Cave Tools, Stainless Steel Grill Brush

Cave Tools, Stainless Steel Grill Brush

Barbeque grill brushes are a critical element to the life of a grill and an essential tool after any grill cooking. Over the years, we’ve tried many grill brushes and found them to be inadequate for the job of thoroughly cleaning. Cave Tools recently introduced a grill brush that might be the best we’ve ever owned.

Cave Tools Stainless Steel Grill Brush

Cave Tools Stainless Steel Grill Brush

This brush features an 18” handle with a very sturdy grip. The materials are rustproof so you don’t have to worry about leaving it outside with the grill.

Cave Tools grill brush features an 18” handle with a very sturdy grip.

Cave Tools grill brush features an 18” handle with a very sturdy grip.

The bristles are thick and stiff making it heavy duty for getting off even the toughest, stickiest baked on charred sauces.

The bristles are thick and stiff

The bristles are thick and stiff

The grill brush head features stainless steel bristles that wrap all the way around the top allowing you to clean from the flat, broad and narrow angles. Plus it is gentle enough not to scratch the grill grates.

The grill brush head features stainless steel bristles that wrap all the way around the top.

The grill brush head features stainless steel bristles that wrap all the way around the top.

The Cave Tools Stainless Steel Grill brush is sold online at their website, or you can purchase it on Amazon (15% off coupon code V9BW75DN). Currently, it is on sale for $12.99 plus there is a 10% discount code on the Cave Tools’ website. This is another great item for the grill master at your house.

 

Do you find cleaning the grill a messy job?

Have you been able to find a grill brush that lasts?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Cave Tools Grill Brush, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Rufus Teague Barbecue Sauces

Rufus Teague Barbecue Sauces

Barbeque is not just for summer cookouts any more. It’s becoming a major part of the modern cook’s weekly meal rotation in any season. With what was once viewed as ordinary charred meats with a sauce now appealing to a broader palette, consumers are experimenting with inventive condiments to enrich the dining experience. From steaks to chicken and fish, Rufus Teague is a Kansas City barbeque sauce that you can put on anything you’re cooking!

Rufus Teague is a Kansas City barbeque sauce that you can put on anything you’re cooking!

Rufus Teague is a Kansas City barbeque sauce that you can put on anything you’re cooking!

The company founder, John McCone, created the Rufus Teague barbecue sauce recipes. He and a buddy also fashioned the Rufus Teague character, a serious-looking old west man, the brand’s personality. They’ve also continued to carry out that style with the product’s packaging. The 16-ounce barbecue sauce bottle resembles a pint-size whiskey flask.

The Rufus Teague character, a serious-looking old west man, is the brand’s personality.

The Rufus Teague character, a serious-looking old west man, is the brand’s personality.

I received a sample of Rufus Teague’s barbecue sauces. Included in my shipment were the whiskey maple, honey sweet, touch o’heat, blazin’ hot and apple mash flavors. I enlisted my husband and son to help with this tasting on a few upcoming dinner dishes.

We tried the blazin’ hot and honey sweet on burgers.

We tried the blazin’ hot and honey sweet on burgers.

First, we tried the blazin’ hot and honey sweet on burgers. The barbecue sauces were dark and thick. Their flavor was a great combination of sweet, smokiness and spice. The burger’s toppings didn’t overpower them. The blazin’ hot sauce lived up to its name. It had a good kick of spice to make your nose run.

The blazin’ hot sauce lived up to its name.  It had a good kick of spice to make your nose run.

The blazin’ hot sauce lived up to its name. It had a good kick of spice to make your nose run.

Next, we tried the remaining three flavors on grilled chicken breasts. The touch o’heat sauce has a small bit of spice that leaves a little tingle on your tongue. We also enjoyed the chicken with the whiskey maple and apple mash sauces. I want to try using the apple mash sauce on pork. I think the apple and pork combination will be a big hit. We also made another observation about the sauces – if you use them as a condiment or dip their flavor is milder than if you marinate the meat with it and cook it on.

We tried the remaining three flavors on grilled chicken breasts.

