NeoStrata GIVEAWAY: Skin Active Antioxidant Defense Serum (a $78 value!) to 25 Lucky Winners

 

NeoStrata Company, Inc.

 

Serums are one of the greatest invention when it comes to skincare products. It’s a thin solution, which gets absorbed quickly with the user being able to layer other products over the serum to enhance the results.

I have featured NeoStrata products on my blog and you could be one of the 25 (U.S. Only, sorry) winners of their serum called Skin Active Defense. This is a $78 product you could win for free!

The serum you use makes a world of difference because this is the first layer you apply and the product your skin will absorb the most from. I always look for anti-aging properties and extra benefits, other than just moisturizing agents. I want to combat everything from free radicals because prevention is key! Some serums give instant “lifting” results, while others work with long term continual use but many now a days that come from a good brand like NeoStrata, well they can do both jobs with great success.

NeoStrata Skin Active Antioxidant Defense Serum (as posted by the manufacturer)-

NeoStrata Skin Active Antioxidant Defense Serum protects skin from future signs of aging and is formulated with 8 powerful multi-action antioxidants designed to combat oxidative damage. The potent combination of Citric Acid and Lilac, Green Tea and Chardonnay Grape Seed Extracts works together to neutralize five different types of free radicals and helps preserve healthy DNA, lipids and cellular membranes. In addition, this super potent source of EGCG Green Tea Extract protects against inflammatory mediators in the skin.

Giveaway form: http://bit.ly/1GvoLNf

It’s easy to win by just completing the form and following NeoStrata and interacting via Twitter (@neostrataskin)

Good Luck!

Connect with NeoStrata at:

 

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Dick Taylor Craft Handmade Chocolate and French Silk Pie Review and Recipe #DickTaylorChocolate

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Every once in a while, you run into a product that is a game changer. Someone who ups the bar so high that you don’t know who or if it can ever be topped. I really try to reserve some labels for a truly superlative product. Dick Taylor’s Craft Chocolate hits every metric for me to call it “The Very Best”. Nothing I’ve ever had before can even come close. It’s in a league all it’s own. I’ll go over why below, and even add a recipe that, should you have the willpower to not devour the chocolate immediately, will be dynamite.

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Chocolate in the United States has been done a great disservice. What was once an American icon, Hershey’s, can be held partly accountable for the woeful state of chocolate confections in this country. Because if you’ve only had Hershey’s, you’ve not had chocolate. Craftsmen like Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick are looking to right a terrible wrong with their small-batch craft Dick Taylor chocolates. With a hands-on approach that takes up to a month or more, it starts with selecting only the finest fair-trade raw cacao, all the way up to the pouring of this molten magic into it’s molds. You’ve not lived until you’ve treated yourself to a piece of Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate. The vintage machinery used belie the dedication and skill inherent to this labor of love, because one would think to make the best chocolate, you’d need the latest and greatest in automation and innovation. The craftspeople at Dick Taylor chocolates scoff at the notion, and impart a love and devotion to being the best that I could only strive for. Heart will take you far, it seems.

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The list of ingredients for the 72% Madagascar, Sambirano is so simple it’s almost as if they left out a step on purpose to keep anyone else from finding the secret to a truly superior chocolate. Ready?

Organic cacao and organic cane sugar.

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That’s it. No emulsifiers, no fillers, no chemicals, no artificial gunk, no waxes. The flavor envelopes your mouth immediately, with no harsh bitterness, no oily or overly creamy mouth feel, no grit. Impossibly smooth from first bite to final swallow, you almost never want the experience to end. There’s nothing else like it. It was almost transcendent. Our bars of Green & Blacks now sit in the pantry, lonely and wanting. The Guittard Dark baking chips that were my baking cabinet queens have been kicked to the curb. I’m fully and completely in love with Dick Taylor’s Craft lovelies. I mean, they even look exquisite. We were so fortunate that the weather was in our favor when the box arrived, as I’ve have been inconsolable to have had this chocolate adulterated by the heat. There’s 5 different types of “dark” chocolate with cacao percentages from 72% up to 76%, as well as 4 specialty flavors (Fleur de Sel?! You had me at “chocolate”, you devil!), drinking chocolate, and even a Father’s Day Gift Collection! Should I gift one to hubby despite not being a father? Hmm… At any rate, there’s truly something for everybody there!

