Review: Hello Flavour Influenster Box

I got the opportunity to receive the Hello Flavour Sample box complimentary from Influenster for testing. All the opinions in this post are my own.

Lately, Influenster has been sending me make-up samples and with my decline of wearing makeup it was getting a little annoying reviewing things I really don’t use on a regular basis. So, getting a box of spices was a breathe of fresh air because I love love LOVE cooking and of course it’s no secret I am an avid baker.

Spices

In the box I got some kitchen staples: Cinnamon and Allspice, and some new things to try: Harissa and Black Garlic.

The box came with some recommended recipes, I decided to give the Harissa chocolate cupcakes a try. The recipe seemed like a pretty solid chocolate cake recipe just with the spice. I was curious to see how this spice that I would typically use on chicken will pan out in a chocolate cupcake…

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As expected, the batter was a nice texture that mixed and scooped well. It didn’t quite make the 24 cupcakes but I made a few of them a little big. After they cooled I decked them out with my own homemade icing and some red sugar to symbolize the kick in the cupcake.

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The Verdict: the initial bite isn’t bad, you just taste chocolate. However, then the aftertaste comes and it’s a disgusting sour mess. I made it through 2 bites of the cupcake and gave up. I thought that since I’m not a huge fan of eating sweets, it may have just been my taste buds so I got my boyfriend to try one when he got home. Same verdict, they were gross.

At this point it was a challenge for me to find someone who actually liked this cupcake. I brought them to work the next day and got all 6 of my coworkers to try one. Each person had one bite, and then proceeded to lick off the icing before disposing of the cupcake. (At least my icing is good baha)

To summarize: These cupcakes were gross. I tried to like then, I tried to find someone who liked them but the end result was these cupcakes ending up in the green bin.

I bet that spice in something appropriate would be delicious, it smelled great in the package. I’m disappointed that I wasted my sample in those cupcakes.

Next up I tried the Black Garlic Spice

I’ve cooked with real black garlic in the past, it has a very unique texture and flavor to it so I was very curious if this spice would be able to hold it’s own. The recommended recipe was to make a sauce for ice cream………………….. After the cupcake incident I decided to use one of my own recipes to try out the spice.

I chose one of my favorite cook books: The Bobs Burgers Burger Cook Book!

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I chose to make the “Bet it all on Black Garlic Burger” I’ve tried it with the real black garlic and it was indeed… Exceptional Mouth Feels…..

Bet it all on black garlic burger

Instead of using real black garlic, I substituted the package of spice in the mayonnaise. I also had to adjust the greens to kale just due to availability at the market.

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The Verdict: ……. Exceptional Mouth Feels. Now it’s definitely not as good as the real thing BUT for a dried spice it did capture the unique smell and taste of the black garlic without the mess of dealing with the actual garlic.

I will buy this spice, this is definitely a new staple in my spice cabinet.

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I didn’t go into depths for the Cinnamon and Allspice because I think we all know what those spices are like and what recipes they work the best with. I am so relieved that I used my own recipe to test the black garlic as opposed to the recommended one because I would have been quite disappointed if both samples were wasted.

I get it that Hello Flavour is trying to have innovative and different recipes… But I would think they would make and test out a recipe before promoting it? Just my thought on it.

Review: Bap House Korean Kitchen

I snuck away from my kitchen over the weekend to check out one of Halifax's new restaurants with some good friends. We tried out Bap House on Quinpool Rd. 

It was a little tricky to see at first, Quinpool can be a little congested but once you know what you're looking for you can distinguish it from the busy street.

Immediately when we walked in we were greeted by a very enthusiastic woman, I'm assuming she was the owner. She took the time to tell us about the menu, how the food is prepared and even how to eat it in an authentic Korean manner.

The menu is short and sweet. They serve Bibimbap as the main course, however due to the nature of the bibimbap you could easily have a different dish every time you visit. The dish is completely customized to your pallet. 

Bap House Menu

This restaurant takes a lot of pride in their food, they don't use any MSG, the veggies used are the ones locally in stock for the season and it's all made fresh.

The presentation of the meal was right out of a magazine, all 4 of the dishes we ordered were arranged just like this.

The presentation of the meal was right out of a magazine, all 4 of the dishes we ordered were arranged just like this.

