Peppermint Marshmallows from Wondermade

christmasgiftpack

Photo From Wondermade.
Click on the Pic to go there.

About Wondermade:

Every box of Wondermade marshmallows is handcrafted and taste great right out of the box. You can also drop a few in a cup of hot chocolate, melt them on top of baking brownies, or toast them on a skewer or in a s’mores.

I received these Marshmallows as part of the Christmas Set available from Wondermade.

What I Think:

These are my last marshmallows from the Wondermade Christmas box.  I saved the best for last!  These were my favorite marshmallows from this package.

These are extraordinarily minty.  I can definitely taste the menthol here!  They’re very cool and refreshing and YUMMY!  They’re delicious when eaten right out of the box (I love the little boxes in which these little bite sized marshmallows are packaged!) and they add a wonderful minty flavor to a cup of hot chocolate!

My Final Thoughts:

Yum!  I love Wondermade.  Yeah … I still love that other marshmallow company too.  I just have two favorites now.

Hot Cross Yum Snack Mix from Graze

hotcrossyumSnack Mix Ingredients:

sponge pieces, cinnamon and honey almonds and orange infused raisins

I received a tray of this snack mix in my November Graze Box.

Tea Suggestion:

For this “cake” like snack from Graze, I decided to go with a cup of hot black tea.  I chose this Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Black Tea from Eco-Cha.  The sponge “cookies’ and the almonds accentuated the sweet vanilla-like tones of the tea, and I found that the cinnamon notes of the tea came out a bit more when I enjoyed the two together.

What I Think:

The name of this snack is Hot Cross Yum and they certainly got the YUM part right.  I’m loving every bite of this snack!

The “sponge pieces” are like tiny, soft cookies.  Or perhaps a piece of slightly dry cake.  It’s sweet and yummy and reminds me a bit of a Nilla Wafer but without the crunch of the Nilla Wafer.

The raisins are amazing, and are quite possibly my favorite component of this snack, and that isn’t something I’d usually say about a raisin!  But the orange infusion adds a really interesting dimension of flavor to the otherwise boring raisin.  These taste bright and sweet and orange-y and delicious!

And the almonds add a nice crunch to this, as well as a delicious cinnamon-y note.  Of the three components, there were far fewer of the almonds than of the raisins or the sponge, and I think I would have appreciated a better balance of ingredients, but, since I really liked the raisins I didn’t really mind that there were more raisins than the other two ingredients.

My Final Thoughts:  

I “liked” this snack.  It’s definitely yummy.  I love the sponge pieces and the raisins are amazing.  A really tasty combination of flavors, made even better with a cup of black tea.

Ground Chile de Arbol Spice from Whole Spice

This is the long overdue review of the Chile de Arbol spice that was featured in the “Some Like it Hot” tasting box from Foodzie (sigh, how I miss the old Foodzie … before all the changes when it was more like Etsy for food artisans).  This isn’t my first time trying the spice, but it’s the first time I’ve taken the time to sit down and compose my thoughts on this rather heated product!  Err… well, what I mean is, this spice has got some HEAT! 

Product Description:

Closely related to the cayenne chilies, it has a tonic, smoky, and grass flavor with acidic heat. The heat level is 7 and the Scoville Heat Unit is 15,000-30,000. This chili powder can be used in soups, stews, and sauces.

Learn more about Whole Spice on their website.

Photo from Whole Spice. Click on the pic to go there.

Taster’s Review:

For the purposes of this review, I sprinkled the Chile de Arbol powder over a couple of fried eggs.  Not a heavy sprinkling, because as I’ve learned from previous tastings of this spice that this does not require a heavy hand to taste it!

The amount of heat that this gives off reminds me of cayenne pepper.  But it also has a smokiness to it that almost reminds me of chipotle.  There’s even a hint of earthiness to this.  If one were to somehow “marry” the flavor of the chipotle and the heat of the cayenne, they’d have something a bit like this ground Chile de Arbol.  And I’m liking that!

