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TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Cranberry Vodka

Should you change your vodka for the holidays?

Some vodka producers make seasonal flavors. Pinnacle Vodka, for example, has a portfolio of holiday flavors that include Caramel Apple, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark.

Finlandia, Skyy and Smirnoff make cranberry vodka. Maybe you’ll be luckier than we’ve been in finding it. So here’s another option:

Infuse your own cranberry vodka with real cranberries, instead of the extracts used to make commercial flavored vodka. Serve it—or bring it as a house gift—on Thanksgiving, Christmas and in-between.

Generally when making infused vodka, the flavors should blend for four weeks or longer; but this recipe lets you do it in just 3 days.
 
TIPS

  • Pass by the cheap stuff and use quality vodka. For $10 to $15, you can buy Denaka, Luksusowa, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Sobieski, Smirnoff or Svedka.
  • Why not spring for pricier vodka? If you’re making the vodka as a gift and want to impress, use the recipient’s favorite brand or other prestigious label. It won’t necessarily make better-tasting cranberry vodka, but will please the status-oriented.
  •    

    Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

    An easy holiday cocktail: cranberry vodka and ginger ale on the rocks. Photo courtesy SarahsJoy.com.

  • Create a hang tag for the neck of the bottle, with the name of the product (straight or fanciful), year made, and any other information.
  • If you’d rather showcase your vodka in a clear wine bottle, you can hand-paint a label and add decorations. The bottles run about $3 apiece.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CRANBERRY VODKA

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 fifth good quality vodka
  •  

    Bowl Of Fresh Cranberries

    Just add vodka. In three days you’ll have
    cranberry vodka. Photo courtesy Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally. Lower the heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the cranberries and set the pan aside for 2 hours.

    3. TRANSFER the cranberry mixture to a large covered bowl, jar or canister and add the vodka. Retain the bottle to refill with the finished product. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have room in the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark place.

    4. STRAIN the vodka into a large pitcher, reserving the cranberries. You can use them to garnish drinks.

     
    5. USING a funnel, pour the vodka back into the original bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep the reserved cranberries in the freezer, but defrost them prior to serving (they defrost quickly).
     
    To Serve

    Serve cranberry vodka:

  • Shots
  • Straight up or on the rocks
  • As Cranberry Martinis, with just a splash of vermouth
  • In other cocktails or punch
  •  
    Top with a few cranberries to garnish.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dingel’s Oven Shortbread & Gingerbread (The Best!)

    Dingel's Oven Shortbread

    Three-inch monogrammed shortbread tiles,
    with a back coated with salted caramel.
    Photo courtesy Dingel’s Oven.

     

    A few months ago we were introduced to Dingel’s Oven, located in Beaverton, Oregon. What a find! And what a solution to gift-giving throughout the year. Because anyone who receives a box of cookies from Dingel’s Oven will look forward to another one, and another, and another.

    Bakers Uta and Ego specialize in the most delicious shortbread cookies and gingerbread cookies. Both are made in three-inch square “tiles” with crimped edges and a large monogram in the center.

    The cookies themselves are perfection, made even more perfect because each batch is hand-baked to order. In a cookie tin (provided by you), they’ll last for more than two months. That would be a theory, because no mere mortal can resist devouring them.

    But in the name of research, we’ve kept a few for almost three months now. While not as perfect as the fresh-baked—for example, the terrific fresh butter flavor we initially tasted is now a normal butter flavor—they are still delicious. No one who hadn’t tasted the originals would know the difference.

    The cookies freeze well, too.

    THE COOKIES

    Salted Caramel Shortbread Tiles

    The shortbread tiles have a surprise: The bottom of each cookie is covered with salted caramel. Shortbread and salted caramel together is wedded bliss.
     
    Glazed Gingerbread Tiles

    Requests for the gingerbread tiles continue beyond the holiday season, so the cookies are available year round. Centuries ago, ginger was expensive and a holiday splurge; that’s why gingerbread is associated with Christmas. Today, there’s no reason not to enjoy it year-round—especially with memorable cookies like these.
     
