Supermarket

The Great Supermarket Grill-Off!

We like to consider ourselves the recipe experts, but we also give props where they’re due, and man, have supermarkets been upping their recipe game lately. For our Grocery Store Grill-Off story in the July/August 2016 issue, we scoped out the sites of several well-known grocery chains, and what we found surprised us—positively!—in scale (Whole Foods has almost 4,000 dishes!), quality (still talking about the Aldi burger we tried…), and creativity (I ended up watching Stop & Shop’s videos for fun).

In order to pick our favorite, though, it all came down to the food. To have a fair test, we picked a Greek burger from each.

Here are the contestants:

Read more

The 10 best smoothies: store-bought vs homemade

As the weather gets warmer, we find ourselves craving smoothies all the time. So what did we do about it? We taste-tested over 100 store-bought smoothies to find the very best ones! In the Battle of the Bottled, we found five awesome winners available at your local supermarket— check them out in our June 2016 issue. But if you’re more of a DIY type, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite homemade smoothie recipes, too. Slurp’s up!

Best Tropical

Store-bought: Evolution Fresh Defense UpStick a tiki umbrella in this combo of pineapple, mango and orange juices. It has no artificial sweeteners and delivers 310% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C per serving. ($4.99 for 15.2 oz.)

Homemade: Kiwi-Pineapple SmoothiesIf you love tart and fruity smoothies, this one’s for you. Try adding coconut milk to make it more like a piña colada.

Read more

DIY Mother’s Day spa treatments

Pamper Mom (especially if that’s you!) with spa treatments from your kitchen. They’re even better than breakfast in bed for giving her an ahhh-some Mother’s Day!

 

Chocolate & Strawberry Scrub

Berries and cocoa are high in skin-protecting antioxidants, and coarse sugar gently exfoliates, says Philip Berkovitz, food beauty guru and founder of Philip B Botanical Products.

Read more

6 reasons to shop generic

‘Nduja and basil pasta sauce, organic kale and vegetable salsa, pine nut-topped hummus: they sound like they come from a very fancy lunch spot, but they’re actually all examples of amazing store-brand products featured in the April edition of Checkout. I love a bargain as much as the next person, which is why I usually opt for generic canned goods; even so, I was amazed at the quality of the products we tried. And we tried a lot—dozens, in fact—ranging from drinks to snacks to full meals and appetizers.

 

Kroger HemisFares Fiery ‘Nduja and Basil Pasta Sauce ($4.49 for 15 oz.)

Sprouts Organic Kale & Vegetable Salsa ($2.99 for 16 oz.)

 

Aldi Little Salad Bar Pine Nut Hummus ($1.99 for 10 oz.)

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mintel published a study that said 63% of consumers think store brands are more innovative than they used to be. Judging from my consumption of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies, I think it’s true.

 

Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies ($3.99 for 18)

Whole Foods Market Potato & Pea Samosas ($2.69 for 8)


Target’s Beekman 1802 Farm Pantry Ploughing the Earth Granola ($4.99 for 10 oz.)

 

Check out why our editors chose these 6 products in the April issue, or scope out our totally adorable video on Instagram. What are your favorite store brands? Tell us in the comments!

 

By Cecily McAndrews

How to Host Happy Hour for Less

Be your own bartender with a top-notch, five-bottle home bar that lets you make pretty much any popular cocktail and costs only $100. We’ll drink to that!

 

Five spirits experts share the bottles that deliver the best bang for your Benjamin. Try these pro picks to make your living room the best bar in town!

