Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

Don’t drink your calories.  That’s kind of one of my mottos.  My aunt said she thought about it the other day when tempted to order a fancy drink at a coffee shop.

I used to drink my calories like a champion.  Gatorade, orange juice, milkshakes, Frappuccinos, soda.  And my body paid for it.  I stopped pretty much cold turkey and reaped the rewards.  Plus I didn’t really miss any of those things.

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

But every once in awhile rules are meant to be broken.  Especially around the holidays (and when you need a super easy blog post 🙂 ).  I made Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate and it is kind of the best thing since sliced bread or at least regular hot chocolate.  Because what’s better than peanut butter and marshmallow melted into drinkable heaven?

It is rich and rather sweet, so I swapped it for dessert instead of dessert and caloric drink like old me would have and really you definitely do not need dessert after this, nor do you need a large portion.

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

It’s easy to make, gluten free, and perfect for these super chilly winter days.  I’m thinking this is a must for Christmas morning present opening.

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

Super warm and comforting, it is extra creamy from the marshmallow fluff melted right into the beverage.  the peanut butter flavor is prominent with a hint of vanilla.  My favorite might just be the topping of more fluff and peanut butter.  I loved to get the topping and the beverage all in one drink.

You will absolutely love the peanut butter and marshmallow drink!

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

Fluffernutter White Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 drinks

Ingredients

4 cups milk (I used almond, use what you love!)
¾ cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup marshmallow fluff, plus more for serving
¼ cup creamy peanut butter, melted, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, stir together milk, white chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, and peanut butter that has been melted in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  2. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until everything has melted together and the mixture is steaming hot. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste.
  3. Divide evenly among mugs. Tip: if your mugs are microwave safe, warm them for about 1 minute before filling with hot chocolate.
  4. Top each mug with a dollop of fluff and a drizzle of melted peanut butter. Serve immediately.
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Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FlavorSplash #CollectiveBias Messaging below is intended for ages 21+ and is intended to be enjoyed responsibly, in moderation.

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

In Michigan, Labor Day certainly marks the unofficial beginning of fall, but really it is the beginning of cider mill season which continues through the holidays.

I don’t know about where you live, but here cider is a big deal, practically a way of life.  You go to the mill, buy a jug of cider, a couple cider doughnuts, and ask for a few plastic cups before heading outside to the wooden picnic tables to eat, drink, and get attacked by stinging insects.  It’s tradition.

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

Really, though I prefer to drink my cider in the comfort of my home, and while it’s great on its own, there is nothing like doctoring it up a bit.  Enter Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider.  It showcases the cider while enhancing it, making it comforting and irresistible.

Shopping at Walmart

The secret ingredient is Torani Bourbon Caramel Syrup.  It’s available at Walmart along with Torani Toasted Marshmallow Syrup and many other flavors.  All the ones I’ve had are crazy good since they are made with real, simple ingredients like pure cane sugar and natural flavors.  They have that classic coffeehouse flavor, and Torani really knows what they are doing since they are third generation family owned since 1925.  I love old companies like Torani.

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

Caramel, bourbon, and apples are a match made in heaven.  By warming the cider with apples, warm spices, and the syrup, it’s like the flavors are all heightened.  It is so comforting cradling a mug of the cinnamon-y cider in my hands as it is cold and blustery outside.  I even liked snacking on the apples.

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

This cider is perfect for a party.  You can put it in a slow cooker or keep it on low heat.  Then as you are serving add a dollop of whipped cream and another drizzle of the syrup for the kids, and for the adults, a splash of bourbon is perfection.

This holiday season, gather your friends and family and make your favorite holiday beverage more flavorful with Torani.

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

Spiked Caramel Apple Pie Cider

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

½ gallon apple cider
3 large apples, cored and cut into wedges
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup Torani Bourbon Caramel Syrup, plus more for serving
Bourbon, for serving
Whipped cream, homemade or store bought, for serving

Instructions

  1. Pour the cider into a large saucepan. Add the apples, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and 1/3 cup syrup. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Serve immediately with a splash of bourbon, a dollop of whipped cream, and a drizzle of the syrup. Cider may be kept warm on low heat on the stove for about 30 minutes.
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Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

I look for any excuse to celebrate with friends and family in the summer.  And now, summer is in full swing, the sun is bright and hot, and the flowers are in full bloom.

