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A Trio of Delicious Sweet Treats from “The Old Dominion”

14 Jan

Red Rocker Candy’s Cashew Brittle with White Chocolate. Where do I begin to sing your praises? To say it is simply good would be a gross understatement. It is really, really, really good. OK, now we’re getting closer to reality. Now I am not the world’s most passionate brittle fan. I like peanut brittle all right, I guess. I am a native Virginian, after all. But most of it is average at best. Too sweet. Not enough peanuts. Far too hard and dangerous for my somewhat fragile dental work.

Sue Charney, owner of Red Rocker Candy, is pictured above. I’m not sure what her secret is, but she has obviously found a winner in this particular brittle recipe. The soft layer of white chocolate on top is a perfect foil for the crunch that lies below. It is indeed a crunch. However, it is decidedly not a bridge breaker. The incredible, buttery candy brittle is generously spiked with cashews — one of my favorite nuts on the planet. Well, it’s actually a seed, not a nut. But that’s another story for another day.  

Sue’s confections have recently been discovered by famous folks like TV’s Rachel Ray. This attention is certainly well deserved. I just mentioned on Facebook that Red Rocker’s Cashew Brittle with White Chocolate may be one of the best things I eat all year in 2012. Yup, I know it’s only January, but these crunchy, crackly beauties are a world class treat and without a doubt worthy of your immediate time and attention. Get some quickly before the entire world finds out — and order some for a friend. Order some for an enemy too. That person will not remain an enemy long.

Pistachio Brittle is just one of many irresistable varieties offered

Spice Rack Chocolates are made in Fredericksburg, VA. They’ve been making artisan chocolates since 2006. It’s a family oriented business founded on a “quality over quantity” philosophy. Their products are handcrafted in small batches and you can clearly taste the difference. The Belgian chocolate they use is excellent — pure and lacking in the waxy texture that plagues most mass-produced chocolates. But let’s not stop there — the chocolates are frequently goosed up with uniquely exotic spices/flavors like chipotle peppers, crystallized ginger, Jamaican curry, and Celtic smoked sea salt.

Spice Rack kindly sent us a variety of products to sample and enjoy — and enjoy we did! The dark chocolate chipotle peanuts (billed as “Fire Antz”) were spicy and superb. It didn’t hurt that they feature first class gourmet Virginia goobers grown just down the road by Belmont Peanuts. They’re not overly spicy, but they do deliver a pleasant afterburn. The Ginger Cubes offer a highly unique marriage of dark chocolate and crystallized ginger. I love ginger, so these little nuggets were a special treat.

Even better was the Spice Rack Collection. This attractive & informative (it suggests wine pairings) 15-piece gift box featured 3 each of the following flavor combos: Fresh Lemon with Sweet Basil, Celtic Smoked Sea Salt and White Ground Pepper, Key Lime and Jamaican Curry, Rosemary with Mint Leaves, and Spicy Cayenne and Chili Powder. The coupling of curry and chocolate (a first for this guy) was surprisingly noteworthy.  My personal fave was the sea salt variety — I’ve long been a softy for that now trendy salty/sweet combo. Spice Rack offers 5 other, equally interesting 15-piece collections. Next on my list will be their On The Rocks mix, which boasts matches such as Rum and Cola, Pina Colada, Amaretto, Orange Cognac, and Butterscotch Brandy. Cheers, y’all!

Pretty much everyone loves banana pudding. Southerners certainly crave it. But how often do you actually prepare it at home? Probably not all that often. The slicing of the bananas part is pretty easy. So is the pulling the Nilla Wafers from the box part. So what’s the big deal? Most folks will tell you it’s the preparation of the pudding part. Well, Reggie Rodgers of Chesapeake, Virginia has solved that problem for you.

Rodgers Banana Pudding Sauce is smooth and delicious — and comes in refrigerated jars. How cool is that??? Just layer your Nillas and sliced nanners, poor the sauce over top, and you’re done. It’s good too — creamy and tasting of pure vanilla extract. No baking required. The ingredients are all natural and you make as little or as much as you’d like — then put the rest of the sauce back in the fridge for later. How convenient! Reggie Rodgers — you are THE MAN. We love their logo too. The cartoony wafer and banana both appear to be thrilled about their pending collision course with the pudding bowl. Their ultimate demise will be your gain, that’s for sure!

