Momma Told Me: July 2017

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Bring Authentic Asia-Inspired Flavor Home With New #LingLingFriedRice + Delicious Pairings

This post was sponsored by Ling Ling and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. The following content is a representation of my genuine experiences at a #LingLingFriedRice event, hosted by #IC. All photos and opinions contained below are authentic and property of Momma Told Me 2017.
Grab new #LingLingFriedRice varieties, inspired by Korean, Thia, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, in your grocer's freezer. The inique Ling Ling infusion cooking process ensures every grain of rice is hit with seasoning and flavor for a delicious dining experience that takes less thsn 10 minutes on your stove! #IC #AD
Cooking should be an adventure.

Unfortunately, for many busy mothers and professionals, that 'adventure' consists of deciding which leftovers from last weekend to reheat, or whether to stop by the fast food restaurant manned by a giant clown head or a talking star on their way home. When I talk to my friends, family, and readers I often hear the same thing- these people want to enjoy an authentic home cooked meal but don't feel they have the time to plan and cook them. They also express that they feel a strong sense of guilt when they take short cuts and buy prepared or fast food items.

Luckily Momma taught me that even a great chef needs to take shortcuts now and then- delicious, satisfying, meals can still hit the table on even the most hectic of schedules when the cook builds their meal around a helping hand.
I grew up with Momma serving Ling Ling Potstickers, delicious chicken and vegetable dumplings prepared from the freezer to her wok and served alongside a savory dipping sauce that always seemed to disappear too fast. It was the perfect side dish to a number of Momma's homemade Asia-inspired recipes; mushu pork pancakes, chicken fried rice, general tsao's and kung pao chicken. I recall I'd always get especially excited when I spotted the yellow Ling Ling Potstickers bag in our freezer because I knew we'd be enjoying one of my favorite home made dishes that week!

Having a tool, such as Ling Ling authentic Asian entrees and sides in one's freezer helps inspire cooking and flavor exploration. When some of the time spent planning and cooking a multi-course meal is taken off a home cook's shoulders they have more energy and time to try out a new pairing recipe and explore a world of new cuisine.
This is a concept so brilliantly executed in a cooking workshop I recently attended at a very special event this past week at BLVD Kitchen in Sherman Oaks, CA. As guests of Ling Ling Asian cuisine we were invited to indulge in an evening of delicious food and wine as we learned 3 (yes, 3!) amazing Asia-inspired pairing recipes directly from Chef Katie Chin in a hands on event! Myself and 3 other talented, local, bloggers were challenged to pick up the wok, knives, and whisks to prepare all new to us recipes as part of a team.
Grab new #LingLingFriedRice varieties, inspired by Korean, Thia, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, in your grocer's freezer. The inique Ling Ling infusion cooking process ensures every grain of rice is hit with seasoning and flavor for a delicious dining experience that takes less thsn 10 minutes on your stove! #IC #AD
There were 2 very notable and exciting elements marking the night- the first being Ling Ling's announcement of 5 brand new Fried Rice Entree varieties. Found in the freezer section at your local grocer are the all new Ling Ling Fried Rice entrees in 5 Asia-Inspired varieties; Japanese Yakitori Chicken, Japanese Yakinuku Beef, Thai-Style Chicken, Chinese Style (Vegetarian) Vegetable, and Koren Bibimbap Beef. Much like the classic Ling Ling Potstickers, the new Fried Rice Entrees are suggested to be prepared on the stove-top and feature a proprietary Infusion Cooking Method which attempts to tumble and coat each grain of rice in flavor for an amazing culinary experience.
The second element we were all very excited about was the presence of Chef Katie Chin, Asian food expert, cookbook author, TV personality, and blogger. Chef Katie opened by sharing with us her own personal memories of the Ling Ling brand, and how her mother had such a fondness for their signature pot stickers, as well as how she 'cheats' from time to time and serves Ling Ling at her son's school events. It was evident right away that Chef Katie had a passion not just for the brand, but for authentic Asian cuisine as well- and a big personality to match. Despite her stature being small I can confidently say that Chef Katie was a fireball in the kitchen and such a delight to interact with.
As the evening went on we learned we were going to collectively make 3 unique, but simple and quick, side dishes to pair with new Ling Ling Fried Rice Entrees. There was plenty of chopping, peeling, and mixing going on- as well as a friendly turf war over the kitchen's only fan. I had the chance to meet 3 amazing local bloggers (2 of whom I already read and followed), the fiery Shannon of Redhead Mom Blog, Sarabeth of February Fox, and Evi of EVs' Eats. Much like the different flavors of Ling Ling Fried Rice each of these women brought their own unique flavor to the event, and my cooking team. Of course, together, it was nothing but a ton of laughs, outtakes, and an amazing time.

