Monday, March 18, 2013

Betty Crocker Extra Cheesy Mac & Cheese Review

Hello again!  Today I have another food review for you, minus the accompanying video review.  With my little kiddo running amok, it would've been hard to capture a quality video I would've been proud of, so I am just doing a written review this time.

A few weeks ago, I was super psyched to learn that Betty Crocker now makes a boxed Macaroni & Cheese (comparable to the kind Kraft & Velveeta Make).  I was even more pleased when I found it locally for about .65 cents per box.  I picked up the Extra Cheesy flavor; there were several other flavors to choose from: Original, Twists, Grilled Cheese, and Cheese Pizza.

I decided to make it as a side dish to our meatloaf we were having this evening.  An interesting thing to point out is that the Betty Crocker Mac & Cheese is different from Kraft in the preparation of it.  With the Betty Crocker, not only is this a "no-drain" preparation, you dump all the ingredients (1 1/4 cup water, 1 cup of milk, 4 TBPS of butter or margarine, dry pasta, and the cheese flavoring packet) in your pot at the very beginning.  It says on the box that it is "easy prep".  However, I felt like I had to constantly stand around the pot stirring the entire time.  From bringing it to a boil, to simmering and thickening the sauce, I was directed to 'stir frequently.'  When I walked away for several minutes getting other items for dinner ready and came back, my macaroni noodles would be stuck to the bottom of my pot.  Guess that's the cause for the frequent stirring recommendation.  As a personal preference, I would rather drain it and add a few ingredients at the tail end, than be chained to my pot.  

The method of preparation being 'no-drain' makes for a very watery sauce, which did not thicken to my liking even after I took it completely off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes.  Granted, it did thicken significantly from the beginning of cooking, but when I dished it, sauce leaked from my macaroni, merging with the other food on my plate.  (Boo on that.) 

As for the taste, the most important factor, I was quite underwhelmed.  The sauce, as it was, was not as creamy and smooth as what I'm used to enjoying when I have mac & cheese.  It was thin and almost grainy.  Despite this being the extra cheese flavor, I felt that the Original Kraft Mac & Cheese that I typically buy has a stronger taste.  My hubby was in agreement that we've had better in the boxed mac & cheese department.

I was really pumped for Betty Crocker's Macaroni & Cheese and was really expecting to like it, but was pretty disappointed.  I know the 'easy prep' was meant to simplify our lives, but why change a tried and true method that we know produces good results (as far as boxed mac & cheese goes)?  I will be passing on this for the time being... maybe since it is new they will take feedback and improve it later on and I'll try it again.  

If you've tried it, let me know what you think.  Which is your favorite boxed mac & cheese?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brown Rice Baked With Sweet Potato TRISCUITS - Roasted Sweet Onion

Hello strangers!

I do apologize for my long hiatus with updating this blog.  I have been extremely busy, and unfortunately this wasn't a priority, so it fell to the wayside.

I have a new food product review for you today, and that is a new variety of Triscuits!  Brown Rice Baked With Sweet Potato Triscuit - Roasted Sweet Onion.

I am an avid Triscuit eater, and Roasted Garlic Triscuits have been my jam for several years now.  I eat them with my lunch every day, so naturally I'm buying Triscuits on a regular basis, wherever they are cheapest.  Yesterday I was in my local Meijer and stumbled across these lovlies!  

 Just days before I was in Target & Walmart and they did not have this new line of Triscuits.  There are four new flavors in the line:

  • Brown Rice Baked With Sweet Potato - Roasted Sweet Onion (shown above)
  • Brown Rice Baked With Sweet Potato - Sweet Potato & Sea Salt
  • Brown Rice - Tomato & Sweet Basil
  • Brown Rice Baked With Red Bean - Savory Red Bean 
It is possible there are more, but in my excitement at the store, I can't recall.   I am not a fan of onions, as in, I never eat them, but this flavor sounded really good.  I picked up a box and looked for some reviews online of them, but found nothing.  (Hopefully this review helps anyone doing the same!).  

Anywho, I popped these open today at lunch and they were FANTASTIC!  I feel like they are smaller in size than typical Triscuits, but that may be an illusion.  They look like they are fried, but alas!  They are baked, just like Triscuits have always been.  It is not as easy to see the woven texture that you've come to know with Triscuits.  But pish posh, let's get to the good stuff.  They are crispy and crunchy like no Triscuit before, and FULL of flavor!  I can taste the sweet potato and sweet onion, not so much the brown rice, but I am still a fan.  These definitely give my old standby Roasted Garlic a run for their money.  I believe this come in the same size box as the usual Triscuits, 9 ounces.  

