Swaggable: Kala Beautiful Beans Snacks #Review #KalaBeans

 

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The new year also brings a fresh start and many of us seem to always start same, with the desire to better our¬†well being via losing weight, eating better and overall taking better care of ourselves. From what reports and the news states, we all also tend to fail and abandon the idea by the time February rolls around. I blame Santa for the Christmas chocolates he leaves behind to Valentine’s Day with all the treats to add back again that you just finished eating in January ūüôā Whatever the cause, failing is not my kind of thing and with every passing year being able to maintain a healthy weight, plus lose a little here and there, I plan to remain on the healthy eating path. My problem is boredom and always has been. I dislike eating the same thing every single day as a snack. It just makes my days blend and kills my palette! I love apples but an apple even in different varieties is just different degrees of sweetness and crunch, but still remains being an apple. I sometimes crave savory and salty snacks and yes, I could dip an apple in something like a salted caramel but then I might as well just eat a piece of cheesecake! So, my ever endless hunt for brands that keep me on track has again yielded another option for us.

 

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Kala Beautiful Beans is a new company and part of the Bush Brothers Company. Their treats come in one serving single bags or a large bag that yields about 5 servings each. At first I thought it was just foo-foo trail mixes and my hippy side admits that when I see any new trail mix or granola mix hit the market, my heart does flutter but nothing is as welcoming as seeing a new member added to the line up. Kala Beautiful Beans uses Fava Beans as their main ingredient. They are roasted and seasoned and paired up with other ingredients like Garbanzo (chickpeas) beans and dried fruits, along with spices and seasonings. Currently Kala Beans features 4 different flavors:

Pineapple Kick Medley– Roasted fava beans and orange-glazed chickpeas with pineapple, blueberries and paprika.
Cherry Trail Medley– Roasted fava beans and vanilla-glazed chickpeas with cherries, toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks.
Simply Peppered Beans– Roasted fava beans with Himalayan salt and black pepper.
Tropical Curry Beans– Roasted fava beans with curry spice and lime juice.

You can purchase all varieties at your local Sprout’s Farmers Markets.

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Verdict:
I was unsure what to expect and the beans have a roasted peanut color and thier shape resembles a small hazelnut, but they are airy in the center. Think of a really puff corn nut but without that grainy corn feeling you get when chewing¬†one. They break down cleanly while eating¬†and taste ……..well, delicious. I don’t taste bean. Even the chickpeas, which I have had before taste……well, bean-y when eating after a while but the roasting method used by Kala Beans produces a more airy product. They then use other ingredients that are of high quality, so it enhances the snacking experience. Everything melds perfectly and best of all, the taste and flavors pop in my mouth so I am enjoying a healthy snack a lot more than I expected I would. My favorite was the Cherry Trail Medley, the coconut shavings are toasted but not powdery in the bag. You actually get nice sized shavings! ¬†Then the cherries are so good because I am first to admit that sometimes when I get dried cherries and dried cranberries in a mix, I can’t always tell the difference between them because they are dried to the point that they just taste like seedy, red fruit skin. The cherries from Kala Beans are dried but in a kindly manner where they remain plump, retain their sweetness but still hit you with a tart flavor towards the end. Kala Beans then added a vanilla glaze to the product that is sweet but non-sticky on the surface. You just get that small hint and scent of the vanilla that adds a nice warmth and compliments the fruit, beans (and I want to say nuts but there are none in it), and chocolate nicely. The dark chocolate chunks are just so good and melt nicely when eating. ¬†No waxy taste or bitterness. ¬†I actually like the Kala Beans mixes and oddly more than some of my current trail and nut based mixes. I think it comes down to the clean taste and finish, that is both satisfying and tasty. Kills the craving and I will be buying them to add to my yogurt in the morning because a girl can only granola it for so long! ¬†Plus, you have benefits like fiber from the beans and one bag is just 180 calories for the Cherry Trail Medley Mix and Pineapple one, but the other two only bump up to 200 calories for a 1.5 ounce serving. ¬†That is pretty fair and not loaded with sugars and sodium, just real food with real flavors!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Swaggable and Kala Beautiful Beans. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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HouseParty: Boursin¬ģ Gournay Cheeses in Pepper, Shallot and Chive, and Garlic and Fine Herbs #Review #BoursinCheesePack

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I was fortunate to be able to have¬†Boursin¬ģ Cheese be a guest at our holiday table and I was very lucky in visiting Von’s Markets and finding all the cheeses in stock. ¬†The deal became sweeter when Von’s had a promo going of Buy-one-get-one-Free (BOGO), so using the free item coupon provided by Boursin, yielded an extra cheese item. ¬†We were Boursin-ing it at our house this holiday so much, that 2016 will also feature a nice cheese platter when it comes to welcoming the new year.

