Monday, April 7, 2014

From time to time, I'm asked to review products. Here are a few things I've tried recently:

Chick-fil-A grilled chicken

Last week I was invited to taste the new grilled chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A. I was happy to oblige and invited my cousin Nancy to go with me.
Nancy and I both love Chick-fil-A and have fond memories of begging our daddies to take us to the Chick-fil-A in Crabtree when we were girls.
Christy Proctor, local owner/ operator, talked to the dozen or so people gathered for the premiere, telling us about the new sandwich, which went through 1,000 recipes before this one was put on the menu recently.
The sandwich we tried was the grilled club that includes Colby Jack cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato. The sandwich is served with a piece of paper wrapped around it; it's so juicy, you need the wrapper to keep it from dripping! I made the mistake of taking off the paper for my first bite, but I put it back on after the juice started dripping.
This sandwich is very good. I loved the fresh, multi-grain roll, and the grilled chicken has a better taste than the previous grilled sandwich. An entirely new grill was developed to cook it, Christy told us. The cheese on the sandwich adds a nice flavor and texture surprise.
I ate every bite of the sandwich, which is a little unusual for me. But it was so good that I didn't want to leave any behind. I looked around me and saw that most people finished theirs as well.
Our sandwiches were served with a bottle of water and a fruit cup. Chick-fil-A has also revamped its fresh fruit cup to include apples, blueberries, strawberries and mandarin oranges.
Our meal had just under 500 calories.
Before we left, Christy brought out a tray of the new grilled chicken nugget for us to sample. They are also better than the previous grilled product.
I have thought about the grilled chicken club sandwich several times since eating it last week and really want to try it again!
The grilled club sandwich is $5.49.

Welch's Fruit Snacks

I got a sample box of the Easter fruit snacks from Welch's in the mail recently. I often buy fruit snacks for my granddaughter and knew she would like these.
I was right! Not only did she like the taste, but she was excited to see the different shapes, including a chick, eggs, a flower and a bunny. I've had a few of the pouches myself and liked the flavor.
The box includes 28 pouches. Each pouch is 45 calories and contains 100 percent of the RDA of Vitamin C. The fruit bites are also fat-free and gluten-free.
The small pouches would work great in Easter baskets or as a classroom treat.
Cost for the box of 28 pouches is around $4.99.

Fuze Sweet Tea Concentrate

This product was not sent to me, but I have to share it because it's so good! My family and I have enjoyed it so much.
I recently purchased my second cartoon of Fuze iced tea concentrate from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It couldn't be easier to make!
You follow carton instructions for mixing the concentrate and water to make two gallons. It only takes a few minutes. There are also instructions for making single servings.
I've only tried the half-tea, half-lemonade concentrate, but it also comes in sweetened iced tea, unsweetened ice tea and raspberry-flavored iced tea.
The carton costs under $4.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7810

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Yummy combination with pasta salad

Facebook can make me hungry.
Sometimes it’s my friends who are posting photos of recipes they’ve tried or menus from their evening meals. Other times it’s food sites sharing images of cakes and breads and main dishes. Either way, I often take their ideas and recipes and try them myself.
A few weeks ago, several Facebook friends posted a photo of Southern Living’s broccoli, grape and pasta salad. 
The photo caught my eye. For starters, I love pasta salads and make them often, especially in warmer months, for  easy weekday lunches. I was also intrigued with the idea of putting red grapes (one of my very favorite foods) in a recipe that also had pecans, broccoli and bow tie pasta.
Could it possibly be good? I had to know.
I posted the recipe to my page so I wouldn’t lose it and read some of the reviews from the Southern Living web page. It had an excellent rating and many positive reviews, so I purchased the ingredients and made it.
I made very few changes to this recipe. I omitted red onion because I’m not a fan and used Oscar Mayer’s Real Bacon Bits instead of cooking bacon. I also made only a half recipe of the dressing, based on reviews I read.
I loved this salad. So did my husband. The different textures with nuts, fruit and vegetables made a pleasing combination.
This salad would make a pretty presentation for a luncheon or other special occasion.
We enjoyed it for lunch for two days, but it doesn’t last long in the refrigerator before it no longer tastes fresh. The next time I make this, I’ll probably make just half a recipe because it makes a lot for two people to share.
lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810

Broccoli, grape and pasta salad
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise 
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved 
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.
Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta and grapes, and stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving.
Southern Living
 I omitted the red onion, used Real Bacon Bits and made only half a recipe of the dressing. If you don’t plan to eat the salad at one meal, only add the pecans and bacon to what you will be serving.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Love these potato and zucchini pancakes

My daughter saw the recipe first. When she showed it to me, we both knew we had to try it.
The girl loves vegetables; so do I, And the idea of a potato zucchini pancake appealed to both of us.
We took elements of several recipes, adapting them to fit current dietary restrictions in our house and came up with a very tasty side dish that Anna, her dad and I all three loved.
The pancakes take a little bit of prep work with cooked potatoes and grated zucchini on the ingredient list. So while I peeled a few potatoes to boil, she grated the unpeeled zucchini then drained and squeezed out the extra liquid and mixed in the other ingredients. (If you’d like to hide the zucchini, peel it before grating to eliminate the dark green flecks.)
We omitted the onion and garlic we saw in several recipes, although I think both would be delicious, especially the onion. Some other recipes we saw included Cheddar cheese, but we went lactose-free for our recipe.
Anna mixed all of the ingredients together to make a thick batter. She scooped out batter to make small pancakes that she fried in a little canola oil.
Oh my goodness, these are so good! We loved them hot while they were a little bit crispy, and we loved them when they cooled. We even loved them left over and warmed the next day. The mashed potato taste really comes through, and the combination of textures with the firm outside and the soft inside is such a treat.
We enjoyed them so much that we made them again Monday night. I think they were a little bit better the second time because we used even less oil to fry them.
I can see us making this recipe often!

Potato and Zucchini Pancakes

2 cups potatoes (cooked and mashed to equal 2 cups)
2 cups grated zucchini (around 2 medium to large size)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Canola oil for pan
Peel potatoes, dice and boil in water until tender. Mash and measure around 2 cups.
Grate zucchini.
Mix potatoes and zucchini and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let drain in colander, using a paper towel to squeeze out extra water.
In a bowl, combine eggs, flour, baking powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then stir in potato/ zucchini mixture to combine. 
Heat oil in a pan. You don’t need too much. Drop in a scoop of batter about the size of a serving spoon and not to thick. Flatten if necessary. Brown on one side then flip to brown and crisp on the other side. Remove to plate lined with paper towels.
Adapted from My Kitchen in the Rockies