Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

The fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made [Recipe]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #DunkinatGiantEagle #CollectiveBias

The fluffiest pancakes I've ever made #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Can I be honest here for a second?

I dread school mornings.

OK. “Dread” is a bit strong. But when left to their own devices, school mornings can be close to dreadful. Thankfully, Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and this buttermilk pancake recipe can help make these rough mornings go a whole lot more smoothly. It’s the perfect combination because Dunkin’ Donuts helps every day people who help keep America running keep themselves running every day. And the new bottled Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffees provides refreshment with a smooth, flavorful coffee taste. It helps me keep going throughout the day, helping to provide the boost I need to survive the mornings.

And the pancakes? I promise you. You want to try this recipe. It makes the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever cooked. And I’ve cooked a lot of pancakes over the years.

Why do I dislike school mornings?

You see, even though I’m the last person to leave the house, I’m the first person to get up in the morning. Since there’s no rush for me to get to work, I wind up serving as some kind of morning coordinator, making sure our high schoolers are up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 6:30 in the morning. That’s right. The bus picks them up at 6:30 in the morning. It’s ungodly.

The bus gets here way too early in the morning #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Then, while Mom is getting ready, I get our youngest ready for her school day. Because of some special circumstances, she requires a little extra assistance in getting ready. I love getting to have some extra one-on-one time with her in the morning, but it takes some extra energy in the morning. I’ve managed to create a manageable routine for her, but it still takes time.

When it comes down to it, school mornings are probably best described as organized chaos. And that’s on a good day.

There are some things I’ve been able to do to streamline the school morning process. One thing I’ve started doing is making breakfast ahead of time. I know. I have three high school students. They should probably be fixing their own breakfast. But if I left it up to them, they’d probably grab a handful of jellybeans as they head out the door, calling it a filling breakfast. I have a fundamental disagreement with skipping a good breakfast before school. So I make sure they have something. It’s easy to do if you do the heavy lifting ahead of time. That’s why I love this pancake recipe.

Give me some buttermilk pancakes and Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee!

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

The recipe is simple enough. It calls for basic ingredients that you can get at any Giant Eagle or Market District store. And while you’re there, you can grab a few bottles of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee. The 13.75 ounce bottles are available in four flavors:

  • Original
  • Mocha
  • Espresso
  • French Vanilla

I found these ice cold bottles of goodness in a refrigerated section by the checkout lanes. They were conveniently located so I could get in, grab what I needed, and get out quickly.

Giant Eagle Collage #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Don’t misunderstand me here. The Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee isn’t for anyone else but me. It’s more like my special reward for surviving the mad rush of getting everyone out the door.

OK. I do share them with Christy from time to time. If she’s lucky.

Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffes at Giant Eagle stores #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

She’s a big Mocha fan.

With a bottle of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and these fluffy buttermilk pancakes that I’ve made ahead of time, school mornings are a whole lot easier than they used to be.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes with Syrup #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Here’s what you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ Cups of Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of White Vinegar
  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons of White Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of  Imitation Vanilla Extract
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray

Utensils

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Griddle
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups

Here’s what you’ll do

Step 1
Combine Milk and Vinegar in Medium Mixing Bowl and set aside for at least 5 minutes, allowing the milk to “sour.”

Step 2
Melt Butter in microwave safe dish. Allow to cool.

Step 3
Combine dry ingredients (Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda) in Large Mixing Bowl.

Step 3
Whisk Eggs, melted Butter, and Vanilla Extract into the “soured” Milk.

Step 4
Pour milk mixture into the Large Mixing Bowl. Whisk until combined. Set mixture aside, allowing batter to rest for 5 minutes.

Step 5
While batter is resting, preheat griddle to 350°.

Step 6
Once the griddle is hot, coat with Nonstick Cooking Spray. Pour ¼ cupfuls of batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles pop (approximately 4 minutes). Flip pancakes and cook other side until golden brown.

Golden brown fluffy buttermilk pancakes #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Step 7
Set cooked pancakes aside on a plate.

Step 8
Repeat Steps 6 and 7 until batter is gone.

If you are going to eat these right away, which is tempting, serve these fluffy stacks of goodness with syrup and eat them while they’re hot. If you’re going to use them throughout the week, allow them to cool and store them in the refrigerator in food storage bags. I like to put three in a sandwich bag so it’s easy to grab in the morning.