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Located to our north in Eureka, CA, we have a standing invitation to tour their facility should we ever find ourselves in the neighborhood. I don’t know if I’d trust my self (or hubby) to not grab everything we could carry and run cackling like madmen out the doors at first opportunity, probably to the tune of “I’ve got a golden ticket”. There’s thankfully an authorized retailer just a short ways away, but I’m not sure if my diet thinks this is a good thing. We finished the first bar in 5 minutes after the first nibbles, and we just don’t do that in this house. Chances are, there’s someone to sell you a bar locally. And if not, they do sell direct from the website, shipped to your door.

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Not since the mythical Willy Wonka has there been something so magical available to eat. Nothing you’ve had comes close. Be forewarned, after you’ve had Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, nothing will ever come close again. You’ll be spoiled for all time, chasing a chocolate dragon until your end of days. Do it anyways. It’s sooooo worth it.

Connect with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolates at:

 

 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate French Silk Pie:

With Summer here and the weather finally warming up for us, I wanted to bring back a classic but a goodie.  A good pudding always allows you taste the honest chocolate notes.  With Dick Taylor’s Madagascar, Sambirano 72%, I found it to be like the perfect espresso without the bitterness.  A good chocolate will not add oils or large amount of sugars, so neither shall I.  My Husband has always loved this pie but disliked what time has done to it.  It went from a way to showcase a fine chocolate bar and having a cold pie on a hot day, which hits you perfectly like a car ride (of course top down) with a chocolate shake in hand.  We now get ready-made puddings out of a box and the custard pudding below is good and rich enough to eat by the spoonful!  Say goodbye to eating desserts out of the box and treat you and yours with real pudding made like other, with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  If I could only find a way to transfer the design of their bars onto this pie…….life would be perfect.  I swear they should sell stamps of their bar’s imprint and of course paired with chocolate scented ink 🙂 Enjoy!

Lets Begin……

Filling (Custard Pudding)-

  • 1/3 cup of Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of Whole Milk (at room temperature)
  • 1/8 cup of Corn Starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 2 Egg Yolks (at room temperature)
  • 5 1/4 ounces of Dick Taylor’s Dark Chocolate of your choice
  • 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 of teaspoon of Cocoa Powder (reserved as you sprinkle it on the crust before adding the filling)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Butter (salted and used KerryGold)
  • 1 Pre-baked Pie Crust (search my recipes if you need one or you can use whatever recipe you desire)

You Start by pre-baking a pie crust.  The crust has to be fully cooked and cooled before you begin making the pudding for the pie.  Below is my crust, and I use a butter and shortening recipe.  I won’t judge if you even get a ready made pie crust, just as long as you make the pudding and you can just skip the crust and serve the pudding in cups with a graham cracker to dunk with!

Now, comes puddin’ time!  You first start by combining the dry ingredients.  This is the corn starch, sugar and salt.  I combine them in a bowl, whisk and then they go into the pot you wish to make your pudding in.  I use a non-stick for that added no stick insurance they have.  Next, combine the milk and the 2 egg yolks.  I use the same measuring cup I use for the milk and just whisk and set aside.  You then measure out your chocolate (break up bars **sniffle**), and you need 5 1/4 ounces.  If you go over, it produces a thicker product but trust me this is pudding that is as thick as it is and rich.  Add the 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder to the same bowl you have your chocolate in.  If you opted to make this a pie, add the 1/2 teaspoon and dust the bottom of your pie crust with it.

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Now comes the cooking process.  Combine the milk and egg mixture to the sugar, salt and corn starch mix.  Combine with a whisk and turn the stove’s burner on low.  Keep mixing, whisking (get those edges too!) and continue whisking.  You can set the burner to a low-medium setting if you are a heavy whisker at this point and the mixture will begin to show small air bubbles around the 3 minute mark.  You will feel some heat on you knuckles from the steam but keep at it.  After all, we’re burning calories here!  As you whisk, you will feel at the 5 minute mark (if not sooner), the mixture getting thicker and thicker and when it truly bubbles, just before it boils, off the heat it comes.  Turn off the burner and add the chocolate to your custard, along with the Vanilla.  You got pudding!

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Then add the tablespoon of butter.  Now, you have a glistening and rich pudding.  Heaven!

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Now, pour the pudding into the pie shell or if making pudding cups, you can pour into a container to cool (uncovered).  Once cooled, you can then add a cover to not have a choco-smelling fridge, but then that’s not a bad thing either.

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You allow the pie (or pudding bowl) to cool on the counter for an hour and then into the fridge it goes (uncovered).  I let it cool about 3 hours to avoid that condensation you can get if you covered it.  After the 3 hour mark, I then cover the pie (or pudding bowl).  I allow the pie to cool over night and yes, it tortures my loved ones.  I figure they can salivate while it’s cooling and you really get the pie to settle and this is why that 1/2 teaspoon of Cocoa is added.  Any wetness gets absorbed and there is no sliding around from the filling when cut.  Now, topping time!

