What is Couscous

what-is-couscousMy wife lately has been buying this interesting rice alternative for meals called, Roasted Brown Rice Couscous. What is this strange alternative grain known as couscous and should I be eating it? The Couscous comes in a box that says Lundberg, Gluten-Free Mediterranean Roasted Brown Rice Couscous. I’ve really enjoyed eating this stuff, lately. The Couscous is nuttier, tastier and has a better texture than brown rice. I’m not a big fan of wheat products either, so it is great being able to enjoy this dish knowing its gluten-free. Those who suffer from Celiac disease will really appreciate the gluten-free couscous. It all sounds great, but what the heck is couscous, anyway?

What is Couscous?

The first couple of times I ate it, I assumed that couscous was some type of alternative grain like quinoa. I was surprised to finally see the wording on the box that describes couscous in Big-Bold Letters: Brown Roasted Rice. More specifically, couscous is crushed, brown roasted rice. The Lundberg Family Farms brand of couscous describes the couscous as being brown rice which is crushed into tiny granules than is fire roasted to give it a creamy and nutty flavor. Nothing could be more true – this stuff is light years better than just about any variety of rice I’ve ever had before. We have made the couscous with curry and stir-fry dishes and it goes great with them. Couscous will compliment just about any dish you decide to make with it. Due to it’s texture and nuttier flavor, the couscous tastes and feels much more substantial than regular ol’ boring, rice.

How to Make Couscous

Nothing could be simpler than making roasted brown couscous from Lundberg Family Farms. Bring two cups of water to boil; simply open the box and stir in the couscous. Reduce heat to lowest setting; cover and serve in about 15 minutes. The roasted brown rice couscous from Lundberg doesn’t need to be seasoned; it is already flavored with salt, onions and other spices. The seasoning is not overpowering, but just about right. I highly recommend giving Couscous a try.

Maya Kaimal Butter Chicken

Maya KaimalHoly smoke, this stuff is good! Maya Kaimal Butter Chicken is a frozen, pre-made Indian dish made from tender, boneless chicken cooked in a buttery tomato sauce with tasty and spicy Indian herbs and spices. While there are a few Indian dishes I like, I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the cuisine. However, I think I’ve tried enough of it to know what is authentic and what is not. Maya Kaimal tastes very authentic to me – and it’s different. I would definitely buy this dish again both for the convenience and for the taste.

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How to Serve Maya Kaimal Butter Chicken

The Maya Kaimal package says that their butter chicken dish serves six, but there are two things to keep in mind: If you’ve got a young family particularly with teenage boys, you’re going to need more than 1 Package of Maya Kaimal Butter Chicken. Two, you don’t get the rice to go with it – that’s what you’ll need to prepare on your own. White rice is easy and will go just fine with this dish. We did things a little differently and used Brown Rice Couscous which I will talk about in my next article. But for a quick dish that is tasty, different and easy to make, you could use white rice, noodles, couscous or whatever and you’ll still enjoy eating the Maya Kaima Butter Chicken. Where do get?

How does it Taste?

I’m not necessarily a big fan of convenient, ethnic, frozen foods, but sometimes they get it right. When my father-in-law recommended Vindaloo Chicken from Costco to my wife, we decided to look for it at our own Costco in Arvada, Colorado. Though we couldn’t find the Vindaloo, we found something that looked similar: Maya Kaimal Butter Chicken. We decided to take a chance on it – and I’m glad we did. The flavor and texture of the sauce is lively and different – like you would expect from Indian cuisine. The box says the Maya Kaimal is Medium-Spice and I’d say that’s about right. It’s certainly not as hot as your Mexican neighbor’s green chili, yet it’s quite a bit spicier than Grandma’s chicken and dumplings. There are lots of recipes from Maya Kaimal. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend trying any of them. The Butter Chicken was a success. Give all of the Maya Kaimal dishes a try – I believe you will like most of them.

