Sunday, December 4, 2016

Review: Open Farm Dog Treats

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It's been a pretty interesting few weeks for our old beagle, Sadie - she's ambling toward sixteen years old, and has been exhibiting geriatric type issues for a good while now.  Little energy, grumpy, no longer running or able to get up on her back feet, much less jump, and when we moved into our new apartment in August, we realized she couldn't handle the one flight of stairs necessary to get to our door.

We'd resigned ourselves to thinking this was just the way it was going to be now, and we did what we could to keep her happy and comfortable. She did enjoy slow rambling walks through the neighborhood, and we've been seeing to it she gets one or two good excursions a day.

But then her new vet ran some tests and we discovered she had, somewhere along the way, developed Addison's Disease, a chronic condition where the adrenal system is depressed, and the symptions are almost all the things I just mentioned.

Left untreated, it can lead to organ failure and death, and while it can happen at any age, it is underdiagnosed among elderly dogs because of how much it just looks like old age.

The treatment is simple - a daily dose of prednisone does the trick.  And it worked, almost immediately, to return our eager, active, happy dog back to us.

The downside of prednisone, is that it also made her more assertive, stubborn and demanding, especially where food was involved, and she quite quickly took on more weight than is good for her, after a few months of finally getting it under control.

I'm leading with all that, because coincidentally, at the same time, we were testing out Open Farm Dog Treats for review, and I think  they saved  the day when it came to having good-for-her treats I could feel fine with letting her have when she's behaving like she's withering away from starvation because we are being strict about portion control.


Open Farm is an amazing company that not only cares about the quality of food and treats your dog or cat gets - it cares about where the meat is sourced, putting strong emphasis on humane and sustainable practices.  And it does something I have never seen in a pet food before - it allows you to look up the farms that sourced each bag individually by using a code number on the bag!

Open Farm makes 3 varieties of dog food, 2 varieties of cat food, and 5 varieties of dog treats.  I reviewed three of the five treat varieties for this review: Dehydrated Turkey Treats, Dehydrated Chicken Treats and Dehydrated Cod Skins.

The turkey and chicken varieties are very similar - they consider of crunchy square nuggets that are composed of Humanely farmed chicken or turkey, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), molasses, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), and rosemary extract.

The turkey variety is slightly lighter in color but otherwise I can't tell all that much difference in them.

The two varieties we didn't try were beef and pork, and looking at their ingredients online, they use the same formula, so selecting on over another should be simply a matter of choosing what your dog might like best.

Sadie enjoys them a lot - they are rather more lightweight than the look (because it's all dehydrated), but has a great time catching them and crunching them up (and then hosing the ground for any possible dropped crumbs).  She not only recognizes the bag on sight, but she knows where they're stored, and will go stare at the cabinet door, dancing around and barking at us to give her one. (This is much more demanding behavior than we are used to!)

But her real love is reserved for the Dehydrated Cod Skins.

I had a feeling she was going to be a fan - she's got a long history of chowing through any cat food that ever comes her way, and when we have salmon for dinner, she goes into ecstasy when we let her have the skins.

I was very, very right on this!  The first time I gave her one, her eyes rolled up in her head with joy.

And I feel great about letting her have them, because the ingredients list is: cod skins.

That's it! Sustainable, Alaskan wild caught cod.  The skins are dehyrated into a lightweight crunchy wafer that provides great crunch, and miraculously isn't giving her a terrible case of fish breath.

These have also proved to be highly motivational - not only did she finally crack the code on tackling our apartment stares after being confronted with a Cod Skin waiting for her at the top, but she'll now jump up to get them when we put one up on the ottoman for her.  She's not yet tried to completely jump up onto the chair, so we don't know yet if that's a skill she can still handle - but even if not, it's so good to see her willing  to work to get something she loves.



Since she's going to be stuck on prednisone for life, I will be buying the Open Farm Cod Skins to keep her hunger monster at bay without loading her up on unnecessary fillers.

Open Farm is available at local pet stores and some online venues, and you can look on their store locator to see where it's available near you.  There's a store just a couple miles away from me, and I'll be picking her up some more cod skin treats, and trying a bag of their dog food as well.

Sadie and I highly recommend Open Farm!


http://www.openfarmpet.com/
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https://twitter.com/openfarmpet
https://www.instagram.com/openfarmpet/



Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: Feel Good Foods - All-Natural, Gluten-Free

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Feel Good Foods is a smaller business that makes gluten-free, frozen meals and sides. Their current products are focused on Asian and Mexican cuisine; featuring a variety of chef-inspired eggrolls, dumplings, Asian meals, empanadas and taquitos.

