January 30, 2013

Super Healthy Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers


Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

I am constantly on the hunt for healthy, yummy meals that add more veggies and lean protein so I started making these stuffed peppers about a year ago.  They are made with ground turkey instead of ground beef and allow you to incorporate as many vegetables as you like.   Here is the recipe that I've tweaked along the way with a few tips.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

You'll need:

 - 4-6 bell peppers.
 - A 1.25lb package of ground turkey
 - 2-3 cups of cooked rice
 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced and crushed for extra flavor
 - 1/2 sweet onion, diced
 - 1 cup of chopped broccoli
 - 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
 - salt & pepper to taste
 - 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

I usually do this with 4 peppers and have leftover mixture to save for omlettes and quesedillas since we are a small family, but you can definitely make this recipe for 6 people.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

Remove the tops of the peppers and clean them out.  You can give them a quick rinse to ensure all the seeds are removed.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat and sautee the onion for 3-5 minutes before adding the ground turkey.  This ensures that the turkey picks up extra flavor from the onions.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

Add the ground turkey and continue stirring while letting it brown.  Since ground turkey tends to cook in a more "clumpy" way than ground beef I use a silicone spoon and keep breaking it apart to avoid large chunks of turkey.  Wait until the turkey is nearly done to add your garlic so it doesn't burn and get bitter.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

When the turkey is cooked you can add your veggies.  I used some broccoli that had been steamed at dinner the night before.  If you're using raw or frozen vegetables you can add them and put the cover on the saucepan to help cook faster and retain moisture.

I added the rice as well in the picture below since my broccoli was already cooked, but wait until your vegetables are cooked to add it or it will get too mushy.  If you like, you can add salt and pepper to taste at this point.  I usually add a little bit since turkey still needs some work to make it taste as flavorful as beef.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

This next step is optional.  I add about a 1/2 cup of pasta sauce.  I think it helps keep everything from drying out when you bake the peppers.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

I fill the peppers and make each one a little cap using aluminum foil.  This lets the pepper itself get cooked without burning the top of the stuffing inside.  Some people do cover the whole baking dish with foil but it takes longer for the peppers to cook that way.

Mommy Testers  healthy stuffed peppers, ground turkey stuffed peppers, easy healthy ground turkey meal

I use a pyrex 8x8 baking dish since it fits in my amazing, do everything countertop Breville Smart Oven , which I LOVE.  Before I put the dish in I add a little bit of water to the bottom of it, less than 1/4 inch to help steam those peppers.  I bake them at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and remove the foil caps half way through cooking.

That's it - you're left with an all encompassing, balanced meal.  The peppers will be tender and juicy and you'll love not having to make side dishes.  If you want you can serve these with a simple salad for extra greens.

January 28, 2013

What to do with those Kiwi Crate Boxes? Make a TV-less TV!

I'm not sure about where you are, but here in SoCal it's raining like crazy and I'm not quite sure when it will stop.  If it seems like yet another day cooped up inside for you and the kids consider this quick little craft that pays homage to the grade school diorama and uses up those leftover Kiwi Crate boxes

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I'm quick to get cardboard boxes into the recycling bin, but there is something about those Kiwi Crate boxes that beg to be kept.  However it's about time to start either using or getting rid of some of them so after letting Kayla build till her heart was content I whipped up this little "TV-less TV" to avoid succumbing to the Wonder Pets and instead encourage her to use some toys in a new way, with a direct purpose.

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I simply cut out a rectangular panel of the crate following the lines on it as a template.  If you have slightly older kids you can let them take over after this step.  And of course you can use any old box - A cereal box might be an ideal shape as well.

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Next I just glued on a piece of construction paper to cover the back of the box.  I went for the green rolling hills and blue sky background but let your kids go with their imagination - maybe it's outer space, the desert, a tropical beach or a glacier.

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After that I cut out the sky, again simplest thing in the world - 1 wavy cut through a piece of construction paper and glued that on.  

