Jul 282014
 

The following is a review of the product SoftShell Ice Cream Ball by YayLabs!.  I was given this product to review, and was not compensated monetarily for this review.  The reviews are mine alone.

My kids were so excited when the UPS man came last week and delivered a big box to them!  They could hardly contain themselves as they opened the box to reveal our new YayLabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball.

SoftShell Ice Cream Ball

SoftShell Ice Cream Ball

After inspecting all the parts and pieces of our new toy, we quickly made a grocery list and headed to the store to buy all the necessary ingredients.  One of the things I loved most about this product is the fact that our grocery list was quite short.  We simply needed to purchase heavy whipping cream, rock salt and ice.  Everything else required is a pantry staple.

 Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Ice
  • Rock Salt

Mix the first four ingredients together and pour into the canister.  Attach the lid and flip over.  Fill the other side with ice (we found it easiest to buy ice from the grocery store because it fit better than ice from our ice maker) and top with 1/2 cup rock salt. Shake and roll the ball for 10 minutes.  Open the ice cream side and stir.  Replace lid and open the ice side and refill with more ice and top with salt.  Roll for another 10-15 minutes until ice cream reaches desired consistency.

 

Zachary's ready to start!

Zachary’s ready to start!

Now that we had everything we needed to make our ice cream, we dove right in, mixed up the cream, milk, sugar & vanilla and poured it into the pint size canister inside the soft shell.  We tightened up the lid, flipped it over and then added the required ice and rock salt.  We closed it up, wiped it clean and sat on the floor and began to play.  We very quickly found out that the ice side of the  ball leaked.  After cleaning up salt water off my wood floors, we moved outside.

I have to be completely honest here.  The concept of playing with the ice cream maker was fun, but the actual playing  was not.  Once you put in the ice cream mixture, ice and salt, the ball weighs close to eight pounds.  Eight pounds doesn’t sound like much, but imagine pushing a bowling ball around with your children for 20 minutes…that’s what it’s like to play with the Softball Ice Cream Maker.  After the first 6-7 minutes of playing several games (Keep Away and Hot Potato were two), my kids gave up and left me to finish the job.

At the 10 minute mark you’re supposed to unscrew the lid and stir the ice cream with a wooden spoon.  This is a super messy step, especially with young kids. After you’ve done that, you add more ice and salt.

Messy!

I set the timer again, and since the kids were long gone, I set out to roll the ball back and forth to myself.  The pro?  I got a great arm workout!  Because I used 3 parts whipping cream to one part lowfat milk, it took us about 25 minutes to get the ice cream to freeze.

Yummy ice cream!

Our ice cream was delicious, and in the end it was a fun summer treat.  We’ll attempt to make ice cream with it again, but next time we’ll start out in the backyard, and we will be better prepared for it to be a messy dessert!

YayLabs! has given you a great opportunity to win an ice cream prize package! Check out their Facebook page between July 16th and August 1st. They will be giving away 25 prize packages that include: SoftShell ice cream balls, Zak Designs ice cream bowl, Light My Fire Spork, and Organic Valley Free Product Coupons!

Dec 012013
 

Back in August when we decided to pack up our family and fly to Minnesota for Thanksgiving, the first thing we did after booking our tickets was look for a Turkey Trot in the Minneapolis area.  Who knew we would find so many of them!? After poring over course maps, location to my in-laws house, and terrain we settled on a small race in St. Paul.  Turns out we chose an Inaugural year for the Minnesota Running Series for their Turkey Trot, which mean we got a fun shirt and a medal! (I’m starting to love medals more than t-shirts!) We thought it would be fun to invite Kate, Dan’s sister, to join us.  She jumped at the chance to do it with us, and she spent several months running and training for the race!

Fun morning with family!

Fun morning with family!

When we left Orlando on November 23rd/ it was 80 degrees and when we landed in Minneapolis it was 10.  TEN DEGREES.  Crazy.  Turns out it was colder there that week than it had been in any of the 16 years I’ve been visiting Dan’s family.  This Florida girl was not used to weather that cold! Thankfully it warmed up to 20 degrees by race day!

This is how I dressed for the race!  Knowing that breathing in all that cold air might be bad for this asthmatic, I played it safe and wore that thing over my mouth and nose.  Lifesaver, for sure!

This is how I dressed for the race! Knowing that breathing in all that cold air might be bad for this asthmatic, I played it safe and wore that thing over my mouth and nose. Lifesaver, for sure!

