Monday, July 21, 2014

Personalized Bacherlorette Cruise Items on a Budget

THREE DAYS UNTIL WE SET SAIL! #CRUISINGCARNIVAL

Anyone who has had the chance to travel with me knows how crazy I am when it comes to trip planning. I literally go on vacation with an agenda, broken down by day and hour (clothing options included). While it drives my fiance crazy, I have friends who appreciate it.

If you saw my honeymoon themed bridal shower post, you are already aware of how creative my wedding party is. Once we decided (after some coercion from me) on a cruise for the bacherlorette party (on the Carnival Sensation), the planning began at full speed and they let me help vs keeping everything a secret.
Cover-ups were purchased from Amazon & Sears - U.S. Polo Assn. Women's Striped Cover Up with Braided Sholder Straps, theirs in navy and mine in pink. The ones from Sears were $10 and Amazon was $16. Luckily, only two were purchased at the higher price. I purchased beach towels from Target for $5 each and had my future mother in law embroider our names on the bottom of them.
We got hats and bags, personalizing them with iron-on and stick-on letters. The bags were $2 each and since Keri was unsure of how the material would handle the iron on letters, she purchased an extra as a tester. She used low heat and a damp cloth between the iron and bag - they came out great. The captain  hats were were on clearance at the time for $2 each. The brims are plastic so we were able to just stick the letters on. We wanted to put Capt. Bride for mine, Brides Mates for my wedding party and Brides Crew for Catherine but we didn't have enough letters. Bride and Mates were the final product.
Before the cruise was even booked, we bought Anchor Necklaces from Forever 21 for less than $6.00 each. They didn't have enough for all of us to match, so we got half red and half navy.
I know there are other surprises but here is the hull for now. Keri also got cups from Etsy but I have not seen them in person. She paid $8 each for the personalized cups. From the photos she sent me, I can tell they have our names and an anchor on them.
The total we spent for personalized bacherlotette cruise items are:
Embroidered Towels: $30
Beach Cover Ups: $80
Captain Hats w/ lettering: $16
Personalized Anchor Bags: $14
Anchor necklaces: $24

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Loews Don CeSar Hotel celebrates National Ice Cream Month with Sundae Brunch #recipe

My friend Jennifer writes about national food holiday's, posting a minimum of one recipe a day (sometimes up to 3, depending on the day!). I have enjoyed following her journey over the past 8 months and love all the different daily food holidays. Food holiday's are fun.....but what about an entire month dedicated to one food? July is National Ice Cream Month and Loews Don CeSar in St Pete Beach is celebrating in a big way with a new dessert, only available this month called "Sundae Brunch".
View from the Sea Porch Restaurant at Loews Don Cesar
Chef Kenny Hunsberger of Don CeSars Sea Porch Restaurant created a unique twist on the classic ice cream sundae. Featuring Praline Pecan Waffles, Candied Bacon Dust, Bourbon Maple Syrup, Mascarpone and Java Ice Cream. During my visit to Don CeSar last month, I was introduced to "bacon dust" - you have to try it for yourself - #amazing.

The Sundae Brunch dessert is offered daily in The Sea Porch Restaurant for just $10 each. For information on the Sea Porch and other Loews Don CeSar dining options visit www.loewshotels.com/doncesar. Make sure you take advantage of their seasonal room rates, starting from $219 per night. Recipe

Loews Don CeSar Sundae Brunch Recipe
Praline Pecans
2 cup Pecans
1⁄2 cup Light Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
Combine all ingredients and spread evenly on a silpat or baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until pecans are dry and crystalized.

Candied Bacon Dust
12 strips Thin Sliced Bacon
1⁄4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1⁄4 tsp Black Pepper
Lay bacon slices on a silpat or baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Combine brown sugar and pepper and thoroughly coat each slice of bacon. Bake at 300 degrees until bacon is crisp. Cool completely before removing from pan. Place bacon in a food processor or spice grinder and pulse until finely ground.

