Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Loaded M&M's® Cookie Bars

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

I hope everyone had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend!  I love seeing all the red, white, and blue around town, celebrating our amazing country and those brave men and women who gave their lives for us.  Today I'm really excited to share an opportunity for those in the American military today who are keeping us safe at home and abroad.  Earlier this month, MARS introduced the "1 For You, 1 For The Troops" campaign where for every bag of M&M's® and Skittles® purchased at Walmart, MARS will be donating one bag to the troops.  Did you know that M&M's® were actually created for the troops?  Let's keep that tradition going!
With the M&M's® I purchased, I made some delicious Loaded M&M's® Cookie Bars that were perfect to share for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Ingredients:
- 1 tube refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
- 16 chocolate sandwich cookies
- 1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
- M&M's® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate
- M&M's® Red, White, & Blue Peanut
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Start your bars by lining a 9 by 9 inch pan with the chocolate chip cookie dough.
3. Place the whole sandwich cookies on top of the chocolate chip cookie dough.
4. Cover the top of the sandwich cookies with the sugar cookie dough.
5. Top the bars with M&M's® and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
If you can't tell by the number of layers in these bars, chocolate is a favorite in our house, but if you're looking for something a little sweeter, MARS is also hosting this promotion with any purchase of Skittles® Red, White, & Blue.  I am obsessed with the yumberry flavor in this special variety!
If you'd like to give back to your local military even more, Walmart is hosting special events over the next month where representatives from military bases across the country will be at Walmart stores collecting donations.  If you don't live near a base or would like to donate online, you can click here to visit the NEW Walmart landing page.  All sales of your favorite M&M's® variety will be tracked, and you can even purchase printable gift cards for the troops.
Lastly, for even more delicious patriotic recipes, click here to visit the MARS Confection Corner!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Guide To Charleston Breweries (Part 1)

Eating and drinking local in Charleston is one of my absolute favorite things.  I've shared a bunch about my favorite distilleries and cocktails throughout the city, but I've never devoted a post to my other favorite alcoholic beverages: beer!  Charleston has a whole lot of local breweries; they all have great settings with outdoor seating and usually some lawn games to play or a food truck (if they don't make their own delicious food).  Today, I'm reviewing 6 of the 12 breweries in the greater Charleston area, and by the end of the summer (since it will be on my bucket list coming next week) I hope to have part 2 with the other 6 to share with you!

Holy City Brewing (Dorchester Road, North Charleston): This was the first brewery I ever tried in Charleston.  I had seen their beer around in every bar and package store, and the photos of the brewery looked really cool.  Well, after you find it (hidden in a very industrial area), the atmosphere is great with seating both inside and out and huge garage doors that are open almost all year to separate the two.  This is more than just a brewery for us, it's a favorite dinner spot, too.
What to try: Pluff Mud Porter and the Fish and Chips (No, that's not a beer. The fish is battered in their Washout Wheat Beer, and the homemade fries are delicious!)
Palmetto Brewing Company (Huger Street, Charleston): I stumbled into Palmetto for the first time after a delicious happy hour down the street at Taco Boy.  This was another beer brand I had seen all over the city, so expectations were high.  My favorite part about Palmetto is the courtyard inside the main gate.  They have a few corn hole boards and it's a cool, shady spot to enjoy a beer during the summer.
What to try: Amber Ale or Espresso Porter
Revelry Brewing Co. (Conroy Street, Charleston): This is one of the smaller taprooms in Charleston, but the beer and brewers more than make up for it!  They brews fantastic (and some very unique) beers, and if the pork belly sliders are on the specials board when you're there - you need to give them a try!  I am also a huge fan of all the art on the walls both inside and out.
Coast Brewing (Second Street, North Charleston): Coast is first and foremost a functioning brewery with no separate taproom space.  That doesn't mean that it isn't hopping on the weekends!  They always bring in food trucks and set up more games than any other brewery.  They only have a few beers, but they are very good.
What to try: 32°/50° Kolsch or Blackbeerd
Westbrook Brewing (Ridge Road, Mount Pleasant): Westbrook has a wide variety of extremely unique beers.  Their tasting room is small, but the big bonus here is that they offer tours Tuesday through Saturday, unlike many other breweries in town.
What to try: Get a flight and try a few of their ever-rotating beers
Low Tide Brewing (Maybank Highway, Johns Island): The newest brewery in Charleston is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorites!  Besides their huge taproom and great outdoor seating, what I think is the coolest about their company is their philosophy to partner with local establishments.  They brew specialty beers that they only sell to one restaurant in town, but the great thing about going to the brewery is that you can taste them all in one place.
What to try: Mr. Sandman Saison, Coconut Pete's Nitro Milk Stout, and Sweet Caroline Kolsch
There you have it!  Do you have a favorite local brewery where you live?  Please share - I always love visiting new tap rooms when I travel!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mega Fudge Stripe Milkshake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BiteSizedBitsOfJoy #CollectiveBias
There are those things that just remind you of childhood.  For me, it's that Pfaltzgraff blue and white flowered Yorktowne cookie jar that sat in our kitchen.  Growing up, my dad had just as big of a sweet tooth as me, so you know he was always encouraging me to sneak a couple after every dinner.  Most of the time, it was Keebler cookies in those jars.  Now, I've taken one of my favorite Keebler cookies (Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™) and made it into a delicious milkshake that bring me down memory lane!
You can head to your local Kroger or Kroger banner store (I shopped at Harris Teeter) to find these Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™ as well as tons of other Keebler cookies  - just check out all those yellow boxes!
All you need to make two delicious milkshakes (perfect for mason jars) is:
- 12 Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™ cookies
- 5 scoops of your favorite ice cream - I went with a fudge ripple
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup hot fudge (plus some extra for the tops of the mason jars)
- sprinkles
1. Start by crushing your Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™ cookies.  You can use a food processor, or I just put mine in a zip-top bag and used a rolling pin.
2. Cover the top of each mason jar lid in hot fudge and sprinkle with Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™ crumbles and sprinkles.
3. Combine the rest of the crushed Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™, ice cream, milk, and hot fudge in a blender and mix until smooth.
4. Pour the milkshake out of the blender and into your rimmed glass.  Topped with another Fudge Shoppe® Dark Chocolate Fudge Stripes™ cookie, some whipped cream and more sprinkles, and enjoy!
Seriously, how cute (and delicious does this milkshake look?  Yeah, it can get super messy, but let me just tell you - it's worth every bit of clean up!
Head to the Collective Bias website to get even more delicious Keebler inspiration, and enter through the widget below to win a Kroger gift card!  What little thing like a cookie reminds you of your childhood?
Keebler Cookies at Kroger: Summer 2016