    Cookie Details

  • Many companies say that they only use the freshest, simplest, purest ingredients of the highest quality. That may be so; but Dingel’s Oven ingredients are even fresher and higher in quality. The butter in the shortbread really sets the bar, as does the ginger in the gingerbread.
  • The cookies are sold by the dozen. One dozen 3″ x 3″ cookies are $24.
  • The recipes contain no peanuts or nut products. No artificial additives, preservatives or extenders are used whatsoever. Sorry, but there is no gluten-free option.
  • Your personal message will be written on a gift card. For corporate gifts, the card can feature a 4-color logo.
  •  
    But don’t tarry. Since every the cookies are hand-baked to order, the bakers need two-week lead time for the holidays; and as much lead time as possible is greatly appreciated.

     

    BEYOND THE HOLIDAYS

    Think of Dingel’s Oven tile coookies year-round for:

  • Bachelorette parties
  • Wedding favors
  • Baby showers
  • Corporate gifts
  • Custom cookies for any occasion
  •  
    Instead of an initial monogram, you can have a logo or other image on your cookies.

    Thank you, Dingel’s Oven, for creating a memorable cookie that solves just about all gift-giving needs.

     

    Gingerbread a la Mode

    Serve the cookies à la mode, with vanilla, coffee or rum raisin ice cream. Photo courtesy Dingel’s Oven.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Apple Cider Salted Caramels

    We love salted caramels: plain sea salt, fleur de sel, gray sea salt, smoked sea salt (see the different types of sea salts).

    They aren’t inexpensive: A box of seven smallish squares, chocolate coated and garnished with salt, is $14.00 at Fran’s.

    So how about a project for a lazy Sunday: homemade salted caramels? It can also solve holiday gift-giving needs.

    This recipe, which adds the seasonal touch of apple cider, was developed by P.J. Hamel for King Arthur Flour. Here are additional photos and tips.

    This recipe is made in the classic French style: Salted butter is used and more salt can be added to the caramel, instead of the current vogue for sweet butter with a salt garnishing on top. We prefer the latter, so if you prefer, use unsalted butter in the recipe and garnish the top with sea salt or other fine salt.
     
    BOILED CIDER

    The boiled cider that flavors the caramels is simply reduced apple cider or juice. You can make it (instructions are in the recipe that follows) or buy it (King Arthur Flour sells it). If you’re making your own, you can make it up to three months in advance.

    Use the extra boiled cider to add flavor to:

  • Baking: Add to baked recipes that use apples: cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies, turnovers. Replace the honey or molasses in recipes for apple cake, gingerbread, spice muffins and similar recipes.
  • Breakfast: Drizzle over French toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles; stir into plain yogurt.
  • Condiment: Add a teaspoon to vinaigrette or barbecue sauce; drizzle over baked apples, crêpes, grilled fruit, ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt; spread on toast or cornbread; give better flavor to store-bought applesauce.
  •    

    Apple Cider Caramels

    Apple Cider Salted Caramels

    Try your hand at making caramels. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

  • Dinner: Glaze grilled vegetables or poultry (brush it on) or add a bit to marinades.
  •  
    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER SALTED CARAMELS

    Ingredients For 64 Caramels

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1/2 cup boiled cider*, purchased or made (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice†
  •  
    For The Boiled Cider

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour. The yield is 1-1/2 cups.

  • 8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice
  •  
    See the difference between cider vs. apple juice, below.
    _______________________________
    *You can buy ready-made boiled cider from King Arthur Flour and other baking supply retailers.

    †Substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice.

     

    boiled-cider-midwestliving-230

    Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

    TOP PHOTO: Homemade boiled apple cider. Photo courtesy Midwest Living. Here’s their
    full recipe. BOTTOM RECIPE: Feeling
    ambitious? Dip your caramels in melted
    chocolate. Photo courtesy Alma Chocolate.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the boiled cider. BRING the cider to boiling in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered, for 1-3/4 hours. Stir occasionally, until the cider has reduced to 1-1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

    2. TRANSFER the boiled cider to a screw-top jar with a mouth at least wide enough to insert a spoon. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. The boiled cider will thicken in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature to use in this recipe.

