Bouchard Chocolates 72% Cacao Fine Belgian Dark Chocolate

We are unabashed chocolate junkies in this house, and we usually don’t discriminate, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t discerning. There’s some really, really good craft chocolates out there, and some really, really bad stuff you can find at the supermarket checkout lane that shouldn’t (and sometimes even can’t) legally be called chocolate. But, in swoops Bouchard Chocolate to show you what’s good about good chocolate. And, sadly, what’s bad about a company looking to increase their presence in the U.S. but shot itself in the foot.

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To start, it’s a good chocolate, despite arriving during a now-customary California Fall heatwave. We’re talking 100+ temps in late September. I feared the worst, but most of the Napolitains arrived intact. More than a few were melted and toast, but I’ll use those for baking. The bag I received was simple cellophane, understated and all about the product within. It’s a dark chocolate (72% cacao content), but I can’t find a list of ingredients, nor did I get anything listing them, nor does the website list them…you kind of get where I’m going here. So, tastewise it’s pretty good. It’s comparable, favorably, to Green & Blacks, which is a pricey but good chocolate you can find almost anywhere. It’s smooth, not gritty, melts in your mouth without any lingering sugars after, and slightly bitter to the tongue, but in the way a good chocolate should be. The small morsels in the packet I got were good for a light snack when you’re needing that chocolate fix, but don’t want to gorge (yes, it’s happened here. Too often!).

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And that’s it for the good. The bad is that this company is doing a positively lousy job of getting to market. The company name and product has been around in some form or fashion since 1931. It’s roots trace back to the fine chocolatiers  in Ghent, Belgium with an award winning recipe for fine chocolate. But good luck finding a decent web presence, or price point, or e-commerce site for them. I couldn’t, and none was supplied for me to promote with. No ingredient list, no “Where to Buy”, just a lot of pretty pictures and florid prose, but no substance. In this country, we call that “All sizzle and no steak”. It’s a fine product, probably top 5 of all the chocolates I’ve had recently. And while they told me to mention that their product can be found in Costco Warehouses around the country, near weekly visits by Hubby has yet to locate any in the wild. Nothing on Amazon, Costco.com, no way to buy or even price. I can’t even tell you if it’s a value. And that’s a real shame. Since the company was acquired by Halloren Chocolate Group in 2014, they wanted to quickly get the name out there. That’s only a good strategy if you make your product readily available, and as of this writing, they have not. I’d love to recommend the chocolate, because it tastes divine. But I don’t know where to point you other than “Supposedly Costco”, and I can’t tell you how much it costs, what other types of products they have, what they’re made with… Ugh, so frustrating to see a good product doomed by terrible (or non-existent) marketing.

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Connect with Bouchard Chocolate:

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

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The Original Kitchen Cooperative: Straight Wooden Rolling Pin #Review #RollingPin

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I bake on a weekly basis and sometimes even twice. From baked goods that range from sweet to savory, I have come to the point where I rarely even buy baked anything from stores. When I do, I regret it. The one thing I learned over the years, is the tools you use matter. It’s not the cost but how they perform. I have a french style wooden roller that has lasted me over a decade. Simple to care for and I am one of those that if it needs a wash, a wash is something it better handle because this wipe and store idea to make it last…….well, I find it gross. Butters, fats and oils age and if your crust or dough has them, they will oxidize and go rancid on the wood. Not something I exactly wish to share with my next baked creation.

 

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Retail Price Point: $13.75 via Amazon with free shipping if you have Prime Membership.

 

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Verdict:

The straight rolling pin from The Original Kitchen Cooperative is made of 100% Beech wood. The roller arrived smooth and with zero imperfections. Has a nice weight that is balanced and easy to roll even when your pie crust is between having cold spots and softer warmer ones. It plays nice with most dough types and because it’s so smooth, it almost acts like if it had a nonstick surface, allowing the dough to softly stretch without tearing. I have used the roller and washed it and what was nice, no split wood or separations the next day, so this roller is not only fairly priced but should last with regular use. I do not have to worry about treating it softly, just as long as I wash it (never fully submerge in water), quickly dry it and then allow it to air dry on the rack before storing. The company also offers a 100% money back guarantee and that means they stand behind the quality of the products they produce. I don’t see myself needing to use the guarantee but there is something to be said about a company standing behind their products.

