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Product Review: Planter’s NUT-rition Men’s Health Recommended Mix

Chef JimThat’s a mouthful of a title, huh? Well, it’s a pleasant mouthful of nuts too (insert Beavis and Butthead snickering). Seriously, this new Planter’s NUT-rition Men’s Health Recommended Mix is a simple combination of peanuts, pistachios and almonds. And before I get to the health benefits, let me just say that it’s a winning combo. I like having peanuts in my nut mixes, and more often than not lately they are not included. But Planter’s is sort of known for their peanuts, almonds are the new peanuts, and shelled pistachios are becoming more popular as well.

I don’t think this is how it’s supposed to go down, but when I opened the can I inhaled almost half of it. I don’t want to look and see how many servings that is. But they are delicious, fresh, and a filling snack. There are six grams of protein per serving, six vitamins and minerals and 3 grams of fiber.

And not only are these nuts sold in a can, they also sell them in a six-pack of single serving (1 oz.) bags to take on the go–an excellent stash for your desk to go along with all that jerky and cheese sticks (or if you are like me, a bit too much candy and assorted junk food).

Look for a media blitz geared toward guys, but I can tell you my wife took a few bags to work as well and also enjoyed them. Planter’s, you have another winner.

Product review: Hormel Mary Kitchen 50% less fat Corned Beef Hash

Chef JimJust in time for St. Patrick’s Day, right? I popped open a can of Hormel Mary Kitchen 50% less fat Corned Beef Hash for lunch today, and it was awesome. What I did was to empty half a can into a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, and cooked on medium heat for about ten minutes with flipping it. That made the bottom nice and crispy, and then I flipped it over to crisp the other side. After about five more minutes, I cracked an egg on top and let that cook until set, added salt and pepper, and instant lunch! Of course, this is a food more suited for breakfast, but there are no rules here at Mikey’s Kitchen.

I didn’t compare this against the full fat version of this hash, but this one had less fat (I believe 7 grams per serving). However, it was still 290 calories, so if you’re watching your weight, you should keep this one on the shelf.

Anyway, the tasty combo of tiny cubes of corned beef and potatoes was filling and delicious, and even better crisped up with the egg on top. This is a good thing to keep on hand for hangover food or to impress your house guests.

A can a week: Swanson Chicken & Dumplings

Chef JimA can a week is back! We hope to bring this feature each week, since grocery store shelves are lined with the stuff…canned food, that is. Anyway, this week we tried Swanson Chicken & Dumplings. It’s not soup, but rather chunks of chicken and small dumplings in a rich chicken gravy.

The pros–very tasty and satisfying, especially on a cold day like today; quality chicken meat and nicely made dumplings; perfectly seasoned
The cons–a bit thin, and if I would have known, I could have tried it over noodles or rice; the chicken chunks were small; and I would have liked some carrots, peas or celery in addition to the chicken and the dumplings.

But overall this is a winning can of food, and as I said a very satisfying cold weather lunch.

Perfect pizza

Maybe one of these days we will convince Trader Joe’s to advertise here, because I’m about to pimp them again. Seriously, even though it’s a good 20 minute drive from our house, we do most of our grocery shopping there. Their prices are great, they have cool and unique products and they get you in and out (plenty of cashiers and baggers) quickly. Some of their items that we go out of our way for from Trader Joe’s are the Greek yogurt (thick and tasty), whole grain bread with no additives or junk, and my personal favorite–pizza dough. Now, they have whole wheat dough, and an herb dough. But there is nothing quite like the plain white one. And if you, like me, have ever gone on a wild goose chase for a ball of pizza dough, you might bookmark this thought–the one that says Trader Joe’s has amazing pizza dough.

Anyway, if you do grab a ball (heh heh, he said grab a ball…I digress), here is how I make perfect pizza every time……preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wipe a work surface clean, and then spread it with some white flour. Place the dough down and turn it over a few times to coat with flour, and flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough, adding more flour to prevent sticking to rolling pin and surface (this also makes the dough more elastic). Do this as far as you can in every direction to wind up with a round, thin crust. Grab a pizza pan and place dough on it. I like to use a 14 inch pan, rolling up the ends to make them thick.

Grab a can of pizza sauce (or use spaghetti sauce), and pour a small amount on the dough. Spread it with a spoon, adding more as needed to cover the dough, but not necessarily cover it all the way…there should be red swirls all the way around, with plenty of white space too, if that makes sense. For the cheese, I like to grab some shredded mozzarella and put that in a bowl. Then I shred some sharp cheddar and add that to the mozzarella, then add some grated Parmesan to that. The ratio should be something like 60-30-10. Spread that around the pie, but like with the sauce, don’t over-do the cheese (unless you like it that way). Finally, sprinkle with a dash of dried oregano.

Place the pie in the oven, and bake, rotating clockwise every 4-5 minutes to bake it evenly, a total of about 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly, turning brown but not too brown. Remove, slice with a pizza cutter and enjoy. I know it’s perfect when I hear that “thwap!” as I’m cutting it, meaning my dough is thin and beautifully crispy. Man, I’m hungry! Anyway, enjoy and let me know if you have a chance to try this out.

Roni Sue who?

So this past weekend, my wife was traveling on business to New York City, and when she had told me en route home that she picked me up something, I didn’t think much of it at the time other than it was nice she was thinking of me. But then when she arrived home and handed me a bag with 1) BeerCorn (beer caramel corn) and 2) chocolate covered bacon, it was like the holidays had arrived early.

The place she picked these items up from was a booth at a street fair, from a vendor called Roni-Sue’s Chocolates. The bacon is really good, but, well, how can chocolate covered bacon not be? But the BeerCorn blew me away. It’s beer and pretzel caramel corn with candied mustard seeds. So not only is the caramel corn itself delicious, but throw in the malty aftertaste of beer and the faint taste of mustard, and it’s like a ballpark exploded in your mouth.

Thankfully you can order this stuff online, and there are also items that are intriguing, like maple/bacon lollipops, chile/lime lollipops, truffles, BeerCrunch & bacon buttercrunch, and chocolate covered pretzels. But maybe the best part is that everything from Roni Sue is handmade and all natural. So yeah, it tastes amazing and there are no weird artificial ingredients. What more could you ask for? Except more!

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