donating $0.10 to AARP Foundation for every restaurant purchase made with your AARP Credit Card from Chase—up to a total of $1.1 million. As of May 2016, Chase donated $637,633!

To learn more about Chase and AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger visit their website. You can also connect with the Drive to End Hunger on Facebook .

I am participating in a VIN campaign. This is a sponsored post by AARP Credit Card from Chase. The content and opinions expressed below are my own. I am in no way affiliated with AARP Credit Card from Chase and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

 

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Cooking with Fresh from Florida produce and seafood https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/05/cooking-fresh-from-florida-produce-seafood.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/05/cooking-fresh-from-florida-produce-seafood.html#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 17:14:09 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=15829 Cooking with Fresh from Florida produce and seafood

This post was sponsored by Fresh From Florida as part of Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

When you think of Florida, you probably think of beaches and theme parks. But did you know that Florida has some of the best U.S. grown produce and seafood – and it’s sold right in your supermarket?

With holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July just around the corner, there’s nothing like enjoying Fresh From Florida produce and seafood during outdoor cookouts. (Check out my How to throw a Seafood Boil Party post. It’s a great way to enjoy Fresh from Florida seafood, potatoes and sweet corn!)

But don’t save Fresh From Florida foods for special occasions! There are so many ways to get Florida fruits, vegetables, and seafood into everyday healthy family meals. Luckily, the Fresh from Florida website has great suggestions, brochure downloads, and recipes to help you take advantage of their wonderful U.S. grown product!

Cooking with Fresh from Florida produce is awesome! Learn more about how you can enjoy Fresh from Florida produce in everyday healthy family meals.

Cooking with Fresh from Florida foods

Do you go to the store and find great sales on Fresh from Florida produce like blueberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, and watermelon and have no idea what to make with them? Well, the folks from Fresh from Florida are here to help! (Before you go to the store, don’t forget to Print the Florida Produce Shopping List for May!)

They have all kinds of great recipes on their website at FreshfromFlorida.com/Recipes. Also, check out the Fresh from Florida Facebook page for recipe ideas.

Do the adults in the family love seafood, but you rarely make it because the kids won’t eat fish no matter what you do? Well, I love this downloadable brochure Savory Seafood, Step by Step Recipes Your Kids Will Love from the Fresh from Florida folks. Their healthier than store bought recipe for baked fish stix is awesome!

Or maybe you don’t cook seafood at home because you don’t know how to buy and prepare it? The Fresh from Florida website offers some Seafood "How To" Tips.  They even have an Alligator Recipes Brochure in case you’re feeling adventurous! (We buy our alligator frozen at a local Asian market. It’s actually quite good!)

Alligator-seafood-recipes

Here are four unique ways to enjoy Fresh from Florida foods!

If you live in Florida, not only do you get to enjoy Fresh from Florida in your grocery store, but you can take advantage of local farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs). Use the Community Farmers Market Locator on the Fresh from Florida website to find a farmers market near you. If you’re interested in participating in a CSA and paying for a weekly share of the farm’s bounty, check out a partial list of Florida CSAs.

If you’re visiting Florida, take the kids to a U-pick farm where they can pick fresh fruit and berries. To find where a farm is near you, use the U-Pick Farm Locator. Or maybe one weekend you can attend one of the many seafood festivals around the state!

So many ways to try out Fresh from Florida produce and seafood this summer – including a gluten free dessert with Fresh from Florida blueberries that I’ll be featuring soon. Sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter so you won’t miss it!

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Fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/01/fun-things-to-do-in-northwest-arkansas.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2016/01/fun-things-to-do-in-northwest-arkansas.html#respond Fri, 15 Jan 2016 23:04:37 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=15026 Here are some of the fun things you can do with the kids in Northwest Arkansas during your next vacation. Get vacation tips from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Planning to drive through Northwest, Arkansas? Maybe you’ll be taking your teenager on a campus tour of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville? Or do you have a business meeting at the headquarters of Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas this summer? Why not bring the whole family along for a family vacation!

There are plenty of fun things to do with kids in Northwest, Arkansas – everything from museums, bike trails, fun shops, and terrific family friendly restaurants.

(Need a place to stay in Northwest Arkansas? Read my review: Staying at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas)

Here are just a few of the fun family activities you can experience in Northwest Arkansas!

What is there to do in Bentonville?

