Monday, December 6, 2010

NYC Single Mom Reviews Merges with NYC Single

For loyal readers, I apologize for not communicating this change sooner but I have decided to merge my review site NYC Single Mom Reviews with NYC Single

As much as I would like to continue to have the two sites, it is unfortunately too much to manage both with no assistance.

For those of you who subscribe, I hope you will subscribe to as I will continue to do product reviews, giveaways and event reviews in addition to chronicling my life.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

1800 Giveaway CLOSED

Congrats to Lauren.
Like many shoppers, I do a lot my holiday shopping on the web. Whether it’s candy, cookies, flowers or popcorn, consider 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and its family of gourmet food brands can satisfy your gifting needs this holiday season, offering something for everyone. And don't exclude gifts for business colleagues, the many gift ideas they have are great.

Each of their  brands offers the convenience of shopping online, expedited shipping, and delivery to friends and family nationwide.

Here’s a selection of gift ideas that are under $40 that are sure to fit into any budget this holiday: My personal favorites are the Cheryl's Cookies and of course, the popcorn from the Popcorn Factory is always a crowd pleaser.

Frosty the Snowplant ($29.99) - Our fresh white campanula plant arrives budding and ready to bloom in a fun and frosty ceramic snowman planter (which can later be reused), and is topped with an adorable snowman head pick.

Comfort & Joy Sweet Treats Gift Basket ($24.99) - Filled with sweet treats, this basket is an extremely affordable way to send holiday cheer.  Items include a Harry London® White Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel, decadent toffees, candy canes and more.

Fannie May Fine Chocolates Holiday Mint Meltaways ($22.99) – Celebrate the holidays with the perfect blending of creamy, cool mint and smooth chocolate. These special holiday edition Mint Meltaways feature a snowy white pastel coating and festive holiday sprinkles.hite Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel, decadent toffees, candy canes and more.  1-800-BASKETS.COM

Cheryl’s Baked Goods Buttercream Frosted Cookie Club ($22.99-$34.99, per delivery) – This holiday season, dream in buttercream with Cheryl’s famous seasonal buttercream frosted cut-out cookies.  Give the gift of a Cheryl’s cookie club membership and spread holiday cheer for an entire year. 1-800-BASKETS.COM

The Popcorn Factory Holiday Poinsettia Popcorn ($24.99, two-gallon tin) – Make this holiday pop with the festive Holiday Poinsettia popcorn tin from The Popcorn Factory.  This premium, flavor-infused 3-way treat includes all-natural Butter, robust Cheese and secret recipe Caramel corn, while a 4-way tin adds delicate white cheddar to the mix. 1-800-BASKETS.COM

Just in time for the Holidays, is giving away the Comfort & Joy Sweet Treats Gift Basket to one (1) lucky NYC Single Mom Reviews reader. Just tell me who is the most difficult person to buy for this Holiday season.

For additional entries:
1. Link to this giveaway post on your blog
2. Become an email subscriber and confirm subscription
3. Become a blog follower
4. Follow me on twitter:
5. Become a Facebook Fan:  facebook/NewYorkCitySingleMom

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom is not being compensated for this post.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Betty Crocker Creamy Butter and Roasted Garlic Potatoes Review

Ready to prepare foods are not exactly on my list when I go to the supermarket, but let's face it, it can be quite tiresome to cook everyday and having a few in the house can be a lifesaver.

When asked if I would review Betty Crocker Creamy Butter and Roasted Garlic mash potatoes, I initially thought no, I don't want to do it because, I always make my mash potatoes from scratch. Plus, I wasn't sure how my daughter would react.

Well, I am please to say that the instant butter potatoes were indeed creamy in texture and buttery in taste. The garlic potatoes were as advertised, garlicky but not too garlicky. Now admittedly, when you open the package, it really is not the best looking of foods. The potatoes are not potatoes but potato flakes. But once you mix in the milk, butter and milk it truly becomes a great side dish. The potatoes were creamy, had flavor and looked like mash potatoes are suppose to look like.

