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Reviews of anything that is related to food.

Grass Fed Beef

There has been enormous discussions about Grass Fed Beef these days, what is it, why do folks like it, and in general what’s different from “regular” beef. Let’s start at the back end of this and work forwards.

Cattle will graze (eat) many things that will help them grow, remain healthy, and ultimately turns into fat/muscle which is what we eat. Much like humans, we need to eat food to live, grow, and stay healthy – not too surprising. Mass produced beef will be fed many unpleasant things, filled with hormones and antibiotics all to get more “yield” from the cattle. Yield is the percentage of meat they get from a cow. Higher yield = higher profits. The unpleasant things can range from pesticide laden fields, corn, grain, and even other animals and animal byproducts. The theory behind grass fed beef is that it’s a healthier way for a cow to eat and grow, but comes at the expense of less fat and as a result higher cost. If you buy bargain beef, $2.99/lbs beef is most surely quite poor quality, the animals are treated incredibly poorly (which is a discussion for another time), fed literally anything that is cheap, and when processed they put whatever meat filler they can to get maximum yield. You’re savings comes at a cost, to the animals and to what you’re eating.

More premium beef is fed grain/corn, or some other full vegetarian diet, no hormones or antibiotics are used to manipulate the animals to create more meat than they naturally would. While taking yet another step in the healthier direction comes grass fed beef. Which is fed a diet exclusively of grass, sometimes referred to as pasture fed. Some of the bargain beef is “grass fed” but not exclusively, so if you want the full grass fed beef experience and benefits you’ll want to find beef that is 100% grass fed and finished, meaning the last few weeks of the cattle’s life it continues to eat a diet of exclusively grass. There is some debate how this affects the final product, some feel finishing with corn is the best of both worlds, but we are focusing on grass fed beef today.

The benefits to you of eating grass fed beef is that it’s not just lower in fat than other methods of feeding cattle, but the fat that is there is much healthier. Which is why grass fed butter is so popular these days as well. But now you’re wondering if it’s worth it, as fat is where the famous beef flavor comes from, this is the same concern I had. Admittedly I put off trying grass fed beef for a long time because of this. I’m an old-school rib-eye guy, so I really like the classic beef flavor. The answer is difficult, but worth exploring. It really depends what is important to you, if healthier options are important then absolutely give it a try, if you’re looking on a small twist on beef give it a try, if you’re simply curious try it, if you are only driven by the price then it’s probably not worth it, if you want a steak with USDA Prime quality marbling grass fed beef is not for you. For me, if I feel like a steak or burger, but want to be healthier and feel better about what I’m eating then it’s a total winner. If I’m looking for that classic beef flavor, I’d probably lean towards a USDA Choice or Prime, or dry aged steak, preferrably corn fed or finished.

To dispell some of the myths about grass fed beef, it is NOT tough, it is not dry, it does not taste funny, and while cooking is important I feel that’s true of every cut of beef. Below are some pictures of a 100% grass fed top sirloin I made. grass-fed-beef  


Trying to capture the purest beef flavor I went for a very minimal amount of seasoning.  It was simply seared on a medium-high temperature in a cast iron skillet for about 2-3 minutes per side.  I lightly salt and peppered the room temperature steak just prior to cooking and had a light coating of canola oil in the pan.  After cooking I let it rest for about 10 minutes on a foil tented cutting board.  As you can see this grass fed beef is was extremely tender and juicy.  Top Sirloin is a great universal cut in that it’s not super fatty like a rib-eye, it’s kind of a cross between a filet mignon and a NY Strip, and typically at a much lower price than either!  Even with a leaner cut this steak was melt in your mouth tender, with plenty of natural juices for flavor.

As for the flavor, it really didn’t taste much different than a regular steak, it was maybe a drop leaner, but it still had that classic beef flavor with no off or funny flavors.  I’ve tried several cuts of grass fed beef, and with the exception of a grossly overcooked ribeye (sorry ribeye, that was entirely my fault) they were all as you would expect, a premium tasting steak.  I will warn you, you cannot shop with your eyes like you do for other steaks, this top sirloin looked very boring raw, I wish I snapped a picture!  But the finished product was great.

