Category Archives: Uncategorized

National S’mores Day

It’s almost the eleventh hour of National S’mores Day, but not too late to reminisce about the awesome s’mores we made with Mother Rucker’s Cinnamon Cookie Brittle!


Check out Mother Rucker’s delicious treats!

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Wild Ophelia Chocolate

Katrina Markoff ‘s nickname, Wild Ophelia, was inspired by her childhood experiments with unusual ingredients and chocolate at her family’s fruit stand.  She carried her passion and creativity into her career, founding Vosges Haut-Chocolat, and she is recognized as a visionary chocolatier for her fusion of high-quality chocolate and exotic ingredients.  Katrina’s second company, Wild Ophelia, partners with other food artisans in developing upscale, distinctly American, chocolate candies.  Wild Ophelia chocolates are made with all-natural ingredients, are manufactured with 100% renewable energy, and are packaged in 100% recycled materials.  Along with the company’s commitment to producing high-quality chocolate in an environmentally responsible manner, Wild Ophelia’s mission is to educate Americans about their food sources and encourage them to really appreciate their food.

Because I’m crazy for sweet and savory combinations, we sampled Wild Ophelia All-Natural Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips Dark Chocolate Bar, which pairs Wild Ophelia’s 70% cocoa content confection with Billy Goat Chip Company’s BBQ Chips for a warm, spicy, dark chocolate treat.


Billy Goat BBQ Potato Chips were born in the first gastropub in St. Louis.  The restaurant’s chips became so popular that commercial production was practically demanded.  The handmade chips are made from thinly-sliced potatoes dusted with Billy Goat Chip Company’s Kicker seasoning.

We love Wild Ophelia’s mission to build cooperation among American food artisans, and the great-tasting result of the partnership with Billy Goat Chip Company.  The complex flavor combination of chocolate, potato chips, and BBQ spices makes the last bite as interesting as the first.  Join Wild Ophelia’s “American road trip through chocolate”!

Where to buy Wild Ophelia Chocolates

Where to buy Billy Goat Chip Company Smokehouse BBQ Chips

(Note:  “Find a Store” links to a list of retailers on the Company’s website, but stores may not carry all of the Company’s products.  Please check with your local store to be sure they have this specific product in stock.  If not, ask them to carry it!)

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Nikki’s Key Lime & Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies

DSC01527 We found these neat 2-cookie packs at Central Market and loved the rich, buttery cookies with a just-right citrus tang. Nikki Taylor uses all-natural ingredients and family recipes in these delicious treats. A must-try, for sure!

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Tante Z Garlic Vinaigrette

Having a great vinaigrette at the ready always helps me be more creative in the kitchen because it is an excellent marinade, dressing and recipe ingredient.  As of a few weeks ago, I have a new favorite – Tante Z Garlic Vinaigrette.  This is a classic vinaigrette loaded with the goodness of garlic.  As the Tante Z folks say, it is “totally tanteliZing”.  It perks up a simple dinner salad in a flash, but I think it really shines in recipes.  Broiled tomato halves topped with a very simple sauce is a quick and delicious side dish.  I adapted this recipe from two sources:  my latest favorite cookbook, Six Ingredients or Less Low-Carb Cooking (Hazen & Johnston), and a random recipe I had clipped from a Kraft magazine ad who knows how long ago.  (You don’t want to know how many random recipe clippings I have!)

Broiled Tomatoes with Cilantro Cream SauceIMG_0387

  • 2 tablespoons Tante Z Garlic Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sized firm ripe tomatoes

Mix the first four ingredients together in a small bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors.  Preheat broiler.  Cut tomatoes in half crosswise and place in a shallow baking dish, cut side up.  Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.  Place dish on a rack about 3 inches from heat.  Broil tomatoes for about 5 minutes, or until heated through, but still firm.  Remove from broiler and top with cilantro cream sauce.

(Note to Karen, who doesn’t care for cilantro–I bet this would be really good if you substituted fresh dill for the cilantro.)

IMG_0398Tante Z ( Aunt Zigrida) fled Latvia with her parents during World War II.  Her vinaigrette dressing was a staple at family gatherings for many years.  Family members often discussed taking the tasty dressing to market, and Tante Z’s nephew, Peter Skrodelis, and his wife Liz took up the challenge.  They asked Tante Z to come up with additional flavors, so she created honey lemon and spicy versions to complement the original garlic dressing.  The vinaigrettes are made with fresh ingredients, and contain no MSG or preservatives.  We love these fresh and wholesome products!  Tante Z’s website offers all three flavors for direct order and also provides a list of retailers who carry the vinaigrettes.  Get creative with them in your own kitchen!

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Sweet & Spicy Corn Dip

Incorporating gourmet food products into recipes is a quick way to take a homemade dish from good to CR16great.  Finding a gourmet food product that can be used in different recipes is also pretty great, and Cherith Valley Gardens Hot ‘n Spicy Corn Relish is one of those foods.   It is tasty straight from the jar, and we’ve mentioned using it in our favorite spicy cornbread recipe.   We also adapted a dip recipe that has become a regular at our house.

Sweet & Spicy Corn Dip

  • 1 jar Cherith Valley Gardens Hot ‘n Spicy Corn Relish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped


Could this be any easier?  I especially love the fresh taste added by the cilantro, although I know Karen would probably leave it out and love the dip just as much.  We enjoyed the dip with tortilla chips this week.  We’ve also used it as a garnish for baked potatoes served with spicy southwestern grilled steaks.  It would be a very good taco topper, too!

I’ve said this before, but I’m not one of those cooks who can open the pantry, pull out ingredients and create a gourmet meal.  I almost always start with a recipe, but I’ve learned to make it my own by adjusting ingredients to our tastes.  The increasing availability of wonderful artisan foods, gourmet condiments, and specialty spices makes it possible to add a touch of creativity to your own recipes.

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Filed under Dips & Spreads, Salsas & Relishes, Uncategorized