throw a comfort foods party with marie callender’s pot pies {plus free printables}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WarmthInACrust #CollectiveBias

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I’ll admit it: Winter has never been my favorite season. Because of this, I always try to find ways to enjoy the season more. Whether it’s planning a get together with friends, indulging in some favorite comfort foods or putting together and enjoying a Winter-inspired tablescape, truly making an effort to enjoy the season makes Winter much more enjoyable than it would be otherwise. I did all three of the above this past weekend and held a Comfort Foods Party featuring some yummy eats, including Marie Callender’s Pot Pies! I’m so excited to share it with you all today–and be sure to scroll all the way through the post-I’m sharing free printables and recipes throughout!

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When I think of comfort foods, I think of easy-to-prepare and delicious dishes that warm you from the inside out. With the recent cold-front moving through, pot pies are the perfect comfort food to warm you up. Paired with sides such as homemade mac n cheese, mini cornbread muffins, and hot apple cider, this Comfort Foods party was a definite hit.

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Want to throw your own Comfort Foods get-together? These free printables will help you get started! Click here to download the gold “Gather Together” printable, and click here for the Comfort Foods Party invitation! The invite printable allows you to print 3 invitations per 8×10 sheet of cardstock, and, of course, it’s blank so you can fill in your own information.

As we all know, a great party is all in the details. Take a look at some of the easy touches that made this tablescape extra inviting…

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Wooden flatware in drawstring bags add a fun touch, as do confetti dot cloth napkins and mismatched white plates.

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And can we talk for a minute about this lovely (and easy!) backdrop? I call it my “dollar-eighty-nine” backdrop, because it literally cost, you guessed it, $1.89 to make. I started by taping lengths of streamers to the wall, carefully twisted each 5 times, and secured it with a piece of tape at the bottom. So easy.

Of course, we all know that a party is only as good as it’s food, and the obvious choice for our main dish were Marie Callender’s pot pies-homemade gravy mixed with vegetables and all white-meat chicken, in a golden, perfectly flaky crust that’s made from scratch. Yum.

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Interested in learning more about Marie Callenders? Visit their site here for information on their products, special offers, and more, and potpieplease for great recipe ideas.

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We love cornbread muffins in our house, and this Basic Mini Cornbread Muffin recipe is a favorite!

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Love mac n cheese? You’ll love it even more once you discover how easy it is to cook it in the crock pot (why had I never tried this before?!). I used this Crockpot Mac n Cheese Recipe.

Interested in hosting your own Comfort Foods Party? Be sure to print off the free printables, and head to Walmart, which is where I picked up our Marie Callender’s Pot Pies. Walmart has a huge selection and great prices for Marie Callender’s products. Also, be sure to check out Marie Callender’s Facebook page for updates, new product info, and great ideas using Marie Callender’s products.

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Lastly, be sure to visit Marie’ Callender’s Comforts From Home Project to help support our troops overseas. What a worthy cause!

 So tell me-what are your best ideas for enjoying Winter a bit more and beating the Winter blues?

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ghirardelli valentine’s bark + free printable

 ghirardelli valentines bark + free printable

When it comes to great gifts to give (and receive!), edible treats are at the top of my list. Gifts of food are thoughtful and convey to the recipient that they’re worth the time it takes to create and package up an edible gift. My favorite type of food gift to give, though, is one that only looks complicated and time-consuming, so for Valentine’s Day this year, I was inspired by some enticing Ghirardelli products while at Target, and created this it-only-looks-complicated Valentine’s Bark! Keep reading for the how-to and free printable  tags…

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Who wouldn’t love a gift of this yummy-looking bark at Valentine’s Day? The ingredients for this are so simple, here’s what I used:

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Can I take a moment to wax lyrical about these Ghirardelli Candy Making and Dipping Wafers? First and foremost, they are versatile and easy to use, ensuring smooth and even melting. Meaning, of course, NO tempering! We all know that Ghirardelli products are an essential ingredient in any baker’s kitchen, but these Melting Wafers just took the cake. Anyone who’s ever ruined a batch of chocolate by tempering-gone-wrong (raises hand) knows what I mean.

But back to the recipe. I ended up not using the sprinkles; I really liked the neutral and simple feel of the bark on it’s own. You’ll also need a sheet pan, a spatula, a skewer or toothpick and a couple of microwave safe bowls. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Pour two bags of the Dark Melting Wafers into a microwave safe bowl. Be sure to microwave the wafers slowly; even though the wafers don’t need tempering, they can still burn if you’re not careful. I microwaved at 50% power for 30 seconds, stirred the wafers, and then continued to microwave at 50% power for 10 second intervals. When the wafers are almost melted, pull out the bowl and stir to finish melting.

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Step 2: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and pour the melted wafers onto the sheet, smoothing out with a spatula.

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Step 3: Take a handful of White Melting Wafers and microwave until smooth. You’ll have to work a bit quickly, as your sheet of Dark Wafers will quickly want to set.

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Step 4: Drizzle the melted White Wafers over the dark, and use a toothpick or skewer to gently swirl the two together.

