Liberty Science Center – Review & Ticket GIVEAWAY!

Day 5 of the winter break. 11 more days to go! Not that I am counting, I love all this quality time with my kids… 🙂

During the cold winter months it’s challenging to find indoor activities the kids can enjoy so we’re always on the hunt for a fun excursion. Today we took a trip to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. I’ve driven by the 300,000 square foot structure in Liberty State Park many times but have never visited. What an amazing place! I had no idea what we were missing. Although this is not a food related post I’m sure our readers in the tri-state area will appreciate knowing about the wonderful exhibits and activities happening there this winter.

Winter Happenings at the Liberty Science Center

Our favorite exhibit hands down was the Infinity Climber, a multi-story play space suspended 35 feet above the atrium floor. I think we could have spent the entire day climbing, navigating and exploring. This exhibit is not just for children, get yourself a workout by joining your kids hiking through the mammoth structure.

We also flexed our muscles on the climbing wall and did a few pull-ups!

Not into climbing? How about ice cream? Upon arriving at the museum we were just in time for the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream demonstration. A little molecular gastronomy and samples of the most delicious coconut ice cream were the perfect start to our visit.

More liquid nitrogen fun involved a fantastic demonstration involving balloons!

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One of the other stand out exhibits was Beyond Rubik’ Cube. A 7,000 ft. showroom of games, puzzles, history, art and engineering all inspired by Erno Rubik’s bestselling masterpiece. I loved Rubik’s cubes as a kid and twisting and turning the puzzle was just like riding a bike. My kids so enjoyed the interactive games in this exhibit I literally had to drag them out.

Of course no trip would be complete without a trip to the solar system! I let them do this on their own and enjoyed a few minutes to myself while they blasted off.

At the end of the day there were still many exhibits we hadn’t explored, The Touch Tunnel, The IMAX Dome, Eat and Be Eaten, to name a few. We’ll definitely be headed back this winter to check them out.

The Liberty Science Center is located at: Liberty State Park 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City 07305.

House of Bedlam GIVEAWAY

We are thrilled to offer our readers a chance to experience this wonderful place for a day-long family fun excursion. One lucky winner will receive 4 tickets to the Liberty Science Center!

It’s simple: just do any or all of the following to be eligible to win:

  1. Like us on Facebook & let us know you did in the comments section below
  2. Follow us on Twitter & let us know you did in the comments section below
  3. Tweet about giveaway & let us know you did in the comments section below
  4. Follow us on Pinterest & let us know you did in the comments section below
  5. Subscribe to our mailing list & let us know you did in the comments section below
  6. Already a follower? Let us know in the comments section below

Each action above will give you an entry in our random drawing. Giveaway ends Dec. 31 2014, and winner will be announced via blog post. Read terms and conditions below for details of giveaway.

Terms & Conditions

“Giveaway ends December 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the US only. Tickets cannot be mailed to P.O. boxes. At end of giveaway, winner will be announced via blog post. Winner must then send us mailing information through our contact page. Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The prize offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in the contact form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.”

Luvo Flatbreads – Product Review

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could get food from a box that was not filled with preservatives and chemicals? Believe it or not a company called Luvo has developed a line of convenience foods that accomplishes just that. Normally, boxed frozen food leaves much to be desired, in my opinion, and I prefer to limit our intake of processed foods as much as possible. (That being said I won’t pretend there aren’t a few boxes of mac and cheese in my pantry.) So I was excited to try Luvo and see if they delivered on the promise of healthy, great-tasting, and convenient food.

ABOUT LUVO

Luvo was founded on a simple idea: people should love their food – how it tastes, how it encourages a healthier lifestyle, and how it supports a more sustainable planet. Part of their mission is to support farmers and suppliers with people-, animal- and planet-friendly practices. The company uses anti-biotic free meat and poultry, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

THE TASTING

Our shipment of Luvo flatbreads contained six varieties: Apple Cinnamon Ricotta, Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta, Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion & Mushroom, and Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella.

We decided to sample the breakfast flatbreads the very next day. I was looking forward to simply turning on the oven and just popping the flatbreads in. No buttering toast or cutting fruit! I envisioned a peaceful morning with time to linger over a cup of coffee before getting the kids off to school.

The Verdict is:

Although cooking these breakfast flatbreads was convenient I’m not sure if they would work in our house during the school week. Between the cooking and heating and cooling phase, it took a little over 20 minutes. A lot longer than it takes for toast. However, they would make a great option for the weekend and I did get to enjoy my coffee while they were cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

The Apple Cinnamon was a little too sweet and the boys thought it would be better suited as dessert instead of a breakfast choice. But everyone loved the bread and ate most of the crust edges.

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

I really liked this one but I was in the minority. Too much green for breakfast was the consensus. Again, it was all about the wood-fired crust which crisped up beautifully in the oven. So far I was sold but the boys were not yet convinced…

Next up were the appetizer flatbreads:

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

These got much better reviews and some of the comments were:

“I like the pizza one”

“Too many little vegetable parts”

“Bread is best part”

“Pizza is my favorite”

“Did Derek Jeter really cook these?”

