Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I'm Obsessed with Brazibites: My Love Affair with Brazilian Pao de Queijo

 * I am a fan of BraziBites cheesebreads and contacted them after trying and loving their product. After I contacted them, they sent me coupons for three free bags of cheese breads in return for writing this post, which I was going to do anyway.*

I am obsessed. For real. With a Brazilian snack called pao de queijo. This has been going on for a long time - for about 12 years now and it's all my husband's fault.

When I first met my husband, he was fresh from a long trip to Brazil and he introduced me to a lot of new Brazilian foods, my favorite of which was pao de queijo, which just translates to cheese breads. Except cheese breads doesn't exactly describe what these things are. They're like crispy, chewy little puffs of tart, cheesy wonderfulness. Made with tapioca flour instead of wheat, they're also naturally gluten free and have been that way for hundreds of years. In Brazil, they eat pao de queijo with everything and for every meal and it makes sense that they do, because these things are versatile. They go nicely with a lot of other foods and they aren't too filling that if you eat them as an appetizer that they'll ruin your appetite.

It's hard to find good cheese breads in the US. You can get a boxed mix at Brazilian grocery stores, but honestly, I don't love it because it tastes like it's made with Cheeto powder. Usually, the best cheese breads can be found in Brazilian restaurants and if you haven't been to a Brazilian restaurant, make it a priority. They take the concept of a salad bar to a whole new level. Plus, unlimited cheese breads and really yummy, salty steaks.

Recently, I discovered a new company selling frozen bags of cheese breads in Whole Foods and naturally I had to buy them to check them out. My life was changed. Oh my goodness. I had found the holy grail of pao de queijo in Brazibites.

They were super easy to make too. Just put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. They're all natural, made with wholesome, real food ingredients and no funky, artificial Cheeto powder taste at all.

The problem is, they are addictive. I can't stop eating them once I start and unfortunately, I could probably eat an entire bag. There are about 20 per bag. Yes, I counted.

Until now, I had never had flavored pao de queijo, but Brazibites come in bacon flavor and fire-roasted jalapeno flavor as well as the standard, traditional cheese. The original cheese is still my favorite, followed closely by the jalapeno, which is pretty spicy but has a good, pronounced green chili taste. The bacon is great, but it was my least favorite, surprisingly. It was pleasantly smoky and my three year old loved it. Shockingly, she also ate the jalapeno ones, even though they were definitely hot. One thing I liked about the flavored varieties is that they didn't contain big chunks of bacon or pepper. They retained the smooth, velvety texture that I like in my cheese bread. I think they should do a cheesy garlic flavor too.

We've been eating a lot of cheese breads around here lately. Apparently so have a lot of people because my Whole Foods was sold out for two weeks!

I like my Brazibites for breakfast with a big mug of coffee and they've become a weekend morning staple in our house. My daughter is just as obsessed with them as I am.

For lunch, they're good with tuna salad or lunch meats and sliced tomatoes. We found that all the flavors are particularly yummy with tomato soup.

I took a fresh basket of the jalapeno variety to a dinner party and they were extremely well received. We had them with the appetizers, but I think they'd be just as good as a dinner roll substitute.

Remember, they're naturally gluten free too, so they are perfect for people with gluten issues, just as long as they don't have dairy issues too, because remember, they ARE cheese breads after all.

I loved Brazibites so much and was so excited to have them in my Whole Foods that I wrote to the company expressing my admiration. They were generous enough to send me coupons for several free bags so that I could try all the flavors in exchange for this review.

You guys know that I don't normally do sponsored posts and things like that. This is a company with a delicious product made with real food ingredients that's easy to make and has mass appeal. They didn't come to me and ask me to write this. I wrote to them first because I liked their cheese breads so much and wanted to help support them.

Please, do yourself a favor and try Brazibites cheese breads. They can be found at various places all over the country. Click here to find your nearest location. I get mine at Whole Foods in the freezer section with the gluten free breads. They are about five dollars per bag of twenty.

You can also follow Brazibites on twitter @Brazibites or find them on Facebook. They're doing a giveaway on Facebook right now for National Celiac Month.

Let me know if you try them and what you think!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Your New Summer Cocktail: Blueberry Vodka Lemonade.

(photo found here, with a different, but I'm sure equally delicious blueberry vodka lemonade recipe that is way harder to make than mine.)

Since I'm busy finishing up my second book, I figured you should all go get drunk while you're waiting for me. Just kidding. We know I'm a big teetotaler over here.

But even though I'm not a drinker, I do enjoy a light cocktail (like a half of one, but still) especially at social gatherings.

It's almost summer. Memorial Day is in a couple of weeks and I know I'm going to be BBQing, so I came up with what is going to be my signature summer drink and I'm excited to make it for the upcoming holiday weekend. Once you guys try it, you'll be hooked too. I decided to pass it on to you without exact measurements because you can make it as strong or weak as you like and you can either make a single one or a big pitcher full of it. If you want to get totally Pinterest about it, you can even serve it in chilled Mason jars, which would be really pretty.
So, blueberries have been my favorite food since I was little. I love anything blueberry, especially in the summer, so I wanted to make a refreshing blueberry lemonade perfect for every summer event and I wanted it to be really easy and accessible so I didn't have to fool around in the kitchen when I could be in the pool.

Here's how to do it.

Start with this:

You can use any kind of blueberry lemonade you want. This is not any sort of product endorsement, however, this is the only brand of ready-made blueberry lemonade I've ever seen and it tastes good and has real ingredients so I'm sticking with it.

Then add some of this:

Again, use whatever brand of blueberry flavored vodka you can find and make it as strong or as weak as you like. 

Then add some of this:

This is unsweetened, lemon flavored seltzer water. Lots of brands make it. I'm not really partial to any particular one, but LaCroix is the brand I see the most and the one I usually end up buying. Add as much seltzer as you like. I tend to add quite a bit to my blueberry vodka lemonade because I like the fizz and because it cuts the sweet syrupy-ness of the lemonade.

At this point, taste it and add more lemonade, vodka or seltzer until you get the flavors balanced how you like them.

Then throw in a few of these:

Use frozen blueberries from a bag or freeze your own. Either way, they chill your cocktail without watering it down and as they melt they add more flavor. Then you can eat them. I just think they make the whole thing even more summery and festive.

Now pour your cocktail over ice, sit back, relax and enjoy. You are going to LOVE this. For real. And if you're the president of the temperance society like me, just leave out the vodka and it's just as delicious. I swear.
Friday, May 02, 2014

Sun Shower! Coming Soon!

Hey everybody, posting is going to be a little lighter than usual because I'm busting my butt to get my second memoir, Sun Shower, finished and ready in time for summer reading season.

I'm having a great time writing and editing the new book and I hope you're all going to love it. I think you'll find it much funnier and more lighthearted and whimsical than Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, and um, a lot less dirty.

This next book picks up the day after the last book left off and carries on through the next year of my life, which was filled with adventures. There are more horrible dates, more crazy characters, more of my family and our pets and all the things you guys love to read about my life. This book is about a year of conscious self -discovery as I began a quest to find self-confidence and figure out what my life's true passions were. I make a lot of stupid mistakes, but I learn some big lessons and in the end, I come out right where I was supposed to be.

I cannot wait until it's ready for everyone to read!

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