Product Review – Organicville Salad Dressings & Marinades

A couple months back I was sent some complimentary samples by Lisa from Organicville.  I was really excited about this opportunity as I have been looking for ways to minimize the amount of sugar, and especially high fructose corn syrup, in our diets.  According to this article, the average American consumes 150-170  pounds of sugar per year!  That is just ridiculous.  Sugar & HFCS are found in places that they shouldn’t be – breads, crackers, pickles, canned or frozen vegetables – just to name a few.  Anything I can do to help cut back on the sugar in our diets, I am all for it.  Organicville’s products contain no added sugar and use agave nectar to sweeten them.  I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet or Splenda, so this aspect of the Organicville product line really appealed to me. 

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Here is some great information that Lisa sent to me:

Organicville Foods

Food chemicals and high-sugar additives plague the grocery store aisles nationwide. Most brands sweeten their products with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners which are contributors to higher risk for obesity and diabetes more than ever before. These synthetically processed substances in many of America’s food favorites dangerously impact the glycemic levels.

But now, people can choose a healthier option that delivers the same great taste. Organicville, makers of USDA certified organic, vegan and gluten-free ketchup, barbeque and teriyaki sauces, salsa’s and vinaigrettes are made with agave – a 100% natural sweetener, which digests more easily compared to other types of sugar, and delivers the same great taste. The products are gourmet solutions for a healthier, more environmentally focused lifestyle – including products that are safe for those with special dietary concerns, and tasty enough for all – even kids love them!

Founded by Rachel Kruse, a 33 year-old entrepreneur, third-generation vegetarian and organic consumer, she turned to creating delicious, healthy products to offer a better alternative to sugars, preservatives and processed foods – as growing up, she couldn’t find organic dressings and condiments that tasted great. The goal: to enjoy a great tasting organic product without having to sacrifice flavor or quality.

Organicville’s Product Quick Facts:

· Products: ketchup, salsas, BBQ and teriyaki sauces, and vinaigrettes.

· Vinaigrettes are available in 11 great flavors including: Orange Cranberry, Miso Ginger, Olive Oil & Balsamic, Sun Dried Tomato & Garlic, Herbs De Provence, Tarragon Dijon, Sesame Tamari, Pomegranate, Sesame Goddess, Non-Dairy Ranch and French (fourth largest salad dressing brand nationally)

· Gluten free

· USDA certified organic

· Sweetened with agave nectar

· No High Fructose Corn Syrup – ever!

· No added sugar

· Contain less sodium than other brands

· Fat and cholesterol free

· Vegan

Organicville’s organic ketchup, barbeque and teriyaki sauces, salsa’s and vinaigrettes are available for purchase in supermarket chains, natural food stores nationwide and online at www.amazon.com. Additional product and availability information can be found at www.organicvillefoods.com.

I was sent 2 different BBQ sauces, 2 salad dressings & 2 marinades to try.  I passed the marinades along to a friend with Celiac because I can’t eat sesame seeds and they both contained sesame seeds.  Her opinion will be shared below, too.

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I served the Organicville salad dressings – Herbs de Provence & Sun Dried Tomato & Garlic at our Thanksgiving day dinner.  They were a great addition to our menu and were well liked by all who tried them.  I loved that neither dressing was heavy – they were both very light & flavorful.  The Herbs de Provence is a very unique dressing that I have come to love on a salad of arugula, mushrooms & grape tomatoes. 

The Organicville BBQ sauces rank right up there with my previous favorite – Sweet Baby Ray’s.  The obvious benefit to the Organicville sauce is no HFCS and organic ingredients.  I love to use the BBQ sauce on chicken breast, pizza & salmon. 

Lindsey, my friend that I passed the marinades along to, really enjoyed the Island Teriyaki marinade.  She also tried the Sesame, but said it wasn’t as good and had a really strong sesame flavor. 

