Compound butter adds a zing of flavor to ordinary meals
For a quick punch of flavor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution food writer Elizabeth Lee liked Headstart Gourmet, a compound butter made in Asheville that blends wine with herbs and seasonings. She tried the Red Wine Butter with sautéed duck breasts, melting some in the pan in the last two minutes of cooking, and putting a small pat atop the breast when serving. It would also work well as a spread for hors d'oeuvres, perhaps salmon or roast beef. Other varieties are a white wine sauce with thyme and garlic, and a spicy orange creole butter. A 4-ounce container is $6.99 at www.headstartgourmet.com.
Service plans meals for busy parents
Relish! touts itself as a simple online weekly menu planning service that helps make grocery shopping and cooking easy and affordable for busy parents. It was started by two moms who know what it takes to plan, shop for and make meals. For $7 per month, the service helps you create a menu and categorized grocery list based on recipes they provide. You choose from kid-friendly, vegetarian, simple-gourmet or super-quick recipes. Check it out at www.RelishRelish.com. They also offer Gfree, a gluten-free online menu planning service. Details at www.gfreecuisine.com.
Mini hot dogs just right size for kids, parties
These mini turkey-pork hot dogs from Market Day come packed in their own petite buns. Kids will like them, but Chicago Tribune tasters also think they're terrific for football and other parties. They are sold frozen; thaw in the fridge, then microwave about 1 minute. A box of 12 individually wrapped dogs costs $9; visit marketday.com or call 630-694-1951.
Water kettle with convenience, safety in mind
Washington Post food writers were impressed with the Capresso H20 Plus Glass Cordless Safety Water Kettle for several reasons: Its small footprint on the counter, the way the cord can be wrapped under the base and out of sight, its stay-cool handle and handsome profile, its automatic shut-off feature and its very quick response rate; 1.5-quart capacity, about $60, available at Linens N Things. Capresso products are available in the Charlotte area at Sur La Table, Crate and Barrel, Cooking Uptown, Reid's Fine Foods and Williams Sonoma.
New water bottle purifies tap water
For those worried about the cost and environmental waste of bottled water, Fit & Fresh offers its new 20-ounce LivPure Filtered Water Bottle. Certified by the Water Quality Association, it removes more than 50 percent of the chlorine from tap water. Each replaceable filter purifies 75 gallons of water (about 500 bottles). The bottle with filter sells for $12.99; a two-pack of filters is $7.99. Available at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond. More info at www.fit-fresh.com.