Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Fun Food Review

Summer Fun Food Review

All of the following is my personal unbiased opinion. I have not been bribed or promised or paid anything. 
Our family has a few favorite things that we enjoy in the summer.
Fun Foods, Cooling foods, JUNK FOOD - with the extra energy being burned these are fine so no emails about how bad they are ummmmkay? K now back to the regularly scheduled program........

Long time favorites are up first.


 The Blue Bell family has out done themselves with these bars. Each bar was consistently yummy and each flavor held true to flavor advertised. My family loves Key Lime/ Lime anything and the lime bars went fast!
Tart and sweet these bars take you to a cool porch on a lightening bug filled evening.

The Mixed Berry and Strawberry Bars are a real treat. These bars are the best...seriously. My family also really likes berries. So we try a great deal of berry flavored things and some are very obviously berry flavored these bars have chunks/ slices/ bits and pieces of REAL berries. The bars are smooth with the added berry piece texture. I have one child that the texture of the mushy, thawing berries sends her running, she would eat them if not for that aspect. I know she is not alone in this food texture aversion, so I am sharing. I in no means think these bars are on the do not buy list due to this though. They really are fabulous summertime treats. Think cool sweet berry deliciousness...yep you got it. SO GOOD

And now we come to one I was really surprised at. I honestly did not put much stock in this one being a favorite. I really like coconut, my family likes it except for Miss Aversion but with chocolate? Hmm...
I was not a Mounds candy bar fan and that is pretty much what I expected. 
Be prepared to be shocked!
 Seriously good, not candy bar-ish (ok not a word but you know what I mean) at all.
Miss Aversion is a chocoholic and so I knew we could get her to taste it as long as she didn't read the rest of the ingredients on the box.  Yep, you got it right I am a sneaky-horrible-try-to-get-my-kid-to-eat-something-other-than-mac-n-cheese, kind of mommy.... And SHE CAME, SHE SAW, SHE ATE, SHE DEVOURED, a few days later when we had a treat SHE CRIED THAT WE HAD NO MORE.
Really yummy chocolate that did not taste like chocolate coating or topping, which I find taste really fake. The coconut portion stood on its own and was very good not over powering or fake tasting. The combination of the two was like a tropical cabana with a nice cool breeze as you enjoy a hammock.
Uh huh a slice of heaven....  

Images from Blue Bells website

 A family favorite that I thought I had never had due to its crazy name until I tasted it and remembered church potluck socials as a kid.
I have no idea what the nice church ladies called it but in areas of Utah and Wyoming it is known as Frog Eye Salad.
Frog eye salad- sounds really gross doesn't it? What you can't tell me that you always dreamed of rolling frogs eyes around on your tongue.... The frog eye part is due to the Acini DePepe pasta in the salad. This pasts is tiny bits of pasta that when cooked turn into thick little balls of pasta.  No they are not slimy or frog like. I think some mother needed to get their lil one interested in eating and named it after a current childhood obsession or the like. TWO POINTS FOR HER.
 This salad is sweet and really addictive. 
But it is a salad so technically it can be eaten with your meal not just as a dessert   : ).
It has whip cream, marshmallows, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and coconut in it as well as the pasta. 
Now there is another version that has egg in the "sauce" we have not had that nor will we as this salad does not need eggy yuckiness interrupting its deliciocity - yes those are not real words but again YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.  This is a really hard item to photograph. It seems to always look sort of gross. Trust me use your tongue not your eyes to judge this one.  My hubby and I have been making variations and different flavors of this salad for awhile and have a few new favorites and are discovering more every time. So watch for a post with nothing but Frog Eye Salad Variations very soon. Want my original recipe? Post a comment and I will email it since you just can't wait : )

Rice Cereal treats
Oh you know of these? Just joking of course but we make several different variations on the original recipe. 
It's the spice of life you know....
First I will share the main variant ingredients; flavored marshmallows.
While shopping for a new Frog Eye salad ingredients in the baking aisle we stumbled across the Lemon Meringue and Key Lime selections offered by Campfire. Campfire out did themselves with these babies. I had only known Campfire for their HUGE marshmallows for use camping and their flat varieties made perfectly for smores. These two flavors are really intense. They did not sugar coat the addition of flavor. You know you are eating lemon or lime. Notice the package states Mallow Burst, that is correct, the flavor just bursts as you eat them. You bite into the soft goo and BAM it hits you. Campfire scored big in our house on flavor alone. We do not just eat marshmallows though, they are an ingredient not a main snack. So we did what most people do with them and we made Rice Cereal treats. The flavor held true and was a nice change in the typical treat. I did not like how tough the treats turned out though. I prefer my treats a little bit on the softer side. This could be my personal preference but I found a way to fix this. I simply added more PLAIN marshmallows to the next batch. The flavors did mellow some but they were still really good. So branch out and try a new treat flavor, you won't regret it.

