Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Celebrate National Rocky Road Day

June 2nd is National Rocky Road Day and no one loves chocolate ice cream with toasted almonds and mini marshmallows more than this Chick!  This morning on WNCN Today I shared a few good excuses to throw a party or make dessert a little more fun:

·      Ice Cream Buffet
o   Rocky Road Your Way. Who doesn’t love a buffet, especially an ice cream buffet?  Let your guests make their own Rocky Road ice cream by setting up a Rocky Road Your Way Buffet.  Put out chocolate ice cream, mini marshmallows and toasted almond slices and let your guests mix their perfectly portioned Rocky Road.  You can even go a little crazy and include walnuts, peanuts, chocolate covered almonds or marshmallow cream sauce as a fun twist on the traditional.  TIP:  Don’t forget to have plenty of ice on hand to keep the ice cream cold, and a cup of warm water to dip your ice cream scoop in to make the ice cream easier to scoop.

·      Ice Cream Pie
o   Rocky Road Pie. One of the easiest summer desserts you can make is an ice cream pie.  Yes, it takes a little prep time, but it really couldn’t be easier.  Simply pick up a carton of Rocky Road ice cream and a pre-made chocolate or graham cracker piecrust at the store.  The morning of the party (or even a day or two before), let the ice cream soften on the kitchen counter for ~1hr then spoon the ice cream into the pie shell.  Place the pie in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours to harden and you will have the perfect Rocky Road Ice Cream Pie!  Don’t forget you’ll need to thaw the pie for 10-15min before cutting it.  TIP: Add a decorative touch by sprinkling marshmallows and almonds on top.

·      A Semi-Homemade Brownie
o   Rocky Road Brownies.  Making the perfect Rocky Road Brownie is actually quite easy; all you need is your favorite brownie mix, mini marshmallows and toasted almond slices.  Mix your brownies as directed, add 1 cup of toasted almond slices and ½ cup of marshmallows and bake as directed.  1-2 minutes before the brownies are done, sprinkle a few extra mini marshmallows on top for some extra color. 
Cookies for the Non-Cook :-)

o   Rocky Road Cookies.  Good news for all of you non-cooks out there, you can still celebrate National Rocky Road Day in style with a quick trip to your local PDQ!  PDQ has delicious individually wrapped Rocky Road cookies that you can pick up with dinner on June 2nd for a perfectly easy celebration. 

Fun random fact: Rocky Road Ice Cream was invented in 1929 in Oakland, CA (near where I grew up!) by Dreyer’s (known on the East Coast as Edy’s) Ice Cream. Authentic Rocky Road ice cream includes mini marshmallow and toasted almonds, period.  But I’m a bit of a purist ;-)

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and following the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.

Tune in next week for tips on how to pull off dinner at the pool for all of you swim team parents or pool lovers!  

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hosting a Stress-Free Memorial Day Cookout

Hosting a MemorialDay Cookout need not take a lot of prep time or cost a pretty penny, all you need are a few tips from yours truly to pull off a fabulous cookout which will last well into the night. This morning on WNCN Today I showed Page some of my favorite simple (and inexpensive) tips:

·      Feeding a Crowd
o   A Safe Way to Serve Salad. Are you worried about leaving your tossed salad in the backyard during the cookout?  Well, worry no more.  To protect your salad from the heat and pesky bugs, simply layer all of your salad ingredients in Mason Jars and place all of your jars in a tub of ice. This will protect your salad from the heat and bugs and acts as the perfect grab and go snack. TIP: Mason Jars are also the perfect way to serve mixed grownup drinks.

o   Burger Prep Tips. A good burger is a must at your Memorial Day cookout, but spending all day prepping doesn’t have to be.  Save yourself time the day of the cookout by making your patties a day or two before the party.  Simply mix in your spices, form your burger patties and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until it is time to throw them on the grill.  TIP:  Mix in bacon, cheese or a few jalapenos for a little kick.

·      Fun in the Sun
o   Sun Fun Must Haves. Pamper your guests with a few fun in the sun must haves.  Throw together a basket full of dollar store flip-flops and sunscreen to keep on the deck for all of your guests to use. TIP: Flip-flops are also a fun party favor to send home with your guests.

·      Fun After Dark
o   Light up the Night.  There is no reason to end your cookout when the sun goes down!  You can easily light up your picnic table with a dollar store tap light.  These cute star shaped lights aren’t just for your closet!  Another fun way to light up the night is with glow bracelets.  You can also find these little beauties at the dollar store and they are a perfect way to keep track of the kids running around the yard.

Raiding your local dollar store is the perfect way to accessorize your Memorial Day Cookout without breaking the bank.

For all of Jennifer’s tips pick up your own copy of her Tips for the Clueless Chick books and following the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.

Tune in next week to find out how to celebrate National Rocky Road Day!

Until next time,
aka Chick #1 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Fun, Fast and Fresh Dinner at PDQ – Who Knew?

As the Clueless Chick I often get calls from people who want me to check out their products or stop by a store opening and let me tell you, this is one of the most fun parts of my job.  It is always thrilling to be part of the exciting surrounding something new opening or a new product being released.  So when my whole family was invited to an event at the Raleigh PDQ I was thrilled!

