Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mealtime Magic - Delicious Dinners in Half the Time [Cookbook Review]

I've never reviewed a cookbook before and this was a perfect one to start me off! Lately, I've really been having to scrimp, save, and budget for mealtime. I couldn't wait to figure out how to save money (and time) in the kitchen, especially when food prices are rising all the time.

Amy Houts, author of Mealtime Magic, has over 43 years experience cooking for her family and one year under her belt at the Culinary Institute of America. Her meals have been requested over and over again at home! Her money-saving dishes are born from her practical experience and her education, which means she is the right person to tell us how to cook tasty meals without having to spend an arm and a leg.

I couldn't wait to try out this cookbook and one of the first things I did was flip to the fish recipes page! The main reason for this is because I love the IDEA of making fish on my own. Although for some reason when I actually go and buy it, I just feel...stumped when I realize I have to do it myself. You mean it doesn't come battered and fried for you already??? So I was excited to read through this page.

Let me tell you that Amy Houts knows her stuff. She listed out recipes that appeal directly to people like me - they are easy to follow and very tasty and this does save you money. One of the first recipes I was excited to try was Fish Tacos! This is a fan favorite in my family when we just use the boxed fish that you just throw into the oven. So I couldn't wait to try it out.

Overall, I thought this recipe tasted fantastic and my family thought the same way! For the next batch, I may need to buy a bit more fish to make up for the appetites we all have, but overall I was very pleased.

Reading over the recipes and taking her suggestions on how to split up meals to go across more than one meal, taught me to shop better and smarter and meal plan more! I am more of a spontaneous shopper and this cookbook and meal planning guide has inspired me to do better than that.

If you want to plan tasty meals that also save you money, you must buy Mealtime Magic by Amy Houts. Visit her website and discover recipes that you can try right now for your family! Make sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Better yet, I am happy to giveaway a copy of this cookbook to one of my lucky readers! Simply enter via Rafflecopter below. Contest ends 10/12.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was provided with a free copy of the cookbook in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On My First Time Ordering Schwan's

I live in a pretty big apartment complex and on a semi-regular occasion I will see my neighbor's order Schwan's. They have a pretty familiar truck that you see around too and I have long wondered what their food is like and whether it would be the right fit for me and my family.

Well I finally got the chance to try Schwan's! I received $25 to spend and promptly went to their site to see what I could find.

I have also gone gluten free so it was very important to see a wide variety of options. I mostly ended up purchasing vegetables, such as broccoli, seasoned potatoes and mixed colored bell peppers (and onions). I also purchased a packaging of rice and a box of their lemonade! When I was browsing their website I also noticed they had an excellent selection of meats that I could choose from as well as yummy desserts.

First of all, I was really impressed with how much I could purchase for $25! For first time shoppers like me, you get a really great coupon code (which I will provide to you at the bottom of this post!) and you get a nice discount off your purchase which allowed me to be flexible in what I could buy.

Second, delivery was very quick. I made the purchase over the labor day weekend and it was delivered to me that same week. What I like best about purchasing from them is you could tell them a delivery window, which is so important to me because I do get home pretty late and I don't exactly trust my apartment complex management to let me know when a delivery arrives.

So the food! The most important part! The food comes and it's frozen so you can put it in your freezer. It definitely lasts long and the quality still stays fresh (I still have potatoes to make!). I tried their broccoli and I was nicely surprised! It tasted really well and one packaged cooked enough for three servings with a little left over. For another meal, I made rice and I cooked the package of peppers and onions to go with it.  This was very very good and it was so nice to have an easy lunch to make like this.

Next was the lemonade. Trust me, I will return to Schwan's for their lemonade ALONE. It was raspberry lemonade and it was perfect for the heatwave that still continues to beat up my neck of the woods. It wasn't too tart OR too sweet, it was just right. I made a huge pitcher of it and it lasted through the week.

Overall, I am very impressed with their delivery service! I think that if you are looking to take the burden of grocery shopping off your shoulders, you should seek out Schwan's. The benefits are that you get a lot for your money, the delivery is fast and you can select the time frame you want them to arrive, and the food is very good. I may get adventurous next time and try a delivery of their meats, such as chicken. I would say the only downside is that if you are gluten-free you may find that not too many options are available. I wish they would expand some of their recipes to include gluten free pastas and other alternatives.

