Product Review



Wise Apple 
I was given the opportunity to try out Wise Apple ready-to-serve balanced lunches that are delivered right to your doorstop.  Courtesy of Tryazon and Wise Apple, I received 12 lunches to taste.  Each meal is a dietitian-approved meal and includes a main dish, fruit, veggie and a treat. Whenever possible the food is organic, hormone-free and GMO-free. You are able to choose your menu options.  Some of them include, BBQ chicken tacos, pita pizza, sun butter and jelly on zucchini bread, veggie brownie, carrots and hummus, etc. They do have a flexible subscription which starts at $34.95 for 5 meals + shipping.


The samples I received included yogurt pretzels, grape tomatoes and crackers, crispy green pea fries, sliced green apples, grapes and blueberries, chicken salad, veggie chips, banana muffins, roast beef wrap and baby carrots with yogurt ranch dip, to name a few.  The positives are that I thought the packaging was great.  You can mix and match and take them out of their cardboard holder so it fits nicely into any size lunch box.  Plus it really is convenient and the food may be healthier than what your child is eating in the school cafeteria.  The negatives are that the portions aren't that big if you have a teen like I do.  Also there were many of the foods that he did not like.  Of course, the fruit he liked and the carrots, yogurt pretzels and roast beef wrap as well.  However, the crispy green pea fries, pizza, veggie chips, green apples with ricotta and apple butter were not to his liking.  Even my husband did not care for some of the selections and he likes most everything. 


The good news is that if you would like to try this service, you can customize your menu. Check them out at this link.


#digintolunch #getwiseapple  #tryazon











Oodles of Fun

I just had an Oodles of Fun Cupcake Party thanks to #tryazon and #oodletip!   We celebrated my nephew's birthday this past weekend and I received a wonderful box of goodies filled with Sweet Creations by Good Cook.  In the box were cupcake dividers, cupcake stand, cupcake corers, cupcake batter scoops, cupcake papers, cupcake boxes and oodle tip decorating bags.  They even were generous enough to include a gift card to buy extra decorating products.  I couldn't pass up the sprinkles!

I have to admit that I really do like the decorating bags. They are one piece bags that already have the tip on the bag.  All you have to do is fill the bag, snip the tip to desired level and decorate.  The tip is designed to include many shapes like a giant swirl, a star swirl, a rosette and even writing.  You just snip to the level that will create these designs and away you go.  It literally takes minutes to decorate your batch of cupcakes, and you can do it with one bag.  The bags are twelve inches so they can hold quite a bit of frosting.  The best part is that these bags are disposable so less mess to clean up!   While I was using my gift card at Walmart I even saw bags that come with a shell tip. They really can take your cupcakes to the next level -- they will look professionally decorated!


As a side note, I really love the cupcake stand and cupcake boxes too.  The cupcake stand folds up flat so it is easy to store and adds a nice element to a party and the boxes are adorable.

For more information check out their site at http://everydaycooking.goodcook.com/sweet-creations or you can watch a video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHadiZTxpq0.




Blount Organic Soup

Through Tryazon and Blount Soup I was able to try their gourmet soups.  I brought six samples along with me to my book club.  They included Savory Harvest Bisque, Broccoli Cheddar, Ancient Grain Minestrone, Coconut Lentil, Vegetarian Chili and Tomato Bisque. Some of the comments included that they liked the texture of all the soups and that they love that it is organic.  However, everyone said that they were too pricey.  My store sold them for $5.99 for a 16 oz. size.  They are convenient as you can microwave them right in the container and the upper rim does not get hot so it was nice to not get toasty fingers!  Everyone agreed that the Tomato Bisque was not good at all.  However, the Savory Harvest Bisque was a favorite followed by the Broccoli Cheddar and Coconut Lentil.  Not all stores sell these products so be sure to check online to see where they are sold in your area.


 #tryazon#blountsoup




Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls


Do you love cinnamon rolls but don't have the time, knowledge or the energy to make them yourself?  Well, let me tell you about a new product from Rhodes.  They now make microwaveable cinnamon rolls that take a minute to make!  Just plop one on a microwaveable plate, heat on high for 60 seconds and then drizzle the cream cheese frosting on.  That's it!  And what's nice about this is that you can make one and save the others for another time because all the cream cheese frosting packets are individual ones.  It's that easy!  Plus they taste good too!  I like that they are a generous size and so convenient to satisfy that sweet craving.


