Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Not your mama's lasagna

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Barilla, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #JoytotheTable”

If I'm being honest, I am not the biggest fan of Italian food. I guess I should explain a little. I love a giant plate of cheesy pasta and garlic bread as much as the next person but I rarely ever crave it and would never choose to go out to an Italian restaurant. I make Italian dishes occasionally at home but find that they always seem to have a Mexican flare (using chilis, different veggies, etc). One Italian dish that I have never had a liking for is lasagna. Call me crazy but the excess of ricotta cheese doesn't agree with my palette and I haven't been able to find a lasagna that I really enjoyed...until now. I was given this recipe by my sister's mother in law (who is like family to me and Jon too) and hands down, it is the most delicious Italian dish I've ever tasted, not just comparing lasagnas! Instead of ricotta she uses large curd cottage cheese and Italian sausage instead of ground beef. This lasagna is definitely a crowd pleaser and has become my go to meal for large dinner parties or when I'm making dinner for a friend because it is easy to freeze. Sure you can go buy a cheap frozen lasagna but I promise you won't taste anything better than this recipe! Since the sauce is a little time consuming, I'm going to give you an easier option to use jarred Barilla sauce if you are in a hurry!

1lb Italian sausage links
*1 clove minced garlic
*1 tbsp chopped parsley
*1 tbsp basil
*1 tbsp Italian seasoning
*1lb can diced petite tomatoes
*2 6oz cans tomato paste
10 oz Barilla lasagna noodles
24 oz carton large curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
About 1lb mozzarella cheese, more if you'd like (you can use sliced or shredded)
*Omit these items and use Barilla's Roasted Garlic Sauce for a quick alternative

1. Cook the sausages with your preferred method. I boil them in water then pan sear until cooked through. You could grill if you'd like. Let cool, slice, and put into a large pot.
2. Add the starred ingredients to the sausages  if you choose to go the homemade route or the Barilla Roasted Garlic instead.
3. If making the sauce yourself, add 1/2-1 cup of water and simmer for 30 minutes. If using Barilla sauce, add just 1/2 cup water and simmer.
4. Meanwhile, cook your lasagna noodles according to the packaging (I prefer the cook kind rather than no bake) and set aside.
5. In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese and next 5 ingredients (eggs, salt, pepper, parsely, Parmesan).
6. Now the fun starts! Pour a little bit of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish to coat (I used 2 8x8 pans for this batch so I could freeze one). Layer noodles, sauce mixture, cottage cheese mixture, and mozzarella cheese twice. End with a layer of noodles and top with mozzarella.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. 
8. Let cool for 15 minutes and enjoy!  

Stop by your local Safeway store to pickup Barilla Lasagna Noodles and Barilla Sauce and receive $1 off!

Barilla Facebook

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Style inspiration for a new mama!

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and People StyleWatch and InStyle magazines but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PeopleInStyle

Now that I'm a mom with minimal time to get ready and minimal resources to choose from (thanks breastfeeding!), putting together outfits is somewhat of a chore or even an afterthought. I stay home with my son so there are days I don't change out of my Valentine's Day heart printed pajamas but we do have quite the social life with baby play dates, music class, and Costco runs. Taking a few minutes to throw on some makeup and clothes other than my yoga pants really makes me feel like a million bucks! I am constantly turning to blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest for easy, comfortable, yet stylish fashion ideas because I tend to fall victim to wearing the same outfit over and over again because it is on top of the clean laundry stack. 

I picked up the latest December issues of both Instyle and People StyleWatch magazines at Target and was able to find some great inspiration. Between family pictures, Thanksgiving, holiday parties, and Christmas, I wanted to find new looks that are in tune with the current trends and do that affordably or with things I already own. Since I didn't have access to most of my clothes during pregnancy, it is always fun to rediscover pieces and shop my own closet!

Although I won't even attempt to pull off the red lips of Lauren Bacall, wearing bright colored separates is a recent favorite of mine. 

It's pretty tough to find a brand of pants that fits my barely 5 foot tall, booty-less body so when I discovered that Old Navy skinnies fit me like a glove, I bought jeans and fun cords in your a typical colors (mint, salmon, red). I love being bold and pairing the bright colored pants with either bright colored top or even a printed top. And to think I used to have to have each  piece of my outfit matchy matchy.

