BJ’s Restaurants and Big Poppa’s Smokers Make BBQ Heaven

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group and BJ’s Restaurants but all my opinions are my own. #PMedia #BJsrestaurants

BJ's Tustin MarketplaceLast week I had a dear friend staying with my family.  As a teacher she has summers off and decided to leave her home in Texas and spend the summer with her parents in Arizona and friends in California.  She’s been away from the Lone Star State for a few weeks already.  So of course, we had to track down some barbecue to make her feel a little more at home.  BJ’s restaurants just announced their collaboration with Big Poppa’s Smokers on their Blue Ribbon Barbecue menu so you know we had to go check it out.

Bj's waiting areaThere wasn’t a wait when we arrived, but you know my boys had to check out every inch of the restaurant.

BJ's Pizza and BreweryI have had so many amazing BJ’s Restaurants.  In college, my friends and I spent many a late night happy hour enjoying their ciders and handcrafted beers.  Good times.  BJ’s makes the only lemonade I like (I’m VERY picky about my lemonade) and of course they are home to the Pizookie.  If you haven’t had one I suggest you march yourself to your nearest location and order.  Life changing.


Looking over the new Big Poppa's BBQ menuK and I perused the barbecue menu which has everything from ribs and sandwiches, to sides and salads and even suggests beer pairings.

Iced tea and bbqSince I had the kids with me, I decided to stick with an iced tea but my heart really wanted some beer to go with my barbecue.  I guess that just means I’ll have to go back and sample the menu again…

Kid's menu at BJ'sI love any restaurant that tries to keep my kids entertained and was truly grateful for the coloring page and crayons.  And both my boys sucked down their strawberry lemonade immediately.

hugs with auntie kMy boys love their auntie K and she ended up with both of them on her side of the table.  Ha ha.  That meant I got to actually use my fork without someone leaning on my arm the way they usually do.  For some reason my boys can’t sit upright in a booth and they often pin my elbow to my side with their body weight.  I imagine that I look like a T-Rex trying to eat with a fork.  Clothes get stained.  But auntie K didn’t mind it.

Pulled pork sandwich at BJ'sSo then the food came.  Mmmmmm.  We ordered the Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich with fries and coleslaw.  BJ’s Restaurants offers three different BBQ sauces with their Blue Ribbon Barbecue entrees.  I went with a sweet, mild version.  The meat was super tender and the crunchy fried onions were a match made in heaven.  And fries dipped in barbecue sauce…yum.

Big Poppa Smokers BBQ at BJ'sAnd I totally went out on a limb with the Baby Back Pork Ribs.  I have never ordered ribs out in a restaurant before.  I don’t like to get messy and sometimes they are super fatty.  These were phenomenal.  Not only were they absolutely delicious, but the meat totally fell right off the bone.  I could use my fork and get every piece of meat without getting messy.  The flavor was smokey and sweet and I would totally order these again!  Hooray for having a new go-to dish at BJ’s!  Up until the barbecue menu came out I only ever ordered an individual Great White pizza with added broccoli.  Which is crazy since BJ’s has a really well-rounded menu.  But when you love something, sometimes you don’t want to leave it.

Delicious pork ribs at BJsI’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone with the ribs!  K and I ordered the dishes to share but we each gravitated to one dish more.  She ended up finishing off the sandwich and I attacked the ribs.  We had the half order but next time I just may order the bigger portion!  So yummy!

Corn Fritters at BJsAnd then there were these Corn Fritters with Bacon Aioli.  Do it.  They were sweet and soft with a hint of heat from the jalapeno.  Crazy good.

photo bombOn a side note, who taught my youngest son how to “photo bomb”?  As always, the customer service at BJ’s Restaurants was awesome.  This is the first time I have taken my oldest son.  When I mentioned he had food allergies the chef came out to speak with me about his needs and then came back to check on us later in the meal as well.  It made me feel well taken care of.  Big thumbs up on the food allergy front.

Great BBQ at BJsBJ’s Restaurants Blue Ribbon Barbecue menu is available at most locations through September 2 so hurry in to try it today.  I will definitely be heading back for more ribs and the corn bread which I didn’t get to try on this visit.  Oh and something called Jallelujah-spiced fries.  I’ll probably take my husband back with me for a date night.  There is no chance that men won’t love this menu.   And as for Auntie K, she got her barbecue fix and was again a happy girl.

