The Mediterranean Table w/ Over 150 recipes by Sonoma Press

It’s no secret that in this country, we’re overwhelmingly unhealthy thanks to our diets. The food that’s most readily available, easiest to prepare and (usually) the most affordable is some of the most unhealthy food in the history of this planet. Loaded with salt, sugar, refined and processed ingredients, saturated fats and empty carbs, a steady diet of these types of foods will make your life miserable and most likely put you in an early grave. In my house, we eat fresh, prepare every meal from (almost) scratch and don’t eat fast food. This book, The Mediterranean Table, will help you replace bad eating habits with better ones, and gently guide you to a healthier, c51FE+IyEhXL._SX403_BO1,204,203,200_leaner, more balanced lifestyle. And while the advice on it’s face certainly won’t be cheap, with some careful substituting and shopping weekly sales, the diet plan in here is doable, affordable, and an excellent roadmap to making lasting, permanent and health changes in you lifestyle and diet that will lead to a lifetime of benefits.

The recipes in this book are simple, easy to follow, and use ingredients that can be mostly found at the local supermarket for about what you’d pay for the prepared junk that sits in the deli case. It makes abundant use of simple, unrefined ingredients, olive oil, vegetables and herbs. There’s cheeses for the cheese lovers, meats for the meat lovers, breads for the bread lovers…There’s really something for everyone. What I would have liked to see is a
“substitutions” list on the recipes for harder to find or unusual ingredients. Some can be very seasonal and some are just not easy to find due to geography, but overall I found the recipes to be easy to follow, and simple to adjust for availability of ingredients. There’s soups, dinners, deserts, sauces, toppings, sides…and even an online resource list that can help you find some of the more exotic additions. Plus separate reciepe and ingredient indices for quick reference.

Overall I liked this book, and it’s recipes, and found something that both Hubby and I are greatly looking forward to trying. There’s heartier meals for colder weather, and lighter fare for the summers. I can see myself pulling this book out all year round for inspiration, and if you’re looking to start eating and living healthier and better, this book would be a great starting point.

I received the above product(s) free of charge from TVM.  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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Ozeri Serafino Double-Wall Insulated Drinking Glasses

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Temperature extremes are not a fun thing in this house. Hubby can’t stand heat, I don’t do cold. Strangely, this extends to our drinks as well, where Hubby doesn’t do hot drinks and I don’t like holding onto cold drinks. Ozeri, in their infinite wisdom, has come up with what might be a dream item for me: Double-Walled insulated glasses. Let me pour you a drink while I tell you this tale.

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See, each glass is made from borosilicate shatter-resistant glass (the same stuff Pyrex is made from), it resists the thermal shock that causes some glasses to shatter or crack when hot liquids are poured into them. Being double walled also means that they won’t be transferring as much of the internal temperature to the handling surface. The elegant contoured shape gives you a sure surface to grip as well, and the double walls just tend to look really cool, too. There’s always bonus points for that. Microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe, these are durable and well made. And while some folks mentioned they “shattered” when dropped, I would imagine just about any fine glassware would do just the same thing. So I don’t plan on dropping them, from any height. The four pack came packaged perfectly, and when something is glass and delivered by UPS in one piece, you know someone did their homework and packaged these excellently.

Nice to look at, a functional 12 oz. size, and solves a problem that is suffered at different extremes by both people in the house at once? Yes, please! I’m loving these glasses and have plans to start switching over more of my regular glasses to these Ozeri Serafino glasses. And it’s Ozeri, so you know they stand behind EVERYTHING they sell 100%, and these are no exception. A one year warranty and your satisfaction is guaranteed. There’s no reason to not give them a try and see if you don’t love them as much as we do.

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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.

 

Ozeri 5-Piece Wine Bottle Corkscrew & Accessory Set

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We go through a bit of wine here even if we hardly ever drink it. But we do cook with it several times a week and that tends to empty bottles a lot faster than you’d think. Ozeri recently sent me a product that I had no idea would be so incredibly useful, and I liked it so much I can think of a few friends and family that will be getting these as gifts in the future.

