Sneaky Chef Giveaway

I constantly have to sneak vegetables into my families food. I spend a lot of time chopping zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms to hide in  chili, lasagna and anything else I can come up with. But I found a way to save time and still get veggies in my family with the help of The Sneaky Chef.

Missy Chase Lapine, a New York Times bestselling cookbook author, created Sneaky Chef foods. Each product is packed with real vegetables.  This makes my day easier since I don’t have to spend time chopping and blending veggies into our dinner. The Sneaky Chef Foods are all-natural, and have no corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors or MSG. Several are also gluten-free. The products are coming to Remke’s in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati market.

andi sneakyI had the opportunity to try the entire line of Sneaky Chef products.

My whole family loved the Sneaky Chef Pasta Sauce over the Sneaky Chef noodles with ground Italian sausage. The sauce is made with tomatoes and eight hidden vegetables, including cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, yellow squash, celery, and onions. The pasta are made with six hidden vegetables including broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and beets. My family had no idea that there was dinner was filled with these awesome nutrients. And my daughter loved wearing the apron while helping.

We used the veggie elbows to make one of our household favorites – macaroni and cheese. I didn’t feel so guilty about serving them a pasta mixed with cheese, butter and milk since it is also filled with vegetables! It was yummy.

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pasta cheese

Sneaky Chef makes a No-Nut Butter that is a perfect  peanut butter substitute for kids and adults who suffer from nut allergies. Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter is made from golden peas, which are naturally sweet and nutty, giving it the flavor of nut butters but it is 100 percent peanut-free, tree nut-free and soy free. You can use it to make sandwiches or bake. 

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One lucky winner will be able to try the products too.  Here’s how you can try to win (be sure to make four separate comments for more chances to win):

Entry #1 Like The Sneaky Chef Facebook page and comment here that you did.

Entry #2  Share this giveaway with friends on Facebook.  Be sure to tag Raising2tweens in your post. Comment here that you did.

Entry #3  Comment below why you’d like to win products from The Sneaky Chef.

Entry #4 Like Raising2tweens on Facebook and comment here that you did.

A winner will be randomly picked Sunday, Dec. 22 at noon.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond or another will be chosen.

Want another chance to win? Check at the Healthy Hen!

Disclaimer:  I was provided with products from The Sneaky Chef line to review for this giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

Venice on Vine; Good Food for a Good Cause

I discovered one of the BEST restaurants in Greater Cincinnati last night. Every bit of food INCREDIBLE, the staff was amazing, the decor was inviting and best of all… it is all for a great cause. Venice on Vine is owned by Powered Inspires Progress, a nonprofit, which provides paid training in a supportive work environment with high expectations and varied experience.
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So here is how it works…Venice on Vine, which is a traditional restaurant that also provides catering, hires people who are considered at-risk to hire. They might not have a high school education or maybe they spent time in jail or they might be fresh out of rehab… whatever the reason, they are having a hard time securing employment. So they start working at the restaurant as a dishwasher. They gradually move up to different positions like cook, bus boy, server and cashier. During this time they learn how to follow a recipe, as well as other instructions, improve their math skills by doubling or tripling a recipe, to clean well, interact with others, keep their cool dealing with the public, develop interpersonal and communication skills, how to cater an event and working a cash register. They work at the restaurant 22 hours a week for one year. During that time, community volunteers work with them to develop computer skills, craft a resume, practice interviewing and work on getting their GED or any other piece of education they need. All employees must pass a drug test.
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PIP empowers trainees to further their education, providing instruction in basic life skills and paid job-training. Pretty amazing!
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So when I heard this story I had to wonder how the food would taste. Would it be frozen pizza? Bagged salad? NOPE! There was nothing store-bought about this meal! All of the sauces, dressings and desserts were homemade. I started with a delicious green salad that had fresh fruit, almond slivers and feta with a homemade raspberry dressing. I was in heaven!
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Next I had the Vegan African Stew. I was reluctant to try this but am so glad I did. I seriously could have licked the bowl clean. It was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.
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The chicken Marsala was next. The mushrooms soaked in the homemade wine sauce made this dish!
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I enjoyed the deluctable chicken alfredo pizza. It was so cheesy. The crust was perfect. The sauce was delish. Oh yum!
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Dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert though. I went for a piece of carrot cake and the apple cake with caramel drizzle. Both were to die for but I have to say I haven’t stopped thinking about that carrot cake since the first bite. I already told my boyfriend that I want carrot cake from Venice on Vine for my birthday (yes, they have carryout).
apple cake carrot cake

