63 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway! ***CLOSED***

It's back to school time!

What do you need to buy for your kids?  Clothes?  A new backpack?  Lunch snacks?

Speaking of lunch snacks, remember these?

Yup, they're still around!  You can find up to 70 participating products at Walmart that have these Box Tops for Education.

How does it work?

It's simple.  Just clip these box tops off and donate them to your local school.  In turn, your school of choice earns CASH to use for their school.  It's not just pocket change, folks.  Last year, schools got $49 million from Box Tops!  If you shop online, you can earn eBox Tops for your school.

Did you know if you join the online Box Tops program, you can enter to earn BONUS box tops for your school, get coupons for your favorite products and find recipes that use Box Top products?

It's FREE.

It's EASY.


And to get you started, you can win a $25 gift card to Walmart!!

All you need to do is leave a comment telling me what your child needs for school...

For extra entries, leave a comment telling me you are following any or all of the following:

Like Walmart on FaceBook
Follow Walmart on Twitter

The information and $25 gift card to Walmart has been provided by Walmart and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.  I received a $25 Walmart gift card to enjoy through this promotion.  Giveaway is open to all my US readers and will close July 29, 2011 at midnight, MST.  Winning comment will be selected by Random.org and posted here on this blog.


90 Meet Real Mom Kitchen & Win Her Cookbook!***CLOSED***

Meet Laura, the blogger behind Real Mom Kitchen!

I have had the pleasure of meeting Laura in person a couple of times and she is one of the most down to earth people I have ever met.  She loves what she is doing and it shows.  I first heard of her in a local newspaper and have been following her blog ever since.

I wanted to get to know her a little bit more and she was more than willing to share her answers to my questions.

Who is the inspiration behind your cooking?

My mom, she is the one who taught me how to cook.

What was the earliest food/dish you learned to make?

If I had to guess, it was probably cookies.

What is the one foot item you refuse to eat, no matter the circumstance?

Candied yams - it is the one thing I just can't handle eating.  I think it's a texture thing for me.

What is your favorite summer dish to make?

Grilled pizza.  My family loves pizza and it is fun to make it on the grill during the summer.  Plus, grilling it adds to the flavor.

If you only had 30 minutes from pantry to table, what would you make?

Hawaiian Haystacks.  It is my family's favorite meal.  I usually just throw the rice into my rice cooker, which is usually done in 30 minutes, but minute rice can get it on the table even faster.  I usually make the sauce with just a can of Cream of Chicken soup and some milk.  If I have any leftover chicken, I'll throw that in, but if not, no big deal.

What staple is your pantry never without?

Pasta.  You can always whip up a quick dinner if you have some pasta on hand.

Which recipe would you recommend from your new cookbook that is simple, easy, and a great addition to bring to a pot luck?

The Chili Cheese Frito Salad - It's simple, easy, and I always get asked for the recipe.

I asked her some questions about blogging ...

What inspired you to start a food blog?

Another food blog, Mels Kitchen Cafe.  Her cooking was similar to mine and I started my blog as a place to keep all my recipes.

What is the best part about blogging?

The new friends that I make.  I have met an made new friendships with really great women from all around the United States.

What is your favorite post and why?  

That's a tough one.  I love posts that I have done about recipes that mean something to me, ones that remind me of my childhood or of a recipe handed down to me from my grandma - like my post for Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas.

Guess what?  She has a cookbook out!   I got a sneak peek of her cookbook and it is put together really well!  There are over 40 full color food photos, which are a must in my opinion ~  This book covers everything from appetizers/sides, to breads, soups/salads, main dishes, and desserts.  She even has a few 30 minute recipes, a plus for any real mom in the kitchen! 

What was the most challenging part of putting together a cookbook?

First would be choosing the recipes.  Then it would be getting all the photos done.

What was the best part of putting together your cookbook?

Seeing the finished product; it was so nice to see the fruit of my labor.  It was a goal of mine for a while and it is so nice to achieve something I had planned on doing.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog?  

