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Product Review: Boo Baked Good Gift Box Just in Time For Halloween!

boo box baked goods
Image Source (All Other Photos By Gail Except Where Noted)

Some of our favorite Halloween traditions may be off-the-table for this year’s scariest night, but there’s still time to create your own delicious festivities with a treat from Gourmet Gift Baskets that can be delivered direct to your door! Honored by Newsweek earlier in 2020 as a Top Food Site, Gourmet Gift Baskets has a few new offerings for Halloween that are scary good ways to treat yourself, or someone you love! Check out the Boo Baked Good Gift Box, packed with tasty sweets that I am currently enjoying here in the Chickpad.

boo baked good gift box photo by gail worley

Before we take a peak at what’s inside, can I just say that anyone would love this adorable, lidded-box that lets the gift keep on giving as it can be re-used to store whatever strikes your fancy once the enclosed treats have been gobbled up! So cute!

boo baked good open box photo by gail worley

Brand new this season, the Boo Baked Good Gift Box, ($29.99) is stuffed with nearly dozen fresh-baked goods, including delectable, chewy chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownie cookies and a novelty crispy rice treat shaped like a giant Candy Corn. You need to see this to be sure your eyes aren’t tricking you! This very affordable gift will make anyone’s Halloween feel special.

halloween card photo by gail worley

The baked goods are individually wrapped to stay fresh, and each gift box arrives with its own greeting card, so your recipient knows it came from you.

candy corn rice crispy treat photo by gail

Rice Crispy Treats are a favorite of mine since I was a wee lass and used to bake them with my Mom. I’m happy report that the Gourmet Gift Baskets bakers’ version of this classic is just as soft and chewy as I remember, and the candy coating takes it to the next level. This oversized treat is so rich that you might want share it with a friend, or wrap half of it to save for later!

gourmet gift baskets beer bucket
Image Source

Also brand new, for those looking for a more Adult-geared gift, is the Eat, Drink & Be Scary Beer Bucket ($69.99) which features delicious treats like handcrafted Kettle popcorn, peanut butter cups, and Halloween Junior Mints — packed in a fun and functional black cauldron pail — plus 6 assorted Beers that provide a perfect pairing.

Find the perfect Halloween Treats for your scary celebration now at Gourmet Gift Baskets!

boo baked good gift box photo by gail

Product Review: Dreams Aren’t This Good Chips and Salsa!

chips and salsa photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Growing up in Southern California really ruined me for Mexican food. New York has a handful of restaurants that have game, but if you crave the consistent taste and authenticity of real California Mexican cuisine, you might be better off cooking at home. Even if you want the convenience of using a few packaged ingredients, it’s important to have a fresh-tasting salsa on hand, and what I call ‘restaurant style’ chips that are sturdy enough to stand up to the thickest guacamole. The problem is, which brands of chips and salsa taste the best? Obviously, other non-native New Yorkers have considered this situation, because fellow East Village resident Matt Bennett has created Dreams Aren’t This Good (DATG); a line of unique salsas and authentic tortilla chips that blows away everything else on the supermarket shelf. Seriously, this brand is a game changer.

dreams aren't this good salsa jar photo by gail worley
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This Salsa

Inspired by and infused with the sights and sounds of New York City, one-of-a-kind DATG salsa flavors include The Original (which I received for review), The Fighter (garlic cilantro),  Just Dance (jalapeno pineapple), Now or Never (avocado pepper), and Girls Girls Girls (blueberry coconut). All salsas and tortilla chips are gluten free, vegan and contain no preservatives.

DATG’s origin story goes back to Matt’s upbringing in Southeast Texas and his tenure as a student at Louisiana State University (LSU). “At school, I started making salsa by mixing Mexican style with a little Cajun spice,” Matt remembers.  “As I experimented with different ingredients and flavors, the salsa was always a huge hit with everyone, and I knew I was on to something.”

Review Continues, After The Jump!

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Product Review: AYO Organic Almond Milk Yogurt

ayo yogurt four varieties photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Do you like yogurt? I sure do. As food trends adapt to changing diets, I’ve sampled and reviewed a variety of delicious non-dairy yogurts. While these yogurts are ideal for fans who are lactose intolerant, and also those who follow a vegan diet, the bottom line is that it has to taste great. With nut-derived milks becoming increasingly popular, it makes sense that an almond milk-based yogurt would hit the market. If you’re curious about non-dairy yogurt alternatives, let me introduce you to AYO, a delicious and healthy yogurt made with organic almond milk.

four flavors ad

AYO was created by the Billings family, who have been growing almonds on their farm, based in California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley, for four generations. The Billings‘ are forward-thinking farmers who are passionate about introducing better-for-you foods with clear traceability, vertical integration and sustainable practices. Their commitment to innovation, and a farm-to-spoon philosophy, created AYO yogurt. From their almond orchards where everything starts, to picking, then churning, blending with organic fruits or organic vanilla, and culturing the yogurt — the result is luscious, probiotic-rich yogurts that taste fantastic.

