How are the soups, you ask? Surprisingly tasty! As you can see above, the soup comes in tetra packs – generally not renowned for peak flavor. However, the soups are well-seasoned, and complex for a prepared soup.
Right now, there are five flavors available: Crab and Corn, Chicken Gumbo, Chicken Noodle, Lentil, and Lobster Bisque. On the pack of each box is a serving suggestion – for instance, use the crab and corn chowder to make a quiche. I never would have thought of that!
To make the quiche, you need a pastry shell, an egg, and whatever additional fillings you want – I added some cooked shrimp and corn to add more volume, then added the soup and baked at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to set. The quiche was delicious!
Eating souffle always makes one feel fancy. Eating a veggie-packed souffle makes one feel fancy and smart.
Garden Lites are small, tasty cakes that are packed with vegetables and low in calories. My personal favorites: the Superfood veggie cakes. Each cake is 30% of your RDA of Vitamin A, and made with brown rice, carrot, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, bell peppers, and zucchini.
Buying food is an ongoing expense, and being a foodie makes that even more costly. Whether it’s hunting for obscure ingredients or buying extra supplies for a new recipe project, cooking special dishes can really add up. Since I’m a frugal foodie, these are my tips for cutting down on costs when you’re developing a recipe:
Waste not, want not. If you’re trying something new or getting adventurous by creating your own dish, there’s bound to be times when it doesn’t quite work. However, there are many times when you can repurpose leftovers or specialty ingredients into another recipe instead of just throwing them out. I am the “Leftover queen”, always getting doggie bags at restaurants and re-working my own leftover meals and ingredients into new ones. Not only does this stop unnecessary waste, but it saves you money as well. If you’re stuck for inspiration, try a website like SuperCook.com where you can put in what ingredients you have and get recipe suggestions that call for them.
Plan what you purchase. If you’re cooking a specific dish rather than just creating your menu based on sales, you’ll end up spending more overall, but that doesn’t mean that one special recipe has to throw off your whole week’s budget. If you know that you’ll need to pick up chicken breasts, organic asparagus, and whipping cream for a special stuffed chicken recipe, think about what else you can make based off that: What should you put on the menu afterwards to use up the rest of the whipping cream? How about a chicken stir fry using your leftover, chopped up meat? Not only does this cut down on time and costs, but it also prevents you from wasting leftover food that you didn’t get a chance to eat. See tip #1!!
Use coupons, in the grocery store…
Check trusty sources such as your newspaper and local sales fliers for coupons you can clip before heading to the grocery store, and save yourself some cash on the items you have on your list! Coupons aren’t just for “Junk food”; you can also find coupons for foodie staples like spices, olive oil, organic products, and so on – you might be surprised what you find!
I can’t be the only one who has ordered specialty ingredients online, like almond flour, that I couldn’t find in my local stores. Good thing I put that expensive flour to use in my bread recipe that completely flopped, right?
Luckily, you can cut costs on these fancy-pants ingredients, which takes a little bit of the sting out when your bread explodes! Groupon Coupons, a recently-launched extension of Groupon, has a searchable database of coupon codes available at tons of online retailers. You’ve probably taken advantage of Groupon vouchers before for visiting new restaurants; well, now you can use Groupon Coupons to potentially save some cash on online grocery orders. Groupon Coupons is a database filled with coupons and promo codes, is free to use, and doesn’t require an account; just click and search for the retailer or type of deal you want, and you can save in a few clicks. Sales are also listed by categories – here’s the ones that can aid in your culinary efforts:
Some days demand an after-work cocktail to take the edge off. This week, I made myself a twist on the Bloody Mary with what I had in the fridge, and Balls Vodka. Balls vodka is 80 proof, distilled 4 times, vegan, gluten-free, and under 100 calories per serving.
The Balls-y Mary
1 shot of Balls Vodka (2 oz)
2 cans of V8, or other tomato juice
Dashes of: black pepper, hot sauce, celery salt, garlic salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and horseradish
Last September, I headed up to Seattle to spend three days at The International Food Blogger Conference with Louise. We had fun sampling different eats, drinks and spending time with local blogger friends as well as making some new ones!
IFBC mixed meal periods with sessions, with each breakfast and luncheon being accompanied by a talk, while dinner periods were set up like a party with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. During the day, you could pick between sessions on food and blogging topics, and there was an expo hall on the second night that gave attendees a chance to network with the brands in attendance.
Breakfast was at 7 AM on the first day, with a full morning of sessions before lunch at 1 PM. Because of the length of time between meals, all of us foodies in the conference room were getting mighty hungry; and when the final session was a cooking demo from The Chef In the Hat Thierry Rautureau, we were all drooling as we could smell the delicious dishes he was preparing on stage. When it was finally time for lunch, I piled a ridiculous amount of food from the buffet onto my plate and chuckled at the irony of being so hungry during a food event.