Now again, my pet peeve and hop that Betty Crocker like all the other food companies work on getting high fructose corn syrup out of our foods.

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Entenmann's Newest Product Pancake Pockets Review and $50 Spa Finder Giveaway CLOSED Giveaway (NY Residents Only) CLOSED

Congrats to Israel Y. 

Who doesn't love Entenmann's products. We are big fans of the coffee cake. Recently, Entennmann's introduced Pancake Pockets for busy families on the go. You just pop one in the microwave for 10 seconds, let it sit and enjoy.They come in three flavors, chocolate, strawberry and maple.

I tried the chocolate version, the store was out of the other two versions. I must admit that it was yummy for a breakfast choice especially the chocolate filling, when you need something to eat and run. The chocolate was not Godiva but more like a chocolate croissant. My daughter also liked it which is great since we need more breakfast options. Each serving is only 170 calories, not too bad for a meal that satisfies one's hunger in the morning. Personally, I would split the serving between my daughter and myself because it is pretty sweet for breakfast.

I could also see having it as a mid-afternoon snack with a cup of tea, nice way to end the day.

My only comment for the company is that corn syrup is the number five ingredient before eggs and nonfat milk. Please try to work on getting corn syrup out of the product and I will be happy.

Also, I was a tad confused about whether the pancake was supposed to cooked in the plastic bag. I had to read the instructions a couple of times and went for cooking it in the bag. It didn't melt, so I thought, I must have done it correctly.

One lucky NYC Single Mom Review reader will receive a coupon for a box of Pancake Pockets and $50 towards a spa experience from Spa Finder. Just tell everyone what makes your morning hectic. NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS FOR NYC AREA RESIDENTS ONLY SINCE THE PRODUCT IS ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE AREA.

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom received 1 box of Pancake Pockets for review and $50 Spa Finder Gift Certificate.
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Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Foam and Fresh Brush 2-in-1 Review

Being a Single Mom, it's pretty much all up to me to clean, do dishes, cook.... you get the picture.

But of all the chores, I hate cleaning the bathroom the most. I have no idea why, I have the smallest bathroom, which should be a piece of cake and yet, I just can't stand it and avoid it to the last possible minute.

Last week, I went to dinner at Rock Center Cafe at Rockefeller Center  hosted by classymommy and Scrubbing Bubbles. It was a sit-down dinner with lots of fun bloggers who I was happy to chat with. Well, we were given Scrubbing Bubble products to try out. I was given Mega Shower Foamer and 2-n-1 Fresh Brush.

Mega Shower Foamer really worked well in cleaning my icky tub. Okay, it's not frat house bad but the soap scum does build up quite quickly and the shower foam went on evenly and really got tub all nice and clean. The best of all, was I wasn't scrubbing like mad. And yes, the smell was quite pleasant.  The easy push button makes it easy to cover more of the tub than trigger spray cleaners.

I actually looked this up but it's not recommended for sinks and/or toilets  because of the broad spray pattern which makes sense. The benefit of the product is the coverage and toilets/sinks don't need that.

Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush 2-in-1
Given that bathrooms are just so germy and germs can congregate anywhere especially toilet brushes, I have conceded the fight and started trying disposable toilet cleaning products. The Scrubbing bubbles cleaned my toilet no problem and left my toilet smelling scenty fresh.
I only wish that it was truly disposable in that it can be flushed down the toilet when finished. And that it dissolves as you clean, that would be the best. No muss, no fuss. Goodbye toilet brush cleaner. Finally, loved that the handle has a hook. For me, space is at a premium and the hook works well versus a floor brush.

Definitely give them both a shot. As for me, I will be off looking for coupons to buy more of both products as I really like them both.

