Archive for the ‘Food’

Culinary Circle Pizza Gift Card Giveaway!

October was National Pizza Month and while it’s now National Turkey and Black Friday Shopping Month, thanks to the generosity of Cub Foods, you all have a chance at winning a $10 Cub gift card just by reading this post about their Culinary Circle frozen pizzas and commenting on below! Rules are easy:

    1. Read the post
    2. Comment about your love of everything that is sodium-laden frozen pizza or whatever else your heart desires
    3. One lucky person will win a $10 Cub gift card to be mailed to them to which they can use it for anything they wish at their local Cub.
    4. The drawing will occur on Sunday, December 1st, 2013 at 11:59:59 PM and the winner notified via e-mail.

This week Cub had a special buy two of their Culinary Circle pizzas for $10 ($5/ea) and The Wife headed over to the store to pick up two. She came home toting their Ultra Thin Crust Garlic Chicken Alfredo and Chicken Bacon Ranch Flatbread pizzas. There are plenty of others to choose from including Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza and Rising Crust BBQ Chicken Pizza, both of which sound pretty tasty and provide comparable styles to what you can find over in Target’s frozen food section under their own internal brand names.

The pizza boxes are quite hilarious. First off, down in the lower left hand corner is a little image of someone kneeding or rolling out dough but superimposed over these pictures are the words, “PRODUCT IS NOT HANDMADE,” you know, just in case you were under the insane misconception that a $5 frozen pizza from Cub foods was made with farm fresh ingredients, no chemical stabilizers, and was hand-tossed and assembled by a team of experienced pizza-makers before being flash-frozen and stuffed into a cardboard box. Next up are the photos on the front. While the Chicken Bacon Ranch was actually somewhat similar to the real deal, the Chicken Alfredo came out completely green, as it were more pesto than Alfredo. If this was a review about salsa, I would delve into the list of ingredients, but in the case of these, not handmade products, I’m going to save you all the 50 minute laboratory-raised, chemically induced, food science lesson and let you think up random combinations of 16+ letters and call it good.

Due to the relatively small size of the pizzas, we decided to bake both at the same time. While the one pizza was a relatively standard cook time, the other had an option for upwards of 20+ minutes. I mean, good things that come to those who wait and all but really? 20+ minutes for a tiny frozen pizza is more than too much IMO.

Anyway, the pizzas were out of the oven and cut up well. The crusts were thin and crispy and held the ingredients well. The chicken cubes were large, abundant, and carried their flavor as expected. The other toppings, aside from the chicken, were also well represented and you could taste each one, for the most part. While I thought the Chicken, Bacon, Ranch pizza was decent for a $5 off-brand frozen pizza, I found the Chicken Alfredo pizza more or less inedible. I don’t know if it was the overdone parsley turning the pizza pesto green or the fact that it just wasn’t that good, but I took one piece and left the rest for tomorrow and possibly never again.

Overall, I thought that for $5, the pizzas were ok and while I would only stick with the Chicken/Bacon/Ranch in the future, out of the two we tried, I found them quite comparable to other similarly priced pizzas and certainly in line with what you will find from store brands at Target. I have found that making French bread pizzas using quality ingredients is just as inexpensive as these were and are a lot healthier and take less time to cook so I see no reason to walk through this exercise again, but in a pinch (both in shopping time and pennies), Cub’s Culinary Circle pizzas could certainly do the trick.

So what do you think about these? If you won the Cub gift card would you use it to try one of these pizzas or would you just use it to supplement your usual weekly grocery shopping? Are frozen pizzas a regular item on your shopping list? If so what brands and what flavors does your family prefer? Whatever you have to say go ahead and comment on and get entered into the drawing!

Some Mexican Hot Sauces Contain Lead?!

Contains Lead originally uploaded by Taber Andrew Bain

According to this article via ABC News, high lead levels were detected in four Mexican hot sauce brands which are available in the United States. While there is currently no safety standards assigned by the FDA for hot sauces, comparing the levels to what is allowed for other types of food, candy in particular, these are well above what is considered safe.

