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Product review: Krave Jerky

You know how when you buy a car, and then you notice your model of car everywhere on the road? Yeah, where am I going with this? Well, about a month ago I was perusing the cool and interesting food items at World Market, and on the little hooks in between shelves sat some beef jerky–called Krave. And I was struck immediately by the flavors–Chili Lime, and Sweet Chipotle. I must have this jerky, I thought. And so I did. I took it home and tried the chili lime first, and it was love at first bite. Not only was this jerky bursting with flavor and spice, it was extremely tender, the direction that many commercial jerky varieties seem to be going in–that is, away from chewy meat that takes an hour to chew, to a more tender, almost fresh type.

Anyway, the Sweet Chipotle kind of paled in comparison to the Chili Lime, which I inhaled almost in one sitting. Then I did what I do a lot of these days–I looked up Krave online, and contacted them to profess my undying love. And when I perused the site, I found out they have several cool flavors–including Basil Citrus and Orange Pineapple. But the cool thing is that they match the flavor profile to type of meat–so the Basil Citrus is for turkey jerky, as is Lemon Garlic. The other beef flavors are Garlic Chili Pepper (my new favorite that I am gnawing at like a caveman as I am writing this–tastes like beef teriyaki Chinese takeout) and Pineapple Orange. And their smoked teriyaki flavor uses pork as its canvas, and it’s also tender and delicious and one of my other faves.

Right now I have a big bag of Krave that I’m working through a little at a time, since my wife got me the 5-jerky sampler pack for Valentine’s Day, and the fine folks at Krave sent me the Pineapple Orange to try. I also keep finding Krave in stores–in Target, Walgreens and other places (back to my original point, you see). And if I see the Chili Lime, Chili Garlic or Smoked Teriyaki variety, I can’t walk past it without grabbing a bag. And so my bag O Krave is never empty.

My only complaint is that they got rid of the Curry flavor before I had a chance to try it. And when I went to order some of the Garlic Chili Pepper flavor yesterday, they were out of stock. Luckily I stopped at World Market yesterday and stocked up. But they also told me a new flavor is being developed–Black Cherry Barbecue. I love that this company is coming up with new, bold and interesting flavors and maybe rotating them out. And rotating is fine so long as I know I can stock up on my faves.

My point is, if you see Krave, buy it and eat it! You will Krave it just like I do now.

Product review: House Foods Tofu

I know, I know. A food blog geared toward guys talking about tofu? Well, I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, but its health benefits, especially for weight loss, are real. So when the fine folks who represent House Foods Premium Tofu reached out, I thought I’d give tofu another chance. They touted the prospects of cutting tofu into chunks and grilling it, with House Foods extra firm variety really standing up to the grill, whereas that is not always the case with standard tofu. For you novices, keep in mind that tofu typically comes in the extra firm variety like that, or the softer versions which are more like scrambled eggs (and can be used as such) and can be used as a salad dressing or “cream” soup base.

Anyway, I tried the firm variety, not extra firm, and used it cubed in a miso soup. I should preface this by saying that my doctor instructed me to lose some weight to help bring down my spiking blood pressure, so I’m doing Weight Watchers, which really has come a long way in being more guy-friendly. I mean, Charles Barkley does it, why can’t I? Anyway, this soup kicks ass–you fry some mushrooms in a bit of oil, add some broth along with sliced bok choy, and the tofu. And to make it more flavorful (and with some spice), I sliced some fresh jalapeno and put that in the soup. Delicious.

But wait, this is about the tofu. Well, tofu is the type of food that absorbs flavors, but it’s usually the texture that separates good tofu from not-so-good. And House Foods is good–the firm is firm, and it doesn’t fall apart in soup. It has a nice texture that isn’t offensive. And hey, I’d use it again, and I probably will!

Product review: Sheets Energy/Sleep Sheets

Wake, or sleep?

That is the question if you’re looking for a boost in either direction, the folks at Sheets brand have the products for you that are as easy to take as those breath strips that have become so popular the last few years. That’s because they are strips–the kind that dissolve on your tongue within seconds.

Chef JimWe reviewed the Energy Sheets a while back, and they recently sent us some samples of a new flavor–Mint Boost. These strips have no sugar, no calories and are loaded with B-vitamins, and they really taste good, similar to a fresh breath strip (which I need badly now because I’m on the South Beach diet!). There is a bit of caffeine as well (50 mg), which is about the amount of maybe a third of a cup of coffee. That might explain why I felt a jolt for a few minutes that did not last beyond that. So while the Sheets may give you some extra vitamins, I’d suggest grabbing a cup of coffee instead if you need that afternoon boost or need to stay awake while driving on the freeway at night.

