Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Love These Beverage Dispensers!!!

                                                   
I just received this one yesterday as a free gift in a giveaway from this blog site...Dine and Dish...you can read about it there! It's a fun blogsite written by a freelance writer and mother named Kristen! She's also a very talented photographer...her food photos always make me drool! Check out her blog for lots of great recipes and giveaways! 

This is a very nice dispenser because it's glass and holds 1.6 gallons! It's from OverStock.com and you can get it at a very reasonable price!

When my 2 girls were young, I would fill these kinds of dispensers with lemonade for their 'Lemonade Stand'! They would sit outside selling lemonade for HOURS!!! They made some pretty good money too! 

Now I think I'll be getting lots of use out of this for my new favorite drink...Smooth Sweet Tea! Check it out in this post I did recently...'Seis de Mayo'...or maybe I can fill it with my favorite homemade cocktail...'Red Apple Martinis'!

Thank you so much Kristen, from Dine and Dish!
I know I'll be getting lots of use out of my prize!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thank You Allrecipes.com

We were greeted with this banner as we stepped out of the elevator!
I had such an amazing and fun filled 2 days at the Allrecipes.com 15th Anniversary Party in Seattle on July 26th and 27th! They were generous enough to send their 'Brand Ambassador's out to their headquarters for an all expense paid anniversary celebration! 70 of us were flown there from all parts of the country! It was epic!

We all had gorgeous rooms at the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle.
The view from my room!

Most of us were meeting in person for the first time! We usually only know each from chatting on the Allrecipes website. So this was a dream come true to be able to talk face to face! And we talked...and talked...and talked! The time flew by way too quickly! But we all have great memories to last a lifetime! This is the kind of event that you never forget!

The food was first class all the way!Prepared by an on site chef in the Allrecipes kitchen...I just LOVE that kitchen!!!

And look at this custom designed
ice fountain! The drinks  flowed freely the entire time!



I even had a little fun at Pike Place Market!
One of my favorite places in downtown Seattle!
It's a foodie paradise!

Thank you so very much to all the employees at Allrecipes.com who worked so hard to organize the enormous event!





Monday, July 23, 2012

Handy Dandy Giveaway!

I have a couple of helpful kitchen products to giveaway to one of my wonderful readers! This is the 'Original Dish Drying Mat' and a 'Quickie Original Glass & Mug Sponge'. One item to help you wash dishes and one to help you dry them. Check out this video for more info on the dish drying mat. It's a pretty cool item.
Here is a photo of my dish drying mat. But his name isn't Mat...it's Tony! Isn't he cute? But he doesn't really dry dishes...my dishwashing machine does that! I woke him up from a deep sleep to pose for this photo! Not only is he cute, but he's such a sweetie! Okay, enough mushy stuff!

To enter this giveaway just tell me who is the most helpful person in your kitchen! Whether it's an everyday helper or just an occasional helper. Maybe someone who just cleans up at parties! And if YOU are the only one who does the kitchen chores, mention that! Give yourself a pat on the back for a chance to win a mat! I love rhymes!

One entry per person. US residents only please.
 Giveaway ends July 29, 2012 when I'll announce a winner. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. I'll be using this site to pick a random winner... 'Random Line Picker'
Comeback here to see if your a winner or you can leave an email address and I'll contact you.

 Thank You and Good Luck Everyone!

July 29, 2012
The Winner of this Handy Dandy Giveaway is...
Jemima Puddleduck
Congratulations!!!

Thank you to everyone who joined!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Spontaneous and Perfect Outing!

Don't you just love it when you do something spontaneous and everything works out perfectly! Well that's what happened on this day! The stars were aligned and all was good with the world!

After dinner, my hubby asked me if I wanted to go see the sunset at our favorite beach. We do this often on nice days in the spring and summer.We didn't have much time though because it was 6 pm and we would have to leave the house by 7 pm if we wanted to get there in time to sit and relax as the sun went down! So now the rush was on!

 I thought it would be nice to bring along some homemade sangria. As luck would have it, we actually had a bottle of wine in the fridge that my neighbor Mike gave us...he makes his own wine. My kind of neighbor! He also has a great sangria recipe! Again...my kind of neighbor! So we gave Mike a call...YAY, he was home, and he gave us the recipe. I had just about everything needed to make Mike's sangria...except for oranges and peaches. But then I remembered that I had some fresh squeezed orange juice in the freezer. And I also had some leftover canned peach syrup in the freezer too. I know, I keep the strangest things in my freezer. But it can come in very handy at times, as it did this time!


