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Welcome to Grandma's Back Room

Grandma's Back Room is where you'll find all kinds of fun stuff, including GIVEAWAYS, REVIEWS, SPONSORED POSTS and more!

So go ahead: Enter the giveaways, read the reviews, peruse the sponsored posts. And be sure to take a moment to visit the websites of the kind folks who have provided the goodies of which I write about, give away or plug.

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    Baked in the microwave: A tasty option from Healthy Choice

    When my husband and I returned home after a minor family emergency the other night, we were hungry but it was too late to cook, and we sure didn't feel like ordering take-out, either.

    Fortunately we had two Healthy Choice Baked Entrées in the freezer. I had received coupons for the free meals as part of Healthy Choice campaign I'm participating in with the Vibrant Nation Influencer Network, and because of them, my husband and I had a hot meal in less time than it would have taken for us to pick up fast food at a drive-through on our way home.

    The Healthy Choice Baked Entrées offer fresh, baked-from-the-oven taste straight from the microwave in the following 10 flavors (meal descriptions courtesy Healthy Choice):

    • Four Cheese Ziti Marinara: Freshly-made ziti pasta tossed with classic marinara and topped with a blend of fine Italian cheeses; Parmesan, Romano, Asiago and mozzarella.
    • Roasted Chicken and Potatoes: Savory slices of chicken breast with red skin potatoes, crisp carrots, and tender pearl onions in a light chicken and herb sauce.
    • Fettuccini Alfredo Bake: A classic combination of freshly-made fettuccini pasta and rich Parmesan Alfredo sauce with crisp broccoli and topped with seasoned bread crumbs.
    • Italian Sausage Pasta Bake: Freshly-made whole grain rotini pasta paired with juicy Italian sausage, tossed in a rich garlic marinara together with bubbling mozzarella cheese.
    • Lasagna with Meat Sauce: Three rich layers of freshly-made pasta, hearty meat sauce, and ricotta cheese topped with mozzarella for perfection.
    • Chicken & Rice Cheddar Bake: Whole grain brown & wild rice pilaf with crisp broccoli and sliced chicken breast in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
    • Chicken & Spinach Alfredo: Freshly-made whole grain penne pasta tossed with sliced chicken breast, spinach and tomatoes in a creamy Alfredo sauce.
    • Chicken Enchilada Bake: A full-flavored chicken enchilada over cilantro rice and topped with corn, black beans and a decadent queso sauce.
    • Ravioli Marinara Bake: Rich ricotta and spinach filled al dente ravioli tossed in a tomato basil sauce and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese.
    • Slow Roasted Turkey Bake: Slow roasted turkey breast accompanied by potatoes, butternut squash and crisp green beans topped with classical gravy and crispy onions.

    healthy choice

    When I purchased the Healthy Choice meals, I chose the Lasagna with Meat Sauce for my husband and the Chicken Enchilada Bake for myself. My husband — a lasagna lover like no other — said his was quite good, with al dente noodles, tasty meat sauce, and a reasonable amount of cheese. He offered me a bite, but I was busy partaking of my Chicken Enchilada Bake.

    Healthy Choice

    The flavorful Chicken Enchilada Bake hit the spot, but after seeing how much my husband enjoyed the Italian flavors, I wish I had chosen the Ravioli Marinara Bake instead of the Chicken Enchilada. No offense to the chicken dish, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked the ravioli better. I'll definitely get that one the next time. Or the ziti.

    Either way, there will be a next time, for the Healthy Choice Baked Entrées came in handy as a quick but wholesome and nutritious meal. Next time, though, I'll plan the meals for lunch  rather than dinner, as the portions are more suited to a lunch-time meal. Though I suppose if eaten with a veggie and possibly some rolls, they'd be perfectly fine at dinner time. We were just too darn hungry to go all out that late at night. And that late, the Healthy Choice Baked Entrées filled us up just fine.

    Visit the Healthy Choice website for more information on Healthy Choice Baked Entrées. 

    Disclosure: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. I have been provided coupons for free products and compensation for posting. Opinions and anecdotes are my own and were not influenced nor reviewed by Healthy Choice prior to posting.


    Giveaway: Key Ingredient Recipe Reader a high-tech, highly useful gadget

    Like most cooks, I save and pin and bookmark recipes all across the web. Then, when it comes time to cook, I pull out my laptop or iPhone (I don't have in iPad) and proceed to splatter and splash ingredients across my electronics while trying to concoct something yummy in the kitchen. Assuming that is, that I can actually see the recipe I'm trying to follow, especially at times I display it on my phone.

    Not the joy of cooking one might hope for.

    There is, though, a nifty gadget that makes reading recipes on a fancy gadget — collecting them on it, too — much more enjoyable. And readable. And use-able, er, useful.

