things that Kitty likes

food

Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Tuesday Morning Edition

Anyone still trying to cram in some last-minute shopping?! If you have a Tuesday Morning by you — fear not…..this gift guide is for you! This store carries a mix of everything from baby clothing to children’s toys to rugs and furniture to coffee and food items! Being that I am putting together a holiday basket for my in-laws, what I got are all food items. Here are my picks!

I don’t think these are tastier than the ones from Walkers but these are very good and this assorted package makes a nice addition to a holiday gift basket or even as a standalone gift!

Highland Speciality Shortbread Cookies

I’ve seen this product in other specialty discount stores also. This brand carries the same product in other flavors as well but I like the original one as is. My in-laws love this so I made sure to include this in the gift basket I’m putting together. I actually bought an extra box for myself too and I’m down to a few pieces in the snack drawer!

Anastasia Coconut Patties

I’ve never tried this before but it looked like something that would fit in a nice holiday gift basket. I always thought that tasty fruity treats are more prevalent during the holiday season like fruitcakes. Crossing my fingers that it’s tasty!

Liberty Orchards Fruit Delights

Ah, cheese crispies. I always associate this with holiday gift baskets as that’s where I’ve encountered them in the past. I think they’re usually found in the savory kind of holiday gift baskets where you see smoked salmon packs and summer sausages.

Roka Cheese Crispies

I have tasted the lemon curd version this brand has so I didn’t hesitate to pick up the orange marmalade when I saw that the store has it! I think it makes a great addition to a holiday gift basket as I always see some jams or jellies in them.

Mackays Orange Marmalade with Champagne

With that said, why stop at the one with champagne when they also have the same thing but with whisky? 🙂

Mackays Orange Marmalade with Whisky

Next items are a little unconventional for a holiday gift basket I’ll admit. It would’ve fit better in a cooking themed gift basket but my holiday gift basket to my in-laws has a few cooking items as well so I picked these up. My mother-in-law likes to experiment in cooking and I’m hoping that this will be something new for her to try out.

Gia Green Pesto & Garlic Paste

Last item I picked up is a random one but I know that my mother-in-law was looking into making tiramisu at home. I don’t think she has tried yet but this would help her out by cutting out the step in making them since it is an ingredient in a tiramisu. So….I’ve included this in their holiday gift basket.

Matilde Vicenzi Vicenzovo Ladyfingers

This doesn’t even cover the beautiful decorative boxes I got that I used to hold gifts and other snack items I’ve purchased like tasty pizelles. All I can say is this store has a ton of options for holiday gifts if you’re running out of time or ideas and if one is in your neighborhood. You can browse their website here to get an idea of what they carry and have to offer.


Holiday Gift Guide 2018: World Market Edition

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers in the US! I hope you all will have a great time spending time with family and friends. And to those that are volunteering, thank you for your gift of time in help spreading the love this holiday season. I know that a good number of you use this day as a marker to the start of your holiday shopping. Well, in case you have a Cost Plus World Market store by you or along the way until Christmas and New Year’s…..this gift guide is for you. I only managed to feature things that I have purchased in the past and will gladly purchase again but feel free to pop in the store or browse online since they carry everything from coffee to soap gift sets to furniture. The possibilities are endless with this store! Here are my picks!

I remember over 15 years ago trying out a cobbler mix and ended up loving it. I tried to find it with no luck. One day I randomly got a scone mix from a local coffee shop here as I had a gift certificate. I absolutely LOVED it. It was expensive but I didn’t think about it at the time since I had a gift certificate. When I lived in the East Coast, I was about 15 minutes away from World Market store. I loved it. I missed it and decided to see if they have an online store and OHMYGOSH they do! I looked up scones and was greeted with a wide variety. My first order consisted of the Lemon Poppyseed Scones and Wild Blueberry Scones. It arrived, I made it and was hooked. I’ve tried a lot of other flavors since then but here’s the top 3 I recommend: Lemon Poppyseed, Wild Blueberry and Salted Caramel. Salted Caramel is the most requested one by those that I have made them for. When buying online, it’s a case (box) of 6 packaged scone mixes for $29.94. I even purchased the gluten free varieties of the Lemon Poppyseed and Wild Blueberry ones so that my gluten-free friends can partake and they love them!

Sticky Fingers Scone Mixes

In that same order, I purchased the World Market Smoked Salmon set on a whim. I like smoked salmon that we get in the office from gift baskets during the holiday season from various clients. I thought it’d be perfect for an upcoming cabin stay and I’m so glad I purchased it. It’s perfect with crackers! While none of us were huge fans of the Lemon Dill (it was okay), the Classic one is so tasty! When looking at their website just now they have another flavor called Cracked Pepper! Um, it’s going into my cart for the next time I make a purchase. This retails for $8.99 each. I can’t find what the set of 2 costs but I think it comes to be the same as the individual price.

World Market Smoked Salmon

The next item is something I purchased for a very good friend and neighbor of ours. I remember he was looking for marzipan snacks but had a hard time finding it. The thing with World Market is it carries things from all over the world and you never really know what you may find….like this marzipan set! This Niederegger Assorted Mini Chocolate And Marzipan Bars set is made in Germany. It looks very nice and ready for gift-giving — I hope my friend likes it! But this is just a sample of what food items you may find there. They have all sorts of snacks and chocolates and fruit cakes. This goes for $6.99.

Niederegger Assorted Mini Chocolate And Marzipan Bars

This next item is from the first order I made online as well. I added it to my cart on a whim as my friends who just got back from New Orleans couldn’t stop raving about shortbread cookies. Now here’s the thing, before having this I have never eaten a shortbread cookie before in my life. There are lots of other cookies that just look more appealing to me. Oh my goodness, I’ve been missing out! From the moment I had my first bite of these Walkers shortbread cookies I was hooked! I went through half of that pack of 20 in a few days. I have since repurchased this in my last 2 orders. It’s the perfect size for snacking or just handing someone a small buttery treat! This value pack of 20 individually wrapped set of 2 shortbread fingers retails for $10.99.