I highly recommend trying grass fed beef if you haven’t already, with no more attention than you’d show any other cut of beef you can have a healthier option and still satisfy that craving for meat.  With all of that said, if I knew I was going to have one final steak in my life, I’d opt for a USDA Prime, corn finished rib eye, there is a creaminess to the beef from the high fat content that I’ve yet to experience with a grass fed steak.


Best Water Bottle Ever

The rush of the holidays are over, our New Year’s Resolutions are made, and we are promising ourselves to do better this year.  This is our year!  Yet, regardless of good intentions, we know we are super busy, things pop up to derail our plans, and life is unpredictable.  It’s safe to say we can all use a little help to stay on track.  We all know how important drinking water is for not only losing weight, but maintaining our health.  This is why I am recommending my favorite water bottle, the Thermos Intak 24 oz hydration bottle.

Thermos Intak


The Thermos Intak 24 oz hydration bottle has been a solver of many woes.  Not only is it easy to hold, hold a good amount of water for the gym, have a loop to attach it to your gym bag, a safety latch over the easy press release button that allows the bottle to open with ease while keeping it secure so you don’t accidentally open it, and a tight seal so you don’t have any leaks; it has a counter that goes around the base of the lid for ease of remembering how many times you filled your bottle.  In turn (no pun intended), this helps you keep track of how much water you are actually consuming in a day.


I have tried apps, writing it down, and keeping track in my head how much water I’m actually drinking, but the truth is, I never stick to those.  Turning the base of the Thermos Intak hydration bottle not only helps me remember how much water I have consumed by the end of the day, but also keeps me on track. Whenever I grab a drink, I can easily see if I am falling behind where I should be, which in turn (again, no pun intended), keeps me on track.



There are a ton of water bottles out there, but Thermos is by far the best I’ve ever used.  They have a nice size opening too, so you don’t have to squeeze a bottle, or wait for the pressure to be released so you can squeeze it again.  Oh, no.  You get to drink until you are done being thirsty and stop because you want to stop (or the bottle is now empty and you need to refill it, but that would be impressive to drink 24 oz all at once and need more right away).


So, give the Thermos Intak hydration bottle a try.  You won’t be sorry!  Check it out 🙂

My Favorite kitchen items

Every year there is always someone on your gift list that you may not know exactly what to get.  With fourteen days left until Christmas, I thought I would run down a quick list of items that I love using in the kitchen that may make your gift giving search a little bit easier.