Some companies have cheeses that tend to all taste the same no matter the flavor listed.  They use the same base and are not generous with the add-ons, so when you buy one kind, you pretty much bought them all.  Not with Boursin cheeses!  Every flavor tastes different from the other.  You may have a texture that resembles each other but if the package states Pepper, peppery goodness is what you will enjoy!
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Boursin Gournay Cheese in Garlic and Fine Herbs-
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, granulated garlic, salt, white pepper, parsley, chives*.*Dried

I was worried that the garlic would be overwhelming even though I love garlic, however I worry when it comes to dairy based products, that the ingredient can drown all the others out. ¬†Again, Boursin found the right balance and you taste garlic but it has not permeated the entire cheese. ¬†The white pepper provides a zingy taste that differs from the usual black peppercorns. ¬†You get a mild spice that is perfect for even non-pepper fans! ¬† The parsley and chives bring the herb notes, but chive also provides a nice mild onion flavor that tends to also brighten up the cheese’s overall taste. ¬†This is the one you buy if you are new to the Boursin family.

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Boursin Gournay Cheese in Shallot and Chive-
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, shallots*, salt, chives*, green onions*, potassium sorbate (preservative). *Dried

This version of Boursin cheeses is one of my favorites.  You have a blend of dry herbs and that creamy Boursin cheese that is smooth in texture and flavor.  The onion notes are real and not like what you get from a powdered product, that tends to even dry a cheese out.  There is freshness here and if you like onion based dips, this is the cheese that takes your taste buds on an onion-y adventure.

 

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Boursin Gournay Cheese in Pepper-
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized milk and cream, salt, black pepper, potassium sorbate (preservative).

You have black pepper as the main ingredient and this is the more simpler flavor that tends to combine with all other toppers or spreads you may want to add with the cheeses. ¬†The peppercorns are mild in flavor and thankfully the texture is pleasing. ¬†You do not get huge chunks that disrupt the smoothness of the cheese’s texture and Boursin was still able to produce a smooth textured product that is enjoyable on a cracker or even added to a dip.

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Verdict:

This year we enjoyed the cheeses as-is and added them to crackers. ¬†I visited Costco and they sell a trio package there. ¬†Costco was sampling the cheeses by adding them to mashed potatoes and it created a smooth and appealing product. ¬†It was a nice way to spruce up a comfort food and give it a little gourmet twist. ¬†This New Year’s Eve, I will be baking fresh loaves of Rosemary rustic bread, cutting the loaves (not all the way through) to create pockets (crisscrossed pattern) and filling them with a a little butter and then Boursin cheese with shredded cheeses, and then baking. ¬†This will create a nice pull-a-part bread that guests can enjoy eat while still being able to enjoy the festivities. ¬† It is an easy appetizer to add to our others and melted cheese is something we all love. ¬†I may add even some pancetta to some of the loaves to create a different flavor. ¬†Boursin cheeses go with anything you serve because they stand on their own on a cheese platter, or you can add them dishes and dips. ¬†There is no rules or limits here, so I highly suggest bringing a smile to your guests this year by welcoming 2016 with Boursin!

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Houseparty/ChatterBox and Boursin Cheeses.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Feel Good Foods: Gluten Free Pork Dumplings #Review #FeelGoodFoods

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At my house, we no longer eat out or order in when it comes to Asian cuisine. We were never happy in the end with the amount of protein the dishes delivered, the amount of sodium and the feeling after we ate such meals. Vegetables were usually overcooked from sitting under a heat lamp and I noticed my Husband was always picking out what he liked and disliked, to the point he always had a mountain of mushy vegetables along the side of his plate from things that did not pass the cut (to be eaten). So, I started cooking it myself. I do though appreciate help and even though I am picky about what I purchase from the freezer aisle, I can say that Feel Good Foods was a welcoming sight and taste.

