Must Try Foods: Limited Edition Cocoa Chex Mix

I have always loved this mix as it balances sweet chocolate with salty pretzels. I tried it a few years ago and have always looked for it, so naturally I was not hesitant in picking up another bag! It was about $2.00 and change, and is normally made available around the winter months, which makes sense considering it is supposed to be a Chex interpretation of hot cocoa. Fun! 😀 Firstly, Chex mix seems to be a crowd pleaser, and the standard flavors tend towards the salty, (although there are candies in some of them) which is to be expected.

Oh, the fun!

This mix  gives a handful of variety as there are chocolate squares, vanilla yogurt cream flavored crispies, plain chex cereal squares, delicate mini marshmallows, salty pretzel, and sweet swirlyness. The mini marshmallows gives it an overall sweeter than salty pretzel experience, but admittedly is my favorite part of grabbing a handful to snack on. The vanilla yogurt cereal squares are also rather delicious as their flavor is strong, and the coating is rich, playing of the sweet chocolaty notes. I bought a bag last night, and finished it already 😦 That is a drawback of this product- you may eat it off before you plan to!  They are 7% less in fat compared to potato chips, and contain only 7g of sugar per 1/2 cup per serving, along with 120 calories! Not too shabby! Not only is this mix delicious, but it captures the spirit of winter because of the hot chocolate association. Try it! You may love it as much as I do! Here is another review of the same product: http://www.betterproductadvisor.com/review-limited-edition-cocoa-chex-mix/

Note: For those who are diabetic, while this snack is low in sugar, please remember than this in a carb than will break down into sugar once eaten and digested.

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Low Budget Gourmet: Boston Cream Pie Coffee? Home Goods Raid..Sorta

Today a friend and I went to Home Goods, which is a store that offers gourmet food/coffee, furniture, and bath goods for discount prices.  Think Marshall’s, Ross or TJ Maxx, but without the clothes. I love this place, because it’s easy to access quaint adorable tea pots, funky, vintage “distressed” mirrors and desks, and features the best flavored coffees available- all at a bargain, or a decent price. I appreciate the variety. I went straight to the gourmet foods section, passed the strawberry flavored balsamic vinegar, and the garlic olive oils, to the fun flavored coffees.  What caught my attention first was the flavored coffee syrups (for about $5.99 for a 25.4 fl oz bottle).  There were sugar-free vanillas, to classic hazelnut and regular vanilla, and even Kahlua all manufactured by Monin and Davinci brands, who seem too be the to leading suppliers of coffee syrups. What I appreciate is the lack of corn syrup Monin and Davinci brands offer, and the attention to the importance of making pure, and natural, Organic syrups if you will. And you should. 😀

 

Lovely...

Tangent: I prefer Monin over Davinci just because they offer a wider variety, and it just tastes better.  It does, however contain a little bit more sugar. I love getting the Vanilla syrups because they are a versatile item that can go well with milkshakes, in milk alone,cocktails, sodas (Vanilla Coke, anyone?) in smoothies, and of course in coffees and teas, not to mention a flavor enhancer for baking items. (I will post both websites below just in case you are curious about the flavors they carry.)  Monin has over 100 flavors, also, many which are fruit based like (Mango,Passion Fruit, Strawberry) to other types. Their Vanilla syrup uses pure Madagascar Vanilla. Fancy!

I moseyed over to the coffee, my eyes shifting quickly from the standard “French Vanilla” to “Kahlua” when it hit me- “Boston Cream Pie” flavored coffee. I literally squeaked because there is nothing more exciting than interesting flavors of food or beverages, and this was one flavor I was not going to find everywhere. Then it hit me again…. “Pralines and Cream”. I had a dilemma here, folks. The Pralines and Cream smelled rich and had caramelized nutty and vanilla notes that were enticing, but the Boston Cream Pie- that indulgent cakey base, with deep chocolate and buttery, creamy custard seemed to beckon me as well. I was afraid that the chocolate would override what vanilla custard was there, although I smelled creamy notes through the bag (it has a scent hole). I figured since it’s not a layered edible item, all the flavors would run together, and the chocolate may even be a tad bit muted by the vanilla. Plus, if you have chocolate syrup and vanilla creamer at home, you could probably duplicate this! Especially with a creamier vanilla based creamer, such as Vanila Latte (Coffee Mate) or Sweet Cream (Int’l Delights Coffee) or perhaps “Italian Sweet Cream” (Coffee Mate) Both bags were $4.99 for 12oz Arabia coffee. I will do a review on these items in the future.

monin carries a wide variety of flavors, offers free monthly recipes on their site and even has flavors like “Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie and Blueberry Pie” to florals like”Lavender, Rose and Hibiscus” and your standards fruits, exotic fruits (Chipotle Pineapple) and dessert type of flavors. How innovative is that? o.O You can buy Monin’s syrups here baristaproshop. As for davinci  they offer Buttered Run which Monin didn’t have, and Zabaglione (Italian egg nog with Marsala wine) but has a smaller variety. You can shop on their site.

