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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 May, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Try A New Mustard

Three of scores of different styles of
mustard. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
NIBBLE.

 

We get very comfortable with the brands we buy. Sometimes, we never venture farther than what our mothers bought.

But there are new discoveries waiting on every grocer’s shelf.

Take something as basic as mustard. There are scores of different type beyond the familiar American mustard (a.k.a. ballpark and yellow mustard, like French’s).

In the B’s alone, there are Bahamian, Bavarian, Beaujolais, blackcurrant, black mustard seed, Bordeaux, brown and Burgundy mustards. Varying widely in flavor, they—and many other mustard types—add panache to food.

So pick up something new, just in time for Memorial Day. You may discover a more exciting condiment for burgers, franks, potato salad and sandwiches.

You’ve never added a tablespoon of mustard to potato salad? Consider that second Tip Of The Day (and for starters, try Dijon mustard).

 

  • Check out the history of mustard.
  • See all the different mustards in our Mustard Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, The Low-Calorie “Mashed Potatoes” Alternative

    A ringer for mashed potatoes; but mashed cauliflower is much better for you. Photo courtesy FAGE.

     

    Intrepid dieters and nutrition-conscious moms have long known the secret to low-calorie mashed potatoes: Substitute cauliflower! Many a vegetable-resistant child has assumed that the mash is potatoes.

    Here’s a recipe that substitutes Greek yogurt for milk, for a richer flavor. It was developed by chef Rocco Dispirito for FAGE Total Yogurt.

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MASHED POTATOES

    Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2-1/2 cups roughly chopped cauliflower
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup FAGE Total 2%
  • Optional: 2-3 tablespoons minced chive or basil
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray.

    2. Spread the cauliflower out on the prepared baking sheet. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. Top the cauliflower with another sheet with foil, and roll up the edges to form a sealed package.

    3. Roast the cauliflower for 20 minutes. Remove the top foil, being careful of the steam, and continue roasting the cauliflower until it is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

    4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cauliflower with the yogurt. Purée until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

    VARIATION FROM THE NIBBLE EDITORS

    Add fresh herbs: minced chives or basil are a slam dunk. Add them to the food processor when you purée the cauliflower.

    If you think that some family members will not enjoy the fresh herbs, hold them aside and use them to garnish the mash for others.

    Find more recipes from Rocco Dispirito, made healthier with yogurt, at FageUSA.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Pound Cake ~ Put Dessert On The Barbie

    If you’re firing up the grill for Memorial Day Weekend, grill your dessert as well. It’s an easy crowd pleaser.

    If you’re invited elsewhere and want to bring something, offer to bring the ingredients for this dessert: the cake, ice cream and the pre-sliced pineapple.

    The cake can be baked up to two days in advance. The recipe, from Tastefully Simple, makes 9 servings.

    RECIPE: GRILLED PINEAPPLE RIGHT SIDE UP
    CAKE

    Ingredients

  • Pound cake: bought, baked from scratch or baked from mix, such as Tastefully Simple’s Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix
  • 1 cup water (for Tastefully Simple cake mix)
  •  

    Grilled pineapple and pound cake à la mode. Image courtesy Tastefully Simple, Inc. Used with permission.

     

  • 3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks), melted (for Tastefully Simple cake mix)
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cut into rings
  • Caramel ice cream (if you can’t find caramel, substitute vanilla)
  • Optional garnish: a drizzle of caramel sauce, a berry, a mint leaf
  •  
    Preparation

    1. If baking the cake, prepare recipe as directed. Cool and wrap tightly in plastic until ready to slice and grill.

    2. Grill pineapple rings on each side until heated through; grill pound cake slices until lightly browned on each side.

    3. Assemble by topping cake slices first with pineapple, then with ice cream. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

    Tomorrow: A recipe for s’mores on the grill.
     
     
    Find more of our favorite cakes and cake recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Raincoast Crisps Gourmet Crackers

    Great with cheese! Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    Whenever we entertain, we look for new and exciting crackers to serve with cheeses and dips. Recently, we tasted the Raincoast Crisps line, and asked chef Johnny Gnall to pair the different flavors. (If you have questions or suggestions for tips, contact JohnnyGnall@hotmail.com.)

    As a chef, I am typically pretty picky about my store-bought snack foods. Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins, though enjoyable in their own right, usually don’t make the cut when it comes to stocking my shelves. If I’m going to spend my money on something crispy to plunge into a container of whipped cream cheese (my go-to couch snack), it has to live up to a high standard.

    The bar on this standard was recently raised when I discovered Raincoast Crisps.

    Moreover (and this is not to be underestimated), Raincoast Crisps are hearty enough to withstand snapping in thicker dips. We’ve all experienced that frustrating moment when the bottom half of a potato chip breaks and is left to drown in the sour cream dip. Fret no more!

