Valentine’s Gift for Her: Pirouline Chocolate Sticks with Chocolate Cake Heart Scented Candle and Heart Box with Assorted Chocolates #Review

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Every Valentine’s Day, as much as I love chocolate, I will admit the typical a dozen roses and chocolate treat gets a little ordinary. I don’t desire jewelry and what I do desire, is something left to remember the holiday from. A holiday that has gotten ridiculously expensive. Plus, I like my roses with roots attached, so I can plant them and enjoy them all year around.

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When I was offered to review the Valentine’s gift set with Pirouline Chocolate and more, I admit I was intrigued. Why? Because it’s a little of everything and from the girl who hasn’t finished her Christmas chocolates yet, this is ideal for me. The set comes with:

  • A metal tin with lid, filled with Pirouline Chocolate Sticks that is reusable and adorable.
  • A candle that is a dark chocolate cupcake, filled with a heart shaped white chocolate center. The candle smells like a delicious chocolate cake but comes with zero calories. Just light it and enjoy it time and time again.
  • You also don’t miss out as the set includes a mini heart shaped boxed filled with five individual chocolates, and this is a perfect amount for me. You also have a keepsake heart shape boxed that you can reuse.  The outer box (lid) is decorated with a red roses motif.

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Retail Price Point: The entire set is $15.95 via Amazon and if you have Prime membership, that is the total cost with delivery included. You can even include a gift message via Amazon to be included with the parcel.

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Verdict:
There is no going out to stores and having to pick 3 items and then pay shipping if your loved one is far away or if that day you will be working, so that means Valentine’s Day gets put on hold. The set covers all bases by still being filled with chocolate but allowing the gift to leave a little memento behind. The candle is utterly fragrant that I found without lighting it, it still fills the living room with a delectable chocolaty scent, so I can keep it as-is and use it time and time again. I have done this where a candle never gets lit and becomes a decor item because the scent lasts, plus some things are just too cute to melt. The candle comes in a clear box, so you can opt to showcase it in the box, take it out and even store it back again for the coming year or a special date night at home. The Pirouline Chocolate Sticks came with only a few cracked but none had crumbled! They are filled with Chocolate Hazelnut and go perfect with coffee or munch them like I do straight out of the tin. The five chocolates came in perfect condition. None were melted, cracked or aged. Something that has happened in prior years where a heart shaped box was filled with dry and old chocolates, these were perfect and are made by Elmer Chocolates. Yes, the gift is economical but still makes the one gifted feel warm and fuzzy and that is truly what you want in the end from a gift. The person to know you thought of them and that is what matters!

Connect with Practical Therapies at:

  • Amazon
  • #ValentinesDayGifts #ChocolateSticks

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Practical Therapy (Amazon).  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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PMD: Personal Microderm Microdermabrasion Device #Review

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The new year means I am keeping with the trend of trying at home beauty related devices, to see if they deliver better results. I have tried so far laser and a glass unit that was more cumbersome as time went on. So far, laser has been the technology that I feel has delivered visible results at a lower price point than what you get at a spa facility or even out of several jars of beauty creams!

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My new unit is from PMD, a company that makes several Microdermabrasion devices and also has a skincare line. I have seen these units at Ulta, Sephora to even Costco. At Costco, the PMD representative allowed me to handle the unit and see how it worked, which is always a plus because the other beauty stores have the unit as an “on-line only” purchase. I noticed the unit was easy to handle, ergonomic in shape, which made it easy to maneuver and even though the abrasion technology used has a spinning motion, the unit did not vibrate so much that it made it awkward to hold. The technology used makes sure the user is able to just focus on the skin, versus a device that sometimes can be unwieldy. So, I had already a positive mindset when it came to using PMD tools. My only question was, does it work? Will I see a difference that justifies ownership and investing in refills?  Hey, I get upset when fragrance refills get changed and I they expect me to buy all new units!

