Friday, April 30, 2010

24-Hour Cascade Challenge

The players:
(Compliments of Cascade and MyBlogSpark)
Cascade Complete
Corningware Casserole Dish
Blueberries, lots of blueberries
a $25 gift card for Walmart (for a lucky reader)!

I made the Blueberry Crisp from Pat and Gina Neely on the Food Network web site. It has pecans in the crisp. Delicious!

Once we ate the blueberry crisp, the dish sat out for 24 hours. It was looking pretty purple and stained. It was loaded into the dishwasher with the rest of the dishes and one of these:

The results:

It worked well. The dish wasn't entirely void of blueberry but without being rinsed before washing, it was pretty good. Perhaps the greater challenge in that load was the dried on cheese from the enchiladas. Those came out great. I usually have problems with cheese. All in all, I would certainly use Cascade Complete again.

What a fun challenge! Thank you Cascade and MyBlogSpark!

The Legal Stuff:
This product review was based on using complimentary Cascade product provided by P&G. Bloggers also received a Walmart gift card to share with their readers. P&G does not represent or warrant the accuracy of any statements or product claims made here, nor does it endorse any opinions expressed within this blogsite.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

FNCCC Assignment #34 - Sunny Anderson

Sunny Anderson is the featured chef next week. I've seen her show several times and like the way she does things. She has lots of stories to go along with her food as well.

"Sunny is one of the newest additions to Food Network's popular "In the Kitchen" weekend block with her series, Cooking for Real. Combining her approach to classic comfort foods along with her passion for unique flavors inspired by her many travels, Sunny offers real food for real life. She also understands the need for uncomplicated dishes with affordable, easy to find ingredients."
We will post her recipes on Wednesday, May 5, 2010. Only 3 more weeks left of FNCCC! What will you be cooking?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FNCCC Week 33 - Sandra Lee

This week's Food Network chef is Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade. I made the Chicken Souvlaki because I had several of the ingredients on hand. We loved it. Making the pitas on the grill with pizza dough sounded fun but I already had fluffy pitas to use up. I'll have to try it next time. This was a very flavorful meal. I served it with spicy sweet potato fries. My oldest daughter said that the spices really added flavor but not spice (hot). Anytime they see visible spices they freak out so I'm glad that they liked this as it was covered in spices. I really want to try pizza dough on the grill so I'll keep that in mind for next time.
Chicken Souvlaki with Grilled Pita
Recipe courtesy Sandra Lee

Souvlaki Marinade:
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds split chicken breast, bone and skin removed, sliced into 1-inch pieces (I used 2 pounds boneless, skinless)

Tzatziki Sauce:
1 small cucumber, diced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill leaves
1 (8-ounce) container plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt so it was thicker)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce (I did not add because I was feeding kids)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grilled Pita Bread: (I used premade fluffy pitas - not the split kind but the puffy kind)
1 (1-pound bag) refrigerator pizza dough, at room temperature

5 large romaine leaves, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced

(I also added feta to mine)
In large bowl whisk together all the souvlaki ingredients, except the chicken. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons for Round 2 Recipe Greek Flat Bread. (I used all of the seasoning for my 2 pounds of chicken, it was very flavorful). Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Tzatziki Sauce:
In a medium bowl combine all the tzatziki sauce ingredients and set aside.

Grilled Pita Bread (I skipped this but put my fluffy pita in the oven to warm up):
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. On a floured work surface, roll out each portion into 6 to 7 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick.
Preheat a grill pan or grill over medium heat.
Grill the dough for 2 to 3 minutes per side. The pitas should be cooked through but still pliable and not too crispy.
To Assemble:
Put a grilled pita onto a plate, top with some cooked chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and some tzatziki sauce. Repeat with remaining ingredients and arrange on a serving platter.

So what did you cook? Link to MckLinky below.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Works for Me - Summer Writing Journal

I had to think of something to get our first grader to keep writing all summer so I am making her a journal. I am not giving her a blank journal because I don't think the excitement would be there to write faithfully. Hopefully that will come in later years. For now I've got to pull out all of the bells and whistles to make her WANT to write.

