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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Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts Review

This Thanksgiving holiday I was able to taste one of three new limited time holiday edition of pop tarts. They released Sugar Cookie, which looked like it would taste like an overly sweet, buttery, vanilla based cookie dough,  Gingerbread, which looked like it may be decent (but I’m not a gingerbread fan) and pumpkin pie, which scared me at first.  At first glance, I figured the pumpkin flavor would be too sweet, a hit or miss, (perhaps because of the sprinkles?) but mostly a miss because, well, sometimes the authenticity of the pumpkin flavor is hard to perfect when it comes to snack like commodities. It’s either too sweet, or too spicy in my experience. After tying it, I was surprised with the likeness it was to a pumpkin pie.

Sugar Cookie, Gingerbread and the addictive pumpkin pie flavored pop tarts.

Firstly, the pumpkin filling was delicate in sweetness and has a nice balance of spice to compliment it, as cinnamon and clove add an earth spiciness that rounds out the rich pumpkin. The toasted pop tart crust added a classic pie influence which brought out the flavor even more.  I’d say that this mirrored a pumpkin pie that  was not overly sweet and I finished them off very quickly. Only issue was I was not able to find these everywhere. I was hoping they’d stay out for the Christmas holiday, but  they were discontinued after Thanksgiving at the grocers in my area, which I thought was odd since they also had “Christmas” type of flavors like Gingerbread and sugar cookie. Although this review is slightly late considering they are no longer available, I did want to mention that Pop Tart did create seasonal and exciting flavors, and if they bring them back next year, at last you would have known about this flavor to try out. In the back of my mind, I keep hoping I’ll find these somewhere, because they are delicious! If anyone can find them, please let me know! 😀

Note: These taste different when eaten straight out of the package or”room temp”. Doesn’t compliment the traditional pie flavor, and it gives a slight vegetable-like quality.

Kellogg’s Pumpkin Pie Pop Tart Yumfactor: 4 tongues (4 out of 5 stars ). I was highly addicted to these because of the warm traces of clove and cinnamon, which danced boldly with the sweet but spicy notes of the pumpkin filling. The pie crust flavor was icing on the cake as it completed the pop tart pie experience. Worth a try!

Don’t forget to rate, comment, and/or subscribe!

TTSPTip: Play With Your Food! (Faking Your Way Into Baking)

In my view of things, a great way to learn how flavors interact with one another is to start with semi homade ingredients, and slowly add your personal touches to them. I think this lessens the pressure on the individual to make a “perfect dish” while making their way around unique seasoning combinations.  I started cooking, and most recently baking, but taught myself how flavors meshed together by experimenting with box cakes.  I am all about expressing one’s self creatively through food, and took it upon myself to create unique flavors, by adding things like pudding, or flavored syrups to cake batters.

Butterscotch pudding cake, with rum, coconut and a chocolate glaze. Semi-Homeade!

Why pudding? Pudding, (along with pieces of pineapple, carrots, and even apple sauce) add a richness to a cake, but also a lot of moistness.  My mother taught me this trick, an I have made it a point to experiment with fruits, pudding, and even Greek yogurt to discourage dry cakes.

One cake I experimented with was a yellow cake, but added about 1/4 of butterscotch pudding mix, (or less according to taste and awareness of sugar content) a little rum, and coconut flakes, and allow it to bake.  I drizzled melted chocolate icing from the package on the cake, giving the cake a somewhat homemade feel (because of the flavor originality) and a moist texture that made it much more indulgent. So, fake your way into baking by using semi homemade recipes

Two layer box cake with a homemade icing, and strawberries in the center and on top.

and jazzing it up! Now, I can say I have a much stronger sense that certain ingredients like vanilla can enhance other flavors, but nutmeg and cinnamon can be paired up with certain fruits to round it out or add depth. Now, I am a baked good snob, and often make cakes and other baked good from scratch. The same goes for non baking food; adding a pinch of garlic, or pepper, or even exotic ingredients to pastas, means, and rices can make cooking more adventurous and exciting. Play with your food, and you’ll have a better sense of how seasonings work, and more confidence!

New “Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie ” and “Brown Sugar Maple Latte” Creamer Review .

Two Newest Additions to the Coffee Mate Posse of Flavors.

Quick post. So coffee Mate has released a few new seasonal creamer flavors. One being “Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie ” and “Brown Sugar Maple Latte”, and as of now, as I’m sipping on a cup of coffee chock full of “Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie ” goodness, I’m disappointed. Why? The cinnamon flavor overrides what I expected to be a smooth, velvety, creamy and rich flavor of a sugar cookie replica. Granted, cinnamon is a strong flavor, but I barely detect sugar cookie/vanilla/creamy traces, and it makes me sad. 😦 It just tastes like cinnamon and sugar. Maybe a caramel undertone to enhance sugar cookie’s natural buttery notes would have been more decadent.

“Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie ” Yumfactor- 2 tongues and a tastebud (2.5 out of 5 stars) Too much warmth (cinnamon) and not enough sugar cookie splendor.

As the “Brown Sugar Maple Latte” is concerned, it’s sweet, not overly sweet, but doesn’t have any depth. I think this could have used a pinch of nutmeg to bring out a spicy flavor, while the other flavor could have gone without the spice addition.

“Brown Sugar Maple Latte” Yumfactor- 3 tongues (3 out of 5 stars)This is an average tasting creamer, and really doesn’t stand out much, because the flavors are somewhat muted. Is it good? Sure, it’s not bad, but it’s rather bland in my opinion.

Do you agree? Do you think the Sugar cookie flavor is fine as is? Do you think my tastebuds have problems doing their job? Please Rate, Comment and Subscribe!

Wendy’s Has Sweet Potato Fries!!!

I did a post (–> https://thetalkingspoon.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/must-try-food-sweet-potato-fries-with-a-surprise-tip/<– post) on the differences between sweet potato fries and regular ones, and it’s not a secret that I prefer sweet potato. Healthier, and in my opinion, tastier, whenever I see them I squeal. Loudly. Wendy’s has recently released their sweet potato fries with a “vanilla brown sugar” sauce, which gives people watching their carb intake a healthier option on fry consumption (the fries NOT the sauce :D) Sweet potato fries are healthier, lower in calories and better for glucose levels compared to white potato fries.)

Half eaten. You get about 15-20, which is a not the best deal for $1.99. The sauce looks better in real life.

I ordered them and they taste quite good. A little more crunchy than the ones I bought (because they are fried NOT baked) these fries didn’t disappoint. I recommend trying them, but if you dislike the fried, you can buy frozen ones to bake. You get about 15-20 fries for$1.99. Not cheap, but cheaper than $.99, which I think should have been the price of these. The reason I am not going into further detail on sweet potato fries and their taste is because I previously covered this in more detail. Please click on the link provided above.

Wendy’s Sweet Potato Yumfactor- 4 tongues (4 out of 5 stars). You really can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries.

Now let’s talk about the sauce. Two words. Epic Fail, and because I am feeling generous, I’ll include another 2. Diabetic coma. Why are these so sweet? It sounded like it was going to be good; smooth, creamy vanilla with the buttery undertone of brown sugar. It tasted like cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. Where was this spiciness coming from? It’s mild, but it is NOT what I was expecting. It doesn’t compliment the sweetness, and usually when I have sweet potato fries, it’s not served as a dessert. I was better off without this overly sweet, cinnamon and butter creamy concoction, and even wished they released a Chili sauce to play off the sweetens of the sweet potato. Bleh. I recommend NOT eating these fries with anything else unless it’s a dessert item. And even then, you may find yourself lunging for water or cinnamon tea (known to lower blood sugar levels) to flush the ridiculous sweetness from out of your body. Diabetic comas aren’t fun. I give this sauce alone 1 tongue and a tastebud (1.5 out of 5). It sounds sleek and sexy, and even looks appetizing. The color compliments the orange, but other than that, they have NO business together and furthermore, this sauce has no business being made for any kind of consumption.

TTSTip: Spicing Up Your Fiber! Healthy Post!

I just scooped some apple filling on it, and has a wonderful oatmeal experience.

Do you want to spicy up yor oats? No really! Here’s a quick tip to get extra spice in your oatmeal, Sure, it does involve adding a little ore sugar, but it’s sure to please your buds Instead of buying bulk packs of flavored oatmeal that is full of added sugar, corn syrup (yuck) and sodium, why not just make your own oatmeal and flavor it yourself? It’s easier than you think 😉 Just add a taeaspoon of apple pie filling, or canned apple pie flavor with spices added, and you have a quick, hearty, spiced up oatmeal dish.  I recommend also adding nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon, with a pinch of salt (alla the directions) and a little sugar, cooking and then adding it o top, but you can also add a teaspoon to cooking oatmeal with your spices, and I promise you’ll love it! It’s bliss!

I usually just flavor my oatmeal whenever I cook it, and the add whatever fruits I want. If I’m making a berry type, I just add vanilla and sugar to my Quaker oats, and then let it boil. I could never eat the oatmeal plain, and I think a lot of people dislike oatmeal because they follow the directions on the back, and don’t add extra things to it.

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