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Posts published in “Taste Tests”

Taste test: Mezcla plant-based protein bars

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This post is made in coordination with Mezcla. Please see the site-wide disclosure policy for more information about sponsored content on fromannaskitchen.com.

How do you feel about energy bars or protein bars? I've tried several different kinds over the years as a healthier snack alternative. Admittedly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with them that started with one bite from a brand that I won't mention (it has a familiar name, but I'll just call them "brand X") that stuck in my memory.

Product Review: Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Milk

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Disclaimer: This is an honest review and not a sponsored post by Califia Farms brand for any blog website or service. 

For me, coconut isn't just one of those summer-only flavors or scents. It's a year-round favorite of mine—even in the middle of January.

Nope, there aren't too many coconutty things that I won't try. And for as crazy as I am about the stuff, I know two people on opposite ends of the coconut spectrum: one who flat-out can't stand it and one who's allergic to it. (Dave, fortunately, isn't either of those individuals.)

I love the fact that there seem to be way more varieties of nut milk blends in the grocery store than there were in the past. Fortunately, almond-coconut milk is one of them. I think it has a much better flavor than its plain soy-, almond-, or coconut-only counterparts.

Product Review: So Delicious CocoWhip!™ Whipped Topping

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Disclaimer: This is an honest review and not a sponsored post by So Delicious brand for any blog website or service.  

I never ate a lot of whipped topping growing up, or even in recent years as an adult. I've used it a handful of times for desserts where convenience has been key and the extra stabilizers (or, as some people just put it, "chemicals") help whatever I'm making hold up to being stored in the fridge for a day or two, usually when I'm making a dessert in advance for a party. My family always gravitated towards the stuff in an aerosol can or opted to make "real" whipped cream, though, especially when it came to enjoying it with Thanksgiving pies and other special occasion desserts. When we did buy whipped topping, it was a treat that sometimes ended with me just eating the stuff right from the plastic tub, sometimes half-frozen (come on... you know you've done this at least once.)

Dave and I both like trying new things and have also been trying to balance how much dairy and sweets we eat for health reasons. We burnt ourselves out on Greek yogurt for a while (shocking, I know) and went back to both regular yogurt as well as some non-dairy options, just for some variety. When we went to the store a few months ago, we both had a craving for pudding and decided that, as a treat, we needed a little whipped cream to go with it. We saw and picked up a tub of So Delicious brand CocoWhip!™ Whipped Topping to give it a try.

Taste Testing: My Verdict on Chia Pudding

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Has anyone tried chia pudding? A healthful take on a pudding dessert that can also be eaten for breakfast, chia pudding is essentially chia seeds soaked in milk or nut milk overnight with additional flavoring, like maple syrup, and toppings, like granola and nuts, added. It has some similarities to overnight oats, and was high up there on my list of things to try for a long time after hearing about the many health benefits, including being high in fiber and low in sugar versus standard pudding recipes.

When I came across a recipe for apple pie chia pudding last year, I decided to finally try it. The pictures of the recipe looked wonderful and the mason jar preparation was brilliant; I love using mason jars to prep and store foods, and I have a lot leftover from my canning projects that I can use in a snap. I figured that the addition of the yogurt and fruit would make for an interesting texture along with the seed-like consistency of the pudding, but that was exactly what concerned me: the seed-like texture. 

When soaked in liquid for a period of time, chia and flax seeds both soften and become jelly-like. In this case, I imagined that chilling the mixture would cause them to set-up into a semi-firm mass, just like a pudding. Food and beverage textures generally don't bother me, but something about this made me say to myself, I'm going to either grow to like this or it's going to be one of the worst things that I've put in my mouth.

Taste Testing: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

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Move over, cat videos. Tasty videos are the new online obsession.

We've all seen these posted on Facebook from Buzzfeed Food and others. These videos feature a person making a recipe, all filmed from his or her point of view. Some are narrated and others just feature catchy music and captions to go along with the video. The end result is often a delicious and mouthwatering dish that we're lead to believe (because we just saw whole the process) is a cinch to make.

Tasty videos are always entertaining to watch, but there are some recipes I see and my immediate reaction is, Really? Looks like a hot mess to me...

About a month ago, one really caught my eye as something that could just be crazy enough to work: Chicken Bacon Ranch pasta, posted by Twisted Food on Facebook.

Pantry Raid: Curried Chicken Salad

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Shortly after I started eating meat more regularly, I saw Ina Garten make curried chicken salad on an episode of her show, Barefoot Contessa. My immediate thought was that it looked good (and, duh, her food always looks amazing) and sounded different, but I didn't immediately put it at the top of my "recipes to try" list, and here's why.

I took a big pause at the idea of curry and chutney mixed together, really skeptical about how two strong-tasting ingredients like that would taste when mixed together. Also, I was never a big fan of traditional chicken salad. Growing up, my dad and I would go out for sandwiches for lunch on a regular basis. Whenever I ordered chicken salad from a nearby deli or restaurant, it often tasted bland and mushy, with tiny pieces of chicken and not enough crunch from celery and onion to make up for the amount of mayo put in the salad.

Knowing that Ina has rarely led me astray, I gave the recipe a try and was soon obsessed. For a while I made this salad at least once a week, without fail, to bring to work for lunch. It has a totally unexpected flavor on account of the chutney and curry, which do taste good together after all. It's creamy without tasting like eating a spoonful of mayo, and super-crunchy from the celery and cashews, one of my favorite nuts.

Ina's Curried Chicken Salad has become a pantry staple recipe; I keep the ingredients on-hand for whenever I'm in the mood to make a quick dinner or lunch for work. Using the original recipe as a guide, here are a few things that I like to adjust when I make it.

Homemade Aioli: Take 1

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Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday!

Mine was both productive and relaxing. Steve and I worked in the garden, weeding and spreading top soil, and I continued sorting and throwing away old stuff from the basement, trying to get moving-ready for when the time comes. The day in the city on Saturday with my mom to see Jersey Boys was fantastic, too.

Speaking of the garden, my first purple bell pepper is growing nicely! It was about the size of a kumquat, but it got much bigger just in the past week or two. We also have quite a few blooms on our Japanese eggplant and cucumber plants, sunflowers shooting up and zinnias starting to sprout (two of my favorite flowers), and healthy herb plants. Exciting!

I also managed to knock-off one of my foodie goals for this year during dinner on Sunday (grilled Dundore & Heister hamburgers and hot dogs from Easton Public Market, veggie burgers, and Greek tatzki pasta salad.) I made homemade aioli to go with the burgers, and all-in-all it was a good first attempt. I hit some roadblocks when it came to the flavor, though, but as far as the process? That was a cinch.