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(NOTE: this is a non exhaustive list and I will try to add to it as I find more products so keep an eye on this one)

One of my favorite things, and a big part of the inspiration for this site, is experimenting with things that peak my interest, especially when it comes to food. That said here are some things I like and use that you might want to check out. (I’ll try to provide links when possible, many may be to places I found these in the Austin area).

Truffle Salt – for Christmas my partner and I each bought the other this fun ingredient. I know that in some culinary circles they are over the truffle salt thing but I personally don’t care. I purchased Italian Black Truffle Sea Salt from the Savory Spice Shop – N. Austin, TX and Steve got me Fusion White Truffle Salt from Sur le Table (typed with a French flair!). Uses: eggs, mashed potatoes, veggies, etc… or my personal fav is to sprinkle on light microwave popcorn for a ghetto-fabulous afternoon snack.

Truffle Oil – I know, I know… truffle, truffle, truffle… I promise I like other things too 🙂 So anything “truffle” is going to be expensive because truffles are expensive (for the record, I have never purchased truffles nor do I know the quality of this particular site or its products). Truffle oil can be found at many specialty stores. My current bottle came from Trader Joe’s when traveling (NOTE: TRADER JOE’S PLEASE OPEN A STORE IN AUSTIN!). The key to truffle oil is A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY! I had a friend over for dinner a few years back and I served truffled mashed potatoes. He described the truffle as “musk for food” adding an earthy, rich layer. Uses: drizzle in mashed potatoes, toss with roasted veggies, drizzle on a pizza (personal fav), etc. One more time A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY so a small bottle, if properly stored, should last a while.

Truffle Butter – Last Truffle item, I promise. A few years back I was wandering my Truffle Butterfavorite store and stumbled across Aux Delices des Bois Truffle Butter. It was packaged as two small tubs, one white truffle, one black truffle, for about $16-17. I was intrigued and threw it in the cart. For the next few days I ate the white truffle butter on toasted artisan bread and fell in love. First it’s butter and I love butter! Second its got truffle shavings in it and well YUM! Uses: toast, veggies, or my favorite a dollop atop a beautifully grilled filet mignon!

Idahoan Baby Reds Flavored Mashed Potatoes – Ok stick with me here… several years ago when visiting my now 94 year old grandmother I was making dinner for the two of us. For years my grandmother made mashed potatoes every day from scratch so when she told me she had “instant mashed potatoes” that tasted like real potatoes I thought she might have lost it (Note: at 94 she is still pretty sharp so my fear was unfounded). Here’s the trick, I make mine with milk instead of water. I used to use skim milk but now usually only have HEB “Original” Almond Milk around). I also add 1-2 tablespoons of butter. These are a super quick side dish which can be made even better by adding a drizzle of truffle oil or dollop of truffle butter.

Costco Frozen Green Beans – the brand and packaging sometimes changes but the big bags is a quick and easy veggie to add to a meal. Microwave in a few minutes and jazz up with salt, pepper, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, sesame seeds, etc (Note: any high quality frozen green beans can be substituted)

Almark Foods Hard Boiled Eggs – We came across these at Costco when shopping for the Rubber Duck Party 2011 and it was an instant hit. Great quality, quick and easy, and reasonably (to me) priced. These are great for deviled eggs, egg salad, or just to eat for breakfast (with a little salt & pepper).

Fage Greek Yogurt (0%) – I use this often in place of sour cream or to cut the amount of sour cream in certain recipes. Makes quick and easy dips, great with lemon curd and lemoncello for a sauce for macerated fruit, the list goes on and on.

Bota Box ChardonnayTip it, Kathleen!! OK so yes box wines have come a long way. This is an inexpensive, drinkable white that makes a great fridge staple for sipping (or gulping, if that’s your thing) as well as a good option for cooking when your recipe calls for white wine but you don’t want to open an expensive bottle. The box contains 4 standard bottle worth of wine but stays fresh for use over time. It runs about $15-20.

Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices – Basil, Italian Blend, Chili Pepper & Lemongrass… an easy way to add fresh herbs to your meal. It’s much easier than keeping traditional fresh herbs from wilting or going bad. I used the Lemongrass and some Cayenne pepper to make spicy apple sauce… Yum!

Pacific National Foods Organic Chicken Broth – So I buy this in bulk at Costco and always have it on hand. It’s the best broth i’ve found and can be used in everything. Try cooking your rice in chicken broth instead of water to add richness and flavor.

Better than Bouillon – better flavor and easier to use than bouillon cubes. Chicken flavor is a staple in my fridge. Great in soups, sauces and for making rice.

Swad Coriander Chutney – I haven’t had a chance to find a like direct to the manufacturer but I picked this up and Whole Foods. It has a fresh, bright flavor and tastes great when added to cooked basmati rice.

Winfield Farms Tomato Jam – I discovered this gem as an item in my Greenling produce box during the summer of 2011. Shortly after, when our house was affected by the wildfires, I lost all the contents of our two fridges and chest freezer. After things settled out I hunted Winfield Farms down at a local farmer’s market and stocked up! They also make an amazing Lemon jam. The tomato jam is great on a burger, a lovely compliment to cheese, or baked with a bit of goat cheese in refrigerated crescent rolls.

Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning – A staple in my kitchen. I add this to all sorts of things. Soups, pasta, salad dressing, etc. Available at Costco.

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce – Do I need to explain this one? A staple in Asian restaurants and a staple in my home. Jazz up veggies, spice up sauces and dressings.

AROMA Rice Cooker – So I think this is the model I have (I bought it a few years back at Costco for $30-40). I’ll admit I’ve only used it a few times for non-rice preparations but love it for making rice.

Margarita Mix – It’s not just for cocktails anymore. I use a bit of margarita mix when cooking rice for a little extra zing, a splash in homemade salad dressing and sauces… and yes for the occasional cocktail.