Monday

Wave 3 Coffee - Product Review

YUM! We are coffee drinkers and for me, the bolder, the better. The WAVE3 COFFEE Artisinal Smooth Dark Roast is delicious. I was overwhelmed with the aroma when I first opened the bag to transfer it to our jar - the smooth, dark scent I enjoy. I loved that the scent was still there for every day of the two weeks it took for us to use the 12-ounce bag (household of 2, one pot daily).

We only buy whole-bean coffee and have finally broken the awful habit of setting up the coffeemaker the night before. So, my coffee was fresh-ground for each batch, and the water was fresh. We drink our coffee black because we really like the taste of coffee. There are a lot of flavor levels in the WAVE3 Coffee. It is rich, bold, strong, dark, and smooth, but not bitter or harsh in any way.

I received this product in exchange for my inspection and unbiased review.

Tuesday

Simple Baker Silicone Baking Mat for Macarons - Product Review and Discount

I have baked professionally in the past, and have been an avid home baker for over 30 years. For years, I've used parchment as a way to prevent mess when I'm baking, and to help with more even browning. The Simple Baker Silicone Baking Mat for Macarons is infinitely more superior to parchment when you are baking delicate treats such as macarons.

A macaron is made with meringue, making it very fragile. I've only made them a few times, but I definitely prefer the silicone mat. I felt that the cookies baked evenly across the pan. More importantly, the macarons easily came off the silicone. I've had them stick to parchment.

The silicone baking mat can also do double duty as a drying mat for glazed nuts - no sticky mess and they came right off.

I received this product in exchange for my inspection and unbiased opinion.

If you would like your own Simple Baker Silicone Baking Mat for Macarons, it is available for 50% off via this promo link. You only need to enter the promo code D14BBP5S .

Sunday

Select Culinary Corkscrew and Wine Opener - Product Review


This is a great set to give as a gift. There is a slight "give" in the handles that we don't notice in our older wine service, but it doesn't seem to affect the opening ability. The screw is a bit larger than other corkscrews, but that just give a better grip to embed into the wine corks. The stopper is really nice - it rests perfectly into a wide variety of wine bottles.

I received this product in exchange for my inspection and unbiased review.

Thursday

Hemp Seeds - Room for them in Your Diet? Promo Code

We bought a Ninja Bullet back in the fall and I immediately started making smoothies a couple of times a week for breakfast. I went pretty basic - frozen fruit, yogurt, and orange juice. I'm not quite to the point of going to a green smoothie. But, I really wanted to add more protein into my smoothies, maybe cut back the yogurt.

I started reading about the different seeds you can add to your smoothies, exploring the protein benefits and wondering which seeds I would like the best. I narrowed it down to choosing between chia seeds or hemp seeds, and I was leaning to hemp because I couldn't get the thought of Chia Pets out of my mind. Harry gently reminded me that I should probably check for chia because they would more than likely be more readily available than hemp seeds.

An important note: hemp seeds will not give you a buzz. They are not from the exact same plant as marijuana. Rather, hemp is a cousin.

Shortly after I started looking for seeds to add to my breakfast smoothies, I had the opportunity to try Super Hemp Raw Shelled Organic Hemp Seeds in exchange for my unbiased opinion. What a great way to be introduced!

Hemp seeds are tiny - smaller than sunflower seeds. They have a nutty, almost buttery flavor and an awesome crunch. I immediately started adding about a tablespoon of these morsels to my breakfast smoothies. To me, the mixed texture was nice.

So - what else can you do with hemp seeds? The nutty/buttery flavor makes them an awesome topping for steamed veggies or baked potatoes. Sprinkle some hemp seeds on top of your muffins before baking for an added crunch. Or, stir about a half-cup into your muffin batter. I've been adding a handful to my lunch salads.

Would you be interested in trying Hemp Seeds if you received a 50% discount?

If you've been considering adding more plant-derived protein to your diet like I was, hemp seeds aren't a bad route to go. When you order the Super Hemp via Amazon, you'll also receive a lot of great information and suggestions as to how to use them.

Wednesday

Brookside Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters - Product Review


We don't snack a lot. Even the majority of our holiday baking went to work with Harry - we love to make it, we just have one or two nibbles then we're done. But, every once in awhile I'll get this wanting - it might be a simple salt craving that a cracker will satisfy, or a single piece from the candy basket Elliot always checks to make sure isn't empty. (He's SO smart!) (OK, not gonna lie - I'm totally the passive-aggressive Gramma making sure there's something he doesn't eat very often in a low enough space he can see it.)

As a member of CrowdTap, I was given the opportunity to sample the new Brookside Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters in exchange for my unbiased review. I was familiar with the Brookside Brand and had sampled many of their chocolate and fruit blends during Costco trips. Competitive grazing - greatest date night invention ever!

I knew that the quality of Brookside was amazing. Their dark chocolate creations have the perfect blend of bitter and sweet that I want in a dark chocolate. I only had one concern in advance of receiving my complimentary sample pack. With my teeth, I prefer to not eat anything super crunchy - I broke a tooth on a corn nut a million years ago.

I gently bit into my first nugget of Brookside Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters, ready to stop if I had any concerns. This is the first "crunchy" snack I've tried in years that I didn't worry about breaking a tooth. The "crunchies" are more like crisp cereal bites - think along the lines of the crunch you get with a Krispy/Crunch bar (comparisons for both my Canadian and American relatives - but don't confuse it with a Krispy Krunch bar, because this is nothing like that).

