I got hooked on SuperButter If you are looking for a peanut butter equivalent that doesn't have any nuts, then look no further.

This year I got some really great new items at the Fancy Food Show.  Sometimes a new item will interest me, but not actually hook me.  SuperButter has hooked me.

Here is their own description:

Roasted sunflower, flax and sesame seeds comprise the flavorful base, with a little cane sugar, palm oil and sea salt added for maximum deliciousness!  SuperButter premium seed butters are high in protein, fiber and antioxidants (Omega 3's and Vitamin E), are gluten, trans fat and cholesterol free, and contain less fat than regular peanut or nut butters. 

Yes, this is an all natural, super healthy, non-nut butter that can be substituted into your recipes like peanut butter!  And it comes in original, crunchy, vanilla bean, and chocolate flavors!

I should tell you that I've never been a big peanut butter fan. I don't hate it, but it's not high up on my food list.  I'm not interested in peanut butter cookies, Reese's or other peanut butter flavored candies, cookies, or desserts.  I will eat a PBJ on occasion and I do like it as an ingredient for satay and curries. Not that interested in putting it on my burger either. And in the argument on creamy versus crunchy, I'm a crunchy gal.

I have to say, though, that this SuperButter....I like it a lot!

I had to try SuperButter out to see if it really could be exchanged for peanut butter in a recipe and so I chose my favorite chocolate chip cookie - the Monster Cookie.  Monster cookies are actually gluten-free because they don't use any flour, but instead use oatmeal. I like them because they remain chewy for days. The recipe uses 12 ounces of peanut butter.

The SuperButter version came out beautiful and delicious, except for one weird thing. A few hours after I got home I looked at the mixing bowl and then at the cookies and found a strange, bright dark green color.  If the product is all natural, what in the world is this green chemical reaction?

I emailed the company and received this answer:

All plants contain chlorogenic acid mostly in the stems and leaves, but sunflowers also have it in the seeds. SuperButter will turn cookies and other baked products green as they cool if you are using standard recipes; the solution is to reduce the amount of baking soda or baking powder in your recipe by almost half. This balances the acidity of the ingredients and keeps them from changing color. Adding a bit of lemon juice to your dough or batter can also help maintain expected color.

Even though these are cookies, they are or can be pretty healthy too if you use a different sweetener.  But where I'm going with this is that due to the SuperButter and the oatmeal, I was eating a cookie before going to spin class for some extra energy.  Did I notice a difference in my workout!  I plowed through spin class every time I had a cookie before hand!

I decided then that my next experiment would have to go to power bites without the sugar.  So I made the power bites you see in the top picture with the recipe below.  These are also gluten-free and are not cooked. Now I eat one of these pre-spin class.  And I do notice the difference.  I had meant to grab one before Friday's class, forgot, and sure enough I noticed a lag in energy.

SuperButter has definitely hooked me and so now it is a matter of spreading the word to get it in nearby stores.  I already mentioned it to Sprouts.  It is available online at Amazon and SuperButter.com.
SuperButter Power Bites

Note:  I like to use Go Raw brand granola because it is super crunchy and has no added sweeteners that ruin granola's health benefits.

1 cup quick-cook oats, uncooked
1/4 cup dried Go Raw granola
1/2 cup SuperButter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything together thoroughly in a bowl.  Use a small scoop to shape bite sized balls of dough. Place on a cookie sheet or plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Once hardened, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

I'm an oil brat. Or, more specifically, I'm an ARAMCO brat. I grew up in Saudi Arabia where my dad worked for the Arabian American Oil Company, or ARAMCO.  We lived in Arabia from 1971 to 1987, so basically all my school-college years. 

We lived in an American compound that was as close to being an American small town as you can get in a foreign country. Dhahran, the main ARAMCO town, occupies so many square miles that you never even really felt enclosed in a compound.  I would say that the size of Dhahran would probably be equal to the size of the City of Rocklin. 

We had American schools, a theater, bowling alley, public library, pools, baseball fields, and more. What we didn't have was shopping. We had to go into Al-Khobar, the nearby Saudi city, to go shopping for everything except for food. Groceries were bought from our camp commissary, similar to a military commissary. 

as I remember it, circa 1980
Recently our ARAMCO Brat organization came upon some historical commissary newsletters. A throwback look at life in the past. They asked if anyone would be willing to blog some of the recipes and I volunteered. First up, a recipe for Tuna Cutlets from the March 20, 1978 commissary newsletter.  Actually, I have no idea why they were called cutlets as these are pretty much the equivalent of crab cakes, just made with canned tuna. 

These were pretty good.  I like them. And it's funny that I've never had these before, and yet they transported me back in time to 1978 and living overseas. 

How?  Because it brought back a time when we had very limited food items. Think about today and how many thousands of products line our grocery shelves. How much processed and packaged food there is now. Back in 1978 food was simpler.  And by being overseas, we were even more limited to what we had available.  Here was taking simple canned tuna and creating a meal from it with a few, whole ingredients.

