Best Alfredo Sauce

When I say best, I mean it. This sauce is SO delish you could drink it, you know if you were into that sort of thing, drinking sauces and all…

The recipe is enough sauce to feed approx 8 people. You can always make more or less depending on how much you and your family love it. We usually make extra and store it in fridge since we eat it on other things like too like steamed veggies or cooked cubed potatoes or talapia, etc. We mainly serve this with fettuccine or egg noodles. Want to try it on angel hair pasta but haven’t yet. We also add shredded chicken or tiny shrimp to our bowl as well along with some steamed veggies and garlic bread on the side. Makes a great meal!

Best Alfredo Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/2 block of cream cheese
1 quart of heavy whipping cream (NO not the sweetened cream!) (You can use just regular whipping cream but the whisk process will take longer so we prefer heavy)
2 cloves or 2 tbsp garlic, crushed (add more of less depending on how garlic-y you like it)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (if desired)
Salt & Pepper (we like lots of pepper in ours)

Note: I have used “lowfat” versions of all ingredients and it has come out just as yummy, maybe a lil thinner but still good 🙂

Melt your butter, mix in garlic, then add the cream cheese. Stir till melted together. Add your heavy whipping cream, parsley if desired (you can at this step or top your finished dish with it), salt and pepper and begin whisking. This is a tedious process, not going to lie. It takes a good 20-30 minutes to whisk this stuff to thicken it. If you want a “thinner” sauce then of course you can whisk for a few and stop but we like a thicker sauce so we whisk, at times we take turns whisking (especially if we are making more for extra people) Turn off heat and add the Parmesan, you can add all 2 cups or you can add hlaf and use the other half to top your dish, the choice is yours. Allow to cool a bit as this will help it thicken as well. Serve and enjoy! You really don’t need a lot of sauce on your pasta or dish. A little sauce goes a long way!

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P.S. I use a silicone whisk so I don’t scratch the crap outta my good pans, just an FYI 🙂

Here is 1 that I love and for a great price!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

 

 

Casear Salad Recipe

My kids love to play this what if game, do yours!? “Mom what if you had to eat 1 meal for a month, what would you eat?” Hmmm my answer, caesar salad. Why? It is SO good! I love it, I order it anytime I have to option at a restaurant and occasionally at Costco too (when the tug to buy a slice of their pizza or a polish dog doesn’t win) (if you love caesar salad and have a Costco membership you gotta try theirs!)

Then 1 day I decided to make it at home as we don’t go out to eat nearly enough to satisfy my cravings for it. So like many of you I started internet searching for recipes on how to make it… Umm ANCHOVY PASTE & RAW EGG! What in heck have I been eating, ewwww. Now some of you may like it and I mean no disrespect towards you at all but personally I would rather not consume it. Am I the only person that had no idea caesar salad dressing was made with anchovy paste & raw egg!?

My search for a good recipe for the dressing lead to a good anchovy paste substitute so I can make my own version without opening a jar or can or however that stuff comes packaged. And what I found was that mayo was a great alternate so I went with it. Trusty ole Costco real mayo 🙂 Now that I can do! And so my recipe for amazing caesar salad dressing was born and now it is hard to eat it when I am out for 2 reasons, the thought of anchovy paste and the 1 I make is sooo good that I have spoiled myself! Now I am here to share it with all you!

Heads up, I suck at measurements for this, I just throw it all together, mix and add what I need to to make it exactly how we all love it so i will do my best to give you proper measurements but I suggest you play with it and create it the way you and your family like it.

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Caesar Salad List

Romaine lettuce/hearts
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Croutons
Small serving of shredded chicken breast or shrimp if desired

Dressing Ingredients

1/2-1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c regular mayonnaise
1/4 c olive oil (I have used canola oil before when I don’t have olive on hand)

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tsp spicy brown or Dijon mustard
1/2-1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground pepper

 Directions

Add all ingredients into bowl and whisk well. If it is too thick you can add more Worcestershire sauce and/or oil. If it is too thin then you can add more mayo. Play with it and taste it till it is exactly how you like it. Some people prefer to add fresh grated Parmesan to it but I make a batch and keep it in the fridge so I wait and add it to the salad as I prepare it. Pour desired amount over salad. I am going to venture a guess and say this makes about enough for 4-6 servings, but don’t hold me to that!

