Momma Told Me: July 2016

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Banana Split Strawberries Recipe

Banana Split Strawberries
Momma Told Me: Taste the season.

When I was a young girl we'd overnight strawberries to my grandparents in Massachusetts. This might seem like a silly thing to do, but I've heard all too well the plight of over-priced, over-ripe, tiny strawberries on the East Coast. See, I grew up quite literally walking past the strawberry fields to school, and my little Southern California town is known as one of the strawberry capitals of the country. We even hold a massive strawberry festival each Spring. A life without fresh, ripe, dippable, bursting with flavor strawberries never occurred to me as I was painting my shirt, fingers, and face with strawberry juice as a child.
Banana Split Strawberries
I've had many tell me that my local strawberries are some of the best they've ever had. I suppose I take it for granted when I can walk to a stand several blocks from my house and pick up a fresh (picked that morning) flat for just $6. And for those not savvy with the market lingo- a flat is many many baskets- 8, to be exact. Yes, I know, you probably pay $5-6 for a pint even in season, if you live in a cold climate state.
So what does all this have to do with anything? Am I just rubbing my beautiful berry fortune in your face? Well, yes, and no. Strawberries simply are a staple here for most of the year. We don't have groves of fresh peaches, and the corn is often lacking, but every Spring and Summer we feast on the most beautiful, delicious, berries. And, with an entire flat on the kitchen counter, I come up with a lot of creative ways to serve and enjoy them.
In the Summer anything frozen is a hit- But I try not to keep ice cream on hand- or it'll get eaten and,  nobody needs that temptation around. Needless to say, my favorite, banana splits, are reserved for ice cream parlors and special occasions. That's where the genius of these banana split strawberries come in- a healthier version of a classic treat in a single portion, bite sized package. They're especially great frozen and thawed at room temperature for 5 minutes, or served fresh at a Summer party.
So this recipe, needless to say, is insanely simple, requires no baking, and can be made in about 30 minutes with some ingredients most people have on hand already. Since I'm watching my sugar, I even found a delicious sugar free pudding mix to use as the base for my pineapple banana filling- and it chills to the most wonderful texture, thanks to the artificial sweeteners.
Of course anybody can core out strawberries and fill them with deliciousness- who am I to judge if you just straight up nozzle some whipped cream in the center and call it done? The sentiment is still there- banana splits IN strawberries. And these pack an adorable punch at that. But I do have to say, the creamy, fluffy, pudding filling is the perfect companion to the crunch of the chocolate dipped shell and the gooey chocolate fudge.
Most recipes that require coring use a melon baller. Well, I don't own one, and most berries are going to be too small for one. I actually used a sturdy teaspoon measuring spoon to carefully carve out the center of my berries. It worked perfectly!  You'll also want to cut just the tip of the strawberries off to help them stand after being dipped. Be careful though, these will be top heavy when filled- when in doubt, cut a little extra off. The filling is thick and shouldn't leak or run through.
Banana Split StrawberriesWho doesn't love a chocolate dipped strawberry? Well, those who don't like strawberries I suppose- but then, you wouldn't be reading this, would you? Prepare your gorgeous strawberry split vessels by dipping them in a thinned chocolate solution. I like to use a little bit of coconut oil, rather than butter, to give my chocolate a quick melting, even consistency. The trick is to get the chocolate just thin enough to begin running down the sides when you place it on your resting tray.
A banana split isn't complete without all the trimmings, so you'll want to dip those chocolate dipped berries in some chopped nuts if you're a fan of the full split experience. Make sure you send your dipped, filled berries to the freezer for about 5 minutes to properly chill and set them before you move on the my favorite part- the hot fudge drizzle.
Banana Split Strawberries
Banana Split Strawberries
Hot fudge, sprinkles, and a cherry on top complete the split experience and make these quite literally a bite of banana split at your fingertips! Every time I see one of these beauties it makes me smile and reminds me of wonderful childhood memories scarfing down a sundae or split in my pajamas on a Friday night. Even better, I can enjoy 1 or 2 in a sitting without feeling all the guilt of a heavy ice cream treat!
Banana Split Strawberries
So that's what I've been nomming on in my kitchen- Is there a seasonal fruit or veggie you have local that you just can't get enough of in the Summer?

What Daughter Says: Strawberries mean Summer in my little hometown- and it just wouldn't be Summer without them!

Banana Split Strawberries
Banana Split Strawberries 
***Click here for a printable Banana Split Strawberries recipe

Day Trip To Cannery Row in Monterey, California #GrabYourMoment

#GrabYourMoment and visit dog friendly Cannery Row Montery, California #AD
Momma Told Me: The backyard is your playground.

I am a horrible Southern Californian.