 

I had the opportunity to try a combination of the restaurant and catering menus last night. You can view both menus on the website.

 

There are a lot of great restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area. Shoot, there are a lot of great restaurants on Vine Street in Over the Rhine. But there aren’t a lot of great restaurants that operate as a non profit, higher people who otherwise probably couldn’t get a job or train their employees to help them find a better job. So the next time you are heading out to dinner or hiring a caterer, try Venice on Vine. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it and you’ll be helping out a great cause.

Have you been to Venice on Vine? What did you think?

P.S. Check us out on Facebook.

GIVEAWAY: FRISCH’S PRESENTS THE NUTCRACKER

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Whether you are looking for the perfect date night or a family adventure, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without The Nutcracker. The tradition returns for the ultimate family experience including stunning sets and costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s melodious score, played by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The beloved story of Clara and her nutcracker doll turned handsome prince is the dream-like adventure we cherish with loved ones season after season.
Personally, I love the Nutcracker! This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to the art of ballet or take a break and go with a friend or as a date night. I love to have dinner or lunch at Nicholson’s Pub before or after the show. Performances run Dec.20-22, and Dec.26-29 at the Aronoff Center. Single tickets start at $32, and may be purchased by visiting www.cballet.org. Thanks to the generosity of the Cincinnati Ballet, we have 2 tickets to see Frisch’s Presents the Nutcracker at the Aronoff to give away to one lucky reader.
GIVEAWAY: Thanks to the generosity of the Cincinnati Ballet, we have a voucher good for TWO TICKETS to see FRISCH’S PRESENTS THE NUTCRACKER at the Aronoff Center Dec.20-22, and Dec.26-29, 2013.
To Enter: For your chance to win tickets to see this performance, just leave a comment below saying why you want to go. (required to enter)
BONUS ENTRIES:
1. Subscribe to the blog and comment here that you did.
2. Like Raising2tweens on Facebook and comment here that you did.
3. Share this post via Facebook and tag Raising2tweens and comment here that you did.
All entries will be verified. You must comment separately for bonus entries. Entries must be submitted by noon on Saturday, Dec. 14. One winner will be randomly selected using random.org. Good luck!

The 28 Things I’m Thankful For

Several of my friends have posted what they are thankful for each day in November on Facebook. I have not done that. Instead of posting something random that I come up with each day, I wanted to compile a list on my blog. A list of 28 things I’m thankful for.   And if you can make it to the end, you will discover the surprise contest! They are in no particular order.

1. The Fort Thomas Education Foundation Dance – It was there that I met my wonderful boyfriend Nick.

2. Northern Kentucky University – I received my BA in Journalism and Speech Communication at NKU. Without that degree I would not have had 10 years of experience as a reporter and six years in public relations.

3. The internship I had in college (1996). It was there that I met my current boss and made a life-long connection. I now work a job that I love.

4. The opportunity to work as a reporter for 10 years. That experience allowed me to learn a little bit about everything including construction, the housing market, city ordinances, politics, school budgets and so much more. It is also that experience that helped me learn so many useless facts. But most of all, that experience helped me make hundreds of connections with people who live, lead and work in my community.

5. Holly Hill Children’s Home – I volunteered as a mentor when I was 22-years-old. It opened my eyes to so much. My mentee asked for stuff like pop, deodorant and stamps for Christmas instead of the latest technology or hot item. She just wanted her basic needs met.