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I buy the bags of romaine lettuce/hearts at Costco, it is 4 hearts for less than $4! I have bought them at other stores too and they are always very affordable. I wash them and chop them and store the chopped lettuce in gallon size bags to make it easier to get to with a busy schedule. Grab out a bag, throw some in a bowl, throw some Parmesan and croutons on and a lil dressing and lunch, snack or dinner is served. I keep small bags of seasoned shredded chicken breast in the freezer too in case we want to quickly add some protein to a salad. Tiny salad shrimp works well with this too!

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Enjoy!

You know what else is so awesome!? When you are done chopping the romaine hearts you can set them in soil and grow more! LOVE this about this veggie! Just an FYI 🙂

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Why yes I have been known to eat a huge bowl of this stuff for a meal! Don’t judge me hehe

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P.S. This recipe is healthy and yummy! If you try it please let me know if you like it! If you have a yummy recipe you want to share please do so 🙂

P.S.S. I LOVE this holder!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

Feeding a Large Family Tips

I often get asked about meals, cooking, shopping for a big family.

“How do you do it?”

“I bet that costs a fortune!”

“Is it hard to cook for so many?”

“Do you plan out your meals?”

“Will you share your recipes?”

And the list goes on…

I am not an extreme coupon-er, although I certainly wish I was! A certain level of jealously hits me when I see all these people saving butt loads of money at the store with coupons and here I am handing the check out person 3-8 coupons saving a few bucks. I have always wanted to do it but can never quite figure it out, the only coupons I ever get are for toothpaste, deodorant, all the name brand laundry stuff etc. And it is for all the stuff I don’t use so am I missing something!? Am I not looking in the right place for the right coupons!? I prefer store brand stuff on most things I but (except for fabric softener and Mac and Cheese, no just no!) And I feel I am saving a good amount of money by doing that so this my friends is how I keep the coupon jealousy down to a minimum! I do however follow the Krazy Coupon Lady’s blog and do follow some of her amazing tips and use some of her coupons etc! http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

As for our family I will share with you what works for us and what we also plan to try to see if it is a fit.

Ever heard of a fruit/veggie co-op? We have used several and really enjoy the produce and the savings! Now these may or may not be located in your city so a quick Google search should let you know. We have used Market on the Move http://the3000club.org/ and they always have an abundance of produce! Not sure if this is only located in AZ but you can always check. 1 we really love and have used for years is Bountiful Baskets! They are in many cities so chances are good you will find 1 near you, if not contact them and start 1! http://bountifulbaskets.org/. They have more than just produce that you can purchase as well, like honey, breads, combo packs etc all at a discount price! Check them out!

Menu/Meal Planning We plan out all our meals, recipes, etc and then make a list based on that for at least 2 weeks and then shop for those items. I use the sales ads to plan the meals and talk about saving time, money & headaches! It saves me from having to go to the grocery store often (which is great for me considering we live 20 min from any major grocery stores) and cooking is so much more fun when you have all you need ahead of time! Plus the kids like knowing what we are having for dinner each night of the week. http://mamabearplus6.com/meal-planning-or-go-with-the-flow/

Quality Discount Meats. We also have used a discount place for meats, chicken, fish, produce, and the best bacon, called Zaycon! https://www.zayconfoods.com/. This is where you buy meats by the case. You can buy the case if you can afford it or go in with another family member of friend to stock up. I have heard there are other places like Zaycon but I have yet to find them so if you know of any please share! Also too, we are considering buy a whole cow and/or pig and spiting it up between our family and my daughter and her hubbys households and may even add a friend on with us. It is a great way to stock the freezer and splitting the cost to make it affordable for everyone. And it supports local farmers, win win!

Grow your own! A GREAT way to feed the fam and eat healthy and what a wonderful experience it is! Seeds are cheap and with effort and love you can have a hearty garden to put food on the table! Our very 1st real garden experience this last summer and I am in LOVE with it! Looking forward to growing it bigger and better every year!

Find your local growers! We spent many days in Greenbluff, which is a local farming area that grows ALL sorts of produce! We would go and pick pounds of fruits/veggies for a great price and so so yummy too! Find a local grower in your area!

Sales! If I groceries on a good sale, I stock up! Meats, boxed sides, household goods etc. Check your store ads weekly so you know what is coming up on sale and can prepare to buy those items and stock up on them. If it is produce that is on sale, buy it, chop it, freeze it, you will be so glad you did! The stuff you cant freeze, create a weekly menu, meals and snacks based on those items that you bought while they were cheaper.

