Cooking with Chef’d + a Giveaway

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Do you or someone in your family LOVE cooking gourmet meals from scratch?  Do you love to cook but don’t always have the time to do it?  Or do you love cooking but hate braving the stores to buy all those must-have ingredients for a fresh, gourmet meal?  Then today’s post is definitely for you!  This month my family and I had the opportunity to cook fresh gourmet style meals at home with Chef’d!  Chef’d is a service that delivers fresh ingredients right to your door, helping you to make delicious meals that your family loves.

When you visit their website, you will have access to over 300 recipes!  Then just select the recipes you wish to purchase, along with the date when you’d like for your meal plans to be delivered, and voila, you will receive an awesome box filled with everything you need to make those delicious meals.  One thing I loved about Chef’d is that they had great variety of meals; they have recipes for a variety of dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten-free, etc.)  And they have a lot of fancy, gourmet foods to fit anyone’s tastes.  But they also had a number of simple, family friendly meals, which is what I love to cook! Let me tell you a little bit about my experience with the company. [Read more…]

Summer Grilling with Smithfield® BBQ Ribs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HogWildThrowdown #CollectiveBias
Summer Grilling with Smithfield BBQ Ribs

For my family, the summer grilling season never really ends. My husband will grill out no matter what kind of weather we’re having, but he’s certainly glad the summer season is almost upon us!  We grill a number of different meats from burgers and steaks to pork tenderloins and pork ribs.  A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed some Smithfield® pork ribs.  A lot of people say that cooking good ribs is difficult, and many are even intimidated by it, but my hubby always manages to cook the most delicious, mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone ribs you could ever want!  Today I’m going to reveal some of the secrets of how he does it! [Read more…]

Ranch Pizza & Tips to Freshen Up Your Spring Menu (+ A Giveaway)

This post is sponsored by Naturally Fresh® Brand Dressings. The opinions are my own. #NaturallyFreshRecipe

Ranch Pizza and Tips to Freshen Up Your Spring Menu

In the winter time, I love my soups, casseroles, and comfort foods, but I love the opportunity that spring time brings to freshen up our menu! We get to embrace fresh ingredients, eat a little lighter, and enjoy new things.  Today I’m sharing tips on how you can join me and freshen up your menu this spring, and I’ve got a quick and easy recipe for fresh Ranch Pizza! [Read more…]

5 Tips for Menu Planning Success

Have you ever struggled to get dinner on the table?  Have you ever felt like your head was spinning after being asked the question, “What are we having for dinner?”  Has the subject of dinner ever started an argument in your house?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably need to start menu planning!

Now before we start, I have to confess that I am not a die-hard menu planner.  I don’t spend a lot of time making out a plan, and when I make a plan I like to leave myself some wiggle room.  Sometimes things come up, and we just don’t have the time or frankly, we don’t feel like cooking!  I also reserve a right to change my mind and my husband reserves a right to change his mind, and when that happens, we divert from the plan!  BUT…overall I find that the week goes a lot smoother when I have a menu planned out.

On one hand it’s good to know what I will be cooking each day, so I can properly schedule my cooking around the day’s events.  Secondly, by making a menu plan, I can ensure that I have all the groceries I need for the week.  (No more eating out, because we’re missing key ingredients!)  Third, I can actually save money on my groceries, because I will only buy the items on the list I’ve made, and the list is based on my menu plan! [Read more…]

Flash in the Pan: Making Restaurant-Style Pan Sauces

“This post is from Instawares restaurant supplies company, a B2B ecommerce site that specializes in commercial kitchen equipment for home and business.”

Sauce pan

One of the most skillful cooks in a good restaurant is the “saucier,” a specialist in making sauces. He – or increasingly, she – is often the highest-paid member of the kitchen staff, after the chef. The saucier’s skill makes the difference between a good dish and an outstanding dish.

 Some of these sauces are prepared right in the pan after the entree is cooked. Chefs describe them as “a la minute,” a French phrase meaning they’re made to order each time. Informally they’re called pan sauces because they use the bits and juices left on the pan. Pan sauces taste impressive and they’re easy to make with a bit of practice. Here’s how to make a pan sauce with lamb chops. The same basic technique works for any other pan-seared entree.

