February 22, 2015

Cooking With Splenda




 Cooking Gluten Free with Splenda Sugar

 

So I recently found about my sensitivity to gluten as I've gotten older and the years have passed. I always just assumed that I had eaten too fast or too much and that that stuffed feeling would eventually go away. Well it didn't go away, but got worse as I've aged' I didn't know what gluten was and why it was bad for me. I grabbed whatever I could read and honestly was saddened. I felt like I wouldn't be able to enjoy anything tasty like cakes, cupcakes, and breads. Throw out all the cookies and cereals as they're no longer an option for me.

Thankfully that's not true and I can enjoy some goodies and regular food with just little tweaks here and there. Gluten free just isn't about being wheat free, it needs to be low in carbs as well. Carbs come from many things including sugar. Now everyone needs a certain amount of carbs, but too much is not always a good thing. So I like that by using Splenda sugar I'm not adding more carbs into my diet. Splenda is basically sucralose and has no known side-effects so you get a real sugar taste without all the calories or carbs.
 For my gluten free recipes I chose a couple that I knew would be easy to recreate. I'm not an expert cook or baker, so easy and simple is a plus for me. The first thing I decided to make was banana bread! Banana bread is something that I've made from scratch many times before, but using regular flour which now is not possible. So I took a recipe for all purpose gluten flour from Wheat Belly that included almond flour, coconut flour, and golden flaxseed. I had to totally wing it with everything else, but one thing I did do was substitute regular sugar with Splenda's Baking Blend. I don't normally cook with "fake" sugars because they have that gross fake sugar taste. You don't get that with Splenda at all.  I would share the recipe but honestly there isn't one. I totally winged it and it came out awesome, the best thing is no weird sugar aftertaste!

The second thing I made was breakfast cheesecake, umm yes! I think the second time around I'll definitely make the strawberry glaze the cookbook mentioned because it just wasn't sweet enough for my liking. It still tasted great and the kids were like, "Can we have this for breakfast all the time?" Obviously not, but it's such a great weekend breakfast treat and so easy to make. It doesn't take long at all, only 30 minutes from start to finish. I did make little mistakes here and there while making it though, like I forgot to whip the ricotta cheese mixture before adding the egg whites. But that's what learning is all about, trial and error and finding out what works best for you. Splenda worked perfect in this recipe and again no gross weird after taste that comes with some sugar substitutes. Now one thing I can say is don't get too close when you're measuring Splenda for a recipe because a puff of Splenda dust wafted up and surprised me a bit. Or maybe that's just something I was lucky enough to experience.

I'm so glad that Crowdtap and Splenda gave me a chance to try out these Splenda sugars. While the breakfast cheesecake was just for my family, I did go and make more banana bread to share with my family. My younger brother also has intestinal issues and has to be very careful with what he eats. So he definitely enjoyed all the sweets that I made.
I haven't gotten a chance to try out the Splenda brown sugar, but I will be using it for some gluten free chocolate chip cookies real soon. I love the caramel taste that I get from brown sugar.
Here's a simple smoothie recipe you can make using Splenda sugar, strawberries, banana, and some kefir. Of course you could use anything else if you don't like kefir, but its super healthy for you. 

Strawberry Banana Kefir Smoothie
1 large banana - I like to freeze mine, but that's just a preference
1 cup frozen strawberries or fresh
1 cup kefir - any type or use regular milk, juice, soy
Splenda sugar to taste - this is totally optional, but I do add a little just to add some sweetness if my strawberries are more tart than sweet.

Stick it all in a blender until smooth and enjoy a nice healthy drink for breakfast - or any part of the day.


Disclaimer: I received all three Splenda products for the sole purpose of trying it in my own home in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was given.

February 7, 2015

Purex PowerShot Review & Giveaway










I got a chance to try out the new Purex PowerShot laundry detergent through the Purex Insiders
program. I already love and use Purex so I knew the quality was going to be there. Once I got the box I proceeded to teat that sucker open! I looked at the bottle and thought, huh this looks a little weird. I was a little bit skeptic that it would actually work and that more detergent wouldn't be able to be poured out; man was I surprised! I tilted the bottle over because tearing off the plastic seal and looked at the detergent fill into this little "bowl" and it stayed there. Huh, well time to put it to real work!

