A Giveaway for a Quick and Easy Dinner!

Posted on November 22, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Daily life, Freebies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Congrats to the winner of our last giveaway from MyBlogSpark and Wanchai Ferry!  And now it’s time for another one!  This time MyBlogSpark teamed up with Betty Crocker to provide Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes to us and one lucky winner.  The prize pack includes a box of Homestyle Creamy Butter flavor and a box of Roasted Garlic flavor, along with a lovely wooden serving bowl, trivet, and serving spoon.

Oddly enough, around the same time I received this pack to try, I also was given a few packs of Idahoan Buttery Instant Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Mashed Potatoes by a friend, and one pouch of Great Value (Walmart brand, I think) Instant Mashed Potatoes by a relative who used the other pouch (two come in each box) to make potato bread.  So naturally I decided to do a taste test!

I have made mashed potatoes five times in the last two weeks, and have noted the response from hubby and son each time.  First off, I have to say all three were vastly superior to the instant mashed potatoes I remember from when I was a kid.  You know, the ones that came in the giant cardboard box and tasted a lot like the box too.  I have never in my adult life bought instant mashed potatoes, because I remembered them as a last resort emergency food when you were snowed in and had absolutely nothing left to eat.  Lol!  But all three varieties we tried come in pouches that make 4 servings worth.  I think separating the potatoes from contact with the cardboard box is brilliant, and eliminates the cardboard flavor!  Also, all three were incredibly quick and easy to make – a major plus if you have a crazy schedule like I do.  And really, what mom doesn’t?  Anyway, on to the results.

I used three criteria for comparison in my totally non-scientific test:  texture, taste, and ingredients list.  In terms of texture, the BC flakes dissolved completely, leaving no graininess, only a smooth creamy texture.  The others did pretty well also, but required a lot more stirring to get all the lumps dissolved.  The taste of the BC was very potato-ey (I know, not a real word). Of the two BC flavors, we like the roasted garlic best, but the butter flavor was good too.  We’re just garlic people, I guess.  The other two tasted okay as well, but were just not as flavorful.  As for the ingredients list, they all started with potatoes as the main ingredient – thankfully – but BC appeared to have fewer additives.  (Personal opinion only, I did not compare actual formulas or anything.  I only looked at the ingredients list on the side of each box.  I did note that all three brands had MSG, so if you can’t have that please take care to check the ingredients list regardless of brand or flavor!)

In the final analysis, my family prefers the BC mashed potatoes.  I try to avoid a lot of processed foods, so they will still be used sparingly, but on a busy night when I am running crazy trying to get everyone where they need to be and still get a meal on the ,a side dish that literally takes only minutes from cabinet to table will be a blessing!

If you want to try them as well, leave a comment!  I will select a winner to receive the prize pack from Betty Crocker and MyBlogSpark on Friday.  And for those of you who don’t win, use this coupon to try them anyway!  (If you live in the Southeast, Publix has BC potatoes BOGO this week too.  😉 )

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Yoplait Splitz Giveaway

Posted on September 14, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Daily life, Freebies, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Yoplait?  I really do.  Several months ago they teamed up with MyBlogSpark and offered a chance to try Simply Gogurt (Gogurt with no artificial flavors, preservatives, dyes, etc) and it immediately became our first choice for yogurt.  My son and I both love the taste and convenience, and I love that it doesn’t have all the additives, especially aspartame (I’m really not a fan of aspartame).

Well, Yoplait has given me another reason to love them!  They teamed up with MyBlogSpark again, this time to introduce a new product called Yoplait Splitz.  Splitz come in 3 ice cream like flavors – Strawberry Sundae, Strawberry Banana Split, and Rainbow Sherbet.  Splitz, like Simply Gogurt, have no artificial sweeteners or flavors.  And you can freeze it for an even more ice creamy treat!  They are delicious, and make a much healthy dessert than ice cream, with calcium and Vitamin D, and since they come in yogurt cups they are already sized for perfect portions.

Yoplait and MyBlogSpark sent me a freebie pack with a coupon for a free pack of Splitz, a fleece roll up picnic blanket, and an insulated bag perfect for carrying on picnics!  Of course, I immediately planned a picnic – a foolish endeavor in Florida during the rainy season, lol.  After getting rained out several times, I finally managed an afternoon at the park.  I froze 2 of the Strawberry Sundae Splitz and 2 bottles of water the night before and packed them at the bottom of the insulated cooler bag.  I packed our other snacks and sandwiches on top of that and off I went to the park with my son in tow.  We spent a little over an hour at the park in 90 degree weather before stopping to eat, so the water and yogurt were mostly thawed, but they had kept the fruit and sandwiches nicely chilled.  Plus the cooler bag has so many pockets I was able to fit everything we needed for our picnic in it and still had room to stick my wallet and cell phone in an outside pocket.

Yoplait and MyBlogSpark have also generously offered the same prize pack to one lucky reader, so we’re having a giveaway!  Just leave a comment to enter, and I will choose a winner on Friday.  For everyone else Yoplait is offering a coupon here.

Simply Gogurt is still my favorite yogurt for everyday snacking, but Splitz will be a great option for satisfying the occasional sweet tooth!

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Labor Day, Chex Mix, and Camping, Oh MY!

Posted on September 7, 2010. Filed under: Coupons, Freebies, kids, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Not long ago I got another freebie prize package to try through MyBlogSpark.  This one was Chex Gluten-Free cereal, and it came with a coupon for a free box of Chex cereal, a perfectly sized microwave safe plastic bowl with lid for making Chex mix, a plastic microwave safe measuring cup with lid for measuring and mixing wet ingredients (for the Chex mix, of course), and a handy little recipe book with several Chex Mix recipes.

I have had store bought Chex Mix before (you know, the kind that is premixed and seasoned – it usually has cheese crackers and pretzels and nuts mixed in) and was not too impressed.  It is tasty, but has too much sodium, and a lot of people can’t eat all the ingredients due to allergies or restricted diets.  The idea of homemade Chex Mix is much more appealing to me, because I can customize it to fit any group, or just to fit my family’s preferences.  And there are several varieties of gluten free Chex cereals, so it can work if you have to feed someone with a gluten allergy.

I had intended to make the Chex mix for a picnic, which unfortunately got rained out.  So when I was planning meals and snacks for my fall camping trip with my son I decided to include homemade Chex Mix!  I really liked the look of the apple cinnamon Chex mix recipe, but didn’t have exactly the right ingredients – no dried apples or chopped walnuts.  I did however have dried cranberries and pecans, so we had cranberry cinnamon Chex mix instead.  I packed the Chex mix in the plastic bowl that came in my package and put it in the car for the 3 1/2 hour drive to the campgrounds where we stayed.  There were four of us in the car – me, my son, a friend, and her daughter.  By the time we got to the campsite, the Chex mix was gone!  It must have been a hit!

When I got home from my camping trip I did a little research and found all kinds of recipes that use Chex cereal, especially the gluten free varieties.  You can even make gluten free bread crumbs with it.  (I don’t have to deal with a gluten free diet, thankfully.  I didn’t realize how many everyday food items are off limits to people with gluten allergies, even things like meatloaf because of the breadcrumbs!)

Chex and MyBlogSpark  have also generously offered a prize package to one of my readers!  So the first person to leave a comment (with a way for me to contact you – sorry, anonymous comments don’t count for this) will get the same freebie prize package I got.  I hope you will come back and tell us what kind of Chex mix you made!

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