Momma Told Me: March 2013

Blog Archive

#IHeartMyNailArt Girls Day In Party w/ Sally Hansen Nail Trends

Momma Told Me: Be your unique you!

When I was just a little girl I asked my Momma, "What will I be?" I remember the day just as it were yesterday, my ten little piggies sprawled between hot pink toe separators, Momma (who had little tolerance for frills) lovingly daubing sparkle Sally Hansen polish on my tiny nails. With a gentle blow, I scrunched my nose at the smell and giggled for my ticklish feet. A calm Momma smiled coyly and replied, "Why you will be you!" I sighed and scrunched my bottom lip, knowing she had given the obvious answer, "But what will I be when I'm big like you?" I asked again. This time Momma took no time to pause. Pointing to my wiggling little toes she replied, "You'll be just like this polish. The glitter is always changing. If I put something Blue next to it, it turns blue. If I put something Red next to it, it turns Red. But when it is by itself, it simply sparkles!" I was much to young to get the true message of her reply, but I was content enough imagining myself covered in glitter, shining bright like a supernova, besides, it was time to pick out a polish for my hands!
Pinterest board
Growing up I knew the Sally Hansen name well. It was my favorite brand of nail polish, just as Lip Smackers was synonymous with my childhood, Sally was always on my nails. Momma and I would walk down to the corner Walgreens and browse the new shades of lacquer while we'd wait for a prescription to be filled. It was one of the few brands Momma would let me shop from, as she always remarked how affordable it was, and how well the lacquers wore. I didn't care much about the finish or wear, but I certainly was in love with the ever-growing collection of colors. Today my own personal Sally Hansen collection fills a large cosmetics fold out case and spans over 10 finishes from Holographic Effects to Hard As Nails. I've grown up regarding the brand as one of the leaders in the nail industry; especially when it comes to seasonal fashion trends and nail art effects.
Nail Party FavorsSally Hansen Nail Art
When Spring finally rolled around I was itching to play with some of the newest Sally Hansen products and found it a great excuse for a ladies night in. I envisioned a pajama party with my besties and family members round the living room painting each other's toes and swapping girl gab. With my heart set on nail art I grabbed my Balance Rewards Card and the current Walgreens ad and hit the local store for some serious shopping. No sooner had I seen all of the vibrant Xtreme Wear shades than I decided I was going to make it a color party- nails and snacks by shades. And I was in luck, the beautiful bold prints of Salon Effects Nail Strips and Xtreme Wear Lacquers would make for some easy nail art even the amateurs could tackle. With a cart full of Sally Hansen nail color and art products I rolled on towards the very large Easter aisle, where I knew I'd find an array of colorful pastel chocolates to fill my table. I couldn't believe the savings on my cart full of swag and even made cash back with my Balance Rewards points earned! Don't have a Walgreens near you? Shop all of these amazing Sally Hansen products online!

When I got home I set up an inspiration Pinterest Board so all of my attendees, and social media friends could pin some inspiration for nail art. I had a round list of 10 excited attendees on Thursday; but as we all know, life (especially with a family) is subject to change. Halfway through creating my guest individualized nail art goodie pots I received a phone call from my bestie. Her mother was taking her, her girlfriend, and her sister to Vegas for Easter weekend (-3). I was devastated and made her promise to swing by on Monday so I could catch her up on all the juicy nail designs and gossip. As it turns out, planning a last minute party on Easter weekend was trickier than I thought. As I frosted my rainbow themed cake Friday, 2 other guests informed me, last minute, they would no be able to attend at the specified time, but would swing by several hours earlier to hand out and swap manis. I was determined to share my nail art love with each and every one of these woman, if I had eat chocolate and do nails from sun up to sun down (torture, right?)
Sally Hansen#IHeartMyNailArt

