Friday, April 4, 2014

Sweet Treats made easier with Reynolds Kitchens

This month was an awesome treat... cooking with Reynold's Kitchen I've used Reynold's Foil and Parchment Paper for years so I knew this would be terrific assignment. Its always good when get to work with great products.

We were asked to make a couple of recipes using Reynold's Parchment paper products.   They sent along a roll and something I hadn't used before.I loved loved LOVED working with these sheets. Easier to deal with that the roll, but just as non stick

Precut Parchment sheets
 The first recipe I made was Ashley and Whitney's Popcorn and Pretzel Sweet Snack Mix . The recipe calls for almonds and cranberries to be added to popcorn, pretzels and white chocolate, but I found a trail mix that was wonderful.. so I added that instead. I used Archer Farms® Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix - which is a mix of almonds, cranberries plus.. golden raisins, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Oh have mercy was this stuff good!! Sweet, salty, crunchy and smooth... all at the same time. a perfect snack which can be customized with nuts, fruits and even different chocolate.... oooh peanut butter chips too!! I took this to work and it vanished. I gave a bag to a friend who is a personal trainer and her bag didn't even make it home.. she ate it on the car and didn't share any with her hubby!!

A bowl of addictive deliciousness
The next recipe I tackled was  Karen's Rolled Sugar Cookies. I love cookies. If I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, I think cookies would be in the top five. However I rarely make rolled cookies because they can be a royal pain in the butt.. flour everywhere, sticking to the rolling pin, dough flying... etc. The recipe suggests rolling the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper, so I tried it. OMG. It was like a miracle. I feel like such a big dummy for not thinking of this, but using this to roll out the dough has changed my view forever on rolled cookies. Yes they take a bit more time between chilling and rolling, but when you want a good cookie, sometimes you have to roll. I also used the parchment to wrap the dough and chill.  The cookies came out great and I used a tie dye effect to give these an Easter feel.

Tie Dye Easter Treats
I had some leftover tril mix from the popcorn so I saved some of the sugar cookie dough, kneaded in the trail mix, rolled the dough into a log, chilled, sliced and baked. Another winner... will definitely do this again

Almost Healthy cookies!

I enjoyed working with the Reynold's products and will be buying the pre cut sheets from now on

Check out more delicious recipes Reynolds®  or their facebook page Reynold's Kitchen

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Reynolds Kitchens. I received a sample to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heart Healthy Yumminess - Win Win!

This month we got to partner with  Mazola® Corn Oil  and make some recipes with their Heart Healthy Mazola® Corn Oil.

The first recipe I tried was Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce 

A plate of deliciousness
This was a really terrific recipe.. delicious and easy. The great thing about this recipe is it can just as easily be made in a crock pot... just sear the meat and then toss it in the slow cooker for a few hours. I liked that this was in chunks rather than shredded as this was a different way to eat it, but you could easily shred this too. The only thing I will do different next time is use pork tenderloin instead of shoulder. I found the shoulder to be a little too greasy for me... but it was delicious!  The tomatillo salsa was good as well.. I added a bit of salt and it was great. Since I cannot eat raw fruit and vegetables, I cooked the salsa... great this way.

The second recipe I made was Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa

Made into a burger,, yum
I had some salmon burgers in the freezer so I decided to use those. The rub was stellar on the salmon and it cooked perfectly. I really liked the flavors. Due to a possible medication interaction, grapefruit could not be used so I subbed oranges.  I have to say for my taste, this had far too much red pepper in it and I did taste the salsa raw and cooked... didn't care for it either way. I'll make the salmon again, but not the salsa

As far as the oil itself, it has a nice light flavor and it was a nice change from the canola and olive oil I usually use. I was surprised to learn new research, sponsored in part by ACH Food Companies, Inc., shows Mazola Corn Oil lowers cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil.  Corn oil lowered LDL cholesterol by 10.9 percent compared to extra virgin olive oil’s 3.5 percent reduction, making corn oil more effective.  Keeping my LDL in the heart healthy range is one of the reasons I have been using olive oil for years so this was nice news... another oil that I can add to my diet

Since I had this nice big bottle of oil, I decided to check out some other of Mazola's recipes on  I decided to make this one this past weekend Slow Cooked Chipotle Chicken

Slow cooker easy peasyness
This was yummy and creamy and had a nice spice to it. My only substitution was Greek yogurt for sour cream. The recipe calls for cooking this on HIGH, which I found unusual but it came out fine. You could also cook this on LOW for 5-6 hours and it would come out just as tasty.

If you are interested in these recipes or any others check some out here  Mazola recipe collection on  Mazola also has a Facebook page Mazola® Corn Oil - check them out

Being heart healthy has always been important to me due to family history and as I get older it becomes more important. My father passed away 27 years ago from a heart defect and my uncle was just sent to the hospital four days ago with a heart attack.  Healthy eating ( most of the time) lots of cardiovascular activity and stress reduction (HA) are all important components to living a long and healthy life, so I try to make sure I hit on all areas.  I put HA next to stress reduction as that is still something I struggle with. I've picked up yoga, but I gotta tell ya.. it hasn't relaxed me yet. :D  I also wear a Fit Bit to track my daily activity, steps and sleep.  It's a lot of fun and I am having a friendly competition with a bunch of new Fit Bit friends to see who can nail their targets the most often.

