Author: Kevin Mikulaj

Wicked Awesome Taco

I found the The Wicked Awesome Taco, Taco Simmer Sauce during a recent shopping trip and figured that I would try it.

I started off by browning some 83/17 ground beef from the local Pick-N-Save and, after it was nice and brown, added the Taco Simmer Sauce and water. I followed the directions and lowered the heat to allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes. After the five minutes I had a very aromatic beef taco filling.

The beef had taken on a slightly smokey taco flavor with just the right amount of liquid remaining in the mixture. The seasoning is not spicy so even the most timid of taste buds should like this sauce. It also offers enough of a base so that toppings like pico de gallo, salsa lettuce, etc. are a nice complement.

The Wicked Awesome Taco, Taco Simmer Sauce is a quick and easy way to convert ground beef into a savory taco filling. I would recommend it to anyone who likes tacos but is tired of the powder seasoning route.

BERTOLLI® FIVE CHEESE SAUCE 

@Bertolli has another winner sauce with their Five Cheese Sauce. A delightful mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, olive oil and a blend of five cheeses. The Provolone, Parmesan, Asiago, Ricotta and Romano complement each other while not overpowering the flavor of the sauce. The cheese also help to round out the tanginess of the tomatoes. Flecks of cheese and basil are visible in the bright red sauce.

The sauce is just in consistency, mostly smooth, with just the right amount of chunks of tomato. It is thick enough to cling to pasta and thin enough to top a pan fried chicken breast without looking like a scoop of tomatoes.

I had the Bertolli Five Cheese Sauce with cooked Bucatini pasta and over a homemade chicken parmesan. Both benefitted from the flavors of the sauce. It even worked well as a dip for some grilled asparagus.

If you are looking for a change to your run-of-the-mill spaghetti sauce the Bertolli Five Cheese Sauce might be just the one for you. It certainly has a place in my pantry.

Cinnabon Mini Rolls from Pizza Hut

I recently ordered pizza from @pizzahut online and one of the suggestions was the 10 mini @Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. At first I thought no way. How could @Cinnabon cinnamon rolls made at @pizzahut be any good? The desire for dessert though was now in my head, and the rolls are only $5.99, so I clicked and added them to my order.

The local @pizzahut has gone through a transformation. Slimming down to strictly a drive thru/delivery footprint from the larger sit-down with buffet establishment. The new building is bright and vibrant and, as someone who mainly used the pickup option, suites me fine.

I pulled up to the window, exchanged information, and was soon on my way with my appetizer, pizza, and dessert. I could not resist opening the dessert package to take a sniff of the rolls.This was a huge mistake, because they smelled wonderful. The sweet, tangy aroma filled my car and I instantly wanted a cup of coffee and one of the rolls. Unfortunately, I live about fifteen minutes from this Pizza Hut so I resisted the urge to dig in, closed the lid, and drove home. What delightful torture the ride home was.

The ten mini rolls are nestled in their container and topped with the Cinnabon signature cream cheese frosting. The rolls are also topped with a plastic pizza saver to keep the lid from stealing any of that amazing frosting. A nice touch and much appreciated.

I thought about waiting to finish dinner before eating one of the rolls, but I’m an adult and even the Pizza Hut website states that these ten mini rolls are “the perfect way to end pizza night. Or you can eat ’em first. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.” Taking their advice I scooped one of the rolls out onto my plate and took a bite.

What I was greeted with was pure deliciousness. From the cinnamon heavy tender pastry to the sweet delectable frosting, the roll was everything I could have hoped for. I savored that roll and then went back to the normal order for eating my meal. All the time I was enjoying dinner I was thinking about the dessert that was to come. I finished my meal with three more rolls and decided to save the rest for the following morning.

Unfortunately, there is no good way to reheat the rolls. Using a microwave results in a roll with hard spots and the icing becoming gritty. The results were similar when using an oven, Scraping the icing off before heating the rolls kept the icing pleasant, but still resulted in less than appetizing pastry.

My advice is to have some friends to share the rolls with so there are no leftovers.

I would recommend adding the 10 mini @Cinnabon cinnamon rolls to your next @pizzahut order.

Pearl Couscous

The Toasted Israeli-Style Pasta by @RiceSelect is a delightful addition to any pantry.

I have always liked Israeli Couscous so it was no surprise that I like the product made by @RiceSelect. The texture is pleasant a performs like expected.

I normally use Moroccan couscous to go with a chicken stew that I like. I decided to change things up by substituting @RiceSelect Israeli-Style couscous and see how things would turn out.

I followed the package instructions; adding olive oil to boiling water and then pouring in the couscous. It took approximately ten minutes for the couscous to be ready. The final result was an al dente pasta that had a pleasant size and chewiness.

I scooped some into a bowl and topped it with the chicken stew that I had prepared.

The couscous was perfect.

Chewy.

Temptingly tasty.