Mike's Sangria Recipe
One bottle of wine, one apple-sliced, six strawberries-sliced, two tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (instead of orange slices), two tablespoons canned peach syrup (instead of peach slices), 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup brandy.
Then I thought it would also be nice to bring some popcorn instead of buying it at the concession stand. I love eating popcorn while watching the sunset. So I looked in the pantry and way in the back, behind some old snacks that no one wanted, was one lonely little bag of microwave popcorn...and it was 'light butter' our favorite! Some how the kids must have missed this!

So I made the sangria and the popcorn, packed up our tote bag, grabbed a beach blanket and camera and we made it out the door in PERFECT time to get to the beach for the sunset.

The weather was lovely...cool, dry and bright skies! And to our surprise, there was plenty of room on the beach to spread out the blanket! Lots of people usually show up there for the sunset. But not this time! Again, perfect!

So we sipped our sangria and munched on our popcorn as we watched the sun go down over the Long Island sound. Even the seagulls behaved and left us alone. Ahhh, life is good!

And I even snapped a perfect picture! Now if I could just plan spontaneous, perfect moments like this...




Friday, July 20, 2012

Fabulous Foodies

There are so many times that I stumble upon great food blogs. And I'm so appreciative of the creator of those blogs! I know how much time and effort is involved in posting information onto food blogs. Making or finding amazing recipes...photographing the food...writing about the food and then posting the blog in as many places as possible for maximum exposure! It can sometimes feel like a full time job!  Today I want to honor those bloggers for all the work and passion they put into every blog post!


Here are my recent picks for 'Fabulous Foodies'...





And here are the links to some of my friend's 'Fabulous Foodies'  blogs! They know that I think they're 'Fabulous' but I want to show YOU who they are...







Please feel free to grab the 'Fabulous Foodies Honor' badge to display on your blog and pay it forward to your favorite "Fabulous Foodies"




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sauteed Radishes Taste Nothing Like Raw Radishes

I'm not a big fan of raw radishes because of their spiciness. Well, when I sliced them and sauteed them with butter and garlic, the radishes were transformed into these lovely mauve medallions of flavorful tenderness! It was like magic! They tasted nothing like raw radishes. The taste was very similar to sauteed cauliflower. I've made these many times, serving them as a side dish with grilled meat or serving them on top of buttered pasta with grated cheese. These are so easy to prepare!

Ingredients:
9oz. bag  raw radishes...serves 2
2 Tbls. butter
2 large cloves garlic-crushed


Directions:

Wash and slice the radishes into thin disks. Sauteed them in a skillet on med/high heat with 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 large cloves garlic(crushed) and salt and pepper to taste. I cooked them until they were very tender. The longer you cook them the sweeter they become!

Whether you're a radish lover or not, I think you'll love this recipe!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saturday Morning Syrup

You will wish every morning was Saturday morning with this syrup on the table! I never thought to make a breakfast syrup with liquor until I saw this recipe! Any liquor of your choice can be used. For my syrup I used cream sherry. And I served it over strawberry waffles...so VERY good! And so easy to make!
Saturday Morning Syrup

INGREDIENTS;
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup of your favorite liquor

DIRECTIONS;
Heat sugar and corn syrup til dissolved.
Add liquor. Allow to simmer at least 3 minutes.
For a thinner syrup add more liquor.
For a thicker syrup add more sugar or cook longer.
Cool mixture in fridge to thicken.

Recipe from GroupRecipes.com

I found this recipe on the GroupRecipes cooking site, posted by a cook known as Reecespieces.
She's made this many different ways by using Irish Cream, Coffee Liquor or Amaretto or Hazelnut Liquor.

This can not only be used on breakfast foods
but drizzled on dessert cakes as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cute and Delicious Cucumber Snacks

I love cucumbers! And I love finding new ways to serve them. They're crunchy, refreshing and a healthy snack.

I recently started using cucumbers to make my own pickles from leftover jarred pickle brine. I mentioned how easy it is to do that in this post...'Recycle Your Pickle Brine'

So now I was hungry for new cucumber recipes and came across these next two ideas.
Cucumber Cream Cheese Bites

These were very tasty! The recipe called for cream cheese and herbs, but that wasn't good enough for me, so I added feta cheese and bacon bits into the cream cheese mixture along with fresh chopped basil and parsley. This was just what I was looking for! It was creamy, crunchy, tangy, herbaceous and a little smokey from the bacon bits! You can flavor the cream cheese to your liking. It's easily customizable. I'll be making these again for my next party. Here is the link to the original recipe **Click Here** 

Cucumber Carrot Flowers


And these cute little creation were fun to make! They're from this blogger...'Anna the Red'  She made these to be used in bento boxes. But my daughter just dipped these in salad dressing and ate them. This is a good way to get little kids to eat their veggies! My daughter loved them. And she's not even a little kid! How could anyone, at any age, not like these. Even my husband thought these were cool!

