Category Archives: Living

Waking Up with San Marco Coffee

San Marco Coffee For the past week or so, every day, I have woken up and have immediately made my way from my bedroom, downstairs to my kitchen to make coffee. Now, this is not very much unlike every other day of my adult (as well as my teenage) life, but the one big difference is that for the past week, as soon as I opened my eyes, instead of thinking “Oh my goodness, need coffee right now!” I have thought “Oh my goodness, need banana nut cream coffee right now!” I have tried a lot of coffee from a myriad of different brands and companies; I have tried medium and dark roasted coffee, the cheap stuff on sale as well as the premium coffees you spend an arm and a leg on, but this coffee is different. It is incredible quality with a taste that will blow your taste buds away; even better, it is inexpensive, especially considering the quality and the taste of the coffee you’re getting.

San Marco Coffee From the first moment I opened up the 1lb bag of banana nut cream coffee from San Marco Coffee, I was pretty amazed at the quality of their product. Even before I opened the bag, I could smell the sweet scent of bananas and the coffee grounds felt a lot softer than the grounds of coffee I usually drink. As soon as the coffee begins brewing, I immediately smelled bananas and through its process, the scent got stronger and I could smell it in my living room. It is a scent I look forward to every morning when I wake up–as well as in the afternoon; what can I say, I drink a lot of coffee. In fact, if there was a way to make a scratch-and-sniff embeddable sticker or something for this article, the scent of San Marco Coffee’s banana nut cream coffee would be the first scent I would share with you all.

The taste of this banana nut cream coffee, however, is even better than the smell; if you can believe it. My partner, who usually cannot stand to drink more than a very small cup of coffee because he hates the taste of coffee and would very much prefer it to taste like donuts instead, loved San Marco’s Coffee and even asked me when we were going to order more; especially when I mentioned that they have Snicker flavored coffee.

San Marco Coffee also has decaffeinated coffee for those of you who can’t handle caffeine and they also have international coffees, espresso, as well as international teas! I cannot recommend San Marco Coffee enough; I will definitely be getting my flavored coffees through them because they have the most extensive supply I have ever come across! And if you’re interested in coffee or tea, also be sure to follow San Marco Coffee on Twitter and hear about new additions to their stock and new flavored coffees to try out!

Free Betty Crocker Cookies, Bars & Cakes Magazine!

Betty Crocker Cookies Bars and Cakes So within the past few months, I have become a complete and utter Betty Crocker fanatic. You may have noticed this if you’ve been checking out our Recipes section, as I have shared the Betty Crocker email newsletter love with all of you a few times! Betty Crocker has some of the most innovative, out of the box, and just plain fun (not to mention easy!) recipes ever! Which is why I was so ecstatic when I received an email a few days ago with a link to the new Betty Crocker Cookies, Bars and Cakes Nxtbook!

What’s a Nxtbook? Super awesome technological magic that allows magazines to be seen as they were intended to be seen in print, just on your computer screen! Cool, right?

Betty Crocker’s entire Cookies, Bars and Cakes issue is out in Nxtbook. It is full of the most requested recipes (over 70 in all,) and within just a few minutes of browsing this issue of Betty Crocker, your mouth will be watering for these desserts! I already have over 10 picked out that I need to pick up the ingredients for so I can (attempt to) bake.

Check out Betty Crocker’s Cookies, Bars and Cakes issue!

Chunky Vegetable Spaghetti Recipe

chunky vegetable spaghetti We eat a lot of spaghetti in my house–A lot–and I have noticed that quite a bit of other families also sit down to spaghetti suppers a few times a month. Pasta makes its way to our dinner tables so much because it’s a dish that will feed the entire family, it is super easy to make, it takes almost no time at all to whip up a pasta dinner, and most of all, it’s cheap.

If you eat as many spaghetti dinners as I do, you will also relate to the fact that store bought spaghetti sauces can get a little old and when that happens, we need some great (and cheap!) ideas on how to spice up our boring spaghetti dinners. So here is an easy and affordable recipe for chunky vegetable spaghetti. Not only will this dish feed the entire family, you will also get more vegetables into diets.

You will need:

  • 1 16 oz package of spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices (2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 jar (7 oz) roasted peppers, drained, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups any variety tomato pasta sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.

2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.

