Category Archives: Food for Thought

Catching Up

Are you sometimes at the intersection of “want to” and “have to”, and “have to” is the road you must take?  That has been our path for the past couple of weeks.  While new, interesting gourmet foods have beckoned at every turn, more pressing issues have presented themselves.  However, in spite of having too much to do with too little time, there were moments where artisan foods could not have fit into our lives more perfectly.

Grandad's GravyWe were so happy to find Grandad’s Gravy on the shelves of our local Dallas area grocer, Market Street.  It made a great lasagna for a weekend family dinner, then when the work week got crazy hectic, we had some pretty delicious “rerun” meals.  I’m determined to try it in a skillet lasagna recipe that will be tasty, yet quick enough for weeknight preparation.  Allen is definitely all in for that program, as lasagna is his favorite Italian dish.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry Grandad’s Gravy, you can order it online.

A family member was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease (gluten intolerance) last week, which reminded me of Mary’s Gone Crackers, and her great line of sweet and savory gluten-free treats.  Care package in the works!

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We made a trip East Texas over the weekend to visit family, and I got to spend a couple of hours with my BFF, Karen, while she was in town DSC01490visiting her parents.  Yea!  Unfortunately, in our haste to leave home and get on the road, I forgot to pack her “Tex-Mex Package” , so I need to mail the Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa, the Mateo’s Gourmet Red Enchilada Sauce, and the Primizie New Mexican Chimayo Chile & Lime Crispbreads I had bought for her.  I was thrilled to find Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa at a market in East Texas, so I introduced my extended family to the only salsa we ever have in our refrigerator!

We have continuously followed RoRo’s Baking Company’s efforts to raise $35,000 for their new facility.  Their Kickstarter project is a win/win.  Send RoRo’s delicious Cinn-A-Rolls to the troops in Afghanistan for only $10, or savor some delicious Cinn-A-Rolls or Dinn-A-Rolls for yourself, while at the same time you help a fledgling artisan business expand.   You will not have to fulfill your pledge unless RoRo’s fund-raising goal is achieved.  Time is short for RoRo’s to make their February 28th deadline, so don’t delay!

Here’s hoping the new week will bring more time for savoring good foods, catching up with good friends, and delighting in precious family time.

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Best Gourmet Foods of 2012

We’ve been blogging about some pretty fantastic artisan and gourmet foods only for a few months, and there are already some real stand-outs that we will be enjoying again and again.  A review of the best of the best is in order before we close out 2012.  In no particular order, here are our faves for the year.

Immaculate Baking Co. Blueberry Scones – A combination of great taste, wholesome ingredients and early morning crunch-time convenience won us over immediately.  Immaculate’s seasonal Gingerbread Spice Cookies also made frequent appearances on dessert plates at our house, and the addition of orange buttercream frosting elevated them to special occasion cookie status.

Orange Frosted Gingerbread Cookies

Orange Frosted Gingerbread Spice Cookies

Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa – Mateo’s has earned a permanent spot in our refrigerator door.  It is our go-to salsa for everything from nachos to recipes.  Their enchilada sauce rocks, too!

Primizie Crispbreads – We fell in love with the thick-cut texture and taste of the Classic Italian Red Chile and Herbs flavor, I’m munching on the Spicy New Mexican Chimayo Chile & Lime crispbreads as I write this post, and there’s a bag of Smoked Dutch Gouda and Garlic flavor in the pantry waiting to be tasted.  Convinced you need to try them yet?

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Primizie Crispbreads Spicy New Mexican Chimayo Chile & Lime

Grandad’s Gravy – This pasta sauce is full of flavor and family tradition.  Savory tomatoes and spices untainted by the sugar overload so common in commercial pasta sauces make this a delightful addition to any Italian dish.

Brooke’s Candy Co. Old English Almond Toffee – Brooke and her mom have mastered the art of traditional toffee-making with a perfectly crisp toffee bar smothered in elegantly smooth Belgian chocolate.  We were also super-impressed with ML Dubay’s Toffee Treats White Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Toffee, as well as her commitment to help fellow cancer survivors with a portion of the profits from her sales.

Cherith Valley Gardens Hot ‘n Spicy Corn Relish – Allen has requested that I never make cornbread again without using this delicious relish, and it is equally tasty sitting atop a tortilla chip.  There is always at least one jar at the ready in our pantry.

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Hot ‘n Spicy Cornbread

In the “cheese, glorious cheese” category, the Rumiano Cheese Company captured our taste buds with their oh-so-good California Mission Garlic Jack and creamy Organic Monterey JackHenning’s Natural Chipotle Cheddar Cheese with its beautiful veins of spice running through it was voted “best cheese on a burger” at our house.

RoRo’s Cinn-A-Rolls and Dinn-A-Rolls are handmade in small batches and have the homemade taste and texture we love in yeast breads.  They reheat quickly, so warm rolls are an option any day of the week.

