It's been awhile since I shared some good food finds, so today I bring you tasty snacks, side dishes and a French butter you might want to check out. Sit tight as I wax poetic yet again about my favorite store, Trader Joe's. That's because TJ's carries some of these goodies, including the French butter. And if you've ever been to France and had some of this amazing butter, you'd be wanting to find more of it, too.
According to a blog post by La Cuisine Paris, a cooking school in Paris, several things set French butters apart. Good butter starts with the cows and a diet of green green grass. The soil that the grass grows in matters, as does the amount of butterfat left in the product. The blog notes that the best butter in France comes from Normandy and Brittany because of the amount of rain that falls in those areas, producing loads of the requisite grass.
"We believe that you can taste what the cows eat, as it comes through in their milk," they write. "In a sense, rich soil equals rich tasting butter."
The blog pointed out that most countries use about 80 percent butterfat in their butter, while French law requires at least 82 percent.
While you're at TJ's getting the butter, you might want to check out the freezer section for some tasty side dishes.
Portobello Mushroom Fries
The mushroom slices have a light breading on them that comes out of the oven crispy on the outside and steaming hot inside, with that umami meaty flavor. I like to serve them as a side dish with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce.
A 12-ounce bag costs $3.99 and contains four generous servings - or two separate meals for two people.
Trader Giotto's Spelt Risotto with Vegetables and Chickpeas
The rich, creamy, risottolike dish is hearty enough to be a vegetarian entree. The veggies include pumpkin, zucchini and turnip greens. Garbanzo beans add a healthy dose of protein and fiber. It's finished off with smoked provolone cheese, making for a sensational dish.
Each 1-cup serving has 10 grams of protein. A 16-ounce bag costs $3.29.
To wrap up our look at yummy goodies, we have to hop off the TJ's bandwagon and jump online.
"Boom Chicka Pop"
I'm not sure if I have more fun saying or eating the delicious popcorn. There are several flavors available, some of which you can find at grocery stores, but the one I'm smitten with is Sweet & Spicy, which I've only found online. It's made by Angie's Artisan Treats and has a hint of sweetness as well as garlic, cayenne, cumin and paprika - a little bit of an Asian-Indian flavor profile.
And when you finish a 1-ounce bag, there's no post-snack guilt. It's cholesterol-free, gluten-free, whole grain, vegan and kosher, with no high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats or GMOs. You can almost feel a halo over your head. Visit boomchickapop.com.
Nuts + Nuts Indonesian Cashews
After traveling in Indonesia and buying a bag of the best peanuts I've ever tasted, I'm always on the lookout for nuts roasted in coconut oil. When roasted this way, the nuts are extra crunchy and full of great taste.
These little bags of goodness actually have pieces of red chilies and dried lime leaves mixed in with the large cashews. I've been known to whirr up the nuts and seasonings for a garnish on salads and soups. It makes for an interesting pop of flavor and texture. Visit nutsplusnuts.com.