It's time for some more favorite finds!
We had overnight guests this week, and I had no time to prepare an appetizer before we went out to dinner.
When I went to purchase my usual stand-by, John Wm. Macy Cheese Crisps at Publix (cheddar and asiago are my favorites), I perused the deli aisles and I was blown away by the variety of ready to serve treats there.
I bought a small tub of "New York Potato Salad" (on sale for $2.50 and delicious) and splurged on a container of blue cheese stuffed olives ($6.28).
Years ago I watched a bartender at Emeril's restaurant in New Orleans hand stuff blue cheese into some olives.
He gave us a sample and we were hooked. I tried some in a jar (thumbs down) but these (pricey) temptations from Publix are the bees knees.
Because the container went to the recycle bin today I couldn't find the price per pound, but I'm sure it's in the double digits. However, we had enough to snack on the next day.
I can only say that they're worth a splurge.
I also have been pleased with the recipes I've tried from the Publix weekly ads.
They often serve samples of these recipes in the store, and the pasta with Italian sausage and Alfredo sauce from a couple of weeks ago was delicious.
The recipes are generally easy, requiring minimal assembly with items on sale there.
I know prepackaged foods are loaded with sodium and preservatives, but don't you guess food from McDonald's is, too?
I am fortunate to enjoy cooking, but I know it must be a real chore for those who don't.
But there are so many ways to make cooking easy these days inexpensively.
I load up on reduced meat when I see it. I like Food Lion's the best, but Kroger's has it at all times of the day, too.
I might grind up some lean pork chops in the food processor for tacos or spaghetti sauce, and often prepare double the quantity to freeze for later.
Those frozen goodies are treasures on a busy day.
Also in Publix produce section are delicious Campari tomatoes. In the past I only found these at Sam's, but since I haven't renewed my card since May, I was thrilled to see that Publix carries them.
The words "delicious" and "tomatoes" are almost oxymorons during these winter months; this weather has been hard on crops.
A tub of grape tomatoes was $4.99 last week at a local market! But check out these Camparis.
Another non-food find is Neutrogena Light Body Oil with Sesame Oil. I tried this while visiting daughter Anne in New York and she assured me I could find it here and I did ($9.99 at Publix).
It is a light oil for use after baths and has a soft, soothing scent that doesn't leave a residue on my clothes.
It must be a really good seller, because I found a Kroger brand for half the price of the Neutrogena. The delicate scent lingers on me all day, and I really have enjoyed using it.
Painting buddy and friend Maggie Stanford introduced me to a fun new "tool" — an O-Cel-O Scrub a Wipe scrubber.
This is a two-sided scrubber and cleaner that nothing sticks to it (like dried up egg and/or white sauce) and retails for $1.89 at any grocery store.
It will make clean up a lot easier — as will Bar-Keeper Friend, a find from another painting buddy Judy Reynolds.
I use Bar Keepers Friend to clean my sinks but Judy said that it really does a job on stovetops, leaving no scratches.
I tested this after having cooked shrimp last night and she was right.
A very tasty find is the taco salad from Carmen's Taqueria on Northfield (just South of Walgreens off Memorial).
For $6.99 you can have a hard shell taco filled vegetarian style or with your choice of chicken, steak or ground beef.
It comes with the best guacamole I've tasted in ages as a "dressing" and is delicious.
Check Carmen's out.
And last but not least are frozen ham bones from the Heavenly Ham store.
Soup-making time is almost over, but nothing adds flavor to soups like one of these bones.
I buy two or three at a time (average price, about $3.80) and always have one in the freezer. And of course, the longer you cook these, the better they get.
And it's time again to write about our favorite carry-out food in the 'Boro.
E-mail me your family's choices at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share as many as we can with everyone.
'Til next week. MP