Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

I was pleasantly surprised to see that my boyfriend had come home with the cinnamon candy I had asked for, and even more glad to see that there was a bit of novelty to these specific Hot Tamales.

As I examined the box I noticed the little description of each color from hot to hottest. This is sort of reminiscent of the Taco Bell hot sauce package colors which indicate how hot they are. I popped a yellow one in my mouth and it actually tasted a bit like what you’d expect something yellow to taste like. It was hot, but not painfully so. Definitely had that nice artificial cinnamon flavor that I’ve come to love. Next, I tried the orange-red one which looks just like the regular Hot Tamales, and unsurprisingly, it tasted just like a regular Hot Tamale. Next, I popped the dark red into my mouth and as soon as I began to chew I actually felt my mouth burn as if I had just chewed on a Jalapeño. I definitely experienced a pleasant burn which lingered a bit afterward.

Before trying these I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to tell the difference, but the level of hotness was pretty obvious. And just to make sure it wasn’t just all in my head, I did a blindfold test. I had my boyfriend give me one of each while I had my eyes closed and I have to say that even without looking at them it was very obvious which one was which. As soon as I started chewing on the first one I immediately suspected it was the orange-red one, but to make sure, I asked for a second one. As soon as I had the second one, which was milder, I was sure that the first one was the orange-red one and thus the second one was yellow. And finally he gave me the dark red one which was again, very obvious.

As I was looking inside the box I notice that a good majority of the candy pieces were dark red which luckily was my favorite color, but it would have been nicer to have something closer to an even amount of each just so you can keep it varied a bit. I am hoping though that other boxes are different. Either way, I definitely enjoyed these candies and hope that they continue producing this variety of Hot Tamales, or at the very least, release a box variety of just the dark red ones.

One of the main reasons I truly enjoyed these is because I like to buy cheap bags of cinnamon imperials where each candy seems to vary in its spiciness. I would really recommend these to anyone who loves cinnamon-flavored candy.

smokin

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I’ve tried different carnita-like dishes including the Taco Bell Cantina Tacos, the Del Taco carnitas, carnitas from a local pub and even had the pleasure of enjoying some very authentic carnitas prepared in an actual Mexican restaurant (me and my friend were the only non-Latinas there). I used to not enjoy corn tortillas very much and thusly, I didn’t really care for the carnitas I had tried at Del Taco – but luckily I was lucky enough to try those more authentic well-prepared ones which really got me into the whole cilantro, lime and corn tortilla combo. And also, corn tortillas supposedly don’t have gluten so it really helps me reduce the amount of gluten my body has to deal with.

I was happy to see that my boyfriend had brought back everything that I had asked for in order to prepare these carnitas. The picture of my carnita is very sloppy – this was because I had already eaten two carnitas by the time I found the camera and by then I was tired, full, had very little chicken left, and didn’t bother chopping the cilantro much.

Materials:

  • A fresh lime
  • Fresh cilantro  
  • Chicken, beef or whatever kind of meat you like
  • Salt
  • Chili pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onions

 CIMG1644CIMG1650

  1. First of all, decide whether or not you’re going to barbecue (delish!) or cook the meat in the kitchen (stove, oven…)
  2. If you’re going to barbecue it, you really don’t have to do much to the meat in my opinion other than rub it a bit with chili pepper, lime juice and mix it in with chopped garlic.
  3. If you’re going to prepare the chicken in the kitchen, feel free to add whatever seasoning you enjoy. I like to use ginger powder and when I’m really in a hurry, onion and garlic powder.
  4. Toast a few corn tortillas. I don’t use two like you usually see because that makes it to heavy in my opinion but if you like to use two for one carnita that’s pretty much the norm.
  5. Cut the meat into small chunks and mix it in with freshly chopped cilantro, diced onions, a few squeezes of lime, and a dash of salt. Place it on the tortilla. You can also add chili powder and whatever else you would like to add. You can also add the raw onions and cilantro after adding the chicken and then go ahead and squeeze the lime on top of that. I usually do that instead because it’s faster.
  6. I like to add extra condiments like shredded cheese or sour cream. I also added a bit of freshly prepared salsa (well, not really fresh since the tomatoes were canned!).
  7. Fold it and enjoy!

