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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 April, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Get Ready For Cinco De Mayo Food

Plan your Cinco de Mayo cuisine, starting with a breakfast of “taco eggs.”

  • Scrambled Egg Taco: Fill a taco shell with scrambled eggs and top with salsa. Here’s a recipe that includes taco seasoning and grated Cheddar.
  • Scrambled Egg Fajita: Roll up scrambled eggs and fajita vegetables in a tortilla for a breakfast burrito.
  • Taco Omelet: Fill an omelet with taco fixings and top it with salsa, low-fat sour cream or guacamole—or all three!
  • Mexican-Style Eggs In A Nest: Nests of hash brown potatoes, taco seasoning, shredded Cheddar and eggs, baked in a ramekin. The recipe.
     
    More Cinco de Mayo tips tomorrow!

  •  

    A scrambled egg taco. Photo courtesy
    American Egg board.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chunky Applesauce

    Grandma Hoerner’s Big Slice Applesauce
    is the chunkiest you’ll find. Photo by
    River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Well, “chunky” may not be the most accurate word.

    Grandma Hoerner’s makes a specialty applesauce called Big Slice, because the applesauce is mostly large slices of apples, just like in a pie—but stewed to softness instead of baked.

    Grandma Hoerner was raised on an apple orchard in Kansas, and began making applesauce in the late 1880s. Her grandson, Duane McCoy, began bottling and selling Grandma’s recipe in 1986. And we really like it.

    The applesauce is made from all-natural, slow cooked apples. No sugar is added; the products are sweetened with fruit juice. In addition to the original All Natural Big Slice, Grandma Hoerner’s makes several varieties with added fruits or spices:

  • Apricot Big Slice
  • Candy Apple Big Slice
  • Cinnamon Big Slice
  • Raspberry Big Slice
  • Raspberry Jalapeno Big Slice
  • Strawberry Big Slice
  •  

    We tried the original Big Slice applesauce, plus the Apricot and Strawberry versions. Compared to the glamour of the compound flavors, the original flavor was the plain sister. Go for the Cinnamon instead.

    We loved Apricot and Strawberry, and look forward to trying the rest of the line. And at $5.50 for a 26-ounce jar, they’re a good value.

    The products are available at GrandmaHoerners.com. They can be enjoyed as a side or dessert. Packaged in attractive Mason jars, they make inexpensive small gifts and stocking stuffers.

    Thanks, Grandma Hoerner.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Magnum Ice Cream Bars

    You may have seen the ads for Magnum Ice Cream Bars, a popular European treat for more than 20 years. The ice cream is now made in the U.S.—and we’re a happier place for it.

    With all due respect to other quality products, these are the best ice cream bars we’ve had.

    The company doesn’t use the term “bar,” but calls Magnum “handheld ice cream”—ice cream or ice on a stick, cones, etc.

    Novelties are single-serving frozen treats that include ice cream bars, ice pops and ice cream sandwiches, among other products (remember push-up pops?). Novelties originated in the 1920s, with the creation of Eskimo Pies, Dixie Cups.

    See the different types of ice cream products in our Ice Cream Glossary, as well as the history of ice cream.

    The super-premium ice cream in chocolate or vanilla is excellent, and the thick coat of Belgian chocolate can’t be beat.

     

    Our favorite flavor, Almond. Photo courtesy
    Unilever.

     

    The bars are sold in three-pack boxes and in singles, in six flavors:

  • Almond, milk chocolate and sliced almonds on vanilla ice cream
  • Classic, milk chocolate on vanilla ice cream
  • Dark, dark chocolate on vanilla ice cream
  • Double Caramel, milk chocolate atop a layer of caramel sauce, on vanilla ice cream
  • Double Chocolate, milk chocolate and a layer of fudgy sauce on chocolate ice cream
  • White, white chocolate on vanilla ice cream
  •  
    Each of the flavors is delicious, and we are equal-opportunity consumers of all six. However, three deserve a shout out for their extra layers of flavor.

  • The sliced almonds on the Almond bar deliver added flavor and crunchiness.
  • The caramel sauce on the Double Caramel is a perfect counterpoint to the vanilla ice cream and chocolate coating.
  • With Double Chocolate, the fudgy sauce layer between the chocolate coating and the chocolate ice cream creates a chocolate-lover’s delight.
  •  
    Magnum is a brand of Unilever, which has an portfolio that includes Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Popsicle and noteworthy non-ice cream brands such as Bertolli, Hellmann’s, Knorr and Skippy. There’s also Slim-Fast, in case you can’t stop eating the Magnum bars.

