Monday, August 26, 2013

Get the edge

No wonder it’s “Edgeware”
My friend has outfitted her kitchen in sleek, black appliances  and it looks so good she’s turned my eye toward the trend. Because she eats purple onion daily, from what I can tall, she should love the Edgeware Container Grater with  three styles of V-etched stainless steel blades; extra coarse, coarse, fine and a slicing blade. 
It’s “edgy” with an oval shape and colorful tops for grating that Irish cheese she loves. Here’s the irony. She never varies from cooking with rings of onion or slicing thick ring chunks into a big salad. She also likes that cheese in generous slabs.
So, the Edgeware will be a black-lidded, clear bowl star in my kitchen, because I can slice up an onion Sunday and enjoy it all week long from the same container. I  love to sauté thin slices into nearly any dish. Bllade styles can handle soft cheese, hard cheese, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, cabbage, chocolates and spices. They are Edgeware signature non-stick and easy to clean and fit in the bowl for storage. Here are some other features:
No-slip bottom
Soft touch accents
Compact size – blades store inside of the container
Dishwasher safe
Designed in the USA

Voga Italia
A guest noticed a Voga Italia wine bottle at my house and reported her good exeperience. Here’s mine, with the Dolce Rosso version: Makers say they have innovated this “tantilizing and supple blend of Italian Syrah and Merlot that is the perfect red wine for daylight delights or evening temptations.” Plum and cherry flavors can pair with chocolate and berry-infused desserts. It’s the lighter blend that my husband loves, and I admit I’m a sucker for the unique column bottle. Consider having your own Voga experience. 

Secret ingredient
What goes in smoky barbecue sauce, basil marinara to sooth the tomato acidity, almond vinaigrette for spinach and arugula salad, and dark chocolate pudding.
Some of my readers may guess I’m speaking of pepper, but the answer I’m seeking is just as intriguing: Nielsen Massey Organic Fair Trade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. Around Southeast Texas, we look to Mexico for fine vanilla. There’s another source that they use in Waukegan, Ill. These beans are grown in the shade and integrated with other crops, which prevents deforestation. Madagascar is part of the Bourbon island chain of Africa’s east coast and these beans are known for yielding a product that is sweet and creamy with velvety undertones. You should smell the extract. I’m enjoying a vanilla Coke as I write this. Contents from this bottle have also enhanced banana dishes and creamy desserts.

New from Dove
Brown and green are not only hip colors, they swirl to make a more-than-trendy classic taste with Dove’s new mint and dark chocolate swirl Silky Swirl Promise chocolates. If you are buying candy “for the children,” know that this is the lot one should hide, for adults only. It’s the good stuff and one will keep you satisfied. Love the Dove.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Can't eat these eggs at TAM

Eggs you can’t eat up at TAM
Is that a little sea turtle in that egg? There’s obviously a princess in that one. But my favorite creations that Susan’s Egg Nest is showing at Texas Artists Museum this month include delicate cut-outs of swirls and checks and bold painted patterns that remind me of Russian nesting dolls. Susan is a member of International Egg Art Guild and works out of Lake Charles, La. Eggs from her art come from ostriches, emus and chickens. I didn’t ask her if she ate the contents before she started in on adorning those shells.

All things kitchen
Core Kitchen knows how to send out a press release. Phrases such as “premier destination for home chefs,” “modern solutions for all things kitchen,” and “vast collection” teased my brain, then my eyes popped out of my head while thumbing through the catalogue. I don’t care who you are, you’re bound to desire boards, mats, knifes, etc. in wake-up colors of lime, mandarin, strawberry, teal and magenta. Don’t tell me you don’t like salad after you’ve sliced up some freshness with these jazzy tools. Nesting square pinch bowls are the very inspiration for cooking and the Lift Collection Spoon will replace lots of sad tools in your current kitchen. Make room for modern with a collapsible trivet, but save some nostalgic space for cast iron trivets with birdie, bee, sunflower and rose designs. Do not, I say do not, get me started with glass prep boards with designs like keys, fruit and even other utensils. It’s a kitchen theme within a kitchen. I know we’re trying to get our kids to discover the joys of healthy eating. This is a fun way to get them comfortable with playing around. But, take care, those knives are really high quality. Don’t worry, this good stuff comes in basic black, too.

