It dawned on me the other day that Laurie and I have several “go to” or favorite food items that I could post on the blog site. These include pre-packaged items from the grocery store, products from specialty purveyors’ as well as some great bakery offerings.
I’ll start out with one of our all-time favorite sharp cheddar cheeses. Laurie’s cousin Carla and her friend Diane visited us recently, making the trek down to East Tennessee from the far north. (“Cheesehead Country”) As a gift, they brought us a selection of cheeses from Mullins Cheese in Mosinee Wisconsin. They were all good, but we think that this Super Sharp (5 Year) Cheddar is exceptional!
Mullins Cheese is located at 598 Seagull Drive in Mosinee Wisconsin. Phone: 715-693-3205. Website: http://www.mullinscheese.com/.
When it comes to making a great Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich, Benton’s Bacon is a must have in our household! In our opinion, this bacon’s distinctive smoky flavor kicks any BLT sandwich to new and unsurpassed heights. We always have a package or two of Benton’s Bacon in our freezer.
We also love the sausage that Benton’s sells in their retail store. We don’t know where they get it but the mild version is so good that Laurie really likes it… This is despite the fact that she’s a “bacaholic”! (I didn’t include a photo of the sausage as it’s just an unlabeled roll of sausage in a brown paper wrapper) The store also sells an assortment of meat, cheese and other products to its local retail customers.
Allan Benton sells his smoked products, country hams, prosciutto and bacon to restaurants all over the country. Benton’s Hams with it's retail operation is located at 2603 Highway 411 North just north of Madisonville Tennessee. Phone: 423-442-5003. Good luck if you want to order on-line... I’m guessing that Benton’s is back ordered and close to overwhelmed for the Holiday Season. The website is currently only offering to ship the bacon and Benton’s t-shirts! Check it out at http://bentonscountryhams2.com/about-us.shtml.
Now for a couple of standard grocery store items…
Bertolli’s Chicken Florentine and Farfalle has become a basic…always have on hand…menu item in our home. Preparation only takes a few minutes and this dish is very satisfying. It has a nice sauce that Laurie kicks up a couple of notches with some crushed red peppers. Heat this pasta entrée in a large skillet, serve, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and it’s good to go! Most grocery stores carry this product.
Note: This product is on Probation in our house for the moment. We just had it for dinner a few nights ago and while the flavor was there…the chicken wasn’t! There were only 2 small strips of chicken in the bag…each a half inch wide by two inches long. We hope that this problem was due to a packaging failure and not a weak attempt to increase profits…
When we discovered these Bob Evans prepackaged mashed potatoes, we gave up making our own mashed potatoes. Heat these up in a microwave, stir in a little extra butter, and these potatoes are hard to beat! In our opinion, it’s just not worth the effort to try to make your own mashed potatoes when something this good is available… Many grocery stores carry Bob Evans mashed potatoes and friends have told us that other brands are at least as good...
Now we’re off to Costco!
Let’s start with the best overall breakfast bacon that we’ve found anywhere… Benton’s bacon is a bit too ‘powerful’ (smoky) in our opinion to just eat on the side with our eggs. This Farmer's Hickory Brand Applewood Smoked Bacon tops our list for great 'standard' bacon. It comes in double packs with 22 slices in each pack. We use about 11 slices for our once weekly 'baconalia', and we usually have a couple of slices left over for use with some other dish during the week.
I just discovered this package of Adams Reserve New York Extra Sharp Cheddar during a recent visit to Costco. This cheese is very nice…with a nice cheddar ‘bite’ and yet creamy. It’s great for grilled cheese or any other sandwiches calling for cheddar cheese. The price was right and 44 slices will last for quite a while…
This is another Costco cheese find… Laurie loves these Defino Creamy Havarti slices. They’re great in sandwiches, in scrambled eggs and when served with crackers. This cheese is sold in double packs of 2 lbs. each but if kept refrigerated, it keeps very nicely. We always have a package of this cheese in the house!
Yup… You’re right! It’s another package of cheese from Costco. This is the Kirkland brand of Manchego Cheese. This aged cheese made from goat’s milk is distinctive, with a smooth semi-sharp nutty flavor. We love to just cut a piece off the block of cheese and eat it out of hand. It’s great on crackers and it provides a little extra pop to dishes that invite the use of cheese. In my opinion, it doesn’t work particularly well with eggs though… We keep a chunk of this cheese in the refrigerator almost all the time.
We’re continuing with our Costco theme… This Kirkland brand Lasagna is something that we enjoy so much that we would and have served it to guests. The high quality ingredients, (especially the Italian sausage), are blended together to provide a satisfying and filling meal. While we have had better homemade lasagna, (once), there is no way that the effort required to try to surpass this Costco version is worth the stress!
This lasagna is sold in a 2-tray package. Each tray of lasagna is large enough to provide a good sized serving of comfort food for 4 people. Even better, you take this product directly from the freezer and pop it in the oven. No thawing required!
Now we’re moving on to the sweets and bakery products that we love…
However, I’m still “shopping” at Costco! This is their “Tres Leche” cake. This cake is so moist and soooo good that you may want to roll in it! Like many other items at Costco, this cake is far too large for a couple to consume…unless they’re trying to gain some serious pounds! However, when serving dessert to guests or if you’re taking dessert to a gathering, this Tres Leche cake is as they, “The Bomb”!
Notes: The Tres Leche cake is not always available so shoppers have to keep their eyes open for it…
· A tres leches cake, or in Spanish, “torta de tres leches", is a sponge cake—in some recipes, a butter cake—that is soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. Costco’s version includes a caramel and chocolate topping just for good measure!
This is a photo of one of our favorite stops when visiting the countryside south of Knoxville. New visitors who’ve never visited us before are almost always treated to a visit to Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest and Tellico Grains Bakery in Tellico Plains Tennessee.
This collage shows some of the baked goods produced by this family operated country bakery. Tellico Grains is the creation of a family that moved to this little town more than over 12 years ago. Husband and wife came from restaurant and baking backgrounds in the western USA. They sure do produce some terrific baked goods! On top of that, they make some terrific sandwiches…and we always try to time our visits for lunch.
You might ask… Other than the sandwiches, what are our favorite bakery items from Tellico Grains? This is a photo of a couple of them. On the left we have (had) 2 raspberry chocolate scones and on the right, we have (had) 2 blueberry scones. Yes, they are a little decadent…especially after we heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds and melt butter on top! Happy breakfast to us!!
Then there are the cookies… We both love cookies and Tellico Grains produces a variety of choices. These are arguably our 2 favorite cookies…from any bakery! On the left we have coconut cookies and on the right, we have oatmeal raisin cookies. There is nothing more satisfying to our palate than a couple of these cookies with some coffee.
Tellico Grains Bakery is located at 105 Depot Street in Tellico Plains Tennessee. Phone: 423-253-6911. For a video about this bakery that was featured on The Travel Channel, go to http://tellico-grains-bakery.com/?page_id=263. You can check out the Tellico Grains website at http://tellico-grains-bakery.com/. The bakery’s products are also sold at a few locations in the Knoxville-Maryville market area.
That’s about it for some of our current favorite “commercially produced” food items.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie