Sunday, February 22, 2015

Clueless Chick Invades Dairy Queen (with her little men)

The Clueless Chick and her Little Men Invade Dairy Queen!

Shortly before Valentine’s Day we were fortunate enough to be invited to a special event at our local Dairy Queen in Cary, NC to decorate ice cream cakes and meet Elsa.  As you can imagine, my boys were thrilled! 

I was just as excited when I realized that the Diary Queen was owned by fellow 2014 Triangle Business Journal 40 Under 40 award winner Andy Valkanoff!  I met Andy in passing at our awards ceremony and knew that he owned a number of Dairy Queens but I had not yet chatted with him about the success of his business, so I was SOLD!

Let me tell you, the afternoon did not disappoint.  The boys were thrilled to meet Elsa, snack on chicken strips and ice cream and decorate our very own ice cream cake.  I also had a chance to spend time learning more about Andy’s business, Mad Treats, Inc. (a fabulously appropriate business name!).

Our day at Dairy Queen was, for me, the perfect combination of a creative outing with my little men, Clueless Chick media event, and entrepreneurial conversation with a very successful new friend :-)

An Instagram Review:
1. First the little men scoped out the cake and the oodles of decorations Andy's crew gave us to play with.

2.  Next thing I know the big guy had drawn a perfectly adorable red heart on his half of the cake while I was busy trying to keep the little guy from eating the decorations.

3.  These boys take their cake decorating seriously, especially when it is an ice cream cake they will be sharing with Dada in lieu of dinner ;-)

4.  We had a little Elsa photobomb while my little goofball was hamming it up for the camera.

5.  Yet another satisfied, yet silly, customer

6.  The finished product!

Why I am now Dairy Queen’s Biggest Fan?

  • They are active in the community, donating over $100,000 to the Children’s Hospital and have a webpage dedicated to your fundraising requests.  They also employ over 100 people at their Cary location, nearly 200 during the summer!
  • The walls at the Cary location are covered with a beautiful mural painted by art students from Cary High School
  • They offer $5.00 lunch options for the cost conscious and a FULL menu of everything from cheeseburgers and chicken wraps to salads.
  • All cakes are made and hand decorated onsite to guarantee their freshness.  Plus, they will custom decorate your cake for any occasion, any way you like!
  • You can have your next party at DQ!  They provide the space, you provide the fun :-)  You can even have all of your guests decorate cupcakes as the main attraction.

Above all else, can you really beat a Blizzard?!?  I mean come on, your favorite ice cream with chunks of your favorite treats…I sure hope your local DQ is open because I know you’re imagining your favorite combination right now.

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

P.S. A BIG Clueless Chick thank you to Andy and my friends at Clairemont Communications for the invitation and YUMMY goodies! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Organize Your Pantry {organize your life}

A messy pantry is not only a pain when you are searching for the crackers you KNOW you bought last week, it can also cost you money when you have to throw away expired food you didn’t even know you had. Let me show you how easy and inexpensive organizing your pantry can be:

Vertical Space
o   Magazine Rack.  Pick up a magazine rack at your local office supply store, turn it on its back and fill it with your tin foil, plastic wrap, zip top baggies, etc.  Organizing these pantry essentials in a magazine rack will save you precious shelve space by stacking up and will make finding exactly what you need a whole lot easier

o   Wire Shelves.  Add additional vertical space to your pantry shelves with a few wire racks.  These racks make it easier to stack items that are usually too delicate to stack.  Wire shelves also make it easier to use baskets and open top boxes to organize snacks in your pantry.

o   Rethink Your Organizing Tools.  When it comes to picking the right containers to use in your pantry organization quest, think outside of the box.  A small bin makes the perfect spice envelope organizer and a candy jar is perfect for keeping smaller items like raisins, granola bars or peanut butter cups contained.  Dont forget to also use your plastic shoeboxes to keep bags of pretzels, applesauce, etc. organized and easy to reach.

o   Can Return.  It is easy to lose controls of the cans in your pantry; after all you likely have everything from pears to green beans and soup all mixed together.  One very easy way to keep your cans organized is to use a soda can return.  These nifty contraptions are like an organized ramp for your cans and allow you to insert the newest can at the end of the line so that you always grab the can closes to the expiration date!