March Foodie Penpal Reveal: A Little Early

Hi there! If you're coming from Momma Told Me, then you're already a little aware of the Foodie PenPal program, but for those new, let me tell you what this post is all about. Started by Lindsay, of The Lean Green Bean, a year ago, this monthly (free) online social event is open to both bloggers and readers. Over 1000 participants signed up this month, in the US alone, committing to send a box of foodie goodies ($15 value cap) to a complete stranger; in the name of sharing great food, and meeting new people. Every month, on the 5th of the month, Julie sends out a spreadsheet with your randomly assigned match. The person you will be sending a box to is NOT the person you will receive a box from; so you get to meet 2 new people each month!
Once you have your contact information, it is up to you to reach out to your Foodie PenPal and request their mailing information, in addition to any food allergies/preferences. Then, you have until the 15th of the month to put together an array of store bought and/or home cooked goodies. Julie requires that each box contains something hand written, from an actual penpal letter to a simple explanation of what's inside. When you receive your box you're welcome to dig in and start enjoying all the wonderful treats. Then, on the last day of each month, all of the Foodie PenPals post a reveal of what they received. If your recipient doesn't own a blog, they can elect to write a guest post for your site and vice versa. This program was the inspiration for Time Out For Truffles new PetPals PenPal program, ran along a similar set-up, for pet owners. I highly suggest checking them BOTH out, they're great ways to take your social network offline, and even encourage social skills within families. Why not sign up the family and make it a monthly project?
This month my match was Jeannette from The Whimsical Cupcake, fellow bakestress and sweet tooth, who's last blog entry was just shy of a year ago, and her first Foodie Penpal post. This month I told my match that I loved indulgent snacks that would allow me to splurge, and cited flavors such as peanut butter and teriyaki. Jeannette did an amazing job; one of the first things I pulled out of her box, after the hand written note, was a bag of Teriyaki Pork Jerky from KRAVE. I thought it was cute how she apologized for sending me a brand of jerky made in my home state- KRAVE is still the best jerky, in my opinion, by far! There were plenty of peanut butter findings, including yummy stuffed pretzel bites and a Justin's Honey Peanut Butter single serve, as well as a White Chocolate Easter Reese's, which didn't last the night. I was really thrilled with the creativity and number of unique items my FPP had managed to put together. There was a bottle of Frank's hot sauce and some Pumpkin Spice mallows (the other half has claimed).
PEEPs mallows
 I have to admit, there was one find in particular that did make me squeal like a little girl- the above PEEPS 60th Anniversary package. These Vanilla Creme white PEEPS sparkled with a rainbow of hard candy flakes that tickled me down to the 5 year old pig-tailed girl inside. This just may never actually get eaten, they make me smile just looking at em! Some other hits included a Nutella To Go snack stick cup and Emerald Breakfast on the Go fruit and nut pouch. I always love receiving single portion or snack size items I can indulge in throughout the week, and this was a great months for that!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my third month with the Foodie PenPal program. I truly love discovering treats that I can't find anywhere local to me! Thank you to Jeannette for the wonderful box of goodies, and Lindsay of the Lean Green Bean for organizing this month's event!

Got Fiber? Publix Does! New Fiber One Bars Giveaway~ 4/12

Momma Told Me: Make sure you get enough fiber!

As silly as it may sound, I am no stranger to fiber. From an early age I developed a curiosity about all that went into Momma's mouth. After all, I spent 70% of my waking time with her during the school year, and sought to emulate her every habit. One such focus for Momma was the constant intake of medication and supplements, intended to help her body navigate post cancer years. Not much older than me, Momma in remission was forced to follow a strict nutrition regimen post-chemo, and faced a big struggle guiding her digestive system back to normal. It didn't take long for smelly, chalky, tubs of powder to don our kitchen counter; fiber supplements for Momma. I recall she had permitted me to try the flavorless variety one time and it certainly hadn't been flavorless, or texture-less. I remember asking what other ways someone might be able to get more fiber in their diet. Primarily Momma rattled off bran muffins, legumes, and various vegetables; all sounded like heaven in comparison.
protein bars
Then one morning I observed my mother eating a bowl of cereal, instead of her ritualistic bagel consumption. On the counter was a light yellow box, rather plain in my child's mind, with boring lettering and rather dull compressed bran pellets on the front. The cereal reminded me of something we'd line the rabbit's cage with at school, but I didn't dare note this to Momma. As it turned out, this box of Original Fiber One Cereal was the perfect solution for Momma, who still had trouble digesting less bland everyday foods. And, with a little bit of cream and sugar, I quite enjoyed a partial bowl myself. Thankfully, the Fiber One range has expanded quite a bit since my childhood. Now there are all sorts of, genuinely flavorful, ways to get some extra fiber and stay full longer between meals.
fiber one
If you've ever had to scarf down a quick breakfast, running late, then you've likely experienced the results a few hours later. Hunger stars to hit once more, even in conjunction with an upset stomach as your body tries to process the offending food and kick start digestion. Studies show 9 out of 10 Americans don't get their daily recommended amount of fiber and as silly as it may sound, we need fiber for digestive comfort and even weight management. You've likely heard before that Fiber helps 'bulk' our digestive intake, which means essential nutrients taken in spend more time being absorbed in the small intestine. Fiber, paired with protein, can really fight of those early afternoon snacking urges and help you feel full and focused through the morning surge of energy. I had a chance to sample two new flavors of Fiber One plus Protein bars, Caramel Nut and Coconut Almond, both equally decadent flavors. I was especially surprised how true the coconut flavor was, paired with crunchy almond, and how easy to eat both varieties were.Not only was the texture soft, but the chocolate dipped coating satisfied my early afternoon sweet tooth.
It'll come as no surprise the majority of the Fiber One bar range focuses on a compressed oat base, which reminds me of the granola bars of my childhood. Thankfully flavors such as the real fruit packed Chewy Trail Mix bar, and Oats and Chocolate, offer easy to chew soft bars adults of all ages can enjoy. Sold at fine retailers like Publix, nationwide, the Fiber One range covers dozens of unique flavor combinations and snacks, designed to help make getting the fiber you need a little more palatable. We've been enjoying Fiber One chewy bars in our household for the past few years and I love how they keep me full between meals. The brand even has a line of 100 calorie products designed to fit into diets with low sugar snacking solutions. Be sure to keep an eye out in the cereal and snack bar aisle of your local Publix for these new Fiber One bars!