To Reheat
Place pancakes on microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds at 80% power. Serve with syrup or your favorite toppings.

The key to a less stressful morning

Making these amazingly fluffy and flavorful pancakes ahead of time is a key to a great morning. I can make sure my kids are well fed before school. And then after everyone is sufficiently on their way, it gives me the opportunity to enjoy my few minutes of peace and quiet with a tasty breakfast and my Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee.

A great breakfast combination #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

What’s your favorite breakfast for a hectic morning?

Easy Orange Chicken and Rice

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

Easy Orange Chicken and Rice Recipe #ReadySetServe [AD]

Always on the go.

Life is pretty hectic around here..

Now that school has started, it’s even more hectic. While Christy’s getting ready for her teaching job, It’s my job to light a fire under our three high schoolers so they’re up, dressed, and out the door in time for the school bus to arrive before the crack of dawn. Then, after they’re on their way to their respective schools, our youngest and I get ready to go to our school.

That’s right. I work at my daughter’s school. While I love working there, I don’t think anyone is as excited as she is about this new development. She’s always excited to see Daddy when she walks down the hallway. It gives me a little lift during the day, too.

Believe me.

Work is fast-paced. I’m working directly with students and every day presents a new set of challenges, surprises, and opportunities. Almost every part of my day is busy. Even lunch.

It doesn’t really slow down after school, either. If I’m not picking up one of our two athletes from their practices, I’m heading to meetings or helping someone with homework. My afternoons and evenings are just as hectic as my mornings.

Lunch time?

I really don’t have very much time to pack myself elaborate lunches. Shoot, I’m lucky to get our daughter’s lunches packed in the morning. And since I only have a half an hour for lunch, I really don’t have much time to prepare anything during my lunch time. It has to be quick and easy. Because this is one of the few “down” moments I have in the day, I want to make the most of it. There’s no room for bland meals. It’s just unacceptable.

Minute Ready to Serve Rice is easily portable #ReadySetServe [AD]

That’s why Minute® Ready to Serve Rice has become a regular part of my school lunches. The cups are portable and easily fit inside my backpack. They’re ready to eat in 60 seconds. And with a wide variety of flavors, a Minute Ready to Serve rice cup can be served with almost any meal at any time of the day. The flavors include:

  • Brown Rice
  • Brown and Wild Rice
  • Multi-Grain Medley
  • Brown Rice & Quinoa
  • Basmati Rice
  • Jasmine Rice
  • White Rice
  • Chicken Rice Mix
  • Fried Rice

Available at groceries nationwide, I found several flavors at my nearby Walmart. They’re the perfect size for a meal, ensuring a healthy portion to help provide the necessary fuel for my day. With a quick stop at the store, I am able to pick up a few simple ingredients for some great lunches during the week.

Minute Ready to Serve Rice store collage #ReadySetServe [AD]

If you can’t come up with something amazing to do with these different flavors, Minute Rice has taken things a step further. They provide some great recipe ideas on their facebook page.

I’m a big fan of a recipe I’ve created myself: Easy Orange Chicken and Rice. Just like the Minute Ready to Serve cups, this meal is easy to carry, easy to make, and full of flavor. The sauce takes just a few minutes to make ahead of time, but it’s so quick even I can fit it into my hectic schedule.

Minute Ready to Serve Rice at Walmart #ReadySetServe

Here’s what I use to make my Easy Orange Chicken and Rice:

1 Minute Ready to Serve Basmati Rice Cup
1/2 Cup Popcorn Chicken
1/4 Cup Orange Chicken Sauce (see below)

Easy Orange Chicken and Rice Ingredients #ReadySetServe

It doesn’t really matter where you get the popcorn chicken. You can buy some hot popcorn chicken from your neighborhood grocery. Or you can buy a bag of frozen popcorn chicken if you’d like. That’s what I usually do. I grab a handful of popcorn chicken from the freezer, toss it in a storage container, and bring it with me to work. It’s almost as easy as grabbing the cup of Minute Ready to Serve Rice!

Once you have all of your ingredients, here’s what you do. Don’t blink while you read this or you might miss something. It’s that quick.

Heat the chicken, according to directions. Set aside and allow it to cool.

Remove lid from Minute Ready to Serve Basmati Rice. Heat according to directions.

Warm up the Orange Sauce.