I enjoyed reading the story of how Feel Good Foods came to be. It all began when the co-founders, Vanessa – who suffers from celiac disease, and Tryg worked together at a New York City restaurant – Tryg as Executive Sous Chef and Vanessa as a server who couldn’t enjoy staff meals due to her gluten-free diet.

Tryg didn't want her to be left out, and asked Vanessa which foods she missed most. Vanessa asked him to create a gluten-free dumpling, and he did! From there, Tryg developed several other delicious Asian and Mexican style snacks, sides and meals that are usually out of reach for those who can't eat gluten.

Is the way to a girl's heart through a gluten-free dumpling? Maybe! Vanessa and Tryg are married now and are partners creating delicious, healthy gluten-free foods through Feel Good Foods, which are now available at over 4000 grocery stores around the US.

As Vanessa says, “Tryg’s love for cooking, coupled with my love for gluten-free food inspired us to create Feel Good Foods.”

For this review, I received an envelope with VIP coupons for their dumplings and egg rolls. Yum!

Using the Store Locator option on their website, I saw that the nearest store to me was about 25 miles away, so I pinned the coupons on the fridge with a magnet to use whenever I have to drive that direction anyway.

The day came around that I had the extra time and needed to grab some things on the way anyways. I loaded up the kids, our cooler bag and the coupons.

Due to a two year, old that tends to get very bored on longer drives we arrived at the store with a hand full of tiny tiny paper pieces – which used to be the coupons!!!

Long story short, I just ended up buying them out of pocket.


To be honest, I was surprised by how affordable they were. I expected something in the $8-$10 range but they all were in the $4-$6 range - very affordable for a gluten-free product, I think!

I have no medical history that would require me to eat gluten-free foods, but I am fascinated with them as a baker, since I tried to create my own ones and – for the most part – failed miserably when it came to flavor, texture and crunchiness.

The variety at the store near me was very limited, sadly. I would’ve loved to pick up some of their taquitos and Empanadas as well but all they had was one option for the Asian meals, 2 different types of dumplings and 3 different types of egg rolls. I chose a vegetarian version of each, because I've been trying to cut down on how much meat I eat.

I also grabbed a box of the Asian Meal that they had in stock: Broad Noodles with Chicken and Chinese Broccoli.

Once I arrived at home I just couldn’t contain my excitement and just opened the Broad Noodles with Chicken and Chinese Broccoli. We don’t own a microwave, so heating it up in the oven was my only option.


I loved this dish and regret that I didn’t grab a second box of it. It was so rich in flavor and the broccoli pieces were still slightly crunchy. The meat was tender and the noodles well done.
I really enjoyed it very much.

A couple days later I made a pan of my rustic style kale & butternut squash broccoli, and thought the dumplings would be a great side dish for this.


However, I could not get them right. I made the first package – following the directions – and somehow, I ended up with everything stuck to the bottom of my pan. So, I opened the next package to give it another try and ended with the same result.

Maybe I just suck at this or maybe there is a skill required – that I obviously do not possess – to make them turn out right.  It was a little bit of a disappointment, to be honest. The vegetable filling was amazing. But what was left of the wrapper was without much flavor and it somehow turned into a rubbery consistence. We ended up peeling the wrappers off and just eating the filling.

The dumplings may not have worked out, but the egg rolls did. These are my favorite from among the Feel Good Foods products I took home.


I decided to bake mine in the oven (lately, I have discovered I am not a fan of fried food anymore) and at first I was very skeptic about the result. They looked awfully pale, even though I left them in 5min longer than advised in hope they would gain some golden color.

I ended up just taking a bite to see where it gets me, and wow was I surprised. They had such a wonderful crunch to them and the filling was amazing as well. A wonderful combination of flavors and spices.

What I also want to say about this product is that the inside of the egg roll wrapper did not turn into a slimy mush.

If you eat a lot of frozen egg rolls, you probably know what I am talking about when I say this.

It was just simply a delight and I even refused to share with my husband!

The next time that I am in the area, I will most likely stop by the store and pick up a few more boxes of these.


What else did I really enjoy about this product?

-          I like that I can actually pronounce and associate all the ingredients. That’s something not very common these days. It truly is a minimally processed food item with no artificial ingredients!

-          The packaging of Feel Good Foods also deserves a shout out. It looks very elegant and I love the color combinations. It was also what I consider ‘frustration free’ since I did not need scissors to open it. It is also sturdy enough that you could put it on the bottom of the freezer without having to worry about your stuff getting smashed. You can also recycle it!

-    Their website is well worth checking out. A lot of wonderful, gluten-free, recipes!

