Friday Faves – Laura’s Lean Beef and DITALIA

Last Night’s Dinner – Simple Weeknight Fare

Sometimes during the holiday season when your mind is on other things you just need a nice quick meal. Something quick, easy to put together and nutritionally balanced. Something like burgers and fries. At our house that usually means patties made from organic, grassfed beef from our local farms, and oven roasted potatoes that we grew in our garden, served with organic ketchup and homemade pickles.

Since I am always writing about local, grassfed beef, I get a lot of emails, comments and questions from my readers asking me what they should do, if they don’t have a local farm nearby to buy meat? I always point them to Localharvest.org but sometimes even that doesn’t provide an easy answer. Previously I would tell them to look for buffalo meat instead, but it looks like some buffalo farms have gone the way of CAFO. So I have been really stumped.

(Photo courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef)

Several months ago I was contacted by Laura’s Lean Beef about doing a product tasting. In all my dealings with meat companies, I asked a lot of questions. It was clear from the get go that Laura’s Lean Beef doesn’t use antibiotics or growth hormones. Which are a good things, but I needed more reassurances – are the cattle grassfed? If not entirely, is the grain GMO grain? Things like that.

As I said in last week’s Friday Faves I am not going to sample products unless they fit my criteria and I feel sure about the possibility of recommending the product to my readers. Although I am committed 100% to local, grassfed, pasture raised animals, I know that many of my readers don’t have local farms available to them and so I wanted to see if Laura’s Lean Beef would be a viable option for those readers. A product I could recommend to readers faced with the above dilemma.

So I asked what Laura’s cows eat – and this is the answer I got: “Laura’s cattle are mostly fed grass. They have access at all times to plenty of space. Cattle are never really “indoors”, although they are given access to shelter as necessary from bad weather. Their primary diet is pasture grass. They are given some corn, corn silage, barley, soy products, legumes, etc. to supplement the diet. And of course they are never given growth hormones or antibiotics. Hope this helps.”

It helped, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be advocating beef that eat GMO products. So I asked about GMO and this is what I was told: “The corn and soy products are non-GMO. Below is some background information on how Laura’s fits in to the organic/lean/grass-fed beef picture:

“Organic Beef – Focusing on Production
Today, healthy eating is often associated with the word “organic.” However, certified organic beef is not necessarily lean and may not deliver all of the health benefits of beef that’s low in fat. An organic certification refers only to the philosophy and practices used in beef production. For beef to be certified organic, cattle must be handled and fed in certain specified ways including having access to pastures and being fed 100% organic feed. They must also be processed in certified organic plants. There are no stipulations, however, about fat content. In fact, organic beef is typically no more healthy or nutritious than conventionally produced beef.

Grass-Fed Beef – Return to the Range
Since the late 1990s, there has also been a growing interest in grass-fed beef. This has been driven by
many of the same principles which propelled the organic movement including the return to more natural food production. Grass-fed beef, however, takes things one step further. Livestock are raised only on pasture – not on grain or soy of any kind. As a result, animals produce more “good” fats (including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA) and fewer “bad” fats (omega-6s).
The drawback to grass-fed beef is its taste and toughness. It is very difficult to raise cattle solely on
pasture that yields the succulent and tender beef which consumers prefer.

Natural and Lean Beef – The Laura’s Difference
While Laura’s Lean Beef is neither certified organic nor exclusively grass-fed, it combines many of the
benefits of both while delivering less fat and great taste. Laura’s cattle are raised on sustainably managed farms, without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics, and fed a diet of natural grasses and grains. This approach yields exceptionally lean beef, which is also full of flavor.”

Then it goes on to discuss that Laura’s Lean Beef is low in fat and saturated fat, which is not something I am too worried about, however the leanness of the beef does seem to prove that the cows are mostly grassfed, since grassfed cows are much leaner than their grain fed counterparts.

In conclusion: “Laura’s Lean Beef accomplishes this while providing conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of cattle. This combination – and its great taste – is what differentiates Laura’s Lean Beef from organic and grain-fed options.”

Click here to learn more about Laura’s journey from taking over the family farm, and transitioning to a new way of raising cattle.