    3. LIGHTLY GREASE an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides.

    4. COMBINE the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice.

    5. POUR the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Let it stand for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature before cutting into 1″ squares.

    6. WRAP the caramels: Use 6″ squares of parchment paper. (We had 5-inch squares. The difference is shorter twisted ends.) Place one caramel in the center of each square; wrap the opposite edges of the paper around the caramel and twist the exposed edges to close. If you don’t have parchment paper you can use wax paper, but you need to be careful when twisting the edges because it tears more easily.

    Here’s a very helpful video on how to wrap caramels.

     

    APPLE CIDER VERSUS APPLE JUICE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Since Prohibition, which began in the U.S. in 1920, “cider” has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice. “Hard cider” is used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.

  • Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.
  • Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste. It needs to be refrigerated.
  • Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.
  •   

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    PRODUCT: Silicone Oven Mitts

    When silicone potholders and oven mitts appeared on the market, we traded in all of our cloth versions for the superior heat protection when baking, cooking and grilling. But lots of the mitts are very clunky, and also sized to fit men’s hands.

    Finally, here are women’s silicone oven mitts that are sized right, flexible, and available in 10 colors: Coral Red, Fall Orange, Fuchsia, Lime Green, Mustard Yellow, Navy Blue, Pink, Steel Gray and Teal.

    Made in Italy, they appear to be discontinued by their U.S. retailer, because they’re marked down from the original $47.00 to $19.99 with free shipping on orders over $35. Bargain time!

    We’re loading up on holiday gifts. We can’t think of too many other $20 items that are as universally needed and long-lasting.

    Get yours on Amazon.com.

     

    polka-dot-gloves-lovethiskitchen-230

    Teal, one of the 10 colors of these nifty heatproof silicone kitchen gloves.Photo courtesy Love This Kitchen.

     

      

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    HALLOWEEN: Best Chocolate Witch

    Chocolate Witch

    Bewitching in dark or milk chocolate. Photo
    courtesy Li-Lac Chocolates.

     

    We’ve been looking around, and think we’ve found the best chocolate witch for Halloween. Eight inches tall and weighing in at 14 ounces of solid chocolate, the Big Halloween Witch from Li-Lac Chocolates is our favorite this season.

    There are many nifty chocolate molds around, but we like the garments and expression of this particular paranormal practitioner of magic. With her crooked smile, flowing robe and pointed hat, carrying her broomstick and jack-o’-lantern, she’s almost too cool to eat.

    The chocolate witch is made fresh to order in milk or dark chocolate, and is certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

    Get yours at Li-LacChocolates.com, or at the company’s retail stores in New York City.

    The 90-year-old chocolatier has been delighting New Yorkers for generations. We love to sneak in for a bite; or, in the case of this witch, many bites.

     
    THE HISTORY OF TRICK OR TREATNG

    “Guising” traditions began as a Christian practice in the Middle Ages, when children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas (All Saints Day, November 1st, the day after Halloween). They begged for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers for the dead (the latter called “souling”).

    That tradition was ported to the U.S., with children going door to door for treats in exchange for reciting a poem or singing a song. Bonfires, a European tradition on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), were also held.
     
    The night before Halloween came to be called Mischief Night, when the neighborhood youth would sow some wild oats. Front gates were removed, windows were soaped and outhouses were tipped over [source].

    The term “trick or treat” didn’t emerge until the 1920s. The first printed reference is found in a newspaper from 1927 [source].

    While today the “trick” portion of trick-or-treat is usually an idle threat, it began with youthful participants who insistently rang doorbells and promised worse (knocking over trash cans, sticking a pin in the bell so keep it ringing, papering the house) if they did not get a treat. The residents paid the price in candy or other treats, and the costumed visitors went on to the next house.

    Individual trick-or-treating evolved in some locales in the 1960s and 1970s, into community events for the whole family, house parties for kids, and other activities that circumvented the need to send children to strange houses (and the reverse, to avoid having to opening one’s door to strangers).