What Daughter Says: Put flavor back in your fiber supplement with delicious Fiber One chewy bars.

One Momma Told Me reader will win samples of the new Fiber One bars and a $25 Publix gift card!

Who's Responsible When Both Parties Claim Ignorance?

Momma Told Me: Following is great, but even a Lemming needs to think now and then.

I've been a blogger for near 4 years now; it feels like my first post was just yesterday. Before blogging I was an avid blog reader, a mystery shopper (which I still do), product evaluator, and think tank panelist. While I do not feel the need to clarify these things, it seems us bloggers constantly feel as though we should justify the validity of our voice. The point being, I am young, but I have made it my business to have an opinion for almost 10 years.

The second point, is yet another that gets drilled into our readers' heads from time to time; blogging is work, whether it's for a profit or not. Good bloggers most likely do not just wake up in the morning, slam out an awesome post and head off on their merry way about the day. Blogging anything from a simple daily recap entry to a product review takes research, photographing/photo sourcing, thought, and plenty of time. Everyday I hit my reader, just before bed, and scan the hundreds of blogs I follow. I scan because I genuinely enjoy reading many of them, and keeping up with their families and lives, and because the best way to improve oneself is to emulate greatness. That is to say I learn about good photography, storytelling, and review techniques from my fellow bloggers.

Where are we going with this? Well, I have a little bit of an ax to grind. A rant, if you will.

I am NOT perfect. I am sure there are typos and grammar errors, and I do not always source correctly, or follow the millions of guidelines and technicalities. (When you blog for product or host a giveaway it is extremely technical, despite the thousands of blogs jumping on board to do so.) To incorporate reviews for product, or hosted giveaways into a personal website is much more complicated than one would think. I have grown tremendously, and still learn little caveats here and there I need to acknowledge or improve on. You may notice that I have dropped from a blog with daily giveaways to a blog that is selective about product/service values and hosted giveaways. I have also dropped all 'mandatory' entries on my giveaway form, and am constantly striving to present my promotions, and opinions in the most genuine and honest manner.

Soft Scrub Advanced Surface Sweepstakes and Giveaway~ 4/10

granite cleaner
Momma Told Me: It's a chore, not a game!

From a really young age I fostered an appreciation for clean. More so enamored with the results than the process of getting there, my parents found many times I tried to 'help out,' and in turn caused more damage than good. For example; cleaning copper with the wrong chemicals, placing the sponge for the car (wash) in a pile of loose gravel, and mixing colors with whites in the laundry. Yes, an over-zealous assistant can really throw a wrench into Momma's day, and I was quick to learn there are proper tools for every job. However, I was somehow surprised to learn just the other week, that my premium surfaces now require less attention than ever before. That's right, non-porous premium household surfaces such as granite, stainless steel, marble, and inductive stove tops now have a specially formulated rinse-free cleanser. Made by trusted brand, Soft Scrub, which was quite possibly the very first cleanser I ever picked up, Advanced Surface is formulated to make your life easier.