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Then we were ready for some clouds.  Kayla refused to stuff all her vegetables from one of our old crates and so we had some cotton balls left over which combined with a little school glue made for perfect puffy clouds.

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You can also use toilet paper or paper towels.  Better yet, send your kids on a hunt for what they think would work best.

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After that I searched our kitchen junk drawer for some knobs.  Yes, I have a kitchen junk drawer.  It's  filled with a mix of semi-important papers (oops!) and junk.  I did find an old cap from bubbles that were spilled long ago and the plug from a Hex-Bug Kayla recently received for restaurant entertainment (they stay on a plate and do laps) and those worked perfectly.

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Then I grabbed an old wire hanger and bent in down the middle to make a TV antenna.  Yes, this is the perfect time to explain just how OLD you are to your child and how TV's actually had knobs , buttons and an antenna back in the day.  Prepare for head scratches, eyes of wonderment and declarations of "wow, you must be REALLY old."

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I just popped the bent hanger into the top of the crate and voila - a fully unplugged TV for Kayla to put on her own shows rather than begging to enter the world of Nick Jr.

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In hindsight I would have used s stronger glue for the knobs or found a way to make them spin, like gluing them on to screws and then sticking the screws through the box.  Kayla immediately attacked them and pulled them off.  However, they quickly became feeding dishes for the menagerie of Safari Ltd. figurines that started watching the show, so desired effect achieved...an afternoon of imagination rather than TV.

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If you're thinking about entering the world of Kiwi Crate you see why Kayla is a fan.  If you're looking for some great little toys you can take on the go, I just love the TOOBs from Safari Ltd to get conversations going about animals from around the world.  Our personal fave is the Down Under TOOB.

January 25, 2013

Cuteness Alert - Little Girl Valentine's Day Style


Mommy Testers Little Girl Valentine's Day Style Clothes, Baby Gap chiffon heart headband, j.crew crewcuts necklace

Clearly I'm having a bit of a lovefest with Valentine's Day this year.  Is it possible to have a little girl and not get excited about all the cute things there are for Valentine's Day?  Even my friends with boys can't help themselves when this time of year rolls around.  So, I thought I'd share just a few items I'm loving right now just in case you know a little munchkin who might enjoy these.

Mommy Testers Little Girl Valentine's Day Style Clothes, Baby Gap heart shaped tulle skirt

We have a few tulle tutu style skirts from Baby Gap, but this one has tulle hearts instead of rosettes and is just so darn adorable!  The girly girl in Kayla immediately gravitated toward it and I have to say I was proud she picked this one over the big poufy neon green ones that were also in the store!

Mommy Testers Little Girl Valentine's Day Style Clothes, J.Crew, crewcuts necklace

What little girl doesn't love dress up?  I'm a self declared J.Crew lover and I'm terrified/proud to see my daughter follow in my footsteps.  The blush colored necklace with the rhinestone rondells is an adult J.Crew necklace I bought on clearance last summer knowing that the odds were Kayla would wind up taking ownership.  The one above it is a Crewcuts version also bought on sale.

Crewcuts isn't exactly cheap but if you look for sales you can score some amazing deals. I think I paid no more than $5.00 for Kayla's purple necklace and it's always free shipping on any Crewcuts item you buy.

Mommy Testers Little Girl Valentine's Day Style Clothes, Baby Gap chiffon heart headband

This chiffon heart headband from Baby Gap was too cute to pass up.  It reminds me of the old school bathing caps I associate with synchronized swimming.  The laser cut petals make it three dimensional without being one of those totally over the top, obnoxiously huge bows that you might be able to tell I'm not such a fan of.  Kayla loves it and the slim profile of the band makes it work with lots of hair styles including our house favorite of pig tails!

Have you spotted some super cute Valentine's Day apparel for girls or boys?

