Friday, September 14, 2012

Easy Dinners with Progresso Recipe Starters Giveaway 9/30 #MyBlogSpark


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Despite the fact that my baking skills are pretty good, my cooking abilities are limited at best.  It seems the more I try hard to improve my skills, the worse they get.  However, as a mom I like to put a hot meal on the table for my family to eat every night.  So what's a Mom in my shoes to do?

The answer is simple:  Progresso.  You were thinking more than soup for dinner?  Bear with me here, because so was I.  Progresso has an awesome new line of products called Progresso Recipe Starters which comes in some mouth watering varieties

*Creamy Parmesan Basil
*Creamy Roasted Garlic with Chicken Stock
*Fire Roasted Tomato
*Creamy Portabella Mushroom
*Creamy Three Cheese

With these varieties you can make everything from family classics such as macaroni and cheese, a tasty pot pie, or even eggplant Parmesan.

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With the same set of products, you can also either take classics up a notch or try a whole new recipe.  I received the Fire Roasted Tomato and the Creamy Portabella Mushroom to assist my review.

The Fire Roasted Tomato almost didn't become a supper.  I admit I have a horrible habit as a cook:  I'm a taster.  One bite of that Tomato starter and I had to fight the urge to heat it up and enjoy it with buttered crackers.  Hey, a girl can dream about food, right?  Well, I'm glad I didn't give into the urge, because *I* made the most amazing supper. Even the kids and my mother in law liked it, which isn't something people usually say about my cooking.

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Here's the recipe from the Progresso website that I prepared.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
1 can (18 oz) Progresso Recipe Starters Fire Roasted Tomato cooking sauce
1/4 cup of yellow mustard
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chilli powder
4 cups of shredded deli rotisserie chicken
8 soft burger buns, split

Since I am on a diet, I went ahead and bought boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded them and I used Agave in place of the sugar.  I also omitted the slaw because of the fat content.

In a 3-quart saucepan, mix Recipe Starters, cooking sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and chili powder.  Heat to simmering over medium-high heat.  Stir in chicken.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve 1/2 cup chicken mixture on each bun.  Top with 2 tablespoons of Coleslaw.

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These were AMAZING.  It was so good, that instead of eating my assigned diet snack at bedtime, I ate leftover chicken (without a bun).  It has a sweetness to it that is cut by the chili so while it resembles a bbq sandwich, it is so much better!

I can't wait to buy some sour cream so I can try the Beef Stroganoff made with steak!  The bottom line is that these are great base flavors which make cooking so easy! Want more recipes to choose from?  You can find them at Progresso.  Don't forget to like them on Facebook so you can be informed of all their latest promotions.

Win it:  One of my lucky readers will win the same package I received.

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  • Two cans of Progresso Recipe Starters
  • $10 Gift Card to purchase your recipe ingredients
  • Progresso Recipe Starters recipe book, including 5 recipes to get you started
  • Baking dish
  • Measuring Cups
  • Sauce Scraper
Just complete one or more options on the Rafflecopter to be entered!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nutrisystem Week 5 & 15 lbs down! #NSNation

Well, it is week 5 with Nutrisystem, and I am trucking along at a steady pace.  Today I want to talk share my 3 Keys to Weight Loss Success with you.  I know you may be thinking that it's a bit premature since I have a long way to go to reach my target weight.  However, 5 weeks into this diet I have discovered what works.  I also have discovered that weight loss plateaus will happen, but if I continue  doing what I know works, I will succeed!

My 3 Keys to Weight Loss Success

1.  Drink Water.  What, you were expecting something more earth shattering? Well, turns out your Mama was right all along. Water IS important for you.  Dr. Dukan explains it like washing dishes.  What good does it do to scrub your dishes to get them clean if you don't rinse them when you are done?  All that nasty food is still on there, now combined with soap, but it has no way to leave because you don't rinse them.  The idea is that a person can diet all they want, but if they don't drink enough water, they won't lose weight.  All. that yucky stuff stays inside instead of flushing out.  Made you look at drinking water in a whole new light, didn't I?  Side benefit is that I stay too full-literally to want to eat in between my 6 mini meals


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2.  Portion Control.  That's right, size DOES matter!  Did you know that even healthy food has calories.  No, I am not being sarcastic, and I do realize you knew this already.  But do you live this?  I didn't.  I would think, what difference does it make if I measure out my skim milk?  It's SKIM!  Yes, and skim milk has 80 calories per 8 oz cup so if I am "eye-balling" the amount and go over just 1/4 cup, I have an extra 20 calories.  Four small crackers extra is worth 50 calories!  It all adds up quickly, and it doesn't take long to sabotage all of your hard work!  So go to the local dollar market and invest in a set of measuring cups, measuring spoons, and count out those crackers!

