Showing posts with label product reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label product reviews. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Best of Intentions: Make it happen with Glenwood Garden

I find myself having the best of intentions to write blog posts, but with kids, life, and work blogging always seems to get pushed aside. I also have the best of intentions to support independent producers and try new foods. Sure, my local grocery store carries a few things, but what about all those great handcrafted artisan foods out there that aren’t at my store? While I’d love to have the time to find them on my own, it just isn’t a possibility. That’s where the e-commerce site Glenwood Garden fits in. They do the hard work of sourcing and bring it all together into one place.

Glenwood Garden contacted me to see if I would be interested in learning more about them and trying out a product from one of the artisans featured in their online market. I was intrigued by the possibilities- maple syrup, jam, shrubs – what to choose? They bring a wide variety of artisan products from around the country together into one online marketplace. Not only do they provide a distribution channel for these producers, they also have a shop-for-cause model where a large portion of the profit from each sale is donated to a specified non-profit. At checkout you choose one of the participating non-profit organizations to receive a portion of the profit of your sale. The organizations are focused on sustainability and food security. A triple-whammy! New discoveries, supporting independent producers, and contributing to good causes all at the same time.

I decided to try some jam and in just a few days received a well-packaged trio of jars. After passing the bubble wrap over to my appreciative two and a half year old, I found three unique flavors of jam from the Jam Stand in Brooklyn, NY: You’re My Boy BLUE-berry Bourbon, Drunken Monkey, and Not Just Peachy Sriracha. I wouldn’t have dreamed these flavors up on my own but they sounded incredible. I tweaked a few of my favorite recipes to incorporate the jam. First I put a twist on my grandmother’s apricot chicken wings. Swapping out the apricot jam for the Jam Stand’s Not Just Peachy Sriracha resulted in a sweet and spicy appetizer. For a sweet treat with a kick, I glazed my mini-banana bread with the Drunken Monkey. The combination of sugar coated bananas, splash of rum and a dash of lime makes for a fun twist on a classic recipe. We don't cook pork at our house, but I can imagine that the BLUE-berry Bourbon might be good on a roasted pork tenderloin or as a topping for pork chops.

There are items at many different price points, the process is simple, and the joy of discovering new products is thrilling. It doesn’t hurt that you are also supporting good causes. Thanks to Glenwood Garden for providing me with a free delivery of a trio of fun jams. I would encourage you to do a little browsing of the site and discover something new and exciting to try for yourself. On to the recipes!

Not Just Peach Sriracha Glazed Wings 

True to grandmothers everywhere, this recipe is measured by eyeballing and intuition. And if I’m being totally honest, I forgot to jot down my adaptations to the recipe while I was cooking. The basic instructions are to make a glaze of dry white wine (or chicken broth) and jam and set aside. Season chicken wings generously with salt and pepper and bake, covered, at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove cover, toss with glaze, and bake for another 15 minutes. If you want to crisp up the outside a little more, broil for a few minutes and serve. Sweet, spicy, messy, and delicious! And look at those slices of peaches in the jam.

Drunken Monkey Banana Bread with Drunken Monkey Glaze. 
I finally got to make this over the weekend with the help of my toddler sous chef. You’ll see his influence in the styling for the photos.

I had a little help on this one, using a tried and true recipe from King Arthur Flour:   I added in 3-4 heaping tablespoons of jam to flavor the bread from the inside out. Instead of one big loaf, the batter was divided into four smaller baking dishes.

Mini desserts are always more fun! For the glaze I mixed about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, a tablespoon-ish of jam, and a few splashes of milk to get the desired consistency.

I was provided with free product by Glenwood Garden. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are honest and belong to me. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Holiday Meal Stuffed with Flavor and Fun - Turducken!

Every so often an opportunity to try something new comes your way and you just have to say yes. That is how we ended up sitting around the table with friends, explaining to a two year old that a Turducken would probably say, “gobble-quack-a-doodle-doo!”