How to Make Green Beans

how to make green beansMy green bean pasta dish was so successful that I just couldn’t let it go. In fact, I’ve become a little bit fascinated with how great green beans can taste when they are prepared in the same manner for a variety of different dishes. Tonight, I made something else with the very same, Kroger-Brand, frozen green beans. They came out so good, I had to write another short article explaining what I did. So here is How to Make Green Beans, Part II:

How to Make Green Beans with Steak and Rice

My wife and I picked up some short-ribs, cuts of steak at Costco on Saturday. The short-ribs were the cheapest cut of red meat you can buy at Costco, but that’s besides the point. There was plenty of meat – more than the two of us could eat. We grilled half of it and with the rest; we sliced up in bite sized pieces, seasoned with onion and garlic powder; doused it with my favorite brand, Horsetooth O-Face Habanero Sauce and stored it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for the next two nights. For Monday’s dinner, I took the meat out of the refrigerator. I heated up a pan of olive oil (just like with the green bean pasta dish) and on a separate burner, prepared some plain, white rice. I sliced up two small onions and mixed it in with the bag of meat along with some soy sauce for stir frying. I placed the meat and onions in the hot pan and started browning the sides. As soon as the short-rib beef and onions looked brown on all sides, I added in about 2 cups of frozen green beans and repeated the same ritual of blackening them with the shaker of black pepper. I turned the burner way down and let it simmer while the rice finished cooking.

How to Serve Green Beans with Steak and Rice

The last part to making green beans is the fun part. Add a couple of scoops of rice to a deep plate; then add the meat, onions and sauce from the pan. It’s that simple. This particular dish was extremely spicy; not only from the black pepper, but from the habanero sauce I added to the meat. Again, I just love the fact that the greens, starches and meats are all together. No worries about making a salad or another side course. Everything including the rice, meat and vegetables taste delicious. The greens are firm on the outside, yet juicy on the inside. Both the meat and onions add a delicious caramelized flavor to them.
Now, this is how to make green beans.

Green Bean Pasta

green bean pastaGreen bean pasta, when made properly, is an Italian soul food dish that compliments just about any meat entree you can possibly imagine; Baked fish, roasted or fried chicken, grilled steak, pork, hamburgers and whatever else you like might like as a main course. The beauty of green bean pasta is the quickness, simplicity and soulful life it adds to your meal. Because the pasta and green beans count as both a vegetable and a starch, you literally do not need anything else besides a meat entree to make a complete meal. Like any other side dish, there are at least a million or so, green bean pasta recipes. The one I use is not only quick and simple to make, but will add fire, excitement and enthusiasm to your entire meal. Here’s the way it is done:

My Green Bean Pasta Recipe

To me, just about any great side dish begins with some garlic and green bean pasta is no different. In a 10-12 Inch skillet, heat up a good amount of olive oil on medium heat. In a separate, large pot, get your water boiling for the pasta. Slice up about 3 to 4 large cloves of garlic. Don’t worry about mincing up the garlic. I like the garlic to be visible on the plate and because it will be golden-brown, it won’t have an overpowering flavor. Just about anyone will love properly browned garlic. Once the oil is hot. throw in the garlic cloves. The secret is to add the green beans to the pasta just as the garlic begins to brown. A good brand of frozen green beans are perfect (see the suggestions below) for this dish because they will immediately take down the temperature and keep the garlic from burning. Dump in 2-3 cups of green beans to the hot oil and immediately begin shaking a jar of black pepper over them – and I do mean go crazy with that pepper shaker. Get the green beans so coated with pepper that they look black.  In a good Italian green bean pasta dish, the green beans will taste similar to sweet, hot green peppers. Once you’ve peppered the heck out of the greens, add about 1/3rd stick of butter to the skillet; one cup of chicken broth and a half cup of white wine then turn down the heat and cover. Check your water.

Best Pasta for Green Beans

Add a good quality pasta brand like De Cecco to the boiling water. The spaghetti I used in the picture is thicker, but for green beans I prefer the Capellini.  De Cecco is more money than most brands, but it is well worth it. De Cecco is very affordable on Amazon if you buy it in 5-10 packs and you can get the much preferred Capellini online at very affordable prices. To me, De Cecco cooks firmer, springier and livelier than an of the other pasta brands I’ve tried. De Cecco comes in dozens of varieties, so experiment with different kinds if you want, but I prefer the longer, narrower kind; Spaghetti, Capellini or Spaghettini works best for this dish.

