Archives for September 2014

Easy Appetizer (Or Dinner!) Recipe: Warm Bean Dip

I am SUPER excited to share this recipe with you! I was looking for a warm dip recipe I could take to a get together this weekend, and found several warm bean dip recipes that sounded good. This is kind of a blend of a few of them.

Many of the recipes called for lots of spices and several different (unnecessary) steps so I put my spin on it to make it easier to throw together.

Now here’s why I’m excited to share this recipe.
1. It is absolutely delicious.
2. It is really easy to make.
3. It is the most versatile recipe I’ve ever shared.

Ridiculously versatile. Make it in the crock pot or bake it in the oven. Make it as a dip or as a filling for burritos. Switch up the ingredients – use chorizo or shredded chicken instead of ground beef…or leave out the meat completely, try it with black refrained beans, add some diced jalapeños or chilies, before serving add sliced green onions and cilantro.

Versatile, right?! And even if you initially serve it as a dip, you can use the leftover to make burritos for dinner the next night. It’s a great recipe!

This got two thumbs up for everybody who tried it at the get together. It’s so good I can’t wait to make it again!

Warm Bean Dip

Looking for a simple and very versatile appetizer recipe? This warm bean dip is it. You can use the same recipe to make filling for burritos, too!  #appetizer #dip #crockpot #slowcooker

Warm Bean Dip OR Burrito Filling
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Ingredients

  • (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) spicy jalapeño refried beans
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies
  • 1 pound ground beef, cooked
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

Instructions

  1. Mix together first six ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the crock pot. Top with the cheeses.
  3. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips or if using for burritos, serve in warmed flour tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Notes

If you'd prefer to bake in the oven, cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese in melted and slightly browned.

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http://mommyofamonster.com/warm-bean-dip/

Looking for a simple and very versatile appetizer recipe? This warm bean dip is it. You can use the same recipe to make filling for burritos, too!  #appetizer #dip #crockpot #slowcooker

Looking for more warm dip recipes? Try my jalapeño popper dip, my ham and cheese dip, or my white bean and Italian sausage dip. They are all crowd pleasers! For even more appetizer recipes, you can find them on my Football & Tailgating board on Pinterest.

You can also turn those burritos into baked chimichangas. Roll the burritos up and spray the tops with cooking spray (or you can use olive oil a basting brush or a paper towel.) This is so the tortillas will brown and crisp up in the oven. Bake hem at 350 for ten minutes. Or check out my recipe for Baked Chimichangas.

Living Proof Review – Take The Challenge!

Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Living Proof. I received product samples to facilitate my Living Proof review and to thank me for my participation.

Ever wonder if the Living Proof haircare line really works? This blogger tried it out for a week, with amazing results. Read her Living Proof review here.

Who doesn’t want gorgeous hair like Jennifer Aniston’s? I seriously thought that hair like that wasn’t possible unless you had a team of hairstylists like she does. My hair isn’t curly but it isn’t straight either, it’s somewhere in between. I am always battling frizz, especially because I usually wash my hair at night and style it in the morning. Frizz has always been a huge issue. I try not to blow dry it unless I have to…I figure that the flat iron is damaging enough.

I had heard of Living Proof  hair products before, but never considered trying them because I had tried another celebrity endorsed product before, and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

But Jennifer Aniston isn’t just another celebrity endorsing a product – she really, really believes in this one. So much so that in October 2012, Actress Jennifer Aniston joined Living Proof as co-owner and hair care spokesperson. She says, “What caught my attention about Living Proof is the company’s unique approach to hair care—using scientific technologies to offer women actual proof in a bottle rather than hoping for results.”

I decided to take the Living Proof challenge and do a Living Proof review.

Living Proof Review

Ever wonder if the Living Proof haircare line really works? This blogger tried it out for a week, with amazing results. Read her Living Proof review here.

The new PhD (Perfect hair Day) line  includes a shampoo, conditioner, and 5-in-1 Styling Treatment. They all treat and style hair to deliver smoothness, volume, conditioning, strength, and polish all in one set. The PhD shampoo and conditioner (sulfate-free, oil-free and silicone-free) say they will change your routine; they keep hair cleaner longer – reducing the need to wash your hair as often. Yeah, right I thought, 3 products will do all of that. I decided to try it for a week.

