Category Archives: reviews


Review: The Hummingbird, Durham

The Hummingbird Bakery and Restaurant is one of my daughter’s favorite places to go for lunch and she has been bugging me to go with her. Even offering to pay! Well the kicker was when she said they have great cupcakes. So I said ok.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera so I couldn’t take photos of what we had (NC Fish Tacos)  but we did take some cupcakes home. I forgot which flavors these are now, but my daughter’s favorite is their hummingbird cupcake.

This might have been the hummingbird, but I’m not sure.

The food, as expected, was quite good. After all, this is bakery/restaurant is owned by the same chef running Watt’s Grocery just down the street, Amy Tornquist. I’m not sure if she is also doing the cooking and baking at Hummingbird, but whoever their pastry chef is, he or she is doing a great job providing good quality baked goods in this neighborhood.

I love the rich butter frostings that are not cloyingly sweet as some desserts around here tend to be. The cakes are also good, but I prefer my cakes more fluffy and moist. These were a bit on the dense side for me, but still not to dense to be unpleasant. I have to note though that their cupcakes are usually kept cold because of the butter frosting. But if you take them home and let them sit at room temp for a while but not so long that the butter starts to melt, the cake part gets better tasting and more moist. They were good overall though and probably one of the best cupcakes that can be had around here.

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Review: Tyson Grilled & Ready Frozen Chicken

I am always leery of pre-cooked meals, meats especially, so I was a bit skeptical to try these grilled & ready chicken breasts. But hey, I got free coupons from Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program so I thought it couldn’t hurt. I can always get rid of it if I didn’t like it.

Well, I didn’t throw them out and I actually went and bought a pack for my daughter last weekend when we dropped her off for summer school. These were actually quite good and didn’t have that dry and gummy pre-cooked taste that I was expecting. They were well seasoned and moist, and tasted just like the way I would have cooked them.

With the warmer weather and abundance of fresh produce in the markets, we have been making more salads and sandwiches and we have used Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Frozen Chicken Breast Fillets as an easy addition for these meals. The package that I bought for my daughter when we dropped her off at her dorm last weekend, she used in a stirfry and worked out wonderfully. This pre-cooked pack is perfect for her because she doesn’t like to mess with raw meat anyway, much less in her dorm’s kitchen. She said it was the quickest and easiest stirfry she has ever made with us buying pre-cooked chicken and pre-sliced vegetables.

Ok, it probably cost more than it needed to be, but for the convenience for someone who doesn’t have a full kitchen at her disposal but still wants to be able to eat home-cooked meals, it was worth the price.

As for us at home, we’ve had the luxury of incorporating it into our favorite dishes. My youngest daughter loves soups, for instance. So when we gathered some leeks from the garden a few weeks ago, she immediately requested potato leek soup. Just before serving, she topped her soup with a few pieces of grilled chicken breasts that she warmed up in the microwave, a bit of cheese, and she had a hearty but light supper!

potato leek soup with chicken

“As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for a pack of Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Frozen Chicken Breast Fillets”

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Giveaway: Extra Virgin Olivari® Mediterranean Olive Oil

olive oil

If you look at the recipes posted on this blog, you’ll know that we use a heck of a lot of olive oil! And rather than buying different grades of olive oil, I usually just buy a huge jar of extra virgin from my favorite warehouse store nearby. You know which store, I’ve mentioned it often enough. It starts with a C 😛

Anyway, I received this package not too long ago and in it is a full sized 17 oz. bottle of Extra Virgin Olivari® Mediterranean Olive Oil, one heavy duty Olivari® garlic press, an Olivari® recipe card for Fresh Bruschetta and VIP coupons to try other varieties of Olivari® including classic and extra light taste.

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Mozaik Prize Pack Giveaway!


How would you like to win this beautiful prize pack? Can you believe that this set is not real china? Yep, Mozaik is designed to look like real ware but it is actually plastic ware that you can either wash and re-use or dispose of. They are perfect for those times when you don’t want a lot of dishes to wash but don’t want to look cheap with flimsy paper plates either.

You know what else these would be good for? They would be perfect for large sit-down dinner parties especially when a children’s table is involved. You don’t have to set their table with your fine china and be pins and needles all night but you won’t have to set theirs with cheap paper plates either. Use these plastic ware which look amazingly like the real stuff and you won’t have to worry whether the kids drop them or lose the silverware in the trash can.

