Herby Bread Basket snack from Graze

herbybreadbasket

Photo from Graze.
Click on the Pic to go there.

Product Information:

garlic crostini, mini basil breadsticks and oregano rice crackers

I received this snack in my January Graze Box.

Tea Suggestion:

With this savory selection, I decided to choose something a little bit tart and a little bit sweet for an interesting contrast.  I brewed some of this Green Tea Honey and Lemon from Tea of Life.  A really nice choice.

What I Think:

This is tasty.  It’s a hearty, satisfying, savory snack.

The breadsticks are very flavorful.  There’s a big punch of basil flavor.  A nice crunch to these … but also a little bit of a “bready” inner texture that I enjoy.

I found the garlic crostini to be a little “lacking” in flavor after I’d eat one of the mini basil breadsticks mostly because the breadsticks are really loaded with flavor.  To get the most out of the garlic crostini, I found that eating them one after another helped to develop the garlic and buttery taste.

My favorite part of this snack though, is the oregano rice crackers which look like no crackers I’ve ever seen.  They are shaped like … well, imagine if you would a piece of flattened popcorn as it starts to regain some shape.  Or perhaps … they look a bit like a miniature pressed cookie.  I love the flavor of these, and I taste not just oregano but a mixture of herbs to this.  But the best thing about these little crackers is the texture.  I love the texture of rice crackers, and there seems to be a somewhat “caramel-y” taste to these too, making them quite yummy.  I’d like to be able to get a box of these on their own.

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed this snack, but I don’t know that I liked it enough to give it a “like.”  It’s not something that I immediately felt I needed to do like I needed to do with the chutney snack from this month’s box.  I do like those rice crackers, though and I might like them enough to “like” the snack just to get more of them.

Butter & Garlic Croutons from Olivia’s Croutons

Photo from Petit Amuse. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

Crunchy and buttery with a healthy dose of garlic, these croutons taste like they are fresh out of the oven.

These Butter & Garlic Croutons are available at Petit Amuse.

What I Think:

I received a sampling of these croutons in my Petit Amuse box for October.  The little sample pouch holds six croutons, just enough to determine whether they are something you’re going to want to get a full-size package.  Since there were only six croutons in the package, I decided to snack on them as they were, rather than toss them on top of a salad or float them in a bowl of soup.

And the verdict?  They’re pretty good.  They’re really crunchy, and very buttery.  And heavily seasoned with garlic.  As in GARLIC-Y!  Seriously, don’t plan on kissing anyone after eating these croutons!

I happen to love garlic, so I find the flavor of these croutons to be very appealing.  I love the buttery taste of them, and I love the strong taste of garlic.  I think they’d taste great in a tomato soup or on top of an ordinary salad – these croutons would really liven it up.

My Final Thoughts:

Because the garlic is so strong, I don’t think I would actually buy a full-sized package of these croutons for me and my family, because I’m the only one in the household who really loves garlic.  My husband likes it alright as long as it’s moderate … and I know he would think that these are way too garlic-y.  And truth be told, he uses more croutons than I do as I generally prefer my salads without croutons (I prefer nuts of some sort).   Good, but not something that would appeal to my entire family.

Cornmeal Pancake & Muffin Mix from Nitty Gritty Grain Company

To learn more about this product and others from Nitty Gritty Grain Company, visit their website.

Product Description:

This mix has a robust corn flavor, thanks to a blend of two organic corns: Yellow dent and Wapsie Valley, a heritage variety. The coarse grind gives it an charmingly rustic, grainy texture with a satisfying tooth. The included recipes on the inside of the label are easy as pie (or, as the case may be, cornbread). Just mix, bake or griddle, and serve. Catherine recommends substituting water in the recipes with milk, yogurt or sour cream (or silken tofu as a vegan alternative) for additional richness. The cornbread and pancakes are a delicious breakfast, but also try them as a foundation for baked beans or Southern-style barbecue.

What I Think:

A day or two before my Foodzie Tasting Box arrived, I remember craving cornbread!  I had no idea that I would be receiving a cornmeal mix in my box, so it was either intuition or a strange coincidence.  Either way, I’m very surprised by what I’m tasting from this cornmeal mix!

I made six cornbread muffins (and I have enough mix left over to make another six muffins, or perhaps a few cornmeal pancakes, which is what I think I will end up making).  It’s easy to prepare:  measure out the mix, add a little water and oil (I actually used melted butter instead) and 1 beaten egg.  Stir until mix is wet (remember, don’t over-mix muffin batter!) and evenly distribute into a lightly greased muffin tin (or instead of lightly greasing, you can use cupcake liners for super easy clean up).

After measuring out the first three muffins, I decided to change things up a bit and I added a little bit of cheese (I used a Mexican blend of four cheeses), and a few jalapeño slices that I removed the seeds from and diced up fine.

The first three muffins were incredible.  The flavor is incredibly light and yet hearty in its own way.  Delicious corn flavor, slightly sweet and nutty.  While most cornbread tends to be rather dense… this has a delicate kind of quality to it.

The second set of muffins (with the cheese and jalapeño) were also quite amazing.  I think I should have added a little more cheese, because I found that rather than taste cheese, what I’m noticing is the flavor of the corn REALLY emerging.  I added just the right amount of jalapeño though, as these have a  kick to them without being too hot and spicy.   I wouldn’t call them mild either.  I’d call them just right!

