The ALL NEW Farm Fresh To You: A Fruit and Vegetable Subscription Box Service #FarmFreshToYou #Review and #Recipe

Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh To You, is not my usual subscription box that is filled with beauty related products but in some ways this one is too. Think of this Organic box as a Veggie and Fruit delight filled with food that will definitely aid in not only wellness, health, but beautifying you from the inside out. Let’s not even overlook that I absolutely love vegetables and fruit. I get excited and I’m one of those people that says, “look at that ___________, it’s gorgeous and I then start filling a produce bag like it’s going to sell out that second. ¬†I try to purchase Organic when possible, as long as the produce looks good, is not overly priced and easy accessible. I hunt everywhere and most times lose track of how big the fridge is when I’m stuffing Lacinato Kale bundles in the dairy case. I’m not a juicer and truly just love how vegetables and fruit taste like. I will purchase the unknown produce item, google it in the car, and then have plans for what I’m going to make by the time I get home. I’m a believer of not, “knocking it until you try it”, and this is when I was so fortunate in being able to try Organic produce delivered to my home by Farm Fresh To You.

This is how the Service Works:

You have boxes that fit your cooking, eating to family size to choose from. Don’t like a vegetable or fruit offering? You simply can exchange the product for another by using the allotment (amount you are spending on the box of your choice) to replace that selection. Simple! Some items are harvested in limited numbers, so I did find a few items I could not add more of but sharing is something I do well and I like that customization is available and user friendly when ordering.

You can order from the Boxes below and this is with delivery included pricing:

  • Mixed Fruit & Veggie Boxes– that range from $26 for the Small (1-2 people) to the Monster Box (6+ people) for $58.00
  • Traditional CSA Boxes– is for produce that only comes from their own farm and neighboring partner farms. You can pick a Regular Box (2-4 people) for $33 or the More Box (4-6 people) for $46.00
  • No Cooking Boxes– Options that fit the busy person and have items that are easily made or quick to grab and eat while on the go. A Small Box (1-2 people) is $26 and you have Regular Box (2-4 people) for $33 and the More Box for (4-6 people) for $46.00
  • Fruit Only– 100% fruit and you have a Small for $26, Regular for $33 and More for $46.00
  • Veggie Only Boxes– If you are Pro-Veggies 100%, you can opt for this selection. This one has two choices, the Regular Box (2-4 people) and the More (4-6 people) for $46.00
  • Organic Snack Pack– Like I said, no excuses and this service gives you the option for healthier and better tasting packs that range from $35 for the Mini and serves 5 office people, to the Large for $110 and serves 30 people.

Each area has a delivery day, so it depends which zone you fall in on what day of the week they deliver. Mine was Friday but the best part, they deliver between the hours of 8PM on Thursday and 8AM on Friday. Yup, you wake up to surprises and what a great way to end a week. You can even prep meals on the weekend to eat better and tastier next week. You can also add other items like fresh eggs, local honeys to nuts and other treats.

What did I Order:
Okay, I have to start by saying that it’s just my Husband and I (and a dog) and we eat fresh as much as possible. I rarely open a can in this house and it’s usually to do a shortcut meal when using beans or roasted tomatoes. I love to cook and I love to change my weekly meals, so eating fresh fits us nicely and it’s just hard to get off it once you eat everything with texture and flavors intact. With that said, I went for the Monster Box from the Mixed and Veggie selection. I then again have one of those moments where the pictures get the best of me and I added more to my box. I ended up with a total of $59.35 and the box retails for $58, but I got what I wanted. I did change my selection like lowering the count of Gala apples from 10 to zero and adding Honeycrisp, plus changing items so I could add Purple Bell Peppers and so on.

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When it Arrived:
I am not ashamed but I pretended I was catching up on my DVR when I was really just stalking my door. Farm Fresh To You delivered at 1:16 AM and not even a dog barked. The delivery person kindly placed two brown colored boxes by our gate and they were cold to the touch. The employees wear a bright colored vest and even the white truck’s engine was in “shhhhh mode”. If it was not for my “ninja at midnight” ways, I would have heard zilch.

My box was outside for 3 minutes. Hey, I had to first announce, “it’s here….it’s here, I’m not waiting for you (to my half asleep Husband) and I’m getting them”. It took energy and one minute longer to find my sandals because I was not stepping outside in my slipper socks ūüôā

  • Box #1- Bartlett Pears, Ruby Crescent Potatoes, Honeycrisp Apples, Nantes Carrots, Broccoli, Assorted Lettuce, Red Pomegranate, Gypsy Peppers, Black Grapes, and Hass Avocado

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  • Box #2- Valencia Oranges, D’ Anjou Pears, Baby Bok Choy, ¬†Celery, Lacinato Kale, Asian Pear, Mixed Medley of Cherry Tomatoes, Purple Bell Peppers, and Zucchini

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The four items I was eager to use from the boxes were the Medley of Cherry  tomatoes, the Purple Bell Peppers, the Gypsy Peppers and those adorable Ruby Crescent potatoes.

