Mama Nibbles

Holiday Flavors at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana #MyBravo

This post for BRAVO! Cucina Italiana has not been compensated. I received complimentary food and beverages. All opinions are mine alone. #MyBravo

This last week my husband and I had the privilege of dining at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana to try their new chef inspired flavors for the holidays. FYI: The limited time Two Course Combo Holiday Menu including Holiday Cocktails is available until 12/29/17. As we were being taken to our table I took notice of some festive little changes to the dining room. From a classic Christmas tree in the far dining room to large snowflake patterns in the bottom of the large pendant lights, the decor was simple and elegant.

We began the meal with the delicious warm bread and seasoned herb olive oil. You can purchase this to take home in an 8.1 fl. oz. bottle for $6.99 *price may vary. Stop into your local Bravo now through Dec. 13th for 20% off dipping oil! Since we would be trying all three entrees, we decided on just a chopped salad for a starter. It was not something I would usually choose as I don't normally like olives but it was bright, fresh, and served really cold, exactly how a salad should be. Great start.

At the advice of our server (Todd, who was amazing, but I will get more into that later) we decided to take on the three holiday menu entrees as three separate courses. The first he brought us was the Grilled Salmon with Shrimp Risotto. The risotto was so creamy and had red pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, green onions and lemon butter. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and burst with every bite. The grilled salmon had a delicious char and the whole dish came together in a great balance. It was my husband's favorite of the night.

The next dish brought out for us was Fontina Stuffed Chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with gnocchi, butternut squash, spinach, pine nuts, and lemon butter sauce. Let me start by saying this was my favorite. The chicken was cooked perfectly with crispy bits of melt in your mouth prosciutto, tender chicken and oozing fontina cheese making for one amazing bite. When you added to that bite a pillow of soft pan fried gnocchi, sweet bit of squash and crunch of a pine nut you achieve a flavor and texture milestone that is not often met. It was a truly exceptional dish.

The final entree of the evening was the Surf and Turf. Three 2 oz. beef medallions served with shrimp scampi, tomatoes, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and garlic crostini. The beef was cooked to our liking and was incredibly tender. The shrimp and asparagus were expertly cooked as well. The potatoes were good but maybe a bit dry and over whipped. I think the dish would have been improved if the medallions, shrimp, and asparagus were served on top of the bed of potatoes without the crostini, but that is just my opinion.

We had planned to finish our meal with both the artisan cocktails and the creme brulee trio but alas, we had room for only one and the creme brulee trio was our top choice. Three holiday inspired brulees - peppermint, hot cocoa, and vanilla bean. My favorite was the vanilla bean with the strawberry slice on top but the peppermint and cocoa tried together was quite good as well. We need to go back soon and try the Salted Carmel Martini and the Bulleit Nog-Chata that is for sure.

Now I know most are not going to be able to make it the Grand Rapids, MI location but I cannot write about our visit without mentioning Todd more. We have never been pampered at a restaurant the way Todd pampered us. Even more amazing is that he had a trainee at the time and yet we were able to enjoy our experience and not have to worry about a thing. His attention to detail and awareness of needs you didn't even know you had made him the best server we have ever had. We will be back!


Guests will receive a $10 bonus card with every $50 gift cards purchased. The bonus card is valid Monday, Jan. 1–Thursday, March 15, 2018. The bonus deal ends 12/30/17

JOY! Facebook Offers. Once per day BRAVO! will be posting a special offer valid only that day on their Facebook page. The offers will run through 12/07/17.

[ad] DIY Beef Barley Vegetable Dried Soup Mix Recipe

This shop for Mighty Bite® Dehydrator has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone #LEMLoveToProcess #CollectiveBias

Interested in using a dehydrator like mine to dry your own foods to make many yummy things including your own dried soup mixes? You can hover over the picture above to be taken directly to the LEM website to buy it!

We live on the outskirts of our city and I like to call myself a homesteading wannabe. I have grown a garden on half of our property for ten years now, each year it gets bigger and better. This year we finally added in a backyard chicken coop and we collect fresh eggs daily. Someday soon we will move further out into the country but until then I make due. All that gardening means we end up with more produce than we can eat fresh or give away. I enjoy canning a lot of it and also dehydrating a lot. Preserving all my hard work is my number one priority. Take for instance this summer, I grew over 200 lbs of tomatoes! I canned most of them and then took about 15 lbs and dehydrated them. Dehydrating intensifies flavors, it is amazing.

Did you know that you can dehydrate lean meat? Every couple of years my parents purchase two steer to raise and have butchered. Hereford are wonderful for grass fed meat. You just cannot buy that in the store. I am so thankful that they share some with my family. My husband and family members also hunt for deer every year. If we are lucky enough to get our hands on some venison I will preserve that too. I dehydrate quite a bit of meat (and make jerky) and pressure can as much as I have time for. Red meat is definitely a staple in our home.

