Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tasty ramblings from a tired mama!

Here I am, bringing you a yummy blog entry that will make your tummy rumble. It's just an average Thursday night, and I sit here by the light of my laptop screen and the LED lit keyboard that guides my typing. I spent much of the day preparing for dinner, which is always an ordeal. You know, kids protesting what you're making.. "But mooooom.. I hate that!" It always gets answered the same way with a deep sigh and restraining the urge to roll my eyes, "How do you know if you hate it, if you've never tried it?" It gets them thinking. I refuse to negotiate with my children. The exception is our middle son who has sensory processing disorder, so a lot of food he just honestly can't handle.

Anyway onto the great stuff here. Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil is a really nice mid-priced olive oil that you'll find in your grocery store. I would rate the flavor and versatility of this oil as a 5 out of 5 stars. It works well in many dishes, so it really allows your creativity to soar. I put my thinking cap on when I was shopping on Monday afternoon for our meals this week.. I hit Aldi and looked through their cooler section of meat. I picked up lots of different things, but came across whole chicken at a price I couldn't pass up! $3 for a 5 1/2 pound chicken. I normally pay at least twice that elsewhere. So I grabbed one and put it in my cart. I had a plan for this chicken! I also grabbed lemons and garlic.

So most of the time I let my chicken thaw. I don't have time for that today. It was still frozen in the middle, which means the chicken was not about to give up its giblets. I was so close to rage quitting you guys.. so close. Then as if by some magical force of power, I pulled the chicken carcass and tried my best to yank it all out. Yeah.. it so didn't happen that easily. It took me 15 or 20 minutes of shimmying and hoping for that chicken neck to finally release from it's seemingly eternal resting place. I grew up around farm animals, so I never thought twice about this. I just kind of laughed at myself and the mess i had made. Oh, and not to mention I broke a sweat. I was instantly glad that it was just me and the kids at home at this point.

So I prepared this dish (instructions below!) roasted lemon-garlic chicken, baked potatoes and steamed broccoli with cheese. Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil was used in the preparation of all these dishes! It complimented everything wonderfully and really made it seem like I was a real pro at this cooking thing. Pssssh... do not be fooled! I am an excellent baker, but that is really it!

Really quickly I want to mention the benefits to choosing healthy fats over the heavier, not so great kind. Olive oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which should be part of a balanced diet. It's important to choose healthy fats to maintain overall health, especially heart health. I substitute whatever types of oils I'm using whenever possible. Olive oil is great for cooking and is very versatile. It has a nice smooth flavor that blends in well with your food. Just take a look at this chart shared in our Bzz Guide for substituting oils or other things with EVOO!

So all in all my dinner was pretty amazing. We had a great time chatting over wholesome food. The kids didn't die from hating everything on the plate. I'm still alive despite really wanting to eat the entire chicken myself. Really y'all.. I probably will sneak back to the refrigerator and pick at the leftovers. So below is a guide to making this meal! It's so easy, and you'll love it!

Lemon Garlic roasted chicken

What you need:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 3 fresh lemons, halved
  • 5 to 7 medium sized garlic cloves, smashed
  • Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt & Pepper

Directions: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. With your thawed chicken, rinse well and pat dry. Use a shallow roasting pan. When this is done, drizzle a bit of your olive oil over the skin and spread evenly. Then, squeeze lemons (I used 1 and a half of the lemons for the juice and tossed the rest into the bird without squeezing) over the skin and allow the juice to get on the skin. Crack some salt and pepper over the top and rub in. With your smashed garlic, also rub this into the skin on the outside, and then toss the remaining cloves into the bird with the squeezed lemons, plus the unsqueezed ones. The rinds themselves and the pulp still have a lot of flavor to give, so that's why you're using them. For my bird which was about 5 1/2 lbs, it cooked for roughly 1hr 50min. Please note the time that you cook it will vary by the weight of the bird. Cook until an optimal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit is reached. Be sure to test around the thickest area of the chicken, which will be the thigh area. Some cooks will say to take the chicken out once it temps at 170-175, but I am cautious.

