Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Degustabox April 2018

Every month, Degustabox sends me a box full of goodies so I can tell you all about them. These are the same boxes you'd get if you subscribed. Most of the products are full-size products, although some small free samples are also included.

This is April's box, which they called a "Roadtrip" box. It makes sense, since there are a lot of items you'd take with you on a road trip.

Alo Spring aloe juice
Hey, it's aloe juice with fruits! This would be great for a road trip, right? You absolutely need to bring along some tasty beverages. This one was blended with cranberry, mulberry, and blackberry juice.

Popchips Nutter Puffs
Hmmm. How to describe? Like those puffy cheese snacks, but with peanut butter flavor instead of cheese. These would be really interesting to mix with other snacks ... pretzels, cheese crackers, nuts. It would be fun on a trip. Or of course they're good on their own, too.

Amazin' Raisins
We agree that I don't like raisins, right? Okay, so I tried the lemon-flavored ones, and they were REALLY lemony. They were interesting. Now that I'm thinking about it, they could be fun baked into blueberry muffins. I'm still not sold on raisins in general, but these have potential.

Fini Sweets
Fini Shock Tongues Chewy Candy, Kollisions Chewy Candy, Tornadoes Fizzy Chewy Candy
For sure you need candy on a road trip, and Fini Sweets sent along an interesting selection of gummy candies. I haven't tried all of them because I'm opening one bag at a time, but I'd definitely like to take them on a trip. Okay, maybe I should plan a trip.

La Tortilla Factory tortillas
The tortillas I got are a blend of corn and wheat. I've bought these many times. They have the flavor or corn tortillas, but they're more flexible and less prone to breaking and crumbling because of the wheat. I'm more than happy to get more because these are really good.

Ah, popcorn. When I make popcorn, it's usually a pretty big bowl, but it's nice to have snack-sized bags for a little nosh when I've just gotten home and I need a little something to tide me over until I can cobble together a real meal. These would be great for a trip, too. Hey, add them to the snack mix!

Zeigler's Fruit & Veggie Juices
This sounded interesting, but unfortunately it arrived with a leak and I decided not to risk it. It smelled really good though. I'm sure I would have sent me a replacement if I asked, but I didn't ask. These are shelf-stable which is great for a trip - no need to keep them on ice, so you can just chill the ones you want to drink.

Country Archer Jerky
Jerky seems like a natural for a road trip since its packed with protein and very portable. This one was mango habanero, which would certainly wake everyone up. And then you've got drinks handy!

Torie and Howard chewy candy
Ooooh, more chewy candies for the road trip! These are vegan, free of the eight major allergens, gluten free, and they don't have any artificial colors or flavors. It must be tough to travel if your family members have allergies. At home, you know what you're cooking, and you probably know what local restaurants are safe. But on the road ...? It's nice to have a snack that everyone can share.

La Tortilla Factory barbacoa slow cooker sauce
I don't think this would go on the road, but it would make a nice, easy meal if you're heading towards a cabin with a slow cooker, or if the road trip is in an RV. Cook the beef, shred, make tacos with those tortillas you brought along, and dinner's ready. Okay, maybe add some condiments, if you must.

Goya plantain chips
Definitely road trip food since these are thin, crunchy, and tasty. Plaintains are like starchy, potato-y bananas, if you haven't had them. So it makes sense someone has turned them into chips. And hey, if you like the idea of peanut butter and bananas, you could eat these with the peanut butter puffy things! Or, they'd be a nice side dish with those barbacoa tacos, right?

In case you missed it up there at the top, I get these boxes from Degustabox for free every month.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hydaway Kids Cup

Photo courtesy of Hydaway
Have I mentioned how great my neighbors are? When I have a product that's geared towards kids, I have a ready-made little tester at my disposal. And he doesn't charge anything!

So when Hydaway offered me their new collapsible cup for kids, I went right next door with my sample.

I first saw the Hydaway cups at the Housewares show a couple years ago, and I thought the idea was brilliant. The cup collapses down to a puck that you can shove in a pocket or purse.

The kids cup is pretty much the same thing (they're the ones in front in the photo) but they're smaller and they have a wider bottom.

The result of the testing was pretty amusing. The cup was fine, but the child was a bit to young to use it unsupervised. Oopsie. He did manage to squirt himself in the face a couple times, which he thought was hysterically funny.