Combine the chicken, Minute Ready to Serve Rice, and Orange Sauce.

Eat and enjoy! 

Here’s how to make the sauce.

1/3 Cup Orange Marmalade
1/3 Cup Barbecue Sauce
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce

Orange Sauce #ReadySetServe

Combine all three ingredients.

Simmer on the stove for 15-20 minutes.
-OR-
Microwave for 1 minute.

Stir.

Keep in refrigerator in an airtight container until needed for your Easy Orange Chicken and Rice.

I told you it was easy.

This Easy Orange Chicken and Rice lives up to its name. I’m not sure if it could be any less complicated. And thanks to the convenience of Minute Ready to Serve Rice cups, it’s a dish that can be ready in five minutes or less. It’s perfect for my hectic work days. And the tangy sweetness of the sauce makes this an oh-so good lunch!

Ready for lunch #ReadySetServe [AD]

You can easily adapt this dish to fit your preferences. Sometimes I like to add some veggies, like broccoli and carrots to this dish. And diced pineapple is a fruit to have as a side.

That’s just the beginning.

There are so many different ways you can use Minute Ready to Serve Rice that the Easy Orange Chicken is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I can use the cups in my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It makes a great midday snack. It’s great in soups and salads. Shoot, I can even use it in a dessert!

The possibilities are endless. Fortunately, Minute Rice has compiled some great recipe ideas that are quick, easy, and delicious. You can find these ideas on Instagram and via their Twitter profile, They also have a searchable database of recipes available here. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have to try the Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding next Fall!

Which Minute Ready to Serve Rice recipe are you going to try?

Please share in the comments below.

Grilled Mango Coconut BBQ Shrimp Skewers with Lime

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

Grilled Mango Coconut BBQ Shrimp Skewers with Lime [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

I love to grill. I think it’s a passion that I inherited from my dad. I’m not quite the grill master that he is, but I’m learning more every day. If I could use my grill for every meal every day of the week, I think I’d be a happy man. I’ve even been known to occasionally fire up the grill after a snowstorm. Freezing air shouldn’t be a deterrent from flame-kissed goodness. And now that summer is here, there’s no excuse. The grill must be used early and often. I love experimenting on the grill and discovering new flavors. It’s such an exciting endeavor. KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub helps add even more variety to my grilling efforts.

KC Masterpiece Dry Mix [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

I found KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub in the condiment aisle at my neighborhood Kroger. It’s a versatile mix that opens up my grilling experience to a whole new world of possibilities. It is currently available in two different flavors: Original and Sweet Honey and it’s a great addition to my grilling toolbox.

My Grill [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

Between now and August 31, you can get $1.00 off your purchase of KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce & Dry Rub!

KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce & Dry Rub is amazingly versatile. Each box comes with two pouches of spice and can yields 16 ounces of sauce. It can be used as a dry rub. It can also be used to make BBQ sauce, marinade, or a dipping sauce. I can customize the flavors by adding my own liquid to the mix. You can use water, your favorite soft drink, coffee, juice, lemonade, or even beer or bourbon to create an amazing flavor that tastes just how you like it.

Mango Lime Coconut BBQ shrimp skewers closeup [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

The summer heat makes me long for fresh seafood. It reminds me of the great times we’ve had as a family on the beach. I wanted to give KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce & Dry Rub a try, so it just made sense to create a marinade for a great seafood dish: Mango Coconut BBQ Shrimp Skewers with Lime. It’s a great combination of sweet and spicy with a tropical tanginess.

Putting together this marinade was almost effortless. Here’s what I did.

Mango Coconut BBQ Shrimp Skewers with Lime

Ingredients [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

Ingredients:

  • 1 package KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flakes
  • 1 cup Mango Nectar
  • 1 or 2 Limes
  • 1 pound Raw Jumbo Shrimp, deveined and with shells removed
  • Bamboo Skewers

Mango Coconut BBQ Shrimp Skewers with Lime [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

What to do:

  1. Combine mango nectar, coconut flakes, and KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce Mix &Dry Rub in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add shrimp to the mix.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the shrimp are marinating, soak bamboo skewers for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Slice limes.
  6. After marinating the shrimp for at least 30 minutes, preheat your grill.
  7. Add shrimp and lime to skewers, alternating the shrimp with the limes. Make sure the limes and shrimp are touching. That’ll help encourage flavor transfer from the lime to the shrimp.
  8. Place shrimp and lime skewers on the grill, set at medium heat.
  9. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning once.
  10. Remove skewers and put them on a plate when the shrimp has turned a nice pink color. The meat inside should be white and opaque. Don’t overcook your shrimp!It will be rubbery.
  11. Eat!

