FreshJax: Set of 5 Gourmet Handcrafted Spices (Grilling Spices) #Review #FreshJaxSpices

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One of the delights of Summer, is the grilling weather. Being in California, this means that we grill most parts of the year and even during Winter. If it’s raining we can easily bring the grill under the tall awning from the patio, so again no limitations. Finding spices and especially blends is something I must admit I do not usually purchase. I have a large array of individual spices, dried herbs, chilies, in powdered to granulated, and even whole form. I just avoid blends because I found early on, they were just mostly blended products with 75% being salts or sugars. Not my kind of thing, so when FreshJax reached out and I looked into the company…..well, I gave them a try.

FreshJax is a family owned company and they started their company in 2011. They advertised something I use commonly, being “clean” about what you make. This is not just limited to sanitary conditions, but to using real products, no fillers and having pride in what you make. You got to love cooking to a certain degree to make things work and one thing FreshJax loves, is their spice mixes!

 

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I selected the Grilling Spices because the selection looked like one I can actually use. Like all 5 bottles sounded like great mixes and close to ingredients we use on a weekly basis, but I am always looking how people add their own twist to ingredients I use. The grilling mix comes with:

  • GRILL MASTER: Think about an all purpose blend and this mix is it. It goes well with any protein to vegetables and seafood. Serves all well with herbs like organic fennel, garlic, rosemary and smoked black peppercorns. I use smoked salts on almost a daily basis but the smoked peppercorns really made this mix unique and addicting.
  • SMOKEY SOUTHWEST: Not just spice but flavor! This one was great to add to beans and even inside a quesadilla. It made every cheesy quesadilla amazing with just one sprinkle of this blend. You have smoked salts and pepper, to cumin to give it that recognizable Tex-Mex kick.
  • CITRUS PEPPER: I have a lemon pepper blend I use and it’s also made with organic herbs and spices. FreshJax, laughed at my lemon pepper blend! This bottle is a citrus bonanza when it comes to flavor. You have a blend here of lemon, orange, lime with a zest you get from white peppercorns. They also use a pepper medley blend, which means you get the red and even the green that tend to be milder in flavor. A great combination and perfect for vegetables and I made a Citrus Pepper compound butter for salmon that was grilled on planks and oh my, just delicious!
  • FRESH BAY: There is a reason the other is called “Old” Bay. This mix revamps the old by using organic mace, cardamon, mustard seeds to your familiar celery seed and bay leaves. I found even cinnamon in this blend but I could not taste it. Like not one ingredient fought with each other, so it’s a peaceful bay ūüôā that will play well with shrimps to even chicken.
  • PEPPERED HABANERO: I was afraid this one would just mimic the Smokey Southwest but thankfully this one was totally different. You get heat and I find habanero peppers not only provide heat but more flavor than a jalapeno. I don’t find the pepper to be crazy hot. This blend is peppery and you get a zing but again FreshJax delivers taste. They also blended in Bird’s Eye Chili, which is an Asian variety. I love that this one plays well with braised beef because you don’t have to always taco everything! When I braised the beef, it was ready in 1 hour and the tortillas were on the side to help scoop up the peppery sauce this blend created!

 

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Final Verdict:

I recall now what ease it is to pick-up a bottle and go! I kind of forgot that when I am so use to getting out the items I need to grind peppercorns, seeds, and pods, to then mixing in dry herbs, spices and salts. FreshJax, made this a positive experience just from one simple bottle with no clean-up needed. Easy and I was not cheating the dishes I made either. Flavor was present and I still had to salt some a little bit because these seasonings add taste, not just pickle the meats and vegetables you add them to. The herbs and spices are fresh and you not only see them on the meats you rubbed them on, marinated with but even the vegetables I used the spices on were well received.

