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Wing Sauce Wednesday–Wheat Thins Spicy Buffalo

Chef JimI love Buffalo wing sauce. I love it so much that I am starting a new column every so often here called “Wing Sauce Wednesday” in which I will review a product made with Buffalo wing sauce, or tell tales of something related to wing sauce, or bathe in it. Okay, maybe not bathing in it. But man, my mouth waters when you mention this stuff. Anyway, it’s become a mainstream flavor in so many foods now, that I thought we’d start to mention as many as we can–weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, or whatever.

First up, Nabisco Wheat Thins Spicy Buffalo. Wheat Thins are delicious, and have a signature sweetness that offsets the whole grain crunch. So how would a spicy flavoring alter the overall experience? It’s really good–with a very generous dusting of Buffalo wing sauce powder, a bit spicy but not too spicy, and with that nice tang that wing sauce has. And you can tell by the sweetness you are eating Wheat Thins. The only drawback? That sweetness is a bit odd against the salty and spicy tang–odd, but tasty…if that makes sense.

Anyway, if you like Wheat Thins and wing sauce, you should definitely try these crackers.

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.

Product review: Taco Bell Beefy Crunch Burrito

Memo to Taco Bell–your commercials work. I was watching football on Sunday and a commercial came on for the limited time only “Beefy Crunch Burrito.” It’s a burrito with (are you ready for this?) Flamin’ Hot Fritos right in the burrito. Are you kidding me? I knew I wouldn’t want to be plucked from my comfy blue recliner while watching my Giants crush the Falcons, but dammit, I will get to Taco Bell this week. That’s what I said to myself. Monday came and went and I forgot. Tuesday morning came and a light bulb went off in my head around the time I had lunch hunger pangs. Oh yeah, it’s time, I thought.

I had to pick up our son from preschool which meant I had a short window of time to get to the Bell and then pick him up, and get home before my food got cold. The line was literally out the door, and I stood there for a few minutes, and then noticed the drive thru lane was near empty. I got in my car, cruised up and ordered, “Two Beefy Crunch Burritos, please, no sides, no drink”…..and amazingly, it was only $2.09. And I would still be in line if I didn’t do the drive-thru.

Anyway, I got some hot sauce to go with the burritos, but these babies needed no sauce–there was some saucy taco meat, rice, some oozing cheese, sour cream, and of course, the spicy corn chips, wrapped in those pillows of flour tortilla. Damn. This is as close to dude food nirvana as it gets–of course, it’s not like it’s a juicy steak, but there is certainly a place for nicely crafted and delicious fast food in any guy’s diet. (speaking of which, don’t tell my doctor I ate these).

Oh, and they did get cold by the time I got through my second one, because I was working while eating, and because I was savoring every bite. For real, yo. Go try these now…..seriously, go try these now!

It’s bacon week!

We’ll have plenty of bacon talk this week, but I wanted to just offer a few items today to kick things off.

First of all, I have to have blood drawn tomorrow morning for my semi-annual cholesterol check. I’ve come to learn that it’s not so much bacon and eggs that muddy your blood, or at least my blood. But rather, it’s carbs. So I like to eat lots of bacon and other meats when I’m watching my weight and/or carbs. But that doesn’t mean I at a pound of the stuff today before my blood test. But I will indeed eat much bacon this week as I sample and create some more recipes. Our 4 year old son also loves bacon, and often pulls the package out of the deli drawer in the fridge and hands it to me or Mrs. Mikey. Pretty funny.

Anyway, the other thing I wanted to mention was how to best cook bacon. The traditional way is in a frying pan, but this can get extremely messy and not result in the best product. You can also bake it in an oven on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and it comes out perfectly crispy this way, but also takes a while.

The best way is to use a microwave. And I don’t mean cooking that “pre-cooked” bacon that you nuke in like 15 seconds. That stuff isn’t the same. I’m talking nuking real slices of bacon with either a bacon tray or a plate with paper towels. I’ve broken many a tray, so I am currently using the plate and towel method. You put about 2 sheets of paper towel down on the plate, lay a few slices of bacon down, and top with 1-2 more sheets of paper towel. You nuke on high for two minutes, turn the paper towels over and change them, and then nuke for another 1-2 minutes. Your bacon, unless it’s super thick, will be just about perfect. And you may never look at cooking bacon as a chore again!

