Kikkoman House Party, Sponsored by Ripplestreet!

Kikkoman, around these parts, tends to be our go-to for Asian-inspired cuisine. There’s enough variety in the line that it doesn’t matter if you like sweet, spicy, or melt-your-face hot, Kikkoman has got you covered. In this case, with our party, quite literally. They sent these groovy t-shirts for everyone to wear, as well as tumblers for drinks. Everyone got a little something to keep, as well as a recipe guide & coupon to grab their favorite Kikkoman yummy, courtesy of Kikkoman and Ripplestreet. We provided they food, however…

Sometimes people think you can only get fresh, Asian-inspired meals from a restaurant. Be it fast food, take out, fast casual or sit down, Kikkoman wants to remind you nothing beats homemade. Yes, is might take a few more minutes than grabbing a bag and going, but the payoff when you’ve done it yourself means you’ll probably never look back.

We got a chance to host a Kikkoman party, courtesy of Ripplestreet, and show our friends and family you can make Asian style cuisine just as good or better than any place you can buy from. I’ll go a step further here, and say you get more control over what you use to make it just a little healthier too!

With all that said, everyone does hotwings and pizza for the big game, but we went a step beyond and made full plates of Asian inspired goodness straight from our kitchen. Fried rice, chow mein, potstickers, the whole nine. And one thing I can tell you, hands down, the food was MUCH better than the game or commercials. Much better.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kikkoman courtesy of Ripplestreet. 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.

Wild Planet Foods: Albacore Wild Tuna, Chicken and Wild Sardines #Review #Sponsored by #MomsMeet

 

​​I received the above product(s) free of charge from Wild Planet Foods 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.

 

Finding Tuna anymore that is edible and from a company that practices safe standards, well it is not that easy. I find many canned versions pretty much a “surprise-in-a-can” because you can’t see the product, so you have take that leap of faith that it will look good and not just be minced fish that should have been discarded. I have bought many brands that allege to hold high standards, to just be disappointed or worse, the only difference is the label and price tag, but the questionable source remains the same. I just stopped eating tuna! Not the best answer when I crave a salad or tuna sandwich, but it was my way to not even deal with it. I then heard many people stopped too because like with many industries, we found out how things are made. The pink goop that made nuggets, well call tuna the grey-ish soup that looked or tasted nothing like the fish. I don’t want to hide the fish with condiments, so why bother was my attitude.

Then came Wild Planet. Okay, I was skeptical because I saw the glossy pamphlets, the pretty pictures and read the materials. It sounds really good:

The company is all about sustainable resources and practices. The main part was traceable responsibility when it comes to the foods they distribute. Not only does Wild Planet have high standards when it comes to fishing, but also on the product they deliver to your family’s table. So, pretty much I don’t have to dress up my tuna to hide getting a not so good can. Wild Planet is a control freak! I like that because that is how I shop and how I would want someone picking my food for me. They are involved with all the fish they purchase to ensure quality, flavor and that texture remains as premium as it can be. No over handling, no hiding yucky questionable “flakes” of fish meat in a can, and making sure that if your can states Albacore Tuna, you get what is labeled.

 

Wild Planet also offer many varieties that come in canned, jarred or pouch versions.  You also can pick products that are packed in oil to no salt varieties.  Every selection is just the fish and no water added:

 

You can see the only thing that comes from a farm, is the chicken and that is even held to organic standards. The rest is all wild caught with strict guidelines like no long lines, no nets, no FAD (fish aggregating device) and turtle safe. Founded in 2004, Wild Planet respects the consumer by first showing the same regard to the seafood they catch. We hear about cage free eggs and how that misnomer is used, but there is no funny stuff when it comes to Wild Planet. They are open about the practices they keep and it has become the mantra the company proudly lives by. Wild Planet is based in my home state of California and all their products are part of the Non GMO project. Like I mentioned, there is really finally a company you can trust when it comes to seafood (and chicken).

 

 

Taste Matters: 

Okay, I missed the heck out of Tuna! The fish is fresh and the flakes are large in size.  Think of a fish steak that was kindly packaged in a can with little to no over handling.  You see how the natural fish is shaped and the “breaking of the flake”, that fish meat is up to you.  You want larger pieces for salad, you got that! Want to fork it and make smaller pieces for a sandwich or to enjoy with crackers, again you are in control of that.  I should have tried Wild Planet longtime ago but I did not want to take that leap……take the jump with both feet in and pick up a can, pouch and/or jar.  This is a can packed with fish and not water, oil, fillers or anything.  Just purely good seafood!

