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Healthy but Tasty

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Tuesday, 03 January 2012

Are you ringing in the New Year with a healthy lifestyle resolution?  While many will say healthy equates to not-tasty I disagree.  To me healthy means moderation and thinking about the food we eat.  With that in mind, this month's What's Tasty focuses on foods that can aid in the healthy lifestyle including some great snacks and ways to spice up that bland diet food…

Rhythm Kale and Sweet Potato Chips

ImageYou can't get much healthier than kale, which is a natural superfood, or sweet potatoes, which are high fiber and contain Vitamins A and C.  But can you envision yourself craving either?  Probably not, yet if you're anything like me you'll find them delicious when transformed into a crunchy, yet raw, chip.  Unlike any potato chip I've ever had these dehydrated vegetables mixed with vegan sauces offer a punch of nutrition in a flavor packed snack.  Made by Rhythm Superfoods the kale chips come in Bombay Curry, Kool Ranch and Zesty Nacho; and the sweet potatoes come in Sea Salt and Hickory BBQ.  Available nationwide. — Foodie Pam

Snikiddy Eat Your Vegetables

ImageLooking for a chip that is closer to a potato chip?  Meet Snikiddy Eat Your Vegetables. These chips are made with a combination of sweet potatoes, carrots and navy beans that have the crispy crunch and mouth feel of potato chips with the added benefit of nutritious vegetables.  If I didn't know these chips were made from these vegetables I would never have guessed.  Be warned though. These chips, particularly the sour cream & onion and the sea salt varieties, are really good; you won't be able to eat just one but at least they are better for you than traditional potato chips!  Available nationwide.  — Foodie Pam

Jenkins Jellies Hell Fire Pepper Jelly

ImageOh how I love a sweet heat!  And what a heat this Hell Fire Pepper Jelly is. A blend of seven different types of hot and sweet peppers this jelly packs a punch that is balanced by its sweetness.  I find it the perfect complement to a turkey sandwich which makes it a great substitute for both high fat mayonnaise and cheese that are normally loaded on my sandwiches. And since hubby loves it too we find we can't keep enough of it in the house.  Available on-line and at select retailers. Foodie Pam

Chef Belinda's Spices

ImageEver wonder how some people are able to turn a simple fish dish into something extraordinary and loaded with great flavor? More than likely the answer lies in a premium spice mixture.  Personally, I love using fresh herbs and spices, but during this time of year when my vegetable beds are dormant a great dried spice mix can certainly be the way to go.  One of my favorites is by Chef Belinda, a Chicagoan turned South Carolina southern belle and professional chef.  For years she's been praised for her flavorful spice mixtures which motivated her into trying her hand at selling them. The Chef Belinda Spice blends includes everything from a classic Grilling Rub, Mediterranean Steak Spice, and my personal favorite The Everyday Spice which I use on popcorn, scrambled eggs, chicken, fish, and you name it. — Heather Jones

 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 02 January 2012 )
 

Tasty Bubbly to Ring in the New Year: The Best Champagne of 2011

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Wednesday, 28 December 2011

ImageEven those who aren't drawn to Champagne the rest of the year often celebrate with it on New Year's Eve.  But choosing a Champagne or sparkling wine can be a daunting task, given the vast number of choices available in all budget ranges.   While it was a tough job, we made the sacrifice and set out to find you some great choices for celebrating New Year's Eve (and enjoying throughout the year). Read on to see our picks; and if you're unsure of the right way to open a bottle of Champagne, check out this great how-to video from Real Simple magazine. 

First up is a budget-friendly sleeper that comes from New Mexico. Nope, we're not kidding. Gruet's fine wines are made by a genuine French family using classic Methode Champenoise. In New Mexico. Though available in many stores throughout the U.S., go to Gruet Winery to read the history of the winery and peruse all the choices available. The Gruet Rosé sparkling wine is a personal favorite…and at under $15 per bottle, you don't need to wait for a special occasion to justify serving it. — picked by Peggy Fallon

Another inexpensive option comes from California winemaker Jennifer Wall at Barefoot Bubbly, where she is known for her fruit-forward wines. At $10, the Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee can't be beat as an affordable choice; and its sweeter profile appeals to many who normally eschew the bubbly.  

If you're looking for something a step-up without completely busting the bank, then consider the Pol Roger Brut Reserve 'White Foil' Non-Vintage and the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label.  The Pol Roger Brut Reserve Non-Vintage ($39 at KL Wines)  is an equal blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meurnier and Chardonnay that Wine Spectator (91 points) says results in "Rich notes of pear pastry, toasted almond, smoke and honey are well-meshed with and balanced by fresh notes of lemon peel, quince and grated ginger, all knit with the finely tuned acidity and creamy mousse". No matter how you describe it, we found it highly enjoyable and perfect for a celebration--which may be why the Royal Household selected it for serving at Prince William's wedding reception.

