Posts Tagged ‘ food ’

Smartfood Selects Snack Foods

I’m a snack food junkie, so I try not to buy snack foods all that often lest I find myself covered in orange cheese, having eaten an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting.  Smartfood Selects might change that though, because they are both tasty and not terrible for you.

As a bzzAgent, I received a free full-size bag of Sour Cream and Onion Puffed Corn as well as two snack size bags, one of Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Popped Chips and one of Cinnamon Brown Sugar Multigrain Popped Chips.

The puffed corn was tasty (even though I’m not a sour cream fan) and had an odd but strangely addictive texture, like fluffier popcorn without the crunchy kernel part. My son didn’t really like them, but everyone else had mostly good things to say. The puffed corn was not too salty or too powdery (I hate that mess that gets all over your fingers!) I also liked the recloseable bag that it came in. We’re always losing our chip clips in this house. The bag lasted in our house about a week, and the product never got stale, even though it contains no preservatives. They’re also baked, not fried, so there’s no greasy residue all over your hands or the bag.

I liked the popped chips better. They have a great crunchy texture. I had some leftover caramel dip in the house so we ate the cinnamon chips with that and it was DELICIOUS. I’m a sucker for cinnamon and sugar, so these were my favorite! The hummus chips were really interesting. We eat a lot of hummus in our house and it never occurred to me that garbanzo bean flour might make a good chip! These were the favorites of my two-year-old as well as some of the other people who sampled the snacks. I can’t speak to the staying power of the chips, because none of them lasted long enough to get stale.

I’m glad to have found a snack food that I can bring to parties or even munch at home that isn’t loaded with artificial ingredients. While I’ll still eat snack foods only in moderation, I’m glad to have found a smarter choice!

Unreal™ Candy

CAAANNNDYYY!!!!

*Ahem*

Sorry, I did get a little excited about this campaign. As a self-admitted junk-oholic, I was thrilled to be invited. The BzzKit consisted of an envelope with some BOGO Free coupons, and as with most campaigns, a coupon for a free Unreal item to try so I can give my honest feedback. LET ME CLARIFY, I AM A BZZAGENT AND I GOT THIS PRODUCT FREE THROUGH THEM.!!!!!!!

Anyway, this campaign was the first time I’d heard of Unreal Candy. Their schtick is “unjunking” candy by getting rid of artificial stuff like high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, preservatives, and the like. This is something I can definitely get behind! Yeah, I love my chocolate, but I’m also a Mom and the primary shopper and chef for my family, so I care about what goes into our bodies.

It took a little effort to find somewhere that sold the Unreal brand, and I couldn’t find it at either of my normal groceries, but it was at the candy counter in CVS. I picked up Unreal 8 (their version of Snickers) and Unreal 77 (peanut butter cups.) The packaging is a little confusing and takes some effort to find out what exactly you’re buying. I suppose once you’ve bought it a few times you’d recognize the color, but for a new customer, I had to read all the packages for a minute (crouched down on the store floor.)

The sizes of the candies were slightly smaller than, but still comparable to, their popular name brand counterparts. I didn’t miss the extra few grams. As far as taste? I thought they were about what I would expect. They were a little less sweet (just fine by me!) I tried the 77 first and found the peanut butter to be thicker, smoother, and less gritty than a Reese’s cup. It had more of a real peanut butter taste. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was definitely something I would eat again. The 8 was much the same – better texture, still a similar flavor to the Snickers. I wouldn’t mind trying them at the same time to see what the real difference is – it’s been some time since I’ve eaten a Snickers.

Of course, candy still isn’t healthy, but if I’m going to eat it (and I’m not making it myself,) any of the Unreal varieties would be a fine choice. I look forward to seeing some of their future offerings – I’m looking at you, Butterfinger!

Family Night With Kroger®

This is kind of a strange name for a campaign, but it’s all about bringing your family together for a fun and inexpensive evening at home. My family consists of myself, my husband, and a two-year-old toddler, so late nights and crazy parties don’t happen so much anymore. I actually enjoy snuggling up on the couch with a DVD on these days anyway.

