February 28, 2009

*Speed Giveaway* My Fruit Roll-Ups

The fine folks at BlogSpark gave me an opportunity to try General Mills new "My Fruit Roll-Ups" These things are great! You get a box of 30 strawberry fruit roll up snacks that are designed by YOU! You can add your own pictures to be printed on the roll ups, making these snacks truly individual and unique. I could see these being great for birthday party favors or classmate treats for school. The possibilities are really endless.

This is the roll-up I designed with pictures of my 3 kids:

I tried to get an actual photo of the snack, but it wasn't working so well. I have to say I was impressed with how good the photos looked on the snack. My kids loved them! I think these would be great for a multitude of different special occasions.

This is what I'm going to call a "Speed Giveaway" because you only have until 11:59pm EST tonight (2/28/09) to enter. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here and tell me how you would design your own fruit roll-ups if you win! PLEASE REMEMBER TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT, so that I can contact you, if you are the winner. If I have no way to contact you, you will be disqualified. Tomorrow morning (3-1-09) I will announce the winner here :)

The lucky winner will receive a code by email that can be used on the "My Fruit Roll-Ups" website to design their own box of 30 personalized fruit roll ups for absolutely FREE!

Good Luck!

February 27, 2009

*Review* Amano Artisian Chocolate~ Jembrana Bar

I few weeks back I was given an opportunity to try a delicious new chocolate because of BlakeMakes.com's "Sooper Hero" program. If you have a chance, you should go take a look at Blake's website... he's one very ambitious foodie and a great guy!

I was sent a Jembrana 70% Dark Chocolate Bar, made by Amano Artisian Chocolate.

This was a beautifully packaged 2 ounce bar that would have been perfect for gift-giving. I was really impressed with the artwork on the package. These little details, I believe, are what set a company apart from the others within their field. As soon as I had the package in my hands, I could feel that I has something special.

After I received the bar, I took a couple of days to figure out what to do with it. Two ounces isn't really enough to do a whole lot with so I decided I would take out one square for "naked" taste testing and use the remainder of the bar to make a single cup of hot chocolate using the recipe from the Amano blog.

I have to say, this chocolate is *really, really* good. It's gentle but has just a hint of spice. It's rich, smooth and unique. I detect an oh so subtle honey flavor as it melts seductively on my tongue. There is a note of vanilla, but nothing that overpowers. It's a well balanced chocolate. Dark but not what I could call bitter. It's delightful and surprisingly different than the chocolate I've had before. I would definitely purchase this chocolate for making a chocolate mousse. I think it would be really divine.

Made into hot chocolate, the Jembrana shined! It was one of the best cups I have ever had. Smooth and creamy and delicious. After my cup was gone, I was rather sad I didn't have more chocolate to make another cup... with some Bailey's Irish Cream. Really satisfying. Perfect.

Something unique about the Jembrana bar is that it is the world's first chocolate made 100% from beans from Bali, Indonesia. Also, Amano chocolate has a wonderfully rigid "single origin guarantee" that promises the chocolate comes from where they say it does and is as pure as possible. I find that impressive. Good chocolate, good practices... I like it.

Hot Chocolate
Kitchen Note:I havled this recipe.
4 ounces (2 bars) Amano 70% Dark Chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Milk to taste (usually 1 - 2 cups)
Sugar to taste (usually 2 - 4 spoonfuls)

Chop up the chocolate and melt it in the double boiler, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is melted remove it but keep it handy nearby.

Put the cream in a bowl and heat it until it just barely starts to boil. Don’t let it cook longer than that!

Pour the cream over the chocolate and mix with a whisk until smooth.

Put the bowl back on the double boiler, stirring constantly.

I typically add a spoonful or two of sugar here as well. However I know many people like 1/4 cup or even more. (I like mine a little dark — too much sugar overpowers the flavor of the chocolate)

Slowly add milk (either whole or skim) to taste. I usually do 3 parts milk to 2 parts ganache. But you might like yours either lighter or richer. I suggest adding the milk a little at a time. I typically add 1/4 cup and then mix it, wait for it to warm, and then add the next 1/4 cup and so forth.

As I said this is a recipe you ought to adjust to your taste. Consider adding a teaspoon of vanilla or a little dash of cinnamon, cardamon, or nutmeg. I will sometimes put slivered chocolate or whip cream on top.
*Makes 2 servings*

February 24, 2009

February "Favorite Things" Giveaway!

