Flipflop Wine Review: Ugh

 

If you chewed up a mouthful of Sweet Tart candies, the flavor sensation would be identical to that which one experiences while sipping any variety of Flipflop wine.

Yes, Flipflop wine is that sweet.  Additionally, you may have guessed something else right off the bat — yep, Flipflop wine is incredibly low-cost.

VARIETIES - There are several varieties of Flipflop wine, including Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio.  We suggest you avoid all of them unless increasing blood sugar is one of your goals.

COST- Flipflop wine rolls in at about five bucks a bottle which is plenty cheap.  And, let’s face it, cheap wine isn’t going to kiss the palate with kindness — or the liver.

PRAISE- Paradoxically, both Oak Leaf and Lucky Duck wine, sold at Wal-Mart, can be had for less than $3 per bottle which goes to show that there are even suckier wines out there for Flipflop wine to compete against.

Check out cheap wine details at:

http://www.flipflopwines.com/wines/

http://www.oakleafvineyards.com/

 

 

 

 

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Crisp Homemade Chicken Wing Recipes – Two Seasoning Choices

 

NO RUBBER WINGS!

The secret to turning out a good chicken wing (Buffalo-style or otherwise seasoned) is the exterior…it has to be crisp outside and definitely NOT breaded.  Crisp homemade chicken wings are the best – – no rubber-like exterior and no need to grill outdoors!  Here’s what you need to know about making crisp homemade chicken wings.

Wings Tequila Lime new    A good example of crisp chicken wings sold commercially are Tyson’s Tequila Lime Chicken Wings.   What makes Tyson’s Tequila Lime Chicken Wings somewhat crisp is that the wings are pre-blanched in vegetable oil.

Many restaurants use a similar method.  Chili’s restaurants,  at one time, blanched their chicken wings (and may still do so) in the hot oil of a fryer basket for 2 minutes then bagged them into 10-piece portions.

Blanching (immersing for a few minutes…not until thoroughly cooked) in hot oil turns the fatty skin from raw and rubbery to semi-cooked and firm.

When a customer placed their wing order at Chili’s, a cook put the wings back into the deep fryer and, after several more minutes of cooking, removed them to a sealed plastic container and tossed them in a spicy Buffalo sauce.

 

TWO DIFFERENT CRISP HOMEMADE CHICKEN WING RECIPES

  +TEQUILA LIME CHICKEN WINGS

JEANNIE’S TEQUILA LIME CHICKEN WING RECIPE:  A recipe that nicely replicate Tyson’s version with ZERO artificial ingredients.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 lb. chicken wings w/tips cut (look for prepped/pre-cut uncooked wings)
  • 1/4 c. white tequila
  • 1/2 c. lime juice
  • 1 t. lime zest
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c. fresh cilantro
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper

METHOD:

  1. Place in blender or food processor the tequila, lime juice, oil, lime zest, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. Place uncooked wings in a large freezer zip lock bag.
  3. Add marinade to chicken and marinate in fridge overnight or at least 5 hours.

COOK:  Pre-heat oven to 350°

  • Discard marinade and place chicken wings in metal baking pan.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
  • Turn wings over.
  • Turn oven to broil and broil on medium-high for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on wings so they do not burn!
  • Remove from oven and serve with a side of ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

 

CRISP CAJUN CHICKEN WINGS

This recipe is embarrassingly easy to make and SO full of flavor.

Cajun Shrimp Mix      YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 lb. chicken wings w/tips cut (look for prepped/pre-cut uncooked wings)
  • One .3 oz. package “Cajun’s Choice” Cajun Shrimp Seasoning Mix  You can make your own seasoning mix using equal parts of onion powder, garlic powder, and blackened seasoning that includes salt.  Add a few dashes of dried parsley.
  • 1/4 c. chopped green onion
  • 2 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

METHOD:  Pre-heat oven to 350°

  1. Place all of the above ingredients in a zip lock large plastic bag.
  2. Toss uncooked wings until thoroughly coated with mixture.
  3. Discard marinade and place chicken wings in metal baking pan.
  4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn wings over.
  6. Turn oven to broil and broil on medium-high for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on wings so they do not burn!
  7. Remove from oven and serve.