That considered, we didn’t make a “family night” with these Kroger products, but we enjoyed them anyway. The BzzKit came packed with a bag of Tortilla Cupz (cup-shaped tortilla chips, Kroger’s version of  Tostito’s Scoops) and a bottle of orange starfruit Vitamin Enhanced Water, along with coupons (including two for free frozen pizza and frozen fruit bars.) I drank the vitamin water right away, because I’m the only one in the house that will drink it. My husband thinks they taste like chewing up vitamins. I don’t normally drink artificially sweetened drinks, so I wasn’t crazy about the zero-calorie vitamin enhanced water, but I do think they have a good flavor variety (peach and blackberry and black and blueberry are also available), and didn’t expect that from a generic beverage. I’ll probably stick with my name brand Vitamin Water though, unless Kroger comes out with a non-diet variety.

We all enjoyed the Tortilla Cupz. We ate most of them with some really garlicky hummus. My son devoured them! The pros: they stand up well to dipping and are great for scooping up lots of salsa or dips. The cons: I thought they were overly salty  (but I”m a little sensitive to salt), and they are sort of an awkward size – too big to eat in one bite, but kind of difficult to bite in half.

The pizza was your standard rising crust frozen pizza – we got pepperoni, and added lots of veggies and some feta cheese on the top. The pepperoni was well distributed (I hate when you take a frozen pizza out of the box and the toppings are all frozen together in a clump on one side.) It baked up fine in our oven. Not much to say about it, but nothing bad!

The fruit bars  have a nice flavor variety to choose from. We picked the pomegranate kind, and they had a great mouthfeel (not super soft, like pudding pops, but not hard ice like popsicles). They were also not too sweet or too tart, and of course, they’re way easier to eat than an actual pomegranate! The size was spot-on too, and left my sweet tooth satisfied without feeling like I ate too much sugar.

Private Selection Taste of Summer

Food campaign! My favorite kind! I do about half my grocery shopping at Kroger, so I’m no stranger to the Private Selection label. This campaign centers around picnic fare – ground beef, chips, ice cream, pie, yum! What came in the kit? A bag of kettle-cooked Sea Salt and Black Pepper potato chips, and coupons, coupons, coupons!

Of course, kettle-cooked chips are vastly superior to all other kinds. I’ve been a fan since my first taste of Cape Cod Potato Chips during a stay on Cape Cod twenty years ago, but I love that they’ve become so popular. Shelling out $4 or more for a small bag of chips is not really worth it for me. The Private Selection brand has everything I’m looking for – huge crunch, tasty seasonings, and at a price I think is reasonable.

The coupons granted me a free pound of ground beef, 6″ pie, and a discount on ice cream (which ended up costing only about a quarter, since it was on sale!) I haven’t been eating much ground meat lately (though I occasionally grind my own) so the beef was a bit of a treat. I made a super tasty taco salad with my Angus ground beef sirloin. (I would have made burgers if I’d bought a fattier cut – but the sirloin is perfect for taco salad!)

The pie was fine, but not as good as homemade. A little more cinnamon in my Northern Spy Struesel Apple Pie would have been better, but I do love the crumb topping. We ate our pie heated up, but I should have served it with ice cream!

Speaking of ice cream, YES YES YES. I’ve been buying Private Selection ice cream since it’s been available, and it is thick, creamy, and delicious, with great flavor options. My favorite is the Mint Moose Tracks, but I guess that doesn’t come in pint size, so I opted for the Black Raspberry Dark Chocolate Chunk. You had me at dark chocolate, but the raspberry really comes through too – it’s not a fake, cloying berry flavor either, but a yummy fresh fruit flavor. I am blessed with living in a city known for ice cream – Graeter’s and Jeni’s are just two amazing options – but for the price, you can’t beat Private Selection.

