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Archive for Top Pick Of The Week

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Better For You Candy & Treats

Every time we dip into a bag of Bare Fruit Apple Chips, we wonder: Why isn’t everyone eating these?

So before Halloween, we’re recommending them as the better-for-you treat, for the people you love. Everyone else can get those miniature junk candies from the supermarket. (Sorry if we have maligned your favorite candy bars; but honestly, you hardly taste the chocolate for the sugar/corn syrup.)

Consisting simply of baked apple chips—no added sugar—these sweet, crisp chips satisfy the desire for sweetness an crunch. They’re fat-free, gluten free, fiber-filled.

The apple chips are made from non-GMO project verified Washington State apples. And they’re certified kosher by Earth Kosher, an organic and kosher certifier.

There are four flavors of all-natural apple chips, 90-100 calories per ounce (half cup serving), depending on the flavor.:

  • Fuji Red Apple Chips
  • Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips
  • Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips
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    There’s also an organic line, including each of the flavors above plus a combination of all of them in one bag, Medley Apple Chips.

    There’s also an organic line, including each of the flavors above plus a combination of all of them in one bag, Medley Apple Chip
    This time of year we particularly like Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips, but will gladly eat whatever is closest. Who needs apple pie when you can have Bare Fruit Apple Chips?

    But you may think that Caramel Apple is better for Halloween. Plan ahead for stocking stuffers, and keep a supply in your glove compartment, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

       

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    TOP PHOTO: It’s like apple pie in a crunchy chip. Phot6o courtesy Bare Fruit. BOTTOM PHOTO: Out of the bag. Photo courtesy Love With Food.

     
    You can get Bare Fruit products on Amazon.com or find them at retail via the company’s store locator. The “BUY” tab on the company website takes you to their Amazon store.

    They’re available in individual .53-ounce bags and in 1.69-ounce bags, three portions’ worth.
      
    NUTS FOR CRUNCHY COCONUT CHIPS

    After success with the apple chips, Bare Fruit came out with a divine line of coconut chips:

  • Chocolate Bliss Coconut Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Chips
  • Simply Toasted Coconut Chips
  • Sweet ‘n Heat Coconut Chips
  •  
    Loved ‘em all, but Chocolate Bliss truly is.

    GO BANANAS
     
    Most recently, the company has introduced crunchy banana chips. We haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying them, but you can let us know how you like them:

  • Cinnamon Banana Chips
  • Cocoa Dusted Banana Chips
  • Simply Baked Banana Chips
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    HalfPops

    These crunchy popcorn nuggets are popped without oil. Photo courtesy Halfpops.

     

    HALFPOPS POPCORN NUGGETS

    If you grew up loving CornNuts, as we did, take note of the non-fried, gourmet version.

    Some people dig through the popcorn bowl to find those crunchy, half-popped kernels that taste even better than the fully popped corn. Smaller than a fully popped kernel, they’ve got the soft popped portion on the inside while the kernel remains crunchy on the outside.

    Halfpops is an entire bag of them. We like this fiber-filled half-popped popcorn even better than the conventional full-popped. It was love at first bite for us. These little nuggets are a go-to snack whenever we need something crunchy and salty.

    These are healthy, whole grain snacks. They’re all-natural, with zero sugar or preservatives. As a whole grain product, each bag contributes 3g fiber/serving. Halfpops are certified gluten-free and are also nut-free.

     

    Halfpops are currently available in four flavors:

  • Natural Butter & Sea Salt
  • Aged White Cheddar
  • Caramel & Sea Salt
  • Chipotle Barbeque
  • Each one-ounce serving contains 130 calories and 260 mg salt. And we love each flavor Don’t decide: Try them all!

    They’re certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Get yours at HalfPops.com. There’s also a retail store locator on the website.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 21 Ways To Use Beets

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    TOP: Beets are most familiar in a reddish-purple hue, but are also available in different shades of red, orange, white, yellow, even red with a red and white bullseye pattern inside (chioggia beets). Photo © Carole Topalian Photography | Edible Madison. BOTTOM: Chioggia beets. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    Beets are one of those ‘em or hate ‘em foods. But they’re so delicious, we can’t understand the haters.