6. Outdoors/Seasons – I am thankful to live in an area where we can enjoy the seasons, hike, see waterfalls, run trails with our dog, stay in a cabin in the woods, go tubing, enjoy a large amusement park (Kings Island), play in the leaves, swim, pick berries, play in the snow and enjoy a bon fire.

7. My high school junior and senior English teachers – While other teachers, including my guidance counselor, at my high school were telling me not to even bother applying for college, these two teachers were encouraging me every step of the way.

8. My parents and brothers – My dad and my brother Bryan for teaching me to stand up for myself and to speak my mind. My mom for teaching me the RIGHT way to speak my mind. LOL My brother Ray for teaching me that I don’t always have to stand up for myself because whenever needed, he’ll do it for me.

9. Humor – I sometimes laugh at really inappropriate times. I try to control that. But I am happy to be a person who often finds the humor in things. When there is a choice to laugh or cry, I’m going to pick laughing every time.

10. My daughter’s sense of fashion – My 14-year-old daughter is an expert at hair, makeup and what to wear. And apparently I am clueless so I am thankful I have her to steer me in the right direction. I’m also thankful to be able to watch her grow into a beautiful, young woman.

11. My son – There is not just one thing I can say about Joey. I am thankful he’s in our lives. This could be a blog post in itself but Joey has had many health challenges, even in the womb, throughout his life and I’m just so thankful every day of my life that he is with us.

12. Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis – LCH is the rare disease my almost 12-year-old boy has. Although I wish we had never heard of Histio, it has brought some good things in our lives. I don’t live with anxiety and worry like I used to. I’ve realized that worrying all the time isn’t doing anyone any good. Instead of letting everyone’s problems live rent-free in my head, I choose to live life to the fullest. And to do so with my kids.

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13. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – We are lucky to live 10 minutes from the hospital. Cincinnati Children’s is the place to be if you have Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. The oncology department is amazing. It also has one of the best orthopedic departments in the country, which we are grateful for since Joey has had a bone graft of his hip. The pain team has also helped us a great deal. I must mention Dr. Neil Johnson specifically. He diagnosed Joey with LCH after I fought with doctors for over a month trying to find out what was wrong. He has followed us every step of the way for the last 20 months and ensured the best care possible for Joey.

14. Radio station contests – I win a lot. Nick wins a lot. Andi is doing pretty good too. Thanks to radio station contests, I have been able to enjoy many concerts, a trip to Vegas, $1000 in free James Free Jewelry, restaurant and massage gift certificates, being on stage with Jon Bon Jovi, several movie premiers and so much more for FREE.

15. The Walking Dead – This awesome show allows me to bond with Nick and his children from 9-10 p.m. every Sunday (when we are able to watch together) and when we talk about it throughout the week. Nick was dressed as a walker the night I met him.

16. Sharing Holiday Traditions – Nick and his three kids (21, almost 19 and almost 18) joined in our Christmas decorating tradition this year. I was able to give each one their own ornament for the tree. We decorated stockings, ate dinner together and decorated the tree. I am thankful for the opportunity to get know Josh, Jordan and Joel and I look forward to building on those relationships.

family

17. Jordan – I am thankful for Jordan’s sense of humor and her ability to make me laugh. I love that she is an individual who doesn’t care what others think of her. She has her own fashion sense and a great attitude toward life. Her work ethic is awesome too. I am thankful that she gives me a glimpse of what life with an older teen girl will be like in a few years.

18. Joel – I am thankful that Joel and I can bond over music, TV shows and movies. His drumming talent blows me away. I love observing him with his friends since they make me crack up laughing. I enjoy joking with him about things I can’t joke with my younger kids about just yet. I love being around him and getting a glimpse of what life with an older teen boy will like in the future.