We laughed, ate, and pondered what this hybrid creature would really be like thanks to Echelon Foods, makers of the boneless Turducken Premium Roast we were eating. Our festive post-Thanksgiving meal was rounded out with my grandmother’s famous dressing, steamed green beans, sweet potatoes, and cranberry orange relish. We also finished with a batch of fudgy chocolate brownies for good measure. We were lucky to be joined for dinner by my brother (in town for the weekend) and our friends Eric and Kate. Kate missed out on one  of our first blog dinner parties and we were happy she could be a part of this one!

I’ve talked about my brother before; he has his own competition barbecue smoker and team and loves to cook all things meat. But a Turducken has never made its way into his smoker, oven, or grill. He was given the task of preparing the Turducken for our meal. The roast had been defrosting for 3-4 days and was ready to cook. It came pre-seasoned and ready to roast, but in my family we always like to doctor things up our own way. He added some oranges and onions to the roasting pan.

The Turducken went into the oven according to the website directions for an approximately 7 hour slow roast at 220 degrees.  Our chicken-apple sausage stuffed Turducken roast was around 6 pounds and needed those 7 hours to get to the right internal temperature. We wanted to be sure it was cooked through because we didn’t want to poison our guests (or me, the pregnant host!). My brother did the initial cooking on Friday and on Saturday we reheated the Turducken for dinner. To make sure it was cooked through we reheated for about an hour and then gave the slices a quick dip in a pan of hot chicken broth.

This ensured that it was hot and thoroughly heated through. One note for next time – cover the Turducken at the beginning of cooking time to get the temperature up more quickly.

Kind of looks like it is smiling at me...

Everyone had a generous slice – including the two year old. The roast could have served 8-10 as part of a large meal. There was a lot of meat! We didn’t know what to expect but all enjoyed the experience! The slices were mostly turkey, followed by stuffing, then duck, then the least amount of chicken.

The meat was surprisingly moist even after all that cooking. The stuffing was more of a bread-mush with sausage flavor more than a distinguishable stuffing (very tasty though). The hubby thought the duck would be tough but that wasn’t the case. Next time I think we would probably wipe off some of the pre-seasoning and add our own spice rub. There was something in there that wasn't my favorite flavor. However it couldn’t have been easier to prepare as is – defrost, roast according to the detailed web instructions, slice, and eat!

We had a blast trying out the Turducken and are glad that we had the chance to do so. Luckily if we get another craving we know that our local Stop & Shop has them in stock. Check the website for outlets in your area (US & Canada).

I will leave you with a Turducken haiku from the hubby:

Three birds all at once 
It's a full house of poultry 
Sliced like bread, yummy.

Little guy and mommy checking out the Turducken heating up


I received a complimentary Turducken from Echelon Foods. I was not required to review the product and did not receive any other compensation. All opinions are 100% honest.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Traditional, with a Twist: Baked Farro “Arancini”

This is my entry to the contest hosted by Tuscan Fields to win a conference registration to Eat Write Retreat. I had a fabulous time the last two years and would love to attend again in the new Philadelphia location. I hope that you enjoy my post and that I am able to attend EWR13 thanks to Tuscan Fields!  

Connection – that is my word. Last year at Eat Write Retreat, Monica Bhide challenged us to find the one word that defined our blogs. Connection can mean many things, but for Good Cook Doris one of the main ways my “word” presents itself is connecting tradition with today through old recipes with new twists or traditional ingredients with a new spin.

This scholarship contest challenged bloggers to take farro, an ancient grain, and come up with an original recipe and post. Keeping my word in mind, I knew that my recipe would be traditional, with a twist! As with last year, I’m still squeezing cooking in along with family, work, school, and life. I wanted a recipe that would showcase the farro and be easy enough to make while having a million other things on my plate to do.