 

The salsa recipe itself is really simple and tastes a lot better than the canned stuff. Since my boyfriend bought the cilantro on sale and ended up bringing back about a garden and a half worth of the stuff, I had to make salsa so it didn’t come to waste. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of cilantro still left…

Just chop up fresh cilantro along with raw onions, add to either a can of diced tomatoes or dice four fresh ones, add some lime juice and whatever seasonings you like depending on how spicy you like it. I added a bit of onion, garlic and ginger powder as well as chili powder and crushed pepper – and a secret dash of that hot sauce with the rooster on it (yes, I know what people call it).

 

Here are a few dishes I put together some of which I created using ingredients I had to reproduce certain foods that I enjoy but didn’t have available. I started baking sweets for the first time and I’m actually surprised that it really is easy to bake cookies and cakes. Even if you don’t have all of the ingredients, the internet is an amazing resource to find alternative recipes such as my egg free oatmeal cookies which I baked because I had run out of eggs.

Included in the album is a pizza prepared with a flour tortilla, Brussels sprouts in butter and a bit of turkey broth, a hearty chicken soup, tortellini with bell peppers, mushrooms and parmesan cheese, teriyaki tilapia with wasabi (I managed to get the texture as close as possible to eel), pancakes with butter fried apples and bacon with home made caramel sauce, a rice bowl with freshly prepared katsu chicken and broccoli doused in a teriyaki based sauce, stir fried orzo with fried crispy slivers of garlic, spicy teriyaki shrimp sushi rolls, stir fried pasta with lima beans, sausage and mushrooms (and the same dish turned into a soup), chocolate and marshmallow covered frosted flake treats, chicken and mushroom soup in tomato base broth, two kinds of oatmeal cookies, stir fried millet with hamburger, hot sauce and sour cream, and my favorite first attempt success – broccoli, mustard greens, bacon, onion, and cheese quiche topped with the kind of fried onions I usually place on top of my green bean casserole.

If you’d like the recipe for any of these dishes please email me under the contact me tab. I will also be making some how-to videos as soon as I can.

Have you ever been paranoid about your laptop (and even desktop) being stolen, lost or teleported away from the last place you thought you had it? Never fear! FireFound is here!


Click here to visit add-on page.

I was browsing the Firefox add-ons once again to see which ones worked with the new beta, and stumbled upon this one, so I took a closer look. I installed the add-on and proceeded to sign up (as soon as it restarts you will be prompted) for the service and then you can log in by following the directions given. Once you do so you can see your location by clicking on the location link, or if you’re signed up for the premium service ($1 a month) you can access the home locations feature which “are locations that you designate as safe for your computer to be in. If your location changes, but it is within range of a home location, you will not receive an e-mail alert about the change”. Under the data link you can activate data protection (which you should only use once you realize your computer has been stolen) which forces whoever is using the browser to enter a password within a time limit otherwise the data you specified will be erased. This is definitely useful if you allow your password manager to save your information (though you should never allow it to remember my bank log-ins etc…). You can download your location information of up to 30 days prior, erase that same location data, and if you upgrade, you can extend the location information log to a year. Beware that any account that hasn’t pinged the FireFound server in the past 30 days will be deleted.

Note: If the location page doesn’t display your information right away, restart the browser and it should update (courtesy of the developer Christopher Finke).

Since I’m running this program on a desktop computer, I won’t really have a chance to test it out further unless of course I somehow lose it or move. But all in all, this program sets out to do exactly what it is supposed to. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who either owns a laptop or even someone who owns a desktop and lives in a dorm. Of course you won’t be able to utilize these options unless the person who took your computer is connected in some way to the internet, but the point of this program is to protect your online data — the GPS feature seems to be just a nice plus. If you’re really worried about your computer being stolen or lost I would suggest looking into some sort of GPS device and some more comprehensive security software to install on your system. I may install this program on my laptop and wander around town a bit to to see how that works and if so I will update this post.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve recently really been craving pizza, and since I really don’t have the cash to be ordering pizza I have been finding other ways of getting my fill. I’ve been preparing a lot of burrito/taco dishes lately and am usually left with a good amount of left over taco meat so I decided to use the left overs to prepare a basic taco pizza. Also, we purchased a heck of a lot of bread the last time we went shopping and I had to use our last loaf of French bread before it became moldy and inedible. These two recipes are so easy and quick that you’ll be enjoying a delicious pizza in no time!

Taco pizza sans extra toppings.