I received the same prize package to try out and I must say my girls and I were impressed by the quality. When you set the table, none will be the wiser that they are made of plastic. That is of course until they pick them up. lol! They are lightweight, but sturdy enough to handle the weight of food without folding on you or seeping through.

Thanksgiving dinner

At Thanksgiving, we used the platter for the turkey and set the table with the plates and utensils. It was just the five of us for dinner, but after the food and settings were laid out, it looked like a feast for many. The plates looked so elegant!

Here’s your chance to win a set of Mozaik “Designing Spaces” prize pack. Read below what you need to do.


THE PRIZE: Mozaik “Designing Spaces” prize pack: Service for 8 kit (full 40 piece set), serving utensils, platter and bowl.

MAIN ENTRY: LEAVE A COMMENT – Tell me if you use real china or disposables for your Christmas Dinner.

OPTIONAL/ADDITIONAL ENTRIES – If you’d like more chances to win, just do any or all of the items below and leave a separate comment for each one that you do.
1. BLOG about this giveaway. A link as part of a list is fine. (worth 3 entries – leave comment 3 times with a link to your blog post)
2. TWEET this giveaway (you can tweet once a day – leave me a comment everytime you do). You can copy and paste the following text:

WIN the Mozaik Prize Pack – service for 8, utensils, etc. #giveaway @jmom

3. FOLLOW ME on Twitter
4. “LIKE” the Cooked From the Heart Facebook Page
5. SHARE THIS – share this post as many times as you want (leave separate comment each time) on any of the social networking sites listed on the ‘Share This’ button at the end of this post.

END DATE: This giveaway will end on December 20, 2010 after which commenting will be closed. Winner will be announced soon after and notified by mail.


Congratulations to Cheryl F for winning this giveaway! She really is one lucky lady bug 🙂

The giveaway prize pack that I received were provided by Mozaik “Designing Spaces” through MyBlogSpark. They will also fulfill your prize at the end of this giveaway.

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Hickory Farms Blog Tour

Hickory Farms

I received this Party Planner Gift Box for the Hickory Farms Blog Tour from Mom Central. It contains three varieties of summer sausage a variety of cheeses, crackers and sweet hot and cranberry flavored mustards. Just the perfect size for a sumptuous snack spread for a small party. I must confess, my girls immediately tore into this package since it arrived fortuitously around the time that they get home from school and they are usually ravenous.

The love Hickory Farms summer sausages! I actually buy them occasionally so they have something handy to snack on. So there was little chance that this box would sit around unopened for long.

We usually get at least one Hickory farms gift basket during the holidays and they are always a welcome treat. I’m sure you’ve already seen the Hickory Farms kiosks at the mall. Although some people may consider them as cliche’ gift, keep in mind that there are still a great many of us who genuinely appreciate getting them. We usually savor our gift baskets all through the days between Christmas and New Year. Sometimes we’ve had them to snack on while waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve.

When you make your gift purchase this year, keep in mind that for every Party Planner Gift Box sold, Hickory Farms will donate $5* to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America. Each of the Hickory Farms gift package comes beautifully package, you don’t even have to gift wrap them!
Additionally, Hickory Farms provides free military shipping to military APO/FPO addresses on select products, allowing our troops across the globe to share in holiday traditions. Visit to learn more about these two opportunities as well as the variety of gift boxes available!

Hickory Farms

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Hickory Farms and received a signature gift box from Hickory Farms to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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Betty Crocker Boxed Instant Mashed Potatoes GIVEAWAY

Welcome to another food giveaway from Cooked from the Heart!

Betty Crocker Mashed Potato Prize Pack

I received the prize pack shown above to try out Betty Crocker´s® Boxed Instant Mashed Potatoes. Now you all know how we love our mashed potatoes and gravy in this house. I tend to be a purist when it comes to mashed potatoes though so I don’t normally buy them boxed and labeled ‘instant’. To me, it’s just as easy to make your own from scratch but that’s just my opinion. I know plenty of housewives who use the boxed mashed potatoes and they are none the worst for it. So hey, I’m game!