I love the dimension of flavor that comes with this Chile de Arbol.  Sure, it’s got some heat, but as long as I don’t go overboard when I sprinkle it on something, it adds just the right amount of kick to my fried eggs, and I’m thinking that I may just have to try adding this to my taco meat the next time I make tacos, and to my chili the next time I make that.  This may even add a compelling dimension to a cup of hot cocoa the next time I’m in the mood for something creamy, rich and with a little bit of bite to it.

My Final Thoughts:

This has a nice amount of heat as long as it’s used with a careful hand, and it adds more than just heat to the dish.  It has a pleasant earthiness to it, and an enjoyable smoky tone that is somewhat reminiscent of the chipotle (just hotter!)  This is something I can see myself keeping in my spice pantry for when I make chili (I’ll be making lots of it in the cooler months ahead) – in fact, I think that this may be replacing the cayenne pepper that I normally keep for when I make chili.  This has about the same heat but will add some other desirable flavor to my pot of chili!

# 7 Sultry Sauce from Torchbearer Sauces

Photo from Foodzie. Click on the pic to go there!

Product Description:

Add a little spice to your life!  Our original sauce, and winner of 18 national awards, Sultry Sauce is the pinnacle of heat and flavor. You can cook with it, put it on a sandwich, or add it to anything for heat that builds with every bite.

Learn more about Torchbearer Sauces on their website.

Note:  For the purposes of this review, I tried this sauce a couple of different ways:  first, I used it as a condiment on a fried egg, then, I tried it as a dip with some tortilla chipsNext time I’m in the grocery store, I might pick up the ingredients I need to try my hand at making this Spinach Dip.

What I Think:

It took me a while to get around to writing this review, mostly because this stuff is so tasty that I don’t think about taking the time to write my thoughts about it while I’m eating it!

As a condiment – in small amounts to minimize the heat and therefore be able to appreciate the flavor in addition to the burn – it really adds a lot of flavor and dimension to an otherwise humble fried egg. In addition to the HEAT from the habañero pepper, there is a slight sweetness that I taste from the carrots and mandarin oranges.

These other ingredients also give this sauce some thickness, making it quite nice to serve as a spicy-hot salsa-esque dip for chips.   And it is as a salsa that this Sultry Sauce really stands out for me.  I can really taste the sweetness from the oranges now.  This isn’t all about the heat – although there is PLENTY of heat to this sauce – and it doesn’t immediately set your mouth aflame.  Your taste buds get a chance to explore these other interesting flavors in the sauce, while the heat builds, and then BAM!  It kicks you right in the mouth.

My Final Thoughts:

If you read my article about the arrival of the “Some Like It Hot” box, then you’re probably aware that I had wished that Foodzie had put the local favorite Secret Aardvark Habañero Hot Sauce instead of this sauce that was – at the time – unknown to me.  That being said, I am really happy that I got to try something new, and this IS really very good.  However, I don’t think I’ll buy this particular sauce again (although I might try some of their other sauces) because I want to stay loyal to the local Aardvark.

Chile Crunch from Chile Colonial

Photo from Foodzie, click on the picture to go there.

Product Description:

This hot, crunchy condiment is a quick and easy way to add flavor to your meal with the combination of garlic, onion and the slightly smoky heat of chile de arbol. Although Mexican in origin, its blend of flavors make Chile Crunch a greart addition to most cuisines, from Italian to Asian. It is delicious directly on meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, pasta and pizza, or in soups, dips and marinades. The possibilities are endless!

Learn more about Chile Colonial on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

When eating this stuff, whether it be as a dip on crackers or chips or as an accent to a meat dish, you will not just want, but NEED, a tall glass of iced tea nearby.  I suppose just about any tea that you like iced will do.  I found myself enjoying a glass of iced Moroccan Mint from Tiger Spring Tea while eating this as a topper on my roasted chicken breast.  The crisp, cool taste of mint was quite a refresher to my palate which was searing from the heat of this salsa.

