Tobins' Tastes: July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Buttermilk Cupcake Bites

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I am going to say something no teacher ever wants to say or hear. Summer is coming to an end. And while I love my job, I am not quite ready to go back to having to be somewhere before 8am or not being able to spend my days in sundresses and flip flops.

I had big plans to be productive this summer. I was going to reorganize my office, clean out my closet, blog three times a week, pick paint colors for the upstairs hallways and stairwell. Justin and I had started the summer with promises to cook/eat at home 4+ nights a week and go to the gym every morning. My digital classroom was going to be totally set up, I was going to have lesson plans completely done for the first week of school. I am actually laughing out loud as I write this.

As any teacher can tell you, the summer starts with so much promise of productivity. You are going to get on that schedule the craziness of the school year never lets you quite get on board with. You are going to be the most organized, healthy, and tannest version of yourself. Well, at least I did get a nice tan...

I may not have accomplished what I set out to do but I did re-read all five Game of Thrones books. I slept in late and I also got up early a few times only to get myself Starbucks and end up back in bed reading afterwards. I went to the beach; I had a few couples' spa days with Justin. We went to Sea World twice in one week. I sat at a friend's kitchen table with my girlfriends and we talked/gossiped from noon until seven at night when someone's husband called wondering where dinner was.

I spent an insanely relaxing week in the mountains of North Carolina with my family. I went swimming in the rain. I watched thunderstorms roll in over the ocean at a historical 75 year old bar while sipping Pain Killers. I watched all six seasons of Gossip Girl. I baked, cooked, photographed and had fun in the kitchen. I got asked to have recipes/photos featured in Sam's Club. I spent too much money on Lilly Pulitzer and not enough money on school appropriate clothes.

And as the summer draws to a close, I woke up this morning determined to do something constructive with my day. So I sent a few work emails, spent 20 minutes researching an interactive classroom app and then I gave up and pulled out my sprinkles. Because nothing can help me procrastinate reality then bottles full of brightly colored, hardened sugar.

These Buttermilk Cupcake Bites are the perfect mix of motivation and procrastination. They are made using a box mix with a few twists. They don't taste like your run of the mill box mix cupcakes and I have had people ask me for my "from scratch" cupcake mix more than once after having these.

I also love that they aren't topped with traditional frosting. Instead  I dipped them in Candi-Quik coating which after it hardens gives a perfect creamy crunch to the top of the cupcake and gives it the ability to be stacked, stored in a ziploc bag and generally transported without fear of damaging the icing. (Want to more about icing damage in transit phobia? Ask Justin. I have almost pushed him to divorce with my screams of "take that turn slowly, the cupcakes!!!")

Looking to avoid reality? Then look no further than these cupcakes. Now that I have gotten them out of my system maybe I will clean my closet tomorrow. Or maybe Justin and I will go out to Thai for lunch and then walk the beach and savor the last few days of summer we have left. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Buttermilk Cupcake Bites

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix (just the mix)
  • 1 cup of low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • Vanilla Candi-Quik and sprinkles for the tops
1.) With an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, buttermilk, oil and eggs together. 

2.) Line a mini cupcake pan with liners, and fill each one with a tablespoon of the batter. I use a small cookie scoop instead but you can do whatever works for you. 

3.) Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes depending on your oven. 

4.) Once cupcakes have completely cooled, melt the Candi-Quik according to the directions on the package. Dip cupcake tops in the topping. 

5.) Top with sprinkles and let harden. Enjoy and be sure to store in an air tight container. 