I know February is almost over, but I am squeaking it in just under the wire... and boy am I *thrilled* about this giveaway! Honestly, of all the giveaways I've done... I think this is the one I am most excited about.

Why? Because this product is going to completely change the way the winner thinks about something that we use every day and that for most of us is a huge part of our eating life. Seriously! It's made that huge an impact on me and I am convinced it will you too.

So what is it? This book:

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
By Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

The lucky winner of this giveaway will get an autographed copy of this amazing book! The simple methods outlined in this wonderful book will have you making pitas, English muffins, soft pretzels, chocolate-filled beignets and a host of other delicious breads and treats in no time.

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois also have a companion blog to the book at ARTISAN BREAD IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY. Here they give even more information and ideas and are available for questions you might have as you start out on your bread making journey.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with the reason you would like to have this book. Make sure to leave your e-mail address so that I have a way to contact you, if you're one of the winners.

As a bonus, you can earn up to 2 more entries by 1: Twittering about this giveaway with a link back here. 2: Posting to your blog about this giveaway with a link back here. If you do Twitter or post, leave an additional comment on this post with the link showing where you Twittered or blogged about it and you'll be entered again for the giveaway!

This giveaway will end on Tuesday, March 3rd 2009 at 11:59pm EST. I will pick the winner with the help of Random.org on March 4th, 2009 and will announce it here!

Good Luck!

February 23, 2009

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Blue Cheese and Basil Compound Butter

The other day the Honey wanted steak (again!) so I wanted to do something to make it a little more exciting. Steak is always good... but we eat it fairly often and the usual ribeye on the grill gets a little boring to me. So, I decided to make up a compound butter using what we had on hand and it turned out SO delicious! Basic, but wow did it make that steak sing! I made a fairly large amount... more than we could use for one meal, so the next day I took the leftover butter and tossed it was some hot penne pasta... and it was *really* good. It made a wonderful side dish... so wonderful in fact that I will make too much of this butter again the next time, just to use on some pasta :)

Also, I would highly recommend getting your hands on a flat iron steak... this was my first time cooking with it and it was *really* good. Normally we are ribeye and filet people, but the flat iron steak was excellent. (And more economical to boot, always a good thing these days!)

Blue Cheese and Basil Butter
1/2 pound unsalted Irish butter, softened. ( I used Kerrygold brand)
8 oz good quality blue cheese at room temperature. (I used Maytag blue cheese)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley.
2 cloves garlic minced very finely.
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Mash the butter and blue cheese together with a fork until well combined. Add in chopped basil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well. Transfer mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log, wrap the log well in plastic and refrigerate until firm. When you are ready to serve, cut the log into 1/2 inch thick coins. Serve atop hot steak and allow to melt.

February 19, 2009

Pomegranate and Blood Orange Refresher

A couple weeks ago I received some I.O. Organic Sicilian
Blood Orange Juice
in the mail to sample, so my Honey and I decided we'd use the juice to make some cocktails. We sampled the blood orange juice on it's own first and thought it would combine nicely with some Pom Wonderful juice that we already had in the fridge. Add a little Sprite and some Vodka... and we had a very happy "Happy Hour" at our house!

This drink was tart and bold, and the Sprite added just the right hint of sweetness to the mix. Vodka was all we had in the house at the time, but I think you could have used either rum or gin and it would have been equally delicious. All in all it ended up to be a very nice, refreshing cocktail to enjoy on a quiet weekend at home. I can totally see this being a great drink in the summer... it's cool and a bit on the sour side, definitely a thirst quencher.

1 part blood orange juice
1 part pomegranate juice
2 parts citrus soda
1 part vodka

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake well. Serve over ice.
Drink. Enjoy. Yum.

Winners! Banana Nut Cheerios Gift Basket!

With the help of random.org 3 winners have been chosen as the lucky recipients of a fabulous gift pack!

Our first winner is "darkfire007" who said "I love cheerios!!! nom nom nom."

Our second winner is "Saltinajo (Tina)" who said "Oh man. I love banana flavored stuff."

Our third winner is "mom2boys" who said "I usually have a bowl of cereal and a banana. This cereal sounds real yummy."

Congratulations to the 3 winners and thank you to everyone who entered! Stay tuned... I have another wonderful giveaway coming up soon!

I will be contacting you 3 winners by email today to get shipping information!

