Here’s what I’m loving in Summer ’23
Published 6:45 am Wednesday, July 5, 2023
By Kara Kimbrough
It’s hard to believe, but half of 2023 has slipped away. The halfway point is a good time to reflect on the food and travel-related items are on my favorites list. So, without further ado…
Here’s what I’m loving:
- Blue Bell Sherbet – I’m not sure how I overlooked this product for so long – it was probably due to my love of the company’s delicious ice cream. Recently, on a particularly hot day, I reached for a quart of orange sherbet and checked out the nutritional label. I was shocked to learn an entire carton only serves up 9 grams of fat, or 1.5 grams per serving. Full confession – I polished off the entire carton in one sitting. After trying the rainbow-hued carton interspersed with strawberry, orange and lime flavors, it’s now my favorite. I will eventually go back to my favorite Blue Bell black walnut ice cream, but for now, I’m happy with my low-fat treat.
- Despite my new sherbet obsession, don’t get the idea that I’ve totally sworn off ice cream. After learning a favorite chocolate treat has joined forces with ice cream, I just had to try Reese’s Peanut Butter Light Ice Cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut Butter Swirl. How’s that for a mouthful? I can attest the combination, like chocolate and peanut butter, is one of the best ideas I’ve seen all year.
- Kettle Brand Air-Fried Chips – This has always been one of my favorite chip brands, but it’s now risen even higher in my esteem. Kettle-cooking chips like usual, then air-frying them to reduce fat, is nothing short of a genius idea. I can still enjoy the heavy-duty crunch and flavor of my favorite snacks, with 30% less fat.
- Pasta in some form or fashion always makes my “favorites” lists and this one is no exception. Barilla Classic Oven-Ready Lasagne Pasta is another genius idea of which even seasoned Italian cooks approve. Rolled flat in traditional Italian style, these tasty slices eliminate boiling time when putting together delicious lasagna or other pasta dish.
- Barilla Al Bronze Pasta – As much as I love pasta topped with a rich sauce, it can be a little challenging to keep the sauce from rolling off hot noodles into the bottom of the bowl or plate. Some genius thought of a way to keep that from happening. This pasta is engineered with a “rough” surface to catch every single drop of sauce. Bellisimo!
- California Pizza Kitchen Croissant-Inspired Crust Pizza – I’ve mentioned more than once that even though frozen pizza has improved over the years, the cardboard-type crust has held most products back from being truly outstanding. CPK has remedied that problem with a super-thin, flaky crust reminiscent of phyllo dough and a croissant. With toppings like bacon and caramelized onion and uncured pepperoni and hot honey, it’s high on my list of recommendations.
- “Trust the Gorton’s fisherman”…we’ve sung or hummed the commercial’s catch line forever, mainly because the brand has been serving frozen fish sticks, filets, shrimp and more for many years. Now, Gorton’s has elevated a tried-and-true product even further by lightening up the breading and running each items through an air-frying process to create an even better seafood meal. When I heard about this new advancement, I tried Gorton’s Air Fyer Butterfly Shrimp. Each piece was lightly-seasoned seasoned with the perfect crispy exterior.
- Ken’s Steak House Thousand Island Dressing – This isn’t a new product per se, but it’s become a staple in my refrigerator this summer and here’s why. First, it’s THE most delicious Thousand Island product on the shelves – at least, from my taste tests. And second, it’s versatile enough to serve as a salad dressing, sandwich topping and dipping sauce for chopped vegetables or crackers. I have other favorite vinaigrette brands, but for a creamy, Remoulade-style dressing, Ken’s is #1.
- Fresh Cravings Everything Bagel Dip – Inspired by America’s favorite bagel, this tangy dip contains a creamy base mixed with flavorful toasted garlic flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and chopped onion. Like my favorite dressing, it can be used as a dip for chips, crackers or vegetables or sandwich spread.
- Kroger Dips – Like most Kroger brand products, the chain’s dips are a cut above most store brand dips. In fact, in some cases they’re better than national brands. Like #9, Kroger has its own version of bagel dip, but my favorite is Kroger French Onion Sour Cream. It’s really better than any other brand I’ve tried. Other flavors include ranch and Mexican-style street corn.
- If you’re planning a trip this summer, a new product, Fold-N-Pack Smart Hanger, makes packing and arriving with clothes in wearable condition a breeze. The innovative design allows for garments to be hung on the lightweight hanger, folded and neatly packed, then hung quickly upon arrival. It’s already in my suitcase in preparation for my next flight. Check out the website at foldnpack.com.
- Speaking of flights, a return trip to one of my favorite destinations is on the horizon for 2023. While I’m somewhat familiar with New York City, each time I visit, I rely on the knowledgeable and helpful officials at the city’s official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau to steer me in the right direction when it comes to visiting the five boroughs. I need their expertise to help navigate the constantly-changing lineup of attractions and events and thousands of places to stay and dine. This summer, the organization debuted a new name – New York City Tourism + Conventions – and a social campaign – #WHATSGOODNYC – showcasing the best the area has to offer. Visit nyctourism.com for detailed information on everything there is to see and experience in New York City. And, feel free to contact me if you’d like to receive my top picks for a truly unforgettable trip to the Big Apple.
So, that’s what I’m loving so far in 2023. Drop me an email if you have a favorite supermarket product, restaurant or travel destination to share.
Barilla® Oven-Ready Lasagna with Bolognese Sauce
1 box Barilla® Oven-Ready Lasagne
4 ounces ground pork
4 ounces ground beef
1 3/4 ounces carrots
1 3/4 ounces onions
1 3/4 ounces celery
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup dry red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Water (about 1 cup) as needed
5 1/2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
6 cups milk
Salt to taste
Nutmeg to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté minced onion, carrot and celery until golden. Add ground meat and cook over high heat until brown and cooked through. Pour in red wine, season with salt and pepper; reduce until dry. Lower the heat and stir in tomato paste and water. Cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, adding spoonfuls of warm water if too thick.
Prepare Béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in sifted flour and cook over low heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add milk in a steady stream and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Season with salt and nutmeg. Cook for a few more minutes until thick.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 13 x 9 inch baking dish, pour a layer of Bolognese sauce with grated Parmigiano, then arrange a layer of pasta to cover the bottom of the dish. Make a layer of Béchamel and a layer of meat sauce with Parmigiano. Continue this process, alternating pasta and sauce, and finish with a layer of pasta. Cover with remaining Béchamel sauce and pats of butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until the surface is golden crunchy. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 15 – 20 minutes before serving. Recipe from Barilla
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.