It’s really that easy! You can adjust the recipe as much as you’d like. Want more coconut? Go for it? Not a fan of coconut? Go ahead and take it out. You could add some lime juice to the mix to ensure some more tanginess. And I’m sure this would be great on chicken, too!

The sky’s really the limit with KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce & Dry Rub. This specially blended mix gives you the freedom to let your imagination run wild. I have some other ideas in mind for future grilling adventures. I definitely want to give it a try with some grape juice on a nice cut of beef or pork. The sweet and smoky flavors would be great for a mid-Summer date night at home.

Kroger [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

So head on over to the condiment aisle of your neighborhood Kroger. Grab a couple of boxes of KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub, and get to grilling!

Grilled Lime Mango Coconut BBQ Shrimp Skewers [AD] #MyKCMasterpiece

What flavors do YOU want to combine with KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub? Share your ideas in the comments below.

 

These Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats are out of this world!

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

Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats #FoodAwakens

The Star Wars™ franchise evokes some pretty strong emotions for me. One of the first movies I remember watching in the theaters was one of the films in the original trilogy. I remember the drama, the flashing lights, the roar of the giant spaceships, the funky aliens, and the intense battles on other worlds. The larger than life story that unfolded on the big screen captivated me in a way that no other film has ever come close.

I was already a big fan. I loved the Star Wars™ toys. I would play for hours with my neighborhood friends. One of my favorite things to do was to turn the space under our kitchen  table into a huge base for the good guys. It was safe in there. And we could plot the final push against the tyrannical forces of evil.

A perfect base #FoodAwakens

I think it’s safe to say that the kitchen table was the perfect base for the good guys. It could serve as an ice cave, protecting them from the harsh elements of a frozen planet. Or it could easily convert to a giant spaceship, headed to meet the enemy head-on. Or it could also become a base in some forested terrain with giant trees that provide a canopy of protection over the heroes as they hide from their foes.

While growing up, the perfect morning for me would have begun with an hour or two underneath the kitchen table, preparing my base for battle. Then I’d probably listen to the Star Wars™ storybook on my little record player in my room. Then the galactic battles would begin and I’d play with my Star Wars™ toys for the rest of the day. Or maybe my friends and I would go outside and re-enact one of the climactic battles outside. I would only slow down in time to eat some breakfast. For breakfast of choice? Why, Cookie Crisp, of course. Finding a toy inside the cereal box would have been the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake.

Free toy in Cookie Crisp #FoodAwakens

This is an exciting time for our family. Like many dads who grew up on a steady diet of Star Wars™ films, books, costumes, toys, and Saturday morning cartoons, I faithfully did my duty and raised my kids to be fans of the same cinematic universe. So we’re all counting down the days until the release of the next chapter in the saga. Continue reading These Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats are out of this world!

Effortless Apple Nachos for an effortless meal

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

Apple Nachos Recipe #EffortlessMeals #ad

I don’t know what it’s like at your house, but Fall is the season of controlled chaos around here. Well, I hope it’s controlled. Our three kids are enrolled at three different schools and their events seem to be stacked on top of each other. I’m working two jobs and Christy’s job requires a lot of prep at home. Homework demands, doctor appointments, and church commitments keep us on our toes. And in our free time, we’re usually taking Aiden to and from something football related. Yes, our lives are hectic. Sometimes it even feels like Christy and I are expected to be in three different places at the same time. In the midst of our family’s hustle and bustle, we still try to make sharing a meal together a top priority. That’s why I’m glad Walmart has effortless meals that are quick and easy. They’re the perfect meal for busy families like ours. Continue reading Effortless Apple Nachos for an effortless meal

Amazingly simple Peach Cobbler

Amazingly Simple Peach Cobbler RecipeThere are few things better than sharing a dessert while sitting around a campfire at the end of a long day of camping. When you think of desserts cooked by campfire, you might think of the common ones: s’mores or baked apples. They’re great treats to have on a campout, or even at home. One of my favorite desserts from my Scouting days was a little more fancy. In reality, though, this dessert might be easier to make than s’mores. It’s peach cobbler. It’s so good. And it’s so amazingly simple to make.