Best Green Beans for Pasta

Obviously, fresh, quality green beans from your own garden are best, but you can’t always get those year-round. Avoid green beans from the can because they are already too soft and just don’t taste as good. A good, long, fresh-frozen green bean will work nicely. I simply used a bag of natural, frozen, un-cut green beans from our local, King Soopers (Kroger) Grocery store. The extra-fine, frozen string beans below, would work great.

Finishing Touches on Italian Soul Food

As soon as the pasta has become al dente, remove it from the stove and strain it. Add some more olive oil to pasta and salt to taste: Hint: I use anchovy paste instead of salt – it it much more flavor and adds that Italian flair to the dish. I use Anchovy paste in just about everything, including salad dressings. Why not buy a five pack (see deals below)?

Once the pasta has been mixed in with additional olive oil and the anchovy paste, add it to your skillet, gently mix it in and serve. The last ingredient can be added to your plate: Roman Cheese.  While your typical can of Kraft Parmesan or Roman is okay, I’d recommend the real thing show below:

So, what is good to drink with Italian Green Bean Pasta soul food? If you’re serving with fish or chicken try Pinot Grigio. This is one of my favorites: Of course you can drink just about anything you want with Green Bean Pasta when it’s properly made as an Italian Soul Food Dish.

How to Cook London Broil

How to Cook London BroilSee the picture? It doesn’t take a freaking genius to figure out that’s how you make de-freaking-licious, London Broil. But, did you know that knowing how to cook London Broil is only part of the secret to actually enjoying the meat? The reason so many people are googling how to cook London Broil is because it almost never comes out right. London Broil is made from a very lean cut of meat. Forget the lie that fat is the villain. When it comes to beef, fat is a friend that we could all stand to appreciate more. All a good, tender, savory cut of meat ever needed is some fat. If you’ve ever had a bad, tough cut of London Broil, join the club – we all have. But, what can we do about it? The key to a good cut of London Broil is not only how we cook it, but what we do before and after it is cooked.
I learned the hard way.

Cooking London Broil is only Part of the Battle

London Broil InsideYou can learn how to cook London Broil simply by looking at the picture. Those tasty-looking, grill marks were accomplished by throwing the slab of meat on my grill at the very hottest temperature. I turned my gas grill up to the hottest temperature it would go. The temperature read 600 Degrees Fahrenheit when I put the meat on the grid. I shut the cover and let it sit for 2:00 minutes, rotated it 90 degrees, then repeated the same procedure for the other side. Two minutes, twice on each side equals a total of 8 minutes. When I removed the meat from the grill, here is what it looked like on the inside; rather rare, but very juicy! This is the way London Broil should look when you eat it, but there is something else you need to do before you even cook it:

How to Prepare London Broil

Before we Cook the London Broil

Since London Broil is made from a very low-fat, tough cut of meat, it needs to be marinated. The best marinade for London Broil is 1/2 cup whiskey, 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1 half cup Cholula or other hot sauce. With the marinade sauce, mix in garlic, onions, paprika, lots of black pepper and some honey. Let it marinate in your refrigerator for up to 2 days. The saucy, marinade replaces the need for fat. Your London Broil will be juicy and delicious as long as it is not overcooked.

After Cooking London Broil

I’ve tried to slow-cook London Broil in sauce thinking it would make it juicier and more delicious, but it only became tougher and more tried out and flavorless. If you don’t like your beef pink inside than choose another, more naturally, fatty type of meat. London Broil is very dense and needs to be crisp on the outside and very pink on the inside (see picture again). If you follow my instructions on how to cook London Broil, it
is completely safe to eat because the outside of a very robust chunk of meat has been thoroughly cooked on the outside at a very high temperature. Properly cooked London Broil may not be the most tender steak you can buy, but when cooked properly it is quite tasty and worth a little bit, extra chewing effort.

Best Hot Dog Brand

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Best Hot Dog Brand

Are Nathans the best Supermarket Hot Dog you can buy?