19. Josh – I love how mysterious he can be at times. I admire how he can quietly sit back and take things in without reacting. I appreciate his love for sports, work ethic and enthusiasm for music. I envy his ability to eat a ton of whatever he wants and never gain a pound.

20. Concerts – Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Kiss, Pat Benatar, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Scott Wieland, Butch Walker, Indigo Girls… to just name a few. I love music, especially live music. I have been lucky enough to attend at least 50 concerts in my lifetime.

21. My Histio Family – all of the families I have met through fundraisers and online have made this journey easier than it would be without them.

22. The Rusty Griswolds & Taylor Swift’s Video: We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together  – I was dressed in pajamas, as T. Swift, the night I met Nick. He might not have noticed me if I wasn’t dressed like that. It was a costume party. The Rusty Griswalds were playing that night.

rusty griswolds

23. My Community – Our community has repeatedly supported us in our fight against Histio and our care for Joey since diagnosis. They have also remembered Andi every step of the way. We are so lucky to have them… even strangers.

24. My Friends – Not only have they supported us in our fight against Histio and our care for Joey, they have provided me with friendship for years. I have to say a special thanks to Jessica Gibula. She has been my rock so many times. So many people have that I hate not to name each one but that would take all day. Friends have helped with fundraising, shooting a Histio video, sitting with me in the hospital, watching Joey and so much more. I value those friends.

25. My nieces, nephews, sister-in-laws, my extended family – They have all supported us through the Histio fight. But that is no surprise since our family has always taken care of each other. I love my nieces and nephews like they are my own, my sister-in-laws like they are sisters I never had. My cousins…. well some of them are my closest friends. I have a pretty awesome family.

26. Nick’s Family – I thought I had a big family until I met Nick’s. They have all welcomed me and my kids as if we have been part of the family for years.

27. My Dog Scout  – She loves me unconditionally. She came in our lives at a time when I really needed her. She has cared for Joey when he has been sick and cuddled with me when I’ve needed it. She really is a family member.

28. My very full life with Nick – We might not be able to afford a fancy car or elaborate trips… but I have a very full life. I have an amazing man who loves me more than anything in the world and I love him. We have five incredible kids in our life. We have a huge, very close-knit family. We have tons of nieces, nephews and little cousins to enjoy. We have great friends. We both have jobs we enjoy, a house we like and neighbors who we love. We share a love for live music, movies, food and family. Yeah, I have a lot to be thankful for.

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you thankful for?

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Oh, let’s not forget the giveaway!! I have 11 tickets to Boogie Nights that are valid any Friday night through Dec. 20, 2013. This giveaway is going to be fun. Go to the Raising2tweens Facebook page, like the page and then post your best guess as to why I named my dog Scout (Hint: I love to read and work for a library). I will use random.org to pick a winner from those who guess it right. Be sure to post your guess on the Facebook page. Sharing the blog on Facebook or Twitter (@gina5620) and commenting here that you did will get you a BONUS entry. Entries will be accepted until noon on Sunday, Dec. 1.

 

The Day Before Christmas Giveaway

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There is a flurry of activity at the North Pole. Santa and Mrs. Claus, the elves, the reindeer, the forest animals and even the toys themselves prepare for the biggest night of the year! It takes a lot of planning and hard work to get a sleigh off the ground and deliver toys to children around the world, but Santa’s team is ready and willing. Or at least they think they are before a tricky Jack Frost decides to try to stop the Christmas Festivities with a little comical chaos and calamity.

This story: The Day Before Christmas by Ken Jones will come to life at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati at the Taft Theatre on December 6, 7, 8 and 14. The play is recommended for ages 4 and up and runs about 55 minutes. Ticket prices range from $11-$30. But I have a voucher for four tickets to giveaway to one lucky winner!

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The Giveaway!

A voucher from the Children’s Theatre for four free tickets to The Day Before Christmas that are good for Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. or Saturday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. The voucher must be redeemed one hour before showtime or contact the box office to make a reservation. All tickets subject to availability. The voucher is not for resale.