Ordinarily when I make cornbread (or cornbread muffins), I use generic corn meal and follow a standard recipe using a ratio of 1:1 corn meal to whole wheat unbleached flour and the other “standard ingredients.”  These muffins … are MUCH better than anything I’ve ever produced using that recipe.

As for a tea recommendation, after tasting these muffins, if you want to really accentuate the corn flavor, try this Diyi Cornfields Shu from Verdant Tea – another product that really surprised me with its corn flavor!

My Final Thoughts:

If you want to serve just ordinary cornbread … stay with the corn meal you’re using now.  If you want something that will really impress someone (even if that someone is you), you must give this mix a try.  I really was not expecting to be as happy with this corn meal mix … I actually had a reaction that was sort of like “eh… why is this in the box?”  But after tasting it, I can say without hesitation that this mix makes the best corn bread muffins ever!

Fruit & Nut Crostini from Anjou Bakery

To learn more about these Crostini “crackers,” visit Anjou Bakery’s website.

What I Think:

I was thrilled to find these amongst the many goodies in this month’s tasting box from Foodzie.  I hadn’t yet tried this particular dried bread cracker, but, I had tried something similar:  Raincoast Crisps, and I was quite a fan of those crunchy treats.  I was quite sure I’d end up enjoying these just as much as I enjoy the Raincoast Crisps (my favorite flavor is the Cranberry Hazelnut).

And I enjoyed these almost as much as I do the Raincoast Crisps.  These are a little different in taste:  I can taste the rustic bread, I can taste (and feel the texture of) the different grains in the bread itself.  I really like that. I can really taste the nutty flavor of the whole wheat in the bread.

The raisins add a nice sweetness to the crisp, as well as a pleasant chewy texture to contrast with the very crunchy texture of the bread.  And of course, let’s not forget about the nuts.  The ingredients list both almonds and pecans, but what I taste most are the almonds.  I can taste hints of the pecans, it isn’t a very distinct flavor at all.

I enjoyed these on their own, mostly because I didn’t have a good cheese to enjoy with them, and I really wanted to try them NOW and not wait until I had some cheese to go with it.  But I am sure some cheese would make a delicious accompaniment to this crostini.

My tea recommendation?  I selected a pleasant, mild green tea to enjoy with these crackers:  Hysson from Gorreana Tea.  The sweetness brought out some of the nutty flavors in the crisps.  A really delicious tea-time combination.

My Final Thoughts:

While I prefer the Raincoast Crisps, I enjoyed these quite a lot too.  They are very crispy and also quite hearty.  Would I buy them again?  Perhaps, if I saw them in the store, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to order them.  I am really glad that they were included in the tasting box, though!

 

French Onion Soup from Panera Bread

I was hungry, but really what I wanted was something comforting.  I wanted soup.  Soup, for me at least, is the ultimate comfort food.  Warm and soothing.  Since we were in the Cascade area of Vancouver, Panera Bread immediately came to mind.

Location: 914 SE 164th Avenue, Vancouver, WA   Store #1063

Order: French Onion Soup in a Sourdough Bread Bowl; Iced Tea

Specifics: I ordered my soup to go.  In my bag, I received a sourdough loaf that was cut at the top.  In order to form a bowl, I needed to hollow out the bread.  Also in my bag was a bowl of french onion soup, a bag of croutons and a bag of chips, as well as cutlery and napkins.  The iced tea was self-serve from their drink station.

What I Think:

It was a few minutes before we arrived home with my “bagged lunch” from Panera Bread, so I warmed the soup up in the microwave for a few minutes because it had already begun to cool.

While I waited the minute or so for the soup to reheat, I hollowed out the bread bowl, and then I began munching on the chips.  The chips are tasty, kettle style (thicker cut), unflavored chips that are lightly salted.  I liked them because I enjoy the thicker cut of kettle style chips, as well as the crunch!

Now that my soup is hot – let’s move on!  The broth is a bit thicker than I am used to with a french onion soup.  I don’t know if that’s because it’s in the bread bowl and the bread has thickened it (or perhaps the croutons thickened it) or if it is usually this way.  It isn’t bad like this … just different.  The broth is rich, well-seasoned without tasting too salty and flavorful.  The onions are sweet and tender.  So far, so good… but then… not so good.  I come across a little “withy” in my soup – a tiny (about an inch long), very thin branch or stick or twig or something.  What it actually looks like to me is the branch from a sprig of thyme, and it very well could have been.  Unfortunately, finding a withy in my soup was not a very appetizing thing, so I couldn’t finish my soup.

The best thing about Panera Bread is, of course, the bread.  The sourdough was very good.  A very pleasing texture both inside and out:  a nice, crispy crust with a chewy inside.  The sour flavor of the sourdough was just right.  It is one of the better sourdough breads I’ve encountered, and I really enjoyed the flavor of the bread that had been soaked with the soup broth.

The iced tea appeared to be freshly brewed (or so it said on the brewing vessel), and it tasted alright… it wasn’t anything spectacular to write about so I’ll not invest a lot of time doing so.

My Final Thoughts:

The bread was excellent.  The soup was delicious until I came across the withy, which made it less appetizing for me.  Overall, not too bad, and I don’t think that coming across a withy in my soup will keep me from stopping by Panera Bread again in the future.  And even though I didn’t order one this time, they have excellent muffins!

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