Psst: Just look at the Redhead mom multi-task shooting a Facebook Live for Evi and snapping her own personal pics via smartphone at the same time!
One of my favorite pairing recipes that we learned was one I actually make about once a week in my own home, though with a slight variant. Japanese Cucumber Salad requires no stove or hot cooking skills making it the perfect recipe for those hot Summer months, or when you simply don't have the time to heat a second skillet. The secret is in the small details, as Chef Katie Chin shared- we peeled our cucumbers first in an alternating pattern, before halving and coring them, to ensure this dish dazzled on it's serving try and had the perfect balance of sweet and tangy sugared rice vinegar.
Of course preparing a meal with 3 side dishes is a breeze when you're among friends having fun in the kitchen. To be honest, I could hardly keep up with all the great things going on- Above, left, Evi and Shannon share a hearty laugh at one of my "Keeping It Real" home cooking jokes while Chef Katie Chin, above right, rushes bean sprouts into an ice bath for our final side dish.
Grab new #LingLingFriedRice varieties, inspired by Korean, Thia, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, in your grocer's freezer. The inique Ling Ling infusion cooking process ensures every grain of rice is hit with seasoning and flavor for a delicious dining experience that takes less thsn 10 minutes on your stove! #IC #AD
Grab new #LingLingFriedRice varieties, inspired by Korean, Thia, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, in your grocer's freezer. The inique Ling Ling infusion cooking process ensures every grain of rice is hit with seasoning and flavor for a delicious dining experience that takes less thsn 10 minutes on your stove! #IC #AD
Of course the star of our meal was the new Ling Ling Fried Rice varieties. We had a chance to try 3 flavors inspired by 3 different regions of Asia, Korea, Japan, and China. Despite each having their own unique flavor profile all 3 were carefully crafted with Ling Ling's unique infusion cooking process prior to being packaged and arriving in a local freezer. Even more importantly all 3 varieties had the same simple suggested stove top preparation procedure. 1 bag prepares in a covered skillet (stirring from time to time) over medium high heat in just 7-8 minutes. Chef Katie Chin noted she suggested using Sesame or Vegetable Oil, over Olive Oil (which can change the flavor and heating point of the rice).
Preparing our group's Ling Ling Fried Rice entree was indeed the simplest task of the night- yes, even simpler than a cucumber salad. We quasi stir-fried the rice in an open pan for about 12 minutes (2 bags/1 box) and found the fragrant aromas to be quite tempting. I wonder if this has anything to do with the unique infusion cooking process?
Towards the end of the night, as we all sat down for a community style dinner Chef Katie Chin was going around on Facebook Live asking us bloggers tough on the spot questions. I was asked which of the Ling Ling Fried Rice Entrees were my favorite and struggled to choose just one. I'd initially said the Chinese Vegetarian- simply because I found it fitting into our Meatless Monday meals with ease. Reflecting back, now, I think the one I enjoy most, flavor wise, was actually the Ling Ling Bibimbap Korea-inspired Fried Rice Entree. It's sweet dark Gochujang chili sauce gives it a wonderful flavor that also happens to come to life beautifully on every grain of rice thanks to that infusion cooking method.
Grab new #LingLingFriedRice varieties, inspired by Korean, Thia, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, in your grocer's freezer. The inique Ling Ling infusion cooking process ensures every grain of rice is hit with seasoning and flavor for a delicious dining experience that takes less thsn 10 minutes on your stove! #IC #AD
Grab new #LingLingFriedRice varieties, inspired by Korean, Thia, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, in your grocer's freezer. The inique Ling Ling infusion cooking process ensures every grain of rice is hit with seasoning and flavor for a delicious dining experience that takes less thsn 10 minutes on your stove! #IC #AD
To be honest, I never thought I'd find myself in a group cooking class, or that it would be so much fun. I swear my mouth was sore from laughing and smiling, and it was a true pleasure to meet some amazing local women. Each of us came from very different backgrounds yet found the new Ling Ling Fried Rice Entrees could make a delicious meal effortless on any schedule. Much like their original potstickers, these new Ling Ling offerings are definitely a great secret weapon to building a delicious Asia-inspired meal any night of the week. I hope you've enjoyed a little sneak peek into our night of cooking fun, and hope you'll print out a special $2 off coupon to try Ling Ling Fried Rice Entrees in your own home. I know we'll be enjoying the Bibimbap with Momma's Mushu Pork recipe this week! Now, tell me, have you ever tried a Ling Ling product? Which of the new Fried Rice Entree varieties would you like to try most?