While I was not monetarily compensated for this post, I did get a pretty amazing box of mixes from Immaculate Baking company and used the Yellow Cake Mix in this recipeDisclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Immaculate Baking through Platefull Co-Op.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Peach Mango Kool-Aid Granita {#KoolOff With Kool-Aid Fruit Drinks}

I am a member of the #CollectiveBias ® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser #KoolOff

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One of my very vivid summer memories as a child was going to the grocery store with my mom. I guess that we never went with her during the school year because she probably enjoyed going by herself when we were at school so as to avoid the endless stream of can I please have this, I want to eat that, I hate him, and so on (clearly those comments came from my siblings, I was a saint). My mom is nothing if not fair, so we use to have to take turns choosing the cereal, snack bars, and other unnecessary treats she would let us have each week. But I do remember one thing she would let us each pick our own of, Kool-Aid fruit drink packets.

We would feel like we had won the lottery when she would say we could each pick out our OWN personal flavor. Little did we know that they probably cost about .05 cents in 1993. I remember we would agonize forever over which flavor we would get that week. Sometimes there were even limited edition flavors and someone would ALWAYS have to get that one because who knew if it would be there next week. I am also pretty sure that my sister and I would usually influence my four year old brother to pick a flavor that we wanted since I don't think he had much of an opinion at the time.

As soon as we had earned our allowance by helping put the groceries away, we would beg my mom to mix up our Kool-Aid which she happily did because she knew that she could then send us outside to drink it and she could have 5 minutes of peace and quiet.

While I know that my mom made us drink milk or water at meals, Kool-Aid was our go to summer drink treat of choice. There was nothing quite as amazing as a huge plastic cup full of Kool-Aid after a hot afternoon of making a girls only fort out of your swing set and Little Tykes Jungle gym connected by pool towels and maybe even with a garden hose pulled inside to spray intruders with.

As an adult, Kool-Aid still reminds me of summer and while I still love drinking it straight out of the bottle I also love getting creative with it too. Justin and I's favorite local restaurant always serves fantastic granita as a palate cleanser between courses (fancy, right?). So I decided to try my hand at making granita at home. The new 96 oz. bottles of Kool-Aid made for the perfect size to make a huge batch and I while I was at Walmart grabbing some I also grabbed some frozen fruit to give our granita a little extra punch.

This Peach Mango Granita was so easy to make and it looks beautiful. With summer coming to a close, we are trying to spend as much time outside as possible and this makes for the perfect refreshing treat to have on it's own after an afternoon in the pool or as a palate cleanser between salads and dinner when we have friends over to have dinner out on the porch (who's fancy now?).

This recipe can be customized with whatever flavor you like. I also have tried it with Watermelon Kool-Aid and just bought the Limited Edition flavor Blackberry to try out next week. Just switch up your frozen fruit to match your flavor or try a complimentary type of fruit to switch it up. Walmart always has the new 96 oz. bottles at the low price of $1.98 but you might even find the limited edition flavors on sale for .98 cents depending on your local store.

Peach Mango Kool-Aid Granita

  • 2 cups of Peach Mango Kool-Aid
  • 1 cup of frozen mango pieces 
1.) Combing Kool-Aid and mango pieces in the blender and blend until completely smooth. 

2.) Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan and freeze for an hour. 

3.) After an hour, use a fork to scrape up the mixture to form a slush. Refreeze for another hour. 

4.) After an hour, repeat the fork scraping and place mixture in freezer for another 4-6 hours. You can leave it overnight if you prefer but you may want to cover it. 

5.) When ready to serve, remove pan from the freezer and use a fork to scrape up the frozen mixture until its a loose, icy slush. Serve immediately and enjoy!

If you live in South Carolina, you are in luck because Jim Dillard, pro fisherman, could be coming to your local Walmart to help promote the new 96oz bottles! There will be product giveaways, t-shirts, games, and more fun activities!

