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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Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic Macaroni Casserole #Review #TryNatural

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Next on the list, is Kim’s Simple Meals and this is their Organic Macaroni Casserole. The product again is easy to make and assemble. You simply boil the pasta, which is gluten free and made from organic brown rice. You then mix the contents with water, blend and add it to the cooked elbow shaped noodles. Mix and in the oven the casserole goes. The Mac is soy free and made with GMO free ingredients. Vegan friendly and Kosher too.

Ingredients: Gluten free brown rice elbow macaroni*, oat flour*, sea salt, sugar*, dehydrated vegetables* (onion*, garlic* & tomato*), yeast powder*, natural smoke Torula yeast, annatto powder* (annatto extract*, maltodextrin*), citric acid, lemon peel powder* and natural hickory smoke powder [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)]. *Organic

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Verdict:

The instructions were simple and because I tend to like more bite in my pastas, I did not boil the noodles as long as they suggested. When I blended the “cheese sauce”, it was very watery in texture and had an odd smell that was smoky. Kim suggests you can add your own meatless based meats, like a veggie based bacon. This time I decided to just go as it comes but I can see even adding vegetables. Once the pasta was partially cooked, I added the sauce and it did not thicken. It was more like the texture of a thin juice, versus any bechamel sauce I have made to make a typical Macaroni and Cheese dish. There is no real cheese here but I did notice this box is not labeled dairy free like the burger version. Why not add milk? I have no idea and it was not listed as a suggestion. Not even a nut milk that is unsweetened was not suggested, or even soy milk if you have no issues with it. The burger box had soy…..but I went forward and was thankful walnuts were not suggested like the video shared for the home-style burgers, and no oats! The house smells like something is cooking but it’s not like any Macaroni and Cheese I have had before. Maybe a pasta kind of dish but not Mac and Cheese. It comes out of the oven and it’s like one solid mass. I noticed this in the video also, when the serving was cut. The liquid was absorbed and you still smell something smoky-ish but I could not put my finger on it. Maybe fake bacon bits and along that area. I taste it and it’s not cheese and I have eaten many cheeses in my lifetime. This pretender is more like a rice dish, where the rice is shaped like elbow pasta and a yellow sauce. The sauce creates a pasta cake but no cheese and gooey texture you associate with the original. It was not awful but definitely not super delicious. The only thing that came to mind, is it tasted like that mystery dish where the label fell off the platter, which sat in a buffet/cafeteria line. Surprise-a-Dish! If you like surprises, this may be for you and adding vegetables or other items might spruce it up and make it less surprise-ish casserole.

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Connect with Kim’s Simple Meals at:

 

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

 

The Gourmet Nut: Tilapia Fish Bites made with the Himalayan Pink and Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt #Recipe #Review

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With fish prices rising and myself still craving fish, I have pretty much made every fish readily available in a manner of ways. Nothing satisfies a dual craving of seafood and fried food like the recipe below. The combination of salts brings a unique flavor to the dish as do the flours, which create a perfect thin crust that is super crunchy but remains light. You can make the dish using pretty much any fish (that is not ultra oily)or even use shrimps….po’ boys style or just bites to enjoy. You can also make “Devil Fish” bites by adding Sriracha to the buttermilk soak. Great for fish tacos too because the batter is crunchy but not heavy!

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The combination of salts is what makes the impact because the salinity in the Himalayan Pink Salt is great in the buttermilk soak but does not “pickle” the meat. The Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Salt brings those earthy notes that is almost like a truffle but so unique that is difficult to pin point. In the end, you just end up with a flavor combination that is perfect and better than anything you can buy. It’s also quick to make!

Let’s get started……

I start the night before to allow the fish soak up all the flavors and I like making meals that allow me to prep the evening before, so I get less mess but the benefit of capturing every flavor note without doing a thing.

 

  • Start with 3 Tilapia Fish Fillets and cut them into finger size pieces and I usually try to make bites in size that take one to two bites each to eat.

Buttermilk Soak:

  • 1/8 of teaspoon of each (Dried Herbs)- Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Dill Weed, Marjoram, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, and the Gourmet Nut’s Himalayan Pink Salt.
  • Optional- You may add 1/8 of a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper or more to suit your taste. I have added Sriracha in the past to create “Devil Bites” but again this is to your own discretion. You can also make 1/2 normal and 1/2 deviled to get different bites out of one dish.
  • 1/2 cup of Buttermilk

You add the dry ingredients and the fish to a bowl and mix to combine and cover everything evenly.