We tried the remaining three flavors on grilled chicken breasts.

Rufus Teague also makes dry rubs and steak sauces. You can purchase Rufus Teague products either online, through their website or Amazon, or at many national grocery stores. I’ve noticed them at my local Stop & Shop grocery store.

 

Do you like to barbecue all year round?

What’s your favorite barbecue dish?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Rufus Teague barbecue sauces, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Little Bird Confections – Fire Bites & Bark Candy

Little Bird Confections – Fire Bites & Bark Candy

Within the last six plus years, the boom of popularity for sriracha has opened consumers’ eyes to the wonders of spicy peppers and started the movement to spice up everything. It was only a matter of time for this trend to infiltrate over to chocolate. Some prefer sweet and some like it hot. For those looking to enjoy the best of both worlds, let me introduce you to Little Bird Confections’ Fire Bites and Bark Candy.

Little Bird Confections’ Fire Bites and Bark Candy

Little Bird Confections’ Fire Bites and Bark Candy

Little Bird Confections, owned by Corey and Sara Meyer, is a small, family-owned chocolate business based in Queens, NY. They specialize in candied jalapenos covered in chocolate. This original idea is the brainchild of Sara who began candying everything in the house, starting with orange peels, and covering them in chocolate. She decided to attempt jalapenos. Sara tried them out on co-workers who thought they were awesome and began placing orders. That’s how Little Bird was hatched.

Fire Bites come in original, milk, white and dark chocolate flavors

Fire Bites come in original, milk, white and dark chocolate flavors

I received a sample of Little Bird’s candy. Included in my shipment were the original, milk, white and dark chocolate bites flavors as well as the bark. I enlisted my hubby and son, along with a few friends who love spicy foods with a good kick to help with this tasting.

Fire bark consists of finely ground jalapenos that are added to dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.

Fire bark consists of finely ground jalapenos that are added to dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.

Little Bird’s confections are made in small batches using sustainable cacao. The candy is made with all natural ingredients and no preservatives. The bark consists of finely ground jalapenos that are added to dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Upon tasting, you notice the deep chocolate and are then surprised by a subtle kick of fire.

Fire bark has a deep chocolate taste and then you are surprised by a subtle kick of fire.

Fire bark has a deep chocolate taste and then you are surprised by a subtle kick of fire.

The fire bites candy consists of seed-in jalapenos dipped in the variety of chocolate flavors. The heat of the jalapenos, coupled with the chocolate’s sweetness, delivers a delectable flavor explosion. We found the fire bites to be spicier than the bark. Our favorite bites flavors were the dark and milk chocolates.

The fire bites are spicier than the bark.

The fire bites are spicier than the bark.

You can purchase Little Bird’s fire bites and bark candies either online, through their website or Amazon, or at specialty retail stores.

 

Do you like rich chocolate with a fiery kick?

What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Little Bird’s confections, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Moon Rocks Gourmet Cookies

Moon Rocks Gourmet Cookies

Almost everyone I know appreciates a little sweet treat after a meal. Whether it’s a brownie, piece of fruit or a scoop of ice cream our habits, brain chemistry and diet makeup haunts us to satisfy the craving. With more consumers looking to make “smarter/ healthier” choices, small portions of these sweet treats allows us to appease the “everything in moderation” tactic and not desert dessert. Over the last two years, there’s been an increase in cookie sales, likely due to consumers quantifying it as a “mini-portion” dessert. Bakeries have recognized this trend and are capitalizing on the popularity by expanding the product varieties by exploring creative flavors with a variety of innovative ingredients.

Moon Rocks is located in Hamden, CT

Moon Rocks is located in Hamden, CT

Moon Rocks Gourmet Cookies is the fruit of Cynthia Rae’s, mamma Moon Rocks, labor. During her culinary training, Cynthia’s professor challenged her to create a chocolate chip cookie recipe that tasted the way she thought they should taste. This is where the “secret recipe” was born. Recently, Cynthia and her daughter decided to make Moon Rocks cookies available for retail purchase, because “the world needed them.” I received a sample of a few of their cookie varieties.