    We enjoy beets year-round. We eat the edible roots, but the greens are also delicious—just sauté them. And for fall, the colors are perfect.

    The availability of fresh, cooked, and canned beets makes it easy to incorporate beets into any meal. And unlike many canned or precooked vegetables, the flavor and texture are pretty close to fresh-cooked beets.

    Today’s tip comes from Oldways, a not-for-profit whose mission is “to guide people to good health through heritage”: healthy eating and healthy foods that “have the power to improve the health and well-being of all of us.”

    Along that line, beet roots deliver fiber, folate, manganese, and potassium; the beet greens pack vitamins A, C and K.

    BEETS FOR BREAKFAST

    While it’s not a conventional breakfast ingredient, beets add vivid color, flavor and nutrition to:

  • Avocado toast: add sliced beets.
  • Bagel: with smoked salmon, cream cheese and sliced or julienned/matchstick beets. Add fresh dill for perfection!
  • Omelet: with diced or julienned beets.
  • Vegetarian “Eggs Benedict”: substitute a beet slice for the Canadian bacon.
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese: top with a small dice or blend with beets and fresh dill.
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    BEETS FOR LUNCH

  • Salad: add to side salads and luncheon salads (our favorite: beets, goat cheese and toasted walnuts on arugula or mesclun, and “purple potato salad”—the beets impart a swirl of color).
  • Sandwich: sliced plain or pickled beets on the sandwich, in a wrap or as a side.
  • Sandwich spread and more: blend horseradish and cooked grated beets into Greek yogurt to create a spicy sandwich spread, dip, or sauce for fish and meats.
  • Soup: hot or cold borscht.
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    BEETS FOR DINNER

  • First course: sliced oranges and beets on a bed of lettuce with vinaigrette or a drizzle of basil olive oil, or this beautiful galette.
  • Salad: grate over a green salad with finely sliced red onion and a red wine vinaigrette, add to a fall salad with roasted squash and fennel (recipe).
  • Garnish: add sliced, diced or in matchsticks, beets add pizzazz.
  • Beet mashed potatoes: recipe.
  • Grains: stir chopped roasted beets, crumbled feta and finely chopped beet greens into cooked farro, quinoa or brown rice; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Roast vegetables: beets with carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, with fresh rosemary, crushed garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sautéed beet greens: cook in olive oil with sliced onions, crushed garlic, red pepper and a pinch of chili flakes and salt.
  • Braised: cook sliced beets, sliced red cabbage and beet greens with a bit of apple cider vinegar and caraway seeds.
  • Cheese plate: pickled beets as a cheese condiment
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    You can add beets to breakfast bars, brownies, energy bars, sangria, smoothies. You can even make beet ice cream and a vegan beet “cheesecake.” See beautiful recipes at LoveBeets.com.

     

    BEET HORS D’OEUVRE & SNACKS

  • Bruschetta: layer sliced beets on sliced baguette, top with Brie or other cheese, heat to slightly melt the cheese, garnish with fresh herbs.
  • Dip: blend beets into mayonnaise, plain yogurt or sour cream, with fresh dill;* or this beet dip and spread, or blend into white bean dip.
  • Beet hummus: recipe with pepper and recipe with ginger.
  •  
    *Or stir grated cooked beets, garlic, fresh dill or thyme, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice into Greek yogurt.
     
    THE HISTORY OF BEETS

    The modern beet (its botanical name is Beta vulgaris) evolved from wild sea beet, which grew wild in places as wide-ranging as Britain and India to Britain. The wild sea beet was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East—although only the leaves were eaten! (Even today, beet greens are delicious. Don’t throw them away: Sauté them.) In early times, the medicinal properties of the root (the red bulb) led that portion to be used to treat a range of ailments from constipation, fevers, skin problems and wounds.

    The Romans cultivated beets; early recipes included cooking beets with honey and wine (that’s still a good recipe today). Apicius, the renowned Roman gourmet, included a beet broth recipe in his cookbook as well as beet salad with a dressing of mustard, oil and vinegar.

    The original beet roots were long and thin like carrots. The rounded root shape of today was developed in the 16th century and by the 18th century was widely cultivated in Central and Eastern Europe. Many classic beet dishes originated in this region, including borscht.