 

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TGI Friday’s Frozen Buffalo Wings Review 2015

 

 

I am a Buffalo wing expert.  This statement may sound like boasting, or cause you to wonder about my cholesterol levels, but it is the truth.  I  have the uncanny ability to discern exactly what makes a Buffalo wing great — or not.  Here is my TGI Friday’s frozen Buffalo Wings Review 2015.

But, first, some disclosure.  I was born with a “geographic tongue” — a tongue studded with taste buds so sensitive that they flare and become slightly enlarge from inflammation when I consume anything too acidic, salty, or spicy.  However, my ailment is also my strength and it has given me the ability (a super-power, if you will) to pick up nuances in flavor and taste in all things food and beverage-related.

Craving Buffalo wings, I prepared a batch of TGI Friday’s frozen Buffalo wings; found in the familiar red and white-striped box in the frozen food section at the local grocery store.   Unfortunately, TGI Friday frozen Buffalo wings did not come close to meeting expectations — here’s why:

  • A rubbery exterior is unforgiveable when it comes to Buffalo wings, yet that is exactly what TGI Friday’s frozen Buffalo wings deliver.   Follow cooking directions to the letter and you will get an icky and quivering exterior; that’s an ender for me.
  • Even Greg, from Freezerburns says, “The Target brand of wings are better than TGI Friday’s frozen Buffalo wings.”  Ouch — and true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bag of Cookies or a Bag of Potato Chips?

 

LET’S pretend that you are famished and have not eaten in 3 days.  You are sitting in an empty room at an equally empty table.  A man walks in and offers you a bag of cookies or a bag of potato chips – with the caveat that you may choose only one bag.  Which would you select?  The bag of potato chips or the cookies? If you reply, “Neither, I would choose broccoli,”… a pox upon you.

SERIOUSLY, though, I wish illness upon no one.  In fact, I myself had quite a scare yesterday.  You see, yesterday I had an attack…a potato chip attack; and I am still reeling with remorse.  More on that in a minute.

MUCH like driving a car without GPS, I made a maneuvering error in the grocery store yesterday:  I went down the “chip aisle,” or as I like to call it, “Pandora’s Box.” And yes, I bought a bag of potato chips; salt & vinegar chips, if you must know.

WE ALL know that it is okay to indulge in potato chips every now and then, and everything in moderation, blah-blah-blah.  However, when it comes to a sinfully crunchy bag of chips, the word “moderation” holds little meaning for me.  Why snack on a single serving of 12 chips (120 calories) when you can snarf down half a bag of potato chips (calorie total unknown).

YOU probably think that I am remorseful and full of self-loathing because I ate SO MANY chips yesterday, don’t you?  Perhaps you believe that I am consumed with guilt for my gluttony.

IF SO, you are incorrect. The root of my regret lies in…French onion dip.  No potato chip feast is complete without French onion dip.  If you have never been blessed enough to enjoy this evil-good combination of foods, don’t start now or you could end up like me, greedily opening a bag of potato chips on the way home from the grocery store.  Darn, it’s hard to drive when you’re dipping a potato chip into dip.

BUT, I digress; my self-disgust lies with the fact that I bought “Fat Free” French onion dip.  Why in the heck did I destroy my date with snack royalty by purchasing fat free dip?  Perhaps I was subconsciously planning to eat the entire bag of potato chips and was looking for caloric redemption.

FAT free dip, for those who are not condiment-savvy, tastes like Elmer’s glue with a dash of seasoning; it’s not worth buying and certainly not worth wasting a chip-fest on.

SO, take it from me my chip-eating brethren.  Enjoy your fried morsels of potato goodness with  full-on, sour-cream based French onion dip.  If a love like this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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Pizza Without Crust Using Tomato Basil Veggie Burger & Peppers:Low Carb Pizza

 

Veg Pizza

Make pizza without crust using tomato basil veggie burger and peppers to create a low carb pizza.   Uses steamed slices of red and yellow bell peppers as the base.  Easy to make, easy to hold, fun to eat!

Prep time: 12 min. Cook Time: 20 min. Set oven to 350°.

You will need:

1.Two Morningstar Farms tomato basil pizza veggie burgers.

2. 3/4 c. Italian blend or Mozzarella shredded cheese.

3.1/2 c. Marinara sauce — preferably low-sugar and low-carb.

