Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baking With Betty - Part 2

All of us!

First off, I have to warn you - I have a little bit of a picture addiction. If you have read my personal blog, you will know this, but this serves as a warning that there are TONS of pictures ahead! I really did narrow it down, and this is what I narrowed it down to. You're lucky you didn't see it before!

I was so excited when I received an email inviting me to join 30 other bloggers in Minneapolis to visit the Betty Crocker kitchens at General Mills. I was a little apprehensive since I didn't know anyone, and because it would be the first time I left Abbi overnight, but I was still so excited. Counting down the days until I went excited! It was really such a fun experience, not only to visit the kitchens and to learn more about some Betty Crocker products, but also to be able to meet some pretty amazing bloggers from across the country.

Before the trip, I did some google searching and found 3 other Utah bloggers that were also attending this event (Jessica from Utah Deal Diva, Jamie from Jamie Cooks it Up and Laura from Real Mom Kitchen). Utah had a good showing - no other state had 4 bloggers there!! I had never met any of them in person, but we decided to meet in the terminal before the flight. I didn't see them before the flight, but luckily, our seats were kind of close on the plane and we were able to spot each other out before the plane took off.

Once on the ground in Minneapolis, we met up with 2 other bloggers while waiting for our shuttle (Megan from Megan's Munchies and Amy from MomSpark).

from left to right - Jessica from Utah Deal Diva, Laura from Real Mom Kitchen, Jamie from Jamie Cooks it Up, Megan from Megan's Munchies

Once we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by the PR agent who put everything together, as well as a bag of swag and lunch. We all sat down and got to know each other a little better.

A delicious lunch

The swag bag!

The boat that took us around the lake

After a brief rest in our rooms, we all headed out on a bus to Lake Minnetonka where a lovely boat awaited to take us on a dinner cruise around the lake.

Just some of the gorgeous real estate that lines the banks of the lake

The lake was gorgeous, and there were some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G homes on that lake. Apparently, once you make tons of money, you move to Minnesota and buy a house on Lake Minnetonka! (I actually did a little search and learned that the prices of the homes on the lake range between $500,000 and $20 million. There were definitely some humongous houses there!)

A beautiful sunset!

The night was beautiful, especially as the sun set and the temperature went down a little bit. The food was good, and the company was even better!

Amanda from I Am Baker and Molly from The Snyder 5

A mural in the lobby of General Mills

The next day, we headed over to General Mills. What an exciting day! On our way to the Betty Crocker kitchens, we got to see some of the history and memorabilia from years past.

Some of the General Mills history - top left - and old school Easy-Bake Oven (I want it!), top right - the first design of Cheerios (Cheerioats back then), bottom right - carved cheerios that are in one of the courtyards (sorry about the glare from the window), bottom left - a few different designs of the Wheaties box.

And then the kitchens. This view was from above, and I will tell you that you could look around and see the excitement on everyone's faces!

View of the kitchens from above

We were split into 4 groups and spent the day rotating through 4 stations. (To see the food we made and sampled, check out my previous post.)

Some of the kitchens off to the side, with women busy working

Off to the side were many more kitchens. It was interesting to look over and see other women busy at work, creating and/or testing recipes.

Myra from My Blessed Life and Kerri from Save at Home Mommy

Catching up on Twitter or Facebook??? Marla from Family Fresh Cooking (Photo by Matt Holland)

Most of my "baking group" (minus 2) from left to right - Jamie from Jamie Cooks it Up, Jen from 4tunate, Myra from My Blessed Life, the Betty Crocker cookie station worker, Joscelyn of Mami and the Multiples, me, Liz from Hoosier Homemade (Photo by Matt Holland)

Left to right - Nicole from Baking Bites, Marla from Family Fresh Cooking, Amanda from I Am Baker (Photo by Matt Holland)

Me in action! (Photo by Matt Holland)

We had all had quite a bit of sugar by the end of stations, but it was all worth it. I have to admit, it was over way too fast for me! After we finished baking, so many people had asked to see the photography studios that they took us on a little unscheduled trip through the studios and the prop room.

One of the food photo set ups

Can I say that I was just in heaven?!? I wanted to get home and ask my husband if he would build me a seperate room off the side of the house that I could turn into a food photography studio!! It was really interesting to see. You didn't see the photographer with his camera taking pictures like you or I would. Instead, they have these huge, commercial cameras that almost look like professional video cameras. But wow - do they take great pictures!!

They had shelves with dishes and settings set out for the day's photo shoots

I want them all!

Then we went through the prop room and everyone was drooling. So many bowls, plates, napkins, just about everything you could imagine or want. I seriously want that room!

Then sadly, the day was over and it was time to go back home. I'm so grateful for the new friends that I made, and I wish we would have had just a little more time so that I could have really gotten to know everyone! I have been inspired by Betty Crocker and already have many things to try on my list. Thanks to Betty Crocker and General Mills!!