I used a fresh jalapeno (the green you see) and I also whipped up a simple Sriracha aioli by mixing together some mayo, Sriracha sauce  and lime juice.  A tasty treat with a bit of kick.

Oh, and since I'm single, I froze the pre-cooked patties so I could have them for later dinners. That makes this recipe an even bigger winner for me! 

Last Friday was a beautiful spring day and perfect for this year's grand opening of The Firehouse's courtyard patio. I must disclose that I was invited to sample the new spring menu. Therefore, this is not a review piece, as my meal was comped.

from Firehouse

The Firehouse has been a Sacramento fixture since 1960. Over the years it has always been one of the best fine dining experiences in town. It has kept that classy, elegant touch of fine linens, top notch service, and beautiful decor within a piece of architectural history. Many an engagement, anniversary, business or political deal has been celebrated here. Yet with the ups and downs of the economy and its own fluctuations in quality over the years, it has survived and remained a local favorite. 

Speaking of its own quality fluctuations, my Firehouse review on this site is from 2008 and it was not a good review.  That was obviously a low point. But as I said, every restaurant has cycles, especially over decades and with ever changing chefs and menus.  

from Firehouse
I've eaten at The Firehouse several times over the decades, but as much as I can recall, it's always been at the upstairs dining room. During this visit I entered upstairs and took the stairs down to the patio and downstairs dining room. I realized there's so much more to The Firehouse just by being in a different part of it. Every section is lovely, yet different.

I was greeted by Maro Ortiz, the General Manager and & Sommelier. I had met him a few months ago at Ella during happy hour.  I also had a chance to talk to the Executive Chef, Deneb Williams. Williams describes his menu as eclectic, with many "global flavors" paired with French techniques. 

I was seated at a table in the center of a full courtyard. Apparently many had gotten the word that the courtyard was now open for lunch and to celebrate this first day, the restaurant had gotten some musicians to play. Mario says that the musicians are an occasional treat, such as for brunches or holidays. 

For my lunch I chose the Chevre & Asparagus Soup, Chimichurri Sea Scallops, and then asked for an assortment of desserts for my sweet tooth. 

Atique Ramen, an Assistant Manager with a mixology background, presented me with a lovely citrus based mocktail since I don't drink. 

Here is the salmon special with an olive tapenade and roasted Brussels sprouts. 

My Chimichurri Sea Scallops were served with a smoked paprika fondue, red pepper chutney, and a quinoa-lentil-spring veggie ragout.

Tropical Paradise Gâteau -kiwi, prickly pear, guava sorbet, coconut cake, rum sabayon, tropical coulis

Strawberry Cheesecake -fromage blanc, anise graham, poppy seed cake, 
strawberry-tarragon compote

PB&C - peanut butter and dark chocolate marjolaine, malted milk froth, blackberry pâte fruit.

Now I have to say, by the way, that I'm not a peanut butter fan, but this last dessert was definitely great and a must-get for any PB fan. They definitely have a talented pastry chef.

I look forward to going back soon because I just have to have the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert!

Sadly, my blog has been on low priority of late. I've been a little busy finishing up the Sacramento Food Film Festival (which raised about $10k for CA Food Literacy, thank you) and with my new job.

Perhaps you read yesterday's (4/6/14) Bee article "Rezku has no reservation on challenging OpenTable".  Well as I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is my new employer.  I'll be retiring from my State job to work at this new start-up company. Leaving a very secure State job is a bit of a gamble, but at least I'll be happy doing a job that I have a passion for.

My new company is Dinnerwire/Rezku.  Dinnerwire is the end user app/webpage where you can look up restaurants and make reservations.  Rezku is the restaurant reservation system used by the restaurants to not only schedule bookings, but alter floorplans, assign servers, move tables, keep analytics on service, etc.

Taking on OpenTable is going to be like an ant going up against a foot. We are starting with less than a dozen employees and they have thousands worldwide. They made $56 million the last quarter of 2013 and have used that wealth to buy up other companies such as Foodspotting.

What we do have is a significantly lower price plan that can save the restaurants hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. We also have a state-of-the-art system. I'm sorry, but the other guy's looks like it hasn't been touched since it was created in 1998. 

When I leave my State job in July I will start selling the system as well as my current duties. Right now I work for them part time and love my new job. Who wouldn't love filming restaurants?  I'm doing "Ms. Munchie on the street" style videos that we post to the Dinnerwire page. The idea is that other sites have photographs, but we are showing you videos that give you a feel of the place and the food and sometimes include an interview with the owner, manager, or chef.

So with that, let me show you a sampling of what I've been up to.  I'm not able to embed them here, so you will have to follow the links.

Mama Kim Eats

Crawdads River Cantina


Even though we are based here, we are signing restaurants up for Rezku nationwide. So if you have any contacts in the restaurant biz who might be interested, let me know.  

We are also hiring sales people for the rest of the country. 

Restaurant owners/managers should go and "claim" their restaurants on Dinnerwire.  If you have your own video, you can post it there and edit your restaurants information.

Lastly, if you are in the Northern California area and would like me to come and film your restaurant, I would be happy to do that - it's my job!