It’s a Sandwich Showdown with #HotterPockets!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  Travel expenses were provided to facilitate this review but all opinions remain 100% honest.

Because I work outside of the home, I generally have to pack a lunch or eat something super quick at home before returning to the office.  Without tons of time, my go-to lunch consists of a turkey and Swiss sandwich on wheat.  Exciting, right?  While it certainly does the trick, I get bored with this option and have the tendency to resort to fast food.

Earlier this year, Linzy from Crawfish Tales had the opportunity to represent Experimental Mommy at the Nestle Test Kitchens to take a sneak peek behind the scenes at Hot Pockets.  While we have shared a little about her trip, we can finally unveil the big news:  the new and improved Hot Pockets sandwiches are here!!

With all new varieties made with premium cuts of meat, buttery seasoned crusts and real cheese, lunch never has to be boring again.  Linzy had first crack at tasting some fresh Hot Pockets including Ham and Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza.  The new sandwiches are made with premium meats like 100% Angus beef, Hickory Ham, Signature Pepperoni and White Meat Chicken while the crusts have baked in flavor like the new garlic butter.

Are you ready for a Sandwich Showdown? How does a Hot Pocket stand up against your favorite sandwich variety?  For me, I am a huge fan of a good meatball sub.  So, I was very interested to see how the Hot Pocket Meatballs & Mozzarella compared to a Meatball Sub from a national sandwich restaurant.  Take a look at the below graphic:

I love that the Hot Pockets are perfectly proportioned so I am not tempted to go overboard which saves me calories in the long run, too.  While I am craving the Meatballs & Mozzarella, my husband is most looking forward to trying the BBQ Beef Hot Pocket which is made with 100% angus beef in a sweet and tangy bbq sauce covered in a crispy buttery seasoned crust.  My kids?  The Four Cheese Pizza made with Parmesan, cheddar and reduced fat provolone and mozzarella cheeses in a garlic buttery seasoned crust, of course.

Not sure if you will like the Hot Pocket variety?  Scared to try something different?  Hot Pockets is so confident that consumers will love the new recipe that they are offering a money back guarantee.  No questions asked, just visit the Hot Pockets website for details.

If your mouth is watering, come back in the next few weeks when I will be giving away an awesome Hot Pockets prize pack!  Which variety are you most excited to try?

Taking a Look Behind the Scenes at Hot Pockets #Ambassador

I am excited to announce that I am a Hot Pockets Ambassador.  While I was unable to attend the brand event, Linzy from Crawfish Tales represented Experimental Mommy.  In this post, she shares her experiences and thoughts on the trip.  Travel was provided but all opinions remain 100% honest.

I am a mom, so that means one of many things. It means that from the day I became a mom I put myself even lower on the totem pole of my priorities. This results in my appearance, which I spend less than two minutes on in the morning, disheveled while my daughter is perfectly coordinated and her hair perfectly placed.

This is also means that I most likely forgot to eat breakfast or pack lunch for the day, but of course she is well taken care of. It is like the unspoken mom code. We all do it and we all forgive each other, especially in the mornings.

While I am still human, I need to eat. This sounds simple but there are a couple of issues with this. First, is that our family does not eat fast food. It is just not a part of our regular diet and is something reserved for specific situations like road trips. Second, is that eating out is expensive!  I can’t remember to pack a well-balanced lunch for myself but to purchasing lunch every day is just not in the budget. I can think of a million other ways that I would rather spend that money. Finally, I need to eat smart. I am not a supermodel nor do I have the metabolism that I did in high school.

So that is quite a list of criteria to put in to one meal on the go that has to be quick and easy.

Recently I was invited to go to the Nestle facility in Ohio to get a behind the scenes look at their Hot Pocket and Lean Pocket Brands. I was able to touch and taste the quality ingredients put into the sandwiches, meet with their lead nutritionist to learn about the great efforts they put into the nutritional value of the sandwiches and hear from the CEO himself about the company’s mission on producing healthy family friendly foods.