  • Rustic Sausage, Potatoes and Vegetables

Rustic cooking for us is cooking with what we have at hand and what comes to mind. ¬†Simplicity at its best and you measure ingredients by your mood and cravings, no rules and let the flavors shine! It’s about enjoying each ingredient and not drowning it out.

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I decided to make a nice rustic dish of peppers, onions, tomatoes and sausages.  I used an Organic Chicken based sausage that was made with Sweet Basil and Roasted Garlic.  The sausage is pre-cooked but frozen.  I cut the larger potatoes in half and left the smaller ones as-is.  Added roughly chopped Green and Red Bell peppers, white onion, Italian Cubanelle Pepper and few garlic cloves.  I tossed everything with Olive Oil, salted, added dry tarragon, blacked cracked pepper, and dry lavender.  I cooked covered on the roasting setting (425 degrees) for 20 minutes.  This is to allow the potatoes to get a head start cooking and my frozen sausage to defrost.

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After 20 minutes have lapsed, simply add the softer and more delicate peppers, like the Gypsy and Purple ones, plus the tomatoes and toss with melted butter and parsley.  Remove the defrosted sausages.  The butter and veggie mix gets added and mixed to the previous semi-cooked contents.  You toss and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.  Then add the sausages back.  I left the 2 chicken based ones whole and then sliced a (pre-cooked) pork Italian one to give the dish that added flavor.  Cook another 25 to 30 minutes uncovered, or until potatoes are tender. Two minutes before taking the dish out, I tossed the fresh Rosemary t0 give the dish a slight hint of flavor and aroma from the herb.

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I then served the dish with a little cheese on top and a nice crusty loaf of bread.

This code gives you $15 off your first box!

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Farm Fresh To You.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

MomsMeet: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups #Review #BobsRedMill

 

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As the days grow colder, like everyone, I tend to seek out warmer meals and this includes at breakfast time. I consume oatmeal through out the year and my way to change my selection, is by adding seasonal fruit to the cup. This way my cups change and I get to enjoy what the seasons have to offer. What can I say? Oatmeal can get boring as much as my granola does and let’s be honest, this is why I view granola as cold oatmeal! Adding dried fruits, nuts, seeds to even a dollop of yogurt can brighten up a cup on any day.

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I have been a fan of Bob’s Red Mill for years. They just never fail me. I started first by buying their flour decades ago and then as they released more and including meals (i.e. nut flours), I was happy to see them reach the west coast. It’s kind of nice not having to order online all the time and when places like Target started supported the brand….heck, I am thrilled.

 

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I was recently part of the Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cups campaign from MomsMeet. They were kind and generous to send out samples to try and share and like the signature that runs so true to Bob’s Red Mill, they included additional products to share. Love them! Such a giving company and please take a moment to read about the company on their website, you will fall in love with how they treat their employees. There is true pride and respect for the products they make for us. The other part that I have enjoyed being a Bob’s Red Mill fanatic, is they eat like I do. This adding chia seeds to flax seeds to enhance not only your taste buds but your nutrition is something I learned from them. Yes, they taught me to care more about what I eat and always made it easy for me from offering flax seed both whole and in milled form. No excuses in being able to eat better!

 

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The Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups kit included:

 

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Verdict:
The Oatmeal cups are phenomenal. You can use the microwave direction or the add hot water to the cup one. I have been using a mix of nut milks and water to enhance the flavor and not that the cups lack taste, but I sometimes seek a richer background on those colder mornings. All the ingredients are real and clean, no fillers and even making sure to use gluten free oats. The Nutritional Boosters that you can also add are the protein powders to create a morning power meal. You can even go with the unflavored blend they offer online or why not start your morning with some chocolate. It’s is like having a hot cocoa and oatmeal in one cup and it is actually good for you. I make the “Choco-Monkey” blend with the classic oatmeal cup, a spoonful of Chocolate Protein powder, almond milk with water as the fluid, then after heating I add chopped bananas and walnuts with a spoonful of peanut butter in the center. It’s almost like a molten lava cake with that gooey peanut butter center and I feel sinful eating it because oatmeal never tasted this good. My guilt vanishes¬†when I start adding up the protein and it turns out to be a cup filled with healthy nutrition. Eating well goes beyond opening a mealy tasting bar and going out the door in the mornings. The Bob’s Red Mill cups come with tops, so if you have time to pick up a latte, you have time (3 minutes) to give yourself a few microwave seconds to eat the cups as they come or enhance them to your liking. You are worth it and your family will join in because things that taste good don’t get questioned. They just make smiles ūüôā

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Connect with the wonderful crew at Bob’s Red Mill at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill and MomsMeet. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