Filippo Berio Olive Oil

I generally try to feed my family healthy foods, so I use olive oil for most of my cooking oil needs. (Curious about the health benefits of olive oil? Check out http://www.filippoberio.com/yourhealth to be informed.) I was excited to get into this campaign because I usually buy the store brand olive oil, and I was curious to try it back-to-back with a pricier name brand, to see if I could tell the difference. The kit came with a bottle of EVOO, a handy little jar opener (my previous jar opener – the one I’m married to – seemed equal parts hurt and relieved), a fat substitution magnet chart, some coupons, and a number of recipes.

Usually I use olive oil pretty traditionally – I use it to saute, grease bakeware, and make salad dressings and the like. Occasionally I’ll use it for non-food purposes, like on my son’s cradle cap when he was an infant, or to soften my feet at the beach. (Really! Put a little olive oil on your feet, and the sand will smooth the rough and dry skin!) One thing I have never tried, though, is using it in place of butter in baking. I didn’t even know you could do that reliably! Plus, olive oil isn’t really a flavor I associate with sweet treats (although I have heard good things about Lemon Olive Oil Cookies.)

That changed last week when I was making a batch of breakfast cookies (from the fantastic bulk cooking/freezing cookbook Fix, Freeze, Feast) and realized I only had half the butter I needed. As I closed the refrigerator door, I noticed the magnet with the substitution chart right there, so I decided to go for it. The cookies came out great, and no one even noticed the difference!

I’ve also been dying to try the Caramelized Garlic/Garlic Oil recipe I found in Better Homes & Gardens February 2012 issue, which can be found here. Since this oil is cooked, you don’t need to use EVOO, which is better suited for drizzling and finishing dishes. I am a huge garlic lover and I can think of ten thousand uses for this recipe. I’ll post an update to let you know how it is!

Pork – Be Inspired

This cracks me up – I love advertising for (seemingly) generic products – Drink Refreshing Milk! Eat Eggs! Pork – Be Inspired! I joined this bzzCampaign for pork and got a nifty digital meat thermometer (my second, but a backup is always nice!), basting brush, a $5 coupon for pork chops at the Kroger family of stores, a bunch of other coupons, and waaaay more information that I previously had about pork and the many ways you can prepare it.

I’ve never been a huge fan of pork chops but I do prepare them for my family when they’re on sale. Despite my best efforts, they usually end up dry and we have to puree them for my poor two-year-old and his limited set of teeth. As it turns out, I’ve been cooking them to a very outdated 170 degrees – apparently, and I didn’t get the memo until starting this campaign, pork only needs to be cooked to 145 degrees (with a 3 minute rest!) This makes a huge difference!

So I went to Kroger today with a song in my heart and a recipe in my pocket, determined to make the best damn pork chops my kitchen has ever seen. There were only two cuts of pork chops available in the pre-packaged section, so I purchased the center cut loin chops. My handy-dandy pocket pork guide compares this to the “Porterhouse” of pork. The guide came with loads of recipe ideas, and I tried a simple Smoky Rub, as follows:

Smoky Rub for Pork Chops

Combine:

  • 2 t smoked sweet paprika
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t coarse salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t black pepper

I preheated my grill, and here is where everything went to hell.

I took my plate of seasoned meat outside, and noticed copious amounts of smoke on the side of my house, and an acrid burning smell. Somehow, my grill had started spewing flames out the bottom, melting the temperature control knob. I turned off the gas and tried not to panic – all I had to do was consult my little guide for an alternate cooking method! I decided to just pan-fry them (and the summer squash I was preparing on the side.)

I am pleased to say that these chops turned out GREAT, despite the change in plans. They were moist, juicy, and even my son chewed them up without incident. He’s not a big meat eater, but he ate the entire serving! The seasoning was nice – I think it would have tasted even better on the grill, but I’ll just try that another time. I think I will be buying pork chops more often now!

If you’re interested in more pork recipes or general information, check out http://www.porkbeinspired.com for probably anything you ever wanted to know!