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I did not want this to be like printers of the past, where the ink makes you never, ever want to print in color and only printing in “fast-econo mode” when you print anything else, because a refill breaks the bank. Not bringing in another machine into this house that makes me feel guilty for using it! I first looked at refills and that fear was easily put to rest. Each disc is easily differentiated by a color coding system:

The cost was something I had to do a double-take because it was actually (dislike using this word) cheap, so let us say cost effective :). I know. I wanted an excuse before the unit was out of the box to convince myself that exfoliating was something that I was doing fine with by using a mask and/or scrub. Six individual refills costs $20.00. Okay, but what does that bring to the table? Well, one disc has a lifespan of 3 to 4 treatments. You do one treatment a week……..well, this is actually cheaper than my scrub that I use every 3 days, not counting the daily one! What the heck! I had to redo the math and somehow PMD found a way to not “get you” with the refills like so many other companies tend to do. This is why I do not use my facial scrubber machine because I do not want to kill the rechargeable battery and/or buy another refill. In the end, I am trying to make my face scrubber last longer by not using it! Yeah, no logic in that!

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Retail Price Point: The starting price for PMD tools (units) start at $159.00 and go as high as $199.00.  Visit here to compare the devices and the differences, plus see what tools suites your needs best.

So, I am past the refill fear and get this, this device requires no charging or batteries. As I was reading the manual, I plugged in the device thinking I would get somewhere in the manual while reading it, where it would state how long to charge for, or unplug when whatever light turns green. I had a laughing moment when I read you just plug it in and go. Okay, PMD……you are making me like you!

Verdict:
It all comes down to results. Is PMD going to give my skin same like results that I can’t achieve cheaper via another method. This is how I break down what products stay and what products go in our home. It’s all about what they bring to the table. PMD discs use aluminium oxide crystals and I started really reading about the material and what it can do. The aluminum oxide crystals are hypoallergenic, so already a plus because there is no chemical or ingredient like in a scrub that may irritate the skin. So, that already takes that worry out of the equation and also no beads that are not only harmful to the environment but also plumbing. The ability for the disc to not grow or spread bacteria is important, because when we exfoliate or do Microdermabrasion procedures at home, we are causing the skin to open (i.e. minor damage) in order for it to heal and resurface a new layer of skin that has a better appearance. You are not going to yield great results if a product has fragrance or welcomes bacteria to the party! There is no scrubbing here, the device just glides (once over each section of the skin) and does all the work. The user is key and that means be mindful that you pass only once over each treated area and the PMD device does all the work. This unit can also be used for the face and body, and again easy as the discs clearly tell you what and where they can be used. I like having that option and choice!  The PMD device also helps circulation, so your skin will increase collagen production and help the skin look plumper and healthier over time.  So, this is more than just discs removing dead skin, this is a total skincare system!

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Final Verdict:
I did as instructed and removed all products that could irritate or really were being replaced by what PMD’s system does for you. Check! No retinol, no acids, no peels, no anything and just allowing PMD be what my skin depends on and getting use to the idea of only using this unit once a week and nothing in between but a good moisturizing regimen to pick up the rest. Doing less in the beauty world is always welcoming but when you have habits and someone tells you do this once a week and you will be more better than fine, like your skin will look and feel better…….well, you get suspicious (or at least I do). I had a few bumps from using a new hair spray, which were beginning to sort of emerge but not fully on the sides of my forehead. I did the PMD treatment and I was done quickly after doing my practice run a few days before that only made sure I got the hang of it, but that I would not experience irritation. I just softly pulled my skin taught where needed and the PMD device did all the work. I was finished with my face in 5 to 7 minutes. No masks or peels take that little time and it was odd not worrying about cracking a mud mask by laughing and not talking for 20 to 25 minutes. The feeling on my face felt like when I do an aspirin mask, that fresh and clean feeling but not over dry. Day three, my pimples submerge. Like with any beauty treatment, this is something I brought to the party and I wanted to see how PMD would deal with it. Hey, I get breakouts here and there and I need a system that knows this and not have a rule that my face has to be 100% clear to use it because it might as well go hang out with the face scrubber! Week two comes by, and my pimples never fully went all angry on me. I always get 2 or 3 when they come out what I call in “island formation” that are going to be pests. No pests and I did not pick (man, that was hard), but I did not want to pick at my face and blame PMD for the ouch. Again, I do another treatment and you can see my skin gets a little red but within one hour the redness is gone and I do the treatment at night.  This is something I always did to allow my skin to calm down. My pimples do not get white heads or clog up. You know how when a pimple pops but then wants to do it again 3 days later (when it gathered more bacteria making buddies)? That did not happen. Healing happened. They did not over peel as I stayed away from anything that would hurry the turn-over process up and cause irritation to the “good skin”. Then I noticed when entering week three, that the pimples I had in week one is all the pimples I have dealt with. The non-pimpled skin is smoother and softer, but remains pimple free. My skin is not missing the daily scrub, masks, peels, and you name it. I then noticed when ending week three that my skin has improved dramatically. I took pictures and I have no scars I will have to work with. Just little peeling skin where the pimple was but no pimple revisiting and I just used one disc to do all this. One disc, only once a week and no battery to charge! That means my one disc costs about $3.50 ($3.33 to be exact) and that is all it took for almost a month’s worth of treatments. This is also the disc price with no coupons as PMD advertises on the site discounts to add that usually take 20% to 25% off, so the deal can be sweetened! The sweeter part is my face. I love it! Scars do come off on me from acne because I thankfully do not get deep ones but it takes 2 months to lighten them up to the point you can’t see them. The PMD device made sure not only did I not develop scar making marks (blemishes, zits, blackheads, white heads, pimples, bumps of unknown origin, ect.) but started to race up my healing periods. I am done with scrubs that tend to over dry my skin and the discs PMD offers means I can just change discs as the weather changes because this means my skin is more sensitive in the Winter months when it is cold. No new scrub I need to get that then will rot under the sink until I need it again 1 year later! The PMD works with your skin, not you needing to work for it!