While that recommendation is hard to beat, the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label ($45 at KL Wines) is also a Project Foodie favorite.  Wine Spectator (90 points) says it has "Hints of toast and biscuit accent lightly honeyed flavors of quince, apple blossom and peach in this fresh and balanced Champagne. There's a stony underpinning, with a smoke-tinged finish".  We enjoy it all year long!  — picked by Pam

Happy New Year Foodies!
Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 December 2011 )
 

Foodie Gift Guide

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Thursday, 24 November 2011

ImageWant help finding the perfect gift for the foodie in your life?  We've picked out some great choices for foodies who love wine, cheese, entertaining, baking and more including stocking stuffers, gifts under $25, mid-price gifts and even over the top gifts

The Stocking Stuffers

ImageEven if you can't fly to New York anytime soon, you can still get a taste of Chef David Chang's wildly popular Momofuku restaurants with these handy Momofuku jarred sauces. They come in two varieties: Momofuku Asian Braising Sauce and Momofuku Clay Pot Cooking Sauce. The former is a savory-sweet blend of soy, mirin, pear, dark brown sugar, rice vinegar, apple juice and sesame oil that comes with a recipe for "Asian Braised Short Ribs" on the back of the jar. The latter is a sweet-tangy combination of soy, mirin, lemongrass, fish sauce, shallots, ginger, cinnamon and star anise that comes with a recipe for "Clay Pot Pork." The sauces are $16.95 each. Or purchase the two as a set for $24. Find them exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. — picked by Carolyn Jung

 

ImageWhen a whisk is too much and a wooden spoon is just not enough, bakers reach for the dough whisk-an exclusive from King Arthur Flour. Looking a bit like an old rug beater, this kitchen essential has a flow-through blade that makes quick work of everything from muffin batter to the stiffest yeast dough. $14.95 for the mini, and $16.95 for the heavy-duty model from King Arthur Flour. — picked by Peggy Fallon

 

ImageFoodies who love playing games will quickly become addicted to Foodie Fight Rematch.  The trivia game combines free-form, multiple choice and true-false questions in several different categories.  The questions range from simple to hard (the true-false ones get me every time!). With its small carrying box, Foodie Fight Rematch can easily travel to wherever your foodie friends gather, but you need not have a large crowd - it's equally fun with as few as two players.  $15.61 at Amazon.com — picked by Pam

 

ImageClassic mojitos require a muddler for the mint, and several other cocktails benefit from muddling too. Mashing cherries with basil makes a nice twist on the classic, or fresh cranberries can be muddled for fall cocktails. These wood muddles come in three styles. $17 each at C.S. Post & Co. — picked by Lisa Lawless  

 

ImageNeed just a little bit more for the stocking?  Measuring spoons (fancy or plain each have their place) and measuring cups (particularly the ¼ cup mini-angled measuring cup with tablespoon markers $8.32 at Amazon.com ) are great stocking stuffers year-after-year.  Small cookbooks are also great for stocking stuffers.  If your stuffing a baker's stocking then So, Sweet! - a collection of 50 baked good recipes from Sur La Table ($9 at Amazon.com) with recipes like Almond-Chocolate Spritz Cookies is a great stocking stuffer. — picked by Pam

 

Under $25 (but too big for the stocking…)

ImageAnyone who loves baking pies and tarts will surely appreciate this French-born rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom. In addition to looking quite chic, it makes serving a breeze. A mere $18 (Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table ) will breathe new life into your baking. (Round tarts are so last year.) — picked by Peggy Fallon

 

ImageThese stain-resistant, neoprene oven mitts look to be indestructible. And, you can toss them into the dishwasher for cleaning. Cloth oven mitts with burn holes may now be a thing of the past. $18.00 at Williams-Sonomapicked by Lisa Lawless   

 

ImageSt. Helena's Clif Family Winery makes a handy dandy wine pouch that is a perfect gift for friends who love toting some vino along in the great outdoors. These pouches are light, unbreakable, and supposedly have an 80 percent lower carbon footprint than two glass bottles, and 90 percent less waste and less landfill space than two glass bottles. The winery was founded by the folks who invented Clif Bars. Each pouch holds the equivalent of two 750-ml bottles and keeps the wine fresh for as long as a month after opening. Each pouch is a bargain $16.99, too. Choose either a pouch of crisp, unoaked Chardonnay or Cabarnet Sauvignon. Find the pouches online at ClimberPouch or ClifFamilyWinery. — picked by Carolyn Jung

 

