Coomber Family Ranch Wines: 2013 Skater Girl Limited Edition Pinot Noir Wine – 750ml #Review #SkaterGirlWine

 

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Being in California, we get that perfect weather that yields beautiful grape crops.  You name it, it can be grown here because the weather is not too wet, where the grapes get a fungus and hot enough, to stress the plant just a enough to get the best flavor.  Not all wines are equal and I learned that very early on and that myth that a so-so wine can be saved by cooking with it……well I debunked that when I used a wine that was barely drinkable to make a pasta sauce.  So, definitely buying well is now something I take into consideration over the price tag.

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Buying blindly is hard.  You can’t always taste the wine unless you visit a winery and you can’t even smell it and most times even see it (unless it’s a white or rose variety).  Region matters but when it comes down to everything that is made, pride matters.  Caring about what you produce and sell.

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Verdict:
When Coomber Wines offered for review the Skater Girl limited edition Pinot Noir, I must admit it, I read a little about the wine because it was an instant love for the pup in the picture.  I love companies that have a sense of humor and take a different approach because it can get boring with wines.  Yes, many companies make super fancy bottles but I want the wine and like perfumes, the fancier the bottle, the more you are paying towards it.  The Skater Girl Pinot Noir is made in California and the notes are sweet and fruity.  Very welcoming with any meal and especially a nice stuffed chicken breast to a roast, but I found it best with lamb.  The pomegranate glaze is something I already make that gets a nice kick from the acid in the balsamic vinegar I add.  I enjoyed the Skater Girl Pinot Noir so much, that next time I am making my glaze (really a reduction sauce) from this wine exclusively.  I will just need to add the savory notes and done.  It’s perfect and what’s best, it does not break the bank and that makes me smile twice.

Retail Price Point: $29.99 per bottle via Amazon

Connect with Coomber Family Ranch at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Coomber Ranch Famuly Wines/ Skater Girl Wine Collection. 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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HouseParty: Boursin® Gournay Cheeses in Pepper, Shallot and Chive, and Garlic and Fine Herbs #Review #BoursinCheesePack

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I was fortunate to be able to have Boursin® Cheese be a guest at our holiday table and I was very lucky in visiting Von’s Markets and finding all the cheeses in stock.  The deal became sweeter when Von’s had a promo going of Buy-one-get-one-Free (BOGO), so using the free item coupon provided by Boursin, yielded an extra cheese item.  We were Boursin-ing it at our house this holiday so much, that 2016 will also feature a nice cheese platter when it comes to welcoming the new year.

Some companies have cheeses that tend to all taste the same no matter the flavor listed.  They use the same base and are not generous with the add-ons, so when you buy one kind, you pretty much bought them all.  Not with Boursin cheeses!  Every flavor tastes different from the other.  You may have a texture that resembles each other but if the package states Pepper, peppery goodness is what you will enjoy!
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Boursin Gournay Cheese in Garlic and Fine Herbs-
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, granulated garlic, salt, white pepper, parsley, chives*.*Dried

I was worried that the garlic would be overwhelming even though I love garlic, however I worry when it comes to dairy based products, that the ingredient can drown all the others out.  Again, Boursin found the right balance and you taste garlic but it has not permeated the entire cheese.  The white pepper provides a zingy taste that differs from the usual black peppercorns.  You get a mild spice that is perfect for even non-pepper fans!   The parsley and chives bring the herb notes, but chive also provides a nice mild onion flavor that tends to also brighten up the cheese’s overall taste.  This is the one you buy if you are new to the Boursin family.

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Boursin Gournay Cheese in Shallot and Chive-
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, shallots*, salt, chives*, green onions*, potassium sorbate (preservative). *Dried

This version of Boursin cheeses is one of my favorites.  You have a blend of dry herbs and that creamy Boursin cheese that is smooth in texture and flavor.  The onion notes are real and not like what you get from a powdered product, that tends to even dry a cheese out.  There is freshness here and if you like onion based dips, this is the cheese that takes your taste buds on an onion-y adventure.

 

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Boursin Gournay Cheese in Pepper-
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, salt, black pepper, potassium sorbate (preservative).

You have black pepper as the main ingredient and this is the more simpler flavor that tends to combine with all other toppers or spreads you may want to add with the cheeses.  The peppercorns are mild in flavor and thankfully the texture is pleasing.  You do not get huge chunks that disrupt the smoothness of the cheese’s texture and Boursin was still able to produce a smooth textured product that is enjoyable on a cracker or even added to a dip.

