17 December 2014

The Great Food Blog Cookie Swap 2014

Since the end of The Great Food Blog Cookie Swap in 2013, I've looked forward to the event all year! What better way to get in the spirit of the season than by baking cookies for your fellow food bloggers? With sponsors like Oxo and Dixie Sugar matching up to $3000 in donations for Cookies for Kids' Cancer, we're also baking for more than just ourselves. Many thanks to Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for continuing to host this event.

They also threw in a few treats for us, as well! The Oxo decorating kit looks especially awesome, and I can't wait to try it out.

This year, I went with a recipe I've made before, but have never blogged about. It's a shortbread type of cookie flavored with orange zest and toasted pecans that isn't too sweet or crumbly, and would hold up well during shipping. The dough comes together easily and isn't difficult to roll and cut out. If you've ever heard of the Archway Christmas Nougat cookie, that's what these are like, only this recipe is called 'Christmas Angel Cookies'.

Last year, I didn't do too well with the packaging. I made up for it by purchasing these cute Christmas tins from the dollar store, lining the interiors with decorative paper purchased from the craft store.

I sent these out to Jennifer from Honey and Birch, Sheryl from Lady Behind the Curtain, and Melissa from The Baked Equation. I heard back from two of them and they both enjoyed the cookies!

I received Butter Almond Cookies from What Micky Eats, which were incredibly good and had an amazing texture. My other cookie elf was Becky from The Cookie Rookie, who sent Mint Chocolate Brussels Cookies that reminded me of milano cookies, only better.

If you're interested in participating next year, subscribe to receive notifications.

Print this recipe
Christmas Angel Cookies
While I was unable to locate the source where I originally found the recipe, I was able to find a copy of it here

Ingredients -

1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups roasted pecans, finely chopped

Directions -
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (300°F for convection ovens).
  2. In an electric mixer, cream the shortening, powdered sugar, and orange zest for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides from time to time. Add the salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Using the mixer’s paddle attachment, mix in the chopped pecans. Add the flour, and mix just until it is thoroughly combined with the other ingredients.
  3. On a well-floured surface, with a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough 1/4” thick. Using a 1 1/2” round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place 1/2” apart on a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 minutes, being careful not to let the cookies brown (they should still be white when you remove them from the oven). Transfer to racks and let the cookies cool completely. Store Christmas Nougat Cookies in an airtight container.

21 November 2014

pie talk.

This is it! Are you ready? With less than a week until Thanksgiving, our menus are pretty much planned by now. You don't need me telling you what to make, though I'm gonna link to the few seasonally appropriate pie recipes from this here blog, and a few from other blogs that look tasty, just in case.

Mostly, I thought it would be fun to talk pie -- your go-to dough, a comprehensive breakdown on dough 101, and filling types. There are many ways to make a pie and most result in deliciousness. I'm forever perfecting my skills and learn from these kinds of discussions. What I'm going to do here is go over a few areas I've struggled with, and the ways I've learned to fix them. I'll also list actual expert advice, because we all need that.

Up first, pie dough.

Over on Serious Eats, the superhero managing culinary director, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, has a series called The Food Lab, wherein he breaks down a recipe to the most minutest of details to give you the best possible version of that recipe. (He has an excellent pho tutorial, but I'll reserve that for another time.) He has a very comprehensive post about pie dough, which is very apropos for the holiday season. He covers everything from the best type of fat to use, how to blend it into the flour, how much water is needed, and whether or not you need to add vodka. He advocates weighing the flour, which I've never done. I mentioned the other day on my Facebook page that I have yet start weighing ingredients, but it's something I need to begin doing if I want to improve my baking. Take a look at his post!

The fat. Do you use butter, shortening, or a combination of both? I do the latter, a la Julia Child. Occasionally, I will make the all-butter pastry dough, but I prefer a butter-shortening dough. It's easier to work and doesn't shrink back as much as an all-butter dough, and it gets super flaky. I follow a recipe I found a couple years ago from How To Eat A Cupcake, only I use all all-purpose flour and removed the baking powder, as I found it caused the dough to puff out of shape.

On the King Arthur Flour blog, Flourish, there is a detailed post about different types of crust, including the vodka crust. It explained to me why my butter crusts never maintained the perfect crimped edging after baking -- it's just going to expand and puff (and possibly shrink) more than a butter-shortening crust.