 

You can Connect with Wild Planet Foods at:

#WildPlanetFoods #MomsMeet

 

UpNature: Raw and Organic 100% Natural Honey #Review #UpNatureHoney

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Honey is one of nature’s most simplest products and the applications are endless. Now buying honey was very simple before. You usually picked a jar or a bear shaped bottle and you had honey ready to go. Then the industry decided to get funny but not in a very laughable kind of sense. We had companies add fillers and sell honeys from around the world that were high in price but not quality. You were paying pretty much for sugars and not even the good kind. Some even add enhancements and flavoring, which are not even naturally occurring. So finding a brand you can trust and sells true and honest honey can be a bit of a hunt but so worth it. You will even find if you use the real stuff, like with vanilla extracts, you end up needing less because of the purity.

 

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UpNature makes Raw and Organic Honey with zero surprises or fillers. You get the real stuff with zero processing. The good stuff is kept in and no bad stuff added! Simplicity and honesty at it’s finest. UpNature is USDA Organic Certified, Free of GMOs, and even Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified. Free from being heated and literally jarred in the same form it was gathered.

Price Point: $17.99 via Amazon or $19.99 via UpNature’s Website for a 400 gram jar

 

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Verdict:

The first thing I noticed was that the honey in the jar was not clear like many in the stores that have been processed via heat so other fillers can be added and combined. You have a semi-opaque liquid that tends to run slower than other honeys of like kind. It’s almost the texture of a maple syrup of high grade when you move it in the jar. The color is a brilliant amber! Just beautiful and UpNature gave the bottle a beautiful beehive design on the golden colored lid, so the little details were very much appreciated. The taste test is just amazing. There is thickness to the honey but it’s a creamy texture and very smooth. I tried it on bread first to see how it tasted and I had to stop myself. I had no idea I liked honey so much until I tried UpNature’s honey. The product is from the Ukraine and the bottle states the honey is cultivated from fields that are rich in minerals, so the bees create a honey that is really made from wildflowers. I tried it with tea the second time and just a 1/4 of a teaspoon was more than satisfying and enhanced the flavor of the tea, which was orange/citrus in taste. This honey just brightened that little tea cup and changed the flavor profile completely. I love using less because this means this jar shall last! I have a recipe for blonde brownies where honey is used as a sweetener and I will be using this one because it will definitely create a better texture (moist) to the brownies.

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from UPNature. 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.

MYS Salt and Pepper Grinder Set

It might seem superfluous to have more than one set of grinders on your counter, but in this house, even two sets falls a little short. Because for us, we have 3 different salts and 4 different peppers to grind depending on the meal, so it can get a little crowded on the counter at times. What that also means is I get to compare and contrast MYS’s Grinder set versus, say, the previous set from Q’s Inn. They look alike, but do they perform alike?

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Sadly, no. Not that the MYS set performs badly, it’s just not as butter-smooth as the Q’s Inn set. There’s some binding in the grinding action, as well as a squeal or two. Occasionally they stick a bit. Other than that they function identically. What was absolutely superb was the collapsible silicone pouring spout for refilling. That’s a bonus that has unexpectedly made filling my grinders a joy instead of a chore. The julienne peeler is neat, but I have a few of those, and none of the are as dangerous. This one as sharp blades that are right out there for my soft, pink digits to get sliced and diced on, so have a safe place to store it. The included cleaning brush is also an inspired inclusion that is one of those “Well, duh!” tools that I should have had much sooner. But the meat and potatoes of this set are the grinders, and they’re decent, not great.

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The stainless steel is also slightly thinner, and not as “polished” so I would be wary of putting in salts that have high moisture content. The ceramic burrs are adjustable and should last a while. The glass bases are easy to clean, grip and use. And the included goodies are mostly awesome, but the action on the grinders, which means the most important part of the set, is lacking and problematic on my set, so I have to knock a couple of stars off for that, but I’ll add one back because the silicone funnel for filling? Inspired. And MYS states on the Amazon listing: “100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE; we aim to keep you perfectly happy with our products and want to know if there are any concerns or questions; please contact us as we will make it right!” So it’s up to you, but for my money, Q’s Inn gets my business instead.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from MYS Homeware. 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.