ImageInventive mixologists are using all kinds of flavors in bitters these days, and there have been recipes in magazines for making bitters at home. These bottles come in just the right size with a small, squirt spout for adding a drop or two of homemade bitters to your cocktails. $23.95 at Cocktail Kingdom. — picked by Lisa Lawless  

 

ImageCloth napkins are ever so much more civilized than paper, and they're better for the environment, too. If you're hesitant to use Grandma's damask every day, check out these 100% cotton easy-care hotel linens available in ivory or white from Pottery Barn. Generously-sized dinner napkins are $24 for 6: cocktail napkins $12 for the same number at Pottery Barn . For a bit extra you can even get them monogramed, or purchase a matching tablecloth or runner. And best of all, linens ship free. — picked by Peggy Fallon

 

ImageSipping in Style… It's time to recycle those old jelly jars and start drinking out of grown-up glassware. These Venetian-inspired hand-blown tumblers are as suitable for fine wine as they are for your morning orange juice. A bargain at $24 for a set of 4 uniquely stunning designs at Wisteria . — picked by Peggy Fallon

The under $100's -- Kicking it up a notch

ImageHands down, this is the best pizza stone for the grill that I've tried. The Emile Henry round pizza stone is glazed, making it not only beautiful to behold, but a little easier to slide your pizza on and off of it. Founded in 1850 in France, Emile Henry is renowned for its dutch ovens and other ceramic cookware. It's no wonder that its pizza stone heats up so evenly. It's also easier to clean than other stones. You can wipe it off or put it in the dishwasher. The $49.95 stone is available in black at Williams-Sonoma or in blazing red at Sur La Table. — picked by Carolyn Jung

 

ImageWine & Cheese Pairings — It's hard enough to pick a great wine let alone picking a great cheese to pair with it.  Pairings Wine & Cheese makes both easy with hand selected combinations of delicious artisanal cheeses and wines that make both taste better.  Each pairing includes a bottle of wine perfectly paired with a half-pound of cheese; information on both the wine and cheese; and the option to purchase more of either at a discount.  Available as individual pairings (about $50) or monthly subscriptions in the Wine & Cheese clubs (price depends on number of months) at www.pairingswineandcheese.com— picked by Pam
 

ImageSeveral years ago a dear friend gave me a Michael Aram cake server as a special gift…and so the love affair began. Aram is an American-born artist who honed his metalworking skills in India in the late 1980's. His work can now be seen in many upscale gift shops and department stores; or check out his web site for a special selection of Christmas items and Judaica. My current obsession is a small hand-hammered stainless bowl nestled in an oxidized bronze olive branch. $79 for timeless beauty from Michael Aram. — picked by Peggy Fallon

ImageiPad owners already know how easy it is to cook directly from on-line recipes but depending on the type of carrying case or stand you have the logistics so can be less than ideal.  The ipad Joule by Element Case has a nifty little stand that doesn't tip over, lets you angle for easy viewing while cooking in 3 different positions and doesn't take up much kitchen counter space— the trifecta for the iPad using foodie in the kitchen! $99 at tekcases.   — picked by Pam
 

Over $100 and Big Ticket Items

ImageFried food lover's looking to limit their fat in-take now have an option - ActiFry is a low-fat fryer that only uses 1 tablespoon of oil to make French frys!  The ActiFry has a hot air distribution system that allows food to be fried with minimal oil while the food rotates inside the ActiFry.  I was surprised by the French fries it produced which are a bit crispier than oven roasted potatoes.  The ActiFry can make enough French fries for four people at a time, and it can be used for any sturdy fried food (the food is rotated in the pan so soft foods won't work as well), along with stir fry's, vegetables, and even risottos.  $249.95 at Amazon.com. — picked by Pam

 

ImageThese domes likely fall into the very special gift category for most of us, but if the occasion comes along, their pretty colors and delicate shapes are lovely. They offer a stunning way to serve pastry and cheeses. $545 - $565 at Joe Cariati. — picked by Lisa Lawless  

 

Have foodie will travel?  If you've got a foodie on your list who loves traveling (and you've got the budget) here are some options to consider:


Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers.
Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2011 )
 

Tasty Entertaining, Drinking and Eating

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Thursday, 27 October 2011


This month's What's Tasty is a mash-up of delights for the foodie.  Whether you're looking for help entertaining, tea options, or hot from the oven breads we've got it…  

Bamboo Chic

ImageHave you ever seen those catalog ads for little plastic trays to carry appetizers, the ones that also have a built-in notch to hold the stem of a wine glass? The ad usually features a cocktail party filled with urbane-types chatting it up, each effortlessly balancing their personal stash of food and drink in one hand. Well, I've never been very tempted to try those trays-probably because I tend to talk with my hands. But if your friends are more subdued in their conversational skills, Totally Bamboo has made a good looking version out of-you guessed it-eco-friendly bamboo. But rather than destined to be hidden away until your next party, these dual-purpose 10 ½ x 6 ½ -inch Bamboo Puzzle Party Platters can be linked together and lined up on a buffet for an interesting serving piece.  Check out their web site www.totallybamboo.com for lots of other very cool bamboo gift items, many priced at under $20. —picked by Peggy Fallon