4.One red bell pepper and one large yellow bell pepper.

Method:

  • Rinse bell peppers and slice tops off bell peppers.
  • Cut each pepper into quarters, from top to bottom, using the natural curve of the pepper sections as a guide.  You are creating edible “boats” to hold the remaining ingredients.  Each bell pepper provides four sections.  I have used mini-peppers, cleaned and cut into halves, with success).
  • Place all 8 bell pepper quarters into a microwaveable bowl, add 2 TB water, cover, and microwave on high for 45 seconds.  Remove to a colander.
  • Put two tomato basil pizza veggie burgers on a microwave safe plate, cover, and microwave 40 seconds.  Flip burgers and cook an additional 20 seconds.
  • Cut each tomato basil veggie burger into quarters.  Place a single piece of veggie burger into  each bell pepper shell.
  • Place stuffed peppers on a flat cookie sheet.
  • Top tomato basil veggie sections with a dollop of spaghetti sauce.
  • Sprinkle a generous portion of Italian or Mozzarella cheese on top of the spaghetti sauce.
  • Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

ALTERNATIVE IDEA: Create a snack with southwestern flair by following all directions but use Morningstar Farms black bean veggie burgers instead. Substitute cheddar for the mozzarella, omit the spaghetti sauce and top with chopped green onions before baking.

 

Posted in Entertaining/Party Food, LOW CARB RECIPES, Vegetables, VEGETARIAN RECIPES | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chili’s Latest Restaurant Concept: A Review

 

 

 

IF YOU HAVE VISITED A Chili’s restaurant lately, you have undoubtedly noticed a difference between the exterior and interior design of Dallas-based Chili’s today versus  the Chili’s restaurant we once knew.

THE EXTERIOR OF Chili’s latest restaurant scheme (1,400 locations) resembles Italian fast-food chain Fazoli’s (230 locations), headquartered in Kentucky, while the interior of Chili’s latest restaurant design appears to be a sibling to the ever-boring (and also Texas-based)  Cheddar’s restaurant (60 locations.)

IT IS HARD TO fathom that the interior and exterior of Chili’s restaurants have reached such a mundane existence.  However, the new design concept, implemented as early as 2011, is seemingly here to stay.  We had hoped that the latest rebranding campaign was simply a test and would not be forced upon all existing Chili’s restaurants, yet, that does not appear to be the case.  Both old and newly installed Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants are (yawn) looking more like a jazzy I-Hop — pancakes not included.

NORMAN BRINKER, founder of Chili’s, definitely had more exciting things in mind when he started the Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant franchise.

IN THE 1970’s, when Chili’s first hit the scene, food servers carried up to eight wicker baskets holding either a burger (such as the tempting “Verde Burger”), Buffalo wings, or “Freds” (Chili’s lingo for fried mozzarella cheese sticks) on a single extended arm.  Sure, it was schtick, but the sheer audacity of handling a customer’s food with such wild abandon drew patrons in.

GUESTS WERE likewise awed by the infamous ability of a Chili’s foodserver to carry up to 6 mugs of cold beverages in a single grasp – no small feat, as back in the day, those mugs were made of solid glass; not plastic, like many mugs used today (beer, however, is still delivered in glass mugs at most Chili’s.)

WHILE RETIRING the stylish flair of serving food reflects a more cautious era, what has happened to the fun and enthusiastic interior of Chili’s restaurants?  Where are the terra cotta planters shaped like fish, turtles, and goat-like creatures?  We miss the Saltillo tile floors and Mexican cantina-style table tops in addition to the funky lamps hanging over each table.

ALTHOUGH a few framed, candid photographs of folks are still on display at a few Chili’s location, posters depicting the famous Terlingua Chili Cook-off are almost non-existent.

ADDITIONALLY, gone are the unique items filling decorated shelves throughout the restaurant.  Yep, no more “funk shelves,” as those jam-packed ledges of nostalgia were called by those in the know.  It seems the days are gone when patrons could dine while gazing upon antique cowboy boots, Braniff model airplanes, radios and cameras of days gone by, bowling pins, and a six-pack sized, wooden flying monkey painted in festive colors.

WHILE WE ARE dismayed at the route Chili’s restaurants are taking with appearance and atmosphere, we are also disheartened at the direction Chili’s menu is heading.