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Connect with FreshJax at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from FreshJax. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Social Nature: Kim’s Simple Meals, Organic and Gluten-Free Homestyle Burger #Review

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I celebrate Meatless Mondays, so I am always seeking out meat alternatives being that I do enjoy meat on other days. My goal is always to get 3 days out of the week where my protein source comes from anything else but an animal. This means I have had many hits and sadly many misses. My Husband is a carnivore and there is no bringing him to the lighter side of meatless meals, so I need something that is easy to prepare while I am making two different dinners in one evening. I am all for working and cooking, if the product delivers in texture and taste,

I had seen Kim’s Simple Meals at my local Sprout’s Farmers Market, but it seems the stock never moved. The boxes even began to gather dust, so when I received the invite to try the first of two, of the Kim’s Simple Meals…..I must admit my feelings were mixed. I looked at reviews and Amazon had a 50/50 ratio when it came to positive versus negative reviews. It took a while to get the coupon for the free product, and in that time Amazon dropped all the products and just carried the Breakfast Sausage from Kim’s Simple Meals. Sprout’s continued to support the brand and when the coupon arrived, finding it was a cinch.

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Kim’s Simple Meals differs from other products like it. So many use soy protein heavily and artificial boosters to gather a protein number worthy of advertising. Kim’s Simple Meals are Gluten-Free and Vegan Friendly, so no animal anything in this. Ingredients are also Organic, Kosher and Non-GMO friendly. Then there is other factors like these burgers being Dairy-Free. Lot’s of “free from” products and I worried if this meant free from flavor or even texture. The box states burger, so I expect a burger-like product.

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Ingredients: Oats*, garbanzo bean flour*, flax seed*, yeast flakes* (yeast autolysate* with rice flour* and sea salt), sea salt, tamari powder* [(soybeans*, salt), maltodextrin*, and salt], garlic powder*, spices*, onion powder*, dutched cocoa powder*, tomato powder*, natural smoked torula yeast, natural hickory smoke flavor [potato maltodextrin, natural hickory smoke flavoring, hydrated silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent). *Organic  .  Soy ingredients is listed and I noticed it comes from the Tamari Powder.

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Verdict:
As you can see, this is not a soy filled product that can sometimes cause bloat and discomfort. Yes, you fill full but also uncomfortable. You have oats and a bean as a source of protein listed first. Next, comes other ingredients to even cocoa powder! Everything is familiar and real when it comes to the ingredients I recognize. The idea is just to hydrate the product and then make your burgers. Pretty simple. I notice water was listed and you can add ingredients to both add flavor and texture to the product. The biggest complaints I saw when it came to other reviews, was the lack of flavor and to the product being high in oats. Upon opening the box, I do agree the oats visible is higher than I desire. The video on Kim’s Simple Meals website, shows burgers being made with mushrooms, plus onions and other ingredients. You can even add walnuts it states. Barbecue sauce was another addition I saw too. So, I began to look at Kim’s Simple Meals as “starter meals”. I am not new to this method and think of quick bread boxes to even “starter sauces” you pick-up at the store. Same idea. I added red and green bell peppers, red and yellow onion, plus a medley of mushrooms. I even grated some carrots, added Edamame and I went more with an Asian style base versus an American style Burger. For me, the mix was already very far away from a Veggie Burger you get at the store or are familiar with, so why push the product into something it does not even resemble? I added a soy sauce and miso mix to create a hydrating base (water) that would not only plump the ingredients, but also add flavor. Everything was sauteed first and I then lastly added the Home-style Burger base from Kim’s Simple Meals. Okay, it smelled pleasant. I opted for small meatballs in the oven that I basted with Soy Vay, a marinade/stir fry sauce mixed with sesame oil. The house quickly filled with these smell of these Asian style meatballs and it smelled good. I basted a total of 3 times and this made the meatball move around, so it created a nice round shape versus a one-sided flat meatball. The oil allowed for a crisp exterior to build up when it was baking, and using the convection mode and baking on parchment paper, made the cooking process an easy clean up. The taste test? Well, they tasted very good and have a meaty/oatsy texture. I could not imagine using the box’s contents as-is. Like no way! It’s workable but I have to be frank, this was a boxed meal that I fixed up and these are ingredients I always have in hand, so it’s a great way to use up perishables but I am unsure if I would seek Kim’s Simple Meals burger box again. I found myself not craving it and I consider that a test when it comes liking a product. Yes, I made it work but should a product be worked up so much that it no longer resembles it’s beginning….because in the first place you read it never would? Probably not. It’s a start like I said and it’s a meal from a box that is better ingredient wise than others, but not exactly a yummy Home-style burger like it says on the box.

