> hey what's for dinner mom?


PMA Fresh Summit

I've just finished up here in Anaheim at PMA, Produce Market Association, Fresh Summit. The numbers I saw on twitter looked like there were 22,000 through the doors in two days. No wonder my feet are shot and anytime someone says hi I try to shake their hands, that was a lot of networking in 18 hour days. 

Friday was all about the sessions, digital media marketing, color trends in the floral industry, product transparency, even a workshop on how gen z will change the face of demand, and so many more. Sure a lot of them don't apply to me but you'd be surprised what you can learn from the people who are selling their products or who study color trends and shape the industry. 

And the samples of products were never ending. Watermelon, Jack Fruit, Cacao Smoothies, Kale Chips, Avocados 35 different ways, Berries, Figs, on and on and on. I met some great new brands too, Stoneridge Orchards, Bolthouse Farms, Mucci Farms, Garden Gourmet, Giorgio Mushrooms, Driscolls, Suavva, Rhythm Superfoods and so many more. I talked to a lot of brands about making sure they move forward now into the digital age, embracing digital media before it's too late and it morphs again. Many seemed receptive to idea and some are already actively telling their story, reaching out to customers and making connections via social media channels. 

There's so much to talk about especially the other bloggers from #teamfreshsummit but I'm headed out to Disneyland so it will have to wait for another day.

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Off to Fresh Summit

What's this Fresh Summit? Fresh Summit is the yearly Produce Marketers Association convention and expo. It's a coming together of almost 1200 vendors that help bring fresh vegetables to far flung locales and the corner grocery store. There will be producers, marketers, packagers, shippers, innovators and buyers on the expo floor, in the sessions and at all the events. But why would a blogger from Alaska need or want to go? 

Because I represent a sector of the end consumer, what happens THERE affects all of us in the supermarket. As the 'consumer' I have a unique position to represent, I'm the bottom line, the consumer of things they are selling. Or shipping. Or figuring logistics on. Or making better packaging so things stay fresh on their way to Alaska. I can say these are interesting to me (and my type), and that ______ is not or it might work better this way because the original concept just doesn't work for me. I may even have a fresh perspective they've not even thought of yet, although I doubt it.

So look forward to pictures, posts, thoughts about all things FRESH in the next week and if you have ANY questions you want me to lob at the big guys well then leave a comment and I'll be sure and try to squeeze it in when and where I can! 
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Mexi Tots and Smokey Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Remember Mexi Bites? Crispy little tater tot things, seasoned up and served at Taco Bell? Yep, I do 
too. I wanted some the other night but I don't eat fast food anymore, if I can help it that is, and I don't think they even exist there anymore, so I had to improvise. Oh I love it when I do that! I created the taste of Mexi Bites in a about 3 swift seconds and rounded out our meal in the process too. Have you ever heard kids cheering with their mouths full? These will make them cheer, guaranteed. 
Sometimes I amaze myself when I pull off something like this, saving a meal from being lame and create something delicious at the same time. Just so we're painfully clear sometimes I completely disappoint myself too, like when I tried to make pudding pops, or thought I should place a frozen homemade pizza on the oven rack, completely forgetting it was RAW dough. 
Take your tater tots to the next level.
oven 400˚
1 1/2 TBSP taco seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
pinch of black pepper
roughly 10 cups of frozen tater tots
gallon plastic bag
pre-heat the oven
pour the taco seasoning, paprika and black pepper in the gallon bag, shake to combine 
add the tater tots in a gallon plastic bag
close the bag and shake well to coat the tots
place the tots on a baking sheet in a single layer
bake 30 minutes or until crispy and crunchy but not burned 
Meanwhile why not whip up a spicy dipping sauce? It easy and your mouth will thank you for it. This sauce packs some serious heat so if you don't like heat, beware! If you want a smoky sauce but no heat simply leave out the chipotle pepper and the adobo sauce and add in 1-2 teaspoons of Spanish Paprika for a good smokey flavored sauce. 
 Chipotle Dipping Sauce
1/2 Chipotle Pepper +1 TBSP Adobo Sauce from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, I use the kind straight out of the jar 
1 TBSP snipped cilantro
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided
whirl the peppers, Adobo sauce, the roasted red peppers, cilantro and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth
add half the mayonnaise, whirl to combine
scrape into a bowl and stir the rest of the mayonnaise in until smooth

It's important to note that if you don't mind a more smooth sauce, with a thinner consistency you can mix this in the food processor and skip hand mixing the rest of the mayonnaise into the sauce. 

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Thrifter Share

A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to sell them, keep them or give them, share them here first.

I'm in purge mode, much like I spent a LOT of January and February this last winter. I just have too much stuff and I suddenly realized (AGAIN) that every single thing I have that I don't love is like a dead cluttered mess dragging me down. Having to clean around stuff or figure out where to STORE stuff is just not my idea of fun. So I spent the last week picking out 4 things a day I need to just let go of. I stop on the way from picking up kids and drop them in the donate bin at the local grocery store where I know once I drive away there's no going back. It feels so good and things that I've been glaring at because I DON'T know what to do with them are just suddenly gone. 
I did however purchase a few things. 
I picked up these great Toms boots off of ebay. I've already waterproofed them, worn them a couple of times and decided they are perfect until cold weather hits. And talk about comfortable, THEY ARE extremely comfortable and the leather is supple and soft! I'm slowly finding new shoes and boots that fit and feel good after sticking pretty close to Keens and Danskos after my foot and ankle surgery all those years ago. Plus going up a half a size to accommodate a bigger wider foot meant every single pair of shoes or boots I owed pre-surgery minus a pair of rubber boots no longer fit.
And I picked up this great purse. 
I think it's homemade. I think in it's former life it used to be a small rug. I also think it's roomy and perfect for carrying a load of stuff without going all reusable grocery bag on my (non)fashionable self. Yes I will proudly carry a rug bag as long as it serves a good faithful purpose. 
What are you buying? I'd love to see it!