Moon Rocks Gourmet Cookies come in a variety of flavors!

Moon Rocks Gourmet Cookies come in a variety of flavors!

From the top of the plate and moving clockwise, the cookie flavors included were: Lemon Cheesecake; Orange Cranberry; Ugly Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip; Chocolate Chocolate Chip; Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip; and Peppermint (center). The cookies don’t resemble your typical looking and shaped cookies, but they do look like rocks, hence their name. Upon tasting you’ll notice that the unique decadent flavors shine through and don’t get overpowered by an excessive amount of sugar, like many store bought cookies. Our favorites were the dark chocolate chocolate chip and the ugly salted caramel chocolate chip.

Moon Rocks offers a variety of gourmet cookies that you can purchase by the half dozen or in greater quantities. You can purchase Moon Rock’s gourmet cookies either on their website or at their retail location on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden, CT.

 

Do you look for a sweet treat after your meal?

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Moon Rock’s gourmet cookies, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Casa Visco Sauces

Casa Visco Sauces

Being 100% Italian and with most of my family having grown up in Italy, I’m upfront in admitting that I am a bit of a spaghetti sauce snob. In all honesty, I had never eaten jarred sauce until my early 20’s and typically I don’t like most because they are too sweet or don’t use quality ingredients. However, for those instances when you don’t have time to make your own, I’ve been searching for a legit sauce that doesn’t have a pound of sugar or unrecognizable ingredients.

Casa Visco is a national manufacturer of pizza and pasta sauces. It started 70 years ago when Carmella and Joseph Viscusi began as wholesale grocers in Schenectady, NY. They sold grocery staples like flour, tomatoes and cheeses. Carmella, like many Italians, picked tomatoes from her garden and gave out her sauce as gifts to friends, neighbors and customers who always asked for more to purchase. Working out of the basement of their home, the couple started bottling and selling Carmella’s homemade spaghetti sauce to their grocery customers.

Casa Visco is a national manufacturer of pizza and pasta sauces.

Casa Visco is a national manufacturer of pizza and pasta sauces.

I was introduced to Casa Visco’s sauces at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food show where the team was making creative pizzas and presenting their line of sauces.

The Casa Visco team was making creative pizzas and presenting their line of sauce at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food show.

The Casa Visco team was making creative pizzas and presenting their line of sauce at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food show.

Shortly thereafter, the company contacted me and I received a sample of their “Sensational Six” package of sauces to try. The package included three jars of their “Awesome Sauce,” both the original and global spice flavors, and three jars of their pizza sauce.

The “Sensational Six” package of Casa Visco sauces.

The “Sensational Six” package of Casa Visco sauces.

I was pleased to notice that Casa Visco’s sauces use all natural ingredients with no added salt or sugar. Before you open the jar, you’ll notice the bright color of the tomatoes and there’s plenty of real onion and garlic flavor from the real thing instead of using powered dried spices.

Casa Visco’s sauces use all natural ingredients with no added salt or sugar.

Casa Visco’s sauces use all natural ingredients with no added salt or sugar.

While the company is a national manufacturer, its sauces are not mass-produced. They are slow cooked in small batches to ensure the original flavors. But the “proof of the pudding, or sauce, is in the eating.” Here’s how we tasted the sauces:

Warmed pizza sauce was great for dipping my family’s homemade focaccia bread!

Warmed pizza sauce was great for dipping my family’s homemade focaccia bread!

I warmed the pizza sauce and used it for dipping my family’s homemade focaccia bread, which I sliced in sticks. The sauce was a nice compliment to the bread.

The original flavored pasta sauce as a topping for homemade chicken cutlets.

The original flavored pasta sauce as a topping for homemade chicken cutlets.

I used the original flavored pasta sauce as a topping for homemade chicken cutlets. The sauce was rich and flavorful.

The original and global spice flavored pasta sauces became part of an Italian meatloaf that I made for dinner with friends.

The original and global spice flavored pasta sauces became part of an Italian meatloaf that I made for dinner with friends.