Note:  Through Tryazon I was able to try them for free.  #tryazon  #rhodesbread



Muller Dessert Inspired Yogurt

Not too long ago I was able to try Muller's Dessert Inspired Strawberry Cheesecake yogurt for free through Bzz.  It was actually quite good.  There was a small flavor of cheesecake mixed up with some strawberry swirls and then topped with a graham crumble crunch.  I liked that there was no high fructose corn syrup or artificial preservatives, flavors or sweeteners and that it was filled with protein and calcium which is, of course, good for you.  The portion is not very big but it is enough to fill that craving for something sweet along with the added healthier bonus.  There are other flavors to choose from and they include Raspberry Brownie Supreme, Dulce de Leche Delight and Peach Cobbler.   Krogers and its affiliates do sell them for around $1.39 each.  Here is a coupon if you would like to give them a try:  coupon









Red Baron Brick Oven-Style Pizza


I just tried out the new Red Baron® Brick Oven-Style Pepperoni pizza for free, thanks to Red Baron brand & Bzzagent.com.  I expected it to taste just like most other frozen pizzas but my family really liked this one.  The texture of the crust was not too rubbery and not too hard like some cardboard tasting brands.  The flavor of the sauce was good.  However, I did need to blot some of the grease from the pepperoni (have you ever done that?!).  The price was reasonable as well (mine cost $3.50) so for a quick lunch or snack you may want to try this brand.  The one disappointment I have is that at this time was that there was not a lot of varieties.  My store only had the trio cheese and the pepperoni variety.  According to Red Baron's site there is also Meat Trio and Sausage Supreme.  I think a spinach and mushroom or other veggie type variety would be a great addition.  If you decide to see if this pizza will be "love at first bite", let me know!


"Love at First Bite" Commercial







Quaker Steel Cut Oatmeal

Healthy + Good = Breakfast


I received the Quaker Steel Cut Blueberry & Cranberry Oatmeal to try for free. Each pouch only took 3 minutes. You just have to put the oats into a bowl, add water and microwave. That’s it! It is any easy way to get a healthy breakfast into your family and because the oats are cut instead of rolled, they have a more thick, satisfying whole-grain texture (less gummy). The blueberries & cranberries are real pieces of fruit and taste great. If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to try the Brown Sugar & Cinnamon variety.





FAGE Greek Yogurt
As I mentioned yesterday, I was going to do a product review for the Greek yogurt that I used in my Peach Raspberry Smoothie recipe.  I received a coupon by way of being a Bzz agent to try FAGE Greek yogurt for free.

FAGE is a family owned company and actually continues to use the same recipe for FAGE Total that they introduced with the opening of their original Athens dairy shop in 1926 (87 years ago!).  It is the #1 yogurt in Greece and is the only authentic Greek yogurt that is truly made with 100% natural ingredients.  There are only two or three ingredients:  milk and live active cultures or milk, live active cultures and cream.  It is rich in protein and low in calories and fat.  It is available in 0% non-fat, 2% low-fat and Classic (I used the 2% low-fat), and it comes in 6 oz., 7 oz., 17 oz. and 35 oz. sizes.

Besides using the FAGE Greek yogurt in our smoothie recipe, I also tried it in a granola parfait recipe.  We loved it in the smoothies!  However, in the parfaits we didn't like it as much (although it still was good).  I believe it is because we are used to a sweeter type of yogurt and Greek yogurt isn't quite as sweet.  I may just try adding a teaspoon of honey next time to add that little bit of sweetness.  FAGE is definitely very creamy and I like how healthy it is for you.  It really is versatile too -- you can use it as a snack, as a meal ingredient, in your smoothies or even as a part of a dessert.

I do plan on buying FAGE Greek yogurt in the future because I will be using it more often in the kitchen and substituting it for other ingredients (i.e. mayonnaise). With eating less meats, I am always looking for alternatives to adding more protein to our diet.  I have also been trying to use more whole foods and foods with natural ingredients.  FAGE does all this.

Have you tried Greek yogurt yet?  Have you sampled the FAGE brand?  I'd love to hear how you have incorporated it into your recipes so please share by commenting below.



Oscar Mayer Carving Board Meats
I know it's been awhile since I've done a product review so I thought I would tell you about a product I tried for last night's dinner.  I received a free coupon for Oscar Mayer's Carving Board Meats.  I chose the Hickory Smoked Seasoned Pull Pork.  Their Carving Board Meats are fully cooked so you can eat them right out of the tub.  I chose to make some barbecue sauce and added it to the pork.  So, all I had to do was heat it up and serve it on some buns.  How quick and simple was that?!  I purchased the family size and for us it was enough for about 6 sandwiches (we don't pile it on as much).  For others, it may only be enough for four as suggested on their package.


