A Few of My Favorite Things–2013

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m still recovering from all the cooking and eating done last week, and maybe you are too, so it seems like a good time to share some of my favorite grocery store finds this year. I’m currently working on a new bread machine recipe I hope to have ready for your consideration the next time we meet.

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An iced vanilla latte is my “dessert” every day after lunch. I carry it to work in a covered, quart-sized Mason glass jar.  I cold-brew my favorite German coffee by Jacobs, add the concentrate to an ice-filled quart jar, then fill the jar with milk. I personally prefer 1 part coffee to 2 parts milk.

Since I require sweetness in my iced latte, sugar-free french vanilla-flavored Torani Syrup is my pick. Get it from World Market or buy it online here. ($6-7)

Olive oil is my preference for sautéing veggies or meat. More often than not, garlic is part of the recipe. I find I can use this garlic-infused oil instead of peeling fresh cloves and save washing my garlic press, not to mention the off-putting smell of garlic fingers. Garlic Gold Oil is available at Central Market and Whole Foods in my neighborhood or buy it online here. ($9-10)

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The Roasted Garlic Olive Oil sold at Costco is also quite good, and some cheaper, although you have to buy a large bottle.

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Most people use this oil/flour aerosol spray for cakes and muffins. However, I discovered it’s perfect for bread– especially bread with cheese or anything sticky added to the dough. Prepare your loaf or muffin pans with this convenient spray for a finished product that dumps out of the pan easily. This is an absolute necessity for my family’s favorite Cheesy Dinner Rolls. Available at most grocery stores on online here. ($4-5)

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So many of you have asked about adding other things to a vacuum-packed jar of chopped Romaine lettuce. You can read my answer here. Since I don’t do it, I’m always looking for additions to my salad that will be quick and nutritious and require almost no prep. What I like about these particular mixes from Good Sense is the small size of the seeds, nuts, and fruit. Visually, it makes a small portion seem larger. It’s also kinder to your teeth than eating whole nuts which always seem to startle my teeth when encountered in a salad. Available at Braums or online here. ($3-4)

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While we’re on the subject of salads, let’s talk dressing. I NEVER vacuum-pack dressing with my salad but instead, add it when I get ready to eat. My new favorite this year (if I don’t have any homemade dressing) is a combination of Olde Cape Cod’s Poppy Seed Light and Ken’s Fat Free Raspberry Pecan. They are each delicious by themselves, but together, they sing a new song. Add a packet of water-packed salmon or tuna and some of the Cranberries and More mixture seen above, along with Fiber One for crunch, and you’ve got my latest favorite salad. I get the dressings at Krogers but they are also available on Amazon.

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Vanilla Bean Paste is a luxury I would hate to live without. Little black specks suspended in a thick vanilla-y syrup add decadence, interest, and sophistication to homemade yogurt, cream fillings, and ice cream. Available online or at Williams-Sonoma. ($10-11)

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Have you tried these Better Homes and Garden candles available at Walmart? I love the way they come in a lidded glass jar. Feels safer on the outside chance somebody forgets about it and the whole candle melts because it burned too long. The glass container keeps it from running all over your furniture or countertop. Their aroma is more intense than the average cheap grocery store candle, at least to my nose. Makes me want to start baking to satisfy the taste buds that have been deceived into thinking something delicious is about to pop out of the oven. ($5-6)

Just so you know, none of these items were given to me and I have not been compensated in any way.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rikki December 17, 2013 at 12:04 am

this is a great list! thank you for sharing. i’ve never made my own iced coffee, but i’ll have to try it sometime. those candles from wal-mart are fantastic (especially for the price!). i recently came across the vanilla bean paste for the first time and since i didn’t have any on hand, i made some myself, it’s really easy!


Susie December 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I miss your iced coffee–a delicious afternoon treat!


Paula December 1, 2013 at 7:32 am

That iced latte looks very inviting! I love NM Vanilla Bean Paste…without it I wouldn’t be the Vanilla Bean Baker 🙂


Paula December 1, 2013 at 8:35 am

Why yes, Paula. You are surely the expert on vanilla bean products. Thanks for the early morning smile.


Vicki v December 1, 2013 at 6:57 am

I especially like your salad ingredient picks. I bring a salad to work every day and like to change it up or I get bored. Love the fruit and nut packets. I also like ken’s salad dressings: the best! Have you ever tried to make a lower fat homemade salad dressing that is still a vinaigrette? I tried it recently adding some water and it was a semi fail. Taste was fine but it was too thin.


Paula December 1, 2013 at 8:36 am

Hi Vicki,
I have tried on the vinaigrette but not successfully. I usually end up just buying the commercial stuff even though I know the first ingredient is usually water.


Lori Sheranian December 1, 2013 at 1:29 am

Biscoff European Cookie Spread. It is so delicious. When I want something sweet, I just take a spoon, and dip it in the jar. I then slowly eat it, and my sweet craving is satisfied. Of course I never double dip, but sometimes I have to get a new spoon and have a second helping. It makes a great spread, on toast, or there is recipes for biscoff cookies. It is the texture of Nutella only completely different flavor. Everyone I have introduced to it, loves it.


Paula December 1, 2013 at 8:37 am

Oh my! You are so right about the Biscoff spread. Cookies in a jar for sure. Love that stuff but can’t keep it in the house. Just too dangerous. 🙂 Thanks for mentioning it.


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