REVIEW OF THE REVIEWS
by Correen Coultas
If I were doing a regular review today I would have talked about Multigrain Cheerios®. It is the best “good for you” cereal I have eaten in a very long time. Cheerios® has always been a favorite, honey nut flavor in particular. I was skeptical at first – healthy cereal offers little in the way of flavor sometimes, but this cereal is quite tasty. Adding fresh berries makes it even better. Then if I am feeling like I need to sneak something sweet and not feel bad about it, I just melt some marshmallows and a bit of butter (shhhhhh!), stir in some Multigrain Cheerios®, add some Craisins® (or some chopped dried apricots) and indulge. I do have to be careful with this though because it is easy to eat more than a serving! But today is a review of the reviews. I would like to revisit products and add insights or ideas.
PENZEYS SPICES – These are still my favorite spices. Affordable, fresh, and full of flavor! I added a couple of new spices to the cabinet: chipotle powder and Vietnamese cinnamon. I put the chipotle powder in chili, tacos and omelets. It adds a smoky flavor and just a bit of heat. Delicious! The cinnamon has a strong, sweet flavor and the smell is out of this world! I will sometimes open the jar just to take a long whiff. It is so calming. If you happen to visit the Penzeys store, keep in mind that the herb and spice blends may not smell the greatest, but if you read the ingredients and they are favorites of yours, chances are you will like the blend. If you like over-the-top heat, try the new Berbere spice. I will warn you ahead of time that if you smell it in person, do not breathe too deeply – it burns the throat and lungs for a long while. (I should have known that when I read the ingredients before sniffing! And I believe the Beverly Hills, Michigan store posted a warning sign on the display after our visit. I was not the only person that day that seared their lungs!)
GRAND GOURMET® CUPCAKE CARRIER and LID – still a favorite. I really like that I can bake 12 cupcakes at a time instead of the traditional 6. The lid is still holding together and makes transporting cupcakes a breeze.
WILLIAMS-SONOMA NONSTICK GOLDTOUCH® HALF SHEET PAN – this is still my go-to pan for baking and oven roasting. I have since acquired the square baking pan and the quarter sheet pans. The quarter sheet pans are great for small jobs and come in a pack of 2. Odd thing though, after a couple of uses and washes (according to manufacturer’s directions), the finish of one pan flaked off in spots and the other is perfectly fine. I am still waiting to hear from the company about that. I no longer use a scrubby sponge to clean the pans either. I found that a nylon bristle brush works much better at removing cooking residue from the waffle-textured surface. Brownies pop right out of the square pan.
THE ORIGINAL® DISH DRYING MAT – I am looking into the mat for the bathroom. I love the kitchen mat and I have had no problems with use or cleaning. Actually, since it the mat wicks away water so quickly, hand-washed dishes dry much faster too.
PG TIPS® TEA – there is no substitute for the perfect tea and this is the perfect tea. I think I will have a cup now! I found a megabox online, but it costs just as much as buying the smaller boxes at the local grocery and I can check my own expiration dates.
NINJA® PROFESSIONAL BLENDER & SINGLE SERVE – I use the single serve option much more than the pitcher option. Remember, this is not a juice extractor, but smoothies are a breeze in a Ninja®. This product is so easy to clean too. I am glad I added this product to my kitchen appliances.
BARILLA PASTA – My local grocer now carries the “piccolini” types of this pasta. This is just a smaller pasta version of the original. It cooks just a minute or two faster and the little bow ties (farfalle) and rotini and wheels are perfect for young children. Or if you are a psychological eater, then making the smaller pasta looks like a lot of food on your plate. Just don’t eat twice as much!!
PREGO® ITALIAN SAUCE – the tomato, basil garlic sauce is still the best they make and it goes perfect with the Barilla® pasta! It is great as a pizza sauce too.
!!!POPCORN/FIESTAWARE® BOWL – Popcorn is the favorite snack of the Coultas household and the Fiestaware® bowl has lasted over 3 years now! BUT I need some help PLEASE! I have yet to find the right pan to make popcorn on the stove. Does anyone have a tried and true product about which you could share info?
GHIRARDELLI® BROWNIE MIX – These brownies make their way into my oven about twice a month. When baked in a 9X9 pan, nonstick of course, they are just the right thickness to cut in half to make ice cream sandwiches!
GHIRARDELLI® CHOCOLATE CHIPS – And if I am really in the chocolate mood, I will sprinkle a few of these chocolate chips into the above mentioned brownie batter. I always have the semi-sweet and double chocolate kinds in the pantry. I even have a small dish of double chocolate morsels in the cupboard just for snacking. They melt in your mouth!
OXO® POP® PLASTIC CONTAINERS – The individual containers can be found in the local grocery stores now and the prices are comparable to department store prices. I was also given 2 small LOCK&LOCK® containers that I used for lunches to take to work. (I gladly took them from a friend because a reader of the original review suggested I try them out!) They are good for the food items that contain more liquid. I haven’t experienced leakage from these containers yet. These are not just for dry storage like OXO®. I still like the seal on the OXO® containers for dry storage, but I would use LOCK&LOCK® for refrigerator and freezer (with the added protection of plastic wrap) storage.
FUSTINI® OILS and VINEGARS – Oh no! I ran out and I used every drop. Looks like I need to take a field trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The sage and wild mushrooms extra virgin olive oil is still my favorite. A little indulgence in cooking makes for a very happy and satisfied family.
MARIE CALLENDER’S® PIES – Just had the lattice peach pie this week and it was fabulous. The bottom crust did not get soggy (I hate soggy crust!) and the peaches were so flavorful. In my local grocery store, 2 new kinds of cream pie hit the shelves: mint chip and a seasonal peppermint. I haven’t tried them yet, but the peppermint pie made me think of my sister who loves peppermint ice cream. I wonder if the taste is similar. Carolyn, are you up to giving it a try?
SARGENTO® CHEESE – I just stocked up on SARGENTO® cheese slices, sticks and shredded cheese. The store had an awesome sale and I am set for a while! I eat cheese on just about anything: eggs, salads, with crackers, in chili and soups, Grilled cheese sandwiches and paninis of all kinds are in the works!
SHIRATAKI® NOODLES – I am sorry, but I still can’t get over the Shirataki® noodle experience. I came across some rubber bands in the junk drawer and there were flashbacks. I have had no desire to try their other products either. And it cured me from trying anything similar too. I will find other ways to eat healthy, thank you very much.
New products are available all the time. I like Carolyn’s idea about visiting stores while traveling; you never know what treasures await. The great thing about blogs like these is that everyone who reads gets to know about new products and then has the opportunity to try them at home. Enjoy your inner chef and share it with others!
I am not being compensated by any of the above mentioned companies for this review. It is my own opinion~Correen Coultas.