Sunday, April 29, 2012

Antico Artichoke & Asiago Tapenade With Grilled Naan Bread

We recently discovered the joys of toasted naan bread and I thought it would be great as a replacement for crackers.  And as it turned out, I was right and the outcome of this experiment was absolutely delicious.

We bought some Antico Artichoke and Asiago Tapenade at Costco recently and I was eager to try it.  When we got to our friend's house for a get together, I took the naan bread and cut it up with kitchen shears.  Using the kitchen shears works very well and it makes quick and easy work of the project.  Then my lovely wife toasted the bread in the oven and it was ready to go.

This was a major success and it disappeared like magic.  I have the jar of the tapenade open by me right and I was so overwhelmed by the smell of the cheese, herbs and garlic that I had to run into the kitchen and grab a spoon and have a taste of it!

Artichokes and asiago by themselves are delicious but they have the right mix of herbs and garlic to really put this over the top.  And the naan bread as a base to serve it on made it elegant and added a toasted flavor and some crunchy texture.

I highly recommend this combination. I am also sure toasted naan bread would be a great base for a wide variety of spreads. And I am positive this tapenade is very worthy of spreading on crackers and other breads.  My wife also suggested putting in on a pizza or using it as a pasta sauce and I am sure we will try at least one of those ideas.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Costco Craze Premeres Tonight On CNBC

The Costco Craze: Inside The Warehouse Giant  premieres tonight and will be rebroadcast a number of times over the next few days.

I will be updating this post with my comments.

I will be curious to see what they say about the food at Costco.


I was generally pretty pleased with the broadcast. It elaborated on a number of things I was already aware of such as their private label products and their small selection, But it also talked about their major sales in areas such as toilet paper and wine.

I was also pleased that they said their prices for food were 30% lower than the typical major grocery store.

And in the area of wine, I was impressed by the analyst who said they have played a part in upgrading America's taste in wine. (I am paraphrasing).  No wonder the independent Costco Wine Blog is so successful and useful.

I was also pleased with the interview with my friend Kim at the Addicted To Costco blog.  That was fun and it was exciting to see another Costco blogger on tv.

While the show definitely portrayed them as aggressive negotiators and extremely shrewd marketers, I thought the overall tone was pretty positive. They have happy customers, they sell quality products and they treat their employees very well. They are also concerned about being true to their strategy.

It was a fun show and I recommend watching it.

Frozen Make Ahead Mini Meatloaf-Make One Big Batch And You Are Set For Weeks!

We have had tremendous success with freezing rotisserie chickens and ground beef.  Freezing Costco sized packages in smaller, ready to use containers is a versatile idea and I thought it would work well with meatloaf.  My wife concurred and she went searching for recipes.  She settled on Paula Deen's recipe and set to work.  She did make some minor substitutions such as using some breadcrumbs in addition to the oatmeal.  And while I thought of making larger meatloaves, my wife suggested using the 24 ounce containers for freezing them and her insight was absolutely brilliant!
Here is a photo of the frozen meatloaf.

One of the nice advantages of the mini-meatloaf is that it can be cooked in the toaster oven.  To facilitate cooking these, we typically let them thaw in the fridge for a couple of days beforehand to shorten the baking time.
Here is a photo of the finished meatloaf.

This was a good meatloaf recipe and the tomatoes in this recipe make it very moist.  And for us, the mini meatloaf is good for four servings so we have dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day.  As for serving ideas, this works really well with just mashed potatoes and a nice salad.

We are totally sold on this idea and I am sure we will do it again.  It is affordable, tasty and it is so easy to do.  I love the idea of homemade comfort food in the freezer and doing a big batch of it like this makes it extremely time efficient.