You have four chances to win! Be sure to comment separately for each one so that you get each chance. A winner will be chosen randomly through random.org. The winner will be announced on Facebook and receive an email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. You have until Tues., Nov. 26 at noon to enter. Good luck!

1. Comment here saying why you want the tickets and who you would take (required to enter).

2. Become a follower of the blog and comment here that you did (will verify).

3. Share this post on Facebook and tag Raising2Tweens and comment here that you did (will verify).

4. Share on Twitter making it @Tafttheatre and comment here that you did (will verify).

Disclaimer: I was given four tickets to The Day Before Christmas to take my family. All opinions are my own.

Cincinnati Ballet’s Swan Lake Giveaway!

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We are giving away a voucher good for two tickets to see Cincinnati Ballet’s Swan Lake at the Procter & Gamble Hall, Arnoff Center on Friday, October 25 – 8:00 pm, Saturday, October 26 – 8:00 pm, Saturday, October 26 – 2:00 pm or Sunday, October 27 – 2:00 pm.

The tragically evocative love story of mistaken identity and retribution, Swan Lake, returns to Cincinnati Ballet once more in a tour de force collaboration with BalletMet Columbus. Choreographed after the Petipa/Ivanov original by Artistic Director & CEO Victoria Morgan, Devon Carney and Gerard Charles, Swan Lake combines two of Ohio’s great ballet houses for an awe-inspiring presentation of balletic precision and dramatic expression. Swan Lake will be performed in Columbus, OH the weekend of October 18-20, and October 25-27 in Cincinnati. The soaring, provocative score, composed by the legendary Tchaikovsky, is brought to life at the Aronoff Center for the Arts by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

We will draw one random winner on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. The winner will be notified via Facebook and email. You have 12 hours to contact us via email or another name will be drawn. Due to the quick turnaround of this giveaway, the voucher will have to be picked up in the Fort Thomas or Fort Mitchell area. The voucher must be taken to the Arnoff Center box office one hour before show time to trade for tickets. . Subject to availability.

You have four ways to win! Be sure to comment separately for each entry.

1. Why do you want to see Swan Lake? (required to enter)

2. Share this contest on Facebook and comment here that you did.

3. Like us on Facebook and comment here that you did.

4. Subscribe to the blog and comment here that you did.

All entries will be verified.

Disclaimer: My family was given two tickets to see Swan Lake. All opinions are 100% my own.

Good luck!

Annie Jr. Ticket Voucher Giveaway

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Oh My Goodness! Oh My Goodness! The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati opens its 89th MainStage season with a production of “Annie JR.” at the Taft Theatre October 18-20 & 26, 2013.  One of the world’s best-loved musicals features little orphan Annie who wins over everyone’s hearts.  She is determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan.

Performances of Annie Jr. will be:

Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 PM
Saturday, October 19 at 5 PM
Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 PM
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2 PM

The ticket prices are $7-$25.   Purchase tickets by calling 1-800-745-3000 or ordering from Ticketmaster. Visit The Children’s Theatre for more information.

 

Annie Jr. Ticket Voucher Giveaway

We are giving away a voucher good for four tickets to see Annie Jr on Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. or 5 p.m. We will draw one random winner on Friday, Oct. 11 at  12 p.m. The winner will be notified via Facebook and email. You have 24 hours to contact us via email or another name will be drawn. The voucher will be mailed to the winner. The voucher must be taken to the Taft Theatre box office one hour before show time to trade for tickets. Or you can call the theatre to reserve your seat in advance. Subject to availability.

You have four ways to win! Be sure to comment separately for each entry.

1. Why do you want to take your family to see Annie Jr.? (required to enter)

2. Share this contest on Facebook and comment here that you did.

3. Like us on Facebook and comment here that you did.

4. Subscribe to the blog and comment here that you did.

All entries will be verified.

Disclaimer: My family was given four tickets to see Annie Jr.   All opinions are 100% my own.

Good luck!