I learned how to bake this dessert in a Dutch Oven. But I don’t own a Dutch Oven. I might have to break down and buy one at some point, but that’s not in the plan any time in the near future. But I still need this peach cobbler in my life. Fortunately, there’s not much to change in order to be able to fix this at home. You just need to use a baking dish instead of a Dutch Oven. I used a 9×9 pan for this recipe. And you can use an oven instead of coals from a campfire.

You’ll be amazed at how easy this recipe is. But don’t tell anyone. Just let everyone think you’ve been slaving in the kitchen all day long. In addition to how easy and tasty it is, it’s also highly adaptable. In addition to peach cobbler, I’ve used a variation of this recipe to make apple cobbler, blueberry cobbler, and cherry cobbler. You simply change the cans of fruit and the canned pie filling and you’re all set!

Here’s how you make this Amazingly Simple Peach Cobbler:

Ingredients:

1 box of yellow cake mix
1 stick of butter
1 29 oz. can of sliced peaches
1 20 oz. can of peach pie filling
You’re welcome to make your own pie filling if you’d like. But we’re keeping this recipe simple. So you’re going to have to try that out on your own if you’re feeling adventurous. You can also add more cans of peaches if you’d like.

Optional: Vanilla ice cream. I mean, it’s really not optional if you’re at home. You really should have this with vanilla ice cream. It’s a little tougher to do when you’re camping, though. So we’ll just say it’s optional.

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Drain sliced peaches. When we were camping, we would set the syrup to the side and use it in our drink mix and called it “bug juice.”
  3. In a 9×9 pan, mix peach pie filling and drained sliced peaches.
  4. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the mixed fruit.
  5. Cover the dry cake mix with pats of butter. One stick of butter should cover the entire dessert.It should look like this:
    Butter on top of Peach Cobbler
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown. The time is really an estimate. You bake it until it’s done. You’ll know it’s done because it’ll look something like this:
    Peach Cobbler

Serve warm with a scoop or two of ice cream.

See?

It’s really that simple.

Amazingly simple.

Peach Cobbler Title

 

Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart!

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

Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart!

Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart! #JustAddRotel #ad

Are you creating a big snacking spread for the Big Tournament? Looking for ways to spice up game day and save money at the same time? #JustAddRotel is the perfect way to spice up your favorite recipes. From guacamole to pot roast sliders, adding a can of RO*TEL makes a traditional game day recipe into something extraordinary. Click this link to print a Walmart coupon where you buy 3 cans of RO*TEL, you will get 1 can free!

 Great Savings on RO*TEL at Walmart! #JustAddRotel #ad

Hurry, this coupon expires on April 6th and is only while supplies last! Be sure to look for RO*TEL in either the Pasta or Hispanic aisle in Walmart!

Why not share this coupon with your friends? After all, sharing IS caring!

You know, when I think about using RO*TEL to create something great to eat while watching a sporting event like the Big Tournament, the first thing that comes to mind is their famous queso dip. And that’s great. I love RO*TEL queso. But did you know that there’s so much more you can do with RO*TEL? I put together this Pinterest board to share some of the awesome things you can make with RO*TEL.

Follow Matt Todd’s board Awesome RO*TEL recipes (#ad) on Pinterest.

See? This is why you need this coupon. You don’t want to run out of RO*TEL when you’re making all these recipes!

What recipe are you look forward to trying after you use the buy 3 get 1 free coupon at Walmart?

Do  have your own “go-to” recipe that uses RO*TEL? Or are you going to give one of these amazing recipes a try? Please share in the comments.

And don’t forget to share this post with your friends!

Cherry Coke Pulled Pork makes college basketball even better [Recipe]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  Coca-Cola is a corporate champion of the NCAA. #FinalFourPack #CollectiveBias

#FinalFourPack Game Day

I love this time of year. The air is starting to warm up. The birds are returning. The flowers are starting to bloom. And a select few college teams are still playing basketball. All are signs that March is upon us. And I believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

NCAA® March Madness is about to descend upon us. It promises to be full of s the proverbial David vs. Goliath stories, surprising upsets, instant classics, and heartbreaking losses as the field of 68 men’s teams will duke it out for the opportunity to visit my fair city of Indianapolis. It’s in our beloved town where the kings of the college basketball world will soon be crowned.