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Verdict:

This year we enjoyed the cheeses as-is and added them to crackers.  I visited Costco and they sell a trio package there.  Costco was sampling the cheeses by adding them to mashed potatoes and it created a smooth and appealing product.  It was a nice way to spruce up a comfort food and give it a little gourmet twist.  This New Year’s Eve, I will be baking fresh loaves of Rosemary rustic bread, cutting the loaves (not all the way through) to create pockets (crisscrossed pattern) and filling them with a a little butter and then Boursin cheese with shredded cheeses, and then baking.  This will create a nice pull-a-part bread that guests can enjoy eat while still being able to enjoy the festivities.   It is an easy appetizer to add to our others and melted cheese is something we all love.  I may add even some pancetta to some of the loaves to create a different flavor.  Boursin cheeses go with anything you serve because they stand on their own on a cheese platter, or you can add them dishes and dips.  There is no rules or limits here, so I highly suggest bringing a smile to your guests this year by welcoming 2016 with Boursin!

 

Find your favorite(s) with Boursin at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Houseparty/ChatterBox and Boursin Cheeses.  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: Ines Rosales, Sweet and Savory Tortas from Spain #InesRosales

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Tortas in every culture has a dish that bares the same name, even though it may not be identical.  In Spain, tortas de aciete are made with extra virgin olive oil and varieties range from sweet to savory, the distinction is usually made by the sweetness of the dough and the ingredients used. The Ines Rosales tortas are still made by hand and in Seville Spain. The recipe has not changed throughout the years and remains the same since 1910, with just more flavors added to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Some people have asked me how to describe a torta from Spain and my best answer is that it’s like a pita that crumbles and flakes when enjoyed. The distinct taste is hard to describe because the sweet versions are almost cookie like in flavor, while the savory tend to lend more towards a cracker but one thing I can share, is that the Ines Rosales tortas are amazingly delicious! When something is delicious……..what more can be said than just eat it and enjoy it!

I was sent a beautiful array of tortas from Ines Rosales to share and enjoy:

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  • Original; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, anise seeds, sesame seeds, yeast, sea salt, natural anise essence.

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  • Seville Orange; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, crystallized orange from Seville, yeast, sesame seeds, sea salt, natural orange essence.

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  • Cinnamon; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, yeast, sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, sea salt, natural cinnamon essence.

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  • Sesame and Sea Salt; Ingredients- Unbleached wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, sugar, sea salt, yeast.

Now, you see tortas in aciete and you think oily. They thankfully are not and the oil is in the flavor but it’s not overwhelming and you are left with no oily residue on your hands when you are eating them, just the beautiful flaky goodness. Each torta is individually wrapped in it’s waxed paper, so makes it easy to grab and go, or even to put out for guests to enjoy. There are no rules when enjoying these tortas. Many times they are eaten as-is in place of a snack, with a dip, a coffee or even a spread or to accompany any meal. The dough used is simple but that is where the goodness lays because there are no lab created ingredients here, just real good ingredients and like any baked good, the quality of the ingredients used make the difference and it shows with Ines Rosales tortas.

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I made a Spanish/Italian (hey, I said no rules here!) theme dinner that was an array of cured meats and cheeses, plus I had 2 vegetarian guests. Ines Rosales tortas are even Vegetarian friendly, so making a counterpart dish was easy but a little of a first for me. I made a pasta-less Vegetable Lasagna. I grilled all the seasonal vegetables, from eggplants (both striped and mini varieties), Italian squash, and a sauce made from fresh tomatoes. I made the lasagna ahead and asked guests which cheese was approved beforehand because I did not want to add an ingredient that was not acceptable. I can say that making lasagnas in single serve dishes makes serving easy and especially when lasagna slices can come apart and not look appetizing. The lasagna sees none of that because you make and serve in the same dish, so these style dishes allow the host to now worry about serving guests and every dish looks as perfect as the next.

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Now, I thought my meat eaters would stay free of the veggie lasagnas but most enjoyed sharing a serving along with their tortas. The Ines Rosales tortas I used were the savory ones, the Original and Sesame with Sea Salt versions, as this was to accompany our dinner. I made spreads that were Mascarpone based and even an olive toss, that was several olive varieties with just a touch of grain mustard and a lemon based olio. Having guests pick what they want and how much by allowing them to make their own tortas, guarantees a happy host that does less, but more importantly, guests that make their dish as they wish. I purchased everything from Mortadella with Peppercorn and Pistachios, Capocollo and I even found a nice spicy version, Sopressata, Prosciutto, Salami (both peppercorn crusted and normal) to a variety of cheeses. I included Provolone, Manchego to a crumbly Feta cheese because these cheeses tend to cut the fat from the cured meats well along with the spreads. The Ines Rosales tortas have that paper wrap I mentioned and when you unwrap the torta, you can even prep it right over the wrap. It’s then easy to transfer to a plate or just enjoy right there off the wrap!