When I am not working on my blog, I am usually washing dishes, cleaning my house, or take care of my kids.  I have a special needs daughter who requires a lot of extra help, so that keeps me pretty busy.  I do also like to read and watch television if I can squeeze some time in.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure food?

Eclairs.  I have loved them since I was a little girl.  I love the crisp and chewy pastry along with the rich, creamy filling, finished off with the sweet and chocolately topping!  It was a yummy treat I would get to have occasionally as a child from the ZCMI bakery.  Now I can make my own whenever I am in the mood for them.

Have you ever had any kitchen disasters?

Absolutely.  It usually happens when I have too many things going on in the kitchen at one time.  I usually check on something, thinking it just needs a minute or two longer and don't set my timer.  Then I get focused on something else I have cooking and forget all about the other item that just needed a few more minutes.

Thanks, Laura!  It was great to get to know you a little better ~ She is truly a Real Mom who knows her way around a kitchen ~ Congratulations on your new cookbook!  You can take a peek at her new cookbook and pre-order it on Amazon.com!

Want to get a FREE copy of her cookbook?  Laura is graciously giving one away to one of my lucky readers!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post ~

If you want extra entries, FOLLOW any or all of the  following, leaving a separate comment for each:

Real Mom Kitchen on Facebook
Real Mom Kitchen on Twitter
Real Mom Kitchen RSS Feed

Cookbook giveaway is open to all my US readers and will close July 27, 2011 at midnight, MST.  I was given a PDF copy of her book for an honest review, which I can't wait to make recipes from!  The winner will be randomly selected by Random.org and a hard back copy of Laura's book will be sent to the winner from Cedar Fort Publishing.


5 Cruise Galley Tour!

On the last day of our cruise, I had the opportunity to tour part of the galley, or kitchen, of the ship.  This part of the ship is not open to visitors, but Royal Caribbean Cruise lines made an exception for several people who made a donation to the Make A Wish Foundation.

I was giddy with anticipation.  I've always wondered what it would be like to work in a professional kitchen, whipping up gourmet desserts and dozens of crusty breads.

We were taken to a small private dining room and greeted with appetizers and champagne.  I was offered champagne, but requested water for my husband and myself.

Makes a person feel pretty important to be allowed past this door, huh?

The sous chef was our tour guide.  He took us to the soup station.  My first impression?

Man, that is a lot of stainless steel!

My next impression?

Check out the size of this soup ladle!  A giant must live here...

Guess how many gallons of soup this pot holds....

350 gallons.  There were four of these pots.  Just trying to add up the math in my head makes me dizzy...

This ship goes through 800 pounds of soup each day.  Yikes!

Good thing I didn't gain 800 pounds in one day...

Next, the roasting station.

These ovens are the size of a refrigerator.  They cook the dishes here and keep them at temperature till ready to serve.

There are 10 of these roasters on the ship.

They go through 80,000 pounds of meat/poultry each week on the ship.

Holy cow!

The ship feeds over 3,500 passengers each day on the ship.  Whatever is left from dinner, goes to the staff.  Now I feel really bad ...

Do you know what happens to the left overs after the staff is done?

If the ship is 24 miles from land, it gets tossed to the sea.

Yep, that's the reason masses of fish, dolphins, and birds follow the ship.

Next, we were introduced to the Pastry area.

There are 45 plates stack 4 levels high, which equal ...

ummmmmm... a lot.

This mousse layered chocolate cake that is trimmed, cut ...

and plated.  It took a lot of restraint to not pick up one of the raw edges and stuff it in my mouth.

I know what I'm having for dessert tonight!

The pastry area is run 24/7, around the clock.  These guys work hard!

There is only ONE person in charge of special orders; if you have a special diet, ie. salt, gluten, etc, you can be sure there is NO cross contamination and your order is met to your specifications.

The galley actually covers three decks and we only toured one ~ the bakery is on another deck and I was a little bummed that I couldn't see it. 

Five bakers work around the clock 24/7 and I could only imagine how busy that would be...

They go through 9,000 pounds of flour each week, making 2,000 rolls each DAY.

I probably consumed 20 of these crusty babies each day...