I hope you'll think of these ideas when your looking for ways to use cucumbers!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Roasted Marshmallow Frosted Cupcakes

This is such a great way to frost cupcakes when you don't have regular frosting...plus it's so quick to do and tastes great! You just place a marshmallow on top of each cupcake during the last 5 minutes of baking. They will melt and become brown. I'm not a big fan of raw marshmallows. The more brown and gooey the better. I usually let my marshmallows light on fire when roasting them on a campfire or barbecue. I just love the burnt, smokey, sweet flavor! But for these cupcakes I didn't go that far. Just let them get as brown as you like.

I found this idea here...**Recipe Link**

Give it a try the next time you make cupcakes!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Baked Parmesan Truffle Fries

These fries are something I've been craving and researching for a very long time! I first had to find the perfect truffle oil. And that was no easy task! There are so many varieties. I didn't want a low quality truffle oil, but I also didn't want to remortgage my house to buy a high grade version. Then I had to decide if I wanted white or black truffle oil. I decided on the white because it's a milder taste. Sometimes black truffle oil can taste like what burnt rubber tires smell like. Well, that's if you could taste a smell. But I guess you can taste smells because one of the ingredients in this white truffle oil is 'truffle aroma'. I wonder how they captured the aroma and put in the bottle? This oil was pretty good for the price...only $10 for 3.38 fl.oz

My next step was to find a great recipe. Again, no easy task. There are a ton of truffle fries (or is it 'fry') recipes out there. I know I wanted baked fries with parmesan cheese on top, so that narrowed it down a bit. But I also wanted a very 'easy to make' recipe. You would be so surprised at how so many cooks make this so difficult. I found this recipe **Click Here** and it seemed to be the easiest. I tried it and loved it...then I tried it a second time, but I made it even easier because I didn't soak the potato slices in water for 30-60 minutes. And since I didn't soak them, there was no need to pat them dry. So I saved 2 big steps. The fries turned out exactly the same as when I did those extra 2 steps. I also saved a cooking step because I didn't turn the fries over during baking. What a pain that is, turning each individual fry...or is it 'fries'? 
These fries were perfectly browned and crispy, as you can see in my photo above.

 Maybe the key to my success was that I used this round, black, non stick, pizza pan. And I baked them in my convection toaster oven at 425 degrees for only 35 minutes. Not 50 minutes as stated in the above recipe! They would have been totally burnt if I baked them for 50 minutes!  All I had to do was give the pan a 1/4 turn every 10 minutes so they would brown evenly.

So now I can EASILY have baked truffle fries whenever I crave them!
Which is a good thing because there aren't any restaurants near me that serve these...what's up with that, Long Island?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Easily Peel Hard Boiled Eggs!


I am so in love with this little trick! I've been making LOTS of hard boiled eggs lately because my daughter is on an egg salad sandwich binge. I was having such a hard time peeling the eggs. I even bought this contraption, that I blogged about recently, to avoid peeling eggs...**Click Here** Then I Googled 'How to easily peel hard boiled eggs' and found this video that shows a super easy method! **Click Here For Video**  Thank you Google...I love you so much!!! In that video the guy does a cool thing with the hard boiled egg...go take a look!

I asked some food friends if they knew of an easy way, but most of them said to 'not' use fresh eggs. The older the eggs the better. But I don't want to wait for my eggs to get old... well actually that's already happening because I'm 52. Too much info? So this video was a blessing to me! I actually did a little happy dance when that egg (shown above) peeled so VERY easily!

So next time you make hard boiled eggs remember to add 1 tsp. of baking soda to the pot of water, then come back here and tell me how wonderful I am for passing along this wonderful tip to you!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Smokey Tuna Casserole

My husband has been asking me to make a tuna casserole since we were newlyweds! I just didn't like the idea of eating warm, canned tuna fish with pasta...YUK! He said his mother made it all the time when he was young and it was delicious! Sorry, still not sold. I just gagged at the thought of  it!

Fast forward 22 years and here I was staring at 2 cans of tuna fish that have been taking up valuable pantry space for about a year. I had plenty of leftovers in my fridge but just not enough for our family of four plus my 18 year old daughter's boyfriend. So I decided to make a tuna casserole for my hubby and kids. I was definitely not going to eat it! I would eat leftover pizza instead.

