Sunday, November 3, 2013

All About Annie's Mac and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese, I could eat it everyday without complaint. Since I love mac and cheese so much, I often try and find ways to jazz it up. Above is an MS Paint rendering of the flavors that I have tried in the past month or so. Before I give you my opinion I think you should know a little about how I make Mac & Cheese, I seldom use milk or butter. If I use a milk product it will likely be Horizon organic half and half (1.79 for the pint at Target) , if I use butter it is Kerry Gold garlic butter ($1.99 a stick, I'll review this later). Mostly I just use Stonyfield plain yogurt. I don't use a certain amount. Each box of Mac has it's own mystical consistently based upon flavor and I find the eyeballing method is best. I even go so far as to use the utensils that we'll be eating with to mix it so I have one less utensil to wash. If I find the first dollop of yogurt was insufficient, I use other spoon to heap in the extra to keep the yogurt clean. This kind of noodle benefits most from being properly cooked. When you over cook the noodles it steals a lot of the flavor. In order to properly gauge cooking time I employ the slotted spoon and the cold water technique. Every minute or so I will steal a noodle douse it in cold water and eat it. When it is to your liking you strain and so on. The issue I find with every Annie's mac is that the powder mixes in really poorly, probably because they don't have a bunch of BS in it. It's a sacrifice I am willing to make. Now onto the flavors themselves. Left to right, top to bottom.

The Bunny Pasta is one of my all time favorites. I have along standing belief that shaped noodles make Mac taste a million times better. I believe it has something to do with surface area. The flavor is cheddar and it's much like it's processed Kraft companion a nice mild cheddar. I recommend pepper and maybe a little paprika in this one. I also thought mustard would be good if you liked such a thing, but I for one dislike mustard.

Cheesy Taco Mac, what can I say, YUM. It was made with sour cream and a little garlic herb butter, then garnished in fresh green onion. This was a hit in our house. It gave you a pretty bold taco flavor and I felt it would have benefited from some sauteed peppers and onions, and/or faux meat crumbles. It was satisfyingly junky like I was eating some Taco Bell. I realllllly enjoyed it and immediately regretted taking so long to try it. I will make up for lost time.

The Aged Cheddar and Shells is another epic flavor. I am a huge fan of a strong cheese and this flavor delivers. The noodles are really easy to keep from over cooking and offer a nice chew. This one gets my approval. I have jazzed it up using everything from green onions to zucchini.

The Organic 5-grain mac, it's not the best, their white cheese doesn't have much flavor, but if you jazz it up, it is good for you in the sense that  it's made from good for you stuff. It tastes healthy.

The Blue Box, this is the OG normal mac, it's good, but it isn't my first choice. It has a mild flavor and normal elbow noodles. If you miss Kraft this is a good bet.

Shells and White Cheddar, the white cheese in this one is better than the one in the 5 grain mac, it's not as bland, the shells offer a nice chew and the powder blends a little better than any of the others. It's pretty yum.

What's your favorite Mac and Cheese?

P2B Powdered Peanut Butter Review

It has been a while since I managed to post anything, between life, work and play I have been a very busy girl. I have also been a very hungry girl so I have tried lots of new things that I would like to share.

P2B- powdered peanut butter. This is GMO free only because there aren't GM peanuts. It is not processed using chemicals. This product is made from the left over peanuts used for peanut oil, it packs a lot of peanut without a lot of fat added. I am on a diet (12 lbs down!) so I purchased this in the chocolate flavor to get my dessert fix. I heard backpackers like it, because it has a lot of protein without adding a ton of weight to their backpacks. It's weird, wonderful, and gross all at the same time. I do noooooot like it reconstituted as a faux peanut butter. It's very frosting like when you do it that way, which for some might be a good thing, it is not for me. I prefer it whipped into almond milk, and just the way it is plain powder. I will eat a little ramekin full just letting small amounts melt on my tongue (be careful not to inhale while using this method, I have peanut infused lungs now). I also find it very handy to take diatomaceous earth with, which I started taking semi-regularly for going on 2 weeks now. I will get into it in a future post, there is a lot of information about that.

I bought 2lbs of this stuff and it is going to last me a very, very long time. It is available in smaller jars and 1lb bags on Amazon. I would recommend getting a jar as an add on item with your super saver shipping just to try it. I wish I had only bought a pound, but I convinced myself I would be making smoothies and using it on everything. Turns out I am too lazy/busy to make smoothies, however I still think it would be awesome in one. It's a good product and with 1 gram of fat and 4 grams of protein per serving it is worth a try. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Silk Mocha Iced Coffee review