Bourbon Maple Syrup
2 cups Maple Syrup
1⁄2 cup Bourbon
2 Tbsp Butter
Place syrup and bourbon in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Waffle Batter
2 each Eggs
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1-3/4 cup milk
1⁄2 cup Vegetable oil
1 Tbsp Sugar
4 tsp Baking Powder
1⁄4 tsp Salt
1⁄2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Preheat Waffle Iron. Beat eggs in a large bowl with hand mixer until fluffy. Gradually add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Spray preheated waffle iron with nonstick spray. Pour batter onto hot waffle iron. Sprinkle liberally with ground praline pecans before closing. Cook until golden brown.

To Assemble
Place 1⁄4 waffle in center of plate. Top with one scoop of your favorite coffee ice cream. Place a spoonful of Mascarpone atop the ice cream and top with another 1⁄4 waffle. Drizzle entire dish with the bourbon maple syrup and sprinkle liberally with bacon dust.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Italian Wedding Soup Recipe, al fresco and Columbia Crest Winery Trip #giveaway

Although I live in FL and it's nearly 100 degrees out, it has also been raining nearly everyday this week - and rain makes me crave comfort food.
 I took on the challenge to Wine & Dine Better with Columbia Crest & al fresco sausage. Italian Wedding Soup was the first thing that came to mind. I love using al fresco's sweet chicken sausage in place of traditional pork sausage. Plus it is pre-cooked, so this meal is under 30 minutes to complete.
Ingredients
1 package al fresco sweet Italian sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 diced vidalia onion
3 diced carrots
2 stalks diced celery
2 boxes chicken stock
1/4 cup Columbia Crest Unoaked Chardonnay
1 cup uncooked Orzo Pasta
A few handfulls of baby spinach

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add diced onion, carrots, and celery and cook for 6 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add the chicken stock and wine and bringing to a boil. Add Orzo and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sliced chicken sausage and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to your preference. Add the fresh spinach during the last minute of cooking, careful not to over cook it. Serve with a glass of cold Columbia Crest Unoaked Chardonnay.


Now for the giveaway(s). I am giving away quite a few prizes.....including the goodies shown above.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Grand Prize:
al fresco coupons for (2) free products
al fresco trivet
al fresco spatula
grilling brush
Columbia Crest wine opener and bottle stopper
Runner Up Prizes:
5 readers will win coupons for free al fresco products
All Expense Paid Trip to Columbia Crest Winery
Would you like a chance to win an ALL-EXPENSE PAID trip to the Columbia Crest Winery in Washington State? All you have to do is ‘Like’ al fresco on Facebook and submit the required form as directed!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Energy on the go with Life Choice Nutrition Bars #BarNutrition

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone #BarNutrition #CollectiveBias

This past few months have been go-go-go for me and it wont get any better until October. On top of the extremely busy professional and personal life I am leading, Gabe and I are also back to marathon training. We have the Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in January and I am 99% sure I will sign up for the 2015 Goofy Challenge at Disney (back to back consecutive Half & Full Marathon). High Protein snacks are playing a big part in our day to day lives. 
My normal breakfast consists of eating a protein bar or drinking a protein shake. It's quick, easy, filling and nutritious. When I leaned Life Choice Bars (exclusively found at Walmart) had a energy bar with protein, I had to try it out. Not only were the bars great (something rarely found in protein bars), they gave me the boost I need in the morning. I know one thing for certain - these bars will be accompanying me on the bacherlorette cruise next week!
The Life Choice energy bar is the perfect balance of protein, vitamins and minerals to get you through the morning or long workout. 7g of protein, 10g of whole grains, 4g of fiber and 9g of total fat, packed with an energy punch. I wish I had these with me during the 2013 NYC Marathon or the 2014 Dopey Challenge.
Just thinking about the amount of races I did from November 2013-March 2014 makes my head spin. In November, I had the NYC Marathon, runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and Womens Half Marathon. In January, I ran the Dopey Challenge, 48.6 miles over 4 days (5K, 10K, Half, Full). In February I ran the runDisney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge, 19.3 miles over 2 days (Half, Full) & the Royal Family 5K the day before the challenge began. Finally in March, I ran the Sarasota Half Marathon relay. I have not ran anything past 3 miles since that day in March but that is about to change now that we are about to start training again.
You can find the Life Choice bars at your local Walmart, in the cereal aisle. I found them very easily at both the Tampa and Port Orange Walmart locations (seen below).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2015 #PrincessHalf Weekend Registration Opens Today

