Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Great Giveaway!!!

Click on photo to enlarge
As I mentioned in this blog post, My 15 Minutes of Fame! I will be giving away a bunch (18 packs) of McCormick Gourmet Seasoning Mixes *click here* to see the selection! But I never imagined how many spice packets the McCormick people would send! They were VERY generous, as you can see in my photo! They actually sent double of what is shown in the photo...so I'll be doing another giveaway in the near future! They also included those nice measuring spoons! So one lucky reader will be receiving this nice prize! You will be able to create MANY delicious meals for you or your family with these gourmet spice mixes and a few common ingredients!

To enter this giveaway just post a comment on this page telling me what is your favorite McCormick spice! Please, just one entry per person! US residents only! And 'Like' the McCormick Facebook Page. Then I'll pick a winner on Monday, April 30th 3pm ET. I'll be using this service to pick a random winner *Random Line Picker

Thank you to the McCormick company for this generous giveaway!

*~*~*~* UPDATE *~*~*~*
April 30, 2012
3:05 pm EST.
The Winner of this McCormick Gourmet Spice Giveaway is...
Wendy Rusch!!!
Congrats Wendy! Please contact me at the email address listed in my blog description. I'll need you to provide your mailing address!
Thank you to everyone who entered! You'll have another chance to win some McCormick spice packs in the near future, when I do another giveaway...so stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quinoa Burgers!

I found this recipe on a blog called 'Eating Well, Living Thin-er' by Linda F. It caught my eye because I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it! It's basically a veggie burger...but it tastes delicious! Most veggie burgers aren't very tasty and the texture is usually too chunky. This quinoa burger is none of those things! The texture and the flavors are VERY pleasing! It reminds me of a really good fritter! My hubby gave it 2 thumbs up...which is equivalent to 'AMAZING'!!! I served these burgers with what some people call a 'fry sauce'...equal amounts of ketchup and mayo mixed together. I also add a splash of prepared yellow mustard to my 'fry sauce'.
Here's my photo of the finished dish, minus the burger bun! I ate mine without...hubby ate it with! Either way is just fine! I'm posting the recipe with a couple of tweaks! I know I'll be making these ALOT!
Quinoa Burgers
INGREDIENTS;
2 cups cooked organic quinoa - organic is a must because it's not bitter. Doesn't need rinsing.
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fat free cream cheese
1 large carrot - peeled and grated
1/4 cup grated yellow onion - squeeze out excess liquid
3 large eggs
3 tbls. flour
2 green onions, including white part - chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
olive oil for frying
DIRECTIONS;
In a large bowl combine the cooled cooked quinoa with all the other ingredients except for the olive oil. Mix thoroughly. The mixture will be sticky.
Heat a large non stick, flat top, griddle or frying pan on medium heat with 2 tsp. of olive oil.
Using a 1/3 cup measure or a large ice cream scoop, drop mixture onto hot pan and flatten to about 1/2 inch thickness. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. You don't need to keep adding oil to the pan. It just needs it in the beginning to help them brown.  Makes about 11-12 burgers.
Quinoa is a very healthy grain! It is very high in fiber and is a good source of protein. Read all about the other health benifits of quinoa in this **link**

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Low Fat and Fast Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo!

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and I tweaked it slightly. I've been making this recipe for many years!
This is a meal I love to make when I don't have much time to cook! This only takes about 30 minutes to make! And it's so creamy, delicious and filling! The fact that it's low fat is just an extra bonus! You can use any pasta shape you like! I like to use bow ties because my kids like that shape!

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
INGREDIENTS;
12 oz. uncooked pasta
2 cups chopped broccoli floweretts
2 tbls. butter
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken cutlets - cubed
1 can 98% fat free condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk - 1%
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
DIRECTIONS;
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli during last 5 min of cooking time.
Drain pasta and broccoli. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.]Add chicken and cook until browned, stirring often until liquid evaporates.
Add soup, milk, cheese, pepper and pasta with broccoli.
Cook until heated through.
Serve warm.





Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Italian Style Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

I love hot lunches! I'll heat up leftovers before I'll eat a cold lunch! But when there aren't any leftovers I'll make myself this tasty hot sandwich! I love this because it's quick and delicious! And it's kind of healthy too! Well, except for the butter and cheese...but it does have some veggies in there!
This grilled cheese sandwich reminds me of one of my favorite appetizers...antipasto! So that's what I named my recipe! I hope you like it as much as I do!