If you haven't yet discovered the joys of Feel Goods Foods All-Natural, Gluten Free frozen foods, I highly recommend you check out their store locator and see where you can pick some up.  And take a moment now to enter our Giveaway - one US winner will win a pair of Feel Good Foods store coupons worth $6.99 each ($13.98 total) so that you can try out a few of their products for free.  Read on to see how you can enter to win.


https://feel-good-foods.com/
https://www.facebook.com/feelgoodfoods/
https://twitter.com/feelgoodfoods
https://www.instagram.com/feel.good.foods/





One winner in the US will receive two store coupons valued at $6.99 ea ($13.98 total) redeemable wherever Feel Good Foods products are sold.  Please check the store locator to find a store near you.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Giveaway Tools Entry Form below. This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning. (If you don't leave a comment, any additional entries will be void.)

This giveaway is open to US residents and will end just before midnight ET on 12/16. 

The winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Once the winners have responded and confirmed, their first names will be posted on our Giveaways  page.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Awesome Life Friday #90

6 comments:
Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!  It's December! I can't believe we are into the last month of the year!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what some of us have been up to here:

25 Ways to Countdown to Christmas
Crockpot Bacon & Bean Soup


We hope you'll check them out if you haven't already!  Don't forget to peek at the sidebar and check out what other giveaways we currently have going.
  
~~~

And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  This week we are all about the pumpkins! If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!





Making Christmas Decorations // a Vintage Green




Burlap, Lace & Birds Holiday Table // Comfort Spring




Waffled French Toast // Our Unschooling Journey Through Life




Skillet Chicken with Roasted Grapes & Leeks // Strength & Sunshine




Magic Bars // Simply Stacie




Creating a Guest Welcome Basket // Do More For Less




If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!





Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!


Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:





Here we go!



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Gnoments

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This December, the Mister and I will be celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary and twelve years of knowing one another. After living in four different states, having two kids, and that many years behind us, sometimes it is hard to remember to keep some of the spontaneous spark that existed in those early days of infatuation, before the relationship evolved and matured.

When I first realized that I wanted us to take some extra time to focus on us, I implemented “date night” on Tuesday. It was a simple enough concept: after we put Mischief to bed, we put our devices away, and did something together, whether it was watching a show or movie that was just for us and actually being able to discuss it, or playing a two player board game.

Unfortunately, after our daughter was born, those nights became fewer and farther between, as more of our time was spent taking care of a newborn and catching up on sleep and/or work. Then we moved to a new state, and honestly, never picked the ritual back up.

Now that my daughter is two, I find myself missing those weekly date nights, so when I got the opportunity to check out Gnoments, I jumped on it!

Gnoments is a system to help remind you to connect with your love with the help of two adorable gnomes.

I got a cute boxed set that included a hardcover book that was part cute story and part tutorial on how to utilize the two stuffed gnomes.

These gnomes (one male with a beard and one female with braids) have magnets in their hands, which lets them hold each other's hand, pouches for holding treasure and notes on their backs, adorable hats which match up to form a cute heart, and an embedded NFC (Near Field Communication) tag.

NFC is a nifty technology that allows for wireless data transfer that many of the newer phones are now compatible with (if you can use something like Apple Pay, you can probably utilize the NFC tag in the Gnoments gnomes). My phone is not cool, or fancy, so I can't use this feature, however, no worries!

You can still send digital messages with your gnomes online, called a gnomification.

I took the liberty to be completely cheesy and named my gnomes immediately. My gnomes are Gned and Gnatasha. Yes, I am that awesomely lame.

These gnomes are supposed to remind you by just their very presence to take some time for your partner.

I have to say that they have persuaded me to become a bit more spontaneous with my Mister, and within the first week of having them, I set up a surprise date to go see a movie, just the two of us.

To put this in perspective, I think the last time we went out on a date was February, maybe March. Either way, it's been a while, and I am never the one to set things up (I'm a big homebody).

I've used Gned and Gnatasha to leave little notes for the Mister in the mornings, and they even helped me give him his early birthday present!



Unfortunately, even though he read the book, and I explained the concept of these adorable gnomes that now reside in our bedroom, my Mister has not taken any initiative to use them to even leave me a note! Sadface.

While I can use the website to send a Gnomification to the Mister, I find it to be an unnecessary extra step to sending him something. It is much easier to just shoot him a text, even if I want to send him a link. It honestly feels a little like sending something in high school via email a la 2006 instead of a 2016 text.

I think we've moved beyond that, and I prefer to just use the pouches and use pen and paper. The Gnomifications feature seems to me to be a consolation prize for those who lack phones with NFC technology. Or maybe that's just sour grapes talking, and I should just get a phone that costs more that $60...

