The Subtle Bliss of Maple Bacon

Some of the best bacon I have sampled has been Oscar Meyer’s thick-cut maple bacon. I picked up a pack while going grocery shopping, fried it up and ate it on a hogie. The balance of sweet maple syrup is a delicate balance of flavor when paired up to with the salty and appetizing bacon flavor. The smell is fantastic; sweet maple, smokey bacon and a full-bodied finish on the nose.

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The bacon would be an amazing  to incorporate into sweet dishes (cakes, cupcakes, muffins, ice cream) and treats. Add spicy mayo, lettuce and tomatoes to make a unique BLT, or add it to a salad featuring fruit (mango, pineapples and nuts) for a fresh twist. Maple bacon can, of course, become a separate cooking venture constructed in any kitchen. Here is a link.

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Must Try Food: Publix Low Fat Yogurt (Cuban Edition)

Publix has launched a few new and exiting flavors of low fat yogurt. It seems that it may be  a limited edition release, however, one cannot be sure if these exotic new flavors of yogurt are here to stay. At roughly $0.40 to $0.50 per 6oz container, you can pick and choose from a wide range of Hispanic influenced flavors like Coco Rico (Rich Coconut), Mango, Passion Fruit, Churro, Spicy Pineapple, Prickly Pear,Limonida Fresca (lemon and lime-which I have not tried) and Guava Pastry (Guava Pastelitos). I got excited, because as a child of Miami, Florida, I remember growing up eating hot, fresh, chewy churros from vendors who sold them in brown paper bags on the sides of the busy streets. I also remember going to Cuban bakeries in my town, and getting fresh, flaky pastelitos (little pastries)  in a variety of flavors. I knew I had to try this.

Pictured from (l) to (r): Passion Fruit, Spicy Pineapple and Mango

The containers have a festive and fun band of orange around the top of the container that makes one think about summertime in Miami. The fact that it was low fat didn’t stop me at all.

The First one I tried was Coco Rico, or Rich Coconut in English.  I was expecting a standard yogurt experience coconut flavoring, coconut flakes, and that tangy undertone of active bacteria (probably not, but I always think that,lol!) that’s so typical. Well, firstly, the texture itself seemed is thicker and creamier. There were no coconut flakes, but a strong,smooth coconut taste that tasted rich, and satisfying. This was not like any yogurt I’ve had before. And I loved it!

  • Coco Rico Yumfactor- 5 tongues (5 out of 5 stars). The flavor was fun, full and fierce! No coconut flakes, not that it’s a problem, but the lack there of adds to the richness of the yogurt. Sweet enough for me, and low in fat!

Next, I tried Churro. I was not sure if there were going to be pieces of churros, or just a plain old cinnamon and sugar thing going on. Again, the texture was rich and delicate, and did nothing to remind me it was low in fat. The exotic, and warm spices of cinnamon, and the sweetness of the sugar dances blissfully as I found myself satisfied with this one.

  •  Churro Yumactor- 3 tongues and a tastebud (3.5 stars out of 5).   Although it’s great, I usually tend to prefer yogurt with a light and fruity flavor. I like it, but probably would not get it again, as it’s warm and doesn’t contain any fun fruit. Better than I expected, though.
I am currently eating the mango, and I have had Publix’s mango “Fruit on the bottom” before, so I had an expectation. This mango flavor was explosive, bold and more strong than the fruit on the bottom variety. There are chunks of mangoes and the color is vibrant. I love mango!
  • Mango Yogurt Yumfactor- 5 tongues!  (5 out of 5 stars) I love anything mango, and though some of these flavors may be too sweet for a diabetic, or not sweet enough, I must say this one and the coconut are my favorite.
***UPDATE!! I have also tried “Guava Pastry” and “Passion Fruit” since my last post.
Guava Pastry seemed pretty straight forward, based on my experience with trying pastelitos in Miami. Although i didn’t expect to get much of the flaky crust from the yogurt, the guava flavoring was sure to be strong. I ended up tasting a cinnamon and guava interpretation of the pastry, and was somewhat disappointed. I don’t recall tasting much or any cinnamon for that matter in the pastelitos I frequently ate. There were small pieces of guava fruit, which tasted good, but not in combination with the cinnamon.
  • Guava Pastry Yumfactor: 2 tongues and a tastebud (2.5 out of 5 stars) It was all because of the strong cinnamon flavor, which I felt overpowered the sweet guava. This was more warm, and spicy. Not my favorite.
And then there is passion fruit. I knew this would be good as it’s pretty straight forward. Not much to say here, outside of the flavors being bold, combining the tangy and sweet exotic richness of passion fruit with the velvety smooth texture of the low fat yogurt.
  • Passion Fruit Yumfactor- 4 tongues (4 out of 5 stars) Summery, fun, and a great intrepretation of the bold fruit.
  • Prickly Pear, I figured would be a tangier pear laced flavor, and it ended up being a bit more mi in flavor. Sweet, and juicy, this yogurt tasted more bland in terms of its exotic name. I give it 3 tongues (3 out of 5) it was just blah compared to the others, but was not a bad pear yogurt.
  • Spicy Pineapple, I was hesitant to try, but ended up being one of my favorites. Vaguely familiar, the pineapple flavor was sweet with bits of sweet pineapple pieces, and the spicy did not over power it.They balanced each other out to create a harmonious flavor explosion. I give it a 4 tongues and a tastebud (4.5 out of 5 stars)
All of these yogurts range in the 30’s as far as sugar content is concerned, just so you know.
NOTE:I will include an *update* when I eat the other flavors, just to review all of the ones I purchased.
Not only does Publix have an assortment of fun and cool yogurt flavors for less than $1, but yogurt itself packs a punch to infection, and strengths the body. Eating yogurt fills the body with probiotics (or good bacteria) like Bifidum,Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus ” Which basically reduce gastrointestinal inflammation, fight infection in the body, fight yeasts, and food infection and reduces food allergies in people who have internal discomfort in their bowels. Click here for more info Streptococcus thermophilus which will take you to the page I obtained this info from (here, you can click on the link “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probiotic” including a break down of all the bacteria I listed). I got it from wikipedia, but there are cited sources, along with a list of how the probiotic effect your body. Yogurt can also prevent indigestion associated with lactose intolerance.
The Talking Spoon Challenges YOU! 
Why not practice taking probiotic tablets daily, or making yogurt apart of your daily food regimen? all you need is 1 6 oz serving, and your white blood count will be increased, which helps to fight off infection, your inflammation,  decreased, you get both calcium and a serving of fruit, and get yourself closer to living a healthier life! Also, this yogurt is only $0.50 at the most saving you money.

