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

Farm Fresh

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

This is how the Service Works:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rustic Sausage, Potatoes and Vegetables

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

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

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

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

This code gives you $15 off your first box!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Que Rica Vida: Pavo a las Hierbas con Relleno de Pan de Ma√≠z y Carne de Res; Turkey with Herbs and a Cornbread with Beef Stuffing #recipe

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Este dia de fiesta de Thanksgiving, disfruta con la familia un pavo que es delicioso y lleno de sabor que tu familia y amigos va querer saber el secreto. Facil para prepara con resultados riquísimo #MetiendoLaCuchara #QueRicaVida

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjMSDpzhxkg

La receta aqui

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Turkey with Herbs and a Cornbread with Beef Stuffing
This #Thanksgiving day, enjoy with your family a turkey that is delicious and full of flavor, that your family and friends will want to know your secret! Easy to prepare with delicious results. #MetiendoLaCuchara #QueRicaVida

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I am getting ready and even purchased a fresh sage plant to add a fresh herbs with dry herbs twist to this Thanksgiving Day dinner. ¬†Something new for the holidays is also a welcoming surprise and you just can’t go wrong with cornbread stuffing and an herb crusted turkey! ¬†Follow the video below with step-by-step instructions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjMSDpzhxkg

You can also view the recipe here

 

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The above is a sponsored post via Que Rica Vida. #Sponsored

Ozeri’s GreenEarth Fresh Spin 4.24qt. Salad Spinner

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Around here we consume a lot of greens. Well, I should say that I consume a lot of greens. Hubby somtimes acts as if they might cause him some harm. But I eat more than my share, probably more than anyone I know. Kale, lettuces of all shapes and sizes, broccoli, squash…you name it, I eat it. And one thing they all have in common is a need to be washed, prepped, and stored dry. I’ve tried other brands of spinners, all of which fell far short of my beloved OXO spinner. And then Ozeri went and offered me their Swiss-designed GreenEarth Fresh Spin Salad Spinner. I may just swoon.

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With a fast-spinning ergonomic pump handle, non-slip base and table-ready BPA-Free clear bowl, this spinner has displaced my OXO and become my go-to for big heaps of lettuce. It’s size is deceptive from the pictures…It’s¬†huge, at 4.2 quarts. Before what took me several rounds of “rinse-spin-pour-repeat” now is all done at once. The spin action also doesn’t cause the entire bowl to become unbalanced and threaten to wobble off the counter and scatter my greens to the four winds. It’s quite and only takes 2-3 pumps to achieve maximum velocity. And the brake button brings everything to an immediate halt with no issues, squeaks, squeals or noise. What I love best, and had become a major gripe with my OXO, was the spinner shaft that comes down and takes up valuable real estate inside the bowl. That’s a thing of the past with Ozeri’s GreenEarth Fresh Spin Salad Spinner. All that space in there is free to use, and use it I did.

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I never thought anything would take the place of my OXO. And yet here I am, with my OXO in a closet and My Ozeri GreenEarth Salad Spinner under my counter and waiting my next batch of green goodness. With Ozeri’s 2-year warranty and stellar record of outstanding customer service, this GreenEarth Fresh Spin Salad Spinner is going to see a lot of miles in the coming years.

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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.

 

HouseParty: Bertolli¬ģ Imported Cask Aged Balsamic Vinegar Paired with Caramelized Onion #Review #BertolliSauceParty

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I usually make our sauces from scratch and especially when the heirloom tomatoes start hitting the markets, with the quality and season being at it’s peak. I enjoy incorporating everything from a bell pepper medley to a combination of different onions. I make several jars worth and then have the freedom to create different meals and additions like ground lamb to pork. Then time gets in the way and especially during the “bottom months” where holidays start coming and I’m trying to make every comfort food we have been waiting to enjoy and sometimes you get that simple request of spaghetti and meatballs. I open the fridge and then memory strikes…..I used our last jar I made last time and now have none! So, I always purchase emergency back-ups and this means a jar or two of previously made sauces. I already feel bad when I let time get the best of me, but I don’t want to add by feeling bad about what I am serving at dinner time. So, I pick wisely and have found a few brands that I can depend on.

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Bertolli makes everything from sauces, olive oils, vinegars to frozen meals. They are a company that has been around family tables for over 150 years. Their sauces range from organic, white bases to their newer variety called Riserva. The Riserva brand is a rename of the Imported line “Gold Label”, you previously saw with the colored “old-style” font. Even the flavors are identical, so thankfully Bertolli did not discontinue the “Gold Label” line. I was able to pick-up a glass jar of the bottles, with the older version label, at my local Von’s.

