Friday, January 30, 2015

Starting Mornings My Way With McCafé Coffee

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #McCafeMyWay #CollectiveBias

One of the things I've come to learn about myself as I've gotten older is that I need my morning routine. I need to have quiet time for thinking, planning my day, and my yoga practice. But before I do any of these things, I need a great cup of McCafé coffee.

I'm a true coffee lover, and that first cup of morning coffee is really important to me. I recently discovered McCafé coffee pods that I can use with my Keurig machine to brew up a delicious cup of coffee in no time at all.

Since I live with my daughter and her family, which includes three of my grandchildren, I like enjoying my coffee before everyone else wakes up. I adore my grandchildren, but it's so nice to have some me time before everyone's busy day begins.

The Premium Roast coffee pods are my favorite for my first cup in the morning. They have a wonderful aroma, and taste. I also love the French Roast, too.

McCafé coffee is made with 100% Arabica Beans, and harvested from the rich soils and mountainous regions of the foremost coffee growing areas of the world. And as much as I like using the coffee pods for time saving convenience, it's also available in premium coffee bags as well.

Using my Keurig lets me have my cup of coffee quickly and easily. I love just popping the coffee pod into the machine, with no measuring, no coffee filters, and no mess. After my cup is brewed, I add a little creamer, and I'm good to go!

I want 2015 to be the year of change for myself. I would love to earn more money, seek out new opportunities, and find a charming little apartment in the city.

With my cup of coffee and my calendar notebook, and before I open my computer, I use that time to think and plan. And as much as I do love my computer, there is just something special about writing things down by hand.

When I was a busy mom raising my five children, there was no morning time for me. I know that is so true for many moms today. My daughter enjoys getting up before her kids wake up, and having that first cup of coffee in quiet. It's so worth losing a little extra time sleeping in, and can make all the difference in a mom's day.

My morning routine includes a thirty minute session of yoga a few mornings a week. Nothing terribly strenuous like this book cover, but enough to help me stay healthy and fit. I enjoy yoga very much, and I'm excited to start going back to a local yoga studio in addition to my home practice.

After yoga, it's time for a light breakfast and another cup of McCafé coffee. Using the coffee pods lets me have a freshly brewed cup of coffee each cup. For me, drinking coffee that has been sitting in a pot for an hour or two, is not my idea of a good cup of coffee.

I first tried McCafé coffee at a coffee demo at Walmart. I got hooked right away. I'm actually quite picky about the coffee I buy and drink, so this had to taste great to win me over.

I was a little early for the demo, but I'm so glad I stayed to try the McCafé. Walmart has lots of demos, and I've actually found a lot of my favorite products by sampling them this way.

You can find McCafé coffee pods and bagged coffee in the coffee aisle at Walmart. Look for several different varieties of each product.

McCafé coffee is part of the Kraft brand that includes many of our favorite and well-known brands available at Walmart.
If you need more inspiration, check out the Cooking Up Good website. It has recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What's not to love? If you're looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!

How about you? Are you someone who would love a less rushed morning? Do you have a morning routine that helps you get a good start? And how important is a great tasting, convenient cup of coffee to you?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please leave me a comment below. And thanks!!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Healthy Kale and Black Bean Veggie Soup

Part of my plan for getting healthier in 2015 is to eat more vegetables. I actually love vegetables and I do eat a lot of them. But like most of us, I could always add more.

I keep hearing that kale is over, and has lost it's trendy reputation. Well, I don't care. Kale is so healthy for you and can be put into so many recipes that I'll keep buying it and eating for a long time to come.

This is my basic veggie soup recipe with the kale and a can of black beans added. I eliminated  the salt and used salt-free Mrs. Dash. It tasted just as great without the salt.

I used an entire bunch of kale. It seems like a lot when you are putting it all into the pot, but it really cooks down. Be sure you wash it well, and just tear it with your hands into pieces.

Recipe for Kale and Black Bean Veggie Soup


1 bunch of kale, washed and torn into pieces
1 14 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Seasoning
5 cups chicken stock
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon pepper


Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, celery, carrots, garlic and Mrs. Dash. Stir occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, and bring back to a boil for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, kale, black beans and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Makes 6 servings.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

RSVP ForThe #GoldfishMix Twitter Party

#GoldfishMix-Twitter-Party-1-29-1pmEST,#TwitterParty,#ad,sweepstakes on Twitter

 Photo Credit: Jade Louise Designs

Do you love a good Twitter Party? You know we do and we’re excited to host a party about using Goldfish crackers to make your kids smile with the perfect kid-friendly snacks. On Thursday, January 29 at 1:00 pm ET, please join me for the #GoldfishMix Twitter Party where we’ll have some delicious fun and give you a chance to win prizes!