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I was sent several coupons and visited my local Sprout’s Farmers Market. I went with an idea from what Feel Good Foods carried by visiting their website, but it was amazing in the amount of dishes, meals and sides they make. The company has a plethora of items that I had a list longer than the amount of coupons I had. I get to the store and I tell myself just get one item. Try them out and see what happens.

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I pick the Pork dumplings and even though no one thankfully suffers from celiac disease, there are times I just want a gluten free meal like other times I pick no meat to no corn days. Our bodies (well at least mine) needs a break when it comes to what I eat. I don’t want corn in any form in my system on a daily basis and there are days I want a gluten free meal. It changes what I put in my body and it’s welcoming to my taste buds. Labor Day was approaching and we always barbecued outside but this year I wanted something low key and different, so I opted to make it an Asian night. I made everything from Orange chicken, Korean-style BBQ ribs, Shrimp Japanese-style fried rice, Vegetable Lo-Mein to Ponzu Lime Fish. I always love the dumplings and sides but I honestly don’t always have the time to make them homemade but that should be no reason on why I should skip on flavor or real ingredients. Feel Good Foods uses simple ingredients and made from real stuff. No funny fillers and ingredients that come from a lab.

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Cooking- I have 4 burners going at the same time on a 5-burner stove. One was a grill for the short ribs, so that meant my 5th burner was not accessible. I never like to try products from the get-go in the microwave, so I went with the method I came up for times like this, when I have more pots going than burners available. I take the dumplings out and they are a nice size and a decent weight. That surprised me because I am use to the type that really are more wrap than filling. Feel Good Foods does not play that game and they are beautifully sealed too. I placed them on parchment paper and while I prepped the other food, they defrosted for 10 minutes. I use a baster brush and give the dumplings a thin coating of oil (a mix of peanut and toasted sesame oil). I literally use my hand and gather a few droplets of water from the sink’s faucet and let them drop onto the pan, cover with foil and cooked them at 400 degrees. I cooked them for 15 minutes, with the last 5 to 7 minutes uncovered. I get the best of both worlds, the softness and moistness on the inside from a steamed dumpling and the crisp on the outside from a pan fried one. You don’t even have to over brown them because they will be crisp without looking brown. Easy and problem free cooking, for those days I have more going on than usual.

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Verdict-
I serve our meals and noticed I went crazy with the sides but I tell myself this is what we would get at a buffet, share, and always end up eating a little bit of everything. I even made a Jasmine vegetable rice to add to the mix at the last minute, just in case no one felt like hijiki seaweed and wanted a less crispy rice texture. I serve the dumplings and the sauce and everything smells great. We dig in and of course I always tell my Husband to go easy with the Sriracha but noticed I’m too late because not only has his Lo-Mein noodles picked up a red hue, but he has a spoonful on top of the Sriracha garlic paste (too late!). We all continue eating and he asks me about the new sauce. This is the sauce that came with the dumplings. It’s good and not salty, simple but better than plain soy sauce. It’s a welcoming flavor that takes nothing away from the dumplings. Now, the Pork¬†dumplings are plain awesome! Full of pork and the wrap is thin, so you taste the filling and not just the dough. You first taste ginger and this is the real stuff…..none of that powder and they are the best frozen I have bought. I love(d) the Trader Joe’s ones but I have to honest, I would buy the pork and the chicken bags and could never tell, which was which. The flavors just blended and sometimes the wrap was so thick, that the crimped top of the dumpling would not cook right. The Feel Good Foods dumplings were filling and I ate just 2 of them and was very satisfied. I actually wish I served myself 1 more! I cooked the dumplings along side of the Pork Shu Mai dumplings and the Feel Good Foods dumplings had more meat and the filling was not mush. You could see the strands of what made the filling and even though they come frozen, that did not effect the texture of the dumpling. Easy to make and they taste wonderful and I have purchased pretty much every dumpling out there from the Costco Roadshows (featured) brands to the common ones found at the local market. Nothing comes close to Feel Good Foods and the nice part, we just felt satisfied with our meal and no bad after effects from things like MSG or too much sodium. The way meals should be!

