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All posts for the month August, 2010

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Crepini Cafe Crepes with Alouette Cheese

So, a couple times now you may have noticed me talking about Crepini Cafe‘s crepini, which aren’t quite a crepe and not quite a blini, but they’re filled and they taste good.  (You can check out my reviews for Crepini Cafe Greenwich Spinach and Four Cheese and Basil elsewhere on this fine blog.)  Well, I also asked to try just some of their crepes by themselves since I figure I’ll probably never own my own crepe cooking device.

(This is due in no small part to the fact that I am cheap and my wife hates crepes.)

Also, the good folks at Alouette sent me some coupons to try their cheese spread.  Since I was in an experimentin’ mood this weekend, I thought I would blend them and make a Mexican style crepe using Crepini Cafe crepes instead of tortillas.

How Was It?

REALLY good.  Despite the fact the Crepini Cafe crepes have been in my freezer for a while now, when I baked them for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven, they were still pliable and chewy.  They also tasted great and they went very well with the Alouette, which had great flavor and complemented the vegetarian topping very well.

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Flexible Spending I would also recommend flexible spending to people who are saving money. My son doesn’t know how to save, so I started putting him on the path of flexible spending so he could save as he has grown older. As he got older, we expanded on his flexible spending and started adding new things. The benefit of doing this was that it taught him how to put his money to use. It was like training wheels on the way to financial independence. You can read more about our flexible spending here. Tax-free Savings Account (TSA) This is an amazing retirement asset if you have been saving for it. I’m not a financial advisor, so I’m not going to tell you that you should have a TSA. It really depends on how much money you make. I had just worked my way up to $500,000 when I decided to open my TSA. The advantage of a TSA is that it’s tax free. In addition, if you have your own savings account, you can invest in the TSA and get that tax free money as well. If you have a brokerage account you can invest the money, and if you’re a long-term investor, you can get $25,000-$40,000 every year with your $5,000-$10,000 investment into the TSA. What you want to do is put your money as much into the TSA as possible. As an investment it’s a great way to get back to basics, but that’s a big decision to make. You have to make sure that your money will do the things that you want it to do.

How long do you invest in a TSA? I generally put it in for between 1-6 months and sometimes longer. I know that a lot of people that do this use a regular index fund that will do well for you and give you a good return. If you do this, take into account that you will have your taxes taken out of the funds and you may end up getting taxed at a higher rate.

chickn_good_stuff_295x350Gardein Chick’n Good Stuff

So for this #MeatlessMonday post, I thought I’d review Gardein‘s Chick’n Good Stuff.  The nice folks at Gardein were nice enough to send me some review coupons for their products.

I was really appreciative of them doing so, so much so that I didn’t even think about the fact that you can’t get Gardein in Kansas City (that I know of.)  So, on a trip to St. Louis, Mrs. WellDone was able to land the mother load of frozen Gardein products.  For this post, I will talk about the Chick’n Good Stuff and in future posts, we’ll talk about the “beef” tips and their “chicken” fingers (both of which were really good.

What is Chick ‘n Good Stuff?

Chick ‘n Good Stuff is basically everything you want in a vegan meal.  They take their garden/plant-based chicken and stuff it with marinara and vegan cheese.  The outside is breaded with a flavorful coating.  You bake, you eat, you enjoy.  End of story.

The Good

Of all the Gardein products I’ve tasted from Mrs. WellDone’s mother load, these are probably my favorite for one reason: the marinara.  Sure, everyone at Gardein just winced a little because I didn’t say the chicken, but that’s not a knock against the plant-based chicken at all.  I really did like how moist and tender it was.  But the marinara was like… amazing.  I would have eaten it all by itself.

Don’t get me wrong, Gardein makes a mean vegan chicken.  It has all of the texture and most of the taste of real chicken.  (Gardein chicken has a slight aftertaste that was less than chickeny, but that’s common to all plant-based chicken products.  It’s also a little harsh because I was paying careful attention to any difference between Gardein and real meat for this review since I think it’s important faux meat products get close to what they are emulating.)  So really Chick’n Good Stuff gets high marks in the flavor and the “I’d drive to St. Louis and buy it again even if it means buying less Match Meat category.”  Two thumbs up.

The Less Than Good

I’m not labeling this “the bad” by any means, but there was one part of the Gardein that was less good than the others: the vegan cheese.  Not that Gardein doesn’t get an A for effort, but as a non-vegan, I could tell it wasn’t real cheese.  It just didn’t feel right.

Is that fair of me to judge Gardein on?  Maybe not, but I rate vegan food on two scales:

1) Would I eat this as a vegan?  The answer is everyday.

2)Would I serve this to my non-vegan friends in order to get them to consider veganism?  This is where the Chick’n Good Stuff stumbles.  I probably would not because of the vegan cheese.  If I had non-vegan friends coming over, I’d make the Crispy Tenders instead because those were almost perfect copies of real chicken.

The Verdict

Buy and try them.  Even if you are not vegan, the marinara is good by itself and the whole experience is worth a try.