     

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    TOP: Roasted salmon on a bed of beets. Photo courtesy Silk Road Tavern | NYC. BOTTOM: Roasted red and yellow beets with goat cheese. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    In 19th century England, beets’ dramatic color was popular to brighten up salads and soups. The high sugar content made it a popular ingredient in cakes and puddings.

    Today there are many varieties of beets sizes large and small, including candy-striped (with red and white concentric circles), orange, white and yellow. Look for these specialty beets in farmers markets.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Noosa Yoghurt

    To start with, Noosa is yoghurt, not yogurt. That’s the Australian spelling, and appropriate for a brand that originated Down Under.

    The original Noosa is a picturesque Australian resort town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the home of golden beaches. The name Noosa comes from an Aboriginal word meaning shade or shadows, a probable reference to the tall forests behind the sunny coast.

    On a vacation to Noosa, company co-founder Koel Thomae—an Aussie ex-pat living in Colorado—came across a tub of creamy yoghurt and passionfruit purée.

    It took just one spoonful for her to decide that she must bring this celestial style of yogurt to the U.S. Back in Colorado she found a partner, fourth-generation dairy farmer Rob Graves, who milked happy, pasture-raised cows. He took one taste of the Australian yogurt and agreed with Koel. America needed Noosa.

    They began to make Noosa in small batches, from farm-fresh whole milk, local raw clover alfalfa honey and purées of the best fruits. The “Australian-style” texture is thick like Greek yogurt but oh-so-velvety, as elegant as any dessert. (Some of that texture comes from kosher bovine gelatin.)

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU, certified GMO free and made with rBGH-free milk from pastured cows.

       

    Cherry Yogurt Parfait

    Noosa Yoghurt is so silky, it’s like an elegant dessert. Photo courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

     

    The four-ounce cups, for 140 calories or so, depending on the flavor, is a wonderful bit of fruity sweetness at the end of the meal, or as a snack anytime.

    And for breakfast or lunch, well: What a treat. It’s worth seeking out.

     

    Noosa Yoghurt

    Some of Noosa’s luscious yoghurt flavors. Photo courtesy Noosa.

     

    There are 4-, 8- and 24-ounce sizes (not all flavors in all sizes):

  • Blueberry
  • Coconut
  • Cranberry Apple
  • Honey
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Plain
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry Rhubarb
  • Tart Cherry
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    Not all flavors are made for each season; for example, Cranberry Apple and Pumpkin—both winners—are fall flavors,

    Here’s a store locator and the main website. Scroll to the bottom of the home page for a link to print a coupon.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Schmacon Beef Bacon

    The producer calls Schmacon “beef’s answer to bacon.”

    It looks like bacon and smells bacon; it cooks like bacon–preferably in the oven for maximum crispness, although it can be cooked in a frying pan.

    The result, crisp strips of Schmacon, tastes of beef instead of pork, but with the smoky, sweet spirit of bacon.

  • A serving of Schmacon contains 30 calories, 2 g fat, and 60 mg sodium.
  • A serving of pork bacon averages 60-90 calories, 4.5-7 g fat, and 190-360 mg sodium.
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    Meatier, lower in sodium, calories and fat, Schmacon is a much healthier alternative, and you get more meat and less fat. More benefits:

  • Schmacon cooks in half the time of raw pork bacon.
  • It generates much less grease; and, as with bacon grease, you can use it to cook potatoes and eggs, make German potato salad, etc.
  • For everyone without a great kitchen exhaust fan: There’s no lingering smell of old bacon fat in the air.
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    Crisp, delicious Schmacon. Use it wherever you’d use bacon. Photo courtesy Schqmacon.

     
    We think it’s terrific, and so does the trade: The National Restaurant Association gave Schmacon its Food and Beverage Innovations Award.
     

    THREE YEARS IN DEVELOPMENT

    This is not the first beef bacon on the market, but but it’s head and shoulders above the rest. Most other beef bacon is manufactured with the same technique as pork bacon, but that made no sense to CEO Howard Bender. He started from scratch, testing different cuts of beef, spice blends and cooking processes until, three years later, he was satisfied.

    The result, Schmacon Smoked & Glazed Beef Slices, is an achievement, a delicious alternative for those who do not eat pork products, and a boon to those who’d like “healthier bacon.”