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.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Daiya Foods: Daiya Deliciously Dairy Free Pizzas #Review #DaiyaPizzas

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Even if we are a household without dietary restrictions, I still like to mix things up a bit. Eating the same way is just utterly boring no matter how good the food can be. To not get in a meal rut means I need to introduce new foods and start weeding out the things we want to take a break from.

Daiya Foods Pizzas, is a leap of many kinds for us. For one, we rarely eat frozen prepared meals and/or side dishes. I do freeze meats in raw form and that is as frozen as we get, along with frozen veggies and fruits. You just can’t grab something from the freezer and nuke it……yeah, that comes back and bites me, so I made some tamales and the such for those days I want to actually use the microwave beyond just softening butter in it. Secondly, I have tried gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, to meatless but never really ventured into non-dairy, unless it’s a fruit based gelato or some kind of sweet treat. This means Daiya foods is eating a way for us that is entirely new because it’s taking everything we have tried before, but all in one dish and at the same time. I’m game!

I was offered to try out the pizzas and no one had ever tried anything from Daiya Foods, except for a faux cream cheese style spread. Some of my group admitted to seeing the cheezes in the dairy alternative aisle at Sprout’s, but never actually tried it. Okay, this is now an entire new experience for us all.

Daiya Foods makes 6 Pizzas to choose from and they all sound delicious and tempting:

  • Supreme¬†Pizza, which includes a meatless sausage topping from Beyond Meat
  • Pizza Bianca¬†Pizza, featuring a white bean sauce that has mushrooms and spinach toppings
  • Cheeze Lover’s¬†Pizza, a simpler non-topping pizza, which features Daiya’s version of cheezes, like Mozzarella and Cheddar
  • Margherita Pizza, a traditional twist on a classic and comes with tomato chunks and basil
  • Fire-Roasted Vegetables Pizza, Daiya did not skimp and you have three bell pepper varieties, onions, garlic, tomatoes and even a dash of basil
  • Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza, even when it comes to mushrooms, Daiya makes sure you get something beyond the button kind. ¬†You have shiitake and crimini in a blanket of roasted garlic and all nestled on their tomato sauce

I purchased two of the selections available, the Supreme and the Fire-Roasted Vegetable to try out. ¬†This was what was available at Sprout’s and they were redoing that section when I was shopping and I grabbed the ones that looked more tempting. ¬†I grabbed to of the veggies kind and one of the supreme. ¬†First, one up to cook and see how well it is received is the Fire-Roasted Vegetable:

The pizza was easy to cook and even though the instructions stated to cook directly on the rack, I just got a new range and it’s less than a week old. ¬†A few of the cheeze shreds were dangling off the crust, which I like when eating but not when cooking, so I opted to cook the pizza on my pizza stone just like I would any pizza.

The pizza was cooked and ready in 13.5 minutes!  You have the option to use the standard bake and convection instructions were listed, so I went with that cooking option.

