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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Grandma Hoerner’s Apple Pouches

Grandma Hoerner’s is a company that makes Big Slice Apples, one of our favorite new snacks and toppings.

Big Slice Apples were first cooked in Grandma Hoerner’s farm kitchen in Kansas in the late 1800s, made from apples straight from the orchard.

Grandson, Duane McCoy, rcalling the wonderful big slices of cooked apples from his youth, could find no commercial product like it. In 1987, after experimenting to replicate her recipe, he was ready to bring them to the world.

Big Slice Juicy Cooked Apples may be the best apple “sauce” you can buy. Thick slices of kettle-cooked apples resting in an a sauce made from reduced apple juice.

It is the way it was originally made with big slices of fresh apples, slow cooked, with only natural ingredients added. These are chunky apples that can be eaten with a fork, although a spoon will do.

The Big Apple Slices are all natural, non-GMO, HFCS free and slow cooked, using domestic apples—just as Grandma Hoerner made them. They are both a luxurious dessert or topping and a healthful grab-and-go snack—a great source of vitamin C and naturally gluten free.

The product, originally (and still) sold in 19.5-ounce jars, is now available in grab-and-go pouches—lots of them—in 4.5-ounce portions, 80 to 90 calories depending on flavor, for $2.50. We found 16-packs on Amazon, but not on the Grandma Hoerner’s website.

Three flavor lines focus on flavor profiles:

  • Pure Line, simply flavored: Apricot, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chai, Cherry Vanilla, Natural, Orange Ginger
  • Fit Line, with added nutrition: Banana, Mango & Hemp Seed; Peach, Green Tea & Aloe; Honey Berry Chia; Pineapple, Passion Fruit & Fiber, Raspberry Hibiscus & Green Coffee Extract
  • Luxe Line, with indulgent additions: Boysenberry Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon Candy, Cinnamon French Toast, Peach Bellini
  •  
    The only challenge is where to begin. We received samples of each flavor, and can’t decide what to re-order. We may have to proceed alphabetically!
     
    HOW TO ENJOY GRANDMA HOERNER’S BIG SLICE APPLES

    For starters, here’s how we enjoyed the different Big Slice flavors:

  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese, French toast, omelets, porridge, toast, yogurt, pancakes, waffles
  • Lunch & Dinner: as a condiment or side with fried chicken, ham, pork, turkey
  • Dessert: crêpes, ice cream/sorbet, parfait, pound or angel cake, tartlet shells
  • Snack: straight from the pouch, on a rice cake
  •    

    Grandma Hoerner's Big Slice Apples

    Pancakes With Grandma Hoerner's Apples

    Big Slice On Yogurt

    [1] A great grab-and-go snack. [2] A topping for pancakes and other breakfast foods. [3] A yogurt mix-in or topping (photos courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    Apple Tartlets

    [4] Time for dessert or company for tea? Fill tartlet shells for dessert (photo courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    WHERE TO FIND BIG SLICE

    The pouches are available at Costco, H -E-B, Hy-Vee. Kowalski’s, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, and more than 7,000 food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.

    You can buy them online at BigSliceApples.com and in multipacks at Amazon.com.

    A portion of the purchase to the A Sparkle Life, a non-profit organization aiding women in need.

     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION, head to BigSliceApples.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Get Seasonal With Pumpkin-Accented Everyday Foods

    In our childhood, fall meant a choice of pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie. Today, there’s pumpkin everything.

    Walk into your favorite food store: You’ll find pumpkin-themed products in every aisle.

    Start the day with pumpkin yogurt or a bowl of pumpkin granola, toasted Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice English Muffins and bagels. Wash them down with pumpkin coffee or tea. End the day with pumpkin ice cream. And pumpkin-up everything in-between.

    And we haven’t even gotten to the baked goods, from bagels and scones to pumpkin cheesecake.

    Some contain actual pumpkin or closely-related squash; others are simply accented with pumpkin pie spices.