Connect with The Original Kitchen Cooperative at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Original Kitchen Cooperative. 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.

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 🙂

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.

 

 

Kitchen Hearts Silicone Baking Mat Set

I do more baking than anyone I know. As a result, I’ve got a wealth of tools to assist me and I’m always on the lookout for something new and innovative to help me along. Over the years I’ve graduated from wax papers and sprays to parchment and silicone mats. If you’ve used one, you know they quickly become indispensable. But Kitchen Hearts had something I’ve yet to try: A ROUND silicone pizza mat!! Oh, baby!

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Silicone mats are probably one of the most versatile tools in a kitchen. They can be used for a multitude of things, and be used hundreds of times before needing to be replaced. From a splatter-catcher in the oven, to making french fries, cookies, macaroons, or biscuits, there’s almost no limit to the goodies one can make on a silicone mat. They clean up with a little warm soapy water, need no oils or sprays to be non-stick, and virtually nothing sticks to them. Fats and oils bead up, and little crispy bits fall right away. They are also oven safe up to 475 degrees, so the limit is really your imagination!

Ideally. Sadly, 9″ Kitchen Hearts Pizza mat came with a critical defect. See, silicone mats are almost just that: silicone. The silicone, however, encases a fiberglass mesh weave that gives the mats some tensile strength and help to hold it’s shape better. But when you puncture the silicone, the fiberglass is exposed and it’s time to toss the mat, both for health and safety reasons. And my round mat had exposed fiberglass all around the outside edge. Not only would that let water in and ruin the mat, but it’s unsafe. One should never consume the fibers from fibergalss, and putting a sticky dough on exposed fibers a sure-fire way to do just that. So I didn’t even get to try it, sadly. The large mat (a now-standard half-sheet 16.5″ x 11.6″ size) did not have these issues. I may contact the company about this because I’m really hoping to a new tool in my kitchen!

Connect with Kitchen Hearts:

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

 

Tryazon: Rhodes Bake-N-Serv™ Cinnamon Rolls #Review #Tryazon #RhodesBread

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I have always been a fan of frozen foods, like vegetables and fruit that go out of season but are readily available all year round. Sometimes even perfectly frozen blueberries will cost less that fresh ones and be in better shape, so the freezer aisle to me is not something I completely avoid. Even companies offer organic meals nowadays from the freezer aisle. I have picked up many “artisan style” breads that come frozen from a local bakery because you just pop them in the oven, bake and have fresh baked bread in 20 minute’s time! Simple ingredients I am fan of and being a cook and baker makes you become familiar as to what goes in what you are making/eating. The freezer aisle is only bad if you purchase ready made meals to baked goods that are more chemicals than real ingredients! This is where we get lost and it’s disappointing because convenience comes at a price and sometimes it’s not even that convenient in the first place.

I tried the microwaved cinnamon rolls before from Rhodes and reviewed them here. Not bad for a microwaved baked good. On the same trip I picked up a bag of the bread loaves, and a bag of the cinnamon (individual) rolls. Two items I bake at home from scratch, so I was looking forward in using them on a busy week. This week, was a very busy week!

 

Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls (Bake-N-Serv™) with Cream Cheese Frosting 

Preparation-

I open up the bag and notice that the individual cinnamon rolls are really partnered in twos and threes. I had a hard time at the store feeling the bags and was hoping I picked well enough because I noticed some were more blobs than others. I travel with two coolers (one for frozen goods and one for fresh), so things defrosting in the truck just does not happen. I can buy ice cream and still shop for 2 to 3 hours without it even it defrosting on the top! I try my best to seperate the rolls, but they seem very attached to their companion, so I do my best.

The directions were simple and opted to go by the one that resembled closest to the time it takes to bake them from scratch. My cinnamon rolls take 1 hour for the dough to rise, you make the roll and cut, then another 30 to 40 minutes for them to rise again, plus bake for 20 minutes! Simple and easy. I put the frozen cinnamon rolls from Rhodes in the oven, which was pre-warmed to 170 degrees. The directions stated it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes for the rolls to proof and double in size. I’m 2 hours in and watching these frozen rolls more than I do those made from scratch and they are oozing larger in size but not rising. My oven is less than a year old and I check the temperature. Holding at 95 degrees and no change when it comes to rising…..just oozing bigger. I take them out and they are technically double in size (flat wise), so I warm the oven to bake the rolls.

