Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

sugarcookieProduct Information:

What would Christmas be without sugar cookies? We’ve sugar cookied our marshmallows so you can sugar cookie your tea, your hot chocolate or just your afternoon snacks.

What I Think:

As you might remember, I was introduced to this handmade marshmallow company by Knoshy in my November Knoshbox.  After visiting the Wondermade website, I decided I had to try their Christmas Gift Set of Marshmallows, which includes their Bourbon flavored Marshmallows, Honey flavored Marshmallows (which is only available in this Christmas set), Peppermint flavored Marshmallows, and these Sugar Cookie flavored Marshmallows.

These … are amazing.  They taste like marshmallows, of course, but I can definitely taste the sugar cookie element too.  I can taste a cookie dough-like flavor.  It’s not a strong, overwhelming presence, but its there.

The marshmallow itself tastes like a vanilla marshmallow.  Like what we think of when we think “marshmallow,” but with the added dimension of sugar cookie-ish flavor.  YUM!

And of course, the marshmallow is infinitely better than anything you’ll ever taste from a supermarket.  Trust me, if you haven’t yet tried a homemade marshmallow, once you do try one, you’ll never go back to the mass-produced stuff they sell in the grocery store!

My Final Thoughts:

These are delicious right out of the package.  That’s how I ate my first few … but then I made myself stop and save the rest for a cup of hot chocolate. They make a good, steaming cup of hot cocoa taste even better, and I was surprised that I could even taste the sugar cookie-ness of these when they were submerged in the hot chocolate!  It’s certainly more subdued in the presence of the chocolate, but, the flavor does come through.  YUM!

These unique puffs are described as simply

A fall favorite

240Sweet Marshmallows are available on the 240Sweet website.

Tea Suggestion:

When they’re not serving as a fluffy, delicious cap to my hot cocoa, I usually prefer to eat marshmallows with a cup of hot tea.  However, the heat from the ginger on these gives me cause to want something that is easy to “chug” … lest I need to cool the palate immediately.  So I chose a white tea because even when served hot, I prepare it at a cooler temperature than I do other tea types, and white tea tends to offer the body and palate cooling properties.  I chose this amazing Organic White Tea from Steenbergs Organics.  The sweet, crisp flavor of the tea offered lovely refreshment from these deliciously sweet yet spicy puffs.

What I Think:

I think I may have mentioned before that 240Sweet makes my favorite marshmallows.  And it’s not just because the marshmallows are huge and fluffy and perfectly sweet.  It’s not just because 240Sweet has managed to create works of art with their marshmallows.  Sure, these reasons factor in to why I love these marshmallows so much, but there’s something more to it too.

It’s their gutsy approach to marshmallows.  They’re not afraid to get ballsy with their marshmallows and put flavors in them.  They’re not content with just letting a marshmallow be a simple little puff of sugary sweet goodness.  I mean, seriously, who ELSE would think to put SWEET POTATO flavor in a marshmallow, encrust it with crunchy, candied GINGER and turn those simple little puffs (or in this case … HUGE puffs) into spicy, savory, sweet bits of culinary joy?

Oh.  My.  Goodness!  These are amazing.  So yummy!

These puffs evoke thoughts of Thanksgiving dinner when I was a child (which is why I chose to schedule this review for Thanksgiving) … My stepmother would always make sweet potato casserole.  And this puff is very much like that sweet potato casserole, only BETTER because first of all, it’s a confection and so it’s OK that this is sweet.  (Now that I’m grown I’m a little disappointed that the delicious flavor of the sweet potato was masked by all that sugar and stale, commercially manufactured marshmallow)  Second … the ginger on this gives it a fiery heat that my stepmother could never duplicate (she had no clue when it came to spices).

The sweet potato flavor is IN the marshmallow itself.  However, if you want to taste the sweet potato flavor, you need to be sure that you bite into a bit of the marshmallow that is not studded with the crystallized ginger.  Otherwise, what you’ll taste is mostly spicy-hot ginger.  The sweet potato flavor is overwhelmed by the ginger when you bite into the ginger … but when you take a bite into just the marshmallow, you can taste the creamy marshmallow and the sweet, savory taste of the sweet potato.   I like to alternate bites, eating some of the puff without the ginger.  Its sweet and savory, the sweet potato adds such an interesting flavor to the marshmallow.   Then I like taking a bite with the ginger and POW!  It’s like a spicy kick in the mouth!