We hear Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce makes a great shake too!

——————————————————–

Red Rocker Candy – PO Box 1135, Troy, VA

www.redrockercandy.com ; (434) 589-2011

Spice Rack Chocolates – 10908 Courthouse Road, Fredericksburg, VA

www.spicerackchocolates.com ; (540) 847-2063

Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce – (757) 558-4964

www.rodgersbananapudding.com ; reggie@rodgersbananapudding.com

Mom’s Apple Pie Company of Leesburg, Virginia will Warm Your Heart & Soul

2 Nov

Mom’s Apple Pie Company is a cool little place. They have been here quite some time and have garnered a good bit of national attention. Deservedly so. Southern Living called Mom’s Sour Cherry Crumb Pie the “best we have ever tasted.” Tall praise, indeed. The pies are certainly well made and a lot of the fruit/produce is locally grown (from rhubarb to raspberries). Avis Renshaw is Mom. She has been at this for more than 30 years now (they started back in 1981).

Pumpkins and Gourds out front scream Fall — and Halloween

Pie racks display pies and baked goods while they cool down

These juicy apples come from orchards in Winchester, Virginia

Apples at Mom’s are fresh, delicious …. and affordable!

Pie by the slice – this way you can taste more than one variety!

Sour Cherry Crumb Pie is one of Mom’s most popular varieties

I decided on a Bourbon Walnut Pie (above). Bought the whole thing and brought it home for the entire family to enjoy. It was quite a hit and only survived a couple days. It was especially sublime when briefly heated up in the microwave and topped with vanilla ice cream. The pie’s center was nice and moist, not gummy at all. It really dislike pies when the texture reminds you of that white, goopy kindergarten paste. Something about that is just plain nasty.

My Bourbon Walnut Pie (seen above) — ready for its close-up. The walnuts were fresh tasting and you could detect just a hint of booze. Not overpowering at all. Shoot, they could probably booze it up a little more. But, hey, they’re the experts. The crust was just fine, although I am quite sure they are no longer made by hand. Mom’s massive output of pies and baked goods (especially this time of year) has likely forced them to make this minor concession. But never fear, folks! This, as my always-hungry brothers might say, is “One Fine Pie!”  

Macaroons (pictured above). Its even fun to say. Far better to put in your mouth. Mom’s makes an excellent one. They will even dip ‘em in chocolate (see below) if you prefer them dressed up a bit. I’m a total sucker for coconut. Sweetened. Unsweetened. In pies. In ice cream. In candy bars. On cakes. I think you follow me by now. Put me on a deserted island and I’m good. Just make sure there are plenty of coconuts around. You can leave the face-painted volleyball at home (random Tom Hanks reference).  

Chocolate and Coconut. Together. Like a Mounds bar – only better

Mom’s Apple Pie Company is good any time of year. If you can’t make it to my home state of Virginia, they can send a taste of the Old Dominion to you. Pie prices range from about $13 to $17 each plus shipping. A small price to pay for such a wholesome, sweet treat. It’s just like Mother’s Love – only in pie form. When it comes to this pie, I cannot tell a lie.

MOM’S APPLE PIE – 220 Loudoun Street SE, Leesburg, VA

(703) 771-8590; www.momsapplepieco.com

***Open 7 days a week***

Divine Bakery Treats in the Heart of Cajun Country

17 Nov

Keller’s Bakery is a morning “must-do” in downtown Lafayette, LA.

Even the paper bags are old school at Keller’s Bakery.

Keller’s shows their support for the UL-L Ragin’ Cajuns football team.

These unique Walnut Macaroons immediately caught my eye. Deee-lish!

Nothing like a nutty macaroon and a cup o’ cafe chaud!

LeJeune’s Bakery (circa 1884) is a landmark in Jeanerette.

LeJeune supplies much of the bread for the surrounding community.

The Jeanerette locals like to meet and eat at The Yellow Bowl.

Bread pudding is a popular treat at eateries throughout the region.  

Told ya they were a historic landmark!

The most exquisite pastries were found at Lafayette’s Poupart’s Bakery.

http://www.poupartsbakery.com/

Healthy Snack Options from Two Moms

26 Mar

We recently received a shipment of sample snack products from Two Moms in the Raw of Lafayette, Colorado. I am pleased to report that these organic products are quite healthy and satisfying. Wholesome raw ingredients and no preservatives — now that’s what I’m talking about!

