My 2016 Election Party

This post sponsored by the foundation to give Beeb cookies. I’m Beeb, and I approved this message.

A historic election day has come and gone. This year has made me sorely miss Hunter Thompson; no one else can capture the insanity of this election year the way he could have. Unfortunately, that brilliant writer died in 2005, so you are stuck with this blogger talking about cookie cakes instead.

2016 election party

Last night, I hosted an informal election viewing party where I served these election cookie cakes. The cakes were the brainchild of GourmetGiftBaskets.com, whom I’ve done many product reviews for in the past. I have a rule that if a press release can get me to laugh, I’ll respond, so when they shot me an email asking if I’d like to try these cakes and cast a vote in the “Cookie electoral college”, I had to say yes. Being British, I am not able to vote in American elections, so a symbolic cookie vote is all I could cast. Before you call me lucky for not having to vote this year, may I remind you of Brexit? (If you’d like to make your own Brexit cookie cake, simply break off one cookie piece, throw the rest in a dumpster, and then complain that you’re still hungry.)

On Election night 2008, I was invited to an election viewing party that a friend was hosting. I made election cupcakes, and the host provided red and blue food and cocktails. It was a way to lighten an otherwise tense evening, and Jai and I were glad we went. So I told my BFF to join us last night for to watch the results with a menu of Pinot Grigio, election cookie cakes, Pinot Grigio, chips and dip, Pinot Grigio, pizza, and a little more Pinot Grigio. After all, during times of distress, everyone needs comfort food.

2016 election cookie cakes

I received cakes bearing the likenesses of three candidates, which had arrived in mid-October as an advance preview sample; I wanted to save them for election night, so I froze them, and it worked beautifully! I’m mentioning this because I specifically Googled “Can you freeze cookie cakes” and got no real results, so hopefully I will now be the #1 result for this highly competitive keyword. Freezing didn’t have any effect on the frosting, and they all tasted great, so if you’ve ever laid awake at night wondering the answer to that question, now you know. Anyway, back to the election (if we must):

The Cookie Cakes

President-elect Donald Trump:

Donald Trump Cookie Cake

Campaign slogan: “Make America a cake again & grab ‘em by the cookies”

Hillary Clinton’s cake appears to be the victim of a literal smear campaign – art imitates life, etc…

Hillary Clinton cookie cake

Campaign slogan: “I should have deleted the cookies off my private server”

We even had a third party option with Gary Johnson:

Gary Johnson cookie cake

Campaign slogan: “I don’t know what a cookie cake is”

Unlike this election year, these cookies didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. All three were a tasty bipartisan treat!

Soup for You with Soupman

Soupman

Samples provided for review. This post contains Amazon Associates links.

So, you know that episode of Seinfeld where there’s a soup vendor whose soups are perfect, but his rules about ordering are … a bit strict?

Thanks to Soupman Soups, you can taste those soups without needing to memorize a very precise order of operations. Yes, the Soup Man is actually a real person!

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!

Soupman quiche

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!

You can find Soupman online, or at grocers near you like CostCo. With Soupman Soups, there will soon be Soup For You!

De-lite-ful Muffins from Garden Lites

Garden Lites Muffins

Samples provided for review

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.

The chocolate muffins are a delicious guilty pleasure. The first two ingredients are zucchini and carrots – but they’re good enough to be an actual dessert, despite having 50% of your RDA of Vitamin A. The Garden Lites website has a recipe for divine mudslide cupcakes using the chocolate muffins, but I like topping mine with almond butter and flaked coconut.

The cakes are absurdly easy to prepare: simply microwave for a minute or so. They’re a bit salty, so enjoy them in moderation.

Garden Lites are available at Whole Foods, CostCo, and other grocery stores. I recommend them!

Where will you go with Bibigo?

bibigo-authentic 

Samples provided for review. This post contains an Amazon Associates link.

Ever read a book that changes your life?

I did, and mine was about dumplings.

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken is a memoir by food writer Laura Schenone, who decides one Christmas to make an authentic family ravioli recipe. When she finds an ingredient on her grandmother’s recipe card that seems out of place — where in northern Italy would you find Philadelphia cream cheese? — she begins a search that makes her learn more about dumplings, Italian cooking, and her own family than she ever thought possible. It’s a really well-written food history that’s also a family history, that’s stayed with me for several years..