     

    THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN CANDY

    For hundreds of years, Halloween came and went with no candy! Costumed children going door-to-door received everything from homemade cookies and cake to fruit, nuts, coins and toys.

    It wasn’t until the 1950s that candy manufacturers began to promote their products for Halloween.

    In the 1960s, following a hoax that miscreants had inserted pieces of glass into apples and other treats, factory-made, wrapped candy became the only acceptable treat to hand out. Producers of the most popular candies made miniatures, making a household’s candy giveaway more affordable.

    Here’s some trivia about popular Halloween treats:

     

    Chocolate Pumpkins

    Chocolate pumpkins from Woodhouse Chocolate.

     

  • Candy corn: Candy corn was invented in the 1880s in Philadelphia by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company. He didn’t trademark it, so other companies produced their own versions. The Goelitz Confectionery Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Co.), has been making candy corn since 1898.
  • Hershey’s: The first Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar was produced in 1900; Hershey’s Kisses followed in 1907. Chocolate, which had previously had been a luxury item, became affordable for average Americans.
  • Reese’s: In 1917, Harry Burnett Reese joined the Hershey Company as a dairyman and later worked in the factory. He began making candies in his home basement, and ultimately left Hershey to built his own factory. He invented in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in 1928. Full circle: In 1963, Hershey acquired the H.B Reese Candy Company.
  • Mars: In 1923, a Minnesota candy maker, Frank Mars, launched the Milky Way Bar. It was followed by Snickers in 1930 (reportedly named for his favorite horse) and Three Musketeers in 1932. Frank’s son Forrest Mars joined the company, had a falling out with his father, relocated to England and created the Mars Bar.
  • Kit Kat: The Kit Kat Bar first appeared in England in 1935, known as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp. In 1937 it was rechristened the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp said to be named after a venerable London literary and political group, the Kit-Cat (or Kit Kat) Club. The brand was acquired by Switzerland-based Nestlé, which debuted the Nestlé Crunch Bar in the late 1930s.
  • M&Ms: In 1941, Forrest Mars launched M&Ms. He had anticipated that World War II would engender a cocoa shortage, so he partnered with Bruce Murrie, son of a Hershey executive, to get access to a sufficient supply. M&Ms stands for Mars & Murrie.
  •  
    [Source]

      

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    PRODUCTS: Pumpkin Flavored Foods

    The fall cool-down began here last week. But we knew fall was in the air more than a month ago, when the fall-flavor product samples started to arrive.

    Fall is perhaps the best season to get into the flavor spirit. As the choices of warm-weather fresh produce narrow, pumpkin, squash and foods flavored with “fall spices”—allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg—give us something to look forward to.

    Consider all the seasonal specialties with pumpkin:

    BREAKFAST: You can start the morning with pumpkin spice oatmeal, pancakes and muffins; spread your toast with pumpkin butter; and pop pumpkin marshmallows into your cocoa. Or, just grab a pumpkin scone and a pumpkin spice latte.

    BREAK: With your morning or afternoon “coffee break,” switch to Zhena’s Vanilla Spice Harvest Herb Tea or Republic Of Tea’s Pumpkin Spice Seasonal Black Tea, with a a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie or pumpkin biscotto.

    LUNCH: How about Chobani’s Greek Yogurt Flip, with Pumpkin Harvest Crisp to toss into the plain yogurt? (Pumpkin Harvest Crisp comprises pie crust pieces, glazed pumpkin seeds and pecans.) We also liked Chobani’s seasonal blended Cinnamon Pear yogurt.)

    DINNER: There’s pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, roasted pumpkin alone or with other vegetables, rice, even in a green salad. And by all mean, have a pumpkin ice cream hot fudge sundae for dessert. We’ll save the pumpkin cocktails, crème brûlée, bundt cakes and pies for another time.