Antipasto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
INGREDIENTS;
2 slices white bread
1/2 tbls. butter
1 thick slice of mozzarella cheese
1/2 of a roasted sweet red pepper - jarred
1 marinated artichoke heart - jarred
2 thin slices of hard salami
DIRECTIONS;
Blot dry the roasted sweet red pepper.
 
Slice the marinated artichoke heart in half, then press it to flatten.
 
Melt butter in a non stick skillet over med/low heat.
 
Dip one side of each slice of bread in the melted butter and set aside.
 
Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, in the skillet.
 
Top with mozzerella, salami, roasted red pepper, and artichoke halves
 
Place other piece of bread ontop, buttered side up, and grill for about 2 minutes, pressing down on the sandwich the entire time. Check to see that the bottom is browning. Then flip the sandwich over and repeat cooking process to brown the other side.
 
Slice in half and serve warm.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Easy Creamy Mac n' Cheesy

I've tried sooooo many mac n' cheese recipes! I've tried some with onions...some with dry mustard...some with cottage cheese! I finally decided to mix and match different recipes until I got exactly what I wanted in a mac n' cheese dish! I wanted something super creamy and cheesy but with lots of flavor! This is what I came up with...it's now my 'go to' mac n' cheese recipe because it works perfectly every time! I never have a problem with clumps or dryness! And I love the slight flavor of the mustard! You can add breadcrumbs on top and bake it til browned, if you like a crunchy crust! I don't, because I like my mac n' cheese to be totally creamy!

INGREDIENTS;
1 lb. elbow pasta
1/4 cup butter
12 oz. milk - I use 1%
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tbls. worcestershire sauce
 heaping 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 - 8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
DIRECTIONS;
Cook elbow pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In the empty pasta pot, melt butter over medium heat.
Then whisk in flour, cooking and stirring for a couple of minutes.
Then whisk in milk and continue whisking until it begins to thicken. This may take about 5 minutes. Then stir in chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, salt and pepper. Keep stirring until it thickens again. Then stir in shredded cheddar. When cheddar melts add in the pasta and serve immediately. Or place in a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Then bake in a 350 degree oven til browned. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Meatloaf Muffins!

Lots of my food friends have been making these cute little meatloaf muffins, so I decided to give it a try! You know what? I think I'll make my meatloaf like this from now on because it's so much easier to make and serve in these individual muffin shapes! And I just love the fact that the mashed potatoes are ontop of each meatloaf. I poured brown gravy over the mashed potatoes just before serving! My family loved these! You can use your favorite meatloaf and mashed potato recipe. Below is the meatloaf recipe I used.
Meatloaf Muffins
INGREDIENTS;
2 lbs. 93% lean ground beef
2 large eggs
1 cup of prepared tomato sauce
1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 large cloves crushed garlic
2 tbls. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
DIRECTIONS;
In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients.
Then add in all wet ingredients and mix til well incorporated.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a small 12 count muffin pan.
Evenly divide the meatloaf mix into each muffin portion.
Place the muffin pan on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow of grease.
Bake uncovered on center rack for about 45 - 50 minutes or til full cooked.
Remove from oven and place each muffin on a serving platter.
Top each muffin with mashed potatoes and serve with brown gravy.



My Favorite Cocktail - Homemade!


Red Apple Martini

I just love Red Apple Martinis!!! It's so hard to find a bartender that really knows how to make one correctly!

 Well, a few years ago I was out to lunch with my husband at this cute little seaside restaurant...it was a very casual place! The kind of place that you just drive up to in your boat! Flip flops and a T-shirt is the usual attire!

We walked in and sat down at the bar. The bartender was a very friendly young man, so I asked him if he knew how to make a red apple martini. He said "Yes" very proudly! So I was very anxious to see if he could back up what he said! Then he continued to make my drink!

He mixed a few things into a shaker with some crushed ice and then just did a little shake, shake, shake and poured! It was love at first sip...this was the best red apple martini I ever had! I asked him how he made it and I was so surprised at what he said!

 This red apple martini is...
 1 shot of vodka
 1 shot of  green apple pucker
 and now this last ingredient is the secret...
1 & 1/2 shots of 100% pure cranberry juice!!!
That's what tricks your tongue into thinking you're tasting a red apple!!! And when mixed with the other ingredients it really DOES tastes just like a red apple!

Now I make my red apple martinis at home all the time! Try it... I know you will love it!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Do You Love Almond Joy Candy Bars?