What interesting coffee flavors have you tried? Interesting cocktails or sodas that featured unique syrups? Please share and of course let us know if you’d recommend them to anyone else! Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment/rate/subscribe! 

Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich- Reviewing My Obsession+Copycat recipe

Close Up

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love and often crave Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich. Here’s why. It’s light and refreshing, healthy, full of both sweet and savory flavors, and it’s rather exotic in nature. First, let’s analyze this sandwich from inside out. Sun dried tomato and basil bread, with a sweet undertone around the crusts, a tangy hummus spread on the bread adding a nice kick of flavor and complexity,cilantro,  fresh cucumbers, lettuce, spicy Peppadew  peppers, red onions, and tomatoes…and FETA cheese!!!!  The bread is soft and full of flavor itself.

Inside Shot

And no, I’m not a vegetarian,but this sandwich is good enough to make me order it faithfully at Panera for over 5 years. I have tried other items as well, but this Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with a cup of their epic Iced Green Tea is all I need to have a great day. Plus, it’s under 650 calories!! (or a few little numbers above 650, but not above 670)

Copycat Recipe link!!!! alla *Debbie Does Dinner*

http://debbidoesdinnerhealthy.blogspot.com/2010/09/mediterranean-veggie-sandwich-with.html

Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich Yumfactor- 5 tongues!!! I just only wish there were sun-dried tomatoes versus regular ones, but it’s still amazing! Cost- $6.30 including tax.

Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch!!! Recipe and Review!

I have heard from biscuit enthusiasts that biscuit making was no joke. From the wide variety of methods to the variety of styles, biscuits are diverse, yet timeless. This essential food is one I often crave, and have been contemplating making. I searched from a biscuit recipe that I was not familiar with, offering my a sense of culinary innovation and a dash of a challenge/risk element. Would I even like these biscuits? Would this uncommon ingredients used in this recipe pay off, or disappoint?  Plus, it’s somewhat sweet! The recipe is adapted from P4  on food.com.  The link to the recipe will be available upon clicking on the 2nd biscuit photo below. I hope you enjoy it!

My biscuits. Not the best photo as it was taken on my phone. Sadly,I am *not* a phone photographer.

I made the biscuits today, and they came out fluffy, moist and provided my taste buds with an underlying richness that is not typical is the biscuits I have tried previously. They were slightly sweet as the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of sugar. (I suggest toning it down to one if you’d like to have a less sweet aftertaste)

Biscuits pictured on the site. Click photo for the recipe!

I also occasionally have an issue with the bottom of my stuff getting burnt, so I slapped some a thin layer of butter on the cookie sheet, and turned the oven down to 375 degrees, compared to the 400 degrees that the recipe called for. I’m not sure if you have that issue, but if you do, I recommend doing the same. Only thing is the baking time will change, (from 8-10 minutes, to almost 20!) but the inside will be done,baking evenly and the bottom a little darker than the top, but not burnt. More so of an average brown color. I also added some butter atop the hot biscuits, adding more flavor as it melted into the biscuits nooks and crannies.

Also, if you don’t have a jumbo size egg, I read you can substitute that with a regular sized egg and a tsp. of milk.  You can click the picture which should direct you to the site. Granted, mine don’t look as smooth, but the texture if fluffy and soft (and the darn things were delish!). Also, I’m not sure how much of a difference having a bicsuit cutter makes visually, but I didn’t have one. The glass I used was good enough, though. =)

I give these biscuits 4 tongues and a taste bud (4.5 out of 5) just because I’m not so used to sweet biscuits, however, the sweetness would make an excellent compliment to a savory dish. {TIP} Pair these beauties with savory meats like

  • sausage
  •  bacon
  •  turkey
  •  chicken
  • seafood based breakfast items (seafood grits,ect)
  • Savory seasoned eggs (like Southwest types) to balance the sweet undertone, giving the dish a nice balance.

Also, you can get creative and make a unique butter/spread for these biscuits. From Almond butters, to Honey butters (even with vanilla!) to garlic butters (which may be unflattering with this biscuit), or even a spicy cinnamon butter may be a nice touch! Even your tangy fruit, like blood orange jam, or cranberry relishes may bring out that depth you may want!

Must Try Food: Sweet Potato Fries (with a surprise tip!)