Okay, I thought it was funny, too. So did his mom.

I still think the cups are a good idea for adults and for kids who are old enough to understand the concept. I also like them for condiments and sauces, since you can shorten them bit by bit to take less storage space.

But for the super-little kids who think everything is a toy ... well, from what I've heard, it also makes a great bath toy.

I got this product from the manufacturer at no cost to me.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hot Southern Honey

When I was offered a sample of hot southern honey, of course I said yes. I like honey and I like hot stuff. The two together is certainly interesting.

If you think about it, there are a lot of foods that combine sweet and hot, like spicy barbecue sauce, kung pao chicken, or bread-and-butter jalapenos.

But hot honey is a more pure version, without the distraction of other flavors. Just sweet honey laced with the flavor of peppers.

What can you do with it? Well, one of my favorite uses is on pizza. If that sounds weird ... just trust me and try it. I mean, I like pizza all by itself, but hot honey definitely adds something different. And a little addictive.

But how about on biscuits? Or cornbread? Think about a drizzle of spicy-sweet honey on fried chicken, or on chicken and waffles.

Hot honey could also be used in cooking, like as a glaze for ham, pork, or chicken. Or drizzle it onto a stir-fry for a sweet-hot finish.

And then it could be a dipping sauce on its own.

Yeah, you need this. It's freaking delicious.

I received a sample of AR's Hot Southern Honey from the manufacturer at no cost to me. I'll probably be buying more. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Degustabox, March 2018

Another month, another free box from Degustabox, filled with goodies that I can tell you about. 

7Days Croissants
Peanut butter and jelly croissants - how could these not be good? Okay, they're not as good as freshly made croissants, hot out of the oven, but most folks don't make their own. These are certainly convenient, and neatly packed to take along to work.

BluePrint Energy Tea
I've been cutting back on my caffeine intake, so I passed this one along to someone else. While there are always a few things in these boxes that aren't quite right for me, there's always someone who they're just right for.

Loacker wafer cookies with espresso cream filling
These are very similar to wafer cookies I ate when I was a kid, but these are better. More adult, but still tasty for kids. This one was chocolate with an espresso flavored filling. Wouldn't that be lovely for dessert, with a cup of coffee? Or an afternoon pick-me-up?

Post Great Grains Coconut Almond Crunch
Aha - here's the coconut. If you've read this blog at all, you know I'm not fond of coconut. So this got passed along to some folks who could enjoy it.

Elmhurst Milked Brown Rice
I didn't know you could milk rice! Okay, I kid. Rice milk is a fine alternative milk, and it's even traditional in some cultures, like Mexican horchata. With all the people who are intolerant of dairy, I love that there are so many alternatives now. Especially the ones that aren't coconut.

Homebrew Quick Pickle Mix
I got a couple different samples of these, and immediately made the pickled onions. I usually make pickled red onions with lime juice, but this packet included spices and garlic, and called for the addition of white vinegar and water. They were good, and super-easy. I haven't tried the others yet, but it's a nice idea for people who want a quick pickle without a lot of fuss.

Oreo Milka mint and chocolate candy bars
These are sooooo good. It's chocolate with a minty filling with crunchy bits of Oreo. I don't buy a whole lot of candy bars, but I'd get these. And they break apart neatly, so you can eat just one section and tuck the rest of it away for later.

Julian's Recipe Belgian Pastry Waffles
I was a little skeptical about these, since waffles seem like something you'd want to eat fresh and hot. But then I shoved one into my toaster to get a little warm and it formed this sugary caramel-like sort-of-crunchy shell that was pretty glorious. I don't tend to eat sweets for breakfast, but this made a lovely dessert. Yeah, I'm weird.

Monday, February 12, 2018

WÜSTHOF Burger Knives

When I got a set of burger knives from WÜSTHOF, I posted a photo on Facebook, and one of the first comments was something about how people don't need knives for burgers ... how silly is that?

(This was published 8/14/17 - scroll all the way to the bottom for my edit on 2/12/18 after I lived with these for a while.)

Well, I can kind of see the point, but then again, I have steak knives. And butter knives. And cheese spreading knives. And lots and lots and lots of kitchen knives.

I also have regular forks and salad forks and weird little seafood forks. My everyday flatware includes regular small spoons, tablespoons, and soup spoons.

Are burger knives necessary? Well, no, but neither are my salad forks but I use them a lot. Those weird little seafood forks, however, don't get used very often at all.