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Ines Rosales Torta with an array of cured meats

Easy and Fast to make any dinner enjoyable!

Easy and Fast to make any dinner enjoyable!

I can share there was not one torta that was not enjoyed. The Ines Rosales cinnamon variety reminds me of a churro-like cookie to those Bunuelos I enjoyed as a child. Perfect with a cup of coffee to dipped in hot chocolate. The cinnamon used is an accent to the torta and not overwhelming. The Seville Orange is my favorite of the sweet versions. I love Valencia oranges and the orange used resembles those citrus notes. I plan to make a honey Mascarpone spread (again) and enjoy this torta in the morning. So far, I have enjoyed the Seville Orange from Ines Rosales in this manner for 3 mornings straight. I made orange slices in a simple syrup from scratch to add, then toss some toasted Walnuts (or any nuts of your choice…..imagine Pistachios) and you will walk out the door with a smile. These tortas are just a delight and each one is like unwrapping a little treat that plays well with many dishes, not just those with a European flair. They would be great to accompany with a salad, a warm soup on a cold day, to even creating a crust for meats (pulse in a food processor) and you can ever make a great crust for Mozzarella cheese sticks. The possibilities are really up to you but even on a lazy day, I can enjoy an Ines Rosales just as it is and still have a smile 🙂 .

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Connect with Ines Rosales at:

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

Modern Table: Bean Pastas and Meal Kits #Review #ModernTableMeals

 

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Modern Table has been a guest on my blog before and it’s one of those products I tried and still continue to purchase today. We all eat them both in cold and warm dishes because it’s a great alternative to pasta that I really don’t see it as just a substitute. The noodles have flavor because they are bean based. I admit there are even times I make a pasta salad and add the Modern Table noodles along with semolina flour based pasta! Yes, that is how good they are.

I was sent another sampling of the newest products released by Modern Table:

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I have at times deconstructed the meal kits to just get to the bean pasta, so this was a welcoming site. Finally, the pasta alone will be sold. There is a lot of benefits when it comes to Modern Table’s meal kits and bean pastas. For starters:

  • Modern Table does not use GMO based ingredients (non-gmo)
  • Their products are Gluten Free (except for the Teriyaki Meal kit)
  • Dairy Free (Southwest and Teriyaki Meal kits, plus the Bean Pastas)
  • Vegetarian Friendly
  • Packing a protein punch like no other pasta because they are bean based, so you also have an excellent source of fiber.
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • This is real food with no gimmicks!

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Verdict-
Taste means everything in this home because I don’t believe eating healthy means you should sacrifice flavor. It’s actually the opposite! Fresh meals that provide a good source of protein and vegetables should be packed with flavor and enjoyable to consume. Modern Table shares this same theory because we find their products amazing. You are also not limited! You can add fresh vegetables to even meats to the meals and customize them to fit your needs and/or cravings. I have over time learned to not boil the pasta as long as listed in the directions because we prefer a more al dente’ texture. The bean pastas lend themselves to many creations. Many times I have been in a hurry and need a filling meal that is also quick to make. I add a handful of the pasta to a roasted Red Bell pepper and Tomato soap and it creates one delicious meal in less than 12 minutes. I think it takes me more time to make the accompanying sides like toasting a slice of bread for dunking. There are times where I want a Pasta Primavera and use everything from eggplants, frozen organic veggies, to kale to bump up the flavors and I’m also a veggie junkie.

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The possibilities are endless with Modern Table and their new bean pasta bags mean I can just pour from the bag versus picking the pasta out from the kits. The Pesto meal kit goes great with grilled shrimp.  The new Mac & Cheese meal kit is my ultimate favorite from the meal kits. It’s cheesy and has real white cheddar…….it just takes Mac & Cheese to whole another level! I added pancetta to mine and I don’t think I can go back to Mac from a box again.

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Find the Modern Table Kit that fits your Cravings or Pick-up a Bean Pasta Bag at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Modern Table Meals.  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.

Feel Good Foods: Gluten Free Pork Dumplings #Review #FeelGoodFoods

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At my house, we no longer eat out or order in when it comes to Asian cuisine. We were never happy in the end with the amount of protein the dishes delivered, the amount of sodium and the feeling after we ate such meals. Vegetables were usually overcooked from sitting under a heat lamp and I noticed my Husband was always picking out what he liked and disliked, to the point he always had a mountain of mushy vegetables along the side of his plate from things that did not pass the cut (to be eaten). So, I started cooking it myself. I do though appreciate help and even though I am picky about what I purchase from the freezer aisle, I can say that Feel Good Foods was a welcoming sight and taste.