And of course, you can use your own favorite meatloaf recipe, so I encourage to explore and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pasta Prima Chicken & Mozzarella Ravioli With Rachel Ray's Peas And Prosciutto Sauce

We are big fans of Pasta Prima's Chicken and Mozzarella Ravioli and we have definitely enjoyed it before.  With it on sale again, we bought some to freeze and some to cook more immediately.  I thought something with a red sauce would be good and I remembered Rachel's Pasta, Peas and Prosciutto.  My wife seconded the idea and while she finished grading some papers for work, I got dinner going.

I did make a few of minor adjustments to Rachel's recipe.  The first one was that we don't any herbs from our garden yet, so I substituted some freeze dried basil.  Second, we left out the small can of tomato sauce.
Finally, I would say we added more like two cups of peas instead of one.

As for the result, it was very good. The peas add some color and texture you don't see in your typical red sauce plus it also adds another vegetable.  The prosciutto adds a bit of meat, but it is delicate and elegant in its flavor.  All these flavors went well with the ravioli.  And leaving out the small can of tomato sauce was exactly the thing to do. Otherwise, the dish would have had too much sauce.

This was definitely a success and it was a wonderful, flavorful Sunday evening meal that took very little work and time.

And it also left us enough for some nice lunches on Monday.

This positively gets two thumbs up from us and I am very confident in recommending this as an excellent use of this fine ravioli.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Costco Canine Cuisine Review: Jerky Treat Tender Strips-Treats So Good Your Dog Will Learn To Close Its Cage Door By Itself To Get Them!

While our dog is not able to blog, she also enjoys food from Costco.  We bought some Jerky Treats Tender Strips and she is very fond of them.  These treats are made in the USA by Delmonte.  They are on sale this month, so we stocked up.

Layla really seems to love them, as you can see she has quite a look of anticipation on her face waiting to get one.

Layla is a clever girl and she knows when we leave in the morning she has to go in her cage.  The other day, she trotted in well before I got the treats and it seems like she was able to figure out how to close her cage door after herself, which seems like quite a trick!

She is a good girl that deserves some pampering and we are happy to give her treats that she enjoys that are made in the USA.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Costco Craze-Inside The Warehouse Giant: Premieres Thursday April 26 at 9PM EDT on CNBC

CNBC's special on Costco is going to premiere on April 26.   They have a couple of short teaser clips on their website and links to other Costco blogs and various Costco related articles.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

This is definitely on my "must watch" list.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken Sausage and Quinoa Soup

This post was primarily written by my lovely wife as I was out walking the dog on this pretty but crisp day.

It is spring and that brings thoughts of grilling sausages in our household.  So this last weekend while at Costco, we perused the sausage section and came home with a package of Sabatino's Smoked Mozzarella with Artichokes & Garlic Chicken Sausage   It comes in two sealed packages that contain eight sausages each.

Our first menu item with this is a soup that starts with the standard mirepoix of celery, onion and carrot sauteed in olive oil with a spoonful of chopped garlic and a little salt.  Four of the sausages were sliced and sauteed in the pan.  Next was added a couple of quarts of homemade chicken stock which we made from the last two rotisserie chickens we bought.  Finally, a cup or so of cooked quinoa was added to bulk up the soup and it was done.

This was very filling and yummy.  There is a lot of flavor in the sausages so it doesn't require much other seasoning but in the future a little garam marsala may be added to warm up the flavor.

To serve with the soup, a piece of naan bread from Costco was cut into slices and toasted.

Aside from having another successful main dish, we were thrilled with how well the naan bread toasted and what a great compliment it made to the soup. I am sure we will be toasting some of it again soon!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Costco Coupon Book For 4/12 to 5/6 Plus A Link To Recipes For Items on Sale

Once again, I would like to thank my friends at the Addicted to Costco Blog for this month's coupon book.

Among the items on sale this month is the Pasta Prima Chicken and Mozzarella Ravioli.  Below are some recipes using this wonderful product:

With a sauce of Pancetta and Vidalia Onions

With a sauce of Italian Brats and Tomato

Also, the Tostitos Artisan Roasted Garlic and Black Bean Chips are on sale and here is a recipe and a review of them.