Life Hacks To Make Your Car Feel More Like Home While On A Road Trip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias
10 Genius Car Hacks For Road Trips- #RoadTripOil #AD
Today I'd like to revisit a recurring theme this, and every, Summer break- road trips.

It's no secret that we have been, and will be continuing, exploring the state of California in our series of mini Road Trip Vacations. Typically our Summers wrap with a 2 week long trek up the Pacific Coast to visit Momma in Oregon, but we're having to miss out on that this year due to the entire state being shut down for the upcoming lunar eclipse. Yea, it's kind of bananas.

But I digress, we actually have a road trip up to the darling dutch town, Solvang, CA, coming up next week. It's a place I've been visiting since childhood and this will actually be my first time staying as a full blown tourist, hotel room and all. But, before we hit the road in that Southern California traffic there are a few housekeeping things I needed to attend to this week.
We have a small car.

Sure, it's just the 2 of us plus the 2 small dogs, but a convertible can start to feel cramped really quick when you consider minimal trunk space, luggage, and anything one tends to buy/accumulate while traveling. As a result I've become hyper-aware of how to make our car feel a little more like home, to avoid stir crazy moments reminiscent of a National Lampoon's scene. The very first, and most important, tip I have is to ensure that your car is running at it's most optimal prior to pulling out of the driveway on your journey.
#1: Get in working order, without wasting time.

For us this has always meant a special stop at our local Walmart's Automotive Care Center- the friendly associates work on a first come, first served, basis to get your car in and out (and on the road) as fast as possible. Best of all, no matter how much time my car's necessary services take I can enjoy the convenience of shopping and preparing for my road trip while I wait. Some services I especially like to check off my list include tire pressure check/alignment, fluid top off, and oil change.

In fact Walmart currently has a special on their Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil change, which helps clean out the sludge lesser oils leave behind, while helping to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s a motor oil specifically designed for new or late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the mission of keeping engines running clean and going strong. You can visit your local Walmart Auto Care Center (ACC) now to take advantage of the special rollback pricing from $39.88 to $35.88- that's a $4 dollar savings!

When you stop in to the ACC be sure to let your customer service representative know that you're preparing for a road trip- they'll be happy to suggest any check-ups or maintenance services your car may need before heading out!
#2: Start squeaky clean.

Whether you're the cleanest creature on the planet and plan on doing all of your living outside your car on your road trip you're still going to accumulate unexpected messes. We always plan on tossing out our trash at every rest stop, and only eating at sit down restaurants but by the return trip we're munching on snacks while driving and somehow have trash from inside our hotel room that's migrated into the car with us.

Hitting the road with a dirty car will only contribute to that grungy feeling when you've been sitting in the same seat for 6+ hours and you're starting to wonder if that funky smell is coming from yesterdays breakfast wrappers or you. If you start clean you are more likely to keep and maintain a clean car while on the road. More importantly, take everything out of your car that isn't needed for the road trip itself. Keep your road maps and emergency roadside gear in the car, of course, but pull out those extra scrunchies, the fries you've been saving for 2 months under the seat, and that old concert ticket from 2007. Why? Because living out of a car is rough and hunting for pieces of your life in between migrating from one campsite or hotel to the next can be frustrating enough without rediscovering the past 10 years of your life in the progress.
Car Hack: D.I.Y. Wax Jar Air Freshener #RoadTripOil #AD
#3: Keep it smelling fresh.