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I was sent several coupons and visited my local Sprout’s Farmers Market. I went with an idea from what Feel Good Foods carried by visiting their website, but it was amazing in the amount of dishes, meals and sides they make. The company has a plethora of items that I had a list longer than the amount of coupons I had. I get to the store and I tell myself just get one item. Try them out and see what happens.

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I pick the Pork dumplings and even though no one thankfully suffers from celiac disease, there are times I just want a gluten free meal like other times I pick no meat to no corn days. Our bodies (well at least mine) needs a break when it comes to what I eat. I don’t want corn in any form in my system on a daily basis and there are days I want a gluten free meal. It changes what I put in my body and it’s welcoming to my taste buds. Labor Day was approaching and we always barbecued outside but this year I wanted something low key and different, so I opted to make it an Asian night. I made everything from Orange chicken, Korean-style BBQ ribs, Shrimp Japanese-style fried rice, Vegetable Lo-Mein to Ponzu Lime Fish. I always love the dumplings and sides but I honestly don’t always have the time to make them homemade but that should be no reason on why I should skip on flavor or real ingredients. Feel Good Foods uses simple ingredients and made from real stuff. No funny fillers and ingredients that come from a lab.

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Cooking- I have 4 burners going at the same time on a 5-burner stove. One was a grill for the short ribs, so that meant my 5th burner was not accessible. I never like to try products from the get-go in the microwave, so I went with the method I came up for times like this, when I have more pots going than burners available. I take the dumplings out and they are a nice size and a decent weight. That surprised me because I am use to the type that really are more wrap than filling. Feel Good Foods does not play that game and they are beautifully sealed too. I placed them on parchment paper and while I prepped the other food, they defrosted for 10 minutes. I use a baster brush and give the dumplings a thin coating of oil (a mix of peanut and toasted sesame oil). I literally use my hand and gather a few droplets of water from the sink’s faucet and let them drop onto the pan, cover with foil and cooked them at 400 degrees. I cooked them for 15 minutes, with the last 5 to 7 minutes uncovered. I get the best of both worlds, the softness and moistness on the inside from a steamed dumpling and the crisp on the outside from a pan fried one. You don’t even have to over brown them because they will be crisp without looking brown. Easy and problem free cooking, for those days I have more going on than usual.

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Verdict-
I serve our meals and noticed I went crazy with the sides but I tell myself this is what we would get at a buffet, share, and always end up eating a little bit of everything. I even made a Jasmine vegetable rice to add to the mix at the last minute, just in case no one felt like hijiki seaweed and wanted a less crispy rice texture. I serve the dumplings and the sauce and everything smells great. We dig in and of course I always tell my Husband to go easy with the Sriracha but noticed I’m too late because not only has his Lo-Mein noodles picked up a red hue, but he has a spoonful on top of the Sriracha garlic paste (too late!). We all continue eating and he asks me about the new sauce. This is the sauce that came with the dumplings. It’s good and not salty, simple but better than plain soy sauce. It’s a welcoming flavor that takes nothing away from the dumplings. Now, the Pork dumplings are plain awesome! Full of pork and the wrap is thin, so you taste the filling and not just the dough. You first taste ginger and this is the real stuff…..none of that powder and they are the best frozen I have bought. I love(d) the Trader Joe’s ones but I have to honest, I would buy the pork and the chicken bags and could never tell, which was which. The flavors just blended and sometimes the wrap was so thick, that the crimped top of the dumpling would not cook right. The Feel Good Foods dumplings were filling and I ate just 2 of them and was very satisfied. I actually wish I served myself 1 more! I cooked the dumplings along side of the Pork Shu Mai dumplings and the Feel Good Foods dumplings had more meat and the filling was not mush. You could see the strands of what made the filling and even though they come frozen, that did not effect the texture of the dumpling. Easy to make and they taste wonderful and I have purchased pretty much every dumpling out there from the Costco Roadshows (featured) brands to the common ones found at the local market. Nothing comes close to Feel Good Foods and the nice part, we just felt satisfied with our meal and no bad after effects from things like MSG or too much sodium. The way meals should be!

I can’t wait to go shopping next week and I will be picking up a new item from Feel Good Foods every 3 weeks and sharing my experience. The company was generous with their coupons, plus they have so much to offer!  You just have to check-out all they have because it’s overwhelming but in a good way 🙂 This is a company that cares about using non-GMO ingredients and where they source their foods from, plus they believe in all natural products and best of all, they see no reason why frozen should not look and taste good.  I never knew gluten-free could taste this good!

Connect with Feel Good Foods at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Feel Good Foods.  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.

