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Gifts & Gadgets

Fighting Off the Arctic Blast with Fresh-Baked Cookies from My #MustHaveBox

 DISCLOSURE: POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try.

The December #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR had one item that really caught my eye on a wintery day like today: Baker’s Dozen Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix from Sisters Gourmet. I simply added eggs and butter and within 13 short minutes I had a pan of fresh-baked cookies ready to devour.

The rest of the #MustHaveBox included:

  1. ODEME Catchall & Ring Dish
  2. BAUBLEBAR Snowfall Pendant
  3. MANE MESSAGE Date Night Bobby Pins
  4. WINKY LUX Lip Pill in Bunny
  5. DESSANGE PROFESSIONAL HAIR LUXURY Color Restore Color Protecting Top Coat Serum (available at Target)


If you’d like to have some “Happiness Delivered” to your doorstep, try the Must Have Box from POPSUGAR. Get $5 off your first #MustHaveBox with promo code SHOP5.

Gifts & Gadgets

Don’t Monkey Around With My #MustHaveBox

 DISCLOSURE: POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try.


I have to admit that I was extremely curious to find out what would be in my November #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR. Last month’s box has this stylish compact umbrella (it’s in my glove compartment for those days when the rain sneaks up on me), a tall bottle of brown sugar vanilla shower oil (which I use daily to keep my skin moisturized as winter creeps in) and some dark chocolate cocoa (I’m saving this for the first measurable snow fall of the season).

With the November #MustHaveBox securely on my kitchen counter, I grabbed a box cutter and with ninja-like precision opened up the treasure chest to find:

  1. KENDRA SCOTT Elaina Rose Gold Bracelet in White Pearl (Wow! This elegant bauble will make a terrific stocking stuffer for someone on Santa’s nice list.)
  2. PEHR Chambray Runner in Wine (My dining room table was screaming for a new runner, and everything looks better in wine!)
  3. STOWAWAY COSMETICS Dawn to Dusk Palette (My niece has a birthday coming up. This will help her look good from dawn to dusk, right!)
  4. AJ GOODS Nest Wire Bowl (Perfect for bananas or apples. Doesn’t Monkey look cozy?)
  5. MERI MERI Star Party Picks (These will be perfect for zazzing up appetizers for our next family holiday party.)
  6. OOGIE’S SNACKS Gourmet Toffee Butter Popcorn (This was the first item I opened, and it was definitely the right choice. Deliciously salty and sweet, this toffee butter popcorn was totally addictive!)


I’m ready for December’s #MustHaveBox for sure! If you’d like to have “Happiness Delivered” to your doorstep, try the Must Have Box from POPSUGAR. Get $5 off your first #MustHaveBox with promo code SHOP5.

Gifts & Gadgets

My Kind of Favorite October Surprise? The #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR

DISCLOSURE: POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try.


This #MustHaveBox arrived on my doorstep earlier this week. I’ve never received one before, and I was more than a little curious about what I’d find inside.  When I opened the box, I found a treasure trove of five (5) eclectic goodies that included:

  1. HENRI BENDEL Packable Umbrella (The perfect size for the glove compartment or briefcase)
  2. LALICIOUS Brown Sugar Vanilla Shower Oil and Bubble Bath (Pardon me for about 90 minutes while I enjoy a hot soak in the tub)
  3. MY CUP OF COCOA™ Dark Drinking Chocolate (Yum!)
  4. MORNING CULTURE Rise & Shine Diner Mug (Everybody knows a classic diner mug is tots adorbs)
  5. MAKEUP ERASURE Mini (I think one of my nieces will be glad to get this)


And there were two (2) special extras inside my #MustHaveBox:

  • POWER YOUR HAPPY by Lisa Sugar (Can’t wait to read the inside story from the founder of POPSUGAR)
  • REVLON® ColorStay™ Liquid Eye Pen (Another gift for the “other” niece so she doesn’t get jealous!)

Dark chocolate cocoa, a mug, brown sugar vanilla bubble bath and a good book….I’ve got everything I need for a relaxing, decadent bath.

I can’t wait until next month’s #MustHaveBox arrives to see what goodies are in store. Want “Happiness Delivered” to your doorstep? Try the Must Have Box from POPSUGAR. Get $5 off your first #MustHaveBox with promo code SHOP5.


Creating New Family Breakfast Traditions With Jimmy Dean Delights®

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jimmy Dean®. All opinions are 100% mine.

Jimmy Dean Sausage has been an American family breakfast tradition since I was 7 years old. As a young child, I remember seeing country singer and actor Jimmy Dean on television talking about the savory blend of seasonings that went into every Jimmy Dean Sausage.