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Verdict:

By the seven minute mark, you could smell the vegetables and they smell as good as they look. ¬†Daiya did not skimp on toppings and that is always a plus in our book. ¬†The crust is crisp and upon slicing, you hear it cut just like a normal pizza crust would. ¬†The dough has a darker tint that can be described as almost wheat-like in color. ¬†It also tastes like a wheat crust but a good one! ¬†Daiya nailed it when it came to how the crust tasted, broke apart when eaten and this made the eating of the pizza enjoyable. ¬†The vegetables are out of this world. ¬†We all agreed the freshness and texture makes you wish Daiya sold the veggies by the bagful. ¬†They are roasted but not soft and a mushy mess from being frozen. ¬†There is still texture and they are so good, plus the tang you get from the tomato sauce provides a nice balance of flavors. ¬†The sauce is light and not super sweet, you just taste fresh tomatoes and a touch of basil. ¬†Now, the only small negative is the cheeze. ¬†The browned portions we all agreed tasted better than the whiter ones, so toasted on top is the way to cook the pizza if you desire this flavor profile. ¬†The cheese does not melt and or string apart like normal dairy versions, it’s almost a little too soft in texture and one guest felt it was like sour cream in taste. ¬†I did not feel the sour notes were present but I can see where the comparison in texture can be made. ¬†This was the only downer but because the crust and everything else was top-notch, it would not prevent me from buying it. ¬†It’s a pizza that I would say has that “rustic” taste but think of it more as a flat-bread pizza with superb toppings and cooks in 15 minutes or less!

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The other positive is that 2 pizzas and I had boneless chicken wings to pair with it, filled us! ¬†I still had dessert to serve and when it came to putting the third pizza in the oven (The Supreme), we were full. ¬†I thought that is a good thing because 8 people were fed very well and we were satisfied with what we ate, so we opted to give the third pizza to the guest that is always late. ¬†She also brought a third extra guest, so she could enjoy the pizza for dinner (versus lunch) when she got home. ¬†Okay, I’m thinking if I give free meals away, people will start showing up late now ūüôā I’m also eye-ing those cheezecakes they sell and they have a Key Lime one……oh’ yummers!

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Connect with Daiya Foods and enjoy their products at:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heck That’s Hot: Monthly Subscription Box #Review

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We always enjoy subscription boxes because they introduce us to new brands and even new foods. Like with gift baskets, I find most subscription boxes have more down time where maybe 1 to 2 items are fabulous and the others are duds. You then have companies, which add so much little filler that getting a real sized item is impossible.

Not with Heck That’s Hot!

I love spice and can tolerate heat very well. My only caveat is that the heat better bring some flavor and make the food worthy of eating. Empty calories to me, also means eating something that is not great but you are eating it to make whatever you spent on it not be wasted. I can state that Heck That’s Hot provided a box filled with items that were full sized and the individual size (i.e. one serving) products were included in multiples. Yup, you are not trying to share a one-bite chocolate piece between a family of four! Some of the products I was familiar with when it came to the manufactures like Lindt chocolates. I also liked that there was care in packaging. The parcel was double boxed and the items were safely packed. Even the chips were not a mess and that also means care is shown and you not only want that when a box is being sent to you, but it’s something I seek when I give boxes as a gift. Heck That’s Hot will not make you look poorly in that aspect either and I like that they take pride and care in how they handle products. ¬†Hey, I got chocolate sent that was not even melted and I reside in California!

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Now, Let’s See what you Get:

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The Better Chip in Jalapeno Flavor-

This a company I have seen and heard of but never actually tasted their products. ¬†The chips are made with real ingredients making them simple but so tasty. ¬†You see real jalapeno pieces and these are not green little flecks. ¬†I’m talking about diced jalapeno that is mixed into corn masa, which is used to make these delicious round shaped chips. ¬†They deliver heat and crunch, plus they are not a salty mess. ¬†What’s not to love?

 

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Van Holten’s Hot Mama Pickle-

This item made us laugh when we saw it. ¬†It’s a large size pickle and not your everyday product, so I love that Heck That’s Hot included it. ¬†I love firecrackers and this pickle is like the big version of them. ¬†We refrigerated the pickle and I first took a slice to see how it tasted and it was a pleasing flavor, you get that pucker power from the brine but the spice is good tasting. ¬†The pickle also has a good texture and crunch! ¬†You get a heat that is zesty but not over the top. ¬†I made a spread for burgers using the pickle (diced). ¬†Very simple with Mayo, Chipotle powder, and the Hot Mama Pickle. ¬†I even have 1/2 left to enjoy as-is or in another recipe. ¬†I’m thinking this one would wake up any tater’ salad.