With it's chic new black bottle packaging, Soft Scrub Advanced Surface is impressively tough on stains and buildup without being harsh on the surface. With absolutely no dyes, the clear gel dispenses thin, and covers a wide area. Simply spread the cleanser through your Advanced Surface then wipe away with a damp sponge or cloth; no rinsing required! Of course you can still take advantage of the classic scrubbing action of Soft Scrub, this formula will suds up just as well as any- though rinsing is not required. Similar to the classic Soft Scrub Gel with Bleach, this bleach free formula is safe for large surfaces, and easily removes layers of gunk and residue with a single swipe. Now, as convenient as the squirt and wipe cleaning is, I do, personally advocate a simple vinegar water wipe down to remove and residue, when cleaning kitchen surfaces.
Before using Soft Scrub Advanced for the first time I allowed our kitchen sink to go almost 5 days without a scrub. The other half is notorious for 'rinsing' dishes, and failing to rinse the sink, so we always have dried food and grease stains lurking on our Stainless Steel. As I first dispensed the cleanser I was surprised how thin the clear gel was, as it came out quite fast. I think I only needed about 1/3 what I actually used, and the gel seemed to foam quite a bit when wiping. I've since become more conscious of how much I squeeze and use a lot less per chore. The gel itself has a minimal cleaning odor, and leaves no fragrance post wiping, which is surprising, considering how effective Advanced Surface proved to be in efficiently eating through grime buildup. In all, I've been thrilled at the power of this new formula, but would like to see an improved distribution, such as a spray bottle or mist; the gel simply dispenses too fast for smaller chores.

Like most of my Purex Insiders opportunities, this one comes with the chance to win some free swag via the Don't Worry, Be Happy Sweepstakes. One lucky winner will take home $1000 cash prize, while 250 others will claim FREE product vouchers for Soft Scrub. Enter once a day now through April 9. 2013 to maximize your chances, and be sure to enter our giveaway below. Good luck!

What Daughter Says: Take some of the guesswork our of cleaning Advanced Surfaces with new Soft Scrub.

One Momma Told Me reader will win 2 vouchers good for FREE Soft Scrub!

Why Technological Progress Is Subjective + Why I'm Not Afraid

Momma Told Me: Androids and robots aren't that far away!

I grew up with the sound of The Legend of Zelda (1986) playing in the background at my crib, the sound of Star Trek: The Next Generation my lullaby as a toddler, and I watched as humans evolved from CIA-esque briefcase phones to the modern smartphone wonders that populate us today. Some call me part of the 'Google generation,' others, more loyal to Apple would call us the 'i' Generation; regardless, I see no reason to jump and shout about that the sky is falling. I do not fear machine enslavement, and I do not think that society will collapse should the 'Grid' go down. While the consumer technology of this very moment is certainly quite impressive, compared to 40 years ago, my parents shared the same wonderment at the Halogen Lamp, Cassette Tape, and Space Wars, 1962 (first computer game). It remains a simple fact, the rate of technological development for our society has remained shocking through generation after generation.
I think the biggest key to accepting technological advance is to remain grounded in the understanding of prior methods and technology. That is to ask, will my grandchildren understand how to search and find a local pizzeria without assistance from Google, or their Android phone? The way I see it, the biggest aspect we have to fear, with technology, is an increased ignorance of the past. If a nationwide blackout were to occur, the only excuse for paranoia would be our own ignorance. Our ancestors were surviving for generations without the same technology and innovations. Much like game show contestants of the popular Survivor TV series do before applying, we should all be so keen as to learn the 'basics' untethered from these digital cords.
When I was fresh out of high school I considered myself quite tech savvy. I entered into Art School, for Video Game Design (yup), and was promptly overwhelmed by the number of computer programming classes in my first semester line-up. What had happened to learning to paint 2-D cells, and real life anatomy models? I've since accepted my comprehension of current technological trends is more mainstream than those who upgrade their phones each quarter. I enjoy reading about the newest technology and trends, but I'm not the first to jump on the bandwagon. I am more proficient than most of those I meet in the generation before me, and even more advanced than the generation before that. But, even I, still marvel at the true power of the services and features on common devices like the modern cellphone or tablet. Take a look at the video above and how Google has transformed a day of modern errands into a virtual guided experience!

What Daughter Says: We already carry Androids in our pockets, what's next?

How My #HealthyChoices Make My Life More Flavorful

Healthy Choice
Momma Told Me: Life's too fast not to use shortcuts.