I have made several topping from whipped cream with mascarpone cheese to salted caramel.  This time I made edible fun-fetti.  It’s a sugar cookie batter but why use white sugar when you can add color!

Fun-Fetti/Confetti Cookie Crumb Topping:

  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 3/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals
  • A Dash of salt
  • A Sprinkling of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals

Set Oven at 375 degrees and begin incorporating (cutting with fork or I use my hands) the butter and flour.  It’s cold and you want to create crumb with about pea sized crumbles.  Add a dash of salt (if wanted) and the 1 tablespoon of the sugar crystals.  Mix until incorporated and in it goes into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  When the 7 minute mark comes, add a sprinkle of the sugar if you want extra shimmer.  Then back it goes for the last 3 minutes of cooking.  You want the crumble set but not browned because it takes away from the appearance.

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Take out cooled Pie.

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Add whipped topping and Fun-fetti/Confetti topping and done………..well, you can do more and this is why I never decorate the entire pie!  You can also add red, white and blue sugar crystals for a 4th of July theme to the confetti crumble.

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You can opt for a Fleur de Sel Caramel topping with crushed Pistachios…….

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Or, you want it all!

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And, if you’re feeling nifty and want Fleur de Sel Topping with Maldon Salt Crystals (of course, Hubby fought me on not leaving the Fun-fetti out)……the possibilities are endless!

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Enjoy!

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  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.

 

 

Smiley360: Tazo Chai Teas in Classic Chai, Chocolate Chai and Vanilla Caramel #Review #SweetMeetsSpicy

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Tazo is a company I am very familiar with and already love! Not a product have I tried that I did not like, so when Smiley offered the Tazo Chai campaign…..well I was overjoyed!

Tazo makes several Chai products that come in filter-bags for seeping/brewing or in liquid (carton) concentrate form, which is perfect for cold drinks. I was able to test out their three latest flavors that are perfect for the colder weather:

  • Classic Chai-
    Made with a blend of black tea,cardamom, a touch of black pepper, cinnamon and ginger
  • Chocolate Latte Chai
    Made with black tea, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and cocoa powder
  • Vanilla Caramel Chai
    Made with black tea, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla extract, and caramel (natural flavor)
  • There are 12 Varieties to choose from if the ones above do not tempt you. You even have Organic options with the Chai Organic Latte concentrate to Pumpkin Spice to satisfy the seasonal palette. There are also decaffeinated varieties to choose from.

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My first and favorite of the trio was the Vanilla Caramel Chai. You get the nice real Vanilla flavor, which then leads off to almost butter toffee notes, brought on by the caramel. The cup is great with or without milk. The milk tends to intensify the vanilla by giving it warmer notes that smooth out. I used honey to give it a touch of sweetness and depending on what honey I used, I was able to change the flavor just a bit.

Next on my list, is the Chocolate Latte Chai. This one makes you love those peppery chocolate flavors. They play so well together and the pepper really enriches the cocoa experience. With milk and I used almond, I was able to bring in a nutty taste and make a light caloric cup of tea that made me not miss one bit a cup of hot cocoa. If you are seeking an alternative, this is the flavor for you!

Last but not least, the Classic Chai. This is the flavor that puts you at the beginning of the Chai experience and I like that because I can make it my own. I added a Orange Blossom honey with a squeeze from a fresh Valencia orange slice, and this cup became my warm citrus-y journey. The second time I had a cup, I went the old fashion way with a touch of milk and a little bit of vanilla sugar and it did not taste like the previous one. Make your own flavor is what I call this selection. Very versatile and always delivers that premium experience Tazo products are known for.

 

  • Retail Price:$3.49 usually but $3.00 when found on sale at Target.  I was able to pick up a box of the Vanilla Caramel Chai (20 count) for the same price as the concentrate. Want to save? Check-out my twitter feed or
    
    
  • Get a Coupon here: Try the perfect blend of #sweetmeetsspicy in Tazo Chai. Save up to $2.00 Off #Tea #FreeSample http://h5.sml360.com/-/boya

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Get your Chai fix with Tazo at:

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tazo and Smiley360.  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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Influenster: Red Rose Simply Indulgent Teas #SimplyIndulge

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Voxbox madness! The next one up in the parade is Red Rose Teas. Red Rose is a Canadian company, which has been making teas since the late 1800’s. The Simply Indulgent line uses a black tea base combined with natural extract, which bring you wonderful dessert-like flavors like Lemon Chiffon, Creme Caramel to Peach Cobbler and even Cinnamon Bun. You can purchase the products in tea bag form or single serve cups. I received two flavors to try from the Simply Indulgent line, Creme Caramel and Lemon Chiffon.