Buy bulk when it makes sense. I say this because it is not always cheaper to buy bulk! On some things yes, but not on everything. I LOVE Costco and I have certain things I will only buy there but there are some items that I can get cheaper like spaghetti sauce hahaha! Always check prices and see if it is a great deal. I love how my teens now always check labels and sue their math skills to see what is cheaper per unit etc. A few seconds of time to do this can add up a great deal of savings over time!

Bulk meals. Something we are new too and just beginning to try is bulk meals. We will be shopping with our family along with my oldest daughter and her hubby to buy bulk, make numerous ready to cook crock pot freezer meals to stock both of our freezers for the winters. I am excited to start this and will surely blog about how it goes. We will include recipes, shopping lists and how the overall experience goes. Stay tuned 🙂

P.S. These are just a few ways that we shop, cook etc and save money! What tips/tricks help you save money!? What would you add to this list!?

 


Mama Bear Plus 6

Pumpkin Roll Recipe

Yum yum pumpkin rolls! Something this yummy should pretty much be illegal hehe They are so good yet so bad, ya know the kind of food you will literally only eat around the holidays and feel guilty about if you have more than 1 piece, which my friends, is sooo easy to do with these things!

Over the years we have making pumpkin rolls starting in October till right about New Years. We make them for our family, gifts and we actually make and donate and/or sell lots of them. Not really for profit but to share the pumpkin cream cheesy goodness with others without going broke. I mean let’s face it, not everyone likes to bake, not everyone wants to bake, not everyone has time to bake and then there are some people that should never even attempt to bake so that is where we come in to save the day, the party, the dessert for the family gathering etc.

I have to say that the very 1st year I made them I was not sure what to expect since these are so fragile and need to be handled with  a gentle hand and well… I wasn’t sure I had the gentle hand they require. Not to mention I had NO idea that  my entire kitchen would look like a powdered sugar factory just exploded in it! And didn’t know I would be working at a high speed rate of pace from all the inhaled sugar (which could have easily been mistaken for cocaine everywhere by sight and my actions! coffee+inhaled sugar=wild, but productive mama) But now I get excited to make them, I get excited to smell them, share them, eat them and well breathe in lots of the powdery substance, sugar people just sugar! Plus having a freezer full is pretty exciting too!

I started out with a recipe I got from a friend. But as with every recipe I am given, find, come across and use I change it up a bit and make it 1 of our own. I will share it with all of you. This is how I like to make it and the people that enjoy them seem to love. Please feel free to add or take out any ingredient you desire, like nuts which I do not use, etc.

 

Mama Bear Pumpkin Roll Recipe

 For the cake part of the roll

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup canned pure pumpkin or 10tbsp (if you are like me and want to make several cakes in 1 day, just an FYI, (1) 30 oz can of pumpkin will make 4 pumpkin rolls)

1 tsp lemon juice (I use the Real Lemon Juice in the green bottle)

 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (you can find this in the little cans in the seasoning isle, it is an “all in 1” so you don’t have to use ginger, nutmeg, cloves but you can if you want to split it all up)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Approx. 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel, or more if you want to sprinkle on cake before serving, etc)

For the creamy filling

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F.

Grease 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan (NOT a regular size cookie sheet folks!) and set aside (I use cooking spray, generously and don’t have any problems with any of it sticking).

In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating with an electric mixer until thick and light yellow color. Add pumpkin & lemon juice; beat until well mixed.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in small bowl. Add to egg/pumpkin mixture, mixing well.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, etc, if desired.

Bake cake for 13 to 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched (this is so important, do not overcook the cake, set a timer if you have to, I do otherwise there goes 20 min and a ruined cake)

While your cake is baking, arrange a clean thin, cotton kitchen towel on counter; sprinkle with powdered sugar to cover most of the surface. Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel so when you roll up the cake it will not stick.

Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto powdered sugar covered towel.  I always sprinkle a lil powdered sugar on top of the cake and spread it around as well. Roll up cake in towel while hot, starting with 10-inch side. Cool completely.

Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Loosely re-roll cake trying not to “push” the cream cheese mixture out.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Or freeze them for later use. I like to refrigerate them and then when they are firm slice the cake then re-wrap and freeze. This makes them easy to pull out and serve when you have unexpected guests or just want to have a few slices to serve after dinner or with hot cocoa (http://mamabearplus6.com/hot-cocoa-mama-style/) on a chilly day. Feel free to sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving!

