Friday, July 30, 2010

In Praise of Saigon Cinnamon

One of my favorite spices is cinnamon and we have a big jar of Ground Saigon Cinnamon. This stuff gets quite a workout in our household.

I use it all the time with oatmeal. A healthy dose of cinnamon, a little sugar, a sprinkle of salt and sometimes a dash of vanilla and I take a boring breakfast to some serious fun.

My wife sometimes adds some soy milk and cinnamon to leftover rice for a faux rice pudding.  But for real rice pudding, we turn to this wonderful recipe from Ina Garten, "The Barefoot Contessa".  This is without a doubt the best rice pudding I have ever had. But aside from it being a great recipe, it does help that we used great cinnamon, top quality Mexican vanilla and Cruzan Rum.

This Vietnamese cinnamon from Costco is a great value.  In the grocery store, the McCormick brand was $4.29 for 1.87 ounces.  At Costco, it is $2.69 for 10.7 ounces, meaning the grocery store is nine times more expensive than Costco!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Amylu Apple & Gouda Cheese Chicken Sausage

When we were grilling the steaks the other day, we cooked up some Amylu Apple & Gouda Cheese Chicken Sausages. They come three packs of seven sausages each, so we only grilled one package for the two of us and threw the rest in the fridge for later.

 Below is the nutrition information on the label.

I just looked at a package of your typical smoke sausage and a 56g (2 oz) portion has 16 grams of fat versus 5 grams for a slightly larger serving of the chicken sausage. And total calories for the smoked sausage is 190 versus 110 for the chicken sausage. Again, a pretty large difference.

We both were pleased with the flavor profile of the sausages. The apple and cheese flavors were present, but they were not not so over powering you felt like you were eating an apple or a piece of cheese.  Being chicken sausages, the flavor of the meat was a nice change of pace from the typical pork or beef sausage.  We really enjoyed them and we are glad that there are two more packages of them for us to eat. While this grilled wonderfully, we also might try them as an ingredient in a dish.

At 13.99 for three pounds of sausage, these do indeed cost more than your Oscar Meyer wieners, but the  taste, quality and health aspects make these a great value.

I am sorry I don't have a photo of the sausages themselves, but we were so interested in eating them I forgot to take a photo!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Costco Food Court Chocolate Frozen Yogurt-Sweet Treat At A Sweet Price

After I was done shopping there the other day, I got myself a cup of Costco's soft serve frozen yogurt. While they offer chocolate, vanilla and swirl, the choice for me was an easy one and I got the chocolate.

I want to be clear, it does not taste as rich and creamy as the best chocolate ice cream out there, but it is a very well done yogurt. It definitely tastes chocolaty and the texture is smooth and firm.  I found the portion size quite generous. At 390 calories it is fewer calories than most ice creams and certainly less than a couple of candy bars that would not be as filling. Plus there is some nutritional value, as you can see from this chart of the nutritional value of some of Costco's food court items.  Even just looking at it, it is impressive. I put my membership card in the photo so you could get some idea of how big it is.  Finally, at $1.35 (plus tax) it is another one of their items that is a great value.  At that price you can justify taking the family out to the food court just for the frozen yogurt as a treat.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Steak Dinner With Grilled Romaine Plus Quinoa With Tomato, Feta, Basil And Lemon Vinaigrette

My wife grilled some more of those bacon wrapped sirloins from Costco along with some romaine lettuce.  While she was doing that I made this wonderful dish of quinoa with feta, tomatoes and basil tossed with a lemon vinaigrette.  I got this recipe from a wonderful blog called Shut Up and Cook. I saw this recipe and I commented to the blog's author that we had to make it and we did!

It went together pretty easily and we timed it so it would be ready about the same time as the steaks and lettuce. I did take a shortcut or two, however. For example, I didn't chop the feta, I just crumbled it.  Also, we were a little low on regular sweet basil so we used lemon basil and cut back on the lemon juice a bit.

As for the dish itself, it was a well balanced combination of the quinoa, feta and tomato.  None of the three main elements overpowered the rest.  The seasoning is simple but effective. I love the tang of the lemon and both the basil and the lemon juice contribute fresh, lively flavors to the dish.

We really liked it and my only complaint is directed at myself: I should have read the author's comment that this halves easily, because it did make an huge quantity. It won't go to waste, but next time, I think we will tone it done to a half recipe so it does not last as long.

But I definitely consider the dish a success and I plan on making it again before the end of fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market.

It is interesting to look at too. Quinoa is a fun and extremely healthy food, and it gives the dish a distinct appearance.