This Valentine’s Day show your skin some love and Connect with PMD at:

  • Discount Codes:
  1. Go to here (www.GetPMD.com/save) to subscribe and save 15%, plus get a limited lifetime warranty.
  2. Use Code HEART20 to save 20% on your next order of replacement discs.
  3. Use code: LovePMD to save on Pink Pro and Pink PMD.

 

 

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

Kitchen Hearts Silicone Baking Mat Set

I do more baking than anyone I know. As a result, I’ve got a wealth of tools to assist me and I’m always on the lookout for something new and innovative to help me along. Over the years I’ve graduated from wax papers and sprays to parchment and silicone mats. If you’ve used one, you know they quickly become indispensable. But Kitchen Hearts had something I’ve yet to try: A ROUND silicone pizza mat!! Oh, baby!

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Silicone mats are probably one of the most versatile tools in a kitchen. They can be used for a multitude of things, and be used hundreds of times before needing to be replaced. From a splatter-catcher in the oven, to making french fries, cookies, macaroons, or biscuits, there’s almost no limit to the goodies one can make on a silicone mat. They clean up with a little warm soapy water, need no oils or sprays to be non-stick, and virtually nothing sticks to them. Fats and oils bead up, and little crispy bits fall right away. They are also oven safe up to 475 degrees, so the limit is really your imagination!

Ideally. Sadly, 9″ Kitchen Hearts Pizza mat came with a critical defect. See, silicone mats are almost just that: silicone. The silicone, however, encases a fiberglass mesh weave that gives the mats some tensile strength and help to hold it’s shape better. But when you puncture the silicone, the fiberglass is exposed and it’s time to toss the mat, both for health and safety reasons. And my round mat had exposed fiberglass all around the outside edge. Not only would that let water in and ruin the mat, but it’s unsafe. One should never consume the fibers from fibergalss, and putting a sticky dough on exposed fibers a sure-fire way to do just that. So I didn’t even get to try it, sadly. The large mat (a now-standard half-sheet 16.5″ x 11.6″ size) did not have these issues. I may contact the company about this because I’m really hoping to a new tool in my kitchen!

Connect with Kitchen Hearts:

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

 

Xtava: ALLURE 2200W Tourmaline Ionic Ceramic Professional Hair Dryer #Review #HairDryer

 

 

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Last week, I shared the Xtava Professional 5-in-1 Curling Iron and this week I’m sharing another one of Xtava’s products, the Allure Hair dryer. You will notice if you visit Xtava’s website, their hair dryer line is really what put the company on the map and this one is no different!