     

    Raincoast Crisps will scoop even the chunkiest of condiments and stay strong to the last bite. They come in a number of different flavors, each of which has its own ideal pairings and toppings.

    Best of all, they are quite delicious: Even though they make a superb base for any number of fruits, cheeses and condiments, you’ll have no problem devouring them plain.

    Here are the flavor varieties, along with some suggested toppings/dippings. These are but a few suggestions; the real fun comes when you open your own refrigerator and get creative!

     

    Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps: While dried cranberries are enjoyed year-round, these crisps and their festive flavors just scream “Holidays!” You can’t beat a wheel of baked Brie, hot out of the oven. Just put it on a plate, surround it with crisps and watch magic happen as it disappears. Sweeter toppings also work really well with these crisps: Try a little mascarpone cheese, some Nutella or ricotta, plain or lightly sweetened. Of all the Raincoast Crisps varieties, these ones seem to pair best with sweeter flavors.

    Fig & Olive Crisps: Salty Kalamatas and sweet Adriatic figs populate these crackers, my favorite flavor. I love them with classic Mediterranean toppings such as goat cheese or crumbled feta. The saltiness of the feta, in particular, makes the flavors of olives and figs really pop. You’ll be surprised how well the sweetness of the figs works in savory applications.

    Original Crisps: These guys are toasty and nutty, just as you want a hearty cracker to be, with hints of spice and a mildly sweet finish. The home-run pairing with smoked salmon & cream cheese is perfect for brunch, party canapés or even a light lunch. They are also an excellent dipper for paté or any flavor of hummus.

     

    Consider boxes of Raincoast Crisps as gifts for fine-food-loving friends. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Rosemary Raisin Crisps: This balance of sweet and savory also contains pecans for a nutty surprise. Try topping these with crumbled blue cheese, or for a hot appetizer, some caramelized onions and a few drops of honey. The rosemary notes provide a great backdrop for savory toppings like sautéed mushrooms. Thinly sliced turkey breast, honey-baked ham and chicken salad are at home atop these fragrant crisps. And if you’re into indulging, serve them up aside a hot pot of fondue.

    Salty Date & Almond Crisps: These crisps are for folks who want a saltier crisp. Dusted with sea salt, they pair well with white bean dip, fresh herbs and nutty, melty cheeses like Gruyère. I also think they are the best flavor for spicy toppings (try them with jalapeño jam!), as the salt helps to keep flavors and heat in balance.

    MORE THAN A CRACKER

    Beyond standard cracker usage, Raincoast Crisps are delicious enough that you may be interested more creative applications.

  • Pulse them in the food processor, or crushing them with a rolling pin, to make breadcrumbs.
  • Crumble them by hand for a quick, healthy addition to soups and salads in place of croutons; or do the same for your late-night ice cream/yogurt/sorbet fix.
  • Serve them with salads, soups and other foods instead of a side of bread.
  • And of course, serve them with a cheese plate. They may out-glamour the cheese.
  •  
    However you choose to consume Raincoast Crisps, don’t be surprised if your old go-to crackers start acting jealous… they have good reason to do so.

    Find more about Raincoast Crisps on the company website.

    You’ll encounter some sticker shock: a six-ounce box runs around $7.99 – $8.99, depending on the retailer. But if you like discovering the new and delicious, treat yourself to a box. Buy them on Amazon.com.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Boneless Pork Loin Roast Recipe With A Fresh Herb Crust

     

    Anne Burrell is an American chef, TV personality and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

    Here, she demonstrates how to make a delicious herb-crusted roast pork loin. While it’s often thought of as a fall food, this delicious roast can be enjoyed year-round.

    Use unfermented apple cider in the recipe, and serve it with bottles of refreshing hard cider.

    Find more of our favorite pork recipes.

    Check out the different types of pork.

    Find more cooking videos.

       

       

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    PRODUCT REVIEW: Espresso CocoZona, Coconut Water & Coffee

    Coconut water + espresso = hydration with a
    caffeine kick. Photo courtesy AriZona
    Beverages USA.

     

    Some months ago we tasted dozens of coconut waters, including CocoZona from AriZona Beverages USA.

    The company is now rolling out a second flavor: CocoZona Coconut Water with Espresso. The drink blends 100% pure coconut water with coffee, and has 50mg of caffeine per bottle.

    The idea for CocoZona Espresso was hatched when an AriZona executive added some of the original CocoZona to his iced coffee. He really liked the flavor, and realized that a combination of coconut water and coffee would create a hydrating beverage with a kick of energy.

    When the idea was handed to the product developers, the goal was not to recreate a latte-like flavor, which is the style of other coffee-enhanced coconut water beverages.* Thus, there is no milk or cream, just coconut water and coffee.