This was a particularly Costco oriented meal. The steaks,  quinoa, feta and romaine lettuce all came from  Costco, along with a few of the other ingredients such as olive oil and pepper.

Speaking of the romaine lettuce, we served it with some of the left over dressing from the grilled pork salad we made the other day.  I enjoyed it even more than the dressing from Alton Brown. This experience with the lettuce reaffirmed our desire to make that dressing a standard recipe in our repertoire.

This was a great meal that was easy, upscale and very reasonably priced.  And while there is definitely some fat in the steak, the rest of the meal is balanced and quite nutritious.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rotisserie Chicken with Satay Sauce

I had an job interview and a presentation to rehearse for the other day, so my wife picked up a rotisserie chicken from Costco and made a satay sauce for it.

Here is a link to the recipe.  It is from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network.  It goes together pretty quickly and it keeps for a few days. Since it does store for a bit, we use it with other food, such as pork.  It has a little bit of heat but it also has the salty flavors of the peanut butter and soy sauce.  The sesame oil gives it some depth and there is some sweetness from the brown sugar. In addition to giving  it flavor, the peanut butter adds some substance to the texture.

The chicken from Costco is a good value too. At 4.99, it is one of the less expensive chickens around and it is large and of very good quality.  Considering the number of servings you get out of it makes for some very low cost and tasty meals.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Grilled Jerk Pork Salad with Citrus Dressing

We had some pork in the freezer and we thought it would be a good change of pace, so I put it in the fridge and let it thaw.

We seasoned the pork with a generous portion of jerk seasoning and a bit of salt since jerk has no salt in it. After a few minutes on the Griddler it was cooked just about right.

I chopped up some romaine lettuce and then added some mandarin oranges, golden raisins and sliced almonds.

I got the dressing recipe from It has a couple different citrus flavors and some toasted curry powder.  The recipe is here.

The bright jerk flavor was complimented well by the bit of background heat from the curry powder. The salad also had some tang and the two types of orange flavors made it just sweet enough to balance the other seasonings.

The variety of textures from the meat and the other salad components also made it feel more varied than eating just a leafy salad.

We were very satisfied and the dressing will definitely be in our standard repertoire.  We have some of the dressing left over and will try it some grilled romaine soon.

Finally, it was pretty dish. Below are a couple of photos of it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Cookies-Fresh Baked and a Coupon

Costco has an unlimited use coupon this month for their chocolate chunk cookies from their bakery.  These are sweet without being overpowering and they have real chocolate in them in a good quantity. Also, for those (like me!) that like a good bite of the chocolate, the chunks give you more to sink your teeth into.  They are normally $6.49 for 36 ounces (over two pounds) and with the coupon they are 4.99, which takes them from a good value to a great value.

I took them to my Toastmasters meeting last night for snacks and they were greatly appreciated. With my blessing, at least one person took one home.  And there are still a few left for my lovely wife and I too enjoy. ;-)

Potstickers from Costco-Easy, Affordable and Tasty

We always keep the Ling Ling Potstickers from Costco in the freezer for a quick, tasty and reasonably priced supper.  A bag costs about $10 and there are coupons now and then. We typically get about 6 to 8 servings out of a bag, so the cost is quite fair. They also cook up in about 10 minutes and thus there is a not a lot of waiting around for dinner.

My wife did discover that she gets a better flavor out of them by adding some sesame oil when she is cooking them and also by adding some szechuan sauce to the dipping sauce they provide. Speaking of the dipping sauce, they provide multiple packages of it in the bag, so that makes it even more convenient.

They have mild but rewarding oriental flavor with a good texture.  If you are squeamish about trying something new, just wait until they have a coupon for them. I think you will find they are a great value.

Italian Meat Panini with Garden Salad Supper

Earlier in the week we had a fun supper of panini and a garden salad.  It went together very quickly and by using the Griddler to make the panini, we didn't have to stand over a hot stove for a long time.

I made the sandwich while my wife made the salad. The sandwich used provolone and salami from Costco. We also put capicola, fresh red onion, EVOO and dried oregano on it.  While we love the ciabatta rolls from Costco, we typically make panini using a single loaf we buy from our local grocery store since it fits so well on the Griddler and it is a good serving size for us.  The sandwich was hot, cheesy, meaty and flavorful.  My wife tells me she got a lot of admiring looks at work the next day over her leftover sandwich. Below is a photo of both the whole and sliced sandwich.

The salad my wife made completed the meal very well. All the fresh veggies and herbs in it made it fresh and lively.

The salami at Costco is a excellent value at about $5.49 for 24 oz. It comes in two 12oz packages which also makes it handy to use.  The provolone is also a great price at about 6.79 for 2 1/2 pounds.   That is less than  $3/pound which is a very reasonable price for a good smoked provolone.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No posts for a few days because....