The original flavored pasta sauce became part of an Italian meatloaf that I made for dinner with friends. The recipe calls for topping the meatloaf with marinara sauce and allowing it to bake in. When serving the meatloaf, I warmed some original and the global spice flavored sauces for guests to add to their slice. The guys loved the heat in the global spice sauce. It comes from Korean pepper powder, sirichi from China and Japanese soy sauce. It’s an interesting Asian combination that rounds out this Italian spicy sauce.

Casa Visco’s sauces come in a variety of flavors.  You can purchase Casa Visco’s sauces either online, on their website or Amazon, or at grocery stores nationwide. You can find out the grocery stores in your area that carry the sauce using the product locator on their website.

 

Do you make your own homemade pasta sauce?

What’s your favorite brand of jarred pasta sauce?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Casa Visco’s sauces, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Blue Sky Family Farms Eggs

Blue Sky Family Farms Eggs

Periodically you’ll hear a news story touting eggs are bad for us or vice versa, with the confusion centering on its cholesterol content. In many cases, eggs are getting the bad rap because of the high-fat foods they’ve often consumed with – bacon and sausage. Eggstra! Eggstra! Recent research found saturated fat in foods has a bigger impact on blood cholesterol and heart disease. Eggs are only 70 calories each. They also are rich in nutrients and contain almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans.

John Brunnquell founded Egg Innovations (Blue Sky Family Farms parent company) in the 1990’s, specializing in enhanced value shell eggs. He saw early on that the more natural you made a hen’s environment, the happier and more productive they were. Putting what he learned into practice, he now leads the largest free-range and pasture raised egg originator in the country. Blue Sky Family Farms raises ethical eggs for the humane race.

Blue Sky Family Farms Eggs

Blue Sky Family Farms Eggs

Their chickens are 100% free range and pasture raised with care in America on local family farms. Their eggs contain no additives (hormone, antibiotic and GMO free).

Blue Sky Family Farms eggs contain no additives (hormone, antibiotic and GMO free).

Blue Sky Family Farms eggs contain no additives (hormone, antibiotic and GMO free).

I received a sample of Blue Sky Family Farms eggs. Included in my shipment were a dozen cartons of organic and brown eggs.

I received a dozen cartons of organic and brown Blue Sky Farms eggs to sample.

I received a dozen cartons of organic and brown Blue Sky Farms eggs to sample.

First, I tried the eggs in their purest form and made a Havarti cheese and dill omelet.

Havarti cheese and dill omelet made with Blue Sky Family Farms eggs.

Havarti cheese and dill omelet made with Blue Sky Family Farms eggs.

The eggs were light and fluffy and paired well with the delicate cheese and fresh herbs. I coupled it with a slice of rosemary bread, fresh baked by a friend, for a hearty and satisfying lunch that kept me filled until dinner.

It made for a hearty and satisfying lunch that kept me filled until dinner.

It made for a hearty and satisfying lunch that kept me filled until dinner.

Quiche is all about the eggs. So it made sense to try them in my broccoli and ham quiche recipe. The quiche was delicious and seemed to puff up more than usual.

Broccoli and ham quiche made with Blue Sky Family Farms eggs.

Broccoli and ham quiche made with Blue Sky Family Farms eggs.

I love this recipe because it is quick and easy, and makes enough for two meals or plenty of leftovers.

Since it is the holiday season and I am baking frequently, I used the eggs for several sweet treats. They were used in my cookbook club “take home treat” chocolate currant cookies.

Chocolate currant cookies

Chocolate currant cookies

Also, the eggs were used in baking a batch of decadent peanut butter and chocolate bars. These are a family and friend favorite.

Peanut butter and chocolate bars

Peanut butter and chocolate bars

Most recently, I used them in making blueberry lemon biscotti. I am packaging these cookies into treat bags with a tea bag for a homemade holiday gift and sharing with friends.

Blueberry lemon biscotti made with Blue Sky Family Farms eggs.

Blueberry lemon biscotti made with Blue Sky Family Farms eggs.

