12.18.2014

Best Buy Holiday Gift Guide - Something for Everyone on Your List!

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free, regardless all opinions are my own.

Best Buy is the place to shop for everyone this year... from the music junkie to the video game nerd to the gypsy child with a bad case of wanderlust - they have something for everyone at Best Buy! I'm sharing a little mini-gift guide to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list!


What should you get the video game nerd in your life?

What about an Xbox One?



Xbox One was built by gamers, for gamers. With the best exclusive titles like Halo or Sunset Overdrive, the biggest blockbusters like Call of Duty, the hottest sports franchises like Madden 15, or FIFA 15, and top family titles like Fantasia: Music Evolved the Xbox One takes gaming to a whole new level! In addition to being a great gaming console, Xbox one connects consumers unlike any other device.  Xbox One enables access to the latest TV shows and movies through your favorite apps.  With Xbox One all of your media is at your fingertips when you want it.

What should you get the music junkie in your life?

What about a JBL mobile speaker or a nice set of headphones?

The JBL Charge 2 is a super modern stereo speaker, a bit like having a miniature boom box based on it's twin passive radiators creating deep, powerful bass and the massive 6000mAh battery keeps it running for days! The best feature though - the speaker has a Bluetooth Social Mode, allowing up to three different devices to take turns using just the single speaker!

The JBL Flip 2 is another awesome portable stereo speaker. This little baby offers SoundClear technology preventing echos and providing noise cancellation! The microphone is so precise in fact, you can answer calls via the speaker! I love the crystal clear quality JBL offers and so will the music junkie in your life!

The JBL Reflect Earbuds are the most epic sport headphones, ever! With a sweat proof, ergonomic design and a 5 hour rechargable battery - these little babies are on my wish list and I can't wait to rock them at the gym without a worry in the world about sweat or time! I love that the buds don't have loose cables and they stay in place using built in magnets!

What should you get the gypsy child in your life?

What about a GPS? How about a Garmin or a TomTom?


With bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, traffic and weather updates - what could be better for someone who is always traveling? An up to date GPS with lane assist, lifetime traffic and map updates - these GPS options are the perfect gift for your friend that just can't seem to stay in one place! I know with a bad case of wanderlust myself, a new GPS would be an awesome gift to receive! I love that these models also offer Voice Recognition Technology - so incredibly convenient compared to my ancient GPS model! I suggest you check out the Garmin 52LM, the Garmin 2597, or the TomTom GO 50s - all of these wonderful models are offering the features your traveling loving friend will need!

The Garmin 52LM and the Garmin 2597 both offer a 5.0" display, Maps of 49 U.S. states (plus lifetime updates), lane assist with junction view, speed limit tracking and accurate arrival time based on such, and spoken turn by turn instructions while they easily find addresses and millions of points of interest as well.


The TomTom GO5s also offers most of the same features as well as live traffic updates for the lifetime of the device! Plus an amazing feature is 3D maps, showing buildings and landmards - making it easier to navigate and it just looks amazing!



So tell me, what's on your (and your family's) Best Buy wish list this holiday season?



12.17.2014

Extra Cheesy Italian Chicken & Potato Casserole Recipe with Betty Crocker™ Potato Mix + a Giveaway



I recently shared that I'll be heading home for Christmas this year and I'm so excited to continue our family tradition of spending time with my Grandmother on Christmas Day! It's one of the most important parts of celebrating Christmas in our family.

I can remember Christmas at her house as an itty bitty child, it was a big hooplah with Santa coming to visit and my favorite foods being served in portions large enough to feed a few armies. My Grandma is an epic cook, one of those women that is just a natural in the kitchen and seems to enjoy spoiling her family with ridiculous amounts of tasty, homemade from scratch meals. Anything she makes is so incredibly delicious and I'm thinking it's because she makes it with so much love. I know that sounds cheesy but it's true.

This year I want to help out in the kitchen so I'm making a new recipe, a recipe that is bound to become a new family tradition because I'm making it with Love and Betty Crocker™! This Extra Cheesy Italian Chicken & Potato Casserole Recipe with Betty Crocker™ Potato Mix is so easy to make and is packed full of delicious Italian flavors and loaded with enough cheese to blow your taste buds away. The perfect stand alone meal when you are in a hurry or it could be served as a side dish on a holiday (like I plan on doing) - it's all up to you! It's time for you to #GetYourBettyOn so you can have a delicious dish and spend more time with your family (and less time in the kitchen). 

Betty Crocker™ casserole potatoes bake in just 20 minutes and make some of the most delicious and convenient meals and side dishes your whole family will love. Betty uses 100% real potatoes for the best flavor possible, so be sure to give each of the 11 different varieties of casserole potatoes a try and give your family and friends something to talk about this holiday season!