Co-owner Shari Leidich explains how it all got started …

In 2004, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After exploring all options, I found a natural approach to healing worked best for me. Food in its natural state without all the additives and pesticides is what the body needs to heal and feel good. As I continue on my personal journey to wellness I feel better each day and I know my diet has a lot to do with it. While exploring the raw lifestyle, I couldn’t find a tasty, satisfying treat to have on the run. After lots of experiments in the kitchen with other moms, I came up with these delicious Granolas and fantastic Sea Crackers.  Pretty soon all of my friends and family were ordering more than I could afford to give away.  As a result, I decided to start charging….and here we are today. From these wonderful beginnings we have benefited greatly and look forward to the future and sharing our Raw and Organic treats with you…the ones that we have already available and the many more we have yet to come up with.

The delicious Blueberry and Apple Granola chunks contains Millet, Buckwheat, Coconut, Flaxseed, Sunflower Seeds, Seasame Seeds, Pecans, Almonds, Pepitas, Apples, Agave, Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Blueberries. It does look a bit like bird seed, but the taste will win you over. This product is not tooth-snapping hard and is bursting with flavors of fruit, cinnamon and coconut. We sampled their Cranberry Granola and found it equally flavorful.

Our care package from Two Moms also included generous packages of Garden Herb and Tomato Basil “Sea Crackers.” These gluten free munchies are made with organic Flaxseed, Kombu (Edible Kelp), Sundried Tomatoes, Basil, Sea Salt and Spices.  I preferred the Tomato Basil variety, especially when getting the occasional nugget of tart sundried tomato.  

When it comes to healthy yet tasty snacking, Mother knows best!

http://2momsintheraw.com/

Chattanooga Bakery’s MoonPie Crunch Mint

29 Jan

Be sure to stock up for your 2010 MARDI GRAS celebration …

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ — Chattanooga Bakery, Inc., maker of the iconic MoonPie brand marshmallow sandwich, announces the introduction of MoonPie Crunch Mint, scheduled for first shipment in November 2009. Chattanooga Bakery also announces the unveiling of its newly-designed web site (www.moonpie.com) which, among other things, will allow consumers to order the new MoonPie Crunch Mint products as well as the full array of other MoonPie products.

Sized like today’s “Mini” MoonPie, the MoonPie Crunch Mint product touts a creamy Mint filling, a crunchier, chocolate-flavored cookie and a chocolatey coating on the outside. Mint will become the second item in the new MoonPie Crunch line, following the launch of Peanut Butter in September 2008. Consumer research results on Mint have been very encouraging, with most comparing it favorably to the ever-popular Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.

“We’re really excited to be launching another new and different item under the proven MoonPie® trademark,” said Tory Johnston, VP of Marketing for Chattanooga Bakery. “For over 90 years, we stayed true to our original design – soft cookies with marshmallow filling. With the early successes we’ve seen on Peanut Butter, we’re hopeful Mint will also deliver on the taste and quality expectations our consumers demand. It’s encouraging to hear the positive comments on the Crunch line so far – Mint is next, with more in the pipeline.”

MoonPie Crunch Mint will be available in the exact same formats as Peanut Butter – an 8 ct. multipack carton, a 48/8 ct. floor display and a twin pack for single-serve, available in a 12 ct. shelf / counter caddie and 96 ct. floor display.

MoonPies are available in three sizes (Original, Double-Decker® and Mini) and six flavors (Chocolate, Vanilla, Banana, Lemon, Orange & Strawberry). Distribution is national, with particular strength in the Southeast and Southwest. The brand can be found in Grocery, Mass, Club, Drug, Convenience, Vending, Foodservice and a number of specialty retail outlets. The MoonPie products are typically merchandised in the cookie section of stores.

Chattanooga Bakery was founded in 1902 as a subsidiary of the Mountain City Flour Mill. A fourth generation, family-owned business, the company made nearly 100 snack cake and cookie items under the Lookout(TM) trademark, named after the popular residential and tourist community near Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain. In 1917, after a brainstorming conversation between a bakery salesman and some Appalachian coal miners, the MoonPie® was born, and by the late 1930’s was the bakery’s #1 seller, a spot it still occupies today.

Web Site: www.moonpie.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/moonpie

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