Thursday, July 2, 2015

Add a Twist to Ranch with the New Hidden Valley Ranch Flavors! {#FavRanchFlav}

Hidden Valley logo
This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch, in collaboration with DataRank and Walmart, but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

With the way that June flew by in a blink and the knowledge that July will most likely do the same, I'm already mentally thinking about what else I would like to get done before my kids head back to school in two months.

We've done plenty of swimming at the pool, hanging out with friends, playing in the yard, participating in sports and activities, planning upcoming vacations... but the item that I worry will slip past me is having a fun, casual potluck with family, friends and neighbors.

No matter if you're welcoming the folks that have recently moved to the neighborhood or if you're just having your closest pals over for an afternoon of laid-back entertainment and eating, who doesn't love hosting a summer barbeque or potluck?

But as well as lighting up the grill, I'm always on the lookout for ways to use the products and ingredients we already know and love in new and delicious ways. This year, just that is happening now that I have found out that Hidden Valley has released five new additions to their already-beloved Hidden Valley Ranch line!

new Hidden Valley Ranch flavors

That's right! If you're a fan of Ranch (are there people who aren't? I'm a firm believer that everything is made better with the addition of Ranch) then you'll be just as excited as I am to hear that Hidden Valley has debuted new Hidden Valley Ranch flavors to their already-diverse selection:
  • Avocado Ranch
  • Cucumber Ranch
  • Cucumber Ranch (Light)
  • Sweet Chili
  • Roasted Garlic
Yum, right?

While I couldn't wait to try these as a dip or on a salad, I also knew that they would be just the thing to inspire me to whip up something a little more creative for dinner. Again, Ranch + anything = delicious in my book!

First up, it was time to head to Walmart to pick up a bottle or two of Hidden Valley Ranch flavored dressing.


Although the condiment section only offered one of the new Hidden Valley Ranch flavors...

salad dressings didn't take me long to discover that there was a full near-endcap display showing off all five!

Hidden Valley Ranch

After agonizing over the decision process (I love avocados but my children do not... garlic is good in just about any dish... hmm... sweet chili sounds unique and tasty...) I opted to try Cucumber Ranch first.

Time to head home to start cooking!

Hidden Valley Ranch Cucumber

Deciding to put a new twist on an old favorite, it was time to pull out fresh summer vegetables and combine them with this tasty dressing and a homemade flatbread pizza crust for Veggie Ranch Pizza.

I love that this recipe is so easy as well as extremely customizable depending on favorite vegetables, what is available depending on the season, and more!

Veggie Ranch Pizza


1 unbaked pizza crust
1 - 1½ cups Hidden Valley Ranch Cucumber dressing, to taste
½ cup chopped fresh broccoli
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped tomato
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350°.

Place pizza crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet (and roll out evenly, if necessary).

Spread Hidden Valley Ranch Cucumber dressing evenly on crust to within ½" of edges.

pizza with ranch dressing

Sprinkle 1½ cups mozzarella cheese, followed by vegetables. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

veggie pizza

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until vegetables are cooked, cheese is melted, and crust is lightly browned.

veggie pizza recipe

Carrots, cauliflower, onion, meats... the list is endless as to what toppings could be added to this versatile pizza, but the addition of the creamy Hidden Valley Ranch Cucumber gives it a delicious twist!

Or, if you're a bigger fan of avocado or roasted garlic, just pick up a different bottle of these new Hidden Valley dressing flavors and you'll have a whole new meal!

homemade veggie pizza

Ready to give your Ranch an update? Head over to to find out more about these delicious new additions (as well as all of the delectable classics) and connect with Hidden Valley on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Then, print out this Hidden Valley Ranch coupon to save some money (who doesn't want to save money?) and head to Walmart!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Love My Professional, Long-Lasting Mani and Pedi from the Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit! {Review}

I have found that I have a love-hate relationship with manicures.

On the one hand, I can go to the salon for a high quality gel manicure that will shine and gleam and last for weeks, making me smile every time I catch a glimpse of the color. But, hello? Pricey.

On the other hand, I can save money by giving myself a manicure right at home, as I have no shortage of little bottles filled with fun colors all lined up in my bathroom. But... no matter how many layers or top coats I put on, it seems that it is only days later that the polish has started to chip away, making me sigh at the time that I wasted.

What's a girl to do?

The answer is the happy medium of the two! Professional results in the form of a red carpet-worthy manicure that will last for weeks that is also affordable and conveniently done right in my own home. It's the Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit!


Containing everything you need for a professional salon gel manicure, the Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit provides long lasting wear and shine right at home. Why pay a small fortune to have your nails done elsewhere when you can have weeks of wear and shine with these products instead?

Wondering if it could truly be this easy to get salon quality results from this small box, I was eager to pull out the Pro Kit and try it myself.