 


Extra Cheesy Italian Chicken & Potato Casserole Recipe
with Betty Crocker™ Potato Mix



Ingredients:

Chicken (boiled and shredded)
3 tbsp Fresh parsley (chopped)
Milk ( as listed on potatoes package)
1/2 cup Shredded Italian cheese blend
A dash of each spice (or to taste):

garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage, salt, pepper



You'll begin by preheating your oven as instructed on the package (400 degrees). Prepare the potatoes as instructed, adding in boiled and shredded chicken when you place ingredients in casserole dish.



Bake as instructed and remove from oven and stir. Sprinkle spices over the top of potatoes and bake for 2 more minutes.



Remove from oven and immediately add shredded cheese and fresh parsley. 




That's it, your ridiculously cheesy potatoes are done! It's that easy! 


ENJOY!





I think when I make this next week I'll add in some mushrooms and bacon, because I think those additions sound like they would make this casserole even more delicious - if that's even possible?! That's the beauty with Betty Crocker™ Potato Mixes... You can make so many varieties of dishes so incredibly easily!You can't even begin to understand how cheesy and amazing this Italian Chicken & Potato Casserole is; I mean it's the ooey-gooey, melt in your mouth, nearly-like-mac-&-cheese-but-even-better type of recipe. The texture of the potatoes combined with the roasted garlic, parsley, and variety of cheese flavors really make this dish POP! Don't believe me? Try this dish for yourself!



Betty Crocker™ is offering a 50 cent off coupon so you can indulge in some of their delicious potatoes! You'll want to print your coupon now so you can grab a bag full of Betty Crocker™ Potato Mixes next time your at the store for a HUGE discount!



Plus
Betty Crocker™ and I have teamed up to give one lucky reader $15 CASH to buy several boxes of potatoes! It's super easy to win, just use the giveaway tools form below:



Disclosure: The information, products and the gift card being given away were all provided by Betty Crocker™ through Linqia, regardless I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Must be 18 or older to win. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other company mentioned above. You understand that you are providing your information to Lauren Paints | a beautiful life and not to Twitter, Facebook, or any other entity, I will not use your information other than to e-mail you a winning notification if you are the chosen winner. Enter using the Giveaway Tools form above. Void Where Prohibited. Please note that Lauren Paints | a beautiful life and all other bloggers participating are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.

12.16.2014

The Ultimate PB, Chocolate Chip, and Banana Cream French Toast - Made with Peanut Butter Alternative WOWButter

“Disclaimer: I am a member of The Social Media Panel, LLC. who was given the opportunity to review this product. However, the brand or company has not influenced me in any way to provide any type of review other than my true and honest opinions. I am disclosing all information provided in this review according to the information provided in Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Plenty of people have peanut allergies and I know first hand how serious they can be - my mother-in-law is severely allergic to peanuts so when I heard about WOWButter I was super intrigued to learn more!

I should go ahead and answer the question that probably matters the most to everyone, how does it taste? JUST like peanut butter, I mean to the extent that I couldn't tell the difference! It's creamy, smooth, and peanut buttery without containing peanuts, GMO's, gluten, added colors, flavors or preservatives... basically a heaven sent replacement to peanut butter.

As a future teacher, I plan on using only WOWButter when making myself anything that calls for peanut butter simply because even the oils from peanut butter can make someone with a peanut allergy react. It's really just a safety thing in my book and since this #SchoolSafeSpread tastes the same AND is healthier for me because it includes Omega 3's and the right kind of protein - it's just really the better option all the way around! You may not know this but peanuts are NOT considered a complete protein food because they only have 6 of 9 essential amino acid, WOWButter contains all 9 amino's making the perfect source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians!

Now that you know more about my favorite peanut butter replacement, I want to share my new favorite recipe to make with the tasty spread! This Loaded French Toast recipe is the perfect treat for your sweetie that can't eat peanuts! With just a sprinkling of chocolate chips and a light drizzle of Banana Cream Pie sauce the WOWButter still holds the spotlight and is complimented perfectly!




PB, Chocolate Chip, and Banana Cream Loaded French Toast -
Made with Peanut Butter Alternative WOWButter
 
 
 
Ingredients:

  1/4 cup milk
 4 tbsp sugar (more to sweeten)
  2 tbsp flour
dash of salt salt
  1 egg yolk, lightly whisked with just a dash of vanilla extract
1/2 banana
2-4 slices bread
handful of chocolate chips
2-3 tbsp WowButter


I actually made a banana cream pie and had left over filling and used it as a sauce, but this recipe will make an amazing sauce without giving you enough to make a pie! You'll want to begin by combining the milk, sugar, flour, and salt in a sauce pan and allowing it to slowly heat. Once it starts to thicken, spoon some of the mixture into the whisked egg and vanilla (from the stove into the mixing bowl) so that you can slowly raise the temperature of the egg without frying it. Once the egg seems to be warm enough, pour the entire mixture back into the sauce pan and allow to simmer until it thickens to your preferred consistency. You'll want to use 3/4 of your 1/2 of banana in a food processor and place the pureed banana in the mixture just before removing from heat.