3. Exercise  This is the hardest thing for me, but it really does make all the difference in the world.  On the weeks that I get a 30-40 minute exercise in at least 4 times, I can see the difference on the scales on weigh in day.  If I don't exercise, I may lose a pound, but usually it's a little less than a pound.  Sure it is still success, but 2 lbs looks better than .5 pounds any day in my book.  The plus is that I get great energy out of exercising!  The great thing  with Nutrisystem is that they have options for every lifestyle.  I have 30 minutes a day to walk or Zumba.  However, they offer a Daily 3 solution for people who are on a true time constraint. You can do 3 ten minute bursts of exercise at various times of the day.  The benefit of this is that you are revving your energy and keeping it going strong all day!

So tell me, what strategies work for you to either lose weight or keep it off?  I am still learning, and I can use all the suggestions I can get!

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I have lost another 1.8 lbs so I am done from 280 to 265.2!  I am thrilled with both the scales and the measuring tape this week!

My Beginning Measurements:  

Upper Arms: 15.0
Chest: 49.8
Waist: 54.0
Hips: 59.0
Thighs: 23.6


Current Measurements

Date: 09/12/2012 07:30
Upper Arms: 14.3
Chest: 46.5
Waist: 50.8
Hips: 56.5
Thighs: 20.8

Want to lose weight and get healthy on Nutrisystem? Join today by calling 1-888-853-4689 or by visiting Nutrisystem

*Nutrisystem is providing me with 4 months of free food and support service as part of the Nutrisystem Nation Blogger program. In exchange, I will be posting each week with my progress. All thoughts expressed are my own, and my experience using the system may vary from that of other participants.*  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Packaways: Eco Friendly Storage Boxes? Yes, please!

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I pride myself in trying to live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle every day.  I believe that a person is never too old or knowledgeable to learn a better way to do things, so I am always looking for new ways to be kind to our environment and earth.    I have been in my current home for 2.5 years which is the longest I have been in a place in the last 18 years.  For one reason or another, it seems I am moving every year or so whether it be to a new house, or out of state for a job opportunity.

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Every time I have moved, I have purchased moving boxes, and then gotten rid of them.  This really isn't a bad idea, but up until 5 years ago, I am honestly not sure if those boxes went to recycling when I was done or to the garbage.  I should hang my head in shame, I know, but I know a much better way of life now, and I am proud of the changes I have made.

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Recently, I have discovered a better, reusable solution for everything from storage, moving boxes, toting anything you need really:  Packaways Reusable Plastic Storage Boxes.  These are very much like cardboard boxes, except they are plastic, not cardboard.  They come in 4 great colors:  White, Pink, Turquoise or Lime, and you can choose either a 12 gallon, 16 gallon, or 21 gallon sized box.  They also offer solutions for storage boxes and under the bed boxes.

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What I love

*They are collapsible so they take up less storage space when you are done using them
*Very sturdy
*Easy to Assemble
*Wipe Clean Label on the box so you can re-label each time you use
*Less Waste in the Landfills so they are eco-friendly
*Super Cute Colors

I do think the boxes are a tad bit pricey especially if you are purchasing a lot of them for moving.  However, when you consider how many times you can use these boxes, and that you will always have boxes on hand for any need, the boxes really pay for themselves.  I put bedding in the box and was able to fit four pillows and a King size bedding set in one box with a little arranging.

You can view all the different colors and sizes at Packaways and Facebook has some great use ideas along with any promotions going on!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Bushel and a Peck Oh My: Apples Galore!

Remember the old adage An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away?  I have enough apples for a year! Friday, a neighbor stopped by and told us we are welcome to as many of the hundreds of apples on their trees as long as we pick them.  So, we ended up with a little over 2 bushels in a couple of hours of picking.


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The pictures you see here are after we have peeled, sliced and cooked two large crockpots and an industrial sized stock pot full.  This is time consuming because each apple has to be peeled, cored, and sliced.  Next year I am buying a peeling machine.  I cook my sauce down until the pot is only half full, and it made 8 quarts of chunky apple sauce.

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I also have put up 11 pints of apple butter and the recipe is below.

