Summer Grilling & My Aloha Pork Spareribs Recipe

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

SONY DSC photo-159 One of the things I love about summer, is being able to grill outside. The scenery outside is a lot better than in the kitchen! Most weekends, you can find me grilling out back. I like to create new grilling recipes, like my Aloha Pork Spareribs! I also like to keep my recipes as simple as possible, I don’t have time for a bunch of ingredients and complicated recipes. Do you? Probably not! Recipes don’t need a hundred ingredients and twenty steps to be good. I have an uncle that makes the best bar-b-q sauce in the world, and he uses about 5 ingredients total. If only he’d give me that recipe! LOL! I had to go to my neighborhood Smart & Final to pick up some pork spareribs and a few other ingredients for my meal. I can always find lean & meaty  spareribs at Smart & Final. You can view more of my shopping pics on my Google+ album here.photo-160photo-162photo-166 Once I got home, I gathered up my ingredients and went to work. I usually use bar-b-q sauce when I grill, but this time I decided to switch it up a bit and use a rub. SONY DSC GRILLED ALOHA PORK SPARERIBS

3 lbs Pork Spareribs

8 Tablespoons Grill Mates Barbecue Seasoning

1 Lemon

1/2 Cup Pineapple Juice from can of crushed pineapple (juice not syrup- you can save the actual crushed pineapple to use at a later date. I usually make a fruit salad with it.)

3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Mix all the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over the ribs and rub in well. Once you have rubbed it all in, cover the ribs with foil. Put them in the fridge and let them marinate overnight.

SONY DSC The following day, take them out of the fridge and put them into a 375* oven, cook for 1 hour, keep them covered with foil while in the oven. After 1 hour, remove ribs from the oven & get your grill ready. Once it’s warmed up, turn the burners down to low. Place the ribs on the rack. Grill the ribs for 5 minutes on each side. SONY DSCSONY DSC Remove from grill after 5 minutes, they should be a golden brown color. I like to serve corn-on-the-cob with my pork spareribs and some sweet & juicy seedless watermelon. You can find other serving suggestions, and summer grilling recipes, on the Smart & Final Social Circular. I hope you try my recipe, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

What’s your favorite summer grilling recipe? SONY DSCSONY DSC

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Lucky Supermarket, the Save Mart 350 Tailgating Party, and a Heart Healthy Recipe!

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I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. 

There’s a big Nascar race coming to Sonoma, CA on June 23rd. It’s the Save Mart 350, part of the Nascar Sprint Cup Series, and my local Lucky Super Market is selling tickets. Yay! This is the 25th year the race visits the Sonoma Valley. The Save Mart 350 is one of the most exciting races on the racing circuit, and one you don’t want to miss. Be sure to visit Lucky and purchase your tickets asap!

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Anytime there’s a race or a big game, we like to tailgate. It’s always a lot of fun hanging out with friends and family, cooking up a ton of great food. This year, I’ve been trying to not only eat healthier, but cook healthier. I usually like to fry up some chicken for our tailgate parties, but not this time. I knew I’d be able to find everything I needed at Lucky’s to make a heart healthy recipe for my family. First thing I did was look in my cabinets to see what I already had. There’s nothing worse than going to the store and buying something, then realizing you already had it in the cupboard! Check those cupboards! Now let’s go shopping!

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Instead of frying the chicken, I decided to grill it instead. Grilling is a lot healthier than frying, and I’ve been grilling as much as possible. I was able to find some organic strawberries at Lucky’s and everything else I needed to make my meal. You can see more pics of my trip to Lucky’s on my Google+ album, located here.