    Magnum ice cream is available in grocery retailers nationwide, including Kroger, Safeway, Target and Walmart. Three-count multipacks have a suggested retail price of $3.99; individual bars, a suggested retail price of $2.59.

    Go for the boxes! There’s a store locator on the website. Head to the nearest store and indulge!

    FOOD TRIVIA: The ice cream bar was invented in 1920 by Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio, who went on to found Good Humor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Leeks


    Lovely leeks. Photo by Marlon Paul Bruin |
    SXC.

     

    On this past Sunday’s episode of Desperate Housewives, Susan Mayer had no idea what the long white vegetable that looked like a ginormous scallion was.

    While it seems improbable that anyone who has ever strolled through a produce aisle can’t recognize a leek, it gave us this Tip Of The Day idea.

    Leeks—a member of the onion species, allium—are in season now, and anyone who likes onions should cook some up.

    To those Latin students who know that allium is garlic: garlic is also a member of the onion species, as are chives, shallots and ramps (wild leeks).

    The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk. The bittersweet dark green portion at the end of the stalk is usually discarded.

    Some recipes use only the white base. Save the light green portion for salads, stocks, quiche, burgers, general garnishes and so forth. Or batter and fry them as fried onion stalks, instead of onion rings.

     

    Julia Child first introduced us to leeks in Mastering The Art Of French Cooking: leeks braised in butter (served with hot entrées, or served cold with cold meats and seafood), leeks browned with cheese and leeks in a ham quiche.

    We later learned to love leeks as a soup ingredient. Scotland’s cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leeks), leek and potato soup and vichyssoise—that delightful cold summer soup made of potatoes and leeks—are the most famous leek soups. Leeks are also the main ingredient in three-onion soup, along with onions and shallots.

    Here’s a variation on that soup—a recipe for two-onion soup, made with leeks and sweet onions, also in season. Turn it into three-onion soup by adding a couple of minced shallots or garnishing it with chopped chives.

  • See the many types of soup in our Soup Glossary.
  • One last note: Leeks grow in sandy soil. Rinse them several times and look for sand.
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cupcake Vodka

    For everyone who enjoys cupcakes at a party, there’s now an official cupcake drink: Cupcake Vodka.

    The vodkas are made by Cupcake Vineyards of Monterey County, California, which produces 14 affordable wine varietals in addition to four premium vodka flavors.

    The vodka flavors are Original (vanilla cupcake), Chiffon (lemon cupcake), Devil’s Food and Frosting. The 750 ml bottles retail for $17.99.

    The vodkas are just rolling out to retailers. There are no online sales yet so we haven’t tasted them yet, but we’re working on it! Stay tuned for a full review.

    If you want to keep abreast of retail availability, sign up at CupcakeVodka.com.

  • The history of cupcakes.
  • Our favorite cupcake recipes.
  •  

    Devil’s Food Cupcake Vodka, one of
    four flavors. Photo courtesy Cupcake Vineyards.

     

      

    Comments

    MOTHER’S DAY GIFT IDEA: The Best Toffee

    THE NIBBLE’s favorite toffee is a
    great Mother’s Day gift. Photo courtesy
    Enstrom’s.

     

    Combine chocolate, crunchiness and the most buttery almond toffee we’ve ever had, and you get a great gift idea for Mother’s Day, just 10 days away.

    We’ve enjoyed lots of good toffee, but Enstrom’s is number one on our list.

    The company makes conventional toffee, broken from the slab into rectangular pieces, as well as these individual pieces, called Almond Toffee Petites.

    Sugar-free toffee is also available—and just as delicious as the regular toffee. The products are certified kosher by Scroll K, The Vaad Hakashrus Of Denver.

  • Buy Almond Toffee Petites, 30 pieces for $19.95.
  • Buy Almond Toffee Petites, 60 pieces for $39.95.
  • Buy Sugar Free Almond Toffee, 1 pound for $20.95.
  • Buy Original Almond Toffee, your choice of dark or milk chocolate, 1 pound for $19.95.
  • Buy Original Almond Toffee, your choice of dark or milk chocolate, 2 pound for $39.95.
  •  

    Mom will love it!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Iced Tea

    With warm weather upon us, our iced tea consumption rises to up to 6 bottles a day.

    That’s a $10/day habit in bottled tea, $70 per week. Or, a mere fraction of that if we brew our own.

    Given our combined desire to spend sensibly and consume sustainably, we focus on home brewing.

    You don’t need any fancy equipment, but there are some specialty ice tea brewers that make sense for those who drink a lot of iced tea. Check out the options from Hamilton Beach and West Bend.

