WATCH: Taste testing cream cheese-filled bagel bites, chipotle yogurt

It’s good to be back in the livestreaming saddle after a short vacation break!

Today, I tried a handful of Texas products that have been part of H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best competition in recent years, including a chipotle yogurt dip from Dip It and cream cheese-filled bagel bites from Bagel Dots, and went on a little rant about overpriced lactation cookies, protein-packed chocolate chip cookies that need better marketing and packaging and a frozen gumbo I really wanted to like but found disappointing.

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I also tried some brownies that my editor, Emily Quigley, made for my birthday, which was a few weeks ago. Turns out, she used a boxed mix and added dried cherries, cinnamon and chocolate chips. I’ve been so focused on from-scratch brownies lately, but I realized her additions to the boxed mix are a great #Austin360Cooks tip!

You can find all our livestream videos at Facebook.com/Austin360.

 

 

Learn how to age Peeps like a Peep-loving professional

 

Aging Peeps is apparently A Thing, and on my Austin360 Facebook livestream at 3 p.m. today in the video above, you can learn how to do it.

Alyssa Harad and I will be taste testing these new mystery flavored Peeps in a livestream at 3 p.m. Wednesday on Austin360’s Facebook page.

I’d never heard of opening a package of Peeps so they stale before eating them until my friend Alyssa Harad, who is simply a delight to follow on Twitter @alyssaharad, mentioned it online.

Harad also wrote a book about perfume, so I figured she would be an excellent guest to help me taste test these new mystery flavored Peeps. She confessed that she is decidedly anti-flavored Peeps but was willing to come in and try them anyway.

I can’t wait to see how her savant sense of smell — or more accurately, her keen ability to describe scents — affects how she tastes these mystery Peeps, but the biggest takeaway is going to be learning how and why she intentionally ages or stales Peeps for maximum enjoyment this time of year.

Join us for the livestream at 3 p.m. today to find out!

RELATED: The Washington Post killed its annual Peep diorama contest this year, but it’s so fun to browse the archives of this super creative contest.

 

 

Austin360 Taste Test: How does soybean spread compare to peanut butter?

WOWButter is a new soybean spread that its makers claim tastes “just like peanut butter.”

Well, does it?

Ahora Si reporter (and mom of two) Anjanette Gautier and I tried this new product, which is available at Wal-Mart, for this week’s Austin360 Taste Test. We filmed this video last week, ahead of what could be a landmark study that suggests that feeding children peanuts at a young age can actually reduce their chances of developing an allergies.

You can check out all the videos in this series at youtube.com/austin360video.

WATCH: ‘Meat and potatoes’ sportswriter taste tests organic juices

Everybody is juicing, it seems.

Well, everybody except sports writer Brian Davis, who was gracious enough to help me try H-E-B’s new line of organic juices last week.

I found out about the juices through social media just a few weeks ago when local cookbook author Monica Holland (@monica_h30 on Instagram) posted a photo of an apple, lettuce and gherkin juice. Gherkin and lettuce juice? Too good to resist putting to the test. We also tried H-E-B’s apple and celery juice.

You can see the results of the taste test below and find the rest of the videos on our YouTube page.

 

Austin360 Taste Test: Red Velvet Oreos

The Internet was ablaze last week with news that Oreo would likely be making a S’mores flavor of cookie. S’mores! My guess is that they’ll officially launch the flavor this summer (and maybe revive the 3-D printer vending machine they debuted at last year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference).

This month, however, it’s all about the red velvet Oreos, which are the subject of this week’s Austin360 Taste Test video that features Charles Ealy, our books and film editor who happens to make a mean strawberry shortcake.

You can see all the videos in this series at youtube.com/austin360video. Let us know what you think we should taste next in the comments.

 

Austin360 Taste Test: Banana bread English muffins, French toast bagels

I’m a sucker for Thomas’ English muffins and their trademarked Nooks & Crannies, but I was skeptical about a limited edition banana bread English muffin that the company started selling in January. It also launched a maple french toast bagel that sounded too crazy not to try as part of our Austin360 Taste Test video series.

Check out the video above to see what my tasting partner Liliana Valenzuela and I thought of these new products. Have an idea of what we should taste next? Email me at abroyles@statesman.com or leave a comment below.

Austin360 Taste Test: Live Soda Kombucha

Austin is big into kombucha.