Well, it’s been more than a while since I was 7 years old. Family breakfast routines have changed. And Jimmy Dean Foods has evolved with the times.  

The new Jimmy Dean Delights® still have the trademark savory blend of seasonings in the Jimmy Dean Sausage. But Jimmy Dean Delights®, all under 300 calories, are portable, single servings for families on the go.

When it comes to breakfast foods, nothing satisfies more than a delicious croissant, hearty English muffin or texturally tantalizing flatbread. I was excited to try the following Jimmy Dean Delights®:

  • Turkey Sausage Croissant
  • Bacon, Egg & Cheese Flatbread
  • Turkey Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin

Create new family breakfast traditions with Jimmy Dean Delights® at Meijer

The Turkey Sausage Croissant was oh-so satisfying. The croissant was fluffy, and you could really taste the quality of every ingredient. That gooey, bubbling cheese was heaven on a cold winter’s morning.

Create new family breakfast traditions with Jimmy Dean Delights® at Meijer

I’ve typically only had flatbread pizza, so I was curious to try the Jimmy Dean Delights® Bacon, Egg & Cheese Flatbread. I could taste the whole grains in the flatbread, which I found completely delicious and satisfying!

Create new family breakfast traditions with Jimmy Dean Delights® at Meijer

The Jimmy Dean Delights® Turkey Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin – like all of the Jimmy Dean Delights® products – was ready in less than 3 minutes in my microwave. I also liked that you can store Jimmy Dean Delights® products in either your refrigerator or freezer.

Personally, I love an extremely toasted English muffin so the texture of all the nooks and crannies comes through in each bite. I toasted the English muffin portion first, then prepared it in the microwave with all of the components. Perfection!

Jimmy Dean Foods brings quality, taste and convenience to my morning breakfast routine with real ingredients. Real eggs. Real cheese. And, of course, real sausage that started the Jimmy Dean breakfast tradition nearly 50 years ago.

I encourage you to try the new Jimmy Dean Delights® for yourself. Get a Jimmy Dean Mperk coupon (until 1/31/15 at Meijer) to save $1.00 on any ONE (1) Jimmy Dean Delights® Breakfast Sandwiches at Meijer’s. And for more breakfast recipe ideas, check out Jimmy Dean on Pinterest

Visit Sponsor's Site

Snacks & Candies

The Pistachio Principle

Have you heard of “The Pistachio Principle?” The Pistachio Principle is a simple, mindful eating concept that can help fool yourself full, without feelings of deprivation.

The premise of The Pistachio Principle is that consumption of in-shell pistachios may help to slow eating because the leftover shells offer a visual cue about the amount of pistachios you’ve consumed. And that can potentially reduce your calorie intake.

pistachio principle

Pistachios are by far my favorite nut. For years, I’ve created original recipes using pistachios, ranging from flat breads to decadent brownies. But my favorite way to eat pistachios is right from the shell. They’re perfect for snacking along with Sunday night’s TV lineup of “The Good Wife,” “Downton Abbey,” and “Revenge.”

And I can personally attest that eating in-shell pistachios can be a great workout for your fingers. Prying open those pistachio shells helps reinforce hand-eye coordination and strengthens nimble fingertips.

Celebrate The Year of the Skinny Nut™

Pistachios have been acknowledged as a top food trend for 2015. Considered to be “The Nut of the Year,” pistachios are known as the “Skinny Nut” because they’re one of the lowest calorie, lowest fat nuts, and among the highest in protein. Pistachios can make for a great, everyday healthy snacking choice for those who are looking to satisfy a salty snack craving in a smarter way. Incorporating in-shell pistachios into a snack routine can help to get you back on track in 2015 after an over-indulgent holiday season.

To kick off 2015 – The Year of the Skinny Nut – I wanted to share a few of my favorite snack pairings that include in-shell pistachios.

Pistachio Snack Pairing #1

pistachio skinny nut yogurt mango pairing pistachio principle

In-shell Pistachios + Fresh Mango Slices + Raspberry Yogurt + Low-Sugar Mango-Orange Juice

For a snack to satisfy, it needs to have flavor, texture and hit all the right sweet, savory notes on the palate. My first perfect snack pairing with in-shell pistachios includes fresh mango slices that refresh and provide a mild sweetness. A few spoonfuls of creamy, low-fat raspberry yogurt provides a nice balance to the mango, while also adding back good bacteria into your body’s immune system. Top it all off with a hydrating low-sugar mango-orange juice blend.

