Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Strict Adherance to Package Dates Costs Billions

A tag sealing a bag of hot dog buns displays a...Image via Wikipedia
What do you do when you find a package of food that has passed the date printed on the package?  Do you assume that since it is past the date on the package that it is no longer good, or do you figure that the date is just a guideline?  I have been in the retail food industry most of my life.  I know that most food, if properly handled, is still edible after the date on the package.

However, a recent study by ShelfLifeAdvice.com and Harris Interactive shows that most Americans believe that some food is not safe to be eaten once the the date has passed.  They surveyed about 2500 adults and asked their opinions on whether or not 10 refrigerated products were safe to eat past the expiration date. 

Almost half of those surveyed thought that eggs could not be eaten after the date printed on the package.  When properly stored, eggs can last 3-5 weeks after the date on the package.  Over 60% of respondents thought that milk could not be safely consumed after the printed date.  Milk usually stays good for a week after the sell by date on the package.

The study projects that if those same 60% of people think that milk is bad once the sell by date passes were to throw out a quart of milk per month, it would add up to $700 million in wasted milk.  Talk about crying over spilled milk.  With the multitude of products purchased with sell by dates, you can see how quickly the amount of money would add up.  So the next time you have a product past the sell by date, remember, there is not a clock ticking in the product that magically makes it bad when the date on the package arrives.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

PF Chang's General Chang's Chicken

Yesterday, I went to visit my parents to drop off some vitamins that I ordered for my mother.  While we were there, my father told me about a new line of PF Chang's frozen entrees for two that they found at their local Giant grocery store.  I decided to check my local Giant to try to find them there.  The store had yet to cut them into the frozen food section, but fortunately I know the frozen food clerk, and he was able to find several in the frozen store room.  I decided to buy the Shrimp in Garlic Sauce and the General Chang's Chicken.  You can see all their varieties at their website.

Our original Mother's Day plans were canceled at the last minute, so I decided to prepare one of the PF Chang's entrees for dinner.  I let my wife decide which one she wanted, and she chose the General Chang's Chicken.  It is described on the package as "Battered white meat chicken with a sweet chili sauce, broccoli and red bell peppers."  The sweet chili sauce was tasty and had a bit of a zing to it.

Preparing the kit is about as straightforward as it gets.  You pour the contents of the package in a non-stick skillet and cook it for about 13 minutes.  The kit does not come with any rice, so if you want to serve the dish over rice you will need to cook your own.  The package contained plenty of meat, nice size pieces of brocolli, strips of red bell pepper, and frozen cubes of the sauce.  The PF Chang's entrees are a little more expensive than the Wanchai Ferry product that I had tried previously, but the sauce makes the difference.  Give the PF Chang's a try for a nice dinner for two, ready in less than 15 minutes.
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kraft Deli Deluxe Bacon Cheddar Slices

One day last week during my daily commute, I heard a radio commercial for new Kraft Deli Deluxe Bacon Cheddar slices.  My immediate thought was that would make for a pretty good grilled cheese sandwich.  When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes put a slice of bologna between two slices of cheese for a bologna and grilled cheese sandwich.  Bologna was good, but now we are talking about bacon.

So when I set out to do my weekly grocery shopping on Sunday at my local Giant, one of my goals was to find the coveted Bacon Cheddar slices.  Much to my chagrin, they were not carrying it as of yet.  On Monday, I left early feeling a little under the weather.  Under the weather would be an understatement, I have been fighting a major bout with the flu.  I decided to stop at the local Safeway to pick up a few things to deal with my illness.  They had the cheese.

Like I said, I have been having a major battle with the flu.  For the past four days, all I have been to do is lay in bed and drift in and out of sleep.  I have had very little desire to eat anything.  However, today was the first day that I really felt like having something other than saltines and ginger ale.  So tonight for dinner we had the bacon cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was as good as I had hoped.  If you like grilled cheese sandwiches and bacon, pick up a pack of Kraft Deli Deluxe Bacon Cheddar slices.  You might want to hurry, no telling how long they will be around once the FDA starts regulating salt.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Winetime Bar

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in fruits, especially in the skins of red grapes.   Since it is a part of red grapes, it can also be found in red wines, which accounts for some of the benefits of drinking red wine.  There are those that believe that the resveratrol found in red wine is responsible for the so called "French Paradox" in which the French have good cardiovascular health although their diet is high in fat.

Some of the benefits of resveratrol are thought to be:

* Protect cells from free radical damage
* Inhibit the spread of cancer, especially prostate cancer
* Lower blood pressure
* Keep the heart healthy and improve elasticity in blood vessels
* Normalize the body’s anti-inflammatory response
* Slow down the signs of aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Unfortunately, the amount of resveratrol needed to obtain these benefits would require drinking an awful lot of wine each day.  The excessive amount of alcohol would cancel out the benefits of the resveratrol.  So resveratrol supplements have become very popular.  There is also a company out of California who has produced a very tasty, nutritional bar called the WineTime Bar.

