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CLOSED GH Cretors review and giveaway: Back to school I go – to snack in style!

Update: This giveaway is closed.

Fall is here, and so are many beautiful things: pumpkin patches, canning and baking sessions, amber-colored trees – and school, glorious school 🙂 Gone are the days of summer and the luxurious long break I loved so much. It’s fall, I’m back into the classroom to teach several demanding classes, and I need quality food to keep me going. I know from experience that popcorn is one of the best options to have on hand to appease hunger pangs in-between school sessions. Filling, tasty and nutritious, popcorn has been one of my favorite snack options in recent years. While it keeps me satisfied for hours, it also brings back beautiful childhood memories. I just love to go back in time and to remember those many evenings I spent popping corn with my parents, in the kitchen of our tiny apartment. Those were some really happy days!

Enter G.H. Cretors Popped Corn for the perfect school snack 😉 I had seen this brand on shelves at my local healthy food grocery store, but I wasn’t really familiar with its products until earlier this year, when I attended the Sweets&Snacks Expo (you can check out my review here), talked to their reps and sampled lots of their popcorn, which I thought was amazing. This is why I was very excited when I was contacted recently to review their products and to host a giveaway for my readers. Keep Reading

CLOSED Nielsen-Massey Vanillas review and giveaway: when baked desserts are done right!

The kitchen is filled with zesty rich aromas, and my daughter is getting impatient: she wants cake, and she wants it now! My repeated attempts to temper her kitchen tantrums are a failure – and, after all, who can blame her? The flowery notes in the air are pungent and unrestrained, promising heaps of flavor and refreshing baked joy. They are just too alluring to resist. Faces covered in sweat, MIL and I have been baking for about one hour, and the waiting will soon be over. I take the round pan out of the oven, and a fresh explosion of citrusy notes permeates the hot air in an instant. Say hello to orange ricotta strudel! 🙂

I have baked a lot this summer. From éclairs to cookies and from clafoutis to strudels, I have baked – and baked – and baked some more! – and have found it very therapeutic. In the process, I have used a variety of extracts to elevate my desserts. Indeed, extracts can add or enhance the flavors of baked goods and can provide convenience to the busy baker. My mom used a lot of extracts in her baking when I was growing up. Sadly, these were all fake extracts – colored water with a drop of artificial flavors and very little else. Since then, we both have learned to appreciate the value of the “real deal,” of authentic extracts made with natural ingredients. This is why I was very excited when I was contacted by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, a Waukegan IL based company with worldwide distribution, for a product review and a giveaway. I chose their pure orange extract for my review.

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MOD Pizza giveaway: We have a winner!

Thank you all for entering the MOD Pizza giveaway. The winner is Jennifer H, who wrote, “I would say thin crust. I like sausage and pepperoni. I think this kind of pizza because it has a crunchy crust.”

The winner has been notified. Congratulations, Jennifer! 🙂

CLOSED A review of MOD Sienna Pizza – and a giveaway: They had me at… Brussels sprouts!

In my experience, resistance is futile when it comes to pizza – unless I’m told I am going to get Brussels sprouts on a thin crust! I have yet to find the magic of thin crusts – I like the pie crust to be thick, fluffy and pillow-like, and comforting all-around. As for the Brussels sprouts, I used to eat them when we lived in Britain, and I was not a fan (to put it mildly). We mainly ate Brussels sprouts as a side dish on Christmas Day, when they were boiled, seasoned, and paired with crispy bacon for extra flavor and texture. Disguised by the bacon, the Brussels sprouts failed to make culinary sense to me, and I found them pale, gloomy, and not charming in the slightest.

I had to revisit my opinions on Brussels sprouts and thin pizza crust last week, when I was invited to taste MOD Pizza’s seasonal offering: the Sienna pizza. Before this visit, I was unfamiliar with the MOD Pizza brand, and apprehensive about eating Brussels sprouts on a pizza. However, a quick Internet search made me uncover several positive reviews on the topic, and I became anxious to see what the enthusiastic buzz was all about. 🙂 Keep Reading

CLOSED Hamilton Beach rice cooker review and giveaway: Carb season doesn’t have to be boring!

*Disclaimer: Hamilton Beach sent me a rice/hot cereal cooker free of charge for me to review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Farewell, store-bought pasta, overcooked and dumped in cheese sauce in a hurry! Go away, sad-looking pilaf, grey and textureless like an unfinished cooking experiment! Time to say good bye, soggy sandwiches long-forgotten in the fridge, brimming with wilted lettuce! Who needs such uninspiring carb overloads? Not me, that’s for sure 🙂

I’ve never been a fan of carbs, yet the cold season is fast approaching and I know I’m going to need carbs to keep me warm and energetic during the fall & winter months. If you’re like me and need an extra “something” to get you motivated and interested in experimenting with carbs, a rice cooker might just be what you need! I admit I was very excited when Hamilton Beach contacted me and offered to send me a rice cooker to test and report on. Along with rice, this versatile Hamilton Beach appliance can cook hot cereal and whole grains, and even steam veggies and fish. From quinoa to farro, shrimp to grits and steamed asparagus to salmon – the possibilities seem endless!

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