1. Bacon heart: Oh my. Do I need to even say anything else about this idea, created by Mike Geno? Seriously, people. Bacon. That is all.
2. Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cubes: From the clever blog Cute Food for Kids comes this inspired treat for your coffee. This makes me want to go buy some sugar cubes and decorate them! Tiffany has some great tips on how to do it, so be sure to read her advice before you start.
3. Opal Apples: There’s a new apple in town, called Opal brand apples, and they taste exceptionally good! Snap them up if you see them in your market (Safeway and Vons/Pavilions in the Los Angeles area), because the season is only through May (or while supplies last). They look like a yellow Golden Delicious apple, have a sweet, tangy, intensely apple-y flavor and are crisp and juicy. The golden color is very appealing, especially in a fruit salad, or a chicken salad with apples. In fact, I used them in place of Korean pears in this salad, and served it to great acclaim for dinner last night. They’re grown in the state of Washington, are officially a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz, and this is their second year on the market in the U.S., so you are excused if you haven’t heard of them before. We did a taste test with the Opal and our favorite go-to apple, the Fuji, and the Opal was a bit sweeter with a little more punchy tang. I used to look forward to the day the Honeycrisps came into the market. Now I’m going to be watching and asking when the Opal apples are coming in! Bonus: they resist browning (oxidation). Apple flesh contains a natural enzyme called tyrosinase. When this enzyme is exposed to oxygen, it oxidizes (turns brown). It is a lucky happenstance that the cross of Golden Delicious and Topaz — resulting in Opal — naturally has very low level of the enzyme tyrosinase. So once cut, there is very little browning of exposed Opal flesh.
4. Cooking Oil Chart: Andrew Wilder of the smart blog Eating Rules has come up with a handy chart showing the attributes of various kinds of oils we all use for cooking. Should it be extra-virgin olive oil. almond oil, coconut oil, canola or something else? See for yourself. I printed it out and have it stuck up on my refrigerator.
5. Affordable heirloom tomatoes: In February? Why yes! Ralph’s has these garden-fresh Mexican-grown beauties on special all month, for $2.99 per pound (at least $1 per pound cheaper than Whole Foods or elsewhere). Last week I made my signature summer Tuna, Tomato, Bean and Basil Salad with them in the middle of winter, and they were flavorful and gorgeous. What a treat to have a taste of summer freshness during the winter. Distributed by Frieda’s Specialty Produce.
6. WorldFoods Thai Green Curry Paste: This authentic spice paste is wildly good! Made from green chiles, lemon grass, galangal, tamarind, coriander, cumin, kaffir lime leaf, onion and garlic, this adds Thai fragrance and flavor to whatever you like. I used it as a glaze on a piece of fish, I dolloped some into the cooking water when I made rice for dinner, and I used it to flavor a Thai curry with chicken and coconut milk. It’s approachably exotic, and makes creativity convenient, without any artificial additives or flavorings. I’m sold.
7. Murcott Tangerines: Lord, do we ever love our citrus around the ShockD household. A standard after-school snack is 5 or 6 tangerines, per kid! Just in are these delicious Murcott tangerines, from nearby Ojai, Calif. Available all of February and if we’re lucky, early March, these are a short-season delight. They peel easily (a great attribute for tangerine lovers of all ages) and their taste is sensational! When my children compared them to the Cuties that are ubiquitous in our winter fruit bowl, they found the Murcott’s more flavorful and tangy. If you don’t see them in your market, ask your produce guy to get some for you! Distributed by Melissa’s Produce.
8. Banana Jam: I always have some bananas going on black on the counter. My usual use-them-up recipe is my Old School Sour Cream Banana Bread, which I must make once a week. But now I’ve discovered Brown Sugar Banana Jam, and it rocked my world! Sweet, buttery, tangy from a squeeze of lime juice, this is the best thing to happen to toast since cinnamon sugar. You can make a 4-ounce jar of it from a single overripe banana. Or double the recipe for an 8-ounce jar. Either way, no pesky water-bath canning is needed. Just cook it on the stove for a couple of minutes, pour into a jar, and prepare to wake up your taste buds the next morning!
9. Nutella Fudge Brownies: With only 4 ingredients, these are fast enough that you could still make them for V-Day dessert tonight, but if you miss that deadline, put them on your list for later this week. They’re beyond delicious with Nutella, just need a quick stir in a mixing bowl and 11 minutes in the oven. Don’t eat them all yourself. Oh, who am I kidding. Eat as many as you want! Just run an extra mile.
10. This poster, below. I just love it! Eat more green things, indeed!
Disclosure: Samples of Opal apples, heirloom tomatoes, Murcott tangerines and Thai Curry Paste were sent for review. There was no requirement of mention or endorsement. My opinions, as always, are my own.