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Product Review: Heinz Balsamic Vinegar Ketchup

4 Aug

balsamic vinegar ketchupI do not like ketchup. Ok that’s a lie, it’s just not my favorite. I rarely eat it with fries and when I do it has to be room temperature, not cold. If I’m making my own burger I do not put ketchup on it. I never put it on hot dogs. I mainly use it as an ingredient in recipes like chili and sloppy joes. So, I was a little intrigued when I saw this Heinz Balsamic Vinegar Ketchup when I was shopping one day. The ketchup looked dark and mysterious and I just couldn’t help but throw a bottle into my cart. I even bought burgers so we could grill them up and try out the new condiment.

I am happy to report that the balsamic vinegar ketchup was much more to my liking. It’s a bit more complex and not as tomatoey and bright and boring as regular ketchup. This is a ketchup for grown-ups. As you can see from the picture above, we’ve been plowing through this ketchup. I’ve already bought a second bottle to have on hand.

Bottom line is if you are not a ketchup fan, give this a shot. If you are a ketchup lover, give this a shot. You can’t lose!


Product Review: Natural Jif Peanut Butter

22 Sep


While I don’t go out of my way to eat healthy, I do give it a nice go for the most part. Which is why when I saw that the Natural Jif Peanut Butter won America’s Test Kitchen’s peanut butter taste test, I was skeptical, but intrigued. I eat my fair share of peanut butter and was still consuming the regular Jif because I figured a little trans fats wouldn’t kill me and also because I hate the natural kind of peanut butter that you have to stir. It’s too runny and it looks gross and most importantly, doesn’t taste as good. So you can see why I was skeptical when they said that this new natural peanut butter not only tasted better than the regular stuff, it also didn’t require stirring. Alright Peanut Butter, I’m listening. You officially have my attention.

During my next trip to the grocery store, I picked up a jar of the creamy Natural Jif. I would have bought crunchy but for some reason my grocery store didn’t (and still doesn’t) carry the crunchy stuff. When I arrived home, I immediately started my own taste test. I scooped up a spoonful of each peanut butter and tasted them. To my utter shock and amazement, I too liked the Natural stuff better. It had more peanut flavor and was surprisingly much better. I thought “natural” would mean tasteless or bland or somehow inferior, but man was I wrong. Just as important, the texture was just as it should be… nice and thick, not runny or grainy and it looked just like the regular stuff right out of the bottle… no oil slick to be seen.

I have to say this new Natural Jif Peanut Butter is the best I’ve ever tasted and that first jar I purchased was gone in no time flat. Now if I can just get my hands on some of that crunchy kind, I’ll be living in peanut butter heaven. So go on, give it a shot. I promise you’ll love it even if you’re not a tree-hugging hippy!

Product Review: Spam

20 Sep

Up until this weekend I had never tried Spam. I was perfectly content to go through life without sampling the cubed montage of meat. But then Seth and I were at the grocery store and he decided that we needed to be adventurous and give it a shot. I told him he could get it and try it if he wanted, but I couldn’t guarantee compliance from my end.

When we got home from shopping, Seth immediately opened the can, sliced off a piece and ate it. Then he cut off another piece and put it up to my face. After verifying that it wouldn’t make me throw up, I took a tiny bite off the piece he was holding. Not bad… but not great. I thought it tasted a lot like those Vienna Sausages. And if you look closely at the picture above you’ll see that like Vienna Sausages, Spam also has that nasty looking gel on it.

Now to be fair I did try Spam several ways. I tried it plain, on a cracker, and cooked. I did think it tasted best cooked. My honest opinion? I don’t think I’d buy it again, but it wasn’t near as terrible as I thought it would be. I really expected the worst. From now I’ll think of it as square, canned bologna.

My Guilty Pleasure

15 Mar

There are always going to be foods out there that you know you shouldn’t eat. Things that are incredibly bad for you, things that others see as disgusting, things that contain too many chemicals or dyes. But somehow you just can’t give them up. And secretly you love them. You’d eat them everyday if you could get away with it. For me, this forbidden treasure food is…. hot dogs.