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

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Papa Spud’s Experiment - Coupon Code

Hold on to your hats! Boy do I have a fun surprise for you :-)  Our friends at Papa Spud's enjoyed our little experiment so much that they have offered YOU $15 OFF!  Yup, FREE enrollment and $5 OFF your first order.  

Clueless Chick Papa Spud's Coupon Code: CLUELESSCHICK

Trust me, you'll love it!  I still get excited to see a new box sitting on the porch on Wednesday :-)


In case you missed it the first time around, check out the fun I had during The Papa Spud's Experiment:  

The Papa Spud’s Experiment: Week 1

The Papa Spud's Experiment: Week 1

A while back I was asked if I would be interested in teaming with Papa Spud’s, a farm to fork delivery service connecting over 50 local farmers and artisans with tons of lucky Triangle residents.  I of course said yes because I’ve often toyed with the idea of signing up for such a service but I’ve never pulled the trigger.  So here goes!

I will warn you that you should not expect anything earth shattering in my next few Papa Spud’s, just a busy Chick’s tips to work more fresh local produce onto my family’s plates. And yes, you’ll learn lots of fun facts about my lack of knowledge about a few, ok a lot, of veggies :-)

Week 1 was quite exciting – getting to pick the contents of our box and then the excitement of the delivery of the first box.  Honestly, it was ridiculously exciting.  I will admit it was also a little daunting.  I love to cook, but with our busy schedules I do not get the chance too nearly as much as I’d like to so the pressure of using all of these fabulous veggies before they go bad is not to be underestimated.
The beautiful box

Here are the beautifully lush contents of said first box:

My first Papa Spud's box 'o yumminess

Step one on Wednesday night was of course to figure out what was what.  Seriously.  I had to look a couple of things up…

Step two, chop some veggies.  It is much easier to grab a healthy snack if it is prepped and ready to go so the first task I tackled was chopping up some carrots and cucumbers:

My exceptional chopping skills on display ;-)

The carrot sticks and cucumbers were perfect for my work lunches and with all of that baby bok choy I knew the chopped carrots would be perfect for stir fry.

Friday night was the first time I cooked with any of the veggies.  I made two super simple side dishes:

Roasted red potatoes (cubed and roasted with olive oil, garlic and rosemary)

My favorite and easiest side dish - roasted red potatoes

Sautéed spinach (sautéed with olive oil and garlic)
Sautéing like a champ

On Sunday night I hade the most fun, I decided to tackle the baby bok choy.  While I love bok choy, I have never purchased nor cooked it before so I was of course nervous.  I started easy and worked it into a simple stir fry:
My new favorite stir fry

Bok Choy Pad Thai Stir Fry (baby bok choy and carrots sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and pad thai sauce, served over rice)

You can very easily add chicken, beef, shrimp or really anything you like.

The leftovers then became lunch for work on Monday :-) :
Leftovers - time and $ saver

I think that’s a pretty darn good start for my first 5 days!  If you have any fun recipes you want me to try, send them my way:

The Papa Spud’s Experiment - Weeks 2 & 3

Ok folks, are you ready for TWO weeks of Papa Spud’s updates?!?!  That’s right, this sneaky Chick did some strategic ordering to stretch out two weeks worth of Papa Spud’sover the holidays to feed the whole crew and then some.  Plus this is the week that you are all starting new diets, vowing to be healthier in 2015, etc. etc. etc. so it’s easier to get your attention ;-)  Don’t worry, you’ll thank me for my sneakiness.

First off, in Week 2 of The Papa Spud’s Experiment TWO boxes arrived!

It turns out I just ordered bulky foods, but still it was ridiculously exciting.   And yes, when only one box arrived for Week 3 of The Papa Spud’s Experiment it was a bit of a bummer, until I opened it up that is.

Week 3 was the first time I included meat as part of my box which is such a cool and unique benefit of using Papa Spuds.  The meat arrived fully frozen so I happily popped it into the freezer for future use. 

