Thursday, July 2, 2015


Lovely Candy founder Jackie Nakamura
REAL CANDY THAT'S really good. That's the goal of  The Lovely Candy Co., a company that specializes in hand-crafted, chewy style candies. After a taste-through of the company's sweet offerings, it appears it has hit the mark.
From licorice to caramels to their irresistable Superfruit Chews, all of their candies are a big win -- and a big improvement over the mainstream offerings. Those fruit chews are my personal favorite -- they're so pretty, with real bits of blueberry, cranberry & raspberry, and they have that tart-sweet magic that makes you want more. The best news? Seven pieces have only 160 calories and 2 grams fat. The candies can be found at Target and some Whole Foods, but you can also order online at  $4.99 for 6 oz.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


SHHHH! DON'T TELL my Indian friends, but I really like those Chef Ernesto samosas that the sell at the Dollar Tree Stores. For one dollar, there are two smallish samosa and a little packet of sauce. Freezer to microwave to mouth in 5 minutes. Yum!
I am pretty sure that if I ate them often I would gain weight, but in a pinch, these vegetarian snacks are a solid pick -- and worth having in my freezer. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015


I HAD TO TASTE it before I could say for sure... I did and it's true: Dave killed it again. Dave's Killer Bread has just added two great new items to it's lineup: Buns and extra-thin bread. The buns, just in time for BBQ season, are bonafide whole-grain buns. They're packed with lots of grains and nuts and such, and have just the right structure to hold a hefty burger. They're called Million Dollar Buns.
The other addition is also genius -- the same bread, but a whole lot thinner. At just 60 calories per slice, it's easier to say "Yes" to the bread and still fit into your skinny jeans.
photo courtesy Brioche Pasquier
NOT QUITE AS HEALTHY, but good for those who like to treat themselves to fancy white bread is the newly released line-up of Brioche Pasquier breads from France -- including croissants, chocolate filled croissants and loaves that would make killer bread pudding or French toast. The breads can be found at Safeway.

Friday, June 19, 2015


PASO ROBLES IS finally getting its due. It is being noticed in a big way thanks to creative and hilarious  marketing via (check out the paso wine man videos from a few years back) -- and some of the best affordable wines produced in the state of California. When shopping for California wine, it's easy to get sidetracked into buying wines from the more high-profile Napa or Sonoma, or from the gigantic Central Coast, which dominates the category.Those wines sport their own greatness, of course, but if you love wine, it's worth seeking out Paso Robles wines on a regular basis. Why? Because the region is so perfect for growing a ridiculous range of grapes that the wines are very likely to please. 
Case in point: Josh Cellars. The company reps invited me to check out their Cabernet. I know Paso yields amazing Pinot Noirs. But Cabernet? After tasting, I have to say YES! Cabernet. The wine is rich and dense, with bursts of toast and blueberries. It's one of those wines that you sip and ask, "Wait -- what did this wine cost?" The answer: $15.99. Talk about Cabernet bang for your buck. The wine can be found at Quik Stop markets. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


FRESH CHILIS AND peppers are awesome additions to everything from guacamole to stews, but when time is short or the fridge isn't stocked, pantry backups are welcome. Chili flakes, sriracha sauce and other hot sauces are my usual go-tos, but today I hit on two awesome new powders from McCormick: Ground Jalapeno Pepper and Sriracha Powder.
These two powders pack authentic flavor and heat -- and they're shelf stable. Look for them at most supermarkets.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


WHEN PEOPLE ASK me about knife sharpeners, I have only one suggestion: Chef's Choice. I have  been using my three-slot electric sharpener for years -- and I still love it. It delivers a sharp edge in seconds -- so sharp that I only have to sharpen my knives three or four times a year. I use the company's much smaller, handheld Pronto Manual sharpener as a touchup.
No surprise when I opened by newest Cook's Illustrated magazine to find that my favorite sharpeners got top marks by the testers at America's Test Kitchen. Among other details that testers loved is the fact that the Trizor XV Model 15 can literally transform a 20-degree edge to a sharper 15 degrees.
Just in case you're looking for a present for Dad: A Chef's Choice Trizor XV might be just the ticket. It's about $160.