December 2015

We Don’t Have to Sneak Cereal Anymore

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AwakenYourTastebuds  #CollectiveBias

When I was a kid there were a few things we were obsessed with: playing whiffle ball in the backyard, getting to sleep on the screened in porch in the summer, cereal, and Star Wars™. I think the main reason why we loved cereal so much is because it was a perfect food for before school, after school, and for when we were watching movies like Star Wars™ late at night.

However, my Dad was an extremely frugal man. So frugal, in fact, that he had a brown expandable file folder dubbed the “coupon caddy.” He lived by a few simple rules, one of them being: Never Pay Full Price. When you’re a kid of the 80’s and 90’s and you have a stodgy Dad, this was not cool, and hipstery, and Pinterest worthy like it is now. It was a bummer. Sometimes it meant being deprived of our favorite cereals.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix4

When I was about six years old, and my older siblings were teenagers old enough to be left in charge, my parents went out for the night and left us some money for dinner. Rather than order a pizza or grab fast food, the older ones had the genius idea to walk up to the store and get our favorite cereals. You know kids love cereal when they have cash for dinner and a million different options, and they still would rather walk to the store to get whatever cereal they like. Afraid our parents would be upset with our breakfast for supper choice, we hid the leftover cereal in our toy closet. Then, forgot it was there. Months later, Dad found it when cleaning the toy closet, and instead of being in trouble laughed at our cleverness.

Now, that we are adults and don’t have to sneak cereal anymore and the new Star Wars™ movie is days from being released, I had a genius idea!

Star Wars Movie Gift Baskets for my Star Wars™ and cereal loving siblings!

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 3

At Walmart, I found Star Wars™ Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal®, Star Wars™ Go-Gurt®  along with a bunch of other fun Star Wars™ cereal products and a few other things to surprise my brothers and sister.

Star Wars Gift Baskets and Snack Mix Star Wars Gift Baskets and Snack Mix 1

My favorite part of this surprise was that the Star Wars™ Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal® came with a droid toy, jus like when we were kids.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 5

While I am sure everyone would be happy to just eat a bowl a cereal while watching a movie, I thought upping the ante and creating a sweet and salty snack mix for this time of year to add to their baskets would add some seasonal flair while sitting by the tree and watching the original trilogy and gearing up for the new movie.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 14

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Snack Mix

5 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal®

5 cups any shape pretzels (I used pretzel sticks)

2 cups dried cranberries

1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1 stick of butter melted

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 6


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 8

In a large bowl, add Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal® and pretzels.

Pour melted butter over the cereal and pretzels and toss gently until all the pieces are coated.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 9

Place the cereal and pretzels on a baking sheet, and place in the oven and bake for 12-17 minutes.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 10

Remove from the oven and place in a clean bowl to cool to room temperature.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 11

When the mixture is completely cooled, add the dried cranberries and chocolate chips, and then toss it together.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 12

Store in an airtight container (I used a Mason Jar for easy transport) or serve immediately.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 13

Are you going to hunker down the new few nights and watch Star Wars™? Do you have a favorite cereal you can eat any time of day? For more ideas for movie cereal treats, you can visit General Mills.

Advent Calendar: Our Kindness To Do List

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is I adore the Christmas season. Could it be because my birthday happens to fall during this magical time? Maybe. Could it be because I love putting up strings of lights, baking countless amounts of cookies, and writing little notes in cards? Yes. Perhaps it is also because I adore Christmas music, and I can still quote almost every line to It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf. (I have eclectic taste in movies).

Advent Calendar 4

My favorite part of the holiday season though, is “the sparkle” and not just all the glitter ornaments that are adorned everywhere. My youngest and I were talking about Christmas and when I asked her what her favorite part of Christmas was, she said, “My heart feels like warm sparkles at Christmas time.”

While “sparkle” is a very pre-school girl term, I knew exactly what she meant by it. It’s that warm, snuggly, glittery feeling. It’s an almost indescribably warm feeling that exists when you give someone a you love a hug. When you put a letter in a mailbox. When buy someone who is hungry  a cup of coffee and something to eat. When you buy a bag full of groceries at the store and then leave them behind to donate. When you chat with the checker at the grocery store. When you bring cookies for your kids teachers. When you just read a book with your kids even though it is past their bedtime but you just want to soak up some extra time.

Advent Calendar 1

That’s sparkle.

Just like the rest of the year though, December is full of  some “sparkle days” and full some some dull days. Instead of buying stopping and getting a peppermint latte for a friend, some days we are rushing out the door trying to get to soccer and someone forgets a water bottle. Some days I don’t eat until 2 pm because I have too much going on throughout the day, and I end up eating the cookies I planned to give away. Some days instead of wrapping gifts, I fold laundry.