Find out more about Big Poppa’s Smokers here

BJ’s Restaurant is totally social:  Follow on TwitterFacebook

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group and BJ’s Restaurants but all my opinions are my own. #PMedia #BJsrestaurants


Breyers New Ice Cream Toppings

*Sponsored post.  About the new dessert toppings from Breyers.  I received compensation, ice cream and happy memories.

Breyer-ice-cream-sundae-partyWho doesn’t love an ice cream sundae?  If you answered that question positively I’m going to need you to step away from your computer and go do something else.  First off, you are a liar and second, ice cream is the BEST!  Due to food allergies, my family rarely has ice cream in the house.  But when Breyers asked if I wanted to try out their new ice cream toppings I said, “Duh!”  And instantly knew it would be the perfect excuse to have little ice cream sundae party with our neighbors.

Breyers real fruit dessert toppingsBreyers now has these real fruit toppings in 3 flavors.  Cherry is totally my favorite!  For some reason I have had a hankering for cherry pie but have yet to have it!  This helped me fill that void.  For the moment.

squeezable breyers ice cream toppingsAny good sundae has some sort of sauce.  We got to try out hot fudge, chocolate and caramel.  These cool new containers are microwavable and so easy to use.

breyers rainbow sprinklesAnd let’s not forget the sprinkles!  I adore the colors in these rainbow sprinkles.  But a sundae ain’t a sundae without chocolate sprinkles.  Luckily Breyers sent those too.  The party is saved!

breyers fruit toppingsMinds were blown the evening that I started setting out all the toppings on the front lawn.  I did get a bit of the side eye when I told them I had to take some pictures first…

breyers chocolate sauce ice cream topping I loved that the kids could easily squeeze their sauce on their sundae themselves.  I’m totally mess averse so this made me want to hug Breyers.

neighborhood ice cream sundae partyWe helped the kids get their sundaes together.

breyers ice cream spinklesAnd quietly prayed there would be sprinkles left.  Have you ever handed an open sprinkles container to a kid?

breyers caramel sauceThen it was our turn to make our sundaes.

ice cream sundae partyIt had been SO long since I had an ice cream sundae.  I think we will definitely be making sundaes all summer long.

ice cream sundaes for summer funThe kids (and adults) really enjoyed trying out the new Breyers products.  To clarify, the Breyers toppings were not ok for my son with food allergies to have.  It was very easy to have his own sundae ingredients on hand though so he didn’t miss out.

Have you seen these in your store?  You should totally pick them up.  Your kids and your stomach will thank you.

*This is a sponsored post for Breyers new dessert toppings.  They are delicious and I loved every minute of trying them out.  For more information and a coupon, check out their site.

Quick Teriyaki Turkey Stir Fry Recipe

quick weeknight dinner teriyaki turkeyHere is one of my go-to recipes for a quick but delicious weeknight meal.  Teriyaki Turkey Stir Fry.  I don’t like ground turkey but I knew that I needed to add it in to our diets to cut down on the amount of red meat we were eating and also because my kid’s claim they are allergic to chicken.  It is super tasty and this is also one of my oldest son’s favorite meals.  And because this is a meal I make when I don’t have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen, I decided to keep the tutorial down and dirty too.  No styled shots.  I mean, this recipe isn’t that pretty to look at to start, but why make an uncomplicated recipe more complicated, right.  So I shot this as I cooked it one night.  I originally found this recipe in one of the very first issues of Rachel Ray Magazine.  She made it as the filling for lettuce wraps.  I made it a little more hearty by serving it over rice.  And I don’t even go by a recipe any more because it is super simple.

brown turkeyBrown a package (about a pound) of ground turkey.

add shredded carrots and onionsAdd a bag of shredded carrots and 2-3 sliced green onions.  I usually also add a bag of frozen edamame to this as well, but did not have any in the freezer the night I took these pictures.  I have also added broccoli florets and mushrooms to it in the past.  Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan with the vegetables and partially cover.  Steam until veggies are crisp tender.  I always tend to over cook it and it still does not ruin the dish.  Remove the lid to cook off the extra water in the pan.

add teriyaki sauceAdd the teriyaki sauce.  I think the recipe calls for 1/4 cup but I never think that is enough.  Use your best judgement.  In the past I have made my own teriyaki sauce and used many store-bought versions.  Just pick your favorite.  My favorite is Soy Vey Island Teriyaki and while I hate to admit it, Trader Joe’s makes a version of it for about half the price.  I hate that they do that. My wallet does not.  Heat together for a few minutes to bring the soy sauce to temperature.

