‘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
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!
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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.)
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!
Think outside the box–It’s not just for breakfast anymore! Sprinkle these morning treats into other meals for a sweet surprise.
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:
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!
Sriracha has proven itself as the spicy condiment of the moment. Seriously have you tried the sriracha flavored popcorn and potato chips lining the shelves in the grocery store? We’ve even been known to throw it into a compound butter to add a little oomph to our dinner rolls. But what’s next? The hottest trends in hot sauce are right there in the international aisle, burning to be discovered by you!
Potato chip fanatics are in for a real treat today. Today, Frito-Lay announced the four finalist flavors that’ll be hitting shelves for the second annual “Do Us a Flavor” contest. The flavors include Cappuccino, Wasabi Ginger, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese and Mango Salsa, and will be available nationwide later this month until October 18th — meaning there’s plenty of time to sample all four! Then, you can vote for your favorite flavor, and the creator of the most popular pick will win $1 million.
Image courtesy of Frito-Lay
Lays hopes this contest will help them keep up with America’s changing taste perferences. There have been many Asian- and Hispanic-inspired flavors added to their offerings, including Sriracha, a finalist from last year’s contest, fajita-flavored Tostitos, and two new Lays Stax flavors of Korean Barbecue and Thai Sweet Chili. Which flavor do you want to try most?
Now that we’ve got you in the mood for chips, check out our homemade chip recipes to satisfy your cravings until the new flavors are released!
For Merchandising Director, Jaime Hollander, the first story she reads in every issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray is Express-Lane Suppers. So when she saw the recipes in our July/August issue, she finally decided to try her hand at making all the meals and, yes, fitting her entire list’s worth of groceries in one bag. We asked Jaime a little about her experience and we hope it inspires you as much as it inspired us!
RR: What was your favorite recipe between the Steak Tacos with Corn Salsa, Fresh Corn & Ricotta Pasta and Asian Steak Salad?
JH: We liked the tacos the best, hands down – I made some with hot salsa and some with mild salsa for my 2-year-old.
RR: Did you learn any new cooking techniques from this experience?
JH: I never think to marinate steak as I’m cooking – I always think of that as an overnight process, so the quick 15-minutes or so for the taco marinade was great — quick and delicious.
RR:Did you make any additions, substitutions or changes to the recipes?
JH: For the salad, I also tossed in some edamame – we always have some in the freezer, and it was a nice addition. I also ended up making way too much of the corn salsa mixture, but it was actually a good topping for a lot of foods. I put it in a turkey wrap and even on top of a baked potato with some beans. Why not?
RR: So, did it really all fit in one grocery bag?