Well, if you do, you'll absolutely LOVE these cake mix cookies! They're so VERY easy to make...20 minutes from start to finish! And they really taste like Almond Joy candy bars! I found this recipe on the Internet. It was posted by a cook named Kimi Gaines. I'm posting the recipe with the changes I made! I couldn't find coconut cake mix, so I used white cake with 1 tsp. of coconut extract. I didn't have pina colada drink mix, so I just added milk. All these changes worked perfectly! These cookies are to die for!!!
 
INGREDIENTS;
1 box white cake mix
1 large egg
1/4 cup corn oil or veg oil
1 tsp. coconut extract - imitation is fine
1/4 cup milk - I used 1% milk
3 full size almond joy candy bars - cut into small pieces
DIRECTIONS;
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well.
Then add in the cake mix and the cut up candy bars. Mix well again.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Drop the cookie batter onto the lined cookie sheets by the heaping teaspoon full, leaving space between each cookie. You should get about 18 cookies.
Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes or til slightly browned.
Remove from oven and let cool before removing the cookies from the cookie sheet.
 
Make sure to have a nice tall glass of cold milk or a nice cup of tea or coffee...and enjoy!



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Three Tasty and Easy Recipes!


Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage
Caesar Salad Recipe
**Click Here**

I love these kinds of recipes because I can make a large meal for my family in a snap! That's what I did with these 3 recipes! I was given 2 packages of  al fresco chicken sausages to use for a brand ambassador assignment! My assignment was to pick any 3 al fresco recipes...make the recipes...rate and review the recipes...and add my photos of the finished dishes! I thought they were all delicious! I'm not a fan of pork sausage, so I was so happy that these were all chicken products!

I served all 3  in one night for dinner and it was a very quick, tasty and filling meal!


Italian Chicken Sausage
Stuffed Portabellas Recipe
I sauteed all the sausage in garlic before I prepared each recipe. Then I just got all the ingredients together and put the recipes together very quickly!
Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
And Tortellini Soup Recipe
**Click Here**
My favorites were the stuffed mushroom and the soup! The salad was very good also, but it's just a salad!
I want to try the al fresco chicken meatballs next time! And I'll also be using their chicken sausage again for Father's Day...I want to make kabobs on the grill with them! Check out their website for more of their products! They also have coupons and other recipes that you may want to use! I know I'll be making these dinner more often!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Exciting Birthday Bash!

I recently found out that I, along with 150 other AllRecipes.com Allstar Brand Ambassadors, are invited to an all expense paid birthday celebration for the AllRecipes website! The website will be 15 years old in July! We are all being flown to Seattle for this fun filled, 2 day, birthday party! It's going to be so much fun to be able to meet all the other brand ambassadors! I can't wait to go back to Seattle! I just LOVE that city!

It has been so much fun participating in the Allstar program! I have a long history with the Allrecipes.com cooking website. I've been a member since 2008...here is the link to my Allrecipes profile page **click here** 

I remember the very first time I saw the AllRecipes website! My teen daughter showed it to me when she was telling me about a recipe she found that she wanted me to try! It was this recipe Black Bean Pinwheels... 

I made them burrito style!
 ...which I have made MANY times since then! Ever since that first moment I laid eyes on the Allrecipes site I was hooked! I just loved the fact that EVERY recipe I could think of, is posted on that site! And I totally fell in love with reading the reviews on recipes, from other members who made the recipes! The ability to add my own photo of the recipes, after I tried the recipes, was another fun feature! I also loved the chat board...it's now called 'The Buzz'! The Buzz is a great place to chat with other members of AllRecipes.com! You can ask questions, talk about what you're cooking or just chat about anything! There is always someone there to talk to! You don't have to wait hours or days for a response! You can get answers in minutes because it's a VERY active cooking site! AllRecipes.com is the most active cooking site on the Internet!

Since I discovered AllRecipes.com my cookbooks have been collecting dust! I have over 200 food photos posted on that site...I've also tried and reviewed over 130 recipes from there! You just can't do that with cookbooks! I've been having so much fun there! And I'm so honored to be included in their birthday celebration!

Monday, April 16, 2012

No Eggs, No Milk, Banana Bread!

That's right!!! I didn't think it was possible, so I tried it! You know what? It is possible...and it's delicious!!! Below is my photo of the banana bread! It was moist and very flavorful! But the best part is how quick and easy it is too...not to mention low fat! The only change I made was to add a splash of pure vanilla extract to the batter. This recipe is from a cook named Pam Wilson McNicol...thank you Pam!
No Eggs, No Milk, No Problem
Banana Bread
INGREDIENTS;
2/3 cup white or brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
DIRECTIONS;
Mash well ripened bananas in a small bowl and set aside.