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This 5-piece set has everything needed to make a quiet picnic, or a trip to a vineyard, an absolute delight. The set includes a stainless-steel corkscrew with foil cutting knife, a drip-stop collar, a combination wine pourer/stopper, and a dedicated foil cutter. all packaged in a handsome wine-shaped package with a smart magnetic closure. It can be stored vertically on the counter or just stashed in your wine rack at home, ready to pop out and open all James Bond-style, cool and smooth.

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Awesome for entertaining, always handy, and stocked chock-a-block with tools for the aficionado of casual enthusiast alike. It’s stylish, it convenient, and Almost everything is made to last a long, long time. The only tool in the kit that I have a few reservations about long-term usability would be the dedicated foil cutter. In my experience, plastic pieces that rely on tension will, over time, break. This seems like it’s high-quality ABS plastic, so it should last for many, many years, but I’m one of those “I bought it, it should last forever” people.  Overall, it’s a tremendous value and a well made kit from a company that stands behind everything they sell 100%. I recommend this Ozeri 5-Piece Wine Bottle Corkscrew & Accessory Set to everyone who has, enjoys, or even just cooks with, wine. You’ll be glad you gave it a try!

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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.

 

PureCopper: 100% Pure Copper Mule Mugs in Smooth and Hammered Finish #PureCopper

 

 

 

 

 

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I love copper from it’s color to how the metal lasts. I was looking at these mule mugs when they became popular and knew I wanted them until I saw the price tag for just one mug! I thought I will wait it out until the price lowers and that did not work in my favor as then quality went down. I started seeing what I call “painted mugs”, that are just coated with a copper layer or some even stated “copper like” when you searched further into the description. Price kept going up and I figured I better just walk away until……….PureCopper brand offered me a set to review!

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The name says it all and it’s pure 100% solid copper! Sounds so simple when you think about it but there is always the imitators and gimmicks out there, that like cloning themselves but never as true as the real original product. I prefer to wait and afford the real item versus spending a percentage towards a purchase that will leave me unsatisfied. I can easily say that PureCopper is not only crafting beautiful copper mugs but I was more than satisfied with the set I received. You know when you imagine a purchase and sometimes it falls short? Well, this one is a purchase that you will be able to enjoy visually and also when pouring yourself a drink. It’s a Mule mug but doesn’t require a mule! You can make desserts to even as I have done, I stick it in the freezer and let is get ice cold, so it keeps everything from ice cream super cold.

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Retail Price Point: $21.97 for the hammered mule mug and $18.97 for the smooth finish mug via Amazon.

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Then comes something that I can’t overlook because presentation is a bonus and I don’t mean from the copper glistening in the light, but what PureCopper does. My mugs are beautifully shipped and they added these glossy recipe cards, plus the cutest paper clip that is also shaped like a mug! Who does that anymore? PureCopper makes any person receiving this gift just smile and I do every moment I use them and have even put them in my curio because when the sun starts setting, the rays hit those copper mugs and I end up with the most gorgeous looking light effect in that room. I don’t have to worry about wearing them out as it’s pure copper and like food, you don’t want fillers but a clean product. My copper with time will get a beautiful patina and you can choose a smooth finished mug or a hammered effect. Perfect for gifting or just rewarding yourself because the applications are there when it comes to how the metal conserves coldness. It’s not just a beauty but it serves it’s purpose and in the end this is the stuff we keep that can multitask and also be distinctive at the same time.

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Connect with PureCopper at:

 

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

HouseParty: Mixing it up with Mezzetta Party #MezzettaMixer

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Mezzetta has been a brand we have used in our home for decades. From the roasted peppers that go great on a pizza, blended to add to a sauce to the Peperoncini that I slice up for sandwiches or eat whole with a salad. I have started baking our own breads because finding a bread with “friendly ingredients” is possible but at a hefty price point. I don’t believe you should pay more when you want less chemicals! When HouseParty announced they had openings for a Mezzetta Party, you bet I signed up.