So Laura’s started to sound like a good option for those without access to local, grassfed beef – the best part is, you can find Laura’s Lean Beef in many grocery stores across the country. There is even a store search on their website. So for those of you looking for a better quality meat, and have no access to farms or farmers markets, I suggest you try Laura’s! The meat is tender and tasty – and the ground beef is perfect for making mouthwatering burgers.

We used the free coupons they sent us to buy a package of ground beef, which is what they had available at my local grocery store. We used it to make burgers and accompanied the burger with oven roasted potatoes.

(photo courtesy of DITALIA)

Which brings me to my next fave for this week: GLOP. My friend, the owner of DITALIA, Vince sent me a free sample of GLOP when I placed my last order with him. He said “if you blog about it, great, if not, just enjoy it”.  It is really good to have friends like that! He also sent me a free sample of Sicilian Roasting and Grilling Salt.

I love both of these products. The GLOP goes great on pasta, or as a sauce for a white pizza. We enjoyed it on our potatoes with this dinner. I used to buy “Garlic Fries” from Trader Joe’s eons ago. The fries came with this packet of oil, herbs, spices and cheese. You poured it and mixed it on the hot fries, and it was GOOD. So I just chopped up some fresh garlic, added it to the GLOP and mixed it in my oven fries! Just as good as I remembered!

(photo courtesy of D’Italia)

As for the salt – I use it all the time – it is my official go to salt. Not just for meat, it is a great salt to use on veggies, potatoes, even on your morning eggs. There are some wonderful aromatic herbs and spices in there like dried rosemary and peperoncino. I definitely seasoned my Laura’s Lean Beef patties with this salt.

Since the holidays are coming up, I suggest popping on over to DITALIA’s website. They even have fantastic gift ideas for the holiday season already packaged up for you.  I know Vince travels to Italy every year to source out new gourmet products. So you can be sure that anything you get from DITALIA is of the highest quality!

Friday Faves – Holiday Edition #1 + GIVEAWAY!

THE WINNER OF THIS GIVEAWAY IS MARY OF ONE PERFECT BITE!

I am very fortunate through my blog to receive product samples from some great companies. For a long time now, I haven’t done any product reviews. But lately I have gotten some very interesting requests and decided to start reviewing products again, on my terms. I get requests from a lot of companies, but I don’t accept products from all of them. I like to work with companies that fulfill certain requirements. If I know right off the bat that I wouldn’t recommend their product to my readers, because I wouldn’t use it myself, then I don’t bother.

The holidays are swiftly approaching, and it is this time of year that people are always looking for gifts to send to friends and family or new foods and ingredients to cook with for their holiday tables. So for the next few Fridays, I am going to be sharing with you some of the great products that I have had the chance to review these last few months. Maybe it will give you some holiday ideas of your own!

I have made it my personal mission to shop responsibly this holiday season. This is something I try to do as best as I can, but this year, I have stepped up the challenge to myself by making my own gifts, and buying gifts handmade by an actual person as opposed to a large company. If neither of those criteria are possible than buying gifts made on the North American continent (I have to include Canada, because we practically live there!).

Many people, including myself, bake special holiday treats to give away as gifts. I spent 2 whole days last weekend baking biscotti and other cookies (recipes coming soon!). I made sure that the exotic products (meaning not local to my area, and most times not produced in the USA) , like vanilla extract and chocolate products are Fair Trade. Fair Trade means that you are paying a higher portion of the price to the actual producers that make the product. It means producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and can promote sustainability. When people are given a  fair price for their own products, the quality is much higher, which means better products!

I recently received some free products from Equal Exchange a name ubiquitous with Fair Trade Products and high quality. Proving again, that you get what you pay for.  This is how it all started: “It all started with an idea: what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? What if trade supported family farms that use organic methods, rather than industrialized agribusinesses that rely on harmful chemicals?” Sounds good, right? Well Equal Exchange features a lot of wonderful and delicious products from coffee, to chocolate, to bananas and sugar. So if you are doing some baking this holiday season, I suggest checking out the Equal Exchange website for available products and making sure your non-local ingredients are Fair Trade. You can even buy straight from their website . Everyone deserves an honest price for the products they have worked hard to produce, don’t you think?