This fun party is sure to give us lots of great ideas about using Goldfish crackers in snacks and kid-friendly recipes. My grandchildren just love them, and whether we are at home or on-the-go, it's a snack I know they'll always enjoy. Goldfish crackers are also a great snack at parties, and the kids always eat them all up. Look for some fun ideas and inspiration for  Goldfish snacks on Facebook. At this Twitter Party we’ll announce a special Rollback price on Goldfish crackers at Walmart. Come with a smile on your face to the #GoldfishMix Twitter Party on January 29 because you have a great chance to be one of the six gift card prize winners!

Join me and RSVP for the #GoldfishMix Twitter Party on SoFabChats!


DATE:  Thursday, January 29, 2015
TIME:  1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET 
PRIZES:  5 – (1) $100 Walmart gift card
EARLY BIRD PRIZE:  1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card
BRAND GUEST:  @GoldfishSmiles
RULES:  #GoldfishMix Twitter Party Official Rules
RSVP & PARTY GRID:  #GoldfishMix Twitter Party Page

TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that options checked when you RSVP for the party!

TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Valentine's Day Sprinkled Sugar Cookies


I know Valentine's Day is still a few weeks away, but time just seems to speed by these days. I love making treats for my family and friends for this holiday, and I believe it's a day to celebrate all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind.

 I have made a lot of sugar cookies that weren't all I'd hoped they would be, but this is the best recipe I've ever used. The cookies are moist and delicious, and very easy to make.

 My grandchildren loved them and I had such a good time making them. And of course, you can use different kinds of sprinkles for different holidays, they will all look great on this cookie.


Recipe for Sprinkled Sugar Cookies


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large or extra-large egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. Add flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar, and mix until it forms a dough.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of sprinkles, and fold the rest into the dough. On a cookie sheet lined with foil, place heaping teaspoons of dough, spacing evenly.
Press down on dough just enough to get a flat surface. Sprinkle with reserved sprinkles.
Bake in preheated oven 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet before removing.

Makes 18 cookies.


I originally published this last year, but since it's such a great recipe, I wanted to share it again. 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homemade Decadence and Two Other Favorite New Cookbooks

Some women buy jewelry, expensive shoes, or designer clothes. Me? I like to buy cookbooks. I read them like novels, absorbing every word off of every page, and wondering how the food tastes.

Homemade Decadence is a gorgeous book by one of my favorite food bloggers, Joy Wilson. Her website, Joy The Baker, is amazing. The photos are stunning, and the recipes are completely doable for the home cook.

Last year I made her Chocolate Bundt Cake, and I can honestly say it was the best cake I have ever made. My family loved it too, and it didn't last long.

This new cookbook is just as fabulous as Joy The Baker website, and if you like to bake, do yourself a favor and buy this book. Yum!!

I've been an Ina Garten fan since her very first book was published. I have all of her books, and I love each one for it's gorgeous simplicity, and focus on creating delicious food.

 Make It Ahead lets you prep or make and freeze meals to save time in the kitchen. Many foods can be made ahead of time, and this saves me so much stress when I'm trying to get multiple dishes on the table at the same time. And it really does make party planning and giving easier.

With dishes like French Chicken Pot Pies, Spinach & Ricotta Noodle Pudding, and Tri-Berry Crumbles, you'll see how easy it is to make recipes ahead of time, and save yourself from kitchen stress.

I don't usually buy diet or low-calorie cookbooks. But the cover of The Skinny Taste Cookbook caught my eye, and I just had to take a peak inside.

There were plenty of more gorgeous photos, but more importantly, great and delicious recipes. Gina Homolka takes recipes we all enjoy and slims the calories off of them without taking away any of the taste.

Dishes like Skinny Chicken Parmesan are only 174 calories. I'm a big chicken parmesan fan, and my daughter made this and it was delicious. I was so impressed that I can't wait to get in the kitchen and start cooking Gina's recipes.

She is also the blogger behind the Skinnytaste website, which is filled with delicious low-calorie recipes, including 45 crockpot recipes.