And if you want to check out some amazing blogs - here are the gals that attended!

Amanda from A Few Shortcuts
Amanda from I Am Baker
Amanda from Fake Ginger
Amy from Mom Spark
DaMora from From My Kitchen
Deb from Frugal Living and Having Fun
Deborah from Taste and Tell
Jamie from Jamie Cooks it Up
Jacquelyn from Musings by Jacquelyn
Jen from 4tunate
Jessica from Utah Deal Diva
Joscelyn of Mami of the Multiples
Julie from Joy's Hope
Kerri from Save at Home Mommy
Laura from Real Mom Kitchen
Liz from Hoosier Homemade
Marla from Family Fresh Cooking
Marta from My Big, Fat, Cuban Family
Mary from Blogmania
Megan from Megan's Munchies
Melanie from Modern Mami
Melissa from Your Fun Family
Michelle from Gourmet Mom on The Go
Migdalia from Latina on a Mission
Molly from The Snyder 5
Myra from My Blessed Life
Nicole from Baking Bites
Nika from Nika's Culinaria
Sherri from The Adventures of Kitchen Girl
Silvia from Mama Latina Tips
Trisha from 24/7 Moms

Disclosure - General Mills paid for my travel and accommodations. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Baking With Betty - Part 1

What an amazing experience!! To visit the Betty Crocker kitchens, and to actually be able to bake in them! And since I am a total picture-a-holic, I've decided to split the experience into 2 posts. First up, the food.

There were 4 different stations, and we were separated into 4 groups, spending about an hour at each station. The first station I was at was the Cookie station. I managed to get a picture of everything they had to sample but one cookie bar. But I've decided that's ok, because it was one of my favorites, so now I have an excuse to make them! All of these cookies were made using Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix. So easy!!

Cranberry-Macadamia Bars (definitely a favorite!)

Next up was a about baking with kids. These all made me so excited to bake Halloween treats with Abbi!

I have to admit - by this point, I had already had a lot of sugar, so I only sampled 2 of the 4 treats in the next section - Brownies with a Twist. But anything based with a brownie is delicious!!

The last station was all about different breakfast ideas you can make using Bisquick. I have to admit that Bisquick is not something I normally have on hand, but after this, I think I'll be buying some! I can't find the links online to the recipes of most of these recipes - but I do have a copy of the recipes so I may just have to make them all and post them!

Fresh Lemon Cream Crepes (Can't find the link to this one...)

Oven Apple Pancake (I can't find the link to this one either...)

Caprese Pizza with Crispy Pancetta (Can't find this link, either - but I'll be making this one soon!)

What great food! I can guarantee you I had A LOT of sugar by the time the day was over. But it was totally worth it!

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 - all about what we did and the people I met!

Disclosure - General Mills paid for my travel and accommodations. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yoplait Whips Giveaway


My daughter has quite the sweet tooth. It's funny the things you tell yourself before you have children. One of my things was that sugar was not going to be a part of my child's life until she was at least 2 years old. And any of you that are parents out there know that when you make yourself a promise like that, you know it's going to be broken!

So needless to say, Abbi has had her fair share of sugar. I do try to limit how much she gets, but she does love cookies and cupcakes. And ice cream. Her daddy is also an ice cream lover, and anytime he gets some, you know you can expect Abbi to run in asking for bites of her daddy's ice cream! So when this offer came from Yoplait and My Blog Spark to try out the Yoplait Whips yogurt along with a canvas tote and some ice cream molds, I knew this one would be a good one for my family.

I had actually never thought of freezing yogurt to eat as a treat, but then a few weeks ago, I was camping with my family. My sister's kids would come out of their trailer with yogurt and a spoon, and then I noticed that the yogurt was frozen! What a great idea, I thought! Then I received this offer, and I realized that I might be the only one who had never thought to freeze yogurt before.

Well, we tried it out, and yes - Abbi loves the frozen yogurt pops! She would never even know that it's not ice cream and it's actually a healthier treat. I have a feeling that these yogurt pops are going to be a regular treat in our house!
Yoplait Whips are available in 9 delicious flavors - Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Raspberry, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Burst, Orange Creme, Peaches and Cream, Raspberry Mouse, Strawberry Mist and Vanilla Creme.

And the Giveaway!!

Yoplait and My Blog Spark are giving away a prize pack to one of my readers! The prize pack includes an insulated lunch tote, a coupon for a cup of Yoplait Whips, and a cute popsicle molds.

You have 2 ways to enter:

1 - Leave a comment about which Yoplait Whip flavor you'd like to try.
2 - Become a fan of Taste and Tell on Facebook. If you are already a fan, leave a comment letting me know.

Make sure and leave a separate comment for each entry.

Be aware that the coupon offer for Yoplait Whips is not valid in a few states: California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Tennessee.