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All the tools you need to make your pumpkin rolls awesome and all at a GREAT price!

P.S. Have a great pumpkin recipe that you want to share!? Please do so in the comment section!

Mama Bear Plus 6

Secret Ingredient Family Banana Bread

Our family LOVES banana bread! And  I love to bake, win win! I have tried several recipes over the years and some we liked and some not so much, and then I found “IT”, the recipe of all recipes and the search ended with this 1. I did tweak it a little as I do with almost every recipe I come across, after all I love adding my own touch to things.

Banana bread is 1 of those things that when you go to a gathering or out to eat and it is served you take a small bite to make sure it is gobble down worthy.You may bite into a pasty/sticky bread, a too dry bread, a bread overloaded with nuts (not my personal liking at all), or a bread that is just right. Banana bread roulette I call it, hehe.

The recipe I am about to share with you is so flexible and delish! You can make bread loaves, cake size, or muffins with it! You can add stuff to it like nuts, ya know if you are into that sort of thing, cranberries (who knew!?), peppermint/choc/butterscotch chips,  something I like to occasionally add is Nutella, yes a swirl of yummy choco/hazelnut goodness! The possibilities are endless!

1 of my favorite things about baking is how much my kids love to help! I must admit I do have days that I want to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible and don’t want to deal with the extra time and clean up that kids in the kitchen bring (hey I am only human!) but for the most part I love it when they take turns helping and when they ask all sorts of fun questions like when cracking eggs, “Hey mom didn’t you say chicken lay eggs, does that mean they come from their butt area? And if so how the heck does a big hard egg come out of a little chicken, ouch!?” or like “What would happen if I take the high speed mixer out of the bowl while it is on (as batter flies all over each of us)!?” Oh the joys of parenting!

This recipe will make 2 loaf pans or 1 cake pan or approx 12-18 muffins

Banana Bread

  • 3 cups of white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups ripe mashed banana (I don’t always have the patience for the ripening process and have made it with yellow and still tastes great!)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (secret ingredient! YES sour cream! Crazy right!?)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL  1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325F (165 degrees C)
  • Lightly grease and flour/cooking spray your two 8×4 loaf pans, cake pan or use muffin/cupcake liners for a muffin pan
  • In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition
  • Stir in the bananas and sour cream
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and pecans (if desired), mix
  • Combine banana mixture with flour mixture and mix just until combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan(s)
  • Bake in a preheated over for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean
  • Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool
  • Serve warm or cold (just an FYI this is SO yummy served warm with a lil butter spread on it)

If you are going to add “extras” like choco chips etc you would add them to your banana mixture before combining with flour mixture. If you want to add Nutella (highly recommended hehe) then you will take a small amount of the already mixed batter before pouring it into pans, put some (about 1/4-1/2 of a cup) in a small bowl add a tablespoon or 2 of Nutella and mix it together, then after you pour your batter into desired pan(s) you will spoon small amounts of this Nutella mix and swirl it in with a butter knife.

Warning: Once you make and eat this banana bread there will be no other banana bread that can compare, so when taking a bite of banana bread someone else has made make sure you take small bites and be prepared to fake it!

P.S. If you make this and love it or if you are from another planet and make it and hate it please share your thoughts and comments with us! We also love recipe shares so feel free to post a link to your recipes in the comment section as well!

My kids LOVE to play like they own their own bakery/kitchen when they cook with me and have their own aprons, bake-ware etc. Here is a link of just some of the stuff they use and love, and as always such a great deal, most with free shipping!

 Happy Baking!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

 

Meal planning or go with the flow?

A common question I get asked often is: How does your family plan your meals!?

Are you the family that shops for what you are cooking the same day and make everyday or other day trips to grocery store?

Are you the family that shops 1 time a month and stock piles everything?

Or do you shop a few times a month for your meals?

Do you even cook!? Or is it can/cold stuff/boxed/microwaved (is microwaved mean cooked!?) every night for dinner?

I have met families that do not cook and eat out pretty much everyday aside from TV dinners. Hey if that’s what works for you!

I am always curious to know how others do it and what works for them.

With my big family I feel that some type of routine/schedule/plan is a MUST! For the mind and bank account!

