Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella…Oh My!

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I have never been a fan of tomatoes.

Something about the mushy inside with all those seeds.

However, I am a great big fan of anything tomato-based – as long as it isn’t too chunky. Give me a thick, seasoned homemade pasta sauce any day!

I was feeling a little on the adventurous side a few weeks ago when I went to Panera Bread for dinner with my husband. I usually get the bread bowl filled with their delicious broccoli and cheddar soup and he gets the same soup with a panini. This time, I chose their Tomato & Mozzarella Panini and I was instantly in love! Granted, I did pick out MOST of the tomato, but the bits I did leave in were an added boost of flavor that my mouth truly enjoyed.

So on that note, I challenge you all to be a little adventurous this week – try something new that you would have otherwise dismissed when eating out. Or pick up a new fruit or vegetable in the store to take home a try a new dish with. You just might be surprised!

 

I found a similar sandwich to that amazing Panini from Panera Bread to share with you guys. You can easily make this at home, and maybe even with those amazing treats you are probably growing in your garden this spring?! Check out this recipe and more at bestfoodcloud.com.

If you are like me and are not a fan of tomatoes, I made this delicious sandwich using VERY  thin slices and cutting out those seeds that I don’t like. You can also try using a pasta sauce as a substitute…or just grabbing that delicious panini over at Panera!

Either way, I hope you enjoy!

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My Invention was Created! No…!

Have you ever had a great idea for a product that you want to invent?

I had a brilliant idea a few years back that I talked about with my friends and family during a BBQ. We were making some bacon on the stove top while the burgers were cooking on the grill. Normally, when I am through with cooking something with lots of grease, I allow the pan to cool before wiping it in to the trash can. But when you have little kids over, I get worried they will burn themselves before it is cooled.

I remember discussing this dilemma and hearing others tell me how they deal with the leftover grease when cooking. The truth is, nobody had a sure method for disposing of their fats. And in the 21st century, we don’t tend to save our fats like they did years ago for future cooking.

So I came up with this idea for a clip on pour spout that fits on all pots and pans. Everyone thought the idea was amazing! The only problem is, I didn’t ever follow through (like most of us with our great invention ideas!) with it.

So imagine my surprise when I got an email from a friend telling me she found the product! Someone else has invented the single most amazing idea the world will ever come to know! Conceited a bit? Why, yes, I am…I am so brilliant!


While I am bummed out that I am not reaping the rewards that this is surely making, I am excited that I am now able to purchase the item, the SILPOURA, for my own kitchen grease needs!

Not only are they marketing this product for grease, but also a bunch of ideas I never considered such as pouring cupcake batter, straining vegetables or rice, pouring pancake batter on the griddle and more!

I my excitement is contagious to all of you as well, I imagine these good folks with have an increase in sales from readers soon! Order from the link above, or I found it on Amazon as well!

Just a note – I am not being paid to write this post, nor have I tried the product myself just yet… just sharing excitement over someone creating my invention! I am ordering it for myself soon!

Fruit and Veggie Storage

With the New Year just around the corner, I like to start re-evaluating my home. I look around each room and find items I no longer use, and areas of my home that seem to need more organization.

Piles of assorted odds and ends are a good sign that a specific part of your home (or life!) is a little out of control. What better way to start the new year than a little extra organization?!

Near the beginning of this year, I dropped and broke the beautiful dish I kept on the counter full of fruit. When it first happened, I looked around in a few stores to see if I could find a reasonable replacement. When I didn’t, I guess I got used to the idea of a pile on the counter (so tacky!) and storing the rest in the fridge.

With the end of the year just over a week away, I am determined to organize my fruits and veggies! If you are in need of the same, here are some great, fun and modern options:

 

This hanging nest-type basket looks great and is so practical! It is especially nice for kitchens with less counter space.

How about this steel wire basket? Not only would this dish look really fun on a counter, but it would also make for a great conversation starter when company comes over!

A stunning, natural option is this driftwood fruit bowl. Each bowl is hand-collected wood that has been hand-carved and finished! This would look amazing in the kitchen, or even on a coffee table filled with decorative pieces. I just love the natural look in my home, so this fruit bowl is really screaming my name!

Do any of you readers have a special technique or dish for keeping your fruits and veggies last longer and look great in your home for friends and family? I would love to hear your ideas!

Edible Spray Paint!

As technology advances, so does our amazingly creative world.

Food, as an art form, is becoming more and more popular. If you are in a restaurant, that probably means more creative dishes (and usually less food on the plate!), but if you are at home, it means endless possibilities with some of the newest tools on the market.

I just found out about edible spray paint and am VERY excited to test it out. Yes, you read that right… edible spray paint!

If you are in Europe, you will be lucky enough to try out the amazing product above from The Deli Garage. Look at the perfectly coated silver pretzel above! I can only begin to imagine the possibilities in using this “paint” in the kitchen! Unfortunatly, they are not currently able to ship this overseas, so for all of us not in their part of the world there are a couple other options below.

sprayam

Photo: amazon.com

I found this option by Chefmaster on Amazon, as well as a few other sites. I looks to be just over $8 a can, plus shipping and is available in gold, silver and pearl.

 

Duff Cake Graffiti comes in a large range of colors and is sold at Michaels craft stores. If you find it at your local store, don’t forget to bring a coupon – Michaels regularly offers 40-50% off product coupons, making for some really great deals. If you can’t find it at your local store,  I also found it available for purchase at Duff.com, along with a large selection of other cake making products.

I am very excited to try “spray painting” food – I am thinking about attempting a sheet cake with a stenciled photo for a friends upcoming birthday!Let me know if you try it yourself!