CAN YOU SAY CHEESE? Chili’s 2014 restaurant menu contains an awful lot of food dripping in cheese.   Cheese sauce, cheese blends, bleu cheese crumbles, shredded cheese — it is too much cheese to mention.  We are blowing up like a puffer fish just thinking about it.

THE VISUAL’S on Chili’s latest menu are also jarring. Why are there so many enlarged photographs of food? Does the franchise really think that people cannot figure out what they are ordering based on a reasonably detailed description of items listed on the menu?

OUR LAST FEW VISITS to Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant revealed that perhaps the menu at Chili’s is designed the way it is because the food servers are not aware of precisely what is in each menu item.  After all, who could remember all of those different kinds of cheese?  With the dumbed down, “here’s a giant picture” menu, the food server does not have to educate the customer, when asked, about what they are ordering because, supposedly, the enlarged photos help the guest “see” menu offerings.  As a result, the effectiveness of the food servers at Chili’s appear to be greatly reduced; which is a shame as the food server was once known Chili’s greatest asset.  Where else could you learn exactly what was on a Frisco Salad (which is no longer on the menu – – but it was delicious).

WE VISITED OUR LOCAL Chili’s a few days ago and asked the food server just 2 questions about items on the menu.  Unfortunately, he did not know the answer to either question: “What kind of cheese is in the queso dip,” and, “How much does a regular Margarita cost?”

ALTHOUGH ECONOMICS must surely explain the dumbing-down of their interior, it is difficult to understand why the menu at Chili’s has become so complicated and laden with heavy fare such as Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad, Potato Skins, and a Hatch Chile Cheeseburger.

OUR LATEST VISIT to Chili’s will not be our last. We will continue our typical once-a-year visit just to see what is going on.  If you have never visited a Chili’s restaurant, hurry and get to one soon before its charm is entirely eradicated.  And do yourself a favor — skip the queso dip, it’s schlock.

 

 

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Mad Housewife Wine: Yes, We ARE Mad

 

 

  Mad Housewife Label Vintage 2003

MAD HOUSEWIVE wine bottles carry a label picturing a 1950’s-to-1960’s-inspired gal looking peeved or somewhat pensive.  The lady in question does not look MAD, but, perhaps she should.

    We were a little ticked off ourselves after pouring a glass of Mad Housewife cabernet sauvignon. What we discovered was red wine that resembled ripe grape juice with a kick.

We don’t mind vintners such as Rainier Wine Company, producers of Mad Housewife wine, taking a stab at the humorous-wine-label approach that has become popular of late, (“Bitch” wine, for example —  at a store near you.) However, if you are going to have a cutesy name like Mad Housewife, the goods should deliver.

We know it is a jungle out there and wine makers have to create eye-catching labels the public will gravitate toward.

But, please fill those bottles with wine so delish that we would write about it in glowing terms; otherwise, we just feel wine punk’d.

Per their website, if you are in the Manteca, California area, sample Mad Housewife wine gratis,  “in theDelicato Tasting Room in Manteca, CA. Open 9:00am to 5:30pm daily.

Additionally, do not heed a word that we have said; we are half-drunk on Mad Housewife wine.  Or, are we?

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Polly-O Wins For “Best Ricotta Cheese”

 

 

 

 

Polly-O Natural Cheese  Polly-O Ricotta Cheese – a subsidiary of Kraft Foods

Congratulations to the winner of our “Best Ricotta Cheese” category: Polly-O brand ricotta cheese.

You may think that anyone can whip up a delectable dish of lasagna simply by following the recipe on the back of a lasagna pasta box.  Wrong!

  Barilla Lasagne pasta

What those handy directions on the back of dry lasagna pasta don’t tell you is which brand of ricotta to use.  Common grocery store ricotta fail to deliver the supreme taste and texture of Polly-O.

Polly-O is creamy and delicious enough to eat right out of the container! Use it for stuffing dates (see recipe below) or filling pasta such as ravioli, and even as a topping for toasted bagels.  Create desserts using Polly-O that include cheesecake, cannoli’s (see recipe below), and Tiramasu.