frozen rice for a quick mealI hardly ever make rice on the stove.  Why would I when this frozen Jasmine Rice is SO tasty and SO easy.  And since this is a recipe I make when lazy or in a rush, this takes only 3 minutes in the microwave.

teriyaki turkey stir fryI usually finish it off with a splash of soy sauce.  You have one pan to clean aside from your dinner dishes.  There are also usually plenty of leftovers.  And this dish also tastes really yummy cold!  I’d love to hear your quick weeknight meal recipes.  And how do you use ground turkey?

Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake Recipe

cherry pineapple dump cake recipeYeah.  You read that right.  This is called a dump cake.  Here is a delicious Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake recipe.  You literally just dump things in a baking dish and pop it in the oven.  And it is insanely good.  It is one of those things that you serve or even describe to someone and they are like, “yeah, none of that sounds amazing.”  But I know my desserts.  And this one is SO GOOD.  Full disclosure, I ate this whole batch in two days.  Pretty much by myself.  It’s pretty great warm and, in my opinion, even better cold.  And although it is technically a dessert, it also works well for breakfast, lunch and snacks…

cherry pineapple dump cake recipe ingredientsIt only take a few ingredients to make a cherry pineapple dump cake.  You could use margarine instead of the butter but it is NOT as good.  Like, not even close.  But it can be done if you are dealing with food allergies or you are crazy and think margarine is better than butter (but it is just not.  Agree to disagree).  I choose to use salted butter because I love salty and sweet together.  And I don’t add salt to anything else I eat (aside from normal seasoning in the pan like real chefs) except for avocados and cherry tomatoes.  So I figure my sodium  levels can take it.

cherry and pineapple for dump cake recipeAre you ready for the amazing dump cake recipe?  Hold on to your hats and glasses…

Pour a can of crushed pineapple in your baking dish.  Spread it out so it covers most of the pan (seriously there is no wrong way to do this and you should not spend much time on it.  Just dump it.)  Then pour a can of cherry pie filling over the top.

sprinkle on cake mixSprinkle the dry cake mix over the whole thing.  Yes, the dry cake mix.  Try to cover the fruit fillings as evenly as you can.

dry cake mix on filling for dump cakeIt will look like this when you are done.  And even at this stage, it will smell SO yummy.

add melted butterThe hardest part of this recipe is melting the butter.  Why can’t I get it to melt all nice and mellow?  It always pops and blows up all over my microwave.  Melting butter is super aggressive.  But I still love it.  All you do is pour it over the top of the dry cake mix.  And that will smell even better than it did a minute ago.

easy dump cake recipeYou bake it for an hour and it gets all goldeny brown and bubbly.  And smells EVEN BETTER!  The edges get all crusty and the butter soaks in to the dry cake batter…yum.

cherry and pineapple dump cake recipeTo serve, spoon a heaping portion in to a bowl.  It is mostly made up of fruit after all…While it doesn’t immediately look like something you would make when having guests over due to it’s somewhat sloppy demeanor, the taste is a total crowd pleaser.  And your kids and male guests will get a good laugh when you call it a dump cake.


1 can Crushed Pineapple (normal sized can, not a small one – do not drain)

1 can Cherry Pie Filling (Comstock brand is always a good choice.  I went with an alternative last time and was disappointed)

1 box Cake Mix (Yellow or White)

1 cup butter (margarine only if you have to for allergy reasons – otherwise only use butter!)

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with Pam or other spray oil.  Pour in the crushed pineapple and juice and spread out on the bottom of the pan.  Pour the cherry pie filling on top (it will not spread out evenly).  Sprinkle cake mix over the cherries.  Melt butter and spoon over mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

You will not be disappointed!!  Have you ever made a dump cake before?

*For the most part, I do not create recipes but share the ones I grew up with in my family.  I’m certain some fantastic chef came up with this many moons ago but no sources are listed in my homemade cookbook from my mom.  She didn’t anticipate blogging.