    Yesterday at Whole Foods, we picked up:

  • 365 Everyday Value brand Pumpkin Spice Granola with Cranberries & Apples
  • Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie Gelato (with real pieces of pie crust!)
  • Terra’s Beauregard Sweets & Fairytale Pumpkin Chips
  •  
    Yesterday we covered pumpkin beer. Here are some of our favorite products of the season. Many are limited editions, so don’t dally!
     
    PUMPKIN BEVERAGES

    Tea

    David’s Tea Pumpkin Chai, a black spiced tea, is a customer favorite. It’s fragrant and flavorful, with notes of cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and squash pieces, and a hint of caramel.

    David’s recommends stirring in a spoonful of brown sugar and topping it with steamed milk. We drank ours straight.

    It’s also available packed in a tin for gift-giving; and herbal Spiced Pumpkin Tea. Take a sip at DavidsTea.com.

    You can find Celestial Seasoning’s Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Black Tea at many supermarkets.
     
    Coffee

    You’ll find everything from caramel, maple and nutty flavors like almond and hazelnut, along with the fall spice flavors: cinnamon, gingerbread, pumpkin spice, snickerdoodle, etc.

    Looking for K-Cups? You’ll find plenty of them. We’ve been working our way through Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice at a brisk pace. If you can’t find them locally, head to DunkinAtHome.com.
     
    Pumpkin Juice

    Natalie’s, our favorite line of all-natural, fresh-squeezed juices, squeezes apples, pears and real pumpkin, blended with cinnamon, ginger and clove. It’s very special.

    If you can’t find it locally, contact OrchidIslandJuice.com.
     
    PUMPKIN SNACKS & MORE

    Pumpkin Yogurt

    Pumpkin yogurt abounds, with a shout-out to Noosa Pumpkin Yoghurt, one of our favorites. Stonyfield Organic has Pumpkin Oh My Yog, a tri-layer whole milk yogurt: cream top, honey-infused whole milk yogurt middle, and pumpkin bottom.
     
    Salsa & Chips

    Mrs. Renfro’s Pumpkin Salsa is a smooth (as opposed to chunky) salsa that is delicious on anything, starting with a sauce for chicken, fish, tofu, grains, potatoes and other vegetables.

    For the classic American use—with chips—there are seasonal offerings such Food Should Taste Good’s Fall Harvest Chips, Way Better Snacks Punkin’ Cranberry (yes, that’s how they spell it) and other brands.

    We even added it to vodka for an instant Pumpkin Martini.
     
    MORE PUMPKIN PRODUCTS TO COME!

     

    Pumpkin Spice K Cups

    Mrs. Renfro's Pumpkin Salsa

    Natalie's Pumpkin Apple Juice

    Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt

    English Muffins

    [1] Pumpkin Spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts Home. [2] Mrs. Renfro’s Pumpkin Salsa. [3] Pumpkin Apple Spice Juice from Natalie’s. [4] Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt. [5] Thomas Pumpkin English Muffins.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says HealthDay.com, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
  •  
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.
     
    LACTOSE-FREE ICE CREAM FROM LACTAID

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  •  
    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  •  
    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip
  •    

    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy NotQuiteSusie.com). [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.
     
    Now…

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!

     

    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com). [2] Photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com).

     

    MORE LACTOSE-FREE DAIRY FOODS

    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
     
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.
     
    BOTH LACTAID & GREEN VALLEY PRODUCTS ARE DEE-LICIOUS.
     
    LIKE CHEESE?

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cooking In Parchment, Or “En Papillote”

    Today is the first-ever National Parchment Day, celebrated on the last Wednesday of June to bring awareness to those who have not yet discovered the joy of working with culinary parchment.

    The holiday was created by PaperChef, a leading producer of premium culinary parchment.

    The right way to declare a holiday is to submit a proposal to the federal government, state or local government. A less official way to do it is to submit it to the National Day Calendar a commercial venture originally begun as a hobby by two enthusiasts in North Dakota.

     
    WHAT IS CULINARY PARCHMENT PAPER?

    Culinary parchment paper, also called kitchen parchment and bakery paper or baking paper, is a cellulose-based paper that provides a disposable, non-stick surface. It is a popular aid for oven cooking: It saves greasing and enables easy clean-up.

