Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Starbucks Via

I usually don't care for instant coffee very much.  It just doesn't have the save flavor as freshly brewed coffee.  The only time I even use instant coffee if I am making a coffee based ice cream.

Today, Starbucks Coffee has released nationally their version of instant coffee, Starbucks Via.  Via comes in two varieties, Columbia and Italian Roast.  Via is different from other instant coffee in that instead of being freeze dried crystals, it is whole beans ground into a very fine grind that Starbucks calls "microgrind."  Starbucks is convinced that you won't be able to tell the difference between Via and their regular brewed coffee that they will be having a taste test this weekend at participating stores.

I was fortunate enough to be given a sample of the Columbia Via at work today.  I have to say, that compared to other instant coffees, Via is definitely a better brew.  The taste was very close to the taste of the their drip coffees that I have.  So, if you like Starbucks drip coffees, the Via is an acceptable brew in my humble opinion.  However, like all things Starbucks, it is a bit on the pricey side.  A three pack of Via is expected to retail for $2.95, and a box of 12 for $9.95.  I little more than I am willing to pay since I can buy a can of ground coffee that will last a little more than a week for the same price as three cups of Via. 

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stouffer's Anytime Gourmet-Chicken & Asparagus Carbonara

One of my previous positions was the category manager of frozen food for the local division of a national supermarket chain.  One of my responsibilities was to decide what products the stores in my area would carry.  Over the years I got to see a lot of cool products, no pun intended.  Even though I have not been involved in frozen food professionally for some time, I still like to see the wide variety of new items available.  Frozen foods have come a long way.

When both my wife and I worked full time jobs, we had an agreement that I would cook on the weekends.  For some reason that I can not understand, that tradition continues on Sundays in my house, even though I work two jobs and my wife doesn't work.  No matter.

Today was my day to cook.  At first I was going to do something fairly simple like soup and salad, but I had a coupon for $2.50 off of any variety of Stouffer's new Anytime Gourmet kits.  I decided on the Chicken & Asparagus Carbonara.  The box describes the dish as "Chicken breasts seasoned with Italian-style spices and served in a smoky bacon cream sauce with linguine, peas, and asparagus."  As you can see in the picture, it comes as a kit with each part of the meal in individual pouches.

When I opened the pouch containing the two boneless chicken breasts, I could really smell the seasoning.  The first step is to saute the chicken until it is done.  You then remove the chicken and set it aside under aluminum foil to keep it warm.  Next you heat up the sauce briefly and add the pasta and vegetable pouch.  Pretty simple really.  All in all, the total cooking time was about 15 minutes.

I have to say that the flavor was fantastic.  The pieces of asparagus were a pretty nice size and very tender.  The seasoning on the chicken and the flavor of the sauce were spot on, not too mild and not too overpowering.  That was the good.  Now for the not so good.  I did not feel that the kit came with enough sauce.  There was no additional sauce to pour on the chicken breasts or pasta.  The only other complaint that I might have is that there really wasn't enough food for a stand alone meal.  Next time, I will have to add a salad or something.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Quick & Easy Chili Recipe

I was hoping to talk my wife into starting a blog on cooking since she is a better cook than I am, but so far she is not willing to start one. After all, I am a guy, and I mostly know how to cook guy food. That usually means steaks and burgers on the grill. However, since it is winter, and there is nothing I like more than a good bowl of chili (definitely a guy food) while watching a football game, I thought I would share my fairly simple chili recipe.

First the ingredients:
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium size onion
  • a little vegetable oil (how is that for specific measurements)
  • 1.5-2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • chili powder
  • 1 can of kidney beans (optional)

Take a large pot (technically a Dutch Oven, but since this is a guy recipe we will go with large pot) and pour enough oil in to cover the bottom of the pot. Chop the onion and garlic, add them to the pot, and start to cook over medium/high heat, stirring frequently. Once the onions are tender, and the ground beef and cook until brown. Once the meat is brown, add the tomato paste and the two cans of tomatoes with chilis. Once all of this is mixed well together and hot, add chili powder to taste (I usually use around 2 tablespoons). Now as far as I am concerned, the chili is done, but my missus insists the chili needs beans (I keep telling her it is called chili con carne, not chili con frijoles), so if you are so inclined, add a can of red kidney beans.

Well, there you go. Dinner is served. Pour yourself a big bowl, open a beer (do NOT pour into a glass, guys don't do that) and enjoy.

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Welcome To My Blog

USDA Food PyramidImage via Wikipedia
Diet.  The very word conjures up negative images.  While most people associate the word diet with denying yourself of some food and drink for the purpose of losing weight, in reality, diet really is more about the food and drink you consume on a regular basis.

I am a man in my late 40's.  Currently, I am not the heaviest I have ever been, but I am perilously close.  For a few weeks I have been telling myself that I really do need to lose some weight.  About a week ago, two things took place that made me finally start my quest to shed some tonnage.  First and foremost, I got tired of feeling crappy all the time.  Second was when I split the seat out of a pair of pants.  I am pretty sure that I caught my pants on something and that caused the tear, but the thought that it just might be my big behind was a concern.

Earlier this week, I weighed in at 226 lbs, about four pounds shy of my previous high.  In the past, I have always felt pretty good at around 200 lbs.  According to the weight charts and body mass index, I should weigh between 155-175lbs.  I have two goals right now.  There are currently 15 weeks left in 2009.  If I could lose 1.5 lbs per week, I could be at 200 lbs by the end of the year.  If I can make that, then I want to shoot for around 180 lbs by summer and try to maintain that weight.

While I do intend to touch on my weight loss adventure on this blog, the title of the blog is Dickster's Food & Diet Blog so I intend more to focus on the food aspect.  I have spent most of my life in the retail food industry.  I intend to review food items that I find that I particularly have enjoyed, recipes that I like, and any food and nutrition news that I come across in my travels.  Feel free to join in the journey.
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