Luv Michael: Locally Sourced Organic Granola that Gives Back #Review #LuvMichael #LuvMichaelCo

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Being a yogurt lover sort of makes me a granola junkie. I love that crunch combined with nuts and fruits that tends to take the bore out of my geek yogurt. In other words, granola is what adds happiness to any cup of plain yogurt. As granola became more and more popular, many companies sort of got off the beaten path of just oats and sweeteners. Many add other ingredients like Chia seeds to Hemp and antioxidant rich berries like Acai to Cocoa nibs, plus your typical nut blends. Even the sweeteners have changed. Honey is no longer the only thing that bonds the clusters. I have seen from agave to rice derived sugars that really anymore we really have so many choices. Like with everything, being able to siphon out the fakers as I call them is really the only thing to watch out for.

 

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In comes Luv Michael granola, which took the approach of not only making a “cleaner” product but also took the challenge of making changes happen with the products they produce. They contribute back and not just to your taste buds. Luv Michael is a company that invests in people with Autism, just like it’s founder Michael Kessaris. They produce a gluten free product with natural derived ingredients. Foods that benefit many with autistic symptoms. Luv Michael then again took a step further and when the company started with aid from his parents, they employ from the community people with same challenges. Talk about giving back in every way possible and this is why I took interest in such a company. Many companies give back but very few really take their mission to heart like Luv Michael has. The company and it’s members went full circle in every way possible to create not only a welcoming environment for autistic adults but one where they can help contribute and distribute a product for everyone.

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Verdict:

Like I stated being a a self proclaimed granola junkie means I have tasted many combinations and overly elaborate mixes. Many have been great and others just stop being granola and more like trail mixes when you really look at the combos. Finding an original one or what I call plain variety is what is really hard to find. So many even add chocolates to their mixes that a snack turns into a dessert at one point or even an ice cream topper. My hunt for a good plain granola was starting to look murky until I found the company Luv Michael. First of all, finally a resealable package! Air is great for humans but very mean to granola. Some goes stale while other gets sticky when exposed to air for any amount of time. Mostly because of all the sugars and other non-granola ingredients making a simple thing not so simple. The granola from Luv Michael has even a cute name, Originola. Each packet is 2 ounces and masterfully done by not just chefs but Granologists. They use natural and organic ingredients and the end result is a not super sweet but plenty crunchy granola. The oat clusters are decent in size and not just what I call granola dust, when a product has been over processed or worse, those tooth breaking granola boulders. Each package contains perfectly sized chunks that you can enjoy as-is or pair it up with yogurt if you so desire. There is care in how everything is made at Luv Michael and that really is seen in the appearance of the product but more importantly, in the taste! Not super sugary but enough to add some brightness to a breakfast mix or snack. I really liked the oats used because they did not taste like they had been packaged on a shelf for months. There is freshness here and care. Luv Michael has captured what was lost and that is making one awesome plain granola mix that is rare to find anymore. A throwback to what use to be easily found before and from a girl that missed the plain original……she is very glad to count on Luv Michael to fill that knitch for her.

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Luv Michael Company. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Bstean Industrial Syringe applicators w/ Blunted Tips and Caps

How many times have we tried to apply glue, lubricant, water, or alcohol to a very specific place only to have it spill over, dribble, or miss and nearly ruin what we were trying to protect, clean or preserve? It’s happened to me countless times, but it won’t be happening again in the near future thanks to these wonderful Bstean Syringe applicators.

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Content in the past with being inaccurate or buying those cheap, disposable bulb applicators, or even a cotton swab or Q-Tip, these syringe applicators are a crafter’s DREAM! I never again have to worry about slopping glue or oil or even droplets of paint, I can now apply them all with laser accuracy! With blunted tips to keep from accidentally jabbing yourself, you still get pin-point application or whatever viscous liquid you want to apply. Hubby even swiped a few because let’s face it, gun and knife lubes are not cheap, and you don’t want to be slopping oils on parts that absolutely don’t need it or could damage the tool. Need to apply a light grease to a hinge? Problem solved. Need a few drops of that expensive, fancy Benchmade lubricant? Got you covered. Want a single drop of glue for a delicate crafting project? Yup, Bstean’s syringes are up to the task. Single droplets of paint on a project? Done and done!