There’s one passage in particular where she talks about all the countries that have their own dumplings, and how universally loved they are: no matter what country you’re in, they taste like home, and like love. After all, dumplings are tricky to make, and take time and care to prepare. Dumplings are a special-occasion food.

Having lived in Ukraine and South Korea, I have tried many different kinds of dumplings, each delicious in their own way. When Bibigo offered to send me samples of their dumplings — ready-made Korean food for a Western audience — I wanted to see how their potstickers compared with the mandu I remembered from street vendors in Korea.

bibigo (2)

Unlike the dumplings I had in Korea — which were usually filled with things like kimchi, rice noodles, meat, ginger, and green onions — these were adapted to Western tastes. They come in Pork and Vegetable, Chicken and Vegetable, Chicken and Cilantro, and BBQ Chicken flavors.

Despite the difference in fillings, seeing the charming little dumpling shapes took me back nearly a decade, to my travels through Asia.

bibigo (1)

The potstickers and wontons are fully cooked, can be found in the frozen food section of select supermarkets, and are ridiculously easy to prepare: just microwave, boil, or fry them for less than 10 minutes. Here are some potstickers I microwaved for a quick lunch, with a side of dipping sauce.

bibigo (3)

If you want to get a bit more greens with your dumplings, try adding chopped scallions, along with Sriracha and oyster sauce, for additional flavor. You could also serve them with a side of fried garlic and bok choy in soy sauce, to get your vegetables.

bibigo (4)

However you prepare them, Bibigo wontons and potstickers are delicious, filling, and easy to cook — all the taste of a special treat, without all the fuss and hard work. I highly recommend them!

Look for Bibigo products in select supermarkets — and at your local Asian market. You can also follow them on Facebook and YouTube!

Healthy happy hour with SOYJOY bars

SOYJOY

Samples provided for review.

When I get stressed, I snack. My go-to vices are white cheddar popcorn, and anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate. When SOYJOY offered to send me some fruit and soy bars for their Perfectly Paired challenge, I jumped at the chance to try to build all-natural recipes for a Healthy Happy Hour.

soyjoy (3)

SOYJOY bars are made from ingredients you can actually pronounce. Take a look at that banana SOYJOY label: soybeans, raisins, dried banana and pineapple, butter, sugar, corn starch, eggs, salt, and flavor. And they’re each only about 100 – 200 calories!

soyjoy (1)

I decided to host my own Healthy Happy Hour, so that my friends and I could each try some healthier snacks. Here’s what I came up with!

  • SOYJOY granola: 1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup chopped strawberries, topped with 1 chopped Blueberry and 1 chopped Berry SOYJOY bar
  • SOYJOY berry crumble: 1 cup chopped strawberries topped with honey, cinnamon, and 2 chopped Strawberry SOYJOY bars, baked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes
  • The Elvis: 2 100-calorie dark chocolate bars, broken in half and topped with banana slices, 1 tsp. peanut butter, and 1/2 a Banana SOYJOY bar

And because it’s not a happy hour without a cocktail: I also combined the fresh-squeezed juice of one grapefruit with 2 oz tequila in a glass with a salted rim, for a variation on a Greyhound. Grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, and have many other health benefits!

Feeling inspired? Now one lucky Cooking Catastrophe reader can win a SOYJOY prize pack of their very own!

soyjoy (2)

Enter to win a SOYJOY prize pack!

One lucky reader (within the continental US) will win:

  • A collection of SOYJOY bars
  • $25 to create a SOYJOY recipe
  • Appetizer plates
  • Inspirational cocktail napkins

Just leave your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below by Friday, May 30th, 11:00PM PST – we’ll then randomly select one winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Easy weeknight meals with Lee Kum Kee Ready Sauces

Lee Kum Kee

Samples provided for review.