    The gadget is the Key Ingredient Recipe Reader, a high-tech cookbook if ever there was one. The Recipe Reader is designed to be used in conjunction with the Key Ingredient website, which boasts more than a million recipes curated by an active community of cooks saving and sharing their favorite recipes. Users sign up on the Key Ingredient website, add their favorite recipes and create online collections of recipes from others, then access those favorites on the wi-fi connected Recipe Reader when they're ready to get cooking.

    The Key Ingredient Recipe Reader has a sealed-glass touch screen that provides easy access to those recipes. The reader resides in the kitchen, ready to display horizontally or vertically the complete recipe, right where and when you need it. The screen (and entire gadget) can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Also, the Recipe Reader includes three kitchen timers (that can be run simultaneously), a conversion calculator and an ingredient substitution tool. It's everything you'd want in a cookbook, all at your fingertips, all easily updated with new recipes any time you choose.

    In addition to the recipes available on the Key Ingredient website, more can be added any time from anywhere on the web, via the Cookmark plugin for browser toolbars, similar to the Pinterest "Pin It" button. I even added a few of my own recipes from my Recipe Box using the Cookmark feature. It works really well for curating recipes from any webpage, though I do wish the Cookmark plugin included the recipe photo when saving to the Key Ingredient site and the Recipe Reader instead of a generic "no photo" graphic.

    It's also easy to add recipes to collections from mobile devices, thanks to the free Key Ingredient app.

    The Recipe Reader is super simple to navigate, providing quick-touch access to recipes saved via Key Ingredient. Cooks of any age or tech ability could easily figure it out. One improvement I'd love to see though, is the ability to hit a "back" button to return to previous screens rather than having to return where you originally navigated from. I'm crossing my fingers such functionality will be included in an update.

    The Key Ingredient Recipe Reader retails for $149.95 and can be purchased on the Key Ingredient website. Also on the Key Ingredient website, find information about the Key Ingredient Community Cookbook Contest featuring more than $400 in gifts, prizes, and other materials for the first 200 communities to sign up to host such an event, plus a chance to win $2000 from Key Ingredient.


    Key Ingredient has generously offered to award one Key Ingredient Recipe Reader to a Grandma's Briefs reader (prize value $149.95). To enter, follow the entry options via Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to US residents only, with entries accepted via Rafflecopter through midnight MST Sept. 4. The winner will be drawn randomly and contacted Sept. 5. Prize and shipping responsibility of the brand representatives, not Grandma's Briefs.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway  

    Disclosure: I received a free Key Ingredient Recipe Reader for review, as well as the offer of one to be awarded by the brand in a giveaway. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers: Steamy, healthy, easy... and good

    As we get older, my husband and I are trying to eat a little more healthy. One thing I recently started doing is steaming our broccoli each and every time we have it. Delicious stuff. But there's far more to be steamed than broccoli, and Healthy Choice has us covered with the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers. They're entire meals steamed to perfection — in the microwave. The 100 percent Naturals Café Steamers use a tray-in-tray technology that separates the ingredients while cooking, so the vegetables are crisper and the pasta is al dente.

    As part of a Healthy Choice campaign I'm participating in with the Vibrant Nation Influencer Network, I received coupons for two free Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers entrees. The options are many, including Tortellini Primavera Pasta, Pumpkin Squash Ravioli, Asian Potstickers and more.

    Healthy Choice

    I chose the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Grilled Chicken Pesto with vegetables — a Top Chef-inspired creation — for myself. It's chicken tenderloins with rotini pasta, zucchini and spinach in a basil pesto sauce. The pasta was perfectly cooked, not mushy as is often the case with frozen meals. In addition, the chicken was tender, the veggies tasted fresh, and the pesto sauce was far more flavorful than I expected. (For one, I didn't expect to want to lick the dish once I placed the meal on my plate.)

    Healthy Choice

    Though I love pesto, my husband doesn't. His entree was the Beef Merlot — beef and red roasted potatoes, vegetable medley with rich merlot wine sauce. He, too, could have licked the dish, the sauce was that good (though I told him that would be so very rude and ungrandpa-like behavior). Now, my hubby isn't a huge fan of vegetables, so he wasn't thrilled with the beans and carrot medley, but he did say the potatoes were delicious and the beef was "just as good as the best stew meat I've ever had." For a man who doesn't say much about food, that's high praise.

    While my husband and I were quite pleased with our entrees, I was a bit dismayed by the amount of waste produced by the packaging. The tray-in-tray technology that steams things up to perfection resulted in two rather large plastic dishes plus the outer box per entree. They were sturdy plastic containers that would be treasured by kids looking for serving pieces to add to their play kitchen collection. Alas, as I have no kids in the house looking for play pieces, our pieces went in the recycle bin. Yes, recycling is good, but not having to recycle that much per entree would be even better.

