Wednesday, November 27, 2013

That's one #JuicyBird! Thanks @KikkomanKitchens and @Smiley360

Are you still wondering how to make your bird juicy and moist with a great crispy skin? Well, Let me tell you that Wes and I tried something awesome last week, and we are doing it again for Thanksgiving: Brining! 
I have not brined a bird before because it seemed like an extra hassle and an unnecessary extra step. Now that I have tried it, I can tell you it is a very worth while step and was not nearly as difficult as I thought it might be! 

Before I tell you about my #JuicyBird Brining with Kikkoman's experience, I want to tell you a little about Brining and about using Kikkoman's soy sauce to do so. From Kikkoman's:
The act of brining is simply salting food, usually a process of letting meat sit in a mixture of salt, spices and water for at least 24 hours. But take your brining to another level by adding the taste of umami to your Thanksgiving meal with Kikkoman Soy Sauce. All-purpose Kikkoman Soy Sauce is naturally brewed from wheat, soybeans, water and salt. Like fine wine, Kikkoman Soy Sauce is aged for several months to develop its characteristic rich, yet mellow flavor, appetizing aroma and distinctive reddish-brown color.

Besides using it in traditional Asian dishes, try it in mainstream American foods, classic Mediterranean dishes or exotic Caribbean cuisine.
I had honestly not thought of using soy sauce for my Thanksgiving turkey before this mission from @Smiley360, but I am so glad I tried it! Let's talk about that now!

I was sent a bucket to brine my bird in, and 2 free coupons for Kikkoman's products as well as a recipe to try. First, Here is the recipe right from the Kikkoman's site (You will want to keep this handy):

Savory Turkey Brine

Ingredients (Recipe for a 16-24 pound turkey)

2 gallons Cold Water
10 ounces Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons dried celery seed
1 tablespoon dried thyme


The night before roasting, remove giblets and turkey neck; rinse turkey inside and out. In a large stock pot or 5 gallon bucket mix water with remaining ingredients. Stir well until all the salt is dissolved. Place turkey in the pot cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Remove turkey from the brine, rinsing well. Follow your regular cooking instructions.
I took step by step pictures for your enjoyment. (Be prepared to drool). First we gathered our ingredients:
Wes began to put the brine mix together for me:
Here's the turkey in the brine:
Then we sealed it overnight to soak and get all full of flavor and moistness.
In the morning I rinsed the turkey as instructed to do then followed my regular cooking instructions (which means I added some butter to the skin to make it crisp and yummy, and stuffed it with herbs). Here's the bird ready to be cooked:
Then a few hours later, this delectable, #JuicyBird came out of the oven and went into our bellies:
I thought the turkey was super moist and had an awesome flavor! It was actually the moistest turkey meat I have even made! I was super happy with it and guess what? So were the kiddos. Here are a couple of them enjoying their turkey:

Kikkoman's has so many other fabulous recipes, like this one: 
Kikkoman Chicken Brine Recipe:
2 cups Kikkoman Soy Sauce
2 Gallons water
1 1/2 Cups Kosher Salt
8 Cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 dried bay leaves
1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 Cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large food safe container. Whisk until salt and sugar are totally dissolved. Place meat into brine. Leave in brine about 1 hour per pound of meat. Once done brining, pat meat dry before cooking. Roast the chicken and baste with Kikkoman Soy Sauce.

There is also an awesome looking Brined Brussel Sprout recipe among others. You can see the Kikkoman recipe collection online here

By way of disclosure, I was sent the brining bucket, 2 free coupons for Kikkoman's products, recipes and information for the purposes of me doing this review. Thanks you Kikkoman and @Smiley360 for providing these items so I could have such a #JuicyBird!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#GM Go-Gurts + #Target Gift Card #Giveaway #MyBlogSpark

