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Uma Sapna Villa Review: Seminyak, Bali

I recently returned from an amazing honeymoon (and wedding!).  It was certainly a whirlwind, but there’s no doubt that it was the best few weeks of my life.  On the top of the list of highlights was the time we spent in Bali.  Bali was like no other place we had been–it was bursting with delicious food, kind people, beautiful vegetation, incredible culture, wild monkeys, great (and cheap) shopping, temples, gorgeous beaches and anything else you could dream of for a travel experience.

Our first stop in Bali was in a little beach town on the west coast called Seminyak where we stayed at Uma Sapna Villa… and what a way it was to start a honeymoon. 

We had a private villa (the specific room was Ambon) with a little pool and backyard. The 5-night package we booked included multiple full body massages, breakfast every morning, a candlelight dinner for two, one lunch for two and a one-day tour to wherever we wanted to go (including multiple stops).  That alone could make for a five-star stay, but it exceeded that…and our expectations.

The beach was a nice 10/15-minute walk or only a $2 cab ride away. The main street packed with shopping and restaurants was just around the corner. The warm and friendly staff knew us by name. Our twice-a-day room cleaning left our room sparkly. The bed was comfy and the shower lovely.  We were spoiled.

While they didn’t have a restaurant onsite, the daily breakfast was always delicious and so was everything we ordered from room service. From Nasi Goreng (a local fried rice dish) to an American cheese burger, we were always pleased. 

The one-day tour was probably our favorite day in Seminyak.  Our driver from Uma Sapna, Dharma, was a wonderful man who taught us so much about the people and the culture in Bali. He was accommodating and helpful–providing advice on bargaining, protecting us from wild monkeys (seriously) and sharing his knowledge on the sites we visited. We wished we could have spent more time with him.

When it came time to depart Uma Sapna and head to our next stop in Bali, it was bittersweet to say goodbye. It felt like we were leaving what had become our home.  I can’t recommend it enough.

More on Bali coming soon…particularly a Balinese recipe.

 

 

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Alexia Foods French Fries Reviews

It’s been awhile. I know–shame on me. It’s not that I’ve gotten lazy though; I’ve been busy I swear! Between closing on a home, moving in, transferring the lease to our apartment and finalizing details for a wedding and honeymoon next week, I think I have a fair excuse.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I just wanted to make my case. However, before I shoot off to the Berkshires for my wedding and then to Bangkok and Bali for 2+ weeks, it’s time I give you the scoop on some spuds.

I recently received a trio of gourmet, all-natural french fries for review from Alexia Foods.  So far, we’ve done a number on two of ‘em, and I’m liking what I’ve seen.

First up, we had Alexia’s new Parmesan Lemon Waffle Fries.  Lemon and french fries struck me as an odd combination at first, but it really made for a unique and tasty fry. It wasn’t a bold citrus flavor, but instead just a hint of lemon paired with the  parmesan.  The texture and crispiness were ideal and this is definitely a good option for a more refined fry.  Plus, who doesn’t love a waffle fry?

Prefer to go the sweet potato route? Well good news for you, Alexia Foods has options to choose from.  I tried the Sweet Potato Puffs. Crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside, they met my standards of what makes a top-notch potato. They make a great side to grilled steak or chicken!

I do want to note that I found the recommended cooking time to be a bit off, so keep in mind you might want to extend the time the fries and puffs are in the oven.  Go with the directions, but just be prepared if you need to add another 5-10 minutes on.

Overall, these spuds were winners in my book! While I’ve only dug into two varieties, Alexia Foods has a seriously extensive line up of potatoes, fries and other products including onion rings and rolls. There’s a coupon on the Alexia Foods website, so go check them out for yourselves!

And I’m off. See you in June!

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KRAFT MilkBite Bars Review

There are tons of breakfast and granola bar options out there, so it’s never easy to make a decision on what to buy.  I always spend several minutes reading labels looking for something that offers whole grains, fiber and is lower in cals. Oh and of course something that tastes good. Unfortunately, the options aren’t overwhelming.  I was recently introduced to KRAFT MilkBite Bars and received a couple flavors for review.  On paper they boast even more than what I’m looking for:

 

  • Good source of Vitamin D
  • 5g of Protein
  • 3g of Fiber
  • No artificial flavor, colors, or preservatives
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • 7g of Whole Grains
  • Made with real milk and calcium to provide the same amount calcium as an 8 oz glass of milk (which offers 30% of your daily recommended value of calcium)

With that line up of features, I was excited to give them a try.

