Tag Archive | Side Dish

Product Review: Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes

Garden-Lites Logo
Above Image Source, All Other Photos By Gail

Being a single, working woman means that I am all about convenience foods. With so many options available to shoppers, I know that I can count on finding delicious meals in the grocer’s freezer section that will go from the package to my plate in about 30 minutes, but I also want to eat food that’s healthy. That said, the ideal frozen entree should fill me up, but not fill me out, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Packaging

For all of those (and so many other) reasons, Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes are a terrific way for convenience-seekers to eat smart. Part of the Garden Lites line of vegetable-forward products that include muffins, waffles and entrees, Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes are an easy way to create a tasty, meatless meal that anyone who saw it would think you spent hours cooking.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake With Packaging

For this review I tried three different varieties of Vegetable Bakes: Cheddar Broccoli (seen above), Zucchini, and Roasted Vegetable. Each vegetable bake comes in its own baking dish and takes about 30 to 40 minutes to bake thoroughly, which gives you time to open a bottle of wine and make a pot of rice, if you choose — which I did.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Back of Packaging

When fully cooked, Vegetable Bakes are similar in consistency and mouth-feel to a very vegetable-dense quiche or frittata, where eggs have been added only to bind the ingredients together. Therefore it’s understood that these dishes, while vegetarian-friendly, are not vegan, due to having whole eggs or egg whites as an ingredient.

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Cooked

Here it is, just out of the oven, and you can see that the cheese has browned nicely!

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Serving Suggestion

It looks amazing, doesn’t it?

Cheddar Broccoli Bake Ready to Eat

Broccoli Cheddar Bake is a delicious and nutritious dish that is loaded with healthy, superfood ingredients like broccoli, onions, brown rice, and select spices, topped off with cheddar cheese.  Like all of the Vegetable Bakes, it is gluten free, Non-GMO and kosher, as well as being free of peanuts, tree nuts and soy. The full portion clocks in at just 210 calories and 7 Weight Watcher Smart Points. If you wanted to serve this as a side dish, it could easily feed two people.

Roasted Vegetable Bake Packaging

About a week after enjoying the Cheddar Broccoli Bake, I tried the Roasted Vegetable Bake. This dish is filled with tender carrots, broccoli, onion, red bell pepper, zucchini and potato, seasoned with assorted spices including black pepper and garlic salt. The Roasted Vegetable Bake is just 150 calories (wow!) and will set you back 5 Weight Watchers Smart Points. Check out all of those veggies!

Roasted Vegetable Bake Over Rice

I put some cheese on it as well!

Roasted Vegetable Bake With Cheese

There is no such thing as too much cheese.

Zucchini Bake Packaging

Last, but not least, I tried the Zucchini Bake. Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables and it makes everything that it touches taste better: this Vegetable Bake being no exception to that rule. Here, everyone’s favorite summer squash is combined with cauliflower, onions and  potatoes, as well as eggs, and a select seasoning mix for a farm-to-table dining experience.

Zucchini Bake over Rice

Here it is served over rice with a generous grating of sharp cheddar cheese, for just 150 calories and 5 Weight Watchers Points. A satisfying, delicious and low calorie meal that’s healthy and convenient: Win Win Win!

Find a store near you that sells Garden Lites products and get a money-saving coupon to use on your next purchase at This Link!

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Product Review: Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables

Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables Packaging
All Photos By Gail

As an admitted foodie with a very busy schedule – and not much time for, or interest in, cooking an evening meal for just myself from scratch – I celebrate the great quality and awesome variety available in Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle! I love convenience, but I refuse to sacrifice taste, and I’m always excited by side dish options that balance a meal, while delivering on both quality and flavor. Boulder Canyon Natural Foods, best known for their delicious Chips and snacks, have now ventured into the frozen side dish domain, with delicious results.