I have a dough exception. I came across a recipe on Chez Pim for The One Pie Dough to Rule Them All, an all-butter dough using a rolling and folding technique. It also has a different manner of incorporating the butter into the flour compared to most recipes. The flour gets dumped onto the counter, the slabs of butter get tossed into the flour mound, and you work it in with a pastry scraper and the heel of your hand. A minimum amount of water is added to just bring the dough together. After that, the dough is folded and turned. This is similar to a fraisage, a technique used to create superior flakiness. At first, it might seem contrary to every piece of advice you've ever learned about pie dough for ABSOLUTELY NOT OVERWORKING THE DOUGH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. I understand! But trust me and trust the recipe when we tell you that it's going to be fine. I would advise waiting to test this out for when it doesn't matter.

Banking on the fraisage techniqe, I have a tendency to add too much water to my dough to make life easier. I either add too much and it gets a little soggy, or I add too little and it's difficult to roll out. The middle ground is to give the dough a gentle fraisage to further incorporate the dough after adding just enough water to make it come together.


When it comes to Thanksgiving, I tend to stick apple pies and pecan pies. I enjoy a good pumpkin, but it's not my favorite. I've had good success with both pecan and pumpkin, though I've struggled with apple. The filling would never completely cook, despite slicing the apples thinly, or the crust would still be soggy after more than an hour in the oven. To top it off, the slices wouldn't retain their shape.

Then, I stumbled on the apple pie recipe from How To Eat A Cupcake. In that recipe, the filling is cooked for a few minutes prior to baking, practically revolutionizing my life. The apples come out perfectly each time and the filling stays in place without getting too gelatinous. I use 1/4 cup lemon juice and add more spices, increasing the cinnamon a little and playing around with the combination of ginger/allspice/nutmeg/cloves. This last time, I added a little cardamom and loved the results.

As for apple varieties? I stick to Granny Smith because that's what I like. It's tart, and works with the sweet and spicy filling. But like I mentioned when it comes to baking a pie, there are as many ways to fill a pie as there are apple varieties, and I'll take you back to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for the ultimate apple breakdown. (How lucky is he to be able to make pies all day? If you need an intern, I'm available!)

He also touches on the subject of precooking the filling, explaining how it won't cause the apples to become mushy.

Enough talk. What pies will you be baking (or eating!) for Thanksgiving? What do you struggle with the most when it comes to baking a pie, and what are your successes? I want to hear it all!

Here are a few recipes.

- Apple Custard Crumb Pie

- Apple Pie

- Cheesecake Cherry Pie from Sugar Plum (I have not made this, but I trust her recipes and it looks delicious!)

- Cherry Pie from America's Test Kitchen (I use frozen sweet cherries)

- Maple Pecan Tart

- Tigger-Proof Pumpkin Pie


03 November 2014

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
The wind is howling and leaves are swirling through the air. It is definitely autumn here in New Jersey, and not a moment too soon. For whatever reason, I feel very comfortable in weather like this, even when I'm not outside in it. Now that things like sugar pumpkins, apples, and cider are in season, I've been trying to get as much out of it as I can. This weekend, Alex and I took a short trip up to New Paltz to pick up a half bushel of Ida Red apples, apple cider, and cider doughnuts from Jenkins-Lueken Orchards, and some New York maple syrup from Oliverea Schoolhouse Maple at the farmer's market! We drove up to an outlook to take in the view before we left.

Pumpkin Pie
We'll be busy working our way through all that the next few weeks!

I also made a pumpkin pie this weekend, as you can see. I've made and blogged about this recipe before, though those pictures never did justice to the Tigger-Proof Pumpkin Pie. I have been meaning to update it for a while, because it's a pie you all really need to make. Typically, I use canned pumpkin. This time, I roasted a sugar pumpkin and pureed the pulp (not a difficult feat at all). Boy, I'll tell you, it tastes even better than I remembered, and it's all because of the fresh pumpkin puree. I don't mind using canned at all for things like muffins and breads, but when it's in a dessert where the filling is in the forefront, taking a little extra time to prep your own puree takes it to a whole other level. I ended up with extra puree that I'll likely use for muffins, if I can't think of a better pumpkin dessert. (There is a pumpkin yeast bread from Baking with Julia I've been eying for a while now.)

Pro tip: After pureeing pumpkin, place in a fine mesh sieve to allow the excess liquid to drain.

Pumpkin Pie
The ingredients for this pie consist of the pumpkin puree (fresh or canned), spices (a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves), eggs, and three types of sugar: sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, and white sugar. Anyone who knows anything about the 100 Acre Woods knows that condensed milk is one of the main food groups, second only to honey. Not shown is the blind-baked pie crust.

