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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TOP PICK: Madison & Marcela Toffee

Madison & Marcela, located in a small seaside town in the low country of South Carolina, has hit a grand slam home run with three very different toffees. Chocolate Covered Peanut Toffee is a heavenly product—or perhaps a devilish one, as once you take the first bite, the bag is all but gone. CranAlmond Toffee (for those who want their antioxidants) is a beauty: cranberry-studded toffee on one side, lovely white slivered almonds on the other. For those who like things simple but perfect, Madison Crunch is a double-layered pecan toffee.

All of the ingredients are USDA-certified organic, with the exception of the chocolate on the Chocolate Covered Peanut Toffee (which is the excellent Callebaut brand from Belgium). The sweetener is raw cane sugar mixed with agave nectar. The agave nectar adds flavor dimension while cutting down on the sweetness (and it’s much lower on the glycemic scale than sugar—not that we’re claiming this as health food). Yet with all this organic goodness and handcrafting, the candy is still so inexpensive that you’ll want to order lots for party favors, stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, and just to hand out, because they taste so good, they put you in a munificent mindset.

  CranAlmond Toffee: ruby-like cranberries on one side, ivory almond slices on the other. Photography by Saidi Granados.
While we discovered these toffees months ago, we wanted to put them on hold as a last-minute Father’s Day gift. If you haven’t yet remembered Dad, Grandpa or Uncle Sidney, here’s your chance. Take a closer look at all three flavors in the full review at TheNibble.com.

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Sophisticated Cherry Cocktails: Red For Independence Day


Tart cherry juice is a flavor-rich ingredient for cocktails.
Photo by Liv Friis-Larsen | IST.
  One of the healthiest juices you can drink is tart cherry juice. Sometimes called a superfruit,* tart cherries (also called sour cherries and Morello cherries) have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, as compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries), fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and E. A growing body of scientific research links cherries to health benefits, from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries also have been found to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process. You can read more about the fruit at the website of the Cherry Marketing Institute, ChooseCherries.com.

*A superfruit is one that has a high antioxidant level as well as nutritional density. Others include açaí, blueberry, cranberry, grape, guarana, mangosteen, noni and pomegranate.

Most of us are acquainted with the fun side of cherries: cherry pie, ice cream, yogurt and other delights. Now consider the cherry cocktail. These bright red cocktails are also perfect for red-themed holidays like Independence Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Find recipes for a Cherry Red Eye Mojito and Red Alert Cherry-Coconut Fusion on TheNibble.com.

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TOP PICK: Geoff & Drew’s Brownies

Often, people as, us to recommend brownies. We always ask about the recipient and the occasion. Some companies sell brownies in very nice packaging that are too sweet for the sophisticated palate. We’d send them to a kid, but not to a fine food enthusiast. Others, like the brownies made with Dagoba organic chocolate by artisan chocolatier Chokola’j, are very fine, indeed. But they are too elegant to snarf down at a picnic or barbecue, and too delicate for grab-and-go.

Enter Geoff & Drew’s. There are three flavors, each a variation on the same moist, fudgy brownie. Chocolate Chip is the most classic, Toffee has a subtle caramel topping and Mint will blow your socks off with a large chocolate peppermint pattie embedded in the top—a simple but brilliant idea and our favorite idea to borrow thus far this year. The caveat emptor on these brownies is that they melt in your mouth so easily that one brownie seems like only half a portion. To compensate, we drink an extra tall glass of milk with each. The brownies are individually shrink-wrapped for shelf life as well as easy grab-and-go. Take a closer look in the full review on TheNibble.com. Caution: Photos may cause drooling.

 

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Gourmet Macaroni And Cheese Recipes

  Last year, we published an incredible collection of award-winning macaroni and cheese recipes from Tillamook’s annual competition. We’re thrilled to present this year’s winners. If you have a recipe that’s a national contender, check with Tillamook Cheese for the 2008-2009 competition rules; the deadline for recipe submissions is July 28, 2008. In the meantime, try one of these delicious recipes from this year’s winners, located on TheNibble.com:

-Autumn Comfort Mac with butternut squash, pancetta and cavatappi

-Jumbo Shell Pasta with white cheddar & chicken macaroni

-King Crab Mac & Cheese

-Mi Casa Chicken Pasta

-Pacific Northwest Macaroni & Cheese

-Shrimp Embrochette

 

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Old Goat Fruit Salsa, Tomato Jam & Rum Raisin Sauce

Like sweet fruit salsa? Like adorable pygmy goats? Here’s the salsa for you. The line has four mascots: pygmy goat triplets and their canine “brother.” Together, they dish out nice, sweet-and-spicy salsas and an outstanding rum raisin sauce for ham, dessert or whatever you can find an excuse to put it on.

The Szareks have a greenhouse in Clinton, New York, where they grow tomatoes and herbs. Some of their produce goes into their own line, under the Old Goat label. Today, three pygmy goat triplets—Spike, Vinca and Violet—are the honorees. Each goat has a salsa named after it, based on, according to the Szareks, their personalities (Vinca being very sweet, Violet a moderate and Spike, well, hot and ornery).

There’s also a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Baylee, the official “goat herder.” He gets the best deal of all: Our favorite product is named after him! More about that in a moment.

 

 
The Szareks grow their tomatoes and herbs in a greenhouse, without the use of pesticides. Their products, with their sweet labels, will be popular with food lovers and animal lovers alike. Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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