Product review: Biggest Loser Simply Sensible meals

Chef JimNBC’s “The Biggest Loser” isn’t just a hit reality TV show–it’s become big business with cookbooks, workout videos, and now with easy-to-prepare refrigerated meals that you can buy in your grocery store. These aren’t frozen meals, and they aren’t the same meal plan fare we reviewed recently. These are meals anyone can buy, and nuke at home, putting a healthy option dinner on the table in minutes.

The PR company for the meals sent us four of them to sample, and quite honestly, they were all very good. Some stood out and some had things that stood out in a bad way, but for the most part, it’s hard to find food you can have on the table this fast that is this healthy that you don’t make yourself or eat in a restaurant. Here is the breakdown of what we tried….

Beef Tips with Gravy and Brown Rice–The meat was fairly tender, and while the sauce lists garlic high on the ingredient list, the garlic did not overpower the meal at all. The sauce was flavorful, and despite the fact that the rice was sort of undercooked and grainy, I didn’t want to stop eating this one.

Mediterraean Chicken with Bowtie Pasta–This meal had a strong red bell pepper flavor, and the chicken was surprisingly moist and tender. The pasta, like the rice in the beef tips meal, was kind of dry and grainy, even served with the sauce from the chicken.

Pot Roast and Gray with Mashed Potatoes–This one was a bit baffling, mainly because the meat was one big chunk instead of several little ones, but maybe that is the authentic feel they wanted. It was certainly tender meat that you could break apart with a fork, and was quite delicious. It was also stringy the way pot roast should be. However, the potatoes, which were supposed to be real potatoes, were bland and also grainy. I also would have liked to see more carrots in the dish.

Zing Chicken with Brown Rice–This one had a really nice sweet and spicy kick–maybe a bit too sweet for a “healthy” meal, but it sure tasted good. The chicken was tender, and just like the others, I would have liked more vegetables and the rice was dry and grainy. But overall this was maybe my favorite of the four.

If you have a chance to try these Simply Sensible meals, you can buy them and store them in the fridge for months before having to eat or freeze them….and they are really great meals to have on hand if you need something quick and healthy in your fridge.


Super Bowl Spread II

Here is last year’s Super Bowl spread post, and the second in a series of three. That’s because next week we will unveil a new Super Bowl spread on Grub For Guys.

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs, Steak Bites, Olive Poppers, Smoky Chipotle Dip, and Fiery Snack Mix

Hey guys….last year, we introduced you to some dude-friendly Super Bowl eats that you could pile on your plate before settling in for kickoff. This year, we took that concept a bit further, but without making things any more difficult than need be. Because really, you’ve got all that pre-game stuff to watch, and you have to drink a few beers to prime your gut for the barrage of awesome food that will ensue. Well, that’s just a suggestion. Meanwhile, here is what we came up with for Super Bowl 2010. All recipes serve four, so multiply them accordingly…….

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
You know, I think I have published more than a few recipes that feature Buffalo chicken sauce. That’s because for guys, that spicy, tangy, peppery awesomeness stimulates our salivary glands like a Victoria’s Secret model. Well, here’s a way to get that wing sauce flavor without the mess of chicken bones.

2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3-4 baby carrot sticks, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. Ground turkey
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup Buffalo chicken sauce (we like Buffalo Wild Wings medium sauce), and more for dipping
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and then add celery and carrots. Sautee for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Allow to cool slightly, then place in a bowl with turkey, egg, wing sauce, blue cheese, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Re-heat skillet, which should have some remnants of olive oil left, and add half of the meatballs, browning on all sides. Put meatballs on a plate and add second batch, browning them on all sides. Then put reserve meatballs back in skillet and place in oven. Bake for 10-12 more minutes, or until cooked through. Heat about a cup of wing sauce in a small saucepan and serve meatballs with a few spoonfuls of sauce on top.

Steak Bites
This one is super easy, and on Super Bowl Sunday, you need easy!