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Mezzetta Party Kit contained:

  • (1) Apron with a cute Mezzetta logo that has an Olive and finally an apron with 2 large pockets. Those that give you one pocket don’t realize that I have 2 hands and usually I act like I have three by grabbing more utensils that I can hold.
  • (1) Visa Card for the Host to purchase products/ingredients for the event.
  • (1) One of the cutest Slotted Spoon that is perfect for draining the brine/liquid but still getting the olive and/or pepper you seek. No need to attempt to “harpoon” a pepper with a fork or pretend I can balance an olive out of a jar like Houdini.
  • (16) Coupon Booklets that included Mezzetta inspired recipes.
  • (16) Reusable Mezzetta branded Tote Bags that were very welcomed by my guests, due to the new state law, which will make California the first state to pass a state wide law of banning shopping bags.

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I have been doing really good with puff pastry and just like that, you can make the dishes savory or sweet. Easy to use and a great way to showcase what is in season. I found the most beautiful baby heirloom tomatoes, so they were a must mixed with a ricotta and Mezzetta’s Sun Dried Tomatoes “bedding” for them to rest on. I allowed guests to make their own dish by pre-chopping veggies they could add to their tart. Easy and almost mess free (well, bunching up the used parchment paper can be labor intensive 🙂 ).

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Combined with an Italian braised pork that I used Mezzetta’s Sweet Cherry Peppers and also paired with fresh Italian (Cubanelle) Green peppers, and doused in Pinot Grigio wine. You simply brown the seasoned pork first, brown the veggies and then add the peppers with a nice healthy wine bath. I add a bouquet of Lavender and Herbs, and just stick in the oven (covered in a braiser) at 350 degrees for a couple hours. Easy and tastes like you took all day to make when it was the oven that did all the work. I also love the all in one pot cooking method!

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The Olive bread was a cinch too. I use my “lazy girl” method, which can be used with any combination of Mezzetta’s Olives and most of their peppers.

Mezzetta’s Olive Blend Bread:

  • 1 3/4 cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of warm water (105 degrees)
  • Olive Oil to baste bowl and bread

I put the above in my mixer (with dough hook) and make a well with the flour. I add the yeast and the warm water and allow it to “bloom” (bubble a bit) for about 5 to 8 minutes. I add my salt and then mix. If it needs more water to allow for a dough that is supple, I add by the teaspoon. I knead (well, the mixer does it) for about 7 to 10 minutes. I then get a bowl and add some Olive Oil to allow the bread to proof in the oven (105 degrees) for an hour (cover lightly with plastic wrap). Once the dough is proofed, I then put it in the fridge (do not punch the dough down).

I used about 1/2 a cup of mixed Mezzetta Olives, you can use peppers of your liking as long as the seeds are removed and they are chopped. Same goes for the olives, no stones or anything. Once I chopped what I want, I then take the dough out and start kneading my ingredients in. I sometimes add cheeses and a mix of dry and fresh herbs. Try to not over knead when incorporating your olives/pepper mixes. This can produce a rough dough. I will then shape the loaf into a desired shape and I then put the dough on a baking stone (a pan is fine with parchment or at least oiled to reduce sticking). Cover with a light towel and allow the dough to proof again for about 40 minutes to an hour. I sometimes baste mine with more Olive Oil or you use Warm Water to create a nice crust. I have sprinkled Parmesan to even Maldon (flake) Salt on mine before putting it in the oven. Add a couple slashes to allow the bread to breathe (steam escape) and bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on size/shape) or until done. Allow to completely cool before slicing! You can also make the dough ahead and leave it in the fridge for up to a week after the first proof (the dough gets a richer flavor if you at least leave it overnight in the fridge)…….told you it was a friendly
recipe 🙂

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Mezzetta allows us to make dishes that look beautiful, taste great, but took only a few minutes to make. I like that! The less time I spend in the kitchen, the more time I can spend with Family & Friends!

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Get you Mezzetta Fix and Make it betta’ at:

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from HouseParty and Mezetta.  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.