I have to say that it tasted good and we enjoyed eating the pork this way.  It does say there are no artificial preservatives.  However, it does contain the following ingredients: pork, water, cultured corn sugar (that doesn't sound healthy!), contains less than 2% of sugar, salt, vinegar*, brown sugar, sodium phosphates, lemon juice, and solids (*ingredient to preserve quality).  If you are interested in calories, there are 130 calories per serving.  There is 530 mg of sodium (which is 22% DV).  As always, making your own pork is always healthier because you know what goes in it and can control the sodium, etc.  However, for a quick meal it was very convenient.

Other varieties of Oscar Mayer Carving Board Meats include turkey breast, chicken breast, ham and roast beef.  There are recipes on their website here that you can check out.  Have you tried any of them?  What did you think?  I'd love to hear about your experience!



Morning Star
As I promised last week, here is my review of the Morning Star veggie burgers.  I was chosen through my being a Bzz Agent to be part of this "campaign".  Morning Star Farm products create vegetarian dishes and  include products such as breakfast foods, burgers, veggie chicken dishes, veggie dogs (as in corn and hot dogs), enchiladas, etc.

Morning Star Farms has actually been around since the 1970s and was first introduced by Worthington Foods.  It wasn't until 1999 that the Kellogg Company bought Worthington Foods, thus making Morning Star part of Kellogg's.

With my free coupon (normally about $3.99, at least at my store), I purchased the Garden Veggie Patties. Their 9.5 oz. box contained four burgers and they were located in the freezer section.   For those watching their weight, this variety has 74% less fat than ground beef and only 110 calories per serving.

They were very easy to prepare and very quick to cook.  I just had to place them in my microwave for three minutes, and they were done.  If you prefer, cooking them on the grill is also an option.   My husband liked them just fine but my youngest son did not care for them.  He didn't like their "smell" and even though mom (mean one that I am!) made him try them, he couldn't take more than one or two bites.  I ate about half of mine because I too wasn't that crazy about them.  Maybe if we had tried another variety (such as Asian, California Turkey, Chipotle Black Bean, etc.) we may have enjoyed them better.

I'm just curious. . . have any of you tried any of the Morning Star foods?  And, if so, did you like them or not?  Which product did you try?  Please comment below so we can hear about your experience -- thanks!



Green Giant Seasoned Steamers
I recently received a free coupon (through MyInsite) to try Green Giant's new Seasoned Steamers.  The bag of frozen, seasoned vegetables steam in their own bag right in your microwave.  It's that easy and they come in six different varieties:  Tuscan Seasoned Broccoli (broccoli with Parmesan cheese and Tuscan-inspired seasonings), Mediterranean Blend (potatoes, zucchini and carrots with Mediterranean-inspired seasonings), Brussels Sprouts (seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper), Honey Roasted Sweet Corn (a blend of corn and peppers with a touch of honey), Honey Dijon Carrots (carrots naturally flavored with honey Dijon seasoning), Backyard Grilled Potatoes (a seasoned blend of roasted potatoes, peppers and onions).


My family tried the Honey Roasted Sweet Corn which was enough for four servings.  It was the right blend of seasonings and was very easy to prepare.  The Honey Roasted Sweet Corn was also a new taste to serve with our meals and was a nice change.  If you would like to try them, you can download a coupon by clicking on the following:  http://myinsite.generalmills.com/GreenGiant.php


Gorton's Skillet Crisp
Through my latest Bzz Campaign (a program where I am able to try free products so that I can bzz or talk about them), I received a coupon to try Gorton's new Skillet Crisp.  Skillet Crisps are a new frozen fish meal from Gorton's.  They are battered fish fillets that are lightly coated with herbs and spices.  These fillets are made from tilapia and go right from your freezer to your skillet.  They do not contain MSG or artificial flavors or colors and they are flash frozen for freshness.  Each box contains about 4 servings (mine had 5 fillets) and currently they come in two flavors:  Classic Seasonings and Garlic & Herb.

My family tried the Classic Seasonings that had a touch of lemon in it.  I basically took the fish from the freezer and put it in my non-stick skillet.  Without even having to use any type of oil or butter, I cooked them between low and medium heat, turning once.  Total time to cook can be between 18 and 25 minutes.  Directions are also given on the box to bake them in a conventional oven.

My family really liked the flavor of the tilapia.  You definitely could taste the lemon which gave it a little bit of a sweet taste, but the blend of the spices was also nice. They were also true to their word when they said they were lightly coated.  I still think it is always healthier to use fresh whenever possible, but for a good-tasting, quick fish meal, I would recommend these new Gorton Skillet Crisps.  They are a little expensive.  At my grocery store they were $7.49 but if you watch for a sale (which they were at my store so they cost $5.99) and look for a coupon (you can find one here:  http://gortons.com/coupons_promotions.htm) then they would be a little more reasonably priced.