Oh one last thing I do for my healthy heart... I have the love of a furry companion. Recent research has shown all sort of health benefits from living with a fur baby Cats are good for your health

So give your kitty and hug and a kiss on the nose because they are keeping you healthier.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mazola®. I received a sample to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating

Sunday, November 17, 2013

So I HAD to try the Dorito bread.....

Those of you that know me, know I thrive on the unusual. Nothing is more fun to me than trying a new and unusual recipe or creating one of my own. So when I saw this How to make Dorito Bread , I knew I had to try it.   Almost everyone likes those...

I decided to use my favorite Ciabatta recipe as a base - have to put my own spin on this, ya know.

I made the starter on Friday night and let it do it's thing until Saturday evening.

Full of ferment-y goodness
Then I got down to business of making the bread. oh boy! I mixed up the milk and the yeast and let that sit , then added the rest of the items

Since I do not have a big powerful mixer, I only mixed in one cup of flour using my hand mixer

Then I kneaded in the rest

And then of course I missed taking pictures like a big dummy but I covered it and let it rise for a couple hours.

Then the fun part

I used the chopper attachment of my immersion blender worked great

Got 2 cups of Doritos, all ready to go

I realized the bread was pretty stiff and was trying to figure out the best way to get the chips in.  I divided the dough in halves and then sorta smooshed them flat. Smooshed is a highly technical term

Then I piled the Doritos on and kneaded them in

And tada... a finished Dorito bread.. ready for it's second

Once it rose for the second time, I baked it for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Then it was time to make the Dorito butter. I again used my immersion blender chopper attachment. Chopped up the Doritos fine, added in the butter. and blended

Blopped it onto some saran wrap

Then flinged it around to make a log - chilled

And here is the final product - Dorito Bread with Dorito butter

This tastes pretty good.  What would I do different? Well, the video shows using a stickier bread and I think that is easier to work with I've had good luck with this bread Tomato Pesto Batter Bread  so I would use this one, but leave out the basil and tomatoes and add the Doritos instead.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Taco Triumvirate

Tacos.... just the word brings back memories of dinners when I was a kid. Taco night was always a fun night at my house. Mom made tacos, rice and beans . always using the free Lawry's seasoning mixes we got from a friend who worked for them. Tacos were fun to make, fun to eat and I cannot ever remember anyone being in a bad mood on taco night. Even now when I have tacos, it make me smile... go figure.  Even my cat likes them

OK so this isn't really her but she likes them too
One of the neat things I get to do as a Brand Ambassador for Allrecipes is try some really delicious products. Not all are wonderful, but there have been some terrific finds. A month ago we got a chance to try bison from The Bison Council I had always wanted to try it and was excited to get the chance. I really wanted to try the ground bison but I got to the recipe list too late to get one of those recipes. 

The other day I was at the store and saw ground bison... on sale!  Oh boy I grabbed a package right away and came home to think about what I could make with it. I thought about some of the other brands we had gotten to work with that I had really liked and decided to try matching some of these brands up into a yummy meal.

So here is what I started with
Bison, Herdez and Sargento
I loved the Herdez Cooking Sauces when we tried them several months ago and also loved Sargento Cheese so Bison tacos wasn't a stretch at all.

I crumbled the bison up in a skillet, sauted until brown, added about half a jar of the Herdez Guajillo Cooking Sauce and let it simmer about 10 minutes. I used La Tortilla Factory hi fiber tortillas, shredded lettuce, tomatoes... and instead of sour cream I used greek yogurt.  A truly yummy satisfying dinner..

Gone.. very quickly!
I think these brands need to discuss a partnership because my dinner was awesome. I'll use all of the products again.. and make these tacos often.

Monday, November 4, 2013

And it was a Frenzy.......

This past weekend, I cooked my butt off. With a group of other Allrecipes Brand Ambassadors and site users, we gave more than 300 recipes on the Allrecipes site a picture.. It was an online mob scene.. a faceless frenzy!

How we all looked after slaving away in our kitchens

It began Friday morning at 12:01am and went until 11:59pm Sunday. This gave everyone a chance to participate in the fun.. and fun it was!

Here are the recipes I did:

Tasty interesting dish... It usually is steamed so has a sort of a firm custard texture

These had a very strong peppermint taste.. too strong for me so after I topped with a glaze, I sprinkled with some chopped up semi sweet chocolate. The texture is very cake-y so unless you like cake like cookies, add some nuts of something to change the texture. The thinner rolled ones were less cake like and I preferred those

Nope, nope, nope. Didn't like at all. The recipe, as written came out to nothing but a bowl of crumbs, I added eggs which gave a good dough, but these are really tasteless and boring. Skip them

I haven't tried these yet as the recipe directions state they need to sit for a week to allow flavors to blend. While I don't think I'll be able to let them sit that long, I am going to let them sit a few days. The black pepper was an interesting addition. I do admit cutting it back a bit as I added some, tasted the batter and found it spicy enough for me

I didn't want to make these into bars since little bites are easier for people to eat so I made them in a mini muffin tin. While these aren't spectacular as made per the recipe, this is a good base recipe for adding things.... which is really needed

I liked these. I did use real rum instead of extract. The flavor was nice and I do think some ground up hazelnuts would be awesome in the cookie dough.

