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Hood Cream e-CookBook is now Available! #CookWithHood

“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Hood Cream. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”
Do you remember my Hood Cream Immersion Dinner post?  Remember all those delicious entrees I had the opportunity to try?  It was amazing to see how perfectly Hood Cream makes a meal taste light and creamy.  However those meals were cooked by a top chef, Chris Coombs, so how could we come up with recipes that make our taste buds sing like those at the immersion dinner?  With a cook book created by Hood Cream and Chris Coombs, that’s how!
The free eCookbook was launched on September 28th and features more than 25 recipes created by Chris Coombs himself!  The eCookbook is currently available on Hood Creams website and will be available soon on platforms like Barnes and Noble and iTunes.
Best of all this cook book is packed with tips directly from Chris Coombs on cooking with cream.
I am so excited to step up my game in the kitchen this fall while trying out all these delicious recipes on my own.  One of the dinners I can’t wait to create are Spring Carbonara, This is a great pasta dish that will help get a good amount of veggies into my kids, although I may skip the yolk on their portion.

I also can’t wait to try my hand at the Pan-Roasted Cod Loin.  I haven’t attempted to cooked seafood more than a dozen times in my life because there is something about it that intimidates me.  However after tasting this dish at the immersion dinner, I have to try to recreate this!  It was delicious!
I also can’t wait to make the Tomato Gazpacho and introduce my family to a cold soup.
I have high hopes of impressing my husband with all these delicious meals.  However this breakfast will surely bring smiles to the kids faces!
They all love french toast, so I can’t wait to serve up Brioche French Toast!  I never included Hood Cream in my french toast before, so this will be a fun twist.
Another recipe I never thought to include Hood Cream in, is Creme Caramel.  In our house it is called Pudgim, which is from Brazil.  I can’t wait to see how it tastes when I add Hood Cream to it!
With winter coming to fast, my family will be sipping Hot Chocolate as our nightly treat.  However I have never heard of it made with Hood Cream!  
There are so many delicious recipes in this eCookbook!  I can not wait to get busy creating amazing meals.  Hood Cream is a key ingredient that is used by top chef’s in some of the best restaurants across the nation and its an ingredient that is available at all our local grocery stores!  That makes me feel awesome knowing I’m cooking with some of the best ingredients available.

Hood Cream Immersion Dinner at Deuxave with Christopher Coombs #CookWithHood

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Hood Cream. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Hood Cream is a staple in my home and has been for generations.  I can’t remember a time that I opened my Nana’s refrigerator and didn’t see cartons of cream all over the place.  So when I was selected to be a Hood Cream Blogger Ambassador, I was thrilled!  I am excited to learn more about a brand that I have been loyal too and to share all that great info with you!
To kick off this great journey, I got to attend a Hood Immersion Dinner at Deuxave in Boston.  Where owner and executive chef, Christopher Coombs cooked up an amazing 5 course meal.
Everything we sampled was amazing!  I can not wait to recreate these dishes at home.  It is so exciting knowing that an ingredient that I use in my own kitchen is also chosen by restaurant owners who have the best ingredients at their fingertips.
Our first course was Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho.  A light, cold, soup that was full of delicious taste.
 Next came the Spring Carbonara, a delicious pasta dish topped with bright fresh vegetables and a quail’s egg.  I wasn’t to sure about this one when it was placed in front of me, I had never eaten a raw egg before and was definitely apprehensive.  However I took the leap of faith because the gazpacho was so good, and I am so glad I did!  This dish will be one of the first I try to duplicate.
For our third course we tried the Pan Seared Cod with Tomato Clam Nage.  I have never been a big seafood eater, I love crab legs and shrimp cocktail and even some fried scallops during the summer but beyond that I’m clueless.  However now I am determined to learn how to cook seafood because I must recreate this dish.  This cod was my favorite dish, my Nana who always tried to get me to eat seafood, would have fallen off her chair if she saw how quick I devoured this plate!  Nage is a broth that is thickened with cream and it was a perfect combination.  I never thought to combine cream with seafood and now I cant wait to start experimenting.
Next on the menu was Niman Ranch Prime New York Strip with Madeira Cream Sauce.  My husband was a bit jealous when he saw this listed on my menu when I got home.  The steak was delicious and the madeira cream sauce was light and tasty.  It was a perfect combination.
 This was served with both Asparagus Gratin and Potato and Caramelized Onion Gratin.  Another great light and tasty dish.  Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and who doesnt love potatoes?  So this dish definitely didn’t disappoint.  
I learned that the way to keeping all these great dished from feeling heavy is to make sure you use a high quality cream while cooking so that it will not separate at high heats.  Beyond the taste, this is an important reason to make sure you have Hood in your cooking arsenal.
After these great courses I thought I was full, that was until my sweet tooth got a glimpse of the final course, Peach Melba.  I could smell the fresh fruit from my seat and I loved every bite if this sweet treat.  This is another dish I cant wait to try making, my best friends wedding is coming up and I would love to prepare these for one of our upcoming bridesmaid nights!
What fun would a great dinner be without some great people to enjoy it with?  Not much fun, in my opinion!  Luckily this dinner was full of great food and great people to share it with! 
 Chef Coombs came out to explain each course and then sat and answered questions once the cooking was finished, the awesome people from Hood who coordinated the dinner joined us, and I got to meet a bunch of local bloggers who made this an awesome night out!
Some fun facts I learned about Hood Cream are:
– Hood was originally founded in 1846 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, by Harvey Perley Hood.
Hood is one of the largest branded dairy operators in the United States.
– Chefs across New England depend on Hood Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream in their recipes for its superior performance and quality.