Walkers Shortbread Fingers Value Pack

And here’s another random purchase of mine that I loved! Mackays Lemon Curd is slightly sweet and tart. I wasn’t sure what to use it for but there’s lots of ideas online. I got this in a set of 6 jars for $23.94. My favorite way of using it is in making lemon bars. I am including this in a gift basket I’m putting together from my mother-in-law.

Mackays Lemon Curd

I know that you can get this in stores now, but I wasn’t familiar with Biscoff Cookie Butter back then — only with Biscoff Cookies itself. So it was a random purchase and I got the set of 8 jars for $39.92. While I get this in stores around me now, if you’re making a gift basket or something like that….buying from World Market might be more convenient.

Biscoff Cookie Butter

I could go on and on about World Market but I’ll stop here for now. What I can say is if you happen to be close to one, go and stop by. There’s something for everyone in your Christmas list. And if you aren’t close to one, like me, there’s always online and the variety is pretty good there as well. I’m sure there will be some Black Friday deals and you bet that it’s one of the stores on my list for Black Friday shopping. 🙂


Rachael Ray Nutrish Treats

Hey guys! I was given the opportunity to participate in a dog-themed Vox Box from Influenster and I’m ready to share my thoughts on it. Here’s my take on Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Treats.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Treats

The Influenster insert states the following about the product:

CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to try a sneak peek of new Rachael Ray Nurtish treats. Inspired by real recipes from Rachael’s kitchen — like meatloaf, burgers, roasted chicken, even pasta — these treats look and taste like the real thing. Real U.S. farm-raised beef or chicken is always the #1 ingredient. Dogs everywhere crave the meaty deliciousness in these Nutrish treats. Look for them where you shop for your family’s groceries.

TREATING TIPS: Rachael Ray Nutrish Treats are intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only. Please watch your dog to ensure Nutrish treats are thoroughly chewed before swallowing. Break into smaller pieces for smaller dogs.

What I love about this product? I got the treats Deli Cuts and Burger Bites. I followed the instructions and had to break them into smaller pieces for my Brittany Spaniel as although he borders on the high end of a medium sized dog, the pieces are a little big for him since he tends to inhale his food and treats. I didn’t do that the first time and if it’s still relatively soft (definitely utilize the resealable bag!) then he’s okay with it still, but the Deli Cuts one hardened over time when I failed to reseal the bag completely once. My dog LOVES these! Both are made with US farm raised beef. There is no corn or wheat in it and has no artificial flavors or meat by-products. It is a cooked product and is a great treat for my dog. Beef is the main ingredient in the listing and that’s a relief as a lot of “meat” treats out there doesn’t actually have meat as the main ingredient. When I smell it, it actually smells like beef jerky to me, which my dog would love to have but we don’t feed him that as it’s not made for dogs. But he can definitely have these! 🙂 It actually smells like something I’d eat! The packaging is vibrant and attractive — very pleasing to the eye really. The product itself looks like pepperoni slices and tiny burger patties — right down to the grill marks!

What I don’t like about this product? Nothing really except maybe for the price. They are pretty pricey compared to a lot of dog treats out there even though the ingredients in these are top notch.

More information on this item and other products the brand carries is available on their website here. Products from this brand is carried at other retailers too both online and in-store.

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.* #Nutrish #NutrishPets #NutrishTREATS


Walmart Fall 2016 Beauty Box

I got my Walmart Fall 2016 Beauty Box in about 2 weeks ago. I was fairly pleased with what I got for $5 (yet again!).

Walmart Fall 2016 Beauty Box

The boxes vary in terms of worth to me each time but what it boils down to is it’s just $5 and looking at everything I got, that’s not a bad price for it at all.

Bioré Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

Clean & Clear Deep Action 60-Second Shower Mask

Dove Purely Pampering Nourishing Body Wash

Batiste Dry Shampoo

Village Naturals Therapy Aches & Pains Muscle Relief Concentrated Mineral Bath Soak

Hello Extra Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

EcoTools Makeup Brush Cleansing Cloths

Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails Gummies

I see a few things already here that I can use immediately. This is a great way to try some stuff out before committing to a full-sized product!


Sunbelt Bakery Chewy Granola Bar

Hey guys! Today’s post is on an item I got from my Influenster Bloom VoxBox 2016. Here’s my review on the Sunbelt Bakery Chewy Granola Bar.

Sunbelt Bakery Chewy Granola Bar

The Influenster insert boasts about this product: “Sunbelt Bakery granola bars are brought to your community each week, which means you get a snack with bakery-fresh taste and no preservatives.”

Verdict? This product comes in an easy to tear open packaging that is standard for most granola bars. Item highlights are clearly marked in the front with the following caption: “NO PRESERVATIVES” and “BAKERY-FRESH TASTE”. I had my man try it since he consumes granola bars more often than I do. He has about one a day. It only had 180 calories for the whole 1.4 oz / 41 g bar and it’s pretty filling. The flavor is pretty good and what he expected out of the flavor called Oats & Honey. It’s lightly sweet with a good amount of flavor. He thought it was a good granola bar overall so we’ll be looking out for this brand when we go grocery shopping next time. It didn’t have too much sugar for us at 12 g and sodium is 75 mg for this serving size. What I’m impressed about this the most is that it’s freshly stocked every so often so it’s one of the freshest commercially sold granola bars out there. Being widely available is not a bad thing either.

