Product Review: Sriracha Hot Popcorn


I confess: I’m a grocery store troll.
Not the kind that lives under a bridge, cause that would be weird. Instead, I’m the kind that trolls the aisles of my local upscale grocery for fun. (Ok, I’ll admit that can be called weird by some.) I love to walk the aisles and check out new products. My local store usually makes it easy for me to find new product by featuring it in a display or on top of the butter/egg cold case. (Cause they know we eventually all end up in the eggs and butter aisle, right?)

Recently, finding myself with a bit of time on my hands, I spied this little gem. In my house hot sauce is a condiment we use more than ketchup, so, my interest was piqued. Combine time to peruse and having a winter that refuses to budge here, (I am still in cold food mode) I snapped up a bag and thought to myself, ‘well, won’t this be delish with beer cheese soup!’.

Normally, beer cheese soup is not on my meal rotation because it’s fattening, it is not gluten free and well, it’s heavy. I might get a cup in a restaurant, but not make a batch myself. This time however, my daughters were off at school and I just had a hankering to try this product out.

I am here to tell you, it is fab. I didn’t find it ‘hot’ at all, but keep in mind, we like chilis in this home. My fellow Minnesotans, who think black pepper is spicy, might find this having a bit of zing. What we enjoyed about it was the flavor. All that sriracha flavor without the vinegar or pop of heat. Just great chili flavor with a touch of zing. It was fantastic served the traditional way of our neighbors to the east, (That cheese heaven – Wisconsin) over a homemade beer cheese soup.


It’s good enough to eat on its own. It would be wonderful mixed in to a homemade popcorn mix: cheddar, sriracha and plain popcorn to serve as an appetizer, or home movie snack.

If you spot a bag, pick it up and give it a try. We enjoyed it tremendously here! Two thumbs up!

Review: Salt Block Cooking


My latest fun fad, is salt block cooking. These are also called salt block ‘plates’.
I got my blocks from SaltWorks which is carried by Cooks of Crocus Hill located (conveniently I might add) in my local gourmet grocery store.
I bought one that is larger 8×12 for hot cooking, and 2 small plates – 5×10 – for ‘wet’ cooking and presentation.
In the photo above you see the 8×12 which I have on my burners ‘curing’. If you wish to cook on your salt block, you really should cure it. I gained my knowledge from the Salt Block Cooking Cookbook by Mark Bitterman. He recommends curing the block initially to rid it of the excess water, which if not done, can lead to the block breaking or absolute worse case, kinda sorta exploding. Well, exploding sounds rather extreme, but let’s just say we avoid any potential damage and cure it first! He also recommends separate blocks for ‘heat’ and for ‘wet’ purposes. That way, you eliminate any excess water being absorbed by the block. And nothing ruins a meal like an ‘incident’.
I put mine on my burner and started it on the lowest possible flame. I waited about 15 minutes and then increased the temp. I continued this process until all the water had rendered out of the block.
As you can see, from those little bubbles appearing 45 minutes after being heated, a block can contain a lot of water!

Once you have done this, you are ready to cook on it. Put it on the grill, or in the oven, always starting off with a cold grill/oven and bringing up to temp with the device. For more information, I highly recommend Bitterman’s book, it not only has great recipes but tips, advice and purchasing info.

For cold/brining/curing you don’t need to do anything other than a quick rinse of the block. I started with a recipe from the cookbook and did ‘cured’ strawberries.


Which I served along side of fresh chocolate covered Cannolis:


Then I played with a quick cucumber salad:


And eggplant:


Which I served with my dinner meal.


A note of caution when using salt blocks: The more water the food contains, the less time it needs on the block. With cucumbers, unless you rinse them thoroughly, a minute is more than enough to season your entire salad. If your desire is to rid the food of water (like eggplant) rinse thoroughly after the cure. When starting out, take the advice of the recipe author, since this technique is entirely different than regular salting.

My next adventure in cooking will be hot cooking with my block. I’m thinking, scallops or shrimp would be awfully yummy!

One last note: This is GREAT for empty nesting cooking. Because of the size of the block, which if were much bigger would be HEAVY and cumbersome to store, you fit enough for 1-2 people. If you were cooking for a family or a group, I would recommend investing in additional blocks so that you can accommodate the increased amounts.

I have a feeling I will be investing in more of these for amazing and entertaining summertime grilling.

Feel free to share your favorite dishes, tips and techniques in the comment section below, I’d love to read them!

That ‘Onion’ Moment!

That 'Onion' Moment!

I recently turned 51. (wow, where do the years fly off to?)

One of our family traditions is to have the meal of your choice for your birthday dinner.
My birthday request was steamed mussels with crab legs and a beet salad. (you may be thinking that is an odd combination but hey, its my birthday, it’s what floats MY boat!)

So hubby and oldest got to work prepping and cooking. (Isn’t hubby snazzy in his chefs coat? The family got them years ago for christmas. The girls outgrew theirs, but hubby and I use ours all the time)

My daughter was in charge of onion cutting detail. I had to capture the moment and share, because anyone who has cooked has had that: ‘Onion Moment’!