But I know summer in Michigan is short lived, so I make sure to spend time enjoying it as much as is humanly possible.  This means that though I want to entertain my friends and family, I don’t want to spend a bunch of time cooped up in the kitchen, wistfully looking at the beautiful weather outside while I’m stuck inside.

Oranges, blueberries, and grapes

However, I know all my guests expect some amazing food and drinks any time we get together.  Luckily, I find compromises that save time but leave me with outstanding dishes that everyone loves.  One of those recipes is Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria.

I love making different riffs on sangria because it’s so versatile and the quintessential summer beverage.  This version may just be my favorite.

Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

It all begins with soda which is so fizzy and refreshing.  I can’t remember a summer without soda in my life.  Playing out in the sun on those hot days and turning to a bottle of my favorite soft drink as a cold treat.  While you could definitely just stick with soda, I made this an adult beverage by adding  some cherry vodka to complement the black cherry juice.  

If you are feeling creative, feel free to use your favorite fruit flavored vodka.  I personally love how cherries pair with soda so that was a winning combination for me.

Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

Finally, I loaded it up with fresh fruit.  This is where you can get creative by adding any kind of fruit you like and have on hand.  I added grapes, blueberries, and some oranges.  I love that these didn’t take much time to prep before I added them, making this recipe a true summer time saver.

I know you want to entertain all summer long, so make sure my Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria is on the list at every party.  Cheers to the summer!

Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

 

Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

Fresh Fruit Soda Sangria

1 liter soda, chilled

1 cup cherry vodka, chilled

1 cup black cherry juice, chilled

1 cup green grapes, chilled

1 cup blueberries, chilled

2 small or 1 large orange, sliced or diced

Pour soda into a pitcher or punch bowl.  Add cherry vodka and cherry juice, followed by  fruit.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately over ice, if desired.  I find if the ingredients are cold it doesn’t need ice.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Green Tea Affogato + 5 More Bedtime Snacks

6 Healthy Bedtime Snack Ideas

While I’m not a huge snacker, sometimes the craving strikes, and it’s almost always near bedtime.  Being hungry at ten or eleven at night is going to lead to trouble sleeping all night long.  Instead of struggling through and waiting until breakfast or breaking into the stash of candy and cookies in the pantry, I have some go to snacks that are nutritious and satisfying without weighing you down.

My favorite is tea.  It is often just enough to give me a little something to comfort and warm me without adding many calories, if any at all, to my day.  And when I’m talking tea, there really is only one in my book: Lipton.

Lipton Tea

There are always a few boxes of Lipton tea in the pantry waiting for me.  Though I drink tea anytime, day or night, I do especially love it at night in the winter.  I turn the heat down and am cuddled up on the couch watching TV or movies or reading a book and tea is the perfect companion.

The improved Lipton green teas are my favorite.  They have light, fresh taste, bright clearer color and delightful aroma, and come in a variety of flavors like Purple Acai Blueberry that are available nationwide.  My mom loves the new black teas with bold aromas and unique flavors that are really unexpected.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, the herbal teas are great too.  I’m obsessed with the Apple Cinnamon, but they are all great since they use real ingredients.

5 Healthy Bedtime Snack Ideas

On nights when a cup of tea alone isn’t enough to satisfy me, I love pairing it with a handful of nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans, or peanuts.  Keeping to a handful is a great way to make sure you are getting only a serving.  A piece of fresh fruit is another great option.  Pears and oranges are wonderful this time of year.

A homemade granola bar is another choice when perhaps I had a light dinner and am looking for something a little heartier.  Even a handful of a favorite cereal would be great to snack on with tea.  Cereal isn’t just for breakfast with milk!

Green Tea Affogato

My all-time favorite bedtime snack is definitely Green Tea Affogato.  You can use any of the Lipton teas and there are plenty to choose from, but the green tea is my go to.  I brew a cup, scoop some frozen yogurt in a bowl, and pour the hot tea over it.  It’s a melty, nutritious, light snack that feels like a real indulgence.

Tonight at bedtime, I know we are all going to be hungry and reaching for Lipton tea.  Check out the flavors here and tell me which one you want to try first!

