Western Union helps families stay close to loved ones when they are so far away

As most of you know, I am not from Texas or the United States. I grew up in Canada until I decided to come to school here and study at the Art Institute. To make a long story short, Not long after I started I met my husband and we’ve been together ever since. I graduated in 2006 and we wed in 2007 and had our firstborn son by 2009.

That sounds all sweet and nice, but there’s another side to it. When I watched this video put out by western union, it touched my heart. As an ex-pat, I knew how every single one of these people in the video felt. I got kinda weepy watching the very last lady from Brazil – take a look for yourself and see what I mean…

Similar to the people in the video, we do a lot of skype to maintain close ties, and JP talks to his nana and nonno as often as possible. Here he is showing my dad all about his video games!

Besides family, there’s plenty of other things that I miss from Canada, and that’s some of the local foods that are only available over there. Because it’s in North America, you can expect to find the same type of things you normally find over here – with a few minor differences.

Canada (specifically Montreal) isn’t really known for a “national” cuisine, and that’s probably because there’s so many different ethnicities all crammed into 1 tiny city. As far as native food is concerned, one of the things I miss the most is poutine.

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I know, I know – it’s 100% junk food, but it’s delicious and I miss it! You may have heard of it, because it’s popularity has been spreading in the US, but it’s still pretty difficult to find here in Dallas. It’s basically French fries, cheese curds topped with a savory brown gravy. MmmMmmMmm!

That being said, when I get a craving I must take matters into my own hands, and make it myself. The trouble is, finding the right gravy and the right cheese can be difficult. Luckily for me, I’ve found a local grocery store that sells cheese curds and my mother keeps me in a good supply of poutine sauce mix every time she sends me a care package from home.

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So this is what I do – I order a large french fry from any local fast food chain, go home and make the sauce then top with yummy cheese curds and dig in. It’s a small slice of heaven when I’m missing home!

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

Crispy, cheesy fried rice balls with Minute Rice®

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I was given the opportunity to try Minute Rice, and our family loves it. Although I was paid to write this post, I’m sure you will find this recipe delicious!

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

I can cook lots of different things pretty well, but let me let you in on a little kitchen confession… One of the foods that i consistently burn is rice! You would think its kind of a simple side dish to make, no? Well yes, it is but when I cook it from scratch I almost always have a layer stuck to the bottom of the pan, and the rice is still a little bit hard to the bite.

*sigh*

Since rice is a side dish, whenever I make it there’s always a main course and another side that I’m making as well – so my attention can be divided in the cooking process. This is probably part of the problem! Rice is one of those great, gluten-free pantry staples that are easy, making both Minute® Rice White Rice and Minute® Rice Brown Rice wonderful choices to have when putting together a quick dinner. There’s even some newer products out too like Multi-Grain Medley, Quinoa and Thai Red Rice that cook in as little as 10 minutes! Again, cooking brown rice from scratch is nearly impossible for me to get it to turn out right.

So as a solution, I rarely use the kind of rice that can be cooked from scratch. Instead, I use instant rice such as Minute Rice® to make my life easier with consistent results. I’ve been cooking up a lot of different appetizers lately, and I’ve got a real winner for you today – fried rice balls, otherwise known as arancini in Italian. These balls are made of rice, stuffed with a mozzarella cube in the middle, breaded and fried to perfection! You can add a little Marianna dipping sauce on the side for some extra flavor too.

I started with making a large batch of minute rice, and instead of using water as the package directions recommend, I used chicken stock.

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

The rice is so simple to make – I made a large batch (2 cups dry rice + 2 cups of chicken stock) and let it cool on the counter while I got my other ingredients ready. You will need:

  • 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable oil for frying

The rice is pretty hot once it’s ready to eat… See the steam? I let it cool until it was warm.

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

While that was cooling, I sliced some mozzarella cheese into small cubes so they can be stuffed into the rice balls as little surprises. I also grated some Asiago cheese and mixed it together with the Parmesan cheese. Once the rice is warm to the touch, mix in the cheese and crack one of the eggs in the mix.

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

Blend it all together until its nice and sticky. Be careful not to add the egg while the rice is too hot or you may have scrambled eggs in your rice, and you don’t want that. A nice, sticky, messy mess is what you want.

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad Grab a little handful of the rice, and put a little piece of the mozzarella in the middle. Form it into a sticky rice ball. Now its time to get it ready for frying, and that’s where you need the other 2 eggs and the breadcrumbs. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and dip the rice ball in the egg and then coat it in the breadcrumbs. Set it aside until you have the oil in the pan nice and hot.

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

When the oil is nice and hot (med to med. high) drop each ball in the pan Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn on one side! Fry until the outside is brown and crispy.

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad Serve with marinara sauce for a delicious appetizer!

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

Fried Rice Balls with Minute Rice - #MinuteHoliday #ad

 Learn more about Minute® Rice and all their products they have available, including their treasure trove of recipes!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice.

 

I made the best dessert ever with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups

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Pepperidge Farm gave me the opportunity to try out their delicious & flaky frozen puff pastry. Although I was paid to try it, I’m in love and would make this again and again!

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

This weekend, I think I just made a prize-winning dessert with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups. I made these on a whim with an idea that I just thought up out of the blue when I was enjoying a girls night out earlier this month. Why not use these puff pastry cups with…. nutella mousse? I have to pat myself on the back this time – sometimes I have the best ideas ever!

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry can be used for just about anything sweet or savory. At our little evening soiree, we enjoyed all sorts of puff pastry yummies – like baked brie & crackers, pesto & mozzarella poppers (my favorite!) and pastry cups will with mushrooms and cheese.

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

Then I got my idea to use a light & airy chocolate filling for the cup after having this… It’s a puff pastry cup filled with a rolo, and topped with caramel sauce sitting on a bed of vanilla ice cream. Heaven on a spoon!!

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

Most of all, I’m loving the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry because its so  versatile. You can use all sorts of different ways – check out the Pepperidge Farm website for recipe ideas – it kinda blew my mind with all the different recipes! There’s even a puff pastry 101 section that helps you learn how to handle & bake your puff pastry for those that have never used it before.

So of course, I had to try my idea after enjoying the rolos in the pastry cups. I thought something lighter would work well and make it similar to a cream puff. I came up with Nutella Mousse Pastry Cups – here’s what I did:

First I baked the cups according to the package directions, and brushed them with egg wash. They come in sheets and you must break them into individuals and arrange them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Egg wash = 1 beaten egg+ 1 tbspn of water

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

I baked them till they were nice and brown and let them cool before filling them with the Nutella Mousse. It’s super simple to make, and I did it while my cups were baking.

You will need:

1 cup of nutella

2 cups of heavy cream

Whip the cream until you have soft peaks. In a separate bowl, measure out 1 cup of nutella and add about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and whisk those together. Fold in the rest of the cream until the nutella is all incorporated and is light and fluffy.

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #adDing! The cups were finally ready. I pulled them out of the oven and I pushed down the centers to create a hole for filling. I used the back of a spoon because they were too hot to touch.

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

Once they were all cooled off, it was time to fill them with the mousse. I didn’t have a pastry bag on hand, so I had to get creative with what I had. I did have a large metal tip, so I clipped a corner on a large plastic freezer bag and slipped the tip in there. It would be difficult to fill these cups without something like this, so I thought it would be an important step.

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

See all those flaky layers? Words just don’t describe – Mmmm! You can find the Pepperidge Farm Baking Cups in the freezer section at your local grocery store. What will you create when you entertain your guests this holiday season?

Flaky Nutella Pastry Cups with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpasty #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry.

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry - #puffpastry #ad

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