Pumpkin Pie
Whisk filling together.

Pumpkin Pie
Pour into prepared pie crust and bake.

Pumpkin Pie
What you see here is a mighty fine piece of pumpkin pie. The filling is smooth and custardy, the crust is perfectly browned on the bottom, and now I get to enjoy some pie for the next couple of days while listening to the howling wind outside.

Print this recipe

Tigger-Proof Pumpkin Pie
From The Little Big Book of Pooh by Monique Peterson
(Personal notes: I used a different dough recipe that is actually quite similar to this recipe - chill before rolling, chill before baking - and I opted to pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes)

For crust -

1 1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons ice water

For pie -

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs

Directions -
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. To make crust, sift together dry ingredients. Using pastry blender or processor, cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water over dough and mix with fork until pastry is moist enough to form into a ball.
  3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14" round circle. Transfer and press into 9" pie pan. Trim overhand and crimp edges. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the pumpkin filling, whisk all the pie ingredients together in a large bowl until blended. Pour into the prepared crust.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Serve with whipped cream!

16 October 2014

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins
Hey, so it's now autumn! Except some days, I don't believe it, especially yesterday, when it was still fairly hot out. Is this Indian summer? Whatever it is, it hasn't stopped me from making dinner soups like they're going out of season, or sipping on hot tea after dinner. I've also busted out the pumpkin puree so that I can share with you my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe.

I found this particular recipe from Muffin Top, who got it from Gourmet magazine. Do you remember that magazine? It was great and I'm still sad it's gone. The bright orange color of the muffins lured me in and I wasn't disappointed. This recipe is super simple and makes tall, moist muffins, not those squatty little pucks that drive me crazy. Best of all, you use the entire can of pumpkin puree so you don't have to store 1/4 cup of puree, only to have it rot in the depths of the fridge before you remember that it's there.

Pumpkin Muffins
The recipe's direction for mixing the batter is a bit weird, so I simplified it by mixing the dry (flour, spices, leavening, salt) and wet (pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla extract) ingredients separately. I also use my own combination of spices instead of a generic pumpkin pie blend. I like that I can decide to use more cinnamon one day, then turn around and make the next batch more gingery. In total, I use two-three teaspoons, not just one. One teaspoon isn't enough. And with a teaspoon of vanilla extract for added depth. You can leave the sugar as is, or you can decrease to 3/4 cup like I did this last batch. The recipe is included in this post to make the modifications clearer.

Pumpkin Muffins
Dear readers, I can't go another post without addressing this Extra Fancy (ooh la la) Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzey's spices. I was first introduced to it by a friend, Bob, who sent me a Penzey's spice gift box. This cinnamon is very spicy and strong; Penzey's recommends reducing the cinnamon in a recipe by a third if using this kind. I like to think that it justifies the price that way, though if you love cinnamon, go all out!

Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins
Next, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then divide evenly into twelve muffin cups. Exactly twelve muffin cups. You can fill the cups up just about all the way without causing a disaster, I promise. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar (and add pumpkin seeds, if you wish), then bake.

Now, I have a secret to share with you. These pictures, while mostly accurate, are a lie -- I forgot to add the oil. Although I noticed that there wasn't quite as much batter as there normally is, I didn't realize my mistake until after I had stuck the trays into the oven (I blame Gilmore Girls). I expected a disaster, and wasn't disappointed. While still edible, this batch just isn't as soft and tender as it normally is. The tops are more craggy than usual and the crumb suffers. I would absolutely not recommend skipping the oil. Please.

Pumpkin Muffins
Here is what the muffins should actually look like if made properly. I promise, I know what I'm doing, most of the time.

Pumpkin Muffins
Despite the error, the flavor was still there. Not bad for a mostly fat-free baked good! (I can't believe I said that.) I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!

Print this recipe
Pumpkin Muffins
The Running Foodie version, adapted from Gourmet November 2006, adapted from the American Club

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients -

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 teaspoons spices, using any of the following: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, fresh nutmeg
1 15-ounce canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus an additional 1 tablespoon granulate sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Additional: Pumpkin seeds

Directions -
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven toe 350°. Put paper or foil liners into 12 muffin cups.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 2-3 teaspoons spices in a small bowl. Stir together cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar in a tiny bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and 3/4 - 1 1/4 cups sugar in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Divide batter among muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture (if using pumpkin seeds, top with seeds first before sprinkling tops with cinnamon-sugar). Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.