The Allure hair dryer is light in weight but powerful. You have 2200 watts that delivers air quickly in both heat and cold options. Power does not mean this blow dryer will not be kind or gentle to your hair either. The Allure hair dryer uses Tourmaline Ionic Ceramic technology, meaning you get even heat distribution and the ceramic is gentle on your hair’s cuticle. The negative ionic technology also prevents frizz to build-up, giving your final do’s that smooth and very desired shiny appearance. The above technology is also perfect with all the new hair oils hitting the market because you will achieve ultimate penetration meaning you will reap all the benefits quicker and better.

The Xtava Allure features:

  • A Ultra Lightweight housing for better control
  • Triple Baked Tourmaline Ionic Ceramic
  • 2 Speeds with 3 Heat setting modes.
  • A “Cold Burst” Button to aid with styling and setting
  • Concentrator Nozzle is also included
  • The “filter” easily removes on back for cleaning when needed
  • 1 year manufacture warranty
  • Card for up to 50% off (with code) to their site

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I tried the Xtava Allure hair dryer for 1 week to get an idea how well it performs. I was surprised how quickly the element delivered heat and the burst of air is that perfect flow where you can still control your hair while it’s drying. My hair’s length is at my waist and I have a lot of hair, which is fine to medium in texture but dense when it comes to amount. I was happy at the 5 minutes mark with the quickness in drying time and softness in feel. By 7 minutes, my hair was dry and ready for me to style. I did not experience any frizz or static from the dryer, which is a major plus for me because “dandelion head” is yet a look to catch on!  On the second use, I used my typical leave-in mix of oils (2 drops of Argan oil with a small dollop of Living Proof Perfect Hair Day).  I achieved great results and my hair was super smooth in feel and it had that natural gloss you get when you get that perfect blow out.  I was satisfied with the performance of Xtava’s Allure hair dryer!  The box comes with everything you need from the attachment…..you just need a hair brush and you are set.

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Retail Price Point: $34.00 via Amazon and $30 via Xtava’s website

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The only Con I could Find:
The “cool shot/burst” button pinches when you use it or if your finger tends to slide up. It also caught my hair once but I knew enough to not pull, so I did not lose any strands or caused any damage. The button is really not a button or a rocker switch, it’s made from the plastic frame the dryer is made from. A button shape is molded but the movement is made from the cut-out in the plastic’s frame. My only worries is durability with this button due to the fact plastic can only bend back and forth so often before breaking and/or cracking. Not a biggie but worth mentioning because it does pinch your skin when you use it and especially soft skin that you get from just showering or bathing. I don’t use this option often, so for me it would be insignificant when thinking of overall use or performance.

Connect with Xtava’s Great Styling Products at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Xtava.  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 Simple Baker: Premium Silicone Baking Mat for Macarons #Review #macaronmat

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Being a baker means I need products I can count on and a multi-tasker is a must in my kitchen. The Simple Baker does everything my expensive silicone baking mats do, plus as much as I did not appreciate the circle pattern at first, I became to really like the convince it provided. My cookies never touched each other, so I have to admit I’m not the best spacer I thought I was!

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The mat yielded the same results as my french branded mat and clean-up was a cinch. The mat cleans up instantly with a little soapy water and I just fill the sink 1/4 way up, make some bubbles and suds on top of the mat and this I find is the most gentle way to clean the mat with no sponge and/or sink brush needed. I simply roll the Simple Baker mat (without creating fold or creases) and use a silicone band to keep it in place.

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I wanted to test the silicone mat out with by making dark chocolate ganache cookies. The cookies are a butter base recipe and I tried both round shapes and heart shapes when baking. My baking time was adjusted, as these silicone mats provide even baking, which tends to accelerate the baking but produces what I call the “perfect cookie”. You get a soft flaky texture on the inside with a cookie top crust that stays in place and only crumbles until you take a bite.

 

Retail Price Point: $17.97 via Amazon

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The Simple Baker Mat will save you money in the long run and pay for itself. I use parchment paper and that gets costly over time and can be a wasteful expense. These silicone mats are reusable, do not hold odors, and are also safe because they are non-toxic. The silicone used is food-grade quality and no need to add extra fats or oils to make them non-stick……their finish stays non-stick time and time again!

