Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nescafé Memento

I am a hot beverage drinker and proud of it.  We drink coffee like it's going out of style over here.  I could drink coffee at 5:00 in the morning to wake up and at 11:00 at night to go to sleep... and anytime in between to be honest!  If not coffee, I'm fine with tea, hot chocolate, etc.  I prefer the real deal (coffee) when I first get up in the morning but other than that I can be flexible!

Needless to say, I was so excited to be chosen for the Nescafé Memento Bzz Campaign!  I think BzzAgent knew this would be right up my alley.  This is not the first hot beverage / coffee drink campaign I've been chosen for!

BzzAgent advertised this campaign as "Specialty coffeehouse classics, at home, in the office, or on-the-go."  It doesn't get much more exciting than that!  I may be a coffee drinker but as you know, I am absolutely not a big spender.  I will admit that you may find me at Dunkin' Donuts periodically (with my husband and daughter's prompting... as a thanks for them coming along on my grocery shopping trips and putting up with my sometimes lengthy store check-outs) but I will not typically be found out and about spending money on "specialty coffeehouse classics."

My Bzz kit came with free full size boxes of each of the three Nescafé Memento flavors... here are the descriptions from the company's website...

Caramel Latte
A perfect blend of buttery caramel flavor, smooth coffee and pillowy froth - heaven for your taste buds!

A top layer of frothy foam leads to a smooth creamy coffee - you'll be licking your lips down to the last sip.

Rich chocolate flavor and smooth coffee combine to create a delightfully indulgent chocolate lover's dream.

Inside each box of Nescafé Memento was eight tubes of flavored powder that when combined with nothing more than hot water make a fancy coffeehouse looking (and tasting) drink!

I first decided to try the Cappuccino flavor.  My father has always been a cappuccino lover and I remember him letting me try cappuccino when I was little.  I think there is something sentimental about drinking it... something about that frothy combination of bitterness, sweetness, deliciousness... it brings me back to way back when...  So whenever this is an option for me, it's my natural choice.  Depending on where I get cappuccino I never really know whether to add sugar, etc since sometimes it can be a little strong for my taste.  My thoughts on Nescafé Memento Cappuccino? Perfect in every way!  It was exactly the frothy deliciousness I was hoping for without having to add a single thing but hot water!  No cream or sugar needed.

The Caramel Latte and Mocha flavors were a close second to the Cappuccino.  I suppose they would all have equal levels of wonderfulness if I didn't have some sort of psychological attachment to the Cappuccino...  They really were all great!  I love that these drinks are not only tasty but that are easy as can be.  There is absolutely no heavy labor required!  Sometimes when I'm mixing hot chocolate I can mix and mix and mix for what feels like an eternity and when I finish my drink there are still some little pieces of powder floating around and inevitably a pool of chocolate syrup left in the bottom of the mug when I'm done.  This was not the case with these drinks!  They mixed with water very easily and smoothly and there was nothing leftover in the bottom of my mug.

The froth factor of these drinks deserves a paragraph all of it's own.  To me, the froth is what makes a hot drink a fancy hot drink.  These drinks froth up immediately when you add water!  Even before you start stirring.  This picture is of what my drink looked like just after pouring hot water into my mug over the drink mix.  See what I mean?  I will call out my husband here and let you know that he does not love frothy drinks.  He didn't mind the taste of Nescafé Memento but in a line up of different drink options these are not the ones he would choose... because of the froth!  So this says something for the frothiness of these drinks being the real deal!  (And this excites me because without him drinking these, there are lots more for me!)

These drinks are perfect for someone relaxing at home by the fire or someone on the go.  They are perfect for my taste buds and my lifestyle!  Obviously, I highly recommend that you give them a try!

You can find more info on the Nescafé Memento website here and can follow them on facebook and twitter here and here!  You can do all the same with BzzAgent here, here, and here!  If you haven't tried either Nescafé Memento or BzzAgent, you should... and I'd be happy to give you more info on either one if you need it!

Deviled Egg Chicks

These little buggers were all over Pinterest at this time last year and you better believe I jumped right on that bandwagon.  We had six egg laying hens at the time and keeping up with finding homes for all of our eggs was a part time job!