Cooking Goals: What I’ve Accomplished and not yet accomplished

I love challenging myself and testing my willingness to step out of my comfort zone by assigning myself daring, fun and daily goals. I have a list of many items I have been wanting to cook, and will include them on here. So far, I’d say my progress has been pretty steady. I think cooking goals is a great way to break free of cooking the same dishes over again, and obviously a wonderful method to increase one’s cooking confidence! What cooking goals do you have for yourself? What are your general opinions on goals for success? Have you reached many of your cooking goals? What do you think of making a cooking goals list? (Restricting or innovative) If you has a list, what type of things would you include on it?

I’d love to hear your input, and if you like my posts, please comment, rate and subscribe! Thanks!!! 🙂

This is NOT my comprehensive list. These are just some of the more interesting items I have decided to include.  ENJOY! and feel free to add yours!

  • Peach Cobbler (with fresh peaches and brandy)
  • Chinese Orange Chicken

    Goodness this was divine! Original Photo

  • Thai Tea 
  • Naan
  • Curry Chicken (Jamaican Style)
  • A Breakfast Stratta (with herb sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, and artichokes)
  • Kimchee
  • Zabaglione Cupcakes

    Grilled Tandoori Chicken- a spicy Indian dish

  • Hummus
  • Crab Cakes (jerked flavored?) from scratch with some kind of an interesting pineapple and jalapeno relish/salsa.
  • Baklava
  • Bhakri
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Banana-Pineapple Upside down cake
  • Stir Fry the way my mom makes it
  • Pancit

    The popular and delicious Filipino dish Pancit

  • Korean BBQ Chicken
  • Spring Rolls
  • Sweet Potato Wedges with a savory garlic and chipotle mayo.
  • Asparagus cooked in a dry white wine, then topped with a garlic and herb hollandaise sauce OR topped with Italian seasoned panko break crumbs, still cooked in a garlic, butter white wine.
  • Thai Chicken in both light and dark soy sauces, fish sauce, spices, and oyster sauces, with sweet Asian chili sauce.
  • Green Tea and Coconut Cake with a Coconut Glaze
  • Falafel
  • At least 5 frostings from scratch (3 down 2 to go: buttercream, cream cheese, and a glaze so far)
  • Enchiladas
  • Mochi

    Mochi-A traditional Japanese dessert. A Similar delicacy is called "ttoek or Ddoek" in South Korea

  • Samosa (Veggie)
  • Tabbouleh
  • Paella (Seafood)
  • Chicken Patty Jamaican Style
  • Lox
  • Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Chinese Donuts (made during the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit 🙂
  • Bagels from scratch
  • Strawberry Chocolate Layer Cake
  • Veggie Lasagna
  • Orange Cranberry Scones
  • S’mores Cupcakes
  • Strawberry Chocolate Champagne Truffles
  • Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Layer Cake
  • Croissants
  • Layer Cake
  • Danishes
  • Red Lobster Biscuits
  • Guacamole
  • Sweet Mango Sticky Rice

    Add sweeteners to cheesecake, whip and dish it. Easy.