Yes, I am excited about NCAA® March Madness. I get this way every year. I love every minute of the tournament, from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer. It’s wall-to-wall basketball for three weekends in a row. And I can’t get enough of it.

I have already made the declaration in our home: if the TV is on, we will be watching basketball. End of discussion.

With so much on the line with each game, I believe watching them should be an event unto themselves. This year, I plan on gathering the family around the TV to soak in as much of the hoops hysteria as possible. We’ll probably even invite some friends over to watch with us.

When gathering people together to watch, you want to keep things simple. After all, the tournament is primarily about the games. Right? You don’t want to spend half of Game Day in the kitchen making snacks. Fortunately, Coke has provided a convenient way to help you prepare for the tournament with the Coca-Cola NCAA® Final Four Pack available at Walmart.

#FinalFourPack display at Walmart

These convenient four packs come in three different flavors: Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, and Coke Zero. They’re easy to carry and a great deal! You can get four 4-packs for only five bucks. A #FinalFourPack is a great way to make wall-to-wall basketball watching even better!

You have to eat while watching basketball, right? Watching all those games can be exhausting. With help from one of the Final Four Packs, you can make a simple meal-sized snack that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: Cherry Coke Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I love this recipe because you can put it together quickly and then go back to watching the games. You just set it and forget it until it’s time to remove from the oven several hours later.  #FinalFourPack Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cherry Coke BBQ Sauce

 

The process to make Cherry Coke Pulled Pork Sandwiches is really quite simple. It just requires a lot of patience. But that’s OK. You’ve got some great basketball games to keep you occupied!

What You’ll Need:

#FinalFourPack Cherry Coke BBQ ingredients

  • 1 3-to-4 pound pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • hamburger buns
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 12 ounce can of Cherry Coke
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Spices (see below)

#FinalFourPack Cherry Coke BBQ spices

Spices:

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

What you’ll do:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

3. Put hamburger buns to the side. You won’t need them for a few hours.

4. Place pork shoulder into roasting pan or similar dish with sides.

5. Combine remaining ingredients (ketchup, Cherry Coke, red wine vinegar, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices) into a mixing bowl. Stir until blended.

6. Pour over the pork.

7. Bake until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can bake it longer than that if you’d like. In fact, it’s recommended. Some say you want to reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Because that gives the connective tissue even more time to break down, making the meat amazingly tender. You want to set it low and bake it slow. A good rule of thumb is to plan on an hour per pound of meat at minimum.

8. Go watch a game or two. Or maybe even three! It is NCAA® March Madness time, after all. Don’t worry about the pork for a while.

9. Seriously. Stop worrying about the pork. Set it and forget it.

10. Once your meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a large platter. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

11. While the meat is still warm, use two forks and pull the pork apart.

12. Add some of the sauce from the baking dish to your pulled pork.

13. Spoon the pulled pork onto the hamburger buns.

14. Enjoy!

See? It’s really that easy. Some people like to top their pulled pork with slaw. You can do that if you’d like. Or serve it with pickle spears. Or top it with mayonnaise (I know, it sounds weird, but trust me. It’s pretty good). This sandwich is the perfect pairing with the Tournament because it gives you all the time in the world to watch all the buzzer-beaters you can handle!

What’s your favorite Game Day snack? Do you have any traditions for NCAA® March Madness? Please share them in the comments below!

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A family favorite: Breakfast Pizza!

It’s that time of the year again. Number 2 pencils are sharpened. Students are filling in little bubbles, answering math questions, and writing essays. Politicians are grandstanding  about how long the process is supposed to take. And I’m once again reminded that a balloo is a bear, to wuzzle is to mix, and a younker is a young man.

Yes, standardized tests are ruling the day in Indiana.

Schools always encourage us to make sure our kids have a good breakfast on mornings like these. I can’t think of a better breakfast than this breakfast pizza. So I made it for them this morning.

Breakfast Pizza

This is the same kind of pizza I made a few months ago. It’s the one I was so excited to make for breakfast. It’s the recipe that I actually had a dream about making the night before I made it. And rightfully so. This pizza is that good.

That. good.