Baked Potatoes

What you need:

  • Large Idaho Potatoes, or potatoes of your choice
  • Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt

Directions: Wash your potatoes thoroughly under warm water to ensure all dirt has been removed. Pat dry. Drizzle your olive oil over the skin and coat the entire potato with a layer. Lightly salt (trust me it's tempting to really pour that salt on, but you won't need it!). Bake ~ 1hr (depending on the size of the potato) at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The skin will be amazing, and you will love me forever.

Steamed Broccoli with cheese

What you need:

  • Broccoli florets
  • Sea Salt
  • Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
  • Cheese of your choice (we like cheddar)

Directions: Take a pot of water and put in just enough water so the broccoli will swim happily. Add in salt (as much or little as you want) and a splash of olive oil. Bring to a boil, add your broccoli. Cook for about 5-6 minutes or until you can easily pierce the broccoli with a fork. Drain well and drizzle a small amount of olive oil before tossing and adding cheese. Very simple, and delicious!

Disclaimer: I received a free bottle of Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil as part of a Bzz campaign through Bzz Agent. I bring my readers a promise to always give truthful reviews and opinions on products that I try. I want to share only the best stuff, and I typically have great luck. So please rest assured that I will not fudge the truth even a little bit!

In closing a picture of my plated dinner. It's not beautiful, but I promise you it was heavenly. <3

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Calling all Grilling Masters!

Welcome to summer! It's time to fire up that grill and try out all your favorite foods. I'm here because BzzAgent invited me to a Kroger grilling campaign. As if my life couldn't get more exciting. So in my Bzz Kit was a pack of coupons for various kroger products including: a free bag of frozen burger patties (I chose the sirloin), free hamburger buns, free Kroger brand (Big K) Soda, free kroger chips and a coupon for $.40 off Kroger brand ice cream. So my first objective was to go buy everything. I of course bought way more than I had coupons for. I got enough to share at a get together, plus some for my own house where I regularly host dinner get togethers.

The hamburger patties are preformed and ready to go. the grill up by themselves decently but could use a little flavor. I let mine thaw just a little before cooking them so I can toss on spices. Watch them on the grill as the full size patties are thin and cook up quickly. You don't want to over cook them or they dry out. The patties are best with just a little garlic powder, salt and pepper (in my opinion). Topped with grilled onions, cheese, bacon and barbecue sauce. The Kroger brand hamburger buns are moist and flavorful. They seem like they'd really compliment any set-up that a cook would come up with. The sky is the limit with these patties and buns, really. It's perfect for those nights where you just need to save time. Maybe you had a late soccer game, or you were running late after dance practice. Throw these babies on the grill.. they are quite difficult to mess up!

Kroger brand potato chips have been a favorite of mine since I moved to Texas a few years ago. I am skeptical of store brands, and I'm sure most of my readers are, too. A lot of the store branded products out there are bland or the flavor is all wrong. Sometimes it's the texture, especially with chips! These chips seem to have a good flavor, nice crunch and keep up with name brand chips. I am not a huge potato chip fan as it breaks my diet rules.. but I secretly love these. Especially their barbecue flavor. I could probably demolish an entire bag in a day, easily. They're worth a try, I haven't been disappointed yet!

Onto the topic of Kroger brand sodas, or Big K. Store brand sodas are another thing that seems hit or miss. They often miss the mark with taste, flavor and carbonation. I am one of those people that usually can't settle for anything but my favorite name brands. So this was probably my toughest part of the campaign. How do I happily try this soda and share it with others if it tastes terrible? I was in for a real surprise. I chilled a few cans of each soda I purchased so I could taste test them myself. If they were terrible, I planned to find some other purpose for them. I didn't know what. The flavors I purchased were orange cream, cola and root beer. Now, keep in mind I am a bit of a root beer connoisseur. I seek out fancy brands and tend to avoid anything in plastic or aluminum containers (just for root beer. Okay okay, I'm a snob). Root beer is my thing, ever since I was a kid. Anyway, so the last store brand soda was a type from another chain. It was gag worthy. This Big K soda was surprisingly crisp and flavorful. I like it better than ALL of the labeled sodas including: Mug, A&W and Barqs. It's so much better that I felt almost compelled to hoard it to myself. I shared.. but then I bought more and hoarded that. The orange cream and also the cola varieties were good too! I'd say I could probably be satisfied with these over name brands. Especially comparing the prices. Try it yourself and see!

