Posts Tagged ‘ recipe ’

MorningStar Farms

Years ago, my husband used to work at a now-defunct ‘Net Cafe (remember when those existed?) that served a great black bean burger. After we moved away, there was a veggie-burger-shaped-hole in my heart (or stomach) that had to be filled! I came across MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean burgers in the grocery, and they immediately became a staple in our house. I have been buying them at least monthly for the past ten years or so, so I was happy to be chosen for the BzzAgent MorningStar Farms campaign. As part of the campaign, I received a coupon for a free MorningStar Farms frozen product, as well as some discount coupons. I really wanted to branch out and try another variety (I’ve been intrigued by the Mushroom Lover’s burger), but I just couldn’t stray from my beloved black bean burgers.

For the record, we are not vegetarians, though I do try to serve one or two meatless dinners per week, for cost and health reasons. My go-to Black Bean Burger preparation is baked patties served with tomato and avocado on a bun, but they are also delicious sliced up as a wrap and with guacamole (though what isn’t delicious with guacamole?!) I like to serve them with sweet potato fries on the side. Once I served them on garlic bread – the health benefits go out the window, but they are really tasty. Speaking of health benefits, did you know these burgers have 73% less fat than ground beef, and are only 120 calories each?

So how do they taste, anyway? A lot of people hear “veggie burger” and think “flavorless soy patty,” but the black bean burgers have a nice kick of spice – not so much that my toddler won’t eat it, though. I like to amp it up a bit with pepper jack cheese sometimes. You can see real chunks of tomato, corn, and of course, black beans. The texture is not really similar to a ground beef burger, but more of a crispy exterior with a soft interior. They are a good size to fit on a bun, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to that! A quick peek at the Spicy Black Bean Burgers website offers several tasty options, like Roasted Vegetable-Black Bean Burger Panzanella Salad.

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Progresso™ Recipe Starters™

When it rains it pours – I had no campaigns for a few months, and then BAM! three at once. So here’s the first, Progresso Recipe Starters. Not much came in the bzzKit, just some coupons and a free can of Creamy Roasted Garlic Sauce (my choice – I’m a sucker for anything garlic!) But boy was I glad I had that can a few nights ago when dinnertime came around and I realized I didn’t have a plan! The recipe on the back of the can looked good (Easy Weeknight Chicken Pot Pie) but I decided to scan the QR code on the can to see what their other ideas for the sauce included. The one that caught my attention was for Chicken Enchiladas – and since I had everything on hand, I decided to go for it.

When I opened the can, the first thing I noticed was the sauce was much more liquid than I expected – not like a condensed cream soup. The second thing I noticed was that it smelled exactly like chicken pot pie! I started to second guess my dinner choice, but went ahead with enchiladas anyway. I reduced the amount of cheese (tip: don’t look at the nutritional info for these – yikes!) and used fresh chiles instead of canned.

My family loved the enchiladas, including the two-year-old. I’m not certain if I’ll make this recipe, but I do think I’ll be trying Progresso Recipe Starters again – next time, I’d like to try another flavor. It was really great to have on hand when I needed it and so convenient. I do wish they had a lower sodium version – especially when I’m already cooking, I like to have more control over the salt level of the foods I prepare.

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!