I'm very excited to start cooking from my new cookbooks and sharing the recipes and finished dishes here. Yummy!!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Celebrate Friends and Family This Valentine's Day With Red Velvet Donuts

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RedVelvetLove #CollectiveBias

I know Valentine's Day is usually thought of as a time for romantic love, but I think everyone should have the chance to be included in the day. I remember when my five kids were growing up, it was always so exciting for them when they received their Valentines and treats at school.

Times haven't changed much, and I get to see that same giddiness and excitement as my grandkids share Valentine's Day with their friends at school and in the neighborhood. And since I'm a grandmother who likes to bake, it's the perfect day for me to bake treats for my family and friends to show I love them.

I've been a red velvet fan for many years, and so I thought that Red Velvet Donuts topped with
M&M's® Red Velvet chocolate candies would be a delicious treat to share. M&M's®  has been a part of every holiday for as long as I can remember, and I love how they now make so many great flavors for the seasons and holidays.

I have a lot of fun doing little things for my grandchildren. I have four, three boys and one girl, and they get a kick out of me making them treats and giving them little presents on Valentine's Day.

Besides buying them Valentines, I'll be putting together a bag of treats, including the M&M's® Red Velvet flavored candies. Have you tried these?? Oh my, they are so good, and really do taste like red velvet.

I used to think that the only way to make a good donut was to fry them in hot oil. That all changed when I bought a donut pan and can now make a batch whenever I want to. It's so easy!!

Our next-door neighbors are a wonderful older couple whose children live far away and rarely seem to visit. I'm blessed to have my children all around me, and I can't even imagine how lonely this couple must feel.

During the holidays I started sending over food and desserts, and they were so very thankful for the attention. So on Valentine's Day morning, I'm going to whip up a batch of these Red Velvet Donuts and take them over. I don't know who it will make happier, me or them.

If you've never made a red velvet batter before, it can be a little startling. It really is red to start out, and the amount of food coloring you put in can make a difference.

This is an easy batter to put together that includes buttermilk. This recipe makes about ten donuts, but you can easily double it if you are making donuts for a large amount of people.

After the donuts have baked and cooled, dip them in a powdered sugar glaze. I like to dip them twice since the glaze can be a little transparent. This can be a bit of a messy job, so make sure you have something underneath the cooling rack to catch the glaze drips.

These are such a great color, and I love that red velvet taste. Yum!!

Sprinkling the tops of the donuts with the crushed red velvet M&M's®  makes these donuts taste fabulous. Being such a red velvet fan, I've tasted a lot of it, and let me tell you, this combo is terrific!

I think I'll be heading back to Walmart to pick up a few more bags just so I can make these donuts all through the year, and not just for Valentine's Day.

I crushed up the M&M's®  with my rolling pin, but you could do it in the food processor if you like.

Recipe for Valentine's Day Red Velvet Donuts


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk + 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (or more if needed)
1 cup of crushed red velvet flavored M&M's®

For glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
5-6 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking powder, then mix with a spoon. Add in buttermilk and egg, mixing to combine. Stir in butter. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar together, then add in vanilla. Add the mixture to the doughnut batter, then stir in red food coloring. Using a pastry bag or spoon  fill each doughnut mold 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 7-8 minutes, thne let cool for 5 minutes before removing. Transfer to wire rack. Dip each donut into glaze, and sprinkle with crushed candy.
To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until smooth, add another tablespoon of milk as needed.

You can find M&M's® Red Velvet flavor at your local Walmart. These are a special Valentine's Day variety, so be sure to pick some up soon so that you don't miss out.

Valentine's Day isn't just for couples, but it's a chance to show friends and family that every kind of love should be celebrated.

Do you have fun and favorite ways that you celebrate Valentine's Day? Maybe a special recipe or a sweet tradition? Leave me a comment and share it with me. I would love to know.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Recipe For Mini Vannila Cupcakes

I have made and certainly eaten my fair share of treats this holiday season. But they're all gone now, and my family and I needed something sweet to eat.

Though I am a big chocolate lover, I also like vanilla a lot. These vanilla cupcakes are packed with a delicate vanilla flavor. I made them in mini size because my grandchildren like that size, and I think they look cute.

Williams-Sonoma is my favorite cooking store that I go to when I want to buy long-lasting quality kitchenware. I feel the same way about their recipes, that they are great quality, and I can depend on them to deliver something I will like. This is a Williams-Sonoma recipe, for both the cupcakes, and the buttercream frosting.