The first thing I noticed about the products was their scent. These products smell SO GOOD! That is a big deal to me – I have tried a gazillion different hair products, and have not used ones that seemed to work simply because I didn’t like the way they smelled.

The second thing I noticed after using the shampoo and conditioner was how soft and tangle free my hair was in the shower. I could literally comb through it with my fingers…something else I normally can’t do with other products.

I got out of the shower and applied the 5-in-1 Styling Treatment (oil-free and silicone-free) to my damp hair.  Whether you blow dry your hair or air dry it, this product helps create smoothness and volume. It will also give your hair strength, extra conditioning, and polish as well as heat protection, UV protection, and static control. Crazy that one product can do all of that, but it does!

Living Proof Tip: If you blow dry your hair, use a round brush to enhance volume and body or blow dry with a flat brush to create a smooth, polished blowout. 

Honestly, I didn’t see much of a difference that first time. My hair smelled good and felt good, but it looked the same. I used it again two days later. I let it air dry again. This time, even after sleeping on my hair all night, I woke up with frizz-free hair! I was immediately sold on these products, and every time I use them my hair seems to get better and better. Softer, smoother, frizz-free, and I don’t need to wash it every day!

After reading my Living Proof review, go buy these products! Check out the amazing product line and sign up to win a set of PhD products on the Living Proof Website here. I did!

Since I’m such a huge fan now of Living Proof, I’m stalking them everywhere. You can find Living Proof on Facebook, on Twitter @LivingProof, on Pinterest, and  on Instagram.

Disclaimer: I received product samples to facilitate my Living Proof review.

Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park **GIVEAWAY**

Last year we were invited to go to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park, and the kids loved it. We love Irvine Park and spend a lot of time there throughout the year. You can spend the day playing and having a picnic, and there is lots to do, a train ride, horse rides, even a zoo! We always enjoy it. If you live in Southern California or are planning a visit, it’s a place you want to check out.

Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

Over the last few years, we’ve made attending the holiday events there a tradition. Last weekend, we attended the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park and had a blast! Cousin Sydney came with us again this year, too. There are a ton of activities for the kids: train rides, hay rides, panning for gold, a child-friendly haunted house, a hay maze, a moon bounce, carnival games, cookie decorating, John Deere tractor racers, face painting, picture stands, great food, and a lot more!

Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

So much to do!

Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

Hayrides

  Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

Look how tall they are this fall! Wish I would’ve done this last year…I only got Ethan.

irvine-park-railroad-300x203

The train – the kids’ favorite.

Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

Face painting – look how cool Ethan looked when he closed his eyes!

Admission into the Pumpkin Patch is free. Most of these activities do require tickets, but walking through the pumpkin patch, the haunted house, and the hay maze are all free. And the kids wanted to keep going through the maze throughout the day.

The Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park  is open daily from September 20th through October 31st. Hours on the weekdays are 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, and weekends 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. If you’re heading over on a weekend, go early to avoid crowds. Trust me. It’s worth getting there as soon as it opens.

Looking for something to do in So Cal this weekend? Head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park for lots of family fun now through October 31, 2014!

Make sure to tag Irvine Park if you head over! You’ll find them on Twitter – @IrvineParkRR, Instagram – @IrvineParkRailroad, and Facebook – Irvine Park Railroad.

And guess what? The Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park is letting me give you some free tickets! This is great for all of my So Cal friends…especially if you’ve never been there. If you win, you’ll get:

  • 4 Tickets that can be used to ride the train or for Pumpkin Patch activities
  • 1 Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park bike rental (excludes the double surrey)
  • 1 Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park paddle boat rental

Good luck!

**Giveaway** Tickets for the Pumpkin Patch at Irvine Park!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I wrote this review after being invited to the Irvine Park Pumpkin Patch. We received free admission and tickets for attractions and concessions. All opinions expressed are my own.

Get Your Recipe Featured On Mommy Of A Monster!

One of my favorite things to do on my blog is share my favorite recipes, and I have a lot of them! I am so excited to introduce you to my newest idea…asking all of you to have your favorite recipe featured here!

Have a favorite recipe that you would like to share with others? I am always looking for new ones & you can have your recipe featured at Mommy of a Monster!
I’m always looking for new recipes to share and to try out. You don’t have to be a chef to make my recipes; my recipes are quick and easy, don’t call for a bunch of ingredients, and I always use shortcuts when I can to make life easier. Those are the kinds of recipes that I’m looking for.