    It also is used to create a packet for moist-heat cooking in the oven—for fish and shellfish, poultry, vegetables and so on. The French call this technique en papillote (on poppy-YOTE); it is al cartoccio in Italian, and cooking in parchment in English. The food is put into a folded pouch (parcel) and then baked in the oven.

    You can also cook in parchment on a grill, up to 425°F, using a metal plate on the top rack and closing the lid. Unlike aluminum foil, the parchment won’t scorch.

    Don’t confuse parchment with waxed paper, which has a thin coating of wax on each side to make it nonstick and moisture-resistant. Unlike parchment paper, it is not heat-resistant; the wax can melt and the paper can ignite in the oven. Parchment paper is impregnated with silicone, which prevents it from catching fire.

    But you can do the reverse: In most applications that call for wax paper as a non-stick surface, you can substitute parchment.
     
    CULILNARY PARCHMENT HISTORY

    Culinary parchment has only been available since the 19th century. The earliest reference we have found is in the London Practical Mechanics Journal in October 1858.

    We don’t know when it was applied to culinary use. Some sources cite the early 20th century. The 1858 reference suggests architects’ and engineers’ plans (today’s blueprints), tracing paper, bookbinding and maps.

       

    Salmon En Papillote

    Chocolate Chip Cookies Baked On Parchment

    [1] Salmon cooked in folded parchment paper (photo courtesy PaperChef). [2] Cookies baked in a pan lined with parchment (photo courtesy Jules | Wikipedia).

     

    Before cooking parchment, according to the website of The Telegraph, a daily newspaper in the U.K., “cooks would have used normal sheets of whatever white paper was on hand.” The article references a cookbook from 1823 by Mary Eaton, for baking beef in an earthenware dish covered in “two or three thicknesses of writing paper.” She warns against using brown paper, because “the pitch and tar which it contains will give the meat a smoky bad taste.”

    More options in olden times:

  • Oil-soaked or buttered paper, for baking and roasting. Buttered paper was put on top of a roast to stop it from cooking too quickly—the way we use foil today.
  • Fish was cooked en papillote in a parcel of paper brushed with olive oil. Fish was cooked en papillote in a parcel of paper brushed with olive oil.
  • Brandy-soaked paper circles were used to seal fruit jams and preserves.
  • Beyond skimming, excess grease was removed from the top of a stock or soup with ink-blotting paper. Today, paper towels do the trick.
  •  
    Parchment used as writing paper dates to ancient Egypt. It is a completely different animal, so to speak: It is made from sheep and other animal skins, and was first created as scrolls, with the skins trimmed and stitched together as required. Animal parchment is still used for applications from college diplomas to religious texts.

    What the two parchments—animal and vegetable—have in common is their creamy white color.

     

    Salmon In Parchment

    Vegetables In Parchment

    Paperchef Parchment Bag

    [1] You can add a sauce or create one. Here, compound butter will melt to flavor the fish and vegetables (photo courtesy GoodLifeEats.com). [2] Vegetables cooked in parchment: so much more delicious than steaming but the same calories (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [3] There’s no need to fold paper: Just put the contents in a parchment bag [photo courtesy Paperchef).

      THE BENEFITS OF PARCHMENT PAPER

  • Low-fat cooking with fewer calories: You can cook healthier meals, without the need for added fat. No vitamins are “washed way” in the cooking process.
  • Convenience: The parchment packets may be prepared up to a day in advance, and are perfect for a single serving when you are cooking for one. It’s non-stick, non-scorching, and clean-up is a snap. Leftovers can be reheated in the oven without drying out (or becoming mushy, as with the microwave).
  • Flavorful and tender: Moist heat cooking captures and imbues the food with anything you add to the packet: aromatics (garlic, ginger, scallions, sliced lemon or lime), herbs, spices, wine and liquids from coconut milk to sauce and stock. The method produces very tender meat and vegetables.
  • Simple yet elegant: Parchment entrées are impressive at the dinner table. At a restauraunt, it is traditional for the maitre d’ to slice open the paper in front of the guest, delivering a delightful gust of aroma. At home, when everyone cuts open his or her packet, the effect is the same.
  • Environmentally friendly: Parchment is 100% biodegradable and FSC* certified.
  • Kosher: PaperChef is kosher-certified by Star-K and OU. Reynolds parchment and foil are certified kosher by OU.
  •  
    _____________________
    *Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification means that the materials have been sourced in an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible and economically viable manner.