A single bar retails for $0.50 and is available at various retailers. To learn more about the brand and their offerings, visit www.sunbeltbakery.com, where you can check out what flavors and products they have!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Influenster Bloom VoxBox 2016

It’s been a while since I got an Influenster VoxBox. I think I get it once a year nowadays. The Influenster Bloom VoxBox 2016 contains items in the health and beauty department. I already put 2 of the 6 items in this box to the test. Here are the contents of the box:

Influenster Bloom VoxBox 2016

The Sunbelt Bakery granola bar has been demolished by my husband already and I’ve started using the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil. I already have immediate feedback on the oil — both good and bad. I already have the Cutex and Secret items from previous beauty boxes but am glad to get these still. It’s always good to have extras. That Sinful Colors shade is right up my alley (glitter — YASSS!) and I’m curious about the hair thickener by Not Your Mother’s. Stay tuned for individual blog posts on some of these!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Set

This past weekend felt like we’re heading into the summer season already. It was warm and nice that I only needed to slap on a shirt and am able to roam around outside without any other form of cover on (cardigans, jackets, coats, scarves and so on). I took the chance to check on something I’ve been wanting to test for a few weeks now. As mentioned in a previous post, I was given the opportunity to try out some items for review from Culinary Corner® recently.

Culinary Corner® Products

Here’s my take on the Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Set.

Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Set

Item description are as follows:

  • This 100% silicone 2.5 inch ice ball mold set creates slow melting ice spheres to dress up any highball glass or mug without the worry of diluting your actual drink. From water to your highest end liquor, enjoy your ice cold drink conveniently at your own pace without the need to get up and refill with more ice.
  • Ice mold top and bottom fit snug to avoid leaks. Simply fill with water (or another liquid for fun) and store with ease in the freezer as the flat mold bottom helps keep a secured position without tipping over. Once frozen, remove ice sphere from the mold with ease.
  • 100% top rack dishwasher safe; feel free to hand wash with light soap and air dry. We offer a lifetime guarantee with every product purchase.
  • Silicone ice mold sets are great for holiday and birthday gifts, or simply for adding to upgrade your barware setup.
  • FDA approved; BPA free. The ice ball mold set is made of food grade safe silicone.

Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Set (in action)

Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Set (with flash)

Verdict? Let’s just say that I’m making a list of people to give this to this very moment. I showed it to my husband who thought it was neat. He pointed out that the big block of ice looks appealing and unique as well as it has a large surface area to cool one’s drink. It’s between the size of a golf ball and baseball. It was really easy to use. I just rinsed it out before filling it up with water to freeze up in the freezer. The bottom of the sphere is flat so that it doesn’t roll around. Once I am ready to use it, I just pop the top half of the sphere off. If you fear you might damage the mold for whatever reason, just run the half of the sphere with ice under water really quick and it pops out easily (this is what I did the first time). One leaked a little and the other didn’t. It follows the rules of turning water into ice just like what you would see on an ice tray — water will expand when turned into ice. I find that filling it up through the hole with the sphere already sealed works best for me. It was suggested that this can be used to make cake pops as well but I haven’t tried that yet. It would make a pretty big cake pop! My next use for this would be to make fruit ice pops with these! Wish me luck on that! 😉

Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Ice (in action)

Culinary Corner® Ice Ball/Sphere Mold Set Ice (top view)

A set of 2 of these comes with a lifetime guarantee for $6.99 and is available on Amazon. An exclusive coupon code for my readers is available to use: KITTYC. Check out their website too for some fun promotions. I’m personally keeping an eye out on it for new products they’ll offer in the future.

*Products featured in this review have been provided by the PR company or manufacturer for an honest opinion.*


Culinary Corner® Easy Flex Silicone Spatulas

How are you guys doing? How was your weekend? Mine has been a relaxing one. I’m just catching up on stuff I’ve got lined up for my blog and took a bunch of pictures for items I will be reviewing here soon. Recenlty, I was given the opportunity to try out some items for review from Culinary Corner®.

Culinary Corner® Products

Here’s my take on the Culinary Corner® Easy Flex Silicone Spatulas.

Culinary Corner® Easy Flex Silicone Spatulas

Item description are as follows:

  • SILICONE WON’T DISAPPOINT: Unlike rubber sets, silicone spatulas hold up to high temperatures
  • GADGETS FOR EVERY GOOD COOK: Our flexible cookware allow you to mix, scrape ; evenly spread batter
  • EASY STORAGE: Our collection features clear plastic handles that include holes for hanging
  • STAIN & ODOR RESISTANT: Removable paddles are dishwasher safe to make cleaning your bakeware simple
  • CUSTOMERS SAY: Best addition to my kitchen-even my kids love them! | I’m scraping bowls like a pro!

Verdict? The first thing that caught my eye about this set is the color. Can I just say LOVE?! I am so in love with the color of the silicone. Pair that will lovely clear handles it just looks almost too good to use! It reminds me a lot of one of my wedding favors in the OOT Guests Welcome Bags in the blog post here. I’ll post the specific shot here to spare those that are not interested in my old wedding related blog post.

OOT Guests Welcome Bags (favors portion)

Do you see the mini spatula? Yeah….they got me just at the color already. But let’s move on to the functionality of this set. There are 3 different sized spatulas to give you a choice on which one to use best for what you’re doing in the kitchen. When I bake, I typically go for the largest one. If that one just so happens to be in the wash or if I need a second one for whatever reason, I would grab the medium sized on. I only use small sized spatulas to quickly scoop up batter that’s almost dripping off the rim of my mixing bowl or if I’m actually working on a smaller scale (which is super rare for me). In that case, everything is smaller in size from mixing bowls to spatulas. The smallest sized spatula in this set is still much bigger than the smaller sized spatulas I own. I don’t see it as a bad thing really since I prefer larger sized spatulas to begin with. The only difference to me would be the shape of the paddles really. The largest one has a rounded paddle with a surface that’s slightly curved like a spoon, the medium one has one straight side and the paddle is flat (not curved like the large one), the smallest one is like the medium one but with a smaller paddle that’s skinnier. These are very easy to use and very easy to clean. The paddles are removable! I’ve used this for several recent baking sessions already and love them. I made my Chocolate Marble Cupcakes and Torta Caprese (posts coming soon!) and these came in handy. I’ll be getting a few to give as cute gifts to friends that I know love this color!