January 23, 2013

The Cutest Dominoes for Kids - Janod Kubix Penguins

I can still remember watching commercials for Domino Rally as a child and being in complete awe of how amazing it looked to see all of the dominoes falling and setting off neat features along the way. At some point I convinced my parents to buy me a set and of course, like most toys they weren't quite as spectacular as the commercial promised.  

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A while back while hunting for things Kayla didn't own, I found this great, portable magnetic book by Janod, the Alphabet Magnetibook and it has been a fantastic tool for Kayla to practice spelling out words and has accompanied us to many restaurants.

When the holidays rolled around this year I was trying to find a few special toys that I knew would stand the test of time in our home rather than make their way into the donation pile in just a matter of months and that's when I found these adorable Pengiun Dominoes.

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Much like companies that I would put in a similar category (Haba, Hape, Plan Toys) I love that Janod toys are made of wood and each piece is carefully sanded to be extra smooth and without sharp edges.  The paints and stains are water based and more worry-free than some of the other brands found in the USA.  From the second you open the box you can just tell there is a higher level of craftsmanship than your average toy.

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The Janod Kubix Penguin Domino set also has a bunch of special elements to make it extra fun including stair cases, tunnels, risers, bells that ring when bumped into and even a battering ram to activate the domino action.  It's a pretty impressive set with 100 pieces and a generous helping of special ones.

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Unlike Domino Rally, the pieces are all unattached, which maximizes creativity and allows this toy to function as whatever your child wants it to be.  I've watched Kayla set it up as dominoes meant to fall on each other and just build interesting buildings for the penguins to live in.  Just this morning she built her current heart's desire, a bunk bed for the penguins to sleep in.

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Of all the toys that have residency in our home and the ones that continually make their way through the door I'm putting my money on these dominoes sticking around for a very long time.  If you know a curious little builder who might love these as an original gift or just a great toy to have in your home you can check them out here.

January 21, 2013

Cute Free Birthday Stickers For Your Kiddo from Peaceable Kingdom

As you know, I don't really write about "free stuff" and coupons very much at all.  There are thousands of blogs out there that cover it far better than I ever could.  However, every once in a while something comes along that I feel you should know about and today I have one.

A long time ago while exploring my love for Peaceable Kingdom and their innovative cooperative games for young children I signed Kayla up for their Birthday Kid Club.  I figured why not?  It said they would send her a card and what small child doesn't love mail addressed to them?


As you may know, we had a birthday recently and when Kayla received this card in the mail I assumed must have come from one of my family members.  No one else would take that amount of time to decorate a card for my child, right?

Wrong!  It turned out it was a card from the Peaceable Kingdom crew (I had long since forgotten requesting it) and inside was not only a handwritten note of birthday wishes but a sweet little pack of their scratch 'n sniff stickers.

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Kayla was delighted and I had flashbacks to my sticker trading days with my buddies when life was simple and you worried about swapping fuzzies, puffy stickers, oilies and scratch n'sniffs instead of mortgage rates and health insurance plans.

While I'm no child's birthday club expert I happen to think this is pretty awesome and generous of Peaceable Kingdom since most of the other things that come our way when Kayla's birthday rolls around are coupons offering 15% (gee, thanks!) off to retailers that I would probably never use anyway.  If you want some birthday cheer sent your way you can join their Birthday Kid Club right here.

January 18, 2013

Are you in need of a date night? I know, silly question!

Man, it has been a a stressful couple of weeks in our home!  I won't bore you with all of the reasons why because my guess is that you may be feeling the same way.  The highlights include a birthday party with 50 guests, 4 days of a sick child and a babysitter who just headed off to Mexico for a 5 month vacation.

Mommy Testers date night at home with Campbell's Skillet Sauce #dinnerin15 #cbias

You read that correctly, we're stressed and babysitter-less.  In an effort to appear as the eternal optimist in our home, the other day I decided to surprise my husband with a date night at home.  And then I committed myself to that ludicrous fantastic plan by leaving this note on the door to our garage for him to find on his way to work in the morning.