When I was a child it was primarily Momma's responsibility to raise me through hands on education. Disabled, she was always there when I arrived home from school, and through every single vacation of my grade school years. She was up before me, and in bed after me, every day for a good 16 years. Just thinking about it exhausts me. Today, I face my own set of similar challenges as I begin my own family and learn the ins and outs of adult responsibility. Though I work out of the house, it certainly seems like my personal titles are never-ending; sanitation expert, hostile negotiations peacekeeper, chef, financial planner, zoologist. Okay, so I may not hold degrees for these titles, but my workload certainly keeps me busy enough to feel like a dedicated professional. The simple truth is, the average adult spends so much time taking care of their family, coworkers, and others, they tend to neglect themselves.
Frozen greek yogurt
Growing up Momma had a secret for those especially rough days. She loved to cook, and would often make large batches of food in advance and freeze meals for future use. But even Momma was caught off guard with an unexpected school event, or one of dad's business trips, from time to time. You may recall,I'd often tag-along with her grocery shopping during school breaks and summer vacations; so I'd always get a say in helping to choose Momma's secret weapons. Choosing well rounded and delicious frozen meals the whole family would love was just another part of Momma's plan to help keep the family full, and he sanity in tact. As a child, in the beginning, I'd run towards the brightly colored frozen entrees. I quickly learned that not every colorful package in the frozen aisle was as tasty, or healthy as it seemed. Momma, herself, was partial to Healthy Choice. I recall, one time, there was a tremendous sale on frozen foods and we brought home over 10 Healthy Choice Chicken Pot Pies. Full of hearty vegetables floating in warm creamy sauce, with a comforting flaky crust (just like Momma could make), these meals were satisfying treats that got Momma out of serious time crunches.
Momma knew to choose Healthy Choice because of their wide range of preservative free, clearly labeled, selections, which boasted home comfort flavors and direct from freezer convenience. She knew that a Healthy Choice meal would never lack in well rounded nutrition, or flavor, and could easily be substituted for any for-mentioned meal plans in a pinch. Trusting this brand was just one of the many #HealthyChoices Momma instilled in me. I also learned, whenever an options, to always choose the stairs, pick the parking spot furthest away from the door (but still in a well lit area), and that grocery unpacking can be a viable muscle building activity. You don't have to have access to a home gym to make the most out of everyday activities, and burn enough extra calories to make a difference. Just one or two of these lifestyle changes can truly add up and result in a healthier heart and body over time.
top chef steamers
Believe it or not, I also coupon in order to live healthier. Unless your budget is limitless, and chances are it is not, you likely find yourself wrestling with the health factor of costly fresh foods, versus cheap convenience foods. Whether you casually clip mailer coupons, or enthusiastically hunt down printables and paper inserts, shaving dollars of your grocery bill bottom line leave more wiggle room for necessary ingredients like fresh fruits and veggies. You'll also find printable coupons for Healthy Choice varieties, just like the Top Chef Steamers and Greek Frozen Yogurt ones on our sidebar! When you combine these coupons with the everyday low prices at your local WalMart (yes, they take coupons), you can pay $1.50/less for these #HealthyChoices, the entire family will love!
Over the past year a newer Healthy Choice I've adopted is to cut sugar out of my beverages. In the past I would consume over 800 calories a day in juices, sodas, and sports drinks, not to mention how many grams of sugar that amounted to! With smart meal planning, such as my favorite Healthy Choice Top Chef Steamer and Frozen Greek Yogurt, ample bottles of water, and a half hour of treadmill a day I have dropped over 30lbs in the past 5 months. That's worth bragging about, and could not have been easier. Not only do I feel much better when I stay properly hydrated, but drinking water regularly throughout the day helps curb my snack cravings and keep me full between meals. I know I don't get my required 8 glasses a day every day, but I'm working towards it!
One of my final #HealthyChoices is less of a choice and more of an innate truth; my pets are my family, and they love me as much as I love them. While I won't start a philosophical debate about whether or not Sparky is really adding years to your life, the emotional satisfaction I get in return for taking care of my furry family members is enough of a return for me. Naturally, those who have dogs typically benefit from the added exercise of walks and interaction, but my cats assist my mental health just as much. I certainly never feel alone or hopeless with one of my fur-babies cuddles by my side; if only I could find the equivalent of Healthy Choice for them. I worry so much about their nutrition and well being, it's nice to know that Healthy Choice can take some of the guesswork out of mine.
Sweet and Fluffy Cornbread
click here for printable recipe


* 2 C Cornmeal
* 2 C All Purpose Flour
* 1 1/3 C Granulated Sugar
* 1 TSP Salt
* 1 TSP Baking Soda
* 2 C Light Sour Cream
* 1 C Butter, or Margerine Substitute
* 4 Eggs
* 4 TBS Honey (or Sugar Free Substitute)