Keep an eye out this week for another post on Organicville and a couple of great recipes for Superbowl Sunday! 

 

Product Review: Amy’s Kitchen Meals

Amy’s Kitchen is a great company.  Amy’s makes natural & organic foods and has a large line of gluten-free items.  According to their website, there are 77 gluten-free products in their line now.  I received a few $1 off coupons to try out some of their products last week.  I chose the Rice Macaroni & Cheese (for Jon) and the Teriyaki Bowl

First up, Rice Macaroni & Cheese. 

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This dish reminds me of the Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese that I used to eat as a kid and before I went gluten-free.  Jon loves this.  We don’t do a lot of frozen pre-made meals, but this is great to have on hand for those nights or days when things are super busy.  I would absolutely buy this again.  You can find Amy’s Meals in most grocery stores across the US, which also makes this a good choice if you are traveling – all you need is a microwave, which you can find in most convenience stores and even hotels if you ask the front desk.  I have also made this at home and put in a thermos for Jon to take to school. 

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Teriyaki Bowl

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Not only is the Teriyaki Bowl gluten-free, but dairy-free as well!  This is also one of very few Amy’s Meals without onions. I can assure you that I would eat most of those Mexican bowls & dishes if they were free of onions – they are right up my alley.  This dish was a fantastic combination of flavors.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste as good as it did.  I did beef it up with about a half cup of garbanzo beans & a salad, because 290 calories for dinner for me is just not enough.  I liked this so much that when I saw they were on sale at Giant Eagle this week (2 for $6), I grabbed another one! 

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Amy’s is now offering many of the dishes in a “lower sodium” version to help keep the dishes as healthy as possible.  Make sure to check out Amy’s Soups, too, we love the Chunky Tomato Bisque in our house.  Perfect with a grilled cheese sammie! 

 

Product Review: So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer

I had been hearing about the So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer for some time on Twitter.  It was like each tweet I read about it was torturing me because I couldn’t find the creamer anywhere.  I have tried other So Delicious products and based on how I felt about those, I was anxious to try the creamer.

While at my meeting at Whole Foods yesterday, I ran through the store to grab a few things.  I spotted the creamer out of the corner of my eye!  They had the original, vanilla & hazelnut flavors.  I chose original.  Not only were they  in stock, but on sale for $1.79 or so!  Score!  I couldn’t wait for breakfast this morning to try it out. 

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I am, once again, going to sing the praises of a So Delicious product.  They sure knew what they were doing when they named this brand!  The creamer is awesome!  It adds a nice flavor & creaminess to my coffee without making it overly sweet.  For reference, I normally drink black coffee or coffee with a touch of unsweetened vanilla almond milk in it.  I chose the original this time because I wanted to be able to give a fair review without the added flavors of the vanilla or hazelnut.  However, I do have to drive past Whole Foods today, so I can’t say that I won’t stop to grab the hazelnut flavor to try out! 

Some facts about So Delicious Creamer:

  • Dairy Free / Lactose Free
  • Soy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Rich in Medium Chain Fatty Acids
  • Cholesterol Free
  • No Trans Fats
  • Certified Vegan

Additionally, there is no added HFCS, artificial flavors or mono & diglycerides. 

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Goodies, and lots of them

Over the past week or so I have received a number of gluten-free products to sample & review.  I am so excited about this!  All of these goodies look so good – I can’t wait to dive into each & every one.  All in good time.  Be on the lookout for lots of good stuff!
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Sunday night my mother-in-law, Mary, called & asked to stop by.  Twenty minutes later she showed up with the most incredible gluten-free delicacy you could imagine.  Can you guess what she brought over?  Gluten-free cream-filled chocolate frosted doughnuts. 

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These puppies tasted better than I remember Krispy Kreme’s tasting.  Jon has counted them so that no one steals his beloved treats.  I hope to get the recipe from Mary & share it with you guys in the next few days. 