Yep. I love me some hot dogs. I love the salty flavor and the slight ‘pop’ with each bite. The convenience and simplicity. The nostalgia of childhood and camping. I can’t seem to bring myself to care that they’re made of the ‘leftovers’. Every time I see my favorite show ’30 Rock’ I wish there were hot dog carts on the streets of Salt Lake that mimicked those of New York. When I go to barbeques I know I should choose the more respectable hamburger option, but I can’t help but choose the cheap, plain hot dogs. I like to stop off at the Maverick and pick me up a big, juicy Bahama Mama hot dog right off the rollers. Mmm…

Now I know that grilling hot dogs should be my favorite way to cook them, but it’s not. I like mine boiled. Don’t hit me! It’s not that I don’t like grilled hot dogs, it’s just that the boiled ones are so delicious. Boil me up a couple of hot dogs and I’m perfectly content.

I have to admit, given the chance to decide on the hot dog brand, I am a bit of a snob. My current favorite is Nathans. Though Ball Park Grillers & Hebrew National are also delicious. I go for the bun-length,  all-beef dogs if I can. And they can’t have anything inside them… no cheese, no nothing. Just regular hot dog flavor. As far as toppings go, I’m normally a straight-up mustard only girl. No ketchup EVER. If I’m feeling more adventurous I’ll throw some mayo, relish, and/or sauerkraut on there too. And you know, shredded lettuce isn’t half bad either.

So there you have it. My food confession. If you now think less of me, I understand.

Product Review: Freeze Dried Meals

12 Sep

After going a few backpacking trips, I’ve tried a few freeze-dried meals and thought it’d be useful to review some of them. Granted, I haven’t tried a huge variety, but if you need to know of one or two edible meals, this will help you out. If you’re going to be hiking around all day, a general rule of thumb for all of these is that the “2 serving” pouches will feed one hungry hiker. Seth and I both easily ate a pouch each without coming away hungry or overly stuffed. The hot meals also usually take a couple of minutes more than stated on the bag for all the components to get to a normal texture and softness, but no big deal.

Now not only are these great for backpacking and camping, I think they’d also be great for your emergency food storage. Definitely better than opening some slimy MRE or even a can of stew. I know at least Mountain House sells gallon size cans of some of their stuff, so you could buy it in bulk to feed more people. Plus, Mountain House claims their pouches are good for at least 7 years and their larger cans at least 25! Pretty impressive. And I don’t know if this is true for the larger cans (though I assume so), you can pour water directly into the pouch, seal, wait about 10 minutes, and eat right out of the bag. This means no dishes! No getting your hands dirty! All you need is a spoon or fork and you’re ready to go. Even then, I guess you could just shake the bag to mix it up then dump it straight from the bag right into your gaping pie hole. Definitely ok when you’re sitting on a rock out in the wilderness, right?

Mountain House Beef Stroganoff

This is my favorite freeze-dried meal so far. Pretty hard to screw up stroganoff I say. No weird textures with this one… the ground beef, noodles, mushrooms, and sauce all taste great, especially after a hard day of hiking. I’d add a little pepper if you’ve got it, but this is great as-is.

Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef

This is my second favorite freeze-dried meal. The first time we went out backpacking, Seth chose to bring this. I was a little skeptical, but it ended up beating out my lasagna. It has a good amount of spiciness… not too hot or bland. The beans do take a little extra soaking time, but it’s worth it. Only bad thing about this one is with the beans you’ll have even more gassiness than is typical with these freeze-dried meals (unpleasant but true…), so be fair warned.

Mountain House Lasagna with Meat and Sauce

Of the three dinners I’ve tried, this was my least favorite. Still not bad, mind you. It actually tasted really good and would have higher markings, but the cheesy sauce was a bit odd. Mainly it forms a sticky coating on your eating utensil that has to be scraped off your teeth or vigorously washed off. You won’t be able to lick the spoon clean with this one, but it tastes good enough that you probably won’t care.