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit

As advertised, this kit comes with a wide variety of products needed to make just about anyone's nails looking great!
  • Professional LED Gel-Curing Light (AC power cord adapter included)
  • Prep for maximum adhesion
  • Structure base coat gel
  • Brilliance seal and shine top coat gel
  • Revitalize nourishing cuticle oil
  • Red Carpet Reddy LED gel polish
  • Purify pre and post application cleanser
  • Erase gel nail polish remover
Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit items

Using Red Carpet Manicure's easy to follow instructions, it wasn't difficult to go step-by-step in creating my own spa experience for my nails right at home.

After filing and shaping my nails and wiping them clean with the Purify Pre & Post Application Cleanser, the first coat was a layer of Prep Max Adhesion Sanitizer.

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit Prep

As the Prep evaporated immediately, there wasn't any wait before applying a thin coat of Structure Base Coat Gel.

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit Structure

After Structure had been applied, it was time to put the Professional LED Light to use.

Simply give the power button on the top a tap, all the while leaving your four fingers underneath the light (for 30 seconds). Afterward, I gave my thumb a turn and the Structure had been cured and set!

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit LED

As it was then time for the color, I applied a thin coat of the LED Gel Polish and then let it sit under the Light for 45 seconds before repeating for a second coat.

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit polish

For one last top coat, I then applied the Brilliance Seal & Shine Top Coat Gel and let it cure for 45 more seconds.

Finally, a quick wipe on each nail with the Purify Pre & Post Application Cleanser to clean off any tacky residue and my manicure was finished — zero drying time needed!

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit mani

I did one hand at a time and found that it took a total of around 15 minutes to go through each of the steps for all four fingers and the thumb. But overall I was amazed at how simple it was to use one bottle after the next and that the Professional LED Light was able to efficiently cure each layer in seconds.

The only thing I would change is that the button on the Light turns it on automatically for 45 seconds, so when I only needed it for 30 seconds (for the Structure) I would have liked a way to have it turn off at that time instead of trying to count and keep track to pull my fingers out early.

Overall, however, this kit is pretty amazing in that the results truly do feel the same as when I have gone to the salon for a gel manicure or pedicure! I love that my nails are so smooth and shiny while feeling extremely strong and healthy. Even better, as opposed to regular nail polish that chips off after a day or two, my Red Carpet Manicure has stayed perfectly intact for weeks without problem!

And, considering that a pedicure always lasts longer, I have no doubt that my toes are going to be looking red carpet ready for months now, too!

gel pedicure
Doing the pedicure was quick and easy as I was able to have one foot under the LED Light while I worked on the other and trade back and forth.

When it comes to removing this gel polish, the steps are also quite easy and include buffing the tops and then letting the nail sit with the Erase Gel Nail Polish Remover on it.

But I plan on keeping this on until my order for three more bottles of LED Gel Polish (there are zillions available on the Red Carpet Manicure website and even more on Amazon!) arrives so that I can have a professional manicure day after day. LOVE!

Gel Nail Polish

If you're ready to take your at-home manicures and pedicures to the next level, I highly recommend the Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit! While the initial retail price of $80 may seem high, it really isn't much more than the cost of ONE salon visit... and will provide you with professional results whenever you please. I don't plan on ever going back to my "regular" polish again!

Find out much more about this great kit and all of the Red Carpet Manicure products available by visiting their website at and by connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can also find their great items available at Ulta Beauty (and,,, Fred Meyer, Duane Reade, Wegmans and Harmon Drug.

Other than the Pro Kit that I was provided by Red Carpet Manicure in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this post in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion about this product.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cool Off with Delicious and Affordable Iced Coffee and Tea from Your Keurig!

Cross Country Cafe logo
As much as I love my coffee, with the heat of the summer upon us, I'll admit that a steaming hot cup doesn't always sound quite as appealing as it does as when the weather is cooler. Not exactly what I want to treat myself with in the middle of the afternoon when it already feels like 90° out, you know?

Fortunately, Cross Country Cafe has plenty of ways to take your Keurig to the next level with Brew Over Ice K-cups for refreshing ice cold coffees and tea!

Keurig iced coffee tea

A consistent favorite of coffee-drinkers new and old, iced coffees and iced teas are the perfect way to enjoy the smooth, delicious flavors for hot weather.

But why spend a fortune (not to mention the time and hassle of) going to the coffeehouse when you don't have to? Instead, pick up a box of Keurig K-cups and you'll be prepared for icy tastiness whenever the urge strikes you!

Donut Shop iced coffee

The Original Donut Shop Coffee has been brewing rich, delectable coffees for years. Therefore, it isn't a surprise that Donut Shop has provided a way to create a perfectly brewed, perfectly sweetened, perfectly creamy iced coffee to enjoy all summer long.