BStean actually took some of the criticisms to heart and have included rubber caps or stoppers for filling your syringe applicator from the back with particularly viscous fluids.¬†Still lacking, though, is the notice on the Amazon order page that all the syringes come printed with “Single Use” on them. Hubby disregarded that, and stuck his for his knives and guns in a zip top baggie and squirreled them away with his other tools for his “stuff”. No problems to report from re-use, though. The ones used for glue are almost always single use anyways, because the glues will harden in the tubes. But at only $9.89 shipped for a pack or 10, you get four different sizes, too: 1ml x 3, 3ml x 3, 5ml x 2, 10ml x 2 ¬†with needle gauges ranging from¬†1.5” 14Gx2, 1” 18Gx2, 1/2” 16Gx3, 20Gx3, and color coded for your convenience. Really sturdy, industrial grade, really well-made with metal needle syringe applicators, I plan on buying more in the future as my old ones get used up. Great product all around with a multitude of uses, and a fantastic price.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from BStean. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation for this review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

HouseParty: Kikkoman Grilling House Party #Review #KikkomanParty #Sponsored

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We have been a Kikkoman family for several generations now. No other soy sauce has ever come through the door and my father always treated the brand like the one and only when it came to his soy sauce selections. From original to low sodium versions (red top or green top), the soy sauce sat by on the table with the everyday condiments. Kikkoman over the years has expanded their brand and products greatly. I recently found a Kung Pao recipe and needed Chinese Rice Wine……Kikkoman again was there for me.

Hosting a party for brand you are already familiar with, enjoy and trust is super simple. I already know where to hunt for what items and my only con is that all stores carry a Kikkoman product but not all carry a decent selection of the items they make. I even resorted to Amazon when I could not find what I wanted and knew Kikkoman made it. Heck, I have the bottle with 1/4 left of Ponzu sauce and I knew there was a lime version because I had the bottle in the fridge. Then I found out they also make a chili version, so the hunt begins again.

My Kikkoman Houseparty kit was phenomenal:

  • 11 Kikkoman Shirts with the Kikkoman logo
  • 11 Free Item Coupons
  • 11 Kikkoman Ready, Set, Grill! Booklets
  • 11 Washoku (Issue #13) Culinary Insiders Booklets
  • Receipe cards
  • 1 Set of Kikkoman branded Tongs
  • 1 Kikkoman branded Shopping Bag
  • An AMEX gift card to help with costs associated (i.e. supplies) with the Party

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I was super excited when I saw the shirts! Yeah, I have this thing about brand logo shirts and sort of unintentionally collect them. Due to Kikkoman being so generous with the party pack and including a gift card, this means I can make this party rock. I even bought shrimps to make a shrimp lo-mein. I went with the easy route of making beef short ribs and chicken sesame thighs. When choosing your short ribs, just make sure they have a decent thickness, as you will be grilling them and you also want your guests to get a good amount of meat from each rib. I was able to find beautiful ones at Sprout’s Farmers Market, which also carries the Teriyaki Takumi line of Kikkoman products. Chicken thighs remain juicy and because again we are grilling, I opted for skin on and they are usually priced economically. The shrimps were on sale the week of my party and because I was making the lo-mein that same day, I went with a mini cooking class on how to make the most from everything and even used celery leaves versus stalks for my entree.

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We started the night before by marinating the chicken thighs.  I simply mixed the sauces from Ponzu Lime to Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce and Soy Sauce.  I also added a few dashes of a Schezwan spice mix and big dollop of sriracha paste.  You simply mix the ingredients to taste and then add the meat of your choice.  Allow the meat to marinate over night and this means no prepping the following night.  You simple just grill the thighs until fully cooked and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds while they rest.  The sugars from the sauces allow the seeds to stay in place.

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Then came the Lo-mein.  I first cleaned the shrimps and then made a quick marinade.  I made a medley of vegetables from green and red bell peppers, onions, some chopped fresh ginger and garlic.  The marinade was a dollop of Teriyaki Takumi, Garlic & Green Onion, some fresh onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  I found some Schezwan whole peppercorns and was able to add a small dash to the mix too.  You start by heating up your wok and cooking the fragrant (harder) vegetables.  I like a crunch still left, so I do not allow them to fully soften.  I then add the shrimps and celery leaves, then the lo-mein noodles.  Quickly toss and done!

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The beef short ribs were a cinch to make to.  The night before I marinated them in the Roasted Garlic Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce and that was all.  Next day, simple grill and you want you can glaze them with the sauce again but we opted not to, as the Kikkoman flavor was perfect with just the marinade.

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You have simply meals full of flavor and that equals enjoyment! ¬†Thank you Kikkoman and HouseParty for another super event. ¬†Don’t forget to pick-up some pot stickers!

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Get your Kikkoman Party on started at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from . I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Tryazon: Sterno S’mores Maker for Indoors and Outdoors Use #SmoresMaker

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I’m all for DIY cooking ways and what not better way to bring some fun, by being able to create S’mores at home. The weather is bad? No problem, as this Sterno S’mores Maker has no limitations. You can make S’mores it indoors, outdoors and at any hour. Yup, party any time and this is not just limited to giving kids smiles, you can even make “Gourmet S’mores” that are easy and even make it less messy. No longer do you have to try to hold the candy bar piece, you can literally make a chocolate bark topping that stays……yes, stays put on top of your graham piece.

