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CLOSED My Zoup! review and giveaway: Have a soup – or two, or three! :-)

Update: This giveaway is closed.

There’s nothing better to warm you up on a cold fall day than a bowl of soup. Piping hot and enticing, it is a bowl of heaven to those of us who are in need of nourishment and comfort. Caressing aromas fill up the air, great flavor expectations fuel up the appetites – all in all, it is the perfect setting for gourmands and gourmets alike. I am not a fan of soup in the summer, but during the cold season, soup becomes my usual go-to-lunch and dinner option. Give me a delicious soup and a glass of milk, and they’ll keep me warm and thankful forever 🙂

As a big fan of fall soup flavors, I couldn’t be happier when I was contacted by Zoup! recently to taste some of their soups and bread boules and to host a giveaway. Zoup! is a chain of fast-casual eateries that offers twelve fresh soups daily as well as salads and sandwiches. Customer top soup picks include chicken potpie, lobster bisque and vegetarian split pea, but you can find your own favorite by sampling the soups before you order. You can have your soup served in a bowl or in a bread boule – as a matter of fact, Zoup! is renowned for their sourdough boules, which are brushed with extra virgin olive oil, topped with savory seasonings, and then toasted. To celebrate the arrival of the cold season, Zoup! is offering three special bread boules: Italian herb, olive oil & sea salt and parmesan garlic. Keep Reading

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