Go LO to avoid sugar high
The more we become aware of what’s in our food and drink, the more options appear. I’ve enjoyed the fruity flavors of the new LO Fruit Beverage, a low cal, low carb, low sugar, and low glycemic beverage. It’s designed for a single serving, but I loved stretching it out all day by flavoring my constant sidekick, a recyclable bottle of water. That’s how I had a day of Acai-Blue, followed by a day of pomegranate. I wanted to save Pomegranate Mojito for the weekend and Mango Mojito for a possible cocktail mix-in.
So here’s the breakdown: One ten-ounce serving mimics the amount of calories (35 – 45), carbs (8 – 11 grams), and sugars (7 – 10 grams) found in one whole piece of fruit. It is a certified low GI (glycemic index) product  with premium fruit juices and naturally sweetened with organic blue agave nectar and a pinch of stevia.

Thin is in
Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat Sandwich Thins makers don’t mind me telling you a roll is 100 calories and officially endorsed by Weight Watchers® with a PointsPlus® value of 3. They’ve come up with some grilling recipes that will make your mouth water and won’t weigh you down. Look for these in the store and play around. I’ve been making an energetic breakfast sandwich with egg and Canadian bacon that is as quick as any drive-through version, but much better. Their grilling ideas include an Angus burger or a veggie sandwich. I like this one:

Heirloom Tomato Caprese Panini

1 Arnold® Sandwich Thins® Rolls Multi-Grain roll
8 thin slices of heirloom tomatoes (choose different colors for visual appeal)
2 oz. fat free mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
Serving Size: 
1 serving
On the bottom half of the Sandwich Thins® roll, place ingredients in the following order - one sliced tomato, one slice of mozzarella cheese, and basil. Repeat placement of ingredients until three layers are stacked. Finally, top with the other half of the Sandwich Thins® roll.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rum for your life! National Rum Day

National Rum Day is Friday, Aug. 16. Make of it what you will, but here are a few ideas. Amoretti’s Peach Syrup has been good on my yogurt and pancakes, so a mix-in for rum seems a logical step.
This is peach month, so here are two peachy-keen homemade concoctions by Maral Barsoumian, developer of fresh gourmet ingredient line Amoretti, featuring Amoretti’s Peach Syrup. Amorreti’s syrups are made with premium, natural ingredients and contain about 1/3 the amount of sugar found in other brands’ syrups.

Sweet and Salty Peach Marinade: Recommended on pork, chicken, steaks, vegetable medley or salad

½ tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp pepper flakes
½ pump Amoretti’s Peach Syrup – about 1 teaspoon
Salt + pepper to taste

Homemade Peach Barbecue Sauce: Recommended on pork, chicken, or steaks

1 c yellow mustard
¼ c sugar
¼ c light brown sugar
¼ c water (or reduced sodium chicken/beef stock)
2 tbsp chilli poweder
½ tbsp soy sauce
½ pump Amoretti’s Peach Syrup – about 1 teaspoon
¼  tsp cayenne
Salt and  pepper to taste

Amoretti has martini mixes that come in shaker-style bottles with flavors like sour apple, and the passion fruit I tried. Make a virgin version by just pouring a mix over ice.
The Amoretti catalogue is almost too much to handle with flavors for sweet concoctions. I also tried Capriccio Exotic Islands Smoothie Mix that is shelf stable until activated with water. You think the bottle is not full, that maybe somebody already sampled it, but you add water and mix away. I added banana and rum, to pre-observe Rum Day. It was as easy as it was good.

Farmer’s Market finds:
I made my second visit to the Beaumont Farmer’s Market on College Street this Saturday and here’s what I learned:
* A woman was selling sweet potato vine leaves. My mom had just planted a vine, so I went home and sautéed some in olive oil and loved them. I did some internet research first, because some varieties or parts are considered poisionous.
* You can eat okra raw. I tried it right there. My mother bought some jumbo okra so big you could stuff them. She did, with andouille sausage, and we loved them.
* I can bake kale. Everybody says it is easy and it was. I just brushed it with oil and baked it with a tad of sea salt. Crazy crunchy and easy.