I can’t wait to go shopping next week and I will be picking up a new item from Feel Good Foods every 3 weeks and sharing my experience. The company was generous with their coupons, plus they have so much to offer! ¬†You just have to check-out all they have because it’s overwhelming but in a good way ūüôā This is a company that cares about using non-GMO ingredients and where they source their foods from, plus they believe in all natural products and best of all, they see no reason why frozen should not look and taste good. ¬†I never knew gluten-free could taste this good!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Feel Good Foods.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Daiya Foods: Daiya Deliciously Dairy Free Pizzas #Review #DaiyaPizzas

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Even if we are a household without dietary restrictions, I still like to mix things up a bit. Eating the same way is just utterly boring no matter how good the food can be. To not get in a meal rut means I need to introduce new foods and start weeding out the things we want to take a break from.

Daiya Foods Pizzas, is a leap of many kinds for us. For one, we rarely eat frozen prepared meals and/or side dishes. I do freeze meats in raw form and that is as frozen as we get, along with frozen veggies and fruits. You just can’t grab something from the freezer and nuke it……yeah, that comes back and bites me, so I made some tamales and the such for those days I want to actually use the microwave beyond just softening butter in it. Secondly, I have tried gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, to meatless but never really ventured into non-dairy, unless it’s a fruit based gelato or some kind of sweet treat. This means Daiya foods is eating a way for us that is entirely new because it’s taking everything we have tried before, but all in one dish and at the same time. I’m game!

I was offered to try out the pizzas and no one had ever tried anything from Daiya Foods, except for a faux cream cheese style spread. Some of my group admitted to seeing the cheezes in the dairy alternative aisle at Sprout’s, but never actually tried it. Okay, this is now an entire new experience for us all.

Daiya Foods makes 6 Pizzas to choose from and they all sound delicious and tempting:

  • Supreme¬†Pizza, which includes a meatless sausage topping from Beyond Meat
  • Pizza Bianca¬†Pizza, featuring a white bean sauce that has mushrooms and spinach toppings
  • Cheeze Lover’s¬†Pizza, a simpler non-topping pizza, which features Daiya’s version of cheezes, like Mozzarella and Cheddar
  • Margherita Pizza, a traditional twist on a classic and comes with tomato chunks and basil
  • Fire-Roasted Vegetables Pizza, Daiya did not skimp and you have three bell pepper varieties, onions, garlic, tomatoes and even a dash of basil
  • Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza, even when it comes to mushrooms, Daiya makes sure you get something beyond the button kind. ¬†You have shiitake and crimini in a blanket of roasted garlic and all nestled on their tomato sauce

I purchased two of the selections available, the Supreme and the Fire-Roasted Vegetable to try out. ¬†This was what was available at Sprout’s and they were redoing that section when I was shopping and I grabbed the ones that looked more tempting. ¬†I grabbed to of the veggies kind and one of the supreme. ¬†First, one up to cook and see how well it is received is the Fire-Roasted Vegetable:

The pizza was easy to cook and even though the instructions stated to cook directly on the rack, I just got a new range and it’s less than a week old. ¬†A few of the cheeze shreds were dangling off the crust, which I like when eating but not when cooking, so I opted to cook the pizza on my pizza stone just like I would any pizza.

The pizza was cooked and ready in 13.5 minutes!  You have the option to use the standard bake and convection instructions were listed, so I went with that cooking option.