strawberry ayo yogurt photo by gail worley

Since I’ve been working from home, yogurt has been one of my go-to snacks, so I was thrilled to receive samples of all four flavors (Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, and Vanilla) of AYO yogurt to enjoy. Each variety has only 150 or 160 calories per 5.3 ounce cup, so you can stay on your diet as well!

peach ayo yogurt photo by gail worley

When I opened my first cup, what I noticed right away about this yogurt is its very smooth, almost drinkable consistency. No stirring is needed because the fruit is thoroughly blended with the yogurt, to guarantee that the first spoonful tastes as sweet and tangy as the last.

peach yogurt with spoon photo by gail worley

Peaches are one of my favorite fruits, so I enjoyed this flavor every much. You can see little bits of peach on my spoon. Yummy.

ayo vanilla yogurt photo by gail worley

The Vanilla AYO is just sweet enough, but also has the distinctive tangy flavor that tells you that you are eating real yogurt.

ayo vanilla yogurt photo by gail worley

You can snack and work at the same time!

blueberry ayo yogurt photo by gail worley

When you peel back the lid of the Blueberry AYO Almond Milk Yogurt, guess what you smell? Blueberries.

ayo frozen pops

AYO would be perfect as an ingredient in variety of recipes for healthy shakes and desserts, but today I’m going share with you the most delicious Granola Yogurt Breakfast Popsicle recipe, which they call Gro-Yo Pops. The whole family will love these, as they are great for the summer months and make an easy, nutritious breakfast!

Gro-Yo Pops (Dairy-free, Plant-based, Farm to Freezer Popsicles)

1 ¼ cups AYO Strawberry Yogurt
½ cups chopped fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries)
4 teaspoons coconut oil or GHEE, divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons coconut flakes, ground almonds and crumbled

Stir yogurt, berries, 2 teaspoons coconut oil and almond extract together in a medium bowl. Divide among six 3-ounce popsicle molds. Stir coconut flakes, and ground almonds and the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil together in a small bowl. Top each popsicle with 1 tablespoon of the coconut almond mixture. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.

Visit This Link to learn more, to find a store near you that sells AYO, and to get money saving coupons to use towards your purchase!

Pink Thing Of The Day: Watermelon Daiquiri

pink daiquiri photo by gail
Photo By Gail

If you suspect that we are getting a little bit desperate to find Pink Things for featuring in this weekly space, you would be correct. Thankfully, the Pink Drinks of summer are not only keeping us refreshed, hydrated, and slightly buzzed, but they also make a nice post, don’t they? This tall cool one is the Watermelon Daiquiri offered at Bottino Restaurant in Chelsea. Bottino specializes in delicious homemade pastas and other Italian favorites, and it has the most insanely lush backyard garden / covered patio for a safe and relaxed dining experience. At this time in our lives when little things mean so much,  we look forward to a future visit!

Pink Thing of The Day: Summer Frosé Cocktail

frose cocktail at versa photo by gail
Photo By Gail

I recently enjoyed my first official cocktail-in-a-bar of the Covid summer and, fittingly, it was a Pink Drink! Pictured above is an enticing, frosty glass of Frosé (frozen rosé wine), which I procured at Versa; a cool ‘rooftop’ restaurant located on the fifth floor of the Renaissance hotel in midtown. While Versa is not literally on the hotel’s roof, which is maybe 20 stories higher up, its spacious patio emulates a rooftop experience, while also allowing for pandemic-compliant social distancing and other important safety guidelines. While enjoying the restaurant’s chill vibe, I happily discovered that if Frosé melts before you can suck it all down, it simply turns into chilled rose wine, as there is no diluting from added ice! Win win!

Product Review: Parma! Vegan Parmesan Seasoning

parma vegan parmesan packaging photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

I will be the first person to admit that I am not the most creative home cook, so having seriously-restricted access to restaurant-prepared meals  means I am fighting food boredom. While I’m relying more than ever on the amazing frozen food section at my local Trader Joe’s, I’m also exploring my ability to make tasty rice and pasta dishes with minimal effort. When it comes to pasta, the more cheese, the better, so Parmesan cheese is always in my pantry. Now, vegans and others following a dairy-free diet can also enjoy the cheesy, umami flavor of Parmesan with Parma! Vegan Parmesan seasoning.

parma side by side photo by gail worley
See The Goodness. Left: Garlicky Green Parma, Right: Regular Parma

The folks at Sister River Foods, makers of Parma! recently sent me two different varieties of this versatile seasoning blend to review for the blog, and I can’t believe how much I love it. Parma is the original plant-based parmesan; a dairy-free, protein-rich condiment ideal for use on pasta, pizza, salad, vegetables, popcorn, avocado toast and most other main dishes and savory foods. Parma is made from only natural ingredients including superfoods such as nutritional yeast, Himalayan crystal salt, organic sunflower seeds (clearly identifiable in the above photo) and organic hemp seeds, among other healthy ingredients.