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I was able to make my own, personalized chocolate bar at Chocomize the other day!  What fun I had creating that!   I chose to make my bar out of dark chocolate with dried blueberries & cashews.  I have yet to dig in, but I promise to report back when I do.  Here is a teaser picture for you:

chocmize

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I was very fortunate today to meet with a very special woman named Shelley at Whole Foods.  Shelley started a company called Moondance Heavenly Desserts after finding out that she was both wheat & gluten intolerant.  In Shelley’s quest to find gluten-free desserts she enjoyed, she perfected several gluten-free recipes & opened her own business.  I will expand much more on Shelley & Moondance Heavenly Desserts in my review of the products.  For now, I leave you with a picture of the treats that were graciously given to us to sample & review:

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I am especially looking forward to the Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Those of you who have been reading Gluten-free is Life for a while know about my love for pumpkin – it is right up there with chocolate.  Make sure to check back soon for our review of Shelley’s treats. 

 

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One last quick note – Starbuck’s is now carrying gluten-free treats again.  You can read more about it here in my latest Examiner article. 

 

 

Weekly Menu Plan – January 10, 2010

This week I am hosting the weekly gluten-free menu swap and I chose gluten-free pizza as the theme of the week.  I love pizza and love trying new combinations & crusts, so I hope to see some great ideas this week.  Over the past year I have tried some new crusts.  I have a new favorite, Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix.  I also use Pamela’s Bread mix for pizza crust or Carol Fenster’s recipe. As far as toppings go, Jon prefers the traditional marinara sauce, mozzarella & pepperoni, occasionally.  I like to mix things up.  I like Buffalo Chicken pizza, veggie style pizza and my newest favorite is a pizza that I top with Trader Joe’s Tomato Chutney, smashed chickpeas, feta or goat cheese & spinach.  It is so good.  What are your favorite crusts & toppings?

Buffalo Chicken & half cheese pizza

Veggie & half cheese pizza

Onto my menu for the week:

Sunday – Rotisserie Chicken, sweet potato steak fries, green beans & salad

Monday – Birthday dinner with my Dad, Step Mom & little sister

Tuesday- Taco salad

Wednesday- Salmon, brown rice couscous, asparagus & salad

Thursday -Chicken/Eggplant Parmesan, broccoli & salad

Friday – Pizza night!

Saturday -Hannah & I will have a girls night :)  Her choice

Baked Items

Bread

Sweet Potato Brownies (didn’t get to them last week)

Blueberry Muffins

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Please visit Food for Good Thought, Inc as they are holding a silent auction on January 23rd to raise money for autism.  They train& employ individuals with autism.  They make a great variety of gluten-free foods.  If you live in the Columbus area you can attend the silent auction.  If not and you want to donate, you can do so by visiting Food for Good Thought’s site.

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Have a great week!!  Thanks to Cheryl at Gluten-free Goodness who is currently coordinating the GF Menu Swap.  If you are interested in hosting, please contact Cheryl.

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Manda from Asparagus Thin is making pizzas from around the world this week.  I am especially interested in the deep dish polenta pizza..YUM!  I also love the song she posted at the top of her post – it will be in my head all day now. :)

In my Box is making a series of one-pot meals this week.  Again, polenta has caught my eye!  A mention of a Mexican pizza made on Udi’s crust also caught my eye – I love to sing the praises of Udi’s!

Heather from Celiac Family has a great menu planned!  She goes through her favorite pizzas (frozen, crusts & restaurant).  I hope she can find a ZPizza soon, they are one of the best restaurant gluten-free pizzas around!

Cheryl from Gluten-free Goodness is making Coconut Curried Lentils and I just might have to invite myself over for dinner!  YUM!!  She also tried out a yeast & grain free pizza a while back that looks really good.  I just may give that a try in the near future.

Esther from Lilac Kitchen is talking about making a pizza with a sweet apple base.  That sounds awesome to me, so I do hope she shares if she does!