Tuscan Fields is bringing farro to the US from Tuscany.  Their products are grown at Fattoria Pieve a Salti and are 100% organic. Farro has been a part of Tuscan cuisine as far back as ancient Rome! In addition to being an agriturismo, the farm is also the second largest producer of organic agriculture products in Tuscany. For my recipe, I used Tuscan Fields® Farro Perlato. For a little background on farro, I turned to the Tuscan Fields website. Here is a description in their words:  “Farro is often translated into English as ‘spelt’ – but it is actually another variety of heirloom or “ancient” grain in the wheat family. Its biological name is triticum dicoccum and it is the forerunner to spelt (Triticum Spelta) on the evolutionary wheat chain. In the U.S. triticum dococcum is also called “emmer wheat” but it is readily known worldwide as “farro”.”

I decided on a twist on risotto and arancini. Farro’s nutty flavor and slightly texture makes it perfect for many different preparations and spice additions. We eat a lot of southwestern flavors here in the Good Cook Doris kitchen which means the spices and herbs we run out of the most are cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. I wanted to incorporate these into my farro recipe, along with a delicious Queso Blanco that we picked up at last week’s winter farmers market. The cheese is locally made in Rhode Island by Narragansett Creamery .

First, I made a savory and delicious farro-risotto with onions, carrots, garlic, spices, and chicken broth. Next, I wrapped it around squares of Queso Blanco and coated it in seasoned panko breadcrumbs. After about 20 minutes in the oven, and a quick broil, the baked arancini were ready. Cutting into the middle revealed a warm, melty cheese center. The sea saltiness of the cheese paired with the creamy, spiced flavor of the favor made for a delicious bite.

In true Good Cook Doris fashion, while I was making this recipe I was also busy at work on a paper for my graduate school class this semester. I set up shop in the kitchen and in between steps tried to get a few words written. It's all about maximizing the time you have, right?

I hope you enjoy this recipe and that I have a chance to enjoy Eat Write Retreat 2013 in Philly!

Farro Risotto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced small
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used a red chili powder from Texas)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 cups Tuscan Fields Farro Perlato (this ended up being the entire 9.1 oz package)
2 cups water
1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 tablespoon freeze-dried, or dried cilantro)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

In medium saucepan add oil, onion, carrots and garlic
Cover and cook over medium-low for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
Stir in cumin and chili powder and cook until you can smell the spices (about 1 minute)
Add farro to the saucepan and stir well, cook for about 2 minutes or until lightly toasted
Add broth and water and stir
Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes until farro is tender (but still has slightly chewy texture)
Remove from heat, mix in cilantro and lime juice and season with salt if desired

Note:  I did not add too much salt, knowing that I would be adding a salty cheese to the final baked product.

Baked Farro Arancini
Farro-risotto from above recipe
10 half-inch cubes of Queso Blanco
1 cup AP flour
1 egg plus a splash of water, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Set up three shallow bowls on your work space
In one bowl, put the flour
In the second bowl, mix the egg and water
In the third bowl, mix breadcrumbs, chili powder, cumin and cilantro; add butter or olive and mix until well combined
Using an ice cream scoop (or cookie dough scoop), take a scoop of risotto and place it in your palm, flattening it slightly
Place a cube of cheese in the middle, using a smaller spoon, take about 1 tsp additional risotto and put on top of cheese
Shape the risotto into a ball, completely surrounding the cheese so you can’t see it at all, packing the ball tightly
Roll ball in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet
Repeat for as many as you would like to make
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees
Broil for 2-5 minutes until the outside is golden brown and crispy
Serve with warm salsa (your favorite jar or homemade)

Thank you to Tuscan Fields for the opportunity to win a chance to attend Eat Write Retreat!

I signed up to enter this scholarship contest and was one the first 50 entries which meant that I received two packages of farro from Tuscan fields to use in developing a recipe for this contest entry. To be eligible to win, I had to create an original recipe and post, and link to both Tuscan Fields and Eat Write Retreat. For full details of the contest, you can click here

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitchen Play: Leap into February with Jarlsberg Dip

With an extra day to play in the kitchen this month, why not try something new? The lovely folks over at Kitchen Play and Jarlsberg cheese asked me to be a part of a leap year celebration - "29 Ways to Leap into Jarlsberg Dip".