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Baking-

In they go and use convection mode and set the oven to 325 degrees. Directions are clear about not over baking and leaving them in for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are light brown in color.

My house smells bread-y but not that yeast dough you associate with cinnamon rolls. I look in the oven and the rolls look like they are swimming in yellow oil, so I go and look at the ingredients. I shouldn’t have! You have a chemical concoction that makes the cinnamon rolls out of tubes look like saints. You have everything from oils, corn syrups, sugars in every way they can be made down to margarine and so forth. I just don’t see the waiting time worth it when I saw what was in these rolls. I remind myself I ate onion flavored puffy ring chips yesterday, so sometimes chemicals taste good 🙂 .  I allow the cinnamon rolls to bake 25 minutes to get a light brown color and notice the dough has pockets that resemble bread, not the ribbon texture you associate with yeast dough, but I’m committed and now it’s too late to bake anything since I have to start dinner.

This is after "incorporating" the bag's contents more, as they like to separate.

This is after “incorporating” the bag’s contents more, as they like to separate.

Frosting-

I allow the cinnamon rolls to cool and get a baggy of the frosting. It’s yellow in color and not just a faint hue, it’s yellow. I turn over the bag and I recalled right, it states cream cheese but this is not like any cream cheese frosting I have ever seen. The directions state to incorporate the icing and I do the “smashy thing” but it still looks undesirable. I cut the tip off the bag and I taste it……..it’s so sweet and the texture of cupcake icing, not at all like what you put on a roll. Also, cream cheese is there in words but your taste buds just does not pick it up.

Taste Test-

I serve us each a roll and even my Husband says the icing is just so wrong. I take a bite and this is one oily roll that is dry at the same time and you see and smell cinnamon, but you really don’t taste it. I did not finish my roll. Not worth the calories and my Husband does not either. I use to buy the cinnamon rolls in the refrigerated section when we dated. They were fine but never like the bakery, so I began learning to bake and trying recipe after recipe. My Husband will at times even pick-up a tray from the grocery store’s bakery and they are edible and a nice treat for those days I was too tired or busy to bake. The Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls were not unfortunately, not worth the effort and I just don’t get why they are frozen to just be a disappointment.  I also don’t understand the amount of poor ingredients that I can respect chemicals to produce let’s say a Spicy chip that tastes like a taco or something.  You get your junk food fix and you will crave a bag in 3 to 6 months time again.  These cinnamon rolls did not even satisfy a craving as such!  Sad…….very sad because in this house we do think sweet goods are worth the calories and fat, but rule #1, it needs to taste good!

 

I dislike having to give a negative review but honesty comes first and when the cinnamon rolls in a tube taste better and you can find better (i.e. real butter, ect.) ingredients in brands like Trader Joe’s to even the giggling doughy guy, I just can’t say at least these were easy to bake, so you should get them.  Taste matters and I don’t expect to get nutrition out of cinnamon rolls, but my taste buds need to be happy and cinnamon rolls are the type of food you eat with a smile.  These=no smiles :(.  The Rhodes microwave variety were passable and I would have never imagined since these required more time and came from an oven.

 

Connect with Rhodes at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon and Rhodes.  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.

 

 

Kozy Shack: Indulgent Recipe Puddings #Review #KozyShack

Who doesn’t love puddings? I happen to be a huge fan and even make pudding based pies, cakes and treats because puddings go beyond the cup!

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BzzAgent sent me two coupons to try the new Kozy Shack Indulgent Recipe Pudding cups that come in three flavors:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Chocolate Truffle
  • Salted Caramel
  • Vanilla Bean

 

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The new Kozy Shack Indulgent Recipe cups is making an already liked food more likable! Made with real ingredients and the recipe is very simple when it comes to easily grabbing an already made and ready to serve dessert or treat, straight from the fridge. I went out to hunt for Dark Chocolate because being a caramel lover, that flavor was already on my “must-get” list. After visiting a few stores and not finding the dark chocolate, I went with trying the Chocolate Truffle variety instead.