For the taco pizza you will need…

  • A frozen cheese pizza (I found that the Great Value frozen pizzas, or even the Wal-Mart fresh ones work well).
  • Ground beef (half a pound should do).
  • Chili, garlic, salt, and onion powder (or a packet of your favorite Mexican powder flavoring mix).
  • Onions (optional).
  • Garlic (optional).
  • Sour cream.
  • Your favorite hot sauce (Cholula or even Taco Bell’s fire sauce work great).
  • Shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, and any other condiments you may want to add.

How to prepare…

  1. If you’re going to add onions and garlic, chop them up.
  2. Place ground beef in a heated pan with a very thin layer of oil.
  3. Fry up the meat while stirring until most of the fat has melted, then drain it (you can save the grease to make a base for soups or sauces if you wish, but use it within the next day or so or it will start to smell weird).
  4. Add the onions and garlic.
  5. Add the seasoning and mix well. Cook until the onions have become clear and the garlic has become a bit softer.
  6. Place your frozen pizza on a sheet of aluminum foil (you may want to use some Pam on the foil depending on the pizza).
  7. Spread the taco meat evenly.
  8. Place the pizza in a preheated oven according to the box’s instructions. Usually the time mentioned on the box is enough to cook the pizza thoroughly even with this topping, but you can always leave the pizza in a bit longer as long as the crust isn’t turning too dark. If you think it needs more time, you can always place aluminum foil on top of the pizza to avoid further burning.
  9. Add dollops of sour cream and whatever other taco toppings you want.
  10. Slice and enjoy!

    French bread sliced in half.

What you will need for the french bread pizza…

  • A loaf of french bread.
  • Either canned tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes, or even fresh tomatoes.
  • Your favorite cheese/s.
  • Olive oil, garlic salt, onion powder, and favorite herbs such as basil and thyme.
  • Your favorite pizza toppings.

How to make…


After adding tomatoes.

  1. Slice the loaf of bread in half length-wise.
  2. Add the tomatoes. It’s up to you how much.
  3. Lightly douse it with olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese on top (as thickly as you like just beware that the more toppings you have the longer it will take for them to cook).
  5. Add whatever toppings you like, such as capers, ham, pineapple, grilled chicken or beef.
  6. Place in the oven at about 350 degrees.
  7. Let it bake for about 15 minutes. The best way to avoid burning it is to keep an eye on it, or if you really don’t trust yourself, you can place aluminum foil on top after about 5 minutes into baking to prevent the bread from burning.
  8. Let it cool a bit and enjoy!

Before baking.

After baking (turkey, capers, not covered with aluminum foil when baked).

After baking (pepperoncini, covered with aluminum when baked).

Today we went to the convenience store to get some drinks since the UPS delivery guy failed to drop off our package of water filters (it’s disappointing to be waiting in the living room for that satisfying knock on the door knowing you just beat the line and prices at Wal-Mart by purchasing your filters on Amazon only to refresh your tracking page to find a most puzzling message — THE CUSTOMER WAS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE 1ST ATTEMPT. A 2ND ATTEMPT WILL BE MADE. Thanks UPS for shattering my dreams and hopes for a brighter, clearer water source. It is also pretty odd that the driver got off work a few hours early, which leads me to believe that either he had a really bad emergency and lied about attempting to drop off his package, or went to the wrong address, or just wanted to get off work early. I truly hope it was the first.) so we had to find alternative hydration sources as well as pick up a case of Flat Tire. I purposefully picked a couple of the newer-looking organic/all natural drinks, which were surprisingly abundant! It seems like the all-natural fad is one I will definitely embrace, considering that the ingredients on the back of these drinks are few and recognizable! I also was curious to try a couple of throwback products to at least get a reminder of what soda used to taste like back when I was a kid living in Italy.