This brings me to ice cream. I just want to preface this section by saying if you try their ice cream you will never waste money on name brands again. Okay, so no ice cream is ever a 'waste'.. you get my point. Kroger seems to have more flavors and more creativity. Their ice cream is rich, creamy and will knock your socks off. I love going to the freezer section and picking out new flavors. My favorite of theirs is their Moon Pie ice cream. I have to imagine it's seasonal as I've only been able to purchase it a couple times. It is DIVINE. So there you have it. When I shop for ice cream, Kroger brand is my go to!

What is your favorite Kroger branded product? Leave me a comment!

Disclaimer: I received coupons from BzzAgent as part of a campaign for all of these products as I mentioned above. I promise to bring honest reviews to my readers. I wouldn't want anyone wasting money or time on products they don't like.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This stuff sells itself. I know, what a cheesy line from infomercials! This oil has impressed me since I started using it. I have begun looking for excuses to use it. Let me start by saying olive oil is one of the best choices you can make as far as oils go. It contains healthy fats that your body needs -- Omega 3s! There are a lot of thoughts that the American diet has too many 6s and 9s, that we need to consume the healthier fats. If this isn't reason enough to pick up a bottle, I'm about to break out a can of whoop tushie.

I used this olive oil in my family favorite pizza crust. Olive oil kind of gives the crust it's extra oomph, that little flavor boost. I know those of you who cook will completely understand. The oil plays a big roll in making this dough. I'll post the recipe at the end of this entry! It mixes so beautifully into the dough. It has a smooth texture as it should. Simply amazing for pizza dough, as I said.

I also made a salad dressing which you can read the recipe HERE! First off, I don't think The Pioneer Woman has ever let me down with a recipe. I found this one, and the first thing I said was, "Challenge accepted!" I went off on my merry way and prepped all my ingredients. This one is so easy, you probably have all or most of the ingredients already. I think if it was possible, I'd eat salad a whole lot more just to have this dressing. It's simple, but not in a boring way. It has flavor and I don't feel guilty eating it. Fresh ingredients are such an important thing to keep in our diets. To be honest, I probably need to consume more veggies everyday. I've opened new doors and possibilities thanks to this olive oil. I never realised just how easy making a salad dressing is! Now I can find more and confidently try them out.

Olive oil is an amazing thing to always have on hand. It has so many uses outside of cooking, you'd be surprised. Firstly, it's an amazing moisturiser. A thin coat massaged into your skin at least once a day will leave your skin soft and radiant. Depending on your skin type, it may work well for your face. It's wonderful for babies too! I've used it for many years on my own kids, specifically cradle cap. Pour a little on (carefully), let soak in and soften, lift up some flakes and comb away. It works well on mild diaper rash as well.

TFGL's Amazing Pizza Crust

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Italian seasonings (use as much or as little as you like, I eyeball it)
  • 2 TBS Filippo Berio olive oil

First mix your yeast, sugar and warm water together in your mixing bowl. Allow it to begin getting creamy, this takes approximately 5 minutes or so. If it seems to have trouble, try adding just a little bit more sugar. In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients. It will be easier when the real mixing part comes. Once your yeast mixture is ready, start mixing in your dry ingredients. About halfway through, begin adding in the olive oil slowly. I do all of this on my lowest setting with my mixer and a dough hook. Once your dough is mixed and ready, you can go ahead and use it. It will rise just slightly over a short period of time. I usually let mine rest with a cool towel over the bowl while I prep other ingredients or wait on the oven. It's not necessary at all though.

I bake my pizzas between 350 and 375 in my gas oven or on my electric toaster oven (set to convection). I cook until golden brown. Time allowed will vary by the size pizza your're making and what you've got the oven set at. relax, it's a tough thing to mess up as long as you keep an eye on it.