Concerns alleviated, I sampled a few clusters with gusto! When you open the bag, you get a beautiful aroma of fruit with just a hint of chocolate in the air. The dark chocolate and fruit flavors, as with all of Brookside's products, are perfectly balanced. There is a nice balance of textures with smooth chocolate, chewy dried  fruit, and crispy multigrain nuggets.

Originally, when participating in pre-campaign questionnaires, I thought the Brookside Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters would be a great addition to a cup of yogurt. Maybe I would eat them alongside some popcorn. My first taste made me think of a wine tasting we went to at a vineyard in Indiana. The final tasting was a sweet wine and they made sure we had a little nibble of chocolate to go with the wine. THAT taste became my perfect pairing.

Shawn brought us a bottle of Marion Mead from Superstition Meadery. This is a nicely balanced mead and the dark chocolate and fruit flavors of the clusters were the perfect nibble with a small glass of mead.

I'm a fan. I haven't seen the Crunchy Clusters in the store yet, but I'll be keeping an eye out for them. The zip-seal package means I can nibble on a few pieces when the urge strikes, but they won't go stale

Tuesday

Kiss Me Organics Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder - Product Review



Our blender broke several years ago. We tried to get by with an immersion blender, but the darn thing didn't do well with frozen fruit. We finally broke down and picked up a Ninja at Kroger so I could make smoothies for my breakfast.

I'm not a "greenie" yet, but my basic breakfast smoothie is some vanilla yogurt, frozen fruit, and orange juice. Over the last month or so, I've been adding Matcha Green Tea Powder for a little extra detox and energy. I received a package of Kiss Me Organics Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder in exchange for my inspection and unbiased review.

I'm new to Matcha Green Tea Powder but have long known the benefits of green tea and drink it often. I've tried the powder several times now and am very happy with it. I do feel better longer through the day after I've had my smoothie with an added teaspoon of matcha. I've also added about a 1/2 teaspoon to my bowl of morning oatmeal. Mixed with items like this, there's no real noticeable taste change to foods I was already eating.

I was given a tip that plain hot matcha might taste a little bitter, so I add just a bit of honey to sweeten it. I didn't read the recommended dosage on the package (1/2 - 1 teaspoon per day) before I tried it, so I accidentally added 2 teaspoons to my first smoothie. I didn't suffer any ill effects. I haven't had the mid-afternoon nap craving since I've started using the matcha.

Kiss Me Organics has sent me several digital pamphlets and recipes via Marketplace and the information in there is invaluable. There's even a few cocktail recipes!


The only slight side effect I might be noticing is an enhanced sensitivity to citrus flavors. Because Matcha's absorption rate is increased when consumed with citrus, I almost always mix it with some orange juice. I'm not saying this is a "bad" side effect, but it's the only thing I can connect it to.

Monday

Our Breakfast Casserole and the Danish Dough Whisk - Recipe and Product Review





We've only been making this casserole for about a year, but it's in our monthly rotation. The great thing about this breakfast casserole (for us) is that it heats beautifully. A couple of minutes in the microwave or crumble it up in a skillet for a few minutes. The eggs don't get overcooked and it's a great blast of protein. It also works great if you put it together the night before, then refrigerate and bake in the morning. Munch on some fruit while the casserole is baking and you've got a full meal. Wrap up the leftovers and freeze to add to work meals later.

I received the Danish Dough Whisk in exchange for my inspection and unbiased review. I became a fan. I've always kept a variety of balloon whisks in the kitchen, so this was a new tool for me. It's design helps break up the lumps in pancake or muffin batter quickly, so you don't have to over-mix, causing tunnels and bubbles. Our first batch of pancakes using it were super fluffy! And, the Danish Dough Whisk also works great beating large quantities of eggs.


The handle of the Danish Dough Whisk fits both of our hands well and it is very sturdy. I've also incorporated it into our bread-baking now that I am experimenting with biga. It's also very easy to clean. You can find the whisk at Amazon if you follow this link.

Back to the breakfast casserole:


It took a little experimenting to get the right proportion of all the ingredients for our tastes. I'm not an omelette fan because I don't like snotty eggs, but this breakfast casserole cooks completely through. You might like a couple more eggs, or different veggies, or maybe ham. We like pork sausage, but feel free to use turkey or chicken sausage - whatever YOU like!

Breakfast Casserole - Serves 10

1 pound bulk sausage, browned, drained, cooled
10 eggs, beaten well
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced sweet pepper
1 20-ounce bag refrigerated hash browns (we LOVE the Southwest flavor)*
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

You'll want to cool the sausage prior to adding to the eggs - the eggs will start to set if they get too hot. I usually put it in a paper-towel lined bowl (to absorb the grease) and then set the bowl in a sink partially filled with water to speed up the process.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs well. Then, add the veggies, hash browns, and cheese, then mix well. Add the cooled sausage and mix well.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour the mixture in. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting to serve.

*You can use your own fresh-shredded potatoes, also. If you'd like to assemble the breakfast casserole the night before baking, you can blanch your shredded potatoes for about 3 minutes in boiling water, then drain and shock with cold water. This will keep the potatoes from turning to mush overnight.




       

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