Fior di Frutta by Rigoni di Asiago: Apricot Fruit Spread with Honey Goat Cheese Rustic Bread #Recipe

 

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I don’t usually start blogging about a sample sized item I receive but the people at Rigoni di Asiago were kind enough to not only send me bottles of their delicious Nocciolata spread, an apron and the cutest shopping bag that folds into a hazelnut, but among the goodies were these samples of their fruit spreads. After being so joyous about finding my Hazelnut & Cocoa spread, a few days later I opened one of the two flavors they sent. I got a few Apricot ones and one Blueberry, so I went to open the one I had most of. The spread packet states their spreads are sweetened with just apple juice. I taste it and it’s like someone just plucked an apricot in it’s prime, smashed it a little and there you go. I would think someone giving me smashed fruit would make me unhappy but not this kind. I enjoyed it so much that I had to bake with it. I had just come from the store with fresh goat cheeses (sale got me!) and the honey version just started speaking to me, so here goes a recipe because I was so impressed with the Fior di Frutta sample in Apricot!

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Let’s Begin…..

  • Take 5 1/2 ounces of the “Almost Whole Wheat Rustic Bread” (Recipe here- http://wp.me/p2B5Rd-Sr)
  • 2 Tablespoons of the Fior di Frutta fruit spread in Apricot
  • 1/2 an ounce of Honey Goat Cheese (fresh and soft kind) and I went by weight, not volume.
  • Warm water mixed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing

Make the dough as instructed and when completed, take the dough and spread it out flat so it can be filled.

Then spread the Apricot Fruit Spread

Crumble the fresh Honey Goat Cheese

Roll and tuck the ends

Let rest for 20 minutes

While resting, put a dish with water in the oven and turn it on to 450 degrees. I baked mine with the convection going. I also use a glass pie dish because I am starting the oven with the water already in, versus using the pouring when hot method.

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Mix warm water with a touch of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and brush loaf. I got creative and did a hash design when it came to slashing the dough. I figure try something different. I just cut an angle one-way and then the other to create a “diamond” like pattern.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done in a 450 degree oven.

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Allow bread to cool before slicing, since losing cheese is no fun. I had mine about 8 hours later and this goes great with a fruit and cheese tray, with wine, with a salad or just as is. Enjoy!

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Some wonderful facts about the Apricot Fruit Spread:

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Get your Fruit Spread!  The Fior di Frutta line has one or like for me, I like them all:

  • On-line– http://rigonidiasiago-usa.com/our-products/fiordifrutta/organic-fruit-spread-apricot/
  • Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/RigonidiAsiagoUSA
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/NocciolataUSA
  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/nocciolata/
  • Instagram– http://instagram.com/nocciolatausa
  • Also available for sale on Amazon

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Rigoni di Asiago.  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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Told you the bag was super adorable!

Giveaway: You can win a California Delicious Gift Card worth $50.00

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(Picture is example of products carried by California Delicious and not of actual prize)

Get ready this Valentine’s Day to get some help with this wonderful giveaway, courtesy of California Delicious!

Giveaway of a $50.00 gift card to California Delicious (http://www.californiadelicious.com/). This prize can be open to everyone internationally but the gifts must be mailed to a U.S physical address, no PO Boxes please.  Giveaway ends on February 5th so get started now and it’s easy to enter below.  Please note terms on site regarding alcohol sales and delivery limitations, as per state laws.

How to Enter:

  1. Like on FaceBook- https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDelicious
  2. Follow on Twitter- https://twitter.com/caldelicious
  3. Follow on Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/calidelicious/
  4. Please comment on my Blog Review- https://samplesandfreebiesgallery.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/california-delicious-not-your-ordinary-gift-box-and-basket-company/

Bonus Entry for those that follow on Instagram-

California Delicious: Not your Ordinary Gift Box and Basket Company

A gift basket is always welcomed in our home and not only do I enjoy the variety but I love trying new items. As of late with the holidays not too far away from us, I noticed that many baskets cost a pretty good penny but the thrill of the “good stuff” is not present. It’s almost the place where snack food goes to get stale! Not great when you bite into something and wonder if you would have liked it if it were fresher.