Now I have 4 very messy active kids so I need something that is going to get there clothes clean and leave them smelling great. Purex PowerShot is concentrated so you don't have to use a lot in order to get the same results as other laundry detergents. The scent I got to try was Mountain Breeze which has just a hint of floral, but a lot of a clean crisp scent.

Now that the kids are teenagers and can start washing clothes themselves, I've handed the torch - or laundry detergent over to them. They're good about sorting their clothes, making sure not to overload the washer, but they over pour! I found if I let them pour their own laundry detergent then the bottle that should last for 35 loads ends up lasting for like 20. They think they need to fill up the laundry detergent cap completely. It seems that they're hard of hearing because no matter how many times I explain that they don't need a lot, they still overpour. Well thankfully the new PowerShot does it all for them! All they have to do is open it up and flip it to start pouring, and then it stops! Seriously its measured out in the perfect sized dose for child and adult alike. No more wasting laundry detergent thinking you need a whole lot to clean a load. It really does work too, even though I was skeptic, it totally worked! Now I can be at ease when the kids do their laundry because I know they won't be wasting any of it. Not only do they not waste the laundry detergent, but it saves me money in the long run.

The Purex PowerShot isn't available just yet so you need to keep an eye out for it in stores. It's really great for those with teenagers or absent minded hubbies/partners that go a little detergent crazy. The PowerShot will be offered in two scents: Mountain Breeze and Linen & Lillies. I can't really mention price, but because Purex is so affordable I can't see this costing an arm and a leg. It will come in three different sizes: 35oz, 45oz, and 90oz. If you have a heavily soiled load then using two "doses" is recommended.

Right now Purex is running a really nice giveaway promotion where you could win a washer and dryer set, or a bottle of the new Purex PowerShot. ENTER HERE

As for my giveaway I will be giving two lucky winners a chance to win a coupon for their own FREE bottle of Purex PowerShot for when it hits the store shelves. The coupon is good until 12/31/2015 so you have a ton of time to find it in a store near you.

Just enter into the rafflecopter below and you could be a lucky winner of a new awesome product!






a Rafflecopter giveaway



Disclaimer: I received this free product and coupons for the sole purpose of trying it out in my home. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was received.

January 7, 2015

Campbell's Tasters Mission Review











 I was chosen to try out some great new and wonderful products from Campbell's through Crowdtap. I was amazed at the the huge selection of products and at how many different things I'd be able to make. All individual reviews can be seen just by clicking on the links below.

Included in the mission kit was:
  • a Campbell's tote bag
  • a small cutting board
  • wooden spoon
  • plastic shaker (sadly it didn't make it through shipping and was cracked)
  • a coupon book 
  • one carton of Swanson Cream Starter
  • one pouch of Campbells Skillet Sauce Creamy Parmesan Chicken
  • one Campbell's Slow Kettle Style Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup
  • one can Campbell's Beer n Cheese with Beer and Bacon
  • one jar of Prego Light Alfredo Sauce (didn't get photos so used Homestyle Alfredo Sauce)
  • one can of Campbell's Creamy Poblano & Queso
  • one Spaghetti O's Micros
  • one carton Campbell's Soups For Easy Cooking Savory Portobello Mushroom (used Mexican Style Tomato)
Extra Review: Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauce (bought using coupon included in kit)
 As you can see there was a huge amount of great products to try out which lead me to try out other products as well. Also included was a coupon to try out new varities of V8, but sadly couldn't find it in stores. The V8 varieties are Sea Salt & Clam, Spicy Mango, and Mint & Lime - I really wanted to try out the Mint and Lime and use it as part of a marinade. It had a great recipe for a marinade that I know would taste fantastic! Also I had used the Prego Light Alfredo sauce and totally forgot to take photos. When I went to the store I found that I couldn't find it! I had to substitute regular Homestyle Alfredo Sauce for my review, which is just as tasty. In the case for the Soups For Easy Cooking I opted to save the one that I got in the kit and chose to use the Mexican Style Tomato. It was totally awesome and something totally new! I don't think I would have ever tried it out if not for the mission kit.

I really enjoyed all the products that I used from the kit. They were a little high in sodium content at times, but with a little work I was able to really have fun with them. However, I didn't try the Beer N Cheese soup because it includes bacon and I just can't eat bacon. I passed it to my mom's boyfriend who practically inhaled it before I could take photos of it. He said it was alright, but not the best he has had from Campbell's soup. He mentioned a slight after taste that wasn't too bad so he didn't stop eating it. He did say he would try it again, so I guess he liked it enough.