Mommy Testers date night at home note #dinnerin15 #cbias

No, this was not some clever, well thought out plan.  In fact, I had no idea what we would be eating or how I'd make our  "date night" different from all other nights.  However, I was determined to follow through so after dropping Kayla at preschool I headed to the closest grocery store, Albertsons to come up with a plan.

We don't eat a lot of red meat in our home and I frequently use ground turkey in my cooking, but after stuffed peppers, tacos and meatballs all with ground turkey in the last week or so I wanted something different.  While I was checking out the marinades and praying for inspiration I saw this Campbell's Skillet Sauce across the way in the gravy section and went in for a closer look.

Mommy Testers  cooking chicken with Campbell's Creamy Chipotle Skillet Sauce #dinnerin15 #cbias

I'm getting better in the kitchen these days but still have a long way to go.  Did you know I lived in an NYC apartment for over 3 years and never once used the oven?  Baby steps, right?  While I've mastered a bunch of dishes I'm not very adventurous for fear of destroying the illusion I have created for my husband that I actually can cook.

However, the truth is that if it doesn't have garlic and olive oil as the base I'm a bit lost.  Plus, I hear there is a whole flavor palate outside of garlic!  And wouldn't it be nice to get through a night of cooking without garlic and onion peels all over the counter and a sink full of dishes?  So I grabbed this southwest inspired Creamy Chipotle Skillet Sauce, which promises dinner in 15 minutes or less and with just three steps...I'll take it!

Mommy Testers browning chicken for Campbell's Skillet Sauce #dinnerin15 #cbias

Back at home all I had to do was cut up the chicken and let it brown in a little bit of vegetable oil.  Campbell's suggests 1 tablespoon of oil, but I used half of that for 2 chicken breasts and it was just fine.  After that I stirred in the Skillet Sauce, brought it up to a boil and then switched the heat to low to let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Mommy Testers date night at home table settings  #dinnerin15 #cbias

I used my 5 minutes to shop my buffet which is filled with fancy serving pieces, cheese slates and candles that I desperately needed when we got married, but we hardly ever use.  I picked out a few easy pieces, lit some candles, poured some wine and put on Wonder Pets for Kayla (her newest obsession) so we could have 30 minutes of uninterrupted peace.

Mommy Testers date night at home with Campbell's Skillet Sauce Creamy Chipotle Chicken #dinnerin15 #cbias


It was a nice night.  We got to drink a glass of wine, kick back and talk about everything that's been going on without being interrupted by Kayla every other minute declaring "I need to tell you something" at an increasingly louder volume.

The best part was that I didn't feel stressed from putting together some difficult meal since this dinner came together so quickly.   I think it might have even been slightly less than 15 minutes which teaches me that we can do date night at home with very little effort.  Also, saving the $60 I would normally spend on a babysitter is kind of awesome!


Mommy Testers sides to go with Campbell's Skillet Sauce Creamy Chipotle Chicken #dinnerin15 #cbias

Are you wondering how that chicken turned out yet?  Let me say that we're a tough crowd and it was pretty great.  Definitely exceeded my expectations/cooking skills.  I put the chipotle chicken over some quick cooking jasmine rice and it was a good pairing.

It's got a little spicy kick to it that's neither wimpy nor overly spicy...just right.  I balanced it out with a little leftover kale salad from the night before.  Did you know that since kale is so thick and tough it's one of the few leafy green veggies that work the next day?  I promise to share a great kale salad recipe with you soon!  Yes, it involves olive oil and garlic :)

Mommy Testers date night at home with Campbell's Skillet Sauce #dinnerin15 #cbias

If you're thinking of trying out Campbell's Skillet Sauce for an easy #dinnerin15 for two (or 3 with a little person) there are six different varieties: Creamy Chipotle, Fire Roasted Tomato, Toasted Sesame, Marsala, Scampi and Thai Green Curry.  And I think you should know that while shopping I found a coupon for $2 off any fresh steak, chicken or shrimp when you purchase one of the Skillet Sauce flavors in the month of January.  I was even able to use it on my annoyingly expensive organic chicken!

