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! 

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Peach Mangosteen Snapple Review

Pretty good stuff.

I have not sen a new flavor from Snapple in a while, and while I was grocery shopping, spotted this Peach Mangosten flavor., While I didn’t see the “new” tagged anywhere on this beverage, I decided to give it a try. I love peach, and have had mangosteen and peach flavored teas (a green tea base) so somewhat knew what to expect. For those who do not know what mangosteen is, it is NOT to be confused with mangoes.  Firstly, the flavor is more subtle, and has a tanginess with a slight sweetness in flavor. I have never has it on its own, but I can detect it in the drink.  I also have never seen it paired up with another tangy type of flavor, therefore leaving me to believe it’s pretty tangy on its own.

Mangosteen

Also, it is purple on the outside, and white on the inside-more specifically, bears a resemblance to white grapefruit or orange slices. Mangosteen, like mango is also a superfruit,tropical in origin, and known for its anti inflammatory properties and ability to assist in immunity. You can read more on mangosteen and its health benefits Here: http://bit.ly/hxItvn (please copy and paste to access the site)

Now, on to the drink. I taste top notes of peach and possibly carrot (which makes sense, because there is carrot juice in this drink as well as peach juice), and the peach flavor tastes like a peach Jolly Rancher- complete with a ripe, candy taste, that isn’t overpowering.  Then comes the depth from the mangosteen, which surfaces as a tangy bite that ones in after you swallow. Very exotic, as I am reminded of peach and grapefruit (with less tangy and more sweetness), that makes one’s mouth-water.  Both flavors feed off each other pretty well, and create a delicate drink. This stands out on it’s own by infusing a familiar sweet, ripe peach with the bold, and tangy mangosteen that boosts the body’s immunity,and promotes anti-inflammation.

Peach Mangosteen Snapple Yumfactor- 4 out of 5. It’s sweet at first, then takes a tangy twist after swallowing. It will make you pucker a bit, but I like complicated flavors. Unique. Exotic. Watch out for the sugar, as 8 oz has 20g. If you’re expecting the traditional sweet, syrupy drink, this may not be for you. If you’re expecting an extra sweet Snapple type of drink to compare to flavors like Strawberry Kiwi or Mango, you may not like the tartness of this flavor.

 

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.

Where Have I Been? Recipes and New Cooking Ventures

The last blog (aside) that I wrote was nearly two weeks ago. Instead of blogging, I have been using some time to get some things done, but most of all, I have been cooking more!!!! I have made scones from scratch, biscuits, dinners, a peach cobbler with fresh sliced peaches, cakes, and interesting drinks! I have a few pictures of them prepared items and will try my best to share the recipes. (Some are from an app on my phone, so I’m not sure if you all will be able to access the same recipes I have used.) (Actually, the app is powered by allthecooks.com) Although I use recipes, I also get creative and add my own ingredients to it to give the dishes originality. So the way they come out will be a tad different from the ways your may if you do follow the directions very closely. Let me know if you are interested in anything else I have listed. I plan on doing a smoothie blog full of recipes and drink ideas I frequently use. Enjoy the 4 or 5 recipes!!!

  • Fun smoothies (like Green tea, mango, orange juice and lime an original- Heavenly!!!) and classic ones, like mango strawberry yogurt smoothies.
  • As of late, I have made three cakes from scratch (green tea and coconut with a glaze, and a pink grapefruit yogurt cake, which I covered previously, and layered  carrot cake with a cream cheese icing), however I decided to make a box cake. This is a French Vanilla Box cake, (with a homemade buttercream icing), but baked in as a layer cake, adding fresh strawberries (which I soaked in sugar and vanilla extract for 2 days). I then assembled the berried in between the layers, and frosted the cake, adding fresh sliced strawberries atop the cake for a pretty garnish. The cake was great, but the recipe I used for the buttercream icing was too sweet!  I will NOT use that recipe again! There is no other recipe to link, so I will just post a pic, and say that you can make layered cakes from the box, and add whatever flavoring, fruits, or icing you want to make it more creative. So think of this as more if an idea, not a recipe.
  • The lovely inside. See the itty, bitty berries?