Here are some of the other rewards I have learned about -

Simplified mealtimes with over 350 High-quality affordable food choices
USDA Choice Meats
Grade A Vegetables
Wild-Caught Fish and Seafood
Delivered right to your door for your convenience

No Contracts
No Minimum Orders 
No Payment Required Until Delivery
Schwan's Reward Points (Save 5% on all future orders)

If you want to give Schwan's a try, I am happy to give you these coupons to apply to your order!

$5 off $25 Order – Code: JULIEN2
$10 off $50 Order – Code: JULIEN2
$15 off $75 Order – Code: JULIEN15

I received a complimentary gift card in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mrs. Renfro's Salsa - Review and Giveaway [Ends 9/22]

For me, the fall and winter season is the best time of year to have some of my favorite foods. I can actually use the oven without dreading the heat building up in my home! Nowadays, one of my favorite foods is fish tacos and what better way to enjoy a fish taco than with a new salsa I got to try called, Mrs. Renfro's.

Started in 1940, George Renfro launched the George Renfro Food Company with his wife Arthurine in the garage of their Texas home. Starting out selling spices and pepper sauces, over time, the business grew and has an impressive history showing not only the smart business savvy of George Renfro and his wife Arthurine, but their ability to make quality products and change with where their success takes them. I can't wait to see what they can come up next!

Visit their website to read more about their story! Today, the business is still family run. Sons Jack and Bill and grandchildren Doug, Becky, and James who are active with daily operations, continue to grow the family business.

I had the wonderful opportunity to try out four of their products - Mrs. Renfro's Jalapeno Peppers, Hot Tomato Relish, Hot Salsa, and Mexican Hot Sauce.

I have to say that I have taste buds made of iron or something, because I loved the jalapeno peppers! They weren't too spicy so I could really top off my cheese enchilada but they were spicy enough so I could taste it! It complimented well with the salsa too.

What I liked best about the salsa was that it wasn't watery at all. It also didn't have weird spices that stood out to me (I'm not a huge cilantro fan, and the fact that I didn't taste it, made me very happy).

I also tried the mexican hot sauce with my fish taco on another night and this was very spicy, but obviously well made. I wasn't a huge fan of the tomato relish, but then I'm not a big fan of relish in general. My mom did try out though and she did enjoy it! So this may be a new twist on your barbequed hot dogs.

Overall, I highly recommend you look for Mrs. Renfro's sauces, salsas, and relish in the grocery store. This is amazing stuff and you can taste the quality. Best of all, I've gone gluten-free so paying attention to ingredients is very important to me. This is gluten-free and made with only natural ingredients. Plus, another huge benefit is that these salsas and sauces aren't too expensive, they usually are at around $3.59 a jar.

Best of all one of my lucky readers will win some of their own Mrs. Renfro's Salsa to try! You get to choose four of your own products. Enter via Rafflecopter below. The contest ends on 9/22.

If you simply can't wait for the contest to be over to enjoy your own salsa, visit Mrs. Renfro's website here. If you need some recipe ideas, you can also visit their website (they have a recipe on there right now for Mexican fudge! You must take a look!) Also, visit their YouTube page that includes great recipe videos!

Show your love for Mrs. Renfro's by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received complimentary jars of salsa in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Save 25% on Halloween Costumes - BuyCostumes Orange Tuesday Event Ends 9/2!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

I love Halloween! It's one of my favorite holidays and if you are in the same mind frame you are already thinking about costumes! So, start your Halloween shopping early this year with the BuyCostumes Orange Tuesday event, whereEVERYTHING is 25% OFF through 9/2!

BuyCostumes Halloween Costumes

BuyCostumes also has Pumpkin Buster Deals which include rock-bottom prices on some of the most popular costumes this year. Here are a few of our favorites:

Peacock Girl Child Costume
Use code ORANGE25 to get 25% off

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - Leonardo Kids Costume
Use code ORANGE25 to get 25% off

20s Red Flapper Dress
Use code ORANGE25 to get 25% off

Duck Dynasty - Willie Adult Costume
Use code ORANGE25 to get 25% off

BuyCostumes Halloween Costumes