I started looking at various tuna casserole recipes and landed on one that sounded perfect because I had all the ingredients needed to make the recipe. I found the original recipe on my favorite cooking site, Allrecipes.com. I loved that it was a quick and easy recipe also. Then I made it even easier by cooking everything in one pot. I boiled the egg noodles and peas together, then drained it and set it aside. Sauteed the garlic and onions in the same pot used to cook the egg noodles and peas. Then added the cheese and remaining ingredients. Then added back in the cooked noodles and peas. All done in one pot! YAY!

I tweaked the recipe by adding liquid smoke and garlic. I think this was the key to making it a food that I would actually eat! I think I would eat almost anything that had a smoked flavor! I gave it a little taste test and ended up loving it! It was cheesy and creamy and smokey! All the things I love! The tuna flavor was very mild. This recipe definitely cured all my tuna casserole fears! I will be making this often!


Smokey Tuna Casserole

INGREDIENTS:
1 (12 ounce) package egg noodles
2 cups frozen green peas
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken
2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
1 tbls. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic - crushed
10 slices American processed cheese
1 tsp liquid smoke
ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and frozen peas. Cook until noodles are al dente, drain well. Set aside. Saute onions and garlic in the pot with 1 tbls butter. Saute until tender.
Then add the soup, tuna fish, processed cheese, liquid smoke and pepper into the pot with the sauteed onions and garlic. Stir constantly until all of the ingredients are well mixed and the cheese has melted. Add the cooked noodles and peas. Mix well. Serve warm.
 



 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Almond Joy Ice Cream

I love Almond Joy candy bars! I once tried a recipe called 'Almond Joy Cake Mix Cookies'...they were VERY good!
So it was only natural that I try to make Almond Joy Ice Cream! And I'm so glad I did because it was Almond Joy heaven! It tasted just like the candy bar! My family totally loved it! I took this ice cream recipe that I tried recently 'Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream' and tweaked it to make my Almond Joy ice cream. With a few simple changes I had a completely different ice cream flavor. I guess the 'mint chip ice cream' recipe can be the base for many ice cream creations! Give this creamy cold dessert a try! I think you'll love it as much as I do!
Almond Joy Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS;
2 cups milk - I used 1%
2 cups heavy cream - I used light cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips - semi sweet
1/2 cup roasted almonds - crushed
shredded coconut - optional garnish

DIRECTIONS;
In a large bowl mix together all ingredients except for the chocolate chips and the crushed almonds.
Pour into ice cream machine and follow manufactures instructions for making ice cream.
Add the chocolate chips and crushed almonds after the mixture starts to thicken.
When ice cream is done spoon into a container and freeze for about 2 hours before serving.
Serve with shredded coconut ontop for even more coconut flavor.


UPDATE
June 8, 2013

I took the advice of my friend Lori who commented below about combining the two above recipes to create
'Almond Joy Ice Cream Sandwiches'.
I'm so glad I did because these were outstanding! 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly


Hot Pepper Jelly with Cream Cheese
I was so happy to find this recipe for 'Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly' on the 'Averie Cooks' blog. I've never tried canning and I'm a little intimidated by the whole idea of boiling food in jars. But with this recipe you don't do any of that. You just mix together sugar, apple cider vinegar and finely chopped peppers in a pot, ontop of the stove. Then you let it boil until it reduces in half (about 25 minutes) and pour it into a jar. Place it in the fridge. When it chills it becomes thick. That's it! How easy is that?

This tastes just like the hot pepper jelly I would buy in stores. But this is much less expensive to make than to buy. It cost me less than $4 to make 12 ounces. That's 1/3 the price of store bought!

 I love to eat it with cream cheese and crackers. This jelly can also be used with chicken and pork recipes for sweet and sour dishes.

The important step in making this recipe is to make sure to reduce the liquid by at least half or else you won't have a nice thick jelly. Here is a video link to show you an easy way to reduce liquids when cooking **Click Here** I used a wooden spoon handle as a guide because I didn't have popsicle sticks. I wrapped a rubber band around the handle at the liquid line, so that I could keep track of how much the liquid reduced. Worked great!

This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of jelly.
The recipe can easily be cut in half if you want to make less.
Always store in fridge. Should last several weeks.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Addictive Blog Award

I was recently honoured to be chosen for 'The Addictive Blog Award' by a sweet and talented blogger named Didi from the 'Dishin with Didi' blog! I'm also addicted to her blog because she is an amazing cook...and so freakin adorable! Go check out her blog and you'll see what I mean!