I am so glad it is Thanksgiving this week and that I have the opportunity to share this. One of the things I am most grateful for (outside of my family) is that opportunities my blog has given to me. I am so thankful for the PR people and the companies that trust me to review and giveaway their products. I am thankful for the chance to try sometimes new products, and sometimes ones Ihave tried before but that have something new to offer. 
Today the review/giveaway I get to share with you is a product I know and love and have loved for some time, but now it is even more awesome! The product I am talking about is Go-Gurt
If you have kids (or if you are a fan of on the go yogurt) you are probably aware of the Go-Gurt brand! I will tell you it is a favorite (and a commonly begged for) snack at our house. Not to mention a staple when we are packing lunches for school (though they eat hot lunch at school most of the time). With it being so popular here at the Beckee's Deals house, I was delighted to get the chance to review and giveaway some.
A little over a week ago, this arrived in my mailbox.
I quickly drove the 45 minutes to my nearest Target store and turned it into this:
Which meant when my kids came home they were overjoyed! They began eating them right away and thought they had the "best mom ever" (direct quote from one of the kids).
Needless to say, we loved the Go-Gurts and were so happy to review them. I loved the Strawberry Mango Tango twisted ones! So good! The kids truely loved them all.
AND did you know that now Go-Gurt is made with natural colors and flavors, and contains no high-fructose corn syrup! It is still a good source of calcium and is fun and easy to eat as well! ANd one of my favorite things is that they are made so they can be frozen and put into a lunchbox to thaw by lunch time! GENIUS idea!!

We loved our Go-Gurt prize pack (including 5 FREE Go-Gurt coupons and a $25 Target gift card), and would LOVE to share one with a Beckee's Deals reader! So, enter below on the Giveaway Tools widget for your chance to win!

By way of disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark 

Tales (and Lessons learned) of a #BlackFriday Shopper (repost for your enjoyment)

Three years ago I posted this after my adventures Black Friday Shopping in Omaha, Nebraska back when I only had 4 kiddos and was quite pregnant with the baby. I share it in hopes you will laugh with me and enjoy the humor and fun of Black Friday shopping! 

This is a long post, but hopefully amusing-lots of funny Black Friday tales and lessons learned! Please read it and share your Black Friday experiences and deals with me!

Most years, I do all (or most) of my Christmas Shopping on Black Friday. I am usually one of those very organized shoppers with a list of where I am going, when I am going there and a plan for how to get all the deals I need to make Christmas happen for cheap! Since Walmart price matches, I generally try to do as much of it as I can pricematching.

Well, this year, I only needed a few things as I did most of the Christmas Shopping for this year right AFTER Christmas last year. It was a new experience for me. I almost skipped Black Friday altogether this year as I thought Wes (my hubby) had to work Black Friday (he did work but only 1-10pm). So, Wes and I looked through the ads and found that there were a few things we wanted at 3 stores.

The stops would be as follows:

1-Midnight stop at Walmart...hoping to get an art set for one child, PJ's for all 4 kids, a writing toy for another kid, and the super cheap towels.

2-6am Menards stop for: pop up tent & tunnel, "Cuddle Up" (Snuggie imitation-Wes wanted to get me one for Christmas), Wii remote charging station, and "Cuddlee Pets" (imitation Pillow Pets) for all four kids.

3-Stop at Younkers to use $10 coupon and possibly get nicer "Snuggie"-like item.

Obviously with 4 kids at home one of us shops and the other stays home with the kids-especially when the first stop is at midnight. In years past, Walmart has been my first stop and I have gone in and grabbed the toys I was after and hurried out while everyone else was still fighting over electronics. This year Walmart split up the sale so electronics doorbusters went on at 5 am and the other ones (the ones I needed) went on at midnight. I thought it would make it easier for me to get in, out and get what I wanted without SOOO many shoppers at midnight.

WRONG! Dead wrong! First, when I left my house at 11:40ish, the streets were empty except for a steady stream of minivans making their way toward Walmart-no joke! I walked in to the store and could hardly walk in it was so crowded. I was lucky enough to have a nice manager hand me a cart (they were basically gone) as I walked in (that is one benefit to pregnancy-people want to help you out. Generally.). So I fought my way through the people back to the PJ's and grabbed the 4 pair I needed-surprisingly the exact ones I wanted for each kid. ALL towels were long gone by the time I made it to them, so I made my way to toys. The art supplies I wanted were all gone, but I DID get the writing toy I wanted. So, I was ready to make my way to a line.

There was one employee on that side of the store that was herding people into a HUGE long line that went from the last check stand, through the sections of toys, health and beauty, pets, Christmas and all the way into the garden area. It was insane. It would have been a fine idea if that was the ONE store line and it fed into all the checkout stands, but no. It fed into only ONE checkout lane-ONE! I realized this and told the employee I was not done shopping when he tried to convince me I HAD to get in that line to check out, and I made my way back over to the grocery side of the store where I got in another long line. (Not even CLOSE to as long as that other line.)

