Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gluten Free Treats and Special Spirits

The variety of items for this months is quite wide! I think there’s something for everyone, so keep reading.

Gluten Free…
I had the opportunity to review a box full of gluten free food. I turned to my friend, Stacy, who can’t eat gluten, but before I turned everything over to her, I kept some Garden Lites Blueberry Muffins to myself.  I’m glad I did because they are delicious! They are made with zucchini, but you’d never know about this nutritious ingredient. I'm anxious to try some of their other flavors

As for the other items, here’s Stacy’s full report on her favorite items:

Garden Lites Blueberry Muffins-You can keep them in the freezer, individually wrapped, so you can take it to work and zap it for 30 seconds in the microwave. It is warm and moist. It has a pretty good consistency since it is vegetable based, like zucchini bread. The Garden Lites Veggie Blueberry Muffins are not dry and "crumbly" like so many gluten free items. I enjoyed these!

Snackin Free
Laura Savinovich was desperate to find some tasty foods which were free of artificial ingredients, dairy, gluten, grains, peanuts, soy, and yeast, so she decided to make them herself. Snackin Free is the result.

Paleo Granola-Crunchy, but could use other ingredients to add to the flavor, such as fruits.
Nacho Chips-The texture is odd for these as chips, but the spicy finish might  be good crushed as a crumb crust for chicken.
Cheddar Crackers- These have the same odd texture as the chips, but because these are nut based they are high in protein and lower in carbs, so that is definitely better than regular chips.
Pasta Sauce-This is good with a dark rich color and snappy flavor, very much like a good tomato paste. It would be good as a pizza sauce, but season to taste as a pasta sauce.

Special Spirits…

Smithworks Vodka
It turns out music isn’t Blake Shelton’s only talent. Blake knows vodka too. The country music star is touting Smithworks Vodka.

Like Shelton, Smithworks is a product of America’s Heartland. It’s made from corn harvested in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and water from Lake Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Smithworks Vodka is smooth and corn sweet, making it easy sipping or blending, if you are looking for a cocktail mixer.

Boulard Calvados VSOP
This spirit is the best of both worlds as an apple brandy and a fine after dinner treat. Boulard Calvados VSOP is aged at least four years and bears resemblance to fine cognac, with the hints of vanilla, oak, and even tobacco, but the apple is an unexpected addition.

At 80 proof this isn’t going to be something that becomes your go to drink, but it’s an easy sipping way

Greek Mastiha Liqueur
This liqueur is probably the most unusual I have ever encountered. It’s one that should not be dismissed at first smell, as the nose of Mastiha is nothing but evergreen trees. Get past your sense of smell and give it a sip, cold or over ice. It’s sweet and licorice like, a bit like Sambuca, but not as sticky.

Greek Mastiha Liqueur is definitely not going to last long on my bar – even though that initial smell had me running for my Christmas ornaments!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Spices, Snowsuits and Spirits

Scott’s Food Products…
Full disclosure: my cousins own Scott’s Food Products, but that’s not the reason I’ve been using them for years to flavor my food. I just got a refresher of Garlic Oil, Santa Maria Seasoning, and Mediterranean Grill Marinade, and they are delicious as ever.

The thing I love about Scott’s is that they can easily dress up a steak, plain chicken breast, or bowl of pasta. Be creative, or check out some of the recipes on their website. I was looking for something quick and comforting yesterday and I threw this together. It was delicious.

Easy Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie
1 10 oz bag Frozen Mixed Vegetables
3 Cups Cooked Chicken, chopped
1 Can Low Sodium Cream of Chicken Soup
¼ Stick Butter
Scott’s Santa Maria Style Seasoning
1 Can Refrigerator Biscuits

Mix Vegetables, chicken, soup, one half can of water (add more if you want it soupy), and butter in crockpot.
Sprinkle with Santa Maria Seasoning.
Cook on low for two hours. Stir.
Unwrap biscuits and spread out evenly over chicken and vegetable mixture.
Cook on low one and a half more hours. Serves four as a main course

Get Outfitted
I just returned from an amazing ski trip to Boyne Mountain Resort. One of the things that made the trip so great was the winter wardrobe that I had delivered right to me, thanks to Get Outfitted. The company let me try out their service and I love it!

Get Outfitted lets you rent out ski clothes and equipment. They can be delivered right to your hotel and picked up – all in postage paid bags. As it happened, our group was all around the same size so we got to spend four days mixing and matching outfits. They even gave us goggles and gloves to go with them. I highly recommend you check them out.

Marlee’s Green Tea Whiskey
When I first heard about this whiskey with green tea and agave nectar I thought it sounded great, but Marlee’s Green Tea Whiskey tastes even better than it sounds. It’s a bit “Firefly Vodka meets Jim Beam.” It’s so filled with flavor that I enjoyed it just over ice.

Marlee’s is made from American Rye Whiskey, Chinese Gunpowder Green Tea, and Organic Mexican Green Agave for a tiny bit of sweetness. The ingredients are all natural and you definitely can taste that.

Van Gogh Acai Blueberry Vodka
I have always been a fan of the very flavorful Van Gogh Vodkas. Whenever someone tells me about one I haven’t tried, I track it down.

I mentioned to the Van Gogh marketing team that I hadn’t tried to Acai Blueberry and they sent me a bottle. The flavor is as bold as their others, standing up to soda water if you want to keep it simple, and low calorie. We also discovered during the ski trip that it’s excellent in hot chocolate.

If you want to get more creative, here’s a recipe from the company:

The Panther
1 oz. Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka
1/2 oz. Blue Curacao
5 oz. Lemonade
1/2 oz. Triple Sec

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass rimmed with silver sugar. 
Garnish with floating blueberries.

And, Don’t Forget the Doggie Bags
There doesn’t seem to be any way to easily transition into this subject, but I wanted to end with another find. The Neater Bag Dispenser from Neater Pets is a terrific product for those traveling with pets. The doggy bags come out of a small opening in the portable pack, in the same way you take tissues out of a tissue back.

The Neater Bag Dispenser can also be attached to a leash or carried in your bag. It’s a great deal at $7.99 and refills are available .