Rum

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum ($18 for 750 ml)

“This is one of my favorite white rums for any budget. An aged blend of Caribbean rums, it adds hints of tropical fruit to any drink, especially a daiquiri.” —Blair Reynolds, owner of bar and restaurant Hale Pele in Portland, OR 

Another great pick

Boozy Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum will wake up a mai tai—or any tiki drink. ($19 for 750 ml)

 

Gin

Citadelle Gin ($25 for 750 ml)

“Leave it to the French to come up with a delightfully flavorful gin. (No wonder: it’s made with nearly 20 herbs, roots, spices and flowers.) It pairs particularly well with citrus. One Tom Collins, please.” —Paul Clarke, author of The Cocktail Chronicles 

Another great pick 

Juniper-heavy Gordon’s London Dry Gin is a steal, and ideal in a gin and tonic. ($13 for 750 ml)

 

Tequila

Pueblo Viejo Blanco ($18 for 750 ml)

“This blanco tequila (which isn’t aged) is distilled in a traditional way. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor that shines in a margarita.” —Courtenay Greenleaf, corporate beverage director at Rosa Mexicano restaurants 

Another great pick 

Spicy Cimarrón Blanco offers fresh agave flavor. ($20 for 750 ml)

 

Vodka

Tito’s Handmade Vodka ($21 for 750 ml)

“Corn-based Tito’s is one of the most bright- tasting, clean vodkas around—which is why it’s so delicious on the rocks or in a martini. I also love that it’s from Austin, my hometown.” —Christina Cabrera, bar consultant at San Francisco’s Barbarossa Lounge 

Another great pick

Crisp Gruven Handcrafted Vodka, made from wheat and rye, is a cocktail go-to. ($11 for 750 ml)

 

Bourbon

W. L. Weller Special Reserve ($18 for 750 ml)

“I don’t make cocktails with anything I wouldn’t drink on its own. This bourbon has a sophisticated sweetness balanced by a fiery kick, which makes it great neat and in a mixed drink.” —Michael Neff, bar director at NYC’s Holiday Cocktail Lounge 

Another great pick 

Aged in charred oak barrels, Jim Beam Black is just as complex as pricier bourbons. ($22 for 750 ml)

 

By Joshua M. Bernstein; Photography by Aaron Dyer

 

Our 6 Favorite Store-bought Salsas Perfect for Game Day

These delicious dips will have you dancing in the end zone! They beat out almost 200 other products to earn a spot in your Super Bowl spread.

 

Best Mild: Frontera Roasted Tomato Salsa

Celeb chef Rick Bayless’s smoky salsa has a trio of tomatoes (fire-roasted whole, juice and paste). OJ adds sweet citrus notes. ($3.99 for 16 oz.)

Read more

The Best Frozen Appetizers for Your Holiday Party

Freezer aisle finger foods are the key to no-sweat holiday parties. With these quick, from-scratch upgrades, no one will guess you’re serving store-bought!

 

Read more

3 Cool Ways to Use Your Favorite Cereals

Think outside the box–It’s not just for breakfast anymore! Sprinkle these morning treats into other meals for a sweet surprise.

 

Read more

4 of The Season’s Must-Have Pumpkin-Flavored Items

Move over, Pumpkin Spice Latte! A whole slew of pumpkin-flavored items are hitting the grocery shelves and we promise, they won’t burn the roof of your mouth! Check out some of our favorite ways to get your pumpkin fix this fall:

 

Read more

We Got Our Hands on the New Lay’s Chips

Last month we heard the exciting news about four new Lay’s Do Us A Flavor chips soon to be hitting shelves. Today, the Every Day with Rachael Ray staff got their hands on three out of the four flavors, and the results are in.

 

 

Wasabi Ginger (our fave) had a nice kettle-cooked crunch and was reminiscent of wasabi peas, with the perfect amount of heat.

Cappuccino had a very potent artificial sweetened coffee smell, but there’s just something about coffee beans and fried potatoes that didn’t sit well on our palates.

Mango Salsa, though it smelled less offensive, tasted like mango bath soap. The fake flavor lingered for far too long.

Anyone try the Bacon Mac & Cheese yet? Let us know your thoughts!

 

Related Links

Introducing the four Lays Do Us a Flavor finalists

How to make homemade chips

Or, try these awesome cheese crisps