While waiting in line I had the guy behind me pinch my butt, then an older guy rammed into my cart with his cart and tried to cut in front of me in line. When I said "Really?! You think so?!" to that guy and told him to go to the back of the line, the butt pincher behind me did and said nothing. Then tried to act like he was ready to defend my honor AFTER the older guy was gone (it was pretty funny).

There was a woman in front of me that had lots of heavy stuff and no cart and I had a cart and hardly anything in it, so I moved my stuff to the front part of the cart and offered her the back of my cart for her to rest her stuff in while we waited in line. She took me up on it and we started to talk. As we were getting closer to the front, I realized I had gotten the WRONG size for one of the PJ's and luckily I had made this friend, so she watched our cart as I ran back and (luckily) found the correct size.

After over an hour in line, I made it to the front finally! I made it home from Walmart at about 2:30am, and thought I would throw in a nap.

When the alarm went off at 5 am, I turned it off and went back to bed. I woke up around 6:30/7 and ran over to Menards in my PJs. There I was able to score the Cuddle pets (all 4) and the tents. The Wii chargers were sold out, and the snuggie things were made of really coarse feeling felt so I opted to leave without one!! 

Waiting in that long line was quite amusing as the lady in front of me was very funny, and the lady in front of her was even funnier. The one 2 up from me kept having people ram into her cart, and she never even flinched or got upset at them. We told her how impressed we were that she was so patient, and she said "Honey, I work at the casino! This is nothin!"

Then the 2 guys behind me in line were both a little gangster looking, and they were telling me the funniest stories about the other places they had already been. I heard tales of Toys R Us, Walmart and Target. The funniest of which was one guy telling me he saw a lady with 2 HUGE carts full of stuff at Walmart at 1am struggling through the parking lot, so he started to rush toward her to help, and she yelped and started running through the parking lot. He said to me "I guess I look pretty scary running over to help at 1am." He thought it was hilarious. The other guy saw a fight break out and a man escorted from Walmart at about midnight (I had seen the escort out and wondered what had happened so it was interesting to hear from someone that was back there). FYI the fight was over a pricematch for $99 Wii's.

After I went home, content with my shopping and feeling done for the day, Wes wanted to go get the nicer looking Snuggies from Younkers for my present. We went over and got them (as I stood in line for over an hour he took the kids to see Santa in the mall-with NO line BTW). I have to admit-I learned I am NOT a pet person...a mom and daughter in front of me in line were saying "I just don't know which one he will like better, he is so picky...maybe I should grab the other one?" I assumed they were talking about the pillow pets they were holding for the grandkids (they had been talking about them a lot). Then the daughter said "Let's look at them together" then she walked over and grabbed a second pet bed and set it next to the one they had and they proceeded to discuss the DOG's color and pattern preferences...I was baffled-I thought dogs were colorblind, but then again, I have never had a dog. Do they really have preferences?! Seriously pet owners, do they?!

All in all I had a successful day and got most of my goal products, but I also had a few things I learned that I want to share:

1-We are all in this together-we are all stuck in this crazy crowd trying to get the best deals, so lets try not to make it so miserable on each other-no need to be mean. Remember the things your mom and dad taught you and don't pick on other kids, don't push and shove, and be nice! (That does NOT mean you need to be so nice as to give up the things you want to someone else that wants it too-go get what you need, but don't trample others to get it).

2-No sir, there is no cutting in line no matter how old, how frustrated or how aggressive you are-that young little weak looking pregnant lady WILL stand up for herself! I will NEVER start a confrontation, and in fact I will always try to be pleasant and kind to others in there, but so help me, if you get in my face I WILL defend myself and as my father-in-law says, "If it is a matter of who can pitch the biggest fit, I can if necessary."

3-Black Friday is stressful-the economy is bad, and we ALL want/need that deal to make Christmas happen, so it is probably a good time to be patient and to help out a stranger and do some service for others-like the lady without a cart. It did not hurt me at all to share mine with her, but it sure made it easier on her!

4-Patience, Patience, Patience!! Would I on any other day wait in the Disneyland length lines at a store? No, no I would not. Would I have the patience for it? No, but on Black Friday I put on my most patient face and head out the door!

5-Black Friday shopping is NOT nearly as fun alone! Thank you for all my friends and family who have gone with me in the past and made it an FUN experience! Those of you that can share with me the cart crashing and we can laugh at it together! Those who have waited in those eternal lines and talked to me and helped further develop our relationships as we tried to make a stressful situation fun! Thanks Wes, Mom, Andrea, Melanie, Spence, Lindsey, Lisa, Laurie and all the others that have joined me in my madness over the years!! 