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See how pretty it turned out? I could stare at pretty swirled bark all day…

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Step 5: Time to decorate! I used a bag of Ghirardelli Valentine’s Day Impressions, which are perfect all by themselves, but even more so when they’re nestled into Valentine’s Bark!

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Step 6: Let your bark set (I set it in the refrigerator because I’m impatient like that). In the meantime, gather your packaging supplies.

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Like the gold and black geometric hearts I used? Good news-I’m offering them as a free printable!

happy valentines day tags 2 480x600 ghirardelli valentines bark + free printableClick here to download these Happy Valentine’s Day tags! They’ll print 4 to a sheet of 8×10 cardstock.

Step 7: Once the bark is cool, use a sharp knife to cut into pieces. I like my bark cut into random shapes-no perfect squares here! Bag up, add a tag, and you’re done!

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I just love how these turned out, what a fun gift for the special people in your life!

I’d love to know-what’s YOUR favorite way to bake with Ghirardelli products?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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homemade granola bars {snack healthy in the new year!}

 homemade granola bars {snack healthy in the new year!}

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New Year’s resolutions: they’re easy to make but difficult to maintain. And for the many Americans who resolve to eat healthier in the New Year, focusing on healthy snacks is an easy way to improve the quality of your diet, especially when you add the Feel Good Fruit (can you guess?!) to your favorite snacking recipes.

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I challenged myself to create a healthy, yet delicious, snack recipe using some of my favorite Sunsweet®  products:

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I’ll be honest with you- this was my first attempt at homemade granola bars, but I was so, so pleased at how they turned out. If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at them, this step-by-step recipe should give you the confidence you need to try them. You won’t be sorry.

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This may look like a lot of ingredients, but I honestly had most of them on hand (your probably do, too).

Ingredients:

5 c. Old Fashioned Oats
4 tbsp. Melted Butter
1/4 c. Canola Oil
1 tsp. Salt
1 c. Brown Sugar
1/2 c. Honey
1/4 c. Sunsweet®  Plum Smart
1/4 c. Molasses
3 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1.5 c. Rice Cereal
1/4 c. Sunsweet®  Dried Diced Plums
1/4 c. Other Dried Fruit
1/4. c. Chopped Almonds
1.4 c. Chopped Pistachios
1/2 bag Chocolate Chips for Dipping (Optional-but highly recommended!)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the melted butter, oil and salt, and stir in your oats. Spread on a large baking sheet, and toast for 15 minutes or so, stirring every 5 minutes so they don’t burn. Remove pan and let cool. Once cool, add to large bowl.

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Step 2: Reduce over to 325 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, juice and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Stir in the vanilla, remove from heat.

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Step 3: To the bowl of oats, add the rice cereal, diced plums, other dried fruit, almonds and pistachios. Mix together. Slowly pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour. It’ll be nice and sticky at this point.

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Step 4: Line a pan with foil (I used the same pan I toasted my oats in), and spray with nonstick spray (important!!). Press the mixture into your pan, pressing into shape, and bake for 20-25 minutes. They’ll be soft when you remove them from the oven, but they’ll harden as they cool. Once they cooled for a few minutes, I removed the granola (foil and all), onto the counter to cool a bit faster.

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Step 5: Once cool, remove foil from the granola. Cut into either squares or rectangles.

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Step 6: Time to get dipping! Slowly melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. If you don’t melt slowly, the chocolate won’t harden, so take your time! I melted my chips for 30 seconds at 50% power, gave them a stir, put them back in for 20 seconds at 50% power, and stirred until they were melted fully. Chocolate chips can retail their shape even when melted, that’s why stirring is so important to see when they’re done. Dip bars halfway into chocolate, then place on parchment to set.

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chocolate dipped granola bars homemade granola bars {snack healthy in the new year!}

And you’re done!

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I’m so happy with how these turned out (my kids are, too)! And the Sunsweet® prunes and juice added such great flavor and nutrition to this recipe. Sunsweet®  products are an easy fix to help you stick with your healthy eating resolutions for 2015. Here’s a little bit I recently learned about Sunsweet®:

    • PlumSmart® Light: This juice is made from a special variety of fresh, juicy plums and has only 60 calories and 15g of carbs, and helps you stay fit on the inside by providing a good source of fiber. PlumSmart Light is a great addition to a smoothie.
    • Amaz!n™ Prunes: These little gems are a good source of fiber for only 100 calories per serving. Amaz!n Prunes are nature’s perfect way to feel good with nutrition and delicious taste. Prunes also have a low glycemic index, which means they keep you feeling fuller longer. They add a powerful boost of nutrition and fiber to snack time or your favorite recipe.
    • Amaz!n™ Diced Prunes: Grab a handful of these delicious diced prunes for nutritious snacking. One serving of Amaz!n Diced Prunes is a good source of fiber for only 100 calories. Add to your favorite snacking recipe for extra fiber and a fruit flavor boost.

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I’m so glad I overcame my hesitation and tried these out–it’ll be hard to buy store-bought granola bars again!

Thanks for reading!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 
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