I have some job search stuff to do including interviews and some other obligations for the next few days. I should be posting by Saturday July 24, if not earlier.

Thanks for your patience.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Homemade Black Cherry and Concord Grape Sorbet-Good Source of Antioxidants

My wife recently bought one of those two packs of Welch's Black Cherry Concord Grape Juice.  We have been drinking some of it and it is a fine juice, but I thought with this horrible heat it might make a great sorbet.  My wife's face instantly lit up at the idea so I put the bowl from our ice cream maker in the freezer overnight so we were ready to go the next day.

All we did was put four cups (one quart) of juice straight in and we turned on the ice cream maker. Yes, it was that easy and simple!

About half an our later, we had a fruity, non-fat desert high in antioxidants. (The juice has 250 mg of polyphenol antioxidants per 8/oz serving).  It was refreshing and cooling in this hot weather and with zero guilt.  It is also a very pretty dish.  Finally, it is a very practical desert given the time and money involved. In every way I am pleased with this tasty and healthy desert.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Perdue Farms Bourbon Chicken Salad Recipe

Some time ago Costco had a coupon for Perdue Bourbon Chicken. We bought a bag and we liked it as a snack but I thought it had more potential.  As a chicken salad ingredient, it is a great choice: it adds the meatiness of chicken, the sweet tang of the bourbon sauce and a variety of colors.  This is what I came up with and I made it again last night for dinner.  This recipe makes two servings:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped (from Costco)
  • 12 oz (about) of Perdue Bourbon Chicken (from Costco)-cooked
  • Sliced Almonds-(Almond Accents brand from Costco)
  • Golden raisins
  • Your favorite ranch dressing.
Aside from tasting great, it is a pretty and colorful dish.

The cost is pretty reasonable too. We got the chicken with a coupon, so the total cost of a couple of salads was less than  $4 total. Compare that to a price of probably about $8 each if you were at Applebee's or TGI Fridays. And this salad is certainly far better for you than some other options. And you could improve the health aspects of it by using a nonfat/lower fat dressing and by using a bit less chicken.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kicked Up Palermo's Margherita Pizza

As the heat continues, we don't feel like doing a lot of standing over the stove, so for a light lunch we had a Palermo's Margherita Pizza. They are normally 9.79 for a three count box but there is a coupon for $3 off this month (no limit!), so we bought a couple of boxes. We usually don't do anything additional to them, but with some of that Belgioioso fresh mozzarella in the fridge, my wife decided to add that along with some fresh basil and a tomato from her garden.  It turned out quite well and a we will probably do this sort of thing again.

And while not low calorie, at 390 calories with18 fat grams (27%) for the basic pizza, it is a reasonable indulgence. And at a price of a bit over $2 each, it is a good value.

Excelline Chicken & Cheese Quesadilla Review and Serving Suggestion

With the new coupons that came out, we bought a box (8 count) of the Excelline Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas. After the coupon, they $6.84 a box, which made them about 86¢ each.  To make a meal out of them we served them with refried beans topped with cheese and jasmine rice on the side. The rice was also bought at Costco.

Below is a picture of the meal as it was served.

We heated up the quesadillas in the toaster oven and that gave them a good texture and it didn't heat up the house. (Even with central air, we don't see the point of generating extra heat in the house).

The quesadillas had a good texture and if the amount of chicken and cheese was not luxurious, it was enough to be satisfying.  The texture was fine and they had a bit of zing to them so they had a good flavor.

We were satisfied with them and will buy them again when there is a coupon. We probably won't buy them without a coupon just because there are other things we like more.

But this turned out well. There was variety to the meal, it was low cost (about $3 for the two of us) and it    was filling enough without leaving us feeling bloated in the 90 degree weather we are going through.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New coupons became active today-July 15

The newest set of coupons are good from 7/15 to 8/8.

I already used some today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dinner-Caprese Salad & Tuna Salad with Cannellini Beans

As it is still hot, salads sounded good again.  My wife made a Caprese Salad with basil from her herb garden and the Belgioioso mozzarella from Costco, along with some tomatoes from the farmer's market. She seasoned them wonderfully with EVOO, salt and pepper.