I Made My Son A Picky Eater

This post is sponsored by Tyson Chicken Nuggets but it is the true story of how I made my son a picky eater.  Ok, not entirely but some days it certainly feels that way.  Tyson Chicken  – A great start to a healthy plate.

eating vegetablesMy oldest son is a very picky eater.  But he wasn’t always.  We found out about his multiple food allergies when he was just one year old.  I immediately became very aware of what was going in to his body.  And because dealing with all of these allergies was all new to me, I kept his diet very simple so that I didn’t  give him something that would hurt him.  His diet was pretty much vegan, but with lean meats.  He ate tons of fruits and veggies.  He liked beets and had lentils several times a week.  I packed all his meals, even when we ate out in restaurants, and he always had all the food groups represented, well at least the ones his little body could tolerate.

thumbs down vegetablesBut then something changed.  I got tired.  And maybe a little lazy.  And I certainly felt like he wasn’t getting to eat like a normal kid.  I remained committed to his whole food diet for as long as I could.  He didn’t have his first Oreo cookie until he was 4.  But that may have been the start of my downward nutrition spiral.  I saw how happy he was with that chemical filled cookie.  It is amazing what he can eat, without consuming dairy, that seems like it should have dairy in it.  That “buttery” taste, does not in fact, come from butter.     But as I felt more comfortable with him eating these convenient, joy-inducing foods, he began to shun the whole foods he had always done so well with.

picky eater postThis is what an ideal meal would look like for him.  I am happy to say that this is NOT what he eats at a meal, but snack time certainly contains a sugary carb.  Yes, I could put my foot down and only give him those whole foods we started out with.  I am the parent, I get that.  But when I see other kids getting to eat donuts on Sunday morning, or an ice cream cone on a Saturday afternoon, my heart hurts for him that he doesn’t get that opportunity.  So I overcompensate.  My main focus now is getting him to eat a decent amount of protein.  He doesn’t enjoy chicken (except nugget form – but even then he is very choosey about which nugget he will eat) but is limited in the dipper department.  While I make sure to make the few meals that he does actually enjoy each week, I always try new recipes in hopes of finding another meal he might like.  I cook about 5-6 nights a week.  There are certainly times when I need something convenient to feed him but want to make sure is healthy.  Tyson Chicken Nuggets are perfect for that.  I can throw them in the oven with brocoli and french fries and put a decent meal on the table in about half an hour.  I might need to get him this fun plate.  I mean, what kid doesn’t like to play with their food?  Not all nuggets are the same though.  I like Tyson because they are made with no fillers (huge!) and 100% all natural ingredients.  Texture is a huge deal for my son and these work for him.  They are crunchy on the outset but juicy in the middle and with zero trans fat so I’m ok with him eating these once a week…says the mom who lets her son have Pop Tarts for breakfast just about every morning (I get that my rationalizing is flawed).  Tyson has tons of varieties of nuggets but our family has one particular kind that is our favorite.  I buy them from Costco and they are breaded in Panko breadcrumbs.  Hands down the best nugget ever made.  They are more like a tender in their size and shape but they are ridiculously versatile.  In fact we had them last night with some spagetti and sauce for a quick version of chicken parmesan.  My mom turned me on to them and I make sure they are in my freezer at all times.

rice milkWe are working to find a happy balance in our nutrition.  This is about as much “milk” as I can get him to drink a day (it is rice milk – have you ever tried it?  He used to drink this with no issues either, but as he’s grown, his tastes have changed).

squeeze yogurtI am hopeful though.  With age comes what seems to be an outgrowing of some of the allergies.  Here he is eating cow’s milk yogurt (FROM A TUBE PEOPLE!  I almost cried when we realized he didn’t get a reaction from these.  For years he has seen the commercials on Disney Channel for Crush Cups and Gogurts but has never been able to try them.  They don’t make soy yogurt in fun containers.)  The fact that he can tolerate this opens up a new world.  This Friday I will be making him a ranch dip (using the non-flavored version of this Greek yogurt above) for his Tyson Nuggets.  Who knows.  The ranch might even help him to enjoy his vegetables again too.

*In an effort to not get to wordy in this post I may have exaggerated how bad his diet is.  While he does he a lot of junk food, his lunches and dinners almost always contain small amounts of fruit and veggies.  He’s not malnourished in any way.  But he does prefer his snacks over protein and healthy items.

Tyson® Chicken Nuggets are a great start at a healthy plate. Learn how to get a free colorful plate to make mealtime more fun!

Now that I’ve shared how I got my picky eaters to eat balanced meals, share your success story for a chance to win a $1,000!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Chicken Nuggets. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.