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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Travel: Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe – San Antonio,TX -Home of the 3 Pound Cinnamon Roll!

When I decided to go to Texas to attend Fiesta Week; I knew I had to visit Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe. I’d never heard of Lulu’s until I watched an episode of Man vs. Food, where the host, Adam, was touring San Antonio. When I saw that 3 pound Cinnamon Roll… I knew I had to have one!   SONY DSCSONY DSCWhen I drove into the parking lot, I was a little surprised to see an … “older” looking building. No worries, some of my favorite places to eat are little hole-in-the-wall joints! I waited in the car for a bit, you see, I was meeting a sweet friend from high school… a friend I had not seen since graduation! After she arrived, and we hugged and dried our tears, we went into Lulu’s. I also had my cousin with me- we were ready to see what all the fuss was about! SONY DSC SONY DSCIf you like diners, you’ll love Lulu’s! I could tell there were a few regulars there… locals who knew the menu by heart. Lulu’s sells your typical American diner food, chicken fried steak, burgers, etc. But we were there for one thing & one thing only! When our waitress asked what we wanted to eat, the answer was simple, “I want the Cinnamon Roll, please!” I also ordered a glass of chocolate milk, because I’m a dairy freak! After placing our order, we sat back and enjoyed great conversation. Lulu’s is a fantastic place to reconnect with an old friend. Then, we saw it! It was a sight to behold! You know what they say, “Everything’s bigger in Texas!” That’s my cell phone, next to the Cinnamon Roll!SONY DSCSONY DSC We spent the first 5-10 minutes just looking at our roll in amazement! We could not get over how big it was, I’d never seen anything like it! It was a work of art (foodie art!), and I debated on whether or not to eat it. But it smelled So Good, I knew what needed to be done! Take a couple more pics before cutting into it! (Hey, you know I love photography!) SONY DSCSONY DSC The moment of truth was upon us, time to cut into it and see if it tastes as good as it looks… and smells! SONY DSC SONY DSCThis was my slice! It was delicious! I was concerned that the flavor might not be there, because it was so big. One bite and I knew I had nothing to worry about. You see all that cinnamon? The flavor was on point, no complaints! We each ate a little of it, and then I had it wrapped up so I could take it with me. (What? Did you think I was gonna eat the whole thing?) I ate off of that roll for the next few days. Every night, I would cut off a chunk and heat it up in the microwave… and every night it was delicious! SONY DSCSONY DSC If you’d like to visit Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe, it’s located at 918 N. Main St in San Antonio, TX.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, I was NOT paid to write it. I just wanted to share Lulu’s with my readers.

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

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!

A Healthy Choice in Frozen Foods

**Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. **

ConAgra-Foods

There was a time when I never bought frozen foods, I didn’t think they were as “healthy” as fresh foods. I didn’t think the ingredients could compare to fresh food. Over the years, my feelings have changed and I now buy frozen veggies, fruits, and even meals. What changed my mind? Well, for one, I learned that many of the vegetables used in frozen meals, (like ConAgra Foods brands Healthy Choice and Marie Callenders) go from farm to freezer within 24 hours. Frozen meals give me access to high-quality ingredients year long, no matter what’s in season at the time.8567942164_f15f959227_c

Another thing I realized is that the frozen meals of today are not the frozen meals of yesteryear. Gone are the days of flavorless, microwavable meals. Today’s frozen meals are bursting with flavor, nothing like the cardboard you may have experienced in years past! Trust me, I’ve been there, tasted that! Yuck! To learn more about the future of frozen foods, check out this video:Another thing I like about frozen meals is that they save me from having to cook Every. Single. Day. Some days, especially if I’m in the house all by myself or have a really tight schedule, I just don’t want to cook… or I don’t have time to cook what I really want to eat. I keep a couple of frozen meals in the fridge, that way I know I can have something tasty in a matter of minutes. It also keeps me from “overindulging,” as I have been known to do on occasion. (GASP!) Yes, I like to eat and sometimes go overboard. I don’t have to worry about eating too much when I eat a Healthy Choice or Marie Callender’s meal, the portion-controlled servings are just the right size. They also have over 80 meals under 400 calories each, Score! But wait, y’all want food pics, right? Here ‘ya go! SONY DSCSONY DSC There it is! Let me tell you something, I think I could have passed this Chicken Margherita meal off as home-made, it was that good! (Not that I’d ever do that!)

ConAgra Foods frozen meals give families access to real ingredients like crunchy, freshly cut vegetables, homemade pasta and ripe fruit year-round. Just like most people blanch veggies before freezing them – ConAgra Foods does too – to help preserve color, texture and keep them fresh!

Give it a try sometime! Marie Callender’s hearty pot pies are filled with tender meat, freshly cut vegetables and Marie’s authentic golden, flaky crust. And Healthy Choice recipes use chef-inspired ingredients like, apples instead of sugar for tart sweetness and a splash of red wine for a punch of flavor instead of added salt.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ConAgra Foods.

Veggie Omelet Kikkoman Style! #KikkomanSabor

I love preparing big breakfasts on the weekend, it’s a tradition in our home. The kids know Mommy will be in the kitchen making their favorites every Saturday & Sunday, that’s how we roll. Some of the most requested meals are pancakes (I make all different kinds!), waffles, french toast, and omelets!

I enjoy making omelets because anything goes! You can add just about anything to an omelet, right?! Or is that just me?! Left over veggies from last night’s dinner, sure, throw ’em in! Leftover ham from the Thanksgiving meal the day before, into the pan you go! Kikkoman Soy Sauce that I usually only use for my Asian dishes, What?! Yep, you read that correctly, I add Kikkoman Soy Sauce to my veggie omelets… it helps “kikk” up the flavor!

High res logoYou wanna know how to make my Veggie Omelet? It’s real simple, there’s just 6 ingredients, here they are:

8 eggs – 1/2 onion, diced – 1/2 large tomato, diced – 10 oz pkg mushrooms, sliced – 1 cup shredded cheese (I used the Italian blend) – 2 Tablespoons Kikkoman Soy Sauce

1. First thing you want to do is sauté your onions & mushrooms in the pan. I used the Kikkoman Soy Sauce to sauté them, but you could use a little butter first & then add the sauce-it’s up to you.SONY DSC

2. Give the onions & mushrooms a few minutes to sauté, then add the well-beaten eggs to the pan. Eight eggs will be enough to feed a family of four.SONY DSC 3. After the eggs, toss in the tomatoes. Doesn’t that look good?!SONY DSC 4. Let everything cook for a few minutes and then add your cheese. SONY DSC Omelets don’t take very long to cook, cover it up and after about 5-10 minutes, it should be ready. You can salt & pepper to taste, but with the Kikkoman Soy Sauce-you really don’t need to add any salt. I like that Kikkoman offers a reduced sodium variety, that’s the one I used. Wanna see the end result? SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC How yummy does that look?! I took several pics & couldn’t decide on a favorite, so you’re getting them all! Which one do you like best?

**Disclosure: This is a compensated post is in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Kikkoman, all opinions are my own.**