 

FreshJax: Set of 5 Gourmet Handcrafted Spices (Grilling Spices) #Review #FreshJaxSpices

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One of the delights of Summer, is the grilling weather. Being in California, this means that we grill most parts of the year and even during Winter. If it’s raining we can easily bring the grill under the tall awning from the patio, so again no limitations. Finding spices and especially blends is something I must admit I do not usually purchase. I have a large array of individual spices, dried herbs, chilies, in powdered to granulated, and even whole form. I just avoid blends because I found early on, they were just mostly blended products with 75% being salts or sugars. Not my kind of thing, so when FreshJax reached out and I looked into the company…..well, I gave them a try.

FreshJax is a family owned company and they started their company in 2011. They advertised something I use commonly, being “clean” about what you make. This is not just limited to sanitary conditions, but to using real products, no fillers and having pride in what you make. You got to love cooking to a certain degree to make things work and one thing FreshJax loves, is their spice mixes!

 

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I selected the Grilling Spices because the selection looked like one I can actually use. Like all 5 bottles sounded like great mixes and close to ingredients we use on a weekly basis, but I am always looking how people add their own twist to ingredients I use. The grilling mix comes with:

  • GRILL MASTER: Think about an all purpose blend and this mix is it. It goes well with any protein to vegetables and seafood. Serves all well with herbs like organic fennel, garlic, rosemary and smoked black peppercorns. I use smoked salts on almost a daily basis but the smoked peppercorns really made this mix unique and addicting.
  • SMOKEY SOUTHWEST: Not just spice but flavor! This one was great to add to beans and even inside a quesadilla. It made every cheesy quesadilla amazing with just one sprinkle of this blend. You have smoked salts and pepper, to cumin to give it that recognizable Tex-Mex kick.
  • CITRUS PEPPER: I have a lemon pepper blend I use and it’s also made with organic herbs and spices. FreshJax, laughed at my lemon pepper blend! This bottle is a citrus bonanza when it comes to flavor. You have a blend here of lemon, orange, lime with a zest you get from white peppercorns. They also use a pepper medley blend, which means you get the red and even the green that tend to be milder in flavor. A great combination and perfect for vegetables and I made a Citrus Pepper compound butter for salmon that was grilled on planks and oh my, just delicious!
  • FRESH BAY: There is a reason the other is called “Old” Bay. This mix revamps the old by using organic mace, cardamon, mustard seeds to your familiar celery seed and bay leaves. I found even cinnamon in this blend but I could not taste it. Like not one ingredient fought with each other, so it’s a peaceful bay 🙂 that will play well with shrimps to even chicken.
  • PEPPERED HABANERO: I was afraid this one would just mimic the Smokey Southwest but thankfully this one was totally different. You get heat and I find habanero peppers not only provide heat but more flavor than a jalapeno. I don’t find the pepper to be crazy hot. This blend is peppery and you get a zing but again FreshJax delivers taste. They also blended in Bird’s Eye Chili, which is an Asian variety. I love that this one plays well with braised beef because you don’t have to always taco everything! When I braised the beef, it was ready in 1 hour and the tortillas were on the side to help scoop up the peppery sauce this blend created!

 

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Final Verdict:

I recall now what ease it is to pick-up a bottle and go! I kind of forgot that when I am so use to getting out the items I need to grind peppercorns, seeds, and pods, to then mixing in dry herbs, spices and salts. FreshJax, made this a positive experience just from one simple bottle with no clean-up needed. Easy and I was not cheating the dishes I made either. Flavor was present and I still had to salt some a little bit because these seasonings add taste, not just pickle the meats and vegetables you add them to. The herbs and spices are fresh and you not only see them on the meats you rubbed them on, marinated with but even the vegetables I used the spices on were well received.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from FreshJax. 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.

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.

 

HouseParty: Bertolli® 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 Macaroni Casserole #Review #TryNatural

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Next on the list, is Kim’s Simple Meals and this is their Organic Macaroni Casserole. The product again is easy to make and assemble. You simply boil the pasta, which is gluten free and made from organic brown rice. You then mix the contents with water, blend and add it to the cooked elbow shaped noodles. Mix and in the oven the casserole goes. The Mac is soy free and made with GMO free ingredients. Vegan friendly and Kosher too.