Our cookie jar was frequently filled this year with Wackym’s Kitchen delicious treats.  The salted caramel, margarita, and snicker doodles (with a surprising dash of cayenne pepper) carry off sweet & savory combinations in grand style.

Karen received the most thoughtful food gift this year while she was fighting a respiratory virus.  Spoonful of Comfort Chicken Noodle Soup, dinner rolls and cookies were a welcome and comforting meal when she really needed it.

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Spoonful of Comfort Chicken Noodle Soup

It was truly challenging to come up with this list, as all of the foods we shared with you this year are wonderful. Even more wonderful are the people behind the food.  It was a unique pleasure to get to know some of them and understand the passion driving their creativity and dedication to their businesses.  We look forward to continuing our quest for sensational foods in 2013.  Happy New Year to all!

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Candy We Love for Christmas

Whether for a great gift, a holiday get-together or your own personal enjoyment, tis the season for candy.  There’s no doubt our list of awesome artisan and gourmet candies will continue to grow, but we have some great options to make your holidays just a little sweeter.  No matter what your taste or budget, there are things on our list that you will love, too!

Karen and Jim found Brooke’s Candy Co. Old English Almond Toffee.  Brooke is a recognized Indiana Artisan, and her 2-ounce handmade toffee bar was off-the-charts good.  Brooke has a beautiful assortment of Belgian chocolates that would make delightful gifts.

Without a doubt, Dillon’s Gourmet Peanut Brittle is the best we have ever tasted.  It is so very hard to stop eating this chock-full-of peanuts, thin and delicate brittle!

While not an artisan product, yummy and budget-friendly Kirkland Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are wrapped in holiday-red foil.  A 60-ounce bag would provide ample candy for children’s gift bags or an office candy jar.

I’ve already bought Sweet’s Milk Chocolate Orange Sticks for my mom’s Christmas stocking!  She and I share a love for all things chocolate and orange, and we love Sweet’s vintage look and taste.  Try their raspberry or cabernet sticks, too.

Kopper’s Milk & Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels would be perfect for a holiday gathering because in one bag, you can satisfy both milk and dark chocolate lovers.  The caramel and sea salt combo is simply amazing.

Would Christmas be complete without candy canes?  We think not.  Hammond’s Peppermint Candy Canes are handmade, and bring a traditional touch to the holidays.  Hammond’s has other candy cane flavors to choose from, too.

John Kelly Chocolates will rock your Christmas with their luscious truffle fudge bars.  Whether you go with classic peanut butter or a creative chile-chocolate combo, these truffle bars are decadently delicious.

Santa, please leave some Sconza Chocolate Caramelized Cashews in my stocking! Rich cashews, a thin toffee shell, smooth milk chocolate and sea salt make these irresistible snacks.

Toffee Treat’s White Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Toffee is a delightful departure from the usual milk chocolate toffee, and owner ML Dubay’s commitment to give part of her proceeds to cancer charities means your purchase helps make a difference in a cancer patient’s life.  Sweet!

Finally, if homemade candy is on your schedule, buy some Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips and try this Cappuccino Fudge.  It’s an easy and impressive treat!

Which one of these goodies will be on your Christmas list?  Leave a comment on or before Wednesday, December 12th and one person will be chosen at random to receive a special Christmas treat from Foods We Love!

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Small Business Saturday!

Today is Small Business Saturday. If you are shopping for unique and tasty gifts for friends and family, or want to stock your pantry with goodies for the holiday season, today is a great day to support artisan and gourmet food producers. Shop in their online stores or pick up their products in your local market today!

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Weekend Rewind

In spite of our best efforts, we haven’t been able to track down much information on Queen Bee Gourmet Marshmallows.  We picked up a package of their Caramel and Sea Salt Marshmallows at Central Market a while back, and they were just awesome!  Combined with Mother Rucker’s Cinnamon Cookie Brittle, they made some fantastic s’mores.  All we know is they are handmade in Katy, Texas.  We were in Central Market today and they had Queen Bee Gourmet Marshmallows in mason jars decorated for holiday gift giving.  How clever!  If anyone knows the story behind these great treats, give us a shout.

Sweet’s Quality Candies offers free shipping on orders over $35 placed on Black Friday.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get some of their great Milk Chocolate Orange Sticks.  We loved the dark chocolate orange sticks, too.

Sahale Snacks Soledad Almonds were named one of the 10 best store-bought party appetizers by Real Simple.  You really can’t go wrong serving any of Sahale Snacks great nut mixes to guests.  Just be sure to save some for yourself!

We recently shared Tate’s Bake Shop White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies with you.  Tate’s website has many tempting treats that would be great for holiday gift-giving, and through November 20, use code hb2012 at checkout to save 25% on all gift towers.

We were so sad to hear that Hostess Brands closed their doors. While many lament the loss of twinkies and ding dongs, I will miss my personal favorite, orange cupcakes.

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Weekend Rewind

The news this week centered on the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, their businesses, and in some cases, loved ones.  It will a long time before life returns to normal for so many people in the New York and New Jersey area.  If you can help, please make a donation to the Salvation Army or Red Cross.