Check it out:
Friday August 8th 5-7pm:
360 Harbison Blvd Columbia, SC WM Supercenter
Saturday August 9th  3-5pm:
1326 Bush River Rd Columbia, SC WM Supercenter
Saturday August 9th 6-8pm: 2401 Augusta Rd West Columbia, SC WM Supercenter

20+ Trail Mix Treats {Wet Nap On The Road & In The Great Outdoors}

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wet-Nap but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #showusyourmess

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When we were little we knew it was getting close to the day we were leaving on a family road trip vacation because we would see the ingredients for my mom's travel trail mix on the kitchen counter. My mom's traditional trail mix is the tried and true favorite of peanuts, raisins and M&M's. Simple? Yes, addictively delicious even as an adult? You bet.

In the days before we all left on our summer road trip to North Carolina earlier this month, I walked into my mom's kitchen to see the same tell tail bags as I would I as child. My husband had never been on a road trip with us so he had no idea what they meant but even with her children in their late twenties/I guess I am thirty now, Teresita was prepared for people to whine that they were hungry during our ten hours in the car together.

Even though we are adults, we still needed to clean our hands in the car before enjoying our snacks so I swung by Walmart before we left and picked up some Wet-Nap products to keep us clean in the car and then for our days hiking and enjoying the outdoors in North Carolina too. Our family likes to bring snacks with us everywhere so I knew we would need to have plenty on hand.

The trail mix was destroyed well before we went on our hikes half way through the week so we had to improvise with store bought snacks. After getting slightly off course during our leisurely 2 hour hike turned into an intense 3 1/2 hour hike to a waterfall, we were very grateful not only for a little something to eat but also that we had a supply of Wet-Naps to clean our dirty/sweaty hands and faces.

They didn't just leave our hands clean and soft but my brother also thought that the Citrus Scent smelled a little bit like a pina colada which he found very relaxing.

In honor of family road trips everywhere, I have put together a little round up of trail mix inspired treats that can all be enjoyed on your next car trip or family hike. Make sure to click on the individual photos to take you to each specific recipe.

Want to grab some Wet-Nap products for your next family road trip? Make sure to print off your .55 cents off coupon while supplies last to save even more then you do with Walmart's everyday low prices. Wet-Nap can be found in the paper goods aisle and they are now stronger and softer than ever with even more moisturizing aloe so they are perfect for kids and adults of all ages. 

Did you road trip anywhere this summer? Are you planning to? What types of snacks do you like to pack when you travel?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

25 S'mores Recipes For The End Of Summer

With the last weeks of summer upon us, it is the perfect time for outdoor dinners and nights by the fire pit. In case you are craving S'mores but don't have the time or the desire to head outside for our dessert, here are 25 S'more inspired desserts to help you enjoy their gooey, goodness year round.

Many of these recipes and photos are not my own. If you would like to see, pin or share a specific recipe please click the image to go to the original site. If you want to pin the whole collection then please pin the collage image above!

Even more S'mores recipes!

For way more, check out my S'more of Everything Pinterest board too!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Snickers Bar Fudge {Game Day Desserts With Mars Candies}

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

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Football season is a big deal in our family. With less than six weeks until college football kicks off, we are already planning where we will be watching Notre Dame games this year. To say my family is a bunch of avid Notre Dame fans would be an understatement. 

We are third generation, brainwashed from birth, came home from the hospital in a leprechaun outfit, not allowed to get married during football season obsessed. As a kid we knew that football Saturdays were sacred and now as adults, our family members each pick a game to host a game watch for and the entire family plus friends we force to watch have converted make Notre Dame games the highlight of our Saturdays.

Something almost as important to my family as Notre Dame football would be dessert. It is not a game watch without a least a few different types of desserts. We usually all eat during halftime with dessert served after the meal, but in our family people have been known to sneak into the kitchen and steal desserts well before meal time. 

And when the game is over, my family also likes to fight over politely discuss who gets to take home the leftover desserts. And with 10-25 people in attendance at every game watch, we need a lot of desserts. 