Ingredients: Gluten free brown rice elbow macaroni*, oat flour*, sea salt, sugar*, dehydrated vegetables* (onion*, garlic* & tomato*), yeast powder*, natural smoke Torula yeast, annatto powder* (annatto extract*, maltodextrin*), citric acid, lemon peel powder* and natural hickory smoke powder [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)]. *Organic

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Verdict:

The instructions were simple and because I tend to like more bite in my pastas, I did not boil the noodles as long as they suggested. When I blended the “cheese sauce”, it was very watery in texture and had an odd smell that was smoky. Kim suggests you can add your own meatless based meats, like a veggie based bacon. This time I decided to just go as it comes but I can see even adding vegetables. Once the pasta was partially cooked, I added the sauce and it did not thicken. It was more like the texture of a thin juice, versus any bechamel sauce I have made to make a typical Macaroni and Cheese dish. There is no real cheese here but I did notice this box is not labeled dairy free like the burger version. Why not add milk? I have no idea and it was not listed as a suggestion. Not even a nut milk that is unsweetened was not suggested, or even soy milk if you have no issues with it. The burger box had soy…..but I went forward and was thankful walnuts were not suggested like the video shared for the home-style burgers, and no oats! The house smells like something is cooking but it’s not like any Macaroni and Cheese I have had before. Maybe a pasta kind of dish but not Mac and Cheese. It comes out of the oven and it’s like one solid mass. I noticed this in the video also, when the serving was cut. The liquid was absorbed and you still smell something smoky-ish but I could not put my finger on it. Maybe fake bacon bits and along that area. I taste it and it’s not cheese and I have eaten many cheeses in my lifetime. This pretender is more like a rice dish, where the rice is shaped like elbow pasta and a yellow sauce. The sauce creates a pasta cake but no cheese and gooey texture you associate with the original. It was not awful but definitely not super delicious. The only thing that came to mind, is it tasted like that mystery dish where the label fell off the platter, which sat in a buffet/cafeteria line. Surprise-a-Dish! If you like surprises, this may be for you and adding vegetables or other items might spruce it up and make it less surprise-ish casserole.

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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.

 

Top Mates Aussie Finishing Sauces

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We do a fair amount of grilling around here, especially since the weather tends to lend it self to extended outdoor times. And while our usual standby’s are always top-notch, one never wants to end up in a rut. When I got a chance to try Top Mates’ Aussie Finishing Sauces, I said you betcha!

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A finishing sauce is a thing that can make a mediocre cut of meat into a masterpiece. Different from a marinade or grilling sauce, it’s best to use them right at the end of cooking to not burn them, and be a “top-note” flavor that compliments the dish as opposed to really permeating it. The good ones are like magic, and Top Mates makes some of the best I’ve ever tried. We got to try our choice of two flavors, and I chose Caramelized Garlic and Onion and Shiraz. And the are both 100% awesome. The Caramelized Garlic flavor right away knocks down your expectations by being at once herby, tangy, and rich. Want simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredients? How about this: Sugar, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Onion, Water, Olive Oil, Sundried Tomatoes, Canola Oil, Lemon Peel, Pectin, Spices, Salt, Citric Acid.That’s it. No science experiments, just real stuff, real food, real good. We used it to top a freshly grilled tri-tip roast, by brushing it on the top and closing the lid for about 5 minutes on a Weber Kettle. After that, we let it rest for another 7 minutes and sliced to serve with a little more sauce on top, and the compliments we got we stellar. The Onion and Shiraz  (Ingredient list: Red Onion, Sugar, Onion, Shiraz Wine, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Port Wine, Pectin, Green Peppercorns, Mushrooms, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt, Spices. So simple!!) went on top of a grilled leg of lamb in place of our usual pomegranate reduction. With just the right amount of sweet with a rich, bold onion finish, this made our usual lamb a mouth-watering masterpiece. I can’t wait to mix it up and try these sauces on other foods. I’ve been told they pair well with cheeses on an appetizer platter, but so far, as a finishing sauce, we haven’t messed with perfection. I want to try every flavor!

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Made from top-quality ingredients and easily paired with a variety of dishes, a little of these sauces go a very long way, because they are just packed chock-a-block full of flavor! Available directly from Top Mates shipped for free or even on Amazon (Free shipping for a limited time!), and only $11.99 per 10.2 ounce jar, I can see myself picking up the entire line and taking all our usual dishes from familiar to “Yowza!”. Top Mates even has a special running where you can mix and match two jars of their amazing finishing sauces, shipped to your door, for only $19.99. There’s literally no excuse to not give them a try. And Top Mates believes in their product so much, they offer a 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee. Not to worry, I’m satisfied!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Top Mates. 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.