I picked out a really cool journal :)

I graffitied the inside cover with an inspirational note from mommy, bible verses, and a cute little picture. I am also trying to work on more bible verses with her so this is a good combination. I know you can buy journals like this (with verses each day) but I wanted to show her that I put a lot of time into creating this, so she feels it is important. I also included a ribbon bookmark (taped it securely to the inside of the back cover) and adorned it with "made with love" charms.

On each page I included:

1. the date (I excluded formal weekends but left a few blank pages in case she wanted to write anyway)

2. a writing prompt or picture that she can write about

3. a bible verse

4. anything special about that day (birthdays, vacations, events).
With the left over pages I made an "Open Space" tab and will encourage her to draw pictures, make lists, tape in mementos, etc. Not only does it foster writing, it will be a great keepsake for summer memories.

I am hoping this works for us!

Check out more Works For Me Wednesday ideas at We Are That Family.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another Necklace

This time I used satin ribbon. I like it better than the other. I might have to remake the other with brown satin.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

FNCCC - Assignment #33 - Sandra Lee

Congratulations to Candi from Family, Stamping and FOOD!, who won the CNS Store giveaway!

Can you believe we only have 4 chefs left in the challenge?

I like Sandra Lee's quick fix philosophy when you need things done quickly and don't have time for everything from scratch. I probably do most of my cooking like this. The background on her is neat.

"Sandra Lee has a passion for simple solutions that create dramatic results in all areas of home life. She is editor-in-chief of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade magazine, a popular television host, and an internationally-acclaimed home and food expert who has revolutionized the way people think about homemade. With her trademark 70/30 Semi-Homemade® philosophy, which combines 70% ready-made products with 30% fresh and creative touches, Sandra is recognized as the foremost advocate to over-extended people. She created the platform to continually supply savory tactics that allows anyone to take 100% of the credit for something that looks, feels and tastes as if it were made from scratch.

Sandra's philosophy was born out of necessity and the challenges she faced throughout her childhood. The oldest of five children, Sandra was responsible for caring for her four younger siblings and managing the household finances. Forced to live on welfare and food stamps, Sandra quickly learned how to turn budget-friendly packaged foods into delicious and special meals for her family while stretching every dollar. These early experiences laid the foundation for what would eventually become Semi-Homemade®. "

We will post Sandra Lee's recipes on Wednesday, April 28, 2010. Can't wait to see what you choose! Enjoy the rest of your week~

We Have a Winner

Congratulations Candi! You are the winner of the $30 to any CSN store! Go wild :)

True Random Number Service
Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:10
Timestamp: 2010-04-22 09:06:23 UTC

Thank you CSN Stores! Your variety is amazing!

The 24-Hour Challenge

The Challenge (for ME!):

1. Bake a blueberry cobbler. Enjoy!
2. Set the empty baking dish out for 24 hours.
3. Without rinsing, put it in the dishwasher with Cascade Complete.
4. Blog about your experience.

The Rewards (for YOU!!)

One of my readers will receive a $25 Walmart Gift Card. On May 2, 2010 I will post about my challenge results using Cascade Complete and will pick a winner from that post.

Stay Tuned!

The Legal Stuff that mostly pertains to the review post:

This product review was based on using complimentary Cascade product provided by P&G. Bloggers also received a Walmart gift card to share with their readers. P&G does not represent or warrant the accuracy of any statements or product claims made here, nor does it endorse any opinions expressed within this blogsite.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Cupcake Picks - Happy Secretary's Day!

Have any administrative assistant's in your life? Celebrate - it's their day!

FNCCC - Week 32 - Robin Miller

I hadn't heard of Robin Miller before this week but I'm glad I did. I found a keeper in her Minestrone Soup with Pasta, Beans, and Vegetables. It was a snap to put together (int he crock pot!) and had excellent flavor. I was out of Parmesan so topped it with an asiago mozzarella mix. Everything else I did exactly as written. I'm OK that my older girls didn't eat it because I can't wait to eat the leftovers myself. The baby loved the beans, carrots and pasta. It would work well as a veggie soup - just leave out the pasta. This is definitely going into my recipe box.