Riced Sweet Potato

Boulder Canyon Foods‘ grain-free Riced Vegetables are made with 100% vegetables, making them a healthy and easy addition to your dinner table! I received packages of two varieties: the Riced Sweet Potato Caramelized Onion (seen above) and the Cheddar Broccoli. I prepared each of them with a different meal over two nights, and here are my findings.

Riced Sweet Potato in Pan

Cooking instructions on the package call for microwave use (you can actually just throw the entire bag in the microwave , no pan needed) but I don’t own a microwave, so I used a non-stick sauce pan,  without any oil or water added. There is no need to defrost the product. I cooked the riced veggies over medium heat until they were fully cooked – maybe 5 minutes.  Preparation is super easy and the hassle of chopping everything has been done for you!

Riced Sweet Potatoes and Veggie Burgers

I served the Riced Sweet Potato dish with two Trader Joe’s Masala Burgers, which are potato-based veggie patties with Indian seasonings (very delicious). The added aromatic sweetness from the caramelized onion enhanced the sweet potato’s natural flavors, and provided a pleasing contrast to the savory Masala Burgers (which I topped with shredded cheese, because I love cheese).

Riced Sweet Potatoes and Veggie Burgers

Here’s a close up. The Sweet Potatoes cook up soft but not mushy. They taste a little bit like carrots. In fact, if you were to serve them to one of those “I don’t like Sweet Potatoes” people, you could say they were eating carrots and I bet they would never know the difference.

The next night, I made the  Riced Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese, which I figured would pair well with a Trader Joe’s Chicken and Bean Burrito. Yum.

Riced Broccoli in a Pan

A little steam got on my camera lens.

Riced Broccoli and Burrito

If that looks good, it’s because it was! I love broccoli, and the ricing does not diminish the fresh, robust flavor. The cheddar cheese flavor was a bit ‘in the back’ of everything though, so you if you really like cheddar cheese on your broccoli, you could always shred additional cheese on the top. There is no such thing as too much cheese!

Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables are a terrific Rice Alternative for anyone on a gluten free diet, and they come in eight flavors, so you never get bored! Find out more about all Boulder Canyon Riced Vegetables varieties, and learn about their family of other fine foods products at This Link!

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Product Review: Suddenly Salad‘s Southwest Grains Salad

Suddenly Salad Front of Box
All Photos By Gail

Do you like Southwestern Grains Salad? I sure do. I love the tasty mix of whole grains with sweet corn and tender black beans in a tangy dressing that is such a perfect summer side dish. The thing is, it seems so hard to make that I will usually deprive myself because I don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen or have to buy a bunch of stuff. Single ladies: you know how it is.

Then, when I was at the Snack Attack Editor Showcase a few weeks ago, I discovered Betty Crocker’s Suddenly Salad line of boxed Grain and Pasta Salad mixes, where (nearly) everything you to need to make a complete salad is in that box! So easy, so delicious, so exciting! I came home from the event with a box of the Southwestern Grains Salad and I made it at home a few nights ago. Let me share my experience with you.

Grain Salad Ingredients

Here’s your meal in a box: A boil-in-bag assortment of Brown Rice, Quinoa, Corn and Black Beans and some Red Bell Pepper (easier to see once it is cooked) and the dry dressing mix. To prepare, fill a three quart pan half way with water, bring to boil and drop in the bag of the dry grain mixture (do not open the bag) for 17 minutes, turning the bag over half way through cooking.

Salad Dressing

While the grains boil, mix one tablespoon of cold water and one tablespoon of oil into the dry salad dressing mixture, stir until well blended and set aside or store for few minutes in the fridge. The dressing has a delicious Chipotle Lime flavor that gives the salad its distinctive southwestern taste.

Grain Salad Prepared

At the end of the 17 minute boiling time, transfer the bag to a colander and run cold water over it (turning the bag as needed) until the contents are cooled and water no longer drips from the bag.

Cut open the bag and pour grains into a serving bowl, then mix in the dressing. I chilled the salad for an additional 30 minutes uncovered in the fridge and it was perfect and insanely delicious. Suddenly, Salad!