SONY DSCWEDGE SALAD WITH GRILLED BAR-B-Q CHICKEN THIGHS

2-3 lbs chicken thighs

2 C. bar-b-q sauce

1 container organic strawberries

1 container blue cheese crumbles

2 heads romaine lettuce

4 T. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 C. walnuts

Cut the chicken thighs in half lengthwise. Marinate them in the bar-b-q sauce for 1-2 hours. Fire up the grill and grill the chicken. Once the chicken is done, it’s time to grill the romaine lettuce. Cut the head of lettuce in half lengthwise, then drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over the flat side of the lettuce. Place the oiled, flat side of the lettuce down on the grill. Grill for 3-4 minutes. When the lettuce is done, place one of the halves on a plate, grilled side up. Add 3-4 pieces of grilled chicken on top of the lettuce. Slice the strawberries and add them to the chicken. Sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts atop the chicken. Repeat this three times, you should have enough for 4 plates.

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I must say, hubby LOVED this meal! So glad I was able to find everything I needed at Lucky Super Market. Follow Lucky on Twitter and FB. I hope you liked my heart healthy tailgate meal. What’s your favorite tailgate meal to make?

Travel: Fiesta Week in San Antonio, TX – NIOSA 2013

I’m a Texas gal, I grew up in San Antonio. Growing up, one of my favorite times of the year was Fiesta Week! Fiesta Week is a 10-day celebration featuring some 100 events that include music, food, sports, pageantry, military and patriotic observances, exhibits, and parades. Nonprofit organizations sponsor every activity. Fiesta® San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event, and takes place every April. It’s evolved into one of our nation’s premier festivals, with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City. Over 75,000 volunteers help make Fiesta Week a success. Some 3.5 million party-goers enjoy Fiesta® San Antonio. More than 20 percent of Fiesta-goers travel from across the state, the nation, and even the world! (Like me!)

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One of my favorite Fiesta events, is NIOSA. Since I no longer live in TX, and it’d been four years since I attended Fiesta Week, I decided to hop on a plane & fly to Texas to enjoy NIOSA!

A NIGHT IN OLD SAN ANTONIO  

A Night in Old San Antonio, better known as NIOSA, joined Fiesta in 1948. It’s a 4-day event. The San Antonio Conservation Society sponsors NIOSA. The society works to save San Antonio buildings and maintain the city’s cultural heritage. It takes about 16,000 volunteers each year to stage NIOSA.  What’s NIOSA all about? Culture, food, music & art! It’s a blast! The historic, downtown village of La Villita, takes center stage as 85,000 visitors come through the gates during NIOSA. Fifteen unique cultural areas are represented at A Night In Old San Antonio. Each offers the sights, sounds and tastes of the national heritage early immigrants brought to the city, as they settled the wild Texas frontier. Y’all know me, I was there for the FOOD! Shall we?! SONY DSC In San Antonio, it’s not a Fiesta (party) without Cascarones! For those not familiar with them, cascarones are hollowed out eggs, that have been cleaned, dried, & filled with confetti! Decorated, confetti-filled cascarones are gently cracked over the recipient’s head to shower him or her with confetti. It’s a lot of fun! SONY DSC  The NIOSA grounds are very large, and cover several blocks. Each area is mapped off & devoted to a certain culture. You’ve got China Town, French Quarter, Irish Flat & Mexican Market, to name a few. SONY DSC Each booth has volunteers cooking up delicious delicacies for you to eat. The lines can get long, like the one above for Maria’s Tortillas! The seven ladies you see under the orange umbrellas are making tortillas by hand. This booth is always a favorite with fiesta attendees. Right next to Maria’s Tortillas, was a Tejano band that was performing for the crowd. I got a little snippet of them captured on video for you:

Not bad, huh?! Right next door to the Tejano band, was one of my favorites, the Gordita stand! Gorditas are very thick corn tortillas that you can slice open & stuff with beans, meat, lettuce, etc. My mom used to make the best ones ever! We’d slice them open and add butter. Once the butter melted, I’d eat it up in no time flat. SONY DSC SONY DSC I must say, I was disappointed in the Gordita I got. The tortilla itself was not thick enough & there was NO MEAT! It was filled with a very thin layer of refried beans, lettuce, tomato & cheese. Thankfully, the line was not too long, so I didn’t waste too much time waiting for this disappointing morsel. Time to move on! One of the things I love about NIOSA, and Fiesta Week in general, is all the bright colors! Here are a few souvenirs that were for sale, I should’ve bought one of those dolls! SONY DSC Time for more food! This chicken smelled divine, and I had to stick my camera through the fence to snap a pic! SONY DSC The NIOSA gates open up at 5:30PM, and I like to be there when they open… you’ll see why later! I don’t know if the lady below was planning to eat all those Bongo-Ka-Bobs (beef shish-ka-bobs named after a local musician) by herself, or if she was going to share them; but they sure looked good! SONY DSC