To be honest I had never heard of PDQ before receiving my invitation, and let me tell you, we have been missing out.  Since I have recently had to drastically change my eating habits, finding fresh and healthy options for a meal on the go has become my new mission.

So here is the low down about our trip to PDQ, which I will start by telling you gets two thumbs up!  And not just because they fed us for free or gave the boys cool PDQ t-shirts ;-)

Many fast food restaurants have recently receive facelifts to make them seem more inviting and less ‘fast foody’ so I wasn’t surprised to see the beautiful PDQ building on FALLS OF NEUSE, but the moment we walked in I knew we were not walking into your run of the mill fast food joint.

The Restaurant.
PDQ has the feel of a hometown diner, complete with bar stools at the counter and personalized wall art.  You can also see all the way through the kitchen a prep area to the drive-thru window – they aren't hiding anything.  And, you can sit at the bar and watch the managers put the finishing touches on every meal that is served.  There is a hand washing station.  Yes, a hand washing station.  After you order your food, you and the kiddos can all wash your hands without even stepping foot in the restroom.  I love the idea of making hand washing so fun and convenient, especially for the little ones.

The Food.
The kids meals can be ordered with a side of fresh apple slices, which are served with a toffee dip that my hubby went crazy over.  It is always nice when a kids meal has a healthy side option and it is even better when that healthy option is freshly sliced apples.  My boys loved the chicken tenders, french fries and apples.  The kids meal was nearly big enough for the two of the to share.

I had a grilled chicken lettuce wrap (you can get any sandwich wrapped in lettuce in lieu of on a bun) which was both Gluten and Dairy Free and absolutely delicious.  It is so nice to find a quick and inexpensive restaurant that is so sensitive to food allergies.  I was even able to enjoy their french fries because they have a dedicated fryer.  Then there was the honey mustard.  The honey mustard (which is made fresh, contains no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup) was so good I dipped my french fries in it.  I even thought about asking if I could buy a bottle to take home ;-)

We all tried the fresh squeezed lemonade (you can literally watch them squeeze the lemons) and it too got two thumbs up.  The boys also gave their handmade milkshakes a try after dinner.  Not only were the milkshakes a hit, the straws were quite the conversation piece.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such big straws and boy were they perfect for a milkshake.

The Community.
PDQ is very active in our community at large.  Carolina Parent Magazine recently released a announcement that the PDQ in Cary will be hosting a fundraiser for Porter Richardson, a six month old Cary boy who is awaiting a heart transplant - excuse me while I grab a box of tissues :-(

On a much cheerier note, PDQ in Raleigh even has a separate room that you can reserve for community events or fundraisers. 

Long story short, stop by your local PDQ, it is sooooo worth it :-)

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

p.s. A BIG Clueless Chick thank you to our hostesses from Clairemont Communications and the wonderful Amy Bristow, Operating Director!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Baby Gear that Grows with You

Having little ones is an expensive endeavor no matter how you slice it so I've compiled a few of my favorite tips for stretching your dollar farther by buying gear that will grow with your child, and I shared those tips on today's WNCN #TipsonTues segment with Page Crawford:

·      Convertible Gear
o   A Versatile Highchair. A highchair is one piece of baby gear you probably can’t live without but it can be painful buying an expensive highchair you know you won’t use for very long.  Enter the convertible highchair.  When you are shopping for a highchair, make sure you pick one that you will be able to use as your baby grows.  Some highchairs recline so that you can use them when your baby is just a few months old, and others like the Nuna ZAAZ can transform from a traditional highchair to a one which can be pulled up to the table and ultimately a stylish adult chair. TIP: If you have a built-in desk in your kitchen the ZAAZ will fit perfectly there when your child has outgrown the highchair.

·      A Potty Training Must
o   Consolidating Potty Training Gear. Potty training is quite an adventure in and of itself and when you start looking into potty training gear you will find that you “need” everything from a training potty to a stool and training seat for the big boy/big girl potty.  If you want to save yourself some money and a LOT of hassle (not to mention mess…) find a training toilet seat for your bathrooms.  These traditional Next Steps toilet seats come with a toddler-size insert that your little one can use.  The beauty of these toilet seats is that the toddler seat is hidden in the seat lid when not in use.  Then when your child gets big enough, you can simply pop out the training seat!

·      Gear You can use for Years
o   A Diaper/Laptop Bag.  Diaper bags are another baby gear item that can be quite an investment.  Sure they are cute and functional, but what do you do with that cute $200 bag when your little one is out of diapers?  Well, you carry it of course!  When you are shopping for a diaper bag, be sure to pick one that will be useable as more than just a diaper bag.  Perhaps one with a pocket just the right size for your laptop, or one that can be used as you carryon when you fly.  TIP:  When your shopping for a diaper bag don’t limit yourself to diaper bags – messenger bags and laptop bags can function just as well for you and baby!

Bottom line, when you are buying baby gear spend your money wisely.  Look for gear that will serve multiple purposes and grow with your family.

For all of Jennifer’s tips pick up your own copy of her Tips for the Clueless Chick books and following the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter.

Tune in next week for fun ideas for your Memorial Day picnics!  

Until next time,
aka Chick #1