As I mentioned in a previous post, I need caffeine. I was delighted to see that Silk made a coffee and their entire line is gluten free and GMO free. I had (in the long long ago) tried the International Delight iced coffee and found it very distasteful. That experience almost stopped me from coughing up $4.99 to try the soy cousin. I'm happy I did. It's not a powerfully flavored beverage, it is much thinner then the ID milk based one and I tried with and without ice and I enjoyed it best without. It is like they took chocolate soy milk and the longer it touched your tongue  the stronger the pleasant coffee aftertaste was. Nutritionally it's on the sugary side, so I stick to the one cup serving size. 100 calories, 1gr fat, 45 mg sodium, 22 carbs, 1 gr dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugar :( and 2 of protein. I am not sure of the caffeine content, however the first ingredient is coffee extract which I would assume is concentrated coffee reconstituted so it at the very least gives my brain a delicious placebo
I'd love to know what other people think about this product. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Organic and GMO free bar reviews

I am lazy, I'll admit it. I need fast easy food. I won't eat sometimes just to avoid having to prepare something. All of the bars I will be reviewing today came from Big Lots. Big Lots has lots of organic food for reasonable prices, however they don't always have the best flavors of said organic products.

Odewalla brand Berries GoMega superfood bars I have see them for 6 dollars a box, I picked them up at Big Lots for $2.50- Their texture is dense they are very fruity (which I shouldn't dislike, but I still have synthetic taste buds) They taste very very... healthy. I have to make myself eat one, but they are fairly good for you if you eat them as a meal which I believe is intended. (210 calories, 6gr fat, 36 carbs, 5gr fiber, 16gr sugar DV of A 10% Calcium and Folate 25% and E a whopping 50%). I felt like a child who was being forced to eat something they hated grudgingly ordering my teeth to chew and begging my throat to swallow. 

Health Valley Organic Strawberry Bars don't know the retail I purchased them $1.50 for 5 bars. They are dry like a pop tart is dry. They are like a nutri-grain bar. We also purchased these once upon a time in apple cobbler and found that flavor unpleasant. The strawberry is a hit, but I would recommend some almond milk to go with.

Lara Bar Chocolate Chip Brownie $8 for the 16 bar pack at Big Lots (see what I mean about big lots) that pack I believe to be in the $20 range. I had trouble parting with $8 for a box of bars we'd never tried, but they are fairly good. The first ingredient is dates, which you can taste, but is well masked by chocolate. I enjoyed the almonds and walnuts found throughout and though I believe the company is owned by another company that is disreputable, I am not displeased with my purchase. This tastes healthy without being off-putting, you aren't getting some processed fiber1 faux brownie, but it is one I would also call a meal replacement (200 calories, 9gr fat, 23gr sugar, 4gr fiber, 4 gr protien) No half bad.

Nature's Path Choconut and MMMaple Pecan at $2.50 a box are little heavenly dessert bars, I tossed the boxes and am too lazy to retrieve the nutrition facts so I will provide you with a link to their site These are freaking good. I could eat them all day. They have a texture like homemade rice crispy treats that you didn't let get cool enough before you ate them and they have killer flavor. We bought 3 boxes because I had a gut feeling we'd love them and there are only a few left in the bar bowl.

Big Lots is my jam.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zevia and Stonyfield Greek review

The first thing I would like to review is Stonyfield Greek yogurt in caramel flavor. It is organic, 110 calories, 10 grams of protein, and an unfortunate 16 grams of sugar. It was super yummy. I was worried it would be like some honey Greek yogurts I've tried that taste of not a whole lot and some too thick cream cheese sour cream yogurt, but there was an abundance of caramel and relatively thin. Bonus, it didn't have that strong cheese taste I associate (and dislike) with Greek yogurt. It would be fantastic with a sliced apple and I think that is exactly how I will eat the remainder of the pack since diet-wise it's garbage at 16 grams of sugar per serving. As new wave Cookie monster would say it is a sometimes snack.

 Full disclosure: I freaking love caffeinated diet soda. I would guzzle it all day if it didn't rot you from the inside out. I am not a fan of real soda, I genuinely enjoy artificially sweetened things, your taste buds may enjoy different things than mine. That being said the second review I have for you is for Zevia the stevia sweetened soda. I had/have a powerful love of caffeine, we get along like chocolate and I do. Ever since we went gmo-free I needed caffeine that was portable so I purchased two flavors of Zevia: Dr. Zevia (not pictured) and Cream Soda. My other half and I both found Dr. Zevia off putting (he does not like diet soda). I thought the carbonation was off and the flavor reminded me of Dr. Pepper Jelly Bellies that had been boiled. However Cream Soda is pretty awesome. It is super bubbly which I enjoy in a soda and I feel like the flavor was spot on. I have had much worse cream soda (one of the few I will go non-diet for). I got them for 3/$10 normally $5 a six pack. They aren't particularly economical, but it's a healthier option to an unhealthy habit.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Swatches for Big Lots haul 7/27

Maybelline color show in Sapphire's Masquerade is a three coater for sure. I love the multiple colors of glitter. Next Big Lots trip I'll have to try another color.