Then add the buttermilk and allow the fish to soak over night. I like to give it at least 4 hours but the more you give it, the more the fish absorbs and the better the flavor.

The following day, take the fish out and allow it to lower in temperature for about 20 minutes and then begin making the coating/batter.

Batter/Coating:

  • 1/4 cup of Corn Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Gourmet Nut’s Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • Optional- Cayenne Pepper to taste

Combine the batter and no egg needed bath is needed as the buttermilk serves as a great “glue” to make the coating stick. You simply drop each bite and coat evenly, repeat until finished.

 

Frying:
I use Peanut Oil to produce a nice crisp outside and a clean taste when frying but you may use any oil you desire. I heat up the oil between 370 and 395 degrees because I find this heat point perfect for less spatter and spitting, even though my chicken tends to cause more than the fish does. Simply drop the bites and because this is a light batter, the fish coating will remain light in color and you will achieve a light golden tone. The fish literally stops making noise when they are done. You will see within the oil the bubbling starts to subside and it takes only a few minutes to fry in small batches. It’s quick and self telling when it’s done, so that works for me.

 

 

Serving:
You can make fish tacos or serve the fish as-is with a side of tartar sauce. I made shrimps and crab cakes that evening, plus fries because I wanted to nip my fried food craving. I also like to grind a little finishing salt of the Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt when serving because it gives it touch of extra flavor and the color against the white meat of the fish is just gorgeous! Enjoy!

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Get in touch with, or find out where to buy Gourmet Nut’s fantastic products by visiting them:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Gourmet Nut.  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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Cocomama Foods: The Easiest and Tastiest way to start your morning with Quinoa Cereal #Review

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Cocomama Foods was kind enough to send me a sampler pack, which featured their 4 different varieties of Quinoa cereal. I indulge in the morning and usually want to start with a nice energy filled meal. Getting anything at the store that comes from a box may energize a hummingbird with the amounts of sugar added, however I can’t flap that fast. I’m seeking energy that lasts so I can keep going at a normal pace and Cocomama Quinoa based cereals fit that perfectly.

Got milk? No worries, their pouch form servings are perfect and ready to eat. No need for a stove or even watts from a microwave. You can enjoy the cereal heated or at room temperature. I love the ease of customization because sometimes I want to add fruit and especially when I buy more strawberries than a family of 2 can eat. What can I say, the sales get to me and I have plans at the store that do not always come to fruition at home. I also love the no excuses approach to starting your day in a more healthier way. You seriously can grab a spoon and eat from the pouch on the go, or be a little more civilized if you did not hit the snooze button twice that morning and enjoy it in a bowl, warmed up with a drizzle of honey and fresh fruit.

Cocomama has a Quinoa Cereal to satisfy any craving and avoid breakfast boredom:

  • Honey Almond
  • Banana Cinnamon
  • Wild Bluberry
  • Orange Cranberry

 