The hearty, spicy richness of the stew. The complex blend cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, and cardamon pods balanced perfectly against the simple toasted flavor of the couscous.

Since that meal I have used the Toasted Israeli-Style Pasta by @RiceSelect in beef vegetable soup, a hearty dinner salad, and a simple side dish fortified with homemade chicken stock and garlic. I liked the couscous with soup, but having it cold in a salad was a little strange. I don’t know if I will do that again. As a side dish, the couscous was delicious.

I would recommend the Toasted Israeli-Style Pasta by @RiceSelect for both couscous and pasta lovers. Give it a try.

BelGioioso Parmesan Cheese

At BelGioioso, our guiding principle is to never cut corners and to always do what is best for the cheese.

A very bold statement, but one that is proven after one taste of this wonderful cheese.

I live in Wisconsin, but was born in Indiana, so I do not claim to have a cheese gene or be an expert when it comes to cheese. I can rely on the sixteen plus years I was a chef to say the cheeses that I have eaten from @BelGioiosoCheese have all been exceptional in flavor and quality.

The beautiful gradient of color.

The @BelGioiosoCheese Parmesan cheese is no exception. Aged over ten months, this cheese has a nutty, salty flavor that rounds out dishes nicely. It grates beautifully and retains its shape when added as a garnish, but also melts and blends well when used to thicken a sauce. It adds a creaminess that some competitors cannot match.

The gradient of color in each wedge of cheese ranges from a pale yellow to an almost nut brown. A tangy aroma greets you when the wrapper is removed letting you know that this is going to be a delicious experience.

I have blended it into a sauce for gnocchi, as a topping for lasagna and pizza, grated onto a salad, shaved and added to bruschetta. The @BelGioiosoCheese Parmesan has never disappointed and has earned a special place in my cheese drawer.

If you’re looking for a great Parmesan cheese @BelGioiosoCheese has what you are looking for.

Cholula Hot Sauce – Chili Garlic

This will be the third hot sauce from the folks from @CholulaHotSauce that I have tried. To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement.

I saw this Chili Garlic hot sauce and figured I had to try it. I mean it has two of my favorite things on the label chilis and garlic. What could be wrong with that?

Saturday morning I made some scrambled eggs, roasted asparagus, fried potatoes and toast for breakfast. This would be a good selection of foods to sample this hot sauce with.

After tacking some pictures of my food and the hot sauces I settled down to eat. I unscrewed the wooden cap from the bottle and took a sniff. I could detect only the faintest hint of garlic. It smelled like regular hot sauce.

I put the cap back on and shook it up.

It still smelled the same.

I tasted it.

Yep. Hot sauce with only the faintest hint of garlic.

Don’t get me wrong. This is still a good hot sauce. Just not a good hot sauce with “Garlic”.

This is a pet peeve of mine. It ranks up there with the foods that call out “SPICY” or “HOT” on their label and then end up disappointing. If a manufacturer is making a point to add a word to the main label then make sure the product lives up to it. Otherwise, bury it in the list of ingredients.

Put up, or shut up.

The Cholula Chili Garlic hot sauce does not cost more than the regular Cholula hot sauce so do not bother purchasing this one. You will have a nice hot sauce and will not be stuck with 5 fluid ounces of disappointment when the garlic flavor you were expecting is missing.

The folks at @CholulaHotSauce have some good hot sauces. Unfortunately I cannot recommend the Chili Garlic hot sauce as anything but a hot sauce.

Screaming’ Sicilian – Bessie’s Revenge

After my experience with the Mabo Italiano I was a little hesitant trying another Screamin’ Sicilian pizza. Co. I’m glad that I decided to give this variety a try.

I followed the instructions and placed the frozen pizza into my preheated oven and patiently waited for it to be ready for my taste buds.

The packaging has the same eye catching design. A text bubble calls out that this pizza has “Ridiculous amounts of cheese!”. This all cheese pizza is covered with whole milk fresh (frozen) mozzarella, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, and white cheddar cheese. The secret recipe tomato sauce is back along with the “Stone-fired” medium crust. Like the the previous selection, I had to rearrange the toppings to more evenly cover the surface.

Bessie’s Revenge bakes for between 16-18 minutes at 425 degrees. I checked mine after 16 minutes and it looked very pale so I let it bake 2 minutes longer. It was still looking a little too blonde for my taste so I left it in for another 4 minutes and that had the cheese looking a nice golden brown color. Again, the smell was mild for something touted as “Screamin’ Sicilian” and I was thinking this might be another disappointment.

I started tasting with a salad and then cut into the pizza.

The crust was much crisper than my previous selection and had considerably more cheese. Allowing the pizza to rest while I ate the salad kept the cheese from being too soft. There was no stretch as I pulled two pieces from the pie.

The pizza was much better. The cheese was thick and complemented the tomato sauce nicely. I could not discern any seasoning besides the tomato sauce and five cheeses. The crust was crisp and had an ok taste to it.