My next tip is an actual life hack.

We've used plenty of things to help fight odors while on the road but this is my absolute favorite for warm weather travel. I have hundreds, yes hundreds, of wax cubes at home I'll never possibly get through. Toss 1-2 cubes in a stubby mason jar with some holes punched in the lid and toss it in a free cup holder or under the passenger seat. As your car heats up in parking lots on your trip your favorite fragrance will fill your car!

Find the fragrance a little too strong? Use previously melted wax chunks which tend to have less 'throw' to the fragrance after having been melted prior.
Car Hack: D.I.Y. Emoji Antenna Toppers #RoadTripOil #AD
#4: Put a little personality into it.


I'll admit, as expensive as motor vehicles are I still cringe at the thought of putting a sticker on the back of my bumper. It's not the end of the world, really, but to me I simply can't come around to the idea.

Regardless, I fully support adding one or more personal elements to your car. Personalizing your car with a simple decal, funny sun window sun shade, or antenna topper will not only help you carry a bit of you and your personality on the road but could save some headaches as well. The last thing you want to be doing in a strange town or new state is trying to remember where you parked your vehicle. One of the easiest things to scan in an overcrowded parking lot is antenna toppers, with windshield shade screens being next.

If you really want to get into the spirit of expressing yourself through your car you can even make custom antenna toppers out of foam practice golf balls, which happen to be permanent marker friendly and the perfect size. They even come in a variety of fun bright colors!
Car Hack: Reusable Bags For Wet And Dirty Clothes #RoadTripOil #AD
#5: Prepare to get dirty.

Traveling in Southern California in the Summer we never expect to encounter inclement weather on the road. However it seems like every single road trip we wind up with stained, wet, or just plain funky clothing and no where practical to put them.

Keep several reusable shopping bags in your car specifically for wet clothing (sudden downpour, wet ride at the amusement park, quick tide at the beach, pool clothes, etc) and emergency dirty laundry. Trust me you'll thank me later when your dog gets carsick on you and you're 25 miles from the next road stop!

PRO TIP: Keep disposable shower caps in your car to work as makeshift shoe covers for dirty shoes!
Car Hack: Fast Food Organization #RoadTripOil #AD
#6: Stay organized- especially when eating inside the car.

Hands down the biggest threat to my rolling sanctuary, while on the road, is food. When Jay and I swap off driving we may go over 20 hours without really stopping for more than 5-10 minutes  at a time. And when we add children, such as nieces and nephews, into the mix that's plenty of time spent munching on snacks and gulping down fast food trying to keep everyone full and satisfied.

If you have passenger or back seat eaters then you NEED to have some sort of structured system for eating. The above craft organizer bins are the perfect size for just about any meal and will accommodate most size beverages. I especially appreciate the tall walls, which help prevent tipping of drinks and french fries. If you really want to have eating in the car under control then toss a few small cookie sheets into the back seat before you hit the road- they make great meal and doodle trays for kids!
Road Trip Hack: D.I.Y. I-Spy Game #RoadTripOil #AD
#7: Keep back seat passengers engaged.

While we usually put this tip to good use with the dogs (a good chew toy does wonders to a dog mom's mentality on hour 10 of road trip driving) it's just as much a great idea to keep small minds and hands busy while on a road trip.We find that minds actively engaged in a task tend to wear out, and allow time to pass, much faster than those aimlessly staring out the window.
For just a couple of bucks, and an hour's worth of time, you can actually turn an old liter sized plastic water bottle into a one-of-a-kind 'I-Spy' style backseat car game. Toss uncooked rice with a few drops of food coloring then allow the rice to air dry on some baking sheets out in the open for 24-48 hours. Next layer the colored rice and 15-20 small trinkets from colored beads and charms to pennies and more.