You could, of course, also add grilled chicken to this salad for a heartier dish, but it tasted great on its own. Recommended! Read more about Betty Crocker’s Suddenly Salad mixes and get delicious recipe ideas at This Link.

Tasty Treat of The Day: Cucina Fresca Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese Box Smoked Gruyere

Macaroni and Cheese: It is my thing. A couple of months ago I attended the Food Fete press event here in NYC, where I was lucky enough to meet Kristen, the PR representative for Cucina Fresca Gourmet Foods, which operates out of Seattle. I’m excited to report that Kristen hooked The Gig up with a couple of boxes of Cucina Fresca’s frozen Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese! I ate some of it last night for dinner, so I could tell you about it today.

Cucina Fresca Tangy Gorgonzola

I received two different varieties of Mac and Cheese in my shipment: Smoked Gruyere, made with aged Gruyere, Swiss, Fontina, and a touch of lightly smoked Spanish paprika; and Tangy Gorgonzola, made with a mellow Gorgonzola cheese blended with Fontina and a tangy blue cheese. Since I was grilling up a simple burger, I decided that Tangy Gorgonzola would be a complimentary accompaniment. I was so right! This dish has a very homemade taste but is also of the quality that you would get in a nice restaurant. Not only was the cheese sauce tangy, as promised, but it has a smooth and nutty  flavor that gives it a sophisticated edge, while keeping the 100% comfort food vibe. I wanted to eat the entire dish but stopped half way, because I was full and because it was so good I wanted to save some for another meal!

Because this dish is so rich and versatile, it lends itself well to being mixed with a vegetable (broccoli would be ideal) or perhaps some cubed ham left over from another meal or a few strips of crumbled, crispy bacon. Make it fancy! I enjoyed topping a bite of my burger with a spoonful of the tangy, cheesy pasta and pretending I was eating some kind of exotic gourmet burger. Fun!

According to the press materiel I received, Cucina Fresca Mac and Cheese dishes are all natural and carefully handmade in small batches. All varieties feature eggless penne pasta accompanied with rich, creamy sauce made with rBST-free milk, fresh cheeses and a touch of whole creamery butter. The secret to the creamy delicious sauce is that it is a roux-based béchamel sauce which the cheese is then melted into. Also, the pasta is cooked al-dente pre-packaging, so that it can finish cooking in your oven and absorb the flavor of the sauce. I am not a fan of hard pasta and this was cooked perfectly: tender but not mushy.

If you are one of those convenience junkies that can’t even figure out how to turn on a conventional over, don’t freak out; you can cook this product in the microwave. It will turn out OK. But let me tell you something as a confessed Foodie who loves convenience but doesn’t even own a microwave (yes, I just typed that): it is so worth it to take a few extra minutes to heat this up the way Mac and Cheese was intended to be cooked, in the oven. Cucina Fresca Mac and Cheese goes right from freezer to oven (all you have to do is take it out of the box and remove the plastic lid) and cooks to a bubbling, golden, uber yummy dish of molten cheesy goodness (with the much-desired crispy, browned edges, even) in less than 45 minutes. It is so easy! It is so good!

Cucina Fresca Mac and Cheese Four Varieties

Cucina Fresca offers two additional varieties besides the two sent to me: Sharp Cheddar, made with 2 year aged white cheddar; and Creamy Fontina, made with a blend of Fontina, aged Asiago and imported Parmesan cheeses. So cheesy! Each variety of Cucina Fresca Gourmet Mac and Cheese sells for $9.99 for a 20 ounce box that feeds two as a meal, but can be also be served as a side dish (reality check: it says on the box that it serves four, but seriously, who eats 5 ounces of Mac and Cheese and then stops? Answer: no one. Be smart and plan on serving two people, max, with one box of this stuff). Bon Appétit!

Visit Cucina Fresca on the web at find out about their other delicious, natural packaged foods at Cucina Fresca Dot Com.