    Why isn’t it called bacon? Today, the USDA limits the use of “bacon” to pork. “Turkey bacon” got grandfathered in.

     

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    TOP: Schmacon and eggs. BOTTOM: Look for
    this package at your grocer’s. Photos courtesy Schmacon.

     

    WAYS TO USE SCHMACON

    Use it anywhere you’d use pork or turkey bacon, including to make:

  • Bacon cheeseburgers and hot dogs
  • Bacon quiche
  • Bean and lentil dishes
  • BLTs
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chowder
  • Eggs, pancakes, waffles
  • Green salad, wedge salad with blue cheese dressing
  • Hot bacon vinaigrette
  • “Larded” filet mignon and turkey breast
  • Surf and turf: bacon-crusted salmon fillets (recipe)
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    WHERE TO GET SCHMACON

    Over the last year, Schmacon has rolled out to restaurants and foodservice. It is now rolling out to retailer stores.

    Look for a retailer near you. If you can’t find one, you can purchase a ten-pound package from the manufacturer. Extra Schmacon can be frozen; but we bet you’ll run through the bulk package pretty quickly.
     
    Discover more at Schmacon.com.

     

      

    Comments

    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
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    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.

     

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    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

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Smucker’s Fruit Spread With Honey

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    Mix with cream cheese, feta, cream cheese
    and adobo sauce for a sweet heat spread.
    Photo © The J.M. Smucker Company.

     

    A few years ago, the Orchard’s Finest line from Smucker’s tickled our palate and became a favorite bread spread.

    Now, the Smucker’s team has charmed us with a new line: Fruit & Honey fruit spreads, sweetemed with honey instead of sugar. And it’s just enough honey to sweeten, but not be too sweet. One tablespoon has just 35 calories.

    You also taste the honey in each bite. It’s a really nice departure from sugar-sweetened jams, and well worth trying. Even the shape of the jar is alluring.

    In addition to toast and PB&J or PB&B sandwiches, the Smucker’s shows how to create delicious and very easy recipes.

  • Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Blueberry Lemon Fruit Spread. Swirl it into slightly softened frozen yogurt in this easy recipe. Or, mix with cream cheese and yogurt or sour cream and spoon into graham cracker crusts for no-bake cheesecake tarts.
  • Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Strawberry Fruit Spread. Stir it into balsamic dressing for this quinoa, mixed greens and grilled chicken recipe.
  • Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Triple Berry Fruit Spread (a blend of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries). Mix with cream cheese, feta, chiles and adobo sauce for a sweet heat spread. Recipe.
  • Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Tropical Fruit Spread (peaches, mango, and passion fruit). Make a smoky mango salsa with black beans, fruit spread, lime juice, cilantro and paprika and serve it with tortilla chips or atop chicken. Here’s the recipe.
  •  
    How many more ways can you use fruit spread? See our list below.

    Smucker’s Fruit & Honey fruit spreads are available at Walmart, Target, Publix and Safeway and other retailers nationwide. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $3.49 for a 9-ounce jar.
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JAM & FRUIT SPREAD?

    The difference is in the level of sweetness. Some jams can be cloyingly sweet. A good fruit spread isn’t.

    Jam consists of chopped, crushed or puréed fruit cooked down with sugar—a recipe as old as refined sugar. Fruit spread began to appear in the 1970s as a reduced-calorie product, made with alternative sweeteners such as juice concentrate. The honey in Smucker’s fruit spreads makes it so superior to others we’ve tasted.

    There are distinct differences between chutney, conserve, jelly, jams, marmalades and the other types of sweet spreads. Take a look.
     