We shared Koppers Milk & Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels with you this week just about the time the hurricane came ashore.  The Koppers facility is located in New York City, so we were concerned about their safety.  Company representatives provided this update via their Facebook page.

If you are trying to contact Koppers by email, our server website and emails are not working due to zero power in lower NY. However Tanya has managed to have calls forwarded to her home which just this evening has power. According to Con Ed the factory should gain power back on Saturday which will mean we will be up and running Monday morning. We have lost a week, but most important our staff is safe, and our facility does not have any damage at all. It might take a day or two to get our machines up and running, and to get our heads around this horrible situation, but again the safety of our staff, our families and our customers and friends are the most important. Thank you for your patience and friendship.
As we mentioned in our post, the businesses with their facilities and staff intact after the storm have one important need:  customers.  Please make a point to support businesses in the hurricane area whenever you can.
More Than Gourmet’s website has a 15% discount offer good on their sauces and stocks until November 7.  It’s a great time to try their products, or stock up for holiday meal preparation.
Here’s another great deal!  Fischer & Wieser, makers of our favorite Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, is offering 25% off everything on their site, plus complimentary ground shipping for orders over $85.  Use Code FWFamily and order before November 16, 2012.  What an opportunity to get a head start on Christmas gift baskets!
We repeated our Apple Butter French Toast recipe this week with McCutcheon’s Apple Butter.  I have several really good French toast recipes that require overnight refrigeration, but these French toast “sandwiches” filled with whipped cream cheese and McCutcheon’s Apple Butter are quick and delicious.  We will be enjoying them often, and I’m planning on Peach Butter French Toast sometime soon.

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Weekend Rewind

It’s hard to believe the weekend is already here!  In North Texas, we had nearly freezing temperatures this morning, so we finally feel like fall has officially arrived.  At least until next week, when temperatures might pop back up into the 80’s…

We found Sweet’s Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks while shopping this week.  After we had enjoyed their Milk Chocolate Orange Sticks so much, it seemed absolutely mandatory to try the Dark Chocolate variety.  They did not disappoint!  If you are planning an election-day gathering, don’t forget Sweet’s offers red, white and blue candies, which would be perfect on a dessert buffet.

Gluten-free diet products continue to gain in popularity, and we previously shared tasty Sahale Snacks with you.  Hurry to Carol Kicinski’s website which promotes gluten-free foods and recipes, and enter her contest to win Sahale Snacks and a very cool Sahale Snacks messenger bag.  The offer ends October 31.  We love Carol’s approached to gluten-free foods – healthy and delicious!

On the gluten-free topic, Mary’s Gone Crackers takes social responsibility to heart and is working to help celiac disease support groups with a petition drive to standardize gluten-free product labeling.  If you are interested in participating, go to the American Celiac Disease Alliance’s website for more information.

Did you see our rave review of Immaculate Baking Co.’s Gingerbread Spice Cookies?  We extended the love to their Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies this week.  Chocolate chunk cookies, fresh and warm from the oven in 15 minutes – what’s not to love?

Angie’s Kettle Corn announced they are launching a new website, and on Tuesday, they are posting a special discount offer for Facebook fans.  Don’t miss it!

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Weekend Rewind

We started this week with a visit to the State Fair of Texas, where we found several gourmet foods to share with you soon.

Amy Collins and her team at RoRo’s Cinn-A-Rolls have announced their move to a new baking facility.  We love to hear about artisans expanding their businesses!

Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa was on the menu with a quick and delicious chicken dish.  I can’t remember the source of this recipe, but it’s so easy that I’ve been making it without a written recipe for years.  Just use seasonings to your personal taste.

Roasted Salsa Chicken

Preheat oven to 350°.  Sprinkle desired number of boneless, skinless chicken breasts with chili powder and cumin.  Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil (I used olive oil) in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Brown chicken breasts on both sides until golden.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa over each chicken breast.  Place skillet in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is done.  Optional:  Top with grated cheese before serving.

Two foods we have shared with you make fantastic partners.  Mary’s Gone Crackers with Full Quiver Farms Garlic-Basil Cheese Spread made a great appetizer while dinner preparation was underway.  It was the perfect combination of crunchy and creamy, and it will go into our regular appetizer rotation.  We had a note from Michael Sams saying that Full Quiver Farms cheese products are available in all Central Markets and Whole Foods in Dallas and Austin, at the Wheatsville/Austin and Dallas farmers’ markets, and every Saturday and Austin’s Cedar Park and Barton Creek markets.

About a month ago, we told you how much we loved Wackym’s Kitchen Margarita Cookies.  We are pleased to report that Paul Wackym’s salted caramel cookies are just as tasty, if not more so.  They are so good we had to quickly share them before we were tempted to eat the entire package!

Chris and Jennifer Dixon of Tricky Dix Mojo  are teaming up with Lifetime Network’s reality program, The Balancing Act, which features women who juggle their jobs and home cooking.  How exciting is that?

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