    Here’s the first batch of what we’ve enjoyed so far:

  • Gourmet pumpkin baking mixes. At Sur La Table alone, there’s Pumpkin Spice Donut Mix, Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownie Mix, Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cake Mix, Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pie Mix and Buttermilk Almond Pumpkin Spice Quickbread, all nicely boxed and giftworthy.
  • Pumpkin spice instant oatmeal from Quaker. Just add hot water, and 60 seconds later you’ve got a warm bowl of comfort. It’s OU kosher.
  • Pumpkin pancakes: There are mixes on store shelves, online, and of course, at IHOP.
  • Pumpkin spice peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. Blended with real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices, at $6 a jar it’s great for Halloween and Thanksgiving party favors, too. It’s also available in a fall flavor three-pack, along with with Cinnamon Raisin and Maple PBs.
  • Pumpkin spice syrup from Monin, to make your own PSLs at home (even a sugar-free pumpkin spice latte).
  •  
    For snacking, we’ve enjoyed:

       

    talenti-pumpkin-pie-gelato-pint-230

    flip-pumpkin-harvest-crispchobani-230

    Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows

    TOP: Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie gelato contains real pumpkin and actual pieces of pie crust. MIDDLE: Flip some Pumpkin Harvest Crisp into your yogurt. BOTTOM: Dandies pumpkin mini-marshmallows, vegan and kosher.

     

    danny-macaroons-pumpkin-2-scoutmob-230

    Pumpkin Spice macaroons from Danny Macaroons. Photo courtesy ScoutMob.com, which sells them and other tasty things.

     
  • Dandies all-natural pumpkin mini marshmallows, gelatin-free, vegan and certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Tasty and fun, most people would never suspect they’re vegan (and also nut-free, gluten-free and corn-free). Get them at ChicagoVeganFoods.com
  • Danny Macaroon’s spiced pumpkin macaroons, “pumpkin pie in macaroon form.” They’re made with real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices and toasted pumpkin seeds. Get yours here. (Macaroons, based on coconut, are gluten-free.)
  • Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie gelato. While there’s a choice of pumpkin ice cream brands, Talenti’s pumpkin pie variation not only uses real pumpkin—it adds real pie crust pieces.
  •  
    There’s more to come, so stay tuned! But first note: Most of these are seasonal specials. Eat up!

     

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: CrunchDaddy Popcorn

    Back in 2012, we reviewed a startup company with 10 flavors of savory or caramel corn: CrunchDaddy Popcorn.

    You know it’s not just good: In the ubiquitous world of popcorn, their business just keeps growing. The company has expanded distribution, evolved their product flavors and traded most of the original brown kraft paper bags for lustrous poly bags in burgundy and forest green. They recently sent us new samples, and they were dee-licious.

    The new number one seller is Bourbon & Bacon Crunch, made with a brown sugar and Kentucky bourbon caramel with bits of smoked bacon. It outsells the other flavors by three to one. The alcohol evaporates completely during the cooking process, so it’s kid- and pregnancy-friendly.

    The second best seller is Salted Caramel Crunch, with a butterscotch caramel made with sea salt, Myers’s Dark Rum and honey.

    Sure we liked the top two; we like everything from CrunchDaddy. But our personal favorites among the four caramel corns sampled are:

       

    Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

    The best seller: caramel corn with bacon and bourbon. Woo hoo! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Butter Rum & Cranberry Crunch. What was once a holiday special is now available year-round. When we bite into the antioxidant-rich cranberries and the fiber-laden popcorn, we think we’re eating guilt free. Oh, except for the sugar. We’ll be ordering lots of these as holiday gifts.
  • Caramel & Peanut Crunch. If only CrunchDaddy would leave the peanuts whole instead of chopped, it would be the Platonic ideal of Cracker Jacks.
  • But if none of these rings your bell, here’s the full menu:

     
    Sweet Flavors

  • Bourbon & Bacon Crunch
  • Butter Rum & Cranberry Crunch
  • Caramel & Peanut Crunch
  • Chesapeake Peanut Crunch
  • Honey & Cinnamon Crunch
  • Salted Caramel Crunch
  •  
    Savory Flavors

  • Bombay Market Crunch
  • Maryland Crab Feast Crunch
  • Movie Night Popcorn (butter and salt)
  • Smokey Cheddar Crunch
  • White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch
  •  

    Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

    Great for gifting! Photo courtesy Crunch Daddy

     

    Whether for Halloween gifts, Thanksgiving party favors, stocking stuffers or 1-gallon tubs for family gifting, options include:

  • 1 quart poly bag (lustrous red or green), $7.69 (we finished ours in two days)
  • 1/2 gallon tub, $13.75
  • 1 gallon plastic tub, $29.05
  •  
    Not all flavors are available in all sizes; and bag colors vary.