Even though it was a cloudy/rainy day; that didn’t stop anyone from attending NIOSA. After  I’d been there for about an hour, the crowd was starting to get pretty thick.SONY DSC I like to leave before the crowds get too bad. When I saw more folks coming in the front gate, I knew I had to put some pep in my step and hit up all the booths I love pronto! First on my list, the Smoothie Booth! SONY DSC SONY DSC Everywhere you look at NIOSA, there’s food, music and people having fun, like these folks! SONY DSC SONY DSC In case you’re wondering what they were groovin’ to, here it is: Another thing I love about Fiesta Week, is the hats! These aren’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill hats, oh no – these are one-of-a -kind works of art! Take a look at a couple that really stood out from the crowd: SONY DSC SONY DSC Aren’t those amazing?! Fiesta is all about having a great time & forgetting your troubles for a full 10 days! Just a couple more stops to make for a few more of my favorite NIOSA nom-noms! Brownie Bites, anyone?!SONY DSCFunnel Cake & Big Red? No place but San Antonio!  SONY DSCAs I finished off the funnel cake, I took a look around and this is what I saw:SONY DSC

I knew it was time to make my last purchase of the evening, Chicken Tacos to go, please!  SONY DSC SONY DSC Don’t forget the napkins! SONY DSC I highly recommend everyone attend NIOSA (and Fiesta Week) at least once in their lifetime! I like to compare it to Mardi Gras, but without the beads… if ‘ya know what I mean!

I hope you have enjoyed my little NIOSA recap-there’s no way I could have captured everything though-there’s just too much! Lots more food and fun that I did not photograph, but I hope you get the idea. For more info on NIOSA and Fiesta Week, go to the official Fiesta San Antonio website.

Until we meet again, NIOSA, until we meet again!

Disclosure-this is NOT a sponsored post, I was NOT paid to write it. I Love my Texas, San Antonio & Fiesta Week & wanted to share it with my readers!

Do You Like Cheesecake?! Let Me Introduce You To Miss NiNi’s Cheesecake!

I received Miss NiNi’s products for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. photo-123 MissNiNi_TextOnly_BLACKTEXT

Have I got a treat for y’all! I was sent a Cheesecake Sampler from Miss Nini’s Fine Desserts, so I could tell y’all what I thought about it. It arrived very well packaged, Fed Ex delivered it to me. When I opened up the cardboard box, I discovered a styrofoam cooler inside. SONY DSC  In the styrofoam box, I found some dry ice, bubble wrap & my frozen Cheesecake!photo-124 I couldn’t wait for it to thaw out, and neither could my family! The first thing that struck me about the cheesecake, was how each slice had been tagged with a hand-written label. I really liked that homemade touch.

Each one of Miss NiNi’s Fine Desserts has been perfected through decades of refining. A native of the upper midwest, Miss NiNi began to learn the tools of her trade at a very young age.

She has combined the knowledge and tradition passed down from her mother with a creativity and flair that has earned Miss NiNi a reputation for excellence.

Miss NiNi uses only the finest ingredients, including fresh creamery butter, golden brown sugar, and the purest of extracts. This guarantees each Miss NiNi creation delivers impeccable consistency and quality, morsel after morsel.

So many of Miss NiNi’s loyal customers rave about the memory of sweet richness that lingers long after the last delectable crumb has been enjoyed.

The Miss NiNi legend has grown over the years to include customers from coast-to-coast, and a number of Grand Champion Awards in the baking competitions at the Iowa State Fair, the largest food competition of its kind in the United States. Miss NiNi is a wife, homemaker & mother, just like me. I was uber excited to sample her cheesecake!