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Each flavor has real fruit and the shortest ingredient list I have seen in a pre-packaged cereal. You have water and coconut cream that creates the perfect base, followed by organic quinoa, a touch of sea salt and then whatever the variety is. For example, the Banana Cinnamon flavor has the aforementioned and then maple syrup, banana puree, natural flavors and cinnamon…….told you Cocomama is real food with no codes and abbreviations for stuff you hope you are guessing right when it comes to ingredients. I tried finding a simple cereal like this and could not at my local market. I would have to make it from scratch!  All cereals are dairy free, soy free, gluten free, all natural, vegetarian friendly, great source of protein and fiber and let’s not overlook the 9 essential amino acids you get in every serving.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Wild Blueberry– This is the happiest blue colored bowl that puts a smile on your face. Made with wild blueberry powder, there is no hunting for blueberries to taste them! You get a blueberry burst of flavor and the smell immiting from the bowl is intense as well. If you want to pretend you are in a blueberry patch minus the thorns from picking them, this is the bowl for you. I enjoyed a nice “patriotic bowl” by adding fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries, plus some yogurt chips. One filling pouch is just 220 calories, which deliver 4 grams of protein, 8% of your daily value of Vitamin C and Iron, plus 4% of Calcium.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Honey Almond I always craved the maple and brown sugar oatmeal that was pictured on the box but my oatmeal never looked like the picture or even satisfied my taste buds. If you seek that flavor, this is the variety for you! You have sweet delicious honey and a small hint of Almond. Want more almond? Add them and I have but this base is better than any oatmeal you can make and that is even if you opted for milk versus water. This version also has kaniwa, a ancient super grain/super food that is less bitter and resembles almost red quinoa. Think of a naked quinoa grain because kaniwa is missing the saponins, the outter coating you find on quinoa. It has a more mild flavor but still that great texture. That is another thing you will enjoy, like pasta, grains must be rinsed and cooked properly to achieve the best texture we all seek and Cocomama does just that. A Honey Almond bowl is only 240 calories and you get 5 grams of protein per serving, 8% of your daily value of Iron and 2% of Calcium.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Banana Cinnamon– I love bananas and especially bread but only myself and the dog eats them, so I rarely make banana anything. Now I can have my “nanner” fix and be happy. Want a super banana taste? Use a fork and mash a small banana and then nicely fold in this Cocomama cereal and heat for 25 seconds in a microwave…….the smell alone is insanely good but wait for it to cool before taking a bite. My taste-buds took control of my brain one morning and they got the best of me or to be more exact, my tongue. The wait will be worth it and you will be in what I call “nanner heaven”. I also seek a more mild cinnamon spice flavor, so this made the bowl perfection for me……think of a deconstructed banana bread slice.

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  • Cocomama Quinoa Cereal in Orange Cranberry– I wish this combination of flavors was more popular than just during the holidays. I can find even cranberry sauce and muffins during December but then the party is over, the year flips and I see no Cran-Orange anything. Now I can party all year because whoever said this is just a Winter treat knows nothing! You have moist cranberries floating in sea of orange juice plumped quinoa. Again, every bite delivers the flavor and the scent is just citrus-y and happy. I was so excited when I saw this combo in the sampler pack because it’s what I seek to not get into that breakfast rut. I was naughty and added just a teaspoon of mini dark chocolate chips…….it’s like having an oatmeal cookie without those disappointing raisins. Oatmeal cookies should be made like this and trust me they would sell……..makes me wonder if adding a little rice flour and honey would probably make this pouch into one pretty yummy cookie (hint, hint).
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Bowl filled with Cocomama’s Banana Cinnamon Quinoa Cereal

As if Cocomama Foods needed to add more to their breakfast or late night meal arsenal, they have come out with a brand-new product…..Crunched Out! I can’t wait to try it and from the pictures below, you can see something like Fudgy Chocolate and I see a Vanilla Nut flavor and yes, I would even put it on my coconut sorbet….eating good sometimes makes me feel guilty because for some, eating good is seen as a punishment. Well, you are not doing it right then! Eating good is full of flavor and I eat everything but it’s just real and natural, with a mix of organic even. Real food delivers the entire fruit, grain……what gives your body energy and fuel to run on. Start your morning with Cocomama and your body will be running on happy!

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Check out Crunched Out:

  • Support Cocomama on Kickstarter- https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cocomamafoods/get-crunched-out

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Stay tuned for the Crunched Out reviews and I will be releasing the crunch monster in me, it’s sort of like the kraken but I’m friendlier 🙂

Get you Cocomama fix at:

  • On-line- https://www.cocomamafoods.com/
  • Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/CocomamaFoods
  • Twitter- https://twitter.com/cocomamafoods
  • Linkedin- http://www.linkedin.com/company/cocomama-foods?trk=fc_badge
  • Blog- https://www.cocomamafoods.com/blog/

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I received the above product free of charge from Cocomama.  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.