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas. This stunning museum celebrates the American spirit in a setting that unites the majesty of nature with the power of art. This is done with a permanent collection of American masterworks spanning five decades and enhanced by ongoing temporary exhibitions.

Wondering what to do with kids in Bentonville, Arkansas? Try the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Learn more fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet.

Wondering what there is to do in Bentonville, Arkansas? Try the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Learn more fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

One of the newer additions to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House. There is no extra cost to view the house, but advanced tickets are needed due to the small size of the house. Please check the website for visiting hours and information on ticketing.

Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Northwest, Arkansas. Learn more about what to do with kids on vacation in Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet.

The Bachman-Wilson house was originally built in Millstone, New Jersey. The recent owners, architect/designer team Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, restored the house, but decided it had to be moved due to the threat of flooding. They approached the Crystal Museum and the acquisition was finalized in 2014.

Interior-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Bachman-Wilson-House-Crystal-Bridges-American-Museum-Bentonville-Arkansas

Don’t forget to check out the Museum’s Eleven Restaurant for a pick me up coffee or a full meal. Eleven serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. Every Wednesday and Friday night from 5 to 7 p.m, you can enjoy “Culture Hour” before or after strolling through the galleries.

Eleven-Restaurant-Crystak-Bridges-American-Art-Museum-Northwest-Arkansas

Monday 11 am to 6 pm
Tuesday closed
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11 am to 9 pm
Saturday, Sunday 10 am to 6 pm

General admission to view the Crystal Bridges permanent collection is free courtesy of Walmart

600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR 72712
479-418-5700

Scott Family Amuzeum

It’s places like the Scott Family Amuzeum that make most grownups wish they were kids again. The exhibits are designed to promote imagination and creative thinking for children and families of all ages.

Looking for fun things to do with kids in Northwest Arkansas? Come play in the art studio at the Scott Family Amuzem! Learn more about more fun things to do in Bentonville, Arkansas on your NWA family vacation at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet.

While there are spaces at the Amuzeum for toddlers, ages 2 and under, most of the museum is designed for children ages 4 to 9. For older elementary and middle school aged children, hands on lab areas like the 3M Tinkering Hub, the Art Studio, and Hershey's Lab offer deeper learning opportunities. Older children will also enjoy helping their younger siblings play in areas like the Neighborhood Market (sponsored by Walmart), the homestead cabin and farm, or the General Mills Lift, Load & Haul.

Looking for fun things to do with kids in Northwest Arkansas? Come play at the Neighborhood Market Sponsored by Walmart at the Scott Family Amuzem in Bentonville, Arkansas! Learn more about more fun things to do in NWA on your family vacation at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet.

In warmer weather, the one-acre Outdoor Playscape offers guests unstructured open-ended play experiences that encourage connections with with nature. There’s also a Curiosity Corner Store gift shop featuring quality learning toys and gifts. You can also grab a snack at the Zing Café though you can bring your own food and enjoy it in the dining area or outdoors in the picnic area in the warmer months.

Kids can gather apples in the farm yard at the Scott Family Amuzeum. Just one of the fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas with kids! To get more Bentonville, Arkansas family vacation travel tips visit This Mama Cooks! On a Diet.

Monday 10 am to 5 pm
Tuesday closed
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm

Open to Members only starting at 9 am on Monday and Saturday

Members are free
Kids under 2 years are
Adults and kids are $9.50

1009 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR 72712
info@amazeum.org
479-696-9280

The Walmart Museum

Don't forget to stop at the Walmart Museum and see Walton's 5-10 when you visit Bentonville, Arkansas. For more Northwest Arkansas travel tips visit This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

The Walmart Museum features Walton's 5&10, the original Walmart variety store. Then you can view an exhibit gallery on the history of Walmart in the museum. Its mission is to educate, engage, and inspire visitors about the heritage of Walmart. Finally, relax and enjoy an old fashioned ice cream treat at the Spark Café Soda Fountain.

Monday to Thursday 8 am to 9 pm
Friday, Saturday 8 am to 10 pm
Sunday noon to 9 pm

Admission is free

105 N Main Street
Bentonville, AR 72712
479-277-6851

Museum of Native American History

The Museum of Native American History features relics that date from over 14,000 years old to historic times. Everyday artifacts like pottery, tools, clothing, weapons, and more help you experience life through the eyes of the first people of the Americas.