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The S’mores Maker is brought to you by Sterno Products, the company that has been bringing heat to campers and the like for decades. They have created a nice line of products and kits, which make not only Summer funner, but you are not limited by the seasons when entertaining.

The kit includes:

  • 2 Roasting Forks
  • 1 Roasting Safety Screen for even roasting and protection from flame
  • 2 integrated S’mores Making Stations for an easy and clean way to make s’mores
  • Includes 1 can of Sterno S’mores Heat‚ĄĘ (also available for purchase separately)

I decided to make chocolate barks and all you do is make a ganache and/or melt chocolate and add toppings. Ganaches, use Heavy Cream and produce a more velvety texture and by using a 75% ratio of chocolate to 25% cream, the product firms up enough to not fall off the graham or cookie of your choice. You can also melt chocolate on low heat and then simply smear the chocolate on one part of the cookie, add your toppings and you are now pre-making S’mores! ¬†When guests arrive, half the work is completed. I also find this controls messes. Nuts, coconut shavings and so forth can get sloppy when you are building the Ultimate S’mores sandwich. This way of building S’mores makes sure the tables and floors do not suffer from runaway toppings!

The toppings are endless and you can satisfy any picky eater by using these easy tricks:

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Now, this is how the set up looks and it took me an hour to pre-make all the cookies.  I had guests coming as I made them and my chocolate chip mini cookies were eaten up, but you can use more than just graham.  Even Shortbread minis!

 

The Sterno S’mores Maker heats evenly no matter the size of marshmallow. ¬†Hey, I was worried the Giant ones (found at Aldi’s) would not heat up and melt in the center, they did and with ease. ¬†The normal size ones that look like miniatures compared to the gigantic ones, those I purchased at Trader Joe’s.

 

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Verdict:

I was super excited and started purchasing ingredients before the maker even arrived. ¬†Then it arrived!! It was beautiful and easy to assemble, meaning none was needed. ¬†The red portion (holder) is dishwasher safe and because you can by the cans again and again, this means having a S’mores party is endless. ¬†We will be trying more creations in the future and I can’t wait. ¬†This is a must buy and at $35.16 currently at Amazon, it’s perfect for 4th of July or really anytime. ¬†Make your own fun and creations. ¬†The refill fuel cans retail for $6.99 and that is for two cans! ¬†Each can lasts for about 45 minutes. ¬†It’s a cinch to clean up and everyone had a blast.

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sterno and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

HouseParty: Bertolli¬ģ Al Fresco Taste of Tuscany Party with Creamy Basil Alfredo #BertolliAlFrescoTasteOfTuscany

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As Summer approaches, I tend to get as busy as I do when it’s holiday time (November and December). It’s that six month mark I call, when changes start taking place, projects get started and making dinner needs simplification. The barbecues start getting prepped early in Spring here in Southern California because we have pleasant weather most time of the year. This means I so welcome kitchen help. I still want a meal that is healthy and leaves my family and friends full and happy.

In comes Bertolli, changing things up by adding more to their sauce line. Forget about the red and think about white base sauces that come with new flavors to welcome the new season. A white sauce is not something we enjoy (at least here) as I we usually make red based sauces. I am always looking for a way to use my overabundance of tomatoes, so that means I am always making tomato-y sauces! They are great but it can easily create a rut. I have come up with Greek style, South American to Italian “red sauces” that I think my family is on to me! When Bertolli came up with the Al Fresco Taste of Tuscany Party¬†and I saw Basil…..well, say no more.

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Retail Price Point: $1.99 for a 15 ounce jar at Target. They are currently on sale at Target from the regular $2.25 price point. You can also find Bertolli and other selections at Von’s, Stater Bros., Albertson’s and other major stores.

Ingredients: Water, Cream, Butter (Cream, Salt), Soybean Oil, basil, Modified Corn Starch, Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Enzyme Modified Egg Yolk, Sherry Wine, Salt, Whey, Natural Flavors, Yeast Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Garlic Powder.

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Verdict:
I like easy but I ask a lot from it. I also want a meal that is well liked and not filled with the bad ingredients. In other words, I don’t want my family picking up that I am using a jarred sauce. There is nothing wrong with sauces out of a jar and you can find brands that keep the sauce honest. In this home, jarred sauces are called “cheater sauces”. Okay, the family is a little spoiled but I prefer they welcome the better foods and if the sauce makes the cut, it also gets welcomed in the pantry. Bertolli’s Creamy Basil Alfredo is very simple to prepare. You just pour, reheat and serve. You can easily make it part of your meal or the meal itself by making it a main dish. For this occasion, I wanted to get maximum benefit out of the jar and the one jar needed to yield enough servings, so everyone could try it. I open the jar and the smell is pleasant and inviting. You have a nice milk and cream base that is followed up with the aroma of herbs, basil of course being the predominant one. Being that my basil plant was attacked by squirrels last year, my 5 year old plant never returned. I also welcomed the basil plant seeds that Houseparty and Bertolli included. I use to fear frost or excessive heat damaging my basil plant, never thinking a Squirrel with gourmet tastes would go nutty for an herb! With the amount of basil packed into this creamy Alfredo jar, my passion for basil and craving will definitely be satisfied. I opted for ricotta and spinach filled raviolis and made this my starter dish. I tend to now fry my raviolis in butter and olive oil. ¬†This method not only gives the pasta a firmer texture but also that golden buttery taste that everyone seems to love. I warmed the sauce and other than adding some parm and a fresh slice of a baby heirloom tomato, the Bertolli Creamy Alfredo sauce was doing all the talking here.

