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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for January, 2011

GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Schwan’s Jet Tila Meals

Chicken Lo Mein from Schwan’s is a delicious
dish. Photo courtesy Schwan’s.

 

You can toss out the Asian food take-out menus now that Schwan’s offers a quick and easy way to enjoy great Asian food at home. Award-winning chef Jet Tila has recently introduced a new line of frozen meals that are ready to serve in 30 minutes or less. Just heat and eat!

The line, available exclusively through Schwan’s Home Delivery, allows you to enjoy traditionally-inspired Asian cuisine for less than you might spend on a meal out. The new meals include:

  • Cantonese Steamed Cod with Ginger and Soy
  • Chicken Lo Mein (in photo at left)
  • Drunken Noodles
  • Salmon Teriyaki
  • Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
  • Three lucky winners will have their choice of two of the tasty meals; each of which serves two (except for the single-serve Thai Chicken Coconut Soup). Approximate Retail Value Of Each Prize: Up to $27.98.

  • Learn more about Schwan’s by visiting Schwans.com.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our International Foods Page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, January 24th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Gluten-Free Crackers

    We have a new cracker passion: Blue Diamond Natural Nut-Thins.

    You may be familiar with Blue Diamond nuts, produced by a California co-op of 3,200 growers. Their almonds have been sold since 1910—one hundred years of health almonds.

    In addition to almond butter and Almond Breeze almond milk, the company makes nut thins that are well worth a try (unless you avoid potentially addictive healthy snacks).

    The snack cracker line comprises seven flavors of all-natural, crunchy, baked nut crackers that are wheat-free and gluten-free (and certified kosher by OU). We haven’t tried all six because we’re addicted to the Barbeque, but they include Almond, Almond Cheddar Cheese, Country Ranch, Hazelnut, Pecan and Sea Salt.

    Loaded with healthy nuts (see the health benefits of nuts), the crackers have 2g of protein per serving, no cholesterol or sugar and are low in sodium.

    We’re as happy as squirrels.

     

    Nut thins are a great crunch—and they’re
    gluten-free and kosher. Photo by
    Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Invent Healthy Recipes

    Two of our index cards combine in this
    salmon-avocado salad. Photo courtesy Whole
    Foods Market. Get the recipe.

     

    Over the last month, one million people searched Google for “healthy recipes.”

    You can search, and you can buy healthy recipe cookbooks.

    But you can also invent your own recipes; and use the occasion as a teaching game for the family. (Plan now to start playing next weekend.)

    Here’s the game:

    1. Announce the rules: First, each family member develops a list of healthy foods. (If your children are old enough, they also need to know why it’s a healthy ingredient—as do adult participants.) The person with the most gets a prize, to be determined by you. The family will gather on [date] and [time] for the next leg.

    2. Next, everyone brings his or her list to the dinner table (or other place and time you designate) and take turns reading them out. You place each new food item on a separate index card. (For example, only make one card for brown rice, even if everyone has it on his/her list.)

    3. Here’s the hard part: You have to know if an ingredient is healthy so you can keep it or reject it. For example, cacao, the base of chocolate, has great health properties; but not when mixed with sugar! If you don’t know, make looking it up part of the game.

    4. Now that you have ingredients, it’s onto the next leg: creating recipes from them. Spread the cards out on the table so everyone can see them. Go around the table, asking each person in turn to suggest a combination of ingredients and a recipe (for example, grilled fish, grape and red onion tacos). Write the suggested recipe on a pad, along with the name of the person who suggested it.

    5. Finally, you get to make the recipes. Print out a calendar and place the recipes on specific days of the month (it’s easier to plan the meals).

    6. After each healthy recipe is made, vote on whether it goes, stays or needs to be revised. Take the time to reinforce why the recipe is healthy, and which ingredients are the healthiest. Mark on the calendar which recipes are “winners.”

    7. At the end of 30 days, tally the winning recipes and declare a winner. Now, you can start the process over again.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Leftover Brown Rice Recipes

    If you’ve been reading all the posts this month, you know why you need to eat more whole grain. It’s easy to do just by switching two of the most-served starches—white potatoes and white rice, both of which supply minimal nutrition—for nutritious, high-fiber brown rice.

    When you make brown rice, make double the amount you need. That way, you’ll have leftover brown rice, a very versatile food. It can be used for everything from stuffing burritos and omelets to bulking up soups, salads and wraps to creating a flavorful main or new side dish.