Besides, these are supposed to be made from 100% real potatoes and they really are easy to prepare. I don’t know about tasting homemade though, but they taste pretty darn good! Hey look, if you eat the mashed potatoes and gravy from the colonel (and we do) then you won’t notice the difference here. Actually, I would even go as far as to say that these Betty Crocker Mashed Potatoes are a step up better than those. The two boxes that I got were garlic flavored and butter flavored and I must say they know how to get me in the gullet. Just say ‘Garlic’ or ‘Butter’ and you got me.

So, do you want to try out Betty Crocker’s Boxed Instant Mashed Potatoes? Here is a dowloadable coupon for $0.55 off one package of Betty Crocker Boxed Instant Mashed Potatoes. But if you’d rather get the prize package that I got above, then sign up for my giveaway below.
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Healthy Choice Steaming Entrées

Healthy Choice

I don’t regularly serve any pre-cooked or frozen meals at home but I am not averse to bringing them for lunch. So when I was given a chance to try out the new line of frozen mirowavable steaming entrées for Healthy Choice, I decided to give it a try. I am the sort of person who usually runs from anything labeled ‘diet’ or ‘good for you’ or ‘sugar-free/fat-free’. I received two samples from Mom Central to try out: Rosemary Chicken & Sweet Potatoes and Portabella Parmesan Risotto.

This new line of steaming entrées are supposed to be made with fresh, simple and delicious ingredients without a lot of other chemical additives like other frozen entrées. They take pride in the short ingredients list, only mentioning stuff that you can actually see when you open the package. Our first impression with these entrées is the lack of ‘frozen’ flavor and smell. If you’ve ever had frozen food, you will know what I am talking about. However, with the vegetables, I could sense a difference in texture and flavor. But that is just me. My palate is really honed to fresh vegetables and I can always tell when something is canned or frozen. As you can see in the cooked package below (I took this photo as soon at it was taken out of the microwave and the cover peeled back), it actually doesn’t look too bad. This is the Rosemary Chicken with Sweet Potato, Yellow Carrots and cute little Pearl Onions .

Healthy Choice Steamer

My verdict? They are ok and would make a great lunch. Some of my co-workers keep frozen lunches in the freezer at work for the times when they have to have something to eat but not enough time to go out or had not brought anything from home. For this purpose, I think I would do the same with these Healthy Choice steaming entrées. At least they are not packed in mystery gravy and the ingredients are recognizable and easily identifiable. The clear plastic packaging is also a step up from the cardboard packaging of other brands, which I think contribute to that ‘off’ taste you get with frozen meals. They are also affordably priced at about $2.50 each which is way less what you would spend if you went out to eat lunch at a fast food place.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Healthy Choice and received samples of their new steaming entrées to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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SOYJOY Second Chances Contest

Do you believe in second chances? I do. I believe everyone needs a second or maybe a third or fourth chance, depending on the circumstances. After all, I have been known to do things that I later wished I hadn’t done or could do over again. Nobody is perfect and to celebrate the spirit of second chances, SOYJOY is sponsoring an awesome contest.

If you have a story where maybe you didn’t make a great first impression but manage to turn it around for a happy ending, you could win $1000 from the SOYJOY Second Chances Sweepstakes! All you have to do to enter is to tell your story where you took a second chance to turn your story to a good ending. You do this by visiting the SOYJOY Facebook page and upload your story in either a 30 second video or in 100 words. Then have your friends vote for you and maybe even ask them to enter as well! You have until October 3 to enter the contest.

If you’re not familiar with SOYJOY, let me tell you a little bit about it. It’s a nutrition bar that is made with “all-natural, minimally processed ingredients, like ground whole soybeans and real fruit.” These bars have NO transfats, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives and chemical additives. What they do have is a light and fruity taste that is not overly sweet nor is it overly dry like some of the ‘good for you’ nutritional bars. I always buy nutrition bars because my girls like them and they are convenient for them to take for lunch or snack. My daughter loved taking the SOYJOY samples that I received. It’s a good thing that SOYJOY is available in most grocery stores. I found them in the nutrition bar aisle of our neighborhood store. Check them out next time you’re in the store.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of SOYJOY and received samples of their nutritional bars to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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