Summer time is in, and that means flavors of s’mores, strawberries and fresh berries that will infiltrate the snack isle. I scored a few fun snack items today: a bag of strawberry graham crackers by Goldfish, and s’mores-flavored coffee via Archer Farms. But first, I’d like to express my gratitude for the Target. Yes, I meant to say the Target. I go there and constantly find myself amazed with the glistening fun items they parade on the shelve. Just a few days ago, there were flavored sugars (chai, vanilla, maple). This is relevant because this is where I found two blessings:
- S’mores coffee (Archer Farms): For a limited time, you can find the summer-celebratory flavor of s’mores coffee. I’ve had other s’mores-related coffee concoctions, and what I like about this one is there is a balance of chocolate and marshmallow flavors. In previous situations, s’mores coffee flavored items have been too heavy on the chocolate, smelled like graham cracker, but I didn’t get much marshmallow. The downside is if you’re expecting graham cracker flavor (yes, this can be detected in SOME coffee flavors, depending on the brand), you won’t find much here, but this is worth a try. 4 out of 5 tongues. (4/5 stars) Just a note, International Delights released a s’mores coffee creamer that was rich and indulgent; however there was more chocolate and very little marshmallow. It was good, but not as balanced as this coffee in my personal opinion.
- Goldfish Strawberry Shortcake Graham Crackers: These, for me, are more enjoyable than the vanilla cupcake flavor. Why? The strawberry provides a fresh and fun burst of flavor, and doesn’t come across as artificial as other strawberry flavors. 3 tongues (3/5 stars).
What are your thoughts? Comment below.
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen features a unique and flavorful trending dish to their menu—chicken and waffles. For $13, customers can appreciate the new chicken and waffles sandwich, paired with sweet potato fries. The new menu features half of a powdered Belgian waffle topping fried chicken and bacon. Although this is not the healthiest of dinner choices, the combination of the savory spiced chicken and the sweet, airy waffles makes for a classic food favorite. The side feature of brandy butter syrup pairs well with this dish.
Tibby’s Chicken and Waffles Yumfactor: 4 tongues (4 out of 5 stars). The waffles are pillowey, piled on tender, all-white meat chicken and bacon. The powdered sugar wasn’t needed. I personally would have liked a bit of kick, say cayenne in the chicken to balance the sweetness of the waffles and to par with the sauce. Tip: Try it with hot sauce for extra kick.
Many people frown up at the idea of eating a salad, providing endless excuses as to why they’re uneatable. With a little creativity, you can create appetizing salads, full or meat (or not) and fun toppings to satisfy the beast within. Below are quick tips to sprucing up greens, and adding a dash of colorful nutrition to your lifestyle.
- Themed salads. Make salads with meats and follow through on flavor with themed ingredients. You can try a chicken taco salad, beginning with a layer of bagged salad, cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned chicken, sour cream, tomato and beans. Adding rice underneath the layer of mixed greens can be a more filling option to give you carbs and a feeling of fullness.
- Add fruit and be merry. Adding berries, oranges and other fruits can fan any salad fun. Here’s an example. Take a half a bag salad, add mandarin oranges (1-2 8 oz. servings), a Asian Toasted Sesame flavored salad dressing, and add fried chow mein noodles. Stir until you’ve got a fun Asian-inspired salad your tastebuds will beg you for. This can be spruced up with cold grilled chicken strips or shrimp seasoned with peanut sauce. Adding cold noodles in place of the fried chow mein noodles will also rock your mouth’s tastebuds off.
- Be creative and add seasonal touches to your salad. Fall usually beckons orange and red-colored fruits and veggies, savory flavorings such as apple or pears spiked with nutmeg and cinnamon, and the ever popular butternut squash. Why not try to expand the borders of plain salads and dressings to a mountain of colors, roasted veggies and ripened, yet tangy fruit? Cranberries, croutons and chicken with a balsamic vinaigrette would make anyone’s tastebuds rave. Here is another savory, autumn-themed salad for the spirit.
- Pair up your salads with comforting and indulgent soups, sandwiches or fuller meals. Still think salads are for sissies? They can make fun side dishes and are a versatile, easy way to up your nutrition. The water content in salads hydrate your body and invigorates the living sludge out of your low energy levels. They perk up your day and are chock full of vitamins to help you live your best life possible. Just go out, have fun and make the salad your canvas.
