Friday, February 10, 2012

Shiny New Product Review: Dulce de Leche Cheerios and Peanut Butter Cheerios

I'm a bit of a cereal nut.  Growing up, we were limited to healthy cereals (and when we were really, really good, an occasional box of Peanut Butter Crunch).  This meant we ate regular ol' Cheerios quite regularly.  And after a short phase of sugar cereal binges during my freshman year of college, I returned to my love of plain Cheerios with milk or a sprinkling of sliced banana mixed throughout.

I get excited when I see new cereals.  But I got really excited when I saw both of these new cereals in particular - Dulce de Leche Cheerios and Peanut Butter Cheerios.  Why?  Let's see.  We mix my love of Cheerios with my love of dulce de leche (which I originally experienced in Argentina) and peanut butter, and you get a terrible bit of excitement.  And cereal is just one of those awesome things - eat it any time of day, no cooking required, and the crunching is a stress reliever : ).

I love the original Multi-Grain Cheerios.  They have the perfect hit of sweetness that accentuates the grains.  No, really. Those be curvy grains.  I wonder why Cheerios didn't start with a blank slate of plain Cheerios?  I want to like the peanut butter flavor but there is no real punch of flavor to set them apart from anything else.  Better in a cereal bowl than as a snack, the Cheerios don't have quite enough "oomph" in the peanut butter department.  Honestly, if you're jonesing for some peanut butter cereal - just go have a bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch.  The one advantage that these have over PBC is that they will not wreck the roof of your mouth.

Lackluster Dulce de Leche Cheerios

And the Dulce de Leche?  Frankly, my first bowl left me quite disappointed.  The flavor seemed overly artificial (which is funny as they are "naturally flavored").  I don't even want a second bowl and cereal is a regular part of this gal's diet.  I suppose I expected with both flavors, that rather than having the new additions mixed into the actual cereal batter, that they would instead have a light coating on the outside - like a glaze.  I found both (although DdL especially) to not be dense enough in the texture.  I wanted to hear and feel a more audible "crunch" when biting down.  There seemed to be more aeration in each cute little circle than I am accustomed to in my other favorite flavored Cheerio (Honey Nut).  My positive discovery after the fact was that while I did not enjoy these with milk, they were far better as a straight snack, no milk necessary.

But this brings me to what I would recommend to my friends.  If given the choice to take 'em or leave 'em, I'd leave 'em.  No ifs, ands or buts.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini

Another turkey post....

Because I've been swimming in turkey, I've been playing around with a few recipes so that I'm not eating the same ol' turkey dishes day in and day out.

So, here is my favorite way to get rid of turkey leftovers thus far:

Turkey Tetrazzini (as found on

Note: I cut this recipe in half since there are just two of us.  It normally means two nights worth.

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked spaghetti
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups chopped cooked turkey

I also like to add Panko to the top.  It adds a tasty texture to the dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking dish. 

Chop up your leftover turkey.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and place in the prepared baking dish. 

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Mix in chicken broth and milk. 

Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat.

Mix chicken broth mixture and turkey with spaghetti.

Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle Panko to your heart's content.

Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until surface is lightly browned.

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie Pockets

Life has gotten slightly busy.  That's a good excuse, right?  In 2011 I worked full-time, finished my MBA, served as Executive Vice President of Communications and Social Media for my MBA class, had a baby, and finished by serving as the Director of Internal Communications for the Utah AMA.

Is that a good excuse?  Sigh, not really.

So, once again, the husband wanted a turkey again.  For me, that means a month of turkey.  We typically eat Thanksgiving at one of our parents' or grandparents' homes.  But we still must buy and prepare our own turkey.  And when you only have two people (and a baby) in your home, that equals a lot of turkey and, in turn, turkey centric meals.

So here is my New Year's Gift to you.  Two more turkey recipes to help you get rid of leftover turkey.

Turkey Pot Pie Pockets

1 can Pillsbury Grands (or generic brand)
1/2 cup peas and carrots (frozen or your leftovers)
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
2 cups chopped turkey

Optional add-ins
Leftover stuffing
Diced onion
1/2 c chopped celery

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all of the innards together in a bowl.  Spray a rolling pin and surface (I cheat and use my cookie sheet as my surface) with cooking spray.  Roll each biscuit out to approximately 6-7".  Fill half of the biscuits with a heaping scoop (you can use an ice cream scoop if you like) of filling.  Do this with each biscuit.  Place remaining biscuits on top of filled biscuits.  Use a fork to press edges together.  Score top lightly with three lines.