The next product I want to share with you was a bit of a surprise! You know how we are all about real food here, on The Leftover Queen, so when I was contacted by Lori who works for Dr. Josh Axe asking me to review a free copy of the Real Food Diet cookbook, I was skeptical. I mean, eating real food is all about no diets. But then I went to Dr. Axe’s website and started reading some of the articles and the more I read, the more I liked this guy! So I decided to review the book, so that if it looked good, I could recommend it to many of my readers who are always asking where to start when changing to a real food way of life. Well, I am happy to say that this book is a great way to bridge that gap.

Dr. Axe has a great no nonsense way of explaining why real food is not only better for your health, but can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight. In the first few pages, I was struck by his ability to simply explain and show how foods we think are healthy, like juice for example, are really fake foods. We take a nice, healthy, found in nature apple, then we mash and press it until only the juice remains, then we pasteurize it, killing off all the nutrients, then we add water, preservatives, coloring and added sugar. No wonder there are so many unhealthy people in this world when we decide that this is a health food – we are better off just eating the apple! He also shares with you his top 30 list of nutrient dense foods, a revised food pyramid, and his top 5 best real foods in several categories: veggies, fruits, beans, nut and seeds, ORGANIC meats and eggs and herbs, spices and GLUTEN FREE grains. He covers all the bases!

I think my favorite part was his five worst fake foods: refined sugar (he warns: “refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans” but he does not advocate artificial sweeteners – there is a whole section on why those are also poison), hydrogenated oils, processed grains/white stuff, pasteurized dairy aka “scary dairy” (he advocates for raw milk products), conventional meats and eggs.

His advice for the higher cost of organic, pastured meat, dairy and eggs? “ Spend less money on something else that is a lower priority and buy organic meat!”

He also discusses kitchen equipment and advises you throw away non-stick and teflon cookware, microwaves and plastic containers.

See what I mean? I love this guy! He also rates all of his recipes according to what they are good for: quick recipes, raw food recipes, kid favorites, feeling sick, low energy/working late, post workout and inflammation or arthritis pain.

So what did I think of the recipes? I really liked most of them. My biggest complaint is that he uses a lot of protein powder in some of the recipes, which I don’t consider a real food. I also didn’t like that he uses some non-whole ingredients, like gluten free crackers or “gluten free mixes” as an ingredient. I would have liked to see more actual ingredients – he should have created his own gluten free mix for the cookbook and taught readers how to make gluten free crackers and breads on their own, using gluten free flours. Then showed us how to use those products to make or enhance meals.

My favorite part of the cookbook was all the raw food desserts. Something that I have been wanting to try my hand at for a while! Some I plan to make soon are raw carrot cake, raw pumpkin pie, raw chocolate mousse and raw cheesecake! These recipes include a lot of dried fruits, soaked nuts and raw honey but are relatively easy to make – and no baking!

So my overview for Dr. Axe’s book is that I think it is based on very sound dietary principles and has a lot of great ideas for meals, snacks, and desserts that get you started on your own real food journey!

The best thing about this post for my readers, is that I will be GIVING AWAY a copy of Dr. Josh Axe’s book, the Real Food Diet cookbook! I will also throw in a bag of Fair Trade coffee. All I want you to do is comment here and tell me why you really need this book. Are you just starting your real food journey, or are you looking for some new and fresh recipes for your real food repertoire?

How to Enter The Real Food Diet CookBook Giveaway:

Anyone is welcome to enter, provided doing so does not violate any local laws of your place of residency. International participants are welcome, but all participants must be over the age of 18.

Please remember that for your entry to count, you must leave a separate comment for every entry you make.

1) DO THIS FIRST (REQUIRED): Tell me why you really need this book. Are you just starting your real food journey, or are you looking for some new and fresh recipes for your real food repertoire?