 

Ninja Master Prep Food & Drink System

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I have had some experience with Ninja kitchen systems, having just this year gotten to try out a Ninja Mega Kitchen System. While it was uber cool, and did a lot of things well, I had many dedicated kitchen gadgets that did what the Ninja did, but better. So when I was offered to try out a Ninja Master Prep System, I was game but went in with my eyes wide open.

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Like the previous Ninja branded system I used, this one is pretty cool, and does tasks that I previously had to do by hand or with multiple different kitchen gadgets. The Ninja Master Prep system seems indispensable to people who cool a lot (like me!) what with being able to prep multiple things, both sweet and savory, all with just swapping out the Ninja Master Pod (head unit). And with everything but the motor being completely dishwasher safe, prep and cleanup is a breeze! With a large 48 oz. pitcher and a smaller, 16 oz. bowl, it’s good for big jobs, little jobs, and everything in between. The dual-stage blades can be separated for even smaller jobs, but with 4 blades per spindle, and two different spindles, you have enough sharp stuff to make mince meat of just about anything. The work lids seal (almost*) watertight, so there’s very little chance of spilling or messes to clean up. And if you blend a little too much, not to worry, there’s storage lids included. So you can go from countertop prep to kitchen shelf store with no effort at all.

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Alas, it’s not all wine and roses with the Ninja Master Prep system. For starters, the warranty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You have to pay shipping for your defective unit (bummer!) and shipping for your replacement unit (MAJOR bummer!) essentially making the cost of replacing a new, defective unit on par with buying a new, non-defective unit. Next is the plastic gears that drive the very powerful 400 watt motor. Should you attempt to blend something particularly hard, or thick, the gears could strip and break, rendering the unit useless. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence all over the net and Amazon to support that this can and does happen, from time to time. Lastly, I must get to my (almost*) comment above. The top of the worklid has space for the blade spindle to pop out and meet up with the Master Pod gear and drive the blades. But if you’ve filled the Prep Pitcher or Prep Bowl too much, or blend too long or vigorously, whatever you blend has a very good chance of spurting out the top, and this happened to me every time I’ve used it so far, to varying degrees. I have no doubt this will eventually make for a horrible, gummy mess as it’s nearly impossible to clean effectively. The same goes for some small crevasses and nooks that will hold onto schmutz and be nigh unreachable without the dishwasher. Sometimes you just want to wash things in the sink and get back to it, but that’s not going to always be possible. And that’s not even mentioning what’ll happen should the gasket that seals that part fail and moisture get into the motor housing.

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All those things are a shame, because I really like this unit. It does everything I ask of it, blends like a dream, chops when I want things chopped, and pulverizes when I need something pulverized. So while I can’t give it the vaunted “5 Star” rating, I can go as high as 4 because you can’t really hold a potential failure against something that as of this writing is still going strong.

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Connect with Ninja:

I received the above product(s) free of charge for the purpose of review.  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: Orange Crate Food Company Dips and Bakers Review #OrangeCrateFoodCo

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With time constraints and wanting to enjoy the weather, holidays, Summer time is as hectic for me as the month of December. I feel like I’m being pulled in all directions and meal times sneak up on me, along with dinners that include guests. I don’t want to miss out on the events and I don’t want to resort to catering or serving less than spectacular meals. So, when Orange Crate found me via Tryazon, I was more than happy to get some help!

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I welcome new ideas, short cuts but the most important factor is that things need to work for me. I don’t want to miss out on flavor because I use a “boxed item”. Yes, things out of boxes are easy because they are pre-measured and you just add a few ingredients and are told it will be as good as made from scratch or even better, however boxes have failed me. I end up with what I call salt lick boxes because that is the first and most prominent ingredient. What ends up claiming to save me….well dooms me.

When I received the parcel from Orange Crate Food Company, I noticed that I could smell the mixes before opening the box. Yes, Orange Crate teased my UPS man! It also smelled delicious and tempting, so they so far satisfied the “sniff test”.

Next came the unveiling and this is what Orange Crate sent:

I noticed on the dips that there was flexibility when it came to the creations. Orange Crate’s dip boxes encouraged you to think outside the box! They allow the consumer to make hot to cold dips and even use the seasonings in dishes. It’s a way to infuse dishes with flavor to trying new ingredients, so it goes beyond the sour cream tub and cream cheese brick. So far Orange Crate Food Company has separated themselves from the other dip companies, plus the ingredients are as listed. You must understand that when you see a cheese dip and you flip the box and the only cheese listed is the cheese they ask you to add……well, that upsets me! Then it’s not a cheese dip in my book but thankfully that is a memo that Orange Crate Food Company did not miss. Okay, you now got my respect Orange Crate Food Co.! 🙂

