Do you like Ketchup? I sure do. Ketchup is one of my top-three favorite condiments of all time — up there with Mayonnaise, and Trader Joe’s Green Tomatillo Chili Salsa, which is just insane — and if we are talking about Specialty Ketchups, don’t even get me started. If you can’t get your head around the thought of digging into a plate of crispy French fries without a generous side of ketchup for dipping, then let me introduce you to your new favorite thing: Vodka & Italian Tomato Ketchup from Spirit & Co.
Spirit & Co. is the first company worldwide to exclusively use premium liquor in each of its products. If you are a fan of Penne with Vodka Sauce, you already know that tomato and vodka is a distinctive pairing that delivers an umami flavor comparable to, say, adding truffle oil to almost anything. The flavor is unique and instantly recognizable, and even if you can’t pinpoint how the vodka makes the tomato sauce taste better, you understand that the result is crazy delicious. That said, I am willing to defend myself against accusations of being overly hyperbolic when I say that Spirit & Co.’s Vodka & Italian Tomato Ketchup will ruin you for all other ketchups: because it is absolutely the best ketchup I have eaten in my life.
When Covid dictated a shift from working at an office to working from home, my daily routine changed in many ways. One small but significant shift involved what I regularly enjoyed eating for breakfast each morning while sitting at my desk. The office pantry always stocked fresh milk in the fridge for our coffee or cereal, so it was super convenient (and saved me a few bucks) to keep a box of my favorite cereal — Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins, available at Trader Joe’s — at work. At home, I rarely purchase dairy milk because it basically starts to go bad as soon as it’s packaged, and it’s easy to forget to use it up before the expiration date hits. Needless to say (but you can see I am about to) when I started working from home — one year ago — I stopped eating packaged breakfast cereal entirely. That changed recently, when I found out about Koita, a line of shelf-stable, plant-based milks from Italy! Today I’m going to review Koita Organic Coconut Milk, which has brought the joy of breakfast cereal back into my life.
Did you overindulge a bit more that usual during the holiday season? Join the club. It would be nice if Holidays-in-lockdown meant that there are no rules, and you can eat whatever you want, but if you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to curb your consumption of sweets treats, there’s a new candy in town called Pink Panda that can help you snack guilt-free.
Pink Panda is a line of gummy candy that lets you give in to the sweet desires of your inner child while also satisfying your responsible adult brain that says snacks should be healthy whenever possible. Made with 90% less sugar than regular candy (only 2g per bag), there is no sacrifice made the it comes to quality and taste. We received bags of both the Treasure Chews and Astro Blasters varieties for review. Read on for our findings!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
Actress Jamie Chung once jokingly said, “If acting doesn’t work out, I plan to do food photography and just eat my way through the entire world! I’m a big foodie, and if I could make some career out of it, that would be fantastic.” She’s probably in good company. In a world that’s overwhelmed with smartphones and picture-apps like Instagram, you’d think everyone is a passionate food photographer! However, few are aware of just how difficult it is to sustain the drive. We’re giving you a few tips on re-igniting your passion and finding your food photography inspiration. Here we go!
1. Invest in a few renowned cookbooks and magazines
Where do the best food photographers ply their trade? Well in cookbooks and magazines of course! Granted, these resources aren’t free and you may have to shell out a couple of dollars to access these books, but its’ money well spent. Fortunately, you don’t have to purchase actual hard-copies which tend to be more expensive. The digital versions do nicely.
2. Dabble and experiment with other forms of photography
The world of photography is vast with numerous genres – wedding photography, product photography, fashion photography, aerial photography to name a few. What’s interesting is what you can learn from each genre. Lighting, composition, and editing are all done differently. The skills you learn by dabbling with other types of photography can give you the inspiration you’re looking for with your own food photography.
3. Study light, airy, bright photos to understand aesthetics
What makes one photo breathtaking and another bland? A quick scroll through Instagram and you’ll notice something remarkable. The most popular food photos are almost always light and bright. This is achieved largely by employing three concepts: white balance, neutral color filters, and bokeh. White balance, to quote Photography Life, is simply “adjusting colors so that the image looks more natural”. Neutral color filters help the images retain their natural look as well, while bokeh (from the Japanese word meaning ‘to blur’) is simply the technical term for blurring out elements such as the background in your pictures. Studying beautiful photos can invoke the inspiration you’re after.
4. Look beyond food images at what’s around you
Perhaps you need to stop looking at food images for a while. You see, inspiration can come to you when you’re not even thinking about it; when you’re simply out and about living life. It may be that the more you obsess over your food photos the less likely you’ll find pleasure in your own work. Instead, look beyond food photography itself. Go visit a museum, watch an old movie, and look at some classical art. You never know where you’ll find food photography inspiration
5. Join a few social media groups and follow fellow food bloggers
The tech-centric nature of our world and globalization means you can follow anyone from anywhere. You can join social media food photography groups such as Food Bloggers Central to connect with like-minded people. With plenty of food photography inspiration to be had and conversations with photographers from all walks of life, you’re likely to have your own fire re-ignited quickly.
I hope these tips will help you find inspiration for your food photography. Still, if you would like to find further inspiration, you can also check out professional food photographers portfolio websites.
One final word: don’t worry about every photo being perfect. As Henri Cartier-Bresson laughingly remarked, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Just remember that with every photo you snap, your skills will improve!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The Vanilla AYO is just sweet enough, but also has the distinctive tangy flavor that tells you that you are eating real yogurt.
You can snack and work at the same time!
When you peel back the lid of the Blueberry AYO Almond Milk Yogurt, guess what you smell? Blueberries.
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)
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!