  1. AirBake Cookie Sheets:  These are the best cookie sheets I have ever purchased.  They are reasonably priced, but a little more expensive than cheap cookie sheets.  They work like a dream, and I have yet to have any problems with them.  I bought these about two years ago and they still look as new as the day I bought them.  The cookies always come out evenly cooked, and I cannot sing enough praises to these amazing cookie sheets.  If you or someone on your gift list is looking for cookie sheets, you cannot go wrong with these AirBake cookie sheets.
  2. Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 13 Piece Set: My husband got me into these pans.  They are a nice set.  It is middle of the line with cost,  but fantastic to cook with.  There is a learning curve for cooking with stainless pans.  They are harder to cook with if you aren’t used to them.  They are not non-stick, but if you heat the sauté pans before adding what you are cooking, you can avoid problems with sticking.  You also need to use butter, oil, etc as a non-stick lubricant.  My husband and I purchased these pans because they work with induction.  We recently purchased an induction cooktop, and if you are in the market for a new cooktop, you should seriously look into one. I’ll have to see about my husband writing up a post about our induction cooktop!
  3. Lodge Preseasoned Cast Iron Skillet:  In addition to the stainless pans, I like to use cast iron pans.  I have a few sizes of the Lodge Preseasoned pans, and they all work wonderfully.  They cook evenly, the food always has a nice flavor, and these work well for both an induction cooktop, as well as your traditional cooktop, and camping!  They are easy to clean, and they are also very affordable.  The only cons is that they can get fairly heavy, especially the larger pans, and the handle gets fairly hot as well.  You will need a potholder or a special hot handle while picking up a hot cast iron pan.
  4. Lodge Silicone Hot Handle Holder and Lodge scrapper: The Lodge hot handle is perfect for medium and larger cast iron pans.  The small cast iron pan handles tend to be too small for these holders, but you could use a pot holder when holding those pans.  I leave my silicone holders on my pans without any problems.  I bought enough to keep them directly on the handles and this way I don’t even have to worry about finding them.  They are made to withstand the hot temperatures, and really do work wonderfully.  Sometimes with a pot holder, you can still feel the heat coming through.  I have not had that problem using these holders.  Now, the scrapper is what I use when cleaning my cast iron pans.  These work great to get off any debris that may have stuck to the pan while cooking.  It is such a simple device, basically a chunk of plastic with a tapered edge, but it does its job very well.
  5. Zipzicle Zip Top Ice Pop Pouch:  These pouches are wonderful for making homemade popsicles.  I would advise you to keep them upright as they freeze.  Once they are frozen, you can lay them on their side.  When you are ready to eat one, I run them under the tap water for just a second at the zip top.  This makes opening them easy.  To fill the pouches, I use a Pyrex measuring cup with a pouring spout and a turkey baster.  I use the turkey baster at first, and then when the measuring cup is almost empty, I’ll pour directly from the measuring cup into the pouches.  They are easy to use, and hold quite a bit of liquid.
  6. Zipzicle Neoprene Ice pop sleeves and Kooleez Ice Pop Insulator:  If you enjoy eating ice pops, both the Zipzicle and Kooleez insulator sleeves are wonderful for keeping your hands from freezing while eating your frozen treats.  They are a fun, and fairly inexpensive novelty item that would be perfect as a stocking stuffer for your ice pop king or queen.  We have both at our house and use them frequently.  The Zipzicle holders are wider and shorter, while the Kooleez are longer and skinner.  Both of these can hold the Zipzicle ice pop pouches.  Since the Zipzicle sleeve is wider, it is a little easier to get pops in and out of them, but a lot of the ice pop tends to stick out of the sleeve unless you buy short ice pops.  The Kooleez are stretchy enough to fit the Zipzicle pouches, but they are tighter.  I like both equally, but you may prefer one over the other.
  7. Ice Pop Joy: Organic, Healthy, Fresh, Delicious by Anni Daulter: There are a lot of amazing and inspirational ice pop recipes in this cookbook.  She gives you great ideas to play with, and you can easily go and explore making up your own recipes off of hers.  I sometimes change around the fruits, add difference juices, etc.  However, her book has given me a lot of inspiration on where to begin with making my own ice pops, as well as some combinations that I never really thought of putting together.  These are not your typical ice pop recipes.  She has recipes for tofu, vegetable, fruit, tea pops, and more.  It truly is a great book with a ton of ideas!
  8. Burn- FIX and First Aid Kit:  It is always a good idea to keep burn aids and a first aid kit around.  Accidents happen to the best of us, and you always want to be prepared.  These burn pads are fantastic for burns, we got them for my husband after he got a bad burn in the kitchen after Thanksgiving.  I wish we had found these when I burned my hand on the oven rack by accident a few months ago.
  9. Infantino Squeeze Pouch, Infantino Squeeze Station, Infantino Fresh Squeezed Simple Squeeze Kit:  If you, your child, or someone you know loves fruit and veggie pouches, Infantino has a great line of products.  The Squeeze Station is nice for when you want to make a more than one or two pouches at once, or you can use the Fresh Squeeze Simple Squeeze when you are wanting to make a single pouch quickly.  They sell pouches that come with twist tops.  I have never had a problem with leaking and they are very easy to use.  It is an easy way to make healthy snacks when on the go for kids and adults alike.
  10. Spiralizer:  I absolutely love my spiralizer.  I have used it to make zucchini noodles, fried zucchini chips, sweet potato chips, potato slices and more.  There are a lot of things you can do with this.  I would suggest you also check out the cook book Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci.  There are some great recipe suggestions, and inspirations to give you some great ideas on how to use your spiralizer and replace some of your carbs with vegetables.  Personally, this is why I bought the spiralizer, to incorporate more vegetables in place of and sometimes with pasta.
  11. Munchie Mug Snack Cup:  These are great for kids and adults alike.  They come in 12 oz or 16 oz sizes.  You take your dry snack of choice (crackers, pretzels, sweedish fish) and place it in the cup.  There is a lid with an overlapping fabric that is easy to put your hand through to get to your food, but keeps the food nice and tidy in the cup when tipped over or dropped, or a solid lid if you want something a little more sturdy or for safe storing, and makes it so you can hold liquids without leaking.  The trick to making sure they don’t leak is to make sure the cap and container are not wet where the cap threads on.  If the threading gets wet, I have had leaks.  However, these cups are mainly advertised for dry foods.  These cups come in a variety of colors as well.
  12. Ninja Master Prep: This is really an amazing blender.  When my blender finally burned out, I researched blenders for a while.  I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money, but I wanted something that worked well.  This blender is absolutely amazing.  I use it to make smoothies all of the time, as well for blending sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and it purees like a dream.  It is a pulsing blender.  You push the button on the motor on and off as many times as you need to to get the desired consistency.  The motor is in the top.  It is small and easy to store, which is an added bonus to me since I hate to have too many things on my counters.  Also, you can buy additional attachments and parts from Ninja’s website if you wanted additional jars, lids, etc.  I use this almost every day.
  13. Thermos Hydration Bottle:  This is the best water bottle I have ever had.  It does not leak, it holds a good amount of water, it has a ring so you can attach it with a carabiner and carry it with you.  It fits in a car cup holder as well.  I also love that it doesn’t have a straw.  I love water and I tend to guzzle water when I am drinking it.  To me, a straw gets in the way and makes it take longer to drink the amount of water I’m wanting.  The mechanism to open the water bottle is very easy to open as well as close.  You press the button and it pops open, and push the top down to close it.
  14. Curious Chef Apple Slicer:  I have been thinking about getting an apple slicer for years.  I never made the jump to do it until a couple of months ago.  I must say, I absolutely love the Curious Chef Apple Slicer.  I like to peel my apples, and then use the slicer to remove the core and slice the apple all at once.  It takes less than a second and works very well.  This is actually a product line that is marketed towards getting kids more involved in the kitchen.  You should check them out!