3. Stir in remaining ingredients except basil and cheese. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot. Stir in basil. Serve sauce over spaghetti. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes about 5 1/2 cups sauce.

Fun and Delicious Cupcake Cones

cupcake cones I recently made cupcake cones–cupcakes baked inside of ice cream cones–a delicious and fun dessert that is sure to go over extremely well with your kids and even if your husband! Mine ate a handful of them in a single day.

You will need:

  • 1 box cake mix (any flavor)
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 30 to 36 flat-bottom ice cream cones
  • 1 container (12 oz) whipped frosting (any flavor)
  • Assorted candies and decorations, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Make cake batter as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Fill 12 cones about half full of batter. Stand cones in muffin pan. Refrigerate any leftover batter until ready to fill and bake remaining cones.
2. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick carefully inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Frost with frosting and decorate as desired. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Fill cones about half full. Makes 36 to 40 cupcake cones.

Say Happy Mother’s Day with Ferrero Rocher

Mother’s Day is officially less than one month away and before you know it, you’ll be running around before stores close trying to pick out the “perfect gift” or at the very least, something that will tell your mother you love her and is conveniently located in a store that does not close before you have time to get there to pick it up.

It is exactly this scenario that I have been in more times than I can count that led me to mark important days, holidays, and events not only down on a calendar, but also on a post-it and stick it to my computer monitor so I will not forget to start thinking about gift giving ideas that I will be happy to present to the people I love and care for. It is also because of this scenario that pretty much everyone has been in several times before that made internet shopping so convenient and popular.

Luckily, there are many quality gift ideas that you will be happy and even enthusiastic about giving to your mother for Mother’s Day this year and one of the best gifts that works for everyone is chocolate; more specifically, Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Ferrero Rocher Chocolate is a gift you can always feel good about giving because who doesn’t love to indulge every once in a while? Ferrero chocolates are beautifully packaged and every flavor they offer is as delicious as the next. I have become a Ferrero Rocher junkie, I cannot get enough of these delicious chocolates and have been known to go through an entire box within just a few days, but I can’t help it and chances are, you won’t be able to help yourself either. Because of our economical worries that are undoubtedly weighing on most families, Ferrero Rocher chocolates are also an affordable gift choice and can even be combined as that little something extra with your other gift, whether it be a card telling your mother how much you love and appreciate her or that something she has had her eye on for some time.

Mother’s Day is an important holiday for all moms out there and Ferrero Rocher makes it easy to give your mom a decadent and delicious treat.

Enter for a Chance to Win an HDTV Every Day Throughout April

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The popularity of HDTV has certainly been growing exceedingly throughout the past couple of years and that popularity is not dying out any time soon. Now that it’s tax season, many people will begin thinking about what to do with their tax returns; given the economy, many people will certainly wish they could spend their tax returns on luxury items such as an HD television or perhaps a video game console or new computer, but will most likely end up using that money to pay overdue bills, catch up on mortgage payments, pay back rent, or even spend a significant amount of that money on groceries in bulk as we continue to see our economy deteriorate.

Charter Communications is working to meet the demands of their customers by offering service bundles that meet their unique and specific needs and save them money, but they are also creating a great buzz in a truly unique and fun way. Every day throughout April, if any current or new Charter customer orders Cable, High Speed, or Telephone services online, upon installation of their service, will automatically be entered for a chance to win a 22″ flat screen HDTV. As an added bonus, they are also offering their customers a chance to win the grand price package, including a 52″ LCD flat screen HDTV, a Home Theater System, and one year of free Charter Digital Cable service with HD programming. Imagine receiving a complete Home Theater System and the ability to literally bring the movie theater right inside to your own living room just for ordering either Cable, High Speed of Telephone service!

This isn’t the first time Charter has offered their customers an added bonus just for doing business with them. Charter is a company that truly does business a little differently than their competitors, injecting benefits and fun into their business models. In the past, Charter has run giveaways for laptops, Xbox 360 game systems, and even a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid. Charter is definitely a company that knows what their customers want in a service provider and goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep their loyal customers happy.

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Roasted Carrots Recipe

roasted carrots If we don’t eat them fresh from the bag or garden, we roast them. Roasting caramelizes and browns them so nicely.

