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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HouseParty: TLC Love, Lust or Run Premiere Party #LoveLustRunParty

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HouseParty: Lavazza Taste the Passion House Party #LavAzza #Review

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Lavazza has been a household name and favorite for over 100 years in Italy! That is a lot of roasted coffee beans! Once I tasted this coffee, it has been my go-to for drinking and a must for baking. Nothing intensifies chocolate notes like coffee, so like wine, you want to use the very best and Lavazza is just that.

Now, that I can find the coffee here, I have noticed new items and selections available. I was so fortunate in being able to host another party and decided with the colder days ahead, baking a Coffee Chocolate Chip cookie, which went perfectly with the coffees. Simple, quick and the bittersweet chips mixed with the semisweet ones, makes this an irresistible cookie!

First Let’s start with what LavAzza’s Taste the Passion House Party included:

  • 1 Barista apron with the Lavazza logo for host
  • 4 bags of Lavazza Coffee in different varieties
  • Coffee Mug for host with the Lavazza Logo
  • Generous Coupons for guests to save on Lavazza coffees
  • Magnets shaped like a coffee mug for guests
  • Coffee Cups that were just like you get from your local Coffee Shop, with even the little sleeves to go over the cups
  • Fun cards and games to entertain guests, including the “Italian hand gestures” game, which we all tend to “speak”.

The LavAzza Selections:

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  • Gran Aroma- Medium roast, smooth & aromatic, with citrusy notes.  This is the coffee that appealed to everyone and a perfect “everyday and at any season” cup you can enjoy.

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  • Classico- Medium roast, rich & full-bodied, with hints of dried fruit.  This was my second favorite and most guests really enjoyed this variety.  For some the roast was a little stronger than expected but welcoming.

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  • Gran Selezione- Dark roast, intense and chocolaty. 100% sustainably grown coffee that comes exclusively from Rainforest Alliance™ certified farms.  My favorite and every dark roast lovers favorite! This one is just delicious and strong, but without the bitter notes.  The aftertaste is nice and just makes you crave another cup of coffee!

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  • Perfetto- Espresso roast, dark and velvety with a lingering caramel finish.  I’m an espresso girl and this is it without the work.  You get the strength that wakes you up and also everything you love about coffee in one cup, but just in a non-espresso size!

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LavAzza Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2/3 cup of All Vegetable Shortening
  • 3 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 3 Tablespoons of any LavAzza Coffee (I brew a strong cup so I can get that intense coffee flavor. I used the Gran Selezione in this batch)
  • 1 1/4 cups of Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg at room temperature
  • 2 cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 cup of mixed Chocolate Chips (I use Bittersweet & Semi-Sweet)
  • Optional- you can add 1/2 cup of toasted pecans or walnuts if you desire. You can get adventurous and even add dried fruits and the Lavazza Classico variety is perfect for that combination with it’s fruity notes.

Set your oven to 375 degrees (I use convection)

Using your mixer with the beater attachment, just combine the shortening, butter, coffee and brown sugar. Beat until you have a nice creamy and fluffy consistency. Then add the milk, extract, and egg and blend well. Remember to scrape down to make sure you get a smooth batter. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients, the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to your mix and blend until combined. Make sure to not over beat. Then add the chocolate chips and combine (fold) with a spatula, so the chips do not get destroyed by the beater.

To make the cookies, I like to use a large ice scream scoop and just scoop (leave in ball form) about six scoops (cookies) on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 14 minutes and allow the cookies to rest for about 5 minutes before moving them onto a cookie rack to cool.

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The cookies will be nice and soft, plus gooey when split open to eat. Really delicious and they hold well in a covered plastic container (room at temperature) for about 3 to 4 days. You will get about 12 cookies that are medium/large in size out of this recipe.

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Don’t be sad if you a one cup machine!  Fate would have it that LavAzza sent me this postcard via mail, so their great coffees come in K-cups too.