The set of 3 goes for $7.99 and is available on Amazon. An exclusive coupon code for my readers is available to use: KITTYC. Check out their website too for any updates they may have.

*Products featured in this review have been provided by the PR company or manufacturer for an honest opinion.*


The French Connection Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup

Hey guys! Today’s post is on an item I was sent for review. It’s a savory sweet one I might add! Here’s my take on The French Connection Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup.

The French Connection Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup

Item description are as follows:

  • Lori’s Salt Caramel syrup boasts of luscious vanilla flavor with a hint of maple and a dash of salt for a versatile syrup that complements any breakfast or dessert dish It has an all-natural, fat-free, and perfect balance of sweet and salty
  • Handcrafted in Ashland Oregon and made with just 4 ingredients: Caramelized cane sugar, Tahitian vanilla, GMO-free Boyajian maple, and French Celtic sea salt
  • Recently picked as one of the 3 favorite new alternative sweeteners by Gourmet Retailer magazine
  • Place on top of oatmeal, coffee and lattes, ice cream, cake, and hundreds of more options

The French Connection Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup (perfect with pancakes and waffles!)

The French Connection Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup (aka sweet gold)

Verdict? This liquid gold of savory sweetness comes well packaged in a glass bottle with a twist on lid. The shape of the bottle is very cute and suitable for the product. Understand that this is not pure maple syrup so there will be no comparison to that at all. I will say that my expectations of this is that it’s like a regular pancake syrup just that it’s homemade. I was on the fence about it at first as I am more of a butter than syrup person when it comes to pancakes and waffles. I find syrups usually too sweet or the flavor just distracting me from the taste of the pancakes or waffles. The first time the product touched my lips was an eye-opener. It’s not overtly sweet and the salt added a hint of savoriness. It added to the flavor of the waffles my husband cooked up that day. He liked it more than I thought he would as well and he’s a big maple syrup lover. The maple taste in this is light enough that you can use this on a variety of ways. I’ve also tried this with toasted bread and plainer cakes as well as hot chocolate. The hot chocolate one is interesting. I never thought hot chocolate could have more depth in flavor like it did when I just drizzled a little bit of this in there. I worried about the salt interfering with the natural flavor of hot chocolate but it just boosted and enhanced it even more in my opinion. This product totally changed my perception on syrup and the possibilities it can bring. My next use with this will be for icing on a cake. I would’ve never thought about using it that way if the consistency was thicker like how some syrups are but it’s pretty viscous that I can have decent control on how much I want to drizzle in. It pooled really nicely into the crevices of my waffle (one of the many reasons I like waffles more than pancakes!). I can’t wait!

The French Connection Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup (glistens beautifully in the sun)

A 8 fl oz bottle retails for $12 and is available on Amazon. Retailer CostPlus carried this at one point. To learn more about the brand and their offerings, visit their website. I am actually going to buy a few bottles as soon as I run out of this one — a few to keep for myself and a few to give out as gifts!

*Products featured in this review have been provided by the PR company or manufacturer for an honest opinion.*


Nasoya Pasta Zero

Hey guys! Today’s post is on a food item I got from my Influenster Blossom VoxBox 2015. Y’all know how excited I get when it comes to edible items! Here’s my take on the Nasoya Pasta Zero.

Nasoya Pasta Zero

The Influenster insert boasts about this product: “Nasoya Pasta Zero noodles are traditional Japanese shirataki noodles that have only 15 calories and 4 grams of carbs per serving! They easily absorb the delicious flavors you cook with…and will save you about 200 calories versus a single serving of pasta!”

Nasoya Pasta Zero with my marinara sauce

Verdict? This product comes in sturdy plastic packaging that I used a pair of scissors to open. First thing I did was look at the nutritional information. It feeds 2 at 15 calories per serving. Ha! I can eat the entire bag and not feel guilty! I read the preparation instructions and proceeded to rinse the noodles thoroughly. I then heated my skillet and added a tiny amount of hot garlic oil and pan-fried it for about 2 minutes as suggested. I then added a good amount of my homemade marinara sauce and tossed in a good amount of cherry tomatoes. I turned the heat off after the first cherry tomato split open and left the skillet on the heating element still for a few more minutes. I gently poked the rest of the cherry tomatoes to get them to split open and then tasted it. I tried this product earlier with the marinara sauce recipe posted on their site but I felt that I needed stronger flavors and more texture difference to get past the earthy taste and the chewiness I noticed. I still tasted a little bit of that earthy taste that I added a dash of my favorite hot sauce, Tabasco. That with the texture difference that the cherry tomatoes bring made it finally enjoyable to consume. I’m not gonna sugar coat what I thought of it in my first try with this — I didn’t like it at all. I tasted the earthy taste (which I find to be strong) and I didn’t like the texture at all. But armed with that information, the second time around was a breeze. It was actually pleasant that I enjoyed what I ate and I definitely feel full! I was very surprised at how filling it was. I honestly thought that I’d end up eating something else after that with the small amount of food. I’m willing to try this product again in recipes where the flavors are strong and there are other ingredients that boosts textural difference from the pasta.

A single 8 oz pack retails for $2.29 or so and is available at major retailers. To learn more about the brand and their offerings, visit their website here, where you can check out what other products they have!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Bear Naked Granola

Hey guys! Today’s post is on 2 items I got from my Influenster Blossom VoxBox 2015. Here’s my review on Bear Naked Granola in Sea Salt Caramel Apple and Coconut Almond Curry.