For more great ideas and inspiration, be sure to check out the #BiteSizedBitsOfJoy Social Hub!

Monday, May 23, 2016

One Month To Go!

Soooo we got the final word that we will be closing on our house in one month.  Holy cow, we are so excited.  So much has changed since I last posted an update about a month ago (check it out here), that I thought it'd be fun to share where we are.
Those four photos were taken April 10, April 13, April 19, and May 7.  No, the yellow isn't the true color of our house, you can see the mint color we chosen in my announcement post here.  We've gone from framing to insulation and finally to dry wall, mud, and primer.  The first set of photos below are taken from standing in our great room, looking towards the front door, kitchen, and dining room, and the second set is from the main entrance way back into the great room.
Now it starts to look like a house.  Since I took those photos, our cabinets have been put in and paint is beginning.  We really enjoyed choosing the different flooring, tiles, cabinets, appliances, etc.  Even with so many options, I'd say we agreed on just about everything.  Even those things we didn't quite agree upon, one of us usually cared more than the other and we traded off on decisions - it was fun!
Here's a sample of some of the things we chose for the house - can't wait to see it all come together!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Top Five in Denver

As some of you might know, Mike and I spent last week in Denver.  I was there to attend a conference, and he tagged along because when you work from home, it doesn't matter if you're in a home office or a hotel room - haha.  We had a chance to do a bunch of exploring, and while I am by no means a Denver expert, I came up with five adventures that we really enjoyed and that I highly recommend to anyone looking to travel to the Centennial State!
1. Golf: Of course this had to be number one because it was the real reason I was there, but even if you're not a golfer, go find a friend who's a golfer and ride around with him/her.  We saw the most amazing views in all of Denver while we were golfing at Arrowhead Golf Club.  The course itself was well-maintained, and the staff was so friendly.  Now if you're really not into golf, Denver also has an awesome Top Golf location, and that's worth a trip, too!
2. Explore nature: Leaving Arrowhead Golf Course, we actually stumbled upon Red Rocks Amphitheater.  I had no idea that it was so close to the highway, and that made for an easy stop.  The views of Denver were fantastic, and going to a concert there is now definitely on my bucket list.  If you're looking for even more to do outdoors, I'd suggest the Denver Botanic Gardens or Dinosaur Ridge.
3. Eat: I was pretty impressed by the food in Denver.  I wasn't really sure what they were known for, but we had American, Mexican, and my favorite was D Bar.  They specialize in amazing desserts, but their dinner fare was also wonderful.  We went with just appetizers so that we had plenty of room for dessert!
4. Major League Sports: Denver has seven professional sports teams (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and rugby) including one for each of the big four (Rockies, Broncos, Nuggets, and Avalanche), so you know we had to visit a couple of those.  In one day, we toured Sports Authority Field at Mile High and went to a Rockies game at Coors Field.  Both were awesome experiences, and we even watched the Rockies's 1000th franchise home win!
5. Drink & Tour: Denver is all about the beer!  They have over 75 breweries in the area (see the complete guide here), but we only had time for one.  We chose to take the 20 minute drive over to Golden, Colorado to see the biggest one: Coors.  We went for the whole adventure: parked in the Coors parking lot, took the bus ride around the town of Golden, did the full self-guided audio tour of the brewery' and finished in the fresh beer tasting room where we were each given three 8-ounce samples of Coors beers.  Don't worry, if you're not a Coors Banquet or Coors Light fan, they also have Blue Moon, Colorado Native, George Killian's, as well as seasonal beers to try.  Did I mention that all of this (including the beer) was free?
Honorable Mention: So, those are my top five things to do in Denver, but if you're looking to take a little day trip (I highly suggest renting a car if you travel to Denver, the whole city is pretty spread out), then driving the hour and a half South to Colorado Springs is a great idea!  While we were there, we visited Garden of the Gods, The Manitou Incline (just looked at it this time, but add that one to the bucket list, too!), and toured the Olympic Training Center.
We had an awesome trip and can definitely see ourselves going back there in the future to explore other awesome attractions.  If you'd like to read even more about what we did and see all my reviews, check out my Colorado list on Yelp!
 
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