Minestrone Soup with Pasta, Beans and Vegetables
Recipe courtesy of Robin Miller

3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups cooked ditalini pasta (subbed macaroni)
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Basil sprigs, garnish, optional
In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Garnish with basil, if desired.

So what did you cook this week? Link your post to MckLinky below. You still have time to enter the giveaway - I'm picking the winner tonight. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Wordless Wednesday - Beach!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cupcake Picks

I got the ideal from Cake Journal and made them my own. I cannot for the life of me find the scalloped circle punch. I liked how they turned out and will be making many more.
I have pictures of them in the cupcakes on SarahBakes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I thought I got a free pass from allergy season this year. There's been big talk about how bad it is for whatever reason and was so excited that this year was not my year for allergies....until this week. It started with a sore throat and has developed into a sneezefest. This all would be good and fine except I have had three children the old fashion way and have not done the prescribed Kegals. Sneezing, the trampoline, and jumping jacks are my enemy. Can you relate?

FNCCC - Assignment #32 - Robin Miller

Next week's chef is Robin Miller. "Robin has fifteen years of experience as a food writer and nutritionist and is the author of the bestselling cookbook Quick Fix Meals. She is the host of Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller. " I haven't seen her show but was impressed with the recipes that I took a look at. The first to pop up was Peanut Butter and Jelly Swirled Ice Cream with Vanilla Cookies. Interesting.
We will post Robin's recipes on Wednesday, April 21, 2010. Can't wait to see what you are cooking!
If you haven't entered the giveaway yet - go HERE to enter! The giveaway ends on April 21.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FNCCC Week 31 - Robert Irvin

Food Network's Robert Irvine was this week's chef for FNCCC. He had a ton of recipes but I really had a hard time finding one I wanted to make. Too many meat dishes and I had a 10 pound bag of potatoes to use up. SOOOOOO, his scalloped potatoes made the cut. Not sure it would have worked if I followed the recipe, as the milk measurement seamed SIGNIFICANTLY small. I added left over Easter ham to make it a full meal.
My girls didn't like it but my husband and I thought it was good. I am enjoying the leftovers. Yum!

School's Out Scalloped Potatoes
Recipe courtesy Robert Irvine with Brian O'Reilly
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 large white onion, diced (I didn't have an onion - gasp - so used onion powder and I really liked it....I would even use it again!)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or rice flour to make the dish gluten-free)
3/4 (????) cup milk (*****I used 3 and 3/4 cups.....not sure how you make a white sauce for this many potatoes with 3/4 cup milk - and 1/2 flour****this has got to be a typo)
White pepper (never have white pepper but need it enough that I should get some)
Dash salt (be careful because there is salt in the cheese)
3/4 cup shredded white Cheddar
4 to 5 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/8 cup finely sliced white parts scallions, for garnish
1/8 cup bread crumbs for topping (omit for a gluten-free dish)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an oven-to-table baking dish with some of the butter.
Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan or small skillet and saute the onion until it becomes translucent. Gradually add the flour to make blond roux, then slowly add the milk and allow the mixture to thicken. Season with white pepper and just a dash of salt and remove from heat. (Be careful to avoid overdoing the salt, because there is salt in the cheese.)

Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the baking dish, followed by 1/3 of the milk sauce, and 1/4 cup of the shredded white Cheddar. Repeat the sequence twice for a total of 3 layers. You can top with the breadcrumbs before baking, but omit if making the dish gluten-free. Bake covered for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, removing the cover for the last 10 minutes. (You can speed up the cooking time by pre-microwaving for 10 to 15 minutes before baking, or even par-boiling the potatoes.) ***I had to cook it a lot longer. My potatoes might not have been sliced as thin as they should have.

The scalloped potatoes are done when the potatoes are tender. Let rest a few minutes before serving. Garnish with sliced scallions and bread crumbs.

So what did you find to make? Post your recipes in MckLinky below. Can't wait to see what you are cooking! Go enter the giveaway while you are at it :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Necklace

I finally learned (YouTube) how to make close knots next to the bead. :) I should have used satin ribbon so it lays one I will.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

FNCCC Assignment #31 - Robert Irvine

Go enter the $40 giveaway HERE!