Campbell's has been in my family for years and will definitely continue to be a staple. Nothing makes you feel better when you're sick than a nice warm bowl of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. V8 juices are tasty in smoothies or just by themselves and are healthier than some other drinks. The new skillet sauces, slow cooker sauces, etc can make your life easier and your stomach full.


Disclaimer: I received all products herein for FREE in return for my honest reviews. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was given. If you'd like to try new products such as these then sign up for Crowdtap.


Campbells Condensed Soup Review Creamy Poblano & Queso






Campbell's Condensed soups aren't just supposed to be thrown in a pan or in a bowl to be served just as it is. Some soups can be used in delicious recipes to spice up your regular menu. I can honestly say the only condensed soups I got were cans of chicken noodle soup. Everyone knows that nothing makes you feel better than some Campbells Chicken Noodle so when I received this can of Creamy Poblano & Queso in my kit I was a bit lost.



Thankfully I wasn't lost for long because Campbells has a great recipe for a jazzed up macaroni and cheese. The Creamy Poblano Mac N Cheese is so easy and doesn't require a lot of ingredients. The best thing about it is it's totally customizable so you can add different ingredients or leave some out and still have a great tasting dish in the end.

Creamy Poblano Mac & Cheese:

What You'll Need 
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup medium tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Creamy Poblano & Queso Soup
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar Jack cheese (about 4 ounces)
8 ounces (1/2 of a 1-pound package) elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

How to Make It:

Heat the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato and garlic to the saucepan and cook and stir for 1 minute. Season with the salt and black pepper.
Stir in the soup and milk and heat to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the macaroni. Sprinkle with the cilantro.




I modified the ingredients list quite a bit, but that's because I was using whatever I had in the house. It still came out super delish and I will definitely be making this again. I wish there were more recipes using this soup though, so hopefully I can use it for more than just mac and cheese.

The actual flavor of the soup was actually really light tasting. It didn't have any spiciness to it, and actually wasn't overly cheesy either. It was pretty mellow and had nice chunks of poblano mixed in it. All the kids really loved it, even though it was totally DIFFERENT. Score! So if you're looking for a great addition to your regular boring meals, then try out the poblano mac n cheese! You're family and their stomachs will thank you.









Disclaimer: I received this can for FREE through Crowdtap for the sole purpose of reviewing. It was included in the Campbells Tasters kit. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was received.



Campbells Slow Cooker Review Mexican Red Chile Taco








While this wasn't included in the Campbell's Tasters Crowdtap kit. I did happen to find it because of it. While I was there looking for another package of the Creamy Parmesan Chicken Skillet Sauce, I saw this and couldn't pass it up.

I mean what is not to love about tacos!? We eat tacos all the time, but they can get a little boring. The same seasoning, same toppings, just the same ole thing every time. This gave me a chance to try out something new without having to worry about messing it up. It's so easy just follow the directions on the back and you end up with a delicious meal!







First I used pork shoulder roast instead of beef. We don't eat much red meat so I knew I'd be using either pork or chicken. I got a medium sized pork shoulder roast, just enough to fit into the slow cooker. I opened up the package and dumped all the sauce on right on top. Looking at it as first I wasn't sure it would be juicy enough, but I went with it.

The sauce is made with onions, vinegar, and a blend of peppers, that makes this sauce super tasty! It smelled so good throughout the house as it the pork slowly cooked and turned the thin sauce into a juicy delicious sauce.










After I let the pork sit for a little bit I started the process of pulling it apart. It was so easy because the pork was super tender that I hardly had to touch it at all. I used a bone in shoulder roast and I easily just pulled the bone straight out and it was clean. The pork was moist and juicy and after a couple of taste tests - I knew it was ready.

Because the meat had tons of flavor already I didn't want to add to much to it that would take away from that. I used corn tortillas to cut down on salt and calories and added some tasty avocados to round it out. I think if anything I would have added some fresh thinly sliced onions because I know it would have went really well together.