Optional ways to get more entries:

2) Blog about this giveaway describing why you want to win the book, and link your post to this giveaway. (1 extra entry)

3) Subscribe to The Leftover Queen RSS feed. (1 extra entry)

4) Enter your email address to Subscribe to Daily Emails. (1 extra entry)

5) Tweet and Tell your friends to sign up for @leftoverqueen Daily Emails or RSS feeds. (1 extra entry)

6) Fan The Leftover Queen on Facebook. (1 extra entry)

7) Follow The Leftover Queen on Twitter and tweet @leftoverqueen with a link to the giveaway. (1 extra entry)

If you are already a fan of The Leftover Queen and have done all or some of the above, and wish to enter the contest just write that you already subscribe to the newsletter, facebook page or RSS feed, by email, etc. Make sure to leave a separate comment for every entry.

Why Enter?

1) Because it is free

2) There are tons of awesome recipes and photos for each recipe in the book

3) Who couldn’t use a cookbook with real food recipes! Maybe you have a friend or family member who might like this book, even if you don’t and this is the season of giving, is it not?

The winner will be announced on this post Monday, December 6th 2010. The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on December 6th. The winner has until Wednesday, December 8th 2010, by 10 AM, EST to respond before another winner is chosen.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for yourself, or for someone else (they make great gifts), you can use this link.

Chicken Mole, My Way…

Mole_on_plate

I love Dark Mole – it is one of those sauces that captures the imagination and has an almost mystical quality to it– chock full of colorful, luxurious and delicious spices, chilies and chocolate. Whenever I see it on a menu, I can’t resist ordering it. I have never made it before, and it has been on my kitchen “to do” list for a long while. A series of events happened that made this the perfect time to make Mole, my way. This is not a traditional Mole, made by a Mexican Matriarch, but I do feel it encompasses the flavors and spirit of the dish.

Mole_Chilies

As I said, this dish was inspired by several things – a recent shipment of samples from my foodie friend Justin, at Marx Foods (these guys are awesome!) of various dried chilies that we will be giving away on The Foodie Blogroll soon. I used two mild varieties – Mulato and Pasilla Negro. The Mulato is described as having a chocolate and licorice flavor, which I thought would go well in the Mole. The Pasilla Negro said it was “good in moles” on the package, so I trusted the Marx Foodies on that one.

Mole_Spices

This dish was also inspired by a chocolate bar I bought for the trip from Florida to Vermont. On road trips, we always like to treat ourselves to some dark chocolate. This time I chose Dagoba’s Xocolatl bar – dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, chilies and cinnamon. It was wonderful on its own, a perfect pick me up during a long day of driving. As I was eating the chocolate, I knew it was destined to be cooked with – as it was not very sweet (which is the way I like my chocolate) and full of the flavors described on the package.

I also wanted to use some Calabrian pepper powder, I received as a recent sample from Scott at The Sausage Debauchery for a giveaway on The Foodie Blogroll last month, that I hadn’t had a chance to cook with yet. This hot pepper powder is very reminiscent of hot smoked paprika. It is a gorgeous bright deep orange, and smells wonderful. A little goes a long way though, and I didn’t need much to add a kick to the dish. I also used some Mexican Mole Seasoning that I got at the Saint Augustine Spice and Tea Exchange. A store I frequented in Saint Augustine when we lived there, and that I am very thankful has a website, so I can continue to order their amazing, top quality spices.

I was very pleased with the result of my first attempt at Mole. The sauce had a lot of depth, and all the flavors really complemented each other in a cohesive unit. Not bad for the first time!

queadillas 004

The leftovers make amazing quesadillas with some cheddar cheese and plain yogurt on top, or you could put some of the sauce over your morning eggs (fried or poached) for some Mole Eggs.

mole breakfast 020

This is definitely a diverse sauce that can be used to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary. I love that this recipe makes enough for either 4 people, or several meals for 2, making this not only tasty, but cost effective, which is always a bonus. Especially because sauces like this taste doubly better the next day and your efforts in the kitchen can be extended to several meals.