Taste Test: I love teas and coffees and I happen to be fond of Black teas….they are the espresso of teas for me, since I tend to like a stronger and deeper brew. Seeing these and the flavors was like getting a dessert in a cup minus the bake time or the hefty calories.

  • Creme Caramel: I opened the bag while my water heated up and the tea appears very minced and fine. I was hoping to pick-up a sweet caramel or even a caramelized sugar scent, however nothing really came forward to my nose that made me think of the image featured on the front of the bag…..a cheesecake smothered with caramel sauce. I still proceeded and made the cup without adding any sweeteners. I left the tea steeping and noticed for being derived from black tea leaves, the cup’s liquid was pretty light in color but I can report the color was like that of caramel. This is as caramel as anything got for me. The tea was simple and light, but not bold in taste. I did not pick up a pleasant taste and I even have some teas that are not straight out black, but blends prior to this one. It just did not deliver in the tea or caramel department. I added honey and just a touch hoping it would maybe help but I just tasted the honey I had added. I tried a second time with another bag and left it steeping a longer amount of time, but the bag really only has so much punch that it did not aid my quest in this creme caramel pursuit.
  • Lemon Chiffon: This is a decaffeinated blend and you see a pretty glowing yellow slice of lemon chiffon pie on the package. It even has a small dollop of whipped cream and a lemon zest shaving to compliment (aka: draw me in) the look. I again follow the directions and steep for 7 minutes, as it stated between 3 to 5 on the bag or until the desired strength. I went to the point the lemon smell was present to my liking! I added a small touch of honey and proceeded. This tea smelled like sweet lemons and very much like you would imagine before steeping and delivered the same results after. I thought I was a caramel girl but with Red Rose, I am definitely Chiffon-ing it! This one I liked…..this one I would buy. The black tea blend had the perfect strength and was not as powdery in texture as the caramel one. I enjoyed it and I felt it was worthy of the Simply Indulgent title!

Price Point: $4.49 for a carton that contains 20 tea bags

Ingredients (as listed on the site): You will read on the site that the tea comes from the finest tea estates, natural extracts, even rich undertones but other than being a black tea blend, you will find zero on the contents. I have no idea if the lemon has lemon oils, dried lemon zest, if it’s a Meyer Lemon or anything and much less can be figured out on the Caramel. The packet, the site on-line…..nothing lists contents or ingredients.

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The price for 20 bags makes it worth trying. I kept in mind that this is a blend and the tea leaf is not loose but rather crushed to powder form in the packet. For a quick change or you just want a lighter black tea, Red Rose fits that spot nicely. Would I want the Caramel Creme to taste like advertised? Well, I never thought of such notes in a tea and even though I must admit I am heavy into the Fleur de Sel Caramels in any form…..maybe tea should be left alone there. I much rather have that slice of cheesecake with the caramel sauce featured on the packet! The Lemon Chiffon delivered in smell and taste so Red Rose is batting a 50/50 with me. I suggest keep that in mind when picking flavors…..make sure you have associated them with teas before like the cinnamon ones and you should be fine.

You can find these and other Tea selections at:

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I received the above product free of charge from Influenster & Red Rose Teas. 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.

BzzAgent: Kroger/Ralph’s Supermarket Private Selection Gourmet Cookies

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As a baker and cooking enthusiast, I sometimes will seek out a day off. This means I resort to someone else filling in for me and in the cookie department, BzzAgent and Ralph’s Markets came to my rescue.

In my home the only cookie that usually gets made every other week is my double chocolate chip and chocolate chunk creation, so I am very particular about how a cookie needs to measure up and in came Ralph’s with a wide selection to choose from.

You have:

  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut – White chocolate chunks meet crunchy macadamia nuts, in nice buttery dough.
  • Ultimate Chocolate Chunk – A large amount amount of rich chocolate chunks in every bite that will make you forget you had a chocolate craving in the first place.
  • Turtle Brownie – A brownie-like cookie, which is loaded with gooey caramel and pecans. You get two desserts in one with this baby!
  • White Chocolate Coconut Almond – White chocolate chunks with sweet coconut and almond slivers. It’s a tropical flavor to get you out of the everyday rut.