You’ll be amazed at the extensive display of arrowheads, darts, knives, and tools. However, it’s the museum’s collection of Mississippian, Caddo and Quapaw pottery that stands outs. The skill of the potters native to areas surrounding Northwest Arkansas in the time periods from A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1500 is astonishing. You can read more about these ancient styles of pottery on the museum’s website.

Monday through Saturday 9 am to 5 pm

Admission is free

202 SW 'O' Street
Bentonville, AR 72712
479-273-2456

What is there to do in Fayetteville?

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is an community-based non profit botanical garden. The 40-acre site currently consists of six acres of display gardens and a 20-acre arboretum. The Botanical Garden features 12 demonstration gardens to inspire the home and hobby gardener. They rely on small sponsors, donations, and volunteers to maintain the facility.

Visit the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Get more travel tips from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

There is a Little Sprouts program for children to learn about gardening and a Children’s Garden to make the Botanical Gardens more interactive for young children. The water area is active during the summer and children can cool off under the sprinklers.

Taking a trip to Northwest Arkansas? Visit the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Get more travel tips from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

There’s also a small butterfly house exhibit that’s also maintained by volunteers called “butterfly nannies.” The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is very popular for weddings, concerts, birthday parties, and big tour groups and events in the warmer months.

Taking a family vacation trip to Northwest Arkansas? Visit the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Get more travel tips from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Trails surround the garden and lead out to Lake Fayetteville. Future plans are to create more buildings for inclement weather activities, events and education.

Monday through Sunday 9 am to 5 pm

Adult: $7
Children: $4 (ages 5-12)
No admission fee for children under 5

4703 N Crossover Road
Springdale, Arkansas 72764
479-750-2620

Fayetteville Underground

The Fayetteville Underground art gallery serves as a showcase for regional art and artists with exhibitions changing monthly. The Underground also collaborates with local with local arts organizations to put on concerts, readings, performances, and other city wide events.

The Underground also hosts classes, music, yoga, and other free events. Check out their calendar to see what’s currently going on.

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday through Saturday 10 am to 7 pm
Sunday 10 am to 5 pm

101 W Mountain, Suite 222
Fayetteville, Arkansas

479-871-2722

(Need a place to stay in Northwest Arkansas? Read my review: Staying at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas) 

Visiting Bentonville or Fayetteville, Arkansas soon? Here are some of the fun things you can do with the kids in Northwest Arkansas during your next vacation. Get vacation travel tips from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

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Staying at the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, Arkansas https://www.thismamacooks.com/2015/11/travel-21c-museum-hotel-bentonville-arkansas.html https://www.thismamacooks.com/2015/11/travel-21c-museum-hotel-bentonville-arkansas.html#respond Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:51:50 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=14809 Staying at the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, AR. Learn more at my trip to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

I recently had the opportunity to once again visit Northwest Arkansas. I’d visited Bentonville, Arkansas twice before on business trips. This time I was invited on a press trip to visit both Bentonville and Fayetteville, Arkansas to experience the growing art and culture scene.

Our group stayed at two of the area’s top hotels, visited local attractions, ate at wonderful restaurants, and took in the sights. I hope my series of posts will give you a taste of where to stay, some places to eat at, and what to do if you ever find yourself traveling through NW Arkansas on business or if you find yourself driving through that part of the country. Not only is NW Arkansas beautiful, especially in early fall, but it truly is one of the hidden gems of the USA.

21c Museum Hotel – the best place to stay when visiting Bentonville, Arkansas

As I mentioned, I’ve been to Bentonville before and stayed at chain hotels just off the mall both times I visited. So when I was told we were staying at a place called, 21c Museum Hotel, I was intrigued. The 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is a 104-room boutique hotel that’s the combination of a contemporary art museum, a meeting place with swanky bar and upscale eatery called The Hive, and a town hall since they host everything from meetings to fundraisers.

Frankly, I couldn’t believe such a venue existed in Bentonville. When did the town get so hip?

One of the permanent art collections at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas. Learn more about my travels to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Then I learned that the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is just one of a small chain of hotels. There are also 21c Museum Hotels in Louisville, KY, Cincinnati, OH, and Durham, NC.  The 21c concept was started by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson with a belief that art can be an economic driver for a community. Bentonville is the only hotel they’ve built from scratch. All the other 21c hotels were built in existing buildings. The owners believe in bringing the 21c concept to second and third tier cities that may not have an art scene and have plans to expand next year in Lexington, KY. They will also open hotels in Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Nashville.