I'll admit, my heart is on the East Coast. Some might say it's because I was raised here, just a short drive to the Pacific Coast beaches, and a stones-throw from glamorous Los Angeles and Hollywood, that I am wasted on it's appeal. I just never really cared much for sun and sand- A trip to Massachusetts when I was was 6, shoveling snow in the front yard of my grandparent's house quickly conjured all of these romantic ideas of seasons and foliage. As an adult I've been back many times, and it never seems any less wondrous.

But for the typical American, those not born to seek out cold, damp, and even frozen (Alaska) climates for vacation, the California Coast truly is a playground.
#GrabYourMoment and visit dog friendly Cannery Row Montery, California #AD
Because it's been several years since my last visit, and Monterey, California holds so many wonderful childhood memories for me, I decided to return with a fresh perspective. Last weekend we took a gorgeous drive inland (and then back down along the coast) to Cannery Row. Monterey County extends some 90+ miles of beautiful California coastline, and is a massive playground both on the shore, and inland. We'd originally intended to visit Big Sur, but the Memorial Day holiday made daytime coastal travel a bit of a headache so we scooted in to the highway for a straight shot up to Monterey, itself.
One of the things I recall, quite magically, from my own childhood is the number of trolleys that speed down the streets, up and down Cannery Row. That and the massive Monterey Bay Aquarium- a learning playground for any youth, or marine enthusiastic adult. No sooner had we stepped foot out of the parking lot onto Ocean View Blvd did we hear the familiar bells of the trolley, and see the mustard colored tram speeding by. It was about then the smell of the salt air began to hit me.
I was raised in Southern California, moments from the beach.

I have been from Coast to Coast and seen beaches at every corner of this nation. I hold a soft spot for Rhode Island beaches in the Summer, but, if you can't make it, Monterey comes pretty darn close. The water is warmer- kids and patrons walk right in on the beautiful sands. Teenagers climb the shoreline rocks, laughing as the tide rolls in and out. Families build sandcastles just moments from the Cannery Row shops, and the wildlife is abundant. You can look in either direction on the horizon and see a paddle-boat, a sailboat, a fishing schooner or more- and yet, all iss o incredibly peaceful. It's a one of a kind mentality.
#GrabYourMoment and visit dog friendly Cannery Row Montery, California #AD
It's hard to comprehend the prior beach photo was taken steps from the photo above. The shot of a bustling Cannery Row, full of tourists, locals, shops, restaurants, and galleries. The street certainly has a buzz to it, and the air is electric. Every face you pass is smiling, and everyone is exceedingly friendly! (Note: This may have been in part to the small dog we were pushing around in a stroller- people could NOT get enough of Nora.) We visited on a holiday weekend and there were many locals downtown shopping with us. They were happy to ask where we were traveling from, and give us a tip on where to visit before we left.
But you truly can't see it all in one day. Not even close on Cannery Row- and certainly not all of Monterey, let alone all the county has to offer! There are wineries nearby, outdoor experiences to be had (I spotted a zipline experience off the highway,) and numerous sites to be seen and discovered. Whether you're a couple looking for a weekend getaway with some fantastic food and an amazing view, or a family trying to relax and create some new memories, there's plenty to offer.
If you're headed to Monterey, specifically for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, be sure to plan at least an entire day to explore. Not all aquariums have penguins on site, but this one does- so bring your cameras as well! Exhibits change seasonally, with the newest Viva! Baja! exhibit featuring an array of colorful and exotic warm water fish, though daily shows and feedings remain constant year round. While there are food options inside the cafe, my advice is to walk out the door, directly onto Cannery Row, and enjoy meals locally instead.
Speaking of meals, we were suckered in tempted to try Louie Linguini's on the Cannery Row waterfront when a trolley sharing samples of their Clam Chowder featured a doggy menu. Did I mention Monterey is very dog friendly? Louie Linguini's offers an array of delicious Italian and Seafood human fare, as well as a selection of doggy bowls. Heated patio seating is available for patrons with canines, and it just so happens to overlook the beautiful bay.
Above you'll see Nora's generously sized bowl  of grilled hamburger, broccoli, carrots, and whole grain rice. I made sure to order her food before ours so she could be properly fed, and content, while we ate. Unfortunately I was not expecting to be seated directly at the top of the stair entrance to the restaurant, where patrons constantly crossed our paths. Needless to say it's a good thing we brought her stroller, because Nora was back and forth at every person who walked past.
Above you'll see the view- kinda-we were a bit higher up, of the plaza and bay we overlooked while dining. Not only were the skies, and waters, clear, but the atmosphere was amazing. A gentleman actually proposed to his girlfriend while we were eating, and the entire courtyard erupted in cheers when she said yes!
Louie Linguini's
#GrabYourMoment and visit dog friendly Cannery Row Montery, California #AD
While Jay insisted on having the Clam Chowder as a precursor to his meal, sourced with local seafood, no doubt- I dove into a White Garlic Shrimp Linguini. After all, the restaurant was named Louie Linguini's! The food was a bit pricey, for the portions, but delicious. I really can't complain given the amazing view we had- but I would order a starter for my meal next time.
#GrabYourMoment and visit dog friendly Cannery Row Montery, California #AD
When we rolled out of town, waving goodbye to Monterey, but not quite Monterey County, we put the top down and let Nora enjoy the sites. I have to say I was expecting our visit to be a madhouse, given the holiday weekend, but the atmosphere was more of a cheerful buzz than anything. Traffic wasn't bad at all. We made amazing time on the highway. I think we just might be back again soon!