In this campaign, I had issues loading my digital coupon for the free product onto my card even though it was registered but after several attempts, Ralph’s finally rewarded me but only after I had visited the store. I head off to the store to hunt for 3 of the cookies I know I will be trying. I make it to my local Ralph’s bakery and unfortunately all that was available was the Ultimate Chocolate Chunk and the White Chocolate with Macadamia nuts varieties, but I buy what they have.

Ultimate Chocolate Chunk Taste Test:
I must admit my curiosity was piqued so I figured I’d try a Ultimate Chocolate Chunk cookie in the car. I may not have milk but I have water! The cookies look soft and gooey but when I opened the box, I could smell the sweetness from all the sugars, but not the chocolate. I see some chunks but they are chunks more described like misshapen chocolate chips, small in size and not even medium in size. I would say these look more like rejected chocolate chips that did not make the cut! I bite and find that the cookie crumbles but it’s because it’s hard……like over baked. Due to the cookie being high in sugar and not chocolate, you get a burned flavor from the fats so I left this ultimate experience to one bite. My Husband bailed on trying the cookie at all after he “saw my face”, so this cookie did not make a good first impression at all! So sad 😦 I had the cookie box on the counter and when anyone tried them, they quickly asked, “where did you buy these”? Let’s say it was not because they were liked and they were seeking to repurchase, but more to avoid getting these cookies themselves.

White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Taste Test:
I know we are in a drought in California but it seems that includes a shortage on White Chocolate and Macadamia nuts too. Again the package says chunks and the idea is sort of stretched because these are chips all the way…..nothing chunk or misshaped about them. These chocolate chips at least are not from the rejected chip factory like the Ultimate Chocolate chips cookies were. These are from the 2 chips-per-cookie ONLY factory! Yes, we counted and it took some effort with the mealy base the cookie had. The nuts were so chopped up that they seemed to add a “meal” effect versus just tasting and crunching. You get zero crunch and they are sort of soggy in nature. Never had a macadamia nut behave this way so we figured we got the “misbehaved” nuts in this cookie. Not worth the calories, we just put our white flag up and did not pass the 2 bites we had with these cookies.

Price Point: $3.99 for a box of 6 cookies

Cookies can usually be saved and even made into ice cream sandwiches when they go array. These could not! That is saying something because this was always my go-to idea when a cookie met heat for too long or just did not bake up as it should. Both cookies had one thing in common…..super dry and did not taste like the flavor listed on the box, just sweet. Maybe Ralph’s Bakery was having an “off day” but I also noticed the bakery was empty and not super stocked, or moving product as some store are at that hour. I was in the market at peak time but no one was buying the sweet goods from the store. I hope these improve because they sound delicious in description but just did not deliver in taste and texture.

If you would like to connect with the Private Selection Gourmet Cookies, please visit:

  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/PvtSelection
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/kroger

I received the above product free of charge from BzzAgent and Ralph’s Market (a Kroger Company).  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.

 

PINCHMe: Gevalia Keurig K-Cup Caramel Macchiato and Froth Pack

I just signed up to become a “PINCHer” and my first items to review arrived from Gevalia Kaffe. Included was a froth packet, which you pour into your mug before brewing, and then you just brew as you would. The flavor is Caramel Macchiato and I definitely am a fan and very familiar with the flavor.

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Unfortunately, the coffee was not that great and had a bitter almost burnt smelling aroma. I thought it was my nose but it also was picked up when I tasted the coffee. The froth packet tasted very sweet and almost had a coconut flavor, which I am a fan of but it did not translate well with the flavor or the bitterness. I just was not a fan and I really tried to find the caramel notes in all this, so my first “Pinch Me” moment was not spectacular but I am eager to see what else the program has to offer. I find these programs useful because even the not so positive experiences let me know what I like and don’t enjoy, so I know what to buy and what to pass on when I’m shopping!

If you want to become a member (PINCHer) of PINCHme, please visit them at:

  • Online to join- https://www.pinchme.com/samples
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/PINCHme
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/pinchme_now
  • Instagram– http://instagram.com/pinchme_now
  • YouTube– https://www.youtube.com/user/PINCHmeUS

I received the above product free of charge from PINCHme and Gevalia Kaffe.  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.

Chobani BITE Caramel with Pineapple Chunks

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Taking a Chobani Flip break and now we venture into Hawaii with Chobani’s Caramel with Pineapple Chunks. Aloha!! Sounds more like dessert but for me, I think of those days when I would melt caramel and dip fruits. This is an all-in-one so no fire required!