Connect with The Simple Baker at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Simple Baker.  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.

Red Vines: Fruit Vines Bites in Cherry #SweetSide #FrostyVoxBox

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As part of my Frosty Vox Box via Influenster, they included the new Fruit Vine’s Bites in cherry flavor. Why fight a licorice straw when you can just munch away one bite at a time? Keeps your hands free while you snack! I’m a huge licorice fan and liked the bite size twist, however I noticed the flavor was lacking. The fruit was not intense in taste and especially from a product called Fruit Vines. Once I turned the package over and read the ingredients, I noticed there is no fruit. Not even a percentage that is low in cherry just none but artificial flavors and the kind of things that I dislike, like artificial colors and sugars galore. I so wanted to love this sweet treat but when I see cherry…….I sort of expect even 1% to be there!

Retail Price Point: $1.28 to $1.79, prices vary by package size

Connect with Fruit Vines Bites at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Influenster and Fruit Vines Bites. 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.

Red Brick Candle: Luxury Scented Candle Loft Collection No. 1 #RedBrickCandle

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Everyone loves this time of the year. The sights, the sounds, the tastes and the smells. Oh, the smells. Rich, buttery, spicy. Sometimes the smells alone put 2lbs on you. But then, as with all good things, the holidays come to a close and sometimes, the smells remain. Not scents, mind you…smells.

Enter the good folks at Red Brick Candle and their line of ultra-premium products. The were kind enough to send me a sample to try, and in my house, we put the spurs to it, because we cook. Every day. From scratch, mostly. Which means we get all the smells, good and bad, that go with that and it takes a powerful candle to foot the bill.

This candle took everything we had to throw at it, laughed, and said “Thank you, ma’am, may I have another!”. We got to try their No. 1, with deep, rich, inviting blend of maple and vanilla. Once you get over the absolutely darling packaging, you’re suddenly overtaken by the luxurious scent packed into every molecule of this candle. You almost feel bad about slicing the red labels to open it. Almost.

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Once inside you get a “Thank you” dust cover with a 15% off offer, and an adorable box of matches. All this and we STILL have to get to this wonderful candle! And then you see it. It comes in a heavy-duty glass cup that you have ~0~ fear will crack with heat. Labeled “Loft No. 1”, you start to fall in love and just about feel bad setting it aflame. Until you do. In 10 minutes my home was drenched in vanilla & maple, every room, every hall, every nook, every cranny. So this is how the other half lives, huh? I’m liking… No, I’m loving this. While at 10.9 oz. (309 g) of premium grade soy based wax (which provides 75-80 hours of clean, even burn time, btw), this guy is no heavyweight, he’s hitting far above his weight class and I’ll put this little one against your big ‘ole 3-wick jobbie any day.

Retail Price Point: 32.00 for a 10.9 ounce candle and all products come with a Satisfaction Guarantee

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My gripes with candles have always been that so many are all sizzle, no steak. Fancy packaging, exotic names, drop dead scents that don’t spread further than a foot away once lit. This one? Every other candle company should hang their heads in shame. Not only does it look like a million bucks, it smells like it too. But, if I had one reservation going in, it’s the cost. $32 is no small amount for one candle, but if I hadn’t tried it, I’m not sure I’d believe it was worth it. But I did, and I do. And I’m thankful for the opportunity. Now almost 1 month in and I still have almost half the candle with near daily use. Even burning with no tunneling, so you don’t feel like it’s not being used completely, no crackle from the all natural, lead-free wick, quick lighting and a with soft, calming glow. With 2 other Loft scents available (spicy cinnamon with orange, nutmeg & clove notes, as well as lilac with sweet vanilla & jasmine notes), and more collections on the way, there is definitely one for you!

