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Martina McBride cookbook giveaway: Home is where the memorable food is!

They say home is where the heart is – I say it’s where a good plate of food awaits you. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to require hours of your time or endless trips to the grocery store – but it does have to feel authentic, and to be good enough for you to want to savor it with your family, and to cherish it in your thoughts forever. Home is where great memories are made, and that’s one of the best things about food: that it’s an excellent “memory maker.” Food is not just sustenance, but also human emotion – not just chemistry, but also love, or so I think.

To me, memory making is one of the greatest assets of the recipes featured in Martina McBride’s latest cookbook, Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life.  After a 4-year break, country music star Martina McBride returns to the food publishing world with a book that is not only gorgeous, but also inspiring. What to win a copy of her cookbook? Read on 🙂

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Nielsen-Massey Holiday Flavors Bundle review and giveaway: blueberry cake for Christmas? Yes, please!

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, then you know I love to bake. I might be all about panini and quick lunches, but when it comes to baking, I commit to the process wholeheartedly – and for good reason. Whenever I bake my mind goes back in time, all the way to my childhood. Growing up, I would watch my mom and aunt scramble to find baking basics such as flour and sugar, improvise with the limited supplies they had, and finally work hard day and night to make baked good for their loved ones. With almost no baking ingredients on hand, these women somehow always managed to make cookies and cakes that had outstanding flavors. They were amazing! 🙂

Those days are long gone, and now I am lucky enough to have plenty of baking supplies to recreate my mom and my aunt’s recipes. The cake in the pic above comes straight from my mom’s recipe book. We usually make it with pitted sour cherries, but you can use other fruits when sour cherries are hard to find or not in season. For this post I decided to use blueberries – their fresh fruit flavor and natural color are simply unbeatable, in my opinion. Moist, buttery and delightfully light, this blueberry cake benefits from the addition of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. Keep Reading

Nielsen-Massey end-of-summer review and giveaway: Can you smell the vanilla?

Update: This giveaway is closed.

A touch of flour, a dash of sugar, a few cracked eggs – the baking season is upon us, and I’m loving it! Now is the time to bake cakes and to make memories, a time like no other, when sweetness and storytelling capture the hearts and mind of adults and children alike.

I wish I could tell you my family did a lot of baking when I was a child, but that would not be true. My mom and aunt had plenty of ideas and recipes but limited baking supplies, and had to rely on neighbors’ generosity or a stroke of good luck to get the most basic necessities of life. As such, baking came way after vegetable stew on the list of priorities, and when we baked we used very few ingredients and hardly any spices. Thankfully, times have changed and getting baking supplies is no longer an issue, which means that nowadays I bake a lot. Simply put, we missed many opportunities to create memories when I was little, and now I’m playing catch-up 😉

As part of my baking, I have enjoyed reviewing Nielsen-Massey products and incorporating them into my family’s recipes (check out my previous reviews of Nielsen-Massey products here, here and here). Nielsen-Massey contacted me again recently and offered to send me one of their products to review. I chose their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract – and the rest was history, as they say 🙂
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CLOSED Nielsen-Massey review and giveaway: the citrus connection!

Update: This giveaway is closed.

There’s something utterly delicious and refreshing when it comes to citrus fruits. In the midst of summer, when the heat goes up and the appetite goes down, who wouldn’t go for a glass of thirst-quenching orange juice? Who wouldn’t crave an aromatic lemon-infused ice cream? Who wouldn’t dream of getting their teeth into a blood orange and wipe their face of the juice bursting through every tiny pocket of ruby red orange goodness? Yes, yes, yes: I’m a big fan of citrus, and I’m very loud and proud about it 🙂

Cooking with citrus is a great way to add an extra layer of flavor to both savory and sweet dishes, and if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I use citrus in my recipes extensively (here’s one example). And yet, buying fresh citrus from the grocery store is sometimes impossible, for various reasons. The weather might be so hot that you don’t feel like getting out of the house and driving to the grocery store. On other occasions, you simply cannot leave the house because family members need your undivided attention. This is when citrus extracts from your spice cabinet can actually come in handy! Being housebound due to the squelching heat across Chicagoland and to the new addition to our family, I can definitely vouch for that 😉 Thankfully, my citrus extract collection has got bigger recently, when I was contacted by Nielsen-Massey to review an item from their new line of organic products. As someone who had collaborated with Nielsen-Massey in the past (check out my previous reviews here and here) and as a big fan of lemons, I was definitely interested to review the latest Nielsen-Massey pure lemon organic extract. What follows is my full review of this new item.
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Nielsen-Massey & McCrea’s Candies giveaway: We have a winner!

Thank you all for entering my Nielsen-Massey & McCrea’s Candies giveaway and letting us know your foodie gift ideas. The winner is Donna DePaolo, who wrote, “As an event coordinator, I get to attend a variety of food events in my local area and sample the latest “hot” items. I give my foodie friends a sampling of what I’ve found to be the latest “hot” food as their Christmas present. Your giveaway basket would be a hit!”

The winner has been notified and has 72 hours to respond to the winner notification email. Congratulations! 🙂

CLOSED Nielsen-Massey & McCrea’s holiday gift review and giveaway: It’s the perfect foodie present!

Update: This giveaway is closed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always very excited to receive gourmet gifts. Nothing makes me happier than a bottle of grapeseed oil, or a jar of fine pesto, or some tahini with an intriguing story, or a candy bar which reminds me of my beloved England, or… You get the idea 😉 I see such gifts as a window of opportunity: they’re my chance to experiment, to get out of the routine, to finally be myself in the midst of a crazy, busy world. As someone who appreciates gourmet gift-giving, I’m always on the lookout for high quality presents to share with foodie friends. Sometimes however, finding the perfect food-centered gift can be difficult. Equally important, what should I give to a foodie who (almost) has it all?

Thankfully, I found a way to solve my gift-giving dilemmas recently, when I was contacted by Nielsen-Massey to review the gift basket they had designed in partnership with McCrea’s Candies. As someone who had collaborated with Nielsen-Massey in the past, I was interested to review the latest Nielsen-Massey holiday gift suggestions, especially since they involved a partnership with a caramel-making company. Vanilla sugar and sea salt caramels in the same box? Count me in!

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Zoup! giveaway: Here are the winners!

Thank you all for entering my Zoup! giveaway and letting us know your favorite soups. The five winners are:

Traci, who wrote, “Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder are my favorite soups!”

Fredrick Pauly, who wrote, “Chicken enchilada soup”

Tabitha, who wrote,”Their pumpkin pie bisque is my favorite!!! I wait for it all year”

Erica B., who wrote, “I like tomato soup”

Peggy Rydzewski, who wrote, “my homemade cheese potatoes bacon soup”

The winners have been notified and have 72 hours to respond to the winner notification emails. Congratulations! 🙂