My Final Thoughts:

I wanted to try these because they sounded so unique (come on… sweet potato flavor in a marshmallow?  Aren’t you at least a little bit intrigued?) and I’m really glad I did.  I love the contrast of flavors and textures that these puffs provide.  A lovely autumnal treat!

Product Description:

We blend the spicy tea ourselves for this puff

What I Think:

I love chai … I love 240Sweet’s marshmallows … it’s kind of a no-brainer!  I knew I’d love these puffs!  They are so fluffy and sweet, but also deliciously spicy.  And these aren’t like vanilla marshmallows that have been rolled in finely ground spices and tea, the spiced tea has been infused into the marshmallow, flavoring every inch of these huge marshmallows, making for a very satisfying tea and marshmallow experience … all in one!  Of course, a cup of tea along with it doesn’t hurt!

Believe it or not, though, I found these to be better with a cup of hot cocoa.  I put one in the cocoa to melt while I munched happily away on another (for review purposes only, of course, I needed to see what it tasted like without the cocoa’s influence).  Because of the spices and the hint of tea in the marshmallows, they offered a lovely layer of flavor to the cocoa that I really enjoyed.

I can taste the cinnamon and the peppery kick of the ginger in this.  I also taste hints of clove and I can even taste the subtle note of tea in there.  The aftertaste is a little bit like cardamom.  The spices are very warm and delicious, and offer a pleasing contrast to the sweet flavor of the marshmallow base.

My Final Thoughts:

240Sweet’s marshmallows are my favorite and there’s a reason for that.  They’re superb!  Have you ever tried a homemade marshmallow?  They are so much better than anything store-bought.  You really MUST get to 240Sweet and order some Marshmallows.  They have so many tempting flavors from which to choose … and this one may be my favorite one yet.  I love the spices here – they’re spicy without being out-of-control hot … tempered by the sweet, luscious, puffy marshmallow.   So good.

OK… I’m a little behind on my restaurant reviews.  Fortunately I do take notes … these aren’t based on my memory!  My memory just isn’t that good!  I do remember though that on the day we visited this restaurant for lunch it was a dreadfully HOT day.  I think we both just wanted to get out of the house, and out of the heat, which is what brought us to Ducktales Kitchen in Vancouver.   And the fact that we had a LivingSocial voucher was certainly another incentive…

Location:  612 N. Devine Road, Vancouver, Washington

Order:  I ordered the special of the day which was an Artichoke and Feta Cheese Ravioli with chicken and pesto sauce.  The special came with a choice of soup or salad – I chose the Caesar Salad.

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Ducktales Kitchen in Vancouver, Washington is very comfortable, very homey.  From the artwork from local artists hanging on the wall to the friendly waitstaff that treats you more like family than like patrons, it is a very warm and inviting kind of place.

The service is pretty quick, too.  My salad seemed to arrive almost immediately after placing the order.  The salad was composed of very fresh, crisp romaine, Parmesan shreds, croutons and dressing.  The lettuce was ice cold, and this was especially refreshing on such a hot day.  But … there was just too much dressing!  Had I known that the Caesar salad would be so drenched in dressing, I would have preferred the soup (although, it might have been too hot to really enjoy the soup!) or the house salad with dressing on the side.  It was still a tasty salad, but, there was just way too much dressing.  The croutons on the salad were a little “off” too, they tasted stale and they were kind of chewy.  I appreciated the freshness and chilly temperature of the romaine lettuce, but the rest of the salad was kind of disappointing.

Fortunately, the ravioli made up for whatever the salad was lacking.  When the plate was first brought out, I noted that the pasta sauce was a little soupy, but it was incredibly flavorful.  So flavorful, in fact, I was kind of wishing I had a soup spoon to dish out the sauce and eat it by itself!  By the time I was about halfway finished with my dish, the sauce had thickened up nicely, though.  The chicken was very tender, and the ravioli was delicious, filled with lots of tangy feta cheese.  There wasn’t much artichoke in these pillows of pasta, but, I like feta cheese, so I couldn’t really find a whole lot of fault with them, except that I did notice that the pasta of the ravioli was just a little bit chewy.  Other than that, though, everything about this dish, from the sweet, juicy tomatoes and olives to the juicy chicken and flavorful sauce was really, really enjoyable.