Bear Naked Granola

The Influenster insert boasts about this product: “Bear Naked Granola not only brings great tasting ingredients together, it also includes thoughtful combinations that are uncomplicated and delicious! So here’s a big, tribal call out to those who live simply, wholly and awesomely — to those who live Bear Naked. You’re invited to join our epic adventure. Now, try Bear Naked’s two new flavors: Coconut Almond Curry and Sea Salt Caramel Apple!”

Verdict? This product comes in an easy to open plastic packaging that is standard for a lot of snack items. It is simple and it has a clear part where you can see the granola mix. I had my man try the Sea Salt Caramel Apple since I know he’s not a fan of curry. He consumed it while playing video games and commented that it’s not bad. It tasted like apple cinnamon oatmeal to him but he’d rather eat a chocolate granola bar than apple cinnamon oatmeal flavored granola bits. I personally prefer the bar form so I didn’t even try to fight him to try the Sea Salt Caramel Apple one. Our dog managed to swipe the Coconut Almond Curry one off the table and did try to open the package but left it alone. When I opened it to try it I thought maybe that flavor didn’t appeal to him at all cause it certainly didn’t appeal to me. I do taste a flavor that is distinctly curry but it’s not the same curry flavor I like. I thought maybe I was crazy so I asked my Indian friends who live on curry all their lives to give it a try. Renix didn’t like it at all. I could tell immediately just by looking at her face after popping a piece in. She didn’t think that the curry flavor it had worked with whatever sweetness and other flavor the granola bits have. Naga and Didi thought it was only okay. They didn’t find it unappealing as Renix and I did. It went down better for me with milk but this flavor is definitely a no-go for me. I am open to trying out the other flavors though.

A 12 oz bag of this retails for about $10.49 and is available at major retailers in various locations nationwide and online. To learn more about the brand and their offerings, visit their website here, where you can check out what flavors and products they have!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Influenster Blossom VoxBox 2015

“Long time no see Influenster!” is what I literally said to myself (again!) when I got this in the mail. I was very surprised when I got an email that I qualified for it because it’s been so long! The Influenster Blossom VoxBox 2015 contains various items that is not targeted in any specific department such as beauty or wellness. It’s a mix of things and I’m very excited to cover them all in future posts. Here are the contents of the box:

Influenster Blossom VoxBox 2015

The Nasoya item is happily sitting in the fridge right now and I passed one of the Bear Naked goodies to my husband to snack on. The Clairol Hair Food Root Cleansing Shampoo has been in use for the past few days now. I can tell you as early as now that I’m quite impressed with that one. More details to come in the next few days!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Wonka Randoms®

My first assignment at Smiley360 was to review, rate and share about Randoms®. This particular candy is under the Wonka brand, which is pretty well-known. I was very excited to try food related items for review as always. This did not disappoint.

Wonka Randoms®

I quickly dove into the first bag and share the contents with my husband. I only got a few pieces in when I noticed that the entire bag is finished a few days later. Talk about fast! For 2 people and a couple of pieces each time, it should’ve last longer than that. I then brought the bigger bag for sharing to work. My, my…..everyone loved it. It was such a huge hit that when afternoon rolls by we get a steady stream of visitors needing a little bit of sugar boost. Instead of snacking on some chocolate candy, we just gobble a few of these and it does the trick. And the flavors….my favorite (as well as a few others) are the ones that are filled with this jelly or jam like thing in the middle. It provides a small burst of sweetness that I like. A few others find the ones with the white backing intriguing. We haven’t narrowed it down yet how to describe what it taste like but it definitely makes the candy taste better than the plain gummies. We all picked up the challenge of finding another of the same shape among each others few pieces and surprisingly came up empty. The name definitely suits the candy!

Wonka Randoms® (huge variety)

Would I buy these again? You bet. It’s not a bad snack item as long as you have them in moderation. And I’m so looking forward to chomping down on the jelly or jam filled pieces again.

This retails for $2.78 usually for a 10 oz at Walmart. For more information on the brand and its offerings, click here.

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Smiley360 program.*


Hillshire Farm American Craft Sausages

My first assignment as a BzzAgent was to review, rate and share about Hillshire Farm American Craft Sausages. This particular line of sausages seems to be relatively new to me since my eyes are always open for these in savory and spicy flavors such as Jalapeno & Cheddar (can you guess what’s my favorite flavor this early in the blog post?). I was sent a lovely kit in where I can pick up 2 free packs of the product in whatever flavors of my choosing and have a good amount of $1 off coupons to share with family and friends. The sausages come in a pack of 5 and in 3 different flavors: Smoky Bourbon, Jalapeno & Cheddar and Garlic & Onion. I’ve served these sausages up twice already (not including having them as leftovers) and they did get people talking.

The first time around was about a month ago. I had several friends from work over and fired up the grill to get some Smoky Bourbon and Garlic & Onion sausages around. We got hotdog buns as well as grilled onions, tomatoes, zucchini, baby corn, and fresh jalapeno slices to go with the main feature. I asked our friends to share their thoughts on these 2 very different flavors of sausages to us. The verdict? The texture is very good — meaty and juicy right off the grill. We were all impressed by it. The sausage held together and didn’t crumble as some of us have experienced this from trying our various brands over the years (some even had casing as well!). We all agreed that the Smoky Bourbon sausages has a stronger flavor than the Garlic & Onion ones. I only detected a very faint taste of garlic and onion, but then again I am a garlic lover and consume them in huge quantities. One of my friends did state that he tastes the actual garlic and onion flavor. The clear winner between the 2 flavors I tried that day is Smoky Bourbon.