    However, the flavor of CocoZona Espresso is like a charming “latte lite.” The natural milkiness of the coconut water combines beautifully with the coffee (which plays out more like regular coffee than espresso). Even the aroma has a bit of milkiness.

     

    *Other caffeinated coconut water blends include Blue Monkey Organic, Coco Cafe, Coconut Coffee and Zico Latte.

    We like it even better than the original, plain, coconut water.

    Coconut water is a naturally isotonic drink that contains key electrolytes, such calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, are of which are essential for rapid fluid absorption. And with 50mg of caffeine per bottle, CocoZona Espresso has an added kick.

    A 14.5-ounce aluminum bottle has 70 calories. The suggested retail price is $1.99 to $2.49 per bottle. The bottle, which which has an attractive tropical-themed wrap, is 100% recyclable and can be repurposed as a water bottle (we refill the bottles with water and stick them in the fridge).

    Coffee lovers: Try it!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A New Way To Look At Cheese For Dessert

    Many people enjoy a cheese plate with fruit and nuts.

    Typically, that means helping oneself from a platter of cheese, garnished with fresh or dried fruits, almonds and/or walnuts.

    And typically, people eat far more cheese than they should. The suggested serving size is one or two ounces; we probably can put away six ounces before we know it.

    The problem is not just the 100 calories per meager ounce of cheese (one slice of American cheese is an ounce—so imagine what that wedge you’ve carved off weighs). Cheese also has a high level of saturated fat (cholesterol).

    Here’s one way to have your cheese plate and eat it too—with far less saturated fat:

    Even if you think you don’t like it, try fresh goat’s milk cheese. It’s like tangy cream cheese, and doesn’t have the “goaty” flavor that some people dislike in an aged goat cheese. These days you can find a fresh goat cheese (chèvre) log in most supermarkets.

     

    The new cheese, fruit and nut plate. Photo courtesy Wonderful Pistachios, GetCrackin.com.

     

    Goat’s milk cheese has fewer calories and fat* than cow’s and sheep’s milk cheeses:

  • Goat Cheese: 80 calories/6 grams of fat per ounce
  • Cow Cheese: 100 calories and 10 grams of fat per ounce
  • Sheep Cheese: 110-120 calories per ounce, and 8 g to 10 g of fat
  •  
    *Category averages. Some cheeses may have more calories and fat.

    Turn soft goat cheese into truffles rolled in chopped nuts—pistachios are a delicious pairing—and you’ll discover a new way to enjoy cheese.

    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE TRUFFLES

    Ingredients

  • 1 log (11 ounces) soft goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts or grated dark chocolate (or half of each)
  •  
    PLUS:

  • 3 dried apricots or two fresh figs or other fruit per person
  • 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios per person
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Mash goat cheese in a bowl. Stir in minced cranberries.

    2. Scoop with a teaspoon and roll into truffle-size balls, 1 to 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Set on wax paper.

    3. Roll balls in chopped pistachios. Return to wax paper. Refrigerate until 20 minutes before serving.

    Assembly

    On a dessert-size plate, assemble the fruit, pistachios and 3-4 goat cheese truffles.

    WINE: Enjoy with a glass of moscato.

    LEFTOVERS: If you have extra goat cheese truffles, wrap them tightly in plastic film and serve them with tomorrow’s breakfast eggs or dinner salad. Add any extra pistachios, whole/shelled or chopped, to your salad as well.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Peanut Butter

    We received an email from a reader, asking: “How should I store my PB and how long will it last?”

    Large brands typically come with expiration dates (and possibly, preservatives). If you purchase an artisan brand, it has no preservatives; but it may not have an expiration date, either. So here are the guidelines:

  • Shelf. If you store the jar in a cool dry place, a jar of peanut butter will last for about 12 months. Although the ingredients can remain shelf stable beyond then, nuts can start to go rancid after a year or so, and your PB may develop an odor. Use your nose as your guide, and feel free to taste the PB to see if the flavor is still passable. It won’t harm you to eat it.
  • Fridge. If you store the jar in the fridge, the cold will buy you more time.
  • Microwave. If you refrigerate the PB, it will be harder to spread when cold. So tip #2 is: Take the lid off and microwave the jar for 20 seconds before spreading.
  •  

    Koeze is of our favorite artisan PBs. The company also makes spectacular chocolate peanut butter clusters. Photo courtesy Koeze.

     

    Find more of our favorite peanut butter brands, recipes and more in our Peanut Butter & Jelly Section.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Barilla Microwaveable Meals: Pasta In 60 Seconds

    Just pour the sauce tray on top of the pasta
    and you’ve got a tasty pasta entrée. Shown: one cooked entrée and two packages waiting
    for the microwave. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    It’s new, it’s clever and it’s a real time saver. After just 60 seconds in the microwave, you can enjoy a quality pasta entrée, thanks to Barilla’s clever Microwaveable Meals packaging.