Parma! Comes in Four Varieties, Including:

parma original bottle photo by gail worley

Original Parma! – Featuring an irresistibly cheesey umami flavor. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic SunflowerSeeds, Walnuts, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds.

parma garlicky green bottle photo by gail worley

Garlicky Green Parma! – Distinguished by a cheesey umami Italian herb flavour complemented by nutritiously delicious kelp, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic SunflowerSeeds, Walnuts, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Dried Garlic, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Kelp Powder, Organic Dried Basil, Organic Dried Oregano.

And two more I would love try!

Better Than Bacon Parma! – Voted Favorite Bacon Flavored Product by VegNews and featuring a smokey cheesey umami bacon flavor. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Ground Paprika, Organic Dried Onion, Natural Flavor, Organic Brown Sugar, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Smoked Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds.

Chipotle Cayenne Parma! – Blessed with a smokey umami flavor akin to the most popular barbeque potato chips, with a slight cayenne kick at the end. Ingredients: Nutritional Yeast, Organic SunflowerSeeds, Walnuts, Organic Ground Chipotle Pepper, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Organic Hemp Seeds, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Ground Cayenne Pepper.

pasta with parma photo by gail worley

A generous dusting of Garlicky Green Parma! on hot pasta elevates the flavor of your favorite sauce, and creates an exciting contrast of textures as the crunchy seeds mix with the tender pasta. Absolutely delicious.

breakfast with parma photo by gail worley

Here, I have seasoned my breakfast of a cheese omelet and a scoop of cottage cheese with Original Parma! The Parma! was especially helpful in adding much-needed flavor enhancement to the cottage cheese, because I had accidentally purchased the unsalted variety — which otherwise, honestly, tastes of nothing. Thanks, Parma!

Founded in 2004, Parma! has steadily grown to its current status as a leader in the dairy-free cheese alternative arena and a key player in the multi-billion-dollar global vegan food category. Looking back on the origins of the Parma! brand, Sister River Foods’ co-founder and CEO Shannon Schnibbe recalls that it all started as the result of her severe allergies and effort to find foods that might give her relief. Introduced to raw foods, she was soon inspired to begin making what is now Parma! for herself, friends and family. After moving to Oregon and becoming pregnant with her first baby, Shannon decided to combine her passion for healthy eating with her corporate experience and turn her hobby into an actual business. The vegan parmesan revolution had begun!

Find Out more about Parma! and Sister River Foods, plus get Delicious Recipes, at This Link!

veggies with parma photo by gail worley
Perk Up Frozen Veggies with a Dash of Parma!

Pink Thing of The Day: Exterior of Pink Restaurant

Pietro Nolita Photo By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail

I’ve been hearing about Pietro Nolita since it opened (a few years ago at this point), because it is an Italian Restaurant downtown that’s Pink on the exterior and interior. I’ve always meant to visit, of course — because: Pink Restaurant — but it’s not in my neighborhood and I’m lazy, so I’ve never see the pinkness before in person, until now.

Pietro Nolita Photo By Gail Worley

The fact that Pietro Nolita had completely fallen off my radar made it that much sweeter to literally stumble upon it last week, as I walked home to the East Village from a doctor’s appointment in the Financial District and decided to shake up my route. Isn’t it adorable? Who wouldn’t want stop in and check it out?

Pietro Nolita Exterior Photo By Gail Worley

I love the details they put into it, including flower boxes bursting with Pink Silk Chrysanthemums.

pink silk mums photo by gail worley

hektad hearts photo by gail worley

Popular street artist Hektad has even contributed a flourish of his signature heart art.

hektad and baby faces photo by gail

And you might remember these little guys from a previous post! Ah, the Pinkness.

Located at 174 Elizabeth Street, Pietro Nolito is open during lockdown from Thursday through Sunday, Noon to 8 PM for Take Out and Delivery. I Promise that once it Reopens I Will Eat There and File a Full Report!

Pietro Nolita Photo By Gail Worley

Bantam Bagels Offers a Gift For Graduating Seniors!