So what did I find? They’re good! They are soft and chewy, and you can actually taste the granola flavor which I like.  I sampled both the Chocolate and the Strawberry. I have to say, I am picky when it comes to fruit in my granola bars, but these impressed me!  I wish they had more fiber, but overall I was pleased with the surplus of other healthy benefits.

Unlike most granola bars, these need to be stored in the fridge (because they really aren’t messing around about the “real milk” thing!)

Whether you enjoy one for breakfast or a snack, they are a nice new option to the granola bar market.  Look for them in a grocer near you in the refrigerated dairy aisle.  KRAFT MilkBite bars come in Strawberry, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin & Mixed Berry. You can bet the Peanut Butter is next on my list. :)

Get more info on their KRAFT MilkBite Facebook page.

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Review & Giveaway: Cranberry Naturals

I don’t drink a lot of juice. Not because I don’t like it, but because juice tends to pack in a lot of extra calories and sugar.

I’ve searched for other options. In terms of orange juice, I’ve tried Trop50 and wasn’t a fan. It just didn’t taste like juice. I’ve also tried Ocean Spray Light  in Cranberry along with other flavors, but again, I think the flavor suffers, and it is less like a juice.  I came back to square one–drinking limited amounts of juice and avoiding the “diet” versions all together.

And then I came across Old Orchard Cranberry Naturals (well technically they came across Cooking with Coley and provided me with review samples).  Like the other light juices I tried, the bottle and nutrition facts promise no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, but it also boasts 40% less sugar and 20% more cranberry juice than other leading brands.  I was intrigued.

I sampled both the Classic Cranberry as well as a Cranberry Grape and unlike the others was immediately a fan.  They both taste like what you would expect these juices to taste like. The slightly sourness couples with the sweetness to produce a delightfully refreshing juice cocktail.

It is important to note that it is just that, a juice cocktail, made from concentrate and isn’t 100% natural juice BUT it is naturally sweetened with Truvia.

I think you’ll like it too! And Old Orchard has so generously offered me coupons for a giveaway.  Want to enter? Just comment on why you want to try the Cranberry Naturals, and you’ll be entered to win up to 4 FREE bottles plus additional coupons.  Comment on Cooking with Coley’s Facebook page or on in the comments section of the blog post.  All entries must be received by Sunday, March 11, 2012. UPDATE:  The contest has been extended to Sunday, March 17, 2012.

Old Orchard Cranberry Naturals are sold in select retailers that can be located through their website.

 

 

 

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Swish Shabu Fenway Review

Those of you familiar with the Fenway neighborhood may know that four years ago several neighborhood restaurants tragically burned down on Peterborough Street. Since then, the Fenway locals have waited patiently for their return. Walking by to read construction signs…checking websites for updates… it felt like the day would never come.

And then it did. In the past few months, some of the former restaurants like the beloved El Pelon finally returned to their old locations while new establishments have also opened their doors. Among the openings included Swish Shabu.

Shabu refers to a Japanese cooking method. Using a table-side hot pot, individuals cook very thinly sliced meat, seafood and vegetables in a boiling Asian-style broth. Think fondue but far healthier. 

While I’m no Shabu connoisseur, I am a lover of good food. And this is good food.

The menu is packed with options for everyone–from meat lovers to vegetarians, you’re sure to find something, actually many things, to enjoy.  My favorites to date have been the white fish, sirloin beef, assorted mushrooms and watercress.  The Tom Yum broth is my soup base of choice, as it’s the perfect combo of bold flavors–both sweet and spicy.

With reasonable prices and a delightful wait staff, this new spot in Fenway is sure to be a star in the revived strip of restaurants.  Come to the Fenway ‘hood and check out Swish Shabu. You won’t regret it!

(617) 236-0255

84-86 Peterborough St

Boston, MA 02215

 

 

 

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Healthy Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas Recipe

[purerecipe]

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Tuesday Tip for the Novice: 16

What does planning a wedding and buying a house equal? A super busy schedule! That’s what’s going on in my life, so my sincerest apologies for neglecting my blogging duties.

So, I thought that I at least owe you all a tip.

Love baked potatoes but hate those unhealthy toppings? Sour cream and butter add a lot of extra cals, so how about adding something equally delicious but far more nutritious. One word for you - Tzatziki.

My lovely fiance is the one who started this habit in our house, and he got me hooked. Tzatziki, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a Greek cold yogurt sauce.  It’s made from cucumbers, garlic, salt and some variety of olive oil, pepper or other added flavors.  Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve had it on a gyro.

You can make your own, or buy it in the aisle at your local grocer where you would buy hummus.  We like the Cedar’s brand.