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  • Verdict on Chocolate Truffle:
    My family and I enjoy pudding and maybe because I make the dessert from scratch, we have been spoiled. I was left craving chocolate after trying this version. The chocolate flavor is not intense and the product is smooth, but not velvety in texture. Almost kind of like to much gelatin and/or thickener was added. I turn the package around and not only was a color an indication that there was not enough chocolate, the ingredient list reflected such (i.e. Tapioca starch before chocolate and sugar before chocolate too). I felt it was too sweet to even take a second spoonful, as did my husband, so we passed but felt the product could be saved.

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Ingredients:
Reduced Fat Milk, Sugar, Cream, Modified Tapioca Starch, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Contains Less than 2% of Natural Flavors, Salt, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin.

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Retail Price Point: From $2.76 to $3.75 at most stores. Each cup is about 200 calories per serving and each container comes with 4 individual cups.

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  • Verdict on Salted Caramel:
    This is my go to flavor from coffees, treats, baked goods, to just enjoying Fleur de Sel Caramel. We open the cup and take a taste, it’s more butterscotch than caramel and the salted versus sweetness that makes salted caramel be that buttery goodness is not present. This one again is sweeter but think of it like a vanilla butterscotch variety and then your taste buds get the idea. It may be missing the salted caramel notes, but we found it better than a pudding that says chocolate and is then lacking the key component.

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Ingredients:
Reduced Fat Milk, Cream, Brown Sugar, Modified Tapioca Starch, Contains Less than 2% of Caramel Color, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin.

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Final Verdict:

I don’t like to just dispose of food and especially when I see potential.  Each of these cups have about 23 grams of sugar alone and are thick in texture…….so my brain thought why not make a mug cake.  Calories wise a mug cake would be 2 servings to share and the sugar problem would not be an issue. I used 1 teaspoon of Cake flour (I use an unbleached variety) and a pinch of Baking Soda.  Combine product and start by microwaving the cup for 1 minute and then 30 second intervals until the batter begins to bubble and rise.  I kept checking because I did not want it bubbling over and it took three 30 second intervals to achieve the desired texture I wanted, something molten lava cake-ish! 🙂 Allow the cake to completely cool before enjoying and it’s not only because it’s nuclear hot but so the cake can set.  I used a stoneware based mug because it retains heat best and is microwave safe.

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The final product was not as sweet and we could enjoy the pudding cakes!  I feel the product has potential but if I want pudding as-is, I would not be indulging in this variety mainly because of it being too sugary to enjoy.  There are many Belgium chocolate based puddings that are silky and most importantly, so much chocolate that it drowns every loving taste bud! That is what I want in a pudding 🙂

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Connect with Kozy Shack at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Kozy Shack and BzzAgent.  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.

 

 

Tryazon: Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls, Microwave and ready in 60 Seconds #Review #Tryazon #RhodesBread

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Oh, what a title can say in just a few words can illicit a person to salivate instantly. That is exactly what occurred when I received first notice that this event was up for grabs. When I was accepted, it was a mix of drooling and happiness at the same time.

Rhodes is known for their Bake-n-Serve breads. This company is one of the first brands that made me feel comfortable with an oven. Fresh baked breads are always a crowd pleaser but sometime the pleaser is short on time and/or energy. It does not mean I love my family any less and this is why sometimes I need an “emergency stash”. Yes, we have emergency situations when an unplanned event or even the clock got the best of me and I have no after dinner treat. When you are the baker in the family and you have to share you did not bake anything for that day……oh, those eyes you get can just break your heart. My Husband has yet mastered the oven but is an expert at grilling and smoking meats. He also mastered the art of using a microwave and failed in patience class, so 60 seconds of wait time was made for him.

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Cinnamon rolls is something I make at home but it takes time, so I probably do not bake them as often as would liked. Also, there are days where someone is in a cinnamon-y mood while another person has a fruit craving. I make fruit based rolls too but I’m not making 2 batches to satisfy every craving, and don’t even get me started on who eats what type of a nut and the other person doesn’t. I need an out! A form of salvation for the sweet little monsters in my life!