My husband ordered a burger, and he really enjoyed it.  At the time of our visit, Ducktales was in a competition with one of the local radio stations where patrons would vote on their favorite burger, and Ducktales was in the top three.  We helped out by texting in a few votes, and in return we got a free dessert!

For dessert, we chose the berry cobbler, and it was so yummy.  Filled with marionberries, this dessert tasted like something that would have come out of my gramma’s kitchen.

My Final Thoughts:

I think that the dessert exemplifies what I really liked best about Ducktales Kitchen.  The food may not have been perfect, but it was really good.  It tasted like it was made with love and care … just like gramma would have made.  It tastes like a good, home cooked meal that I didn’t have to cook, and I really like that!

Ducktales on Urbanspoon

Picture from Knoshbox. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:
Whitney Lamy of Castleton, Vermont bakes some of the finest New England crackers you can find for wine & cheese pairing. Her crackers are all natural, hand-made, and hand-cracked.

The Windham Wheat crackers are light, buttery and slightly salty which pair beautifully with a Vermont Jasper Hill Cheddar and oaked Chardonnay. This particular cheese has nutty, lightly caramel flavors that work so well with the toasty, buttery oak notes of the Chardonnay- while the cracker backs it all up with a salty crunch.

I received these crackers in my September Knoshbox.

Tea Suggestion:

Knoshbox suggests pairing these crackers with a Chardonnay, but I don’t drink wine very often.  Instead, I chose to pair these crackers with this Oolong Chardonnay from Vintage TeaWorks.  The smooth, softly buttery taste of the tea was a perfect match for the buttery, nutty taste of the crackers.

What I Think: 

Oh, my!  I think I may have just discovered a new favorite cracker.  I tried these ever so briefly while enjoying the Chorizo Rioja which was also featured in the September Knoshbox, but now as I sit here with a cup of tea and eat these without cheese or meat adornment, I am truly able to appreciate the complexity of the cracker.

I love that these are broken by hand, rather than by machine.  You get a sense of the love and dedication that goes in to these crackers.  They are super thin, like wheat thins … but they taste so much better than wheat thins.  And even though they are thin, they are really satisfying.  With each bite I can taste the wholesome wheat.  And, then there is a buttery taste to these too, and just a hint of salt.

Really delicious!

My Final Thoughts:

Somehow, these crackers seem a bit more like bread to me, in that they don’t taste ‘wimpy’ the way some crackers do.  Some crackers are mere snacks … these crackers are substantial enough to serve along with a meal like a hearty stew or chili.  I really like these crackers a lot.

Product Description:

Classic rich caramel with a bit of French Sea Salt to open the taste buds.

Learn more about Jonboy on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

I actually enjoyed these caramels on two separate occasions.  The first time, I had a glass of iced tea at my side, and I really loved this RadioactiTEA Iced Tea from 52Teas with these.  One of the best “pure” iced teas I’ve had in a very long time, and the sweet flavors of the Assam complimented the flavor of the caramel quite well.  Based upon that experience, I decided to try another Assam with this tea – this time, I served it hot.  This 2nd Flush Assam from Tea Horse went along with the caramel tones very nicely too.  These caramels make a really decadent tea-time treat!

What I Think:

When I saw that Fleur de Sel Caramels were going to be included with the Seattle Box (my last box from Foodzie!), it was probably the main selling point for the box and what led me to ultimately decide to choose the Seattle Box over the other selections.  I mean, why go healthy with the raw food when I can have salted caramels, right?  I mean, if I’m in a sample line at Costco (just using Costco as an example, since that is typically where I find many sample tables!) and I have to choose between a sweet, creamy salted caramel and a raw granola health food concoction, I’m going to choose the salted caramel every single time.  Sure, I enjoy a good granola bar, and I’ve reviewed a few here on this blog… but, when it comes to my taste buds preference, well, I’d say they’re more sweet toothed than health foodie.