 

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2011 Favorites from Cooking with Coley

Before we move forward into the new year–with resolutions, personal goals, plans for a bigger and better year–it seems only fitting to stop and reminisce over the best of 2011. For me, much of that has to do with food. The foods and restaurants that were memorable and impactful–those that will continue to be my favorites in 2012 and beyond. So please join me as I recollect…

Restaurant Highlight: I’ve been to plenty of new restaurants in 2011–some new for me and some new to market. Across North America, across food genres, across styles. From the finest in dining in NYC at Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50 to a hole in the wall burrito place in the Bay Area to Central Grocery’s muffaletta sandwich in New Orleans. Some places stood out and warranted reviews and praise. Some were forgettable where I can hardly even remember what I ate.

It’s tough to pick a favorite dining experience of 2011, so I won’t. What I will do, as a Boston native, is to highlight a new Boston restuarant that was delightful and delicious.  I’m going to have to give a shout out to Sweet Cheeks Q in Boston. This new hot spot in Fenway opened just over a month ago. With a smokey aroma luring in all of Boylston Street and Top Chef runner up, Tiffani Faison, essentially cooking in front of you in the open kitchen, it’s no surprise this place draws in the crowds.  The food doesn’t disappoint, nor does the drink menu, so check this place out next time you’re in the Fenway ‘hood. This place is sure to continue to make a name for itself in 2012.

Recipes: 2012 was certainly a year of cooking for me. Trying new ingredients, flavors and just having fun in the kitchen. While I first whipped up this dish almost a year ago, my Asian Noodle Salad recipe has been prepared time and time again. As a quick healthy dinner option or a family party hit, this salad has all the asian fixins to delight.

And in case you missed ‘em the first time around, there are a few other faves that I recommend checking out: Chili Garlic EdamameFiesta Pasta Salad and the deliciously rich Pesto Genovese with Orecchiette.

 

So Happy New Year all and thanks for your loyal readership in 2011! I’m off to celebrate in Hoboken with good friends, good food and perhaps a cocktail or two.  Cheers!

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Mexican Rice with Turkey Sausage Recipe & Nueva Cocina Review

I had planned to grill turkey sausage patties for dinner the other night, but we didn’t have gas for the grill.  It was time for plan B. Plan B? Hmm, what would that be? As I scolded myself for not going to the grocery store that week, it hit me… why not utilize the Nueva Cocina rice I received for review?!

Rice + turkey sausage. It was practically an instant meal.  I sauteed the turkey sausage patties with some chopped red bell pepper and then added in the rice.  No extra seasoning or flavor was needed because the rice was so incredibly flavorful on its own.

Well, maybe I did end up adding some hot sauce, only because I love me some spicy. :)

Following is a quick recipe, if you’re looking for an easy dinner idea. But even if you’re just looking for a side, I highly recommend the Neuva Cocina Mexican Rice.  You won’t be disappointed. The classic Mexican dish (original to the Oaxaca region of Mexico they tell me), combines onions, garlic,  traditional Mexican seasonings with corn, tomatoes, carrots and roasted Poblano chiles. This isn’t your standard box of rice!

What you’ll need: (for approximately 4 servings)

  • 1 box of Nueva Cocina Arroz a la Mexicana  (Mexican Rice)
  • 3 servings of turkey sausage (I used patties)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (or any pepper you have on hand; I just liked adding a veggie of sort)

Procedure

  • Cook rice according to the box directions
  • Saute turkey sausage until cooked through
  • Remove sausage from pan and cut sausage into bite size pieces
  • Add sausage back into pan and add bell pepper; continue to saute for another five minutes
  • Add cooked rice into sausage and peppers, mix
  • Serve with hot sauce (optional) and enjoy!

 

 

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Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Allen’s Popeye Spinach

I’ve been making quite a bit of pasta lately.  Not only have I had a lot of great ingredients on hand, but pasta is a quick dinner fix on week nights. It’s one of those foods that is fun to get creative with–there are no limitations if you ask me.  From different sauces, to veggies, to seafood and meats, you’re likely to have something to spice up a pasta dish.

Recently, Allen’s sent me a couple samples of its Popeye Spinach for review. I don’t traditionally buy canned spinach, so I was interested to give it a shot.  Combined with a few other ingredients, it made for a delicious pasta recipe!

 

What you need:

Procedure: 

  • Combine spinach, sun dried tomato halves and garlic in food processor
  • Add 1 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Heat spinach pesto mixture in a pan; once heated toss in pasta and chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • Serve with extra cheese and enjoy!

If you like this recipe, you should also check out Bella San Luci’s Sun Dried Tomoato Bruschetta and Pasta Genovese with Orecchiette Pasta.

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