Red Brick Candle also donates a portion of each sale back into the community to help benefit urban revitalization and community development initiatives. A small business with big goals and a dynamite product to boot. I wholeheartedly recommend this product, and I’m ever so thankful for the opportunity to shine a light on them. Now, the only question is, which one to try next? 😉

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Connect with Red Brick Candles at:

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

Almondina Cookies: No Bake Valentine’s Day Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream Heart Treats

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For those of you unfamiliar, Almondina is a thin cookie that is not only less punishing caloric (only 30 calories each) wise but absolute deliciousness!  Most dunking cookies I love more how they look than how they taste because the cookies are so dry, they suck the moisture out of your mouth.  You try to dunk them to soften them and then they fall apart, so now your hot coffee is not so enjoyable anymore with pieces of dissolved cookie with every sip!  Almondina has fixed the problem but I find them better than most packaged cookies I have ever enjoyed because they are so versatile!  You do not have to commit to one flavor because they are thin cookies that come in different varieties.  You have chocolate based to the original vanilla tasting ones, to cinnamon, to even pumpkin.  You want yogurt dipped, Almondina has it and even chocolate dipped, so again this is more than just a cookie you have with a hot drink.  It is a cookie that stands alone in it’s own class of thin (but delicious) crisp cookies.  I love almonds and it started with how the nut tasted but it is also a healthier alternative.  What I like is the amount of almonds and fruit you get too.  I am not cheated out of anything, just eating less fats!  It may be a “better-for-you” cookie but what makes this dreamier, is you get all the flavor and can’t believe one thin cookie could do so much! I will be reviewing the cookies later this week and will have a giveaway for my readers.  Yes, that means the sample pack I received could be yours! So, stay tuned and just a small hint, start following and liking them on Facebook 🙂

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Let Almondina Cookies make your Valentine’s Day treats not only easy and quick to make, but they will look like you dedicated all day to them. The cookies are toasted already so no need to toast in the oven. You can even add sprinkles, chocolate ganache or just the Almondina crumble itself.

I started by using Almondina Choconut, a delicious chocolate cookie that is studded with almonds and raisins. I take the cookie and break off some of the nuts to use later as decor. Using a food processor, I pulse until get a nice mix of fine and medium crumbs. In a small bowl, I add the crumb to be used for later. I again repeat the above process with the Original Almondina cookies and the Almondina AlmondDuo, a double nut cookie, which features not only almonds but also pistachios.

Take your Valentine’s Day cookie cutters (I have both metal and plastic) . Get your favorite ice cream, sorbet, or even gelato out of the freezer. I do one flavor at a time and if I do not have a flavor…..I make it. I had left-over boysenberry preserves I made a few days ago and folded it into vanilla bean ice cream to make boysenberry ice cream. You can use a cherry preserves or any flavor you desire. This not only saves money but also makes those flavors you dream of into reality.

I use a parchment square and under that place some plastic wrap. You can also use the plastic wrap by itself if you do not have parchment.  Take your cookie cutter and place it in the center of the paper/plastic. Stuff the cookie cutter with the above frozen treat of your choice and I find using a spoon and stuff by the “sliver” versus scooping is the easiest way to avoid air pockets. I use a small spatula to smooth out the Gelato and then simply use my hands to push the form out. You can also use the assistance of the parchment paper you used the cookie cutter on if you have enough overage, this also avoids getting ice cream on your fingers. Rinse and repeat!

*The above is Pistachio Gelato

 

*The above is Coconut Sorbet 

*The above is Dark Chocolate Gelato and the Boysenberry Ice Cream I made

I then place cover the molded treat and place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are making more than one, make sure to not allow your ice cream to soften too much. I suggest placing the pint back in the freezer to keep it from melting. This is why I like to work with different flavors because I can rotate as I work.  If I need to hurry up a creation, I place it in the ice cube tray for a fast chill.

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While everything refreezes, I start making ganache. Ganache is a simple recipe of 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 chocolate. I use a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate and slowly melt it on the stove. For convince, I place my ganache in a glass dish with a spatula for easy scooping.

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Once the molded heart has hardened again, I take out one heart at a time and begin to decorate. You can use several ways:

  • Spread Ganache and then the Almondina Cookie Crumbs.
  • Stud the hearts with the nuts you recovered from the cookies before making the crumb and then only applying crumble to the sides.
  • Make a Mold of Gelato and fill only 1/4 of the way, add Almondina Crumble and then fill again with Gelato. This gives you a crumble in the center.
  • You can do half Ganache and half crumble, so you get different textures

Return the decorated heart back and allow it to set for 20 to 30 minutes. This will of course vary by size of cookie cutter and amount of frozen treat used.