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Rhodes created the answer and a 60 second promise for a product that is often seen in stores cold, laying in a silver colored tray, and usually dry. Rhodes took everything everyone wants in a cinnamon roll, a warm gooey roll all your own and when you want it. Magic!

Now, I wish my microwave could deliver. I did experience some difficulties in locating the product and Rhodes does have a store locator, down to what product is offered in each store near you. The only obstacle was that the New Microwave rolls were not a product option you could select from the drop-down menu. I finally started hitting stores and located the rolls (one bag) 20 miles away and when I arrived at the Neighborhood Walmart Store, they had more items than what the product locator reflected. I called stores at the end to avoid wasting gas too and I highly suggest in doing so. Just kindly ask for the “freezer” department when calling and that you are looking for the Microwave Rhodes Cinnamon rolls. Not to be confused with the Ready to Bake Anytime cinnamon rolls. The new Rhodes Microwave Cinnamon Rolls come in a bag (not a tray) and the bag is brown-orange in color with a large 60 number on the front of the bag.

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Verdict:
I found literally the last bag they had and always check the back of the freezer. I reached until I got a frozen paw but that bag had my name on it. I always see low stock on a product as a good sign. It’s popular and probably well liked, and that tends to make me want to try them. Each bag holds a count of 6 cinnamon rolls, so even though my weekend get-together had more people, we figured we share (it’s a new diet we are trying 😉 ). We had only one roll in the bag that had stuck to another but all the cinnamon were in a nice shape and intact. We played it safe and microwaved one roll at a time and I put toppings out, to even a separate type of frosting (cream cheese) with soft caramel swirls in case someone wanted a different topping versus the icing it came with. You can toast pecans and add that too, to even fruit that is fresh or from a jar. Customization is really easy to do. Everyone tasted the frosting and except for one person, they were the only one that opted to use the icing the rolls came with, so I was happy to have both options available. Once you microwave the product, the roll does increase in size a little bit about 25% larger, however the cinnamon roll is fair in size overall. Feedback was 50/50 when it came to how the product tasted and texture. The roll is soft and gooey, but for some it was a little to gummy while others felt the cinnamon roll begins to dry out (not harden thankfully) a little to quick for them as it cools down. The sweet factor was a little high for some and others felt the cinnamon was not strong enough, but agreed when I mentioned the idea of sprinkling a dash on top of the icing/frosting could fix that. My cream cheese based frosting was very liked and that seem to make up for what I consider to be small short comings for a roll that is ready to enjoy in 1 minute’s time. You may have to eat it a little faster if you worry about the dough drying out but I can share one thing that does have some value, everyone ate their serving!  So even those that did not consider this to be their favorite cinnamon roll did not feel it was not edible, it was just not like others they have had. I myself have had worse from bakeries but for a product with no time constraints and no mess other than the plate you are eating it from, I think Rhodes did as well as you can do with microwave dishes. Nothing will be as good as from the oven but this little cinnamon roll satisfied my sweet tooth!  I fought for my 1 bag of cinnamon rolls, so that meant I had 2 more coupons left when it came to trying Rhodes products and I picked out 2 different ones.  So, stay tuned because I will be reviewing and sharing those with you too.

 

Connect with Rhodes at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon and Rhodes.  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.

 

 

The Simple Baker: Premium Silicone Baking Mat for Macarons #Review #macaronmat

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Being a baker means I need products I can count on and a multi-tasker is a must in my kitchen. The Simple Baker does everything my expensive silicone baking mats do, plus as much as I did not appreciate the circle pattern at first, I became to really like the convince it provided. My cookies never touched each other, so I have to admit I’m not the best spacer I thought I was!

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The mat yielded the same results as my french branded mat and clean-up was a cinch. The mat cleans up instantly with a little soapy water and I just fill the sink 1/4 way up, make some bubbles and suds on top of the mat and this I find is the most gentle way to clean the mat with no sponge and/or sink brush needed. I simply roll the Simple Baker mat (without creating fold or creases) and use a silicone band to keep it in place.