The bite takes a chomp at providing you with 8 grams of protein and nibbles at your waist at just 100 calories. I had to look twice because I don’t think Caramel and yummy at just 100 little calories but I get where the Bite has it’s place. Better than a cookie or an empty calorie snack.

The product is full of goodness too and not just pretending to be good. Chobani uses all natural flavors, sweeteners, and even dairy derived from cows that have not been treated with rBST. No preservatives, so the product tastes more like nature intended it to be and that is just perfect. You also get 3 types of Probiotics and live and active cultures.

Let’s Analyze the Cup-
I peel the cup and notice the yogurt has a soft caramel color, not too deep in hue and when you bring a spoon up from the deepness of the Bite, you see an avalanche of small bits that are Pineapple. No skimping on what the product states it is, so I like how this is starting.

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The Flavor-
You smell Caramel and a little tartness from the yogurt and at first bite, you feel a warmth in your mouth from the caramel hitting your palette. It is distinguishable in flavor and even though it’s pre-mixed, the fruit kept it’s Pineapple bite. This yogurt is one I have found I like to freeze. I put the cup whole in the freezer and just when it gets to a “soft serve” texture (20 minutes in our freezer), I peel my cup and enjoy a nice walk in the garden. It has that caramel and the freezer changes the texture by hardening the fruit a little but also taking the warmth away from the caramel. I see it as I went to a frozen yogurt shop that is located in my freezer. I saved gas!

Ingredients-
Lowfat Yogurt (cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Cream, Live And Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus And L. Casei), Evaporated Cane Juice, Pineapple, Caramelized Sugar Syrup, Pectin, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum.

 

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I received the above product free of charge from Chobani. I have no obligation in providing a favorable/positive review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and brand, which may differ from yours.

The Chobani tour of Greek Yogurt Bite & Flips will begin shortly………

Below is the last preview of what I received and I will be posting reviews, plus a cookie recipe soon……………

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BzzAgent Campaign: Nescafé Memento in Caramel, Mocha and Cappuccino

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There’s few things better than a hot, flavored coffee on those brisk spring nights. And nothing spoils one like grinding, brewing and mixing your own. Why, oh why doesn’t someone finally make an instant coffee that gives you all the pluses with none of the minuses?

Along comes Nescafé and their Memento line of “Flavored Coffee Beverages”. Uh-oh. That they can’t just call it coffee is a huge, flapping red flag. But, sometimes these types of liquid desserts are “good enough”, so I’ll forge bravely ahead. First up:

Nescafé Memento Caramel Latte

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Okay, I can see what they were going for here, but I have to say they missed the mark by quite a bit. Very sweet, not a whole lot of “coffee” flavor comes through, and none of that buttery yum you’d expect from true caramel, and a quick look at the ingredient list shows why. Sugar, nonfat milk, hydrogenated veg. oil, glucose syrup, THEN you finally get soluble coffee, and then more sugars and artificial ingredients. I’m sad to report, this a hot cup of yuck. So, I’ll just pour this hot mess down the drain and start over anew with:

Nescafé Memento Mocha

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Okay, smells good. Looks good. A little on the bitter side, which makes me flash to that bottom-of-the-pot diner coffee that’s been on the heater plate all night, and Flo the waitress decided she’s got your fancy-schmancy Starbucks “right here!” and mixed in some Nestlé Quik and then went full froo-froo and put some milk foam on top. Yes, I heated and foamed some milk for this. Sue me. I’m trying to like this, because coffee+chocolate=YUM. But there’s just enough off and missing to bork this cup too. At least milk and cocoa were listed within the first 3 ingredients, so it’s got that doing for it, but the usual cast of characters that you’d need a degree in chemical engineering to understand. So, half a cup down. That means they’re getting better, right?

Nescafé Memento’s Cappuccino

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Oh goodness, Do I love cappuccino. And after the last two characters masquerading as coffee got the bums rush, I need a good, stiff drink. No, I’m not going to Irish this one up, but I will cleanse my palette a little. So, the smell is good. Check. The look is right. Double check. The taste. Kinda creamy, kinda rich, good flavor and sweetness without fear of your teeth “ceding from the Union” so to speak. Okay, this is no Grand Slam. Not even a home run. Maybe a triple, probably closer to a ground rule double. I see what Nescafe had in mind, what they were trying to accomplish, and this flavor really got the closest. Which is admirable. I’ll pay it one more compliment: I’d try it again.