At noon today, runDisney will open registration up for the 2015 Princess Half Marathon weekend. This is a fantastic running event which celebrates runners of all ages, sizes and speed at the place where "dream come true!".

The prices for the weekends events are as follows:
Disney Princess Enchanted 10K presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals $105
Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals $170
Disney Glass Slipper Challenge presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals $295
Disney Princess 5K presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals $50
2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon
This will be the second year for the super popular Glass Slipper Challenge - 2 days of running with princesses - starting with the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K on Saturday and ending with the Disney Princess Half Marathon. All finishing participants will receive medals for both events, along with a special finishers medal to celebrate their multi-race achievement.
2014 Princess Half Marathon Weekend Medals (L-R Princess Half Marathon, Glass Slipper Challenge, Enchanted 10K and Royal Family 5K).
Check out my reviews from last years races and events during Princess Half Marathon Weekend:
Royal Family 5K
Enchanted 10K
Princess Half Marathon
Glass Slipper
Pasta in the Park
Race Retreat.
2014 runDisney Enchanted 10K
I have heard rumors of both the Kids races and Family Fun Run 5K being Frozen themed. Again - this is a rumor but if this is true, I expect to see a lot of Olaf's, Anna's and Elsas out there. The 2012 runDisney Royal Family 5K was my very first race. If you were considering signing up for your first race, this is the one I strongly suggest.
Disney Princess 5K 2014
In case you were wondering, Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland® Resort Early registration begins in a few weeks: Tuesday, August 6, 2014 at Noon Eastern Time. Those who complete both the Princess Half Marathon and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon will receive a special pink Coast to Coast medal!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cigar City Brewing comes to Carnival Cruise Lines

Nothing goes better together than sunshine, a boat and amazing beer and yesterday marked a huge day for Tampa's beer golden child - Cigar City Brewing. The very popular brewery who was named the 4th best brewery in the world by ratebeer.com will now be available on the Fun Ship. On July 13th, all of the 13 Florida based Carnival Cruise Ships will carry Cigar City Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale and Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale. We leave on my bacherlorette cruise in 10 days and I will be consuming a few of Florida Crackers while relaxing at the pool.
We attended a private function aboard the Carnival Legend for the Cigar City / Carnival partnership announcement. This ship was amazing and I hope to visit the Carnival Legend again before she leaves Tampa and heads to Sydney. Once on board, we headed to the Red Frog Pub for some live music, appetizers and of course Cigar City Beer. This partnership makes perfect sense with the increasing popularity of craft beer. Last year, Florida's 66 small breweries produced 130,000 barrels (4.03 million gallons) of craft-brewed beer for an economic impact of $875.8 million, ranking the state 12th in the nation.


Carnival's Vice President of Beverage Operations Eddie Allen and Cigar City Brewing's National Sales Manager Joe Burns 
Carnival Cruise Lines has 13 Florida-based ships where you will find Cigar City Brewing, sailing three- to eight-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico and The Bahamas. From Miami: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Glory, Carnival Victory and Carnival Splendor; From Port Canaveral: Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Liberty; From Fort Lauderdale: Carnival Freedom; From Tampa: Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend; From Jacksonville: Carnival Fascination.

PS - this marked my 700th post! I couldn't think of a better 700th :) 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hyatt Good Taste Series Culinary Competition, Florida Caribbean bracket #GoodTasteTampa

A few weeks ago, I had the honor to judge the Florida/Caribbean bracket of Hyatt’s inaugural Good Taste Series Culinary Competition at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.  This competition featured 11 up-and-coming chefs from Hyatt hotels across Florida and the Caribbean competed for a chance to move onto Hyatt's National Good Taste competition in Hawaii. This was an amazing experience.