I really enjoyed hearing from the nutritionist. She talked about her personal goals of why she works for Nestle and how the company supports her requirement of producing quality products. She has put a lot of time and effort and her stamp of approval on the products.

One of the things that she mentioned is that portion sizes are quite out of control at many restaurants and even in the meals we make at home. Because a Hot Pocket comes prepared, the portion size is controlled. Partnering a Lean Pocket, with a fresh fruit or vegetable serving offers minimal additional calories and adds even more nutrition completing the meal.

I learned first-hand about the premium quality meats and real cheese in every bite as good sources for protein and calcium. While I know I was looking for a solution for my on the go breakfast and lunch needs, I was very excited to know that many of the Nestle products, including Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets, fit into the Balance Your Plate initiative.

If you are not familiar with the Balance Your Plate initiative, it is a tool kit designed by health and nutrition professionals to show consumers how to create a deliciously balanced, perfectly portioned meals that include the foods they love while meeting the current dietary guidelines.

This is perfect for moms on the go but as well as families on the go. It is hard to get a home cooked meal on the table each night and this is a great resource for mom as a go to meal planner to help insure that your family is getting the nutrients they need.

Be on the lookout in the coming months for exciting news, products and initiatives from Hot Pockets right here on Experimental Mommy!

Ten Things to Know Before Camping at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy. Our cabin rental was provided to facilitate this review.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

Like any family, the end of the school year has been incredibly busy.  From tests to projects and parties to graduations, we have been non-stop all month long.  Fortunately, we were able to escape to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Robert, Louisiana for a two night stay in order to take a deep breath and have some fun.

Here are the Top Ten Things to Know Before Camping at Yogi Bear’s Jellytsone Park:

10.  It’s only about an hour from New Orleans.  The kids barely had enough time to say, “Are we there yet, Mom?”  I had no idea this fun escape was so close to home.

9.  Cabins are available with two separate bedrooms.  Moms and Dads need their quiet time, too!

8.  Consider bringing a mattress topper or egg crate.  While two double beds are provided in the Louisiana Lodges (plus a daybed with a trundle), the mattress could use some help in the comfort department.  Also you are required to bring your own linens and towels (and I would recommend bringing your own pillows as well).

7.  Cabins are available with both air conditioning and heating. During a hot Louisiana summer, this is pure heaven.

6.  The kitchen in the Louisiana Lodges include a stove, microwave and refrigerator/freezer.  Cooking meals is a snap! Plus, if you bring your own ice trays, you can have a constant supply of ice for your drinks!  Outside of the cabin is a grilling area, which smells amazing at dinner time.

5.  There are two different “Hey Rides.”  The morning ride is a fun sing-a-long lasting about 15 minutes.  In the afternoon, the “Hey Ride” becomes a rolling super soaker adventure…bring your water guns!

4.  Take advantage of the Rec Center! The campground has done a wonderful job of lining up constant activities for the kids.  We painted ceramics and colored pillowcases but you could also tie dye T-Shirts, play bingo or participate in the Watermelon eating contest.  While most activities are free, some require a cash fee.

3.  Some cabins, like the Louisiana Lodges, surround their own private pool.  I highly recommend taking advantage of this zero entry pool as it was much less crowded than the main pool.  We always had a lounge chair to sit in and relax as long as we liked.

2.  Concessions are available on the grounds. Until about 6pm, you can purchase snacks such as nachos, chicken fingers, ice cream, snoballs, and more!  Plus, a convenience store stocks things you may have forgotten to bring.

1.  You will have fun!  In just two days, we swam, played at the splash park, mini-golfed, colored pillowcases, took a Hey Ride, spent time on the playground, took a ride on the paddleboats, made a campfire, played Bingo, met new friends and the infamous Yogi the Bear.

But the best part is that we spent quality time together as a family away from the hectic pace of everyday life.  To find out more about Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Robert, Louisiana, follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

I’m an Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Pro!