One of the big highlights for me was that a selfie I posted for Ninja’s #AddMoreGood contest won me a Nutri Ninja Blender DUO! Talk about an amazing prize!!!
My favorite session was the wine tasting hosted by Bordeaux Wines. There was a talk going over the basics of pairing food and wine, and then we were broken up into teams and challenged to guess the flavors in the wines we were tasting.
A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on
Obviously, I did not win any trophies in this department, but the great thing about wine is that the biggest reward comes through the act of tasting itself.
Another amazing aspect to IFBC was the amount of swag given out in our goodie bags. This is what I came home with:
And no, I’m not a greedy swag hoarder! As often happens at local conferences, those of us who don’t have to fly home can often take back more than others in attendance who are constrained by flights. You should have seen the pallet of peaches that Louise was given with an enthusiastic, “Here! Take these!”.
And what you see pictured here isn’t even all that I was given, as I gave quite a few boxes away on the train ride home. You see, I had a layover in Portland where I met up with family, so I loaded them up with some Krusteaz mixes and Aneto broth. I was quite a sight to behold as I sweated in my business suit, slowly lugging suitcases and bags full of heavy chicken broth through the train station! At one point, a nice man on the street saw me struggling as I walked towards my sister-in-law’s car, and offered to help carry my bag. I thanked him with a box of chicken broth, naturally.
All told, IFBC was a fun and memorable adventure. I most loved the “Taste of Seattle” expo hall on the second night, where I had a chance to meet and network with the different brands in attendance. The sessions weren’t necessarily on topics that related to me personally, although I appreciated all of the speakers; but I attend conferences primarily to meet people anyway. There were a few organizational snags, as there tend to be at conferences; for example, our attendee handouts emphasized that all conference-goers are warned not to drink to excess, but during the networking event the second evening, there was no water or non-alcoholic beverages anywhere – not even a fountain. At one point, I asked one of the brands at a booth if they knew where I could get some water, to which they replied, “I don’t think there’s any water, but here – have a glass of wine!” So wine and martinis were our exclusive source of hydration, which was fine with me, but I did find amusing given our warning about drinking. And if you hadn’t guessed already, you should be reading my blog with a tongue planted firmly in cheek!
I’m heading to Seattle tomorrow to attend 2014 The International Food Blogger Conference! I’m excited for some great eats, great drinks, and neat sessions on food photography, recipe development, social media, and everything else blogworthy. I’ll be recapping what I learn right here on Cooking Catastrophe, so if you won’t be there, you can get a “Taste” of it through my blog. But if you’re anywhere in the area, you should check it out and say “Hi” to me in person! Tickets are available at Foodista.com/IFBC and are $95 for bloggers.
Will you be at IFBC this year? Leave a comment and let me know if I’ll see you there!
I visited Catherine a few weeks back, and we had some grand culinary adventures, from egg tacos to fabulous pastries. But the most memorable began when we ran to the grocery store to pick up a few dinner supplies. While we were going through the checkout, Catherine noticed that the customers in front of us had some very unusual flavors of potato chips; with our curiosity piqued, we had to grab a few bags for ourselves:
Why yes, those are cappuccino flavored potato chips. It sounded so disgusting that we simply had to try it; surprisingly, it wasn’t bad, tasting more like cinnamon and sugar toast than anything else. But Catherine had a brilliant idea:
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Dessert Nachos. The recipe is simple: Layer a bowl with cappuccino chips, cover with mudslide ice cream, and top with a piece of See’s Candy. I know this sounds horrific, but it was so, so good; eating the chips with the ice cream really brought out the coffee flavor. This dish is best enjoyed with Jack Daniels on the rocks and a viewing of Johnny Mnemonic, for those with truly refined palates like myself.
I have a most definite sweet tooth – last week, I was in a restaurant with friends and was drooling over the delicious Crème Brûlée that one of them ordered. I ended up getting Pommes Frites instead, but only because I’ve had this obsession with dipping fries in sauce after visiting Dreamland BBQ in Montgomery. But I can make up for missing dessert that night thanks to this yummy new recipe inspired by DreamWorks Pictures’ The Hundred-Foot Journey:
I’m loving these adorable My Little Pony holiday-themed recipes, which include Apple Jack’s Apple Pie, Rarity’s 4th of July Cupcakes, Pinkie Pie’s Pink Lemonade and more! To view the recipes, click on the button above to download a PDF file.
Protip: If you are having a hard time reading the instructions or would like to print these out, you can click on each recipe to view the image at full size. Happy 4th of July, everybody!