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Guayusa tea, a full-bodied, mellow, yet rounded tea from the Amazon rain forest is a great coffee alternative. Cousin to the popular tea, Yerba Mate, guayusa contains a host of health benefits that can boost your mood, or strengthen your stamina. So, what’s the big deal? An 8 ounce cup of tea contains about the same caffeine content of a cup of coffee. Compared to some teas, guayusa is not bitter as it steeps in a cup of boiling water. Its smooth flavor can make for many cups from on tea bag, and also goes great with lemon.
I sampled guayusa tea from Sacred Tea entrepreneur Luis Olguin (interview coming soon), whose company is devoted to allowing the world experience the healing benefits of guayusa. I tried guayusa to kick the post-two-thirty-slump to the curb; I drank a cup sweetened with honey. What I discovered–aside from the woody scented steam from the tea–was a drink that gave me sharper mental focus to carry out my work until the end of the day without crashing. I had a slow surge of energy without the crash from coffee, I had the same attributes of caffeine without the irritability hyperness and the jitters. Olguin states that this tea, shared as a communal tea among an indigenous tribe in the Amazon rain forest, is known to have many health benefits: three times the antioxidants in green tea, balances the blood sugar, increases stamina and blood flow, and enhances relaxation. Olguin also practices fair trade by giving the people of the indigenous tribe fair wages, and packages guayusa in sustainable, recycled material. Try it cold for an icy refresher, or brew guayusa in an espresso maker for a stronger flair.
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Butterscotch is a cousin to caramel since it features the same flavor overtones. The butterscotch flavor features brown sugar and butter to create a flavor-rich delicacy that is versatile with vanilla, dark rums, coconut and even sea salt. The caramel and sea salt concoctions have been a staple ingredient to many households and restaurants, but compared to caramel, many have not considered pairing butterscotch with the likes of sea salt. Here are a few ideas to help you experiment with butterscotch flavors in any sweet dish.
- Butterscotch, sea salt and chocolate coffee. I just ordered a custom coffee brimming with sweet buttery notes of butterscotch coffee syrup, rich chocolate syrup, a mild sweetener and a dash of sea salt. This flavor combo created a well-balanced tone of rich, buttery sweet butterscotch, and a mouth watering salty swallow. The barista also commented of the innovation of the flavors, since it’s a less commonly requested order.
- Butterscotch and sea salt blondies. I searched the web for a recipe featuring this pairing, and came across this one here. Adapted from the domestic rebel this recipe features a moist blondie cake with butterscotch chips and sea salt. The sea salt additives can be exchanged or combined with a rum and caramel glaze, a vanilla and sea salt glaze, or a maple or pecans infusion to give the blondies more texture. Don’t forget to try smoked almonds with a dash of sea salt to compliment the butterscotch notes.
- Whiskey-Brown Butterscotch Pudding with a Ganache and Sea Salt. This creative recipe stems from hungry girl por vida’s blog and combines chocolate, dark rum butterscotch and sea salt in a pudding. Genius.
- A Butterscotch Milkshake with whipped cream and a sea salt garnish. This doesn’t come from any site in particular, however, you can create an easy butterscotch milkshake by making a butterscotch syrup, adding it to milk, sugar, a dash of sea salt and vanilla, then topping it with whipped cream and sea salt to taste. Not too much–you want the sea salt to be a light topping to shave off some sweetness.
Since butterscotch is a warm flavor that pairs well with other fall flavors (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, dark rum, apples and waffles) you can use any flavor combo (including a maple bacon flavor) to taper off the sweetness of butterscotch tones.
What are your thoughts? Do you prefer butterscotch over caramel? Do you know of any dish that features these flavors I should discuss? Don’t forget to rate, comment and subscribe.
Dunkin Donuts has quickly hopped on the pumpkin pie bandwagon, and has released exciting new coffee concoctions, such as pumpkin mocha coffee and pumpkin white chocolate coffee. I sampled the pumpkin white chocolate flavor iced coffee drink, and loved it. I had never had a white chocolate and pumpkin flavor pairing, but the buttery white chocolate rounds off the edges to any spicy overtones in the the warm pumpkin overtones.
Similarly, I also ordered a pumpkin pie filled donut. The center is mousse-like in consistency, a whipped, brown dollop of spicy cinnamon, clove and pumpkin flavors that roll off the tongue. The icing, which is a standard buttercream is nestled under graham crackers, which all balance the sharp spiciness in each bite.
Pumpkin Pie Yumfactor: 3 tongues (3 stars). This is a fantastic seasonal donut. The pumpkin flavor is pretty authentic for it to be in a donut, thought there are obviously natural and artificial flavors. There is a bit of a wax coating like finish as many sweets have, but worth a try.
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