You can see that I bundled up pretty well to go out into those 20 degree temperatures.  In case you wondered, I wore a long underwear shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a running jacket, tights under my running tights, awesome knee length compression socks, gloves, a hat and whatever that thing is called that’s covering my face.  Can I just tell you that I did not sweat at all the day of my race?  It’s true.  Not a drop anywhere.

My awesome pink argyle compression socks. Did I mention they are awesome? Yeah, they are.

 

I think it’s safe to say that we all had a good time that morning.  Dan pulled off a 10K in 47 minutes.  Kate ran the 5K in less than 29 minutes.  And slowpoke that I am, I ran the 5K in 50 minutes.  But, I did it.   I ran in temperatures I will likely never experience in Florida, on ground that has more roll that we have in Orlando, and with more clothing/equipment that we need down here.

I did it! 5K in 50 minutes in 20 degree weather!

Slow and steady.

One foot in front of the other.

Over, and over, and over.

And the reward?  An awesome medal and a big Thanksgiving dinner!

 

 

 

Oct 272013
 

Just a quick check in for my second week of 10K training!

10K Training: Week Two

Monday:  2.16 miles (Outdoors)
Wednesday:  2.21 miles (Indoors – speed training)
Friday:  3.80 miles (Outdoors)

Week Two total:  8.17 miles

There’s a great yoga class at the Y that I take every Tuesday morning.  It’s a mixed level yoga class, so there are people like me, who have no idea what I’m doing, and there are others who can do headstands.  I’ve been going for several weeks now, and every week I can do a little bit more, or stay in a pose a little longer.  This week’s accomplishment is that I didn’t fall over when I was sitting in some crazy lotus position.

The best thing about Week Two is that the weather finally changed in Florida.  What a huge difference it is to run when it’s 65-75 degrees outside versus the 85-90 degree temperatures we’ve had so far this Fall.  The temps will rise again next week, but for this week it was beautiful outside and I enjoyed every minute of it!

 

Oct 142013
 

Happy 12th Anniversary to us!

Anniversary Card made by Matthew.

Anniversary Card made by Matthew.

In case you can’t read the card…

Happy Annibersary

Happy Fall

I love Annibersarys

I love you mom and dad

I think that about sums it up.  There were other cards.  Several more drawn by the boys as well as the one Dan and I exchanged.  Gifts exchanged.  (Well, gift exchanged.  I didn’t get Dan anything, but he surprised me with the sweetest Christmas ornament.  He knows me well!)  Copious amounts of sushi consumed.  Ice Cream shared.  Asleep by 9:45pm.  This might not be the most exciting anniversary on record, but I thought it was a perfect day.  Happy 12th.  Can’t wait to see what this year brings!

 

Oct 122013
 

I don’t remember when I first heard about Walt Disney World adding the Minnie 10K race to their famous Marathon Weekend, which happens the second weekend in January.  But I do know that as soon as I heard about it I knew it was something I wanted to do.

I watched the Run Disney website just waiting for registration to open.  Dan and I talked about whether or not I  could even run 6.2 miles.  I did a little research on how to train for a 10K and found a couple of different training programs I could use to get ready for the race.

Having run several 5K races over the last year as well as training to run the Expedition Everest Challenge at Animal Kingdom in May, I knew I was ready to take on a longer race.  And with that, I signed up to do the Minnie 10K on January 10, 2014. I registered to run this race with a group of people from Team Up! with Autism Speaks and I embarked on raising $650 to further research in the world of autism.

I have such an amazing group of people in my life and I managed to reach my goal last week!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to each of you who gave so generously to Autism Speaks and to those of you who support me as I begin my 13 week training!

After a quick Google search I was able to find an unofficial map of my race course.  When I first saw it I panicked thinking I would have to run along the overpass near EPCOT, but someone has assured me there are no overpasses to run!  I hope they’re right.  After all, I live in Florida.  Land of flat roads.  The closest bridge I have to run over only crosses four lanes of traffic!

An unofficial copy of the race route for the Minnie 10K, taking place on January 10, 2014.

An unofficial copy of the race route for the Minnie 10K, taking place on January 10, 2014.

Check back regularly.  I will attempt to chronicle my training as well as share with you what I learn along the way.