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And, the talking it did. I never have enjoyed a jarred cream based sauce. They always broke when heated and/or had an off taste. This one does not! The Creamy Basil Alfredo from Bertolli stayed whole when heated and did not have an odd after taste. You just taste cream, butter, some cheesy notes and the basil. That is all. The sauce does not overwhelm¬†what you are eating. The tomato gave the ravioli that fresh kick but because it’s mild in flavor, it played well with the sauce. The acidic properties played like a balsamic would, but mild enough to not just kill the entire plating. The spinach in the ricotta filling was made for a basil pairing, so Bertolli made a simple dish that much better. Some guests added a crack of pepper to top, so you can really make the Creamy Basil Alfredo sauce from Bertolli make any dish work and to your liking. No one even asked if the sauce was jarred any I was asked how I made it because so many tend to rush the process and end up with a broken sauce. I told them I would print out the recipe because it’s on-line. I shared a coupon after for my guests to use but I was not letting the cat out of the bag on this one from the start! ¬†I also love that everyone was gifted a Basil plant to grow at home, just watch out for those squirrels who think basil flavored acorns are the it dish this season!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Bertolli and HouseParty.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic and Gluten-Free Homestyle Burger #Review

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I celebrate Meatless Mondays, so I am always seeking out meat alternatives being that I do enjoy meat on other days. My goal is always to get 3 days out of the week where my protein source comes from anything else but an animal. This means I have had many hits and sadly many misses. My Husband is a carnivore and there is no bringing him to the lighter side of meatless meals, so I need something that is easy to prepare while I am making two different dinners in one evening. I am all for working and cooking, if the product delivers in texture and taste,

I had seen Kim’s Simple Meals at my local Sprout’s Farmers Market, but it seems the stock never moved. The boxes even began to gather dust, so when I received the invite to try the first of two, of the Kim’s Simple Meals…..I must admit my feelings were mixed. I looked at reviews and Amazon had a 50/50 ratio when it came to positive versus negative reviews. It took a while to get the coupon for the free product, and in that time Amazon dropped all the products and just carried the Breakfast Sausage from Kim’s Simple Meals. Sprout’s continued to support the brand and when the coupon arrived, finding it was a cinch.

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Kim’s Simple Meals differs from other products like it. So many use soy protein heavily and artificial boosters to gather a protein number worthy of advertising. Kim’s Simple Meals are Gluten-Free and Vegan Friendly, so no animal anything in this. Ingredients are also Organic, Kosher and Non-GMO friendly. Then there is other factors like these burgers being Dairy-Free. Lot’s of “free from” products and I worried if this meant free from flavor or even texture. The box states burger, so I expect a burger-like product.

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Ingredients: Oats*, garbanzo bean flour*, flax seed*, yeast flakes* (yeast autolysate* with rice flour* and sea salt), sea salt, tamari powder* [(soybeans*, salt), maltodextrin*, and salt], garlic powder*, spices*, onion powder*, dutched cocoa powder*, tomato powder*, natural smoked torula yeast, natural hickory smoke flavor [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent). *Organic  .  Soy ingredients is listed and I noticed it comes from the Tamari Powder.

