Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review & Giveaway: HoneyBaked Ham BBQ for your Holiday Party!

Fourth of July is JUST AROUND THE CORNER! And that means - barbecues, family and friends! It also means cooking, grilling and dishes - blech! Well - I've got a way around that - get all your goodies this year from HoneyBaked Ham

They provided me (and one of you!!!) a gift certificate for a party prize package for 10! Let me tell you everything that comes in this and how yummy this is - and then you can hopefully win this for your holiday party this weekend!

They have a variety of side dishes made at the store - as well as some frozen ones. I went with macaroni salad, baked beans and potato salad. For journalistic purposes - I had to try them all last night with dinner. 

* Macaroni salad - I love the straight macaroni - no idea why - but I just do. It does have a heavy mayo flavor but I like the vegetables in with it. It's a must-have! 
* Baked Beans - these are delicious and have that "cooked for hours" taste that I love - plus they're egg-free for the hubby!
* Loaded Baked Potato Salad - I hadn't had this before and YUM! This has a much lighter, less-mayo flavor than a lot of potato salads - I almost wondered if it even had any in it (it does). This was light and fluffy - LOVED IT! 

They also have broccoli salad and a coleslaw - both have mayo - and I didn't feel like eating them all by myself. But good options as well. 

Another plus to HBH is that they have rolls/bread options right in the store! I chose the Honey Kissed Hawaiian Rolls and they were delish! I opened one up and put a little butter on it - instant buns for all the meat options in my prize pack! (They also have Jalapeno Corn Bread - but that has eggs and we aren't big on spicy.)

Now for the good stuff - the protein! The store manager was nice enough to let us try all of the meat options we had available - so we did 1 slab of ribs and 1 pound each of brisket, chicken and pork. Larry dug into the ribs before I could even take pics of them! The nice thing with their ribs is that they come in this bag so you can just pop it right in the oven! Less work for me :-) Larry thought the ribs were pretty good but a little fatty.

I tried a little of everything else - the pulled chicken first. I'm not usually a big fan because it can be dry - but this was really good. There was just enough sauce to keep it moist. Larry loved this - he's a chicken guy and will definitely enjoy the leftovers for this one! They come in oven-ready trays as well so they're easy to heat up for the crowd.

 The brisket was delicious!!!! Larry tried it cold - while I warmed mine up. Moist, juicy and tender - everything a brisket should be. And - it's Certified Angus Beef - and I just learned how fantastic that is last week!

My favorite though - by far - was the pulled pork. I loved the BBQ seasoning they sprinkle on top but the meat was just fall apart tender! I took a nibble cold and knew it was going to be good. I was delighted by this and really liked the difference between this and the pulled chicken. I was really expecting them to both look like the chicken - so this was nice to have a variety in texture. Yum! I would definitely get this again!! I think we'll be heading back for the chicken and pork on a regular basis. :-)

So here's my little sampler plate that I had last night for dinner. The plate was definitely empty when I was done and too bad for the pups - there was nothing left for them to clean up! We're having folks over this weekend for the holiday and we're already making plans to head back to HoneyBaked Ham to pick up some more of these for the party.

One other thing to note - all the meats are cooked when you get them - so you're just heating them up if you choose. That said - you don't even need an oven. Head to the park and picnic it up!

While you're at the store - don't miss the mustards and sauces they have available as well. HoneyBaked Ham has quite the setup - you can go in for a sandwich anytime (it is a restaurant too!) or when you go for your catered items - they have breads, sauces and drinks so you can make it a one-stop-shop!

And now it's giveaway time! I'm running this giveaway just through Wednesday in hopes that I can get the coupon in the mail that day so the winner can have these for the Fourth of July weekend! So invite your friends and enter to win! They say it's a $75 value but the bill was over $85 for all of the goods - so thanks so much to HoneyBaked Ham for the wonderful treat for me & you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: HoneyBaked Ham provided the prize pack for me but all opinions are my own. 

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Recipes: 5 Easy Egg-Free Desserts! #eggfree #allergy

My husband is allergic to eggs - which - can be frustrating when it comes to desserts! He's never had cake for pete's sake! Since we got married - I've been finding great egg-free recipes that are perfect for his sweet tooth!

First up - egg-free banana bread! He loves banana bread - but so many recipes require eggs - except this one! It's delicious too!

My mom gave us this Peach Cobbler recipe - she's made it for me since I was a kid. The secret ingredient is water! Be sure to click through and find out more. This is by far my most popular post! The top is sugary and crunchy - it's so delicious!

On our first anniversary, we went to a Bed & Breakfast in Greensburg, IN and they made these dairy-free berry muffins for Larry. He loved them and insisted I get the recipe. They were just as good when I made them!

A coworker made these Oreo cake balls and I had no idea they were so easy! It's also pretty amazing how crushed oreos become almost a frosting like consistency! These are so good - I've made them a half-dozen times since!


And last up - these delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins. I could not get over how tasty they were and the chocolate chips added that extra bite of sweet that they needed. I could eat these all week long (and I did!).