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Taste matters and for 4th of July everyone always does barbecue and it’s delicious but I wanted something new. Yes, we had the rib rack but this year I wanted a twist from the ordinary and Orange Crate had just what I was looking for, the Chipotle mix. This year I was doing a dry rub on the ribs so no sauce and just flavor to add to the change factor. I crossed my finger and when I took the ribs out of the overnight brine, I started rubbing in the Chipotle mix. I admit, I had that moment where my brain said, “what did you do”! But too late and it smelled delicious. Chipotle being just smoked jalapenos really is a match made in heaven when it comes to pork, but I’m not use to just depending on a rub from a packet. This is the girl that buys the whole peppers and makes her own seasonings, so this little packet have better make it worth it and especially since we were smoking the ribs for 3 to 4 hours. I allowed the rub to stay on for a couple hours while we prepped everything for the smoker and in they went! Okay, I’m now crossing my toes!

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I pretend everything will be fine because the minute the ribs hit the grill, within 20 minutes I know they will be divine by just how the smoke that lets out is smelling. Okay, that is +2 for the sniff test by Orange Crate Food Company. I start making the rest of the meal from baked beans, freshly baked corn bread and the baked potatoes. Four hours later and this baby back ribs look delicious with a gorgeous bark (crust) and a smoke ring that is to die for! We allow the ribs to rest and 15 minutes later I sneak a taste-test because that corner rib that has been peeking out from the foil is calling my name…….yes, food does that! It also helps to convince yourself that you are pre-tasting the ribs for a good cause, like before giving food to your guests in case it is not good.   I bite in and you taste the pepper but the overall flavor made me think why did I not do this before. These ribs are smoky, tasty, and the Chipotle just increases those flavor notes but also adds that spice that remains mild but that reminds you why jalapenos are so used in cooking. Easy ribs that took longer to cook than to prep!

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The Orange Crate Food company also has beautiful bakers and cold dip servers. The cold dip ones you just add ice and the dip holder conveniently fits over the column, which keeps the food cold and at a safe temperature. The brie bakers can be used to bake anything and not just when it comes to different cheese varieties.  I found that they are larger in size than all the other cheese bakers I own.  This is welcoming because no worries when the cheese begins to bubble in the oven and you can dip without caution that you will cause a cheese avalanche on the other side. Not nice when that happens because your bread/chip ends up with bare naked with nothing on it, and you just made a mess!

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Orange Crate Food Company not only satisfies your taste buds via their dips but also can use their products on other foods. They have a Lemon Dill that just screams for fish or even a chicken breast stuffed with spinach. The dips are easy to make and also adjust to your needs. I bought a lower fat sour cream and added less mayonnaise because I’m not overly wild about the latter condiment and the dip remains a hit. If the dip says cheese, it comes with cheese and you then add your own. The dip packets are also twice the size than other dip packets I have purchased and it’s not just salt! I have to fix other dip brand’s mixes because they all start tasting the same of just a mix of salt and pepper. Orange Crate Food Company is not like the others and you can with confidence just depend on what is included and not feel like something is missing. So, the next time you want to try a new dip company that goes beyond the dip and chip, I encourage you try the Orange Crate Food Company because you don’t know what you are missing!

Connect with the Orange Crate Food Company at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon and the Orange Crate Food 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.

 

Ozeri INSTAVAC Green Earth Storage Container Set

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We all eat. And food isn’t cheap. Especially fresh food. Nothing’s worse than buying some beautiful produce or fresh fruits only to see it toast a few days later. Ozeri seems to have a sixth sense about what to send me to review, because they asked me to review their Storage Container set, called the INSTAVAC Green Earth storage set. 8 pieces (lids and containers) that at first glace might seem rather ordinary. But look closer, these containers have a fantastic feature that sets them head and shoulders above your everyday storage container.

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See that little green doo-dad in the center of the lid? That’s their patented pressure valve that with a small press on the lid, evacuates excess air to keep your fruits and veggies as fresh as the day you bought them. Air is the enemy of fresh food, as it causes food to oxidize and go bad. Short of expensive electronic gadgets, there was really no way before to push the air out of your containers. We own a vacuum sealer and while it’s great for meats, or even some cheeses, it’ll squash just about anything else, and the bags aren’t cheap by any stretch. So we’d been resorting to zip-top baggies and the usual plastic containers that leaked, let air in and out, and were generally a pain in my rear to store.