Sassy Tea

When life gets to be a bit much, not many things can calm and center me like a great cup of tea. That being the case, I'm always on the hunt for that next great brand to make the experience that much more satisfying. Enter Village Tea Company  (Dallas, TX), founded by a dashing, young, self-made man.  Village Tea Company offers teas such as Sassy Green Tea and Gentle Organic Lemon Ginger tea.  The quality of this tea is one that you can see as well as taste. Check them out at www.villageteaco.com. —picked by Heather Jones

Tandoor Flatbreads


ImageWant hot and tasty flatbread from the oven without making it yourself? Well, sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too… Stonefire Flatbreads use a commercial tandoor oven to produce authentic, buttery flatbread that will let you have that hot and tasty flatbread in minutes.  The instructions say to warm the flatbread in the oven, but I found that broiling a short time adds a bit of crispness to the outside that made them even tastier. Either way they offer a quick way to have warm flatbread (aka naan) with dinner.  And they store well in the freezer without compromising taste.  Available nationwide see www.stonefire.com for details. —picked by Foodie Pam

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers. 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2011 )
 

Eating Responsibly

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Written by foodie pam   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Do you eat responsibly? 

I know it sounds like a personal question along the lines of "Are you going to eat all of those cookies?", but how much you eat is not what eating responsibly is about.

So what is eating responsibly?  It's knowing where the food you eat comes from, how it is grown, how it is raised, how it is harvested, how it is slaughtered, how it is processed and how it is transported to your kitchen.  It is the knowledge that the choices you make in selecting the food you are putting into your mouth impacts more than you.  It means that when you choose to eat something that is inexpensive you understand the hidden costs of eating it.  Simply put, like drinking responsibly, eating responsibly means you consider the lives of others in your choices.

ImageLast month I was invited to a very special dinner in Des Moines Iowa in appreciation of the Hog Farmers who raise hogs for Niman Ranch.  The weekend long event included a tour of a working hog farm, educational presentations, a stop at the Des Moines farmers market (absolutely huge) and an awards dinner for the hog farmers.

While you might thing the educational presentations would focus on how great Niman Ranch is—surprisingly they were heavily weighted on education rather than marketing.  At the hog farm tour we learned how they ensure not only a consistent and high quality product but that the hogs are raised with care.  For example, the hog farmers must qualify to be  providers and are constantly scored on the quality of their product.  We also learned that breed, as well as how the hogs are treated, including reducing stress, are important for a great tasting piece of pork. 

ImageOn the hog farm tour we saw hogs ranging from 4 days old to several months old playing, eating and living on open ground.  And while they clearly were a bit unsettled with all of us imposing on their life, in general they seemed stress free.  We learned that the land on which the hogs are raised this year will rotate to another location next year so that the land can replenish itself while performing other duties.  This is in stark contrast to hogs raised in confinement with streams of manure cycling by and where stress is the way of life rather than the exception.  Ironically, yet not surprising in our profit driven world, we also learned that hogs raised in confinement facilities are cheaper to raise and as a result, the individual farmer may be a dying bread. 

ImageThe educational presentations continued the next day focusing on sustainability with a panel of experts from across the country discussing what sustainability is and how we achieve it.   Later that night we enjoyed a pork-centric dinner while the hog farmers received awards for the quality of their product.  Overall the weekend was very educational, and of course tasty, as we were served wonderful dishes made with pork the entire weekend.

So how does this fit in with my question of eating responsibly?  Honestly, it is the basis for the question.  A weekend of observing people passionate about the product they produce made as great an impression as the various educational aspects of the weekend.  And while I can't say I've consciously thought of eating responsibly for very long, indirectly I've been doing it for a while with my choices of eating locally, eating seasonally, shopping at farmers' markets, and making as much of my own food as possible.   Yet, I admit, until the weekend in Des Moines I bought meat at the grocery store without thinking of where it came from or why that was important to understand (beyond that higher quality meat tastes better).  I failed to ask myself was the animal raised responsibly and if not what impact does that have?  Does this mean I will never again buy meat in the grocery store without an assurance of how it is raised?  No, because sometimes we have very limited choices, sometimes money is tight and sometimes we are rushed. But, armed with the knowledge of the impact of my choices, I will try whenever possible to make a responsible choice.

I hope you will do the same and that the next time someone asks "Do you eat responsibly?" you can proudly declare you do.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 September 2011 )
 
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