Visit scrubbing for more information on the entire Scrubbing Bubbles product line

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom received Scrubbing Bubbles products for review purposes only.
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HP and Snapfish Holiday Gift Ideas

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2010 Holiday Survival Kit, 79 million shoppers turned out last year for Black Friday and 96.5 million shopped online on Cyber Monday.

Whether you’re planning to brave traffic online or at the mall, gifts from HP and Snapfish help to simplify your shopping list…and your life!

HP and Snapfish’s holiday offerings include:

  • A first-of-its-kind technology, the full-featured HP Photosmart eStation All-in-One ($399) boasts a 7-inch detachable touchscreen that serves as a digital companion for the whole family and comes equipped with HP ePrint:
  • Kids can access a range of apps from partners such as Sesame Street, LeapFrog, and Scholastic
  • Teens can use the detachable screen as a music player or as a browser to read online magazines or check Facebook®
  • Mom can access recipes from apps such as Martha Stewart and
  • Dad can access more than 1 million digital e-book titles through Barnes & Noble’s expansive eBookstore.

HP ePrint allows users to wirelessly print anytime, anywhere directly from the web without a PC by simply emailing their printer – even from a mobile device such as a smartphone. For Apple users, HP also offers an exclusive Apple AirPrint application, which allows for printing directly from Apple devices to any of HP's ePrint enabled printers.

Surprise your kids this holiday season by customizing their rooms with HP Wall Art. HP Wall Art allows families to personalize wall decor with colorful, fun graphics from Nickelodeon, including SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go! and iCarly.

For busy families that want to infuse their homes with holiday cheer without stepping into the cold, the HP Creative Studio offers a one-stop shop for unique, free printable projects for the season such as creative holiday card designs, gift tags, festive decorations, holiday stationary and gift boxes. New this year are the snowflake photo ornament, angel tree topper and wreath and nutcracker party invites.

Whether you’re an early or last minute shopper, Snapfish has you covered for the holidays with more than 100 unique, affordable photo gifts and holiday cards available for mail order, print-at-home or even same day in-store pick-up at more than 10,000 retail locations.

When giving a new printer (or any electronic device) this year, encourage your friends and family to recycle their old products through programs like HP’s Planet Partners recycling program, which responsibly handles returned computer equipment, printing supplies, rechargeable batteries and other items…for free!

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Strawberry Shortcake Hits a Milestone - Happy 30th Birthday and Welcome to the Hub Network

Recently,  I went to a party at Alice's Tea Cup (one of my favorite places to have tea) to celebrate Strawberry Shortcake's 30th birthday. Yes, her 30th birthday, hard to believe, isn't it? I loved her as a kid with her strawberry scented hair and now my daughter is able to not only enjoy playing with all the Strawberry Shortcake dolls but be able to watch her new show on the Hub Network (check your local cable station for the channel.)

My daughter kept following Strawberry Shortcake throughout the party, so cute. Of course, how could I not get in one of the shots.

On top of previewing the new Stawberrry Shortcake show,  we saw a preview of Twisted Whiskers and Maryoku Yummy. If your kids are into animals doing funny, comical and slapstick,  then Twisted Whiskers is for them.

Maryoku Yummy is aimed at the pre-school set where the character invites you to Nozumu, the magical land where wishes become real. Why can't adults have a show like that?

Shows are also available online to view: Maryoku YummyTwisted Whiskers, Strawberry Shortcake. Visit the site to see their entire line up of shows. 

With Twisted Whisker character, Dander

And thanks to American Greetings! Strawberry Shortcake is a licensed character owned by American Greetings. For more info, visit their website for more on Strawberry Shortcake, Twisted Whiskers and more. 

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom received various Strawberry Shortcake products and was not compensated for this post.
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kidz Bop Dance Party the Video Game for Wii Review

Kidz Bop the CDis a big favorite in our household. Now Kidz Bop has introduced a video game for the Wii so you and your kids can dance to your hearts content. We had a ton of fun testing out the game modes while listening to our favorite songs like Party in the USA, Paparazzi, Thriller and many more pop hits.