 
Mix baking powder,baking soda,flour and sugar.

 
Add mashed bananas and oil . Stir well. This batter will be very thick.

 
Spoon ingredients into a greased (or spray with Pam) a 9x5x3" loaf pan or muffin tins.

 
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes for a loaf or 20 to 30 minutes for muffins.

 
Insert a tooth pick to check if done.

 
Optional: I used 1 cup finely chopped walnuts and used brown sugar in place of white sugar. I also added cinnamon to the second batch. I tried both a loaf and muffins. (note) My loaf had to cook a little longer than specified, but it may have been the oven.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My 15 Mintues of Fame!


Well, it will really only be 5 minutes of fame after the video is edited...lol!
 I was recently asked to film a McCormick Gourmet Seasoning Mixes video! It's one of their new products, soon to be released nation wide this spring and summer! The video will be shown on the McCormick website and on Allrecipes.com in June. This was done through my association with the Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador Program...I was chosen along with three other members of that program. The four of us have only known each other online, through the Allrecipes cooking site, but were now able to meet and cook some delicious recipes together using these spice mixes! We had so much fun! With this new product, all you have to do is add a few simple ingredients along with the spice pack, and you have a VERY flavorful meal for your family! I tried the spice mix in the photo above...my whole family loved it! And my house smelled so good while the food was baking! McCormick will be sending me a shipment to giveaway to one of my readers! So stay tuned for that one! I'll post the giveaway as soon as I receive the package from them!
 Here are some behind the scenes photos of the video shoot!

This is Jennifer and I. We cooked together! She is lovely inside and out! I truly enjoyed getting to meet her!

A nice bagel spread for breakfast!

In the kitchen getting ready to cook!




Sitting and chatting!

 Making a video is so much harder than I thought!
But Erik and David were very patient, so it made
the process so much easier!

 
The cameramen setting up a shot!



The finished dishes...YUM!

I'll post the finished video as soon as it's completed! 


 
 











Saturday, April 14, 2012

Go Bold with Butter!

This month in the Allrecipes.com Allstar Brand Ambassador Program we're promoting the 'Go Bold with Butter'  campaign to support the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in partnership with America’s Dairy Farmers! Check out their page for delicious recipes! I tried their 'French Toast with Honey Butter' recipe and it was HEAVENLY!!! The best french toast I ever had! And I just wanted to eat the honey butter by the spoonful! The honey butter would also be yummy on so many other foods...I want to try it on baked sweet potatoes next time! This is a great recipe to serve if you want to impress your guests! It tastes very fancy, but it is so easy to make! Here's my photo of the finished dish...

The recipe makes enough for about 12-16 pieces, so cut the recipe down if you want to make less!
I ate 4 pieces...YUM!!!
 I've loved butter as far back as I can remember! As a child, (3-4 years old) I can remember chomping away on sticks of butter! I would always get about 2 mouthfuls before my Mom would notice and take it away! Around that same time I also remember rubbing butter on my nails to make them shiny...lol! I guess I had a butter fetish! These days I have to be more careful about my butter consumption...everything in moderation! But it's always butter for me...never margarine!

My Remodel! Before and After!

This was original to the house
from 1978
My new vanity 2012
It was a long journey in this vanity remodel job! I thought this was such a small job...it shouldn't be that much of a headache!!! But oooooh, was I wrong! I found the contractor from hell! He was arrogant, condescending and very uncooperative! It was like pulling teeth to try to get him to fix all the mistakes he made! Unfortunately you never find out what kind of person they are until AFTER you hire them! I finally had to let him know who's the boss...so hopefully in one more visit he should be done fixing his screw ups! Some of the screw ups just can't be fixed...like the 2 small holes in my new laminate flooring and the small hole in my new mirror! But he WILL be fixing the problem with the new pocket door...he trimmed off too much from the bottom of the door, so now its hollow underneath! I guess he thought I wouldn't notice THAT screw up! When I confronted him about my discovery, he said that's how the door must have came because he didn't trim off anything from the door! Yeah right...then I'll have to add 'blind' to my description of him! And my paint splattered comforter will be replaced by deducting money from his bill!  But thankfully my cabinet maker did a lovely job, the stone fabricator was very competent as was the plumber and the mirror guy!
Now with this nightmare out of the way, I can get back to focusing on my cooking and food blogging!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who Says You Can't Eat Your Cake and Have it Too?