While you are waiting for your sauce to heat though, you can lightly toast your bread (I used gluten-free bread but you can use white, whole wheat, whatever). I simply just place mine in the toaster. I then top my bread with WowButter immediately after removing from the toaster so the WowButter slightly melts. Next you'll add a sprinkle of chocolate chips.

Once your sauce is complete, top your toast with the delicious mixture (you can now fry your french toast in a pan if you would like but it taste delicious without)! I added a piece of sliced banana to the top of my Loaded French Toast and chowed down!

Enjoy!


I would like to extend my gratitude to Wowbutter again, for sponsoring this post and for making this awesome peanut butter alternative!




12.15.2014

The Best Stocking Stuffers For A Sporty Girl



My fitness journey is going strong, I'm still working out when I can fit in trips to the gym and I'm trying to watch what I eat, while spending time preparing for the holidays! Today I'm sharing The Best Stocking Stuffers for a Sporty Girl like me, these little presents are sure to make any girl smile but if she is into fitness - these gifts are made for her!


The Best Stocking Stuffers for a Sporty Girl

1. Bobble Sport Water Bottle - We're starting out strong with one of the best gifts you could possibly give someone- clean and filtered water straight out of the bottle! The reusable water bottle filters as you drink, is bpa-free, dish-washer safe, is available at Best Buy or Amazon, and only costs $11.99! The perfect bottle for a girl on the go since it fits in bike racks and cup holders easily and provides hydration!

2. Sinful Colors Nail Polish - The perfect way to pamper a girl's nails and toes on a budget!

3. Colorful and FUN socks - I love spicing up my sock drawer so the more loud and wild the better! If you can find your girl's favorite animal in sock form, you are golden. Think little shark, fox, or monkey socks; I'm already smiling thinking about them!

4. LUSH products, specifically Celebrate Lotion - This formula is healthy and smells so amazing! The perfect product to apply after a nice workout and a long shower!

5. Gummy Multi-Vitamins - I'm obsessed with gummy vitamins this year, but any vitamin would be a great present! It's something every fitness minded girl needs!

6. Sporty Hair Products - Headbands, bobby pins, hair ties - give it all to us sporty girls! I can't stand having my hair whip into my face while getting cardio in... neither can any other girl with hair! Spoil us ladies with headbands that actually keep our hair pulled back and stay in place and we'll squeal in delight!

7. Activz Green Smoothie Drink Powder - This powder is amazing, chalk full of greens and prepared in a shaker bottle. I love taking this powder with me while I'm traveling so I can ensure that I still get my greens in, no matter where I am.

8. Whish Shaving Serum - This is the best product for those of us that get razor burn! I apply this after a shower to make sure my legs are ready for the gym and yoga shorts everyday!

9. Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Treatment - My favorite hairline PHD has another epic product on their hands, this 5-in-1 treatment is the perfect after shower treatment for your hair! Think of it as a lotion for your lovely locks!


Do you have any sporty items on your wishlist this year? I'm thinking adding a heart monitor and a new pair of running shoes to this list would make any fitness-minded gal overjoyed! What would you add to make it the perfect present for you?


The Most Legendary Recipes: The Best of 2014

Have you ever used Foodie to collect recipes? It's a fun way to gather recipes and plan meals! This post was sponsored by Foodie, but as always all opinions are my own and I only share things I feel will benefit my readers.


Wildly enough, 2014 is coming to a close in just a few weeks - this year has been full of a ton of fun, a lot of growth for the blog, a few challenges in school, and adventures galore! I would say I'd chalk 2014 up to being a pretty decent year in all...

One big thing that changed this year is the fact that I actually like cooking... I've never been much of a cook before this year but a weight loss goal and tons of cooking shows being added to Netflix will change a girl! I would even define myself as a "foodie" or dare I say a "chef"....

Over the past year, I've made some tasty treats and delectable dishes that have shocked my hubby (and myself, to be honest) with delight. I'm not the only blogger cooking up a storm this year though, I know so many blog friends who made some amazing dishes so I decided I wanted to put a collection of the BEST recipes on the web in 2014 in EVERY category.

This little list is still in it's infancy, but so far I have THE absolute BEST breakfast, cheesecake, appetizer, and more - do you have a favorite recipe I should add to the list? Link it up below!


Check out The Most Legendary Recipes: The Best of 2014
by Lauren Paints at Foodie.com