We work with a 2 week meal plan. It goes a little something like this, on every other Sunday we get out a notepad I start a list of things we need for breakfasts, lunches snacks, household, etc. We have a list on the fridge and when we are out of something it gets written down on the list, whether it be toilet paper or nail polish remover (which we use SO much of in our house!) toothpaste, bread, or if there is just something the kids saw or thought about that they want or would like to try. We pick many of our ideas from Pinterest. We actually took a 1  month Pinterest meal challenge and out of everything we cooked from there we only had 1 fail! Each kiddo gets to choose what they want for dinner(s). They LOVE being able to have a say so and picking foods they enjoy and/or can help prepare. Makes them feel important and that makes me smile 🙂  The dinners are written on the right side of the paper. We list 10-14 of them and 2 special desserts (1 for each week). Then I take each dinner and write down what we need to buy for it and gather any coupons I may have that I need for this store trip. I make a Costco list and a grocery store list.

We then take this awesome meal planner that my oldest daughter made me and put our meals up for the 1st week. It makes it so easy to know what to thaw out, soak, prepare, etc. for that nights and the next nights dinner,  talk about making life simpler in little ways like this! I try to prepare meats and sides that can be used for more than 1 meal, for example, boiling and shredding chicken breast for tacos 1 night and chicken noodle soup a few nights later. Or home made re-fried beans for a side for dinner 1 night and bean and cheese burritos next night or night after. Makes cooking easier and groceries stretch out longer. Who doesn’t love that!?

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This is what works for our family! Does it mean that I don’t ever have that annoying “in the middle of the week missing 1 item for the dinner I already started making” store trip!? Of course not, it happens occasionally but for the most part groceries and feeding the cubs is not something that gives me a headache anymore with our method and that I am SO grateful for!

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P.S. What works for you and your family!? Please share any tips or ideas that you may have! We all learn from each other and sharing is caring 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

Lasagna Roll Ups

Lasagna Roll Ups

Serves: 8-12

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Ingredients

1lb ground beef or turkey

28-32oz jar of spaghetti sauce, divided

12 lasagna noodles, cooked

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 egg

8oz ricotta

16oz mozzarella, divided

1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp garlic powder

a pinch of salt

a pinch of pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

In a skillet, brown ground meat. Drain. Add spaghetti sauce (all but about 1 cup), salt and pepper. Turn off heat. At same time, boil water on stove in large pot. Add lasagna noodles and cook until just flexible but not fully cooked.

Combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Pour about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry by patting them with a paper towel. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over a noodle, I add the mixtures to each noodle before I start to roll to make sure I have enough & so I can always add or take from the ones I need to, then do the same with the meat sauce mixture.

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Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Ladle remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top with the mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

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After all roll ups are done, you now have a choice, you can either bake them right away or you can put them in the fridge for later use or you can freeze them for later. These will last in freezer for several months. If you freeze them, make sure they are fully thawed before putting in oven.

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Eat and enjoy!

Mama Bear Plus 6

Quick breakfast idea!

Healthy Smoothies

For those of you or your family members, especially teens, that like to juice/smoothie daily or just every now & then, for health, fun or just snacks this has proven to make it SO much easier to make them! Instead of pulling all your bags of stuff out you can just grab a baggie full of pre-measured fruit & veggies from the freezer, plus it saves so much room in the fridge drawers! Makes it easy for the kiddos to make them before school as well! I always worry that my teens are not eating right and getting enough nutrition. They run out the door to the bus sometimes without eating breakfast. These smoothie packs help them whip up a healthy breakfast every morning and sure makes mama feel better knowing their tummies are full and they have the vitamins they need to start their day!The packs that I have in the picture have a handful of baby spinach, a spoonful of blueberries, about a handful of fruit mix (mango, strawberry, pineapple)

Fruit Mix

With these breakfast smoothies you can add anything your heart desires! We add yogurt, chia or flax seeds, Carnation instant breakfast, Boost, almond milk, Silk or just water to your pre-made packs. Each pre-made pack consists of a variety of fruits and veggies. The main ingredient in these packs is baby spinach since it is great for you and has little taste. We then add any berry, melon fruit that you would like. And then same with the veggies, avocado, beets, broccoli, cucumber, etc. The grocery stores and Costco sell a variety fruit pack that we generally buy along with a huge bag of the baby spinach. The possibilities with these are endless!

Mama Bear Plus 6