Guided by Hyatt’s global food and beverage philosophy: Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served., each competitor used local ingredients, regional influences and healthy options to prepare three plates: one breakfast item, a lunch or dinner entrée and a kid’s meal. 11 chefs, 3 courses = 33 dishes. I tried each one of these beautifully presented dishes and I am not responsible if you end up licking your screen after reading this post.
BREAKFAST
I must admit - I am not a breakfast person. Not that I dislike breakfast, I do love a great brunch. However, I find myself opting for a fast protein shake in the morning vs. a hearty sit down meal. My game face went on instantly when I learned we would start with 11 breakfast dishes, 10 of which contained eggs (belly, I am sorry). Thank goodness for the talented chefs who participated in the event. To this day, I have no idea how I made it through course one and I still cannot eat a runny egg.
Top Left: Free Range Pork Tamale by Donald Ellison, Hyatt Regency Miami
Top Right: Broiled Eggs, Bacon Marmalade, French Toast Croutons, Baked Farmers Vegetable by Abhay Nair, Hyatt Regency Trinadad
Bottom Left: "Scotch Egg": Rosy Tomorrow's Farm Egg, Scott Bonnet Sausage, Florida Calloloo Emulsion, Plantain 'Maxim' by Noel Willhite, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
Bottom Right: Pulled Pork Hash and Eggs with Grilled Crostini, Peach Chutney and Fruit Ceviche by Peter Zemaitis, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa (my favorite breakfast dish of the day)
Top Left: Roasted Poblano Pepper Stuffed with Chorizo, Corn and Black Beans Hash, Refried Pinto Beans, Chipotle Lime Hollandaise, Sunny Side Up Egg by Michael Chong, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Top Right: Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Florida Whiskey Maple Syrup and Candied Pecans, Macerated Florida Peaches by Eric McBride, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Bottom Left: Baked Egg White Benedict, Gulf Blue Crab, Manchego Spinach, Corn, Canadian Bacon, Red Eye Hollandaise by Ian Goldman, Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Bottom Right: Blue Foot Puff, Organic Pork Sausage, Local Poached Egg by Cary Roy, Hyatt Regency Clearwater
Top Left: Corn Bread and Jalapeno Waffle with Crispy Organic Chicken, Collard Greens and Poached Egg with Yellow Heirloom Tomato Sauce by James Monahan, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville 
Top Right: Abuelita's Sweet Potato Hash, Sweet Potatoes, Green Peppers, Cilantro, Thyme and Cuban Soffrito by George Parra, Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
Bottom Left: Florida Breakfast Strata: Roasted Potato, Sweet Pepper, Asparagus and Gouda Cheese, Strata Heirloom Tomato Relish and Avocado Crema, Brioch Toast with Blueberry Lavender Jam by Raul Reveron, Hyatt Regency Orlando International 