February 13, 2009

*Giveaway* Banana Nut Cheerios Gift Basket

I was recently given the opportunity to try the new "Cheerios Banana Nut" cereal by the fine folks at BlogSpark. They sent me a wonderful gift basket of items and asked me to try out the cereal and share my thoughts with my readers.

Now, I have to admit... I am not much of a cereal eater myself. However, I do purchase cereal regularly for my 3 children and my honey. So, this morning I sat everyone down for breakfast and we all tried the Banana nut Cheerios instead of our usual breakfast selections. My 3 children absolutely *raved* about them and even asked for seconds! My honey thought they were good, but he still prefers his usual granola cereal. I tried them too and thought they were quite good despite being banana flavored. I am known for not liking banana flavored anything! I would say that the Banana Nut Cheerios got a 5 "thumbs up" from my family.

The thing I liked the best about this cereal is that they are a good source of calcium and Vitamin D, and are made with whole grain. Good stuff! And any parent knows what a wonderful thing it is to find a food that your kids like that is good for them too.

Now the exciting part of this post!!! The folks at BlogSpark are allowing me to give away 3 of these wonderful gift baskets to my readers! These gift baskets contain a banana tree with fruit basket, bread loaf pan, a set of two cereal bowls and a VIP coupon for Banana Nut Cheerios cereal. I absolutely love the banana tree and the loaf pan is a really large, heavy duty pan. Perfect for baking any kind of bread you can imagine.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with what you usually eat for breakfast in the morning. Make sure to leave your e-mail address so that I have a way to contact you, if you're one of the winners.

As a bonus, you can earn up to 2 more entries by 1: Twittering about this giveaway with a link back here. 2: Posting to your blog about this giveaway with a link back here. If you do Twitter or post, leave an additional comment on this post with the link showing where you Twittered or blogged about it and you'll be entered again for the giveaway!

This giveaway will end on Wednesday February 18th, 2009 at 11:59pm EST. I will pick the 3 winners with the help of Random.org on February 19th, 2009 and will announce them here

Good Luck!

February 11, 2009

*Review* Quaker True Delights Granola Bars

The other day I got a package in the mail from Foodbuzz that contained a generous selection of Quaker's new "True Delights" granola bars for me to try out.

These bars would make a great healthy snack on the go since they only contain 140 calories per bar and are cholesterol and trans fat free! They also contain 3 grams of fiber, which is something most of us could use more of in our daily diet.

My favorite was the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond. It was chewy, moist and packed a flavorful punch. There was a LOT of chocolate and raspberry flavor and I could easily see myself eating it as a dessert... as it was rather sweet.

The next I tried was the Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut. I thought this one was really a little too sweet. Also, I am not big on banana flavored anything, so I wasn't so keen on this one. However, that said... my son adored it! Again, the bar was chewy and moist and had a lot of flavor.

Lastly, I tried the Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry. I love cashews and I liked this bar well enough. The berry flavor was nice in combination with the honey roasted nuts. Another very sweet bar with that same chewy, moist texture. Not bad at all.

Quaker's True Delghts granola bars come in boxes of 5 and retail at about $3.49 per box. If you'd like to try one of these new and tasty bars yourself, you can go here for a free sample!

February 5, 2009

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Another one for the "quick and easy" files! Super simple to make and can be assembled ahead of time and baked when you're ready for dinner. In fact, I think it is even better made a day in advance. The flavors get a chance to mingle and the tortilla soaks up all the yummy goodness from the sauce. I also find that it cuts into squares much more easily when it's been made ahead, refrigerated, and then baked the next day as opposed to assembling it and baking it in the same session. This is very flavorful, but not too spicy for the kids. Certainly you can kick it up a notch with hot sauce, if you like :) A dollop of sour cream is a great addition as well.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole


1/4 cup butter
1 med. green bell pepper, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cans (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (10 oz.) Ro*tel chopped tomatoes (see notes below)
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 small can chopped black olives
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
18 corn tortillas, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 cups (12 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream to garnish

Notes: Ro*tel tomatoes are chopped tomatoes with green chilies added, if you cannot find Ro*tel, just get regular chopped tomatoes and add another can of green chilies.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F* In a large saucepan, cook pepper and onion in melted butter, until tender-about 5 min. Add soup, Ro*tel, olives and chicken, stirring until well blended. In a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, alternately layer tortillas, soup mixture and then cheese, repeating for 3 layers, ending with cheese. Bake 40 min. or until hot and bubbling. Serves 8