    ITS THE CRUNCHIEST!

    The name does not mislead: This is the crunchiest popcorn we’ve had. Caramel corn can get soggy from the moisture in the caramel. We were so impressed: How do they keep those big, fluffy kernels so crunchy and crisp?

    All of the popcorn is popped in canola oil. Get yours at CrunchDaddy.com.

    And crunch happily through the season.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Keurig Kold Cold Beverage Machine

    Editors Note: This product was discontinued in 2016.

    Thanks to Keurig, 20 million American households make their coffee of choice—or tea, cocoa, chicken soup, even iced tea brewed into a cup of ice—one K-Cup at a time.

    Six years ago, fans and industry observers asked Keurig: What can you do for cold beverages?

    On Monday the company launched its long-awaited cold beverage system, Keurig Kold. The result involved 250 engineers and scientists, 10,000 consumers who participated in research, 50 patents issued and another 100 pending globally.

    This plug-in machine offers Keurig’s same ease and convenience for single-serve cold beverages: carbonated sodas and flavored seltzers, still flavored waters, iced teas and sports drinks.

    The good news:

  • Keurig Kold makes delicious soft drinks, perfectly carbonated without a CO2 canister, at the push of a button.
  • The beverages are delivered perfectly chilled, in 8-ounce glasses. Most servings are 100 calories or less, and there’s an excellent variety of low- and zero-calorie options.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/KeurigKOLDdrinkmaker DietCoke 230

    Keurig Kold: the coolest way to make cold drinks. Each Kold Pod makes an eight-ounce drink. Photo courtesy Keurig.

  • The Kold Pods create favorites like Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Dr Pepper and Canada Dry; craft sodas (e.g. Orange Cream, Spiced Root Beer, regular and diet, from brands like Flynn’s and Red Barn); plus plus lemonade, flavored waters, seltzers and iced teas (Tierney’s).
  • There are also sports hydration drinks; cocktail mixers are coming soon, starting with Margarita and Mojito.
  • Keurig Kold is imposing, cool, and at $369.99, a status symbol. You can get one at Keurig.com and selected retailers, in black or white.
  •  
    What’s less than ideal:

  • The price tag. Even if it’s ultimately discounted, it would take a household with money to burn to choose this system over the 99¢ two-liter bottles or club store bargains (or the $59-and-up Sodastream).
  • Depending on the beverage, the pods are $4.49 to $4.99 for a four-pack. That’s $1.12 to $1.25 plus tax for an eight ounce drink.
  • The machine’s footprint is larger than anything else on your kitchen counter. The pods are similarly oversize.
  • The pods are recyclable #7 plastic, but not every municipality recycles #7.
  •  

    Keurig KOLD Wire Carousel

    The pods for Keurig Kold are big: at least three times the size of the K-Cups. Photo courtesy Keurig.

     

    HOW IT WORKS

    Insert a drink pod, press a button and the water in the reservoir is drawn into a proprietary chilling mechanism. When the water is cold enough (39°F), it gets pushes though Karbonator beads that are inside each pod—small, round beads that are perhaps the coolest part of the invention.

    Water + beads = perfect carbonation. A secret imparted by Keurig: Carbonation absorbs into water best when the water is really cold.
     
    IS IT FOR YOU?

    Keurig Kold is impressive. It’s fun. And the drinks are delicious—they seem even tastier than if you purchased the same drink in a bottle or can.

    The big question that vexes the NIBBLE folks who tried Keurig Kold is: Who is the customer for this machine? It must be a household that:

     

  • Doesn’t look for bargains.
  • Wants the latest, coolest wow item.
  • Has space for it.
  • Isn’t into sustainability.
  •  
    Alternatively, it’s a wonderful plaything, a gift for people who have everything. If they already own one, there are other rooms in their home that could make use of another.