In addition to sending me chili sauces for review – more on that here - Lee Kum Kee also sent me some Ready Sauces to try, specifically Broccoli Beef, Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and Orange Chicken. A photo of their Kung Pao Chicken is below.

chicken (1)

I’m always looking for ways to save money by cooking at home, and these sauces were all delicious and easy to use: all I had to do was dice some easily-accessible ingredients and fry them up. I made a big batch of chicken and beef dishes on Sunday, and was enjoying home-cooked meals with rice and pasta all week long.

chicken (2)

My favorite was the orange chicken, which I enhanced by adding the fresh-squeezed juice of 1 orange, along with garlic and ginger — you can see those big chunks of garlic and ginger in the photo above. Those ingredients really made the flavor of everything pop!

beef (1)

I also found myself really liking the Mongolian beef — it was a bit spicier than I expected, though not unpleasantly so. As you can see from the photo above, this is REALLY simple to make: just 3 ingredients!

To make my meals more nutritious, I had vegetable stir-fried rice as a side with most of these dishes. I’ll share the recipe for that below.

chicken (7)Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 5 scallions, diced
  • 10 sprigs cilantro, leaves only
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • one 1″ cube of ginger, diced
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Olive or sesame oil, to taste

Steps:

  1. Fry carrots, bell peppers, and onions in oil for 5 minutes, until the bell peppers start to soften slightly.
  2. Add scallions, cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Fry for 2 minutes, until aromatic.
  3. Slowly add the rice, a handful at a time, so that it doesn’t clump. Stir carefully with a wooden cooking spoon.
  4. Add pepper, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Cook an additional 10 minutes, until the carrots soften and the flavors are thoroughly mixed.

Everything I tried from Lee Kum Kee was delicious. Combine their Ready Sauces with some protein and boil some noodles with frozen vegetables for a complete, hot weeknight meal you can make in less than 40 minutes!

Look for Lee Kum Kee Ready Sauces in a grocer near you, and be sure to check them out on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube!

Sriracha deviled eggs with Lee Kum Kee

Lee Kum Kee

Samples provided for review.

Easter is right around the corner, and with it, excuses to make lots of egg recipes. Having spent the past year in the South, my mouth waters at the prospect of indulging in delicious deviled eggs again!

Lee Kum Kee sent some of their chili sauces for review. As soon as I saw their Sriracha and Sriracha Mayo sauces, I knew I was going to have to try to make Sriracha deviled eggs!

eggs (2)
eggs (3)

Ingredients:

  • 1 scallion (white part only)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro (leaves only)
  • 3 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Mayo
  • Lee Kum Kee Sriracha (for garnish)

Steps:

  1. Hardboil 6 eggs. Older eggs work better for deviled eggs!
  2. Allow eggs to cool completely. I usually put them in a bowl full of ice, or just put them in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. While the eggs are cooling, slice the cilantro leaves and white parts of 1 scallion fine.
  4. Once the eggs have cooled, remove the shells, cut them in half, and scoop out the yolks into a separate bowl.
  5. Whisk together the yolks, Sriracha Mayo, scallions, cilantro, pepper, and lime juice until completely blended and not lumpy – about 5 minutes.
  6. Once the yolks are completely smooth, spoon them back into the halved eggs.
  7. Garnish with additional Sriracha, scallions, or cilantro to taste. Put them on your favorite serving dish and enjoy.

Sriracha deviled eggs

Be sure to set some aside for yourself – these tend to go quickly!

Look for Lee Kum Kee Chili Sauces in a grocer near you, and be sure to check them out on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube!

Quick Lunchtime Solutions From Tai Pei

Tai Pei

This post about lunchtime solutions is sponsored by SocialMoms and Tai Pei. Quick meals have always been a point of major interest to me, and it’s even more crucial now that Jai and I are a few months off our diet plan. The challenge of maintaining progress for us is finding the time to prepare foods in advance that can be easily grabbed and eaten – and aren’t high in calories. It’s been a big challenge, primarily because of how chaotic the last few months have been. I knew that 2013 would be a pivotal year of changes for me, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the last few months have been the busiest in my life. Keeping up with cooking has felt like an impossible task – I know I can’t keep this pace up, so I’m doing what I can to prioritize and figure out the most realistic way to map out my schedule going forward. In the meantime, I have a ton of work built up this week since I’ve been out of town, but fortunately I have some easy solutions from Tai Pei to get me through the last few crazy days of October!