I made a tuna salad with cannellini beans that was basically the recipe off the can of Bush's except we added more red wine vinegar and we substituted sweet onion for red onion. I think the flavor is still very good with the onion change, but it might have looked prettier with the red onion.   The ingredients were:

1 can Kirkland Signature Albacore Tuna from Costco
1 can rinsed and drained cannellini beans
about 3/4 cup onion
A bit over 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
EVOO, salt and pepper to taste

The caprese salad had the bright taste of basil, the freshness of the tomato and the satisfying texture and taste of the cheese. It was absolutely delicious and it certainly reaffirmed why a caprese salad is such a classic fresh mozzarella recipe.  The tuna salad was very good, very simple flavors that blended well together. Although, as I said, the red onion probably would have made the dish much prettier.

For maybe 10 minutes in the kitchen, if that much, it was a fresh, homemade supper that was satisfying without being too heavy for the hot weather.  And it was healthy too with low fat foods like the veggies and the tuna.

Hebrew National Hot Dogs with Summer Squash

Since the grill was going the other night for the steaks, we decided to also cook some hot dogs so we would have something for lunch and dinner yesterday.  My wife cooked up some summer squash and we were ready for dinner.

The hot dogs were in the May/June coupon book for $2.50 off.  They were $10 before the coupon which made for a final price of $7.50 for four 12oz packages.  Compares that to the sale price I saw at Meijers a while ago for two packages for $6.  The math comes out to four packages for $7.50  at Costco with coupon versus $12 at the grocery store. That is a pretty huge savings.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Sirloin Served with Grilled Romaine and Grilled Sweet Onions

We bought a six pack of those Quantum Steakhouse bacon wrapped sirloin steaks. They are were less than $13 for six of them, so they were a bit over $2/each.

My wonderful wife Marcelle started the grill while I sliced up the vegetables and seasoned them with salt and pepper. The romaine came from Costco and the sweet onions from the farmers market.  For the romaine I made a dressing of capers, apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard.

We got the idea for this dinner from watching "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" on the Food Network.  We saw Anne Burrell make some steaks with some grilled sweet onions on the side and we thought that sounded good. Then to complete the meal we made Alton's grilled romaine from "I'm Just Here For The Food" cookbook. This is a simpler recipe than his one on the Food Network site.

We loved the dinner and we will certainly do something similar to this again, but we will probably vary the vegetables to give it some variety. The total cost for both of us was about $6.  Compare that to the price of a similar meal in a steakhouse and you can certainly see the value.

Below is a picture of the meal. I do apologize for the fact we started eating before we photographed it.

Then we had some Edy's fruit bars for desert. They had a coupon at Costco for them a while ago and we have been going through them.  They have an honest and fresh fruit flavor and are satisfying without any fat and very few calories.

Mypoints bonus for joining Costco-500 points plus $50 in coupons-referral free post

I am a member of Mypoints and they offering 500 points with $50 worth of coupons including:

Free 2 lb bag of Kirkland Coffee
Free Rotisserie Chicken
Free case of spring waterFree 100 photos digital printing
Free 48 pack “AA” batteries 9.99 value
$3 off fresh bakery cookies
$3 off albacore tuna 8 pack
Free case of spring water
$3 off fresh baked 18" pizza
$3 off fresh meat
$2 off salad mix
$5 off premium floral bouquet
$3 off white meat canned chicken breast

I am sure of the first three items but I am not sure about the rest of the list since I am just going by the most recent promotion Costco had. But the first three items are definitely listed on the MyPoints site and thus you can count on those.

Please note that by just posting the link below I am not making any getting any sort of referral reward. This post is just totally something as information with no reward for me.

If you drink coffee and eat chicken, this does a couple of useful items for free.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New links added-Two Costco Blogs, Jeffrey Saad's Blog and another of my favorites

I have added four new links:

  •   Addicted to Costco. It has a reviews of both stores and products.  You see a lot of comments about products on sites, but you seldom see reviews of stores and I find that info fascinating.
  •  Costco Blog. While I am happily married, I was single for a long time and I appreciate this blog about enjoying Costco from a single person's viewpoint.
  • Jeffrey's Saad Passion For Food. Some of you might remember him as the runner up from Season 5 of "The Next Food Network Star". While I definitely agreed with the reasons why he came in second, I still think he is a exciting, charismatic and knowledgable cook. 
  • My Money Blog. Why this site you may ask? 1) I read it. 2) I think it is easily one of the best personal finance sites on the web 3) He shops at Costco. 4)Part of the reason we shop at Costco is because it does make financial sense.
I will probably have a new food post tomorrow.  See you then.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Two quick semi relevant comments-Costco Fresh Flowers and 10 Best Foods for the Buck

My wife commented about how happy she is with the flowers I buy her at Costco and suggested I post a photo of the most recent ones I got her. While not food, you do have to walk past them in the store to get to the groceries and thus most of my readers will have seen them at one time or another.