Chicken Taco Salad With Tostitos Chips

A review of the Roasted Garlic and Black Bean Tostitos

I am intrigued, it looks like they were on sale at this same time last year.

Also, the Hebrew National Hot Dogs are on sale. I highly recommend stocking up on these for your  ssummer grilling. These are definitely some of the best hot dogs you can buy.

Hebrew National Hot Dogs With A Side of Summer Squash

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Leftover Easter Lamb With Tasty Bite Madras Lentils, Celery and Onions, Served Over Rice

We really enjoy the Tasty Bite Madras Lentils we get at Costco. They are flavorful, nutritionally sound and ready to go.  I was thinking that they would combine well with some left over lamb and my wife eagerly seconded that opinion.  Therefore, I chopped one small onion and one stalk of celery, which my wife sauteed while I trimmed and cubed the lamb.  We tossed the lamb into the pan, added the lentils and warmed everything up.  The meat mixture was then served over some rice.

My wife and I were totally pleased with how well this worked out.  Just serving the lamb and lentils together would have been fine, but I am thrilled with how we made the dish more substantial.  Adding the onions and celery and then serving the whole mixture over rice was effortless but it really made this a very complete dish. The lentils added an elegant but reserved spicy flavor, the onions and celery added crunch and the rice made a wonderful base to serve all this on.

We don't cook leg of lamb that often in our family, but the next time we do, I can guarantee that I will be thinking about this.  Also, for lunch tomorrow, we will be serving the lentil and lamb mixture over quinoa and I am looking forward to that for lunch already!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Slight Variation To Giada's Sweet and Sticky Caramel Hazelnut Rolls

We bought a large multipack of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls a while back and my wife commented that she was intrigued by Giada's use of them  to make some very tasty looking rolls for breakfast.  My wife followed the recipe, except for substituting some nuts we had on hand for hazelnuts.

These rolls were tasty, stick, sweet, delicious and easy!  That is an incredible combination.  I am betting the next time we buy a bunch of them we will make some rolls like this again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Chicken Soup With Quinoa: Grandma's Home Cooking Meets A Bolivian Staple

My wife had a couple of long nights in a row with concert rehearsals and she told me in advance for her night off she wanted comfort food.

Few foods are as comforting as chicken soup so I quickly settled on that for dinner. Since she gave me warning, I pulled some of our frozen chicken from Costco out of the freezer the night before and put it in the fridge to thaw.

When I got home from work, I pulled out our big soup pot and drizzled in some EVOO. I then added a generous helping of Christopher Ranch Chopped Garlic we get from Costco and a small palmful of rosemary I crumbled in my hand.  Meanwhile, my wonderful wife chopped:

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 cup of baby carrots
These were added to the pot and I sauteed them until the onions were tender. While this was going on my wife thawed out a couple of quarts of homemade chicken stock and added that to the pot while I tossed in the somewhat thawed chicken.

She then rinsed a half cup Nature's Earthly Choice Quinoa  and threw that in the pot with about a cup of boiling water.  We brought everything to a boil then turned it to a simmer for about 15 minutes to cook the quinoa.

This dish was absolutely a home run!  It was a delicious, healthy, hearty chicken soup with lots of comfort but it also had a distinct character.

Rosemary and chicken are a natural combination and while parsley is a great seasoning for chicken soup, the rosemary gave it a bit of panache.  Also, the garlic helped give it a more varied and hearty flavor profile.

And finally, the use of quinoa instead of noodles gave it a twist without making it so out of the ordinary it was no longer comfort food.

And by using all the foods we had in a cupboard, fridge and freezer, this went together in very little time with minimal effort.

In every way this dish was a success:

  • Taste
  • Ease
  • Cost
  • Comfort
I am positive we will do something like this again and it only reaffirms our strategy for rotisserie chickens.