So if you are looking for fun family time, Kidz Bop Dance Party
 is for you.

Like the CDs, the songs are performed by kids for kids, with kid-friendly lyrics, a plus in my opinion. Enjoy five gameplay modes ranging from free play to challenge to dance off.

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom received a copy of the Kidz Bop Dance Party for review purposes only. 
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Pinkalicous Fans - Celebrate All Things Pink with a new line of Pinkalicious Products

Like millions of girls, my daughter has been and still is entertained by Pinkalicious. My daughter's favorite character now jumps off the pages for her to continue enjoying the character outside of the books. A full collection of products from plush dolls, dress-up clothes , bicycles and much more is now available for fans of the character to imagine, play and just plain have fun.

My daughter loves playing with the Pinkalicous large soft doll and Goldilicious unicorn. It was so cute to see how she would react to them in person versus the books or the play and it was love at first sight. She spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging her plush dolls just right. She has already taken out her Pinkalicious'  hair and pretends she is a hairdresser. Quite an experience to watch my daughter be creative about the characters, she only read a about.

Pinkalicious Large Soft Doll
"18" Pinkalicious doll comes with wand, tiara an wings
Price: $19.97
Available: Wal-Mart, Amazon

Goldilicious Unicorn
The imaginary pet of Pinkalicious
Price $19.97
Available: Wal-Mart, Amazon

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom received Pinkalicous products for review purposes only
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Learning about Bread from Panera Bread and Tom Gumpel, Head of Bakery Development

NYC Single Mom and Tom Gumpel, VP Bread Development
Bread, Bread, Bread - I am sure you have bread at least once a day, I know I do, whether it's toast or a bagel, it's a daily must. That said, I don't really think about baking bread much. It seems like a lot of work to me.

But after attending an event hosted by Panera Bread featuring their Tom Gumpel, their Vice-President of Bakery Development (is that a dream job or what?!!) I was inspired.

Tom was really passionate about baking and really gave a great presentation not only about bread but made us  think about how bread is really a part of every country's cultural identity. Interesting.

So let's get down to brass tacks, Tom showed us two bread recipes that looked like it was pretty easy to make and of course, just plain yummy.  He made an Asiago Strata and a Chocolate Babka.

The Asiago Strata is a basically a bread pudding that can be used as an appetizer or side dish.  He suggested that we use it as replacement for potatoes or rice. I am pretty sure most people, would still want their side dish and the Strata. This bread dish was without a doubt was one of the most delightful dishes I have ever had and pretty easy to make.

The babka was also delicious and was pretty easy to make except maybe the grenache filling but that's me. For you bakers, this may not be a big issue.

As if learning how to make these two bread dishes was not enough, I actually learned a couple of secrets on how to keep bread tasting fresh.  I, obviously, have no idea about how to keep my bread fresh after I heard this.

Three days or more: As soon as you get home, cut off the portion you won’t be eating immediately and
wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Then bundle it in aluminum foil and freeze. “It’ll last a week to a week-and-ahalf, no problem,” says Gumpel. When it’s time to enjoy it again, remove the foil and plastic while the bread is still frozen, rewrap in foil, and place in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 15 minutes (depending on its size). “Just knock the chill off,” says Gumpel. “You don’t need it hot.” There’s no need to spritz it with water either. The bread will draw moisture from the inner ice crystals.

One or two days: Never refrigerate bread. “That ruins the starch, and it’ll get that day-old feel faster,”
says Gumpel. If it came in a paper sack, repackage the loaf in a plastic bag. This will help the bread retain its moisture. Note: I do this all the time. Yikes!