The ingredient list is short: long grain brown rice, soybean oil, whole grain soft white wheat, dried sweet potato, onion powder, brown sugar, sweet potato powder, sea salt, sugar, garlic powder, dried molasses, natural flavor, dried parsley, yeast extract, distilled white vinegar, and citric acid.

That's a big thumbs up for me.  The serving size is 6 crackers, and for that you get:

Despite the seemingly smaller size, overall, these rock my world.  Give them a shot if you happen to see them on your supermarket shelves, and lets keep our fingers crossed that Nabisco lets them stick around!

See my video review HERE.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alba Botanica Advanced Natural Sea Elements Eye Makeup Remover Review

Hello again!

Today I have a review on some eye makeup remover by Alba Botanica.

It is the Advanced Even Natural Sea Elements eye makeup remover (4oz).  I found this in the Target clearance section, and the clearance price on this was cheaper than the regular price of the eye makeup remover I normally buy.  I saw that the regular price of this was somewhere near $9.00, which is no where near what I'd spend on eye makeup remover, so I purchased it.  I read really good reviews about it online when I got home and was anxious to try it out.  

Here's a quirky little tidbit about me: I LOVE to read labels of products.  Sometimes I even make my husband read them to me if I just bought something at a store and I'm the one driving home.  Weird I know, but anywho.  Upon reading the label of this eye makeup remover, it claims to be non-greasy, as well as tough on waterproof makeup ("with one swipe" I believe it says).  I was excited to see that it was not tested on animals (YAY!) and also made with 100% vegetable ingredients.  It does make it a point to advise the consumer to shake it before each use.

I have been using it for more than a month now and really liked it... at first.  It did a great job.  I did however find it to be very greasy (contrary to what the label says), which is okay with me.  Once I take my makeup off at the end of the day, I hop in the shower anyway, so no big deal.  Here is my main beef with this product: Just last week I started using a new *waterproof* mascara and this eye makeup remover barely does a thing as far as removing it.  In order to get it moderately off, I have to use multiple cotton squares and continuously add more and more remover and my lashes are still full of mascara.  (Note: I do shake it before each use as directed).  I feel like it isn't good to have to rub my eyes that much each night just to use this product.  I don't know if this is a bi-layer product like some other removers that separate and that's why you have to shake it, but this does not do the job.  One of the bi-layer removers I refer to is Lancome Bi-Facil eye makeup remover.  I have a little travel size bottle of that and tried that after the Alba Botanica didn't work.  The Lancome was easy breezy, so I have stopped using the Alba Botanica and switched to the Lancome.  (Note: I received the Lancome Bi-Facil as part of a gift and it is about $27 for the full size bottle, which is even more than I'm willing to pay.  I have found that Neutrogena's Oil-Free makeup remover is comparable and a lot more affordable). 

I am certainly glad I did not pay full  price for this eye makeup remover.  While I did like it at first when I wasn't using waterproof mascara, now that I am, it is pretty much useless to me.  I still like it's "green" properties, but I since the product doesn't serve its purpose, it's not enough for me to give it a positive review.  Sorry y'all.  

To see my YouTube video review of this product, please click here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Emjoi Emagine Epilator Review

Hello all!

Today I have a review for you on the Emjoi Emagine Epilator.  One of my good friends thought I was reverting to some archaic period in time when she heard I was purchasing an epilator.  I don't consider myself to be a hairy girl, but I am very fair skinned, so when I shave, the fast regrowth is pretty noticeable.  I have spent the majority of my hair removal days shaving, but have waxed on occasion too.  I just found waxing to be too pricey, and I'm not really skilled enough to do it myself and do a good job.  I did a LOT of research on epilators before I decided on the Emjoi Emagine.  The Emjoi Emagine is one of the larger models; it has 72 tweezer heads that rotate to pick up and pluck out hair from the root.  I purchased it from for close to $70.00.  While I find that expensive, I figured that once I bought several packs of replacement razors or a few trips to the salon for waxing, this thing pretty much paid for itself and would inevitably save me money.  I read so many good reviews and did research on how to prepare your skin for epilation (by exfoliating!).  I thought this was going to be the end all be all to my hair removal needs.