Bake at 375 F for approximately 15 minutes.  Check on the pot pies and take out when golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!  These work great to bring to work for lunch - just throw in a ziplock bag!  You don't even need a plate and fork if you don't have one. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mad Dogs of UT, LLC

Mad Dogs of UT, LLC Cart

With as much exposure to food and different places around the world that I've had, one thing remains love of street food.  Salt Lake City has just received a tasty new gift, wrapped in bacon.

Mad Dogs of Utah, LLC is the type of food cart others should aspire to be.  The factors of food cart success are all there - quality ingredients, attention to detail in cooking, and amazingly friendly service in the form of Rudy.  If you ask him, he will tell you all about how service is what sets you apart.  He pays attention to his customers and will chat you up if you like, wait patiently as you pore over the many options, or even take your order over the phone to make your delectable bite handoff even quicker.

What caught my eye, then my stomach, and finally my heart, was his offering of a bacon wrapped dog.  Rudy takes premium hot dogs, wraps them just like little gifts (to your tongue) in bacon, and then lets them bubble and crisp on the grill.  While this is happening, he also grills your bun and will grill mushrooms and/or onions to pile atop if you like.  If you want a side of conversation, he is happy to oblige.  More of the silent type? No pressure - he'll leave you be.

Rudy of Mad Dogs of Utah, LLC and Menu

The bacon dog is indeed delicious.  Due to the elements of seared fat and hot dog casing, your dog will gleefully crunch under your bite.  If you want to add a little kick or yin to your yang, you can add A1 sauce or syrup.  

Bacon Dog with A1 Sauce

Mad Dogs of Utah, LLC also offers breakfast.  Biscuits & gravy, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches (a buck and a half? Can he be serious?) and more.  At lunch, Rudy also offers a French dip, hamburgers, turkey sandwiches, and tacos.  He is also happy to make an item gluten-free upon request.

So if you love food carts - and bacon - you must visit Mad Dogs of Utah, LLC.  He is a Salt Lake win! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deliciously Delightful Bran Muffins

I've been eating these bran muffins for as long as I can remember - and making them since I could stir.  Over the years, I've had many roommates (and now husband) taste them and fall in love with them.  Why?  They're relatively healthy - and they taste like cake!  Literally - from roommates who were on Weight Watchers to men who could care less about fat and calories - these are loved by all.  So, by request - here are my grandmother's bran muffins.  Enjoy!


2 c Kellogg's All Bran Buds
2 c Boiling Water
1 c Oleo (i.e. vegetable oil)
2 1/2 c Sugar
4 Eggs
1 qt Buttermilk (you can also use your regular milk and add some lemon juice to transition it)
4 c Fiber One
5 c Flour
5 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Salt

Okay - yet another simple recipe!  Start off by combining the All Bran Buds with the boiling water in a bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add 1 c oil and 2 c sugar.  Stir.  Add 4 eggs, one at a time and stir after adding each.  Add the buttermilk and Fiber One cereal, using a hand mixer to blend well to break up the cereal.  Next, add the water-soaked bran.  Blend again.

Finally, add the baking soda and salt.  Stir.  Add the flour, one cup at a time, stirring in between each cup. Let mixture sit for an hour to help the bran gain moisture.  Grease your muffin pans.  The batter should be enough for approximately 48 muffins.  Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.  Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes.

Because this recipe makes so many (which makes me happy), I normally divide the batch and place some in freezer bags for later.   Depending on where you live, you can store them in a ziplock bag on the counter or in your refrigerator.  Enjoy plain or with butter and/or jam.

Bon Apetit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wild Grape Bistro

I know there's been a lot of discussion regarding group deals as of late (i.e. Living Social, Groupon, etc.).  I see many possible benefits for consumers and businesses IF both use them correctly and intelligently.  I actually did a marketing evaluation in my MBA program on Groupon.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is that a LivingSocial deal allowed me to try out Wild Grape Bistro - a restaurant that has been on my list since it opened.  I had an email warning me to use my deal soon or lose it - so use it I did.

Wild Grape Bistro took over a restaurant location that seems to have experienced a lot of turnover.  When they first arrived, I wondered how long they would last.  Here's to hoping they continue.  My meal on Saturday was superb.  Have a glimpse into my experience.

We started with a small plate of Potato Gnocchi, served with braised beef, mushrooms, spinach, truffle oil, and a dusting of parmesan.

Delicious.  I'm a sucker for gnocchi.  Pretty much anytime I see it on a menu, I need to try it.  A large part is due to the fact that good authentic gnocchi seems incredibly difficult to find.  I'll be honest - the gnocchi here were good but not what I consider gnocchi done right.  The flavor was there but the texture too squishy.  Good gnocchi should be somewhat firm.  These were closer to potato dumplings.  The real winner of this dish?  The braised beef.  It was incredible.  Tender, pull apart, but with the right amount of chew so you still felt like you were eating meat.  My next visit will include their tenderloin just so I can taste the magic they create again.