Burger knives might not be the best name for these knives because it doesn't really explain how versatile they are. The wide, flat, rounded blade is great for spreading mustard or mayo or other sauces. The serrated part of the knife was perfect for slicing a tomato. And then the knife also did a fine job slicing the burger neatly in half to make it a little easier to eat..

It's also great for stabbing into a burger from the top to make an interesting presentation.

So, yeah, the knives are good for burgers, but they'd be good for pretty much any sandwich assembly job. And probably other jobs as well. This time of year, there are a lot of tomatoes in my kitchen that need slicing.

Who's it for: People who make burgers and other sandwiches.

Pros: Nice multi-use knives. They look good stabbing a burger.

Cons: If you're counting down the top 3 knives everyone needs, these probably aren't on the list.

Wishes: Hmmm. They're knives. They cut. It's hard to come up with something I'd change.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review. The plate in the top photo was provided by Zak!

UPDATE 2/12/18

So, this post garnered a bit of controversy among my online friends, mostly those who scoffed at the idea of a knife make just for burgers. The horror!

But here's the thing. You don't just use a steak knife for steaks, do you? You might pull those out for pork chops or even a roast - any time there's some meat that you don't want to cut with the knife that came with your flatware set. You don't use a paring knife just for paring. You don't use a chef's knife just for ... uh, yeah, that's not why it has that name.

But anyway.

After living with these knives, I think perhaps the name was a bit to narrow, because these have become my everyday knives. Not burger knives, and not sandwich knives, as I originally suggested. Any time I make a meal that requires a knife to eat (as opposed to, let's say, spaghetti or risotto), I use one of these knives. Seriously. Every time.

I also use them when I'm making sandwiches. Yeah, I said that before, but it's worth repeating. These aren't just for eating food, you can use them for preparing food. And when the sandwich is finished, I use the knife to cut the sandwich in half, because I'm not some sort of savage.

Rather than storing these away in their box for fancy dinners, the box has been tossed and the knives are used almost every day. And, aside from the stunt burger in the top photo, I don't think I've used them at all for burgers.

Great knives. Possibly not a great name.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Degustabox February 2018

This month's free Degustabox shipment is pretty easy to write about, since I'm pretty familiar with most of the products in the box.

Or, if I haven't used the specific ones, I'm very familiar with the brands. It was a really really useful and fun box.

And - yay me! - there's no coconut in this box. Sorry, all you coconut lovers. It's just not my jam.

As you probably already know if you're read this blog before, Degustabox sends me one of their boxes for free every month, so I can describe it to you. It's tough work, but I'm up to the job.

This month's box included:

Goya Black Beans
Okay, they're canned beans. While it's cheaper to buy a bag of beans and cook them, now that I'm single, I don't need that many beans. A can of beans is enough for bean soup, chili, corn and bean salad, or pretty much anything else. I've used a whole lot of Goya products, and I've been happy with all of them.

Goya Refried Beans
Yeah, you read what I wrote about the black beans. Same thing for the refried beans. They're not that hard to make, but it's pretty darned easy to open a can when I want them for a side dish, for part of a burrito, or for nachos.

Luna Bars
These were lemon flavored, and they were little sample-sized bars. I was feeling a little peckish before dinner was done, so I opened one. It was sort of like a healthier version of those famous Krispies snacks, but with a lemon "frosting" on top. The little one kept me from getting too grumpy before dinner was done.

Lundberg Family Farms aged white cheddar chips
I didn't know these guys made chips, but I have bought their rice before, many times. To be perfectly honest, I haven't opened them yet because I have a bag of other chips in progress, but how could they not be good? Cheese, hint of garlic, chips. They'd be great with hummus or salsa or just as a snack.

Sir Kensingtons spicy ketchup
I know I've tried this before. I used to be devoted to a particular brand of ketchup, and I still keep it in the fridge, but I've also come to love the idea of the alternative ketchups that have more personality. They're great for fancy burgers where basic ketchup would be too basic, and I've also used them in recipes where I might otherwise use chili sauce or barbecue sauce.

Mrs. Renfro's craft beer salsa
I've bought Mrs. Renfro's salsa's before. First, the name simply amuses me. Second, they're good salsas. I haven't seen this particular one in stores yet, but I'll keep an eye out for it. Besides using salsa as a dip or with nachos, I've been known to use it in chili recipes or for chicken that I cook in the slow cooker.