These were an easy and cute Easter treat.  If you have a favorite deviled eggs recipe, you can use that and just turn them into little chicks.  I just used the recipe found here.  Nothing fancy... it was the look I was going for!

I used little bits of olives for the eyes and little bits of carrots for the beak.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Playing with Colored Rice

Our daughter loves to have jobs to do and cooking is something she really enjoys!  Each night, her dinner usually ends with a good stir and mix-up of all that she has left over until it starts spilling out all over the table.  There is always this inner turmoil in me about whether to say "No playing with your food!" or to allow her exploration.  Most days I decide to allow it.  I've been following a blog called Play At Home Mom that encourages "positive parenting" and if you follow their facebook page, they have frequent picture posts and activity ideas that are labeled "Yes, you may..."  They are sometimes things I would never think of saying "yes" to but they have really challenged me and I try to say "yes" as much as I can.  I highly recommend following them here.  Saying "yes" is freeing... for both me, and my child!  (example in picture below... "Yes, on this wintery day, you may wear your bathing suit and pajamas!")

We have a play kitchen here but imaginative play can get boring without some supplements to spice things up every once in a while.  Some uncooked rice, either white, or colored is a great addition to the play kitchen!  We move our little kitchen into our real kitchen for this kind of play because the clean-up feels easier there.  I've decided that as long as the rice stays in that one room, it doesn't matter how messy it gets.  At the end, I just vacuum it all up.

I have found that the more "real" stuff I add to play time, the more captivated my daughter is.  She loves to help me cook and so feeling like she is actually doing it on her own is a really big deal to her.  Measuring spoons or cups, muffin tins, old spice shakers, whisks, etc.  Real spoons are way more exciting than play spoons.  Real rice is way more exciting than plastic fruits or invisible pretend foods.  You get the idea!

Here's the recipe I followed for our colored rice...

  • Rice
  • Mason Jars or Zip Lock Bags
  • Food Coloring
  • Vinegar
  • Cookie Sheets covered with foil

  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2-3 drops of food coloring and 1.5 cups of rice to jar
  • Seal tightly and shake shake shake until the color is well mixed (add more food coloring if needed)
  • Drain if needed 
  • Pour colored rice onto cookie sheet
  • Place cookie sheet in oven until rice is dry (recipe calls for 15 minutes+, I think mine probably took longer than a half hour, just keep checking to see if it's dry)
  • When dry, remove from oven, cool, and play
  • We store our rice in mason jars on the counter

Here's another recipe that uses kool-aid and rubbing alcohol.  There are tons of options so just google colored rice if you need more ideas!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Homemade Biscuits - no yeast needed!

I had never made homemade biscuits before this week but when my sister in law shared this recipe with me I figured I should give it a try!  I think I've always been intimidated by making bread or biscuit type things from scratch because of the need use yeast (not sure why this intimidates me?!) or be organized enough to make it in advance and let it sit and rise, etc, etc etc.  Anyway, this recipe looked super easy... almost too easy... but I wanted one last thing to go with our dinner last weekend and had no canned biscuits in the fridge so I figured it was time.  SUCCESS!  I had all the ingredients on hand (you probably do too) and these took me less than a half hour, start to finish.  They were just as tasty (if not tastier) and definitely cheaper than going to the store to get canned biscuits.  Give them a try and let me know what you think!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 475
  • In a mixing bowl combine sifted flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a liquid measure place 1/3 cup oil and 2/3 cup milk together (do not mix, just pour them in).
  • Pour the liquids into the flour mixture.
  • Stir until dough forms and pulls from sides of bowl. 
  • Turn out onto wax paper and knead ten times (do not use extra flour and do not over-knead). 
  • Place second sheet of wax paper on top and roll out to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness (or simply flatten by hand)
  • Cut with round cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, lid of a mason jar, or top of a glass (You can also form these yourself by skipping the rolling and cutting.  Just pull off bits and form into biscuits). 
  • Bake about 10-12 minutes (10 is perfect for me).
  • Depending on how thick you make them, you can make about 6-9 biscuits. 

You can visit my sister in law's blog here.  She hasn't blogged this recipe yet but she should!
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