 

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Lindt Chocolate Squares in Chili Flavor-

Okay, I have had these little squares in what I thought was every flavor…..I was wrong. ¬†The base is dark chocolate and chili extract. ¬†I have had spiced hot chocolate drinks and even Mexican chocolates but these are nothing like that. ¬†The chocolate used is velvety smooth and because it’s dark, it has sharp notes¬†but the chili pepper is not in flake form or anything grainy within the square itself. ¬†Just smoothness and the spice is almost pepper (as in peppercorn) and it just intensifies the cocoa notes. ¬†That is all. ¬†It’s sort of like a play of salt on chocolate and what that does to your taste buds. ¬†I really enjoyed it and will seek this chocolate out due to the intense flavor it delivered!

 

I always look at boxes and their worth is also measured by what I can make with them and this item along with the following two, I was able to create a meal and still have left-overs. ¬†That is what makes a subscription box worth it to me and Heck That’s Hot provided quality products that go beyond just a few dips with a chip, put jar in the fridge to just throw it out 2 weeks later. ¬†We actually enjoyed cooking with what was provided in the box!

 

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Julia’s Sassy Dip Mix in Chipotle Seasoning-

It’s a dip, a mix to even a spice packet. ¬†The seasonings provide a base that can be used in sauces, combined with meats to even making spreads. ¬†This allows me to use the product more than once and that is more bang for your buck! ¬†I found blue corn taco shells that just again was adding something new to the everyday rotation. ¬†We have had blue corn chips but never taco shells, and it’s hard finding something not enhanced with dyes, so you bet I grabbed them when it was just simple blue corn. ¬†I had fresh ground chicken and beef in the fridge, so I made Tacos using Julia’s Sassy Dip mix. ¬†I tasted the seasoning and it was a little sweeter than I desired, so I just added more chipotle flakes and powder. ¬†Some red Anaheim Chilies, onion and you simply brown each meat in a separate pan. ¬†That simple. ¬†I love how easy it was to make!

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Habanero Pepper Salsa From Hell in Beyond Hot- 

I prepared myself and I love Habanero to the point I use the actual pepper to make a Habanero Rice. ¬†Everyone thinks the orange little pepper is just an innocent sweet pepper and then it just hits you. ¬†Habaneros have great flavor and are very versatile when cooking. ¬†I got tired (bored really) of jalapenos that tasted so mild anymore because it’s hard to find spicy jalapenos. ¬†We opened the jar and it smelled spicy, like it kicked my nostrils with the heat but once the jar was opened for over a minute, the intensity in smell went away. ¬†We tasted and the base is very tomato-y like sort of the notes you get from a jar of canned plum tomatoes and paste. ¬†Then comes the vinegar and then the slight heat. ¬†The salsa has flavor but not intense in Habanero, so it’s workable. ¬†I worked it into some rice and it was perfection because my Husband did feel the vinegar was more intense than the heat. ¬†A 1/4 cup of the salsa I added to the water, after frying the rice with veggies and chilies and 22 minutes later…..Spanish rice that has some heat but pairs perfectly and does not overpower the dish.