6-If you can, bring a buddy with you to Black Friday-it really is better that way (see lesson 5).

So, readers-did you do Black Friday?! Any funny stories or GREAT deals you got?! I would LOVE to hear about it!!!

#Walmart and #CyberMonday are ruining #BlackFriday...just sayin...

Three years ago I shared a story of my Black Friday experience that a lot of my readers really laughed with me about. Then two years ago I shared my thought on how Cyber Monday and Walmart are ruining my Black Friday traditions. Last year, I was unable to shop on Black Friday as my husband was working, This year it's the same story. BUT lucky(?) me, many of the sales are starting on Thursday. In fact, the main one we want to get is at 8PM Thursday at WalMart (thank goodness it's Walmart or I would have to drive like at least an hour to get there. The unfortunate realities of moving to a small town. sigh.)

Below is my lamentations about how my Black Friday traditions have been ruined by Walmart and Cyber Monday (as written 2 years ago). I would add that now my "traditions" have now had to change due to my husbands work schedule anyway, so I am just learning how to utilize Cyber Monday, and all the online deals-many of the Black Friday deals are actually available online too in limited numbers! But that being said, if I am as funny as I think I am (I might not be, but just in case), I thought I would share this post from 2 years ago. 

Oh Black Friday! How I love! Seriously. I do a lot of shopping through the year, but I FINISH (well mostly) on Black Friday. It is my big triumphant shopping day of the year...usually...or at least it was before Walmart and the Internet (darn you Cyber Monday!) ruined it for me.

Let me explain by first talking a little bit about "Black Friday" shopping the Beckee's Deals way. (Some of this explanation is reposted from one of my Black Friday posts from last year!)

I have, for YEARS, been a huge Black Friday Shopper and usually have done all my shopping for Christmas on Black Friday (well I do end up getting a stocking stuffer or 2 after). During my husband's residency the last 5 years, he has often been working on Black Friday (Which really was the first thing to ruin Black Friday before Walmart or the Internet stepped up to the plate). In spite of his work schedule, most years I still managed to get in a few REALLY early morning (and late night Thanksgiving) deals before he left for work. I love it...Love my Black Friday Adventures.

Here is my take on how to do Black Friday! When my newspaper comes on Thanksgiving morning, I am like a kid in a candy store! I sit down on my bed with the Macy's parade playing and the food already cooking in the kitchen and I whip out the ads. I go through and circle the GREAT deals I would LOVE to get in each ad-taking special note of the door busters. I write a list of each store, what door busters I would love to have and what time that store opens for their door buster sales. (BEFORE Thanksgiving, I sit down with my husband and we write up a list of who we need to buy for and what we think we might want to get them.)

Before I go on, I must note that already in my plan, the Internet and Walmart have interfered. First, the Internet now posts the Black Friday ads early so I lose that excitement and the anticipation of waiting for and devouring the Thanksgiving day ads. Oh I know it means I can plan ahead, but frankly I think that is overrated! :)   AND that is not all...Walmart you dirty beast! Now you open up for your Black Friday ads on Thursday night?! Really? On the Holiday? Oh and don't think I am forgetting all of Walmart's friends (competitors...) that ALSO open up during the evening/middle of the night hours. Sure, that gives me the chance to shop before my husband (that trouble maker) has to go in to work, but come on! When do I get to hang out with the family, and when do I sleep (I can answer that one-I sleep on Black Friday afternoon!)

Moving on with my Black Friday plan. Next, I compare the 2 lists I have made (the one with who we need to buy for and the one with the best prices and the times the stores open) and prioritize-are there specific items from my list of gifts I am looking for that are great deals somewhere on sale? What Door busters do I really want and are they at a place that usually has a ton of the items (like Walmart usually does here) or a place that limits the number to the first 25 (like Nebraska Furniture Mart)? Basically I look at what my odds are of getting what I want at the stores and PRIORITIZE.

Once I have prioritized and listed which items I actually want to get and at which store they will be sold, then I look at the times the stores open in the morning and write up a plan of action as to where to go first, second, etc.

Here is another place Walmart has stepped in and ruined my traditions. How? Two words: Price Matching. Oh Price Matching how I love and loathe you! Sure you save me more money and make it more convenient to get everything is one place, but really-those are some INSANE crowds and lines!! Wow...