What Daughter Says: Sometimes the best discoveries really are right in your backyard, so to speak.

British Comedy At It's Finest In Absolutely Fabulous The Movie, This Summer #AbFabMovie

This post is made possible by support from Fox Searchlight Pictures. All opinions are my own.
#AbFabMovie 7/22/2016 #ad Absolutely Fabulous The Movie
Momma Told Me: Create your own fabulous.

Summer is here and it seems the movie season has arrived, though one film is not quite expected to be a Summer blockbuster, it does feature an array of over 60 internationally recognized cameos, and an outlandish cast and plot that is sure to break even the staunchest of Summer doldrums. Based entirely around the cult following British comedy television series Absolutely Fabulous, or Ab Fab for short, delivers everything one would expect from a British comedy. It is at times horribly offensive, laugh out loud funny, perplexingly odd, and visually over the top. If you are one of the series loyal followers and somehow escaped the knowledge of it's revival through this 100% authentic film- run to the theaters, you simply cannot miss it, darling. For the 95% rest of the American population, read on to learn a little more about the zany lead and her cinematic debut.
#AbFabMovie 7/22/2016 #ad Absolutely Fabulous The Movie
First most I should disclose that I was, prior to screening this film, familiar with the cast, characters, and plot on a casual level. I'd seen a few episodes of the British comedy here and there, and it held my interest enough that I followed them through to their final credits. I can't say I'm a professed fan, or follower, though- and the girlfriend I brought along for the ride certainly was as 'fresh' as it comes to the Ab Fab lineup.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, you likely do not partake in British comedies, and as a result will probably find the film very much like a horrible train wreck. Even I found myself cringing numerous times through the first 15 minutes or so, as the cast and characters fell into place. While the loyalists of the series were in stitches and a buzz, I missed out on a lot of the finer nuances to the dry jokes, and authentic cameos. Having said this, once we settled in, and I committed myself to the ride I found myself more and more enjoying the flamboyant costumes, the off color humor, and the absurd characters that are Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley.)
#AbFabMovie 7/22/2016 #ad Absolutely Fabulous The Movie
You're probably wondering what the film is about, we'll get to that.

But first you should know that the film is most guttural because it features two lead characters in a 'bro flick' companionship doing all of the slapstick, offensive, 'did they just?' humor we've been conditioned to expect from male counterparts. These two women are smoking, cursing, drinking, and more the entirety of the film. And, thanks to the 60+ cameos, I cannot help but compare Absolutely Fabulous The Movie to This Is The End (2013). If you found yourself laughing out loud as actor James Franco and a slew of his celebrity friends greet the end of times over a major Hollywood party, than this film will feel familiar and made for you.
Absolutely Fabulous, the movie, is based directly off the end of the British comedy series of the same name. As such the characters pick up right where they left off, at last, finally out of money and desperately trying to find any 'get rich quick' scheme to maintain their fabulous lifestyle. The main character, Edina Monsoon is a PR agent desperately trying to attach herself to the latest fads, and trends of the youth in an effort to keep herself eternally popular and young. Her sidekick, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) is the slightly more sinister best friend who is always around to solve problems in the most catastrophic of manners.

When the two find their credit cards 'broken' they set out to land a new PR client to represent, the stunning party girl, and model, Kate Moss. When their shenanigans go too far Edina is accused of murder in an unfortunate series of events that ultimately leads to the 'Laverne And Shierley' like duo becoming unlikely fugitives.
#AbFabMovie 7/22/2016 #ad Absolutely Fabulous The Movie
Once the film gets rolling the visuals, costumes, language, and humor begins to feel almost familiar and it's hard for even the most resistant not to begin caring about the zany characters and their next adventure. Would someone who is not hip on British humor, or familiar with the series, possibly enjoy this move? My friend Jo says she thoroughly enjoyed it and would watch it again- she called it 'laugh out loud' funny. I'll admit, I'm not quite the slapstick sort of gal, so I wouldn't give it a raving review- but it definitely is worth a watch. Absolutely Fabulous, at the end if it, is really jut plain good (definitely not clean) fun. Besides, why not watch just to count all the FABulous cameos- Brienne of Tarth, erm Gwendoline Christie even makes an appearance alongside John Hamm! For those still on the fence you can actually discover the characters and stream Absolutely Fabulous, the TV show on Hulu now and check out some of the previews for the movie on YouTube! Absolutely Fabulous will be in theaters nationwide beginning Friday July 22nd.