Firstly, I must blog about my new guilt free indulgence sweet potato fries.  I love sweet potatoes as I find them more versatile and tasty than regular white potatoes. Also, nutritionally, they are more valuable than white potatoes. Let’s compare briefly. First, here’s a video of the difference between the two:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTb42OGnxLQ

Yummy sweet potato fries (frozen then baked) with A sweet and spicy Asian Chili Sauce.

Nutritional Content of : White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: (Some of this may be redundant after the video, but this is more those who may want to see things written versus in audio form) obtained from  http://www.lisanelsonrd.com/blog/white-potato-vs-sweet-potato-which-is-better

White Potatoes vs Sweet Potatoes: ‘Tater Wars!

  • Calories: 1 medium sized white potato has 128 calories when compared to the same size of a sweet potato which has  103 calories.
  • Fat: Both have the same amount of fat content, which is 0.2g
  • Fiber: White potatoes have 3 grams of fiber, where sweet ones have 4 grams. (which helps keep blood sugar levels neutral. Some diabetics have even reported that white potatoes make their blood sugar levels rise, where as sweet potatoes do not increase them)
  • Glycemic Index: White Potatoes are nearly 35 points higher than sweet potatoes.
  • Potassium: White potatoes have 738.3 mg while sweet ones have 541.5 mg.
  • Vitamins C and B6: White potatoes have less Vitamin C, but more of B6, and the opposite for sweet potatoes (more Vitamin C and less B6)
  • Beta-carotene: White potatoes have 8.28 mcg , where sweet ones have 13120 mcg. Holy Smokes!

So what does this mean,folks? Sweet Potatoes > White Potatoes,though they possess different flavors.

Mr. Potato Head doesn't seem too happy about this...

{Reviewing The Fries}

Moving on, I am reviewing a brand of Sweet potato fries I recently tried. I prefer to buy the frozen fries and baking them due to a healthy lifestyle I want to maintain.  The taste of too much grease and fat literally turn my tummy in many directions :/

Alexia Julienne Sweet potato fries comes in a Family Size, low sodium variety that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. After baking them according to the directions, you can be sure that you will be satisfied due to the rich taste of the sweet potato. To make things interesting, I added a touch of garlic to combine the sweet, rich flavor and a savory note that I was happy with. (If adding garlic salt, be warned that some of the moisture will be reduced, and your fries may end up a little shriveled.) Perfect with chicken, or burgers, these bright and healthy baked fries are fabulous! I even tried the chipotle variety because I wanted a more intense experience! These run about $4.

Alexia Sweet Potato Fries Yumfactor: 5 tongues!!! (5/5) These are healthy, fun and yummy! Think low-budget gourmet!

Alexia Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud.  (4.5 out of 5) While fun, and blends savory and sweet, I find that the addition of chipotle can inhibit eaters from adding a variety of flavors, and may clash with whatever else is being eaten with it. IT is yummy, and perfect for barbecued side dishes, or as a snack on it’s own.

Asian sweet Chili Sauce- a great dip.

Tip: For an exotic touch, use 2 to 5 tsps. of Asian Sweet Chili Sauce as a dip, or even garlic Mayo. This dip gives the sweet fries an exotic depth that is irresistible.


Random Post: Saxby’s Strawberry Turnover.

I love Saxby’s coffee, and they seem to have an interesting flavor availability for their pastries. I tried their peach danish last week, and I almost lost myself in between bites. In public. Oh yes, it was that serious.*Thinks about a random and inappropriate way people could have have interpreted my food induced groans at my college, and then curses my over active imigination and short attention span*. -_-.

So anyway, I decided to try yet another unfamiliar flavor of their turnover-strawberry. I love turnovers. I love apply turnovers, because the rich complexity of spicy and sweet make for a fun chew. But I’m just gonna say that this strawberry one tasted like flaky strawberry lip gloss. Too sweet for my taste.  Bleh.No pictures for this post, everyone. Why? Because my tastebuds are too sad to inspire me to find a photo/take a photo of the pastry and post it. :/ Cost-$1.95 (If my memory functions correctly today)

Saxby’s Strawberry Turnover Yumfactor– 2 tongues. (2 out of 5) It was like eating warm strawberry jam that tasted too soggy to be yummy (the actually strawberries, not the pastry). Maybe next time, Saxby’s. Just kidding. Once I dislike something, it’s hard to give it another go. Manifestations of trust issues,perhaps? But hey, don’t fret! If you have a frenemy, you can gladly give this to them, and watch their face(s) contort in really weird ways. And then feel that internal sense of bliss, muhahaha!

Bored? Check out the ridiculous tags for this. Rate, Comment and subscribe? Please? *says with a quivering lip*