What I Think:

I can see why Rob and Emily at Foodzie love this stuff so much (so much that they created a tasting box around it!)  It is addicting.

But… make no mistake.  This stuff is HOT!  You’d think that the heat would be unbearable, as I tears are running down my cheeks and I am literally sweating while I eat this stuff, but I can’t seem to stop eating it even though my mouth is on fire.  I keep adding more fuel to it as it becomes some out-0f-control inferno!

I don’t know what it is about this.  Is it the heat?  Or the crunch?  Or the fact that even though it is hot, I taste the fruit notes of the chile de arbol and the hint of sweetness from the onion, and the intensity of the garlic.  It just tastes so darn good!

I first tasted these as a salsa dip for tortilla chips, and it was delicious.  So good that I finished the bag of chips before I was ready to be finished tasting it.  So, I promptly heated a couple of flour tortillas under the broiler, getting them just slightly browned and soft, and I started spooning the Chile Crunch onto a bit of tortilla, and rolling it up like a mini burrito which contained nothing but the Chile Crunch and the tortilla itself.

The next time I tried it, I purchased a box of Nabisco’s Garden Vegetable Wheat Thins to accompany it.  YUM!  Then, I actually visited the Foodzie website to read more about this, and it suggests to

Think of this salsa less as a chip-dipper and more as a condiment for meats, grains, pasta or even a refreshing tomato granita.

OK.  So, before finally writing a review of this stuff, I decided to take Foodzie’s advice and use it as a condiment for some left-over chicken breasts.  I had a couple of left over chicken breasts from dinner the other night, simply roasted with a little Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a light sprinkling of another favorite Foodzie product of mine:  Bourbon Smoked Paprika.  I seem to be using this paprika on just about everything these days.  The chicken was delicious, and since I was pretty much dining on my own last night, I decided to warm one up for my dinner, and I topped it with a bit of this Chile Crunch.  Wow!  It turned a simple, rather humble chicken breast into something that was a bit like firecrackers going off in my mouth!  The crunch, the heat, the amazing flavor!  Wow!

My Final Thoughts:

Left-over chicken will never be boring again as long as I have some of this stuff on hand!  It is really tasty, although, again, this stuff is NOT for wimps.  If you find yourself cowering at mild taco sauce from the fast-food taco joint, don’t even think of trying this stuff.  If, however, you like things on the spicy side… this stuff will amaze and delight you!

 

 

Hot n’ Spicy Muruku Crispy Noodles from SCL Marketing

Photo from Foodzie. Click on the photo to go there.

Product Description:

Made from chickpea flour, sesame seeds and spices, we fell in love with this spicy, South Indian version of chow mein noodles. Grab them by the handful or throw them into your favorite soup.

Learn more about SCL Marketing on their website.

These crispy noodles can be purchased on Foodzie for a limited time.

Tea Suggestion:

You’ll want iced tea and LOTS of it with these spicy, crunchy snack noodles.  I brewed some of this Lemon-Lime Meringue flavored Kukicha from 52Teas and chilled it, but if you don’t have any of this amazing tea on hand (this VIT flavor has since sold out), I guess any delicious iced tea will do.  I’d recommend something light and refreshing, to help counter the incredible spice of these noodles.

What I Think:

I think I’m in love, that’s what I think!

These are incredible.  I love that they are inspired by the spices of India, and not just doused with a heavy amount of powdered hot chili spice.  I can taste the curry in these, and I love that!

At first glance, they look pretty harmless.  In fact, what they look like are the chow mein noodles that I enjoy snacking on.  They’re a little thinner, perhaps, than the kind I find packaged in a can in the grocery store, but other than that, they look just like the same noodle.  They even pack the same crunch as those noodles … but with the Indian spices, they sure don’t taste like those noodles I’m used to.  These really deliver a seriously spicy blow to the palate!

But it’s not just spicy, there’s some complexity within it, and I think that’s what I’m enjoying most of all.  The heat isn’t the type of heat that keeps your mouth on fire, after a few moments (and a swig of iced tea), the heat tapers and then I notice hints of nutty taste from the chickpea and sesame seeds.