INGREDIENTS:

4 chicken drumsticks
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 1/2 TBS Mexican mole seasoning – fresh pepper, chocolate, cumin, coriander, chili pepper, garlic, onion, salt, etc. From The Spice and Tea Exchange
½ tsp Calabrian Hot pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
6 sticks Dagoba Xocolatl bar, melted
1 dried mulato chili (chocolate/licorice, mild)– reconstituted and scraped – reserve about 1 cup of water used to reconstitute.
1 dried pasilla negro chili (Good in moles) – reconstituted and scraped
juice of one lemon
1 cup strained tomatoes
5 carrots, chopped
4 small onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced

METHOD:

Wash the drumsticks while the chilies are reconstituting in hot water (this takes about 10-15 minutes for them to soften). In a bowl drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle spices over top. Add the chili flesh and massage everything into the chicken. Then add the lemon juice and stir all together. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300F. In a dutch oven, drizzle olive oil and brown chicken on all sides. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and pour over chicken. Add the reserved chili water, and strained tomatoes to the bowl the chicken was marinading in. Whisk together and pour over the chicken, de-glazing the pan. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, then stir the whole pot. Place the lid on the pot, and cook in the oven for 3 hours. After the 2nd hour, reduce heat to 200 F. Check for liquid every 45 minutes, and add water if necessary.

Serve on top of sprouted tortillas, if desired. Serves 2 – with leftovers for 4 small sprouted corn tortilla Quesadillas and 2 servings of Mole Eggs.

Simple Smoked Mackerel Salad and The Pleasures of Eating Local

Smoked Mackerel Salad

We are still without internet, here at the homestead, so my absence in the blogosphere continues…but I have been amassing so many great recipes since we got here, I just have to keep sharing, as I can. I am just so inspired to shop for food and cook here!

This is a local, or at least regional salad with products coming from Northern New England (or grown by me – in the case of the lemons). This salad features the beautiful and delicious bounty of spring and is packed full of nutrients and major brain food.

I am excited to be featuring some delicious products from several awesome local producers here in beautiful Northern Vermont. This just goes to show how easy and pleasurable it is to eat locally, when you are in a community that really supports local agriculture and food producers. Especially when these products are readily available and easy accessible to the community.

That really is the crux of the local food movement– even though our growing season is much shorter here, there is always an abundance of local products available. Having local products available year round is an important goal of this community, and because it is a community effort, you really can find local products year round. This includes produce, meats and dairy in addition to local coffee roasters, bread bakers, beer and wine makers, peanut butter producers, as well as salsas, sauces and condiments. Not to mention the maple syrup and raw honey! The produce variety may not be as extensive as if you were going to the regular grocery store, but that is part of the joy and challenge of seasonal eating. Plus, learning simple techniques like canning and preserving can really prolong the bounty of a shorter growing season, adding color, flavor and nutrients to the winter months. So if you plan ahead, you can actually eat quite well during harsher months. Thinking that weather is the key factor in the availability of local foods in a community, is a terrible misnomer. I found it much harder to find true local staple products in Florida, which is one of the reasons we left. I lived there for over 3 years. I have lived here less than 2 weeks.

This focus on local and sustainable food is just one of the many major reasons we have decided to make this part of the world our permanent home. We really are so lucky to have found a community that shares our strong core values, which is important on so many levels. Living in a place where your ideals are supported and just a “normal” part of life is a welcomed relief. People are adaptable and can make do anywhere, finding hidden treasures, but being able to live according to your values with ease is a true blessing. I am looking forward to sharing many other finds with you over the coming months and years.

Local Products

* Bar Harbor Mackerel, Bar Harbor, Maine -all natural, wild caught, naturally hardwood smoked Atlantic mackerel. Sustainably harvested from the clear cold waters of the Gulf of Maine. I consider Maine as well as the rest of Northern New England and the Quebec province of Canada (25 miles as the crow flies) to be local to us. This mackerel as well as wild herring fillets are available from a local market, Apple Tree.

* Pete’s Greens – Four Season Organic Vegetable Farm, Craftsbury, Vermont – Salad mix featuring: red rib dandelion, endive, fennel tops, wrinkled cress, red leaf amaranth, tatsoi, ruby red chard, bright lights chard, arugula, upland cress, spinach, orach and purslane. These were some of the most delicious and aesthetically beautiful greens I have had. We first had them at the Bee’s Knees an amazing local restaurant. I asked the server where they got their mixed greens, and then we were able to procure some from another local market, The Green Top Market.