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Ozeri has solved all of the above. No bulky, awkward, expensive gadgets, no stinky, flimsy, pretty much disposable containers. Now you have the option of a unique, BPA-free, microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe containers that come in 4 sizes (the four sizes are: 21 cups (5.0 liters), 12.7 cups (3.0 liters), 6.3 cups (1.5 liters, and 3 cups (0.7 liters), and that fit your fridge and your life. They’re stain-resistant, shatter-proof, and transparent as glass. They have a raised wave pattern to keep food ever-so-slightly elevated and away from liquids or juices. And, as if there weren’t enough features to make you tell Ozeri “Shut up and take my money!!”, there’s a little adjustable dial on there to mark what day you’ve stashed your container, so no more smudged marker, no little strips of making tape, no writing on bags. I think I have a new best friend in my fridge. Ozeri has another winner on their hands here, and I may have to buy a few more sets. And as with everything they sell, they stand behind it 100%. If for any reason you’re not satisfied or your product fails, Ozeri will replace it or refund you, no questions asked. All this for just $24.97? Are you kidding me?

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Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s some tupperware in my kitchen drawers that I suddenly feel the need to chuck in the trash.

Get in touch with Ozeri’s family of products:

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

Yumms! Premium Burger Press 3-Piece Kit #Review #yumms

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My husband worked one summer in the butcher’s department of our local warehouse store. The stories he came home with nearly turned me off ground beef entirely. Luckily that was also the year I got the meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer. And after years of forming uneven disc shaped lumps of meat, we stumbled upon a cheap plastic contraption at a national home goods chain and we both saw little lights go on over each other’s heads. But alas, it was not meant to be in our home long, as it was made poorly, warped slightly after it’s first trip through the dishwasher, and getting the smashed beef out of the various crevasses was a nightmare.

Enter Yumms! 3-piece Burger Press, made from durable, easy-to-clean BPA free plastic. You may wonder what the third piece is for, so I’ll tell you. It’s a Lifter. Anyone who’s ever tried to make hamburger patties at home will tell you horror stories of stuck patties, pried out with whatever flattish utensil was in arms reach, looking like a wolverine got to ’em first. With Yumms!, it’s perfect patties every time. Beef, chicken, turkey, even sausage, there’s plenty of uses for this guy. Salmon patties for the grill? Done. Meat loaf patties for a big family dinner? Done. The limit for these is just you imagination. Yes, I’m even talking veggie burgers. Don’t judge me.

Retail Price Point: $15.95 via Amazon

The handle is sturdy, with a non slip coating on it, a base to catch juices, and non-slip foot pads so you don’t have to watch tonight’s dinner skitter down the counter because you put a little too much English into pressing after a long day at work. Then just drop all three pieces into the top rack of the dishwasher and you’re done. I love my burger press because I can preseason or pre-stuff my burgers, put some parchment squares between them, and wrap ’em up good and tight to freeze for the future. Talk about convenient! So small it stores away easily and doesn’t take a ton of shelf space either. Even if you buy your ground beef from the store, or don’t want to use it for hamburgers, I’ve found that making evenly weighted patties is also the best way to have ground beef ready to go for sauces, stews, chili, shepherd’s pie, or whatever recipe calls for ground meats. I simply patty the meat out in 1/4 lb patties and freeze them together 4 at a time. So this Yumms! Burger press is for much, much more than just for hamburgers. It’s built well enough to use for years and years. And Yumms! also backs this press up with a lifetime (yes, LIFETIME) 100% satisfaction guarantee! What’s not to like?

Connect with Yumms! via:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Yumms! .  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: GEFU and Wheat Belly, Healthy-n-Lean 2015 Party Review #GEFU

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We are still in January and while many of us started at the beginning of the month with positive changes and planning for the “new you in 2015”, many of us are probably running dry when it comes to ideas, making time to eat well, and falling back into 2014 habits.

I’m all for making what I do today (i.e. eat veggies) so much better and even different. Why not? I grill, bake, saute, even eat veggies raw to just mix-it-up a bit. In comes GEFU, with a heck of a line of products that make eating healthy and well easier but in some ways better. I say better because it encourages us to eat as we should be eating, not feel like a perma-diet! I love pasta and I can reach a moment where I think making pasta primavera means at least it has veggies……so it’s sort of healthy. I even try 75% veggies with 25% pasta and my results are, I’m still craving pasta! GEFU not only will make my veggies a texture and let’s just say it, a shape that is more desirable. Their line of kitchen tools will make any dish from any cuisine a little new again. It goes beyond just pasta for Italian meals but think Asian dishes with vegetables that match rice noodles or just the vegetables themselves become the noodle!