    MORE WAYS TO USE FRUIT SPREAD OR JAM

    In Breakfast Dishes

  • Hot cereal. Use a dab instead of sugar.
  • Pancake and waffle topping. Substitute for syrup.
  • Yogurt. Add to cottage cheese or to plain yogurt, to make fruit yogurt.
  •  
    At Lunch

  • Grilled cheese. Sharp cheeses like blue cheese and Cheddar are perfect pairings for jam or fruit spread. Grill with the cheese or serve it on the side as a condiment. For more flavor, use rye or a textured whole grain bread.
  • Salad dressing. Warm a spoonful and whisk it into salad dressings.
  • Sandwich spread. Spread on bread with a filling of cheese, ham, lamb, poultry or roast pork. To cut the sweetness, you can mix it with mayonnaise or plain yogurt.
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    Appetizers/Snacks

  • Canapés. Top a cracker or slice of baguette with cheese, ham, turkey or other favorite and a bit of jam or fruit spread.
  • Cheese condiment. Wonderful with a cheese plate (more cheese condiments) or atop a baked Brie. Make the popular appetizer of jam poured over a brick of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese, served with crackers.
  • Dipping sauce. Mix in a small bowl with sriracha or other hot sauce, a hot chile and vinegar. You can also make a dip with fresh grated ginger and soy sauce.
  • Pepper jelly. Mix in some red pepper flakes, dried or fresh minced chipotle, jalapeño or other chile (the different chile types).
  • Pretzel or breadstick dip. Mix with Dijon or other mustard. For a sweet-and-hot profile, add some hot sauce.
  •  
    Dinner

  • Meat glaze. Particularly delicious on poultry and pork. Mix with fresh herbs and garlic.
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    One of four flavors of the Fruit & Honey fruit spreads. Photo © The J.M. Smucker Company.

  • Sauce for meat and seafood. Use with wine or vermouth to deglaze the pan. Add some to the pan while you’re cooking chicken, pork chops, fish, scallops or shrimp and let the flavor coat the meat.
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    Dessert

  • Cheesecake. Fine jam makes a wonderful topping or a condiment on the side.
  • Cookies. Thumbprints and rolled cookies with a jam swirl are classics.
  • Crêpe filling. Delicious plain or with fresh goat cheese or mascarpone.
  • Dessert sauce. Mix with plain or vanilla yogurt or sour cream.
  • Ice cream and sorbet topping. Crown a scoop of sorbet. Lightly warm the jam so it flows like a sauce over ice cream.
  • Layer cake filling. A coat of jam between the layers is a classic: Think Sacher Torte! Apricot or raspberry jam is delicious with chocolate cake; any flavor works with lemon cake.
  • Tarts and tartlets. Fill tart or tartlet shells with jam. Top with a dab of crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, mascarpone or sour cream. Or, blend with cream cheese for a cheesecake-like tart.
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    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Folgers Iced Café For Homemade Lattes

    We love iced coffee, but have some challenges:

  • We never have enough room in the fridge to make and store a pitcher of it.
  • We can drink several a day, so buying it can run into money—plus a lot of plastic into the landfill.
  • Not every iced coffee we’ve bought has lived up to our taste standards.
  • Finally, with a lactose-free milk requirement, we have to drink our purchased coffee black.
     
    [Sidebar rant: Even Starbucks, which claims to be so customer-focused, offers only sweetened vanilla soy milk for those who can’t have cow’s milk, lactose, whey, are vegan, can’t digest soy, etc.

    Plain soy or almond milk would be acceptable to most people who can’t have cow’s milk. But if you don’t like sugar in your coffee, can’t have sugar, etc., well, as our dad would say, you’re SOL at Starbucks (and many other food service venues).

    Starbucks management: If you’re reading this, take a look at the moronic letter your customer service staff sends to people who suggest an unsweetened milk alternative.]

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    Iced Coffee Mason Jar

    For a refreshing iced latte, just squeeze two drops of concentrate into your favorite type of milk. Photo courtesy Folgers.

     
    FOLGERS HAS SOLVED OUR PROBLEMS!

    Now, all we need to make a truly delicious iced latte—in less than a minute—is our milk of choice and a bottle of the new Folgers Iced Café Coffee Drink Concentrate. The bottle is so small, it fits into a shirt pocket.

    Just fill a glass with milk (and ice, as desired), add two squeezes of coffee concentrate and stir.

    Make it with 2% milk and you have a drink that tastes like a milkshake without the ice cream: so creamy, it’s hard to believe this is a low-calorie drink. The drinks are called lattes, but if you’re used to a skim latte, as we are, the taste with 2% or almond milk approaches a milkshake.
     