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Verdict:
As you can see, this is not a soy filled product that can sometimes cause bloat and discomfort. Yes, you fill full but also uncomfortable. You have oats and a bean as a source of protein listed first. Next, comes other ingredients to even cocoa powder! Everything is familiar and real when it comes to the ingredients I recognize. The idea is just to hydrate the product and then make your burgers. Pretty simple. I notice water was listed and you can add ingredients to both add flavor and texture to the product. The biggest complaints I saw when it came to other reviews, was the lack of flavor and to the product being high in oats. Upon opening the box, I do agree the oats visible is higher than I desire. The video on Kim’s Simple Meals website, shows burgers being made with mushrooms, plus onions and other ingredients. You can even add walnuts it states. Barbecue sauce was another addition I saw too. So, I began to look at Kim’s Simple Meals as “starter meals”. I am not new to this method and think of quick bread boxes to even “starter sauces” you pick-up at the store. Same idea. I added red and green bell peppers, red and yellow onion, plus a medley of mushrooms. I even grated some carrots, added Edamame and I went more with an Asian style base versus an American style Burger. For me, the mix was already very far away from a Veggie Burger you get at the store or are familiar with, so why push the product into something it does not even resemble? I added a soy sauce and miso mix to create a hydrating base (water) that would not only plump the ingredients, but also add flavor. Everything was sauteed first and I then lastly added the Home-style Burger base from Kim’s Simple Meals. Okay, it smelled pleasant. I opted for small meatballs in the oven that I basted with Soy Vay, a marinade/stir fry sauce mixed with sesame oil. The house quickly filled with these smell of these Asian style meatballs and it smelled good. I basted a total of 3 times and this made the meatball move around, so it created a nice round shape versus a one-sided flat meatball. The oil allowed for a crisp exterior to build up when it was baking, and using the convection mode and baking on parchment paper, made the cooking process an easy clean up. The taste test? Well, they tasted very good and have a meaty/oatsy texture. I could not imagine using the box’s contents as-is. Like no way! It’s workable but I have to be frank, this was a boxed meal that I fixed up and these are ingredients I always have in hand, so it’s a great way to use up perishables but I am unsure if I would seek Kim’s Simple Meals burger box again. I found myself not craving it and I consider that a test when it comes liking a product. Yes, I made it work but should a product be worked up so much that it no longer resembles it’s beginning….because in the first place you read it never would? Probably not. It’s a start like I said and it’s a meal from a box that is better ingredient wise than others, but not exactly a yummy Home-style burger like it says on the box.

Connect with Kim’s Simple Meals at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kim’s Simple Meals and Social Nature. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Ohuhu 13-Piece Watch Tool Kit

Hubby love watches. I think there’s rarely a watch he’s seen that doesn’t have the potential to be something special, but there’s always something that needs tweaking. Tweaking needs tools, and there’s kits galore out there. Anyone who likes or collects watches needs one, but most are lacking in one thing or another, But this Ohuhu kit is as nearly a s complete a set we’ve ever owned, with every tool you could imagine you’d need maintain your precious timepeices, except maybe some needle nose pliers for¬†¬†stubborn pins might need some pliers.

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Open the included zippered nylon carry case and you’re greeted to a collection that seems complete enough to finally fix things on your watches you¬†needed to get to but always left by the waysides for lack of a tool. All the tools seem eminently useful and decent enough that`you could feel confident enough to tackle any watch fix or DIY addition with little problem. You have pin pushers, bar spreaders, a case holder, a back wrench and everything you’d need to effect minor watch repairs or just change the battery. And while the tools aren’t what I would consider “watchmaker” quality, they’re perfectly adequate for enthusiasts like Hubby. At only $19.99 you get plenty of value, but I have to mention that’s because it’s Ohuhu, experience tells me you’re completely on your own if something goes wrong with any of the tools. The action on the case wrench is a little rough, and mine didn’t lock, so the chances of the “teeth” slipping and damaging your caseback is high. And could be detrimental of you have a glass, or exhibition, back. Other than that, it’s a decent tool set.

You get a pretty good value for your money with this kit, so if you’re just changing a battery every couple of years, or swapping out straps, this kit will pay for itself with it’s first use. If you’re looking to modify your watches regularly, or needing to do regular maintenance, you’re better served buying individual tools and building a quality kit.

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Connect with Ohuhu:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ohuhu.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Just Jan’s: Jams, Preserves, Curds, Marmalade……Fruit Spreads and More #Review! Plus, a Meyer Lemon Sponge Cake #Recipe

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Being a fruit lover and especially when made into purees and spreads, the one thing I find difficult in locating, is good jams and the such. The market is flooded with everything from gourmet brands, local “Farmers Market” varieties, to the common major brands and store brands. You flip a jar over and you find that there is much more going on than just the fruit. Heck, sometimes even the fruit itself is last on the list and I’m sorry but when you advertise a spread as Raspberry, but you start with apple, pear, and white grape……I may smell Raspberry in the jar but that is as close as I may be getting to one! Jars of shame is what they should be called! I no longer even venture further if the list of ingredients starts wrong, no matter the art/picture in the front, if the prominent fruit pictured is not the only fruit being used. You tell me Raspberry and the next question should be with seeds or seedless? Not, red dyes, strawberry as a filler, and flavor enhancers, plus an emulsifier here and there to hold the lab experiment together. I desire simple, real and honest ingredients.

