Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Make a motion for Mardi Gras; get ready for fish on Fridays

Zatarain’s of the boxed gumbo and beans and rice mixes is pushing, where you can learn more about making Mardi Gras a national holiday and how to host a jazzy party.
Reporter Mary Meaux just tried Zatarain’s yellow rice and blackened seasoning and deemed them “amazing.”

Fish on Fridays
Those who get fishy on Fridays in Lent get a wider selection than the frozen fish sticks of yesteryear. Look for these:
A very nice grilled salmon is a healthy option from Gorton’s. The convenient servings are portioned just as health advisors suggest, the size of a deck of cards. I really enjoyed some on a salad.
A saucy shrimp scampi is another Gorton’s offering. There was so much creamy garlic butter sauce that I skimmed some off to put on pasta another day.
A new frilled shrimp is out on Texas shelves.
Gorton’s reports their “grilled shrimp is carefully inspected three times and the process is more stringent than the voluntary U.S. Department of Commerce’s Seafood Inspection Program. The government’s program requires just 10 quality checkpoints, Gorton’s insists on more than 50.”

Is it really good news?
I love when readers give me feedback that they also enjoyed a new product as much as I enjoyed sharing it with them. Sometimes I wonder how good it is to know about more delicious stuff on the shelves. I’m pleased to give you a guilt-free, sugar-free pleasure in new Jell-O gelatin in raspberry goji and strawberry acai. Its got antioxidants, flavor, convenience and a mere 10 calories.
New pudding packs also come in cinnamon roll and Boston cream pie. I really, really liked all these.

Wine for the winner
I had the pleasure of tasting Durbanville Hills, the official wine of the Pan-African Inaugural Celebration Ball of President Barack Obama in Arlington, Va. Cool winds from False Bay and Cape Flats cool down the South African vineyards. I loved the sauvignon blanc, pinotage and shiraz. Some of my tasters were surprised it had a screw top, but I’ve been hearing there’s a reverse trend away from cork. I especially loved the shiraz and appreciated the label noting why it was so good: rich berry and smoky plum palate with pepper and spice aromas.

A thing to do with chocolate
I’m not one to write in cookbooks, but I love to note the occasions for and successes from a particular spiral series. Stephanie Ashcraft has come out with “101 Things to Do with Chocolate,” which is divided into cakes, bars, cookies, etc. Here’s an easy one (there are 100 more):
Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
20 miniature peanut butter cups
1 9- by 13-inch brownie mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unwrap and cut peanut butter cups in half.
In a bowl, mix together brownie mix, eggs, oil and water. Stir in peanut butter cups. Pour batter into a greased 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes. Makes 24 brownies.

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