Recently, I had the honor of attending Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Academy, to learn all about the pretzel experience. I was more than happy to stand in for Bridgette, especially since pretzel tasting was involved. And, while I have always loved the sweet cinnamon sugar pretzel sticks that Auntie Anne’s has to offer, I will admit that I did not know a lot about the company.



Founded by Anne Beiler, Auntie Anne’s started as a stand in a farmer’s market where they were raising money to help counsel families in need.  And, as they say the rest is history!  Following Anne’s motto: ”Give, to Get Back, to Give Again” the company continues to grow and partner with great causes, such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


While in Lancaster, PA, home of Auntie Anne’s, I learned all about the pretzel making process and what makes their pretzels stand above the rest. From the special dough, which is shipped directly to the franchise stores, to the variety of pretzels offerings, Auntie Anne’s is like no other. They serve only the freshest pretzels, which are guaranteed to be fresh out of the oven, within 30 minutes of serving them.  And, this can be seen by how fast they are growing as they are now the world’s largest hand-rolled soft chain with more than 1,330 stores in more than 25 countries and 46 states!

I did learn the pretzel making process and now know that it is no easy task. The dough must take time to rise and then is hand rolled into that special shape we all know and love. I also was taught how to roll a pretzel from Anne herself, which was just a little intimidating! (brag moment) But, I must have learned well, since I won the pretzel rolling contest!

The best thing that I learned, is that I have a new favorite pretzel, which is the Almond Pretzel with caramel sauce! Super yummy!! Be sure to follow Auntie Anne’s on Facebook and Twitter, and keep checking back here on Experimental Mommy to keep up to date on all things pretzel.

This post was written by Renee of What Mommies Need.  Auntie Anne’s covered travel expenses for this trip but all opinions remain 100% honest.

Support the Arts and Join Me at the #BlickARA Twitter Party!

My Mom is an artist, so art has always been an important part of my life.  Her beautiful artwork covered the walls of our home and she was always up for an art project.  While I didn’t get any of her artistic talent, I still enjoy trying to paint and be creative in other ways.  Now, my Mom is helping instill a love of art in my daughters and in the children she teaches art to at a local studio.  Keeping art programs in schools and after-school programs is important to me, so I am thrilled to be a part of the Blick Art Room Aid initiative.  Join me for a Twitter Party to learn more!

What: Do you believe art is an essential part of your child’s education? Then you already know how important art education is — and how schools are struggling to keep their art programs alive. That’s where Art Room Aid can help! A program of Blick Art Materials, Art Room Aid is helping teachers across the country enlist the aid of parents, families, friends, and other art advocates to fund their art projects and keep creative learning going.

Want to learn more? Join this Twitter Party to find out how you can support art education, make sure art continues to play a role in your children’s lives, and spread the word about Art Room Aid in your community. We’ll be discussing projects you can do with your own kids, and sharing sources of inspiration.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m. ET

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #BlickARA hashtag to track the conversation. See this Twtvite for more info and to RSVP:

Hashtag: #BlickARA

Prizes: We will give away five total prizes – two $25 Blick gift coupons, two $50 Blick gift coupons, and one $75 Blick gift coupon.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Hope to see you there!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign through The Motherhood and Blick Art.  All opinions are my own.

