BzzAgent: Kroger/ Ralph’s Meals Fresh House Salad with Bacon Kit

Located with the bagged salads at your local Ralph’s, you will find a variety available from Caesar’s Salad both “lite’ and original but I went for the one with Bacon. The salad kit comes with everything you need except a fork! You get a generous ranch dressing packet, a shredded cheddar cheese packet and bacon. They even included little croutons to compliment the side or you can make this a meal.

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Overall Taste and Texture:
I was at the store when the salads were being stocked and all that was available was the Caesar Lite version and the House Salad with Bacon. Even though a brand-new box with the salad kits were being stocked, you could see that the kits experienced some temperature fluctuations because the lettuce and greens were sweaty and even limp. I picked the best bag I could find to go with my dinner. The employee was very nice and even went to check for “better bags” and other kits but this was all that was available.

Upon opening the salad kit at home, I noticed my fears were confirmed because the lettuce had an off smell so I washed it even though the bag stated triple washed on it. Once washed, the greens came back to life in the cold water and I then used a salad spinner to make sure everything was dry enough for assembly. A few leaves did have to go in the trash because they just had gone bad. Not exactly open, mix and serve but worth the process to make sure I got the crispest and cleanest lettuce. The cheese had a little too much corn/potato starch, which is used to keep the shreds separate so I skipped on adding it and left it for Hubby’s baked potato. The bacon was not crisp but I placed it in a cup and gave it a 10 second zap in the microwave, that fixed that right up and it smelled delicious. The dressing is a little on the sweet side so I went light with it and also added sliced cucumbers and tomatoes to my salad.

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The overall taste and serving portion is great if you are in a hurry but I would not consider this a prime quality product. I think it’ may be my not so local Ralph’s store that may not be keeping things as they should because the salad’s greens could have been much better. I get better quality from a cheaper head of lettuce and the price tag does not justify the not convenient process I got out of this bag. In theory, the product should have been easier and better than the final results. I can say the croutons were crisp and more flavorful in taste than the dressing. Again when it comes to bread, Ralph’s does very well!

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I received the above product free of charge from BzzAgent and Ralph’s. I am not obligated in providing a positive/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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Herbs de Provence & Chives Rolls…. Cheddar Cheese, Poppy Seed, and Sesame Seed Versions

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I wanted to make a new recipe this last Easter when it came to rolls and I had planned to test several recipes out but then the day came, and I needed something fast because I had no back-up plan.  It is difficult to always know what guests like or dislike because some just go with it to be polite.  I wanted a recipe that pleased all and on Easter morning this is what I made.  Who said you can’t think on the fly on a holiday?  I was also influenced by a bushy Chive plant I have in a pot, which was getting taller and fuller.  I see it from my kitchen so it was sort of waving at me for attention 🙂

Rolls:
1 cup of Whole Milk
2 1/2 teaspoons of Active Dry Yeast
2 tablespoons of White Sugar
1 tablespoon of Honey (I used a Orange Blossom variety)
1 Egg at room temperature (whisked)
6 1/2 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (melted), you will use about 1 stick in the end.
3 1/2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence Herbs (dry)
Filling:
1/4 cup or to taste of fresh Chives
Basting:
1/2 teaspoon of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of Unsalted Butter (soften)
Toppers:
1/2 cup of Cheddar Cheese*
Sesame Seeds
Poppy Seeds
*Don’t have seeds or don’t like them, just up the cheese amount to 3/4 cup.  You can even mix cheeses if Cheddar is not all you want.
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You begin by heating up the 1 cup of milk until warm.  I tend to need to give my cup a quick 30 seconds in the microwave but I know some take more or less.  I always shoot to aim between 105 to 110 degrees.  I then add the yeast, sugar, and the honey.  I mix the ingredients together with a spoon.  My oven has a “proofing” mode so within 5 minutes at 105 degrees, the yeast is activated and foaming.  You want it to expand and build a good amount of foam, so it may take about 10 minutes if it is cool and on the counter.
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I then empty the cup into my mixer’s bowl that has the dough hook attached.  I add the egg and 6 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted melted butter.
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On low, I mix everything until it’s incorporated, stopping a few times to scrape the bottom and edges.
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I add the salt and Herbs de Provence to the flour.
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In small increments, I add the flour mix, again stopping to scrape down with a spatula any ingredients that are trying to rebel :).  After I added all the flour, I mix on low for about 2 to 3 minutes.
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I then increase the speed to medium and knead until a soft and smooth dough forms.  This takes about 10 to 12 minutes.
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I transfer the dough to a floured surface and work it flat, to about a 10 to 12 inched square.
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You fold one third of the dough into the center and then the other third (from the top) over.
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It’s sort of like folding a letter in how you fold the flaps.  Turn the dough and fold again until you are left with a square (small one).  I take some of the butter and butter a large bowl.  I place the dough square in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and then proof for 1 hour.  You pretty much want it to double at least in size.
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I take more of the left-over butter and butter a lasagna dish (any baking pan) that is 9 x 13 inches in size.
Once the dough has proofed, I take it out of the bowl and dump it onto a floured surface.
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I roll out the dough to a 15 inch square and sprinkle on the fresh chives.
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Begin to roll tightly from the bottom up to make a log.  Just like you would cinnamon rolls.
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You then take a floured knife or a dough scraper and start slicing.  I was able to yield 16 buns on my first take, but you will get between 14 to 15 if you measure right.  I always make small ones that I call “taste testers” 🙂 and these are usually the two corners of the log.
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I placed the buns in the buttered lasagna dish and then covered it with plastic wrap, which I lightly rubbed with olive oil in case the wrap wants to stick to my buns when they are proofing.  You can use butter too if you desire.
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Allow the dough to proof for about an hour.  You are aiming for them to like like airy pillows.
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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
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Remove the buns from the oven and mix the basting ingredients of the olive oil and softened butter.  Baste the buns and then come the toppers.
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I opted for part cheddar cheese, a row of sesame and a row of poppy seeds.  The basting mix allows the seeds to stick but also adds a great flavor to the buns.
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Put the buns back in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  If you notice over browning, just cover with foil to prevent any burning.
Take the buns out and I noticed I had left-over baste, so I basted the cheesy ones so they would shine pretty.  Allow to cool a bit in pan and then you start serving.  They pull away from each other whole, so no worries there but you may also use a knife if you wish.  Sometimes the cheese can make them unite but not enough that they can’t pull away.
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To store, I waited until they cooled completely and then wrapped them with plastic wrap and stored them in the fridge.  They last great and you just take them out when you want one and allow them to come down to room temperature or give them a warm up in the oven.  They go great with a simple salad to what we had for Easter, lamb with a Pomegranate glaze.
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Next week comes the sweet version I made of these with some tweaks.  I had left over Pomegranate glaze from the lamb that needed to be used plus I was craving pecans with maple, so I made two different sweet versions!
Enjoy!

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