Just so you know, I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop
has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for CollectiveBias® and Campbell’s #cbias #SocialFabric everything you see here is my personal and picky opinion.  

January 17, 2013

Show Your Love with a Fun and Healthy Breakfast

Is breakfast during the week a struggle in your home?  I'll be the first to say it is in mine.  These days I have two goals in the morning and sadly neither involves putting makeup on. They are getting Kayla dressed without tears over which shirt she's going to wear and getting her to eat a decent breakfast before hitting up the preschool drop off line.


The other morning I realized I was on auto-pilot as I heated up some silver dollar pancakes, Kayla's "usual" and that made me sad.  Hello realization that I should think of some creative, quick breakfast options to change things up and make sure that Kayla gets a more balanced meal in the morning.  After all, that first meal is what's going to power her brain at preschool and keep her focused on learning.

With Valentine's Day on the brain I headed to Target in search of some cute decor and decided that along with cute dishes I would bring home some ideas for more exciting healthy breakfasts for Kayla.   


One thing I have learned about my child is that like me she really does need carbs to fuel her through the morning and keep her from feeling hungry.   So I did some cereal comparisons and chose a Special K multigrain cereal with a touch of honey, but low sugar and some Nutrigrain whole wheat waffles to replace those pancakes.  

I know what you're thinking...not exactly fun stuff for a kid.  True, but I flat out refuse to buy those kiddie cereals packed with marshmallows and food coloring.  Instead, I'd rather find ways to make things fun...


Like taking a stack of boring grown-up waffles and turning them into silly fruit faces.  It's the easiest thing to do and the 45 seconds I spent cutting up strawberries and sticking some raisins on saved me about 5 minutes of reminding/nagging Kayla to eat.  Now that's a nice return on investment, right?



Bananas used to be a total staple in our home but I think Kayla got sick of them and now refuses to eat them.  I thought these cereal coated banana pops would be a good way to bring them back.  They are super easy to make and look like a dessert.  In fact, I just might try to pawn them off as dessert one night this week to see how that goes over.  


All I did was crush some of the Kellogg's Special K cereal in a plastic bag, put it on a plate, cut a banana in half and stick some bamboo skewers in before rolling the bananas in the cereal.  From my experience this summer with non-stop playdates, anything on a stick is extremely interesting to kids, so this was an easy sell.


I had been wanting to try this cool trick I had seen making the rounds on Pinterest which takes advantage of a banana's great weakness, bruising.  You just grab a toothpick and write your message on it the night before. Try riddles, math problems, a message of encouragement or explore your drawing abilities and your picture shows up about an hour or two later without damaging the fruit inside the peel.


Paired with a bowl of wholegrain cereal and a baby box of raisins this is a breakfast you can lay out of the table the night before if mornings are hectic in your home.  Cover the cereal with foil or plastic wrap and your kids can dig in on their own.  If you're really in a rush you can make a few little bags of cereal ahead of time to keep in the cupboard and let your kids take them to go.


I used some of my leftover Valentine's Day treat bags from the Target dollar section instead of a plain plastic bag.  It's amazing how much these things matter to kids and will change their mindset.  One last trick I have always relied on?  Fun plates and cups to make healthy foods more exciting.


Kayla knows that her mom only buys "plain milk" despite begging for chocolate milk on several occasions, but I will indulge her in a new fun cup like this muscle man crazy straw cup...how cute?  It's also the perfect way to bring up healthy eating to grow those muscles for the monkey bars on the playground.

Just so you know, I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ #CBias #SocialFabric everything you see is my personal and incredibly picky opinion and we are loving mornings with #Kelloggsfuel
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