Gaining Confidence in the Kitchen with Macy’s Culinary Council

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Macy’s Culinary Council cooking demonstration right here in New Orleans.  After the event, my loving husband says, “Why don’t you go share with the Chefs your recipe for ice.”  Yep.  That about sums it up.  Me at a cooking demo?  Believe it or not, I have gotten much better in the kitchen in the last seven months since being laid off from my job.  Partly from necessity (eating out is no longer in my budget) and partly because I have the time.  But you know what?  I am enjoying it.
I was very excited about attending the cooking demonstration and arrived with hopes of learning a few tricks and tips.  I was not disappointed.  Macy’s’ Culinary Council, which is comprised of a variety of the most well-known chefs in the cooking industry, has been hosting a nationwide tour in various Macy’s kitchens around the country.  Launched in 2003, the Council serves to inspire the way Macy’s customers shop, cook and eat at home while providing expert culinary advice with the aim of teaching customers how to cook and shop like a master chef.  Here in New Orleans, we were treated to a class instructed by chefs Nancy Silverton and Johnny Iuzzini.
Both chefs were friendly, knowledgeable and quite entertaining.  Chef Nancy started by showing us how to prepare your own salad dressing.  If I had any idea it was that simple, I would not have been buying bottled dressings all this time!  A few tips (in my own, non-chef words):
  • Do not store your olive oil in a clear container.  It breaks down faster that way.  Find a dark bottle for storage.
  • Pair your salad dressing to your salad.  Not every dressing should be offered with one salad…they just don’t go!
  • When using a head lettuce, massage the dressing into the leaves, otherwise you will just get the outside coated leaving nothing for the middle section.
  • When you have a recipe with very few ingredients, use only the best!
  • Pine nuts go rancid quickly. Who knew?
  • Always salt your greens before beginning to build your salad.
  • When building a salad, you should not throw greens in a bowl and add toppings. You want to get some of each ingredient into every bite.

Next, Chef Johnny Iuzzini (who is definitely not hard on the eyes), created two delicious desserts including a Pineapple-Polenta Cake with a Pineapple-Spice Sauce and a Chocolate Pudding with Devils Food Cake, Soft Cream and Candied Rose Petals.  I have never eaten rose petals before, but they were quite tasty! Here are a few tips from Johnny:

  • When making a cake, use cold butter and room temperature eggs
  • Mayo can be used as an ingredient to keep the cake moist due to it’s oil content
  • Mix a powder (like flour) with a granular (like sugar)
  • To ensure your pudding doesn’t get a “skin”, cover immediately with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

I truly enjoyed the cooking demo.  Check out your local Macy’s to see if the Culinary Council is coming to a store near you and don’t miss any of the action by following the Culinary Council on Twitter, too!

This post is the opinion of The Experimental Mommy.  Everywhere PR contacted me on behalf of Macy’s and I was compensated for my time and effort.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

New Orleans Mom’s Holiday Helper Event

Can you believe there are only 90 days until Christmas?  Have you started shopping yet?  If you are anything like me, I am starting to make lists but refuse to start buying until after Thanksgiving! Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the latest trends will be this holiday season before you set foot in the store?

I am excited to announce that I will be hosting a “Mom’s Holiday Helper Event” in partnership with two other New Orleans based Mom bloggers, Renee from What Mommies Need and Linzy from Crawfish Tales to help you do just that!  Together, we will host an invite-only live event here in New Orleans to showcase the latest trends, the hottest toys, the warmest fashions and the coolest electronics to a room full of 100 social media influencers and female consumers.

On November 9, 2012 from 7-9pm at the Kenner City Park Pavilion, attendees will get the chance to see and test products before they decide to put them on their holiday shopping list.  Enjoy a Mom’s Night Out and take home a few freebies, too!  And because it’s always better to give than to receive, we would love attendees to bring one new toy to the event which will be donated to the charity initiative “Toys for Tots.”

Kenner City Park Pavilion

If you are interested in having your product presented at the “Mom’s Holiday Helper Event” please submit a query for more information on sponsorship packages.  If you are interested in attending this invite-only event, please fill out this form so we can collect your email address!  Formal invites will be sent via email closer to the event.

Hope to see you there!

Carnival Cruise Lines Fun Ship 2.0 Project Comes to NOLA

Since starting this blog, I have had the good fortune of crossing a few things off my bucket list.  Attending a Broadway show, meeting celebrities and even sleeping in Cinderella’s Castle have been once in a lifetime opportunities.  But, a few things remain undone including boarding a cruise ship for a family vacation.