There are other varities of slow cooker sauces such as:
Moroccan Spiced Stew
Sweet Korean BBQ
Apple Bourbon BBQ
Tavern Style Pot Roast
Hawaiian Luau Pork



You should try these out for yourselves and see how easy and tasty they really are. One of the best things, other than them being easy to use, is that they're pretty affordable. You can find all varieties at most grocery and bigbox stores.





Disclaimer: I paid for this product myself using a coupon received from the Crowdtap Campbell's mission. All opinions are my own and no compensation was given.



Campbells Skillet Sauce Review Creamy Parmesan




In my kit I received a package of Creamy Parmesan Chicken Campbell's Skillet Sauce. Each package serves four people and with there being 8 of us, another package was definitely needed. Thankfully the price was really affordable so I didn't break my food budget. I used the extra $1.00/1 coupon I received in my coupon book and put it to good use! I grabbed some boneless, skinless chicken, some green onions, and I was ready to go.
 The package was really easy to open and contained more sauce than I thought. It's so simple all you have to do is open it up and pour it on top of your cooked chicken. You can bake, broil, boil, or grill your chicken before hand. You don't even need pasta, but I definitely felt like it needed some some so I made some veggie rotini. The sauce was creamy and rich, and thankfully not salty tasting. Since I've started cutting down on my salt intake I've noticed that things that aren't salty to the family, are salty for me. With that I was sure that I wouldn't be able to stomach this because sadly cheese is salty.

The recipe is practically not needed, but here it is anyway just in case.

Creamy Parmesan Chicken

What You Need 
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
3 Simple Steps
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. 
  • Add chicken and cook until browned. 
  • Stir in sauce and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 5 min. or until chicken is cooked through.
 Campbell's Skillet Sauces come in 7 different varities including:
  • Creamy Parmesan Chicken
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken
  • Chicken Marsala
  • Sesame Chicken
  • Thai Curry Chicken
  • Bacon Cheddar Beef
  • Shrimp Scampi
All of them only require a small amount of ingredients and only 3 simple steps to make the meal. Just because it's simply and easy, doesn't mean you aren't getting quality. From the ones I've tried (shrimp scampi, creamy parmesan, and sweet & sour), you get a ton of flavor for a really affordable price.




Disclaimer: I received the product for FREE in return for my honest review from Crowdtap and Campbell's. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was received.

Swanson Cream Starter Review






Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

made with Swanson Cream Starter



So part of my Crowdtap #DiscoverCampbells mission kit I received a carton of Swanson's Cream Starter. I was sort of at a loss at what to make because I've never used this type of cream before. I am not a fan of clam chowder - or any chowder for that matter, so I went online. I went to CampbellsKitchen.com and looked up some recipes using the Swanson Cream Starter. I found the website easy to navigate, but sadly not many recipes utilizing the cream starter. I opted for the very simple and very safe: Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Who doesn't love mashed potatoes? They're certainly a main staple in my household so I knew they would go over well.

The recipe is as follows -
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (about 5 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup Swanson® Cream Starter Traditional or 25% Reduced Fat or Swanson® Cream Starter 25% Reduced Fat
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened 

Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes and garlic into a 3-quart saucepan.  Add water to cover.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat to a boil.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Drain the potato mixture well in a colander.  Return the potato mixture to the saucepan.
  3. Mash the potatoes.  Stir in the cream starter and butter.  Season with salt and black pepper.
This recipe is so simple that I know the kids could make this themselves. This is so simple that even the person with the worst cooking skills ever couldn't really mess this up. I made some baked meatballs with gravy and some corn to finish off the meal.

The carton was easy to open and easy to hold, so if you have issues with arthritis it won't give you any problems. The cream itself smelled pretty good, the thickness was good, and tasted good as well. I did get a little taste of the cream before I put it in the mashed potatoes. At that point there was still time to back out if I didn't like the smell or taste. The kids and I are those kinds of eaters - if it doesn't smell or look good, we ain't eating it.

The potatoes came out really good, really creamy and smooth. The only thing I'd do different would be to scale back the garlic as it was just too intense a flavor for the kids. They still ate it and said it was good, but just that it was too garlicky. I liked it and thought it was fine, so I would add half the amount of garlic first and then go from there.

Overall the cream starter is super easy to use and I'm looking forward to using it in many more different recipes. If you only buy it for mashed potatoes though, it'll be totally worth it, much creamier than when using milk.

 Disclaimer: I received this product  for FREE with the sole purpose of trying it out in my home. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was given.