Eating Healthy at McDonald's ~ An Open Door Tour!

*Disclosure: This post was sponsored by McDonald’s, however as always all opinions are 100% my own*
I was very excited when I recently got an invitation to the Open Door Tour event at McDonald’s.  Like most of you, I’m a busy mommy.  Between the kids sporting events, dance classes, school events, my own work schedule, the hubby, and the house, there never seems to be enough hours in the day.
So how do I usually gain an extra minute in the day?  On really busy days its usually by cutting out cooking a meal. 
I have to admit that as someone who has never worked in the restaurant industry, I had some preconceived notions of what it might look like behind the counter of a fast food restaurant, and I often felt guilty about what I was feeding my family.  I didn’t know if it was healthy or if the quality of the food was good.  We had always tried to choose healthy options at the drive thru, however when your placing an order through a brick wall its hard to know if what your getting is “real” food or not.  So the Open Door Tour at McDonald’s was a perfect opportunity for me to see what I was eating and more importantly what my children were eating, with my own eyes.
 
I must admit, I was beyond surprised with the quality of the food in the McDonald’s kitchen!

The Open Door Tour was during the breakfast shift and I saw fresh fruit, whole eggs, tons of veggies, and healthy food options everywhere!
 
Along with some other awesome bloggers, I got to try out the smoothie maker which I want in my own kitchen so badly!  Crack some eggs and make an egg McMuffin, and then tour the kitchen and fridge which were stocked with yummy veggies.
The Open Door Tour squashed so many of my preconceived images of what McDonald’s food was made of and I was excited to learn that the food being used in the restaurants kitchen, are foods I would have in my own kitchen.
 
Some fun facts I learned:
–  McDonald’s food has no trans fat.
– They use well known brands of food such as Tyson, McCain, and Dannon.
– They use 100% Arabica coffee beans which have a 30 minute shelf life once brewed, so the customer is always getting a fresh cup of coffee.
– The produce is fresh and delivered regularly.
– You can customize your order to meet your nutritional needs.
– McDonald’s has great safety guidelines, including daily food temperature tests and hand washing timers.
– Employees can receive their high school diploma online or college tuition reimbursement through McDonald’s Archway Program. 
My favorite part of the Open Door Tour was getting to meet the McDonald’s brand ambassador, John Cisna, and hear his story.
 
As a teacher, John conducted a student-led experiment that lasted 6 months.  During the 6 months, John could only eat McDonald’s food.  He gave his students a guideline of 2000 calories a day, plus 15 nutrients to track and let them choose his daily meals.  John also walked for an hour everyday and had his blood work checked regularly as he ate the 540 fast food meals.
Using the My Meal Builder feature on the McDonald’s website the students were able to find over 56 food combinations that met his nutritional guidelines.
 
Knowing he only ate McDonald’s food for 6 months straight, you would assume he gained weight right?  Nope, he lost nearly 60lbs!
A man that had been obese for 25 years, was able to both loose weight, and lower his cholesterol, while eating 3 meals a day from McDonald’s.
John Cisna’s story is inspiring, especially to a busy mom who eats on the go too often.  It also proves it’s not were you eat, it’s what you choose to eat and how much of it, that makes the difference.
 
One of John Cisna’s breakfast items was the McDonald’s fruit and maple oatmeal, which I tried for the first time during the Open Door Tour and loved it!  It’s become my breakfast go-to when I’m on the go.
 
After the Open Door Tour I am relieved and excited to know that McDonald’s has a large selection of quality healthy meals that are yummy so I can feel completely comfortable with what I’m feeding my family.
 

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant Fall Menu and Taco Gigante #Margsmex

I recently had the opportunity to visit Margaritas Mexican Restaurant with some other fabulous bloggers to preview their 2014 Fall Specials that will be on the Menu beginning September 30th. 
 
I had never been to a Margaritas restaurant prior to this event, and didn’t know much about the restaurant chain.  I was shocked to learn that Margaritas is not your average run of the mill chain restaurant.  It was obvious from listening to the staff of the Restaurant we visited in Waltham, Ma that this franchise has a passion and a heart for not only the business, but also their customers, and the people of Mexico.

The restaurant is beautiful inside and uniquely decorated, but most visitors don’t realize everything is imported from Mexico.  The chairs are made there, the tile comes for there, and the framed photographs you see around the restaurant are taken in the cities of Mexico.
These lights were on top of where we were sitting and they were amazing!  I want them in my kitchen so bad!
This fall Margaritas will be offering three delicious seasonal cocktails.  White Pumpkin Sangria, Red Pumpkin Sangria, and the Apple Cinnamon Margarita.  All the glasses were rimmed with cinnamon and sugar which added to the sweetness and fall feeling. 
 