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Connect with LavAzza and find your favorite cup of coffee at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from HouseParty and Lavazza.  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: Triscuit Thin Crisps in Sour Cream & Chive, Wasabi & Soy Sauce and Cinnamon Sugar #Review #TriscuitParty

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Who does’t love a house party? This HouseParty, sponsored by Triscuit, was not only filled with goodies for the host and guest, but we were able to try the three newest flavors. The HouseParty kit also included the following:

  • Large totes for each guest
  • Free coupons that guests can redeem for free Triscuit Thin Crisps
  • Triscuit boxes for guests to take home
  • 3 boxes in the new Wasabi & Soy Sauce flavor
  • 3 boxes in the new Sour Cream & Chive flavor
  • 3 boxes in the new Cinnamon & Sugar flavor
  • A chip bowl to share Triscuit Thin Crisps with guests
  • Recipe card for the loaded baked potato dip
  • A dip bowl for guests to try different dips I made

As always, Houseparty is very generous with the kit and provides you with pretty much everything you need to hold a successful event. You just supply the guests and party on! I had each guest provide feedback on the each flavor and also if they enjoyed attending the sponsored event.

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The new Triscuit Thin Crisps are very different from the original recipe, as these are made with brown rice. The flavors are also not typical but delicious indeed.

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Triscuit Thin Crips in Sour Cream & Chive– This was a liked crisp but ranked third in likability. Some guests reported that the crisp tasted more like a sour cream & ranch chip and could not pick-up the chive notes that usually resemble onion. The texture was very well liked, as were the ingredient’s list on the box. You have a short list and everything is identifiable. 10 crackers are just 130 calories and 25 only come from fat. Definitely a savory snack that not only satisfies your taste buds but does not punish your waist line. The dip most enjoyed with this cracker was the caramelized onion dip I made because it helped bring out the desired onion notes some felt were missing.

Ingredients-
LONG GRAIN BROWN RICE, WHOLE GRAIN SOFT WHITE WHEAT, SOYBEAN OIL, NATURAL FLAVOR (CONTAINS MUSTARD), SALT, ONION POWDER, SOUR CREAM POWDER (CREAM, NONFAT MILK, CULTURES), NONFAT MILK, BUTTERMILK, YEAST EXTRACT, SPICES (INCLUDES CHIVE), CITRIC ACID, SUGAR

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Triscuit Thin Crisps in Cinnamon & Sugar– This is the crisp that satisfies your sweet tooth and can even be paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Some even dipped it in a caramel sauce and guests reported the flavor is addicting! I liked that the crisp is not too sweet or overly covered in cinnamon. The base on this cracker is brown rice and sweet potato. You taste the sweetness the potato gives, but it pairs very well with chocolate or just munching as is. I had a few guests comment that this flavor tasted like what you find on “deep fried ice cream” but again at 130 calories for 10 crisps, minus the frying mess.

Ingredients-
LONG GRAIN BROWN RICE, WHOLE GRAIN SOFT WHITE WHEAT, SOYBEAN OIL, DRIED SWEET POTATO, SUGAR, CINNAMON, BROWN SUGAR, SEA SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR, YEAST EXTRACT.

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Triscuit Thin Crisps in Wasabi & Soy Sauce– The most liked of the savory variety was this one and it has a flavor that bites back! New and not the common flavor you would expect in a snack but it does not only satisfy your salty cravings, it makes you come back for more. This one was great with a horseradish pub cheese dip I had out for the sour cream & chive flavor. We were all surprised a cheddar based dip went so well with it! Same 130 calories per serving as the other flavors!

Ingredients-
LONG GRAIN BROWN RICE, WHOLE GRAIN SOFT WHITE WHEAT, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, SEA SALT, MALTODEXTRIN, DEHYDRATED SOY SAUCE (FERMENTED SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), YEAST EXTRACT, CITRIC ACID, PARSLEY FLAKES, NATURAL FLAVOR (CONTAINS MUSTARD), DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, WASABI POWDER

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This Houseparty was easy and everyone did not dislike any of the snacks or dips that were available!  Guests enjoyed taking home gifts and of course being able to redeem a coupon towards a free box.  I did find a coupon on-line so you can also save when try these.  For more information on the new Triscuit Thin Crisps, please visit the links below.

Connect with Triscuit Thin Crisps:

  • On-line Coupon– http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=vdupdvh57561263&bt=vg&o=116999&c=TL&p=eRQ3gNZj
  • Triscuit On-line– http://brands.nabisco.com/Triscuit/
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/triscuit
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/TheRealTriscuit
  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/TRISCUIT/

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I received the above product free of charge from HouseParty & Triscuit.  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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