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The McGunnegal Chronicles

I'd like you all to give a very warm and hearty(check them out on Amazon)welcome to our newest sponsor here on Hey What's for Dinner Mom? The McGunnegal Chronicles! Now why would a food blog have a kids book series as a sponsor? I have kids, true story and we read to them every single night. I've been reading to kids, at night, for the last 21 1/2 years. With some quick figuring, that's roughly six thousands hours of reading aloud. And I still have a voice! 

I've read the Hobbit clear through three times, all the Lord of the Rings, The Little House series three times and loads of other books from board books to easy readers to Harry Potter and many many books in between. We are readers and as such we're always looking for good books to read aloud to kids, books that will keep us (the parental units) interested as well. When I first heard about the McGunnegal Chronicles, from the author's then 7 year old niece, the one big detail I got at the time was goblins! Hmmm I thought to myself, another book series for boys, except I was wrong, this book seems to be equally written for boys or girls, full of the very strange McGunnegal children and their adventures with magicians, trolls, goblins, dwarfs and leprechauns, great for any and all kinds of kids to enjoy.(and their parents too!)  

The story is rather rhythmically well written and seems believable in it's pacing, which is a nice change from some books that leave you hanging in every chapter. The adventure is deep and well thought out, twisting and turning on itself to keep you reading, and once you think you know where it's going, it's sure to change and go another direction. It's a definitely a book we can discuss over dinner, mull over, it will keep you thinking and you or your kids or the whole family will be ready to read more of it whenever you can. We've just finished the second book, the third is on order and we're wondering what to read while we wait.

So please go make the McGunnegal Chronicles feel very welcome as a sponsor here on Hey What's for Dinner Mom. Why not give the gift of adventure and time well spent with kids the next time you need a great gift for kids in the 8-12 crowd. You can get the trilogy as one big book or buy each book separately or even get the Kindle edition for your e-reader. 

By the way those aren't affiliate links, those are links to the book on Amazon where the author Ben Anderson sells his book. 

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We Tried-- Nak'd Bars

We were recently sent a sampler box of Nak'd Bars from Natural Balance Foods to try out. My kids make great taste testers because while they'll eat vegetables happily, if things don't taste good they're painfully honest and quick to point out the problems. I knew slipping raw gluten free, wheat free, dairy free snack bars past them was going to be tough, I mean to them "snack bars" equal sugary chocolaty treats I rarely buy. So would a raw and essentially free of all things bar even taste good? 

Yes in fact they do taste good, so good in fact that they've set the bar for after school snacks substantially higher, no more lame snacks we need Nak'd bars! Even my oldest son who is 21 ate one. Now he took a bite, looked at the wrapper and tossed the whole thing down, probably almost disappointed that it might be good for him. After he finished his bite he looked thoughtful and came back for the rest of it. Darn, I was going to eat it! 

So, yes we liked them, some of us loved them, some of us are demanding more. I can absolutely see keeping them on the shelf for kids who come to play that have allergies and maybe perhaps for kids who live here that just really like them too. 

I was sent the box to sample them, the thoughts are mine, no other compensation was received.

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Thrifter Share

Thrifter Share, a post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to sell them, keep them or give them, share them here first. 
I'm having a hard time finding clothes I like. Not a terrible problem I suppose but where you're down to 4 shirts and jeans that won't stay up without a belt and you just can't find clothes you like enough to wear, well it becomes a problem. A problem of wearing the same ugly baggy t-shirts that are worn thin and shiny and topped by one of two cardigans over jeans that just plain don't fit anymore. And when you see the same people for five days straight and you're repeating outfits enough to feel like it's a uniform, you have a problem. And then there's the added stress of going on a business trip next week and knowing you come from the most unfashionable state in the union to START with means the pressure is on.

It's not that I won't spend money on clothes, I suppose I'm not good at shopping for them. I never want to try them on, when I do they always seem to look awful when I'm stuffed in a dressing room. I need someone to go with me and pick out the clothes and tell me if they look decent or not. I usually leave with nothing feeling like a failure or I buy a new gray t-shirt. 

I'm always looking for clothes in the thrift stores too. I feel like I find the best bits there, interesting pieces I pair with box store basics(gray t-shirt anyone?) and a pair of jeans. I've found several pairs of jeans lately but they're getting to be too big and I haven't even worn them out yet! This week I bought, on a whim, two dresses to wear over leggings or jeans. I'm not confident enough yet to wear a short dress with bare legs, maybe some days soon??
I grabbed this super short dress 

and I've already worn it out and about with jeans under it. It does sound rather hideous but it doesn't look bad, I promise. 
Then I bought this dress


which is still tight across the chest but looks great with black leggings and a black tank top under it. I won't wear it until it doesn't gap across the chest because egads that looks awful. 
So I added two dresses to the mix and this pair of Patagonia Advocates shoes which I bought off a local selling group I run. 

They're going to be great when I head out to Anaheim next week, light weight, easy to pack and totally comfortable. And they kind of look great with jeans so that's an added bonus. 

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