This year though, our Advent calendar, has been keeping us in check. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that every day there is note with a way that we can add some sparkle to our day. Even if it is small, like just smiling at everyone we see because “smiling is our favorite.” I have been looking at it as our Kindness To Do List.

Advent Calendar 3

As this holiday season brings us into the New Year, this “Sparkly To Do List” got me thinking perhaps some of these items should be on my to do list the whole year through. Maybe I should add some of these sparkly acts of kindness to my to do list for the new year too!

Advent Calendar 2

What are some acts of kindness you can add to your daily routine?

More Vanilla Please: Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #NestleHolidayBaking  #CollectiveBias

Sometimes, I think it is fun to add some new holiday recipes into my repertoire. Let’s face it, I am a pinning, FacebookingInstagramming and did I mention pinning junkie this time of year. Which is why, with the help of NESTLÉ® and Pinterest I have added a few recipes to my arsenal this year.

All of these wonderful resources are really inspiring me to create some awesome things in the kitchen. These are recipes that I will be nice to have in the house for when friends stop by, or even keep on hand to give to a neighbor when I see them out and about. The only problem with recipes like this, is sometimes they are so delicious it will be hard for the kids me to sneak these awesome treats while staying up late to watch my favorite Christmas movies. Especially, this awesome treat I recently made.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 13

One of our favorite treats is home made vanilla ice cream. It is a home made staple in our house because we like our vanilla ice cream, very vanilla-y (is that a word?). I have made several different versions. Our two favorites are a Philadelphia style version requiring no eggs, and this more complicated version using NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk, eggs, and a little cooking. This version has a creamier texture and is perfect for the Holiday season.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 15

When I was at Walmart to pick up the supplies to make this ice cream, I saw these NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Red and Green Morsels next to a whole host of awesome NESTLÉ® baking products.

Nestle 1

Nestle 2

I went a little crazy and bought a bunch of things I needed to get ready for the season. Won’t these Red and Green Morsels be a cute and festive treat for Brian who likes to stir in all kinds of toppings into this classic flavor?

Nestle 3

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream (makes about 4 cups)

Pro Tip: Before you begin please note this version of ice cream does require an ice cream maker. Please prep your bowl ahead of time in your freezer according your your manufacturer’s instructions. Also, please make sure you have a freezer safe container in which to store ice cream. I used wide mouth freezer safe Mason jars with plastic lids.

1 12 oz can NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk

2/3 cup sugar

5 egg yolks

1/8 tsp salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean split and seeds removed

3 tsp pure vanilla extract

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 1 Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 2

In a large mixing bowl, add ice water. Set a smaller bowl inside this bowl with whipping cream. Set aside.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 7

In a sauce pan over medium heat and stirring occasionally, add evaporated milk and vanilla seeds.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 4

Heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the milk is about 160 degrees with a candy thermometer. You will notice a slight skin form on the top of a the milk.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 5

While the milk is heating, in a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt for a few minutes until completely combined.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 3

When the evaporated milk has reached the optimal temperature, lower the heat to low. Then, ladle one spoonful into the egg mixture and whisk vigorously and continuously for about 30 seconds. Repeat this step until about 2/3 of the milk mixture has been added to the egg mixture. Pro Tip: This is called tempering the eggs. If you do not ladle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture slowly and continue to stir the egg mixture will scramble. 

Next, add the tempered egg mixture to remaining milk mixture on the stove on low heat. Stir this mixture continuously for 3-5 minutes over low heat. This mixture will get frothy. You will want this mixture to reach a temperature of 175 degrees in order to cook the eggs.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 6

Once the egg mixture has reached optimal temperature, add this mixture to the chilled heavy cream mixture sitting in the ice water bath. Stir with a spatula slowly and continuously for about 5 minutes until the mixture has completely cooled. Pro Tip: If you want, you can pour the egg mixture through a fine sieve into the heavy cream to remove any lumps for an extra smooth texture. 

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 8

Next, add the vanilla extract.

Finally, turn on your ice cream maker, and pour in the final mixture.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 9

Once, you have churned the ice cream. Put the ice cream into a freezer safe container (I used wide mouth Mason jars with plastic lids).

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 11

Freeze for at least two hours. This will keep in your freezer for about 2 weeks.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 12

Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 16

I was able to get enough ice cream to fill two Mason jars, which is perfect! Now, I have one for us and one to share. There is no better gift than something made in the kitchen, and NESTLÉ® has you covered in more ways than one. Not only was I able to get all my ingredients, but check out these adorable gift tags I was able to print out and attach to a jar of Vanilla Ice Cream for my neighbors.

Nestle 4I cannot wait to gift this to my next door neighbors.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe 15

So, after you make the most delicious and vanilla-y ice cream, with some NESTLÉ® morsels stirred in, what else will you be making? Don’t forget you can head over to the Flavorful Moment Pinterest Board for plenty of ideas!