Well, with this giveaway you can because I'm giving you not one, not two, but three free boxes of Entenmann's Mini Cakes and Muffin Tops! I love these snacks so much that I decided to share them with you! I'll send one lucky winner all three free coupons, (US residents only please) so you can get them wherever you buy your Entenmann's products (not valid in outlet stores)...All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me which one of my blog posts you enjoyed most and why!  One comment per person please! Then I'll pick a random winner using this website 'Random Line Picker' and I'll announce the winner on Friday the 13th...yes, that can be a lucky day sometimes...lol!
Good luck!

UPDATE
Friday 4/13/12

Okay...I just did the Random Line Pick and the WINNER is Peggi!!!!
Congrats Peggi!!!
Send me your mailing address to this email and I'll get those coupons for the 3 free Entenmann's out to you right away!
lilliancooks@yahoo.com

And thank you to everyone who participated...I truly enjoyed reading all your comments!

Lots a Wasa!




I recently received a large amount of Wasa crackers in the mail! I won them in a blog giveaway through a blogger named Becky from 'So Very Blessed'. I love her blog! So, I decided to try the crackers with her recipe for 'Creamy Cucumber Spread'! You can get the recipe from her blog link. Here's my photo of the recipe with the Wasa crackers...
I loved the cucumber spread...the only change I made was to add a pinch of onion powder because I love cucumbers with onions! The 'flatbread' crackers were very good! I didn't care much for the 'crispbread' crackers. They were a little too bland for my taste! But maybe I'll grind them up and add some seasoning to use them as a coating for fish or chicken!
Thank you Becky, for the giveaway and the recipe!

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Improvised Appy...

I needed another appetizer to serve to my guests for Easter! I had mini mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes, pesto, garlic and white bread, so I decided to make these cute little Insalata Caprese Bites! My guests really loved them! I think I'll make them more often!
Insalata Caprese Bites

INGREDIENTS:
sliced white bread, toasted

fresh garlic
prepared pesto, jarred or homemade
small mozzarella balls
grape tomatoes
balsamic vinegar reduction, topping optional

DIRECTIONS:
For the bread squares I toasted some white bread and rubbed each slice, on both sides, with fresh cut garlic. Then I cut off the crusts and cut the toast into one inch squares and just dotted each piece with pesto. I cut each mozzarella ball and each grape tomato in half. Then I just assembled the appy on sandwich picks and drizzled them with a balsamic reduction just before serving. I made about 3 dozen...these were gobbled up real fast!
 

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Food I Wanted To Make For Easter!

I had big plans to make a huge selection of new recipes for Easter this year, but time was not on my side! Between my home improvements and my trip to Seattle, there just wasn't enough time to properly execute the list of recipes I wanted to try! This was the deviled egg platter I've been wanting to make! And here's the link to that recipe...http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/breakfast/egg-breakfast/colored-deviled-eggs.html?p=26

I also wanted to make this pretty rainbow cake!

And I was going to serve this with homemade gelato!

But I will be making this delicious crab spread...

Crab Imperial
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/crab-imperial-ii/Detail.aspx
                                           

I'll also be making smoked ham with mashed potatoes and italian green beans, stuffed mushrooms, tossed salad, spaghetti & meatballs and assorted bakery breads! I'll be having 15 guests for dinner! They always appreciate everything I make, so I know they'll enjoy the meal! 
Happy Easter Everyone! Have Fun & Be Safe!

Just Wanted to Share...

My Seattle trip was so much fun! The Allrecipes staff really showed us a great time! It was first class all the way,  from the room to the food!


Fries in brown gravy with cheese curd
 I think I could be very happy living in Seattle! What a beautiful city! Downtown Seattle was filled with so many delicious places to eat...I just wanted to eat my way through the entire place! I actually almost did...lol!


Salted caramel gelato


Chocolate pecan pie

Crab tater tots

Coconut curry soup


This is just a small sample of what we ate!
Seattle is definitely a foodie town...so I was in heaven!




The views were just breath taking!


And I could have spent the whole day at Pike Street Market! There was so much to see and taste...smoked fish, cheeses, baked goods, teas and spices! 
And the flowers sold at the market were the most perfect looking flowers I have ever seen! 
My friend and fellow foodie, turned tour guide, showed us around downtown Seattle...Thank you Laurie! You're the best!
I'm hoping to go back to Seattle for another visit! We truly enjoyed being there! I will always be grateful to the wonderful staff from Allrecipes.com for this exciting and fun get-away!