I was super psyched when I received it and waited until after I showered and exfoliated to try it out.  I was apprehensive about the pain because in general, many people said it was quite painful.  Having had two tattoos and recently given birth, I figured it would be a walk in the park.  I was surprised at how it really was painful.  Nowhere near childbirth on my pain scale, but it made my eyes water and it wasn't something I ever really got used to.  I used the epilator on my legs, underarms and bikini line.  Holy Toledo, my first run at my underarms was AWFUL.  It hurt so bad, and the ache/sting didn't go away when I was done.  It was a good 24-48 hours before my pits felt back to normal.  But they were smooth!  To my amazement, my bikini line was the least painful area I epilated.  While I didn't expect to have 100% hair removal (I was prepared after reading reviews), I was fairly satisfied with the results.  Plus I figured it would get better the more I did it.  I did a touch-ups every couple of days and had little to no regrowth for about a week.  I have been exfoliating nearly every day during my shower to prevent ingrown hairs.  However, within the last few days the hair on my legs has started to come back with a vengeance.  My legs LOOK and FEEL terrible.  They are itchy, red, bumpy, and irritated.  I can see little black dots where the hair is trying to grow back.  Between the redness, bumps, and black, my legs look even worse than they did when I was shaving.  I am now concerned that it will take my legs a LONG time to get back to 'normal' if they do at all.  I am extremely disappointed with the results from the Emjoi Emagine Epilator.  When I did research prior to purchasing this, I did see a handful of reviewers who noted a similar [bad] experience like mine, but I figured I wouldn't end up being one of those, but naturally I did.  I have followed the instructions to a T and even taken great care in exfoliating and keeping my legs moisturized.  I can't say I did anything wrong, it just did not work for me.  Unfortunately I will be returning this item and going back to shaving with my razor.  While I won't get smooth legs for a week at a time, at least I won't have unsightly and painful legs for days on end. 

To see my YouTube video review of this item, please go here.

A picture of the irritation on my leg.  It really doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gerber Graduate Puffs Cereal Snack Review

Hello fellow Mommy's and Daddy's! 

Today I have a review for you on Gerber Graduates Puffs.  A good friend of mine has a son just a few months older than mine and after seeing him eat Puffs, I really wanted to get them for my son Andrew.  However, when I went to the store, I saw on the packaging that babies are typically ready for Puffs when they are crawling, which Andrew wasn't.  So I went home empty-handed.  :(  Wouldn't you know, just a few days later, Andrew started crawling, and one of the first things I did was go get a container of Puffs!

There are a variety of flavors: Vanilla, Banana, Sweet Potato, Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, and we went with the Strawberry Apple flavor.  They are star-shaped little pieces of puffy cereal about the size of my thumb nail.  Despite my excitement for Andrew to try these, I was also quite hesitant, as he has only been having bottles, oatmeal cereal, and pureed fruits/veggies up until this point, and I was concerned he might choke on them.  I put them on Andrew's high chair tray and he grabs them and puts them in his mouth.  He REALLY likes them.  In fact, I only put them out for him one at a time, otherwise he'll end up with three Puffs in one hand trying to get them all in at once.  :)  When they get to his mouth, they dissolve pretty quickly, which eases my concern about choking.  When the puffs get wet, they also get sticky and mushy.  Sometimes I will find sticky, mushy puffs that missed his mouth in the seat of his high chair.  I am one of those moms who likes to try whatever my baby eats, so naturally I popped one in my mouth.  They are pretty good tasting for baby food!  It is a cereal SNACK though, so I definitely don't recommend making a meal out of theses.  VERY surprising to me, the serving size is 77 Puffs, but I have never come close to giving him that many in one sitting. 

These run around $2.00 per container, which I don't think is too terrible, but if you are a Sams Club member, they sell a 6-pack variety of Apple & Banana flavors for $9.98!  Can't beat that deal!  I am looking forward to purchasing some of the other flavors, and would definitely recommend Gerber Graduates Puffs for those of you starting your kiddos on finger foods for the first time!

To see my YouTube video review of Gerber Puffs, please click here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rubbermaid 2-Quart Carafe Review

Another product review!