Preheat Oven to 375F
Grease 9x13" Baking Dish

1.) Mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. 
2.) Add sour cream, butter, eggs, and honey; stir until fully incorporated.
3.) Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
crustless chicken pot pie
As much as I love cooking from scratch, it simple isn't practical 100% of the time; choosing flavorful and well balanced frozen meals, like the Healthy Choice Top Chef Steamers, is a no brainier for me. Preservative free, and with hearty home inspired varieties like Crustless Chicken Pot Pie, I know I can give my family a delicious meal without the fuss. Recently I prepared my low fat Sweet and Fluffy Cornbread with Crustless Chicken Pot Pie atop, and was in complete heaven. When paired with a crisp bottle of water and one of the new creamy Frozen Greek Yogurt Chocolate cups, I could indulge in the entire meal for around 500 calories. The hearty chunks of chicken breast among the rich Pot Pie Sauce, Dumplings, and Veggies played perfectly with the slightly sweet honey flavor of this simple side. But my true new obsession was the indulgence of Healthy Choice's 100 calorie Greek Frozen Yogurt cups, complete with a swirl of tart Dark Chocolate fudge- no skimping on flavor or texture here! There seem to be an overwhelming number of frozen convenience meals these days, for more insight into my purchase decisions check out my Google+ here, and be sure to download the coupons on the sidebar!

What Daughter Says: Convenient eating doesn't have to be unhealthy eating.

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and ConAgra Foods #cbias #SocialFabric.

Blog POP!: Anthony's Hidden Veggie Pasta Bacon Mac Recipe + Jamie Oliver T-Fal Cookware Giveaway~ 4/6

Momma Told Me: Eat your veggies!

No matter the parents all children have their dietary challenges. Most mothers go straight from discouraging the eating of paste and Play-Doh (and everything else in sight) to defiant tight lipped mouths demanding consistent rations of pizza and chicken fingers. And the older they get, the harder it can be to 'sneak' in the nutrition their growing bodies need. When I was a child Momma found solace in the fact she could coax me to eat just about anything dipped in ranch. While mothers today might be horrified, it got the job done and was considerably better than the phase  where I swallowed undesirable food whole to circumvent the taste. With most children, the sheer concept of something being 'healthy' is enough to turn them off from even trying it, despite taste. In our house, we have a child with an aversion to meat, who will thankfully eat veggies and fruit happily. Even that presents it's own jumble of challenges.
Perhaps one of the oldest 'Mom Tricks' in the book is to hide undesired ingredients to trick children into eating them. As the lead chef of our household, I do this constantly with the other half. It turns out eating sensibly does not always get easier with age! I rcall, at one time, watching Jay scarf down an entire pot of Macaroni and Cheese with the fervor of a starving Doberman and thinking, 'I wonder if I could hide veggies in there?' A crunchy, cheesy, delicious casserole later I had my answer. Luckily, thanks to Anthony's latest pasta, mother's and wives everywhere can solve a similar problem with new Hidden Veggie pasta. Packaged much like their classic counterparts these pasta varieties feature minimal indication of their ulterior motive. Okay, so the front of the box does say 'Veggie' but it's sure to sneak past most of the younglings, and from below counters it's easy to miss. You'd be surprised just how 'normal' this Hidden Veggie pasta looks, and even more impressed with how it tastes!
I'll admit, I hymmed and hawed a bit when Anthony's approached me with a chance to review the new Hidden Veggie pasta line. We have a pantry full of boxed pasta in ever conceivable shape, and I've been known to sample high fiber, whole grain, and veggie variations in the past. My family has detected my ruse every single time. While the results have been edible, thoughtful smiles were quickly followed with "This is good but.....can we have the real pasta next time?" comments. What convinced me to sample Anthony's new range was the unique veggie composition that supplemented the traditional 'semolina' grain ingredient. The three proceeding ingredients are; dried sweet corn, dried carrot, and dried squash. Unlike cauliflower veggie pasta blends made by other companies, Anthony's had carefully crafted a truly unsuspecting blend that would have the toughest critics fooled. And 2 servings (4oz) of Hidden Veggie provides 1/2 C of vegetables, that's 1/5 the daily recommendation!
bacon mac n cheese
Deciding how to prepare Anthony's Hidden Veggie pasta was a cinch; there's an abundance of simple recipes on the Anthony's website. You can not only browse by health factor, and kid friendliness, but simplicity as well. While there are recipes directly on the boxes, I opted to make Anthony's 'kid friendly' recipe for Baked Macaroni with Cheese and Bacon. It didn't take much convincing, really, I'm sure I could serve my family re-purposed garbage with bacon atop and they'd scarf it down! As it turns out, I think the bacon brought out a little bit of the unique flavor of the pasta, and the two worked together quite nice in this from scratch 30-minute recipe. I loved how mellow the cheese was, and how the sauce clung to the Hidden veggie noodles, and never seemed thin or runny. For our bread crumbs I smashed some Italian Croutons and drizzled them on with butter prior to baking for a crunchy 'crust' that was truly adored.
Baked Macaroni + Cheese With Bacon