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I wanted to test the silicone mat out with by making dark chocolate ganache cookies. The cookies are a butter base recipe and I tried both round shapes and heart shapes when baking. My baking time was adjusted, as these silicone mats provide even baking, which tends to accelerate the baking but produces what I call the “perfect cookie”. You get a soft flaky texture on the inside with a cookie top crust that stays in place and only crumbles until you take a bite.

 

Retail Price Point: $17.97 via Amazon

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The Simple Baker Mat will save you money in the long run and pay for itself. I use parchment paper and that gets costly over time and can be a wasteful expense. These silicone mats are reusable, do not hold odors, and are also safe because they are non-toxic. The silicone used is food-grade quality and no need to add extra fats or oils to make them non-stick……their finish stays non-stick time and time again!

Connect with The Simple Baker at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Simple Baker.  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: TLC Love, Lust or Run Premiere Party #LoveLustRunParty

 

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The new year means new shows and on January 23rd, we started off with the Premiere Party for TLC’s new show, Love, Lust or Run. The show is hosted by Stacy London and as always, she is helping someone from a fashion disaster, or better described like someone who is a repeat offender and commits a fashion felony on an everyday basis! Stacy London revamps a person in each episode, and this is not just to pick a better cut of jeans, this is a top to bottom re-do. Make-up, hair, shoes, you name it…..Stacy fixes it.

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TLC provided all the fixin’s to get us started and celebrating Love, Lust or Run, because you can’t talk about others when you are not shining yourself. The party kit included:

  • Love, Lust or Run paddles
  • Love, Lust or Run large handheld mirror
  • Love, Lust or Run Nail Polishes in a gorgeous silver color
  • Love, Lust or Run Nail files and buffers
  • Love, Lust or Run Hair Make-up remover
  • Love, Lust or Run Hair bands

Of course gamming it up takes energy and time, so I made little finger cookies with the “TLC” logo. I figured we’d party with homemade alfajores, which I cut into heart shapes, filled with dulce de leche and dusted with unsweetened coconut. Hey, we are still dieting over here! Alfajores are cookies that are traditional to Spain and resemble a shortbread in both taste and texture.

TLC’s Love, Lust or Run party was very fun to watch and keeps us in line. Even though none of us suffer as badly as some of the guests on the show, it sure opened the door to point out certain fashion faux pas! Tune in on Fridays at 9:00 PM (CST) and have a few laughs, plus with Stacy London, you always learn a thing or two with every episode!

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Connect with TLC’s Love, Lust or Run at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from HouseParty and TLC .  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.

Orgullosa Event: Entre Nosotras, Mi Casa es mi Estadio #Fùtbol #Orgullosa

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With the FIFA World Cup matches heating up, this has been a year where record numbers are starting to tune in. I can say that I have had more “soccer” conversations than I usually did in the past. Orgullosa, a Procter & Gamble division was kind enough to treat my guests and myself to some P&G products and a little party to celebrate the event(s). I have found serving a buffet of desserts and making it a “sweet treats” event keeps the guests happy and I have mastered the art of mini pies and desserts. Finger foods and small servings lets everyone make enough room to have a little bit of everything 🙂

Let’s begin……

 

  • Tide & Orgullosa T-Shirts:

Finally, shirts that are cut beautifully to fit a female. Each shirt featured a colorful Futbol embraced with the Orgullosa logo and colors. The slogan read, “Orgullosa De Mis Colores”, meaning Proud of my colors. A Tide logo is located on the bottom left corner and the facebook address and Orgullosa logo on the back. Nice white shirts that are comfortable to lounge in and my guests were excited to receive them. I folded the shirts to resemble a basket and stuffed them with goodies and others I used as a base, and stacked the Procter & Gamble items with a finished bow to hold it all together.

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  • Tide Pods:

The pods are perfect for HE washers and regular models. You simply toss a pod in the drum, add your clothes and the machine and the Tide Pod do the rest. Everyone received the Spring Meadow scent. One pod is enough to do one large load and if it’s an extra large one, simply add two. I love that they dissolve easily in any water temperature and perform well when it comes to removing stains and getting clothes clean. Not hard on fabrics and actually tends to brighten colors. Each pod contains detergent, stain remover and a brightener, so you are covered when it comes to getting clothes cleaned their best with Tide Pods. You can find these pods at your local stores and don’t forget your coupons. A 72 count usually retails for $17.99 and places like Target have the Cart Wheel app, where savings can be greater.