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Verdict:

By the seven minute mark, you could smell the vegetables and they smell as good as they look. ¬†Daiya did not skimp on toppings and that is always a plus in our book. ¬†The crust is crisp and upon slicing, you hear it cut just like a normal pizza crust would. ¬†The dough has a darker tint that can be described as almost wheat-like in color. ¬†It also tastes like a wheat crust but a good one! ¬†Daiya nailed it when it came to how the crust tasted, broke apart when eaten and this made the eating of the pizza enjoyable. ¬†The vegetables are out of this world. ¬†We all agreed the freshness and texture makes you wish Daiya sold the veggies by the bagful. ¬†They are roasted but not soft and a mushy mess from being frozen. ¬†There is still texture and they are so good, plus the tang you get from the tomato sauce provides a nice balance of flavors. ¬†The sauce is light and not super sweet, you just taste fresh tomatoes and a touch of basil. ¬†Now, the only small negative is the cheeze. ¬†The browned portions we all agreed tasted better than the whiter ones, so toasted on top is the way to cook the pizza if you desire this flavor profile. ¬†The cheese does not melt and or string apart like normal dairy versions, it’s almost a little too soft in texture and one guest felt it was like sour cream in taste. ¬†I did not feel the sour notes were present but I can see where the comparison in texture can be made. ¬†This was the only downer but because the crust and everything else was top-notch, it would not prevent me from buying it. ¬†It’s a pizza that I would say has that “rustic” taste but think of it more as a flat-bread pizza with superb toppings and cooks in 15 minutes or less!

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The other positive is that 2 pizzas and I had boneless chicken wings to pair with it, filled us! ¬†I still had dessert to serve and when it came to putting the third pizza in the oven (The Supreme), we were full. ¬†I thought that is a good thing because 8 people were fed very well and we were satisfied with what we ate, so we opted to give the third pizza to the guest that is always late. ¬†She also brought a third extra guest, so she could enjoy the pizza for dinner (versus lunch) when she got home. ¬†Okay, I’m thinking if I give free meals away, people will start showing up late now ūüôā I’m also eye-ing those cheezecakes they sell and they have a Key Lime one……oh’ yummers!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Daiya Foods.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ozeri’s Artesio Soft Touch Electric Grinder and Mill #Review

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I cook. A lot. Hubby grills. A lot. One thing we both use in great quantities is black pepper. Whole peppercorns make for a robust, flavor profile with almost anything. One thing we both hate? Constant grinding. It’ll wear out your wrists and forearms quicker than you’d think. So when I got a chance to take Ozeri’s Artesio Soft Touch Electric Pepper Mill for a spin, I was thrilled. Let me tell, you, friend, it’s a good thing.

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Whether you want a powder fine grind for mashed potatoes, or a big, chunky grind for a grilled pork loin, Ozeri’s Artesio Pepper Mill has you covered. Thanks to the Infinitely adjustable ceramic grinding mechanism, the choice is yours. It is also covered in a non-slip, soft grip texture that means it’ll never slip through your fingers. Powered by 4 AA batteries (sadly, not included. Insert sad smiley here) it has enough power for peppercorns, spices or herbs, even dry sea salts. The clear reservoir holds plenty of anything and is perfect for keeping tabs on when you need a refill.

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One month in and we have yet to experience a single issue with Ozeri’s Artesio Grinder. No battery changes yet for us, and we’ve used it almost daily. But rest assured, Ozeri backs every product they sell with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. But, to be honest, I’ve had several Ozeri products, from food scales, blood pressure monitors, frothers and bathroom scales, I’ve yet to have a problem with a single product. Give Ozeri’s Artesio Soft Touch Electric Grinder a try. You’ll be happy you did.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ozeri.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

The Gourmet Nut: Tilapia Fish Bites made with the Himalayan Pink and Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt #Recipe #Review

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With fish prices rising and myself still craving fish, I have pretty much made every fish readily available in a manner of ways. Nothing satisfies a dual craving of seafood and fried food like the recipe below. The combination of salts brings a unique flavor to the dish as do the flours, which create a perfect thin crust that is super crunchy but remains light. You can make the dish using pretty much any fish (that is not ultra oily)or even use shrimps….po’ boys style or just bites to enjoy. You can also make “Devil Fish” bites by adding Sriracha to the buttermilk soak. Great for fish tacos too because the batter is crunchy but not heavy!

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The combination of salts is what makes the impact because the salinity in the Himalayan Pink Salt is great in the buttermilk soak but does not “pickle” the meat. The Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Salt brings those earthy notes that is almost like a truffle but so unique that is difficult to pin point. In the end, you just end up with a flavor combination that is perfect and better than anything you can buy. It’s also quick to make!