The frosting can be tinted, and these cupcakes can be made adorable for a little girl's birthday party, baby shower, and more. And they are absolutely yummy!

Recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes and Frosting

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  •  6 tablespoons sanding sugar

  • Directions:

    Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners, or a 24 mini pan.

    In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg and egg white one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not overbeat.

    Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes for standard size, or 10 to 12 for mini size. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
    Recipe for Buttercream Frosting


  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

    Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners¿ sugar, butter, the 4 1/2 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    Frost cupcakes with frosting and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using.
    Makes 24 mini cupcakes, or 12 regular size cupcakes.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    RSVP For The #24HourEsterC Twitter Party

    This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its Advertiser. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone and should not be construed as medical advice. #24HourEsterC #CollectiveBias


    Photo Credit: WhatRoseKnows
    Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know we do, and we’re excited to host a party about putting your best foot forward into the new year!  On Wednesday, January 14 at 11:00am ET, please join us for the #24HourEsterC Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing new year goals, sharing our best tips for success and giving you a chance to win prizes!

    Join me and RSVP for the #24HourEsterC Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

    DATE: Wednesday, January 14

    TIME:  11:00 am ET

    PRIZES: 5 – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Cards

    EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card

    HOSTS: @blueviolet, @FrugalFamTree, @AFrugalFriend, @Lizz_Porter & @tsue1136

    SPECIAL GUEST: @OfficialEsterC

    RULES: #24HourEsterC Twitter Party Official Rules

    RSVP & PARTY GRID: #24HourEsterC Twitter Party Page

    TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

    TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

    TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

    TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

    TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!
    TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

    TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

    Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!

    These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Make Your Big Game Day Delicious With SNICKERS® Cookie Pots

    This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BigGameTreats #CollectiveBias

    I can honestly say that I love football. But not for all the usual reasons. Yes, the games are exciting to watch, I love rooting for my team, and I do love it when we win. But the real reason is because my grown-up kids all love it, and it gives us a chance to spend a few hours together on an occasional Sunday. We are all so terribly busy, and any chance I get to see my kids having fun together is a great day for me.

    This year when it's time for the Big Game, I want to make something really tasty to have on hand for dessert. Since my family adores SNICKERS® bars, I decided to make SNICKERS Cookie Pots. These are basically a big warm cookie filled with deliciously melted SNICKERS candy, and topped with some vanilla ice cream.

    I'm happy when I have a recipe that's easy to make, and turns out even better than I thought it would. These SNICKERS Cookie Pots are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and perfect for friends and family to eat on the day of the Big Game. Score!!

    Not only are we SNICKERS fans, but everyone loves Skittles® too. I like having bowls of candy out for everyone to help themselves. My grandchildren enjoy sorting the Skittles by color, and doing counting games with them, and of course they have to all have exactly the same amount so there's no fighting.

    Our family has a friendly team rivalry going on because my two sons have a favorite team, and my son-in-law's favorite team is a different one. This has been going on for years, and it's funny and we have all had some good laughs, and a few lost bets, too.

    One thing we do all agree upon is good tasting food. Food really is a big part of our game days, and I'd like to share my recipe for SNICKERS Cookie Pots with you.

    This recipe is easy to make, and you start out by slicing up the SNICKERS bars. I used fun size, but you can use the larger full-size bars if you want. Of course it's hard not to eat as you cut them, at least for me. You will need one cup of them.

    After you have combined the batter ingredients, stir in the sliced SNICKERS pieces. This recipe makes six servings, and can easily be doubled.

    Spoon the batter into 3-inch ramekins, and top with a few extra SNICKERS pieces. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes. When they are done, they will still be gooey in the center, so be careful not to over bake them. That's what makes them taste so delicious!

    Recipe for SNICKERS Cookie Pots


    baking spray
    1-1/2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 stick butter, softened
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup sliced SNICKERS bars, divided


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Lightly grease 6 3-inch ramekins with baking spray, set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until well blended and creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and 3/4 cup of SNICKERS.
    Fill the ramekins 2/3 full with the dough. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup SNICKERS pieces evenly on tops.
    Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes. The centers will still be slightly undercooked  when removed from the oven. Let them sit until they are no longer hot, but warm, and top with vanilla ice cream.

    I found SNICKERS and Skittles in the candy aisle at Walmart. I always like that Walmart offers such a big selection of candy, and in different sizes, too.

    Do you have any favorite Big Game inspired recipes that you like to make? Leave me a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for yummy recipes.

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