 

When Tryazon offered me the Just Jan’s campaign, I first did some nosing around. I did not want to take a spot away if in the end by just looking at the list of what makes this stuff…..well, is not to my liking. I first spot the “About Us” page and notice that Jan started this company in 2012. Has a dog in the picture (always a plus) and I see no preservatives, 14% lower in sugar and refusing to compromise quality or flavor. Okay, Jan, you are my long lost twin! I found ya! So, I quickly sign-up and especially when the Fig fruit spread and Lemon curd were the focus of the campaign. Hard finding a good fig spread. So many are figgy jello like spreads that sort of spread in a lumpy manner even though they have few seeds and fruit. It’s like the sugar water they made, found a way to keep together wants to stay forever together. It then tastes like if someone just took fig juice and jarred it. No backbone to the product and it’s really mostly water and sugar…..oh, and some even get cute and add caramel coloring. The only thing cute is Jan’s dog and after that, she is serious about the 13 different products she offers.

Retail Price Point: $6.95 to $7.50 per jar. ¬†Each jar measures a generous 10 ounces. ¬†My gift pack is the “green gift pack“. ¬†The green gift pack sells for just $15.00 and comes with 6 jars. ¬†This pack includes, Kadota Fig, Tangerine Marmalade, Meyer Lemon Curd, Muscadine Grape, Apricot, and Seedless Raspberry. ¬†They sell a red gift pack but it seems to be out of stock at the moment.

I started off with tasting the Lemon Curd. I buy two different brands and one being from Trader Joe’s. Jan’s has a more lemon flavor, is less yellow in color and less sweeter. The curd is lighter in texture too. This means I can have more options when using it. I decided from the get go making a marbled Meyer Lemon pound cake. As the days passed and I ate this curd. That seemed like the lazy way out. I wanted the spread to be the focus more. So, I changed it around and decided on a Meyer Lemon Sponge Cake! It’s still Spring and Summer is like right there, just a few inches away from getting into pool weather, so why not a more lighter and delicate dessert. This also allowed me to make Jan’s Meyer Lemon Curd the focal point. You also need no milk or butter because again, this about the Meyer Lemon Curd popping!

Let’s Begin……

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs at room temperature (divided)
  • 3.5 ounces of Sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 1/2 a Zest of a Meyer Lemon, Sweet Lemon or just a normal Lemon
  • 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice from the lemon you used for zest
  • 1/2 cup of Cake Flour
  • Jan’s Meyer Lemon Curd (about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of spread per cakelette, so you will need 6 teaspoons or tablespoons because you add the amount you are comfortable with)

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This recipe is a super easy and fast to make. Set the oven to warm at 350 degrees and I used the Convection mode.

Then divide the eggs and first whip the egg whites until firm and form peaks. Not soft peaks or super firm ones, just peaks (somewhere in between). Scoop the egg whites out and set aside.

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Then add to the mixing bowl the 2 yolks, the sugar, the zest, the lemon juice and the vanilla. Whip for about a minute and stopping in between to scrape down and around, just so everything mixes well.

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Then in intervals, add 1/2 of the egg whites and 1/2 of the amount of cake flour. Whip quickly and stop the moment it combines about 75% of it coming together. Scrape down and around, and then add the remaining of the ingredients until combined.  Again making sure to not over whip. You can also try the folding technique if you do not trust yourself by folding in the egg whites and flour. This makes sure you do not break the cake batter.

Then take 6 (buttered or cooking spray) ramekins and fill them evenly with the batter. The batter should fill about 6 of the smaller ramekins leaving none to waste.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then take the almost set cakes out and add Jan’s Meyer Lemon curd to the center (amount of your choosing) and return to bake between 4 to 5 minutes.

You can eat them warm by flipping them upside down and they taste like a Molten Meyer Lemon cake that is moist and light in texture (airy).

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You can also eat them cooled by serving them in the ramekin and you can dust then lightly with powdered sugar or even serve them with ice cream. A dessert that is done in 20 minutes and gives you the option of eating both warm or at room temperature!

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Verdict:

Phenomenal cake! ¬†You can make these cakes with pretty much any of Just Jan’s spreads. ¬†The juice and zest are optional and you can add a little more vanilla, even orange zest with juice, extracts of different flavors, and so on. ¬†Imagine a center dollop of Just Jan’s Raspberry in the center of a lemon flavored cake? ¬†Replace some of the cake flour (about a 1/4 cup) with unsweetened cocoa powder and you can create chocolate sponge cakes! ¬†The possibilities are endless and in 20 minutes, you are munching! ¬†The Just Jan’s fruit spreads were very well received. ¬†No one found a negative thing to say and the most common thing said, “so fruity and not sugary, I like that.” ¬†It’s nice to know I am not the only one that found ways to avoid jams, preserves, and spreads because they just stopped being what they were suppose to be. ¬†It’s a way to preserve a fruit so you can enjoy it at any season. ¬†Just Jan’s did just that and in the good way! ¬†Thank you Jan and cute dog ūüôā

Connect with Just Jan’s and find your favorite fruit spread (plus they carry a few savory blends) at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Just Jan’s and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

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