21c Museum Hotel – a sense of fun & whimsy

You could tell from the moment you walk in that the people who work at the 21c love their jobs. How refreshing! You’re greeted at the door with a hello and an offer to take your bag. While they take your comfort seriously, it’s obvious the staff is having as good time as you are.

The 21c Museum Hotel is all about enjoyment and whimsy from their art collection (check out the fat Batman on the ceiling of the workout room) to the giant green plastic penguins. The fun is in discovering all the details around each corner of the hotel and in your room, too. For example, if you take the time to read the hotel guide while relaxing in your room, you’ll know what to do in case of a zombie apocalypse. (Stay in your room and wait for help!) You’ll also want to visit each floor just to check out the wallpaper and artwork.

King sized room at 21c Museum Hotel. Learn more about my trip to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

I’ve stayed at some swanky hotels in my time, but I have to say that my room – a King – was one of the nicest rooms I’ve stayed in. I don’t know if it was the comfort of the bed or the quiet of the street outside, but it was one of few times I’ve slept so well in a hotel, too.

King sized room at 21c Museum Hotel. Learn more about my trip to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Everything in my room was in immaculate condition. Don’t you hate checking in just to find that the TV remote is broken or there’s a nasty stain on the chair? I loved the small touches, too, like the doggie throw pillow and thick terrycloth robes in the closet. Everything in my room was high quality from the bedding to the towels, too.

King sized room at 21c Museum Hotel. Learn more about my trip to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

The layout of the room was perfect for working, lounging or eating. Wonderful complementary wifi, too! With a fully stocked mini fridge and Nespresso coffee and espresso maker, I could have worked all day in my room in comfort.

Dining at The Hive

I was lucky to have two meals at The Hive, featuring “high South” country creations of executive chef and Arkansas native Matthew McClure. Not only was the food delicious and the portions generous, but the service was excellent. Again, you could tell that the waitstaff and crew at The Hive not only aimed to please, but loved doing their jobs. It made me happy and energized just to eat there.

I had the Poached Eggs on Cheddar-Bacon Grits with Tomato Jam for brunch one day.

Poached Eggs on Cheddar-Bacon Grits with Tomato Jam at The Hive at 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, Arkansas. Read more about my stay at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

The next day I had War Eagle Steel Cut Oatmeal for breakfast. Both were excellent.

War Eagle Steel Cut Oats at The Hive at 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, Arkansas. Read more about my stay at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

At breakfast, General Manger, Emmanuel Gardinier, told us the philosophy of the hotel’s Bar + Lounge was to be a space where “women felt safe.” As a woman who travels for business, I’ve often ordered room service because I didn’t feel safe venturing out, even into the hotel lobby. If I lived in Bentonville, The Hive and the Bar + Lounge would be two places I’d meet girlfriends for meals, drinks, or a quick cup of coffee at any time of day or night. Not because Bentonville is “sleepy,” but because the space is inviting and fun.

It’s all about the art!

Gina Phillips’s sewn cloth art at the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville Arkansas. Learn more about my stay at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

The highlight of the hotel is, of course, the art. If you’re staying with children, I found the art to be very family friendly – nothing was weird or upsetting. Much of the art that I saw at the Bentonville property during my visit would appeal to children, such as Gina Phillips’s sewn cloth two dimensional dogs and guitar playing girl or the interactive smart wall sculpture by Daan Roosegaarde that you see as you exit the elevator.

Gina Phillips’s sewn cloth art at the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville Arkansas. Learn more about my stay at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Of course, kids will love the hotel’s giant plastic penguins. (Each 21c hotel has penguins. The Bentonville ones are green.) You and your children can play a game to find where the penguins are as the hotel staff moves them around the entire hotel throughout the day.

Even the penguins enjoy the art at the 21c Museum Hotel. Learn more about my stay in Bentonville, Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Many pieces are part of the hotel’s permanent collection and come from the founders’ personal art collection. The art in the Bar + Lounge is changed ounce per year. Artwork in other parts of the hotel are changed twice per year.

Art is not only inside the 21c, but outside as well, such as Monica Mahoney’s Making Change, a Fleetwood Cadillac limousine covered with thousands of nickels, dimes and pennies. The inspiration for the coin motif comes from the original Walton Five and Dime, still located on the Bentonville town square. You can read more about Making Change here on the 21c Museum Hotel website. There is also more information on Current Exhibitions.