Living in New Orleans, home to one of the busiest ports in the United States, cruising is actually quite accessible.  But having small children, I thought a family cruise was best left for later years.  Earlier this month, I was excited to be invited to board the 2,052 passenger Carnival Elation docked at the Port of New Orleans for a private lunchtime event for the media.  We had the opportunity to sample Carnival’s specialty cocktails over a delicious meal and learn about the latest happenings within the company.

Carnival Cruise Lines has been sailing from the Port of New Orleans for nearly 20 years and now carries over 340,000 passengers annually making it New Orleans’ largest cruise operator.  Carnival deploys it’s newer and larger ships from the Port of New Orleans and now offers convenient four- and five-day departures while expanding its variety of seven-day itineraries.

This was my first time on a cruise ship, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Open boarding, I was awestruck by the grandeur of the lobby…this was no ordinary ship.  We proceeded to the Lounge and were treated to a plethora of cocktails and appetizers.  My favorite?  The Cucumber Sunrise and fajita bar!

After the tasting event, Carnival shared what’s next for the brand.  I was surprised to learn about the amenities that make the cruise line so family friendly! The Carnival Elation hosts a large pool and water slide area attached to a cute mini golf course.  But Carnival Cruise Lines is most excited about it’s new Fun Ship 2.0 program!  The Carnival Destiny will undergo an extensive $155 million renovation to implement the Fun Ship 2.0 concept.  After a 49-day dry dock, the ship will be renamed the Carnival Sunshine and docked at the Port of New Orleans.

One of the features I am most excited about is the addition of  Hasbro, The Game Show which will feature activities based on the Family Game Night TV series. Carnival has also partnered with EA SPORTS to design the ultimate hangout for sports fanatics!  Between playing video games and watching live sports events, guests can order from a full drink menu and popular sports bar snacks.  And for those guests who crave a good cocktail, the new themed bars and lounges will provide unique experiences and world class cocktails from expert mixologists.  We had the opportunity to meet the mixologist from Carnival’s Alchemy Bar who created the delicious Cucumber Sunrise!  The Alchemy Bar is a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy,” where guests will have a unique experience with interesting drink flavors and ingredients. The expert mixologists will “prescribe” concoctions from different fun categories or guests can also try their hand at creating their own custom cocktails.

I had an absolute blast hanging out with Renee from What Mommies Need and Trisha from NOLA Mommy.  With the new improvements, I absolutely cannot wait to take my family on a fun filled cruise one day soon.  I am thinking that the Carnival Sunshine may be the ship that completes my bucket list!  To keep up with the happenings of Carnival Cruise Lines, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  I was invited to the press event and received a gift bag for my time and effort.  All opinions are 100% mine.

WWE Raw Is For Girls, Too!

To say that my two princesses aren’t fans of wrestling would be an understatement.  But when I was contacted by the WWE to attend Raw held in New Orleans, I knew exactly who would love the tickets.  My husband absolutely loves his eight year old Goddaughter, Haley who is all about wrestling.  Even though I am a wrestling novice, Haley and her grandfather (aka poohPaw) love watching wrestling together and could talk about it for hours.

I was surprised to learn that the WWE Raw show is now rated PG and has an audience of 35% women!  So, I could not wait to hand over the tickets to Haley and her Grandfather.  Below is the review written by Haley, age 8.

The Best Memorial Day Ever

“When my mom told me that my Aunt Bridgette had VIP tickets to the Monday Night RAW in New Orleans for my poohPaw and I, I was so excited! I hurried and made signs to hold up!
I wore my red, white and blue John Cena shirt with my black skort and red Chuck Taylors with an American flag bow in my hair. My PoohPaw picked me up and we went to the Arena. When we got there we went to get our tickets at will call and then they allowed us to go sit inside instead of sitting outside in the heat! Our seats were AWESOME! We could see the ring and the wrestlers so good. My PoohPaw bought me nachos and an RC before the matches started.