These Sweet & Creamy Nutty Hazelnut K-cups are just so simple! Pop one in your Keurig brewer, brew over ice (instead of into your mug) and enjoy! The result? A delicious iced coffee fresh from your kitchen without the wait, the drive or the huge price tag!

K-cup iced coffee

Using the 6-oz setting that Donut Shop recommended (you can, of course, also choose a different size depending on your strength preference), I love that these K-cups provide the rich and creamy flavor of coffee but with the cool, refreshing addition of ice.

Keurig K-cup iced coffee

These K-cups include a dash of cream and sweetener (you can always add more, of course!) and definitely have an unmistakable, strong hazelnut flavor. For those people that are fans of nutty flavored coffees, this will surely be a hit!

All together, Donut Shop has provided a cup of fresh, flavorful gourmet iced coffee that is great to start the day, kick back with in the afternoon or wind down with in the evening. They're a little too nut-flavored for my liking, but again, fans of flavored coffee should give these a try for a tasty summer treat. Here's to summer!

iced coffee at home

If you're already a fan of The Original Donut Shop and their flavored coffee, you'll love that their delectable K-cups are made to brew over ice for summer enjoyment. Or, if you haven't tried iced coffee (or iced tea) at home with your Keurig before, I highly recommend picking up one of the many varieties available from Cross Country Cafe to give it a try today!

Brew Over Ice

As a Cross Country Cafe Ambassador, I have been provided with products in exchange for my continued work with their company and affiliate links are included in the above post. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta at The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar {#ReviewCrew}

2015 Review Crew Blogger Badge
Although my family enjoys eating a variety of foods, there's no doubt that the everlasting favorite is always pasta. How can you go wrong when the delicious noodles and the decadent sauces come together for a plate full of YUM?

Therefore, when my husband and I were planning a recent weekend day out and were looking for a restaurant that would be in our projected area for dinner, the search was over when we came across The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar. A cozy, warm atmosphere combined with a menu full of divine pasta creations? Yes, please!

Pasta Tree Milwaukee

Located in a cozy Eastside Milwaukee neighborhood, The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar has been a favorite of residents, downtown businesses and travelers for over 32 years. Considering that it combines all of the charm of a European bistro with fresh pastas, sauces, breads and desserts prepared daily, it really isn't any wonder that The Pasta Tree has earned a reputation as Milwaukee's freshest and best Italian food.

After a full day of activities, our stomachs were growling as we arrived at The Pasta Tree and, after a warm welcome, we were shown to our comfortable, chic table.

The Pasta Tree Milwaukee

After we were settled and had been greeted by a friendly server, we took to perusing the menu.

Oh my, the menu.

I mentioned that we like pasta, right? There is just about every imaginable variety customizable and available with all sorts of delicious additions like vegetables, shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef and much more!

The Pasta Tree menu

Upon finally making our selections, we were treated to a basket of homemade bread and flavored butter that got our taste buds even more excited about the main course.

The Pasta Tree bread

What followed the bread was our appetizer order of Mozzarella in Sugo, The Pasta Tree's unique twist on mozzarella sticks. As opposed to something that tastes as though it sat in the freezer and then was fried, their homemade breaded mozzarella and fresh tomato vegetable sauce was amazing!

homemade mozzarella sticks

While we waited for our entrees to arrive, we took in more of the decor of The Pasta Tree and discussed how beautiful it must be to dine on the garden patio on evenings filled with nice weather. Even though the space is somewhat small, the water fountain and blooming flowers make it so quaint and intimate!

The Pasta Tree Milwaukee outdoor patio

A short while later, our main dishes arrived and everyone took in the aromas of their plates of pasta with glee. Mmm, mmmm!

The Pasta Tree Milwaukee review

Caesar salad, Fettuccine Alfredo, Fresh Basil Pesto Cream pasta, Tortellini with Alfredo, Carbonara and Chicken Alfredo that were all just as fresh and delicious as they looked!

Big Sister E and Little Sister B begrudgingly shared a little bit of their Alfredo dishes with me and, after I had a taste, I could see why they didn't want to give up any more bites. Yum!

kids love pasta

Many plates were completely cleared by the end of dinner, while others were packaged up and eaten as leftovers the following day. As I had enjoyed my Pesto Cream dish but felt as though there was a little too much pesto compared to the amount of noodles, I was able to split my leftovers into multiple meals by adding my own pasta and extending the tastiness even further!

While the prices at The Pasta Tree are in line with those of an upscale, high quality restaurant, using our certificate made the whole meal extremely affordable! As it received two thumbs from the whole family and was the perfect addition to our day, I can definitely see returning in the future.

For more information about The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar, visit their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter. To find out about all of the money-saving options that has to offer in your area (or in an area that you are planning to visit), head over to as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

As a member of the Review Crew, I have been provided gift cards and compensation in order to facilitate my reviews. However, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.