Tai Pei make frozen entrees packaged in a cute little takeout-style box – but at around 300-400 calories per box, it is most likely a lower-calorie option than what I would order at my favorite restaurant! I received several coupons to taste-test these meals, and there are lots of flavors to choose from – I decided on Sweet & Sour Chicken, Orange Chicken, and Chicken Fried Rice from the standard line, as well as Spicy General Tso’s Chicken from the new Tai Pei Asian Garden line, which is their new line of entrees which are lower in calories and high in fiber. Since I’ve been eating my way through Chicago the last few days, I figured I’d start by heating up this one for lunch first! ;)

Tai Pei Asian Garden

These boxes are unique in that you do not remove the plastic wrap before microwaving them. I only noticed this after I had automatically started peeling it off, but fortunately, it didn’t seem to negatively impact how my lunch cooked. All you have to do is slap the box in the microwave for 5 minutes, let it sit for 3, and then eat. You don’t even need a plate, although I used one for this photo just because that’s what us food bloggers do:

Spicy General Tso's Chicken

Normally, you’d just eat these right out of the cardboard container; can you say “Perfect” for overloaded days?! No cooking, no cleaning! There is “Good Fortune in Every Box”, including a scannable QR code fortune cookie on the side – cute! I thought this made for a tasty and filling lunch. When they say “Spicy”, they really mean it – I was guzzling water all through my lunch, which is good, because I need to drink more water! ;) This was such an easy solution and I’m so happy to have a few more boxes in the freezer to get me through the rest of this hectic week!

Want to save some cash as well as time? Click here to print off a “Buy One, Get One Free” coupon for any Tai Pei entree or appetizer! And be sure to “Like” Tai Pei on Facebook for more info:

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Tai Pei® blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Goodness Knows Review

Goodness Knows

Goodness Knows samples were provided for taste testing!

When I attended the PDX Tapas Competition in August, I was introduced to a delicious snack bar called Goodness Knows. I loved what I tried, so I was pleased to receive a few boxes in the mail of all 3 varieties to try out and share. I was already familiar with the Very Cranberry flavor from the event, and also received samples of their Nutty Apple and Peachy Cherry varieties.

Snack Squares

These snack squares blend ingredients like oats, nuts and dried fruit with a dark chocolate base. It’s almost like a “Healthified” version of a Flapjack! They are super tasty – each bar contains 4 small snack squares, so they’re the perfect size to tuck in sack lunches or eat in between meals. We even tossed a box in the car during some of our long drives last month! Jai said his absolute favorite was the apple flavor – I still think cranberry might be my pick, if only because that’s the first one I tried so it’s a good taste association!

At the moment, Goodness Knows is only available in select markets – us Pacific Northwesters can pick them up in Portland and Seattle, and they can also be found in Dallas and Denver. But if you’re not in one of these areas, don’t fret – you can also order them online!

Have you gotten a chance to try Goodness Knows yet?

Boo! Mike And Ike Halloween Candy

Mike And Ike Halloween!

Spooktacular samples provided for ghastly gobbling! This post contains Amazon Associates links. Boo!

Today is October 1st, which means that it’s almost my favorite holiday: Halloween! I’m so excited for all the ghoulish goings-on. I’m a sucker for anything Halloween, so when I heard that our pals at Mike And Ike were releasing a Halloween variety, of course I had to check it out.

Mike And Ike Halloween Candy Closeup

Just in time for All Hallow’s, Mike And Ike have released “Mummy’s Mix” and “Vampire Variety”. The boxes come emblazoned with adorably spooky artwork, and the candy is tinted with darker, fall-themed colors. The candy comes in the same tasty fruity flavors you’d expect, boasting tastes like lemon, raspberry, and fruit punch. I offered a handful to Jai and he said, “Yum! This is one of my favorite candies!”. I told him that I didn’t know that, and he said, “I didn’t either until the last time you reviewed a box of these. Now I love ‘em!” So there you go – Mike And Ike’s newest fan!

Trick or Treat Candy Bowl

In addition to the standard theater-style boxes, you can also pick these up in special trick-or-treat size bags – are these not the most adorable things ever?!

Grim Reaper Loves Mike And Ike

Even the Grim Reaper loves Mike And Ike Halloween candy!