I’ll be honest, I like a good hot dog once every so often and I don’t particularly worry about how they are made or what’s inside of them. What does matter to me is how they taste. That said, it does seem as though the better quality hot dogs always cost 2 or 3 times as much as I want to pay at the grocery store. If you really do believe hot dogs are meant to be fast, junk food then $6.00 for a 6-pack of that junk seems a little expensive. So, the best hot dog brand at the supermarket is usually not the cheapest. Since I don’t eat hot dogs every day or even more than once a week, why not pay a little more and get the best whether it’s considered ‘healthy’ or not? So, what are the best supermarket hot dogs you can buy? Well, I actually have three favorite hot dog brands from the supermarket:

Best Supermarket Hot Dog Brands

  1. Nathans Hot Dogs
  2. Hebrew
  3. Ball Park Deli

Of the three, Nathan’s is the plumpest, tastiest and best supermarket hot dog, hands-down. I enjoyed the Hebrew brand for a while. Hebrew is the same, supermarket brand that you can buy at the Costco Deli with a Coke for $1.50. My only beef with Hebrew Beef Franks is that they get a little too rich. I can only eat one dog without feeling a little nauseous afterwards. The Ball Park Deli dogs are the runner-up here; not overly rich, but still tasty; made from all beef and don’t give upset gut. Nathan’s is the best of both worlds. Rich, plump, delicious and I can eat two of them without feeling sick afterwards. What more can you possibly want?

What’s Inside

All beef hot dogs not only sound better, but taste quite a bit better than the ones made with by-products, chicken parts and gosh-knows-what-else. Turkey franks? Forget about it. I like the hot dogs that are made from all-beef. I know they’re expensive, but next time you’re at your supermarket, pick up a package of the best hot dog brand your money can buy: Nathan’s. Give them a try.

Russian Standard Vodka

What do you think of Russian Standard Vodka: 

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russian standard vodkaRussian Standard Vodka (Original) is one of three different vodkas made by the same company. Russian Standard Platinum and Russian Standard Imperia Vodka are the two upper-end, pricier vodka choices from the same distillery which I have not yet tried. Russian Standard, like any premium Russian vodka is distilled from Wheat. While the original Russian Vodka maybe the cheapest of the three, it is still priced in the range of premium and popular vodkas like Stoli and Monopolowa. I paid $25.95 for a 1.75 Liter bottle of original Russian Standard. You can expect to see it priced between $23.00 and $32.00 at your favorite, local liquor store. I’ll confess to two things prior to buying this: One, I was attracted by the interesting looking bottle, with Russian Calligraphy; supposedly named for Peter the Great. The bottle alone makes for good, drink conversation. Two, I didn’t actually pay $25.95. The liquor store was closing and I happened to be shopping at a most opportune time with liquor being sold at 50% off of shelf price. I paid about $13.00 for my first, 1.75 Liter bottle of Original Russian Standard . As someone who enjoys $20.00-and-under vodkas like Svedka and Ruskova, I was anxious to try an original Russian Standard Vodka at a most unoriginal price.

Russian Standard Vodka Tasting Notes

I expected good things from such a tasty looking bottle, and my first sip of original, Russian Standard Vodka, did not disappoint. When sampling new, vodka I like to pour a couple of sips worth at room temperature directly into my martini glass. The Russian Standard Website recommends that you drink their vodka at a temperature between 41 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Sampling at a slightly warmer, room temperature in my opinion, makes the aromas and taste more noticeable. Russian Standard original has a very light, crisp and almost transparent nose. There is very little of that ‘natural-gas’ spirit aroma of other vodkas. First sip is thin, high and what the New Amsterdam Vodka wishes it was: Crisp, yet not overly thin-pitched and bitter. Russian Standard Vodka does have a bite, and a mild burn going down, but finishes very smoothly. I took a couple of shots and poured it into my stainless steal shaker with 4 ice cubes. I plopped an olive in my martini glass and did the usual ritual: Shook the vodka vigorously until my fingers were on the verge of frost-bite from the freezing stainless steel and my right arm was about to fall off. I poured the ice-cold, frothy vodka into a martini glass enjoying the way the shadowy olives formed steam inside the icy, transparent liquid. The colder temperature tamed the frontal bitterness of the vodka significantly. As a martini, Russian Standard is crisp, clean and sugar-like with very light overtones of vanilla and almond. Russian Standard vodka has very little caramel or other darker, earthy tones.  Russian Standard is not a complex vodka, but it is infinitely enjoyable and drinkable as a martini and would go very much unnoticed in a desirable way as a mixer. The entire, first martini went down smoother than any other vodka I have ever had. I have to score this one a little bit higher than my previous favorite; Svedka.