These made a nice light crispy sugar cookie. Nothing superb, but tasty.

I must say I preferred the dough before it was baked. Afterwards, I think the nutmeg had mellowed too much and was not strong enough. If you make them, do not bake until brown as the texture is not as good and bump up the nutmeg

The BEST cookie of the day! The cornmeal gives these a really nice texture and taste. I liked these a lot.  Five stars!

Boy these were a pain in the ass!. I prepped the dough and let it chill for 24 hours. Took it out, and started to cut them... CRUMBLE!!  Argghh. I didn't have time to add anything and rechill so I added an egg and then put the dough in mini muffin cups. When it came out of he oven and was still hot, I made an indentation in the dough for the jam. The cookies are very tasty... not overly sweet. If you make these, add egg or eggs to the dough before you roll so they don't fall apart on you

I though this tasted nice. I think this is better served as a dip for a toasted baguette rather than a chip dip. It's more of a  "make your own mini sandwich" type of dip... but I liked it

Why these are called Canadian and Tea Biscuits was a topic of much discussion  lol. They really are a cheese biscuit and a very nice one too. I plan on serving this with soup.

And here is the soup that will get the tea biscuits.  Lots of nice veggies, a little chicken. I left out the barley since I cannot eat it and tossed in a little sweet potato. I haven't tried this one yet as I always make soup a day in advance to get flavors to marry. Dinner tonight!

I had seen this recipe many times and decided it looked too "boring" to make.  I needed a veggie soup this week so I decided to forge ahead and could always tweak it later. Wow Big surprise. This is delicious as is. I added more shredded zucchini and really enjoyed this soup a lot! Will make again as it is very easy and quick, as promised by the title. A food processor makes quick work of the shredding

I have been wanting to try TVP for quite awhile but never seemed to find the right recipe. I stumbled upon this one and it looked like it was a good way to give this a try. I used fresh spinach and added some red pepper flakes. The texture was good but it needs help in seasoning department. If you make this, add your seasoning and then cook up a tiny piece in a frying pan to check taste. Adjust as needed until you get it right. I made in small loaf pans to freeze leftovers

My last recipe and my dinner last night. I used the last of my bison pepperoni from a previous assignment and really enjoyed this. Quick, Easy and healthy... I used high fiber whole wheat tortillas. YUM. Will add some veggies next time.

So today I am resting and recuperating from the madness (and the fun). The dishes part sucks but the rest of it is terrific.  I have food for the week, my co-workers will be getting a lot of cookies, Allrecipes gets some new pictures to hopefully entice people to make new recipes and I got to spend some time with friends. A win-win situation.
We have a whole Pinterest board of the recipe made so if you are curious, take a peek November 2013 Faceless Frenzy  This is, I think, the fourth time I've participated and each time you learn something new and find a few jewels. I'll definitely do this again... but not tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A fool and his sausages are soon parted.

Touch my sausages and die!
Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all it's flavour.”    

William Cowper

This is true about a lot of things.. new adventures keep me from getting bored and I always learn something new. My favorite adventures are food related, of course.. Trying a new restaurant, new method of cooking or a new food.  I seem to get stuck in the "boneless, skinless chicken breast" rut and always enjoy it when I break out of that.  This month Allrecipes partnered with Johnsonville Sausage for the second year in a row and this meant I got to eat yummy sausages!!  These are the two I decided to work with : Mild Ground Italian Sausage and Chicken Sausage Chipotle Monterey Jack Cheese

Mild Ground Italian Sausage
Chicken Sausage Chipotle Monterey Jack Cheese

The first thing I made was this Easy Sausage Pizza by Johnsonville®   and I used the ground Italian sausage in this dish

Easy Sausage Pizza by Johnsonville®
 I added mushrooms just because I like them.... a really delicious easy dish that would lend itself to any veggies or cheese you like. The sausage is so flavorful, you don't need to add any spices to the dish

I had some leftover ground Italian sausage so I tried it in another recipe Spicy Breakfast Meatballs

Spicy Breakfast Meatballs
I used the sausage with ground turkey and it was really good.. Had this for dinner a few nights and really enjoyed it. Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner???

Last night I cracked open the Chicken Chipotle Sausage and made Fettuccine with Roasted Tomatoes, Vegetables and Sausage

Fettuccine with Roasted Tomatoes, Vegetables and Sausage
Another winner... all this needed for me was some fresh cracked pepper and a little pink sea salt. Roasting veggies really changes their flavor so if you've never tried it, give it a whirl. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The sausage itself was delicious, and since it's made with chicken, it's a healthy and lighter choice.

I am really happy to have had the opportunity to test Johnsonville recipes. I had never used the product before but now, when I need sausage, I look at this brand first