Xing Green Tea with Mango

Xing Green Tea with Mango

Out of all of the drinks, this has to be one of my favorites. I just can’t stop sipping on this one! I can really taste the cane sugar (I used to love to chew on sugar canes when I could get a hold of them) and the mango flavor is pleasant even though I suspect that the fruit flavor is some sort of apple or pear juice, but either way, I really enjoy it. I also like the fact that in contains Ginseng, though it is probably not in the same amounts you would need to get the full health benefits (cue flashback to when I was living back in Japan and one of the girls from my exchange program would force-feed me a half glass of concentrated bitterly disgusting Ginseng extract to deal with my hangover) but it may be enough to instill a bit of extra energy in you. The can mentions that this is ‘All Natural’ which can definitely mean a lot of different things, but in this case I can tell that at least the ingredients are akin to those you can find in your household kitchen which is definitely something I look for these days. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had such terrible reactions to drinks containing HFCS, including embarrassing moments where I’ve had to radio in a coworker to get relief (ironic term) from my post to then rush down-stairs to reach the nearest bathroom in the airport. Definitely not something you want to have happen when you spend an hour at a time (and sometimes more) sitting at a kiosk without being allowed to leave unless someone was there to take your place. I guess someone was afraid that they would hack our RTGo Kiosk or something. Not that it wouldn’t have been pretty easy anyway considering they leave those things on unattended all night in an airport that never shuts down even when there is no personnel in it. Anyway, getting back to this drink, I definitely would have been happy to have had this back in those days. It would have saved me a lot of uncomfortable hours trying to use my Jedi mind powers to make me believe that Montezuma wasn’t trying to get revenge upon me. I definitely would recommend this drink to anyone who enjoys fruity teas and really detests the all too commonly abused HFCS.

You can purchase this for $1.45 or so at a convenience store, and maybe less at a grocery store, but probably not. Either way, the extra 45 cents is definitely worth it considering how much cleaner and refreshing this is than a same-sized can of AriZona original green tea.

Nutritional Information

Serv. Size 8 oz Serv. per container 3

Calories 60, Sodium 20mg, Total Carbs (From sugar) 16

Ingredients: Premium brewed green and black tea using filtered water, cane sugar, honey, citric acid, natural flavors, ginseng extract.

I will give this a 10 out of 10!

Calypso Kiwi Lemonade

Calypso Kiwi Lemonade

My boyfriend (being a good foot taller than I am) had noticed this drink which I would have definitely missed considering it was way above my eye-level. Good thing he saw it because this is definitely a drink you must try. After he took a sip he told me “You have to try this” which was definitely a response I hadn’t expected. He pointed out that it had an interesting after-taste, which at first struck me as a negative comment, but his tone seemed more pleased than anything, so I was excited to try it — and for good reason. If you like lemonade, and if you like real kiwi flavor, you will love this. You could definitely taste the lemonade (and it actually had lemon pulp in it which gave it a bit of authenticity) in this drink which was quickly followed by a pleasant yet tart kiwi punch to the face. I mean this in a good way though! Good kiwis are usually tart and sour yet deliciously sweet and this definitely brings back memories of enjoying a couple of those fuzzy balls. Unfortunately, my significant other claimed the rest for himself and by the time I had returned to the living room to join him, the bottle was mostly empty. I did like the fact that it contained 100% of your daily value of Vitamin C, which depending on what you read, is supposed to help boost your immune system and help fight off infections. Considering I haven’t gotten sick in 3 years (following winter after winter of irritating cases of pneumonia which really annoyed the daylights out of my instructors) I can’t really say if it works. A couple of things caught my eye as I read the bottle — it mentions that it contains 9% juice which is pretty amazing considering it’s just a bottled fruit drink, so I think that’s about normal for a lemonade considering that any more would make it overpoweringly sour. I wasn’t all too crazy about the soybean oil in this because I am not only lactose intolerant, but it seems like I’m really soybean intolerant as well, but I have yet to feel any effects from this ingredient (probably not enough of it in this drink). I would personally love to see the color removed. I don’t see any need to have the drink look like nuclear waste. I don’t find it appealing, and it definitely does not add to the enjoyment of the product. When I was growing up in Italy, all of our soft drinks had much more muted colors compared to their bright neon American counterparts, and though there was probably still some coloring in it, it was definitely better than having a drink that had brighter colors than your summer shirts. Take out the color and I will be more inclined to buy any drink! I definitely will be purchasing this in the future, though I’d rather see if the grocery store has a better deal, considering that this drink cost me 2 whole dollars. Anyway, you should definitely give it a try if you have a chance!

Nutritional Facts

Serving Size 8 fl. oz. Servings per Container 2.5

Calories 120, Sodium 2mg, Total Carbs 29g (28g from Sugars), 100% Vitamin C.