I am happy with the last of the trio and hope they improve the Caramel formula in the future, but these coffees are easy to make with just leaving you with a cup and a spoon to clean up later.  I would make the Cappuccino for those days I am in a hurry and they unfortunately come by more often than I would desire.  The coffee mixes are not high in cost and you add the coupons I have been sharing, it is actually a pretty good deal price point wise.  Those Caramel candies in the picture still tease me!

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I received the above products free of charge from BzzAgent and Nescafe.  I am not obligated in providing a favorable/positive review, just my honest opinion.  My opinions are based on my experience with the products that may differ from yours.

Love Food Review of their Monthly Subscription Box

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Love with Food is a monthly subscription program that not only packs a lot delicious samplings, but also a good bang for your buck.  I subscribed around the start of January for the February box.  It was a Spicy & Sweet theme and you get to see what I received!  You can sign up at http://www.lovewithfood.com/shop.  They even included a cute list of the 9 items they included, and 10 if you add the extra Nektar packet.  I paid a little over $2.00 to try the products because they had a promotion but even at normal price, they really deliver a box full of goodies and deliver it to your door on a monthly basis.  You can cancel at anytime and each box purchase, means a meal for the homeless!  This company not only delivers on top notch customer service but better their community!

 

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Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Piglet from Hagensborg Chocolates (http://www.hagensborg.com) (Twitter: @TrufflePigBar):
I had never heard of the company but just one chocolate embedded the piggy image forever in my head and taste buds.  The company uses a European method that just makes you go crazy.  I like peanut butter but I’m not a lover of it like my husband but we divided the piggy in half (I got the part with cute little tail) and I became a lover of PB!  The peanut butter filling was smooth but not dry and perfectly roasted.  I could taste the peanut and against the milk chocolate, it was better than any peanut butter cup I have ever had.  My only question was, “do they make it with dark chocolate?”  I looked on-line and seriously should have not because they have other flavors and I’m hooked.  I loved these piglets so much, I am hoping to pitch them in the future because Hagensborg Chocolates deserves an entire article on them!

 

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Naturally Flavored Cranberries from Funny Face (www.funnyfacecranberries.com) (Twitter: @FunnyFaceCran):
I usually purchase my dried cranberries at Trader Joe’s because Ocean Spray’s Crazins are just too soaked in sugar anymore that I have noticed they came out with a “less sugar” version.  Glad to know it was not just me.  I received the “Freckle Face Strawberry”.  I opened the package and you could just smell strawberries and it smelled like the real stuff, not just the perfume they seem to add to strawberry flavored foods that smell better than they taste.  The berries are large in size, plump but not a sticky mess.  Their color is vibrant but I noticed their cranberry had more fruit to it than the wrinkly ones I have been buying.  I noticed 50% less sugar, so I turned the package around and the ingredients are so simple.  You have Cranberries, Soluble Corn Fiber, Evaporated Cane Juice, Citric Acid, Safflower Oil, and Natural Flavors…..that is all!  You do taste the strawberries and these would make a great cookie, I’m thinking white chocolate with these cranberries or even a dark chocolate one!  You know they are good when you wish you got more of a good thing.

 

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Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice Chips from Beanfields (www.beanfieldssnacks.com) (Twitter: @BeanfieldsSnack):
I have walked by these bags at my local Sprout’s and I’m a huge fan of the brand “Food Should Taste Good” chips.  I wondered how they were and after having the PopChips nacho version, I was unsure because some were great and some flavors were not that hot!  You have long grain rice, navy and pinto beans that really create an awesome crunch.  I shy away from tomato based flavors because many are just over powdered with tomato powder that just tastes like dried condensed soup or worst, ketchup.  I opened the bag and noticed an herb like smell and picked up Bell Peppers.  Okay, this seems interesting now.  I put a triangle in my mouth and the spices with the chips were outrageous but in a good way!  Not over salty with a perfect balance of spice and again the ingredients are so simple.  You even have a natural smoke flavor that I could have sworn was a roasted pepper, but wait I see green bell pepper powder in the ingredient list.  They also have 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, plus they are corn free.  You have what goes into the actual Pico de Gallo and the black beans just add that extra “umph” that I never get from chips.  These babies are crispy and do not create mush in your mouth like many of these multigrained chips I see hit the market.  I will be buying these and not that they needed to be better, but Beanfield’s is also verified by the NON GMO project.  I wish I had found them sooner and they are a family owned company too!