26 August 2014

It's Still Summer

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
You've probably heard that pumpkin spice lattes are already available at Starbucks, and maybe you even know someone who already got one, and maybe even that person suggested that the lattes signify the start of autumn. Well, folks, it's still summer, and I'm not yet ready for it to be autumn. Considering that the high is still over 75° most days, I am right. If you don't want to take my word for it, autumn doesn't officially begin until late-September here in the Northern Hemisphere. Although I've continued ordering (hot) lattes at Starbucks all throughout summer, those lattes were not seasonal flavors. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
So, in defense of summer, I present you with these Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies from Martha Stewart. The bright flavor is perfectly summer with a balance of sweet and tart. Although winter is the season for citrus fruits, citrus is a flavor I tend to associate with summer, such as pitchers of freshly squeezed lemonade and lime cookies with confectioners' sugar coating. This recipe have been on my radar for a while, actually, but procrastination is my number one hobby. Finally, I get to cross them off my list!

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
Both the cookie and the buttercream contain grapefruit juice and zest. While this makes the cookie flavorful, the juice might be the reason the dough came out softer than sugar cookie dough should be, making rolling and cutting circles difficult. Despite baking the dough straight from the freezer, the cookies didn't hold shape in the oven. It also browned a little more than I would have liked, and I suspect that has to do with the oven temperature not being accurate.

What would I do to remedy the soft dough? I might add more flour next time, or decrease the egg yolks from two to one. I don't want to reduce the grapefruit juice since that's what gives the cookie its flavor.

Pro tip: Wax paper is useless for rolling out sticky cookie dough.
Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
Mmm, buttercream! The fresh grapefruit juice really helps cut the cloying sweetness of the confectioners' sugar-based buttercream. Tinting it pink is optional.

The texture of the cookies improves the longer its stored, going from crunchy to soft. Then again, maybe they're supposed to be crunchy. Not entirely sure, but either way, the cookies are delicious.

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
I don't mean to sound Grinchy about the upcoming season. I'm looking forward to some things pumpkin, crunchy leaves in orange, red, and brown colors, crisp, cool temperatures, and apple cider. But since I don't work in advertising, I'm not going to rush it. When the time comes, I will have my celebratory pumpkin latte... If Starbucks hasn't already run out of syrup by then.

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

11 August 2014

I come bearing pie.

Maple Pecan Pie
Well, hello. It has certainly been a while, unfortunately. I'm not going to get into all the specifics of what lead to my hiatus (because who reads this blog, anyway?), but, among other things, I wasn't satisfied with the direction I had taken the blog. If you noticed the increase in sponsored posts, I apologize. Although I tried to keep them relevant, I felt like I was unable to seamlessly integrate those posts to fit with the normal content. I could have worked on that and continued earning enough to pay for a few small bills, like the blog hosting, Flickr account, and cell phone bill, but the requirements rose while the profits dropped and I didn't feel like the work I would have put into it was worth it.

At that point, I had begun despising blogging. The aforementioned was a small part of it; another part of it was that I felt as if the community that once drew me in seemed to have lost its path, but it was really was just me losing my way. I won't be eliminating product reviews or sponsored posts altogether, but it's not going to be nearly as often. It's just not what I want this space to be about.

So, I offer up pie, because that is what this blog is about. Not much of baking has been going on around here, either, making it almost impossible to find anything to blog about (I'm not even going to get into running right now.) I really do want to get back into the kitchen and bake/cook/blog more because it's a skill I enjoy developing and it's pretty much one of my biggest hobbies. I hope to utilize my subscription to Bon Appetit more than I currently do, as well. Have you heard of MasterChef? That show is also my inspiration. MasterChef is probably my favorite cooking competition show and I've always thought it would be amazing to have the skills necessary to audition. My skills aren't that refined, but maybe one day it will be.

Maple Pecan Pie
I've made this maple pecan tart around four times total, learning something new each time. The first time, I learned that I did not like the crust in the recipe; it's more of a cookie-shortbread crust than an actual pastry crust. For the filling, I toasted the pecans and browned the butter, two simple changes that I felt made the pie even better than it would have been otherwise.

Maple Pecan Pie
The second time, I used David Lebovtiz' tart dough that is prepared in the oven and pressed into the pan. It would have worked out well if I had doubled the recipe. As is, the bottom was too thin and the filling leaked through, causing the filling to seep through and caramelize, making the finished tart impossible to neatly serve.

But, I used Georgia pecans a friend sent to me as a gift, so the memories of that tart are associated with good things.