 The Aqua polish is called Kendall on the Katwalk by Nicole for OPI and it's very thick and sandy. There is massive amounts aqua, purple, and blue micro glitter and it has great coverage. How can you go wrong for $2?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Big Lots makeup haul

Big Lots always pays off in spades, I spent a total of $6 on the whole kit and kaboodle. I love the lipstick and how can you beat those glitter polishes for 1.00 each! I love Big Lots. I'll post swatches later!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Melt in your mouth venison cube steak

This afternoon I wanted to get creative in the kitchen. My grandfather gave me a huge box of frozen venison that needs to get eaten before hunting season and I chose the cube steak to thaw out. I had a random can of Amy's organic chunky soup that was unappealing as is, but made a fantastic cooking medium and so I hatched a plan. I combined the soup, pasta sauce garlic, cube steak and pink salt in a baking dish and added some parmesan cheese foiled it and baked it for 3 hours at 300 degrees. It was so soft and good. Next time I want to use the Wolfgang Puck roasted red pepper tomato  soup instead. That soup has a killer flavor and it's great with meat.

I took the leftover liquid and poured it into the small crockpot with a little extra salt and enough baby carrots to soak it up. I'll probably ignore it on low for 6 plus hours. They'll be great for work tomorrow with the leftover steak.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

More Organic or GMO free food reviews

First on the list is Horizon Organic Sour Cream, something we sorely missed, but was hard to find. I finally found some at Harris Teeter for about $3.29 and it's very good
It's not incredibly thick and it has the texture of slightly thicker yogurt and the taste is mild and pleasant. It lasts about a week in our house, as we love to dip our Quorn nuggets in it and it goes fantastically with our frozen organic broccoli. I have been concerned that Quorn in the US has gmos and I have contacted the company to see if this is true. I misread thinking the Aussie site was the US one when I checked before buying the Quorn. Quorn tastes incredible and I will be very disappointed (but not surprised) if the US version is crap.

Something much less disappointing was Mama Francesca Parmesan cheese no GMOs and gluten-free
We tried both the garlic and the basil one and they are awesome. I used a ton of the Kraft one, and I mean a ton. Mama Francesca has such a bold flavor and great taste that it goes a long way. I already picked up 4 more. Walmart had them on rollback for 2.98 and they had 55cents try me coupons on them so I couldn't resist. I also saw them at Harris Teeter for 3.50ish normal price. I haven't even made it through one yet. It's great on veggies, even better in pasta and soup.

The last review for the day is for Nature's Bakery Fig Bars we tried the normal and the blueberry.
They are very very dense, and while the normal fig flavor is good the blueberry ones taste like muffiny heaven. They are filling which is always a plus, because I am always hungry!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Organic and gmo-free food reviews

I went organicish, full tilt no gmo, no nothing. I bring my water with me where ever I go and I don't drink city water to avoid pineal gland crushing fluoride. This is not entirely new to me, but grocery shopping for the first time was daunting as I have grown accustomed to buying what was cheap. The prices made me cringe and I was sweating from lack of coupons, but I boldy went forth. Here are some of the best things we found at Walmart in Lancaster SC a stones throw from the house:

Blue Diamond Almond milk, $2.45 with coupons that can be found anywhere, no gmos, comes in chocolate too! It is worth noting that Silk also is gmo free including their soy milk, but this is what I buy because my other half prefers it. I enjoy them all.

We love love loved the Clif Crunch bars @ $2.95 for 5 packs of two what's not to love? The best flavors for our twosome were the White Chocolate Macadamia and the Chocolate Chip, they are in the vien of those crunchy honey and oats bars, but way better. Don't let my recommendation deter you from other flavors we also bought the Chocolate Peanut ones and they were yum too. The bars aren't totally organic, but gmos are my main concern and the entire Clif product line is gmo-free. A bonus, because I love the White Chocolate Macadamia Luna bars mmm.

Amy's Organic Soups for $2.12 a can, how could you beat that? I'll tell you, you can't.
Our family is a big fan of the No- Chicken Noodle and the Black Bean Veggie. A bit on the sodiumy side, but what are you gonna do? At least there isn't toad dna in it anywhere.

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt $3.29ish. Let me be frank, I find this yogurt distasteful when eaten as is, that being said I use a freakish amount of it because it is amazing in so many other ways. I buy the plain, it tastes like watery sour cream, when combined with the following this yogurt shines: Crumbled Clif bars, Annie's Bunnies Mac and Cheese (I use no butter, no milk, just yogurt. It's dank, do it, do it now), sourcream sub in hashbrown casserole, and with red sauce to become pink sauce. It's good do stuff with it.

Kettle Brand Chips are expensive, but gmo free and delicious. 

Those weird organic pop tarts whose name escapes me were only $2.50 there, instead of $5 at Harris Teeter. They taste like, well, shitty pop tarts, but I suppose there's no real way to replicate that laboratory cherry taste in a way that won't cause your blood to clot. They are totally edible, and instead of shamefully devouring a whole box like I might their artificial counterparts, I have ended on a single tart. A first in Brett history.

Earthbound baby spinach is delicious sauteed with garlic (one of the few organic produce items I can afford at $.50 a head)

I will post more reviews as we try more things.