I know I’ve mentioned before my adoration for salted caramels … and while I didn’t know which company was going to be supplying the Fleur de Sel Caramels.  There was part of me that was sort of wishing for Fran’s Chocolates, because, well, they hold a special place in my heart as I’ve mentioned before.  But even if it wasn’t Fran’s Chocolates – and it wasn’t! – I was still excited over the opportunity to try a new candy company, and, well, caramel generally just makes me happy.

And these salted caramels are making me very happy!  They are soft and chewy and absolutely yummy.  These aren’t the hard-to-chew kind of caramels that seem to require a good amount of effort on the part of the jaw to break down … these are so soft that the teeth sink right into them.  I can feel the Fleur de Sel in these, it isn’t a hard crunch but there is a slight texture from them.  The salt is mostly noticeable in the taste though, and there’s no mistaking it.  I love the sharp contrast between the creamy, sweet caramel flavor and the salt.  The salt cuts right through it, eliminating that cloying sensation that I’d probably experience with unsalted caramels.

My Final Thoughts:

Completely and utterly yummy.  I really loved these caramels.  Maybe not quite as fancy as Fran’s Chocolate salted caramels, but for simple, pure salted caramel enjoyment, it doesn’t get any better than this.  My only complaint is that I wanted more.  The package in the box was not one of those boxes in the photo at the top… it was a smaller package – not quite a sampler with only two or three caramels, but, not quite a box either.  I don’t know exactly how many were in the package because I tore into it and started eating before it occurred to me that I should count them.

Pizza by Mat Douglas

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Recipes
Tags: ,

Tonight, my husband made pizza for the family, and when he pulled them from the oven, they ended up looking like “works of art,” so he asked me to write a review about them. 

The Pepperoni

Location:  Home

Order:  Pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, red bell pepper, red onion, mushrooms, pineapple and extra cheese.

What I Think:

Recently, my husband offered a helpful hint to our soon-to-be son-in-law.  I can’t remember exactly how he put it, but to paraphrase, it went a little something like this:  “learn to cook one or two things very well so that you can give your significant other a day off from cooking once in a while.”  One of the things that my husband can prepare very well is pizza.

The "Works" Douglas Style: Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Red Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, Red Onions and Extra Cheese. Half with Pineapple.

Aside from not having to do much when it comes to cooking dinner (I do have to do some minor preparation, like slicing the mushrooms and bell peppers and cooking the Italian sausage), what I like best about homemade pizza night is that I can have the pizza customized to just the way I like it:  pepperoni, sausage, red bell pepper, thick cut mushrooms, red onions, extra cheese and pineapple.  Sure, I can get these ingredients at most pizzerias – with the exception of the thick cut mushrooms – but it ends up costing a fortune to get the pizza made just right, and since I’m the only one in this household who likes pineapple on pizza, I feel really bad having to purchase a special pizza just for me.

But when my husband makes the pizza, he can add pineapple to my portion of the pizza for just pennies.  And my husband really is a master when it comes to making pizza.  The crust is crispy and delicious, just the right amount of sauce and lots of cheese … and here’s the best part:  the mushrooms!  Most pizza joints slice their mushrooms too thin, and they either end up too over cooked and I can’t really taste them because the flavor gets lost with the stronger flavors of sausage and pepperoni.  Or worse yet, the texture of the thin-sliced mushroom ends up slimy and that’s just not very good.  I like my mushrooms sliced thick, so that I can taste their earthy, meaty flavor and the texture remains intact.

We buy the dough pre-made.  Our local grocery store bakery mixes the dough, and sells it in slabs, and the crust that this dough makes is quite delicious.  Mat rolls the dough onto cornmeal (I love the texture that this step creates) and then stretches it onto the pizza pan.  He then par-bakes the crust, and then tops it with sauce, cheese, and toppings.  He bakes it until the crust is golden brown, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  What emerges from the oven is a pie of perfection … or in his words:  “A work of art.”

My Final Thoughts:

I would take Mat’s homemade pizza over anything from a pizzeria any day.  This is the kind of pizza you eat with a fork because the toppings are heavier than the crust.  It’s delizioso!