My Final Thoughts:

These are incredibly tasty – but certainly not for wimps!  These would make great toppings for a fresh garden salad or perhaps a creamy tomato soup (YUM!) but, that’s only if you can stop eating them long enough to actually use them for something other than right out of the package snacking.

Jalapeño Chips from Deano’s Jalapeños

Picture from Foodzie. Click on the Photo to go there!

Product Description:

For a spicy snack, we went straight to the source. Whole jalapenos are sliced thin, fried and sprinkled with sea salt. Don’t be fooled by its mild beginnings, it takes a few seconds after the first crunch and then bam, you’re hit with the heat.

Learn more about Deano’s Jalapeños on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

With these HOT snacks, I recommend iced tea … a LOT of it!  I recommend an iced white tea with these, because white tea tends to have cooling properties, something that definitely benefits the mouth and body after popping a few of these in your mouth!   Try a Silver Needle tea, like this Organic Silver Needle from Teavivre.  It is light, crisp, and very refreshing!

What I Think:

WOWZA!  These Jalapeño Chips take the idea of jalapeño flavored potato chips one spicy, and possibly one healthier, step further.  Eliminating the potato all together, Deano’s thinly slices the peppers themselves and fries them up until they’re crisp and then lightly salts them with sea salt.

And they are indeed spicy.  But they also have some sweetness to them too … I can taste the fruity element to the pepper.  This delicate sweetness is often overpowered by the sheer heat of the pepper, but, I like that every once in a while, my palate takes notice of the sweet notes.

I love the texture of these.  They have been sliced so thin – making them light and crisp – but yet they pack such a wallop of INTENSE heat and flavor.

My Final Thoughts:

These are so addicting!  Yeah, the spiciness of the pepper has me breaking out into a sweat, my eyes continuing to well up as tears are running down my face and my mouth is ON FIRE, but, I am still finding myself reaching for the bag for MORE.

I absolutely love these!

Spicy Black Tea Chai from DragonFly Chai

Product Description:

Our original spicy blend and boldest brew, with traditional flavors of cardamom, ginger, clove, pepper and cinnamon. Brewed with organic Assam black tea and sweetened with
organic cane sugar.

Learn more about Dragonfly Chai on their website.

What I Think:

I found a bottle of this chai concentrate at New Seasons Market when I visited them recently.  I had tasted (and really enjoyed) Dragonfly Chai before when I dined at Cup and Saucer Cafe, but I really wanted the chance to experiment with the concentrate myself.  So, I decided to pick up a bottle of the Spicy Black Tea Chai concentrate.

And it is SPICY!  Usually with spicier chai blends like this one, it is because they added lots of ginger, but, what is different here is that it doesn’t taste overly ginger-y.  I taste a lot of ginger, but, I also taste cinnamon, clove, pepper and cardamom.  It is spicy but it is not a concentration of peppery spice, allowing the other spices to reach the palate.

It is really easy to prepare a cup of latte:  2 parts of chai concentrate to 1 part milk.  I tried it once using coconut milk in place of my milk mixture, and I didn’t really care for it, so I think I’ll leave the coconut milk to my smoothies and keep using a mixture of 1/4 cup one percent milk and 1/4 cup half & half (to make 1/2 cup of milk mixture) and add that to 1 cup of chai concentrate.  Then you can heat it on the stove or in the microwave until its a suitable temperature … and enjoy.

Really, it’s not that much easier than to make a stovetop chai latte using loose leaf tea, BUT it is a lot less messy, and that’s just as important to me as simplicity because I hate cleaning up the mess after preparing chai using the stovetop method (that is, simmering the loose leaf chai blend on the stovetop in a mixture of milk and water for a few minutes, straining and serving) It’s messy, and for that reason I rarely make a stovetop chai.

DragonFly Chai to the rescue!