 

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Original Nuts from Bobbysue’s Nuts (www.bobbysuesnuts.com)  (Twitter: @bobbysuesnuts):

The blend is dry roasted almonds, cashews and pecans that when you read their motto, “delicious nuts with a mission”, I raise my expectations.  The ingredients are the nuts I mentioned above, sugar, egg whites, water, salt and spices.  No corn syrup and they taste like someone made creme brulee nuts!  The coating is light so it preserves the natural crunch you get from nuts and sweetness was perfect and delicate.  I kept looking for honey or some form of caramel.  They had a very light cinnamon flavor that complemented the sugars well and I hope Bobbysue’s comes to a retailer near me soon but Amazon can fill that niche because I found them there.  Every nut dollar goes towards building a shelter for the homeless animals so they not only respect what they make for us humans, but they look out for the furry kind too.

 

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Tomato Basil Sipping Broth from Millie’s Savory Teas (www.milliessavoryteas.com) (Twitter: @SavoryTeas)
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I was excited so much that I missed that this sipping broth has green tea in the ingredients.  I like to taste items as-is without looking what is in them so I don’t go with an idea of what I should expect.  My first bite, I want it to be going into it with almost unknown expectations and the second one I take after, I see what has what.  I will say that when I put the tea bag in the cup, the smell was not appetizing.  The product advertises itself as a savory alternative to coffee or tea.  I think it missed being a savory good tasting broth and also a good tasting tea.  The green tea and basil were overpowering and after the second sip, which was smaller than my first, I had to skip in having more because I just could not.  The idea is sound to a degree and I even had it on a cold night but the blend was just off.  It was so off putting that if someone said it was medicinal, then maybe you can force yourself in having it if it made you feel better!

 

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Nektar Honey Crystals from Nektar Naturals (www.nektarnaturals.com) :

Powdered Honey…..you got me.  I saw powdered Maple Sugar the other day and wondered how it would be and then my mind began to think of ways to use it!  I received two packets and I’m a fan.  I mixed the Nektar with powdered sugar and used it to sprinkle my Lemon Bars and, “oh my”!  These little bees at Nektar have gold in their hands.  No sticky mess and the product dissolves well that I have been using the rest for my teas.  I even made a hot tea and later added ice and this should have reached my hands sooner!  Ingredients are granulated honey (natural honey and sugar).  Simple and I am thinking of making honey biscuits when I purchase this and even a ham glaze.  Yeah, I started thinking again and lets say my imagination can really get creative at times 🙂

 

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Milk Chocolate Caramel Truffle Piglet from Hagensborg Chocolates (http://www.hagensborg.com) (Twitter: @TrufflePigBar):
This little piggy can visit me again all it wants!  The caramel filling made this one my second favorite and wonder if this piglet makes anything bad.  With all natural ingredients and having one of the best milk chocolates out there, I so hope to see this piggy in my area again soon!

 

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Chocolate Madeleine from Donsuemor (www.donsuemor.com) (Twitter: @Donsuemor):
I dislike package cookies or any baked good because they always are dry and taste like the package they came in.  The ingredient’s list makes you wonder why the cookie does not glow so I usually bake myself at home.  I love Madeleine cookies because they are the in-between cookie and cake treat that I can enjoy in small portions and always so buttery.  This one came in chocolate and I liked already that the hue was deep color, so I expected a good amount of chocolate.  The shell shape always makes me smile so that alone on how this little cake was presented, it made me smile.  I had bananas so I decided to add some sugar to them and caramelize it with a torch, to create a nice brulee top.  I pop the cake out and notice it smells like real food and then came that chocolate wave.  I also noticed the edge crumbled so it was not a dry sea foam like I expected.  The company has been around since 1976, so you know they must be doing something right!  They are!  This is probably the only “packaged” cookie I will eat.  I will always try different brands and varieties but rarely finish a package but if I had these, it would be a dangerous territory for me because they tasted so good.  I looked on their website and they have scones and biscotti……I’m in love!  If you served this Madeleine to me, I would not be the wiser it came from a package.

 

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Jer’s Squares (www.jers.com)  (Twitter: @JersChocolates):
I saw Toffee Break and this is the first item I opened from the box.  I use to eat Heath bars until they stop tasting like they use to.  Jer’s uses Valencia peanut butter as the center, mixed with buttery rich toffee bits and covered in dark chocolate.  This bar is made for me!  It has everything my husband and I like but someone crammed it together and created AWESOMENESS!  I loved the crunch from the toffee but the buttery flavor is really there so it goes great with the peanut butter.  I already buy Valencia peanut butter but I want the PB that Jer’s has.  It does not taste like what I have in the fridge.  The dark chocolate cover is not waxy and has a great taste, no bitterness like you get with some dark chocolate coatings.  I want more!
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