Read the rest of this entry »


A can a week: Blue Diamond Blazin’ Buffalo Wing almonds

Chef JimWell, this is the original “a can a week,” as the Blue Diamond Almond folks coined that phrase a few decades ago with their “A can a week, is all we ask” TV campaigns. And with nuts falling back into our good carb-hating graces again, Blue Diamond has expanded their line of almonds a lot in the past few years.

They first introduced their BOLD line which included flavors such as Chili Lime, Jalapeno Smokehouse and my personal favorite, Wasabi and Soy. Seriously, when that Wasabi flavor came out, I bought a case directly from the company–no joke.

Anyway, they have now introduced a flavor that is also near and dear to my heart–Blazin’ Buffalo Wing. If you love wings and if you’re like most folks who love wings, you’re addicted to the flavor of the sauce so much, that when you smell it or think of it your mouth waters on command. That’s how I am, and if you are, these nuts are for you….no pun intended.

However, if you eat these Blue Diamond beauties too fast –crunching and swallowing right away–you might miss the flavor of the powdered wing sauce on these almonds. So best to savor them slowly and let the taste of wing sauce linger on your tongue–yeah, i said “linger on your tongue”…go ahead and laugh, but these nuts are no laughing matter. They are bold and delicious and you should go try them, or buy a case just in time for Super Bowl week.


Worst Cooks Heats Up

So, how bad of a cook are you? Are you so bad that you’d be willing to go on national TV, show the world how bad you are, and then compete with other chefs who are equally miserable? That’s the premise of “Worst Cooks in America,” a reality show on Food Network now in its second season. The one thing, of course, that these contestants have going for them, is that they are being taught how to cook by world class chefs–who this season are returning team leader Anne Burrell, and also newcomer and host of “Restaurant: Impossible,” Robert Irvine. Of course, last season it was Anne vs. Beau MacMillan, and for some reason Beau’s contract was not renewed (we really dug this brash New Englander, but they went and replaced him with a brash Brit!).

This season, they began with 16 contestants, and each week two are eliminated after a challenge, one from each team by their team leader. Last night was episode 4, and we’re now down to four chefs on each team. The winning chef will take home $25,000, but the final challenge will involve cooking for food critics who don’t know they are being fed a meal cooked by one of the “worst chefs in America” who by then have been taught some mad skills by Anne and Robert.

The idea behind this show is brilliant, and it’s really remarkable how fast these chefs come along, some of them faster than others. In fact, just like last season, the finalists will probably have a hard time convincing the judges that they were so horrible in the kitchen when Season 2 began.

If you haven’t seen this show and are looking for a reality cooking show fix, check out “Worst Cooks in America” on Food Network on Sunday nights. I mean, football season is basically over, and were you really going to watch “Desperate Housewives” with your significant other?


Meatball Stuffed Eggplant

Here is a good one I ran on Grub for Guys a couple years back. This is another great recipe to try on a lazy weekend in the winter. Enjoy!

This is a good recipe for a lazy Sunday when you have an hour to whip something up, and it’s relatively easy and good for you. Eggplant can be bitter and tricky to work with, so choose ones that are firm but not too firm, and make sure to roast them as directed in the recipe before preparing the dish.

2-3 medium eggplants
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8-10 turkey meatballs (I like Purdue, but thawed frozen ones should work fine), finely chopped
½ green pepper, seeded and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
¼ cup chopped black olives
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
½ cup prepared spaghetti sauce
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce eggplant several times with a fork and roast on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cut ends off eggplant and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp into a bowl and save enough to make 1 to 1½ cups. Place eggplant shells on a baking sheet and set aside. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet and add eggplant pulp, sautéing for about 4-5 minutes or until it’s reduced a bit and darkened in color. Add chopped meatballs, green pepper, garlic, black olives, spaghetti sauce, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in ½ cup Parmesan and bread crumbs. Carefully spoon eggplant mixture into eggplant shells, dividing evenly, and sprinkle each with the remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes and serve. Makes 2 large or 4 smaller servings.

Serve with crusty bread and some good red wine.


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