My Final Thoughts:

I’ve tried a few different chai concentrates, and there are some that I really enjoy, and some that I really didn’t enjoy at all.  This is one that I really enjoy!  I also LOVE that DragonFly Chai is a local company, based in Portland.  If you like chai, but find that you don’t want to deal with the fuss and mess of making your own on the stovetop, give DragonFly Chai a try!

Sun Ripened Pu’er Tea from Five Mountains

Normally, I’d publish tea reviews on one of two tea review blogs to which I contribute:  SororiTea Sisters or the Tea Review Blog.  However, since this tea was part of the Jump Start My New Year Tasting Box from Foodzie, I decided to review this tea here on my foodie blog. 

Product Description:

This is tea for coffee lovers: Rich, dark, with hints of caramel and dark spice. Pu’er is green tea that’s been sun-ripened, which both mellows its flavor and increases its healthful compounds. These are believed to aid digestion, assist in weight loss and eliminate alcohol toxins.

Learn more about Five Mountains on their website.

What I Think:

It’s no big secret that I love tea.  But I don’t love all tea, and I believe I mentioned on my article about the arrival of my Jump Start box that I’m not the biggest fan of Pu-erh.  And I’m not.  If I had to list my teas in order of preference, Pu-erh may not end up as the last on that list, but it would certainly rate in the bottom three.

That being said, I am slowly developing an appreciation for Pu-erh, as I am finding more and more Pu-erh teas that I’ve actually enjoyed.  They weren’t just “drinkable” but actually enjoyable.  This Pu-erh from Five Mountains certainly rates as enjoyable.

It is a rich, flavorful Pu-erh (or Pu’er, as Five Mountains calls it) with a beautiful sweetness that tastes similar to caramel.  There is also a warmth to this tea with hints of gentle spice.  It is earthy and a little brine-y which is often expected in a Pu-erh, but, it is not quite as brine-y as some Pu-erh teas that I’ve tried, and I appreciate that.  Some Pu-erh teas can be almost fishy in taste, and it is that fishy taste that makes me not so fond of Pu-erh.  I am glad that this is NOT fishy, only a little salty perhaps, and it is a distant flavor that doesn’t disrupt the aforementioned rich caramel-y flavor and spiced tones that I find so enjoyable about this tea.  In fact, the hint of salt in the background may actually work to this tea’s favor, accenting the robust flavors of the tea just right.

My Final Thoughts:

This tea is remarkably smooth from start to finish, with no bitterness or astringency.  Just sweet, rich flavor that makes the tea an absolute pleasure to sip.  If all of my Pu-erh experiences were as positive as this one, I wouldn’t have had to preface this review by saying I’m not a big fan of it, because this is grand!

Earl of Bengal Tea from Teatulia

Product Description:

Unapologetically flavorful with a splash of bergamot citrus. A refreshing new take on the classic Earl Grey.

Learn more about Teatulia Teas here.

What I Think:

As you may recall, this is the tea that I received in my Tea Time Treats tasting box … yes, the tasting box from September!  I had tried and reviewed this tea before, but, since I am just now finishing up the last of this tea from my September tasting box, I thought I’d explore it a little via review for this blog.

I do love Earl Grey, it is one of my favorite flavored black teas.  There is just something about the tangy flavor of bergamot when combined with the bold flavor of black tea.  An incredible flavor combination.

What makes this Earl of Bengal a bit different from a typical Earl Grey is the tea base that is used which is a black tea from a tea estate in Bangladesh.   This gives the black tea a different flavor:  it is robust and full-flavored, but with a smoothness to it that is moderately astringent.  In my first tasting of this tea, I did not note any bitterness to the cup, and while there is not a strong bitter taste with this tasting, I notice just a hint of bitterness – a savory bitterness – that hits about mid-sip.  The bitterness leaves almost as quickly as it arrives, offering just a bit of contrast to the sweeter tones of the tea and the tangy notes of the bergamot.

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoy this tea.  A lovely rendition of Earl Grey!