Pistachio Snack Pairing #2

pistachio skinny nut apple carrot pairing pistachio principle

In-shell Pistachios + Carrot Chips + Honeycrisp Apple Slices + Earl Grey Tea

For an afternoon snack that adds a mega-satisfying crunch, pair in-shell pistachios with chilled carrot chips, some Honeycrisp apple slices and a calming cup of Earl Grey tea. If you love crunch in your snack, every food component in this pairing really delivers.

You can learn more about the benefits of incorporating in-shell pistachios into your 2015 snacking plans when you enter “The Year of the Skinny Nut Sweepstakes” hosted on the Pistachio Health Institute Facebook page. The sweepstakes runs from January 7 – January 31, 2015, and you have a chance to win a year’s supply of pistachios. YUM!!!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Breakfast/ Snacks & Candies

Feeding My ‘Crunchy Snack Addiction’

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Quaker®. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #LoveMyCereal #QuakerUp

I am a crunchy snack addict. There’s no denying it. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

But this self-diagnosed ‘crunchy snack addiction’ can sometimes lead me down the wrong snacking path. When left to act on impulse alone, I can make poor choices by reaching for the nearest salty chip or candy bar. You’ve been there, right?

When you’re running around all day taking care of four hyper pugs (like I do), it can be exhausting. Sometimes feeding and caring for them means I’m too tired to cook (or think!)…so I reach for whatever snack is closest at hand. To help avoid acting on impulse and to make better snacking choices, I like to have readily on hand in my pantry some home-blended crunchy snacks that can satisfy my deep desire for crunchy goodness.

One of my go-to crunchy snacks is my “American Pie” Trail Mix. It’s got only four ingredients and you won’t believe how easy it is to make (in under 2 minutes!). I call it “American Pie” Trail Mix because it beautifully blends the flavors of warm cinnamon, tart apples, tangy cherries, and sweet maple-brown sugar.

Quaker_American Pie Trail Mix_redwhiteblue

American Pie Trail Mix



Gather and measure your ingredients.

Quaker_mise en place

Pour ingredients into a resealable plastic food bag.

Quaker Trail Mix_shake

Seal the bag and – to paraphrase from a popular song – “Shake It Off” for a few seconds until all the ingredients are blended. This can also be a great burst of cardio activity and a stress release!

Then I put some of the trail mix in two smaller snack-sized bags for the car, and keep the remaining trail mix sealed in the bag in a cool, dry place. I commute about 3 hours a day, on average, and the drive home during rush hour can be brutal. Not only am I fighting the traffic but I’m fighting the hunger beast. Having a small nosh in the car that’s a better alternative to chips or chocolate means I can tame the hunger beast and avoid over-indulging when I get home.

I wanted to share another quick trail mix recipe that is great for a tropical taste escape on a cold wintry day. It’s my Tropical Trail Mix snack.

Quaker_Tropical Trail Mix

Tropical Trail Mix



Gather and measure your ingredients; pour into the plastic food bag. Shake until blended and you’re ready to snack like you’re on vacation in the Caribbean!

I love the versatility of cereal, especially Quaker® Oatmeal Squares which I first came to appreciate when I was making a savory holiday snack mix for my family. You could make your own favorite trail mix blend with your favorite dried fruits. Or add some savory flavors with cashews, almonds or whatever nut you love the most.

Quaker_Real  Medleys

While my trail mix recipes have focused on using cold cereal as a base for a delicious crunchy snack, I’m also a fan of the easy breakfast. And Quaker® Real Medleys® Multigrain Cereal fills that bill to a tee! My favorite flavor is Peach Apple Walnut.

I wake up at 5:30 am to get ready for work. At that early hour, the last thing you want is a complicated breakfast. While it can be tempting to skip breakfast in favor of 15 minutes more of sleep, that’s not a solution to keep me fueled for the day. So I will sleep in for 10 minutes more of sleep and have a quick bowl of delicious (and crunchy!) multigrain flakes and granola clusters.

Quaker Squares with Honeycrisp Apple

You’ve probably guessed that there’s no meal where I can’t make cereal the star of the bowl. I do #LoveMyCereal! Even all by itself – no milk needed – cereal right from the box can be downright delicious! I especially love Quaker® Oatmeal Squares (with a hint of cinnamon). The crunch is deeply satisfying and perfect to pair with a Honeycrisp apple for a portable afternoon snack at the office.

Quaker_at Walmart_collage

I got all of the ingredients for my special trail mix blends recipes at Walmart. The variety of Quaker® hot and cold cereals available at Walmart (in the cereal aisle) is amazing. Be sure to try them all:

I’ve shared a few of my favorite trail mix recipes featuring Quaker® Life and Oatmeal Squares cereals. What ingredients do you love most in a trail mix? Share your suggestions in the comments below. And kudos if you also come up with a fun, funky name for your special trail mix blend.