* 1 PCKG (12oz) Anthony's Hidden Veggie Twisted Elbows
* 4 TBSP Butter, Divided
* 2 TBS All Purpose Flour
* 2.5 C Reduced Fat Milk
*  2.5 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese (we used Sharp)
* 1/2 C Shredded Parmesan Cheese
* Salt and Pepper (to taste)
* 8oz Diced Bacon, cooked until crisp and drained
* 1/2 C Fresh Bread Crumbs

Preheat Oven to 375F
Prepare an 8" x 12" baking dish with nonstick spray

1.) Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
2.) Return hot, empty, pan to medium-high heat. Add 3 TBS Butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk and continue to cook, stirring frequently until mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
3.) Add Cheddar and Parmesan cheese, stirring until evenly melted. Add cooked Pasta and Bacon, blend gently.
4.) Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Dot with remaining TBS butter. Bake uncovered 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.
New Orleans Shrimp Fettuccine Skillet


* 12oz Anthony's Hidden Veggie Spaghetti (I know, it says fettuccine in the title)
* 1/4 C Butter
* 1/2 Onion, Chopped
* 2C Chicken Broth
* 2 Cans (14.5oz each) Diced Tomatoes w/Green Peppers and Onion, drained
* 1/2 TSP Sriracha Sauce (Or Pepper Sauce substitute)
* Salt and Pepper (to taste)
* 8oz Shelled, De-veined, Large Shrimp


1.) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes, stirring often.
2.) Break uncooked pasta in half and add directly to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently 2 minutes, or until onion is tender and pasta is coated evenly in melted butter, and beginning to brown.
3.) Add broth. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 8 MINS, stirring often.
4.) Add tomato blend, pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 4 MINS, or until pasta is tender.
5.) Stir in shrimp. Cook 2-3 MINS, stirring often, until shrimp turns pink and is done.
Okay, so I know the photos clearly don't show fettuccine noodles, that's because I received Hidden Veggie Spaghetti- same noodles, different shape. I think the whole pasta name game is pretty pretentious if you ask me ;) In any case, I made the Anthony's New Orleans Shrimp Fettuccine Skillet recipe from their website, so the adults could have a hearty meal. This turned out amazing for such minimal effort, and really felt like an indulgent and pricey dish. This is where I could really see the Hidden Veggie pasta perform, I didn't tell a soul, and nobody caught on! I don't see a reason why I wouldn't choose Hidden Veggie for all of my pasta dishes in the future. I am always in need of a little extra nutrition, and the price point is right on target with competing brands. For now, the only downside I see it the select market range Anthony's seems to be targeting. The local Los Angeles area stocks Hidden Veggie, but you will want to check with the product locator to determine if it is in stores near you. If it's not, don't be afraid to make a request with your local grocer! Visit the Anthony's Facebook page for an exclusive downloadable coupon to try new Hidden Veggie pasta.

What Daughter Says: With Anthony's Hidden Veggie pasta I can get away with fooling the entire family into eating healthier!

One Momma Told Me reader will win the above 10PC Jamie Oliver T-Fal Cookware Set and 8 Boxes of Anthony's Hidden Veggie pasta! When you're done entering, be sure to check out the event LINKY for more giveaways!

Blog POP!: Awesome Xorbee Furniture Giveaway~ 4/6

memory foam
Momma Told Me: *See: Bean Bags are for Time Travelers.