    If you don’t have any leftover brown rice on hand, you can quickly microwave a package of frozen cooked brown rice, or cook brown rice from scratch in 12 to 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.

    This recipe, from Whole Foods Market, creates an elegant Chinese-inspired rice side, enhanced with fresh pineapple and edamame and flavored with grated ginger and cilantro. (Get the recipe.) Serve it as a vegetarian main course or as a side with steamed fish or roasted chicken.

     

    Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.

    And the next time you open the fridge, look at everything that you can add to leftover brown rice. Scrambled eggs and peas, sundried tomatoes and mozzarella and leftover bits of meat and other proteins are some of our favorites.

    Comments

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Tequila Lemonade


    Tequila lemonade. Photo courtesy
    1800 Tequila.

     

    Nachos and tequila shots may rule at many Super Bowl parties. But for your consideration, we present tequila lemonade, courtesy of the producers of 1800 Select Silver Tequila. (The celebrity spokesperson is Michael Imperioli, as Vincent Chase is endorsing Avion and Justin Timberlake has his own brand. Details.)

    1800 Select Silver Tequila is an unusual tequila, even in the superpremium category. It’s 100% blue agave, of course; that’s required by law. But it’s really a new category of silver tequila, with features of joven and reposado tequilas. (See the different types of tequila.)

    But, using two proprietary distillation, it’s also distilled at 100 proof instead of 80 proof. The result: a very smooth tequila, crisp and clean, that showcases the sweet, fruity agave flavor. And it’s 25% stronger than other silvers.

    Second, it’s partially aged to add complexity (silver tequila typically is bottled immediately after distillation).

    Third, it’s blended with a bit of aged tequila—also unusual for a silver tequila, and one that, along with the aging, provides even more complexity.

     

    1800 Select Silver Tequila retails for a suggested $69.00, but we’ve found it online for less than half of that. There’s a store locator on the company website.

    With a tequila this interesting, you might want to snuggle up to the bottle and drink shots from the stopper. But the producers suggest this tequila lemonade recipe:

    1800 TEQUILA COOL LEMONADE RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces 1800 silver tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • 6 medium-sized mint leaves
  • 4-6 lemon wheels (round slices)
  • Preparation
    1. Muddle mint with simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
    2. Add tequila, lemon juice and ice and shake vigorously.
    3. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with lemon wheels.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cocktail Tree

    If you frequently host cocktail parties, you can cement your reputation for innovation with a Cocktail Tree.

    The Cocktail Tree was developed by SushiSamba to enable patrons of the fusion-cuisine restaurant chain (a meld of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian influences) to enjoy tasting portions of different fancy cocktails.

    It is popular at SushiSamba restaurants nationwide (Chicago, Miami, New York and Las Vegas) as a fun way to sample the restaurant’s extensive beverage menu.

    You now can have a tree of your own.

    It isn’t inexpensive, but you get what you pay for: a memorable experience for $250 (the price includes the 12 glasses).

    Each handcrafted tree is made from forged steel, with a blackened patina and satin lacquer.

    Get yours at SushiSamba.com.

     

    Try different drinks from the tasting tree.
    Photo courtesy SushiSamba.

    Check out our favorite cocktail recipes.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Clementines

    Oh my darling clementines: The sweetest
    mandarin orange is also the juiciest.
    Photo courtesy Del Monte.

     

    What are those cute little oranges that have been in the produce section since the holidays?

    They’re clementines: botanical name Citrus reticulata, for its pebbled skin.

    Why should you get to know them? They’re a very sweet, juicy, healthy portable snack. But buy them now: The season is over by March.

    Seedless, thin-skinned and very easy to peel, clementines are a user-friendly variety of mandarin orange. They’re the smallest member of the mandarin family, and the favorite variety for their sweetness, juiciness and thinner membranes.

    While they have their own distinctive flavor, clementines can be substituted for oranges or tangerines in recipes.

    Tangerines (Citrus tangerine), also a member of the mandarin family of citrus, has a thicker, tougher peel and seeds.

    The clementine is believed to have originated as an accidental hybrid between a sweet orange and a mandarin orange, planted in Misserghin, Algeria around 1900 by Father Clement Rodier. (It has also been called the Algerian tangerine.)