Green Tea Afogato

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Spicy Mango Margaritas

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

Spicy Mango Margaritas

So my favorite football team, the Lions, didn’t make the playoffs this year … again.  But I’m still super excited for all the playoff games.  Seeing the best footballs teams face each other often leads to some great matchups.

El Yucateco

And I would never miss the Big Game … great football, stellar commercials, and a concert?  Sign me up.

All of this football viewing needs a great cocktail.  A spicy cocktail.  Have you ever had a spicy cocktail?  I haven’t had many, but this Spicy Mango Margarita is one of my new all-time favorite cocktails.

Spicy Mango Margaritas

 

Spicy Mango Margaritas

It all starts with mango nectar, fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, high quality tequila, a bit of honey for sweetness and El Yucateco Green Habanero Hot Sauce that I picked up at Meijer.  It is a spicy and flavorful addition that lets the flavor of the pepper shine through, complementing it with garlic and select spices and seasonings.  It’s perfect for just about any recipe, including this margarita.  It makes the margarita a little more savory.  I can see why this is El Yucateco’s number one hot sauce.

Once I stir all these ingredients together, I add frozen mango chunks to the serving bowl.  This helps to keep the drink super cold without watering it down.  I always make sure to grab a couple extra mango chunks for my glass.  They make the best snack!  Using frozen fruit in drinks is my favorite party trick.

Spicy Mango Margaritas

All of the flavors work so well together.  The mango really shines through and the margaritas aren’t too strong.  They pack a serious hit of spice, but I love that.

Spicy Mango Margaritas

Now that you have a fun cocktail for the game, you need some awesome gear too, so be sure to check out the El Yucateco gear store where you can purchase both men and women’s apparel.  Clothes include board shorts for summer, hoodies for winter, and embroidered shirts for a casual night out.  No matter the occasion El Yucateco has you covered.

This playoff season make El Yucateco and my Spicy Mango Margaritas part of your party!

Spicy Mango Margaritas

Spicy Mango Margaritas

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

4 cups mango juice

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons El Yucateco Green Habanero Hot Sauce

1 ½ cups tequila

1 16 ounce bag frozen mango chunks

Instructions

In a large serving bowl, stir together mango juice, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, Hot Sauce, and tequila. Add the frozen mango chunks, and stir to combine.

Serve immediately. Replenish mango chunks as necessary to keep the margaritas chilled during serving.

http://piesandplots.net/spicy-mango-margaritas/

 

Cookies and Cream Fanta Floats

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

Cookies and Cream Fanta Floats

I’ve gone Halloween crazy. You should see my pantry … or maybe you shouldn’t. It’s kind of a mess because I’m running out of places to put all the candy and seasonal treats. Of course that’s not stopping me from buying more. I just have to find new storage places … so don’t open any cabinets!

My latest find was the Nabisco Spooky Edition Classic Mix that I picked up on my most recent trip to Walmart. The package was just so fun that I couldn’t resist. It’s full of little bags of Mini OREOs, Ritz Bits, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butters. I’m always hooked by mini things. They’re just so fun to eat.

Shopping at Walmart

These little packs would be great to hand out for Halloween to trick or treaters or in lunch boxes as a fun surprise at school. Of course, I wanted to have some fun with them on my own. You know I’m just a kid at heart 🙂

I picked up some vanilla ice cream and Fanta to make Cookies and Cream Fanta Floats. This is such a fun and easy to make recipe that kids will love to help make. They’ll also love to eat it for a fun after school treat or dessert.

Mixing the ice cream

I let the vanilla ice cream soften for about fifteen minutes so that it would be easy to mix the Mini OREOs into it. I chopped those up fine and used a spoon to mix them into the ice cream. I also made one with the Nutter Butters for myself. It was super yummy too!

I placed the ice cream in a fun glass and topped it with Fanta. In no time I had the most amazing afternoon pick me up. My friends enjoyed the OREO ones and I devoured the Nutter Butter one. I can’t wait to have another Halloween inspired girls’ night in to make more of these floats. In fact, I’m going to keep the Halloween fun going all October long and you should too!

Filling the glass

Pouring the Fanta

OREOs and Fanta go so well together and to further demonstrate that Evette Rios, host of the CBS show Recipe Rehab created a Walmart-exclusive recipe that is featured on the #SpookySnacks social hub. You have to check it out for more fun ideas!