For more great menu ideas, please visit Orgjunkie.

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Moisturizing Cream

I don’t know about you guys, but my skin is very dry this time of year.  Not only the skin on my legs & arms, but my hands are so dry they are cracking!  I wash my hands 40,000 times a day, so that has a lot to do with it.  Okay, maybe it isn’t that much, but it is a lot. Between changing diapers, making gluten-filled foods for Hannah and just staying germ free, I feel like I am constantly at the sink.  I have tried many hand lotions in the past.  Last year I talked about using Curel Target Hand Cream.  I found a new product that I am now loving last week.  I was shopping at one of my favorite stores, Trader Joe’s, when I spotted this lotion:

 

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Trader Joe’s A Midsummer Night’s Cream – Extra Dry Formula.  I am surprised it didn’t say “For Kim” on the front.  This 16 oz. bottle (complete with handy dandy hand pump) was under $4.  I keep this puppy right next to my kitchen sink so that after I soap up & dry, I can immediately apply the cream.  So far, so good.  Jon has also been using it and it helped his dry hands, too.  This product is gluten-free and cruelty-free (produced with no animal by-products and without any animal testing. 

 

Product Review: Susta Natural Sweetener

Back in December I was contacted by NXT Nutritionals about a healthy alternative to table sugar & artificial sweeteners.  Carlee sent me out a complimentary sample of Susta to sample & review for the blog.  Susta comes packaged in a box of 50 little packets, much like sugar or Splenda packets. 

From the NXT Nutritionals website:

SUSTA Natural Sweetener is a proprietary blend of non-caloric ingredients that can put the “brakes” on higher glycemic foods or beverages from adversely effecting your blood sugar. Products using SUSTATM Natural Sweetener are high fiber, with nutrients and minerals, no or low fats and have no added trans or hydrogenated fats. SUSTATM is great energy and nutrition for your heart, bones, and immune system.

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There are many benefits to Susta Natural Sweetener:

  • Contains Probiotics
  • Supports Digestive & Immune Health
  • Low Glycemic Index Food
  • Gluten-free
  • Only 5 calories

You can see the comparison of Susta & several other sweeteners below:

I have been using Susta to sweeten my coffee and as a treat on my Oikos & fruit.  Susta provides just enough sweetness without over doing it.  It also didn’t upset my stomach like some of the low calorie artificial sweeteners on the market do.  This is a great option for those who are looking for a low calorie, natural sweetener to add to their coffee, tea or foods.  You can purchase Susta here for $6.99/box.  Also, NXT Nutritionals will be making a baking version of Susta that can be preordered on their website now.  Susta & NXT Nutritionals are proud supporters of the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). 

 

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Glowing Review: Glow Gluten-free Cookies

I was the very lucky recipient of a package containing 4 complimentary boxes of gluten-free cookies from Glow Gluten-free the other day.  First I have to say that Jill from Glow Gluten-free is so sweet.  She is great to follow on Twitter and we have had some good laughs over the past few days.  Some of these giggles came from Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten-free Mom finding out that I had received & tasted a Double Chocolate cookie from Glow Gluten-free.  I had tweeted that I loved the cookie & Heidi caught wind of that & then began the tweets back that I must try the Snickerdoodles immediately!  Take about peer pressure!  ;)  LOL!  Of course I had to oblige.  I couldn’t not try them at this point.  By the end of the night I had eaten 1 whole cookie & multiple bites of the other cookies to taste them all.  Jon was the lucky recipient of the remaining cookie parts – a job he did not complain about.  Good thing I am training for a marathon!  Talk about carb loading.  Maybe I will have to stock up on these cookies closer to the race. ;) 

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Now, down to the details.  Not only are Glow Gluten-free cookies gluten-free, but they are casein-free, trans fat free and preservative free.  Each cookie contains 100 calories and is between 5 – 6 grams of fat.  They also contain 2 grams a fiber – bonus!  I love that the ingredient list for the cookies is easy to read & the flours used are garbanzo bean & fava bean.  Healthier than using a white rice, tapioca or potato starch (though they do have their place).  Also, notice the adorable packing – how cute is that?  Very eye catching & clever. 