    Would we want one? In an ideal world, yes; in our particular practical world, no. Even if someone gave us a Keurig Kold, where would we put it in our small home or office?

      

    Comments

    DAY OF THE DEAD: Skull Mug

    Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead or All Souls Day, has has been an important festival in Mesoamerica since pre-Columbian times.

    It is a time of festivity and joy, not mourning. Families gather to welcome the souls of the dearly departed—human and animal—who return from the spirit world for an annual visit home to the loved ones they’ve left behind. What a nice concept!

    The celebration begins on November 1st and ends on November 2nd. Despite the timing and skulls, it has no relation to Halloween (here’s the history of Halloween). Analogies to the Celtic-based Halloween are purely coincidental.

    The celebration of the Mayas and Aztecs evolved into what today is a large Mexican festival, incorporating:

  • Photos and mementos of the deceased, placed on special altars along with…
  • Cempasúchil (marigold flowers).
  • Candles and copal incense (made with resin from a local tree).
  •    

    dia de los muertos mug

    Drink your coffee from a joyful skull. Photo courtesy Inked Shop.

  • There are music and dancing, plus special offerings for people who have died.
  •  

    Crystal Head Vodka Bottle

    Not into coffee or sugar skulls? Perhaps a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka is for you. Photo courtesy Crystal Head.

     

    Special foods include:

  • Pan de muertos (bread of the dead—recipe).
  • Sugar skulls, usually brightly painted.
  •  
    YOUR OWN SKULL MUG

    You’ve got time to order a celebratory mug.

    The Mexican Sugar Skull Giant Mug in the photo above costs just $14.95 from InkedShop.com.

    High quality ceramic, dishwasher and microwave safe, it’s inspired by the Day of the Dead sugar skulls, but perfectly at home year-round.

    Or perhaps you’d prefer a skull full of vodka?

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Made In Nature Coconut Chips

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    Madagascar Vanilla Coconut Chips. Photo
    courtesy Made In Nature.

     

    The new Made In Nature Organic Toasted Coconut Chips are a big hit with THE NIBBLE team. We love them for snacking and garnishing.

    Crunchy, health-tasting and versatile, we enjoyed the original plain toasted coconut chips. But the flavored versions are even better, and each is a winner:

  • Ginger Masala Chai
  • Italian Espresso
  • Maple Madagascar Vanilla
  • Mexican Spiced Cacao
  • Vietnamese Cinnamon Swirl
  •  
    A bit of maple syrup is used as a sweetener. All ingredients are organic and non-GMO* with natural flavors. The coconut chips follow the Made In Nature mission: healthy snacks and global flavors.

    The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $3.99 for a 3-ounce bag. The line is certified kosher by OU.

     

    *Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.

     

    A REALLY GREAT GARNISH

    Beyond delicious snacking and incorporation into your trail mix, toasted coconut chips fit into every meal of the day as a garnish:

  • Breakfast: cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt
  • Lunch: Asian chicken salad, green salad, PB&J sandwiches, soup
  • Dinner: general plate garnish, international dishes, rice and other grains
  • Dessert: cake/cupcakes/pies, fruit salad, ice cream
  •  
    You can match the flavors of the coconut chips to the flavors of your dishes; for example, Italian Espresso Coconut Chips on coffee ice cream, Mexican Spiced Cacao on anything chocolate, or Ginger Masala Chai with an Asian stir-fry and rice.

    Or mix and match the flavors. We just added Vietnamese Cinnamon Swirl on top of a baked apple. We promise, you’ll have fun being creative with these flavored coconut chips.

     

    coconut-chips-wholepurerecipes-230r

    You can toast your own coconut chips. Photo courtesy WholePureRecipes.com.

     
    If you want to make your own coconut chips, here’s a recipe from Jodye of WholePureRecipes.com. It takes a while to get specialty flavors perfect, though; so you might want to start with Made From Nature.

    Made In Nature is available nationwide at retailers such as Costco, REI, Safeway, Sprouts, Wegman’s and Whole Foods Market; at select natural food stores; and online.

      

    Comments



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