Arby’s – Bring Back the Martha’s Vineyard Salad!!

I just wasted $15. It is my own fault, and my own choice to spend the money.

After work, I decided to swing by Arby’s to pick up a couple salads for myself and my daughter. The drive-thru was roped with cars; I was about fifth in line. As I pulled up to the speaker, another car pulled behind me. I eyed the menu, looking for old familiar: Arby’s Martha’s Vineyard Salad. I saw three salads. But none of them were my Martha’s Vineyard.

“Don’t you have Martha’s Vineyard?” I asked, when questioned on my order choices.

The answer was NO.

No? My favorite salad in the entire world of fast food?! Gone? The almonds, chicken, lettuce, cranberries and cheese salad sold by a chain restaurant directly on the path I take home from work? The salad that I add walnuts to and eat with oil and vinegar when I get home? The MAIN reason Arby’s even gets money from my pocketbook?


I ordered a consolation turkey-something salad and a crispy-ick salad instead. And some of the new eggrolls that they had, just because I was already down in the dumps, so why not? And a Diet Pepsi since I’d at least KNOW what that would taste like. My van sulked all the way to the “first window.” I could, should have just waited for an opening and burned out of there, spitting dirty snow in the face of The Man. Drove off. But I was lazy and hungry and trapped by the drive-thru.

Neither salad was worth $5, not even on a day when there’s no time and I’m lazy and hungry. Nu-uh. Nope. Sorry. I guess I have to pursue other means of fast-food salad happiness.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Cookie-making day, today. Actually, I think I’ll be making cookies for a few days, considering I didn’t start making them until 8pm.

Here is the first recipe – one of my favorite – “Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies” (link), or “Peanut Butter Blossoms” – whatever you call them, I love them. The recipe below is from the Hershey site. They have a decent list of recipes there. Worth checking out.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

* 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

The recipe made about 48 cookies and were very easy to make. The only thing I would change is to let the cookies cool a bit before putting the chocolates on. We had quite a few melted chocolates, and they took a while to firm up. Maybe a half-hour in the fridge for the chocolates would have been helpful. But it’s all aesthetics, because my boys will eat them no matter what, and actually liked it when they were melted. All in all, decent recipe. I might try the chewy version next time.

VTech KidiArt Studio Review


Sal, last year, asked for the VTech Learning Laptop for Christmas after playing with one at a friend’s house. Wait – maybe it was his birthday? I don’t remember, and it doesn’t really matter. He wanted this laptop, and we were able to fulfill that wish. I’m glad because he loves it and thinks himself quite the cool dude, playing away with it.

Well, VTech also has this cool KidiArt Studio that they boys played with the other day when their cousins came over. Now, you can read the review on it over at Amazon – about the brightly colored plastic and all the bells and whistles. But I’m just simply going to tell you that my kids had a ball-o-fun of a time playing with it.

My twins are 9; boys. Their cousins, girls, are younger (like 4, 6 and 7). They all had equal amounts of fun snapping pictures and superimposing them onto goofy pre-drawn bodies using the tablet and viewing the results on our television screen (you can hook it up to your TV or computer if you want to be real crafty, printing out pictures and such). The size of the desk and stool was more tailored to the 4-6 year range, but the activities seemed a bit more suitable for the 7-9 year old range. As a multi-aged group activity, it was perfect.

Set-up was relatively simple. It took me less than 10 minutes from unpacking to plugging it in. Figuring out how to use it was simple, too. The only complaint I have with it is the batteries drained faster than a water balloon riding a porcupine. If there were one thing the toy missed a home run on, I’d have to say it was that it didn’t include an AC adapter (it did come with cords for hook-up to the television and computer). I couldn’t find anything to hook an AC adapter up to, either. So, be warned – if you buy this for Christmas, stock up on batteries, ’cause it is NO fun when your spanky new toy poops out on you 10 minutes into a good time.

Bottom line: My young boys, and their cousins, thoroughly enjoyed the KidiArt Studio – fun toy, easy to use – great activity for a small group of young kids to gather and giggle with. Easily transportable (the desktop snaps off for easy portability). Again, though – adapter would have been really, really nice. I put a “-” after the three stars as a 2.5 or a would be 3-star if it came with an AC adapter.


Pictures of the kids using the KidiArt Studio…

BK Apple Fries

(Scroll down for contest info)

Burger King has unveiled a “healthy alternative” to regular fries – apple fries. Well, skinned apples, shaped like fries. Not actual sweet apples, fried up in grease like a mini-pie, shaped like a fry (which is what MY mind goes to when I hear the words “apple” and “fry” put together). And I’ll be honest, when I go to a fast food restaurant, I don’t kid myself that I’m eating healthy in any way. I go there knowing I will get fast, cheap, not-the-best-for-you food.