Swaggable: Kala Beautiful Beans Snacks #Review #KalaBeans

 

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The new year also brings a fresh start and many of us seem to always start same, with the desire to better our well being via losing weight, eating better and overall taking better care of ourselves. From what reports and the news states, we all also tend to fail and abandon the idea by the time February rolls around. I blame Santa for the Christmas chocolates he leaves behind to Valentine’s Day with all the treats to add back again that you just finished eating in January 🙂 Whatever the cause, failing is not my kind of thing and with every passing year being able to maintain a healthy weight, plus lose a little here and there, I plan to remain on the healthy eating path. My problem is boredom and always has been. I dislike eating the same thing every single day as a snack. It just makes my days blend and kills my palette! I love apples but an apple even in different varieties is just different degrees of sweetness and crunch, but still remains being an apple. I sometimes crave savory and salty snacks and yes, I could dip an apple in something like a salted caramel but then I might as well just eat a piece of cheesecake! So, my ever endless hunt for brands that keep me on track has again yielded another option for us.

 

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Kala Beautiful Beans is a new company and part of the Bush Brothers Company. Their treats come in one serving single bags or a large bag that yields about 5 servings each. At first I thought it was just foo-foo trail mixes and my hippy side admits that when I see any new trail mix or granola mix hit the market, my heart does flutter but nothing is as welcoming as seeing a new member added to the line up. Kala Beautiful Beans uses Fava Beans as their main ingredient. They are roasted and seasoned and paired up with other ingredients like Garbanzo (chickpeas) beans and dried fruits, along with spices and seasonings. Currently Kala Beans features 4 different flavors:

Pineapple Kick Medley– Roasted fava beans and orange-glazed chickpeas with pineapple, blueberries and paprika.
Cherry Trail Medley– Roasted fava beans and vanilla-glazed chickpeas with cherries, toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks.
Simply Peppered Beans– Roasted fava beans with Himalayan salt and black pepper.
Tropical Curry Beans– Roasted fava beans with curry spice and lime juice.

You can purchase all varieties at your local Sprout’s Farmers Markets.

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Verdict:
I was unsure what to expect and the beans have a roasted peanut color and thier shape resembles a small hazelnut, but they are airy in the center. Think of a really puff corn nut but without that grainy corn feeling you get when chewing one. They break down cleanly while eating and taste ……..well, delicious. I don’t taste bean. Even the chickpeas, which I have had before taste……well, bean-y when eating after a while but the roasting method used by Kala Beans produces a more airy product. They then use other ingredients that are of high quality, so it enhances the snacking experience. Everything melds perfectly and best of all, the taste and flavors pop in my mouth so I am enjoying a healthy snack a lot more than I expected I would. My favorite was the Cherry Trail Medley, the coconut shavings are toasted but not powdery in the bag. You actually get nice sized shavings!  Then the cherries are so good because I am first to admit that sometimes when I get dried cherries and dried cranberries in a mix, I can’t always tell the difference between them because they are dried to the point that they just taste like seedy, red fruit skin. The cherries from Kala Beans are dried but in a kindly manner where they remain plump, retain their sweetness but still hit you with a tart flavor towards the end. Kala Beans then added a vanilla glaze to the product that is sweet but non-sticky on the surface. You just get that small hint and scent of the vanilla that adds a nice warmth and compliments the fruit, beans (and I want to say nuts but there are none in it), and chocolate nicely. The dark chocolate chunks are just so good and melt nicely when eating.  No waxy taste or bitterness.  I actually like the Kala Beans mixes and oddly more than some of my current trail and nut based mixes. I think it comes down to the clean taste and finish, that is both satisfying and tasty. Kills the craving and I will be buying them to add to my yogurt in the morning because a girl can only granola it for so long!  Plus, you have benefits like fiber from the beans and one bag is just 180 calories for the Cherry Trail Medley Mix and Pineapple one, but the other two only bump up to 200 calories for a 1.5 ounce serving.  That is pretty fair and not loaded with sugars and sodium, just real food with real flavors!

Connect with Kala Beans at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Swaggable and Kala Beautiful Beans. 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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