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What I look for when purchasing a jarred sauce is simple ingredients like I would use when making it from scratch and also variety. I want something away from the norm, so I look for blends with wines or vegetables that we don’t commonly consume. I want also a sauce that does not need to be “fixed” to be enjoyed. I’m not going to dedicate 20 minutes to get a sauce to taste right when I could allot the same time to one made from scratch. So, the first thing I do is take a label apart when it comes to ingredients and thankfully the sauces by Bertolli contain what the label in the front states. The Balsamic vinegar is there as is the caramelized onions. Tomatoes in all forms from puree, diced and even in juice form are listed. To intensify the tangy notes, grape must was added and mostly you have real ingredients in this sauce. My only pause was to caramel coloring even though I know manufactures add it to enhance the look of the sauce since it may not look too pleasing in the jar without it, but I could have done with out it. I hope when Bertolli changed the label, they dropped the coloring off the list too.

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Verdict:
The Balsamic Vinegar and Caramelized onions by Bertolli advertises a nice balance in flavor where the sweetness from the caramelized onions goes very well with the tang you get from the vinegar. No bitter notes or after taste, and the sauce has a rich texture and taste. Very enjoyable and not a jar that needs additions to correct it, but you can always add a protein from chicken and beef to enhance it. Upon opening the jar, I expected to smell a wine like scent ¬†from the vinegar, as I do when I add Balsamic to my marinara sauces. I unfortunately did not. I taste the sauce and it’s ultra sweet, like way too much sugar. It’s not the sugars I’m use to even when I have used sweet onion varieties like Cipollini onions. Even Shallots when caramelized never give off this much sugar and then I notice actual sugar noted in the list of ingredients BEFORE garlic and spice. Okay, so I start thinking what can I make with this and it hit’s me……a dip. This way the sauce stays unaltered and I make Mozzarella sticks from scratch. Everyone can then enjoy the sauce as it is and I can curb the sweet factor by the spices I add to the breaded cheese. Simple to make and also quick, plus batches can be kept warm in the oven while I make more. ¬†This is unfortunately not a sauce I would buy again. ¬†I will try this version again under the Riserva label if the ingredients differ. ¬†So, far the only change I can tell is that the new label does not state “Imported” on it. ¬†Unfortunately, Bertolli does not list the ingredients of their sauces on the site, just the nutritional facts, so I wan unable to compare beforehand. ¬†My Mozz sticks are always a hit but I did ask for feedback on the sauce and thankfully received some honest remarks. ¬†It’s sweet was the chief complaint and maybe this was a batch where the sugar over-spilled, but I was left with dip and this is uncommon at my house where I witness guests usually use even bread to clean a plate. ¬†I feel that without the overpowering sweetness, this sauce could actually be good and enjoyed. ¬†The warming of the sauce intensifies the sugar and when tasted cold, the sugars mellow out a bit. ¬†Maybe adding a little to a pasta salad would help.

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Connect with Bertolli at:

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

Sunsella 100% Stainless Steel Collapsible Steamer Basket

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There are things you take for granted you have in your kitchen and then when it fails you, are at a loss where to go to get a quality replacement. A rolling pin. A dough scraper. Cookie sheets. You know the brands, and the big box stores that sell them, but which one is good? Which one will last you? Which one won’t fail? Well, when my collapsible steamer went kaput, I’d had it for so long I didn’t know where to start. And like a knight in stainless steel shining armor, in rode Sunsella’s¬†Stainless Steel Collapsible Vegetable Steamer. And let me tell you, it does so much more than steam vegetables.

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See, these steamers are a staple in almost every kitchen, regardless of the background of the cook. It’s been used in this house to steam homemade tamales, to steam Asian-style pork buns and potstickers, to of course to steam veggies. It has a smooth action to open and close, a handy ring on the center post for easy grabbing, and little feet that are long enough to be able to put a good amount of water in your pot to keep the steam flowing. Have something big to steam? Just unscrew the center post and voil√†, you’ve got all that real estate in your pot to fill. It takes up virtually no space in the cabinet but is absolutely indispensable in any kitchen. And the 100% stainless steel means it cleans like a dream and will last you for years and years. And while it says it’s dishwasher safe, I recommend cleaning by hand and air drying, as the harsh detergents in the dishwasher might cause it to tarnish and rust over time. I want my tools to last, and while my last steamer was over 2 decades old, I wanted him to last longer. And this¬†Sunsella 100% Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer might be there when I’m ready for Social Security.¬†

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The one drawback I find myself hitting over and over and over lately is price. At $13.99 (at the time of this writing), this steamer is, in some cases, almost 50% more than others on Amazon with the same features and materials. I had to go to Williams Sonoma to find one with a comparable price, and we all know how “out there” Williams Sonoma is with prices. Most were around $8 or $9. I just don’t know how to justify the markup here, and I feel it’s an awesome product. I don’t know, but I know I wouldn’t pay that kind of markup for a product. I liked it, I just don’t know if I liked it 50% more than the rest.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sunsella.  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.! ūüôā

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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!