I guess apple fries are a compromise. Like the salads, which you have to be careful with, too – they pack a bigger caloric punch than you think, sometimes. But a salad is still a healthier alternative to the meat-laden grease. Not saying I don’t eat the meatgrease every now and then…

Burger King will use U.S. grown apples that are cut and packaged in a sterile environment and subjected to a pre-wash that contains lemon to keep them from turning brown, said Burger King spokesman Keva Silversmith. – link

The apple fries and caramel sauce together have 10g. sugar, 60 calories and 15g carbs. (nutritional information link)

Franny models the apple fries.
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We had apple fries and turkey dogs.
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BOTTOM LINE: The kids liked them. I thought they were OK. I don’t think I’d actually buy them for myself, though. They kids weren’t sure that they would substitute regular fries, by choice, with the apple fries, and were sure to make that clear to me in a tone that said, I like them but please tell me the regular fries aren’t extinct. If they were 2/$100, they’d make a quick pit stop snack. But apparently they are not 2/$100.

At any rate, if you’d like to check them out for free (or get you a dinner, lunch – cones for the fam) – I’ve got 2 $10 gift certificates to give away. Check out the piggy below and try to guess how many dollars are in there. That’s our Mad Money Pig. We’re spendin’ her up this weekend. Leave your guess in the comments, just for snorts and giggles. A winner will be chosen randomly, so don’t squeeze your brain too much over it.

1 entry per person per day.
Entries close Friday, August 8th at 11:59pm CST.

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Salem Falls

Salem Falls, by Jodi Picoult

\"Salem Falls\"

I bought this book a few years back, started it; abandoned it. But recently a group of us PTA moms needed an excuse to get together after our end-of-the-year planning committee had commenced. Why not a book club?!! Salem Falls was the choice of the hostess. I had a slight bit of dread, honestly, because I knew I had abandoned it before and was worried I’d need to struggle through it.

I put off reading it until the week before Book Club. Started it Monday, finished it Wednesday. It wasn’t so bad.

Newly released prisoner (convicted of statutory rape), settles in small town, takes job at diner, meets up with quirky loner-type owner… gets paths crossed with some teenage girls that are “witches” and is, once again, accused of a sex-offense. Courtroom drama ensues (Picoult style), love triangles flying all over the place… connections made between characters. Yeah. It was most definitely a Picoult book.

All in all, it was alright. Should bring up some interesting discussion.

I would not re-read this book and would maybe recommend it to a friend if they like Picoult. Probably not one of her best, though.


Finished: June 2008


Attune Probiotic Bars

Recently I was contacted to see if I’d like to sample some probiotic bars from Attune. Since I’m somewhat familiar with probiotics, I agreed.

We’re a family who drinks Keifer (thick, sparkly, tickle-your-tongue, probiotic yogurt drink). It helps with some of the digestive issues we’ve had, and is a healthy snack alternative. I was curious about the bars that promise to deliver probiotics in a different form.

The bars arrived in this fancy silver package:

It came with a folder full of information on probiotics. Inside the shiny sliver package – a goldmine of bars: Lemon, Mango Peach, Strawberry Bliss, Blueberry Vanilla, Mint Chocolate, Wildberry and a couple Chocolate Crisp bars. The kids were ready to dig into them and try them out. We sampled a few different ones and placed the rest in the refrigerator (they arrived with a cool-pack to keep them cool and are supposed to be refrigerated).

The bars were about the size of a granola bar, maybe smaller. Chewy and relatively tasty, with a yogurt-y “frosting” on each bar. Major drawback: sickeningly sweet. If you look at the nutrition info on the website, the first few bars don’t look so terribly bad (12g carbs), but then, those are not the “granola” bars — they’re the chocolate bars. No one in the house was fond of the chocolate bars. The granola bars have nearly double that amount of sugary impact in them (22g carbs). That’s just too much for me. Keifer’s got a significant amount as well; the tendency to “sugar up” is not passed over even in the organic world.

Bottom Line: The kids liked them well enough, and it may be worth buying, especially after a child is on antibiotics, as a way to deliver the probiotics. But for me… my fiber pills have probiotics in them, and there’s no sugar involved. if I’m eating something sweet I generally go all the way and eat a real sweet, skipping the healthy part on the way.


Links: Attune Foods
Probiotics Wiki Probiotics after antibiotics (Google)

Black Bean Cuisine

Bean Cuisine Soup I’ve purchased a few Bean Cuisine soups recently. They come in a bag the size of an eggplant, all dry ingredients (the black bean ingredients are: Beans, Spices, and Red Bell Peppers) and are under $5. For the most part you add some veggies, onion or peppers and maybe some meat if you have it. You could also just serve/make the soups as they are.

Today I made the black bean and added chopped carrots, onion, a pepper, a can of V8 and about 1 cup of frozen corn. Oh, and a leftover piece of pork we had. It was delicious. The kids loved it. Topped with a bit of cheese and sour cream — yum. We had tortilla chips with it, too. Bean Cuisine makes a few different soups. We’ve had the split pea one and the lentil one. All were very good and ended up being devoured by the family. I give these puppies a thumbs up.

If you google them you can find them in many different e-places. There is a 6-pack at Amazon. But, like I said, I pick mine up at Cost Plus and keep them on hand for a simple dinner.


Link: No website — found on Amazon