* Elmore Mountain Bread Elmore, Vermont– Wood fired micro bakery. They use a long fermentation process in their bread making. Each loaf takes a total of 16 hours. Sometimes it is hard to resist bread like this, and so I was indulging on it when we first got here and I wasn’t having any ill effects from it. Now I know why…just another blessing, considering many of the restaurants in the area, as well as local groceries, and markets sell Elmore Mountain Bread. Being able to eat a sandwich or burger at a restaurant is a true luxury for me. Thank you, Elmore Mountain Bread!

* Farmer Sue’s  Peperoncini Peppers Bakersfield, VT – Do you know how hard it is to find peperoncini peppers without corn syrup? I love these little pickled peppers, and now I have an alternative to making my own . Farmer Sue makes all kinds of delicious pickled vegetables and sells at the year round Lamoille Valley Artisan Farmers Market .

RECIPE:

Smoked Mackerel Salad

INGREDIENTS:

6-8 oz. smoked mackerel fillets
juice of ½ lemon
salt&pepper to taste
hefty sprinkle of herbs de provence
1 TBS fresh chives, chopped
1 TBS mayonnaise
2 peperoncini peppers chopped
drizzle of olive oil
2 cups salad greens

METHOD:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, reserving a little lemon juice for the greens. Dress your greens with olive oil and lemon juice and toss. Place a mound of the mackerel salad on top. Serve with slices of sourdough baguette, if desired.

Be sure to share the mackerel juice with any feline or canine friends you might have at home. They will love you! :)

Serves 2

July Foodie Blogroll Giveaway: Saint Cupcake and Making Marshmallows With Some Special People!

This month I am really excited to announce another awesome giveaway we are doing through The Foodie Blogroll

saint-cupcakes_3-cupcakes-ready-to-eat

Saint Cupcake is a Portland, Oregon based bakery that have just started an online store – where they deliver cute customized “Cupcake Kits” around the USA. Jen Endicott, director of cupcake affairs (don’t you just love that title), emailed to see if we would be interested in doing a Cupcake Kit giveaway through The Foodie Blogroll. Cupcakes? How could anyone say no? ;)

saint-cupcakes_box-contents

These Cupcake Kits include 3 pre-baked cupcakes (you can chose from a variety of flavors – both vegan and regular) as well as 3 different icings of your choice (again both vegan and non-vegan), and 3 different decorations. They get sent to you in a cute decorative box with instructions and are pretty much ready to go as soon as they are delivered. You can check out all the flavor choices here, on their website.

All USA based Foodie Blogroll verified active members will be automatically entered for a chance to win one of these cupcake kits. You will be notified of your win via email, and I will put you in touch with Jen from Saint Cupcake! If you are not yet a member, please be sure to sign up here

saint-cupcakes_girls-making-the-cupcakes-collage

Well Roberto and I had some very special guests arrive last week that I was sure were going to really enjoy helping with these cupcakes, my step-daughters Rachel and Gwen! Saint Cupcake sent us a really good variety. I wanted to make sure to sample a good range. So for cupcake flavors they sent us Vanilla Toffee, Vegan Chocolate and Vanilla. For icing flavors we got Cream Cheese, Vegan Chocolate and Pistachio Butter cream. For decorations we got Toasted Coconut, Pink Jimmies and Orange Sprinkles.

saint-cupcakes_making-the-cupcakes-collage

We had a great time decorating them and then eating them. I made a vanilla cupcake with pistachio butter cream and orange sprinkles. Rachel made the vegan chocolate cupcakes with pink jimmies and Gwen couldn’t wait to make the vanilla toffee cupcake with cream cheese icing and toasted coconut!

saint-cupcakes_ready-to-eat

I cut each cupcake into 4th’s so we could all try each one. I think my favorite was the vanilla with pistachio butter cream. It is hard for me not to love anything with pistachio. Gwen’s favorite was the Vanilla Toffee with cream cheese icing and toasted coconut. Rachel loved both of the vanilla flavors. Roberto’s favorite was the Vegan Chocolate. He is a huge fan of all things chocolate, and that just proves how yummy and chocolatey these cupcakes were. I don’t generally like chocolate desserts, and I loved the vegan chocolate cupcakes as well!