What Daughter Says: If you're looking for a laugh, Absolutely Fabulous is a no brainer, for better or worse. Stay Fabulous, darling!

#AbFabMovie 7/22/2016 #ad Absolutely Fabulous The Movie

After School Good Milk Gone: Grilled Peanut Butter And Jelly

This post was sponsored by a2 Milk® as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.
a2 Milk® helps those with self diagnosed post dairy digestive discomfort enjoy real milk again. Pair it with our favorite back to school snack, the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich! #a2milk #IC (AD)
Momma Told Me: Some things just go  together like peanut butter and jelly.

I have a confession- As a young girl I absolutely despised the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Almost every school day Momma would pack me a sack lunch and I'd open up my pail to see a messy ziploc, with sharpie notes scribbled along the side from my father, and a smashed peanut butter sandwich inside. I didn't care if it looked a horrid mess. In fact I'd even smash it further until it almost resembled something a steamroller had gone over, then roll it up and eat it like a burrito. Yup, I was one of those kids. But the only thing crying out for a nice tall, cold, glass of milk more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a peanut butter (only) sandwich. I couldn't guzzle my juice box fast enough, and it simply wasn't the same. There is no substitute for milk.
a2 Milk® helps those with self diagnosed post dairy digestive discomfort enjoy real milk again. Pair it with our favorite back to school snack, the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich! #a2milk #IC (AD)
I know, I know- soy this and coconut that. As the better half of a lactose intolerant individual we keep plenty of milk alternatives in our home, and I use them often- but what about me? You may recall that I have self diagnosed post dairy digestive discomfort that is not attributed to lactose, but can put a little bit of a damper on my milk love, just the same. A few months ago I discovered a2 Milk®, milk
sourced from specially selected cows proven to produce milk missing the troublesome A1 protein, often associated with post dairy digestive discomfort. This milk only comes from specially sourced cows in the U.S.A. It tastes exactly like 'regular' cows milk, and is available in varieties such as whole, and 2% reduced fat, and is found next to the specialty milks and milk alternatives in your local dairy case.
a2 Milk® helps those with self diagnosed post dairy digestive discomfort enjoy real milk again. Pair it with our favorite back to school snack, the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich! #a2milk #IC (AD)
a2 Milk® is not only a great option for me, but a wonderful after school snack pairing for the upcoming back to school season. a2 Milk® contains approximately 6x the amount of calcium as soy beverages, approximately 8x the protein of almond beverages and approximately 6x the potassium levels of rice beverages. 
Obviously nutrition is just as important as being delicious and convenient, when considering after school snacks. As someone who often cares for multiple children after school, whether my nieces and nephews, or at the daycare, a2 Milk® is a great option to fuel kids. I love that it tastes just like real milk, because it is real milk, while offering the traditional nutritional benefits of milk.
grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Not entirely convinced you want to give up your milk alternatives? Some things, like my Grilled PB&J simply aren't the same with a glass of almond milk- this delicious warm, gooey, slightly crisp after school snack can only be paired with a tall glass of delicious white thunder. I might have spent several school yard lunch breaks dreaming of downing my peanut butter sandwich but a2 Milk® has finally made up for all those years at last!
a2 Milk® helps those with self diagnosed post dairy digestive discomfort enjoy real milk again. Pair it with our favorite back to school snack, the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich! #a2milk #IC (AD)
Now, I know you're not sitting there telling me, "Jenna, I've never had a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich," because that would be a horrible revelation. It doesn't matter whether you're a grape jelly, or strawberry jelly kinda person, heck- even a few banana slices will work! Simply heat up a skillet with a little bit of butter and slather some peanut butter all over the thickest bread you can find and grill. When the edges of those slices start to brown and you hear the sizzle of the filling gurgling down the side you know you're on track to the best after school snack ever. Just don't forget the milk!
a2 Milk® helps those with self diagnosed post dairy digestive discomfort enjoy real milk again. Pair it with our favorite back to school snack, the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich! #a2milk #IC (AD)
I'll admit, the school year isn't quite hear yet, and I've already get myself hooked on this after school comfort routine. Some things just make you feel completely content inside, and this pairing is comfort food at it's best! I've been enjoying a2 Milk® without any post dairy digestive troubles for the past several months and I quite like being reunited with my long lost friend. If you and milk have parted ways keep an eye out for a2 Milk® in the dairy case near you, and be sure to stock up before back to school time!

What Daughter Says: For my 'famous' grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, real milk is the only pairing!