I love that florals are back in style and no longer reserved for your grandma's plastic covered sofa. Talk about floral overload but Forever 21 has such great options of blouses, tunics, tanks, and dresses that are subtle enough to be classy but are fun colored to be trendy!

Shopped my closet and loving these floral prints!

Just for fun I created the perfect date night outfit using Polyvore for a romantic dinner with my husband (probably talking about Ford the whole time!)
date night

date night by ruthiehart1 featuring betsey johnson jewelry

We all know that statement sweaters are hot this year! I even saw one posted on Instagram that said "#selfie" ha! Not only do sweaters keep you warm but they help hid what's left of my big ol' pregnant belly :).

Target does it again. I love their selection of super stylish, trendy, and inexpensive sweaters...perfect paired with skinny jeans and uggs to hit up those holiday sales! (I think I have to get the cat sweater for my feline loving mama!)

And I am totally loving the tribal trend right now.

While thumbing through People StyleWatch I had to giggle seeing that the top knot is popular beyond the blog-o-sphere! I attempted it last year and let's just say the top knot isn't for me! Jon told me it looked like I had a bagel on my head. 

Head into your local Target and purchase both December issues of InStyle and People StyleWatch and receive a $5 Target giftcard (promotion good 11/29-12/7)!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Ultimate Pregnancy & Postpartum Product

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Poise, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #cleanandfreshswitch”

Mamas-to-be listen up! I don't want this post to scare you but boy oh boy do I wish someone would have filled me in on the dirty little details no one shares after labor and delivery. I'd read a couple of articles and blog posts about postpartum bleeding but I assumed it would be like a light period, last for a few days, and be gone. Boy was I wrong. I also assumed that I'd catch a break since I had a C section but I was stuck with a "red aunt" times 5 for about 8 weeks after giving birth. Those first few days in the hospital and at home, you are basically wearing an adult diaper to keep from leaking but slowly (VERY slowly), the bleeding lessens. I remember thinking I would rather have a heavier flow for a shorter period of time rather than this spotting business. That's where these babies came in handy...

My tiny little water closet stocked with Poise pads, squirt bottles, wipes, and pain killers... the perfect postpartum tool box

Those weeks after having a baby are such a blur. The lack of sleep, the aching milk machines and unfortunately for me... a painful recovery from a C section. The last thing I had time for was worrying about weather I was going to leak through my granny panties, especially with guests and visitors constantly stopping by. Poise pads helped ease my mind and keep me safe, dry, and feeling fresh. I don't know about other mamas but those first few weeks I would have taken 3 showers a day if I could. I hated being able to smell myself and coupled with the 105 degree Texas heat and the workout that breastfeeding is, I was a hot mess!

Little man you were worth it!
(I wish I looked this cute after a bath)
Now that I think of it, don't wait until after you give birth to stock up on Poise pads because those last few weeks of pregnancy, let's be honest... sometimes you let out a little pee on accident! Not only pee but your body is preparing for labor and sometimes leaks other wonderful bodily fluids and that is totally normal! Instead of ruining underwear and the possibility of wet spots in your 1 pair of maternity yoga pants that fits, I kept Poise UltraThin pads on hand 24/7! I remember vividly the last time I attended a cardio kickboxing class while pregnant. I was about 20 weeks and after doing a simple jumpy move, I realized I'd peed myself a tad. Talk about embarrassing.  I ran downstairs to the locker room and just never went back to class. And that's when I started "protecting" myself! Boy oh boy I do not miss that urge to pee every 5 minutes during pregnancy :)

Poise pads aren't your everyday period pads... they offer all day protection, comfort, and absorbency for light bladder leakage and other lovely stuff us ladies deal with! Fortunately since having a C section, I don't have to deal with potty leaks post delivery but I know that is an issue many women who delivery vaginally deal with. Poise UltraThins to the rescue!

Head on over to your neighborhood Walgreens and pick up a package of Poise pads using this $2 off coupon.