About a dozen years ago, I was the opening manager at a pizza joint. After firing up the oven and making sure everything was ready for the day, I would make a breakfast pizza and share it with my Driver. It was pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

And I just did. 😉

I don’t know why, but after I stopped working at that pizza place, I never really thought of making a breakfast pizza again. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve thought about that pizza quite a bit over the years. It was probably my favorite breakfast food ever. but for some strange reason, it never dawned on me that I could actually make something similar at home.

That was a horrible oversight on my part. While it’s true that I don’t have access to the exact same ingredients that I had at that pizza joint, it doesn’t mean that I couldn’t make something that tasted just as good.

Maybe even better.

I’ve seen breakfast pizza recipes with biscuits for a crust. I’ve also seen some with sausage gravy used as the sauce. Those are great. They taste pretty fabulous.

But they don’t hold a candle to the recipe I’m about to share with you.

When I made this pizza for the first time in a dozen years, it quickly became a family favorite. I think Aiden could eat it every day if that was a possibility. I’ve only made it a few times because it’s hard enough to get up on a school day without having to get up even earlier to put this pizza together. There are a few things you can do ahead of time, but you still have to get up early to bake the pizza. But that’s OK. This breakfast pizza is worth getting up a few minutes early.

Here’s how to make it: Continue reading A family favorite: Breakfast Pizza!

Breakfast in bed. So simple. So amazing.

Breakfast in Bed

They’ve always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Although some are saying that this might not necessarily be the case anymore, breakfast is still awesome. And you know what makes breakfast even more awesome? That’s right. Breakfast in bed! It’s a great way to show the person you love how much you care. And if your schedules don’t allow for you to serve breakfast in bed in the morning, you could always make this breakfast in bed for a late-evening snack. Right?

The thought of preparing breakfast in bed can be a little intimidating. But it really doesn’t have be. What I’m about to share is pretty simple to make but it’s oh-so-tasty. I’d say that it’s so simple it’s manproof. But when I’d be worried that you’d misunderstand what I was saying. And then I’d have to point you to this post and wait until you read it so you’d understand that it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a stereotype that I’d like to see go away.

Believe me. It’s easy.

The menu:

Cinnamon Roll Waffles and Syrup
Yogurt Parfait
Orange Juice (or you could upgrade to a mimosa)

What you’ll need:
Breakfast in bed ingredients

1 Can Cinnamon Rolls
1 Cup Vanilla Yogurt
3 Strawberries
Orange Juice

Waffle Maker
Knife & Cutting Board
Plate
Bowl
Drinking Glass
Fork & Spoon
Serving Tray (you can learn how to make one here if you don’t have one)

What you’ll do:

Begin by making the yogurt parfait.

chopped strawberries

1. Dice the strawberries into bite-sized pieces.
2. Spoon a thin layer of yogurt onto the bottom of the bowl.
3. Cover the yogurt with a thin layer of strawberries.
4. Continue alternating yogurt and strawberry layers, ending with strawberries as the topping.
5. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

parfait

Now, grab the cinnamon rolls and get to work on your waffles! That’s right. I said cinnamon rolls. In your waffle maker. You’re welcome to try one of these recipes instead. I’m sure it’ll taste fabulous. But I doubt it’ll be as easy as this super-simple recipe.

These cinnamon roll waffles are going to blow your mind (much like this kid’s description of his first kiss). Here’s how you make them:

1. Place a cinnamon roll in a preheated waffle maker.

cinnamon roll in waffle maker

2. Close the waffle maker.
3. Cook in waffle maker for about 75 seconds.
4. Open waffle maker and remove the cinnamon roll waffle.

cinnamon roll waffle

That’s it! I promise. It’s that easy. Don’t be too worried if the waffles have a few dark areas. They might look burnt. They aren’t. It’s just the cinnamon and sugar goodness creating an awesome texture to these simple waffles.

Now your waffle has some deep pockets to hold pools of the icing that comes with your cinnamon rolls. It’s awesome.

We’re also pretty big fans of Hoosier Sugar Daddy syrup. And let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to have these cinnamon roll waffles with either their Pumpkin Spice or Persimmon syrups, I highly recommend it. It could, in fact, be life-changing.

Put everything on a tray and get ready to serve. If you happen to keep a stash of cards (like I do), it would be a nice touch to bring the whole meal together.

Like I said. It’s so simple. And so amazing. Go ahead. Give it a try! I’m sure you’ll agree.

Breakfast in bed on a tray