    The clementine, once imported from Morocco and Spain, now grows in California and Florida. Pick some up and let us know what you think.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fat Separator

    Remember Jack Sprat, who could eat no fat; and his wife could eat no lean?

    We bet that Mrs. Sprat is long gone to her reward from heart disease, diabetes, and/or stroke: a result of her high-cholesterol, high-saturated-fat diet.*

    Jack? He’s a sprightly senior, still eating lean.

    *Our bodies make too much cholesterol when we eat too much saturated fat, which is the type of fat found in animal-based foods, including meat and dairy products.

    Take a tip from Jack: Minimize your saturated fat intake from gravy, soups and stocks.

    Separating fat can be a messy job, but the OXO Fat Separator makes it neat and easy.

     

    One of the easiest ways to eat healthier:
    use a fat separator. Photo courtesy SurLaTable.com

    Old school cooks skim the fat while cooking, or by refrigerating the cooked food. The fat rises to the surface and congeals when cold, so it can be hand-skimmed with a spoon. This process works reasonably well, but it’s tedious and has you shaking or wiping fat from the spoon, over and over again.

    Others use a bulb baster. It’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t make things easy.

    Then some savvy person invented the fat separator. Some look like measuring cups; some, which are used at the table, look like gravy boats.

    Since fat rises to the top, a fat separator allows you to pour the lean juices from a spout connected to the bottom of the device (see the photo). The fat remains inside.

    The OXO Fat Separator adds a mechanism that filters out solid particles, leaving “pure slimmed-down juices” to flow from the spout. It’s available at Sur La Table and other fine stores, and SurLaTable.com; and at Amazon.com in both two-cup and four-cup sizes.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Champagne For The Golden Globes


    Stock up on this limited-edition bottle.
    Photo courtesy Moet et Chandon.

     

    Going to a Golden Globes party this weekend?

    Bring a bottle of the official Champagne!

    Moët & Chandon returns as the official Champagne of both the 2011 Golden Globes and the Academy Award. Its limited-edition Gold Award Season Moët & Chandon Impérial bottle is a beaut.

    The limited-edition bottle retails for $39 and is available through March 31st wherever Moët & Chandon is sold.

    The Champagne will continue to age well for the next 10 years, so you may want to stock up. It’s an impressive gift to give year-round.

  • Bone up on the different types of Champagne.
  • Make our favorite Champagne cocktail, with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. It’s amazing!
  • The correct way to pour Champagne.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Healthy Food Look Glam

    You’re cutting down on calories. Trying to eat healthier.

    To many of us, this means a lot of grilled, poached or roasted fish and white meat chicken without the skin. And it can look boring, night after night.

    But it’s easy to make everyday diet food look glamorous.

  • Place your protein atop a bed of vegetables or whole grain. Cabbage, spinach and Swiss chard land watercress are examples of vegetables that lie flat. If the veg is prominently three-dimensional (broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots or cauliflower, for example), use a food processor to pulse it into a chunky purée.
  • Alternate the cut of the vegetables. One day prepare them chunky-sliced, one day thin-sliced, one day a large dice, one day a small dice. Chunky slices can be speared onto skewers for some food-on-a-stick excitement.
  • Rim the plate with vegetables. Use small broccoli or cauliflower florets, halved cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, carrot slices or other small-size vegetable cuts to create a decorative, edible border.
  •  

    The most “diet” foods can be presented
    beautifully. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.

  • Vary your low-calorie condiments. Mustard, salsa and savory chutney are examples. Enjoy them straight, or mix with fat-free yogurt to make a low-calorie sauce.
  • Snip fresh herbs over the plate. Chives, cilantro, dill, parsley and other favorites not only look great, they pick up the flavor of everything on the plate.
  • If you typically use salt, sprinkle the plate with sea salt. The varying colors and textures that are available make a beautiful garnish while supplying salty flavor.
  • Include a citrus wedge. It adds color and shape variety on the plate. And a squeeze of citrus juice makes almost anything taste more lively—and adds valuable vitamin C antioxidants.
  • Use a peppermill. Don’t buy bulk peppercorns at club stores; they’re usually not as favorful. Instead, treat yourself to the best peppercorns you can find.
  • And check out our Garnish Glamour suggestions. Soon, you’ll be a glam-food expert.

    Comments

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