French vanilla layered cake with homemade buttercream icing and fresh strawberries.

  • Tropical French Toast with bananas and coconut (with a hint of rum which I incorporated in the french toast egg/milk wash) This recipe calls for flour to be used, which makes the french toast more decadent. I also added approx.1 teaspoon of vanilla pudding mix to made the toast more creamy (which I got from another recipe) I did not have any thick bread on hand, so I used plain old wheat. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/fluffy-french-toast/Detail.aspx For the fruit, I simply took some banana pieces, added butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cook it until it got soft to my preferred desire. I then took some shredded coconuts, and sprinkled it over the banana.

Tropical French Toast with slightly caramelized bananas. They weren't super ripe, and I probably didn't use enough brown sugar. Still good,though.

  • Peach Cobbler with fresh peaches, and a “special ingredient” not listed. I again made it my own by using 3/4 cup of vanilla soy milk, less than 1/4 cup of half and half (to make it a tad fluffy), water (I do that sometimes) and 1 service which is a teaspoon of french vanilla creamer. I added an ingredient that gave the sweet peaches depth, and also some apple pie spice to round the spicy and sweet flavors out. The crust was a bit more dense that other cobblers I have had, and slightly cakey, but I actually liked its richness.

Goodness this was divine!

Cobbler before I tore into it like an animal.

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.

Mio Water Enhancer:Because regular water just isn’t fun anymore.

MiO Peach Tea.

Mio has released commercials of tiny silver bottles that add flavor and color to your water. I purchased this item at Target about 2 weeks ago, and was happy that I could practice a healthy lifestyle, while making my water less boring. Yes, I went there. We all know that water is incredible for health, but let’s be real- it doesn’t always taste fun, and I’m a fun kinda girl! XD So this product was ideal! A little info about my water drinking history- I’d only drink it if I was parched, averaging at about 3 glasses/day. The sad thing was, I was totally okay with that.

 

I had previously contemplated buying a fruit infuser for water to add a natural fruit taste to my water, but was concerned that the result would be watered down madness. So, seeing that I can buy a silver bullet looking product that can really pimp your water was cool. I paid about $3. 10-ish for 24 servings/ squeezes of water. Not bad. You can squeeze 1 stream into your water bottle, which yields a water down, bitter taste, or 4 for a more intense flavor- which may result in a Kool-Aid like flavor influsion.

Berry Pom.

I bought the “Mango Peach” flavor, excited that I could use this to increase my water intake, and pose as a healthy option for beverage drinking sexiness. So how healthy is this?

Nurtition Facts are as follows:

Og of: Fat, Calories, Sodium, Protein, Sugar, Sat./Trans Fat,and Carbs Not bad at all, however, let’s look at the ingredients, shall we? Water, blah, blah,blah, citric acid, blah, Ah! Sucralose and Acesulfame? So there is a small amount of sugar in the content, which is fine, but the only problem is not knowing how much sugar is in it. I have seen some other water enhancers that do not have any sugar at all, but obviously the taste will be compromised. Again, I still think 3 squirts of these in a bottle of water is much healthier than concentrated juice, or the dreaded soda. Yikes! High Fructose Corn Syrup! :O Def. is a must try, but hey if you like your water the classic, watery style, then it’s all good.

 

Cool! It's Like A Rainbow! (Even though it's missing really important colors)

Other Uber cool flavors: Strawberry Watermelon, PEach Tea, Berry Pomegranate, Fruit Punch, and Sweet Tea. I like this stuff, and plan of buying more, because I’m too cool for regular water8). Except for Fiji. That stuff is awesome.

MiO Water Enhancer Yumfactor- 5 tongues. (5/5) Cheap, fun, and exotic, you can be encouraged to drink more water with these. But of course, you can do what I do, and alternate between the party in a cup (MiO), to the party pooper in a cup (regular water). There are color additives, so that may turn some people off.

Thanks to all the voters of my last poll!  I really appreciate your input and participation.

 

DON’T FORGET TO RATE/COMMENT/SUBSCRIBE! (OR ALL THREE, IN THAT SAME ORDER! XD)

 

 

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.