There you have it - 5 easy egg-free desserts that are perfect for that loved one with an egg-allergy. The best part is - they're so delicious - you'll eat them too!


And as a bonus - if your loved one has never had pancakes - Krusteaz has a fantastic egg-free complete pancake mix. We were on a trip staying with a family once and I mentioned Larry's allergy - they found this brand and we've been loyal ever since!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Road Trip: SeaWorld Orlando #VisitOrlando

So this is a super-fun post (series of posts actually) to write! I don't get to go on vacation much - just with work and money - but recently my friend Adventure Mom invited me to ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Our first stop after the flight was SeaWorld. I'll address the pink elephant right off the bat - I know about the documentary. I love love love animals. But I went. I don't know all the details but I've never been to any SeaWorld and wanted to see it for myself.

It's really a big park and there are a ton of animals to see. We checked the show times right off the bat and were just in time for the start of the dolphin show - so we ran to catch that. Amazing! So much fun. The trainers are super-outgoing and the dolphins are adorable. It's really amazing that they can train these guys like this. So cute!

Next up - turtles. Okay - well the rest of my party went on a ride - I hung out and watched our stuff. (You can't take ANYTHING on the rides - and the lockers aren't cheap.) While waiting I met this adorable little British boy and he was waiting with his grandma. He looked at me - in his ADORABLE baby British accent - and said "Do you want to see the turtles?" Um yeth. So I looked at turtles and birds with my new buddy.

Adventure Mom + kids rode the Manta - it's a hella-ride and as big as stuff at Kings Island. It was a thrill ride for sure and they all loved it.

Next up was the Penguins! There were some long lines at Seaworld for the attractions - it was a 45 minute wait for the penguins. There was a bit of a "ride" once you were inside - it was sort of like a tilt a whirl without the work.
After the ride portion - you got to see the real penguins! It was pretty neat because there was open air between you and them.  There's me and a little buddy!

Last up was the show you really come to Seaworld for - Shamu! They actually have a bunch of Killer Whales and they are amazing creatures. The height of their jumps is amazing. They're very talented. (Beware of the splash zone.) This show - compared to the dolphin show - is really about the animals. The dolphin show had a bit of a "story" - this was trick - trick - trick.

The pure size and magnitude of these animals is amazing. It's an impressive stadium too. These - as opposed to the other rides/attractions - have plenty of room in them.

All in all - a great day was had. We really enjoyed SeaWorld - I'm more of an animal nut than my friends were - so I could have definitely stayed longer - but it was a lot of fun.

Disclosure: Our trip was provided by Visit Orlando and Allegiant Travel.  All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Restaurant Review: Margaritaville @ Horseshoe Casino

My husband and I have been down to Horseshoe Casino a number of times - it's a fun time and they have a number of restaurants. Recently Margaritaville invited us down to check out their food and drinks - so - as they say - FINS UP! 

We were meeting friends - so I headed down right after work and decided to sample a margarita. It was good stuff - tangy, salty, fruity, refreshing - yum! 

Then when the friends showed up - the fun began! Rachel and I headed down to take a little pic before we sat down. They also have corn hole and a stage inside for local entertainment.

Then the food started a-comin' - they wanted us to try a little of everything - and we did. We started with the Grilled Shrimp Skewer - jerk glazed shrimp dusted with sugared coconut. Larry really enjoyed the shrimp. For me it was okay - I think it was the sugared coconut - I love coconut but don't love it on shrimp. The shrimp was cooked great though.

While most of the menu items are "island-themed" - they did have White Cheddar Cheese Curds served with a Landshark Beer BBQ. These were YUM! I definitely ate too many of them based on all the food we were going to try - but man - I just get addicted to cheese curds.

Rachel enjoyed the drinks. 

She REALLY enjoyed the drinks! Haha - just kidding - these weren't all hers. She was the drink tryer-outer for me since I'm a lightweight. In addition to the original marg, I did try the blueberry pomegranite margarita and that was gooood!

Next up was the Asiago Crab Dip - the dip was really good. I didn't love the crostinis but the dip itself I liked. I'm a bit of a crab addict :-)

Larry's favorite was the Drunken Shrimp Skillet - and I have to say - it was delicious. Shrimp, peppers and onions sauteed with tequila lime butter. This was great because it was buttery and not as heavy as some of the other apps. It's also hearty enough to be an entree!

Next up were quesadillas - these had all the toppings and were pre-cut for sharing. I liked that there was melted cheese and a cheese sauce inside. By this point we were slowing down - but still had enough in us to kill them. 

I have to say - we were STUFFED - we all had entrees and we all took home leftovers. There was taco salad, fish tacos, grouper and so much more. The food was all good - especially that drunken shrimp - I stole some of it from Larry again. :-)


Margaritaville was nice enough to give us some fun swag as well. I love my new flops and wear them all the time. They have a great store right next to the restaurant with cute hats, shirts, tumblers and everything else you can think of!

Why Should You Go? We definitely enjoyed the food - I think their prices are a bit high for lunch - but for dinner - it's really great. The atmosphere is fun and they have bands and entertainment on a regular basis. And now that I've tried a few things - I know what I like more (cheese curds, drunken shrimp, drinks!).