Mountain House Granola with Blueberries

What’s great about this breakfast is you can use cold water and eat it immediately. There were a ton of blueberries in this and it tasted like a regular bowl of granola cereal. I haven’t tried eating this warm yet, but I’m sure it would be just as good, if not better. My only caveat is that the milk looks sort of separated… not super appetizing, but not horrible by any means. However, if you like granola, read on… I found a new brand of granola I like even better….

Natural High Raspberry Granola with Milk

I normally get the Mountain House Granola with Blueberries, but ended up getting this instead when my local REI was out. And I’m so glad I did! I used 1/2 and 1/2 hot and cold water to make this and I liked it a lot more than the Mountain House granola. The milk was nicely sweetened and looked like regular milk. The raspberries were really delicious as well… just a great ratio and blend of ingredients. Seth ate his cold and really liked it as well. This will be my go-to backpacking breakfast from now on. Yum!

Mountain House Wraps Breakfast Skillet 

As a disclaimer, Seth was the only one to try this. This is intended to be a mixture used to fill a tortilla, but he’d just eaten it plain. “Eat” is loosely used actually. When I asked him what was in it (when trying to select the right product) he said, “The eggs were so awful I barely noticed what else was in there.” He ended up taking a couple bites and throwing the rest away it was so gross, and Seth isn’t one to be super picky about what he eats. So there you have it. Our first (and hopefully, last) complete failure.

Ben & Jerry’s “Late Night Snack” Review

23 Apr

I love me some ice cream. Especially a good high-quality full-fat super delicious ice cream like Ben & Jerry’s. Because of this love I don’t buy ice cream a whole lot because it’s too tempting to eat it all the time. However, I’m also a sucker for new flavors. So when I saw “Late Night Snack,” a flavor newly created for Jimmy Fallon, I knew I must try it. Get this. It’s “vanilla bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and fudge covered potato chip clusters.” Hells yes! A salty/sweet combination is one of my favorites!

So, did this new flavor live up to its name? Well, yes and no. It was really good, don’t get me wrong. I typically favor the vanilla/caramel base over chocolate, so they get points there. And the potato chip thing was a great idea. The problem is, the fudge covers up most of the potato chip flavor. I wish the clusters had either been larger, or less heavily coated in fudge. And I wanted more of them in there. All that being said, I would say this is up at the top of my list as far as Ben & Jerry’s flavors go. It just didn’t beat out Chubby Hubby… my personal favorite.

Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce & Cucumber Salad

23 Feb

This is yet another recipe from Just the Tip. I’m always a bit hesitant to use turkey in recipes that are traditionally made with beef or other meats. I’m not sure why as they almost always turn out great. If you’re still a bit skeptical about giving ground turkey a shot, I guarantee this recipe will knock your socks off. I could not believe how much flavor this burger had. Everything about it was perfect… juicy meat, a savory sauce, and a bit of freshness and crunch from the fresh spinach. And it’s healthy without tasting that way! This was my first experience with the Orowheat Thin Buns and I thought they looked kind of gross. Nay nay. Wow… perfect complement to this burger. I actually wanted to eat the leftover burgers today for lunch, now that’s saying something!

Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Serves 4

For the tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated
  • 6 oz  greek yogurt (fat free)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Chill.

For the burgers:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained of any oil with paper towels
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat for several minutes until very hot.
  2. Combine the turkey, feta, sun-dried tomato, spinach and seasonings in a mixing bowl until just combined.
  3. Spray the grill pan with non-stick spray, form the meat mixture into four patties, and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest on a plate covered with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
  4. Garnish with tzatziki (recipe below) and additional spinach leaves and serve on sandwich thins.


Oh, also if you’re looking for a quick, easy side-dish to use up the rest of the cucumbers and dill you bought for the tzatziki sauce, try this little number. It’s very simple, but a great compliment to the turkey burgers!

Cucumber Salad

Serves 2-4


  • 1-2 large cucumbers (or 4-5 lemon cucumbers), peeled, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, basil, or Thai basil*
  • 2-3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*To chop the basil, chiffonade it by stacking the leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like a cigar, and taking thin slices from one end to the other.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat. Serve immediately, or make ahead (up to a couple of hours) and chill.

Recipe from Simply Recipes

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