    We personally use the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker, one of our favorite kitchen appliances. We let the hot tea cool, then pour it into recycled 16-ounce drink bottles and place them in the fridge. You can just as easily pour it into a pitcher if you prefer to serve it that way, or store the tea in recycled quart bottles.

     

    Iced tea makers brew the tea right in
    a pitcher. Photo courtesy West Bend.

     

    Before we had the Breville tea brewer, we simply put loose tea in a large mesh tea ball/spice ball, or tea bags, and then placed it in a large mixing bowl and poured in an entire kettle of boiling water. (For green tea, don’t bring the water to boiling. The ideal brewing temperature is 180°F.)

    For the best iced tea, buy loose tea from a specialty tea store. The flavors are so intense, no sugar or lemon is needed. And you’ll need less tea: Loose tea can be infused two or three times, while most tea bags are made to produce one cup of tea.

  • How to brew iced tea.
  • How to make tea, including brewing temperatures.
  •   

    Comments (2)

    COOKING VIDEO: Strawberry Pie Recipe

     

    The warmer weather inspires us to go into pie-baking mode, before the summer heat makes us avoid turning on the oven.

    Have you ever made a strawberry pie? It couldn’t be easier: Just toss fresh strawberries with sugar and cornstarch. (We also add the zest of a lemon or orange, or a tablespoon of orange liqueur.)

    Make two pies: One to serve at home with strawberry or vanilla ice cream or whipped cream; the other as a gift for someone special.

       

       

  • Check out all the different types of pies in our Pie & Pastry Glossary.
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Crystal Light Pure

    We’re enjoying all the flavors of new Crystal
    Light Pure. Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.

     

    Just in time for warmer weather, there’s a new way to hydrate.

    Crystal Light has introduced a tasty sister, Crystal Light Pure, which replaces Crystal Light Pure Fitness. Because there’s no artificial sweetener, there’s no artificial aftertaste, which is what kept us from enjoying regular Crystal Light (yes, we know that millions of people love it, including some of our closest friends).

    But if you’d like a more natural-tasting, low calorie fruit drink—as well as one made of all-natural ingredients—we nominate Crystal Light Pure.

    All-natural Crystal Light Pure has no artificial sweeteners, flavors or preservatives. It’s sweetened with sugar and Truvia, a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant (a member of the holly family). Stevia has no calories, so even after the addition of sugar, the drink has just 15 calories per 8-ounce serving, with 4g sugar. (Regular Crystal Light has 5 calories per serving and 0g sugar.)

    The sweetness level is so natural that even those who normally use all-sugar-sweetened drink mixes should give it a try.

     

  • Crystal Light Pure is available in five popular flavors: Grape, Lemonade, Mixed Berry, Strawberry Kiwi and Tropical Blend.
  • Two flavors, Grape and Strawberry Kiwi, also contain electrolytes, potassium and sodium that help to aid hydration during light physical activity.
  •  
    You can make a pitcher of Crystal Light Pure or add it to a reusable water bottle and drink sustainably all summer long.

    And, a bit of gin, vodka or tequila turns it into a fruity, lower-calorie cocktail.

    Crystal Light Pure is available at supermarkets nationwide and on Amazon.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kitchen Shears

    Watching a professional chef wield a knife is impressive: in a whoosh, everything is chopped, neatly and evenly. Whole chickens are cut apart effortlessly and chives are cut into impossibly small pieces.

    If you’re not a knife wizard, consider a pair of kitchen shears. They make our tasks go quickly and don’t remind us that our knife skills could be better.

    Use them for:

  • Snipping herbs (we use shears daily for basil, chives and parsley), scallion leaves and leafy vegetables
  • .

  • Separating pizza slices (much better than a serrated wheel)
  • .

  • Cutting poultry, fish, crustaceans and other foods
  • .
     
    In addition to cutting food, you can use the shears to trim flowers, parchment paper and twine; open boxes; and other cutting tasks.

    Newer kitchen shears have added features:

     

    These Wustoff kitchen shears are available
    on Amazon.com.

     

  • A serrated section in the center for removing bottle caps and cracking nuts (we’ve also used this to strip herbs such as rosemary and oregano from their woody stems).
  • Handles that are equal for lefties as well as righties.
  • Two metal prongs at the ends of the handles lift jar lids.
  • A hinge that makes it easy to take the scissors apart for cleaning.
  •  
    The metals are also dishwasher-safe (although hand washing keeps the edges sharper).

    If you don’t want to buy something new, any clean, sharp scissors with a 3″ to 4″ blade can be repurposed as kitchen shears.

      

    Comments

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