    Find more information on Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers on the Healthy Choice website. 

    Disclosure: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. I have been provided coupons for free products and compensation for posting. Opinions and anecdotes are my own and were not influenced nor reviewed by Healthy Choice prior to posting.


    Luvs Super Absorbent Diapers: The clue is in the blue

    Take a guess at how many diapers I’ve wasted, as a mother and as a grandmother, when guessing whether a baby’s diaper is wet or not, in need of changing or not. No need to come up with a number, as I’ll just tell you: It’s a lot.

    Sometimes there’s no doubt as to when a kid needs a diaper changed. Other times, though, it’s not so obvious. And as a germaphobe to a minor degree, I refuse to touch-test a diaper to see if it is indeed damp. So let’s just say I’ve pitched a lot of perfectly dry diapers in my quest to keep a grandson’s bum dry and comfy.

    Though my grandsons are now potty trained and no longer in diapers, I’m far from done with the grandma gig, considering one daughter may not yet be done have kiddos and my other two daughters have not even yet begun. Which means there are more diapers in my future. Thankfully, though, there will be no more wasted diapers, thanks to Luvs.

    Luvs has created a super absorbent diaper that — get this — turns blue when wet and in need of changing. No more guess work, for the clue is in the blue.

    Not only do Luvs Super Absorbent diapers turn blue when wet, they are, as the name implies, super absorbent, with an ultra absorbent leakguard core that helps lock wetness away from baby’s skin. They’re 15 percent more absorbent than other Luvs. Plus, they have a contoured shape and leak barrier leg gathers for a more snug, more comfy fit.

    Where to find the special version of Luvs? Again, the clue is in the blue: Look for the blue seal on the Super Absorbent Leakguard boxes, available at Walmart.

    Want more info? Visit the Luvs Super Absorbent diapers website, like on Facebook and follow on Twitter

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Luvs.


    Munch! Win a cozy bedtime story package for little ones


    Matthew Van Fleet — author of New York Times bestsellers Alphabet, Heads, Tails, and Moo — has once again created a coveted interactive tale for toddlers. This one is called Munch! and it hits stores August 27.

    Munch! features four clever pull tabs and seven tickleable textures. The clever board book puts toddlers nose to nose with captivating critters as they demonstrate all different kinds of mouths and the amazing things they can do. Along the way, sounds, colors, and actions are introduced in a fun and interactive way. The sturdy and silly book is intended for ages 2-6, but can be enjoyed by all members of the family.

    Munch! is another in a long line of unique books from Van Fleet, whose innovative books have been introducing children to basic concepts for almost twenty years. His unique formats invite toddlers to touch, press, pull, lift, and even sniff as they explore colors, shapes, numbers, letters, opposites, and more. Here's a glimpse into his creative process:

    For more information on Munch!, visit the Official Book Site and Van Fleet Books.

    Munch! prize packageBetter yet, enter via Rafflecopter below to win a cozy prize package to share with your favorite toddler, courtesy of the publisher.

    One winner will receive a bedtime story package: 

    • Copies of MUNCH!, SNIFF!, LICK! MOO, CAT and ALPHABET by Matthew Van Fleet

    Entries accepted through midnight August 27. Winner will be randomly drawn and notified August 28. Prize and shipping is responsibility of brand representatives, not Grandma's Briefs.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway  

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of Munch! for review before sharing this giveaway.


    Giveaway: Celebrate Hallmark Channel's original series 'Cedar Cove'

    Andie MacDowell in your living room every week? Yes, thanks to Hallmark Channel's new original series CEDAR COVE starring Andie MacDowell and based on the bestselling books by Debbie Macomber.

    In Debbie Macomber's CEDAR COVE, Andie MacDowell plays Judge Olivia Lockhart, whose Cedar Cove Municipal Court is the professional milieu and social microcosm of issues the judge will face in her own day-to-day life with family and friends. Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal), the editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle, is a new friend and potential love interest for Judge Lockhart.

    Take a look:


    Watch CEDAR COVE Saturday nights at 8p/7c only on Hallmark Channel.

    Though we all come out winners as Andie MacDowell thanks to Ms. MacDowell staring in a weekly primetime television series, the Hallmark Channel will award one Grandma's Briefs reader an extra-special prize package in celebration of the CEDAR COVE.

    One winner will receive a $55 value package including: 

    • $25 Amazon Gift Card to purchase the CEDAR COVE book series
    • Recyclable shopping tote
    • Debbie Macomber’s 16 Lighthouse Road Book
    • Micro-Fleece winter beanie

    Enter via Rafflecopter below through midnight August 26. Winner to be randomly drawn August 27; prize to be shipped from the sponsor.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received compensation for sharing this giveaway. That said, I share only giveaways I think would be of interest to Grandma's Briefs readers, compensated or not.