So, there you go!  My fourteen favorite kitchen items for 2015 fourteen days before Christmas!  I hope you were able to find something that you or someone you know will enjoy as well!

Yummly, What is it?

You may have noticed a button labeled as Yum in orange on the right hand side bar or in the footer if on tablet or mobile or recipe pages on this site. This is integrated with this brilliant App. called Yummly.  If your not familiar with Yummly, using their description:

Search for recipes by ingredient, diet, allergy, nutrition, taste, calories, fat, price, cuisine, time, course and source.

I’d describe it a little differently, it’s a single location to store, manage and find new recipes.  They aggregate hundreds of sources on the web into one beautiful interface that offers a seamless experience going from mobile, tablet to their website!   You can organize recipes by category, either use their defaults or create your own custom categories.  I should also mention, it’s completely free, the app and service.  There are other more advanced functions such as an integrated Grocery List and ability to share recipes easily with other’s.

This app has become a great source of finding new and amazing recipes for me, as well as one of my most used apps on my phone!  Have 5 minutes and blueberries are on sale, look into blueberry recipes.  They show how many people have yummed that recipe so you can get an idea of the recipes credibility before taking a closer look.  That said I’ve found several recipes that have very few Yum’s that are really great.  Like Blueberry Cream Cheese Pastries a bit rustic, but easy to make and talk about a crowd pleaser!  I’ve found other recipes because of the Yum’s of others that I never would have found, like Crispy Roasted Chickpeas, simple, delicious and a nice new snack for my family and I.

So as the widget on the side or bottom of your screen says, Yum Away!