Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hug a tree? Hug an avocado

I can’t wait to eat half an avocado. Then I can use a Food Hugger for the leftover half. Seriously, Food Huggers are the deal. The round silicon disks go over and grip your partially-eaten lemons, tomatoes, etc. Different sizes do the job and I plan to be using the biggest one for purple onions. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you why, but purple onion halves are always coming into my life.
The avocado food hugger is a work of art because it even has space for the pit. It’ s like sculpture that keeps your food fresh.
I love eating even more than I hate wasting food, so this is a win-win situation. You can also cover opened cans and jars with this, so go be a Food Hugger.

CoolBrew can get hot
Toasted almond, mocha, vanilla and other CoolBrew Coffee Concentrate flavors are designed for hot and cold enjoyment, but this summer I’m running cool with the New-Orleans based fresh coffee fast concept. CoolBrew comes in a plastic container you squeeze and a space on top fills with your flavor. It’s up to you how you want to go with the rest. Make it hot (like the logo’s wisps of smoke that form a fleur de lis) or enjoy it over ice. This season, the iced coffee is where it’s at for me. For more adventures, use the coffee to make a barbecue sauce or go traditional with a fizzy brunch punch of CoolBrew Coffee Concentrate, vanilla ice cream, sparkling water, simple syrup or sugar and a garnish of cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder.
This stuff is very easy to use and very delicious. Store your containers in the fridge and you’re good to go.

Power Snacks
Does Coffee Cacao and Lemon Goldenberry do it for you as a power snack? Navitas Naturals introduces these two new flavors of “bite sized goodness” in a line that the gluten and dairy free and organic raw superfood crowd with love.
Beware: You may fall into the “it’s good for me and I’m willing to try new things” category or the group of those who head to the vending machine for junk food. I know some health seekers who will love these browning-looking bites, but I served them to a bunch who recognized “those grainy things.” Three tasters skipped these in favor of a bowl of sugary snacks. One wouldn’t even try.
Even people who straddle should be culinary thrill seekers in the quest for food that nourishes and helps you become the person you want to be. Navitas Naturals is a company that those folks want to be associate with. Makers say:
“In addition to the raw Cacao Powder that Navitas Naturals is renowned for, the Coffee-Cacao Power Snack features these organic superfoods: Maca, Chia, Camu, Cashews, Green Coffee Powder and Lucuma. The superfoods in this energizing mocha snack are combined with other wholesome organic raw foods including date paste, raw almonds, fig paste and sunflower seeds. Along with Goldenberries from Colombia, the tart and sweet Lemon-Goldenberry Power Snack contains Maca, Chia, Camu, Cashews and Hemp superfoods, combined with date paste, fig paste, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, dried cranberries and orange peel powder.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer flavors to savor

I have uncluttered my pantry leaving just the good stuff. Here’s some of what is in there:

McCormick has been on top of the grilling scene for years with trends and flavors. I might as well keep the bottle of the new Chipotle & Roasted Garlic spice in my purse.
Packets you can grab in stores help you season your ground beef for burgers. Look for McCormick Grill Mates Steakhouse Burger Seasoning mixes in Smoky Applewood, Mushroom and Classic; McCormick Grill Mates Island Woodfire Grill Marinade; and Lawry’s Marinades in Cajun and Sweet Southern BBQ. Go ahead and make it easy in the kitchen, and spend more time with your guests. has more temptations.

The bread thing
The amazing aroma of fresh bread is as appealing on a summer day as it is come fall. Krusteaz has no knead mixes for Italian Herb, Cracked Wheat, Honey Wheat, Country White Bread and Sourdough that I’m working my way through. Those great smells will weaken any knees. So this all came about because my husband says he could eat pizza every day. When Krusteaz promoted a pizza made from the sourdough mix, I was all in, adding mushrooms, onions, sausage and tomato sauce. It was a beauty and gone in one sitting. This is how they do:

Pizza Variation

Prepare dough using one package Krusteaz Sourdough Bread Mix as directed. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Press dough into 14-inch circle. Place on lightly greased pizza pan. Let rest 10 minutes. Press again to edge of pan. Prick with fork tines at 1-inch intervals. Bake at 400ºF 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with your favorite ingredients. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Taste the mango
Read the labels. A well-known brand is getting noticed in a not good way for not having as much of a natural ingredient as consumers may think. Enter Santa Cruz Organic®  making the good stuff you can taste. My mother enjoyed the pure flavor of mango lemonade as she sipped it on her patio and we also enjoyed the lemonade that would be a flavorful mix for adult beverages with a summery feel.
The company has tips for incorporating the organic lifestyle into your family’s habits:

1.       Take small steps – Take the first step with your staple shopping ingredients. Consider replacing conventional products one-by-one with organic alternatives. Make foods like fruits, vegetables, milk and meat your first priority.
2.       Plan an organic picnic – Enjoy the summer weather with an organic lunch, including Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butters and Fruit Spreads. To help round it out, Santa Cruz Organic Fruit Sauces are a tasty, organic treat with each 4-ounce sauce cup providing 100% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin C.
3.       Grow an organic garden – Why not grow your own organic vegetables and herbs? Plants like tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes and cucumbers are easy to grow and can be easily maintained on a rooftop or patio garden. Plus, it’s a great way to teach kids where food comes from and how it grows!
4.       Read the labels – Look for products with the “Certified USDA Organic” seal and read labels carefully to check out the main ingredients and any additives that may be included. The first ingredients listed should be common names and easy to pronounce.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

You don't need a stinking recipe

The opening story about a woman who was shopping and simply could not prepare a new recipe for cream of cauliflower soup without the brand of Mellow White Miso she could not find struck me. It haunts me. In “The No Recipe Cookbook: A beginner’s Guide to Cooking,” Susan Crowther recalls trying to help this women consider substitutes to no avail. The soup would not be made. I could never figure people not willing to be adventurous in the kitchen, but I do get a sense that some are not comfortable with their intuitions. Crowther teaches how to develop those feelings, and have fun with it.
If you can make a mud pie, you can cook, she insists. The basic recipe for anything is:
1.   Necessary ( main) ingredients
2.   Accessory ingredients
3.   Sauce
Here’s examples of how this comes into play:
Salad: The main is lettuce; accessories are onions, peppers and tomatoes and sauce is oil and vinegar.
Cheese sandwich: Main is bread and cheese; accessories are tomato, avocado and sprouts and sauce is mayonnaise.
Fritta: eggs; then mushrooms, spinach, herbs and cheese; them milk.
Get the idea? Then you can go nuts with her ideas, then you can get crazy with your own. By the way, she’s kind of a healthfood nut and is for sure an entertaining writer.
Infused water is so tempting
Of course you need to drink more water, especially in the summer. Contigo will help you do it. It’s an Autoseal Pitcher Set with an infuser stick, where you put your lemons, oranges, citrus, mint, cucumbers or whatever of nature’s bounty you want to show off, and the flavor comes through in this clear, pitcher. I wanted to keep raving about the sleek shape of the pitcher and the green and white lid that curves into a handle, but that sentence was getting long. You can fill the ice core with water and freeze to keep your creation chilled. One more thing: The tritan Body is shatter and odor resistant of BPA-free material. It’s a useful beauty.
Crazy pretzels pair with Humdinger honeys
I called it. I let the promoters of Henry’s Humdingers family of hot honey know that I think I’d like to meet Naughty Nana the most. She is a spicy pepper and ginger raw honey who wakes you up with toast in the morning. Diabolical Dad is my second new best friend, mixing habanero and lime raw honey. This family also includes Phoebe’s Fireball of Chipotle Chile and Cinnamon and Grumpy Grandpa with spicy red pepper and garlic. What do you do with these combos? Breakfast breads, toasty tortillas, chicken and beef can all get a glaze. My husband reminds me to stir it, because that top layer gets the most heat. Get your own recipes at I’m addicted.
The flavors pair well with Mary’s Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs Sea Salt Pretzels  which are whole grain and gluten free rods that you can dip with what have you. These two brands can bring some conversation starters to your summer gatherings. Thanks Mary and Henry.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The inventive Monte Cristo

I never saw the point in battering and frying a sandwich. The battered Monte Cristo, covered in powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam, was a menu hit in my waitress days at Bennigan’s. My mom makes her version of the sandwich now and then.
Don’t ask my why I had white bread in the fridge, but I’ll tell you I didn’t buy it. My daughter left lunch meat in there, too, and the cheese and syrup came from other sources. So I combined a bunch of selections that were in my house, not because of me, and grilled my husband a “sweet” breakfast sandwich. Gourmet touches can turn leftovers into something exotic
Fruity all year
Concord grapes, sugar and buttermilk make Indian Summer Grape Creamsicles; lamb and quince tagine; gorgonzola and nectarines; apple and pork pressed sandwiches. Red Jacket orchards of New York has combined skill, passion and art in the book “Fruitful: Four Seaons of Fresh Fruit Recipes.” This season is good for grilled skirt steak with blackberry-serrano glaze, but we’re about to get to high summer, when a tender green salad with raspberries, pistachios and chive blossoms is in order. Don’t worry, fall and winter are right after that.
Recipes include pear and gingerbread cake with whiskey cream frosting and combos you might not have thought of, but can get with pretty quickly. 
Read easy for summer salads
READ Salads has a website,, that can direct you to easy summer eating. I served my mom one on the patio. Three Bean salad?, she asked. No, four, I told her. Their classic can of green, wax and kidney beans gets additional chickpeas in a vinegar-based sweet and tangy dressing. Just open up that can and serve, or chill it, first. Look around this web site to see what else a can opener can help you lay out this season.