Snacks & Candies

Wholesome Snacking Options With Minute® Ready to Serve Rice

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice

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Like most of America, I’ve grown up with Minute® Rice. And for the last several years, I’ve cooked Minute® Instant Whole Grain Brown Rice at least a few times every week. Some weeks, I have it every day in some dish or another. It’s definitely a staple in my pantry! That’s why I was beyond excited when I was asked to try the new Minute® Ready to Serve Rice products. Thank you, Minute® Rice, for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

Minute Rice wholesome snacking options

When I first noticed Minute® Ready to Serve Rice in its individual portion packages, I didn’t buy it because I tend to buy the largest boxes of Minute® Instant Whole Grain Brown Rice that I can find at my local grocery store. So I was delighted when I discovered a number of new flavor (and whole grain) options in the Minute® Ready to Serve product line, including Brown Rice, Brown & Wild Rice, Multi-Grain Medley, Jasmine Rice, White Rice, Chicken Rice Mix, Yellow Rice Mix, Fried Rice Mix, and (the newest addition) Black Beans & Rice.

While I’ve mastered using Minute® Instant Whole Grain Brown Rice in my Harvey’s One-Skillet Wonder, I was curious to try the single portion servings because they are portable, offer easy portion control, and require only heating since they’re already cooked.

I hate (yes, HATE!) going out to eat for lunch at work. In addition to the high cost of eating out, it’s time-consuming, inconvenient and there’s little control over the quality (or wholesomeness) of the ingredients used. After seeing a HUGE-mongous number (over 70 and counting!) of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice Stir It Up! “No Recipe Recipes” for smarter snacks and easy meals on-the-go, I was inspired to create my own stir-in ideas with ingredients from my kitchen. And after a holiday season of irresistible sweet treats, I was committed to discovering some wholesome snacking options that I could easily incorporate into my day (at work or on the weekends).

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice: Italian Vegetable Blend with Brown & Wild Rice wholesome snacking options

My first inspiration was an Italian Vegetable Blend. I heated 1/2 cup of frozen Italian Blend Vegetables in the microwave until hot (about 2 minutes) before stirring in one heated portion of Minute® Ready to Serve Brown & Wild Rice. The frozen Italian blend I used included broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and black beans. I then sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning on top and stirred well. This was “molto buona.” The red bell peppers, black beans and rice blend was just enough for a light meal, side dish or snack. It could easily be turned into a heartier lunch at the office with the addition of some grilled, Italian-style carved chicken breast.

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice: Cheesy Chicken Sausage with Sun-Dried Tomato using Multi-Grain Medley wholesome snacking options

I love breakfast any time of the day, but admittedly don’t often have rice for breakfast. So I took three ingredients from my refrigerator that I’d normally use in making scrambled eggs or an omelet: sausage, cheese and sun-dried tomato. The result was my Cheesy Chicken Sausage with Sun-Dried Tomato dish, which would be a perfect hot (and quick) breakfast on a cold winter morning. Just heat one serving of Minute® Ready to Serve Multi-Grain Medley and set aside. In a small bowl, heat 3 chicken sausage links (cut into 1/2-inch slices) and about 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato (Julienne cut) for about 2 minutes in the microwave. When done, add the Minute® Ready to Serve Rice and top with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese (I used a Mexican Taco blend) and stir well. This would also be a great (and hearty) weekend lunch option when you’re not in the mood to spend time cooking over the stove.

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice: Cranberry Rice Pilaf with Chicken Flavor Rice Mix wholesome snacking options

After a flurry of holiday cooking, I realized I had some left over dried cranberries that I needed to use or lose! I decided to take some frozen mixed vegetables, along with jarred sliced mushrooms, to create a holiday-inspired Cranberry Rice Pilaf. If you’ve made rice pilaf a lot, you know there are a zillion versions of rice pilaf recipes out there. Use whatever ingredients you have on hand and that you love most. To make my version, heat one serving of Minute® Ready to Serve Brown Rice in the microwave, according to package directions, and set aside. In another bowl, heat about 1/2 cup of frozen peas and carrots with a few sliced mushrooms (if available) for about 2 minutes on high. Remove from microwave and mix with Minute® Ready to Serve Rice. Top with about 1 tablespoon dried cranberries and stir to mix thoroughly.

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice products wholesome snacking options

I literally bought every flavor of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice carried by my local grocery store. I’m excited to try the Black Beans & Rice and continue experimenting with other stir-in ingredients from my pantry. Check out the complete list of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice products and share with me in the comments section below what stir-in ideas you’re inspired to try in creating a wholesome, yummy snack on the fly!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice.

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