Salted Caramel Pistachio & Pepita Brittle

It’s been a while since I’ve actually baked something for this blog… I guess that’s what happens when you bake at work all the time! Honestly, I’d say the worst part of working in product development is that everything I do make is confidential (such a bummer, I know).  With the holidays coming up, in my house we’ve been preparing goody bags to give to friends, family & most importantly coworkers. That brings me to today’s food science recipe, which comes to us from the Sobey’s Holiday 2011 Inspire magazine (although we switched out the  macadamia nuts for more green… pepitas!).  The science part comes into play when you start to think about all of the different things you can make with just sugar & water! From rock candy, to taffy, to fudge and syrups. The difference between them is the sugar concentration, cooking temperature and how much it has been stirred (plus a couple other key variables). If you have ever made fudge before (which I have not) you probably know how HARD it is! or fudgey? I mean, it sounds hard… apparently there is a lot of stirring. But don’t worry! There’s a lot less stirring going on in this recipe, so click continue reading and try it out!

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Food News – Shoplifting

Very similar to a dunce capThe holiday season is upon us. You know how I can tell? It’s a Monday and the mall is packed full of people. Buying your loved ones gifts is both generous and kind, but what about those who aren’t spending any money for their presents? According to AdWeek,  some retailers gear up to do about 20-40% of their annual sales during this time of the year, but are likely to lose $119 billion to shoplifters. With the economy still in the dumps, locally & globally, it’s understandable that compared to 2010, shoplifting is up 6%. However, people aren’t stealing things they need, the most popular items are based on temptation. About one in 11 people will shoplift, and 75% of shoplifters are adults… with jobs.

So what are people most likely to get their hands on this year? The top 10 items people are stealing are the following:

  • 10. Nikes
  • 9. Chanel No. 5
  • 8. Let’s Rock Elmo
  • 7. Polo Ralph Lauren
  • 6. Axe
  • 5. Gillette Mach
  • 4. iPhone 4
  • 3. Electric tools

But the top 2 are especially interesting…

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The Salad Dressing Dilemma

When you make salad dressing at home, what do you put in it? Olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, maybe a little salt and pepper? If you’re creative maybe even some honey mustard, or jam (just maybe not together). But we don’t always have time to make our own dressing. That’s why sometimes, it’s just easier to buy it. So you pop over to the grocery store and after perusing the shelves decide on this product…

Kraft’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette. But did you read the ingredient label? Probably not, but luckily for you! I did…

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Recipes to Riches

So of course I’m a fan of this new Food Network show, Recipes to Riches. It’s all about contestants competing for a chance to have their recipe commercialized as a PC product in Loblaws. In other words, the Food Network made a show based on my job. Although I’ve always known my profession sounded cool (when I meet someone for the first time the conversation usually ends up being about my day-to-day work life), I never considered it being a reality TV show! For anyone that hasn’t seen it, the contest is broken down into product categories. Once you win your category you earn $25,000 and become eligible for the grand prize of $250,000. The final winner is decided through an online nation-wide voting process that starts on December the 7th!

So I’ve developed new products… where’s my $250,000???

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Risky Business

Are you sure  you want to be eating that? Ever looked at something and thought… yeah, maybe I won’t be trying that today. Maybe it was the smelly oysters, maybe it was a piece of chicken that was dripping blood. In the end it doesn’t matter, because your intuition told you ” whatever you do, please do not put that in your mouth!”. But sometimes you eat a perfect looking meal and less than 6 hours later you and the toilet have become best friends. More often then not, there are no obvious signs telling you to put your fork down. Which to me, is what’s the scariest!

Ultimately, you want piece of mind. You should be able to know that you won’t have diarrhea or be vomiting from something you ate. So how does one stay safe and not conduct an epidemiological study of food borne diseases? You have to know the basics. Let’s start with something I think everyone should know.

What is the riskiest food item to eat? aka what has the highest probability of making you sick?

Is it a) chicken b) fruits & vegetables c) hamburgers or d) seafood…

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Turkey Day

First off I’d like to say a Happy Thanksgiving to our friends south of the border, and an even happier online Black Friday for those north of the border! Though there are lots of popular dishes on Thanksgiving, the most popular is turkey. So today I’m going to answer some questions & give you random facts about the majestic Turkey.

Continue reading if you’ve ever wondered what that fleshy thing growing on top of turkey’s bill is called, or if eating turkey actually makes you sleepy?

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Lighter than Light

Coors Light

If there's no such thing as Coors, what is Coors Light lighter than?

Everything that’s on your food label is and should be regulated. Companies should be responsible for the things they tell you are in their product. If a product says “light” or even its misspelled cooler cousin “lite”, it sends you a certain message.

But be honest do you even know what that message is? Is it the same for all products? Is it always referring to calories? Even though something may be “lighter” than its counterpart, how much lighter is light!? Yes, its hard to know what’s what, but continue reading & you’ll hopefully  have it all figured out.

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Birthday Strawberry Cheesecake

So since I have officially become the cake baker in my family, mostly self-imposed… I was the one left with the task of baking my sister’s birthday cake. Her favorite is strawberry cheesecake, so that is what I baked for her. Happy Birthday Sister #1!

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What to notice on the grocery store shelf

Something I thought was worth mentioning…

Has anyone out there ever seen something like this at your local Loblaws or (in this case) Walmart and thought anything of it?

Walmart Store Shelf

As a smart consumer, you may have thought any of the following things:

  1. Wow, that’s not very nice of Walmart to just put their Great Value brand right beside the Quaker Chewy bars.
  2. It’s not personal, it’s business. Good for Walmart! They are doing what any smart business would do; placing products where people will find them.
  3. Which one should I get!? One’s cheaper, but the cheap one tastes different… doesn’t it? How different are they?

As someone who has works in the food industry, I’ll let you in on a little secret, sometimes… both the cheap and expensive versions are created by the same company! Shocked? Well you shouldn’t be….

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Becoming a Cake Boss Part IV

This is the 4th, and last installment of Becoming a Cake Boss, aka my foray into cake decorating. Since there are only 4 classes in total, this was also graduation day! When I asked the instructor if everyone graduates, she said, “Yeah, pretty much. Though I have failed someone before. It was because they refused to do anything.” … I’m not really sure why one would pay for a class to just sit and do nothing… but who am I to judge?

The homework for this class was to make and bring fully iced cake of our choice. I made chocolate cake with cream cheese & toffee filling! My final cake looked like this! If you’d like to see how I did it, and find a delicious & easy chocolate cake recipe then I think you should continue reading!

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