 

 

 

Rumiano Cheese: Organic Sharp Cheddar #Review and #Recipe; Mezzi Rigatoni with Pancetta and Peas

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This is a cheesy house. Wait, let me clarify that. We love cheese here. Good cheese. Made with good things. By people who know cheese. So it’s with great pride I introduce The Rumiano Cheese family, who has been making cheeses since 1921. I decided to pitch this family-owned company not only because we love cheese, but they are also in my home state of California, but because we love, love and love cheese 🙂 .  Did I mention we love cheese? We have a drawer in the fridge that easily carries 15 different cheese varieties at any given time. I believe there is a cheese for every occasion and even cheese to celebrate with when you find a new cheese. See, I can make any excuse to have cheese. I love it but you would think I consume large quantities of cheese because of the large selection we have, I personally don’t. I found that a good cheese will satisfy you in small doses . It’s quality versus quantity.

Rumiano’s Organic line is:

  • Non-GMO verified
  • USDA Organic
  • Cows that are grass fed
  • Global Culture certified Organic
  • Made in Northern California using the finest ingredients and are also American Humane Association certified

 

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In comes the Rumiano cheeses. I hunted for their smoked mozzarella and wanted to share a recipe that featured two of their cheeses but it’s currently on order with the dairy guy at my local Sprout’s market. I decided to just jump in and make a dish using just one cheese, their Organic Sharp Cheddar. I went in thinking the dish will need some pizzazz, since using just one variety is so not me but…….this is the best sharp cheddar I have tasted! It tastes clean and it’s not just because it’s Organic, but the recipe and aging it’s in a class all it’s own. You get that bite that sharp cheddar has but this one is smooth til the end with no sour tang left behind. A cheese that can stand on it’s own. I proceeded with the dish that I decided to make on Easter Sunday. I do this quite often, where I come up with an idea and attempt to make it on the day of and try not to stress. The only thing that saves my hide is using quality products and I can say that Rumiano will be my go to for Sharp Cheddar as of now. No oily residue when I was making a bechamel sauce, a sauce that tells on you if used poor ingredients. I can easily say this is the best 1-cheese sauce I have made and I thank the Rumiano family for helping me come through for mine.

Get your apron and even a chef hat on but don’t get comfortable because this is a quick and easy recipe. This is a recipe that yields 2 ramekin servings, can be used as a appetizer or a side dish.  Double it or quadruple it if needed.

Let’s Begin…….

Mezzi Rigatoni with Pancetta and Peas, in a Rumiano Sharp Cheddar Cheese sauce

  • 2 Ramekins (single serving) and greased (I went with butter but a spray oil is fine)
  • 20 to 22 Mezzi Rigatoni pasta shells
  • 20 to 22 Frozen Peas
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce of Pancetta (small cubes)
  • 1/4 ounce of Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 ounce of Salted Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Milk
  • 2 teaspoons of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ounce of Rumiano’s Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded), plus a little more for topping
  • 1 Slice of White Bread
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • Dash of Nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Begin by filling your ramekins with the dry (uncooked) Mezzi Rigatoni pasta shells. I fit approximately 10 to 12 (allow for expansion) to each ramekin. I boil 24 shells just in case one wants to be naughty and split. Cook pasta about 1/2 way through, drain, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Grease ramekins and stand your shells, so they may each be filled with one frozen pea.

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In a separate pot, heat the milk until just warm (do not boil)

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I use a frying pan and cook the pancetta and onion.

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I do not drain the oil when it’s done because I then add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour to create a roux.

The roux takes less than a 1 minute to make. You will smell the nutty tones the flour gives when cooking and bubbling. You will then notice a color change and we are going for golden in color and not too deep in tone. Then slowly pour in the milk. I usually get a whisk and begin pouring the milk, whisking and then pouring the rest. This helps temper the milk and you will get no flash heat or mess.

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Continue whisking until the bechamel sauce is made. You test this by using a spoon and dipping it into the sauce. If the coat left is thin, continue whisking until it thickens but never allow the sauce to boil.

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Take the pan away from the heat and add your seasonings. You can change to fresh herbs but I like the Herbes the Provence mix because I feel the lavender gives the sauce a beautiful taste. Add the cheese and stir.

Pour the sauce over your pasta.

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Take a cookie/biscuit cutter and one slice of bread should be enough to yield two circles for toppers. Add the bread toppers and sprinkle some more of the shredded Rumiano Sharp Cheddar cheese.

 

I then give each ramekin a dash of freshly grated nutmeg and into the oven it goes.

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Baking takes a total of 15 to 20 minutes and you cover with foil for the first half.

Take the ramekins out and serve with dinner or you can serve these as appetizers.