Let’s get started……

I start the night before to allow the fish soak up all the flavors and I like making meals that allow me to prep the evening before, so I get less mess but the benefit of capturing every flavor note without doing a thing.

 

  • Start with 3 Tilapia Fish Fillets and cut them into finger size pieces and I usually try to make bites in size that take one to two bites each to eat.

Buttermilk Soak:

  • 1/8 of teaspoon of each (Dried Herbs)- Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Dill Weed, Marjoram, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, and the Gourmet Nut’s Himalayan Pink Salt.
  • Optional- You may add 1/8 of a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper or more to suit your taste. I have added Sriracha in the past to create “Devil Bites” but again this is to your own discretion. You can also make 1/2 normal and 1/2 deviled to get different bites out of one dish.
  • 1/2 cup of Buttermilk

You add the dry ingredients and the fish to a bowl and mix to combine and cover everything evenly.

Then add the buttermilk and allow the fish to soak over night. I like to give it at least 4 hours but the more you give it, the more the fish absorbs and the better the flavor.

The following day, take the fish out and allow it to lower in temperature for about 20 minutes and then begin making the coating/batter.

Batter/Coating:

  • 1/4 cup of Corn Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Gourmet Nut’s Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • Optional- Cayenne Pepper to taste

Combine the batter and no egg needed bath is needed as the buttermilk serves as a great “glue” to make the coating stick. You simply drop each bite and coat evenly, repeat until finished.

 

Frying:
I use Peanut Oil to produce a nice crisp outside and a clean taste when frying but you may use any oil you desire. I heat up the oil between 370 and 395 degrees because I find this heat point perfect for less spatter and spitting, even though my chicken tends to cause more than the fish does. Simply drop the bites and because this is a light batter, the fish coating will remain light in color and you will achieve a light golden tone. The fish literally stops making noise when they are done. You will see within the oil the bubbling starts to subside and it takes only a few minutes to fry in small batches. It’s quick and self telling when it’s done, so that works for me.

 

 

Serving:
You can make fish tacos or serve the fish as-is with a side of tartar sauce. I made shrimps and crab cakes that evening, plus fries because I wanted to nip my fried food craving. I also like to grind a little finishing salt of the Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt when serving because it gives it touch of extra flavor and the color against the white meat of the fish is just gorgeous! Enjoy!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Gourmet Nut.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Smoked Turkey Legs with Gourmet Nut’s Northwest Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt…Yes Please!!

I am very fortunate. Not only do I have my hubby who goes out of his way to make sure I never lack for “special” eats, I get to try awesome goodies from awesome companies. Companies like Gourmet Nut, who have lines of treats and seasonings that enhance ANY dish.¬†Like hubby’s County Fair Smoked Turkey Legs.

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See, we used to frequent the L.A. County Fair. Every year, without fail, we’d be in line opening day to be some of the first people through the gate. The food, the neat bric-a-brac, the food, the animals, the food. Did I mention the food? We even had season passes one year. Then, as is now the norm in Southern California, prices started jumping higher and higher. Not incremental increases mind you, but by leaps and bounds. Getting in and parking? Nearly $40. Footlong hotdog, fries and a drink? $25. Each. We were down nearly $100 by lunch. No thank you.

Hubby loved the BBQ. I liked it, he loved it. And it made us both sad to say “Buh-bye” to real, Southern style BBQ. So we bit the bullet, bought a smoker, and through much trial and error, duplicated (or improved on) everything we loved from the Fair. Hubby has become a regular pit master, and there’s not much he doesn’t do well on a grill. Prime rib for the holidays? Check. Steaks, chicken, burgers? Child’s play. Roasts, ribs, whole birds? Done and done. Whole smoked turkey for Thanksgiving? Oh, yes.

So wIMAG0926-1-1hen I decided I’d done without that old fair staple of stoked turkey legs long enough, I told hubby so. And sure enough, I got¬†some fresh and beautiful turkey legs from Sprout’s Farmer’s Market. At less than $5 for two, it’s a no-brainer. And with summer right around the corner, and 100¬į heat coming, it feels like it’s time for summer grillin’. Normally my recipes are pretty involved and detailed, but as this is a hubby recipe, it’s simple, straightforward and easy.