"As host of Dinner: Impossible on Food Network, Chef Robert Irvine serves stunningly creative dishes both for intimate gatherings and for huge crowds, all without warning and at a moment's notice. On the show, he has cooked on a desert island, in an 18th Century kitchen, in an Ice Hotel, for cowboys on a cattle drive, for master instructors at the Culinary Institute of America and at the Inauguration of Pennsylvania's Governor.

A native of England, Irvine joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15 and his skills in the kitchen soon came to the attention of his superiors. As part of his service for the Royal Navy, Irvine was selected to work on board the Royal Yacht Britannia where the Royal Family and their entourages regularly dined. During his time training US Navy chefs as part of a guest chef program, Irvine worked in the White House kitchens and his creations were served to high-ranking government officials."
I've seen his show a few times and it's amazing what he comes up with, with the lack of resources and time. I love to watch this sort of challenge. He has around 650 recipes at the Food Network site. We'll be posting his recipes on Wednesday, April 14, 2010. I hope your recipes don't turn out Impossible! Can't wait to see what you're cooking~

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Easter Baskets

Waiting for the egg hunt!
Easter 2010
Don't you love family self-portraits?
When my husband and I were dating we had tons of self portrait pictures.....we have now brought them back.

Enter my $40 CSN Stores giveaway HERE!

FNCCC Week 30 - Rachael Ray

Yay! It's Rachael Ray week! I made Scuderi Kids' Fast, Fake-Baked Ziti Recipe. It is wonderful with the tomato sauce and the white sauce (with a hint of nutmeg). It freezes very well. I admit that I have been making this recipe for a few years now. It's not new for me. I love it!

Scuderi Kids' Fast, Fake-Baked Ziti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)* If San Marzanos are not available, add a teaspoon sugar to your sauce, optional
A handful fresh basil leaves, torn
1 pound ziti rigate, with ridges
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
A generous grating nutmeg
2 cups whole
1/2 cup shredded asiago
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella
bread, to pass at table
Put pasta water on to boil.
In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, saute garlic in extra-virgin olive oil. Chop whole tomatoes and add them to the pan. Add crushed tomatoes and salt and simmer 10 minutes, add basil and simmer over low heat 10 minutes more.
Add salt and pasta to boiling water and cook 6 minutes, leaving pasta a little chewy.
While pasta cooks, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook 1 minute, adding salt and pepper and nutmeg to flour. Add milk and bring sauce to a bubble. Reduce 5 minutes.
Drain pasta and transfer to a large casserole dish. Pour the tomato and basil sauce over the pasta and turn to coat the pasta. Pour the bechamel over the already coated pasta. Cover the top of the pasta with Asiago, Parmesan and mozzarella. Place the casserole under hot broiler and melt the 3 cheeses until brown and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately with Spinach and Artichoke Salad and bread.

I can't wait to see what you have been cooking! Link your post into MckLinky below!
The $40 giveaway is HERE. Please go enter so you have a chance at some great kitchen gear of your choice!

Isn't this was my daughter's second was smiling at her :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

FNCCC Assignment #30 - Rachael Ray and Giveaway Starts Next Week

Next week's Food Network's Chef Cooking Challenge chef is Rachael Ray! She is everywhere these days....magazine, talk show host, cookbooks, cookware.......I could go on and on. 30 Minute Meals was one of the first shows I watched on FN. I would love to be sitting on one of the barstools on the side of her set so I could sample everything she cooks! She has close to 2000 recipe links on the Food Network site so you are sure to find something to cook, if you don't alreadyhave something of hers in your recipe box. I love that most of her stuff has a ton of reviews. I have been finding these helpful when choosing recipes. Let's face it, we are all now well aware that FN doesn't always proofread (maybe even proof-cook) the recipes.

Starting next week I am also going to start a giveaway. CSN Stores is offering one of my readers up to $40 towards any item from their sites, including! has a TON of things that all of you cooks would love. For each FNCCC you have participated in you will get an entry. For those of you that don't participate, but love to read about what all of these lovely cooks are cooking, you'll be able to play as well.
We'll post Rachel Ray recipes on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Be sure to count how many times you have posted to FNCCC! See you then :)