Maple Pecan Pie
The third time, I made an all-butter dough using a folding technique found on Chez Pim. I LOVED this dough. It's so easy to work with, and I actually did notice a difference. I was even asked if I used puff pastry instead of pie dough, that's how flaky it was. Instead of a tart pan, I baked it in a pie dish, and there ended up being a thicker layer of sugary, eggy filling compared to the tart version.

The fourth time, I baked it in a tart pan again and the crust (using the same dough) didn't thoroughly bake, since I forgot to compensate for the pan being on a baking sheet by moving the oven rack down.

Maple Pecan Pie
In this incredibly too close-up picture, you might be able to see the visible layers beginning to form. Had it been thoroughly cooked, like the edges of the crust in the first picture, this crust would have been perfect.

But the filling was good. What I especially like is that it isn't too sweet given the fact that it has three different types of sweetener (brown sugar, maple syrup, dark corn syrup). It's all balanced here.

The recipe itself is incredibly consistent, and I didn't have a problem with the filling not setting after cooling. Being able to neatly slice a pie or tart is as important to me as the taste, so if a neat slice isn't possible, I feel like I missed the mark.

Maple Pecan Pie
I'm glad I finally got this pie up here. A little early for the upcoming holidays (it's really almost that time again, isn't it? Sigh...), though better early than late. For that, thanks goes out to people who prefer birthday pies over birthday cakes.

And I hope to see you around here soon.

09 May 2014

Reebok Skyscape Review

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Reebok. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating. #sponsored #skyscrape
Reebok Skyscape review
Hey guys! I had this great opportunity to test out some new shoes you may have heard about (Miranda Kerr commercial, anyone?), the Reebok Skyscape. It was perfect timing, since I had been looking for casual shoes that are comfortable and was going out of town to play spectator at a marathon Alex ran. That meant I would be on my feet for around three hours. I was intrigued by the selling points of the shoe:

Reebok Skyscape is considered to be an everyday shoe perfect for active and casual occasions, featuring 360 degrees of foam comfort packed into a stylish silhouette that can be paired with a variety of outfits.

The Skyscape upper is crafted using the same manufacturing techniques and processes as molded foam bras, but with materials optimized for the stresses and strains placed on the feet. The material is a seamless, 2-way stretch to comfortably envelop the foot, while allowing for natural foot movement and breathability. The sole resembles cloud-like pillows for cushioning, comfort, and flexibility. The Skyscape comes in a broad range of colors.

It definitely sounds like a great shoe! Of course, I'm ever the skeptic, and nothing compares to user experience.

Reebok Skyscape review
I ordered my shoes, size 9, from Kohl's (currently on sale for $60!) and eagerly waited for them to arrive. Upon opening the box, I was a blown away by how pink they were, even though I knew based on pictures that these shoes would be bright. To me, the color isn't obnoxious, though, and it adds a burst of color to my otherwise monotone wardrobe. Another selling point of these shoes is that they can be easily washed in the washing machine, so I'm not too concerned about stains. In fact, because I'm me, I got a stain on them, which I just scrubbed out with soap and a washcloth. At some point, I'll try washing them and see what happens.

Weighing in at just five ounces, these shoes are very lightweight, making them easy to pack or just to walk around in all day. Being so light, I wondered if it would really provide enough support to back up their claims.

Immediately after slipping them on, I was blown away by the cushioning. I was making dinner at the time and didn't want to take them off. Unfortunately, I can no longer wear them as house slippers since I've worn them outside, so perhaps I need to channel my inner Mr. Rogers and buy a pair for indoor use.

Reebok Skyscape review
I haven't really had the opportunity to style them with any fun outfits yet, but the bright pink did give my spectating outfit a little more pop.

Reebok Skyscape review
Pretty basic outfit.

I didn't wear any socks, yet I didn't notice my feet becoming sweaty or stinky at all. There was minimal discomfort with the tongue of the shoe sliding to the side and rubbing the top of my foot, but after adjusting it was fine. As for the shoe itself, it fit really well, and very glove-like. After walking and being on my feet for a couple hours, my feet and legs did not feel nearly as sore the next day compared to when I wore other shoes that were not as cushioned. I'm also pleased to report that these did not scrape the back of my heel.

From a purely vanity point of view, I am happy with how these look for a casual sneaker. Because I absolutely do not wear athletic sneakers with jeans, I tend to stick with flats, loafers, or casual sneakers that don't look clunky. I'm very happy with how these look with jeans.

So, if you're in the market for a similar style of shoe, go and try these on, at the very least.