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  • Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 in Green Apple:

Shampoo and Conditioner with a nice fresh green apple scent. This is a anti-dandruff shampoo that has a clean and crisp scent. The product contains Pyrithione Zinc in 1% as the active ingredient. Many anti-dandruff shampoos tend to be drying to hair and even the scalp, making the dandruff problem worsen plus creating others. Head & Shoulders leaves your hair manageable and looking beautiful, plus benefiting from a healthy scalp. This product contains conditioner and for those days that I am short on time or need a quick wash to get the pool’s chlorinated water off, this fits the bill perfectly. A 14.2 ounce bottle is a low price of $5.79.

 

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  • Charmin Basic Huge Rolls:

I have purchased the normal rolls, double to big rolls and when I saw the word HUGE, I just thought the big rolls had changed their name. This roll saves my sanity! Why you ask? I seem to be the only one in the house that has mastered the skill of changing the TP roll. Since I have held such a skill, this means for some reason I go in and the roll is empty but still there, empty but a roll was placed on the counter (like saying “almost got there”) or two square sheets are left and this includes the one that is glued on. The Charmin Basic Huge rolls have 385 sheets, which breaks down to 41.9 square feet of peace. You save with the Basic line and you don’t sacrifice quality. Even though this is a 1-ply tissue roll, the sheets are comfortably soft and still “hold up”. I like saving and that includes my skills as bathroom TP roll installer! You can find this new product at your local store and if you can’t find it, ask for it!

 

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  • Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 Old Spice:

Being that I also have male guests, Orgullosa sort of figured out that not all the guys want to smell like flowers or even a green apple. In comes the Old Spice scent that smells clean but with less of a floral bouquet fragrance. The product still contains the same fighting power of 1% Pyrithione Zinc and conditioner because guys even with short need it. I don’t want to date a Porcupine, so please condition your locks no matter how long or short they are. The “handsome scent” as listed on the bottle does smell nice and not at all like most men products that smell like musk or the woods. This is a welcoming scent that does it’s job but in a more “manly” way 🙂 A bottle retails for $5.79 for the 14.2 ounce size.

 

  • Orgullosa Tumbler:

I have been on a kick to increase my water intake and it has helped to add lime and lemon slices.  My skin has improved and I feel better, so I have continued the habit.  I do not enjoy always refilling a bottle and trying to stuff citrus slices, so these types of tumblers always make things better and easier.  Easy to wash means I keep my water drinking habit and the Orgullosa logo just makes me appreciate it that much more.  Great gift because it will get used on a daily basis.

 

  • Coupon Booklets & Tide Pods Magnets:

Every guest received not only all the items above to try but also a savings book filled with coupons.  There was also other coupons for other P&G products like Covergirl, which were not included.  The Tide Pods magnets gave instructions and tips about the pods.

  • Futbol Feast:

As I mentioned, I find serving an array of desserts and treats as a way to make something for everyone.  I made 4 mini pies that each yield 4 slices.  I went with a star theme as the that is what La Copa (the cup) had.  I went with an apple, blueberry, blackberry and a strawberry rhubarb pies.  I also included 2 other treats, a Lemon Pound cake with a cream cheese swirl laced with Meyer Lemon curd and a Blueberry Buckle.  I wanted my guests to leave with a treat but a not so sweet one, so I made each a small artisan loaf.  My way of thanking them for coming and something they can enjoy at home with their next meal.  Nothing like fresh bread to make a sandwich for two or just enjoy with a little butter.  We plan to see los partidos together that involve the countries we are rooting for.  I wanted Argentine, Brazil or Germany and then I was told I had to pick one.  I’m waiting for more games to finish to see who ends on top when it comes to my favorite.  Orgullosa also supplied us with a field poster and cut-outs.  We had fun….maybe too much fun 🙂

Fresh Baked Bread for guests to take home.

Fresh Baked Bread for guests to take home.

 

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We got crazy with cut-outs and even the dog was included but she smiled 🙂

 

Visit the above Procter & Gamble products to learn more:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Orgullosa and P&G.  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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