 

 

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Bravado Spice Co. Ghost Pepper and Blueberry Hot Sauce-

I know…..what! ¬†I thought the same when I saw this sauce but I’m always open to tasting new foods. ¬†I checked out the ingredients and you have Blueberry, Raspberry, Vinegar, the Ghost Pepper and then just salt and pepper. ¬†That is all! ¬†I start thinking how people mix pineapple with pork, and then add heat via chilies. ¬†I make and eat that, so why not give this a chance? ¬†First I tried the sauce on a chip and it’s hotter than the Habanero Salsa above. ¬†I love Ghost Pepper but feel the poor pepper is misused and mostly there for name than flavor. ¬†The Bravado Spice Co., did not leave the Ghost Pepper behind and did it justice by adding flavor. ¬†Think of the fruit as base, there for texture and to control the bitter notes peppers to even vinegar can give. ¬†It off-sets the heat just a bit and keeps everything in check. ¬†This sauce would be great to marinate shrimps with, like a ceviche. ¬†Great for a dressing in a Mexi-style salad but I think it shines best with lighter meats like poultry and fish. ¬†I’m thinking Tilapia tacos next time and I may even crust them with blue corn by just grinding the taco shells that came broken in the box (there is always 1 or 2 that never make it whole). ¬†Great sauce and I am open to trying that Pineapple one on a smoked pork butt sandwich. ¬†I added some to our chicken tacos this time!

 

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Ass Kickin’ Habanero Popcorn-

Yee-haw! ¬†I don’t usually eat popcorn from a microwave bag but that donkey is mocking me. ¬†I have not popped this baby yet but will be this weekend. ¬†It’s movie night, I got a free RedBox code, so I’m set. ¬†It’s even raining in California, so things could not be better. ¬†It’s Habanero and it takes the boring out of poppy corn any day.

 

Retail Price Point: They have two box sizes to choose from with the lowest $20 and then a larger $30 sized box. ¬†Shipping is always free, so you pay on a monthly basis the price above and that is all. ¬†You also have the freedom to cancel your subscription, so Heck That’s Hot is not your gimmicky company that has hidden charges or trying to bog you down with long term commitments.

 

Verdict:

Do I need one? ¬†I know I always add something here to see where I land on purchasing an item but this is a must try. ¬†Try a month, see what comes and see what you make. ¬†That is how I think of boxes of this kind work and why some of us love them and others don’t. ¬†I can say that there is enough in a box that makes the price point fair and then you think of weight and shipping, but wait that is included into the Heck That’s Hot price point. ¬†That is where I see the worth because it gets delivered to your home and the items are full sized and the ones that are portion sized is enough to share. ¬†No one gets left out, so you shouldn’t either and check-out a company that is bringing something different to the table.

Heck That’s Hot and their zesty connections at:

  • Wedsite
  • Facebook
  • Also, please make sure to check-out their FB page as they run contests for free gift cards, boxes, and so forth, all the time!!
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • #HeckThatsHot

 

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

 

Ozeri’s Artesio Soft Touch Electric Grinder and Mill #Review

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I cook. A lot. Hubby grills. A lot. One thing we both use in great quantities is black pepper. Whole peppercorns make for a robust, flavor profile with almost anything. One thing we both hate? Constant grinding. It’ll wear out your wrists and forearms quicker than you’d think. So when I got a chance to take Ozeri’s Artesio Soft Touch Electric Pepper Mill for a spin, I was thrilled. Let me tell, you, friend, it’s a good thing.

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Whether you want a powder fine grind for mashed potatoes, or a big, chunky grind for a grilled pork loin, Ozeri’s Artesio Pepper Mill has you covered. Thanks to the Infinitely adjustable ceramic grinding mechanism, the choice is yours. It is also covered in a non-slip, soft grip texture that means it’ll never slip through your fingers. Powered by 4 AA batteries (sadly, not included. Insert sad smiley here) it has enough power for peppercorns, spices or herbs, even dry sea salts. The clear reservoir holds plenty of anything and is perfect for keeping tabs on when you need a refill.