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: Margaritaville provided dinner & swag to us but the opinions are all my own. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Road Trip: Certified Angus Beef Council - Day 1

Recently I was invited by the folks at the Certified Angus Beef Council to come up to Wooster, OH and learn a little LOT about Certified Angus Beef. 


We were tapped with a full 2 days of beef, beef and more beef! We learned about beef, cut up beef and - most importantly - ate beef! So let's get to it! Bring on the cow! 

If you've never been to Wooster - it's between Columbus and Cleveland in Amish country! I love me some Amish (i.e. a bit obsessed). I did not photograph any Amish - because that's not cool in their world - but let me tell you the sight of a little Amish boy running up his driveway with his hat and suspenders - ADORBS!

Besides the Amish - there's a whole lotta cheese. We stopped at the Guggisberg Cheese store to check it out. They make the cheese there and sell every kind of cheese you can think of. I came away with a tub of mixed cheeses and it was some good stuff!

We stayed at the St. Paul Hotel in downtown Wooster and it was AMAZING! I absolutely loved everything about this hotel. It's a very small boutique hotel that was originally built as a hotel in the late 1800s. They've remodeled and it is beautiful. The bed is extremely comfortable, the staff is friendly, the complimentary breakfast is DELICIOUS - I could just go on and on! But I have to say - my favorite thing was the heated floor in the bathroom! Who knew heated floors would be that magnificent - but they were!

Hands down - if you're ever in Wooster - stay at the St. Paul. (They do have a college in Wooster - beautiful campus - so it could happen!)

After checking in at the hotel, we hopped on a bus out to the Chippewa Valley Angus Farm. Cows!!!! When we got off the bus we met the owner of CVAF - Rod - and his cowboys. Seriously - all the girls went "Ooooooh cowboys!" It was pretty funny.

Rod and his two ranch hands run the farm and raise "seed cows" - which are the cows that make the babies for all the cows of the world. People buy their cows to make more babies or to grow into cows we eat. They were very patient and knowledgeable with all of us. (Besides me - there were other bloggers and journalists on the trip.)

With all the hype around natural and organic - combined with the videos and issues around animal cruelty - these guys got a LOT of questions. I have to commend them on how they dealt with the fire drill that was us.  We learned so much! Here's a few things:
  • Didn't know there were "seed" and "feed" cows - the feed cows are the one that are being fed so we can eat them. 
  • There's a cow in another field - that his whole job is to come sniff when the lady cows are "ready" (what a life?!)
  • All cows are grass fed. ALL. COWS. Many cows get grain for the last couple of months because the grain adds flavor to the meat. 
  • Certified Angus Beef has their own standards - above the USDA. 
  • All black cows have some Angus in them - but they may not be 100% Angus. 
  • Fast food Angus is NOT the same as Certified Angus Beef! Look for the symbol! (for example: Jersey Mike's has it on their menu)
I learned a lot more - but that's a bit of the knowledge that was dropped on us. But - after grilling them for a couple of hours - they decided we needed to see some cows :-) Woohoo! 

We literally saw cows running in the pasture! There is something about the country - it just smells better. I'd rather smell manure in the country - than exhaust in the city any day. I could have just sat on a lawn chair in that field all day - it was just beautiful. 

We also got to see the cowboys in action - herding the cows and bringing them toward us so we could get a closer look.

This is Jet and I love him (the horse not the boy). While everybody else was in the field admiring the cows - I decided to snuggle with the horse for a bit. He was so sweet!!!

After our fill of cows - we headed back to the hotel for some down time and then - back out again!

Before dinner we decided to walk around downtown a bit and stopped in at the First Amendment Public House. They had that Certified Angus Beef logo on the door - so we had to check it out!

They had a ton of craft beers on tap and we decided to check them out. Larry tried an IPA while I went with something light and fruity. The staff was really nice and the food that came out for other folks looked AMAZING!

The First Amendment Public House on Urbanspoon

But we didn't eat there because we had a big ol' steak waiting for us! 
We went to Broken Rocks Cafe and were showered with lots of delicious food. Everything was homemade and so good. We started with bread & olive oil - then moved onto pizzas! Hand-crafted dough - my favorite was the Italian Sausage because it had some dollops of goat cheese on it. Yum! The salads were great too - Larry even tried beets!

He ordered the Certified Angus Beef New York Strip. As we found in a recent steakhouse trip - he likes NY Strip and I like Ribeye. He really enjoyed it - even the blue cheese butter - although he said, "That stuff is a bit funky." Haha - yes, yes it is.

I went for the Certified Angus Beef Ribeye and it was delicious! It was soft and buttery and just amazing. Broken Rocks was an amazing host for our dinner and the food was all delicious. I would definitely go back.

Broken Rocks Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

All in all - it was a great first day full of beef! We learned as much as we ate - which is a good ratio for me. :-)

Disclosure: The Certified Angus Beef Council provided this trip for us but all opinions are my own. 

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