We even used the leftover cupcake decorations on some Homemade Marshmallows we made that day!

homemade-marshmellows_ready-to-eat

We got the marshmallow recipe from my friend Emily at Sugar Plum

homemade-marshmellows_making-marshmellows-with-girls

We had a fantastic time in the kitchen making all these delicious treats! Later in the evening we made some fantastic s’mores using our fire pit! Talk about fun!

The Ginger People: Ginger Snaps and a Contest

ginger-t-shirt-guy

Well, The Ginger People have managed to do it again…come up with another fantastic tasting ginger product. I have been the lucky recipient of various samples of their products, and they have done several giveaways and contests with us on The Foodie Blogroll.

ginger-snaps_cookies-box

This time we tasted classic Ginger Snaps. I am a huge fan of ginger, and I especially love ginger cookies, and ginger snaps are my favorite. So I was excited to try their version. What I did not expect was to become so addicted to these lovely bite sized cookies! These Ginger Snaps are perfectly crunchy, with a wonderful buttery and spicy flavor that really packs a ginger wallop at the end. If you love ginger snaps that are full of crunch and flavor, you have really got to try these cookies! I promise you will not be disappointed! I ate about half of the bag, and am saving the rest to come up with a dessert recipe. I think that these cookies will make a great crust for a pie, or maybe even a cheesecake. We are going to have lots of people staying with us this summer, and so I am going to wait until we have more people around to enjoy this dessert. But keep your eyes out for a dessert recipe based on these amazing cookies.

PRODUCT INFORMATION:

Product Description:

Introduced to Sweden by 13th Century German monks, Ginger Snaps come from the Swedish word pepparkakor, which literally translates as pepper cakes. Baked to a perfect crisp, these wonderful mini cookies are bursting with flavor. Fresh from the oven, we give them a sprinkle of sugar.

Ingredients:

Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) cane sugar, cutter (cream), ground ginger, candied ginger (ginger, sugar), molasses, eggs, ginger juice, spices, baking soda, salt.

Currently the Ginger People have a contest going on, that many of you might be interested in entering!

America’s #1 selling ginger brand, The
Ginger People, announces its sponsorship of the 2009 Mambolicious recipe
contest. The Ginger People are calling on all cooks from culinary
professionals to at-home chefs to glaze, bake, broil and sauté their way to
becoming a 2009 Mambolicious contest winner. Winners in the different
categories will receive prizes from a year’s worth of The Ginger People
products or other goods from organic and natural food manufacturers.

As food costs continue to rise and consumers are focused on health and
sustainability, The Ginger People are offering their ginger products as key
ingredients to be used in the competition capturing the essence of healthful
living with great taste. Over the past 4 years, this contest has increased
in size with over 5,000 recipe submissions and over 20,000 votes for recipe
winners.

Consumers may enter in more than one category; however, each entry must
feature a different recipe and must be original. Specific contest rules with
category and eligible products are available at www.mambosprouts.com
.

Mambo Sprouts is the industry’s first and only quarterly direct mail coupon
and offer program created in response to a lack of educational materials and
discounts available to health and natural products consumers.

The Ginger People is the leading brand of ginger products in North America.
It is owned by Royal Pacific Foods of Marina, California. Royal Pacific
Foods was established in 1984. For more product information and
availability, please contact The Ginger People at 800-551-5284, ext. 225 or
email at info@gingerpeople.com.

On a personal note, I may be a little MIA on your blogs over the next few weeks. We are in the process of moving into a new place by June 1. We are just moving across the bridge to the island, and so it isn’t a far move, just time consuming with packing boxes. So I doubt I will be doing a lot of fabulously creative cooking for the next few weeks, but I will be around. :)

April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway: D’Italia!!!

Our second April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway giveaway has us teamed up with D’Italia
D’Italia is an awesome online Italian Grocer! Need some gourmet salami? How about some truffles to shave over pasta, or real Italian espresso? You don’t need to look any further than D’Italia! If you need to send a nice gift to someone who loves gourmet or Italian foods, they also have beautiful and delicious gift baskets! This is a great company owned by Vince DiPiazza – yes you saw that correctly, we share the same last name, but still have not chatted to see if we are related or not! LOL!