The Spice Hunter coriander lime fusion rub
Ooooh. I love the idea of coriander and lime. I've tried Spice Hunter spices before, and I've liked them, so I'm sure this will be good. I've got a pork roast that will be getting this rub very very soon. Can't wait to try it.

Boboli pizza crust
I never tried a Boboli crust before I got one in a Degustabox shipment, but I've enjoyed them ever since. They're not quite the same thing as a home made pizza crust from scratch, but they certainly help scratch that pizza itch when I don't have the time for dough. And they're also great for times when I absolutely don't have time for a more complicated meal. A slather of sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and some heat ... and dinner is ready. When I'm being really fancy, I might add extras from the fridge, like olives, peppers, or other interesting items.

Boboli pizza sauce
This makes it so much easier. Pizza sauce in just the right quantity for a Boboli crust. So much better than opening a jar or making a sauce and then having extra that I need to find a use for. Sure, I like pizza. But not every day. Genius idea here.

Tigertail small batch mustard
I'll admit it. I don't think I've ever met a mustard I didn't like, and that includes everything from tame yellow mustard to spicy hot Chinese mustard to stone-ground brown mustard. So, yup, now I have one more to add to my mustard collection. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

And ... that's all folks. Lots of fun stuff to snack, sample, and cook with. Thanks to Degustabox for sending these!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Degustabox - January 2018

Another month, another free box of goodies from Degustabox. I get a box every month, simply so I can tell you about it. So, here we go!

Bet you'll never guess. Okay, yeah, it's popcorn. When I make popcorn, it's usually a fairly large batch, but it's kind of nice to have a small bag as a snack. Not so much that it turns into a meal, but enough to nibble when I'm feeling a little peckish.

Monini olive oil
I go through olive oil like it grows on trees. Well, I guess it does. There was a short time when I was loyal to certain olive oil brands, but now I like to try different oils. Degustabox is feeding my taste for variety. I haven't actually opened this yet, since I have another bottle open. But it's olive oil. I know it's going to be good.

Loacker white chocolate bar
This is white chocolate covering some melty white creamy confection and a wafer cookie. Although white chocolate isn't my favorite, this was a nice sweet treat.

Cello Whisps
I think I've had these before, but they're 100 percent cheese that's baked into a cracker-like crisp. The last time I had them, the whole bag disappeared pretty quickly. These could go onto a cracker, or you could spread it with something (more cheese? maybe a jam!) but I just eat them as a snack. So good. All cheese.

Wasa Thins
Backed rosemary and sea salt crackers this time. These are tasty enough to nibble on all by themselves, but they're also pretty good with some cheese. Or along with a soup. Or however you use crackers. Because they're thin, crisp, tasty crackers.

Crown Maple
This is a maple sugar that can be used in place of regular sugar in coffee, tea, baking ... whatever. Maple sugar is pretty expensive, but it tastes really good. One of these days, I'm going to splurge and use it to make ice cream. Or in an apple pie. Or something like that. Meanwhile, these little packets are nice for a little treat here and there. This company also makes liquid maple syrup.

Go Organically fruit snacks
These are little gummy fruit snacks. These particular ones are made from real fruit and don't have preservatives. If you like little gummy snacks, give 'em a try.

Explore Cuisine
Organic edamame pasta. Hmmmm. Interesting. I adore edamame, but since I'm not worried about gluten, I passed these along to someone who can't have it. This is supposed to have a lot of protein, too, so I'm sure it will be popular.

Dole Fruit Bowl
Here it is. Seems like there's something with coconut in every box, and coconut is one of the few things I don't like. These single serving fruits include slightly sweetened coconut water instead of the usual liquid that you typically find in canned fruits. Yup, I found these a new home.

Uncle Dougie's wing sauce
I haven't had a chance to make wings yet, but I'm actually thinking this could be good for other things, too. Gonna give it a try.

Some folks who subscribe didn't get Uncle Dougie's. Instead, they got:

Maya Kaimal naan chips
Sort of like pita chips, these are. Or baked flour tortilla crisps. These are made from whole grains and they're baked, so they're better for you than a typical fried snack. Or, use them like crackers, with slices of cheese or whatever you put on crackers.

That's it for this month. Lots of things to try!

Thanks to Degustabox for keeping me on the mailing list!