Final Rating: 91

Delicious, thin, clean vodka with a light first bite, but a sugary, crisp vanilla finish which makes you crave your second martini.  Russian Standard is the best I’ve had for under $26.00.

  • Taste: 91
  • Smoothness: 91
  • Character: 80
  • After Taste: 91
  • Mixer: 95


New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam VodkaHow do you rate New Amsterdam Vodka?  

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It’s not because I like Cheap Vodka that I couldn’t wait to try New Amsterdam Vodka. For me, really cheap Vodka is Taaka. There are better vodka brands that are still considered cheap by vodka drinkers, where-as Taaka is considered downright undrinkable by some. So how does New Amsterdam Compare? I thought very highly of New Amsterdam Gin and numerous friends agreed that it is a great gin for the price, so this is one I looked forward to trying and because it is priced about 50% higher than Taaka, I anxiously expected it to be notably better than what I would personally consider a, cheap vodka. So, how does New Amsterdam Stand up to a  cheap vodka and for that matter, a better one?

Ringing out the New Year with New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam Tasting Notes

To me, tasting Vodka is often like hearing musical notes on a staff. Each flavor has its own pitch. The darker, heavier ones are lower on the staff and the crisper, light and thin ones, are higher up on the staff. I Must say that New Amsterdam is a very high-pitched Vodka. It has a very crisp, thin bite to its nose and rings crisper and more bitter on the very first sip. If this does not sound like a ringing endorsement, it is not a bad one either. New Amsterdam has an adjustment period where you have to convince yourself that the thin bitter front isn’t going to go down too harshly. This Vodka is not overly harsh going down, but it does have a very shallow, thin bite that burns the top-end of your palate. It is crisp, thin and sweet, yet not much in the way of complexity or character. I believe that some people rate vodka on how little flavor it has. While Taaka is a truly cheap vodka I think it actually has more character and flavor than the New Amsterdam vodka at nearly half the price. I won’t mistake character and complexity for being an un-smooth vodka. I’ve come to appreciate the darker nose; vanilla, butter, rum and caramel in vodkas like Pearl or even the bargain-based bottom end Taaka. If Taaka and Pearl Vodka are a low A, then the New Amsterdam vodka is a high C above the treble-cleff staff. New Amsterdam is tinny, thin and crisp; not overly smooth, but not overly harsh. New Amsterdam doesn’t make a great martini because its front-end is just too darn bitter for sipping. New Amsterdam Vodka, I project, would make a very good mixer with any type of juice or sweetener because it is too light in flavor to overpower anything that you put in it. Cranberry juice would very easily mask its bitter front end. I also think that New Amsterdam Vodka would make a very good Cosmo when used with Leopold Bros Cranberry Liquer.

New Amsterdam Vodka Rating: 73

  • As a Martini: 68
  • As Shots: 72
  • As Mixer: 78
  • As a Cheap Vodka: 74

O Face Horsetooth Hot Sauce

horsetooth hot sauce

Put on your O Face

The first time I tried O Face Horsetooth Hot Sauce anyone could tell by my own “O Face”  that this savory Habanero sauce is aptly named. But, the reason for my expressive o face isn’t what you think. It has nothing to do with the heat of the Habanero heat, but everything to do with the flavor. The Horsetooth hot sauce people are selling their product short if they think the heat is the only reason the sauce will make you say, “oh”. Habanero’s  have always been one of my favorite peppers, not so much because they are hot but for their earthy, exotic flavor. If you can get past the heat, habanero’s are the tastiest peppers on earth. The key is for the habanero peppers not to be so ridiculously hot that they you can’t enjoy the flavor – and I think the Horsetooth hot sauce people have accomplished this feat with their O Face habanero sauce.