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One month in and we have yet to experience a single issue with Ozeri’s Artesio Grinder. No battery changes yet for us, and we’ve used it almost daily. But rest assured, Ozeri backs every product they sell with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. But, to be honest, I’ve had several Ozeri products, from food scales, blood pressure monitors, frothers and bathroom scales, I’ve yet to have a problem with a single product. Give Ozeri’s Artesio Soft Touch Electric Grinder a try. You’ll be happy you did.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

Tryazon: GEFU and Wheat Belly, Healthy-n-Lean 2015 Party Review #GEFU

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

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

I received these 4 GEFU kitchen tools to experience:

‚ÄĘ GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter¬†in action on YouTube; Spirelli product details via GEFU

‚ÄĘ GEFU¬†Julienne peeler, Striscia

‚ÄĘ GEFU Lemon Juicer

‚ÄĘ GEFU Julienne Peeler ASIA (new to the US)

Plus, a cookbook:

‚ÄĘ Wheat Belly 30-minute (or Less!) Cookbook

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

Connect with GEFU products at:

 

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

The Modern Table Meals: Delicious and Healthy meals made Easy #Review #ModernTableMeals

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I rarely cook out of a box or canned goods, and I consider that a good thing. If I need to open anything canned, it’s usually to make quick bean based side dishes, like black beans for Cuban meals, pinto for Mexican night, and so forth. I even making a kicking Italian salad with Quinoa, white kidney beans and garbanzos! I just try to make everything from scratch so I can control how much sodium, protein, to just avoiding preservatives and dyes when possible. Yes, it drives me crazy knowing I could sometimes really appreciate making a quick meal in 20 minutes or less and not have to dedicate the weekend to making meals for the week. I just tell myself….we are worth the hassle of eating better.

When I saw Modern Table Meals at Target, I just walked away and never thought about them again. It’s just another pasta dish with fake-o ingredients I thought to myself. The next week I saw them again and saw the bubble with the protein count listed (17 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, per serving!). I stopped. Again, thinking I know everything, I imagined some soy or whey protein mixed in with whole grains and more corn based products, to make a meal. Again, I was so wrong so before I dug this hole any deeper…..I decided to just read, absorb and see what Modern Table Meals is all about,

My parcel arrives with 4 beautiful bags, a bag to store everything in, a wooden spoon with some serious nice weight and quality, oh and coupons galore! I’m starting to love them even though I wrongly judged a book by it’s cover here (insert foot in mouth).

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Modern Table has 4 delicious Meals to satisfy every craving:

See, what makes the magic? Beans!! Legumes!! Whatever you call them, the **sparkle** of protein and real food comes from gorgeous pastas and noodles that are bean based.

I’m all for eating healthy and practice Meatless Mondays that get moved around during the week (rarely is it on an actual Monday), but the point is it takes place at least once a week and if not two. So, good only goes so far in my book. I eat kale but I like the flavor, so when kale became the “It Food to Eat”, I had to hit a few stores to find 2 great stalks because everyone was juicing and pulverizing the heck out of them. My point is, I have to enjoy the meal beyond the numbers and healthy is not a reason alone food should not taste spectacular.

I started by making the Mediterranean Green Lentil Rotini. I open the bag and notice the veggies are dehydrated but retained shape and their beautiful color. Best looking dehydrated green onion I ever saw! It was just perfect in shape (not just turned into green dust) that I found myself squeezing the veggies to see how they looked and felt. Yes, I’m “that girl” that touches the produce before bagging it and I admit I sniff Pineapple bottoms too! ūüôā

I read the instructions and everything is so easy to do. You just boil the bean pasta, whisk the sauces with water and/or oils, then toss and add the topping included. Everything in the bag contains no artificial colors or preservatives. Modern Table Meals took a shelf-stable product (i.e. beans) and just made it better and something a long time coming.

Cooking the Meal: ¬†As with everything, I made the product as instructed to see how it performs just out of the bag. ¬†I followed the directions and noticed that just 10 minutes had lapsed and I’m 75% done with cooking dinner. ¬†I felt like I forgot or missed something. ¬†You know like when you went out on a shopping trip and made it out of the store with good timing……yeah, I knew I forgot something. ¬†Retraced my steps and nope! ¬†This is too easy! ¬†Five minutes later and I try to make my insanity justifiable by noticing I forgot to cut open the topping bag (see, I did forget something). ¬†I top the dish and begin plating. ¬†I took out “insurance” on this meal by making it a side dish. ¬†I figured it’s better being safe than sorry and paired it with veggies and Naan Herb bread that I topped with left-over roasted chicken, goat cheese and an olive medley. ¬†It was Mediterranean enough and the chicken needed eating.