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We received several samples from D’Italia so far, and all were OUTSTANDING. We first got a fantastic salami trio, and we were ecstatic that not only did it taste amazing, but there were no nitrates in them! Something that is near impossible to find these days, much to our chagrin. Roberto loves salami, and I am big fan, so this totally made our day. We enjoyed the salami with some fantastic Olive Grissini (also from D’Italia) – which are crunchy Italian breadsticks. Grissini is usually what you get instead of a bread basket at restaurants in Italy, and again, my Italian taste tester said these grissini were to perfection. They were light and crunchy with just a hint of olives. Great to serve with an antipasto and Limoncello spritzer like we did! :)

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The winners of the D’Italia giveaway will be receiving a basket filled with incredible goodies:
Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Sicilian Sea Salt w/Fresh Blood Orange Zest, Parmigiano Reggiano Spreadable Cheese, Sapori Italiani Mix (Capers, Olives, & Oregano), Sicilian Green Olives and Olive Oil. Now who wouldn’t want that??? Please remember to to make sure that you are an active member of The Foodie Blogroll, and that you have the widget displaying correctly. This giveaway is available to members in the Continental USA.

If you would like to learn more about our contests and giveaways, and how you can be eligible, please check out the Contests and Giveaways Page on FoodieBlogroll.com
If you are not yet a member of The Foodie Blogroll, you are certainly going to want to join us for your chance to win these awesome gifts!

Remember, we still have 2 more weeks of the Flirty Aprons and FromtheFarm.com giveaways through the end of March! Plus the Patric Chocolate giveaway in April as well! :)

April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway: Patric Chocolate!!!

We are just so lucky with The Foodie Blogroll these days to be working with some really fantastic food and kitchen essential companies month after month! When we started doing giveaways, I had no idea that we would be working with such great people and products. I am so pleased, once again to present to you two new quality companies we are doing giveaways with in April: Patric Chocolate and D’Italia . Today I am going to talk about Patric Chocolate.

If you would like to learn more about our contests and giveaways, and how you can be eligible, please check out the Contests and Giveaways Page on FoodieBlogroll.com.
If you are not yet a member of The Foodie Blogroll, you are certainly going to want to join us for your chance to win these awesome gifts!

patric-chocolate_bars

This is an awesome giveaway for chocolate lovers! Patric Chocolate is a micro, bean-to-bar, fine dark chocolate maker that uses single origin chocolate made from rare cacao and is based in the Midwestern United States. This means good chocolate people. Real good chocolate, that is good for you too – full of all those awesome antioxidants! Founder and producer, Alan McClure and his chocolate has been featured in everything from local newspapers, to Food and Wine Magazine, The New Yorker, the LA Times and Gourmet Magazine…and his blog Patric Chocolate is a member of The Foodie Blogroll!!! How super cool is that?

It makes up happy to see one of our community members making it big in the food industry!

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I of course was lucky enough to sample these bars. I must confess I am very picky about chocolate because I prefer the taste of vanilla. But I do really enjoy DARK chocolate. Tasting quality chocolate is similar to wine tasting, or scotch tasting, there is an art to it, and a streamline of flavors as the chocolate begins to melt in your mouth. Alan sent me 3 bars, one of each percentage – 67%, 70% and 75% Madagascar Sambirano Valley chocolate. These chocolates were fantastic, with lots of berry and citrus notes. To the point that Roberto even thought the 70% Madagascar Sambirano Valley bar had actual raspberry in it somehow. My favorite was the 75% as I really enjoy dark chocolate – and for me, the darker the better!

This is going to be a good ones, guys! So be sure that you are signed up for The Foodie Blogroll and your widgets are displaying! You don’t want to miss the chance to win this package of goodies.

The winner each week will receive one of each of the bars, like I did, and also a bonus pouch a decadent hot chocolate!

Due to shipping constraints, this giveaway is only for those Foodie Blogroll Members who reside in the USA.

Remember, we still have 2 more weeks of the Flirty Aprons and FromtheFarm.com giveaways through the end of April!!