LUNCH/DINNER
We did not take a break between breakfast and lunch. I was texting my Mom during this short transition, telling her there was no way I was going to make it through another 22 dishes. She kept responding that my life must be so hard, lol. The only comparison I have to my mental state at this point is running a full Marathon. While I had 11 dishes down, we had 22 to go and this was a chance to eat dishes from multiple talented chefs. Time to get with the program belly!
Top Left: Cumin Spiced Glazed Lamb Chops, Peppered Polenta, Emulsion of Carrot and Green Pea, Garden Vegetables by Abhay Nair, Hyatt Regency Trinadad
Top Right: Tri Colored Ceviches: Ecuadorian: Whole Shrimp Ceviche in a Concase Tomato Spicy Citrus Sauce with Chives and Malanga Chips; Mexican: Mahi Ceviche Strips, Green and Red Jalapeno, Cilantro, Hass Avocado and Tomatillo with Julienne Corned Chips; Peruvian: Diced Grouper Ceviche, Aji Amarillo Leche de Tigre, Peppers and Onions with Cancha Serrana by Donald Ellison, Hyatt Regency Miami
Bottom Left: Florida Chowder: St Augustine Royal Red Shrimp, Cedar Creek Clams, Heart of Palm "Scallops" Young Coconut "Calamari", Coconut Bacon Dashi, Black Garlic, Pablano, Yellow Carrot by Noel Willhite, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point (and in my opinion, the winning dish of the day - WOW)
Bottom Right: BBQ Key West Pink Shrimp, Roasted Mango Jalapeno Salsa, White Cheddar Hominy Grit Cake by Peter Zemaitis, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa
Top Left: Spiced Diver Scallops, Thai Jumbo Lump Crab Salad, Roasted Peanut, Confited Shitake Mushrooms, Crispy Five Spice Bacon, Chili Vinaigrette, Green Onion Strings by Michael Chong, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
Top Right: Pork Parquetta, Cheddar Grits, Local Red Mustard Greens and a Red Wine Reduction by Eric McBride, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Bottom Left: Mote Marine Sturgeon 2 Way: Seared Sturgeon, Forbidden Black Rice, Citrus Vanilla Scented Foam, Surgeon Caviar, Broken Tomato Meringues by Ian Goldman, Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Bottom Right: Olive Oil Poached Local Hog Nose, Veracruz Style, Olive Ricotta, Cured Pork Jowl by Cary Roy, Hyatt Regency Clearwater
Top Left: Fried Green Tomato and Crab Cake "Sandwich", Roasted Tomato Jam, Mango Salsa, Baby Mustard Green Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette by James Monahan, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville 
Top Right: Paiche with Coconut Saffron and Heirloom Tomato Salad, Lime Dressing by George Parra, Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
Bottom Left: Coriander-Fennel Crusted Petite Filet of Beef and Pickled Royal Red Canaveral Shrimp, Sweet Plantain Spheres, Blood Orange Sabayon, Balsamic Reduction by Raul Reveron, Hyatt Regency Orlando International 

FOR KIDS BY KIDS
22 dishes to down, 11 to go. That is what I had to keep telling myself at this point. We were 2/3 the way through this amazing culinary journey. The kids menu was the talk of the day among the judges. What were they going to present us with? How many chicken fingers would we see? Towards the end of this course, my psycho phone died and some of my photos didn't save (oddly enough, ones that were deleted were not the last ones I took).
Top Left: Quinoa and Caramelized Apple Slider with Swiss Cheese on a Whole Grain Roll, Fruit Pearl Salsa and Honey Roasted Clusters of Seeds and Nuts by Abhay Nair, Hyatt Regency Trinadad
Top Right: Kid's Mock Sushi: Bean Sprout and Grilled Chicken, Spinach Wrap with Shrimp and Mango, Lemon-Ponzu Papaya Sauce by Donald Ellison, Hyatt Regency Miami
Bottom Left: Banana Waffle: Gluten Free, Whipped Strawberry Yogurt "Push Pop" (think Flintstones Pop), Fresh Fruit by Noel Willhite, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
Bottom Right: Skewered Grape and Peanut Butter Powder, Peanut Butter Stick and Blueberry Gelee, Liquid Blueberry Ravioli with Peanut Butter Powder by Eric McBride, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress (my favorite kids dish)
Top Left: Organic Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese Pops: Cheddar and Mozzarella, Hidden Serving of Vegetables, House Made Ketchup by Ian Goldman, Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Top Right: Make a Wish "Peanut Butter and Jelly" Cake by Cary Roy, Hyatt Regency Clearwater
Bottom Left: 7 Grain Whole Wheat French Toast, Strawberry-Blood Orange Compote, Peanut Butter Honey Syrup by James Monahan, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville
Bottom Right:  Cornflake Crusted Chicken Asparagus Bites: Baked Chicken Wrapped Asparagus Spears, Cornflake Crusted with Carrot Ribbons, accompanied by Honey Mustard, Sweet & Sour Ketchup and Blueberry BBQ by Raul Reveron, Hyatt Regency Orlando International 