Hillshire Farm American Craft Sausages on hotdog bun with vegetable sides

When I got the chance to pick more up from Walmart a few days after I first tried these, I didn’t hesitate to grab the Jalapeno & Cheese ones (I also got the Smoky Bourbon again). I used the $1 coupons on these and along with the rollback price, it came out to $1.98 per pack. What a deal! I gave the other coupons away to family and friends as well as leaving the last few in Walmart right where the sausages are. Share the love is one of the things I live by. We couldn’t think of what to cook last night and I suggested whipping out the sausages we got a week or 2 ago. My husband fired up the grill and lined all 10 up nicely. I requested to leave the Jalapeno & Cheddar ones on the grill a few minutes longer. I personally like a little bit of char on mine. The smell is so savory and enticing. My mouth was watering in anticipation. I served these along with some penne pasta in homemade sauce that I made. The sausages were as juicy as I remembered. And the flavor? Smoky Bourbon is just as good as it was when I last had it, but the Jalapeno & Cheddar is definitely the winner. The jalapeno flavor isn’t very strong, so it just gives every bite a good amount of flavorful spice. I wouldn’t mind if they made the flavor of that in this stronger. The cheese flavor is a little bit stronger than the jalapeno, so those that worry about this being very spicy can rest easy and give it a try. I know my friends who aren’t fans of spicy food will be able to tolerate this heat level (which is nonexistent to me). Seeing the cheese ooze out when you leave it long enough on the grill is a welcome sight in my book. One thing I’ve learned from consuming these right off the grill twice now is to proceed with caution if the sausage hasn’t split open. I bit into it too excitedly the first time and hot sausage juice squirted all over and into my mouth. I didn’t think they would be this juicy! It’s also fun to think of how I can use these sausages up in the future such as in chili, gumbo or casseroles!

Hillshire Farm American Craft Sausages and side of pasta with homemade sauce

Would I buy these again? The fat content sealed its own fate for me to consider this as a treat once in a while only. But it’s a definite yes for Jalapeno & Cheddar and I’ll grab the Smoky Bourbon for others that would like to play it safe on the spice level.

This retails for I’m guessing a little over $3 usually for a pack of 5 and is available at Walmart. For more information on the brand and its offerings, click here.

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through BzzAgent program.*


Wedding DIY #4 – OOT Guests Welcome Bags

We just picked up the first of our out-of-town guests today! Being that most of them had to travel quite a way to get here, I wanted to make sure that I provide them some goodies in a bag for their convenience. I’ve received welcome bags from the last 2 weddings I have attended as an out-of-town guest. I worked from there for ideas on what to include in my OOT Guests Welcome Bags.

OOT Guests Welcome Bags

I stuffed a bunch of things in the gift bag. Shown are contents for a one person welcome bag. Just double the food and drink portion for the most part for welcome bags for 2 people. Each person gets a water bottle, a bag of goldfish crackers, 2 bags of chips, 2 packets of sandwich crackers, a pack of mint gum, a pack of sweet gum, a wine topper favor, a bookmark favor, a mini spatula favor with accompanying local baking mixes, a few packets of headache medicine and antacids, various pamphlets in relation to things to do in town, and not shown is a box of plain M&M’s and a homemade map with markers of restaurants and things like gas stations or drugstores nearby. I have one family with young children (2 under 3) and I also included stuff for them like a block puzzle set, various rubber duckies and a small blow up toy of a ship for the bath (they have 2 boys). Welcome bags for females contain a night mask too just for fun (unless they’re really using it to aid with sleep). I got most of the food items in bulk at our local Sam’s Club and the pamphlets are from the visitor’s center in Norman. They were so nice when we stopped by there to pick up a few thing for our guests. They gave us more than we thought we were getting! They even included a pad of post-its for each welcome bag.

OOT Guests Welcome Bags (food and drink portion)

OOT Guests Welcome Bags (favors portion)

OOT Guests Welcome Bags (pamphlets and stuff)

I’m handing the rest of them out tomorrow. I sure hope it helps some of our out-of-town guests out. I know that my uncle from Philly already started with some of the bags of chips in his bag! 🙂


Wedding DIY #2 – Personalized Wedding M&M’s

Hey guys! I almost forgot about posting this today! Whew! This week, I’m covering things in relation to my wedding. Here’s my second wedding favor with a DIY component to it. It’s just the packaging really since I purchased the M&M’s from the website for some personalization. I randomly chose the 3 colors it asked for that I thought would look good together. No, I don’t have a Tiffany blue theme or anything like that. I just liked how these 3 colors looked together the first time I tried placing an order. I knew I wanted white and I thought I’d go with blue. I didn’t want to go with the dark blue that’s part of their core colors, so I chose the light blue. The last part was easy — just finding a color that complements both and I ended up liking teal the most. So here’s what the end result looks like for my Personalized Wedding M&M’s!

Personalized Wedding M&M’s

They’re pretty pricey when you actually break the numbers down compared to regular M&M’s, but I thought they were cute and I took advantage of a 20% off offer (they come once in a while). You get to choose 2 text and 2 graphic/photo design as well. The text design can hold 2 lines each if I remember right. These will print on the other side where the “m” is not present. I just chose our names “John & Kathy” and “Just Married!” (I thought about printing the date as one of the options, but the Matchbook Wedding Mints bears the date and it would look redundant I thought). You can upload a custom graphic/photo too, but I didn’t want to mess with that after reading some reviews online. The most common complaint that made me steer clear of the custom graphic/photo is that the outcome was blurry or too light. They have some cute graphics already anyway, so I settled for the clinking glasses and the wedding cake. I had my fiancé proofread my order before I placed it because you can’t really cancel it once you go through with it. It took less than a week to get to me if I remember right. I ended up ordering a total of 5 lbs of the printed ones and 2 lbs each of just the colored ones to cut a bit on cost. I planned for 70 guests and am ending up with around 55 I think, but it all worked out because the clear boxes I got were a decent size and I weighed out 3.5 ounces of candy into each box (when I started the weighing part, it made me think about drug dealers weighing out their goods — LOL). In the very end, I ended up with a teeny bit of the printed ones and I was still a few boxes short. I mixed it in with some regular M&M’s and will be giving those out to our youngest guests. I reasoned too that mixing it with the regular colored ones will make them look more familiar maybe (and more colorful!).