    Folgers Iced Café Coffee Drink Concentrates debuted in four equally scrumptious flavors:

  • Original Latte Coffee
  • Caramel Macchiato
  • Hazelnut Latte
  • Vanilla Latte
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    We used the Folgers Vanilla Latte flavor plus almond milk for an instant latte treat. Photo courtesy Munchery.

     

    The two drops of concentrate (per eight ounces of milk) add just 10 calories to the milk calories. The suggested retail price for a squeeze bottle with 12 portions is $4.99.

    The flavors are very lightly sweetened with Sucralose. It was so light that we, who normally don’t add sugar to coffee, really enjoyed it. Along with the creaminess of the milk, it heightens the “milkshake factor.”

    You can glamorize your latte, of course, adding whipped cream, chocolate syrup, ice cream or whatever. But the drinks are just perfect as is.

    You can find Folgers Iced Café at retailers nationwide (store locator) and can buy it online.

    We’re adding this “instant latte” solution to our list of delicious stocking stuffers.

     

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blossom Water

    For two years we’ve had our eye on Blossom Water, an innovative beverage in a crowded field that has not yet gotten the distribution we think it deserves. We keep checking the store locator, hoping for something near us.

    We drink it at the trade show where we first discovered it; and we do buy it online. A 4-bottle package that’s $12.00 has a shipping cost of $4.95.

    And we think it’s worth it. But we want to drink so much Blossom Water, that the shipping charges quickly add up. (Blossom Water folks: Can you put the product on Amazon so we can at least use Amazon Prime?)

    Perhaps by publishing a rave review, some retailers will take notice. So here it is:

    WHY DO WE LOVE BLOSSOM WATER?

    The flavors are perfectly blended:

  • Grapefruit Lilac
  • Lemon Rose
  • Plum Jasmine
  • Pomegranate Geranium
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    Lemon Rose Blossom Water. Photo courtesy Blossom Water.

     
    We have particular favorites, but every palate is different so please try them all.

    The flavors taste exactly as they sound: like a delicious sip of nature. We love each flavor as is, so we haven’t considered adding gin, which itself is made with botanicals that would complement those in Blossom Water.

    We’ll get around to it; but for 45 calories for an entire bottle of heaven, we’re not in a rush to add more calories.

     

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    Grapefruit Lilac Blossom Water. Photo courtesy Blossom Water.

     

    The delicately nuanced flavors are refreshing for every day drinking and for special occasions, including lawn parties, showers and weddings, holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

    The beautifully-designed bottles are also ready to serve as party favors.

    OK, men: You think it’s a chick product. But it’s a beverage for anyone whose palate seeks exciting new flavors.

    The only solution: Taste it for yourself.

    Discover more at DrinkBlossomWater.com, and ask your specialty store manager or supermarket beverage manager to bring some in. They, too, will never know until they try.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: American Bruschetta & Beet Swath

    This beautiful plate from Gardenia restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village is a composition of grilled mackerel, butternut squash and endive, garnished with baby greens dressed in vinaigrette and a dollop of pesto.

    But what really stood out to us is what we’ve named “American bruschetta,” a square of crustless white toast, topped with pickled vegetables, a gherkin and an herb leaf tossed in vinaigrette (shown on the bottom left of the plate).

    If this is “American bruschetta,” what’s Italian bruschetta? Here’s the scoop, including the difference between bruschetta and crostini. (NOTE: Pronounce it broo-skett-a, not broo-shett-a.)

    You don’t need a baguette or other crusty loaf that serves as the foundation of classic bruschetta.

  • Toast anything—from ordinary white bread to raisin walnut bread.
  • Top it with anything that complements the entrée. Look in your fridge, pantry, freezer.
  • Use up leftovers.
  • Have fun with your creation.
  •  
    RECIPE: AMERICAN BRUSCHETTA

    Ingredients

       

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    Check out the crustless toast topped with veggies. This bruschetta, along with the, orange squash and swath of burgundy beet purée, add vibrant color to the plate. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