Even though I couldn't use the NFC chips, I still love these little guys. I like being able to look up and see Gned and Gnatasha holding their hands on the dresser.

They are wonderful little gentle reminders to do something special for your someone special, no matter how big or little. A little whimsy goes a long way in my book, and these gnomes definitely add a little extra whimsy to our lives.

The holidays are coming up, and these little guys are a wonderful gift to a couple. I have actually ordered a set for a friend who just got married and will be giving them to her this holiday season for her and her new hubby to enjoy.



If you can think of a couple who could use adorable gnomey reminders to spend a little effort on each other (maybe you are part of that couple!) I highly recommend Gnoments. You can order a box set for yourself here for $39.95.


http://gnoments.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Gnoments/
https://twitter.com/Gnoments
https://www.instagram.com/gnoments/
https://www.pinterest.com/gnoments/




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Party in Your PJs #134

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Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma IdeasWood of Bell Trees and... here!

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.


Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!



Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest
Heather ~ Woods of Bell Trees | Facebook | Instagram

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

 Heather @ Wood of Bell Trees

Heather is a wife of a peanut butter fanatic and mom of one silly human and one furry canine, wrangling life on 2nd shift and glitterizing everything as she goes!






The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at thecookiepuzzle@gmail.com

Features from Last Weeks Party!


 to see their features - we each pick our own!




All links are pinned to a Party Board...you can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiration to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment, we all love comments
-If you were featured, grab a"Featured" button, found below.
-Consider adding our Party button to your Party Page or Post.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Crockpot Bacon & Bean Soup: A Potluck Hit!

11 comments:

A couple years back, when my husband was still stationed in Germany, we had a lot of barbecues and get-togethers at our house. The wife of one of my husband's friends used to always bring some "Frijoles a la charra”: A Tex-Mex soup with pinto beans and bacon and we just loved, loved, loved it!

It became one of our favorite meals ever and when we moved she gave us the recipe.

At our last duty station, Fort Irwin, the Commissary was very small and we could not find all ingredients that we needed for this dish.

Long story short, I experimented around with the ingredients that we had available and ended up coming up with my own “secret” version of it. Or at least it was secret until today. Many - including friends and family - have asked me for the recipe and I always refused to give it out. But I now decided to share it with our beloved followers J

No matter what potluck I've made it for, people always seemed to enjoy it very much, and it makes its way onto our meal plan at least once a month because of its simplicity and deliciousness.

Especially now in the fall, it makes a great, hearty meal for icky weather.,

Crockpot Bacon & Bean Soup

Here is what you will need:
-          Crockpot
-          Cast iron pan
-          Cutting board
-          Knife
-          Spatula

-          1lbs pinto beans, soaked overnight.
-          6 cups of water
-          1 package of bacon, diced.
-          1 onion (medium or large), diced.
-          2-3 cloves of garlic, minced.
-          1 can of diced, Fire Roasted Tomatoes. Drained.
-          1 bushel of cilantro, chopped.
-          1-2 jalapenos, finely chopped.
-          2-3 Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes
-          Salt (to taste)


Start by going through your dried beans to pick out any grit or malformed beans, and then soaking the beans in water overnight. If you forget it, then you can do a quick soak (directions for that should be on the package!). I personally think the texture is better if they are soaked overnight but both work and I have done quick soaks before too.

Rinse your soaked beans, and throw them into the crockpot with the 6 cups of water. Set it to high and cook them until done (about 4 hours).

Prepare the ‘Bacon Broth’ about 1-2 hours before serving the meal or whenever the beans are done.

You do this by cooking the diced bacon in a large cast iron pan (if you don't have cast iron, use what you have). Drain some of the fat if you want. We prefer to leave it most times unless the bacon is extremely fatty.

Add in the diced onions and minced garlic. Sauté until the onions start to turn translucent.

Drain the Fire Roasted Tomatoes and add to the cast iron, mix it all up. If you don’t have Fire Roasted Tomatoes, then you can also just take a can of regular diced tomatoes. I just feel like they add more flavor and a slight smokiness to the dish.

Add two bouillon cubes, and let it simmer a few minutes. Stir it, to make sure the melted bouillon cubes are well mixed in.

Add the chopped cilantro and jalapenos.

Let it all cook on low-medium for about 10-15 minutes so the flavors can mingle with each other. You can always add a tablespoon or two of water to the mix so it doesn’t burn!

Add the ‘Bacon Broth’ to the beans in the crockpot and stir well.

Let it cook for 1-2 hours on High, but you can also already eat it if you want, since everything is cooked. However, the longer you cook it all together, the better the flavor – in my opinion. You might need to add some salt or another bouillon cube.

We usually eat some warm tortillas with it or my homemade bread. Tortilla chips or rice are also a great to eat with it, or just enjoy a bowl of Bacon & Bean soup by itself!

Enjoy J