With the happiness and mental stability of multiple family members on the line (especially when the game gets stressful or goes badly, which with Notre Dame is always a very real possibility), I try to shop in bulk at Sam's Club when it comes to dessert supplies. I know that every time I use Mars Candies in a recipe my family is always asking for seconds so I went ahead and bought the 48 count of Snickers Bars and the Mars 105 count Variety Pack. With as much dessert as we make in this house, those will be gone faster than you think. 

When it comes to game day desserts, I need recipes that can be made ahead of time and eaten while standing around the tv screaming at the refs. I am always looking for treats that are easy to make and easy to clean up after, especially since I have a few family members who tend to get a little heated during a game (here's looking at you Dad).  These two recipes more than fit the bill. 

This Snickers Bar Fudge is the perfect hand held dessert. I make it the night before and the morning of the game I cut it into squares and leave it already arranged on a plate in the fridge to pull out at half time. It needs no utensils and guests don't even need a plate (although if they used a napkin that would be nice). The chopped pieces of Snickers Bar sort of melt into the fudge when they are first mixed together so every bite has a little bit of gooey caramel and creamy nougat. The peanuts add a little crunch and with only three total ingredients, you can't find a much easier recipe to make. 

Have a family member who's not that into chocolate (that doesn't exist in my family but maybe yours is different)? Candy Bar Trifles are just the thing. I let my guests "do it themselves" on these. I just put out plastic cups, cake pieces, whipped cream and candy pieces and them them make their own. The Mars Variety Pack has five different kinds of candy so there is something for everyone. These can be eaten anywhere and with a plastic cup and plastic utensils, people can just throw them away when they are done which means no extra dishes for me. 

The only thing I will have to worry about with these desserts is if I made enough for everyone to not only eat during the game but to take home with them afterwards too. Unless my aunt decides to do one of her cheerleading jumps with a dessert in her hand, then I might need to worry about my carpet too. What your family doesn't randomly recreate cheerleading scenes from 1979 in your living room during intense plays? No? Just us? Maybe if you focus on the dessert photos you will be able to forget I said that. All family weirdness aside, here's hoping for a successful and not so stressful football season with plenty of desserts. GO IRISH! 

Snickers Bar Fudge
  • 3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups of chopped Snickers Bars

1.) In a saucepan or in a double boiler combine the chocolate chips and the condensed milk. 

2.) Stir on medium heat until chocolate chips are completely melted and combined. 

3.) Turn off the heat and pour half of the mixture into a 9x9 pan lined with tin foil. Scatter the about a cup of the chopped Snickers Bar over the first layer of fudge.

4.) Top with the second cup of chopped Snickers. You may need to press them down into the fudge so that they stick. 

5.) Refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. 

6.) Pull the foil edges up and use the foil to remove the fudge from the pan. Cut into squares to serve. Be sure to store leftover fudge in the fridge so it doesn't get melty. 

Candy Bar Trifles
  • 1 inch pieces of cake, I used yellow cake but you can use any type you like
  • Whipped Cream
  • variety of chopped candies, I used Milky Ways, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Twix and M&M's
1.) In a small cup, layer cake pieces, whipped cream, candy and more cake pieces. Top with more whipped cream and crushed candy. Enjoy!

No matter who your football team is or what your family traditions are on game day, I am sure that they probably include some type of dessert. So when you are shopping for your game day parties at Sam's Club this season be sure to be on the look out special Snickers NFL game day displays in your local store from August through November so you can stock up too!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blueberry Cheesecake Kefir Smoothie

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias , Inc. and its advertiser #KefirCreations . All opinions are mine alone.

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My husband is a long time lover of Lifeway Kefir. He has always been on me to try it since he really loves how much its probiotics and live active cultures help him with his stomach issues. Since I have been on a few different rounds of antibiotics lately, I figured that now was the perfect time to try and find ways to get more probiotics in my life. This week we have been putting it in our morning smoothies in an attempt to get me to drink it more.

Lifeway makes so many different varieties of Kefir that we always have one or two on hand in the fridge. While Justin prefers the plain original version, I prefer the flavored versions. We recently purchased the Lowfat Blueberry flavor and have been using it to make our new favorite morning smoothie, Blueberry Cheesecake.