Make a list of all the things 'hidden' inside and hand it to a child in the back seat when you head out on the road. A free magnifier application on your smartphone or tablet can double as a real time magnifier if you want to earn 'cool' points for including technology.
#8: Find your soundtrack.

Every great adventure in life should be marked by amazing sights, unforgettable memories, fascinating new smells, and addictive beats.

In my book it's not a road trip if I'm not screaming along to the stereo with the windows (or the top) down, messing up all the words and turning every song into my personal life's story. If you're traveling with someone a 'Killer Roadtrip Playlist' can be a fun way to get to know the person you're traveling with, and a surefire way to make new memories. If you're traveling solo a great playlist is a lifesaver when the radio station inevitably cuts out on mile 98.

What should you put on your Killer Roadtrip Soundtrack?

It may seems second nature to fill your playlist with all your favorite songs but I'd advise against that. Songs you know by heart are already a little overplayed in your mind and you won't find the tunes very inspiring the 8th time you hear that song on your drive. Instead include a few favorites you haven't heard in years, include some classic tongue in cheek 'road trip' themed songs for campy humor injections, and take a moment to explore some music by artists you enjoy on the radio but have never taken the time to really explore before.
#9: Bring the outdoors in.

It may seem illogical to want to bring the outdoors into your car when you're about to spend hours a day driving through the outdoors IN your car. And, as someone who owns a convertible it might seem even more illogical- but this simple and fun D.I.Y. Car Vent Clip Vase is the perfect way to brighten up the inside of your car in both sight and smell while road-tripping. First you'll need to gather:

12-14 Gauge Colored Copper wire
Wire Style Clothespin Clips
Single Floral Bud Vials
Scissors
Needle Nosed Pliers
(Optional Hot Glue Gun To Cover Any Wire End Edges)
Start by cutting approximately 10" of wire.

Gently bend one end of the wire parallel to the top of the vial and wind the wire around the vial 3 times tightly. The wire will spring back with a little space between the vial and wire wrapping, this is fine.

Next bend the lengthy end of the wire down 1/4 inch inward from where the original bent wire end rests.

Using needle nosed pliers bend the original (wrapped) wire ending inward across the remaining wire rod length as to create a hook that holds the straight wire line in place.
Feed your remaining straight wire end through the side of the clothespin slip and bend it out and around the bottom middle of the vial.

Clip the wire end, leaving 1/4" of length and use the needle nosed pliers to bend the wire end inward against the clothespin frame.

Cap any sharp wire edges you are concerned about with a dot of hot glue to create a smooth round edge.

Repeat with a second vial, along the first, to create a 2 flower vase setup.

when the clip on vase is complete you should be able to remove the vials from their tracks with a little effort (to fill and clean) and replace them securely as you wish.

If you want a more organic look and feel to your clip on vases you can also use wrapped 'floral stem' guide wire for your wire wrapping technique. These come in muted green colors that resemble flower stems and will offer a more rustic look for your car. I've included another set of images showing the wrapping process above, as the green wire is a little easier to read on camera.

Depending on the type of flowers you wish to put in your mini vent clip vases, and the weather where you are traveling, you an expect to get 2-3 days of fresh life out of a single bud. I've had some tolerant flowers, such as daises, lost a week with a water change in the middle. Here, in hot weather the flowers tend to suck up the water fact and do require a refill every few days.

A vent clip vase like this would be especially fun to include and feature flowers found on road trip travels, while on the road!
Car Hack: D.I.Y. Vent Clip Vase #RoadTripOil #AD
#10: Don't sweat the small stuff- A.K.A: Have fun!

If you've prepared for your road trip using our tips above you're on the right path to a simply smashing road trip. Of course bumps are bound to come up, much like on any road in life, but the important thing is that you always take a deep breath before giving in to worry or panic. One of the most beautiful things about road trips are the options for varied paths and open itineraries. It's never just about getting from point A to point B. Remember that and you're sure to have a blast!

If you're looking to start your road trip off right be sure to check out the Walmart Automotive Care Center and their special Summer Pennzoil rollback deal. Find a Walmart ACC near you with the easy to use store finder here. Now, tell me where you are heading out to this Summer!