I ordered the noodle Bibimbap combo which came with Miso soup and I got the dish with beef, egg and spicy sauce- we were instructed to mix it up with the chop sticks and consume it with the spoon (thank goodness I am terrible with chop sticks)

Everything about this meal was delicious, the spice wasn't overpowering so you could genuinely enjoy the taste of every ingredient and the woman came back to check on us a number of times.

She was even generous enough to make us a set of dumplings for free to sample. Let me tell you I could easily eat 20 of those things- Delicious.

My sole critique was that my ahem... hearty North American tummy was not filled by this delicious dish, I could have easily eaten 3 more bowls however for the $14 before tax and tip price tag that really wasn't a good idea. I would recommend coming to this restaurant if you need something to get you between lunch and dinner, around 2PM when you need a snack. Since the food is preservative free and fresh there's no guilt for having a mid afternoon snack here.

Review: Benefit Mascara

I received a sample size of Benefit mascara in the mail! Kay so... I don't remember being advised the sample was coming.. It just kinda showed up haha but hey I'll never complain about free stuff!

All the opinions in this review are my own.

Benefit cosmetic review

I was very impressed with this mascara. It's smooth, didn't clump, and gave my lashes a nice little boost.

Benefit mascara

Overall" I was pleased with this sample. It had all qualities that you want in a mascara so it's no wonder it's among the top mascara going right now. A plus as well, the products sold in Canada (according to the internet) are cruelty free! I would purchase this product again.

Review: Quaker Overnight Oats

I got the opportunity to test out Quaker's new overnight oats for free to test out from Sample Source, although I got the products for free all the opinions are my own.

Sample Source sent me a coupon so that I could pick out my preference of flavor- I chose the Walnut, Raisin & Honey flavor as it seemed like the least sweet out of the options.

Quaker Overnight Oats

I was a little hesitant to try this product as I'm not the biggest fan of oatmeal (just can't stand that squishy texture) but the crunch of the walnuts balanced out the texture quite well.

Ingredients:

WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, SUGAR, WALNUTS COATED WITH ROSEMARY EXTRACT (TO HELP PROTECT FLAVOR), RAISINS, QUINOA, FLAXSEED, SALT, HONEY, NATURAL FLAVOR

I'm always a fan of products that you can read and understand all the ingredients.

Quaker Overnight Oats
Quaker Overnight Oats

Overall this was a solid product, the convenience is certainly there with the service size and easy prep however it was way too sweet for my liking- plus I'm actually trying to reduce my plastic usage so these little cups really don't encourage that.

I personally wouldn't buy it again however for someone who enjoys sweet oatmeal and someone who is on the go this would be a perfect addition to their pantry.

Review: Lays Poppers

On Wednesdays I like to take some time to review a product to share my experiences and hopefully encourage my readers to try something different!

I got the opportunity to try out Lay's new snack food for free for testing purposes, however all of the opinions are my own. I am so lucky to be a part of so many campaigns by Influenster, it's a great opportunity to try new products on the market.

If you want to get free stuff as well, it takes a little effort to remember to review products and interact in conversations online but it's SO worth it!! 

Click here to join!

Lays Poppables

These snacks were interesting... I received the Honey BBQ in my box. The flavor wasn't overly strong and had a very sweet after taste. I prefer more savory snacks- I do look forward to trying the other flavors available however, I do enjoy Lays as a whole so I'll give this product a second chance.

It's a great use of potatoes that don't have what it takes to be chips. The first ingredient is potato flakes.

Ingredients:  POTATO FLAKES, VEGETABLE OIL, POTATO STARCH, SEASONING (SUGAR, SALT, CORN MALTODEXTRIN, SPICES, ONION POWDER, YEAST EXTRACT, BROWN SUGAR, TOMATO POWDER, NATURAL FLAVOUR, HONEY SOLIDS, MOLASSES SOLIDS, PAPRIKA EXTRACT, VEGETABLE OIL, GARLIC POWDER, CITRIC ACID, PURIFIED STEVIA LEAF EXTRACT), SEA SALT, ASPARAGINASE, TURMERIC.

You know whats nice? Being able to recognize all the ingredients in a snack!

Lays Poppers

The other flavors available are White Cheddar, Sea Salt and the Honey BBQ.