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Chocolate Chip – These remind me of Chips Ahoy, which I loved to eat as a child.  Jon adored these cookies!  I needed a glass of milk to dip these in! 

Snickerdoodle – The cookie that Heidi made me eat.  ;)  These rock!  They have an amazing cinnamon flavor & as Heidi suggested this morning, I should crumble them up as cereal because they taste like Apple Jacks!  I see these as a topping to my oatmeal in the very near future. 

Double Chocolate- I want to say enough said, but that wouldn’t be doing these cookies justice.  They are so chocolately, crunchy & exciting!  They wake up your taste buds & would be awesome paired with a glass of merlot. 

Gingersnap – Classic gingersnap cookie.  I have always loved gingersnaps and these did not disappoint.  I would say that they would be great as a pie crust, but I don’t think that I am willing to sacrifice them for that!  LOL! 

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I think I am going to take the plunge & say that these now rank up there as one of the best gluten-free packaged cookies that I have tasted.  Both Jill and her daughter have Celiac Disease.  I love that Jill says in her brochure that she was trying to recreate their old favorites (Mrs. Field’s, Chips Ahoy, Famous Amos), not create a packaged gluten-free cookie to resemble something you make at home.  I think that Jill & Glow Gluten-free hit that recreation spot on.  Job well done. 

Had to share one more picture – can you see that sugar on top of the gingersnap?  Mmmmmm!

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Thanks Jill & Glow Gluten-free for sending us these samples to review.  We thoroughly enjoyed them.  You can find Glow-Gluten-free cookies at these locations

 

 

Marathon Training & Such

So my marathon training starts on Monday.  The funny thing about the plan that I am following (Hal Higdon’s Novice, slightly modified) is that it has me running less mileage per week for the first 4-5 weeks than I am already running.  I have been trying to maintain roughly 25 mpw since I recovered from running my half marathon back in October.  This coming week I will only be running 15.  At first I was really concerned about this and considered starting my training later and jumping in where I was in my mileage.  I have since decided that it would probably do my legs (and body) good to ease up a little for the next few weeks.  I have had some shin and calf issues on my right side that could use some TLC.  I have added in some yoga & more stretching & foam rolling to manage the tightness.  Another change is cross training.  Previously I was running 5 days a week.  This plan calls for 4 days of running & 1 day of cross training.  I didn’t like the sounds of that at first, but also think that this will be a good thing in my training.  For cross training I use the Arc Trainer, spin bike or elliptical.  I would love to swim in my gym’s pool, but I am not sure I swim well enough to call it exercise!  For the next 18 weeks I will hopefully prepare my body well enough to run 26.2 miles on May 16th. 

Training for a marathon calls for some fun gear.  I have my trusty Polar heart rate monitor/watch and Garmin that I use for running & tracking my outside miles.  These tools allow me to monitor my progress a little easier.  I have to give a shout out to Chris at Polar for helping expedite the repair of my Polar watch over the past 2 weeks.  I thought that my battery just needed replaced, so I took the watch to a Batteries Plus store.  The store manager informed me that he placed 3 brand new batteries in the watch & the watch completely drained them.  I was told to contact Polar.  Fortunately my watch was still under warranty, so I sent it right off.  I sent my watch out on 12/23/2009 and it was fixed & back in my hands on 12/29/2009!  Amazing, especially considering there was a holiday in there!  Talk about great customer service.  Thank you to Chris & Polar for helping me out.  I may also be purchasing some YakTrax here shortly for my long, weekend outside runs.  These are supposed to help grip the ground in snow or ice.  As much as I hate to be cold, I don’t think I can run any longer than 8 miles on the treadmill.  Anyone have any input on the YakTrax?