<img src="https://img.bzzagent.com/image/gortons.jpg?Type=activity&Activity=4846398453&Campaign=6152772693&Uid=350293&token=5329449d5aa3ee85832394b9fcf13dfc" alt=""/>


Pyrex
My favorite containers to cook and/or bake with are the Pyrex dishes.  With all the concerns about cooking with plastic in the microwave -- some say the chemicals in the plastic are released into our foods and could cause cancer but there are conflicting answers to the validity of this being true or not -- I decided I didn't want to take the chance so I switched to using glassware a year ago or so.  I, of course, also use it in the oven when making casseroles, cakes, etc.

Pyrex has been around since 1915 and according to Pyrex.com it is used in 80% of American kitchens.  Pyrex is an American company based in Rosemont, Illinois and the glassware sold in the United States is made in the United States.  I have never had any of my Pyrex glass bakeware break; it is heat strengthened to increase its resistance to breakage caused by impact or sudden, uneven temperature changes.  However, there are a few things you can do to minimize this risk:
  1. Always place hot bakeware on a dry, cloth potholder or towel.
    • Never place hot bakeware on top of the stove, on a metal trivet, on a damp towel, in the sink or directly on a counter.
  2. Never put bakeware directly on a heat source such as on a stove top, on a grill, under a broiler or in a toaster oven.
  3. Always allow the oven to fully preheat before placing bakeware in the oven.
  4. Always cover the bottom of the dish with liquid before cooking meat or vegetables.
One of my favorite things about using Pyrex is that many of the containers come with a lid.  I really try to help the environment by not using foil, saran wrap, etc.  Because of the lids, I am helping the environment and my spending (by not having to buy as much foil, etc.)  This also makes it great to transport your food when going to a picnic, party or whatever the occasion.
I would like to comment, though, on the Easy Grab products.  My husband recently bought me a set of these and I have to admit, I do not like the fact that the lids don't fit as securely (did anyone else have this problem?).  I have the other type and those lids fit great.  I did contact Pyrex and they were kind enough to send me a whole new set like the ones with the lids that I currently have.  (Actually their customer service was excellent.)  So, you may want to test the lids before making your purchase. See which ones you like best.

Note:  there was $1 off coupon in Sunday's (August 26, 2012 - SmartSource) paper.



Pillsbury Easy Frost No-Fuss Frosting
Have you ever tried Pillsbury's Easy Frost No-Fuss Frosting?  I was invited to try it for free so the other day I made cupcakes as requested by the birthday boy (this was on his actually birthday -- the ice cream desserts were mostly devoured up at his party!)  Anways, after the cupcakes cooled, we decided to frost them using the Vanilla Dream flavor.   Of course, my son wanted to help so I let him go to town.  This was so easy and so quick.  You don't even have to pick up the cupcakes.  You just turn the can upside down and gently press the nozzle.  How simple is that?!  It even comes with a decorating tip to make your treats a little fancier.  If desired, you can remove the  decorating tip and just insert the nozzle into the cupcakes to have a frosting-filled treat.  Normally, I make homemade frosting but when you're in a hurry, this is the best way to frost your goodies.  Other flavors include Decadent Chocolate Fudge and Velvety Cream Cheese.   My one negative comment is that it says there is enough to cover a 13 x 9" cake or 16 - 24 cupcakes.  We had 24 cupcakes and the last few did not get very much frosting.  Check out this link for decorating ideas:  http://www.pillsburybaking.com/bakers-corner/baking-tips/how-tos/easy-frost-decoration-ideas
 


Cascadian Farm French Fries
Speaking of potatoes, I thought I would tell you what product I like when I have a craving for french fries and don't have time to make them from scratch.  I like the Cascadian Farm brand and so does my family.  In fact, it is the only brand I will buy when it comes to frozen french fries (as previously reviewed, I buy the Ore-Ida brand for sweet potato fries). 


Per their website, Cascadian Farm has been around since 1972 and is nestled in the foothills of the North Cascades mountain range in Rockport, Washington.  It is an actual working farm which is dedicated to bringing wholesome organic food to our tables.  Besides french fries, this farm also produces cereal, granola bars, fruits, vegetables, relish, fruit spreads, etc.  They actually encourage you to stop and visit their home farm.  If any of you have been there or plan on going, let us know about your experience!