My reason for blogging was to be able to share all the best recipes I've found and tried from various cooking sites and blogs. When I try a new recipe and it turns out to be delicious, it's like finding a gem! And I want to share all those gems with other cooks!

Now it's my turn to show you my 10 'addictive blogs'...I actually have much more than 10, that I'm currently addicted to, but I'll stick to the rules!


Thank you so much Didi! I'm so thrilled that I made your list of addictive blogs! You truly made my day! I hope you'll always be addicted to my blog.
(((HUGS)))







 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Art Smith (Oprah's Chef) Cookbook Giveaway

I love Art Smith. He's an amazing Chef and cookbook author. I also love his cooking videos. He is so down to earth and makes food that is simple and easy, but can be elegant for entertaining! Check out his videos *Here*
I'm giving away his 'Cooking with Crispbread' cookbook and package of  Wasa crispbreads, so that you can try some of his recipes for yourself! This cookbook is not available in bookstores! Art Smith made this cookbook exclusively for the Wasa company. So the only way to get one of these cookbooks is through Wasa giveaways!

To enter just comment on this post telling me which of my blog posts you've enjoyed recently! USA residents only please. One comment per person.

I'll pick one winner randomly using this site "Random Line Pickeron July 9, 2012

Good Luck and Have a Happy 4th of July!

Giveaway is now closed...I'll be announcing a winner today!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I'm happy to announce that the winner of the Art Smith Cookbook and Wasa Giveaway is...
Devine Salvage
Congratulations!!!

Please email me at the email address listed in the 'About Me' section. Please send me your name and address so that I can send your prize out right away!

Thanks again to everyone who entered! All your comments were very appreciated! I truly enjoyed reading them!






Monday, July 2, 2012

Creamy Easy Crock Pot Mac n' Cheese

A view of my crock pot...I love the plastic crock pot liners!
I love to try new mac n' cheese recipes because just when I think I've found the perfect one...another great one comes along! I never made mac n' cheese in a crock pot before, but it's so much easier than making it on the stovetop. No more constant hovering over the stove to make the cheese sauce. With this recipe you just slightly pre-cook the pasta (3 minutes) and then just dump the remaining ingredients into the crock pot, mix well, then add the pre-cooked pasta. Set the time for 1 1/2 hours on low and just stir once after 45 minutes. This makes a perfect, creamy, cheesy, mac n' cheese! I think the green onions are a must because it just gives you another layer of flavor!

I found this recipe on Pinterest, but I'm posting it the way I made it. I tweaked some of the ingredients and I made the directions a little easier.
Crock Pot Mac n' Cheese

INGREDIENTS;
2 cups uncooked elbow pasta
2 Tbls. butter
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream - I used fat free
4 oz. cream cheese - I used fat free
1 1/2 cups milk - I used 1% milk
1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
2 green onions - chopped

DIRECTIONS;
Cook pasta for only 3 minutes, You want the pasta to be very al dente. Drain and set aside.
Mix all remaining ingredients in crock-pot. Stir to combine thoroughly.
Add in the al dente cooked pasta. Stir to combine again.
Then set crockpot on low, cover and let cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Stir after 45 minutes. Stir again before serving.
Top with chopped green onions.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fried Green Potatoes...Not Tomatoes!

The potatoes aren't green...the spinach is! This is my version of hash browns! I love the flavor of fried potatoes with bacon, onions and spinach! It's important to get a nice crust on the potatoes.
Fried Green Potatoes

INGREDIENTS;
2 large potatoes. I used Yukon Gold, shredded, rinsed well and squeezed dry.
Flour - just enough to dust potatoes
2-4 slices of bacon
1 small onion-minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
5 oz. fresh chopped spinach (frozen is also okay, just thaw and squeeze dry)
DIRECTIONS;

  • In a large non stick skillet over medium heat, cook bacon til crisp. Remove bacon, leaving drippings in skillet.
  • Saute onions in drippings til tender.
  • Add spinach and cook til wilted.
  • Crumble bacon and add back to skillet with shredded and flour dusted potatoes. If skillet is too dry add a little olive oil.
  • Add salt and pepper. Then mix everything together til well blended.
  • Spread mixture to cover bottom of skillet in a thin layer. Press slightly and let cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Cut this mixture into 4 equal pieces and flip each piece.
  • Cook another 5 minutes.
  • Then toss and break up sections to cook the inside of the mixture and brown really well, about another 2-3 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust salt if needed.
  • Serve warm.