Needless to say, this guy runs a pretty tight ship.  Would I want to work here?

Probably not.  I've decided that I love baking in my own kitchen.  I think cranking out 2,000 rolls per day would wear me out ... I would get more joy and satisfaction out of eating them!


6 Surprise! It's a Cruise Galley Tour!

After one of our evening dinners on the cruise, my DH told me he had a surprise for me.  "It's for our anniversary and I want to give this to you."
He handed me two tickets to tour the Galley of the ship.

During the month of June, Royal Caribbean has an auction for the Make A Wish Foundation, a non-profit group that grants wishes of terminally ill children.  Prior to one of the evening shows, the Cruise Director auctioned off the following:

A laminated map of the cruise destination, signed by the captain.
Dinner with the captain for four people.
A tour of the bridge for four people.
ONE person to "blow the ship's horn."
A tour the Engine Room for four people.

After one of our dinners, it was announced that donations were being accepted to tour the Galley, or the place where food is prepared on the ship.

Woot!  I was excited!

Uh ~ oh.  Take a look at the fine print.

"Note  Please wear appropriate footwear, no open foot wear will be permitted."

All I had were two pairs of sandals.

But luck was on my side.

Here's the story.

On the first day of the cruise, the passengers are required to meet in their designated locations for an emergency drill.  When the lights in the cabin began to flash and the announcement started, we all gathered in our meeting place.

While waiting in line and listening to the directions, my DH leans over and whispers, "That's Bob."

I look over in the general location of where he was nodding.  Yes, there was someone who looked like Bob, his college roommate from twenty-some-odd years ago.

Nah, that's not Bob.

"Yes, it is," my DH insisted.

I looked again, this time, looking for his wife.  Oh ...  my ...  It WAS Bob, his wife and family that were standing around.  I couldn't believe it.  There are over 3,600 passengers on this ship!

We felt so lucky to have seen them, their grown up children and even a six month old grandchild traveling with them.

What to do about shoes?  I knew I could ask Bob's wife.

She graciously lent me her pair for an hour to be able to take this tour.

Stay tuned for my next post with behind-the-scenes tour of the Galley!


8 Cruise Food: Desserts, Glorious Desserts!

One of the many brilliant sunsets captured from the ship

I hope you are enjoying the cruise food fare so far! After appetizers and main courses, you need to save room for ..

Our next stop ~

~ Desserts ~

If you can't make up your mind, order one of each and share with everyone at your table!  The desserts from Royal Caribbean did not disappoint ...

Sugar Free Key Lime Pie

Banana Cream Pie

Strawberry Cheesecake

Dark Chocolate Souffle

Pistachio Ice Cream

Mango Mousse

Triple Dessert: Sponge Cake, Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Cake

Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake


Are you full?

I sure was ... but my DH had a sweet surprise for me ...

Stay tuned!


8 Cruise Food: Main Courses

Tulum, Mexico

I hope you enjoyed viewing some of our cruise appetizers!

We continue cruise food week with our next stop at  ...


Mahi Mahi
New York Strip Steak with Bearnaise Sauce

Turkey with Apple Cranberry Stuffing and Buttery Mashed Potatoes

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Pork & Scalloped Potatoes

Top Sirloin Steak

Prime Rib

Salmon, Shrimp & Roasted Potatoes

Herbed Chicken Breast

Lobster Tail & Garlic Shrimp

Lamb & Root Vegetables

But wait ....  you need to save room for dessert!

Stay tuned ...


6 Check Your Propane Gas Tank

Did everyone have a great holiday?

We ran out of propane right in the middle of smoking pork.  Fortunately, our guests weren't coming until later that evening.

What to do?

We run to the trailer park near our home and decide to bring our other two propane tanks to fill up.  We like the idea of having extra propane tanks as part of our emergency food storage as fuel. 

Did you know there is a date stamped on your tank? 

If it's more than 12 years old, you will need to get a new one.  I'm supposing it's a safety regulation.
Looks like we'll be rotating our propane tanks as well!

How did you celebrate your Fourth of July?

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