Training also calls for careful planning with food and fueling.  I am always learning how to do this better.  I don’t think you can learn to much about this topic, so if you have some tried & true tips you would like to share, I am all ears.  I have recently tried Zing Bars and will be doing a review on them here shortly after I try all of the flavors.  I really enjoyed the Cranberry Orange bar that I sampled the other day.  These have more protein in them than Lara or Pure Bars, so better for fueling, especially after a run to help repair muscles.  Love that they are gluten-free!  There are so many more choices out there now. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!  I kept thinking that yesterday was Sunday!  I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that it was Friday.  Now I have a whole weekend ahead of me!

 

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Favorite Gluten-free Recipes & Products – 2009

I have spent the last few days looking back over the year.  I wanted to put into one post my favorite gluten-free recipes & products of the year.  I hope that you guys enjoy this as much as I did putting it together. 

I love to experiment with food, if you haven’t noticed.  I love to try to recreate old favorites and I love to try new things.  This year I found some products that were so close to their gluten-filled counterparts.  One of these products is La Tortilla Factory Teff Wraps.  These wraps are awesome.  They don’t crack!  I have used them for sandwich wraps, burritos, chimichangas etc.  They hold up.  Another product is Udi’s Gluten-free Bread.  This stuff is the best gluten-free bread I have ever tasted, hands down.  Their other products are amazing as well – love the pizza crust!  I am very excited that my local health food store, Raisin Rack, will be carrying their stuff soon.  Bob’s Red Mill has a great gluten-free pizza mix out now.  It has quickly become one of our favorites here at home.  I especially like it Buffalo Chicken style. 

Some companies are making it increasingly easier to eat gluten-free.  I think main one that comes to my mind is General Mills.  This year they have really expanded the gluten-free cereal market to include a number of Chex cereals.  They also have the new Betty Crocker line of gluten-free baking mixes.  General Mills has started to use “gluten-free” on the back of their labels a lot more, making things even easier.  I just recently noticed the gluten-free Progresso Soups are now labeled as such. 

Gluten-free pizza used to be hard to find.  Not only was it hard to find a good crust to make or buy, but it was virtually impossible to find a restaurant that made gluten-free pizza.  This year there have been huge breakthroughs on this front.  First, there was Uno’s Chicago Grill implementing their gluten-free crust in all of their locations, nationwide.  Then, we discovered Boston’s Gourmet Pizza.  Boston’s has a larger choice of toppings and the crust stands up a little better than Uno’s.  Finally, we hit the jackpot – Z Pizza.  Z Pizza has an amazing selection of gluten-free pizzas & toppings, not to mention salad, gluten-free beer and gluten-free cookies.  I think that is is my favorite place to eat gluten-free pizza out. 

Moving along to recipes.  Below I have listed some of my favorites from 2009.  I have many more favorites posted throughout my blog from years past. 

Some of my favorite recipes are:

Lemon Bundt Cake w/ Lemon Icing

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

Pistachio Cheesecake

Catholic Potatoes

POM Wonderful Cranberry Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Blueberry Chia Muffins

Cocoa Coconut Chili

Marinutta Sauce

Coconut Baked Brown Rice

Glazed Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Baked Ziti

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin Cornbread

Chocolate Covered Oreo Cake

Pumpkin Raisin Scones (vegan, too)

Almond Cranberry Bites

 

Now, one last thing.  A reader contacted me with this nice note about the Chocolate Covered Oreo Cake and sent along a picture to show me hers. 

Kimberly,

I made the “oreo” cake for my step-daughter’s birthday last Saturday and OMG it was sooooooooo good!

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing the recipe!

Tracey

christmas season 016 oreo cake 

christmas season 017 oreo cake

Tracey, thank you for sharing!!  I am so glad that you guys enjoyed the cake!  I would love to try this with a carrot cake!  YUM!! 

 

 

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