My sampler included Lemon Raspberry Swirl:SONY DSCSONY DSC I will admit, I am very partial to Lemon desserts & I LOVED this one! The lemon wasn’t too overwhelming & the raspberry intertwined into it was delicious!  Next up, is Italian Tiramisu, placed between layers of creamy cheesecake is a layer of pound cake that has been soaked in rum, brandy, espresso, and shaved chocolate. This cheesecake sits on a pound cake crust: SONY DSCSONY DSC Look at all that yummy! I’d never seen Tiramisu Cheesecake before, and I thought this slice was not only tasty-but gorgeous to look at. Now let’s look at Creamy Vanilla: SONY DSCSONY DSC This one tastes most like traditional Cheesecake, but not exactly! Miss NiNi has added a lil something extra to it, that makes it stand out from others you’ve tasted. Where are my chocoholics at? This one’s for you! Chocolate Raspberry Swirl: SONY DSCSONY DSC Look at that slice! It’s a thing of beauty. I didn’t want to eat it, just wanted to keep it and show it off to everywhere. Can you blame me?! On to my oldest’s fave, Pumpkin Praline: SONY DSCSONY DSC This one is scrumptious! Great alternative to Pumpkin Pie for the holidays…I know I’ll be ordering one… or two! Another of my favorites, Best of the Best Lemon: SONY DSC Look at that crust!! It’s perfect!!! I was fighting off my family for this one! SONY DSC Last, but not least, is the Caramel Chunky Chocolate. A rich creamy caramel-flavored cheesecake that is loaded with chocolate chunks. Luscious caramel is drizzled over the top. This yummy delight sits on a walnut oatmeal praline crust.SONY DSCSONY DSC Miss NiNi certainly knows her stuff- her cheesecakes are divine and I highly recommend them. Miss NiNi, you are the Cheesecake Queen! Your cakes rock! They are rich, smooth and baked to perfection. You can taste the quality, literally!

You can follow Miss NiNi on Twitter and FB, so be sure to do that. Let me know when you order your first cake from Miss NiNi-I’d love to hear all about it.

What Cheesecake flavor do you want to try first?!

Behind the scenes bonus pic, the aftermath of all our sampling! SONY DSC

American Icons, here’s to the Red, White & Blue!

Do you have a favorite American Icon? Who comes to mind? John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe? Or maybe it’s not a person at all, maybe it’s a food. To me, nothing is more American than Apple Pie! The Everywhere Society invited me to Macy’s for their big American Icon celebration. SONY DSC First up was a cooking demo in the Macy’s Cellar, with KitchenAid culinary expert, Debbie Slater. SONY DSC Being a foodie, this was right up my alley. I don’t have a KitchenAid Mixer, so you know I was drooling over her blue one! SONY DSCSONY DSC Right before our eyes, Debbie made Mini Macaroni Pasta! Right there, on the spot, while we watched! I couldn’t believe how easy it was, she added the Pasta Press attachment to the front of the mixer, added her dough and the mixer did the rest. It was a thing of beauty!SONY DSC Here’s the pasta, right after it came out of the machine: SONY DSC I wanna make my own pasta, how about you?! I gotta get that KitchenAid Mixer!!! She then went on to make a beautiful pasta salad, the Red, White & Blue Pasta Salad:SONY DSC That’s blueberries in there, with grape tomatoes & blue cheese- it was so good! Debbie didn’t stop there, oh no! She used that KitchenAid Mixer to pump out two more patriotic delights. Here’s the Red, White & Blue Coleslaw: SONY DSC and the Red, White & Blue Vanilla Wafer Cheesecake Tartlets: SONY DSC Yes, those are vanilla wafers as the base, great for a party or get-together… bite size! Before the demo was over, Debbie told us about the gorgeous, hand-painted, red, white & blue Artisan KitchenAid Mixer that is going to be given away. She reminded us to enter the giveaway and you know I was first in line filling out that entry form! Look at this: SONY DSC If I win, I’ll let you know! Next stop on the Macy’s Celebration was upstairs for the Timex Launch Party, to see what the latest trends in watches are. SONY DSC If you’re like me, you know Timex takes a licking & keeps on ticking, right? Well, they have come a long way & have so many stylish options available, I was very impressed. This crisp white one, below, is going to be very popular this summer, trust me! SONY DSC  Style & fashion editors from San Francisco’s 7X7 Magazine, were on hand to share a few fashion tips with the crowd. Here’s a little snippet for you:

Wouldn’t be an American Icon Celebration without a fashion show, right? These lovely models showcased great looks by Calvin Klein, Levi’s & Tommy Hilfiger. SONY DSCSONY DSC  Macy’s puts on the best events, if you haven’t been to one yet, you are definitely missing out. These events are always open to the public, so check with your local Macy’s to see what events they have planned.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society, and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post. All thoughts & opinions are my own, thank you!

Walgreens San Francisco “Flagship” Store Grand Opening, A Traveler’s Dream! #SFWAG

Growing up, my family always went to our neighborhood Walgreens for all of our over-the-counter and prescription meds. Walgreens was conveniently located near our home and we trusted them, after all, they are the nation’s largest drugstore chain. My mom knew that whatever she needed, she could find it at Walgreens. That hasn’t changed, but boy, so many other things about Walgreens certainly have! If you haven’t been inside a Walgreens lately,  you’re going to love this post. The new Flagship Walgreens just opened up in San Francisco, at the corner of Powell & O’Farrell. When Collective Bias invited me to tour the new Walgreens, I had no idea what was in store for me. The moment I walked through the doors, I thought to myself, “This ain’t my Mama’s Walgreens!”SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC This Walgreens is big and bright, and did I mention Big?! I’m talking 18,000 sf and 2 stories tall! It is unlike any other Walgreens I have ever been to. There are 15 cash registers and 90 employees, we’re talking huge here! It reminded me more of a department store, than my friendly, neighborhood Walgreens. We began our tour upstairs.SONY DSC First stop, was the LOOK Boutique beauty department, and it is fabulous! It features tons of prestige and niche cosmetic, skincare, and hair care brands that you don’t normally find in drugstores. For example, you can find the U.K.’s number one skincare line, “No 7,” created by Boots, here at Walgreens. No 7 is known for their anti-aging beauty serums. (I’ll take 2 of everything, please!) The specially-trained beauty advisors can help you choose just the right product for your skin type. They’ll even touch-up your make-up for you! If your brows are looking a little rough, just head on over to the Ramy Eyebrow Bar to get some expert brow shaping and grooming services! How fantastic is that? Getting your brows done at Walgreens… I told you this wasn’t your Mama’s Walgreens! SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC Walgreens main purpose is to help people get, stay & live well… so it made perfect sense that we toured the Pharmacy next. The pharmacy is open 8:00am-8:00pm Monday through Friday, 9:00am-6:00pm on Saturday, & 9:00am-5:00pm on Sundays. Nimesh Jhaveri-Executive Director of Pharmacy Operations, was on hand to give us the grand tour. He explained to us how the role of the pharmacist is changing & evolving. Walgreens wants to be your one-stop healthcare shop. It makes perfect sense, Walgreens’ are everywhere, you can find one on virtually every corner. Why not utilize them to the fullest extent? Vaccines, sports physicals, urgent care- it’s all available at Walgreens. They even  do diabetes screenings and can check your cholesterol levels! Not everyone has access to a nearby doctor, but we all have access to a nearby Walgreens, right?!