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Allyson's Crock Pot Apple Butter

Thinly slice peeled/cored apples.  Fill and pack an electric crockpot putting in as many apples as you can squeeze in. Do not add water

Cook for 18 hours on low, DO NOT LIFT THE CROCK POT LID

After 18 hours, stir the apples and add in the following ingredients

*Note: Be sure to taste your apples and adjust sugar.  Tart apples may take a little more while sweet apples will take less sugar

4 Cups of Sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
Pinch of Nutmeg.

Stir again really well, cover and cook for 4 more hours on low heat in the crock pot.  DO NOT LIFT THE LID UNTIL 4 HOURS IS OVER

Pack immediately into hot sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove from pot, and when the jars are cool, check for a seal on the jars.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

LoveSac Chaise Sectional Giveaway!



Welcome to the Sactionals Sectional Furniture Giveaway!

Sponsored by LoveSac.com


There are only 2 pieces. Combine any quantity of Sactionals "Bases" and "Sides" to arrange (and rearrange) any chair, sofa, sectional, loveseat, or bed you can imagine - no tools necessary. Sactionals Covers are removable and can be changed at any time, so you’ll never be stuck with furniture that doesn't match if you decide to change your home d├ęcor. Sactionals Covers are also machine washable, so when the kids spill their food and drink all over the furniture or the dog uses your Sactionals to wipe his feet off, just take the covers off and throw them in the washing machine!

As a mom of four kids, I can tell you that a sofa that I can throw the covers in the wash and get them clean is a definite need.  I can attest that regular sofas and even leather sofas pick up everything but money, and this feature alone makes this an awesome couch!

Four Cushion Chaise Sectional with Chocolate Rhinoplush CoversSactionals Four Cushion Chaise Sectional with Chocolate Rhinoplush Covers ($3,260 Value)
  • 4 Sactionals Base Pieces, 5 Sactionals Side Pieces
  • Machine Washable, Changeable Chocolate Rhinoplush Covers
  • Easy to Change Covers Anytime!
  • Easy to Rearrange Into Dozens of Positions
  • Most Versatile Number of Pieces
  • Fast and 100% Free Shipping
  • Lifetime Guarantee!
Four Sactionals Bases and five Sactionals Sides make a Four Cushion Chaise Sectional. A Four Cushion Chaise Sectional is not only the world’s most popular sectional furniture setup, but one of the smartest ways to buy your first Sactionals as well. Just nine pieces offer you eight everyday furniture solutions to real life dilemmas. In minutes and with no tools, you can turn this TV-room sectional into a Movie Lounger for a cozy family movie night, a bed for unexpected house guests, a Long Sofa with Ottoman for more formal entertaining, an L-shaped sofa for maximum seating capacity, four individual chairs for game night or two loveseats for couples entertaining.
Four Cushion Chaise Sectional with Seawater Rhinoplush Covers Four Cushion Chaise Sectional with Taupe Rhinoplush Covers

One lucky winner will receive a Sactionals Four Cushion Chaise Sectional {$3,260 Value}!

Choice of Chocolate Rhinoplush, Taupe or Seawater Covers.
Giveaway ends October 1st at 11:59pm, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Discovering New Wines with Tasting Room!

When it comes to wine, I have never been what you would even call an amateur enthusiast.  As a matter of fact, I maybe only  drink 2 or three times a year at most.  However, when I do drink, I like to relax socially with a glass of wine, but my knowledge of wine has always been defined by white or red.  Yes, I know, this is very sad, but I have recently had the opportunity to familiarize myself with a broader array of wines with  Tasting Room.
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Tasting Room is a unique company that partners with top wineries who bottles fine wines into smaller quantities so that you can try various wines and discover which ones you enjoy prior to purchasing an entire bottle.  They offer sample sizes, wine by the glass, and full bottle sizes which satisfies various needs.

I was able to try the A Taste of Adventure....Red and White Essentials wine sampler box.  In the past, when asked what kind of wine I like, my response would have been "white, I hate red wine."  Not anymore.  I have absolutely fallen in love with the2009 Twisted Oak "*%#&@!" Red Blend which is a combination of Blueberry, Cherry, pepper, herbs and spices.

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I was also able to try the 2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Chamisal "Stainless" Central Coast Chardonnay, 2010 The Doctors' Marlborough Riesling, 2010 Old Coach Road Nelson Pinot Noir, and the 2008 Urraca Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have a couple of wines I intend to now purchase by the glass so that I can always have a fresh glass of wine on hand!  The great thing is that I can buy the same wine in full sized bottle to use for entertaining when I need it!

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I love this concept so much that Dear Husband, and I have picked out two other samplers to try!  Head on over to Tasting Room to see the many varieties of wine to choose from!  The hardest part won't be finding one you like, but limiting your selection to just a few!  There are also some informative videos on You Tube as well as information on Facebook or Twitter!

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Tasting Room for the product I received to try. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed in this review are honest and my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. Please do your own due diligence when deciding to purchase!