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In comes California Delicious with not your ordinary baskets. They offer everything from baskets and gift boxes with fresh fruit, chocolates, stuffed animals, wine, beer, and you name the occasion……they have it covered. The one thing I love is that if you live within the state, shipping is a whopping $0.00. Very nice. So the price point you see is what it is with no hidden charges. If you live out of state, they offer a reasonable rate starting at $9.00 (standard ground) for most of their selections. Very fair pricing and if you sign-up for their mailing list, you get 15% off promotion. Navigate the site and a $10.00 off a $75.00 purchase coupon pops-up as so does a $5 off of $50.00! I believe in getting the most out of your dollar and right now, California Delicious has a heck of a perk! Be part of the “Give a Gift, Get a Gift” program. Just purchase a basket and each purchase gets you a $50.00 gift card* to http://www.NakedWines.com. The only small catch is you can only use one gift card yourself but you will get one with every item you buy. Great way to pass the perk forward and share with others. Make your basket purchase twice as nice!

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I ordered the Starbuck’s Coffee gourmet box. It’s item #9966 and it’s the first gift basket I have been 100% content with from top to bottom. I always have items in baskets and boxes that are just not for me or I plainly do not enjoy…..not this one! The Starbuck’s Coffee Mornings Gift box has a reasonable price point of $59.99 and it even has a stainless steel travel tumbler that can be used again and again. I always like gifting items of this kind that not only yield food for my family and friends to enjoy, but you want a reusable gift so there is something always left to enjoy again and again. Every item in the box is Starbuck’s branded…..no fillers to make this box seem more than it is. See for yourself and California Delicious discloses all contents, no need to over examine a picture to see what really comes in the basket (“Is that a candy I see back there?” kind of thing). I like that California Delicious is open and upfront because its just so tacky to inquire when you send someone a gift basket or box and hope they got everything as pictured. The last thing you want to ask is for a run-down! This is what my beautiful box came with http://www.californiadelicious.com/starbucks-coffee-mornings-gift-box.html:

  • Starbucks Pike’s Place Blend Coffee
  • Starbucks Sumatra Blend Coffee
  • Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee
  • Starbucks Café Estima Coffee
  • Starbucks Hot/Cold Travel Mug
  • VIA Ready brew Coffee
  • 3 – Spiced Biscotti
  • 1 – Vanilla Biscotti

Other things I want to share is that I have never received a Biscotti cookie in “as-pictured” shape. They are usually baggies holding something what was once a cookie but is not a dry cracked baggy of dust. My chocolate swirl was even intact and every cookie was whole. I got to break it myself and enjoy it…..fresh and “biteable” with no regret or staleness! Ever item has an expiration date and just the bagged coffees alone the date was 6 to 7 months from when I received it. The VIA coffee is an entire box with 8 servings and that doesn’t expire until September. You can actually take your time enjoying your treats. The bags included have a 10 to 12 cup serving each so you get plenty of sevings for a very reasonable price. You add that you get a $50.00 gift card to NakedWines.com and it’s a perk that makes buying from California Delicious a must! Try them today and especially with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. California Delicious is not your everyday basket and gift box company, they deliver not only beautiful looking treats but it’s filled with items you will actually enjoy and love!

Connect with California Delicious and place and order just in time for Valentine’s Day:

  • On-line- http://www.californiadelicious.com/
  • Twitter- https://twitter.com/caldelicious
  • Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDelicious
  • Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/calidelicious/
  • YouTube and Video Blogs- http://www.californiadelicious.com/california-video-blog

Hint: I will be posting a giveaway soon, so get ahead and connect with California Delicious by connecting with the above links!  

 

Nakedwines.com Perk detals, as disclosed on California’s Delicious site:
No kidding…We will send you a nakedwines.com gift card valued at $50 for every gift* that you send from California Delicious. It’s our way of saying Thanks for your business! *What’s the catch? If you buy more than one gift, we will send you a card for every gift you send but you can only use one of those gift cards yourself. You can pay it forward by giving your extra cards to all of your friends and relatives…sounds too good to be true? Well it is if you live in MA,MO,VA,WV,TX,HI,NC or VT because unfortunately those states have prohibition era rules.

I received the above product free of charge from California Delicious.  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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