As someone who loves to travel, I’m lovin’ this new Flagship Walgreens! Imagine being a tourist here in San Francisco and getting sick. You don’t know where the nearest doctor is, or urgent care… but you do know where the nearest Walgreens is, at the corner of Powell & O’Farrell! (They have suitcases too!) Walgreens is working hard to be your first choice for health & daily living. Once you’ve taken care of all your health and beauty needs, you might be a little hungry. Walgreens has that covered too! SONY DSCSONY DSC Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a smoothie bar. Smoothies are available at the new Walgreens in San Francisco, along with a juice bar. But that’s not all. In keeping with their mission to keep you well, Walgreens also offers hundreds of fresh food items. Produce and high-quality, on-the-go meal options such as wraps, sushi, salads and sandwiches are made fresh daily. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC When I tell you this Walgreens is like no other I have ever been to, I truly mean it! You can purchase Fro-Yo here… awesome! You pay by the cup size, not by weight… even better! There’s a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine dispensing 130 varieties of Coca-Cola fountain drinks. (I’d never even seen one until I toured this Walgreens!) The Upmarket Cafe’ offers a barista preparing fresh brewed premium coffee & espressos. Got a sweet tooth? You’ll love the freshly baked pastries and other goodies the Upmarket Cafe’ has to offer. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC And then there was this! The promised land for chocoholics! A replica of Ghirardelli Square. It has one of the largest (and yummiest!) selections of Ghirardelli premium chocolates and gift selections in the San Francisco area. SONY DSCI could go on & on about this new Flagship Walgreens. It’s the first of its kind here in Northern California and it promises to bring customers a unique shopping experience. This store has it all! With offerings like fresh food, an enhanced beauty department and unique pharmacy- this is My Walgreens! Next time you are in San Francisco, be sure to drop by and check it out for yourself, and don’t forget to try the Vanilla Fro-Yo, it’s delicious!

Y’all know I love to take photos, and I have many more to share with you. You can see them all all on my #SFWAG Google+ Album.

For more Walgreens info, here’s their website. You can follow them on Twitter and FB too! Be well!

**I was invited to the opening of the Walgreens store opening by Collective Bias®.  I was compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias ™ and Walgreens #CBias #SocialFabric  All Opinions are my own.**

You Say McWrap, I Say McYummy! {Giveaway for S.F. Bay Area Readers!}

I was recently sent a couple “Be Our Guest” cards by McDonald’s so I could try their new Premium McWraps. I’d been hearing a lot about them from some of my blogger friends, and was anxious to sink my teeth into one.

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  • The new line of meal-size wraps combines fresh vegetables, tasty sauces and juicy chicken breast fillets in a warm tortilla.
    • All Premium McWrap varieties come with a choice of either grilled or crispy chicken, so that guests can customize their meals according to their individual dietary needs. There are 3 Premium McWraps to choose from:
      • Sweet Chili Chicken McWrap: sweet chili sauce, creamy garlic sauce and sliced cucumbers
      • Chicken & Bacon McWrap: creamy garlic sauce, bacon, cheddar jack cheese and tomato
      • Chicken & Ranch McWrap: ranch sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, cheddar jack cheese, sliced cucumbers and tomato
      BIEPfhMCQAIzWtqI’ve been a McDonald’s fan my entire life. Growing up, I didn’t get to eat there as often as I wanted, so anytime we made a special trip to the Golden Arches, it was party time! I am happy to see McDonald’s incorporating healthier food options into their menu. Grilled Chicken, can’t get much healthier than that, right?! The Premium McWrap is something I would make at home. I tried the Sweet Chili Chicken McWrap, with the Grilled Chicken. BIEQJueCYAA4n3_As you can see from my photo (above), along with sliced cucumbers, there’s also some greens in the mix! Was it good, you ask? Yes! It was delicious! The sweet chili has just the right amount of sweetness to it. It’s very flavorful and filling. One Premium McWrap filled me up. But don’t take my word for it, McDonald’s want you to try out their Premium McWraps for yourself! BIEREWVCAAE2Um0
  • This GIVEAWAY is open to San Francisco Bay Area readers only, sorry to everyone else. If you live in the Bay area-please enter for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided “Be Our Guest” cards so I could try the new Premium McWraps & to facilitate this giveaway. No other compensation has been provided. All opinions are my own. I hope to bring you many more great meal options from McDonald’s in the future!