The Real Reason for an O Face

o faceThe real reason for the o face is that the flavor of this sauce is oh-so-good. O Face Hot sauce is made from Habaneros, Cantaloupe and Sweet Carrots.  It’s flavor alone will literally make you say, ‘oh’ and the heat is just the icing on the expression, so to speak. The bottle is also filled with black pepper and tangy vinegar, but the #1 ingredient is indeed habanero peppers. The result is an orange, flavorful, tangy, spicy and sweet mixture of habanero peppers, black pepper and fruit. O Face is no where near as hot as Dave’s Insanity sauce, but it is a much tastier and more useful sauce as I’ll explain:


How to use O Face Hot Sauce

Many years ago, I discovered that habanero sauce is the best thing you can use on a dry piece of chicken, pork, turkey or steak. The habanero peppers, for some reason liven up the flavor, turning a ‘ho-hum’ face into an ‘o face’. Aside from just using O Face on your plate for dipping meats and chips, it makes an excellent marinade. O Face already has everything you need in the way of sweetness, tang, vinegar and spice to be used as a perfect marinade. Yesterday I had some rather bland, left-over sirloin steak. I chopped it up into bit sized pieces, doused it with the horsetooth hot sauce and stored in a bag overnight. The result was a delicious lunch bursting with flavor.  I would be tempted to use o face as a salad dressing. It would be especially good on a Taco Salad.


Other Flavors from Horsetooth Hot Sauce Company

Horsetooth hot sauce is made just 50 miles north of me in Fort Collins Colorado. They produce six other hot sauces with interesting names.


  1. The Green
  2. Naughty # 4
  3. Rubin’s Red
  4. Rubin’s XXX
  5. Smokestack Lightening
  6. Melt Your Face (For a Limited Time)


Horsetooth Hot Sauce Ratings

I have not had the chance to try the other six flavors from the Horsetooth Hot Sauce company, but this one gets my highest rating.

  • O Face Hot Sauce: 98


Order a bottle or two of this today – you will be glad you did.

Youngs Double Chocolate Stout

Youngs Double Chocolate StoutA four pack of Youngs Double Chocolate Stout in the 16.9oz cans found it’s way to my home by mistake. I was at a beer and wine store looking at the dark imported beer when I grabbed a 4-pack of the Youngs Stout, thinking I was getting an unusual variety of Guinness. It is close, but not quite the same. This one is made in England. While the size of the can and familiar rattling of the plastic ball is the same as Guinness, the most notable difference is chocolate. I don’t mind hints of dark chocolate and coffee in my stout beers, but I was a little put off by the label which indicates that chocolate flavor is intentionally added to the brew. I prefer beers where the hints of dark chocolate flavoring comes as a natural result of brewing process and aging in the barrel. See my review on Bourbon Barrel Stout. To be honest, I would not have bought the Youngs had I read the label more carefully and had I known it was only 5.5% alcohol as opposed to the hefty 10.3% alcohol level of premium beers like Bourbon Barrel Stout and Woodcutter # 5 by Odell brewing in Fort Collins. England is a good distance away from Fort Collins, Colorado and so is the taste of this interesting beer.

Tasting Notes

The pouring and appearance of Youngs Stout is very similar to Guinness and in the way that the foamy head sticks to the inside of your glass. The aroma of Youngs might make you think you’re about to drink a chocolate milk shake from McDonalds. Milk chocolate, more than beer is the first thing I imagined before the beer touched my lips. While the actual taste of Youngs is a bit chocolaty, it really does taste more like a good dark beer than a chocolate milk shake. The Chocolate Stout has a pleasant, smooth and light taste of vanilla, milk and caramel along with a hint of hershey-like instant chocolate flavoring. It is really not bad, especially if you are a milk chocolate lover and don’t mind it being artificially introduced into your beer. Many of the beer snobs online described a lactose taste in this particular creamy stout beer. I would agree with this perception. Overall, it’s a good beer, but is it a hit?