  • Cheese: goat cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc or other mild cheese on raisin bread or walnut bread (or a raisin-walnut-semolina combination)
  • Condiments: chutney, compound butter, olives
  • Fish: anchovies, caviar/roe, sardines, shellfish
  • Meat: bacon, sausage, other charcuterie
  • Spreads: egg salad, guacamole, Middle Eastern (babaganoush, hummus, tzatziki, etc.), spreadable pâté, tapenade, pimento cheese or other cheese spread
  • Vegetables: fresh (baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or watercress are easy), pickled, puréed cooked vegetables
  • Whatever you have at hand (yesterday we used leftover creamy polenta garnished with sliced olives and pimento
  •  
    Plus

  • Butter, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, vinaigrette, yogurt or other binder as needed, to anchor dry ingredients to the bread
  • Garnishes: sliced chiles, herbs, gherkins, spices, etc.
  •  

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    Duck breast with carrot purée. Photo courtesy CopperBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. ASSEMBLE the ingredients. Grill or toast the bread (in a toaster or under the broiler). Remove the crusts as desired.

    2. SPREAD a binder, if necessary, on the bread.

    3. TOP with the featured ingredients and serve.
     
     
    RECIPE: HOW TO MAKE A SWATH OF VEGETABLE OR FRUIT PURÉE

    Painted swaths of fruit or vegetable purée are clever ways to add color to a plate. Use them along with entrées that are beige, brown or white—which includes every protein we can think of except crab, shrimp and lobster (fish, meat, poultry, seitan, tofu).

    That also goes for most standard starches: beans, potatoes, noodles, white and brown rice and most other grains.

    Even if you have another bright color on the plate—butternut squash, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.—you can round out the plate with a swath of a different color.

    No time to cook vegetables for your color splash? Canned beets and carrots work well: Just drain and purée.

     
    Ingredients

  • Bright colored fruit or vegetable—green, orange, red, yellow
  • Seasonings to taste—anything from salt and pepper to curry, garlic, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE and seasonthe cooked vegetable.

    2. USE a silicon basting brush to paint a swath of purée across the plate.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: McConnell’s Ice Cream

    California-based McConnell’s Ice Cream has always been a small family company. Founded in Santa Barbara in 1949, the McConnells made everything from scratch, in small batches, with milk and cream from cows who graze on Central Coast pasture. It’s still made the same way—including pasteurizing the raw milk at The Old Dairy creamery (it dates to 1934).

    Happy cows give happy milk, and these California girls graze on green grass under blue skies. If you’re a cow, there’s nothing better. Add the finest local, sustainable and organic ingredients—from the cage-free eggs to strawberries grown down the road. Avoid preservatives, stabilizers, or additives of any kind.

    The result: ice cream that tastes fresher, more vibrant and creamier (the ice cream now has more than 18% milk fat).

    The company is under new management (also a family), the ice cream is even better than we remember. Perhaps that’s because one of the owners is an executive chef-restaurateur, and the other is a veteran of winemaking (who grew up eating McConnell’s). They used their palates to fine-tune the classic recipes and create quite a few others.

    They also spent the better part of two years modernizing the equipment and production process.

       

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    Chocolate With Raspberry Jam.
    Photo courtesy McConnell’s.

     

    And they’re taking their updated line on the road: The brand is branching out nationwide. Look for it in specialty food stores and upscale supermarkets.

    The flavors change seasonally, but a representative sample includes:

     

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    While much is updated and improved at McConnell’s Ice Cream, the classic packaging remains. Photo courtesy McConnell’s.

     
  • Chocolate Almond Brittle
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Churros Con Leche
  • Coconut & Cream
  • Double Peanut Butter Chip
  • Dutchman’s Chocolate
  • Eureka Lemon & Marionberries (in stores now and exquisite!)
  • Golden State Vanilla
  • Mint Chip
  • Peppermint Stick
  • Salted Caramel Chip
  • Sea Salt Cream & Cookies
  • Sweet Cream
  • Toasted Coconut Almond Chip
  • Turkish Coffee
  • Vanilla Bean
  •  
    One of this summer’s specials is Boysenberry Rose Milk Jam, an impressive combination (though we’re not one for all those boysenberry seeds). We recently tasted an upcoming fall flavor, Cardamom & Swedish Gingersnaps, that was so good, before we knew it the pint was empty (and we hadn’t gotten up from the table).

    If you can’t wait for the ice cream to show up in your local store, you can order it from the website. For the person who has everything, send it as a gift!

    For more information, visit McConnells.com.

      

    Comments



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