Classic Cannolis recipe Photo courtesy Kraftrecipes.com

Classic Cannolis Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 container  (32 oz.) POLLY-O Original Ricotta Cheese
  • 3/4 cup  powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp.  vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp.  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup  miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 cannolis shells

Preparation:

  • Mix ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until blended. Stir in chocolate chips; cover.Refrigerate 30 minutes. Fill shells with cheese mixture. Serve immediately – – or cover and refrigerate until ready to consume.

Tip: Fill cannolis shells by spooning ricotta mixture into pastry bag fitted with wide tip or scoop into a zipped plastic sandwich bag and cut an small opening in one bottom corner with scissors. Pipe into shells.

DATES STUFFED WITH CHEESE & WRAPPED WITH BACON

Medjool dates

 

Ingredients:

  • 10 Medjool dates
  • 3 oz. Polly-O ricotta cheese blended with  3 oz. Gorgonzola cheese
  • 10 slices slightly cooked bacon (Jennie-O brand turkey bacon is a tasty alternative to regular bacon)

Directions:

  • Split one side of Medjool date lengthwise and remove pit. Stuff with 1 tsp. Polly-O ricotta cheese and Gorgonzola blend.
  • Wrap bacon strip around date and secure with toothpick. Place under oven broiler. Turn once to ensure even cooking and drain well before serving warm.

Find other date recipes at http://www.southfloridagourmet.com/site/whats-cooking/on-food-a-wine/908-oh-how-i-love-my-dates-.html

   Stuffed Dates: Bacon meets dates

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Make a fruit tray or serve a fruit platter that looks good and tastes great

 

 

Did you volunteer to bring a fruit tray to a party? Don’t worry, we’ve got fabulous tips about how to create a fruit tray that looks great and tastes delicious

Scooped-out pineapple or cantaloupe halves look scrumptious when filled with a variety of fresh fruit. Slice off a small portion of the bottom of the pineapple or cantaloupe so that it sits level and place it on a decorative plate (which you can pick up for a dollar or two at most dollar outlets.) 

While making a fruit tray LOOK good is desirable, it is how the fruit TASTES that is most important.

  • GO SEASONAL when putting together a fruit tray – use only fruit that is ripe and ready to eat

   Lychee fruit

  • THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX and consider a TROPICAL FRUIT tray using Thai-inspired fruit such as lychees, star fruit, watermelon, dragon fruit and  mango [visit your local Asian market for great finds on unique fruit]
  • DON’T FORGET TO AIM FOR small, whole fruit whenever possible, including:
  1. Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  2. Melons such as cantaloupe or honeydew – use a melon-baller to make fruit scoops that are fun to eat
  3. Grapes of all shades (seedless, of course) — Look for “champagne” grapes, which are tiny grapes that are as sweetly tasty as they are unique
  4. Forget about serving apple or pear slices — they will turn brown quickly
  5. Include dried fruit. Banana chips and dried apricots are ideal and will get gobbled up.
Other tips:
  • Provide toothpicks for spearing fruit
  • Include a small dipping bowl for guests to enjoy with their fruit, such as Truvia© brand crystals, which taste deliciously like sugar yet are made with stevia
  • Small fondue pots filled with melted chocolate are a good match for fresh fruit, as are chocolate fountains
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Best Trail Mix is Ginger Zinger by Safeway Select

 

Safeway Select Trail Mix Virtually sodium free and packed with roasted nuts and dried fruits, the best trail mix is Ginger Zinger by Safeway Select (also sold at Tom Thumb grocery stores).

What makes Ginger Zinger the best trail mix?  A few things: Nuts are roasted and include the delightful hazelnut/filbert in addition to roasted almonds, walnuts, and dried blueberries, cranberries and cherries for sweetness.

The dried, sweetened ginger included in Ginger Zinger trail mix is scant and barely detectable but it flavors the entire concoction with a taste-bud pleasing experience that lifts this trail mix above others

Another reason why the best trail mix is Ginger Zinger by Safeway Select: no candy (such as M&M)’s, no sesame sticks, and virtually no salt

Nutritional Info. Per 1/4 c. serving: 150 calories, 10g fat (1g sat fat/0 g trans fat). Zero cholesterol, 1% DV sodium, 14g (5%) carbs, fiber 2g, protein 3g, vitamin E 15% DV.

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