Ratings: 84 / 100

From 1 – 100, I give Youngs Double Chocolate Stout an 84. It is good, overall, but the chocolate flavoring make it a little bit too sweet for me to consider it among my favorites dark beers or preferred next to a black patent malt.

Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur

leopold bros cranberry liqueurI was recently given a bottle of Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur for Christmas. I love to try new liquors, so needles to say, the cork on the cranberry liqueur only lasted until the same evening I brought it home and popped it open for a sample. Though I am not a fan of sweet type drinks or liqueurs, they do have their place; either for mixers or sipping on a cold, winter evening. Leopold Bros is a small batch distillery in Denver, but the cranberry liqueur is made from real cranberries from New England. I was impressed with the 20% alcohol rating on the bottle and thought this might be something I could enjoy either as a splash in my vodka martinis ala cosmopolitan or mixed with bourbon whiskey for a tangier tasting Manhattan. Of course, it can also be drank straight which is how I tried my first sip.

Tasting Notes

I will confess that I didn’t take much time to smell the cranberry liqueur before taking my first sip. As a result, I quickly got a taste somewhat reminiscent of Robitussin cough syrup. It was not all that bad, so I took a step back; cleared the fumes, and swished the cranberry-colored liquid in my glass. My nostrils were filled with the very deep and pleasant sensation of fresh cranberries. Ahh..much better. The next sip tasted as cranberry-like and delicious as its aroma. I loved it. Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur would make a great holiday shot or served over ice in a highball glass. It is rich and tart, but very satisfying and refreshing. I immediately though of how well this would go with Vodka in a Cosmopolitan. Instead of diluting the vodka with straight cranberry juice, why not blend it with an alcohol distilled from real cranberries for a much heartier, more robust and tastier Cosmo? I think this cranberry liqueur would also go very well shaken with and poured over crushed ice in a small, whiskey glass. But, there is one other way to enjoy Cranberry Liqueur.

Strong Drink Recipe using Leopold Cranberry Liqueur

I thought bourbon would be the perfect match for a rich, tart and tangy cranberry liqueur and my instincts didn’t disappoint me.

New Recipe for your Martini Glass


  • 1 Part Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur
  • 2 Parts Bourbon

Shake ingredients with crushed ice and pour into your martini glass. Add a cherry or orange slice.
Not sure what you’d call this drink, but the

    Leopold Bros cranberry liqueur

mixes really well with Bourbon. A bourbon cranberry splash is a great way to warm up on a cold winter day or evening.

Starbucks K Cup Coffee Review

Were Starbucks K Cup Coffee worth the Wait?

…and the extra money?

Starbucks K Cups ReviewOkay, now that the wait for Starbucks K Cups is over, are they worth all of the hootin’, hollerin’ and mouth-watering anticipation? More, importantly, are Starbucks K Cups worth the extra cost? On average, Starbucks K Cups are 15% more expensive. From Walmart for example, you can expect to pay $13.88 for an 18-Pack of Starbucks vs $11.88 for the other top brands; Emeril’s, Caribou, Newman, etc. I gave Caribou Obsidian, Newman’s Extra Bold and Emeril’s Big Easy Bold all very high marks in previous K Cups Reviews. Since Starbucks is no longer being made in T-Discs, just about anything available in K Cups for the Keurig is superior to the weak and inferior Gevalia which is about all you can find for Tassimo brewers at the store these days. The Tassimo K-Cups, however, were so superior to anything else I’ve tried for the Tassimo brewer that it became my standard for which all other K Cups are measured. Starbucks Columbian in T-Discs remains my very favorite single-brewed cup of coffee. Unfortunately, it is impossible to do an exact comparison of Starbucks T-Discs vs. Starbucks K Cups because they do not make them in Columbian. They do make Verona, however, which was a close second in my opinion, to their Columbian T-Discs. I also think that the Newmans, Emeril’s Big Easy Bold and Caribou Obsidian Black were pretty close runner-ups to my Starbucks Tassimo favorites. Starbucks offers six different blends of coffee for the Keurig Brewer, ranging in light to very dark: Breakfast Blend, House Blend,Verona, Pike Place Roast,Sumatraand French Roast.  As to whether or not any of these Starbucks K Cups are worth the extra cost, it is impossible for me to answer until I’ve had the more time to enjoy them all. There is a couple on the list that I won’t buy because they are either too dark and smoky or too light and acidic. First, I will give you my run down on how all of these K Cups Taste and below that a table which describes their tasting notes and a preliminary rating from 1-100.