Here are the Recipes from the event. (Both are so worth trying) 

Makes: 3-5 Babkas
Assembly time: Dough 20 minutes (not including rest times), fillings 15 minutes each
Final Babka: 15 minutes
Bake time: 25 -35 minutes

Dough Ingredients
5 oz unsalted butter (soft)
5 oz sugar
5 oz whole milk
5 oz water
5 oz whole eggs
1 lb 13 oz bread flour
1 tblsp dry instant yeast
¼ oz salt

Chocolate Ganache Filling
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
4 oz heavy cream
1 Tblsp corn syrup

Pecan Topping
1 lb pecans (coarsely chopped)
Egg Wash
1 egg
1Tbls milk
Pinch salt

Dough Instructions
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour with the instant dry yeast using a hand whisk.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all other ingredients. Place the flour mixture into bowl on top of other 
  • mixer on medium speed and continue to mix for 8-10 minutes or until a smooth, homogenous dough is achievedprevent gaining a skin. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
    Turn the mixer on low speed and blend for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, scrap sides and bottom of bowl and turn 
  • Remove the dough from the mixer and place on a lightly flour table or board. Cover the dough with a cloth to 

After 30 minutes, divide the dough into 3-5 equally sized pieces. Round them carefully and place in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap.
Ganache Instructions

  • Heat the heavy cream just until it reaches a boil. Shut off the heat and stir in the corn syrup.
  • Place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Allow to reach room temperature before using as a spread.

  • Remove the chilled dough pieces from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured table, pin out a piece of dough into a
  • rectangle about the size of a note paper.
  • Spread about 4 T of chocolate ganache across the entire surface of the dough.
  • Take a handful of chopped pecans and cover the surface of the ganache evenly.
  • Starting from the top downward, begin rolling the babka piece into a cylinder –shape.
  • It should now be a cigar shape with the chocolate filling tucked inside.
  • Taking a sharp knife, cut down the middle of the cylinder pressing all the way to the table.
  • You will now have two halves of the cylinder separated.
  • Begin by twisting the two strands together into a simple braid.
  • Place babka onto a paper lined sheet pan.
  • Brush the babka carefully with egg wash and sprinkle pecans as a garnish.
Place in a warm area and allow to rise for two hours, brush again (carefully) with eggwash and place into a 350*F in the
Bake for about 25-35 minutes or until evenly mahogany brown.
Serve warm or room temperature.

Asiago Strata
Serves: 6-8 people
Assembly time: 10-15 minutes
Bake time: 35-45 minutes

2 tablespoons sweetened/salted butter (soft)
1-1/2 cup milk
1 cup cream
3 whole eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of cracked black pepper
1 loaf (18 ounces) Asiago bread
1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded (or other cheese shredded)

Preparation: Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Brush the sides and bottom of 8” baking dish or casserole dish with softened butter.

Custard: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, salt and pepper and set aside.

  • Cut the Asiago bread across the loaf in thin, even slices, approximately ¼ “thick. Start assembly of the strata by placing bread slices on the bottom of the dish until bottom is completely covered. Sprinkle shredded Asiago cheese as necessary on the bread slices to cover completely. 
  • Cover with another layer of bread slices and sprinkle cheese on top, again covering bread slices completely.
  • Continue to build the strata for as many layers as dish allows, then pour custard mixture over top of strata.
  • Cover the strata and refrigerate for 15 minutes, allowing the bread slices to soak in custard mixture.

  • Place the strata pan on a cookie sheet to catch any dripping of the custard. Set the strata in the center of the pre-heated oven and allow to bake for approximately 35- 45 minutes. The custard should gain a rich dark color and rise slightly from the pan (it will settle after removal from the oven). Carefully remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes before unmolding.

  • Carefully invert the strata by placing a 10” plate over the top of the pan and slowly flip the plate and pan over together. Place on the counter and allow the strata to fall from the pan onto the plate. If the strata does not release from the pan, cut around the sides of the pan and try to invert again.

Serve hot or warm as an accompaniment with meat and vegetables to fill out the meal

Disclosure: NYC Single Mom received a Panera Bread gift card.
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