In my late night Bzzing I forgot to add in a disclaimer. I received a free bottle of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive oil from BzzAgent as part of a campaign. As always, I promise to bring honest Bzz to the table. I don't want my readers to try bad products!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wanna get paid to shop?

Of course you do! Everyone wants to get paid to shop. Do I have your attention yet? If not, keep reading.. I promise this gets better. Ebates is a site that pays you a certain percentage of your purchase if you follow through their website. It varies from website to website, some offer a much higher percentage! They also have many coupons available for you to use for your purchases.

For example, I ordered my husband a lawn mower last year from Sears. The mower retailed for about $300 plus tax. Sears shoppers will earn 6% back on their purchases, which for this purchase is about $18! Now that doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly. If you're a shopper like me, you're off buying stuff that you use regularly. Just for signing up and making your first qualified purchase of $25, you'll get a $10 gift card. Not only that but I get rewarded for you signing up too! We have set up a savings account for all the extra cash for our kids futures.

I'm sure you're interested in finding out a little more about Ebates now. So check out this link: Ebates Referral Link

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

More on the guilt-free Kroger treats

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I received an invite to a Bzz Agent campaign for Kroger guilt-free frozen treats. All of them are reduced calorie and lower fat. This makes them a good alternative for those of us trying to watch our weight as we journey through weight loss. Comparing them to full fat products, the difference is astounding. The ice cream sandwiches have 2.5g of fat vs other sandwiches which have double that and even more! So you see, these are a great tasting alternative that will leave you feeling less guilty while indulging. Everyone deserves a delicious treat now and then! Why not eat what makes you happy, but not have to worry about it?

That's where these treats come in! I know you might be thinking that they are bland, or have that fake sugar/low-fat taste most similarly labeled products usually have. I'm here to tell you that they don't. I was pleasantly surprised by each that I've tried thus far, to see just how amazing these were. I still felt like I was eating my regular favorites despite the fact that these are significantly less of an impact on my daily intake.

Firstly, the yogurt smoothie bars. My first thought is YUM! They're smooth in texture like you'd expect of a yogurt bar. The flavor is richer than expected. You can taste the hints of fruit throughout. Completely worth it. I think my box totaled about $3.50-3.75-ish. There are 12 pieces per box, so a box can last quite a while depending on how quickly you consume frozen treats. I would definitely share these with my kids, but they waver on appreciating super cold food. That's okay, more for me! Definitely 5 stars on this product!

Next, ice cream sandwiches. I just want to say that these are super yummy. The sandwich cookie is nice and chocolatey, like it should be. it didn't taste like a fake low fat/low calorie treat. The ice cream was creamy, and flavorful. I prefer the vanilla variety as I'm not really a huge chocolate fan. I know! Surprising fact. I don't hate chocolate, I would just rather have chocolate paired with something else. So that makes the chocolate cookie with vanilla ice cream the perfect pairing. I still have to keep checking the label to see that these are REALLY that much better as far as calories and fat go. These are going to be in my freezer for the rest of the summer/fall. For sure. I am in love. 5 Stars!

Finally, the fudge pops. I do like these, they're just not my preference. My husband though? He's obsessed! My husband has a metabolic disorder that causes him to have trouble losing weight. In an effort to stay healthy, he has to live on a special diet that involves no fat/low fat food items only. So these are perfect. I think they're 1 or 1.5g fat per bar. He can have these and feel like he's not missing out. He says they taste a lot like Frostys from Wendy's. I agree with him.. but these are 100x better! They're creamy, and rich. I wasn't expecting that from this kind of fudge bar. Usually they're very icey, less like a real fudge bar. Hubby says 5 stars. I'm going to go ahead and say 4 or 4.5. They're just not really a favorite.. low fat or not. I don't really care much for regular fudge pops either.

Disclaimer: I do receive coupons for free or discounted products from BzzAgent. I have to make note of this in each blog entry so that you are informed. I deliver only 100% truthful reviews so that you can get a better idea of what you would like to try. In this case, I still haven't received my bzzkit, so I went out and purchased these items on my own -- with my own money.