The Best Girl Scout Cookies!

Girl Scout cookies are a terrible thing – they are only available once a year!

My favorite are the Samoas – little pieces of coconut heaven with caramel and chocolate gooey-ness!

I look forward to eating these once a year. And while I always buy an extra box or two to freeze for later, they always end up being eaten quickly by everyone. So, needless to say, I was thrilled to have come across this recipe for a homemade Samoa cookie!

While I still plan on supporting the Girl Scouts during their annual cookie sales, I am looking forward to having the cookies around all year long with this copycat recipe!

If you try this recipe, be sure to let me know your thoughts and opinions!

Spooky Treats for Halloween!

With Halloween slowly “creeping” up on us, it is time we start considering the foods we will be serving on the SPOOKIEST day of the year!

Whether you are having a big costume party, a night at home with your family or even just a romantic evening passing out candy with your partner, Halloween is a night to get creative with your menu.

There are so many ideas to consider, from shaping a roast into a skull, to using cookie cutters to make bat or witch shaped dinner rolls. Whatever you choose, your meal is sure to be a hit…especially if you add some scary candles and music to set the mood at your dinner table!

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for this Halloween season:

These mummy hot dogs would make for a fun main course treat for kids!

 

For a spicier version, substitute the red mayo veins for hot sauce. I am not a fan of spicy myself, but my husband would Love if I made these using Sriracha!

 

I have heard of Lady Fingers, but these cookies take fingers to a whole new level! Use almonds and jam to create a tasty treat…if you can stomach the idea!

 

Are you making any special treats for Halloween this year? I hope you all enjoy your holiday…be safe out there!

Pumpkin Treats

I very much enjoy bringing each holiday into my home.

Wreaths on the front door, arrangements on the mantel and holiday-related hand towels in the bathrooms.

But more importantly, I love to celebrate each night (when possible) of a holiday season with foods that relate to the season at hand. Doing so really creates a special mood with your family, guests and even in yourself as you prepare special dishes for your loved ones. Sure, the malls can sell holiday items, the neighbors can hang their decor, but the kitchen…well, as I like to say – the kitchen is Where Home Starts! It is especially where holidays start!

With that in mind, here are a few fantastic recipes to get you serving up some fall-friendly foods to your family!

This pumpkin fluff is a VERY fast recipe using minimal ingredients, including Cool Whip and instant pudding. I often serve this with apple slices, and it is Always a big hit!

 

pumpkin rolls

Source: beyondkimchee.com

These dinner rolls are simply beautiful. Not only are they pumpkin shaped, but they also include pumpkin in the recipe!

 

If your family loves to gobble up a full pie after dinner like we do, these are a great (and cute!) way to cut calories!

How We Know Fall is Here: Pumpkin Lattes!

Pumpkin Lattes and all their spiced goodness is one of the best signs that the fall and winter seasons are finally here.

I have seen social media sites already flooded with comments about the delicious treat, one many people seem to look forward to all year long! I am no different, those pumpkin spiced coffees and other fall treats (candy corn is one of my favorites!) top my list during these coming seasons.

But what do you do when you look forward to something so much, but just can’t afford to pay the price for it each day? You make it yourself!

Here is a great recipe for a Pumpkin Spiced Latte that claims it is BETTER than the famous Starbucks drink.

To make a great veg option, substitute milk for almond milk to make a thicker, tasty treat!

I was curious as to just how much money is spent if brewing a cup of coffee at home versus drinking out. Upon searching the web, I came across a site called The Simple Dollar that breaks down a guesstimate per cup brewed at home. Be sure to take a look at the site – it is crazy to think of how much money we could save if we skip a few coffee shop runs!

Pancakes or Flapjacks? Are they the same?

I recently came across an article on Delish.com that has the best place to each pancakes in each of the 50 states.

In my lifetime, we have heard pancakes called different things. You probably have too. Pancakes, hotcakes, flapjacks, etc. Upon reading some of the comments at the end of the article, I came across a discussion where readers were saying that calling a pancake a flapjack is incorrect.

While we use the term flapjack interchangeably for pancake in the US, a flapjack is another type of food in the British culture. It is a sweet bar made of oats, butter and syrup and made not in a frying pan, but in the oven like a brownie. It sounds like it can be either soft or crispy, depending on the recipe and you can add chocolate chips, fruit, etc. I am thinking something similar to those Quaker brand granola bars or Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bars?

If you are interested in attempting a TRUE flapjack, take a look at the raisin recipe from the above image link, or the one below from the BBC.

Hopefully you learned something new today – I know I did!

Casseroles…for Breakfast?!

I love the convenience of casseroles.

Plop it all in a dish and stick it in the oven.

Okay, it may not ALWAYS be that easy, but I love simple cooking. I guess what I really love is to sit around with my family and friends while dinner is in the oven, instead of missing out on all the inside jokes while I am stuck in the kitchen slaving over a hot meal!

So why not have that same convenience at breakfast time? We don’t always want to eat a bowl of cold cereal, nor do we always want to do the whole bacon, eggs and toast boring nonsense. Here are a couple recipes that are sure to put a smile on your face – and your stomach – first thing in the morning!

One of the tastiest, simplest recipes I have ever made for breakfast. This is even great for busy moms to whip up while prepping the kids for school!

 

This is a Paula Deen recipe for baked french toast. You know what that means…full of fat and extremely delicious! Be sure to try this out on a special weekend.

This breakfast casserole is not only delicious, but extremely pretty to serve! This is a great dish to serve for overnight company – you will get lots and lots of compliments. Sausage, mushrooms, tater tots…and lots of cheese! Visit the link above to add this recipe to your collection!