Like the vast majority of items at Costco, they are a great value. This lovely bouquet only cost 8.99.

In my previous post, I mentioned albacore tuna from Costco and I thought of that again when I saw this article.

10 best foods for your buck.

Tuna was on the list and I do agree, it is a great low fat source of protein with omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, the stuff from Costco tastes great.

That is really a hard combo to beat.

The heat continues and so do the salads-Tuna Salad with Romaine Lettuce & Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

It was another hot day in Michigan so it was another salad.  The cucumber, pepper and onion came from the farmer's market, the tomato from my wife's garden and the romaine lettuce came from Costco.  The six packs of romaine cost only slightly more at Costco than the three packs do at other stores.  The fresh herbs, as always, came from my wife's herb garden.

My lovely wife was in charge of lunch today and made it while I was updating software on my computer.  Once again, I don't have an exact recipe but here is the list of ingredients:

       Salad ingredients

  • 1 1/2 heads of Tanimure & Antle romaine lettuce from Costco
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 small roma tomatoes
  • 1- 7oz can Kirkland Signature Solid White Albacore tuna from Costco
      Dressing ingredients
  • Kosher salt
  • Kirkland Signature freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 clove fresh garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Champagne vinegar
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • Thyme
  • Sweet Basil
  • Oregano
My wife did make the dressing separately and then dressed the salad.  The fresh veggies and herbs gave the salad a lively, cool flavor while the tuna added some very satisfying protein with very little fat.  It  certainly made for a great lunch and there is enough leftover for dinner, although we may add more tuna.   And with all those fresh it herbs, it smelled wonderful.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Refurbed Cuisinart Griddler Refurbished, $45 shipped

I will have a longer post sometime about the Costco foods we cook using it, but let me just say, the Griddler is a versatile kitchen tool if ever there was one. Panini, bacon, grilled, chicken and more, we would not live without this wonderful multitasker.

Griddler at Woot

The next best price I saw on this shipped from a rated seller at Google Shopping was for $89.  That is a new one and this is refurbished so do keep that in mind.

Enjoy and happy grilling.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pasta Salad with Belgioioso Fresh Mozzarella

Yesterday it was warm and muggy and we didn't feel like eating a heavy meal of hot food.  The solution was a wonderful pasta salad featuring Belgioioso Fresh Mozzarella from Costco.  I don't have have exact quantities for a number of the ingredients but here is what went into it. Unless otherwise noted, fresh herbs will be from my wife's herb garden:

  • 12 oz rainbow butterfly pasta
  • 2 roma tomatoes from my wife's garden
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • about 10 oz Belgioioso fresh mozzarella
  • flat leaf parsley
  • spicy basil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
My wife put it in the fridge to chill for a while and then garnished it with a sprig of fresh parsley.  Below is a photo of the finished dish.

As is fairly common in our house, I came up with the idea for dinner and did support things like buy the ingredients and start the pasta while my wife did most of the cooking although in this case that was mostly chopping.  She did suggest adding lemon juice, which really brought just the right amount of a nice, bright tang to the dish.

This was a  fun summer salad that had some good crunch from the pepper and onions and a nice blend of herbs and other flavors to make it refreshing yet satisfying.

The Belgioioso cheese is pretty affordable. You get two 16 oz pieces (two pounds total) for 6.99 at my local Costco. That compares to 3.59 for 8 oz at Meijer. Same brand, yet less than half the price on a per pound basis.

Here is a link to some recipes from Belgioioso.

Searching "fresh mozzarella" at the Costco cookbooks link I have posted produces about 32 results. And I am sure the Epicurious and Food Network have a wide selection of recipes too.  I might do some searching for a fresh mozzarella recipe at some point because we really do like this cheese and it is a great price.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Food this great at such low prices deserves a blog

My wonderful wife and I have been shopping at Costco for a few years now and it has become a enriching part of our routine. From everyday staples like rice to fun "luxuries" like Nutella, shopping at Costco adds great value and quality to our life.  This blog is meant to share ideas, recipes and favorite foods from this fine store.  Here are a few guidelines I have in mind for this blog:

I am more prone to share general cooking and eating ideas than my own specific recipes, but there might be a few of those. The reason I won't have a lot of my own recipes is that my wife and I often just make up things as we go along. However, I will definitely post links to recipes from other sources.

Speaking of recipes from other places, the first link on my list is to some cookbooks by Costco. They are free pdf files and I must say, they are quite professionally produced. 

Also, I plan to talk about some of their prepared foods that I enjoy and ideas about serving them.

Finally, I will definitely have some comments about Costco food court items.

Stay tuned, there is more to come and thanks for stopping by.