I started tying them with the white mesh ribbon, but ran out close to the end. I forgot to take one of those for some reason, so that one’s not in any of the pictures. I had some white satin ribbon on hand and ended up using those until I have a couple left. I had another roll of ribbon with a scallop like design in both white and ivory. I used those to finish up the rest.

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (white satin ribbon)

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (white scalloped ribbon)

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (kid’s ivory scalloped ribbon)

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (white satin ribbon top view)

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (white scalloped ribbon top view)

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (kid’s ivory scalloped ribbon top view)

My favorite ribbon to use out of all of them is the white satin one. I think it looks more polished.

Personalized Wedding M&M’s (my favorite out of the 3)

This is as DIY as I can get with this particular wedding favor. There are other ways you can spice it up instead of using ribbons. I thought about the customized sticker option (a monogram or graphic or graphic and text relating to your wedding), but I already had ribbons on hand so I decided to just use them up this way. Stickers would’ve been a heck a lot faster though!


Wedding DIY #1 – Matchbook Wedding Mints

I’ve mentioned here and there in my blog posts about my upcoming wedding (less than 2 weeks away!) and thought I’d share a few things from it that I’ve done. I’ll post the invitations later on, but what I do have pictures of on hand right now are of one of the 4 wedding favors I have for my guests. 3 of them have a DIY component and one doesn’t (haha, photo booth — surprise, surprise!). So here’s the first one I’m sharing with you guys: Matchbook Wedding Mints!

Matchbook Wedding Mints

You can make this matchbook holder for any other party occasion really. I think it’s really cute! I thought about ordering actual matchbook matches and having our names and date of the wedding on it, but then I already got the mints and thought why not have mints housed in there instead of matches? I sketched it out roughly but wasn’t sure how to hold the mints onto the card stock I’ll be using, so I looked it up online. I’m glad I did because I thought about using a glue gun and I think the stapler method is much better (and faster as well as easier). I used a sheet of card stock the size of regular paper and that’s enough exactly for 4 of these. My fiancé didn’t have Microsoft Word on my PC at home, so I used Open Office instead and it worked out perfectly. I was able to select the 4 column option after setting it to landscape and it actually lightly prints out the lines to divide them. I used a pair of scissors to cut down the lines for 4 rectangular pieces. It took trial and error for me to figure out where the creases should be (I have buttermints here and other mints like Lifesavers may be smaller so the overall size is smaller). I folded a bottom part nicely for the top flap to be able to tuck into it to close. I then make folds/creases to accommodate the fullness and length of the buttermints. I did this all initially in a trial run with regular white paper since it’s not as firm as card stock. Once I figured out roughly the measurements, I entered the text I wanted in the front and on the “spine”.

To assemble, I make all the creases I need in the card stock. I then stuck 2 mints in it and gauged where to punch in the staple at the very ends where the seal is so as to not pierce the candy wrapper to retain the freshness of the buttermints. I tucked one end of the buttermints into the small flap and then staple them in place. I then tuck the top flap of the other end under the flap on the stapled side. Shown below is what it looks like opened up.

Matchbook Wedding Mints (opened up)

I didn’t take a picture of the text on the spine part, but it says “Thank You!” there. As mentioned earlier, you can use this to DIY favors for other events as well like baby or wedding showers and birthdays just to mention a few. I chose a card stock that’s a marble like print so my text will have to be simple. I’ve seen some online where they used a plain colored card stock (like cream or white) and they incorporated a logo or some clip art in color.


ZonePerfect Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bar

Hey guys! Today’s post is on an item I got from my Influenster The Good Life VoxBox 2013. ZonePerfect Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bar.

ZonePerfect Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bar

The Influenster insert boasts about this product: “Protein to help keep you in your zone and flavor to keep you happy while you’re there. Now made with the creaminess of Greek yogurt.”

Verdict? This product comes in an easy to tear open packaging that is standard for most nutrition bars. Item highlights are clearly marked in the front with the following caption: “3 g FIBER”, “12 g PROTEIN”, and “GREAT TASTE”. I had my man try it since he consumes granola and nutrition bars more than I do. It only had 190 calories for the whole 1.58 oz / 45 g bar and it’s pretty filling. The flavor is pretty good and what he expected out of a chocolate flavored protein bar. The bar is soft and crunchy at the same time – much like a rice crispie bar. He finds this very satisfactory as a nutrition bar, but thought that this product didn’t hold up well under the summer heat. It melted a little when sitting in the mailbox and hardened up when we took it in. No biggie overall though. I had a nibble of it and it definitely tastes better than most nutrition bars I’ve ever tried, but that is probably due to the sugar content. It’s higher compared to a lot of other brands.

A single bar retails for $1.25 and is available at major retailers. To learn more about the brand and their offerings, visit www.zoneperfect.com, where you can check out what flavors and products they have!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Influenster The Good Life VoxBox 2013

This round of Influenster’s Vox Box program is a new type for me to try out. The Influenster The Good Life VoxBox 2013 contains various items that applies to general wellness it seems. Here are the contents of the box:

Influenster The Good Life VoxBox 2013

I’ve actually left the UrgentRx Fast Powder at home yesterday when I got a headache at work. Gah! It was the perfect opportunity for me to try it out. Oh well, I get one every few weeks so I’m sure I’ll be able to put it to the test soon. I already consumed the Nonni’s THINaddictives and my man tried out the ZonePerfect Green Yogurt Bar already. I love hearing his input on things I blog about cause it’s so funny sometimes! Reviews coming up shortly, so stay tuned!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


EBOOST Daily Health Booster

Hey guys! Today’s post is on another product from my Influenster Beauty Bloggers VoxBox 2012. This is one of the things that I found sticking out like a sore thumb in the box. It’s a food item and it’s a stretch to pass for a beauty item in my opinion. But as everyone that follow my blog knows, I’m always up for trying new things. Here’s EBOOST Daily Health Booster.