Chef JimBut the Sleep Sheets are a completely different story. I have an affinity for so-called “relaxation” drinks such as Serenity and Marley’s Mellow Mood. They all have a mixture of herbs and natural supplements such as melatonin and/or valerian root that promote relaxation and sleep. But the problem with these beverages is that, well, you have to pee a couple hours later, right as you’re in the midst of a kickass night’s sleep. Sleep Sheets won’t make you pee, and it has those same key ingredients such as melatonin, theanine and chamomile. And they have a nice minty flavor too. The best part….they work. Take this an hour or so before you plan to crash, and you will relax and fall asleep easily. I can’t recommend this product any more than I am right now!

Check out www.sheetsbrand.com for more information.

Product review: Planters Nuts for March Madness

I’ve never seen such hype around March Madness bracket-wise. There are brackets for everything now, but many of them are food-related. What are the top cereals, the top snack foods, the top fast food. Well, here are some snacks that were sent to us to review during March Madness–Planters Five Alarm Chili Dry Roasted Peanuts, and Dry Roasted Pistachios. As the press release said, before mentioning that these are indeed a healthy and tasty snack option, “What’s a party without Mr. Peanut?”

Chef JimDry Roasted Pistachios–these nuts are roasted in the shell with sea salt added. I was expecting these to be without shells as many pistachios now are, but that’s okay. I think part of the charm of pistachios is opening the shells. It takes longer and makes you eat slower. And they were nice and easy to crack open which is always a plus. Oh, and the taste? Delicious, and a good source of fiber and protein to boot! By the way, remember when pistachios had that pinkish-red dye? You ate them and your hands looked like they were smeared with lipstick. Just thought I would throw that in to reminisce.

Chef JimFive Alarm Chili Dry Roasted Peanuts–One of the biggest complaints I have about spicy snack foods is that they are often not spicy enough. Not so with these dry roasted peanuts. They are spicy in a deceptive kind of way–you pop them in your mouth, and enjoy the peppery/spicy taste of the dry rub. Then a boot comes up from behind and kicks you square in the butt. And one of the best parts? They are dry roasted, so you don’t get oily hands afterward. The peanuts also now come in a plastic jar, and there is a little “green” sticker on it that says “84% less packaging.” Hey, more spice, less carbon footprint. But yeah, these are might tasty too.

So the Final Four starts this weekend, which means more time to enjoy March Madness party food like Planter’s nuts.

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.

Product review: Pringles Xtreme Blastin’ Buffalo Wing

Chef JimI’ve said this a million times, but I could live on wing sauce. I could drink it. I could eat it on every food known to man. I use it in recipes, I put it in my chili or in my soup. I douse food with it. I dip wings in it that don’t have wing sauce. And I love foods that use it, commercial foods or otherwise.

Such a food is Pringles Xtreme Blastin’ Buffalo Wing potato crisps (don’t call them chips, I think it’s illegal or something). I bought a stack of these today and they are true to the original flavor–that tangy, peppery, spicy, salty deliciousness. But it’s not doused–instead it’s kind of sprinkled and/or caked on each crisp. And so you get the flavor blast in addition to the subtle Pringle’s potato taste. This is good snack food–not necessarily good for you, but good tasting, good-with-beer, good-with-sandwich, good-with-late-night-anything snack food.

If you like Pringles and you like wings, why are you still reading this? Go buy a can/stack now and watch them disappear!

Product review: Blue Bunny Birthday Party ice cream sandwiches

Yeah, I know. This is a kid’s product. And I bought these for our 4-year old. But being a sucker for new products, especially any kind of snack food, I had to try them. I mean, I want to make sure my kid isn’t eating something that doesn’t taste good, right?

Anyway, I had no intention of reviewing this product, but these ice cream sandwiches are so good that I couldn’t help but pimp them. We’re talking birthday cake flavored ice cream (what a great invention that is!) with confetti sprinkles and blue icing swirl, between two vanilla cookies (rather than the standard chocolate). Being that I don’t want to be 400 pounds and also that I need to save some for the kid, I think I will cease eating any more of these. But trust me, I could eat the whole box in one sitting. Okay, maybe half the box, but still….

So if you see these Blue Bunny gems in your freezer, go for it…..just beware of how much you will love them.

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!

Product review: Doritos Fiery Fusion

Last year I reviewed the Doritos Burn flavored super-spicy tortilla chips on the Bullz-Eye blog. I haven’t seen those lately, but yesterday I was stopped in my tracks (as Mrs. Mikey will attest, snack foods have this effect on me) by a new flavor of Doritos–Fiery Fusion “Sizzlin’ Cayenne & Cheese” chips. Just like the Burn chips, these are wicked spicy–not wimpy spicy like many snack foods tend to be. And while there is a distinct cayenne pepper zing and tangy flavor, these chips have even more taste with a bold cheesy flavor courtesy of buttermilk, cheddar and sour cream solids. That’s the technical term, but it tastes like Nacho Cheese Doritos that are, well, wicked spicy. And overall, they are also wicked delicious. So if you see these chips in the store this weekend, grab a bag or two and don’t forget to buy extra beverages to wash them down with.

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