Ingredients

Tripple filtered water, pure cane sugar, lemon juice concentrate, kiwi concentrate, lemon fruit pulp, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate (soybean oil, ester gum, gum arabic, as color), yellow 5, blue 1, EDTA to preserve color.

I give this a nuclear 9 out of 10.


Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback


Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback.

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews about these throwback products, but never had a chance to try them myself. I figured they would be worth a try, and though I’m not much of a soda drinker, I wanted to see if they reminded me of the drinks I used to get as a kid at my school-mate’s birthday parties (though I never really socialized, I loved to go just to get get free delicious home-made party food that was always available — here are a couple of pictures to of the kind of food we got at these parties). I took a couple of sips of the Pepsi and it definitely had a lighter, cleaner flavor and since the sweetness was less pronounced, more of the Pepsi flavors came though which mostly reminded me a bit of licorice. That’s pretty much all I got from that drink which in the end is actually a good thing because it did make it a lot more refreshing than its HFCS counterpart. Recommending this one is a bit tricky though. Most Pepsi fans like Pepsi the way it is and usually scorn any sort of ‘variation’ from their favorite drink, so I would say this may be more for those who don’t have a favorite cola product or for anyone who is used to the taste of soda found in the rest of the world. After trying the Mountain Dew I was pleasantly surprised that it had a deliciously clean aftertaste. Though this drink does contain nuclear yellow food coloring, I definitely think that this could become my new favorite soda.

Nutrition Facts (per bottle) Pepsi/Mountain Dew

Calories 260, Sodium 65mg, Total Carbs (from sugars) 67g./Calories 280, Sodium 105gm, Carbs (from sugars) 73g.

Ingredients

Carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, natural flavor./Carbonated water, sugar, orange juice concentrate, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzonate, caffeine, sodium citrate, gum arabic, erythorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, brominated vegetable oil, yellow 5.

I give these an 8 and 9 out of 10.

I initially wanted to make a tomato sauce dish with the lamb chop I recently bought, but instead decided I would experiment a bit and try something different. I have been wanting to prepare a Stroganoff dish in a while so I decided I might as well make it with lamb since I had the basic ingredients needed for the sauce. And considering I had just purchased three artichokes the day before I decided to cook those as well and enjoy one or two as a side-dish. This isn’t the prettiest dish but I really enjoyed the end result. The sauce tastes a bit like sauerkraut and compliments the richness of the lamb quite well. One thing I would be careful of is the fact that once you top your lamb chop with the sauce, it is a bit hard to see where the bones are underneath. I don’t bother trimming or slicing my artichokes in half when I cook them because I’ve eaten them this way all of my life and it takes no preparation. You may dip the artichoke in mayo, butter, or a mixture of olive oil, vinegar and salt. There are several other dips you can make as well such as mustard sauces.

Tip: You can cook all of your artichokes at once and just refrigerate what’s left over. Artichokes are just as good cold as they are hot, in fact, they’re also quite delicious uncooked!

Lamb chop

What you will need…

  • One or two lamb chops (depending on their size).
  • One onion and a few cloves of garlic.
  • Some sort of fat, such as butter, or meat drippings (you can also collect the lamb drippings and use those).
  • Sour cream (about 5 teaspoons).
  • Some olive oil.
  • Mustard (one and a half teaspoons).
  • Horseradish (about half a teaspoon or more depending on your tastes).
  • Salt, chili or paprika powder and rosemary to taste.

    Chopped onions and garlic

How to make it…

  1. Rub the lamb chop with the herbs and spices. Sprinkle some salt on top as well.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic and place in a pan with a thin layer of olive oil.
  3. Place the lamb chop either in the oven (you can cook the an artichoke wrapped in aluminum foil at the same time) or cook it in a pan. I like my lamb to be cooked medium with a crust on both sides. I cooked mine at 400 degrees and just kept checking it to see when it was cooked the way I like it.
  4. Fry up the onions and garlic on medium heat until they turn transparent and then add about two teaspoons of butter (or meat drippings).
  5. Let the onions and garlic caramelize.
  6. Once the onions have shrunk and have turned a light brown, add the sour cream, mustard and horseradish.
  7. Mix well and allow to simmer on medium-low until the sauce is hot.
  8. Once the lamb chop is ready, place it in a place, then place some of the onion Stroganoff sauce on top.
  9. Enjoy with the side of artichoke!

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