EBOOST Daily Health Booster

The Influenster insert boasts about this product: “EBOOST will boost your mood, focus, and immunity with natural ingredients and no crash. As a shot or an easy-to-mix powder in four flavors, you’ll feel great whether you choose Orange, Pink Lemonade, Acai Pomegranate, or Super Berry.”

Verdict? I’ll pass. I’m open to trying consumable items like this, but I didn’t have great results. I wasn’t expecting a huge change or anything like that. Directions are clear and easy to follow. It’s just add water and consume. The flavor I got was Orange. I didn’t like how it tasted really and I felt a little off after consuming it. It could be just me though, but it’s good enough for me to know that it’s not a product I’d like to go and try more of it. I may like it in another flavor better such as Pink Lemonade. And did I even experience a boost? One dose is hard to tell really, but if it’s enough to produce results then my answer is no.

This product retails for $28 for a box of 20 effervescent powders, $39 for a box of 30 effervescent powders, and $39 for a box of 12 shots. They are available at various locations nationwide as well as online. You can check the list of locations they are carried at here.

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Influenster Beauty Bloggers VoxBox 2012

This round of Influenster’s Vox Box program is 100% a perfect match for me. The Influenster Beauty Bloggers VoxBox 2012 contains all beauty items that I can use everyday with an item or 2 that’s not directly related to beauty. Here are the contents of the box:

Influenster Beauty Bloggers VoxBox 2012

I’ve already started with 2 items in this round. I can’t wait to feature most of them here on my blog, so stay tuned!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


From Pobe’s Garden….

Hey guys! Aside from nail polish and beauty products in general, I have a special place for food in my heart. Today’s post is on an Indian dish I made that was pretty much spot on (so says my Indian co-worker friends – yay!). This dish is called Rasam. It’s brothy in nature and the version I am replicating is the tomato and chili peppers one. The ones I’ve always had is just the tomato version, but one time I had it with various green chili peppers in it as well and loved it so much that I decided to go with that version. The various green chili peppers came from my boss friend Pobe. 🙂

Tomato and Chili Peppers Rasam

The result is a spicy, flavorful concoction of heady Indian spices with tomatoes and chili peppers. I used various types of chili peppers in this one. Consume with rice and you’re good to go. Don’t try it with pasta. Trust me on that. I can only come up with a rough recipe since I eyeball a lot of my recipes.

Tomato and Chili Peppers Rasam

Tadka:

6 T butter
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin
8-10 pcs dried red chili peppers
2 strands of curry leaves

Soup Base:

3 lbs various chili peppers, sliced with seeds removed
3 lbs tomatoes, sliced
2 T tamarind paste
2 T rasam powder
salt and pepper to taste
water as needed

1) Slice peppers into smaller pieces after washing and removing seeds. Wash tomatoes and cut in half or quarters. If using small tomatoes like cherry tomatoes, slicing is optional.
2) Make the tadka. I use a big pot for this. I melt butter in it on high and toss in the mustard seeds and cumin.
3) Once it starts to crackle and pop, add in the dried red chili peppers. Stir around for 1 minute then add the curry leaves. The mixture you have up to this point is known as tadka.
4) Add in the chili peppers and fry it for about 3 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes. The tomatoes will release its water content.
5) Add in the tamarind paste and rasam powder. Add water as needed for the flavorful broth. Boil for about 10 minutes.
6) Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

This particulr recipe I outlined can serve around 10 people, so cut the recipe accordingly for the right proportion to you. Remember, this is only a rough recipe since I eyeball it and adjust to taste. This is probably my favorite Indian dish to date. It’s simple and easy to make – can’t complain there!


Quaker Soft Baked Bars Banana Nut Bread

Hey guys! Today’s post is on an item I got from my Influenster Summer VoxBox 2012. Here’s Quaker Soft Baked Bars Banana Nut Bread.

Quaker Soft Baked Bars Banana Nut Bread

The Influenster insert boasts about this product: “Made with real bananas and almonds, Quaker Soft Bars in Banana Nut Bread flavor have tasty ingredients to help provide fuel to start your day. 5g Fiber, 20% of daily value of 5 B Vitamins and 6g of protein!”

Verdict? This product comes in an easy to open plastic pouch. Serving suggestion is clearly marked in the front with the following caption: “GREAT WARMED UP! Open one end to vent and microwave on HIGH for 10 seconds”. The flavor I tried only had 140 calories for the whole 1.48 oz / 42 g bar and it’s pretty filling. The flavor is pretty good and it’s as good as a cereal bar can get. It’s chewy and had the right amount of chunkiness in terms of texture.

A box of 5 bars retails for $3.29 and is available at major retailers. To learn more about the brand and their offerings, visit www.quakeroats.com, where you can check out what flavors and products they have!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*


Influenster Summer VoxBox 2012

I was excited to have been selected to receive Influenster’s Summer VoxBox 2012. I haven’t been keeping up with others on what is in this round, so I was pleasantly surprised with the contents. This is a beauty themed VoxBox and that’s right up my alley! Here’s the contents of my Influenster Summer VoxBox 2012.

Influenster Summer VoxBox 2012

I think this is the VoxBox that is most in tune with me and what I do in this blog. Previous VoxBoxes were so-so or almost completely missed the mark. I have already tried the shampoo and conditioner as well as the nail and cuticles hand creme. I will end this entry by saying I LOVE this round of Influenster VoxBox!

*Products featured here are received complimentary to test through Influenster’s VoxBox program.*