Start with 4 total ingredients:¬†Turkey legs, peanut oil, fresh cracked black pepper and the secret to a smokey, yummy turkey leg…….

 

Gourmet Nut’s Northwest Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt.¬†¬†I was blown away by the taste and smell of this salt. We have smoked salts, a few actually. None so far blew us away like this one did. Just amazing. Hubby thought¬†we could get away with doing them in the oven. But we didn’t. Rub the oil on the legs, add the pepper and salt, and you’re good to go.

 

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Here’s another secret: Make use of your leftover heat. We have a little Weber Smokey Joe grill that sees a lot of use, since it’s just us two. And hubby uses mostly natural lump coal and real wood chunks and chips. But when you make a quick couple of steaks or burgers, you now have a grill full of heat and flavor…what’s a guy to do? Usually some hot links, or a roast. But today, it was turkey legs. Take your coals pile them up to one side, and put the legs on the other side, for what’s called “indirect cooking”. He threw a handful of hickory chips, covered it up, and we ate dinner. He snuck out a couple of times to turn and rotate for even cooking, but as he was told many years ago when it comes to “low & slow” cooking: “If you lookin’, you ain’t cookin'”.

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Three hours or so later, and voila…Eat your heart out, LA County Fair. You are officially old and busted. Enter the new hotness: Smoked Turkey Legs featuring Gourmet Nut’s Northwest Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt. I’ve now used this sea salt on just about everything, and there’s no dish it hasn’t enhanced. I love the aroma once it hits warm food, it’s intoxicating! One of my favorite finishing salts, by far. If you don’t see it at your local grocery store, be sure to have them special order it or you! You won’t believe how you got by without it!

 

Get in touch with, or find out where to buy Gourmet Nut’s fantastic products by visiting them:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Gourmet Nut.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

The Spice Lab: Ghost Pepper Crispy Oven Fries

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The myth. The legend. The Ghost Pepper.

I have heard about the Ghost Pepper and even seen people taste it but their reaction was always to the intense heat with very little to report on taste. Scary stuff. I’m a girl that loves heat and spice but I want flavor too. My best description is that this pepper tastes like a non-latin red pepper, but with attitude. The notes are actually good and intense but end with a touch of smokiness. Not like a chipotle or a poblano, so there is where I come off with the “non-latin” description. It’s good……like, really good. After I tasted the salt as-is, I not only respected Mr. Ghost Pepper but could not wait to try it in a recipe. But wait for me to get some more water ūüôā

Potatoes are usually bland so I felt they were the perfect pairing, plus I am always in that race to use up every Russet potato I purchased in the bag because then what I paid is not a super bargain. These fries are simple to make and only take 25-30 minutes to cook. You are left with crispy and I mean extra crispy fries from the oven. I am not overstating that here, because I have tried so many oven fries recipes and ended up with floppy sticks….no flop here.

Let’s get started…..

  • 3 to 4 Russet Potatoes (washed but with peel….I said this was easy)
  • 1/8 cup of Pecorino & Romano cheese blend (grated and if you just have Parm, that will do)
  • 1/8 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of White Rice Flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Onion Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Granulated Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Oregano (dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Parsley (dry)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Dill Weed (dry)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of The Spice Labs Ghost Pepper Infused Salt (or more if you dare ūüôā )
  • Smoked Salt (to taste) and I used The Spice Labs Applewood Smoked Salt
  • Black Pepper (to taste)

 

  • Baste- 1/4 cup of Buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of Peanut Oil (or a oil with a high heat point of your choosing). I find Peanut Oil gives me the perfect crisp!

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Cut your potatoes into fries and soak them in cold water for an hour, just make sure to change the water about 3 times. Removing the starch helps aid with the crisp factor.

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Take a bowl and just add all the above dry ingredients and mix, then set aside.

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Once the hour passes of your fries swimming in water, I spin them in a salad spinner to dry them. Patting them with paper-towels until completely dry works too.

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Place the fries in a bowl and allow them to bathe in the 1/4 cup of Buttermilk. You will think a 1/4 cup is too little but as long as you come by and give them a stir, you will see that it covers nicely without waste. If you feel your bowl needs more Buttermilk, feel free to add more because this is just for the fries to soak in it for 30 minutes. Once the fries have been basting in the Buttermilk for 30 minutes or so, add the Peanut Oil and toss making sure to coat the potatoes well.