Picture from gardein.com

1278705185_250-baked-brieReady for Baked Cheese Appetizers

Over on FabulousFoods.com, I did an article featuring three ways to make baked cheese: Parmesan crisps, savory baked brie with Romesco Sauce and sweet baked sheep’s milk with jam and balsamic.

baked cheese: so easy, so very cheesey

Who can get enough cheese?  It’s perfect for parties, pick me ups, snacks, or just because you feel like it. But baked cheese takes things to a whole new level.

Next time you want a little pizzazz with your cheese, try baking it. Here are three cheesy, but deliciously simple ways to serve baked cheese. The first baked cheese recipe is a simple garnish that can be ready in minutes. The next baked cheese recipe combines the savory flavors of Spain with the earthiness of brie. The last baked cheese dish combines a mild sheep’s milk cheese with balsamic and jam for a cheesy way to finish a meal.

Read more on FabulousFoods.com.

Picture from FabulousFoods.com.

1276630393_250-ice-creamMaking Vegan Ice Cream

Over on FabulousFoods.com, I did an article on making vegan ice cream.

Sitting on the deck and eating ice cream is a summer national pastime. The cool, delicious flavors, even the sticky fingers are all part of the fun. But, sadly, not everyone can have dairy.

Sure, there are plenty of dairy-free alternatives, but vegan ice cream is delicious and easy to make at home. In fact, basic homemade vegan ice cream uses almost exactly the same recipe as the one that came with your ice cream machine. All you need is a few store-bought replacement ingredients.

Read more on FabulousFoods.com.

Picture taken from FabulousFoods.com.

1274741419_250-limoncelloLimoncello Recipes

Over on FabulousFoods.com, I did a guide for making your own limoncello, applecello, etc. (With the help of Chef Jasper, of course.)

Have you heard about limoncello, the Italian liqueur? It’s basically the best lemonade ever improved by the addition of a little vodka (or, in some cases a lot of vodka.)  Together, this amazing combination forms a refreshing spritzer that is light, delicious, and the perfect summer drink. Even better, lemons are not the only thing that you can turn into a cello. Culinary pioneers are out there making cellos from apple cider, blood orange juice, key lime juice, Meyer lemons, even raspberries and blackberries.

Oh, perhaps best of all, not only do cellos come in all different varieties and not only are they fun to drink, but you can also make them at home. All you just need is a little juice, some vodka, and some patience.

Check it out on FabulousFoods.com.

Picture from FabulousFoods.com.

step5dMake Your Own Sushi

On SheKnows.com, I wrote an article a while back on how to make your own sushi.

Everyone loves sushi, but where’s the love for making it? Maybe it’s the artistry or perhaps the raw fish, but the mere suggestion of making sushi at home is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the bravest cook. Still, imagine the look on your friends’ or family’s faces when you tell them you made the platter of delicious sushi they’re eating! Here is a simple sushi-making technique – master it and you can then start rolling your own sushi creations.

Read more on SheKnows.com.

Picture taken from SheKnows.com.

1277152238_250-condimentsHomemade Condiments

Hey everyone, over on FabulousFoods.com I had an article published on making your own condiments.

Have you ever gotten into an argument that a hot dog must be slathered in mustard rather than ketchup? Did you violently disagree with Bruce Willis when he nearly got deadly over mayonnaise on hamburgers? Such is the depth of people’s love affair with condiments.

Still, the ketchups, mustards, and mayonnaises you find at most grocery stores will never be confused with health food. Most of them are laden with too much salt, too many preservatives and oftentimes, a lot high fructose corn syrup.

Fear not, though…

Read the rest on FabulousFoods.com.

Picture taken from FabulousFoods.com.

1279904669_orange-cupcakeCupcakes, SugarMamas and Nene Takes The Cake

So, I recently had an article published on FabulousFoods.com.  Here’s an excerpt:

Everyone’s caught cupcake fever. So if you’re looking for new and fun cupcake ideas from the pros for your next delicious cupcake adventure, read on.

Big things come in small packages. Small, individually wrapped packages and topped with delicious frosting, fun shapes, and sometimes even sprinkles.  Yes, right now there is no bigger dessert craze than cupcakes.

Over the past few years they’ve gone from homeroom snack to gourmet staple, with cupcake stores appearing on every street corner, master bakers producing volumes of cupcake recipes and designs, and cupcakes have even found their own show on the Food Network, “Cupcake Wars.”

Read the rest on FabulousFoods.com!

In that article, I talk about two great Kansas City cupcake places: SugarMama’s, which has a storefront in old Overland Park, and Nene Takes The Cake, which features @Ms_Nene delivering amazing cupcakes.

Even cooler, Ms_Nene is working on a project to start a mobile cupcake truck which will drive around the city, delivering sugary goodness to all who desire it.  Click on the link to donate to her Kickstarter project and get free stuff, plus your name on the truck.  (Or else!)

And in general, eat more cupcakes!

(Oh, and if you want to see one of Ms_Nene’s cupcake recipes, check out my Examiner.com article.)

Image duly stolen from FabulousFoods.com.