Photos missing from the Kids for Kids by Kids section:
Kids Chicken and Waffle Slider, Maple Celoute, Grilled Fruit Skewers by Peter Zemaitis, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa
Cheesy Turkey and Spinach Empanadas, House Mada Marinara, Crisp Kale Chips by Michael Chong, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
"Fish Sticks" Plantain Crunch, Mahi, Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus, Mango-Banana Salsa by George Parra, Hyatt Regency Coral Gables
AND THE WINNER IS:
Congrats to Chef Noel Willhite of Hyatt Regency Coconut Point who was crowned the winner of the Florida-Caribbean bracket of Hyatt’s inaugural Good Taste Series Competition. He will advance to the national competition, taking place on November 4, 2014, at the Andaz Wailea Maui. Along with advancing to Hawaii, Chef Noel Willhite, received a Shun knife, a year subscription to the food magazine or cookbook of his choice, a $500 American Express gift card and an all-expense paid trip to the national competition. The final winner at the national competition will receive an additional week of vacation, paid travel and accommodations to the Hyatt destination of choice within the U.S., Canada or Caribbean as well as bragging rights until next year’s challenge.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Low Fat Cesar Salad Dressing over Grilled Romaine Recipe #KefirCreations

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KefirCreations
I was first introduced to Lifeway Kefir Lowfat Probiotic Cultured Milk at my parents house a few weeks ago. I became intrigued with this refreshingly smooth and tart drink. I asked my Mom about it and she told me she prefers this in her morning smoothies.
I frequently make my own salad dressings and one I cannot perfect is Cesar dressing. So I decided to take Lifeway Kefir, the 2000 year old cousin of yogurt, and make Cesar salad dressing with it. This is an egg-free dressing and it came out close to perfect - the only thing I will change next time is thickening it up a bit.
Lifeway Kefir is Gluten Free, 99% Lactose Free and contains no artificial sweeteners. It's 12 active Probiotic cultures support the immune system and balance digestive health.Lifeway also only uses milk that comes from cows that are not treated with pesticides, antibiotics, or synthetic growth hormones. The cows are grass fed and GMO free. I found Lifeway Kefir at Winn-Dixie in Tampa, FL in the Natural Dairy aisle. I did have to ask a store associate for help locating the product - as I naturally went to the regular dairy aisle. Many stores carry this - so if you cannot locate it, ask someone for help. You can sign up for Lifeway Kefir coupons by clicking here.


Low Fat Cesar Salad Dressing over Grilled Romaine 
1/3 cup Lifeway Kefir Lowfat Cultured Milk - Lowfat Plain
2 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 romaine lettuce hearts, cut in half
Parmesan Crisps

Place the first 9 ingredients into a blender and whip at high speed until thickened (it is best to use a blender with a dressing feature). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Grill the romaine - I used a cast iron skillet over medium heat and eyeballed it until browned.

Top with Parmesan crisps and Cesar dressing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fab Fit Fun VIP Summer Box Review and coupon code

I first read about the Fab Fit Fun box last fall - a box which features full-size, premium products. This box is delivered 4 times a year, so it is a quarterly subscription box vs. monthly. What's in this box? Over $225 Beauty, Fitness, Fashion, and Wellness products for only $49.99. At first the $50 price seemed steep for a box - as I was currently getting multiple others at $10 a pop. I was literally getting nearly 10 boxes a month, everything from food, fitness, beauty, fashion and even bridal.


I finally cancelled my above mention boxes and and signed up for the Fab Fit Fun Summer 2014 box. I waited anxiously, spying over the last few weeks on other blogs who were posting sneak peeks. It finally arrived last Thursday and I couldn't be more impressed with it.
The grand total of this box equals $245.77 in products, most of which I really love. Up first are my three favorite products from the box.