You can make everything the evening ahead and then just bake when needed the following day, just adjust the time as the ramekins will be cold from the fridge.

Great tasting and perfectly creamy! Enjoy!

Find all the cheese and butters Rumiano carries at:

  • On-line– http://www.rumianocheese.com/
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/rumianocheese
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/RumianoCheese
  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/rumianocheese/
  • YouTube– http://www.youtube.com/user/RumianoCheese

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I received the above product free of charge from Rumiano.  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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BzzAgent: Fiber One Protein Cereal in Cranberry Almond #Review

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I drink Cranberry juice on a daily bases and use the fresh fruit in baked goods even when it’s not the Winter season. Cranberry in dried fruit form is something I enjoy by itself, on salads to even mixing what I call a “snack cup”, with whole raw almonds and even sometimes a few peanut butter chips.

When I saw the second flavor in the box was Cranberry Almond….I felt this mix was made for me. That evening I took 1/2 a cup of yogurt and mixed in some cranberry preserves, so it could sit overnight and have that Cranberry punch I desire. I woke up the next morning and then just added a 1/4 cup of the Fiber One Protein cereal and it was perfect!

Fiber One’s Protein cereals are made with sweetened granola so it goes beyond just the flakes. You get 10 grams of protein in every serving and this is a value with the addition of milk. The Cranberry Almond version has dried cranberries and small almond pieces. You also get 20% of your daily fiber intake.

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Nutritional Facts:
220 calories per one cup serving and it goes up to 260 with skim milk. You have whole grain oats, crisp rice and soy protein isolate to Corn Bran and Puffed Wheat. Lower in sodium than the Maple Sugar version, at 140 mg of Sodium and 16 grams of sugar. I found several undesirable ingredients like Caramel coloring and Corn Syrup listed and below is the link for you to review.

  • Full Nutrition Index Link-

http://www.fiberone.com/products/cereal/fiber-one-protein-cranberry-almond

Cranberry Taste Test:
I did find the Cranberries are not as bountiful and when you catch one, it is very sweet but still good when it comes to moisture. I barely picked up the Almond pieces and chunks in the mix. I did find when I added more of the dried fruit and some whole raw almonds to the cereal, it was then to my satisfaction and again the additions help mellow out the sweetness. Since the cranberries were super sweet as was the cereal, I did not eat this box with milk but with plain yogurt. I even had some with frozen vanilla flavored yogurt in one of our many non-winter days we have been enjoying in California. I thought this mix would be my favorite but because it lacked in quantities of fruit and nuts listed, I tended to be left with a sweet mix that tasted more like brown sugar coated cereal. I also noticed as I reached the bottom of the box, the cereal was finer and more crushed, so the texture was not as crunchy as the Maple Brown Sugar variety……almost mealy.   I don’t think this is a bad variation but I will just stick to adding cranberries and whole almonds to the Maple Brown Sugar & Pecan version for a bowl that is more to my liking 🙂

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If you would like to visit Fiber One’s Protein Cereals, please visit:

I received the above product free of charge from BzzAgent & Fiber One. 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. #GotItFree

BzzAgent: Fiber One Protein Cereal in Maple Brown Sugar #Review

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I love Maple Brown sugar flavored treats from cereals, bars to even a bowl of oatmeal, so when BzzAgent and Fiber One had this campaign……well, I was hoping to get in and so happy I did.

I still eat cereal regularly but not always with milk. I go with my cravings and love switching it up from Coconut milk, Almond milk to just regular old fashioned….well, cow milk. There are times I even mix milks just because I can! Other times I use cereals as my “granola imitation” combined with yogurts and dried fruits. It’s like eating a delicious but healthy parfait.

Fiber One’s Protein cereals are made with sweetened granola so it goes beyond just the flakes. You get 10 grams of protein in every serving and this is a value with the addition of milk. The Maple Brown sugar version has Pecans, so you get a nice crunch and the nuts were fair in size. You also get 20% of your daily fiber intake.

Nutritional Facts:
220 calories per one cup serving and it goes up to 260 with skim milk. You have whole grain oats, crisp rice and soy protein isolate to Corn Bran and Puffed Wheat. 150 mg of Sodium and 16 grams of sugar. I found several undesirable ingredients like Caramel coloring and Corn Syrup listed and below is the link for you to review.