Today's product under review is the Rubbermaid 2-Quart Carafe.  I am a big fan of the 'on-the-go' drink mixes that come in the pitcher packs.  Now that I seem to only be able to find Crystal Light in the 2-quart sizes, I was on the hunt for a 2-quart carafe to make and store my drinks.  I stumbled across this Rubbermaid carafe in Target, but searched for it on and found it for cheaper, so I purchased it there.  (FYI - I have since found it in Meijer for cheaper than Amazon if you are interested.)  It is big and bulky in my opinion, in the wrong areas.  I really can't find a decent place to keep it in my fridge.  It is too wide at the base for me to fit it in the door, and too tall to fit on the shelf, rendering it pretty useless, unless I lay it on its side, which I am reluctant to do in the event that it leaks.  It claims to have a "leak proof seal", but I wouldn't like to test that out and find I have sticky drink all over the inside of the fridge.  Additionally, there are two spouts to pour out of: one is open, and the other one is partitioned, so that if you have ice in the carafe, it won't pour out when you pour the drink.  I find both of the spouts to be too wide, and regardless of which side I use, when I pour, the drink splashes everywhere.  The first and only drink I have made in the Rubbermaid carafe is the Crystal Light Mocktails Appletini, and this carafe REALLY retains the smell.  I finished the drink and washed the carafe several weeks prior to doing this review, and the smell of the appletini is still quite strong inside.  My last and final complaint, is that this is not BPA-free.  I tend to buy BFA-free plastics to store food/drink in, and I didn't realize until after purchasing this, that it is not.  Overall, I would not recommend this product.  I was really excited to find a carafe sizable enough to make my drink mixes, but my expectations were not met.  Maybe if you have a huge refrigerator and you don't mind now having a BPA-free carafe, this would be okay for you.  I don't have any idea how to solve the issue of the splashing when pouring.

I previously was using a Takeya 360 Carafe, which is just a little over 1-quart capacity.  Other than it not being large enough to make the drink mixes, I have had none of the issues with this carafe that I've had with the Rubbermaid.  In addition, the Takeya is BPA-free!  Overall, I like the lid/pouring portion of this carafe better than Rubbermaid's, and I have frequently turned it upside down to shake up my drinks to mix them, and never had an issue with leakage.  The size is perfect and fits multiple areas of my fridge.  While it isn't big enough to make the 2-quart drink mixes, I will just do a little math and scale it down to make 1/2 the amount so I can continue using this carafe.

To see my YouTube video review of this product, please click here.

Rubbermaid 2-Quart Carafe on
Takeya 360 Carafe on

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Semi Di Lino Diamante Cristalli Liquidi Illuminating Hair Serum Review

Well is that a mouthful or what?  Good thing I don't talk about this product too much, otherwise I'd be winded!  Many many years ago....maybe 6 or 7 years ago, I was at the salon getting my hair done, and my stylist used this product on my hair.  It smelled great and made my hair feel silky, smooth, and lightweight.  Knowing that it would probably be more expensive to buy it from the salon, I went in search of it online.  I can't remember if I bought it from eBay or Amazon, but I purchased it off one of the two.  I have been using it on and off since then.

This Cristalli Liquidi illuminating hair serum comes in a substantial 1.69oz glass bottle with a pump dispenser.  As I mentioned before, it has a great smell to it; it smells like an expensive salon product (probably because it is).  My hair is quite long and a little of this stuff goes a long way; hence how it has lasted me all these years.  Maybe one or two pumps does this trick.  I just pump it into the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and work it through my straightened hair.  I got rid of the box so long ago, and can't even be sure it was in English, so I'm not sure the variety of ways you can use it.  I have only used it after straightening my hair to seal the cuticles and smooth any flyaways.  I concentrate it on the ends of my hair and just a quick pat near the crown of the head so my hair doesn't look greasy.  I really like how my hair feels after I apply it.

My only complaint with this product is the price.  Right now you can purchase it on for about $25.00.  I seem to remember paying more than that, but it was too long ago for me to be sure.  Even so, that's pretty steep for such a small bottle, although it has lasted me a LONG time.  In the years since I purchased this, I have found other 'drugstore' haircare products that smooth as well as this in my opinion, for a lot cheaper.  If I had endless cash to frivously spend, I would probably repurchase this item, but until that happens, I'll be using the cheaper alternatives.

To see my video review of this product click here.