Sonia Dakar Flash Facial - Value $99 - OBSESSED. I couldn't be more impressed with this product. Dead skin literally came off my face in 2 minutes.
Pur-lisse SPF 30 Sunscreen - Value $55 - I use SPF moisturizer everyday. This is an amazing product which didn't leave my face oily.
Balanced Guru No Frizz Balancing Oil - Value $25 - An incredible hair serum - smells like lemongrass. Be cautious with the amount you use.
Up next Thursday Friday Mini Clutch/ Makeup Bag – Value $35, (the design I received is Diamonds Here Pouchette). This is a cute makeup bag. I will be bringing it with me on the bacherlorette cruise in 2 weeks.
We also received a FabFitFun Water Infuser BPA-free Water Bottle – Value $15, this says Grab Life by the Exercise Balls on the bottom - pretty funny! I've wanted one of these bottles for a while so this made me pretty happy.
KISSTIXX SPF 15 Lip Balm - Strawberry & Chocolate – Value $6 -Fun product, this is two lip balms you can use alone or together. Not a fan of the chocolate but the Strawberry is awesome - also the texture is great.
Zoya Nail Polish – Value $9 - Very pretty color but I will be giving this to my best friend Keri. I am a Shellac addict so no nail polish needed in my house.
Also in the box was some smaller items - Pop Chips, Skintimate Shave Gel, Slimfast Have Your Cake Meal Bar, and Always Xtra Protection Long Daily Liners
My overall verdict - I loved this box and would get it again. The first three products I showcased alone were well worth the $49 quarterly cost. My only let down is that I wish there were more fitness products. You can still get this box by clicking here and using Fab Fit Fun VIP Summer Box coupon code 3755546. Only 3 of those codes are available. If you missed out, you can still save $10 off a Fab Fit Fun VIP box by clicking here to save $10 off your box!

Monday, July 7, 2014

NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Girl Scouts® Thin Mint Ice Cream Recipe #Cookies2Crunch

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Cookies2Crunch

I was remember the day I became a Brownie - followed by graduating into the Girl Scouts. Every Tuesday night, we would meet at my Elementary school with my Mom as our leader, learning life lessons. Year after year, I would win the award in my troop for selling the most Girl Scout cookies. Present day, Gabe has become the Girl Scout cookie monster and will purchase 10 boxes at a time. His favorite are the Samoas while mine are Thin Mints & Tagalongs.

It appears that NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® has answered both of our prayers for non-cookie season. Along with Girl Scouts®, they created cookie flavor candy bars which are only be available at Walmart until the end of summer. The three flavors available are Thin Mints®, Caramel & Coconut and Peanut Butter Crème! I will be the first to tell you - if you have these in your house, be prepared to have some self control. I don't have much of a sweet tooth and could probably take down an entire box in one sitting.
As a kid, I always crumbled Thin Mints in my ice cream so I knew exactly what I wanted to make with the cookies. Gabe got me a Blendtec for Christmas and we finally made Ice Cream with it. 45 second for homemade (and delicious) Ice Cream - score. Mixing in NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Girl Scouts® Thin Mints - Double Score.
I am fairly certain you need a Blendtec or other blender which has an Ice Cream setting on it - but this recipe can be modified for other Ice Cream Machines.

NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Girl Scouts® Thin Mint Ice Cream
1/4 C half-and-half
3oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 C (1 pint) whole-milk ice cubes (about 1 tray)
 NESTLÉ® CRUNCH® Girl Scouts® Thin Mints (I used 3 of the mini bars)

Place all ingredients except candy into the Blendtec blender, press Ice Cream setting and blend. Once it is thick and creamy, add the Thin Mints and pulse 4-5 times until blended.
We found the cookies at Walmart in Brandon, FL. Gabe was beyond excited when he saw the flavors. We purchased one of each - and the bars are miniature - for two bars, it ranges from 190 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat. I have seen full size versions of these candy bars at other stores but this was the only option at ours. At least this way, we have portion control.