Growing up in Utah, my mom and I would Black Friday shop each year and I LOVED it! We had adventures planning and carrying out the plan. We would do things like drag my teen sister along so we could get enough door busters and we would go store to store dropping off family members to try to get the best stuff at each store (BEFORE we all had cell phones). We would socialize in the long lines, make new friends and fight for the items we wanted! I LOVED our adventures, and I seek after them year to year still...

However, a lovely little thing on the Internet (adventure ruiner!) has arrived in force over the past years that makes it almost too convenient for me to get the same or better deals without leaving my laptop! That would be "Cyber Monday." More and more places have their weekend sales ONLINE (door busters and all) and "Cyber Monday" just seems to grow exponentially from year to year.

To quote Belle (from Disney's Beauty and the Beast), "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell" And friends, I want that adventure OUT of my House on Black Friday! Curse you Walmart and the Internet for making my adventures harder to come by, and Walmart's Price matching policy this year with Retroactive Price matching is stepping it up again! It will make it even more convenient to do all shopping there!

Sigh...I guess if Walmart and the Internet keep making the shopping so easy and convenient I will have to seek adventure elsewhere...maybe I should try bungee jumping?!

As an additional note, have you seen that if you buy something at Walmart, then it gets to be a lower price before Christmas  you can bring your receipt in and the ad with the lower price and they will give you the difference in a Walmart gift card?! WHAT? I saw and ad for that but have not verified that yet. BUT I can tell you the 1 hour guaranteed in stock idea is pretty sweet too. Check out Walmart's Black Friday 2013 plan here! 


Local Readers! Philippines Relief project-Donations still welcome until tonight!

Local Readers, mid week last week, I took on a big project through our church which you may have read bout on Grays Harbor Deals. I just wanted to give one plea today for donations. If you are able to donate, we are still taking donations today. We will be putting the donation boxes together at my house tonight at 7pm, but we can take donations all the way until then! 
The items we can send are: 
  • Diapers
  • Wet Wipes
  • Canned Goods (or really non-perishable food items)
  • Blankets (can be used but need to be clean)
  • Sleeping bags (can be used but need to be clean)
Some of you have asked about how this project came to be so I thought I would explain a little about that. As a little background, my husband lived int eh Philippines for 2 years serving as a missionary for our church. He was int he Quezon City area near Manila. about 10 ears later, his youngest brother served as well as a missionary for our church in the Philippines. His mission area was the Tacloban area. A few weeks ago Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines devastating the area of Tacloban where my brother-in-law lived just a couple years ago. 

I wanted to figure out a way to help, and was recently asked at church to be in charge of Humanitarian aid projects for our congregation. I knew that we needed to find a way to help. I felt a personal connection and a deep desire to help but did not know how. (I am in charge of Humanitarian aid projects but not good at them).

Last week a lady in my ward who is a Filipino-American called me and told me that she and another member from the Philippines had learned about a really neat way we could help. They had learned that LBC express would be shipping, for free, items of most need to the Philippines. But there were a few kinks for us. First the nearest LBC company is about a 2 hour drive away, we had to pack up and ship in their boxes, and we had a limited time to do it-the last day they are accepting donations is 11/27 (tomorrow). All donations need to be boxed and labeled and to them by then. So, my friend who discovered this great opportunity called LBC, got a list of acceptable items for us to donate and drove out there last Friday to pick up boxes.

My friend Annaleise at  Grays Harbor Deals asked her readers if they had businesses we could use as drop off locations (so I did not have to post my address online) and from there the project has taken off. Tonight we will put all the donations into properly labeled boxes, and tomorrow I will drive them to the LBC store with my 2 year old to make the donation.

I have not picked up the donation boxes at the businesses, but I have had quite a few items dropped off at my house. Check out my living room pile of donations right now:

There is quite a bit, but we could always use more! So, if you are able and willing to donate something today, please drop it off at my house or at one of the following drop locations: 

Jodesha Broadcasting – 1520 Simpson Ave, Aberdeen
Monday & Tuesday, 8:30am – 5:00pm
GH Unders – 717 K Street, Hoquiam (the old Hoquiam Aquatic Center across from Hoquiam Food Bank)
Monday & Tuesday, 7:30am – 5:00pm

Please note at drop off locations the boxes are red totes labeled "Philippines Disaster relief." At my house there is a gray tub on the porch or you can just ring the doorbell.