Once the lights went out there were laser lights and fireworks. It made me jump out of my seat! It was loud and really cool! They showed lots of videos and different matches from the past. I saw C.M. Punk, WooWoo, Alex Riley, Big Show, Alberto Delrio, People Power, Teddy Long, Brotus Clay, Jerry The King Lawyer, and my favorite John Cena!!!

When Brotus Clay was fighting Big Show, Big Show threw Brotus Clay out of the ring and hit him with a metal chair. It was really cool to see them in action up close. Brotus Clay did not get back up so they had to call the paramedics to come get him. It took about 9 people to get him up on a board to carry him out.

Then when John Cena came out the crowd got real loud!!! There were lots of green lights and they played his song and everyone screamed YOU CANT SEE ME and did the hand signal!!! I had the best time with my PoohPaw that night. He and I LOVE watching Wrestling together. It is a great past time for him and I to be with each other. I am so thankful my Aunt Bridgette got us some AWESOME VIP seats to the best Memorial Day match ever!”

Thanks for the great review, Haley! 

Here are some more fun facts about the WWE:

  • The WWE Superstars and Divas visit schools across the country to promote anti-bullying as part of their be a STAR program.
  • Every year, WWE entertainers perform for our troops overseas.
  • Last year, WWE Superstar John Cena granted his 250th wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation making him only one of four celebrities to have accomplished this achievement and he’s still granting more.

Don’t miss a thing by following WWE on Facebook and Twitter!

This post is written by Haley of Experimental Mommy. While tickets were received to facilitate this review, all opinions are 100% hers.

American Girl Cafe in NYC {Our Experience}

As a Mom of two girls ages 4 and 7, American Girl is part of our daily lives.  Both girls received American Girl dolls from Santa last year and have been inseparable ever since.  When the newest catalog comes in the mail, both of my daughters run to browse the pages and see what’s coming out next.  My oldest has really loved the American Girl books, too. This is one company that I can stand behind as they celebrate girls today and teach what they can become tomorrow.  I love their inspirational and educational stories told through historical characters and how these dolls encourage imaginative play in my home.

Because we live in New Orleans, my girls have no idea that there are actual American Girl stores and experiences (they think it exists only in catalogs and online).  So, I was thrilled to surprise them on a recent trip to New York with a visit to the American Girl Store and Cafe!  The store, which is located at 609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, features specialty shopping, private dining, birthday experiences, a doll hospital and the infamous doll salon.

Before we left home, I made sure that the girls packed their American Girls and we headed to NYC.  When we arrived at the store, the looks on their faces were priceless as they couldn’t believe there was a WHOLE STORE just for doll clothes and accessories!  After about 30 minutes of shopping, we headed to the American Girl Cafe for lunch.  As we entered, each girl was given a high chair so their dolls could enjoy the meal, too.  The Cafe is decorated in pink, white and black and is exactly how you would picture a tea party in your dreams.

For starters, we were served mini cinnamon rolls which were a huge hit, of course, followed by a tray of fruit, cheese and veggies.  The girls both ordered baked chicken strips with mac and cheese, while my husband and I got a spinach and strawberry salad.  The food was displayed beautifully and tasted great!  The servers really interacted with the kids and made them feel special and it was so fun to see my girls “feed” their dolls.

After lunch, we surprised my girls with a trip to the doll salon!  Before our appointment, the girls looked over the endless style options and selected the one just right for their doll.  When it was our turn, the doll was seated in a style chair and covered with an apron (just like a real salon!).  The stylist explained to the girls the best way to take good care of their dolls hair and we watched as she put every hair back in place.

Our experience at the American Girl Store and Cafe in NYC was incredible.  Both of my daughters had a great time and I am so glad that we made a memory that will last forever!  Take a minute to find an American Girl Store near you!

The post is the opinion of Experimental Mommy.  Complimentary meals at the American Girl Store NYC were provided, but all opinions remain 100% my own.