Starbucks French Roast

starbucks french roast k cupsI’ll confess that I have never tried this coffee because French Roast is simply too burnt, smoky and dark for me. I’ve already tried Starbucks French Roast in the bag and I’m sure this one is no better. The problem with coffees that are this dark is that they taste weak. Too much smoke and not enough coffee flavor.

Starbucks Breakfast Blend

starbucks breakfast blend k cupsThis was the first box of Starbucks K Cups I tried. I found it to be a little too light and acidic for my tastes. This one is similar to Donut Shop Coffee by Coffee People. In fact, it is not distinguished enough that it is worth the extra 15% cost. I’d go with the Donut Shop Coffee if this is the kind of coffee you like: Good, perhaps great for those who like a lighter, more acidic roast, but not my cup of tea – err, Coffee.

Starbucks House Blend

starbucks house blend k cupsThis one is billed by Starbucks as being lively and balanced and I think they couldn’t have described it more accurately. I would describe the taste as being somewhat between the Donut Shop and Newman in boldness. It has some acid to it, still, which is okay if you like a lighter coffee. I can get used to this. Not bad. I think it is much better than Breakfast Blend or French Roast and I may even prefer it to some of my other favorites due to the so-called “liveliness”.

Starbucks Sumatra

Starbucks Sumatra K CupsThe Starbucks Sumatra K Cups might be confused with French Roast to some because it is intensely dark. Starbucks advertises this one as herby and earthy, but I would describe it more as a bit rubbery and a little over-roasted. I’ve bought StarbucksSumatrabagged coffee before and have never been too impressed with it. I’ve had other brands ofSumatrathat are better and more aptly fit the description of herby and earthy. This one needs to be a tad lighter in my opinion.

Starbucks Verona

Starbucks Verona K CupsThis is a very good coffee and easily competes with the best I’ve had. This one could become my favorite or runner up after having some more time to get familiar with it. I believe I still have a Tassimo T-Disc ofVeronaat home. I will do a side by side comparison and let you know how similar it is. Starbucks calls this one dark cocoa and roasty sweet. I kind of think it may be just a tad too sweet and in need of a bit more roasted cocoa, but we’re nitpicking here.Veronais one of my favorites.

Starbucks Pike Roast

Starbucks Pike Roast K CupsThere is a reason that Pike Roast has become the regular coffee choice at Starbucks stores – it is just an all around great coffee – very balanced and non-offensive to a wide variety of tastes. It is described by Starbucks as Smooth and Balanced and both of those adjectives are very accurate descriptions. I think the Pike Roast might be the one I prefer the most out of all 6 Starbucks K Cups choices, but only because it is that I will get the least tired of drinking. If there is a problem with it, it could be that it is just a wee bit boring. There is nothing very distinguished or unique about the taste of Pike Roast, but it is smooth, bold and rich enough to keep you from getting tired of it. That is why it has become the Starbucks favorite.

Summary of K Cups by Starbucks

There is not a bad k cups variety in the bunch – it’s a matter of what you like and are used to drinking. I haven’t decided ifVeronaor Pike Roast is as good as what I can get over the counter of an actual Starbucks store, but it is close enough to keep me wondering for a while. I am also undecided as to whether or not I would continue to pay more for Starbucks K Cups over my other favorite three coffees: Emeril’s Big Easy Bold, Caribou Obsidian Black and Newman’s Extra Bold. I have a hunch that over time, Cafe Verona and Pike Roast will become my two favorites of them all.

Starbucks K Cup Ratings

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