Review: American War By Omar El Akkad

Finally got some time to enjoy a new book on the porch. My hectic life doesn't always leave time for these sorts of things so when I do find the time it's a really good feeling.

I picked up American War by Omar El Akkad.

You can find it on Amazon below! (I may get a small commission if you purchase the book through my link) 

The story starts in the 2070's after the second American Civil War, the North and South are once again divided by their beliefs. The story focused on a southern family and their mission to make a life for themselves midst the chaos.

Book review

I loved the base of this story because it's a realistic vision of what our world could look like in 50-60 years. Waters have risen, coasts have disappeared... The US map in this book looks quite different than the one we know today and the country is divided over fuel. The North is embracing solar power and the South is gripping to fossil fuels. With all the issues that plague the United States in our modern era I appreciated the realistic choice for the conflict.

American War

I will warn you: this story isn't for the faint of heart. Throughout the whole book although you are focused on the southern protagonist Sarat and her ventures I found myself questioning choices since I am a fan of renewable energy and preventing the global warming that plagued the US coastlines in this book. 

However, it is evident that the southern characters are being .. "bullied" so as a Canadian reader at least; I flip flopped with my feelings of what's right.

American War

The author of this book is a former journalist who has seen the real effects of war, which I credit the realistic story line to. This story is real, don't read it before bed because it's very real. You learn to love each character even if you don't love their desperate choices during a long dawn out war.

American War

I highly recommend this book. Its a real (although fictional) story of the depressing human nature that neglects putting differences aside and being human first. I hope with more stories like this we will be less inclined to make the same mistakes.

Review: Neutrogena Hydration Mask and Facial Cleanser

I received these products complimentary to test out but all the opinions are my own.

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I got the opportunity to try out some products from Neutrogena. A hydration mask and a clay mask/ daily cleanser hybrid.

 Neutrogena® Hydro Boost hydrating 100% Hydrogel Mask

The Hydration mask I was very interested to try because I've never tried any sort of mask related cleanser before this... However, I did not enjoy this product at all (sorry guys) the texture of the mask was unsettling on my skin. It felt like I had a squid on my face. It was supposed to stay on for 15 minutes, it ended up falling off around the 10 minute mark and landed in a weird little ball in the sink. I had no desire to put it back on so it went into the garbage.

This is what horror movies are made from...

This is what horror movies are made from...

A heavy amount of packaging needed to be used which I also wasn't a fan of.
At the end of the experience my face didn't feel any more "hydrated" as it would have if I splashed it with water.

Neutrogena® Deep Clean® Purifying Clay Cleanser & Mask

Overall this is a nice product, smells great (minty) and does do the job it'll clean my face. It's a gentle blend. I prefer using it as a daily cleanser than the mask (sadly don't have that kind of time) but it's nice to have the option. This product was definitely more my style of the two, I would purchase this product.

This was another great set of products to try out especially since the mask was not my style at all. Neutrogena is a dependable brand.

Review: Local New Brunswick Wines

I drove and stayed in Saint John for a few days for work- while I was there I figured I would indulge in some local wines.

Local New Brunswick Wine review

I headed for NB Alcool and grabbed the first store clerk I could find to direct me to the best local wines available. That poor girl didn't know what was coming....

1) "Verger Belliveau" a pear wine from Memramcook, NB.

Verger Belliveau

The wine was sweet. smooth and fresh tasting. It went down like fruit juice without any issues. You could very easily enjoy this as a treat, with dinner, or at an event.

2) "Richibucto River" from Mundleville, NB

Richibucto River

This wine was much more dry than my first choice, and also much more tarte. Better for someone who prefers their wine a little stronger and not with the personality of juice (I can be in the mood for either sometimes).

I found this was best combined with a meal, it's not sweet enough for a treat and a bit strong to sip on at an event.

3) "Dunhams Run Long Reach" made with honey from Kingston, NB

Dundams Run Long Reach

This bottle was SWEET I would even place it as more of a dessert wine to be frank. It has a very strong honey taste as was quite dry. I recommend one glass at a time as a treat with this one- it can get over powering very quickly.

The verdict:

3 nights, 3 bottles (I'm sure the hotel cleaners thought I was a lush... But after my experience with the hotel I'm not overly concerned of what they thought of me. My favorite of the 3 was definitely the Verger Belliveau- it's sweet and smooth personality made it perfect for a relaxing evening.