Want to try Yoplait Whips right now? Visit to receive a coupon for $0.55 towards the purchase of any 2 Yoplait Whip yogurts!

This contest will end next Monday, August 30th at 11:59pm Mountain, and the winner will be chosen on Tuesday.

*Disclaimer: A complimentary sample of this product, along with information and the prize pack, was provided courtesy of Yoplait through My Blog Spark. No other form of compensation was received and opinions are all my own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Macaroni Grill Frozen Entrees and a Giveaway!


Winner is: Kim from Stirring the Pot! Congrats!!

In my dream world, I have a new, delicious dinner on the table every night. And it always tastes good. And the house is clean, the laundry is done, and all of my emails are answered. But I don't live in that dream world, unfortunately. And as much as I'd love to have dinner on the table every single night, let's be honest - that just doesn't happen. Even on a good week, I don't think I make dinner more than 4 or 5 nights.
And as much as I wish I had homemade food for my family every night, I will also admit that sometimes, frozen dishes make it onto our table. My husband is actually a fan of frozen pizza, so we are known to visit the frozen section at the grocery store from time to time. Well, lucky me - Macaroni Grill has a new frozen line out and I was sent some to sample, courtesy of Macaroni Grill and My Blog Spark. And lucky you - you have a chance to win some, too!!

First of all - the frozen entree. Sometimes, I wish dinner was always this easy. Pour it in a skillet, add a little bit of milk, and 15 minutes later, dinner is done. And it was actually pretty good! I won't say it's as good as going to an actual Macaroni Grill and getting an entree, but this is so much easier and cheaper! We tried the Basil Parmesan Chicken and I was actually impressed with how creamy it was.
And now it's your turn to try - here's how you can win your own Macaroni Grill Frozen Entree, a serving plate, and tongs:

1 - Visit the Macaroni Grill website, then come back here and tell me what flavor sounds the best to you. (And hey - there's a coupon there for $1.50 off a frozen entree, so you can try it out for pretty cheap even if you don't win!!)

2 - Follow Taste and Tell. You can do this by following through Blogger's friend connect or through an RSS feed. If you already subscribe, just let me know.

3 - Become a fan of Taste and Tell on Facebook. It's easy - just click here and hit "like"!
Please note that all entrants must be at least 18 years old.

Contest ends August 16th at 11:59 MDT. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on August 17th.

*Disclaimer: A complimentary sample of this product, along with information and the prize pack, was provided courtesy of Macaroni Grill through My Blog Spark. No other form of compensation was received and opinions are all my own.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cupcake Conference

View from the 23rd floor of the Grand America

I don't attend near enough food blogging events - and I really want to change that. Especially after attending the first Cupcake Conference held at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. Apparantly, I'm lucky I even heard about it, because it all started on Twitter. And I don't tweet. I know, I'm behind the times! (I keep telling myself it's because it's just another addiction I don't need right now!) But luckily, I did hear about the conference just hours before registration opened up. But then I got busy, and forgot about it. The next morning, I got on to register, and it was sold out! I immediately put my name on the wait list and was happy that a ticket opened up for me.

Frosting waiting to be used for decoration

The Cupcake Conference was held on a Saturday night at the Grand America Hotel. This hotel holds a special place in my heart because it is where my husband and I stayed after we got married. It is a gorgeous hotel, and if you are ever in Salt Lake, it would be a real treat to stay there.

For the conference, we were sent up to the 23rd floor and an amazing view. The room was full of women (and a few men) all excited about cupcakes - you can't get better than that!

The Grand America's pastry chef - Fernanda Dutra

We were all led down to the ground floor and directed to the pastry kitchen at the Grand America. Their main pastry chef - Fernanda Dutra - was there to tell us a little about the kitchen and to answer any questions that we had. It was interesting for me to learn that most hotels do not do their baking in house, but they hire it out. At the Grand America, everything is made from scratch in their pastry kitchen. Fernanda said that her job is hard with long hours, but she couldn't imagine doing anything that she would love more.

Becky from Vintage Mixer - Cupcake decorating fun

Then we all had a chance to decorate a cupcake for prizes. I'm not the best decorator, so of course I didn't win, but it was fun to see how creative and inventive some of these girls were!

The cupcake on the right won one of the prizes. Fun cupcake!!

A sampling of the decorated cupcakes

After the cupcake decorating, we headed back up to the 23rd floor where we got to socialize. I was so happy to see a few other food bloggers that I have met before, but to also meet some new ones.

Cupcakes decorated by the Grand America kitchen

There were also tons of raffle prizes, and I'm so glad that I walked away with a gift certificate for a dozen cupcakes from a local bakery, plus class passes for a local gourmet cupcake class. I can't wait to go to that one!!

It was a fantastic night - a night filled with cupcakes is bound to be a good one!! Thanks to all of the ladies who put this event together!