As a child, there are few things more exciting than 'fun furniture.' As a parent, one would lump inflatable couches, bean bag chairs, video game rockers, and see saws into this category. Things designed especially for youngsters, but with some very clear design flaws. That is, these things will delight children and adults of all ages, but fail to withstand the test of time. I've often wondered, myself, if there is a world record for longest period a bean bag chair has remained in tact upon deliverance to a 10 year old. And we can't put ALL the blame on the kids- how many times has a bewildered wife followed a trail of misplaced legos into the rec room to find Pop passed out on an abstract arrangement of play furniture? There's a reason air, water, and bean furniture exists; because it's comfortable. It's more than novel to sit on a giant piece of foam, a-la preschool mat style, it's oddly comforting to feel enveloped by these new textures and unconventional ideas.
We pass them on the street (yes, literally the side of the road here) all the time. I can feel my heart racing and my foot panicking on the gas pedal as I silently pray the light up ahead will turn green before the wandering eyes in my car notice. There is absolutely no way I would allow a 'bean bag' chair in my home. We have pets, 3 of them, and one child hearted adult, plus 10 year-old. My pockets, and patience, is notdeep enough to tolerate those pesky PVC pellets and the tears that would follow it's retirement. So, when I discovered Xorbee, I knew I would soon be trading my villan's cap for one of a hero. Not only does the Xorbee range of foam furniture rely on a 2 piece system that features a washable cover, but the inner foam shell is impressively durable. Because this memory foam like filling molds to the pressure of it's users, there will never be any stiff or sinking points. These products return to their normal shape slowly after the lounger has emerged, and hold their structure quite well for multiple modes of lounging. The foam will also compress under extreme weight or pressure, meaning no bursting seams or nasty tears.
We received our Xorbee Xquisite lounger just before Christmas and I was happy to promise it's release as soon as the (fake) tree had been dismantled and hauled to the garage. Once we again had our living room back I decided to toss our storage ottoman to the corner and give the giant, heavy, white Xorbee box a go. These loungers weigh upwards of 50lbs upon delivery and arrive vacuum sealed into a very swollen box. I highly recommend visiting the brand website to view an unpacking video prior to attempting this task at home. While the Xorbee does not expand as rapidly as I'd envisioned, you do have to be on your game to stuff it into the cover before it becomes unmanageable. Speaking of covers, Xorbee offers a multitude of colors in Twill, and easy to clean micro-suede materials. I love that the covers can be removed and washed, and even better, changed to match a decorating re-design.

The company also produces a unique range of foam based furniture and mats for young children, in addition to their wildly popular Big Pillows. Think of these big pillows as personal Xorbee loungers, 3' x 4' at the smallest size. I recall seeing these sell out all last holiday season (as I'd had in mind to get one for the other half). In my opinion, having seen one of these pillows in person at a neighbor's house, this is the Xorbee gateway product. Once you invest in a pillow, you'll end up with a wall of them for the entire family. Before long you'll be contemplating one of the loungers for parties and guests (we can fit about 4 children on our lounger, happily playing the Wii at once). Beginning March 25-29,  there will be a National Groupon deal for these unique Xorbee XL RelaXer Pillow (a retail value of $160), at just $69 with FREE Shipping. Stock up on these for holiday and birthday gifts now, you won't be disappointed.
foam furniture
So how has our Xorbee lounger stacked up over the past few months? It's certainly received daily and extensive use. After holiday break I moved the, very large, Xorbee to our living room corner, where it can still make it's way in front of the TV if needed, but serves as additional seating when not. Daily Sabrina arrives home from school and sets up 'base' on what she has called her 'world.' She will complete her homework, then begin her assigned reading (though she hardly ever makes it through her 30 minutes without dozing off, it is that comfortable). We pull the Xorbee out to play Wii together, spend lazy afternoons watching movies on Netflix, and even carried the monstrosity downstairs and across the street as a makeshift 'tattoo bed.' (I know, I know- but that particular artist swears she is buying one for home and shop; she was in love instantly!)

With it's big pop of bright and bold red, the Xorbee is without a doubt the first thing seen when guests enter our home, and the first piece of furniture they want to use. We have several friends with larger frames, which our couch does not accommodate, and this adds the added freedom of ample lounge space. As far as durability, I've yet to notice any tears or rips along the beautifully sewn seams, and am constantly impressed as to how easy the micro-suede material is to clean with a damp cloth and water. I would highly suggest the added investment of a micro suede cover; I've scrubbed everything from nail polish and paint, to food off of the cover and it is just as beautiful as the day it arrived! Save 15% on your next Xorbee order with code MOMMATOLDME!

What Daughter Says: If you're looking to move your home into a new century of modern lounge furniture, look no further than Xorbee!

One Momma Told Me reader will win an amazing Xpert Gamer with Twill Cover of choice!