Monica Mahoney's Making Change in front of the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, AR. Learn more about my trip to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Other features of 21c Museum Hotel

The 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is also dog friendly. Give them a call at 479.286.6500 for details on their pet policy and special doggie amenities.

The hotel is close to the Bentonville town square and within walking distance of the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Amazeum.

If you’re a bike enthusiast, the hotel is near 20 miles of trails including pedestrian pathways and bikeways as well as world class all-terrain mountain bike trails. The hotel can supply you with free cruiser bicycles or bike rentals through a partnership with a local bike shop, bike storage for guests and employees, and bike valet.

The fat Batman in the workout room at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas. Learn more about my trip to Northwest Arkansas at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

If you wish to work out, the 21c has a good sized workout facility located on the first floor. Even if you’re not planning to workout, you must visit the facility to check out the fat Batman hanging from the ceiling! The only thing 21c lacks is a pool, though I’m sure they could point you to the nearest rec center if you need to swim a few laps.

All in all, I cherished my time at 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, was sad to leave, and am looking forward to visiting some of their other properties around the US.

21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
479-286-6500
200 NE A Street
Bentonville, AR 72712
21cmuseumhotels.com/bentonville

Connect with 21c on:

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Get Your Go Britches On with Andrew Zimmern and Big Country! https://www.thismamacooks.com/2015/07/travel-andrew-zimmern-big-country.html Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:30:00 +0000 http://www.thismamacooks.com/?p=14233

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of U.S. Cellular. The opinions and text are all mine.

In my lifetime, I’ve lived in seven states and traveled in all but five or six of them. My mother, who was born in France, loves to travel and took every opportunity to take us kids to historical sights here in the United States. She says the US is the most beautiful country she’s ever seen. I visited Washington D.C. five times as a child, went to Williamsburg, Virginia, Gettysburg, New York City, Albany, Philadelphia, Mt. Vernon, and many other places with her.

Go to Meteor Crater, Arizona. Then get Your Go Britches On with Andrew Zimmern and Big Country! Learn more at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

My husband and I continue the traveling tradition and have taken our children to the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater in Arizona, the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Tombstone, ND, Washington D.C., Mt. Vernon, Portland, ME, and Monticello. We’ve visited big cities like Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tampa, Boston, and Atlanta. As a family we’ve driven cross country from Chicago to Colorado and Colorado to Georgia. My husband and I’ve been lucky enough to explore Yellowstone, Sturgis, San Francisco, and Hawaii on our own, too.

Go to Hawaii. Then get Your Go Britches On with Andrew Zimmern and Big Country! Learn more at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Back when my mom traveled with us two kids, she left with nothing more than a map from the travel agency and a couple of hotel reservations. Now, it’s so much easier. We have smartphones with GPS apps that tell us the best routes to take and where the next gas station or rest stop is. There are also apps for last minute hotel reservations and where to find the best meals with kids under 10 or deals for last minute theater tickets. Travel has never been easier.

Travel the USA with Big Country and U.S. Cellular

With all the conveniences of modern travel, I’m a bit surprised to learn that that 20% of Americans have never left their home state. So while 80% of us have our “go britches” on, not everyone has had the opportunity to explore this wonderful country of ours due to jobs, having to take care of family members, or other life circumstances. That’s why U.S. Cellular is launching Big Country, a series that will seek out everyday Americans, who for some reason, have never gone far from home.

Andrew Zimmern  who you may know from the Travel Channel, guides real U.S. Cellular customers to places they’ve only dreamed about seeing. Big Country makes their travel dreams a reality by letting them explore the great US travel cities while they stay connected to their family and friends back home through U.S. Cellular’s nationwide coverage and technology.

You can watch the five-part series on the Food Network and Travel Channel during commercial breaks of your favorite Scripps shows as well as on video on demand. You can also visit the show online website on the Food Network. In the first episode, Andrew Zimmern takes Julius, who’s originally from Hawaii but now lives in California, around New York City. Check it out!

U.S. Cellular is looking to cast one more special customer to take on a trip of a lifetime for the season finale of Big Country! Please visit the link to apply for the opportunity to find yourself in the middle of anywhere with national coverage from U.S. Cellular and TV host Andrew Zimmern on the show Big Country.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of US Cellular. The opinions and text are all mine.

 
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