I was introduced to Jarlsberg cheese at last year's Eat Write Retreat conference in Washington, D.C. (a fabulous event!) Jarlsberg was a sponsor and provided delicious samples at the cocktail party. Jarlsberg is a semi-soft, nutty Norwegian cheese. Have you tried it? Last May was my first time - delicious! It is a good addition to a cheese plate, great on sandwiches, melted in an omelet, and the list goes on. At the grocery store you can find it in the deli case (to order sliced) or in the specialty cheese case.

As you can tell from the title, Jarlsberg has a new dip that they are introducing! I'm excited to be the official kick-off post for "29 Ways to Leap into Jarlsberg Dip". Throughout the 29 days of February, Kitchen Play has enlisted bloggers to post recipes and serving ideas incorporating this new cheese dip. Jarlsberg dip is a nutty, flavorful combination of Jarlsberg cheese, real mayonnaise, and diced red onions. There are endless ways in which you could use the dip. I have two recipe ideas to start off the month of creative ideas!

My recipes may seem pretty basic - but they are flavorful! Perfect for watching the big game, a red carpet special before an awards show, or just a relaxing afternoon at home. I hope you enjoy!

Devilishly Delicious Jarlsberg Eggs
Makes 24 pieces

12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cup Jarlsberg Dip
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons finely diced pickles (bread & butter or kosher dill)

Note:  Start with a half a cup of Jarlsberg dip if you are using all of the yolks from the eggs. If you reduce the amount of eggs, add a little more dip to have enough to fill the eggs.

Slice the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise and carefully remove the yolks
In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks with Jarlsberg dip
Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking
Using a spoon (or pastry bag, or plastic bag with a corner snipped), fill the egg white halves with the 1-2 teaspoons of the yolk mixture
Sprinkle diced pickles on top

Alternatively, you could spread some dip on toasted bread and pile on sliced hard-boiled eggs and pickles for a quicker lunch!

Tasty Turkey Roll-Ups
My grandmother makes an appetizer that I request for every party - corned beef roll-ups. I took her technique and swapped in turkey and Jarlsberg for a new party favorite!

Serving size varies depending on the size of cucumbers used. I used three mini-cucumbers here and cut each into 5-6 pieces.

Mini cucumbers or pickling cucumbers
Thick sliced deli turkey, preferably oven-roasted
Jarlsberg dip (slightly softened)

Tear off one 10"x10" piece of foil for each cucumber you plan to use
On one piece of foil lay out 1-2 slices of turkey (wide enough to cover the entire cucumber)
Gently spread dip on the turkey slices
Lay one cucumber across the slices
Roll up tightly and then wrap tightly with the foil
Repeat until all are made
Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (these can be made a day or two ahead of serving)

To serve, unwrap and slice each roll into 1/4 inch slices
Place on a platter and serve

I hope that these recipes will inspire you to try something new! And you can win some Jarlsberg dip and other tasty goodies as part of the 29 Ways to Leap into Jarlsberg month! For all the details on how to enter, visit the Jarlsberg blog. Sounds delicious!

The giveaway will include a tailgate tote stocked with:
Jarlsberg Lite Cheese
Jarlsberg Cheese Dip
Snofrisk (a Norwegian style cream cheese)
Honey crèmes
Honey vinegar

Disclaimer: I was provided with compensation to cover the cost of ingredients for these recipes. The folks over at Kitchen Play were kind enough to invite me to participate in this event with Jarlsberg cheese. My participation was voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own. It's always fun to have a new ingredient to work with - and a little motivation to create a new recipe!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Love Samples (and Marketing): Things I've Tasted Lately

Anyone who has known me for a long time will attest to my love of samples. From the grocery store to fairs to markets to promotional giveaways; I love to try new things and ask questions. So one of the things I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to try new things and find out about new products. And as a lifelong lover of marketing, I'm interested in how products are presented and distributed. I love to think about things like who the product is geared to, why the packaging is a certain color, and of course what the product tastes like. I think getting to sample products is a two way bonus - the company's get their product out to an engaged consumer and I get to do my own little marketing study. The business of food is fascinating to me.