From the article:

Researchers at the Universtiy of Nevada Las Vegas recently found worryingly high levels of lead in four Mexican salsa brands that are available in some parts of the U.S.

The brands include El Pato Salsa Picante, Salsa Habanera, Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero and Bufalo Salsa Clasica.

Researchers at UNLV said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently has no benchmark that determines which levels of lead are “unsafe” in hot sauces. But they said that these four brands had lead levels which exceeded 0.1 parts per million, which is the current FDA standard for “safe” lead levels in candy.


Fortunately, hot sauces are not usually a big part of a childĀ“s diet. But researchers said that children from certain cultural backgrounds are accustomed to consuming them.

“Although hot sauce would not intuitively be counted amongst food products highly consumed by children, the study suggests that ethnic and cultural practices must be considered,” the researchers conclude.

What is most surprising here is not that there are contaminants coming in food items in this country but that the FDA does not test for lead nor does it have any specific constraints on the levels that should appear in all types of food allowing for these contaminants to enter our country’s food sources. Yes, there are plenty of horrendous things the FDA allows into our food through additives (coloring especially) which are banned in other countries but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t stop.

Have you ever tried any of the hot sauces found to contain lead in this study? Do you assume food does not contain lead when you purchase it in a US store? Considering the low levels of hot sauces usually consumed by the average American, should this continue to be allowed or should the FDA do something to stop it? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Making Smoked Porketta/Porchetta

Yesterday, for the Fourth, I decided I would make some smoked porketta for dinner. While I have had porketta before, I had never made it myself so I scoured the web for various incarnations and came up with my own recipe for success. Based on the results yesterday, especially with the comments made by The Wife, I would say that what follows was definitely a success.


8.5lb picnic pork roast
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 large head of garlic roughly chopped
Rosemary leaves pulled from 5 stalks
Handful of sage
5 teaspoons coarse salt
A lot of fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fennel seed crushed
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried, and chopped


Cut the roast along the bone and muscle seams and stuff with a mixture of all of the ingredients listed above. Wrap with butcher string and tie it tight. Rub any parts of the mixture on the outside of the roast which fell out while tying it up. Leave to sit in the fridge for up to three days in advance. Smoke for ~9 hours and enjoy!

We ate these as sandwiches and have tons of leftovers for even more. It was definitely a savory and flavorful meal and even though The Wife was apprehensive during the preparation, she was asking for seconds! If you’re not into smoking, you can cook this in the oven at 350 for many hours and get almost the same result but it was definitely better than anything I’d ever had before smoked.

Have you ever had porketta (porchetta)? If so what did you think? Do you enjoy smoking meats? When you smoke meats do you use a grill or a smoker? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Chocolate Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda

Yesterday I had to make a run into town for some last minute groceries and fishing lures for one of our guests. After stopping at the grocery store we crossed the street and headed into Wagner’s Hardware. Before checking out, the beverage cooler near the door caught The Rooster’s eye and he picked out a bright green bottle of lime soda. Noticing they had an incredibly large selection of sodas of which I hadn’t seen, I took a closer look and came across the craziest soda I’d ever seen before in my life.

Real Soda‘s Chocolate Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda has the tagline “Breakfast in a Bottle!” and was so over-the-top I just had to try it. The bottles together were $3.40 but I have no idea if they were priced the same. I waited until after the 15 mile journey back to the cabin before putting it in the fridge for a while and pouring it in a glass with ice to try it.

The soda pours a reddish color and smells sweet. While Joey noted on Instagram that he had tried a bacon soda once and it was gross, this wasn’t gross in any way but it wasn’t something I’d want to buy again. Instead of carrying any bacon flavor it was simply a chocolate soda that reminded me a lot of an egg cream in flavoring. While this may have been a good thing, I am not sure why they didn’t just call it a chocolate soda and leave it at that possibly avoiding the horror most people would feel when they saw that flavor combination on a bottle.

Have you ever tried any of Real Soda’s offerings? If so what did you think? Have you ever have bacon-flavored soda? What did you think of that? What about other gimmicky sodas? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.