Because the Cascadian Farm brand is organic, I feel better about what I am serving my family and they really do taste great unlike others we have tried.   Plus they are quick to make.  You just arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake.  Halfway through, you do need to flip them over.  Total baking time is between 13 and 18 minutes which allows you time to prepare the rest of your meal.  My family prefers the crinkle cut fries but there are other varieties including:  country style, shoe string, straight cut, wedge cut oven, hash browns and spud puppies.  They're made with no hydrogenated oils or preservatives.  Try them and tell us if your taste buds enjoyed the flavor!




         Birds Eye Steamfresh Brown Rice
Have any of you tried Birds Eye Steamfresh brown rice?  You find it in the frozen food section next to the frozen vegetables and it actually tastes very good.  Even my 11-year-old really likes this rice.  It is very low in sodium and fat which is good for your heart.  It is gluten free as well as free of trans and saturated fat and cholesterol.  It is all natural with no preservatives and is 100% whole grain.  It is super easy to prepare -- just pop the 10 oz. bag in the microwave and cook for a few minutes.  Let me know if you try it and tell me what you think of it!  (It would work well with the Chicken Stir Fry recipe.)  Birds Eye also makes a Steamfresh white rice.



                    Bon Appetit Steam-Baked Meals
If you have been following my posts, you would see that I had been planning to do another product review.  Because I am a BzzAgent (a program where I am able to try free products so that I can bzz or talk about them) I received two free coupons to try the Bon Appetit Steam-Baked Dinners.  These dinners are  chef-inspired meals that cook in parchment pouches.   Parchment-style cooking is a technique where food is sealed in a pouch and baked.  This method steams food in its own juices.



All Bon App├ętit Steam-Baked Meals come with vegetables, a meat and a starch in a flavored sauce. Two pouches are in each package and the suggested retail price is  $8.99 each.  There are eight varieties:

Lemon Butter Chicken
Roasted Garlic Chicken
Beef in Red Wine Sauce
Pork in Chipotle BBQ Sauce
Chicken Florentine
Smoked Apple & Uncured Bacon Chicken
Rosemary Chicken
Creamy Pesto Chicken

My family and I tried the Smoked Apple & Uncured Bacon Chicken and the Pork in Chipotle BBQ Sauce.  They were very easy to prepare -- you can either cook them in the oven or in your microwave.  I choose the microwave and just put the pouch on a microwaveable plate and cooked on high per the directions on the package.  I let it sit for a minute and then cut open the pouch and slid the contents onto the plate.


My 11 year old son did not like either meal but my husband really liked the taste of both of them.  I was somewhere in the middle.  Because the food is steamed in its own juices, it was definitely moister than your average frozen meal and it tasted and looked fresher.  I also like all the flavors that Bon Appetit offers.  I feel like the price is a little high but you do get two complete meals in each package so paying $4.50 on average for a complete meal is fairly reasonable.  The best part of this experience, is that cleanup is so minimal!  Go here for a $2.50 off coupon:  https://www.facebook.com/BonAppetitMeals

 

                                  Kraft Fresh Take
If you're following my What's For Dinner post, you would see that last night I made chicken for dinner.  I actually received a free coupon for Kraft's Fresh Take cheese and breadcrumb mix (through the Kraft First Taste program) so I thought I would give it a try.  It comes with a bag containing Kraft natural cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs that you mix together.  Then you put your chicken, pork or fish in the bag and coat your meat.  Put your meat on a cookie sheet, sprinkle any remaining crumb mixture on top and bake.  It really is very simple, quick and makes your clean-up easy.  I tried the Rosemary & Roasted Garlic recipe but there are other flavors as well including Southwest Three Cheese, Italian Parmesan, Cheddar Jack and Bacon, Chili Lime and Panko and Savory Four Cheese.  My chicken came out very moist and my family really liked the taste.  The directions say that the mix is enough to coat 6 pieces of meat and I found it to be very generous in its portion.  My only negative comment was that the directions were on the bag which made it harder to read while preparing the chicken.  I would have liked the directions printed on the outside packaging as well. 

If you try them, let me know which flavor you try!  If you go to this link, you can print out a coupon:  http://www.kraftrecipes.com/kraftcheese/freshtake.aspx 
 


Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Fries
Tonight I made sweet potato fries from scratch but on those busy nights I will use the Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Fries found in the frozen food section of your grocery store.  They are actually quite good and very convenient to use.  Depending on how much you will need, the baking time will be from 16 to 25 minutes.  (You can be getting the rest of your dinner ready while they are baking.)  There are directions on the bag for deep frying as well which would only take a few minutes to fry.  They stay fairly crisp and do not contain any trans fat.  Try them in a pinch!