I have approximately 60 different dehydrated goods in my pantry and they really come in handy. Dehydrated food will last a long time if stored right, that's why I love it so much. If the power happens to go out I know my food in jars will be there even when the freezer goes out. I really enjoy using my new Mighty Bite® Dehydrator from the LEM website. It is whisper quiet, has a digital timer, the temperature stays true, and it has a rear mounted fan for faster drying times. I found my Mighty Bite® 10 Tray Double Door Countertop Dehydrator at LEM under the Preserve tab where it says Dry. There are also Big Bite® versions that are stainless steel for large capacity and durability.

My favorite way to use all my dehydrated goods is in soup. It's actually a lot of fun because I fill canning jars with my mixes (which looks so pretty) and it's a quick supper. A huge plus is that I know exactly what goes into it. My husband loves taking my dried goods with him to deer camp, dried soup mixes are the perfect hunting and camping meal. Below I'll be sharing one of our most favorite dried soup mix recipes! Tip: The kids all love to help me lay out the food to be dehydrated on the drying racks, it's fun to get them involved. 

FYI: I dehydrated everything for my recipe at 145 F for 8 hours. I put them all together at once and the results were awesome! I always freeze my items in air tight bags or containers for 4 days after drying, just to be sure they are 100% safe. After 4 days I take them out and let them sit another day to come to room temp and then I will vacuum seal into jars. For more info on how to properly dehydrate please refer to your dehydrating manual or guide.


1 cup dried ground beef or venison (all fat must be drained off before dehydrating, I do add salt and pepper here). I want to mention that I used our LEM Countertop Grinder to make quick work of the ground meat for this part!
1/4 cup dried chopped onion
1/4 cup dried small dice celery (keep it very small before dehydrating or it will be fibrous)
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup sliced or diced dried tomato (I leave the skins on)
1/2 cup dried vegetable blend of your choice (we love beans, peas, and corn)
1/8 cup dried red bell pepper
1/8 cup dried green bell pepper
1 Tbsp each dried basil, sage, parsley, and garlic mince or powder
1/2 cup dried mushrooms

Put all into a jar (use a canning funnel) and label to be ready for use! I add a coffee filter under the lid ring to make it pretty. I do vacuum seal my mix in the jar before storing but it usually gets eaten within a month, nothing lasts long here!

How to prepare:

1. Pour ingredients into a pot
2. Add in 12 cups water or broth (we like veggie broth concentrate that you add to the water) plus any seasonings you wish to add (cumin is a fave)
3. Bring to a rolling boil on high then reduce heat to medium with a lid on to simmer for 35-40 mins
4. Keep an eye on everything and stir often. Once everything looks well hydrated you are ready to enjoy!
5. I like to serve our soup with some shredded cheese and a little fresh parsley on top. It's a hearty soup that warms you from the inside out.

#ad New Seasoned Bread Boules at Zoup! + $125 Gift Card #Giveaway Ends 11/12/17

I was provided with complimentary food at Zoup! so that I could try the New Seasoned Bread Boules and share my thoughts and information. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Zoup!. I am responsible for this giveaway. Zoup! is providing the (5) $25 gift cards for this giveaway. #sponsored

So much deliciousness to be had at Zoup!. I had no idea just how comforting their soups are or how much I needed their New Seasoned Bread Boules in my life. I had never been to a Zoup! restaurant up until a couple weeks ago. How is this even possible? I'm so glad I got to try them and I'll be back for sure. The soups taste like homemade and they are constantly rotating different soups on their menu daily. Zoup! is really great soup that makes you feel warm inside. YOU will get to go have your own experience free if you win my Zoup! gift card Giveaway below! I am giving away 5 $25 gift cards to 5 different people! Be sure to enter, the giveaway will end 11/12/17 at 12 am EST.

I spoke with the owner of the Grand Rapids Michigan Zoup! location I visited and his passion for the company was positive and I understand why he enjoys being an owner. They offer 12 varieties of fresh authentic soups daily which also include low-fat, vegatarian, gluten free, and dairy free options. Sampling at the counter is also encouraged so that you can find your favorites. Zoup! also offers sandwiches, salads, and assorted desserts.

My visit was specifically to experience their New Seasoned Bread Boules so I could share with you. I chose a few different soups they were offering that day to fill the boules with and I tried all three flavors of the boules. The texture is perfectly chewy but still wonderfully soft, they held the soup well and were a delicious treat to tear apart after. I think that the Parmesan Garlic boule was my favorite since I am a cheese lover and anything cheesy wins my vote. They were all quite heavenly though and really I could eat any of them on any given day and you will have no complaints from me! 

