Even before the change to daylight savings time had us "spring forward", this year was simply flying by. Somehow, though, I always find time to relax in the kitchen and find new things to share with foodies. This month's pick includes some great kitchen staples, addictive snacks, pick-me-up snacks and, of course, libations….
Great additions to the Kitchen Arsenal
I've lost count of how many balsamic vinegars and olive oils I've tasted. Most often the balsamic vinegars are too sweet or artificial tasting, whereas the olive oils are either bitter or bland. Surprisingly, my latest tastings found well balanced balsamic and olive oil both from the same company: The Artisanal Kitchen. Plus, they won't bust your wallet. The Aceto Balsamico Di Modena -- Purple Label ($14.99 for 500 ml) is smooth and full-bodied with just the right amount of sweetness. The Three Olives Extra Virgin olive oil ($19.99 for 500 ml) is unfiltered and low in acid for a mellow fruity flavor. -- picked by Foodie Pam
Snackin' it up
If you are looking for a snack bar that is soft and sweet rather than the typical hard and crunchy granola bars, then give Kraft's Milk Bite a try. The Milk Bites are available in either Chocolate, Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Oatmeal or Peanut Butter and use real milk to create a soft and creamy granola bar (I found Chocolate and Strawberry equally tasty and addictive!). They need to be kept refrigerated, so be aware that this isn't something that will sit in the bottom of your travel bag for that emergency fix. -- picked by Foodie Pam
Italian Brew at Home
I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to my morning cup of Joe. It's not that I'm against trying out new coffee beans, most simply don't get my attention for very long. Well at least they didn't. A recent tasting of Caffe Bomard from Italy not only got my attention for its great flavor and aroma, but more importantly this 100% Arabica Italian Roast continues to get my attention every morning. It is a lighter roast than some Italian roasts though, so if you are looking for an Espresso bean this may not be it. But for my French press it is perfect. Available on Amazon.com with a buy one get one free special it is currently $49 for 4.4 lbs. -- picked by Foodie Pam
The Dried Fruit Formerly Known as Prune
When fresh fruit is scarce, it used to be a challenge to add sex appeal to my morning oatmeal. Sure, there are plenty of packaged dried fruit varieties available, but reading their nutritional content on the bag made me think twice before shaking a liberal dose onto my cereal. The folks at Sunsweet have now solved this dilemma with Plum Amazins. Compared to the same size serving as raisins or dried cranberries, the Plum Amazins are less expensive, have 50% more fiber, 45% less sugar, 19% fewer calories, and a lower glycemic index. And then there are the antioxidants, potassium, plus the lack of added sugar and preservatives.
Because they are sold already pitted and diced, they are ready-to-eat for snacking, and a convenient substitute for any other dried fruit in your favorite recipes. Having them in my cupboard, I seem to find new uses every day. Adding them to salads or yogurt is a current passion. And do try them sprinkled over soft cheese, or with vegetables. (Kids adore that unexpected touch of sweetness.) Or in Moroccan-style dishes. Or tossed with salted nuts for a quick appetizer. See what I mean? The possibilities are endless. Plum Amazins are sold in an easy-to-pour 9-ounce canister in the dried fruit or produce section of most supermarkets, for a suggested retail price of $2.49. Amazin, indeed. -- picked by Peggy Fallon
Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.
While cooking is relaxation, nothing beats enjoying some champagne or wine after a long day at work. Champagne is a particular favorite of mine for a girl's evening of chit chat and nibbles (something I wish I had more time for). When I'm up for the splurge Taittinger Brut La Francaise ($45) is currently at the top of my list. Rated 91 Points by Wine Spectator, I couldn't agree more with their assessment: "A fine, very pure style of Champagne. Has hints of toast and citrus fruits that come together in a style that is almost the essence of Champagne. Crisp, rich and complex.". And it goes great with cheese! -- picked by Foodie Pam