Turn on oven to 425 degrees. I used the convection setting.

Then comes the dunk! I take the fries by the handful (leaving whatever Buttermilk/Peanut Oil that did not soak up behind) and dump them in the batter. I make sure each fry gets a nice crust adhered to it and then place it on parchment paper.

It took me two pizza pans (the ones with holes) to get all my 3 potatoes to fit. I spaced them enough and in the oven they went for 25 to 30 minutes. At the half-way point, I made sure to get them out and give each fry a flip, so it would cook evenly. If you cut your fries bigger, they may need a little more time to finish but always taste-test to know if they are done.

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These fries are crisp and have heat, so I paired them with a dip and chose a Caesar dressing! It’s yogurt based and went really well with them, plus saves you from the heat when needed.

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Get Your Ghost Pepper kick and many others at:

  • The Spice Lab On-line–¬†http://shop.thespicelab.com/
  • Via Facebook–¬†https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiceLabInc
  • Twitter–¬†https://twitter.com/TheSpiceLab

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Don’t forget to pick-up their wonderful Applewood Smoked Salt too and they carry so much, you will get lost in Spice Lab’s World!

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I received the above products free of charge from The Spice Lab.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

Swaggable: Hail Merry Sunflower Seeds

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Another great company that I was introduced to by Swaggable. Hail Merry is a company, which focuses on Superfoods and the Raw food “lifestyle”. I am very much into Superfoods and I do dab here in there when it comes to consuming foods in their raw state, to maximize nutrition and absorption/digestion. I love that a company like Hail Merry carries a simple promise close to their heart and what defines their objective of why they exist and create. Anyone can produce anything but do they do it well and safely is the difference. Like not every calorie is created equally, not every sunflower seed is the same. Their promise is to help people achieve higher health, as stated on their webpage.

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I received the Salt n’ Pepper Sunflower seeds and love that they come ready to eat. I know many of us usually eat them shelled, but this just delivers a salty mess in your mouth and then that shell you need to dispose of. The seeds gets all the flavor, which is light in salt but you get a nice amount of heat and flavor from the crushed black peppercorns. I also like that what you see is what you get. The product is raw, vegan, gluten-free with zero refined sugars. Gets better. Raw oils and rich in Omegas, plus living enzymes. The packet contains one ounce, which is only 150 calories. It take a lot of sunflower seeds to create an ounce and because of the lack of shell…..it’s all pure seeds! I love the ingredient list and it’s simplicity. You have organic sprouted sunflower seeds. Celtic sea salt, cracked black pepper………and that is all! A very pure product indeed.

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But everything good does not always taste good……right?

I love roasted nuts and seeds but have read how the nutrition value is altered through the roasting process. The oils “cook” and you have oxidation and what was really healthy turns to be not so beneficial in the end. I want to maximize what I get out of foods and make it count. For a product that is not roasted, Hail Merry found a way to still make it enjoyable. I like adding pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to salads so the savory seasoning goes perfect with my array of lettuces. The change in texture is enjoyable and because the seed is not roasted, it tends to be softer but still delivered a nice clean flavor. The seeds are not mealy or dry like other seeds I have tasted in the past. I think this clean flavor is also augmented by the soaking process the seeds are given in order to activate the living enzymes, which are known to aid with digestion. The dehydration comes next and as stated on the package, this is done slowly so this why I think the seed is not dry like others. No one likes jerky texture when it comes to seeds! The handling of the seed from cultivation, packaging to until it reaches your palm is thought through and through. I encourage you to visit their site because they go beyond just seeds and nuts. Hail Merry has an array of products from macaroons, miracle tarts, and Grawnolas…..yeah, you got to read about their granola and that was not a misspell :).

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I respect a company that respects their clients and I hope to be able to share in the future more of their products with you!

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/hailmerry?fref=ts
On-line: http://www.hailmerry.com/snacks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=hailmerryllc

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I received the above products free of charge from Swaggable. I am not obligated in providing a positive/favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with a product, which may differ from yours.

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