  • Berry Cheesecake (everything from scratch except crust)
  • Chai coffee cake
  • Seafood gumbo
  • Bruschetta 
  • Caramel
  • Pear Brandy Custard Galette with vanilla bean (and a caramel drizzle?)
  • Ginger Coconut Blondies
  • Flavored Frozen Yogurt
  • Nectarine Ice Cream (from scratch)
  • Fun Salads
  • Miso Soup
  • Carrot Cake (with a homemade cream cheese buttercream frosting)


What I’m Sippin On: Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (With Recipe)

Hello all! So, fun fact time: I love making and drinking smoothies. It’s a great way to get your fruits serving, calcium and even protein! It’s a great way to replace a meal, and you can even add veggies to your smoothies!!! (I think only carrots may work for this, though) I am currently drinking a green tea and strawberry (with orange juice) smoothie. I love the green tea’s light and herbal flavor, but I also appreciate its light caffeine content. I will be doing a post on why green tea is so epic of a tea, including health benefits, info on tea types (loose leaf, powder and bag). The only thing is I seldom measure when I create things, but I do want you guys to have the recipe. I do think these measurements are pretty accurate, though. It’s delicious! You’ve gotta try this recipe.

Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsps.Matcha Powder (Green Tea Powder- I’m thinking you can also use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chilled green tea, just be sure to make sure you sweeten it prior to using it. You may need to adjust this as you go aing, because matcha powdered green tea has a different flavor than liquid green tea in drinks I find. So please, pour, mix and sip, then adjust if necessary! In order to make green tea, please follow the directions on the back of the green tea box.) I bought mine on ebay, but you can find it at Asian stores as well.
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (can be soy or regular)
  • 2 -4 strawberries (depends on how berry you want it to be. I used 2. Can also be frozen)
  • Vanilla flavoring (extract or syrup. I used French Vanilla Flavored Torani syrup) (Vanilla enhances whatever flavors you are using)
  • 1-3 tsps of sugar *to taste* (Can also be substituted with agave nectar, honey, or splenda)
  • 1/4 c orange juice (Really, I just poured enough in the container, and eye measured it.
  • ice cubes (I used about 5-6 whole cubes)

(I used a magic bullet blender to make this.)

1) Spoon 1/2 cup of Vanilla flavored yogurt into the container. This can be adjusted according to how much protein, yogurt content you desire. More yogurt will make the smoothie thicker in texture.

2) Add matcha green tea powder (or cold sweetened green tea) Then add 5 to 6 ice cubes. This can be altered to your personal taste level, but remember that more ice cubes equals a colder beverage, and too much ice can make the drink more slushy  in texture.

Smoothie will be more pink than green, because you are using a small amount of green tea.

3) Add 2-3 strawberries, vanilla flavoring, milk and orange juice. If you are also using a magic bullet, it should be nearly full of ingredients by now. Add desired sugar amount (I added about 2.5 teaspoons)

4) Blend until smooth. You may have to premix the smoothie to ensure the yogurt becomes well incorporated. Smoothie is finishes when it is light pink in color, and smooth in consistency. If you see green powder, or yogurt, please blend until it mixes well.

5) Garnish with a strawberry if necessary. Enjoy!! This can make 2 servings, but if you want more, you can add more milk, which shouldn’t alter the flavor of the smoothie. The consistency however, may be changed. Play with the  fruit content, as well as the yogurt content to get the balanced texture.

*Optional* For added protein content, add desired amount of protein shake mix to smoothie, or even use vanilla soy milk. I have made similar smoothies with soy milk, and it tastes wonderful! Also, you may use powdered sugar in smoothies as they contain a small amount of corn starch, which acts as a mild thickening agent! Info on matcha can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=matcha

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!

Panera’s Strawberry and Cream Scone Review

I love variety new flavors and scones so when I went cruising Panera Bread’s website and saw they had a few new items, I was pretty chipper. The one that caught my attention the most was the strawberries and cream flavored

Panera Bread's Strawberry and Cream Scone.

 scone.  Hmm.. Instantly, I wondered it the scone would be glazed, or have a biscuit colored, creamy texture with bits of the dehydrated strawberries, and occasional tastes of vanilly nuggets. I even wondered if there would be any detection of cream at all, just to make sure Panera was not tricking me into thinking cream was in the scone.  Having already tried and loved the orange scone, I knew this one had to be consumed and fast.

So I bought one with a no ice, iced green tea. That’s how I do it, so I can get every drop of my drink without th ice deception making it look like I have more than I actually do. Milking it is my middle name. So what? I’m a broke college student. 😉 The texture was about the texture of their orange scone- rather hard but soft. Imagine eating a donut stick by Little Debbie this is exactly the consistency it has, and the glaze was a clear, sugary glaze that the donut stick has.  I was slightly disappointed, because I was expecting  thicker, opaque glaze similar to their orange scone glaze, but obviously in a vanillish cream variety. The taste was both refreshing as the strawberries gave a tanginess to contrast the sweet glaze, almost buttery more so than creamy, however. I;d have to pass on this one, though it isn’t bad, it does nothing in competition with the beautiful orange scone.

Pros: I love the fact that the scone had real dried strawberries versus those little dried hard balls of fruit you get in jiffy muffin mixes. Bring on the realness!

Cons: The glaze is like a dried glaze you’d eat when eating a little Debbie caked donut. Twins??? Or rather, it’s three-sided cousin from up North. Either way, they can very well be in the same family. May not be a bad thing if you don’t care. Also, strong buttery taste and a harder than normal scone texture. Perhaps, it’s the hardened glaze?

Yumfactor: About 3 tongues and a taste bud.