Chicago: foodie weekend

Greetings fellow readers of Mikey’s Kitchen. This past weekend Mrs. Mikey and I went to Chicago for the weekend, for the sole purpose of eating at some of the city’s great restaurants we have heard much about. The rest of this week will be devoted to talking about the meals we had–at The Purple Pig, Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, and Graham Elliot. There was some interesting food–stuff we would never try on any given day–but it was all good. So stay with me this week for the recap….

Product review: Wheat Thins Stix

Wheat Thins have always been an under-the-radar, good snack–at least in my opinion….with a salty, slighty nutty and sweet taste that makes it hard not to eat half the box. So when I was approached about two new flavors of Wheat Thins Crunch Stix, I happily obliged. I’d never had the Honey Wheat or Fire Roasted Tomato flavors before, which came first, so I was trying these two new flavors first.

Before I talk about these flavors themselves, first let me say that I was pleasantly surprised that whole grain wheat is the first ingredient, something you don’t see often in snack foods (and there are a whopping 11 grams of whole grains per serving). There is also no high fructose corn syrup, another thing you don’t see often in snack foods these days. It also comes in a cool shaped box that you can open like a tub of popcorn. And now for the taste test…..

Chipotle Pepper--A mildly spicy and smoky taste, with a nice balance to the slightly nutty and sweet flavor reminiscent of Wheat Thins crackers. There is a faint tomato taste as well and since tomato powder is one of the ingredients, my taste buds did not deceive me. However, if you’re looking for these to knock your spice socks off, that isn’t going to happen. But that means more people in your family will enjoy them.

Cinnamon Kick–Amazingly, these might be even spicier than the Chipotle flavor, courtesy of jalapeno extract. But the combination of salty, sweet, spicy and of course cinnamon are a really pleasant flavor explosion. Imagine having a cinnamon roll with a hint of cayenne, and that’s these snack stix in a nutshell (well, not literally).

Anyway, if you’re a snack food junkie (and that I DO mean literally!), you should check these out.

Review: High Plains Bison

I ran this review on the Bullz-Eye blog and wanted to share it with my Mikey’s Kitchen readers too.

I was a bit nervous about trying what you might consider more of a game-type meat, but the parallel to beef in flavor was remarkable and maybe even better, and with the exception of the sausage, much lower in fat content.

So consider trying High Plains Bison, it’s worth checking out!

Shout out to Epic Meal Time

My nephew turned me on to this site, and it’s freaking hilarious and scary at the same time. It’s Epic Meal Time. If you are a producer or trainer from “The Biggest Loser,” turn away please. If you are a veg-head, turn away please. If you are offended by someone making model cars with meat, turn away please. Wait, what? Model cards with meat? Yeah, I thought you’d like to see that. Check it out and if you think it’s as funny as I do, I will re-post more of their stuff…after all, I sure as hell don’t want to try this at home!

 

Mmmmm, steak

Man, I could go for a steak right now. This morning, Men’s Health e-mailed me a copy of an article they published two years ago about man food, and it starts with this positively mouth-watering photo of a bone-in ribeye.

I think I’m feeling faint. Iron deficient. Yeah, I need to fire up the grill soon….if not today, then this weekend. Anyway, the article goes on to list other favorite guy foods that they found across the US such as meaty chili and lobster rolls.

And hey, in case you forgot, I posted this easy set of grilling tips a while back for the perfect steak dinner during grill season. Now what are you waiting for?

Product review: Chef Boyardee Chili Mac

Chef JimThis product did not boast “NEW” on the can or anything, but it sure did catch my eye. I am a sucker for trying anything that could pass for junk food or canned anything. Maybe it’s because I’m positively addicted to carbs. And that’s not a great thing for my waistline, but I sure do love carbs.

Now, I don’t make a habit of eating canned food every day for lunch, but I had to try this Chefboyardee Chili Mac because it just looked intriguing. It was macaroni with chili gravy and some ground beef. Sort of like a poor man’s Hamburger Helper. And poor man’s it is, because there is barely any beef in this dish.

But I can say unequivocally that this chili mac is delicious. Not only is it a tasty gravy, but the macaroni is not mushy. In fact, it’s almost al dente, something you just don’t find in canned pasta. You want proof of how much I liked it? Well, I’m not going to bore you with the photo of the bowl, but I ate the whole can and the whole can was good.

It didn’t hurt that the temperature in Madison today is about a balmy 45 degrees. So anything with the word “chili” in it was going to hit the spot, and this mac did just that.

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