I received these 4 GEFU kitchen tools to experience:

GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter in action on YouTube; Spirelli product details via GEFU

GEFU Julienne peeler, Striscia

GEFU Lemon Juicer

• GEFU Julienne Peeler ASIA (new to the US)

Plus, a cookbook:

Wheat Belly 30-minute (or Less!) Cookbook

 

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The Spirelli Sprial cutter (Item #13460) is the go-to and easy cleaning tool to achieve that “spiral cut” you desire.  Love that you can easily use it and it’s dishwasher friendly, due to the way the product is made.  You have stainless steel combined with high quality plastic that will provide many days filled with spiral julienne strips.  You can use any vegetable, which is firm in texture.  This includes carrots, jicama, potatoes, zucchini, radishes, cucumbers and the list goes on.  Create salads using raw ingredients or you can par-cook, to fully cook vegetable so the possibilities are really endless.  I was able to add a new twist to an Italian salad by having a more desirable texture and shape.  The olives I left whole, so it would mimic little “meatless meatballs”.  I sometimes had to thin out a vegetable that was too big for the hole, however I now know to purchase medium sized ones when using this product.  I give this product a 4.5 out of 5 rating do to how much you can do with it.

Retail Price Point: $29.99 on-line and available on Amazon, to Bed, Bath & Beyond

 

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Presco Lemon Juicer (Item #124585)is of course more of a citrus juicer and not limited to lemons.  I have a juicer but the type you slice and then press, so let’s call it a citrus presser.  Mine tended to dirty more by needed a knife and a cutting board, to then the press itself.  Get the towel ready because it was also a sprayer.  Thankfully, with GEFU’s Presco juicer, I just dirty one item to complete the task.  The stainless steel pierces any rind and I get every last drop where it belongs.  The skin is left intact, so I can even use a zester to get more use out of my citrus.  I give this product a 5 out of 5 because it’s one of those that changes a common task into a new way and let’s face it, less messy!  Also, dishwasher safe.

Retail Price Point: $9.99 on-line and I found the product on Amazon, Sur La Table to Bed, Bath & Beyond

 

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The Striscia julienne peeler (Item #13660) has changed how I make Asian dishes to even what I spent a good amount of time doing, “stick fries”.  You simply take a vegetable and just like a regular peeler, you peel and get perfect julienne cuts every time.  Cuts prep-work time and I now go from doing the prep-work the night before, to doing it that same day.  The handle is ergonomic and easy to hold and control, something you want when some potatoes can be extra starchy and wet to carrots causing things to slide.  The cutting/peeling portion is made of quality steel and produces cuts every time.  I was able to use cucumber to make an awesome yogurt base salads, that went great with the flat bread and beef kebabs.  It’s a meal we already make but this just created a better and more uniform cut than I can produce with a knife……also no hand cramping!

Retail Price Point: $19.95 on-line and via Amazon, plus this one seems very popular and available at many authorized retailers

 

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This product is new to the U.S. and called the Julienne Peeler ASIA (Item #50410).  Shaped like a mandolin cutter, this product produces julienne cuts on one side and the reverse side, has a grater.  Like with many GEFU products, they used Japanese steel for the blades and the tool has a nice handle for control.  The grater portion has two types of surfaces, one for puree grating (i.e. horseradish, ginger, and the like), and the other has a spice grater for harder ingredients like allspice and nutmeg.  As you can see, the Asia portion in the name does not limit it’s uses.  I gave this one away via raffle because if I did not have all the components (separately unfortunately), I could see saving space and time with one tool.  I give this product a 4 out of 5 for making julienne cuts easy (I was told by my guest that won and tried it) and being really 3 tools in one.

Retail Price Point: $24.95 on-line and I did not see wide distribution yet, as this is a new product

 

 

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Not everything via diet books is always a fad and some diet books to hit areas about our overall eating.  With products being filled with corn, wheat, and really just fillers, no wonder we sometimes don’t feel at our optimum.  The Wheat Belly 30-minutes or less cook book allows the reader with ease to produce quick meals (no excuses!) that are healthy, delicious and gluten-free.  The way we should not eat sugar with every meal, well we probably should think about eating wheat with every meal too!  The book was easy to follow and even if you don’t want to make this your only way of eating, it’s an addition for those times you want to eat different.  Some of the guests felt the products needed and especially when cleaning out the pantry, was costly and restrictive but we all agreed that incorporating some of this diet is a must.  It’s cleaner and not to be taken at 100% (at least for us) but it showed us what more we can do with products we already buy (i.e. rice flour, bean flours, nut flours, ect.).  I don’t think it’s a book you can dismiss fully and it’s good to start 2015 with real changes!

Retail Price Point: $13.50 on Kindle and $16.37 Hard-cover

 

I was very happy with all the products provided and holding an event that focuses on vegetables is really cost efficient and easy to hold.  Most of us like eating the final products in their raw state or blanched and cooled quickly to preserve that crunchy texture.  We are all unfamiliar with GEFU products and not only were this great, but they have a huge array to choose from.  Now, I have my eye on that pasta roller! 🙂

 

 

Connect with GEFU products at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon, GEFU and Rodale Publications.  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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