You can find Blue Sky Family Farms pasture-raised organic and non-GMO brown eggs at over 750 grocery stores in the following states: IL, IN, WI, OH, KY, IO, AL, GA, MS, NC, SC, AR, AZ, CO, ID, KS, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, TX, UT, WA, and WY. You also can find them in Whole Foods Markets south and mid-Atlantic stores. With their expanding distribution, I’m hoping we will begin seeing them in the northeast states. So don’t be a chicken when it comes to eating eggs!

 

What’s your favorite egg dish?

Have you tried free-range, pasture-raised eggs?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Blue Sky Family Farms eggs and compensated for the post, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

McCrea’s Caramels

McCrea’s Caramels

When I think of caramel, I associate the candy with sticking to my teeth and gums long after eaten. So even though I enjoy the flavor, I tend to shy away from it for this reason. Northeast-based McCrea’s Candies makes an innovative caramel product that uses a proprietary recipe that eliminates corn syrup and uses quality natural ingredients so their caramel won’t stick to your teeth. They combine cane sugar, fresh local milk and cream, local butter, molasses, salt and natural flavorings to create the slow-cooked, handcrafted caramels.

McCrea’s Caramels

McCrea’s Caramels

McCrea’s Caramels was founded by husband and wife team Jason and Kate McCrea who were dedicated to making the best caramel in the world. Building upon backgrounds in biology and chemistry, the McCrea’s transitioned into the science of caramel making after double layoffs. Starting in a home kitchen with a wooden spoon, pot and candy thermometer, the McCrea’s business has expanded and now offers a full line of caramel varieties to retail outlets throughout North America. I was introduced to them at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food show where the team was handing out samples.

I was introduced to McCrea's Caramels at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food show where the team was handing out samples.

I was introduced to McCrea’s Caramels at the Newport Mansions Wine and Food show where the team was handing out samples.

Shortly thereafter, the company contacted me and I received a sample of their innovative flavors to try. I received their “Flavor Family” and a few pillow boxes that each contains 5 pieces.

McCrea's Caramels came packaged in a "Flavor Family” or pillow boxes.

McCrea’s Caramels came packaged in a “Flavor Family” or pillow boxes.

The Flavor family includes McCrea’s flagship product featuring Hawaiian black lava sea salt. McCrea’s also offers such classic flavors as vanilla, Highland single malt scotch, dark roasted mocha, ginger fusion, Cape Cod sea salt, rosemary truffle sea salt, tapped maple and deep chocolate.

The company also produces provocatively flavored caramel combinations such as curried butternut, cinnamon clove and café noir.

The company also produces provocatively flavored caramel combinations such as curried butternut, cinnamon clove and café noir.

They also offer some additional flavors using striking seasonings to produce provocatively flavored caramel combinations such as curried butternut, cinnamon clove and café noir. I enlisted some friends to help sample the caramels. Everyone loved the soft texture and appreciated the non-stickiness. The group was intrigued by the extraordinary flavor pairings. The vanilla, deep chocolate and cinnamon flavors rose to the top of their taste buds. Some even suggested pairing the cinnamon flavor with a slice of apple pie for the ultimate fall dessert.

McCrea's curried butternut caramel

McCrea’s curried butternut caramel

You can purchase McCrea’s Caramels either online, on their website or Amazon, or at small boutiques, specialty shops and retail chains in the US and Canada. The McCrea’s website has a listing of retailers that carry the product. Personally, I think it would make a great holiday stocking stuffer, or grab bag and hostess gift.

A few other special facts to note about McCrea’s Caramels – recently the company was named as a 2016 Good Food Awards Finalist, a Martha Stewart Living American Made 2015 Food Finalist, and voted number 3 on the USA Today “10 Best for Foodies” list. In addition, these caramels were awarded the Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice Food Award in 2014 and Best Candy honors at the 2012 New England Dessert showcase.

 

Have you ever tried McCrea’s Caramel candies?

What’s your favorite flavor of caramel candy?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of McCrea’s caramels and sauce, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.