Fast week night dinner recipes are a favorite, as are crock pot recipes, chicken recipes, and casseroles. I also love appetizer recipes…they are my favorite!

If you have a recipe that you’d like to have considered for a feature on Mommy of a Monster, I’d love to check it out! Right now I’m on the lookout for cocktail recipes as well as recipes for the upcoming holidays and would love to see what you’ve got.

Even if you don’t have a recipe but you do have a great kitchen tip to share that will save time or money (like how to keep berries fresh longer) I still want to hear from you.

You can send a link to a recipe featured on your blog already, that’s perfectly fine. I’ll just ask you to write a little bit about it and why it’s your favorite and ask you to send me a picture as well to repost here. And you don’t have to have a blog to participate – if you can email me your recipe and a photo of your recipe, that will work. Just fill out this short form and you’ll hear from me soon.

GET YOUR RECIPE FEATURED!


I’m always open to any new ideas or suggestions to make Mommy of a Monster even better. What would you like to see or hear more about? Let’s hear it!

If you still are looking for more recipes than I have here, I share tons of them on Mommy of a Monster’s Pinterest boards.

If you are a brand who is interested in a product feature or having me include your product in a recipe, please feel free to contact me at nataliedhoage@gmail.com.

The Sparkup Reader: Our Newest Family Approved Product

It’s not very often that I find a product that is really cool, that I recommend to my friends, that I like, that the kids like, and that everybody I mention it to wants to check out. That pretty much describes the Sparkup Reader to a tee.

The Sparkup Reader allows parents (grandparents, friends...anybody!) to create personalized audio recordings of any illustrated children’s book. Kids can listen, read along and feel connected to the person who is reading the book...even if that person isn't there.

What is the Sparkup Reader? It allows parents (grandparents, friends…anybody!) to create personalized audio recordings of any illustrated children’s book in the world. Really! Now what’s so cool about this is that the kids can listen, read along and feel connected to the person who is reading the book…even if that person isn’t there.

It helps children to practice their reading skills while also providing the emotional connection of a loved one’s voice.

The Sparkup Reader allows parents (grandparents, friends...anybody!) to create personalized audio recordings of any illustrated children’s book. Kids can listen, read along and feel connected to the person who is reading the book...even if that person isn't there.

So how does the Sparkup Reader work? You attach it to the top of a book and and it records the reader’s voice while tracking each page with its built-in camera. Sparkup uses a tiny camera as its “eye”, and a tiny computer chip as its “brain”.

You can record the book yourself, in any language, and add your own personal touches. You can also download professional recordings with sound effects from the Sparkup website. Then any time the device is re-attached to that book, the camera recognizes its images and plays the appropriate recording for each page. Now what’s cool about the Sparkup Reader is that it follows the child’s pace and reads aloud as he or she turns the pages – even out of order!

The reader is now used daily in our house. Mia absolutely loves to read…so much so that she would be happy if we did nothing other than read all day, everyday. I feel lots of guilt telling her that I can’t read to her right now because I don’t have time/am working/don’t want to read the same book over again for the 1,112,456 time. But she can do it herself with the Sparkup Reader!

The Sparkup Reader allows parents (grandparents, friends...anybody!) to create personalized audio recordings of any illustrated children’s book. Kids can listen, read along and feel connected to the person who is reading the book...even if that person isn't there.

This morning I came downstairs to find Mia reading with the Sparkup Reader. She loves being able to pick from a selection of books and hear me read her a story, even when I’m not sitting next to her. And she is now trying to find her sight words as she reads. I couldn’t be happier!

The Sparkup Reader allows parents (grandparents, friends...anybody!) to create personalized audio recordings of any illustrated children’s book. Kids can listen, read along and feel connected to the person who is reading the book...even if that person isn't there.
Even Lila, who is not a huge fan of reading, loves to hear her Mommy read Guess How Much I Love You on the Sparkup Reader. Look at that smile!

I highly recommend that you check out the Sparkup Reader, especially if you have little bookworms in your house. You can purchase the Sparkup Reader on Amazon or www.sparkupreader.com for $59.99.

Christmas is on the way…buy a Sparkup Reader for your kids now. That leaves you plenty of time to have Daddy, the grandparents, you, and any other people close to the kids record a book for them. What a great family gift idea, right?!

Disclaimer: I received a Sparkup Reader in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

thankyou