    The innovation: a pasta meal that is shelf stable (no refrigeration required), portable (toss the package into your bag and head out) and ready to eat in a minute.

    At $3.29 per package (one serving), this may not be an everyday solution for many families. But when children are screaming for food, or you are extremely time strapped, it can be a godsend. The mezze penne size used in most of the varieties is good for small mouths as well as large ones.

    Barilla microwaveable meals are made from the same 100% natural ingredients as Barilla dry pasta and jarred sauces. Now in select stores in the microwavable meals aisle, the choices include:

  • Mezze Penne with Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • Mezze Penne with Traditional Marinara Sauce
  • Mezze Penne with Spicy Marinara Sauce
  • Whole Grain Fusilli with Vegetable Marinara Sauce
  • Whole Grain Mezze Penne with Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • Each 9-ounce package contains one serving of pasta and sauce.

  • All meals provide between 9g and 11g of protein.
  • The pasta is an excellent* source of fiber.
  • The sauce is a good or excellent* source of vitamin A.
  • The whole grain varieties are a good* source of iron.
  • All meals are 320 calories or less.
  •  
    The innovative packaging of Barilla microwaveable meals maintains the food’s taste, texture and freshness for a shelf life of 12 months, at room temperature. The pasta and sauce are stored in separate trays, allowing consumers to use as much or as little sauce as they like.

    We enjoyed the meals, and are especially pleased that there are two whole grain varieties (if you’re going to eat high-carb pasta and bread, make them whole grain for a nutritional benefit). We have just two nits:

  • No grated cheese.
  • Sustainability: That clever packaging creates two pieces of plastic waste, in addition to the outer cardboard package and the plastic film over the food. But both trays are #5 plastic, which is recyclable in many communities.
  •  
    For additional information on Barilla microwaveable meals, visit BarillaUS.com.

    Find more of our favorite pastas, sauces and recipes in our Gourmet Pasta Section.

    *Based on the Percent Daily Values, which are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, as per the Nutrition Facts Panel.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Host A Greener Memorial Day Celebration

    Today, we’re passing on tips from the GreenBrideGuide.com, a resource for couples who desire an ecologically conscious wedding. The website’s cocktail and barbeque tips can also help you have a green(er) Memorial Day celebration.

    Here are five ideas to make your outdoor event green or greener. It can also help to make family and friends more conscious of what can small steps can be taken to help the environment.

    1. Use All Natural Charcoal
    Cook with natural charcoal. One brand to look for is Lazzari natural mesquite charcoal. Made from ecologically harvested wood, it is a carbon neutral alternative that provides better flavor than briquettes. You can purchase it online. Also check out Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Here’s why it’s better than briquettes.

    2. Serve Refreshing Green Drinks
    Serve eco-friendly beer, and make your Mojitos from organic rum, organic limes and crushed organic mint (you can grow it in your garden, though not in time for this Memorial Day). Check out The Organic Spirits Company, which sells organic gin, rum, vodka and scotch.

     

    Before you put a shrimp on the barbie, think of what you can do to create a more sustainable Memorial Day celebration. Photo by Atif Gulzar | SXC.

    Serve drinks in recycled glass containers or reuse Mason jars as hefty, shatter-resistant drinking glasses (they can become your signature party glass). You can also get biodegradable straws (or simply buy paper instead of plastic).

    3. Use Sustainable Serving Ware
    Buy heavy-duty paper plates: They’re biodegradable. If you must use plastic, look for sustainable plastic plates. Susty Party Plates are made from recycled plastic and can be reused. Also check out the Bambu line of biodegradable bamboo plates. Put a “Recycle Your Utensils” bin next to the trash can so plastic flatware can be washed and used for the next party (it usually can be put it in the dishwasher).

     

    Use paper plates and cups, not plastic. Photo
    courtesy Creative Converting.

     

    4. Get Green Grilling Tools
    The next time you buy grilling tools, look for greener alternatives, like this Eco BBQ Set, constructed from FDA compliant materials such as stainless steel and bamboo.

    5. Bug Off With Citronella
    When the sun sets, nothing ruins an outdoor party faster than mosquitoes! Try all natural citronella torches like these Big Dipper Wax Works. Made from bug repellant beeswax and soy candles with essential oils, they burn for eight hours. Then, you can pop another one into the reusable bamboo base. Beeswax is 100% natural and a renewable resource that actually cleans the air by emitting purifying negative ions.

     
     
    Want to plan greener parties? Start with the best-selling The Green Bride Guide: How To Plan An Earth-Friendly Wedding On Any Budget. Any event can be made greener with its guidelines.

     

      

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