The Tomato and Mozzarella was the clear winner. I thought all flavors were delicious and I would definitely serve them as an appetizer at our next party. I plan on keeping a few in my freezer on hand for the holidays. They were so easy! Just simply cut them up and drizzle with the balsamic glaze for a great presentation.

Where can I find Luvo products?

Luvo products are sold in major supermarkets. Visit Luvo Inc. to find a store near you. Price for flatbreads range from $4.99 to $5.99 for a box of two. Besides flatbreads, the company also makes burritos, breakfast and dinner entrees.

And if your kids aren’t convinced try telling them about Luvo’s latest partnership with Derek Jeter, who joined the company as Brand Development Officer. My boys were definitely impressed and I believe it was the reason they were willing to try the Market Vegetable version!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

Stew Leonard’s Brussels Sprouts – Product Review

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We are big into food shopping around here and one store I always love to shop at is Stew Leonard’s. If you’re looking for a weekend activity with your kids, this store is the place to be.

Walking into Stew Leonard’s is very much like walking into a casino. There’s so much going on you don’t’ know where to look first. Buttons to push, food to taste, cows mooing, singing chickens, and a great assortment of groceries stocked on the shelves.

Being asked to taste test one of their products was like winning the roulette wheel. And if going to a supermarket to pick up Brussels sprouts gets your kids excited how awesome is that? The minute we walked into the store the boys were anxious to hit every demo food station there was. They pushed every button and sampled every dish. We ended our shopping excursion with a picnic lunch at the Little Farm (yes, they even have a tiny petting zoo!) followed by some complimentary ice cream.

What makes Stew Leonard’s Brussels sprouts so different from any other market?

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I’ve cooked Brussels sprouts before but the difference in buying them at Stew Leonard’s versus another market is that they sell them washed, cleaned and shaved for you. Not only is most of the labor done for you they also provide a great Brussels sprout recipe on their website. I loved the convenience of this because there are many nights that I don’t have time to slice and dice.

The day we picked up our sample groceries there was also had a station demonstrating a Brussels sprouts recipe (different from the one featured on the website). And to make it even easier all the ingredients needed to cook the demo dish were stocked conveniently at the same station. You don’t have to run around the store looking for all the components, they are all in one spot, ready to go.

The recipe we followed was developed by the chefs at Stew Leonard’s and is featured below:

Not Your Mother’s Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

4 strips premium bacon, diced

1 Tbsp butter

½ red onion, diced

2 8oz pkgs Stew Leonard’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts

1 oz water

¼ cup maple syrup

Salt & Pepper

 

Method

Add bacon to a large saute pan (very large!), pre-heated at medium-high heat. Render bacon till crisp. Add butter. When melted, add onions and continue to cook until onions are translucent.

Add Brussels sprouts and water. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. (Note: We needed to add a few more tablespoons of water. It also took a lot longer than 2-3 minutes to cook down)

Add maple syrup and cook an additional 2-3 minutes and serve.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “It looks disgusting but tastes pretty good”

Liam (age 5): “How many do we have to eat?”

Dylan (age 5): “Brussels sprouts are good but where’s the bacon?”

Would we buy prepackaged, prewashed Brussels sprouts in the future?

Besides the recipe above, there are so many ways to use this product. Simply sauté with olive oil, garlic and salt. Add them to a pasta sauce. Toss them in a salad. Use them as a healthy pizza topping. To be honest, the recipe we made was a little too sweet and rich to eat on a frequent basis but I would definitely stock these in our fridge, especially since my kids did eat them! The convenience factor is always welcome at our house and this product definitely fits the bill. Priced at 3.99 for an 8oz. package.

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Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

We’ve Been Chipped! – Product Review

 

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When I told the boys we were going to be reviewing some of the newest flavors in the Food Should Taste Good (FSTG) product line they whooped and hollered. A bag of chips is always a welcome treat at our house – so when four bags show up at our door it’s a cause for a celebration.

A Little Background…

For those not familiar with the FSTG Company it was founded in 2006 by Pete Lescoe with the goal of making a unique new snack with great taste and real ingredients. All Food Should Taste Good chips are gluten free, cholesterol free, have zero grams trans fats. They are also certified Kosher.  Plus, many varieties are certified vegan.

The Tasting

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how these healthy chips would go over with my kids. To them a chip or snack food is defined by something that’s shaped like a fish or stains their hands orange. But they were all business when it came time for the tasting. I was impressed with their enthusiasm to try something different even when one of the chips turned out to be green!

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We tasted the following four flavors and here’s how they stacked up:

SWEET POTATO

Of all the chips these were the ones that had the least amount of added ingredients. Simply, sweet potato, salt and oil. No added spices nor did they need any. They were crispy, flavorful and tasted like real sweet potato, absolutely delicious. One of our favorites- the bag was finished in about 30 seconds flat.

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “I’ve had these before, pretty good”

Liam (age 5): “Love these kind, thumbs up”

Dylan (age 5): “Sweet potato is best, give me 16 handfuls”

GUACAMOLE

I was so excited to try these, as I love guacamole, so I was slightly disappointed in the flavor. We did like the serrano pepper spice, which kind of snuck up on us, but felt it overpowered the cilantro and avocado. Of all the chips, these were our least favorite. Although, they did taste them, the green color was a big turnoff for the boys.