All 3 drinks are great and if I had a driver that night I could have drank multiples of all of them!  They each had a unique fall taste.  My favorite was the Apple Cinnamon Margarita, I usually don’t have a lot of luck when I try different flavors of margarita’s however this one was amazing.  It wasn’t to bitter or sour, it wasn’t to sweet, it really was perfect!  My aunt and I were making plans to be back at a Margaritas for some of these at the end of the month before I even left the restaurant.
Along with the great drinks came great food.  I am a chicken fingers off the kids meal kind of girl.  I just recently at the age of 30 started eating seafood.  My husband has to push my to try different types of Brazilian food,  and I remember getting yelled at my entire life by my Nana to start trying foods before she heard I didn’t like something.  So Mexican food isn’t something I’ve had a lot of experience with beyond what I can make with a box of taco mix from the grocery store. 
However now I know what I have been missing out on!
I regretted wearing jeans to this event all night.  Each time a new entrée would be presented I knew I was full and told myself just one bite, but as I kept finishing off plates I knew I should wore some nice yoga pants to this event!
The food was beyond amazing.  We started with Bacon Guacamole, Yum!  I have never heard of guacamole with bacon it, but everyone should start putting bacon in theirs, now!
Then came the Habanero Honey Camarones, battered and fried shrimp with habanero honey sauce.  The sauce was spicy but it was a unique type of spicy, I could feel the heat and it definitely had a kick to it but it wasn’t over whelming and you could still taste the flavors.

Next came the center piece of the night, Taco Gigante!
This two pound goliath is hand crafted, and made to order. The Taco Gigante is made with a crispy 12-inch tortilla shell and comes stuffed with lettuce, refried beans, Mexican rice, seasoned chicken, taco beef, pork carnitas, bacon, salsa fresca, cheese and queso sauce. Topped with crema, pickled jalapenos, picante and hacienda sauce.
This was amazing,  it tasted awesome, but its such a unique menu item that every person I have come in contact with sense putting a picture of the Taco Gigante on instagram has brought up “that huge taco”
Friday October 4th is National Taco Day!  Seems like a perfect day to visit your local Margaritas and attempt to take on the Taco Gigante!
 
Once we finished our Taco fun, we tried the Habanero Honey Chicken Fajita’s and the Mexican Corn Cakes.  The fajita’s were great but the corn cakes stand out in my mind because I had never heard of them before and was nervous to try something so new, however once I had my first bite I couldn’t stop and finished my entire serving.  When I bring the hubby back next month for his Taco Gigante that he is dying to see, I will be ordering myself the Mexican Corn Cakes for sure!
Then to top off a night of complete indulgence, it was time for dessert!  So what does one have for dessert that could complement a 2lb taco?  The Dessert Gigante of course!
It is Margaritas’ classic Fried Ice Cream with an entourage of Sopapillas tossed in cinnamon and sugar. Then, the whole concoction is drizzled with chocolate and honey, topped with a giant dollop of whipped cream and finished with a cherry on top.  Yup that was also delicious! 
 
I was beyond impressed with the food as you can tell.  However what really won Margaritas for me was their dedication to the community through charitable events, field trips for local students, artist demonstrations, and more.  The food was superb, the drinks were great, the employees were friendly and passionate, but best of all this is a company that seems to be staying involved with the community they serve and that earns respect much greater than a fantastic meal, so I will surely be visiting Margaritas more often.
Connect with Margaritas:
 
*This was a complementary media tasting, as always all opinions are 100% my own*
 


Peapod Pickup at Stop and Shop is the Perfect Solution for Busy Mom’s! Plus a $50 Giftcard #Giveaway

One of my most dreaded errand is grocery shopping.  I cant stand the crowds, the lines, and most of all the kids throwing random junk food into the cart.  Then of course getting home, remembering a forgotten item and needing to do it all over again, who has time for that?  Certainly not us busy moms!
 
Peapod at Stop and Shop has come to rescue again.  You have probably already heard about their great delivery services, where you order you groceries online and they are delivered to your door.  However now they have another option, Peapod Pickup.  For me this is the perfect solution to my packed schedule.  I can order my groceries from anywhere at anytime that is convenient to me and then swing into the parking lot during my pick-up hour while I’m out running my other errands and the groceries are ready and loaded into my trunk.  No more dragging cranky kids through the grocery store or trying to remember a recipes ingredient while in an shopping isle.

Peapod’s pick-up service is free for a limited time and when you sign up as a new customer you receive the service free for 60 days.  The service also has numerous shopping features to help your shopping process go faster and smoother including a healthy ideas filter and an express shopping tab.  This service is a must try!

 Enter to Win a $50 Gift Card to Peapod!
June 10th, 2014 – June 16th, 2014
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 
 
*I was provided with free products to facilitate this review and giveaway, All opinions are 100% my own*

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