Taste Test: Just by the sniff-test, I am starting to regret having made other food but then sometimes things smell better than they taste. ¬†I taste the pesto sauce and I am already wanting to save some for later separately because it’s so good. ¬†I can believe I just added water to make this! ¬†Then comes tasting the pasta alone because if it tastes bad, I’m saving the sauce for another meal. ¬†I forgot the pasta was bean based because the texture is desirable. ¬†I expected a floppy noodle or one that just disintegrates into odd pieces even though you never bit. ¬†Not this guy! It tasted like a flavored pasta shape, sort of like it belonged with the three color pastas you find at the market. ¬†So far, so good! ¬†I toss everything and then sprinkle. ¬†I have a taste before serving because why dirty the dish if I won’t be eating it…….I serve myself more than what a side dish called for! ¬†I must admit at one point I mixed my veggies into the pasta because I wanted everything to have that wonderful flavor. ¬†The sauce tastes real and the package tells me there is all this good stuff and none of the bad, but this tastes real like in homemade fresh. ¬†It does not taste like anything I ever had out of a box. ¬†I tell myself that I was always right about Modern Table Meals because things out of box are horrible, but these come out of b-a-g! See, I was right all along ūüėČ

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I can’t wait to try and share all the other ones!

Connect with Modern Table Meals at:

 

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

 

Smiley360: Boursin¬ģ Cheese #Review #BoursinCheese

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Who doesn’t love cheese? I think everyone at least likes one type. In my house when we go grocery shopping, we need to narrow down what we have from the cheese aisle! We bake with cream cheeses, enjoy spreads on crackers, to just munching on them as they are. Goat cheeses to raw milk cheeses, we have tried and/or been gifted most. I was so thrilled when Smiley had the Boursin Cheese campaign because it was a perfect fit.

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Boursin Cheese has been making cheeses and spreads since 1957. Francois Boursin, created the first variety (fromage frais/fresh cheese), which was a cheese base that guests then customized by adding their own seasonings and herbs. You can imagine the varieties and blends created and why Boursin still continues to delight us with their cheeses. Boursin has now made things easier by pre-blending their herbs, spices, and seasonings for easier enjoyment.

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You have Boursin Cheeses and Boursin Gourmet Spreads made with a French-style cream cheeses to choose from:

Boursin Cheeses-

  • Original
  • Pepper
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Garlic and Fine Herbs
  • Shallot and Chive
  • Boursin Light
  • Cranberry & Spice (Seasonal flavor)
  • and many from fruit blends to savory ones too!

 

Boursin Gourmet Spreadable-

  • Garlic & Fine Herbs
  • Light Garlic & Fine Herbs
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Spinach & Artichoke
  • Sundried Tomato & Basil
  • Creamy Asiago & Roasted Red Pepper
  • Vermont White Cheddar & Sage
  • and many more with seasonal flavors too!

 

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There is something for everyone and one is sure to make your cheese platter pop. What I like best is that you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy Boursin cheeses, as we many times pick-up one or two versions to just enjoy before meals. ¬†Boursin cheeses are also made with simple ingredients and look for yourself at their ingredients list, you will be pleasantly surprised. ¬†Their new Creamy Asiago and Roasted Red Pepper spread captures that red bell pepper sweetness and spice, which goes so well with the nuttier notes from the Asiago cheese. ¬†The french style cream cheese base has a nice tang that just makes everything meld together perfectly. I will hunt to find this new version alone!

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Find your favorite(s) with Boursin because you don’t need a holiday to celebrate when it comes to enjoying Cheese:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Simley(360) and Boursin Cheeses.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

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