Archive for May, 2012

Filippo Berio Olive Oil

I generally try to feed my family healthy foods, so I use olive oil for most of my cooking oil needs. (Curious about the health benefits of olive oil? Check out http://www.filippoberio.com/yourhealth to be informed.) I was excited to get into this campaign because I usually buy the store brand olive oil, and I was curious to try it back-to-back with a pricier name brand, to see if I could tell the difference. The kit came with a bottle of EVOO, a handy little jar opener (my previous jar opener – the one I’m married to – seemed equal parts hurt and relieved), a fat substitution magnet chart, some coupons, and a number of recipes.

Usually I use olive oil pretty traditionally – I use it to saute, grease bakeware, and make salad dressings and the like. Occasionally I’ll use it for non-food purposes, like on my son’s cradle cap when he was an infant, or to soften my feet at the beach. (Really! Put a little olive oil on your feet, and the sand will smooth the rough and dry skin!) One thing I have never tried, though, is using it in place of butter in baking. I didn’t even know you could do that reliably! Plus, olive oil isn’t really a flavor I associate with sweet treats (although I have heard good things about Lemon Olive Oil Cookies.)

That changed last week when I was making a batch of breakfast cookies (from the fantastic bulk cooking/freezing cookbook Fix, Freeze, Feast) and realized I only had half the butter I needed. As I closed the refrigerator door, I noticed the magnet with the substitution chart right there, so I decided to go for it. The cookies came out great, and no one even noticed the difference!

I’ve also been dying to try the Caramelized Garlic/Garlic Oil recipe I found in Better Homes & Gardens February 2012 issue, which can be found here. Since this oil is cooked, you don’t need to use EVOO, which is better suited for drizzling and finishing dishes. I am a huge garlic lover and I can think of ten thousand uses for this recipe. I’ll post an update to let you know how it is!

Pork – Be Inspired

This cracks me up – I love advertising for (seemingly) generic products – Drink Refreshing Milk! Eat Eggs! Pork – Be Inspired! I joined this bzzCampaign for pork and got a nifty digital meat thermometer (my second, but a backup is always nice!), basting brush, a $5 coupon for pork chops at the Kroger family of stores, a bunch of other coupons, and waaaay more information that I previously had about pork and the many ways you can prepare it.

I’ve never been a huge fan of pork chops but I do prepare them for my family when they’re on sale. Despite my best efforts, they usually end up dry and we have to puree them for my poor two-year-old and his limited set of teeth. As it turns out, I’ve been cooking them to a very outdated 170 degrees – apparently, and I didn’t get the memo until starting this campaign, pork only needs to be cooked to 145 degrees (with a 3 minute rest!) This makes a huge difference!

So I went to Kroger today with a song in my heart and a recipe in my pocket, determined to make the best damn pork chops my kitchen has ever seen. There were only two cuts of pork chops available in the pre-packaged section, so I purchased the center cut loin chops. My handy-dandy pocket pork guide compares this to the “Porterhouse” of pork. The guide came with loads of recipe ideas, and I tried a simple Smoky Rub, as follows:

Smoky Rub for Pork Chops

Combine:

  • 2 t smoked sweet paprika
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t coarse salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t black pepper

I preheated my grill, and here is where everything went to hell.

I took my plate of seasoned meat outside, and noticed copious amounts of smoke on the side of my house, and an acrid burning smell. Somehow, my grill had started spewing flames out the bottom, melting the temperature control knob. I turned off the gas and tried not to panic – all I had to do was consult my little guide for an alternate cooking method! I decided to just pan-fry them (and the summer squash I was preparing on the side.)

I am pleased to say that these chops turned out GREAT, despite the change in plans. They were moist, juicy, and even my son chewed them up without incident. He’s not a big meat eater, but he ate the entire serving! The seasoning was nice – I think it would have tasted even better on the grill, but I’ll just try that another time. I think I will be buying pork chops more often now!

If you’re interested in more pork recipes or general information, check out http://www.porkbeinspired.com for probably anything you ever wanted to know!

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo/Conditioner

Well, I’ve been using this shampoo and conditioner duo for about two weeks, and my hair sure doesn’t look like that.

I have medium thickness hair that is somewhere between wavy and curly, and frizz is a major enemy of mine. I’m used to battling it on a daily basis, so I had some hope that this would make that job somewhat easier. Although I loved the scent and packaging (more on that later) of the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo and Conditioner, I don’t think I’ll be making the switch to this product in the future.

So what was in the bzzKit? A full-size bottle of the shampoo and conditioner. I love the packaging (which is supposed to be more eco-friendly, I guess they contain 30% consumer recycled materials.) It doesn’t hurt that they’re green (my favorite color.) The plastic feels a little on the flimsy side, but they’ve held up to being thrown by my 2-year-old, so it’s plenty strong enough! The little nubs on the caps are the best idea I’ve seen in haircare packaging in forever. They’re so easy to flip up with soapy hands, and they won’t pinch your skin! The scent is pretty nice too, somewhere between fruity and fresh, sort of like cucumbers and strawberries maybe? I don’t know what it is, but I like it. The shampoo seems a little bit too runny, so I need to use a lot of it, but the conditioner is thick and extra creamy.

The first time I used these products, I was dismayed to find that my hair actually looked MORE frizzy than usual. To be fair, it was horribly humid outside. I don’t use expensive haircare products, but my Dove conditioner seems to do a better job on the frizz than this does. Since using it exclusively for the past couple weeks, it’s been less extreme than my first experience, but I’m still not sold. The anti-frizz serum probably makes a difference, but why buy (and work into my routine) another product, when I get the same results with just shampoo and conditioner?

Intro & Campaign Overload!

I’ve moved my bzz reviews over to this blog so as not to compete with the other – it should be easier to focus only on product reviews and campaigns this way! Thanks for stopping by! Not sure what bzzing is? Check out https://www.bzzagent.com/ to get the info – it’s a great way to try products (usually for FREE!) and share your opinions with others!

Spring has been crazy with campaigns this year – right now I’m in:

Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine hair products

Neutrogena Cosmetics

Filippo Berio Olive Oil

Pork – Be Inspired

Dr. Scholl’s for Her

and Private Selection Taste of Summer.

Phew! I’ve got a lot of products to talk about. I have received (or will shortly) samples and/or coupons for all these products and I’ve been having a blast trying them all out. Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about these products.