Find Poise

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Monday, October 28, 2013

I want my mummy

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cottonelle, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CottonelleTarget”

The 2nd annual Hart's Halloween Hootenanny was a success! This year was a tad different than last year's late night, loud music, baby-less shin dig but it was just as fun! We decided to take advantage of our beautiful new deck and cooler Texas temps and grill out for our neighbors and friends. Since we invited lots of kiddos, I wanted there to be kid friendly activities and games to keep them well entertained (and let's face it, my toy-less house isn't too fun for elementary school children). I'll give you a peek at our costumes...

A family of homemade garden gnomes!

We had corn hole and badminton set up for both adults and kids and the weather couldn't have been more perfect! Earlier in the week I hit up Michael's Craft Store to see what I could come up with for a craft table for the kids. I bought an array of foam pumpkins, stickers, wooden Halloween pieces, and paint and set it up on our table inside. It was a hit!

You may be wondering why I have toilet paper on the table? On last week's Target run, I picked up a 12 pack of Cottonelle's Triple Roll for a fun and crazy game that I knew the kids would love. We paired them up, gave them a couple of rolls, and had a mummy wrapping contest. I will let the pictures do the talking! (use this coupon while supplies last and head to Target and receive a free box of Kleenex tissues when you purchase a 12 pack or larger of Cottonelle's Triple Roll...just in time for allergy and flu season.)

If you can't tell from the pictures, the game was hilarious. I wish I would have gotten video! If you're looking for a good game to keep the kiddos entertained for 10 minutes, grab some TP and let them go crazy! I also wish I would have gotten a picture of the aftermath in my backyard- I kid you not there was probably 200 pieces of ripped up toilet paper scattered all over. We had another contest... who could pick up the biggest ball of TP. Thank goodness for kids who love anything that's a competition!

Don't forget to grab this coupon while supplies last and head to Target to pickup your Cottonelle Triple Roll, whether it be for a spooky and fun Halloween game or to wipe little bottoms with!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Honestly, who has time?

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad”

Being a mama doesn't give me much time to prep meals for our family and throw in a traveling husband during the week.... yeah I don't exactly eat the most glamorous things! Prior to Ford being born, I would eat the most random things when Jon would travel. A bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch followed by carrots and hummus, followed by trail mix, followed by a glass of chocolate milk. Something about being alone in the evenings makes me want to snack, snack, snack instead of eating an actual meal. Yes it's fun to peruse the pantry for goodies but this way of eating is dangerous because often times I am left hungry at night and ready to eat more! If only Nutella and Ritz crackers kept you full!

Now that Ford is here and consuming all of my free time, you can imagine I don't exactly eat well when Jon travels. At least when Jon is home he can hang with the little guy while I prep a meal but I need something fast and healthy when he is gone. I've come off the postpartum high where all you want to do is eat because your body is adjusting to breastfeeding and people are bringing over home cooked meals and decadent desserts. I was cleared to workout by my doctor and am ready to put back on my healthy pants and kick things into gear. The weather is cooling down and I am ready to get back to our healthy lifestyle. 

I was incredibly excited (and relieved!) when Lean Cuisine announced their new collection of meals, Honestly Good. It was hard for me to choose my favorite meal because the options are too darn delicious! The flavors of the Honestly Good collection aren't your typical frozen meals...Honey Citrus Chicken, Lemongrass Salmon, Pineapple Black Pepper Beef, Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish, Pomegranate Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper Chicken. I can finally eat healthy and natural while not having to slave away in the kitchen. I am excited to add Honestly Good meals into my weekly meal schedule to help get me back into a good routine (and my pre pregnancy jeans!).

Baby in tow, hitting up Target for a few Honestly Good meals!

At 270 calories with only 7 grams of fat, the Roasted Red Pepper meal is my absolute favorite. I always worry about the texture of frozen meal chicken but this chicken was moist and tasted like it came right off the grill! The sauce gave amazing flavors and I felt like I was eating a gourmet restaurant meal as I hurriedly gobbled it down standing up in my kitchen while Ford was in his swing.

I am now incredibly conscious of what I put into my body knowing it is exactly what Ford will be eating a few hours later. All natural, wholesome ingredients are just what I need to make me feel comfortable eating a frozen meal.

This meal was the perfect blend of proteins, veggies, and delicious carb-y noodles!

No more Cliff bar dinners when my hubby travels!

Something that makes me love these meals even more is that Lean Cuisine, along with the farmers that grow the vegetables used for these meals, donate additional veggies to communities in need. Love that!

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