I used some ganache and stencils to not only decorate the dessert but also my plate. You just smear a small amount of ganache and then some red colored sprinkles, or any color of your choice. Lift the stencil and then you have a cute design. Place the plate in the fridge and if the plate is freezer safe, it is much better because it then gets as cold as the hearts, This buys you time when you put everything together. Get your Love Bug and you have a gorgeous and delicious dessert that required no oven and just some opening and closing of the freezer ❤ This also a very kid friendly project, so make it a family thing too ❤ Enjoy!

To locate where you can buy Almondina’s Cookies or to view their large selection, please visit:

  • On-line– http://www.almondina.com/
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/Almondina.Brand
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/almondina

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I received the above product free of charge from Almondina Cookies.  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.

Bob’s Red Mill: Herby Cheese Crackers made with Rice Flour, Gluten Free #MeatlessMonday

DSCN4421 Going with my Meatless-Monday dish, I decided to pair up my soup with a nice Gluten Free option, Herby Cheese Crackers. I used a mix of Gouda and Parmesan, however I have made these with a white cheddar cheese and plain sharp cheddar varieties. The cracker’s texture will vary by the cheese you use! I make sure to stick to a good quality cheese because the recipe only requires 2 ounces and I have had unpleasant experiences when a cheap cheese (this is not always connected by what you pay) that has oozed tons of oils and fats. No one wants an oily cracker….I want flaky with a nice crumble. Let’s Begin!

Dough:

  • 2 Ounces of grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese or a cheese that has a close enough moisture content. You can use a semi-soft and pair it with a freshly grated harder cheese too. Allow the cheese to come to room temperature (after you grated).
  • 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of herbs (I mixed dried herbs with fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (taste your cheese to measure saltiness before adding salt)
  • *Optional- You can add Red Pepper Flakes, Smoked Paprika even a dash of Cayenne Pepper. You can also crumble pre-cooked bacon or pancetta to change the flavors.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the Rice Flour, baking soda and herbs. I used dried parsley, thyme, tarragon and oregano. My plants have been blooming well in this mild Winter we have been having in California, so I used some fresh sage and thyme to make a 1 teaspoon’s worth with the dried herbs. Add your salt and pepper. I used a smoked salt for additional flavor and a pepper medley variety. I also included (optional) a dash of smoked paprika, a dash of red pepper flakes and also a small dash of cayenne to give the crackers some kick.

In another bowl, grate your cheese. I used a semi-soft gouda and a grated hard cheese variety of mixed parmesan and romano. DSCN4382 Add the cheese to your flour mixture and then incorporate the softened unsalted butter to the mix. I do not want to smell crackers on my hands all day so I use a glove to pretty much make a ball. Want a different way? Cream the butter and cheese in your with your mixer and add the flour mixture after. If the mix seems dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon of water. You do not want a super moist dough as this dough will rest and re hydrate in the fridge, plus we are making crackers and not bread. I usually rarely add water and just keep gathering the crumbs around until they play nice 🙂 DSCN4383 DSCN4388 Using plastic wrap, create a log that is almost 11 inches long. You can decide how large you want the crackers but since I want to have mine swim in my soup, I always go small. DSCN4390 The log can be shaped and in this case I used the assistance of a wooden chopstick to make a crease, which will then help me work these into a heart shape. You can just go square or even round….or we can also have fun and create and abstract shape!

Allow the dough to rest in the fridge 20-30 minutes if you need to shape after, or 40 minutes if you will be just slicing and baking. Heat your oven 350 degrees. Take the dough out and you can I usually slice half a log and return the other half to the fridge while the first batch bakes.  I used the chop-stick to help refine the heart shape too.

Bake the crackers for about 10 minutes and then cool. DSCN4409   You then bake the other half and these go great with soup, salads, or just by themselves. Enjoy!

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  • Save with a $1.00 off coupon– http://www.bobsredmill.com/get-a-coupon.html

DSCN4154 I received the above product free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill.  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.

Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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