Here are some of the things I think about when getting new products to try. How was it shipped? Is the package personalized? Did the company send detailed product information to convey their message? If I saw this product in a store, would it be something I'd pick up? If I wanted more information, does their website have what I'm looking for? Is this something that I would recommend to friends and readers?

With that said, here is a look at a few products I've had the opportunity to sample recently. These products were all sent to me as complimentary samples and I was not obligated to review or post about the products. I did enjoy them and decided to share them with you. This is part one of a few posts about products I've tried lately. I'll sprinkle them in along with my regular posts with recipes and healthy snacking.

Somersault Snacks

Somersault Snacks found me on twitter when I was tweeting about Healthy Snack Wednesdays. I had never heard of them before, and I asked if they would be able to send me a sample to try out. I was quite surprised, and delighted when I opened the package that arrived at my house. Enclosed in colorful tissue paper with a hand-signed note were snacks in four flavors. Not just one of each, but three sizes of each flavor!

I started with the chocolate and fell in love. They almost taste like grown up cookie crisps. Just the right amount of sweet and I loved the taste of the sunflower seeds. I'm working my way through the flavors during snack time. The only problem I found is that they aren't readily available in my neighborhood! They are available at a few coffee shops and in the online store. I think I will need to email my grocery store about stocking the chocolate.

Mexican Apple Soda - Sidral Mundet

Thanks to the magic of social media, I was sent two bottles of Sidral Mundet apple soda and a fun shopping tote. According to their website, Sidral Mundet is "an apple-flavored, authentic Mexican soft drink made with 100% real sugar. Sidral comes in two great flavors – regular and green apple – and has been a mainstay in the Mexican-American community since the early 1900s." The sodas are pasteurized and available for purchase mostly through mom & pop restaurants, soda shops and food trucks. A quick look on their store locator showed that the closest stores to me were down in Connecticut. Guess I'll have to be on the lookout on my next road trip!

The hubby and I pulled out our trusty tasting glasses (thanks Sam Adams brewery tour!) and juice glasses and split the sodas for a taste test. The regular flavor was like a fizzy apple cider. It was a deep caramel brown color and sweet, but not too sweet. The green apple was almost a seafoam green color - it was hard to capture it just right in the photo. This flavor was more tart and definitely had that green apple flavor. I really enjoyed the regular apple flavor. I love apple cider and this was a great apple flavor.

Lindsey Olives

I love olives. They consistently rank in my top 5 foods (bread, cheese, eggs, avocado & olives). Since I was little I've been snacking on them. I don't discriminate - I like all kinds green, black, pitted, marinated, or alone. I like them on top of carrots, out of the jar, or cooked into a dish.

When I was down at Eat Write Retreat in May I had the opportunity to sample some of Lindsey Olives newest offerings. Pictured above are their Green Ripe Naturals. In addition to tasting the olives we also learned about the history of the Lindsey Olives company. Founded in 1912 by the Bell brothers, the still family-run company is approaching their 100th year of growing and distributing California olives. In the late 1930's one of the brother's stepsons joined the team and the Carter family joined the name. I learned from their website that Bell-Carter Foods, Inc. is the largest table olive producer in the U.S. and the second largest in the world. That's a lot of olives!

The naturals that we tried at the conference are harvested just once each year. There are no preservatives added to the olives. The ingredient list reads olives, water, and sea salt. The olives are freckled in appearance and milder in taste than the usual green olive. I enjoyed them and the would be a good addition to an appetizer platter or used as topping for chicken. For my first tasting, the olives went straight from can to my mouth. No stopping for anything else in between.  Luckily, these are easy to find in stores in my area. Lindsey Olives has a store locator on their website and are carried at many different retailers. 

That's just a peek at some of the fun things I've been tasting. As usual, I was not compensated in any way by these companies and was not obligated to review their products. As I mentioned, I enjoy the process of evaluating products and sharing with others!


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