Next up - Grape's Bison Burger.  8 oz. Colorado Bison, house-made steak sauce, blue cheese, fried onions, spinach, bacon, and served with house cut fries.

Sadly, due to pregnancy food restrictions (which also prevented me from ordering their Arugula salad which sounded ridiculously good for a summer day) I had to withhold the blue cheese.  The sacrifices I make....anyways.  I hadn't experienced Bison before.  For those who are a little more on the reserved side when it comes to game meats or meats not normally seen in the grocery store I'd say go for it!  It's an incredibly mild tasting meat but delicious.  I assume the grind wasn't mixed with any beef suet but it's possible.  The burger was exquisitely composed with the right layering and thickness of bun to burger with a lovely crunch of onion and sweet tang from the steak sauce.  Another win for Wild Grape Bistro.

Lastly, we finished with a Organic Chicken Breast, served with Moroccan roasted vegetables, polenta fries, and smoked eggplant.

I had wondered what the "polenta fries" would come out as.  I love polenta, and tend to prefer a firmer style.  This was perhaps a bit too firm for me and resembled more of a coarse corn bread than polenta.  The chicken was moist and slightly garlicky.  And the vegetables were the real win.  Tender, well-seasoned, and summery.  I fear it was unfair to the chicken to have followed the braised beef.  If you're in the mood for chicken, it was well cooked and satisfying but not memorable in the way the braised beef was.

So, while some may argue that group deals are of the devil (and some consumers abuse the system to make it so while some businesses overestimate their ability to fulfill), it proved successful for me.  Wild Grape Bistro?  I happily recommend your fare.  Your service was great and patio seating on a lovely summer day are hard to not love.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year! Homemade Potstickers FTW

I've been a lover of all foods Asian for as long as I can remember.  I'm sure it helps that I originated in the Bay Area where Asian culture reigns supreme.  Chopsticks were my utensil of choice (I swear eating with them makes your dish taste better).

So to honor Chinese New Year, I am posting a tribute to potstickers, one of my favorite snacks/meals.  I think most people love anything that is essentially a pocket of deliciousness.  Beef Wellington, falafel in pita, momos, or even Hot Pockets (which I know you secretly love).  

Potstickers, or Chinese dumplings, are far easier to make than you might have imagined.  Especially if you cheat and use wonton wrappers - which I do.  Also, if you happen to be planning a party or just happen to love all things Asian, you will use almost the same ingredients if you would like to make Vietnamese spring rolls at the same time.

What you'll need:

1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 medium head cabbage (Napa), finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 slices fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1 1/2 shredded carrots
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 (14 ounce) package wonton wrappers
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

It's actually really easy from here with one exception - but we'll get to that.  

  1. Toss everything from the ground pork down to the sesame oil in a medium bowl.  If you're not squeamish, get your hands in there and mix.  If you are, well, get a spatula and get to it.  Mixed?  Great, move on.  

  1. Get out your magical wonton wrappers.  One of the happiest pre-made products you can buy.  Lay out your cute little circles and get read for the slightly more difficult part.  Add a spoonful to each little wrapper.  Less is more for the inexperienced because this next part is a little trickier.  Maybe only do one at a time to start to find the right level of "fullness" for your dumpling folding skills.

  1. Have a small bowl of water to dip your fingers in.  Fold your wontons into cute little half moons and start pressing together.  Now, here is the part some people struggle with at first.  Start folding. I start in the center and fold a quarter inch to a half inch fold and work towards one end.  Then I go back to the middle and go the other way.  Don't get your fingertips too wet or your wonton dough will get sticky and be a royal pain to work with.  However, you will want to add a little moisture to help your folds really stick together.  Now repeat about a million times until you're out of dumpling filling or wonton wrappers.

Cool.  Now you have two choices.  Cook now or throw in a bag and freeze.  Because I was making these just for me (and my husband, sort of) I chose to cook half and throw the other half in a gallon size freezer bag.  That's what makes these even more awesome - they freeze well and make for a very quick and low maintenance dinner in a pinch.

If you choose to cook now, your journey is almost over.  I like my dumplings and sauce over rice so I'd get that cooking now if I were you.  Then you'll toss your vegetable oil in largish pan.  I used a 12" pan to do my bidding.  Arrange your potstickers in the pan, laying on their more flat side.  Once they're looking pretty like a fan, turn your burner up to medium.  Go ahead and add the water and then cover with a top or if you don't have one, just use a cookie sheet and let it have a small opening to vent.  Let this cook for about 10-12 minutes.

All cooked?  Last step.  Mix the chili oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl for dipping.  Or you can get crazy and throw it in the with the potstickers once they're done and stir to get them coated.  Hey, it's your life.