PS the new seasoned bread boules are only available through November 12th. They will still offer their original sourdough bread bowl year round.

Zoup! Olive Oil & Sea Salt Seasoned Bread Boule (filled with a customer fave Lobster Bisque)

Zoup! Italian Herb Seasoned Bread Boule (filled with Chicken Pot Pie soup)

Zoup! Parmesan Garlic Seasoned Bread Boule! (filled with Tomato Basil soup)

You must be US only to enter, 18 years of age and up, only 1 entrant per household is allowed. Giveaway will end 11/12/17 at 12 am EST. There will be 5 winners! The entry form below may take a moment to load, thanks for your patience. GOOD LUCK!

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#ad Slow Cooker Nachos That Will Crock Your Socks Off!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Conagra Brands. All opinions are mine alone. #RecipesThatCrock #SeasonalSolutions #CollectiveBias

It's finally feeling like fall here in Michigan! The leaves are changing colors and falling and the climate has gotten cooler. This season's smells are my favorite. I adore apple orchards, raking up leaves, walks through the farmers market, fresh pressed hot apple cider and still warm cinnamon sugar donuts. I swear the sky always looks bluer in the autumn too. Every moment I can steal you will find me in my swinging chair outside just breathing in the freshness and soaking up the last bits of warm sunshine. In other free time I am taking a little bike ride with the kids or messing around in my slowly fading garden. I probably waste too much time outside but I don't care! Sometimes a person just needs a break from adulting. This fall weather has me in the mood for slow cooker meals. 

The recipe I am about to share is something new that I threw together one day and it came out tasting so good everybody was begging for seconds. These nachos have a lightly spicy, sweet tang that is addictive! It's the perfect comfort food for snack time, lunch, or supper. This only takes about 7-10 minutes of actual "work" and 2 1/2 hours in the crock pot on low. All the warm fuzzies inside with this dish! 

I bought all my ingredients at Meijer. I found the P.F. Chang's® Home Menu Sauces in the World Foods aisle, near all the Asian ingredients. The RO*TEL® Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I also grabbed chipotle) in the Canned Vegetables/Tomatoes aisle. The Brooks® Mild Chili Beans were in the "Beans" section of the Canned Vegetables aisle. Last but not least I located the Brooks® Original Chili Seasoning packets right with all the other chili mixes and taco seasonings in the Packaged Dinners aisle. 

Slow Cooker Turkey Nachos (that will crock your socks off!)
Feeds 6-8 people


  • 2 - 10 oz. cans RO*TEL diced tomatoes (I used 1 Fire Roasted + 1 Chipotle)
  • 1/2 cup P.F. Chang's Mongolian Style BBQ Sauce
  • 1 - 15.5 oz. can Brooks Mild Chili Beans (can use hot if you like a little more heat)
  • 1/2 packet Brooks Chili Seasoning
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (mexican blend or cheddar, reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
  • 1/2 can white queso cheese sauce (I bought the canned kind)
  • 1 lb ground turkey 
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon crumbles (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Brown and drain ground turkey
Add (optional) cooked bacon crumbles
Mix in 1/2 packet of Brooks Chili Seasoning + black pepper
Scoop into crock pot set on low heat
Add the rest of your ingredients to your crock pot then mix until well combined, put on lid
Set the timer for 2.5 hours
Once the time is up mix well and serve over tortilla chips (sprinkle with a little of the reserved cheese)
*sour cream and cilantro are excellent additions

print recipe

Slow Cooker Nachos That Will Crock Your Socks Off!
Fall comfort food crock pot recipe.
  • 2 - 10 oz cans RO*TEL diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup P.F. Chang's Mongolian Style BBQ Sauce
  • 1 - 15.5 oz can Brooks Mild Chili Beans
  • 1/2 packet Brooks Chili Seasoning
  • 1 cup (reserve 1/4 cup) shredded cheese
  • 1/2 can (7.5 oz) white queso cheese sauce
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup (optional) cooked bacon crumbles
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Brown and drain ground turkey
Add (optional) cooked bacon crumbles
Mix in 1/2 packet of Brooks Chili Seasoning + black pepper
Scoop into crock pot set on low heat
Add the rest of your ingredients to your crock pot then mix until well combined, put on lid
Set the timer for 2.5 hours
Once the time is up mix well and serve over tortilla chips (sprinkle with a little of the reserved cheese)
*sour cream and cilantro are excellent additions
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8 servings

Want to get crackin' with your crock pot this fall? Get inspired! (more Fall Faves here as well)

If you make my recipe be sure to tag me on Twitter or Instagram @mamanibbles and hashtag your post with #RecipesThatCrock

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