Cookies and Cream Fanta Floats

Cookies and Cream Fanta Floats

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 float

Ingredients

½ pint vanilla ice cream

1 bag Mini OREOs

1 can Fanta

Instructions

Set ice cream out and allow to soften for about 15 minutes. Chop OREOs into small pieces. Mix OREOs into the ice cream.

Place the ice cream into a tall glass. Top with the Fanta. Serve immediately.

http://piesandplots.net/cookies-and-cream-fanta-floats/

Sunshine Cocktail

Sunshine Cocktail

When I go out to dinner, I always order a drink. Often I am amazed at how delicious and complex restaurant drinks are. They seamlessly combine so many ingredients to create a symphony of flavors that go together perfectly.

I used to think I couldn’t recreate that type of thing at home. I used to think the same thing about my favorite restaurant dishes, but then I learned the ones that I make can be just as tasty if not more so. Once I realized this, I knew I could make some outstanding cocktails as well.

Sunshine Cocktail

And with some trial and error, I have outdone those expensive restaurant drinks. My latest creation is what I named the Sunshine Cocktail because it’s such a happy vibrant color and has flavor to make.

Alizé, a French liqueur made with premium French vodka, passion fruit nectar and other exotic flavors, inspired me. As soon as I saw the bottle, I couldn’t wait to make a recipe. It’s so glamorous and sophisticated, and created a drink with those qualities as well.

My test of liqueurs is being able to drink them straight with ease, and this is so awesome on its own. It’s one of the smoothest liqueurs I’ve ever tried and that sweetness from the passion fruit shines through without being overpowering.

Sunshine Cocktail

This means that it mixed perfectly in my drink as well, paired simply with fresh orange juice, a little champagne, and a couple sliced strawberries. Whether you want to serve it at a party, sit outside on a warm summer evening, or even have this as a fun brunch drink, you have to make it.

Alizé is available nationally in Gold Passion, Bleu Passion, infused with cherries and ginger, and Red Passion with cranberries. I can’t wait to try all three and see why life is more fun in color. Which flavor do you want to try first?

Sunshine Cocktail

Sunshine Cocktail

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients

2 ounces Alizé Gold Passion

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

3 ounces champagne

1 sliced strawberry

Instructions

Pour Alizé and orange juice into a glass. Top with champagne. Add sliced strawberry for garnish. Serve immediately.

http://piesandplots.net/sunshine-cocktail/

I participated in the Alizé Passion blog program as a member of One2One Network. I received compensation but all opinions are my own.

Summer Smoothie Bowl

Summer Smoothie Bowl - Healthy, Vegan, Gluten Free

I am a master smoothie maker. Since I eat several a week, I have lots of experience.

To me, there’s no better breakfast than a cold, flavorful smoothie. I actually find them very comforting and soothing … even in the winter.

Of course, smoothies in the summer are even better. The fruit choices are endless, and since it’s hot outside, smoothies are cold and refreshing, not to mention a great way to stay hydrated and on top of nutrition.

Almond Breeze

Maybe you like your smoothie in a glass (which is cool with me), but I was on the smoothie bowl bandwagon before smoothie bowls were even a thing. Smoothie bowls are great because then you can top your awesome smoothie with other ingredients to make it even better.

My Summer Smoothie Bowl is an easy breakfast, lunch, or snack to cool off this suddenly very hot summer without spending lots of time in the kitchen. The smoothie itself has only four ingredients: frozen bananas, peaches, cherries, and Almond Breeze Almondmilk Unsweetened Original, which is my go-to variety for smoothies.

Summer Smoothie Bowl - Healthy, Vegan, Gluten Free

I blend my fruit and Almondmilk mixture up and top it with more fruit and typically nuts and chia seeds, although granola is a great choice as well.

This nutritious, vegan, gluten free smoothie bowl will keep you satisfied and become your go to breakfast!

This “Easy as Breeze” post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. For more “Easy As Breeze” recipes made with five ingredients or less, visit Almond Breeze on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Summer Smoothie Bowl

Summer Smoothie Bowl

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 smoothie bowls

Ingredients

2 bananas, sliced, frozen

2 peaches, pitted and diced

30-40 cherries, pitted

2 cups Almond Breeze Almondmilk Unsweetened Original

Toppings of your choice – nuts, chia seeds, fruit, granola, dried fruit

Instructions

In a high powered blender place Almondmilk, peaches, cherries, and bananas. Blend until a smooth mixture is formed.