The WineTime Bar is a delicious chocolate nutritional bar that has as much resveratrol as 50 glasses of red wine, without the hangover.  In addition to the resveratrol, the WineTime Bar also contains seven additional super fruits; cranberry, noni, pomegranate, goji berry, acai, mangosteen and blueberry.  I have had the pleasure of trying the WineTime Bar and it is delicious.  It is a fairly new product, so it may be hard to find, but you can place orders for it on their website.  

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ledo's White Crab Caprese Pizza

Without a doubt, Maryland is known for crabs.  For a lot of us in Maryland, especially those who attended the University of Maryland College Park campus, the best place to grab a pizza is Ledo's Pizza.  So big a favorite is Ledo's that last summer when I got together with two old high school/college friends, we met at Ledo's for dinner. 

As fond as I am for Ledo's pizza, and crab, I don't believe that I ever thought about combining the two of them into one dish.  Well, last week I received an email from Ledo's and to kick off spring, they were running a special "Spring for Crab" promotion featuring Crab Ravioli, Crab and Artichoke Dip, and yes, Crab Pizza.  To be precise, the crab pizza is Ledo's Whte Crab Caprese Pizza featuring Ledo's four cheese white pizza, crab, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and Old Bay seasoning.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was curious.  Mrs. Dickster thought it sounded interesting as well, so we decided to take the plunge and order one for dinner.  The pizza itself had a bit of a fishy smell, so I was a little concerned that the crab might overpower the taste of the pizza.  Fortunately, it did not.  In fact, all of the flavors blended well and none overpowered the other.  About the only complaint that Mrs. Dickster had was that it could have used a bit more Old Bay Seasoning.  Since she doesn't usually care for a lot of seasoning, I guess that says something. 

All in all, it was a pleasant experience, one that I would be willing to have again.  I think I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had a nice Pinot Grigio or other light white wine to go with it.  Then again, you can never go wrong with a cold beer since both pizza and crabs go well with a frosty brew.  I am not sure how long Ledo's will be running this special pizza, but I hope to be able to take advantage of it again in the near future.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Homemade Jerky

I received a very special birthday treat this weekend from my wife.  No, not that.  Get your minds out of the gutter.  She made me a batch of homemade beef jerky.

She tells me that it was pretty simple to make, though it is a bit time consuming.  Let me tell you, it is so much better than anything you can get in the grocery store.

It all starts off with some flank steak.  You slice it at an angle in very thin slices.  You then marinate the beef slices in some soy sauce.  Take some cooking racks and place them on a baking sheet.

After marinating the beef, place the strips on the rack so that any drippings from the beef will land on the baking sheet.  Then season the beef with some lemon pepper and garlic salt.  Place the meat in the oven at about 170 degrees.

It usually takes about 6-10 hours in the oven for the jerky to be done.  My wife recommends checking the beef after about 6 hours.  To check the beef to see if it is done, take a slice and bend.  If it breaks, it is ready.  Enjoy.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Stride Shift Chewing Gum

In my job as a candy and snack buyer, I sometimes get to see new items before they hit the stores.  Every now and then, I get to see something that is pretty cool, at least in my humble opinion.  The makers of Stride chewing gum are coming out with an item that I think is pretty different.

OK, you may be asking what could be different about a chewing gum.  These new varieties of Stride gum are unique because they start out with one flavor but then shift to another flavor the longer you chew it.  Hence their name, Stride Shift.

Stride Shift comes in two flavors, Stride Shift Citrus and Stride Shift Berry.  They each start with a citrus or berry flavor, but the longer you chew on it, the flavor becomes a mint flavor.  The product is expected to hit stores sometime in May.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Asian Hamburger Helper-Mongolian Beef

I was out at my local grocery store this morning to pick up a few items for meals for the week.  My initial goal was to just go in and get the proteins for the week.  I had no real intention of looking for anything new to try, especially since the store is undergoing a major remodel and reset.  I had a difficult time finding a lot of my regular groceries, but I digress.

As I was walking down one of the aisles, something new caught my eye.  We don't usually go for Hamburger Helper very often, but last week during one of the blizzards we had Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Helper and it was pretty good.  Well, my local grocer had a new line of helpers from the good folks at Betty Crocker, Asian Helper.  There were three varieties that I remember seeing, Beef and Chicken Fried Rice, and the item that I decided to pick up and give a try, Mongolian-Style Beef.

The Mongolian-Style Beef Asian Hamburger Helper is pretty simple to make.  In addition to the boxed ingredients, all you need is a pound of hamburger and some hot water.  First step, is to brown the ground beef in a skillet.  After browning the beef, you are supposed to drain the fat drippings from the pan, but I failed to follow that step.  Next you add 2.75 cups of hot water and the ingredients in the box.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 11 minutes, stirring every now and then.  When the noodles are tender, remove from the heat, uncover, and let sit so the sauce can thicken.

The aroma of the Mongolian Style Beef Asian Hamburger Helper was very appetizing while it was cooking.  The flavor upon eating was pleasant as well.  The sauce did not thicken as much as we would have liked, but it was probably due to the fact that failed to drain the fat from the pan after browning the beef.  It won't make you forget the Mongolian Beef you can get in a restaurant, but for a mix and an inexpensive meal, it is a pretty good deal.  The mix and the ground beef came to just over $5, which is a pretty good price to pay for dinner. 

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