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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.

 

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

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

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

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

Organic cacao and organic cane sugar.

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

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

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

Connect with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolates at:

 

 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate French Silk Pie:

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

Lets Begin……

Filling (Custard Pudding)-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun-Fetti/Confetti Cookie Crumb Topping:

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

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

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Take out cooled Pie.

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

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

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Or, you want it all!

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

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Enjoy!

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

 

 

Kiva Health Food: Hot Smoked Paprika and Sweet Smoked Paprika #Review #SmokedPaprika

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When I first began to cook, I started with blended spices and herbs. Such blends are easy to use and take the guess work out of finding a balanced flavor, however you usually are charged for fillers like with most products of this kind. If the flavor notes are savory, you get salt and if you get sweet, you get a plethora of sugars to choose from and making up 50% of the product you just purchased. After a year of trial and error, I finally learned to purchase individual ingredients and let me be the one in control of flavor!

Kiva offers you with pure products and what you see, is what you get. Sounds so simple but in a world where sodium and sugars are not the only fillers, you get products that are made with higher standards from Kiva:

  • All Kiva products are non-GMO certified.
  • Kiva uses a third-party testing facility to ensure purity and safety.
  • Eco-friendly methods are used by Kiva from Sustainable Farming to cultivating in smaller batches.
  • Kiva also minimally processes everything from their Superfoods to their spices.

The food word has changed dramatically in the last 20 years and we now know more about food processing to ingredients that sound healthy-ish but are not. There is no excuse when it comes to not knowing where to buy from because there are still good companies that take pride in what they make like Kiva. My first products to try from Kiva, is their paprika and they sent me two kinds to review.

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  • Kiva Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika-

With my father originating from Spain, paprika was highly used at our home. We made on a weekly basis a Paprika chicken dish, which was braised chicken thighs and are paired it a simple vegetable (whatever was in season) saffron rice. I am very familiar with this pepper spice that is usually made by air drying the chili peppers, however smoked versions use a fire to add flavor, and the woods will enhance and even add to the taste. Kiva’s sweet version is made in the La Vera region of Spain. Their peppers are hand harvested and are dried by using Holm oak. The oak toasts the peppers nicely and adds a nice true smoked flavor. No fake liquid smoke used here! You don’t get a sugary sweetness but a mild pepper flavor, which differs from the hot version. The sweet version also usually has the seeds removed to decrease any bitterness, which you usually find in the “bittersweet” Agridulce version. This sweet version plays well with seafood, rices to even spreads. I also used the Kiva sweet version over avocados that I added to a simple salad and the flavor complemented the simple vinaigrette I made very well. You will use less dressing when using Kiva’s sweet smoked paprika because flavor is there and it did not need sugars to notice it!

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Sweet Paprika & Chives Shrimps. The shrimps were grilled on skewers!

 

 

  • Kiva Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika-

Like it’s counterpart, the Hot version of Kiva’s paprika is smoked for 14 days to increase intensity and richness. You get chili peppers that have been ground to produce a light powder that delivers those smoky notes, which derive from the Holm oak. Holm oak trees is the only wood used if you are making true Pimenton from the La Vera region of Spain, so think of it like Champagne, you can only call it that if comes from the grapes that came from that region of France. The Holm oak also produces acorns, which is a food source for Iberico pigs of this region. I like to pair the smoked hot version with pork tenderloins to create a nice rub and it gives roasted potatoes a beautiful hue and peppery taste, that you can only find in paprika from this region. Kiva’s paprika is milled perfectly and no bitterness or fillers are ever detected. You get true spice from the peppers without the high price tag! ¬†I also halved potatoes and we grilled them over charcoal, added sour cream and a touch of butter with a nice sprinkle from the hot smoky paprika. ¬†It’s a tater you cut to eat and enjoy every bite!

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Retail Price Point: The duo costs $10.99 via Amazon or $11.80 from Kiva’s website

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Connect with Kiva and their other Superfoods at:

 

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

 

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?

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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.

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