Honestly, I’m overthinking the meat a bit.  I am so sure that it is going to be fabulous I don’t want to waste it on the wrong recipe.  Ridiculous? Yes.  Surprising? No.

What were my favorite things about Weeks 2 & 3?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  I was able to spice up the ordinary, strategically stretch my boxes over multiple weeks and make a few amazing dishes for Christmas dinner!

When I selected my first Papa Spud’s box I made the mistake of thinking only of what I could make it that week.  With the holidays around the corner, I knew that most of my meal planning would revolve around Christmas dinner.  I realize this will sound a bit silly but until that point it hadn’t occurred to me that much of what I ordered would last for more than just a few days and thus began my strategery!

Sweet Potatoes
One of my favorite side dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas is Sweet Potato Casserole and I knew that it would be even better with fresh local Sweet Potatoes and boy was I right.  Since I would be feeding the whole crew for Christmas dinner, I ordered sweet potatoes in my Week 2 and Week 3 boxes to ensure that I had plenty.  The results were nothing short of scrumptious:

Spicing up the Ordinary
Another fun thing about new fresh fruits and veggies delivered to your door every week is that you can not only try something new, but you can re-experience the ordinary.  For me, it is the little things that make the biggest difference, like the amazing lettuce I have gotten which has gotten me excited about sandwiches, yes sandwiches.  There was the traditional Turkey sandwich:

The good old fashion tuna sandwich which was in fact fabulous:

And the piece de resistance, the day after Christmas leftover turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich:

Speaking of cranberry sauce, which too was made even better this Christmas thanks to some awesome oranges from my Papa Spud’s box:

The makings of the perfect cranberry sauce
The actual cranberry sauce yumminess! 

An Even Better Ordinary
My boys also insisted that I share some of their favorite parts of the Papa Spud’s boxes from the past two weeks.

The little man has be loving his cute little tangerines because he can peel them himself:

Little one-friendly tangerines from Papa Spud's

The big guy has also been loving the fresh apple he finds in his lunch box every day:

Papa Spud's Apple - perfect for school lunches!

AND I still have some red potatoes that we’ll be diving into this week in addition to some fun new party cooking!

The Papa Spud’s Experiment - Weeks 4

Believe it or not, it’s time for Week 4 of my fabulously fun Papa Spud’s Experiment.  I’ve got to tell you, this has been more fun than I expected.  From the excitement of fresh fruits and veggies sitting on the doorstep every Wednesday afternoon to the fun food experiments and general yumminess.

I only wish I had more time to cook.  If there were more hours in the day or days in the week I would have tried 50 new recipes!  One day….  For now I will just have to share with you the fun that was had this week – a yummy fresh favorite and a party must have.

Yummy Fresh Favorite
Roasted red potatoes are one of my favorite easy side dishes for an easy weeknight dinner.  It doesn’t get much easier than:

  1. Wash
  2. Chop
  3. Cover in olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper
  4. Roast for 15-20 min

If you haven’t ever tried it, I highly recommend it.

A Party Must Have
This week I again planned ahead (woo hoo!) and ordered a few extra items for a party over the weekend.  I was planning to make margaritas and you can’t have an awesome margaritas without fresh lemons and limes so I stocked up!

BUT, it did not simply squeeze these beautiful fruits into my margaritas, I had them do double duty, well triple duty really.  The night before the party I sliced all of the lemons and limes:

Once they were sliced, I put them all into a freezer bag and popped them into the freezer:

Why would I freeze them?  I’m so glad you asked!  Frozen lemons and limes are the party trifecta:
  1. Add fresh lemon and lime flavor
  2. Make your margarita look extra festive
  3. Keep your margarita cold without watering it down

Does it get any better?

So, over the past few weeks we have learned that having a Papa Spud’s box delivered to your door can:
·      Spice up the ordinary
·      Turn your favorites extra yummy
·      Master the margarita trifecta 

Happy Papa Spud’s-ing :-)

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

P.S. Another HUGE Clueless Chick thank you to the lovely ladies at Clairemont Communications for connecting us :-)