We have nearly half a dozen commercial kombucha makers, plus countless people who make this fermented tea at home. It’s packed full of probiotics that can boost your immune system, but not everybody loves the taste.livekombucha

That was what prompted Austinite Trevor Ross to create a line of soda-inspired kombuchas that have less of the tangy vinegar taste of traditional kombuchas. Live Soda Kombucha comes in six flavors: lemon, orange, root beer, cola, ginger and Pure Doctor, modeled after Dr Pepper. They cost about $2.50 each and are widely available in stores including H-E-B and Target.

We tried four of them in this week’s Austin360 Taste Test video with both a kombucha lover, videographer Kelly West, who makes her own kombucha, and a kombucha novice, Tony Atkins, who loves soda. UPDATE: Live Soda Kombucha reached out this week with some additional info to questions we brought up in the video. As a raw kombucha, the drink has as many probiotics and sometimes more than other kombuchas on the market, and the natural flavors “are derived from natural essential oils extracted from fruits,” as well as regular spices, such as cinnamon, but “no artificial ingredients are used nor are they added to our extracted flavors or spices,” according to a rep.

You can see the rest of the videos in this series at YouTube.com/austin360video.

So, how is that new Girl Scout oatmeal raisin cookie?

rahrahraisinsStarting this week through Feb. 27, Central Texans will snatch up more than 2 million boxes of cookies from about 10,000 Girl Scouts across 46 counties. The proceeds from those sales, which last year totaled $8.6 million, will support the programming, training and activities of hundreds of local troops.

This year, you can buy traditional favorites Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos and Trefoils, as well as a lemon cookie called Savannah Smiles and two new flavors: Rah-Rah Raisins, an oatmeal raisin cookie with Greek yogurt-flavored chunks that we tried in this week’s Austin360 Taste Test video (below), and a new gluten-free cookie called Toffee-tastic.

Each box costs $4, and unlike other parts of the country, where online ordering is available for the first time this year, the cookies sold from Girl Scouts of Central Texas will have to be purchased directly from Girls Scouts.

If you’re trying to avoid eating sweets but want to support the Scouts anyway, you can purchase a “Hero Box” that will be donated to members of the military or a charitable organization of the troop’s choice.

You can find booth locations and more about where the money goes at gsctx.org.

Continue reading “So, how is that new Girl Scout oatmeal raisin cookie?”

Making meatloaf magic, plus a frozen meatloaf taste test

I never in all my life thought I’d like meatloaf enough to write a whole story about it.

As a kid, I could barely choke down the bite or two that my parents would ask of me, but now, I find myself scarfing up meatloaf wherever I can find it.

Thai meatloaf from Kin and Comfort. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Thai meatloaf from Kin and Comfort. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Hoover’s Cooking on Manor Road is one of those places, but so is Kin and Comfort, the eatery inside the food court at Hana World Market in North Lamar that serves a Thai meatloaf that is absolutely worth the drive up there for lunch.

For today’s lead story on meatloaf, I talked with Hoover Alexander about the sustained popularity of meatloaf, a surprise considering that most Americans now wouldn’t eat anything else with the word “loaf” in it that isn’t bread. We also have recipes from America’s Test Kitchen, Rachael Ray and Good Housekeeping for their versions of meatloaf, including a no-fail glazed slow cooker meatloaf.

If you’re like Statesman entertainment business reporter (and meatloaf lover) Gary Dinges, those recipes are fine and dandy, but he’s never going to make one himself. I asked him to taste a frozen meatloaf from Blake’s All Natural Foods, a company that reached out to me late last year promoting how good its frozen meatloaf casserole was straight out of the microwave.

To put that idea to the test, I made two of their meatloaf casseroles, one in the oven, which took an hour, and another in the microwave, which took about five minutes.

You can see the results of our taste test above, and to see the rest of the videos in this series, go to youtube.com/Austin360video.

Austin360 Taste Test: Kale chips from Rhythm Superfoods

For this week’s taste test video, I found someone who hadn’t tried a kale chip yet — Statesman director of photography Nell Carroll — to try three varieties of kale chips from the Austin-based Rhythm Superfoods. We tasted the original, honey mustard and zesty nacho flavors, which are available at many area stores including H-E-B, Whole Foods, Sprouts and Natural Grocers. (In the video, I say that the latter are the new flavors, but I think the original is actually the newest of the three.)

To watch all the videos in this series, go to youtube.com/austin360video.