Bantam Pretzel Bagels

Being a bit of a foodie, but also someone who is not very experimental when it comes to my own cooking, the thing I miss most since NYC went into lockdown is eating a variety of foods. Fortunately, there are many tasty frozen food options (especially when you are looking for breakfast foods that are different, tasty, and also convenient) and one of my favorite discoveries is Bantam Bagels stuffed bagel bites. I was first turned-on to  Bantam Bagels delicious mini stuffed-bagels at the Summer Fancy Food Show in 2018, where I was blown away by the innovative taste of oven- toasted bagels stuffed with scrambled eggs and cheese. Two thumbs up, for sure!

bantam bagel bites photos by gail worley
Bantam Bagel Bites Booth Display from SFFS18

If you’d like to give Bantam Bagels a try, and happen to be among the Graduating Class of 2020, check this out: through May 22nd, Bantam Bagels is running a campaign for graduating seniors. To celebrate graduation, and the stuffed Bantam Pretzel Bagel (pictured above), the company is giving three (3) Graduating Seniors a chance to win a year’s supply of Mini Stuffed Bagels!

Here’s How To Enter:

  1. Post your Senior Picture — or nominate a friend with their photo — on Instagram
  2. Tag @bantambagels and use hashtag #bantamsforayear
  3. Tell us why you/they deserve to win this reward in the caption!

This Pretzel Bagel stuffed with Cheddar Dijon Cream Cheese is Oprah’s personal favorite, so you know it must be good. Please share this post with any graduates you know, and wish them good luck!

Cooking With Gail Presents: Easy Quarantine Chili!

the best classic chili
Image Source

If you are a single person, and you’re like me, you plan most of your meals around what you find in Trader Joe’s freezer section, supplemented with a few weekly meals at restaurants, and lunch procured from the office cafeteria. So, I don’t have to tell you that grocery shopping and meal planning for our new Covid lifestyle is challenging, and, frankly, it sucks. I’ve bought as many groceries in the past five weeks as I have for each preceding week of this year combined. Just being serious.

There is only one thing I can really cook, and that is Chili. When I first moved to NYC I was dirt poor, so I taught myself how to make a huge vat of chili, so I could freeze some it and thus enjoy multiple home-cooked meals that would stretch my budget. Once I started making decent money, I abandoned cooking from scratch almost entirely. But . . . everything is different now, and cooking is a skill that has value, even if you are sheltering-in-place on your own — which I think of as  living on the prairie, but with indoor plumbing. A few weeks into isolation, I got a craving for chili, but it had been so long since I made any that I could not even recall my recipe. Dashing to the computer, I Googled “easy chili with beans,” and the first result that popped up was this recipe called The Best Classic Chili courtesy of Amanda Finks from her website The Wholesome Dish. This recipe is especially awesome because it can be made from ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Let me walk you through it.

Chili Ingredients Photo By Gail Worley
Above Image and All Other Photos By Gail

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper – optional
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

Instructions

Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and place it over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chili Ingredients Meat and Onion Photo By Gail Worley

Add the ground beef to the pot. Break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the beef is browned, stirring occasionally.

Chili Dry Ingredients Photo By Gail Worley

I like to combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl, as seen above, so I can blend them together thoroughly before adding to the meat. Once the meat is brown, add the chili powder, cumin, sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and optional cayenne.  Stir until well combined.

Chili Cooking Photo By Gail Worley

Tomatoes and Meat Photo By Gail Worley

Add the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), drained beans, and tomato sauce. Stir well.

Chili With Beans Photo By Gail Worley

Bring the liquid to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat (low to medium-low) to gently simmer the chili, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chili Simmering Photo By Gail

Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. I like to serve mine on top of fluffy white rice!

White Rice Photo By Gail Worley

In addition to the chili ingredients listed in this recipe, you may also want to have these things as toppings.

  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • sliced green onions or chopped white onions
  • saltine crackers or oyster crackers
  • diced avocado

You can also make cornbread or garlic bread to serve with this delicious meal! As you can, see the chili takes almost no time to prepare and the result is truly the best chili you have ever tasted. Just check out the hundreds of five star reviews on the site!

Leftover Chili Photo By Gail Worley

This recipe makes six generous servings, so you have enough to share with a friend or neighbor who might really be in need of a wholesome and super delicious home-cooked  meal right about now. At any rate, you are going have leftovers for days!

Chili in a Bowl Photo By Gail Worley

Enjoy!

Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Marshmallow Macarons from Dana’s Bakery!

Pink Marshmallow Macaron by Danas Bakery

I first discovered Dana’s Bakery and their fancy and fabulous Macarons at a Summer Fancy Food Show a few summers back. When it comes to imaginative baking and creative flavor profiles, nobody does it like Dana’s. Just in time for our first Easter spent in nationwide quarantine, Dana’s Bakery has announced their special Pink Marshmallow Macaron! Each box includes 12 bright pink macarons with sweet marshmallow creme filling, rolled in sugar sprinkles! Always gluten-free and kosher, available for April in their Build-A-Box and Variety Pack. Visit This Link order!