You will need:

  • 1 lb baby carrots or regular carrots
  • Extra virgin olive oil (Please do not use any other type)
  • Salt (I use Kosher)
  • Pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Slice the baby carrots in half, lengthwise, or if using regulars, then peel them and diagonally slice them into large-sized chunks.

3. Spread them in a single layer on a rimmed cookie-type sheet. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over. Sprinkle salt & pepper over. Mix it all up with your hands right on the tray- messy but fun.

4. Place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes; stir once during roasting

5. With a spatula, scrape out onto a serving plate, or we just serve them from the tray on the stove.

Best Kept Recipes This recipe is brought to you by Best Kept Recipes.

Poppy Seed Noodles

poppy seed noodles Serve this alongside something with a good “kick” to it, such as roasted sausages & peppers. Or, it works well as a lighter meal with salad. The poppy seeds add a wonderful crunch.

You will need:

  • 1lb box farfalle (bowtie) noodles
  • 4 tbs olive oil (extra virgin, if you can)
  • 3+ (to taste) minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside in a large serving bowl. Meanwhile, add the oil, garlic & salt to a small saucepan and heat the oil. Pour over the pasta and mix well, sprinkle the poppy seeds onto pasta and mix well.

Best Kept Recipes This recipe is brought to you by Best Kept Recipes.

Sweeten Up Your Valentine’s Day with Chocolate Body Paint

chocolate body paint No matter what your plans are for this upcoming Valentine’s Day you can always make it a little sweeter and your sweetheart will be glad you did. This delicious chocolate body paint will have your honey clawing the bedsheets as you lick it off.

You will need:

  • 17.05oz high quality dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) chopped
  • 13.5oz cream
  • 1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • double shot espresso

1. Divide cream into 3 indivdual pans.

2. Add mint into 1 pan, chili into the second pan and espresso into the third pan.

3. Slowly warm each pan to a near simmer and remove from heat allowing flavor to infuse for 15 minutes.

4. Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir this constantly until chocolate melts.

5. Remove pan from heat.

6. Divide chocolate into 3 small pots.

7. Return pans of cream to heat and once hot, strain each pan of cream into 1 chocolate pot, creating 3 separate flavored chocolate body paints.

Get a soft paintbrush and let your imagination take over!

Pretty in Pink Pig

Pink Pig is perhaps the most interesting and unique name for any kind of boutique that I have ever come across, which is easily understandable since Pink Pig Cottage Antiques and the new Pink Pig on Main Street in Westport, New York offers truly unique collections of country cottage and farmhouse style furniture and country accents for home decorating. With just one, quick look around their website you are sure to be inspired to re-decorate your favorite rooms and even your entire house with the furniture and other items you see; I know I was.

When it comes to items for home, I am most interested in the small things–Knick knacks, wall decor, and most particularly, candles. I have a very large collection of different candles that I pull out depending on what kind of mood I’m in. Candles are very relaxing and work wonderfully for sprucing up the feel of your home, so I was delighted when presented with the opportunity to review Pink Pig’s signature, natural soy candle.

Pink Pig Debbie Schrodt, owner of Pink Pig spent numerous hours developing a pleasantly scented candle sure to be loved by anyone. The candle is a blended scent of florals, including tuberose, Indian jasmine, lavender, geranium and white rose and is the first candle in what will be a series of six available at Pink Pig.

The first thing that I noticed about this candle was the packaging it came in. Pink Pig is indeed pretty when it comes to their packaging; the box the candle box came in was even lined with pink wrapping and the box itself came tied in a black bow.

The candle is all natural soy, which has more benefits than you may realize. The first thing that I noticed upon burning Pink Pig’s candle is that the aroma was not only pleasant, but unlike a great deal of candles I have melted due to the fact that the aroma was stronger, but not overpowering in the least. I always have a candle burning in my office when I am working, and what I noticed about this particular candle is that it has lasted the last couple of days and with the amount of hours that I am in my office, that is longer than a great deal of candles I have come across. Upon further investigation, I found out that soy candles last longer than your average candle and this particular candle burns for approximately 60 hours, which is absolutely amazing, especially considering this candle is 7.5oz.

Pink Pig’s signature candle is available for just $24 and I have to say that it is most definitely worth the price. You can purchase the candle at the Pink Pig shop in Westport or you can shop online at PinkPigWestport.com.