 You need to prepare a few useful ingredients in advance. The most important is some broth to provide the body of the sauce. Make lamb broth if you have the chance or use commercial beef broth. Try to find a brand with low salt. Simmer the broth until about 1/3 of it has evaporated, then freeze it in quarter-cup portions for later use. Another useful ingredient is red wine or dry sherry, simmered down to a thick and syrupy consistency. It adds a lot of flavor without diluting the sauce.

 Sear the chops in the hot pan to brown and crisp the surfaces. Then reduce the heat slightly and cook the chops medium-rare. Browning is important because that’s where the sauce gets most of its flavor. Take the chops out of your skillet and set them aside to keep warm under a loose cover of aluminum foil. Pour a splash of red wine into the pan and swirl it around. Let it reduce down to about a spoonful, then add a quarter-cup of broth.

 Stir the pan vigorously with a wooden spoon or a silicon spatula, scraping the bottom to lift up and dissolve the browned-on juices from your lamb chop. Bring it to a quick boil and let the sauce reduce to concentrate the flavors. Taste the sauce as is simmers. If it needs more flavor add a few drops of the concentrated wine.

 The natural gelatin from the broth will thicken the sauce as it simmers. Test it periodically by dipping a spoon into it. As long as the sauce drips from the spoon it’s too thin. You’ll know it’s thickened enough when it coats the back of the spoon and slides off in a wide sheet, rather than individual drops. Finish

the sauce by dropping a half-teaspoon of cold butter into the pan and swirling or whisking it in. Butter gives the sauces added richness and an attractive sheen.

 For a restaurant-style presentation spoon the sauce over your chops and drizzle a small pool of it in a semicircle around the plate.

9 Essential Kitchen Tools to Help You Stay Healthy

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Photo Credit

Staying healthy in today’s fast food culture is a tall order. There is simply too much to do and too many convenient food options to choose from when you are feeling rushed. However, even as life gets busier, some people are choosing to return to the basics for the extra energy life demands. Cooking at home and using healthy, whole ingredients not only tastes better, but it feels better too. If you are new to cooking or are just learning, you might not have many tools and gadgets at your disposal. This handy guide can help you identify and acquire the tools foodservice experts rely on for delicious and healthy meals and snacks. [Read more…]

The Gift of Whirley Pop

Whirley Pop

If you are looking for a last minute gift idea for the home cook who has everything, consider giving them a Whirley Pop popcorn popper.   Everyone loves popcorn, right?  And they will especially love some freshly popped popcorn for movie nights.  With the Whirley Pop popcorn popper, movie nights are even more fun!

The Whirley Pop  is a hand-cranked stove top popcorn popping.  And it is also fast and easy to use:

1. First time use: Season the Pan
2. Once you are ready to pop, add 1/2 Cup Popping Corn and 1-3 T Popping Oil into the Whirley Pop
3. Place Whirley Pop on burner and set heat to Medium – Medium High
4. Hold the wooden handle with one hand, and slowly turn the crank with the other. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes or until you only hear an occasional pop or the crank becomes difficult to turn.

To make movie nights and parties even more fun Whirley Pop also sells fun supplies like popcorn bags and tubs.  And when it comes time to party or just snack around, you don’t have to stick to the buttered popcorn, because they offer the supplies you will need to make all sorts of flavored popcorns with your machine.  Their flavors include chocolate, caramel, red cinnamon, blue raspberry, grape, and cherry pink.

And for even more fun gift ideas and movie fun, Whirley Pop offers all kinds of party packages, which include a variety items like popcorn making supplies, seasoning, popcorn bowls, snack trays, movie size candies,  and more!

After Christmas you can also check out Whirley Pop for birthdays, weddings, housewarmings, and corporate gifts.

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Blog Mania 2012 Giveaway

I’m really excited to be participating in Blog Mania 2012.  What is Blog Mania, you ask?  It is a fun giveaway hop, opening on April 25, where about a hundred bloggers are getting together to giveaway prize packs worth $100! Very exciting stuff!

For my giveaway today I’ve got a prize pack worth $110 dollars and featuring 3 fabulous sponsors! Check it out!

[Read more…]

Eco-Foil Review (and Giveaway Preview)

On Wednesday night, I’ll be posting my Blog Mania giveaway, and one of my featured sponsors is Eco-Foil.  They make 100% recyclable aluminum bakeware.

As someone who does a lot of baking, I was super excited when I got the chance to do review their products and share them with you.

[Read more…]