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Maple Brown Sugar Taste Test:
I found the texture nice on it’s own but did find it more on the sugar sweet side than the Maple side. The bites that contained pecans helped to mellow out the sweetness. When added with milks, I did notice it did not play well with my Vanilla flavored Almond Milk, so I stuck to plain. I found it was better with yogurt because of the crunch and the yogurt tends to dilute the sweetness. I usually just purchase a large container of plain greek yogurt that lasts a little under a week, so making this mix was great. I added almonds on certain days and on others even added a banana with flax seeds. I did enjoy the cereal and  how versatile the it can be, just wish it was a touch less sweet but it’s nothing you can’t fix!

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If you would like to visit Fiber One’s Protein Cereals, please visit:

I received the above product free of charge from BzzAgent & Fiber One. 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. #GotItFree

BzzAgent: Kroger/ Ralph’s Meals Fresh House Salad with Bacon Kit

Located with the bagged salads at your local Ralph’s, you will find a variety available from Caesar’s Salad both “lite’ and original but I went for the one with Bacon. The salad kit comes with everything you need except a fork! You get a generous ranch dressing packet, a shredded cheddar cheese packet and bacon. They even included little croutons to compliment the side or you can make this a meal.

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Overall Taste and Texture:
I was at the store when the salads were being stocked and all that was available was the Caesar Lite version and the House Salad with Bacon. Even though a brand-new box with the salad kits were being stocked, you could see that the kits experienced some temperature fluctuations because the lettuce and greens were sweaty and even limp. I picked the best bag I could find to go with my dinner. The employee was very nice and even went to check for “better bags” and other kits but this was all that was available.

Upon opening the salad kit at home, I noticed my fears were confirmed because the lettuce had an off smell so I washed it even though the bag stated triple washed on it. Once washed, the greens came back to life in the cold water and I then used a salad spinner to make sure everything was dry enough for assembly. A few leaves did have to go in the trash because they just had gone bad. Not exactly open, mix and serve but worth the process to make sure I got the crispest and cleanest lettuce. The cheese had a little too much corn/potato starch, which is used to keep the shreds separate so I skipped on adding it and left it for Hubby’s baked potato. The bacon was not crisp but I placed it in a cup and gave it a 10 second zap in the microwave, that fixed that right up and it smelled delicious. The dressing is a little on the sweet side so I went light with it and also added sliced cucumbers and tomatoes to my salad.

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The overall taste and serving portion is great if you are in a hurry but I would not consider this a prime quality product. I think it’ may be my not so local Ralph’s store that may not be keeping things as they should because the salad’s greens could have been much better. I get better quality from a cheaper head of lettuce and the price tag does not justify the not convenient process I got out of this bag. In theory, the product should have been easier and better than the final results. I can say the croutons were crisp and more flavorful in taste than the dressing. Again when it comes to bread, Ralph’s does very well!

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I received the above product free of charge from BzzAgent and Ralph’s. I am not obligated in providing a positive/favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

BzzAgent: Kroger/ Ralph’s Classic Garlic Bread

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Located in the Fresh Bakery section of your local Ralph’s grocery store, you will find a french style loaf that is packaged in a foil covered bag. The loaf is large enough for a family to enjoy with two meals! Very easy to warm up in your oven and it’s ready to go with no preparation needed. Neat.

Overall Taste and Texture:
I liked the bread itself as it had a wonderful crust and was light and fluffy towards the center. The spread is suppose to resemble a garlic one, however I did not smell much garlic when I checked out the loaf before baking. I smelled oils and what you would describe a very light garlic-ey scent that seemed more like what you find in seasonings (powdered). After heating, I sliced the bread and again did not detect a rich smell that makes you almost drool when you have garlic bread in front of you. I usually sneak a bite in before serving but the spread was so fluorescent yellow in coloring, that it did not pique my appetite. When I lifted the top portion from the bottom, I noticed the “butter” was more oil than anything…..maybe it’s a margarine? I felt the spread sort of was a negative compared to how the bread itself is. I would definitely purchase a loaf of bread to go with a meal but I am sticking to plain on this one!

I received the above product free of charge from BzzAgent and Ralph’s.  I am not obligated in providing a positive/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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