 Did I mention a Lime fetish in my household? : )
Well we certainly do have one. So when several people bragged up these cookies and frosting I had to see what the fuss was about. As many of you know I am not a fan of boxed baking mixes. They are full of unknown chemical yuck that has tainted the American taste palate into thinking scratch baked goods taste funny. Sorry for the rant AGAIN. I am serious about my baking now.....
 Soooo we tried these. The frosting was lime for sure but tasted like store bought thick frosting. Not a fan but it was not horrid. THE MIX IS A DIFFERENT STORY.
The mix, oh the awefulness of the mix. It is a matter of taste I will say that for sure. If you enjoy the green ring in the fruit loops bowl you will LOVE these cookies. Once you bite into these soft cookies you get socked in the jaw with citrusy lime that tastes fake and EXACTLY like fruit loops cereal but with more citrus. The sugar sort of caramelizes and sticks in your teeth. But they are soft and stay soft until your family gets sick of you making them eat them and you throw them out. Again it is just preference, your family may love them.

This category is the "you did what" category. The category of shocking ways to use the ordinary in a new and yummy way.
This is our favorite. 
BBQ'd/ Grilled tater tots.
We take a cookie sheet, cooking spray, salt, pepper and frozen tots.
Spray your pan, lay a thin single layer of tots on the pan, season with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoned salt, we love Tony Chachare's (seriously we eat it on nearly everything). Then we place the pan directly on the grill. Keep an eye on them they cook at a slow but steady speed. The tots are smoky, and crisp without being fried or greasy. Our kids really like this version and I dare say they are the best tots for a few hundred miles...... 
Just a heads up- They take up the whole grill so you want to either have the other items pre -cooked and staying warm elsewhere or a second grill going.
This category could be a post in and of itself so I will stop with just this one as it is fun in the summer for out door eating and get togethers. 

I hope enjoyed some of the review and that you will step out of your comfort zone a little and give them a try.
Have something you tried that you loved or thought would be better than it was? Let me know I am always looking for something different to feed my family.
Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fake Potatoes- REAL tasty

Fake Potatoes- REAL tasty

I will be totally honest. I LOVE MY TATERS. I love the starch, the flavor, the versatility, the peeling once it has been slathered in butter, sprinkled in salt and pepper and baked.... YUMMM YUMMM!
So when I kept seeing people replacing taters for cauliflower I was very, very leery. I like cauliflower just fine. I eat it raw or cooked, plain or dripping with butter or cheese or ranch dressing. But if I had to describe the flavor of cauliflower it would not include any of the attributes of my favored tater.

Oh, I am sure there is health benefits, but I am focused on flavor here..... because that is where it is at as far as I am concerned. 

Picture you say...hmmm well I didn't make this dish with the intention of posting about I made it to eat. So I didn't even think to try to make a photo of it. After I licked the serving bowl clean I thought about taking a picture of the bowl but alas I didn't think everyone would appreciate it. 

So here is a random photo of a cauliflower. : )
I made a version of mashed potatoes that we love with a few substitutions guessed it! Cauliflower oh yeah and zucchini.

Here is my recipe:
I used one bag of frozen cauliflower- you could use fresh if you like
2 medium zucchini peeled and diced
2 TBSP. water
put this all in a pot, cook over medium heat until everything is soft, fork tender. 
Once all is cooked add the following:
1 - 8 ounce square of cream cheese at room temp
1/2 cup paremsan cheese (the stuff in the green shaker bottle)
2 TBSP chives
1 TBSP butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
Once everything is melted and combined I took my tater masher to the cauliflower and zucchini. Cauliflower just tends to be somewhat gritty. The lumps were fine and left alone at this point would be ok. I wanted a less lumpy/gritty texture (you know to trick my picky eater) so I ran it all through a food processor.  The texture is not completely smooth like whipped taters so don't expect that. We like mashed taters better and mashed taters are lumpy. 

There are a few things that give this dish away. The smell of cauliflower is evident and really can't be masked. That threw my picky eater into a stand off of biblical proportions. She licked a little off the fork and just couldn't eat it. Everyone else really loved it. I will wait and have her try it again in a few months. Sometimes that is all it takes for her. To each their own.

Tasty details:
The cream cheese and parmesan cheese give the dish a depth of flavor that really makes this dish. 
The chives are what makes the mind run head long into thinking it is a potato dish. 
The butter aids in the feel and development of flavors. 
Trust me when I say to you if you are going to omit any of the ingredients you won't be nearly as pleased. 
It really is one of the best dishes we have tried in a long while. 
I try to add a little salt in each dish but leave the real addition of salt and pepper to the individual as everyone's tastes differ in the usage of these spices.
Now I mentioned in the beginning that this is one of our favorite tater recipes. I make this with real mashed taters instead of cauliflower. The texture is smoother not as gritty and really very good. I mean so good I could eat my own body weight in it but since I am a pillar of self restraint (flashback to me licking the serving bowl earlier) I have yet to do that. : )

Let me know when you try it and what you liked or changed for your family.

Thank you for stopping by!
Wishing you and yours the best of all things!