products, cookbooks and a spicy giveaway
It is a fantastic treat to be able to sample products just as they are hitting the market. There are so many exciting food trends including local and farm-fresh, a return to ancient grains, sprouted foods, organic and thoughtful farming, gluten-free and more. Though these Pretzel Bites don't fit into the farm food category, they are a new product that my sons loved. These are Edward Marc Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites and once I snapped photos and gave them the green light for consumption---they rapidly disappeared.
I primarily review food products and kitchen tools, but when I was asked to try out these organic fruit and veggie Yes To skin products---I was intrigued. I don't know about you, but I find it a bit laborious to find skin and health care products that work well for me---not to mention it's a bit of an investment. I have been using the Yes To cucumber facial wipes (pictured far left) for months now and I love them. I use them to 'wash' my face at night and in the morning. The lip balms are fantastic---my favorite is the mint. The blueberry hand cream had a bit of a floral smell which I couldn't do (allergies) but my mother loves. The products have a clean, pure feel to them and they should: they have no parabens, SLS or petroleum and are made with fruits and vegetables! Also: Yes To has a seed fund; they donate a percentage of their profits to feed children in Africa (planting school gardens).
I couldn't say no to testing sundried tomatoes. Bella Sun Luci sent me packs of dried sundried tomatoes and jars of tomatoes in oil, including sundried pesto, bruschetta topping, some with whole pine nuts and another jar packed with sundried tomatoes and Italian herbs. I am a sucker for oil-laced tomatoes. They are so yummy mixed with goat cheese and stuffed in chicken breasts, or blended with cream cheese and sour cream for a quick and easy vegetable dip. Oh and by the way: they are having a contest. Enter a winning sundried tomato recipe by July 1 [to win $2500]. Why not?
Lately I have been quite focused on a handful of cookbooks. I am being very selective about which cookbooks to dive into, seeking out and buying specific cookbooks (recent buys: Plenty, Meena Pathak's Complete Indian Cooking and Mangoes and Curry Leaves) in an effort to expand my cooking knowledge and repertoire. I frequently say no to cookbook reviews unless I have a keen interest in the book/topic. Most recently I said YES to review Quinoa Cuisine. And I am loving it: did you know quinoa is actually in the goosefoot family? Quinoa is related to beets, spinach and chard. Though the leaves can be eaten, it is quinoa seeds that we see in stores. While there are hundreds of varieties of quinoa, most common are the white, black and red (red is pictured below, cooked). Just today I bought quinoa flour, and look forward to using it for baked goods (I would imagine quinoa flour is popular among gluten-free blogs). I am just starting to devour this book, so keep an eye out: I will be sharing recipes soon!
Alexia was kind enough to send a few bags of 'sides' that travel from freezer to oven in a snap. We tasted Parmesan Waffle Fries, Onion Rings and Sweet Potato puffs (think tater tots). I had seen Alexia in organic stores, our PCC markets and Whole Foods. Knowing they made the 'whole food' cut and can be found in high caliber grocers means they use quality products. We happily tried the products and I will be buying them again.
I like to make onion rings at home, but it is a bit of an ordeal so having a go-to product is perfect when I am in a pinch. Our favorite was the puffs (pictured left). I baked them according to directions, then broiled them for the final minute so they were wonderfully crisp on the outside. Bonus: enter your name below/in the comments for a chance to win 3 bags of Alexia products (you will be sent 3 coupons).
Finally: a Spicy Giveaway!
McCormicks sent me some spices to play with, and I used their goodies to make my mom dinner on Mother's Day. McCormick's wanted to offer one of my readers this beautiful spice rack full of spices. It includes 16 spice jars, including four fun, new Seasoning Blends: Cuban, Tuscan, Moroccan and Southwest.
Simply enter a comment below (only one per person please!) and I will randomly select (using random.org) a winner of the spice rack. Enter between now and June 6, then check back here to find out who won. Best of luck!
Update: Congrats to Sarah for winning the Alexia coupons and Julie for winning a new spice rack! Thank you everyone for all of your lovely comments. And thank you for visiting Talk of Tomatoes!