I am a big fan of smoothies that taste like a milkshake without all the ice cream, fat, sugar and other not so great stuff for you that milkshakes usually include. This Blueberry Cheesecake Kefir Smoothie does just that. It is yummy and flavorful while still filling me up. You can easily modify it to fit your personal dietary needs or preferences and it can be made quickly with ingredients you may already have on hand.

We made these today before heading to the gym but they would also be perfect for an afternoon treat on a hot summer day or for a little something to satisfy your late night sweet tooth. I am thinking we are going to have to try out the strawberry and raspberry flavors of Lifeway Kefir in place of the blueberry soon too.

Unfamiliar with kefir? It is like a smoother, tart version of liquid yogurt. Lifeway Kefir contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures that help support a healthy immune system and digestive health. It is naturally gluten free, 99% lactose free and contains no artificial sweeteners and is rich in calcium.

Have you tried kefir before? What is your favorite way to enjoy it? Want to save on your next bottle? Sign up here and save!

Blueberry Cheesecake Kefir Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup Lowfat Blueberry Kefir
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup low fat or fat free cottage cheese
  • 5 ice cubes (more or less depending on the consistency you like)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar free cheesecake pudding mix
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • Optional: crushed graham cracker and a few blueberries for topping
1.) Put all ingredients in the blender until smooth. Top with crushed graham cracker and a few extra blueberries if desired. 

Sidenote: If you decide to add protein powder to your smoothie (which Justin has done and loved), you may wish to leave out the stevia depending on how sweet your protein powder is to avoid it being too sweet. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fruttare Summer Spritzers

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Fruttare, but all my opinions are my own. #itsallgood #pmedia

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Summertime is in full swing here in South Florida. Temperatures are the 90's most days and our afternoon thunderstorms show up right on time every day at 3:00pm. Once the storms pass, we usually get a few brief hours of sunlight when it is actually bearable to sit outside on the back porch and enjoy a drink or two. Usually I go for a glass of Prosecco or Moscato with a few frozen berries for a little refreshing flavor. Lately though, I have been taking my occasional evening glass of wine to a whole new level.

Since even our evenings here are steamy, I have been keeping myself cool by combining my favorite wine with Fruttare Fruit Bars. It's the best of both worlds: have your frozen treat and your wine too. And my favorite part? They are about as easy as a drink can get.

For the Fruttare Prosecco Fizz, I chopped up some Strawberry and Mango Fruttare Fruit Bars and stacked the pieces in chilled champagne glasses. I then poured very cold Prosecco over the fruit bar pieces. The drink was so refreshing and I loved how each sip was a little different as the bar melted. The bubbles of the Prosecco paired perfectly with the cold, creaminess of the fruit bar. And once the bar completely melted I had pieces of real fruit left to enjoy at the bottom of my glass.

Don't want to get your hands or an extra plate dirty? Then the Fruttare Summer Moscato is more your style. All you need to do is unwrap your choice of Fruttare bar, place it in a wine glass and fill with chilled Moscato. For a little fizz you can top it off with a little sparkling water too. You can sip your wine while enjoying your frozen fruit bar or just let your bar melt in the wine and enjoy it's fruit flavor. I usually end up letting mine melt a little bit but then I get impatient and finish the bar off by itself.

I purchased my Frutarre Bars (and wines) at Target but they are available at tons of stores nationwide. I even found a dispenser with coupons for $1 off in my local store so I stocked up while I could.

Whether you enjoy your Fruttare Bars by themselves or as part of backyard party drink, they are the perfect refreshing treat for warmer weather. Since Fruttare Bars come in ten flavors including Lime, Mango, Strawberry, Black Cherry, Peach & Milk, and Pinapple you will have endless possibilities for summertime drink combinations.

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