I can recommend Bessie’s Revenge to anyone who likes a cheese pizza. You might want to add some crushed red pepper flakes or a pizza seasoning to it to liven it up a bit.

Ying’s Xtra Spicy Kungpao Sauce

After discovering the spicy noodle sauce from Ying’s Kitchen I wanted to try other sauces from them.

The Spicy Kungpao Sauce is a tasty blend of Soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and red chili that is a welcome addition to any pantry. And yes, I know that Kung Pao is supposed to be two words.

I had pork thawed so I made a stir fry from of pork, broccoli, carrot, cremini mushrooms, garlic, onion, and roasted peanuts. Everything came together nicely and soon it was time to add the Xtra Spicy Kungpao sauce.

The sauce is not very thick but coated the vegetables and pork nicely. I added some chopped scallions as a garnish, spooned everything over white rice and dug in.

What greeted me was deliciousness itself. For being a mass produced item, the Ying’s Xtra Spicy Kungpao Sauce is a real pleasure combining flavor and heat in the right amounts. The vegetables and pork flavors were enhanced but not overpowered. While the label calls out that the sauce is “Xtra Spicy” there wasn’t a lot of heat. Instead, the sauce is a nice balance between tanginess, sweetness, and spice.

If you like Kung Pao you should give Ying’s Xtra Spicy Kungpao Sauce a try. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised as to how good it is.

Ying’s Spicy Noodle Sauce

A pleasantly spicy addition to any pantry.

I love stir fry.

I should classify that.

I love what I think is stir fry.

I make stir fry from recipes, combining ingredients to make the sauce for each dish. There are times though, when I like to have a remade sauce that I can grab and add to a stir fry when I am in a rush or when I realize too late that a needed ingredient is AWOL from my pantry.

Ying’s Spicy Noodle Sauce has won a place in my pantry.

I don’t know how “authentic” this sauce is, but it has a very pleasant taste and just the right amount of heat to take a stir fry from boring to extraordinary.

I made a simple stir fry of Cremini mushrooms, carrot, broccoli, scallions, and garlic. When everything was ready I added the Ying’s Spicy Noodle Sauce and noodles, tossed it a few times and plated it. The sauce was very tasty. Everything seems well balanced with no one ingredient overpowering the others, although the red chili peppers do stand out with their heat.

This is a welcome profile though. I cannot stand when a food is listed as spicy and all you taste is the vinegar that was used to make it tangy and not hot. Ying’s Spicy Noodle Sauce does not disappoint in this area. If you like a kick to your stir fry, this is a good addition.

The sauce has a nice consistency. It is not overly thick and clings well to vegetables and noodles alike. There is an abundance of chili flakes almost to the point of making the sauce gritty. I can live with that aspect to have the heat the sauce brings.

Ying’s Spicy Noodle Sauce is now a staple in my pantry and it should be added to yours too.

Pastorelli Italian Chef Pizza Sauce

I enjoy making homemade pizza, but one of the issues has always been the sauce. I have a recipe that I like, but sometimes I would like the ease of having a sauce that is ready to go that I don’t have to cook or that I can use if I have forgotten that I don’t have any of mine in the freezer. The Pastorelli “Italian Chef” Pizza Sauce is just such a sauce.

The box states that the Pastorelli Italian Chef Pizza Sauce is “Made with San Marzano-style tomatoes, plucked off the vine at their juicy, ripened peak, it has a zesty flavor that’s enhanced by imported Pecorino Romano cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.” Sounds good and I can state that this is a delightful sauce for homemade pizza.

The sauce comes in a box that includes three 4oz clear plastic packets. It looks like the packets can be torn, but I used scissors to better control how I placed it on the pizza crust. As I cut the packet open I was greeted by a very pleasant tomato smell. The sauce was bright red, a consistent thickness, and appeared very fresh.

The sauce is tangy and not overly sweet. There are no overpowering flavors to detract from the smooth tomato taste. It has consistency between spaghetti sauce and tomato paste. Like you have reduced a commercial spaghetti sauce to the point where much of the moisture is cooked out, but it is still easily spreadable on the pizza crust.

The cheese flavor is there, but again, there is a nice balance between the tomato and cheese. The tomato flavor comes out the winner and the cheese is only hinted at being an ingredient.

I could not taste the olive oil in the sauce but it is listed as an ingredient, so it must be there.

The sauce spreads easily with a spoon or ladle but isn’t runny. Each pouch is supposed to provide enough sauce for one pizza, but I found that there was more than enough for two of my pizzas. I like sauce on my pizza, but don’t want it covered with a thick layer of sauce.

Once the pizza was finished baking the sauce had thickened a little more and was not quite tacky, but definitely had some additional body. The tomato flavor was still there and was a tasty complement to the fresh mozzarella, hot Italian sausage, mushrooms, and crust.

The Pastorelli “Italian Chef” Pizza Sauce is a welcome addition to my pantry and should be part of yours too.