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “EEEWWW”

Liam (age 5): “Not interested”

Dylan (age 5): “Boring”

OLIVE

OMG – these were delicious! They tasted like fresh olives, salty and briny. The flavor was perfect, not overpowering at all. Even if you don’t like olives you might like these chips. We will definitely be buying these!

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “Olive chips! That is hilarious”

Liam (age 5): “They ARE good”

Dylan (age 5): “It tastes just like olives”

MULTIGRAIN

We thought the multigrain flavor would be a little boring after the spicy guacamole and salty olive but not at all. The chips were nutty and the bits of seeds added a perfect note. Although I felt they begged for a great dip to go with, they were quite yummy on their own.

Verdict

Matthew (age 6): “I think these are my fave”

Liam (age 5): “Me too”

Dylan (age 5): “The multigreen is my favorite”

Would we buy FSTG chips?

We will definitely be making use of our coupon (sign up for their eNewsletter and get one too!) to buy more FSTG chips. The company does live up to their claim – their food really does taste good. We’re looking forward to trying other flavors, especially the chocolate!

Follow FSTG on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. And make sure to sign up for the eNewsletter; you’ll receive info on recipes, sweepstakes, and the latest chip news.

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Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

 

Fairway Market – Review of the New Latin Table Line

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It’s no secret that Fairway Market is one of our favorite stores; we mention it often here at House of Bedlam. So when I got an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing their new product line, Latin Table, I was thrilled to do it. 

What is the Latin Table Line?

The Latin Table Line consists of tamalas and empanadas, available in the deli pack-out section. Precooked, fresh food, that only needs to be reheated and are ready to serve. Available in the following flavors:

Tamales: beef, chicken and black bean

Tamales

Empanadas: Argentine-spiced beef, chicken and spinach-Portobello mushroom

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When I got to the store to pick up the food samples, the manager mentioned that the line had literally just hit the shelves that day. In fact he hadn’t even had a chance to see it yet. When we got to the section, the empanadas were already almost sold out. As we were in for a major snowstorm that night, I took the one flavor left (Argentine-beef). Although I was disappointed about missing out on the spinach-Portobello mushroom, I had a feeling my little crew wouldn’t mind since it had spinach in it.

Both the empanadas and tamales are packed in a convenient portable container, which includes two sauces, a chipotle dip and an avocado-tomatillo sauce. The empanadas, priced at 4.99, are medium size, and come two to a package. The tamales, priced at 3.99, come four to a package but are smaller. Each would be a perfect amount for lunch or dinner, with a side of veggies.

What are they made of?

I was very happy to see the ingredient lists on both the tamale and empanada were all-natural and free of any preservatives. If you would rather not serve your kids processed foods these are a great option for a quick easy dinner. Plus, the overall price was less than we would typically spend on take-out for our family of five.

Are they hard to cook?

The cooking instructions on the tamales were easy and fairly straightforward. They can either be micro-waved or steamed. We did both and if you have the time I would recommend steaming them. I don’t have a steamer so I just put them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and covered them. The microwave dried them out a tiny bit but it was a lot easier and meant no pan to clean. Always a positive in my book.

The package of empanadas did not list any cooking instructions. I chose to microwave them but regretted the decision as it made them soggy. I would definitely recommend popping them in the oven on a baking sheet to reheat them.

Overall, both items are super-easy to reheat and serve.

The Tasting

The kids were very excited about tasting these. They’ve had empanadas before but tamales were new for them. Of the three tamale flavors the beef and chicken were their favorites. I thought the bean was delicious but they did not agree. As for the empanada, the Argentine-spiced beef was a huge hit.

The spice level was pretty mild on both the tamale and empanada but the sauces made up for it. Before I could stop him, Matthew took a huge taste of the chipotle dip. Much to the amusement of his brothers, this caused him to jump up from his chair and run from the room. Even I had trouble with this one but Brian didn’t even flinch. I much preferred the avocado-tomatillo dip which was spicy but in a good way. After Matthew had fled the room it was a losing battle to convince the younger boys to try either one of the dips.

Next time I would serve separate dipping sauces for the kids, probably a mild salsa and some sort of creamy avocado dip.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “The empanada is the best” “ I don’t like the seaweed on the tamale”

Liam (age 4): “Too spicy, no thank you”

Dylan (age 4): “This looks good! Chicken best, not eating the bean, too yucky”

It might seem obvious but if your child has never had a tamale, it is best to remove the corn husk for them! How was I to know they would actually try to eat it?

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Would we buy these in the future?

Absolutely. Based on my children’s verdicts I would stick with the chicken and beef varieties. But for Brian and myself I would purchase all flavors. I would also buy these to serve at a dinner party as a fun appetizer. And the empanadas are the perfect size to pop in a lunchbox. Since they are precooked, it would be fine to eat at room temperature in a lunchroom setting. Anytime I can find something for my kid’s lunchbox that is quick and healthy, I am sold!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.