Pour into bowls, top with additions of your choice, and serve immediately.

http://piesandplots.net/summer-smoothie-bowl/

Five Tips to Stay Hydrated All Summer Long

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

How to Stay Hydrated

Since health and fitness is important to me, hydration is as well. I can’t feel good, perform at my best, and stay healthy without making sure my body is fully hydrated at all times.

It can be hard to do this, though, so I have some tips for you that will make keeping hydrated easy and fun. I promise!

How to Stay Hydrated

1. Use your CVS ExtraCare card to stock up. Right now when you use your CVS ExtraCare card and buy any combination of four vitaminwater, smartwater, Gold Peak, and Honest Tea for $5, you’ll receive a $2 coupon for your next CVS Pharmacy visit from now until 7/25. It’s the perfect time to be ready for all this summer weather. Plus, if you don’t have a CVS ExtraCare card, it’s free and easy to sign up!

2. Choose beverages you love. If you can’t stand drinking water, it’s going to be hard for you to constantly drink it all day long. While you should still get plenty of H2O in your diet, there are other options, such as Gold Peak, Honest Tea, and my personal favorite vitaminwater. I know that I can always rely on vitaminwater to quench my thirst, especially after a tough workout.

How to Stay Hydrated

3. Always have something to drink with you. You’re busy. I get it because I’m busy too. And it’s so easy to run out the door and let a lot of the day pass without drinking anything, but this is such a bad idea and will leave you feeling way less than your best. Make sure you grab a bottle of water or two to keep with you all day long. Then when you’re thirsty you have something healthy to turn to.

Tips to Stay Hydrated

4. Add fun mix ins to water. Let’s face it, water can be boring, but it’s easy to jazz up with your favorite fruit, especially in the summer. I love adding peaches, berries, even cucumber, and of course lemon, which is such a classic. This way I never get tired of water because it always tastes different.

5. Drink before you’re thirsty. We’ve all heard people say it, but once you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated. It’s important to drink throughout the day, and hydrate a little extra if you’re working out. I always have a bottle of smartwater or vitaminwater near me so that I can keep my body feeling hydrated all day long.

So which beverage are you going to try first this hot summer?

How to Stay Hydrated

Palm Breeze Vacation Day

Palm Breeze Vacation Day

You may not know this about me, but I don’t really like going on vacation. Sure it sounds like fun. I’ll try that restaurant. And visit that store. And walk along the beach. And. And. And …

But in reality I don’t really like long car trips and I can’t stand flying. Hotels kind of freak me out and the pressure of being on vacation and feeling like I have to be on the go at all times makes me tired just thinking about it.

Palm Breeze Vacation Day

That doesn’t mean I don’t like a day off every now and then. It doesn’t happen much. Believe me, I wish it happened more. A lot more. When I have the chance and the time, I like to take a vacation right in my own area.

Whether I stay at home and chill or explore a new museum or store I haven’t been to before, those vacation days are some of my favorites.

Palm Breeze is all about making time to vacay every day. I love that message and have really been trying to incorporate it into my life.

Palm Breeze Vacation Day

If you haven’t heard of Palm Breeze before, let me introduce you to it. It is a flavored malt beverage similar to beer in that it’s made with a malt base. However while the guys have a whole beer aisle aimed at them, Palm Breeze is totally aimed at us ladies! It comes in Ruby Red Citrus and Pineapple Mandarin Orange – those sound awesome for summer.

Whether you want to celebrate with your friends or take a little time for yourself; whether the party is inside or out, Palm Breeze is the perfect addition, and it’s so easy to pick up at the grocery store – just like I did.

Palm Breeze Vacation Day

I took a few hours this week to sit and chill with a good book, some fun nail polish and Palm Breeze. Oh, and a peach for a snack. You all know I’m obsessed with peaches. It was the perfect way to decompress from all the blog responsibilities and the plethora of writing and revising I’ve done on my novels and screenplays lately.

Next time I’m going to invite my friends over for snacks, Palm Breeze and a nice evening on the deck. Palm Breeze is going to be a part of a lot more of my vacations!

Even if you can’t get to the beach or some exotic locale right now, pick up some Palm Breeze, you’ll be surprised at how close a vacation really is.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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