     
    TYPES OF CULILNARY PARCHMENT PAPER

    More many decades, cut sheets, or those cut from a roll of parchment, were the options for lining baking pans, cake and pie tins, casseroles and the like.

    Different formats evolved to meet consumer needs.

  • Parchment sheets are the most convenient way to cook with parchment paper. Simply grab a pre-cut sheet to line pans, bakeware and cookware. You can buy rectangles as well as rounds.
  • Parchment rolls are a multipurpose kitchen paper. Like foil and waxed paper, you pull out the amount you need and cut it on the serrated package edge.
  • Parchment cooking bags are a recent innovation and our favorite parchment product. Just toss the ingredients into a bag, fold and cook. It saves the time of cutting a piece of paper to size and folding into packets.
  • Parchment baking cups allow muffins to slide out of the pan—like cupcake papers for muffins. We also like them to create perfectly round baked eggs, for Eggs Benedict or other fancy preparation. Lotus cups are deeper, for larger muffins. Tulip cups are made to add panache to specialty cupcakes, with a petal-like top for an impressive presentation.
  •  
    FIND PARCHMENT-BASED RECIPES FOR EVERYTHING FROM BREAKFAST TO DESSERT

    They’re all over the Web, including on the website of PaperChef.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Off-Season Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons Recipe

    Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Inside

    Top: Chocolate-dipped macaroons (photo courtesy McCormick). Center: Plain coconut macaroons (photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections). Bottom: Up close (photo by Georgie Grd | Wikipedia).

     

    If you like coconut, don’t wait until Passover* to make coconut macaroons. They’re a great treat year-round, and gluten-free. Bring them as house gifts: They travel well without breaking.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Serena Rain of VanillaQueen.com, purveyor of top-quality vanilla beans, extracts, pastes, powders, sugars and salts.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT MACAROONS

    You don’t need to add chocolate to macaroons; but if you want to, there are two options:

  • Dip the macaroons in a chocolate glaze.
  • Mix chocolate chips into the dough. This is an especially good option for warm-weather months.
  •  
    Ingredients For About 24 Cookies

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond meal†
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (for the dough)
  • Optional: 4 ounces quality chocolate bar (for a glaze)
  • Option: 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    You can incorporate the orange peel into the dough or the glaze. We like the “lift” it gives to the recipe.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well incorporated. Use a spoon to scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of the coconut “dough.” Shape into round balls and place on the parchment paper. Alternative: You can drop the dough as unshaped mounds. See the difference between the top photo (dropped) and the bottom photo (shaped).

    3. BAKE for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (aim for the color in the center photo). Let cool.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Place the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and if necessary, heat for 30 more seconds until fully melted. Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons into the chocolate. Alternatively, place the cookies on a tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle the tops with chocolate; let cool until set. Some people prefer the glaze on top: a chocolate dome. Take your pick.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    Macaroons appeared in the late 15th or early 16th century in Italy. The historical record isn’t clear, but they are believed to have been created by monks. There were thousands of monasteries in medieval Europe, and monks created different types of beers, brandies and liqueurs, cheeses, pretzels, sweets, wines and spirits.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it had no flour or leavening‡, so could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in some recipes, replaced them. Today in the U.S., coconut macaroons are the norm.

    Macaroons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of France’s King Henri II. In France they evolved into delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with ganache or jam.

    Here’s more about the different types of macaroons.
     
    _____________________
    *During the week of Passover, in April, celebrants eat no leavened grains. Macaroons (all varieties) are grain free.

    †Almond meal, or almond flour, is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious.

    ‡Leavening is the agent that raises and lightens a baked good. Examples include yeast, baking powder and baking soda. Instead of these, macaroons (all types) are leavened with egg whites.
     
      

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