Can-it-Forward Day
Get busy now to be ready for National Can-it-Forward Day, Saturday, Aug. 17. Can you guess how you celebate? You preserve and share, educate and eat.
Ted Allen is helping spread the word, through Ball brand canning jars from Jarden Home Brands.
 Everyone loves a Ball jar.  Have you seen Pinterest lately? Look for the limited-edition, vintage-inspired Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jar  for cooking and DIY projects. More ways to celebrate:
  • Participants can share photos, videos, questions and comments on the Ball brand home canning Facebook page,, where fresh preservers from across the country will connect on Can-It-Forward Day. 
  • All recipes and craft ideas from the webcast segments will be available for inspiration on the Ball brand home canning Pinterest page,
  • Users can also Tweet along with the hashtag #canitforward.
  • Consumers across the country are invited to host their own home canning parties on National Can-It-Forward Day to teach friends and family the joys of fresh preserving. Visit for a Getting Started guide, home canning recipes and more.
I’m playing with an amazing beginner’s guide to canning and recipe booklet packaged as the Home Canning Discovery Kit. Besides the actual Ball jars, the cool thing is a green plastic patent pending canning rack with lifter that is just right for home kitchens today. I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a big family canning operation with lots of tools. The beginner kit is just enough to get you interested on this canning journey.
For more information about National Can-It-Forward Day or Ball brand home canning products visit and

I purchased very reasonably priced Wet n Wild drug store makeup and savored Ferguson Crest syrah private reserve wine in the same week. What the two have in common is singer Fergie, who lends her name to both. While the makeup is a fun bargain, the wine is her heart, and the label tells the story of watching her father tend fruit trees. Her family’s Scottish crest features a board’s head, which I did not realize is a symbol of hospitality. Fergusons are proud of their effort and should be. This wine was truly a cut above. Wine and music lovers will want some from this vineyard.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Snacking on Kale

Kale a surprising snack
Back in my waitress days, kale was a plate filler no one would think of eating. The thick greens looked scratchy and bitter. I know baked kale has been the rage for a while, but I never got around to trying it. Imagine my surprise when I found it to be my top pick from Healthy Surprise, a package of snacks that comes to your door so you can get out the door fast and be active.
Stop eating junk and let the snackologists at Healthy Surprise make it fun and easy to eat healthy by delivering you curated a box full of delicious and healthy snacks, is what the company suggests. As a writer to inform you readers, I got a box of “healthy, delicious, gluten free, natural, vegan, soy free and corn free” snacks that was admittedly fun to sort through and sample.
California Snax Parma Kale was a crunchy treat that put me in gobble mode. I think Sea Snax, a roasted seaweed sheet, came in No. 2, with its “Strangely Additive” tag line ringing true. What a delicate crunch it made.
The box arrives with a sticker reading “I Am Not A GMO” and included goodies like a Rosemary Journey Bar, That’s It apple and apricot bar, Matt’s Munches Choco-Nana, and Hail Merry pecans flavored with orange rosemary. Skinny Crisps Cinnamon Crisps and a variety of cookies, a chia coconut bar and crunchy veggies and fruits were also inside. Some of these were very, very low cal and all were a better choice than typical candy bars and chips. I mean, have you ever had a grilled zucchini crunch? Snapz can go in your box. Get into it at

Just Juice
You won’t forget your first sip of Just Cranberry. You’ll wonder what else has been in that less-potent blend of cocktail you have been drinking. The R.W. Knudsen Family’s Just Juice collection . After going to the Knudsen site’s new The Orchard section, I passed the quiz and guess that about 2.25 pounds of berry go into each bottle. Having appreciated the natural nature of the juice, I will use it as a flavorful smoothie mix in. For straight-up drinking, I picked Just Black Cherry for a rich, fruity sensation. Imagine what you can do with Just Pomegranate, Just Black Currant and Just Blueberry.
Santa Cruz Organic lemonades with variations of strawberry, raspberry, peach, mango, cherry and limeade are summer in a jar and contain no artificial preservatives or ingredients. I enjoyed mine over ice in a very small glass, giving me an excuse to leave the patio and get a second refreshing glass of the stuff.

A yam-based noodle is becoming the new blank canvas for chefs and cooks going carb, soy, preservative and gluten-free. NoOodle is infused with Glucomannan, a natural ingredient that slows digestion and traps cholesterol and fat from being absorbed in the body. Look for angel hair “pasta.” My experience was sharing a box of tomato and risotto soup, ready in three minutes with “the no-calorie noodle.”  For just 50 calories we enjoyed a satisfying bowl of flavorful soup that self-taught chef Terri Rogers created. The little dots of yam pasta are nearly clear and fill one up while the flavor comes from spinach, basil, sea salt, onion powder and black pepper. Chicken noodle soup also comes in a shelf-stable box, so this is a handy pick to keep on fall pantry shelfs for quick, healthy meal choices.