 

Dec 122012
 

Chocolate chip cookies.  The old standby dessert.  Most people like them, and there are a million recipes out there for them.  A favorite in our house is my mom’s version, which includes pecans and toffee.  Try as I might to make them, they always spread out really thin on the cookie sheets.  They’re still delicious, but they certainly aren’t pretty.
While browsing Pinterest several months ago I stumbled across a browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipe that I had to try.  It starts off with melted browned butter, which alleviates the whole “Is the butter soft enough or is it too soft?” debate that I face when making my mom’s recipe.  I love that!  This recipe comes together nicely, and the cookie dough is delicious! (I laugh in the face of salmonella!)

If you’re looking for a good cookie recipe that’s almost as good as my mom’s, you’ll want to try this one!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups  flour
  • ½-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cream (whole milk or evaporated milk can be substituted in a pinch)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½cups  chocolate chips  (I use dark, semi sweet and milk chocolate chips)
  • Sea Salt to top, if desired

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375°. Melt  butter on stovetop over medium low heat.  Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat when it turns brown. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Pour browned butter into a mixing bowl.  Add sugar and combine with mixer on medium speed.  Add egg, yolk, cream and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Incorporate the flour mixture until well combined.  Stir chocolate chips in by hand.

3.  Scoop cookie dough with a teaspoon and place on a baking sheet.  (I use a Silpat on top of my baking sheet because it’s fabulous.)  Sprinkle with just a pinch of sea salt.  Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the cookie is slightly browned along the edge.

4.  Remove, cool for a minute and eat!

5.  If you follow the recipe above, the Weight Watcher’s Point Plus breakdown is 3PP per cookie (based on 48 cookies).  Not too shabby for a dessert that uses real butter, cream and sugar!

 

Variations:  Just a quick note to say that tonight I didn’t have any cream, so I used some Salted Caramel Mocha creamer by International Delight.  I didn’t taste the mocha flavor, but it did kick up the saltiness of the cookie.  Yum!

Nov 212012
 

Frosted Cranberries

I have been asked for this recipe so many times that I’ve lost count. So, without further ado, here it is.

Frosted Cranberries - Perfect Holiday Treat

Frosted Cranberries – Perfect Holiday Treat

Frosted Cranberries

1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup sugar
1 bag FRESH cranberries
2 cups confectioners sugar (or more)

1) Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until all the sugar has melted. Remove from burner and cool completely. (This can be done by putting your saucepan in the freezer for five minutes or so.)

2. Wash and pat dry fresh cranberries. Pull out any that are soft and squishy and discard those.

3. Now you will need one or two dinner plates (last time I made these I needed a fresh one halfway through) and one or two clean, dry cookie sheets. Assemble your line. Cranberries, sugar water, dinner plate and cookie sheet all in a row.

4. On your dinner plate, sprinkle about 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar. (You will do this repeatedly throughout the process.)

5. Place a handful of cranberries in the sugar water. Scoop out the handful of cranberries with one hand (this is your wet hand) and drop them gently in the confectioners sugar. With your dry hand (which will get really gross!), gently roll the wet cranberries in the confectioners sugar, coating them completely. With your DRY hand, scoop them up and put them on a cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all cranberries are frosted.

6. These are better made the day before you plan to serve them. Also, the longer they sit out on the cookies sheets without being covered, the better they are.

These are super easy to make, and I’ve never actually sat down and typed out the recipe until just now. One year when Dan and I traveled to Minnesota for the holidays his mother was making these. I followed her lead and helped out that year. We’ve had them in Minnesota every Thanksgiving since! Dan and I brought the “recipe” home to Orlando and have been making them for holidays, parties and even gifts for years. The “recipe” has been given out at countless events. I hope you find them as easy to make and as good to eat as our family does! :-)

Oct 242012
 

Back in the days before children, Dan and I used to spend Thursday evenings with friends watching Survivor.  One night we arrived in time for dinner.  Aimee dished out the most delicious chili I’ve ever had.  I begged for the recipe so I could make it again.  I’ve made this more times than I can count in the last 10 years and shared the recipe with several people.  I’ve changed it up a little bit as far as the spices are concerned.  You can do the same to make it spicier or milder as needed.

Aimee’s Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef, browned
  • 1 25 oz can Bush’s Chili Beans – undrained
  • 1 15 oz can Dark Kidney Beans – drained
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp. chili powder (Alternative: 2 tsp. ground chipotle powder, plus 1 tsp. chili powder)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Directions:

Place all ingredients in your slow cooker (6-7qt).  Cook on High and bring to a boil.  Turn down to Low and cook for several hours.