(I also shared a review on Kohls.com)

31 March 2014

Relieving Pain with Well at Walgreens

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its client. All health related suggestions and opinions expressed in this post are all my own

#wellatwalgreens #cbias #shop5
The temperature is warming up and many of us are becoming more active. We're primarily focused on what we want to accomplish, not on injuries and pain. For myself, I often overlook the latter two, forgetting to stock up on supplies for relieving pain until I need them. Thankfully, the Well At Walgreens brand is here to help.

#wellatwalgreens #cbias #shop6
I hopped on over to the River Road Walgreens to pick up supplies for a running-themed wellness kit. These are items I have found myself using most often through my years of running.

#wellatwalgreens #cbias #shop1
  1. Bandages in various sizes. I use these for any scrapes I get from tripping, or to cover small areas that chafed
  2. Nail polish, for covering black toenails
  3. Reusable ice pack - in the past, I used a bulky ice pack, but I've since seen the value in a gel pack that conforms to the shape of the body surface. What I like about this one is that it can be used hot as well as cold, an comes with a large strap to secure the pack in place.
  4. Antibiotic ointment for those scrapes
  5. Pain reliever - my go-to is a pain reliever with caffeine but that's not always optimal if I'm running later in the day. Find one that best suits your needs and keep in mind the side effects.
  6. Moleskin - this is great to cover up and provide extra padding for blisters. I used to use medicated blister pads, but it wouldn't stay on very well and would always start to fall off before it did its job. Now, I just drain and cover if it needs it.

#wellatwalgreens #cbias #shop3
I organize the items by storing them in a plastic box marked "first aid" that I keep in the closet. This way, I won't have to search for what I need.

#wellatwalgreens #cbias #shop4
When traveling to races, I often forget to pack these items because I'm an airhead who doesn't make lists. Solution: Buy a small bag and keep it filled with a few of each. When packing, just grab the bag from the closet and toss in suitcase. More efficient, better organized, and less likely to forget things I'll need. I can even toss this in my race bag in case I need something after a local race.

What's in your first aid running kit?

As for the quality of Well at Walgreens products, I've always found them to be as good as name brand counterparts (yes, I've used them before this campaign!). I feel better going out of my way to purchase these products because of the Walgreens Way to Well Commitment. Through December 31, 2014, 1¢ from the purchase of every Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness product (up to $3 million annually), will support bringing preventative wellness services to local communities through the Walgreens Way to Well Commitment®. A long time ago, at my local Walgreens, they had a health day providing cholesterol screening and other such services, which was nice to have access to. Keep that in mind when stocking up on health and wellness supplies!


21 March 2014

Mrs. T's Pierogies Chorizo Nachos

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
Happy Friday! If you're planning a get-together with friends this weekend, I have a great recipe idea for you using Mrs. T's Pierogies. My first post was all about reviewing them for the first time and included a very simple recipe to serve as a side dish. Today's recipe is more of an appetizer, though it can be eaten as an actual meal, too. It's nachos, who wouldn't want to eat nachos as a meal?

#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
Anyway, this is perfect for get-together with friends, like for a potluck-style sporting event (March Madness, anyone?) or movie night. It features potato and cheddar pierogies, Mexican blend cheese and queso fresco, chorizo, and pickled peppers.


1 box Mrs. T's Pierogies Potato and Cheddar
2 chorizo sausage links
1 cup Mexican-blend shredded cheese (absolutely NOT taco-seasoned cheese)
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
pickled pepper slices
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
chopped fresh cilantro, to taste

#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
Line a small baking sheet with foil, because who wants to bother with a mess during a gathering with friends? Bake the pierogies according to package directions.

#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
While the pierogies bake, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Remove casings of chorizo and crumble into heated skillet. Cook thoroughly, about 5 minutes. Drain from fat and set aside.

#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
Gather cheeses, cilantro, and green onion. Not pictures, pickled pepper slices.

#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
After the pierogies finish baking, sprinkle with 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Add chorizo, then remaining shredded cheese. Top with queso fresco and green onions. Pop back in the oven for 5-7 minutes, just until cheese is melted and bubbly.

#MrsTsPierogies Chorizo Nachos #MC
Remove from oven and top with pickled pepper and cilantro.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal.

The potato and cheddar pierogies worked out great for this recipe. Obviously, these are not chips, so you'll have to use a fork to eat these "nachos". But it tasted great and is an easy recipe to put together. Try it out for your next get-together with friends!

Be sure to check out Mrs. T's Pierogies on Facebook and Twitter.
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