Lettuce Be Healthy has a recipe for the once carbo-licious pancake, Paleo style!  Her Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes use gluten-free, healthy ingredients that make this breakfast favorite guilt-free.

 

Kim Lam has a few different versions of the recipe and we hunted them down.

 

To see the differences, take a peek at the chart below:

Paleo Pancake Recipes

 

To see the instructions that we followed,

click HERE for Recipes #1 and #2,

and HERE for Recipe #3.

 

If you’re like Maren, and start sweating when you hear the word “Paleo”, click here for a great introduction by Irena over at Eat, Drink, Paleo.

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: These little babies just sounded so delish I had to try them. Hearing that they were “Paleo” made me feel a whole lot better about eating pancakes.

Details:

I followed the instructions provided by Turtlewoman (aka Kim Lam). What I really loved about her post was how she explained the benefits of each ingredient. I also went with Recipe #1.

  • It took me quite a while to find Coconut Flour, but then remembered that a local store carried a ton of Bob’s Red Mill’s products. Sure enough, they had it!
  • I realized I didn’t have any Pumpkin Pie Spice so I just added a little extra Cinnamon.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Step 2 states: “Then whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl: eggs, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and pumpkin puree.” I believe that is “Maple Syrup” is supposed to be the milk. The Maple Syrup is for drizzling on top.

I first tried making the pancakes in my stainless steel skillet with melted Coconut Oil on the bottom of the pan, but flipping them was a challenge. I then tried my electric griddle set at 350° and it worked much better.

The consistency of the batter was different than traditional pancake batter. You have to sort of shape your pancakes.

I found that letting them cook a few minutes to the point where they were nearly cooked through on the first side made them easier to flip. There was some trial and error for the first couple.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

Such a healthy recipe and delicious.

Cons:

Just the flipping challenge, which I was able to tackle.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

These pancakes were delicious! My husband loved them. Unfortunately between the two of us we ate them all and didn’t save any for the kids. Ooops!

I certainly love that fact that they are packed with fiber and protein and rarely any carbs or sugar. They’re a winner in my book.

I’m thinking of taking this recipe and swapping the pumpkin puree for some smashed bananas! I think my kids would LOVE them!

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: To try another paleo breakfast recipe to add to my cookbook! I love eating Paleo and eat that way most of the time. I made the switch about two years ago and have never felt better!!

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I scooped a heaping spoonful of batter for each pancake and smoothed it out a bit as directed to thin them out.

I ended up getting eight pancakes out of the batter.  This was enough to feed myself, my kiddos, plus have a few left over.

The pancakes are a little tricky to flip. I just couldn’t get my spatula underneath of them very well. Since this batter doesn’t bubble up like a “normal” pancake, I waited about three minutes before I flipped them and that seemed perfect!

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

This recipe was fairly easy to prepare and all the ingredients are easy to find.

Plus, if you live a Paleo lifestyle, you will have most of these ingredients on-hand already. And, they were very tasty when done!

Cons:

There was definitely some skill needed to flip these pancakes!

With their spongy consistency, they never really got firm and it made them somewhat hard to flip.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

I really liked these pancakes! They were easy to make, had a nice texture to them and were very tasty! I served them with sliced bananas and sausage links.

I will definitely make these again. They would be super tasty in the fall with a pumpkin spice latte!

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: I love trying new Paleo recipes especially breakfast ones as I get bored with eating eggs every morning!  A little twist for my hubby, too!

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The directions made it sound so easy, but my dropping of the batter into the pan was not an easy task!  I attempted to use a spoon to smooth the batter out and it kept sticking to the spoon so with my figures and spoon, I did the best I could.

Cook on low as I found the outside was cooking a lot faster than the interior of my pancake.

Beware of popping seeds! Yes siree, my husband and I thought we had blown up the house!  I had covered the pancakes with a lid to allow the interior to cook, by doing so it must have overheated a flax seed and BOOM, our hearts skipped a beat with the loud pop!

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

Hmmm…used pumpkin that has high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants!?!

Cons:

Not a lot of flavor and a bit on the dry side.

Tricky to spoon onto the pan, may need a little practice.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

I am a fan of many Paleo recipes but one wasn’t my favorite.

The recipe seemed to be simple to follow and the pictures seemed so tasty on the blog!  Maybe I missed a step?  You all know, I am not always the best at following instructions!

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: I have been eating clean for a couple of months now and pancakes have been sparse. I am a pumpkin lover so these looked right up my alley!

Details:

  • I went with Recipe #1.
  • I did not have any organic pumpkin puree so I went with a can of Libby’s that I had on hand.
  • I also only ended up using about an ⅛ of a cup of Almond Milk as my batter was just a little thick but didn’t call for the entire ¼ per the recipe.
  • I currently use Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour and it works fine for me. Amazon is a great resource for specialty flours and I find their prices to be much better than what I can get locally.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

BE PATIENT! I turned a couple too soon and they ended up a pile of batter.

Also, don’t add the almond milk right away. Chances are you will not need all of it. Mix your ingredients then let them sit for a few minutes while your pan heats. You will know at that point if you need more.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

Great flavor! I liked the combination of spices and the pumpkin.

The texture is pretty typical for a Paleo recipe so someone that is new to cooking this way may find it a little grainy but for those of us who eat minimal carbs it doesn’t phase us!

Cons:

The recipe has a lot of ingredients but very little of each.

I felt I could have used less Maple Syrup. ¼ of a cup seemed like a lot.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

I really liked these and may play around with the flour a bit. Maybe a combination of Coconut Flour and Almond Flour would make for a better texture that is a little sturdier.

All in all I will definitely be making these again!


The lovely
Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes and photo by Lettuce Be Healthy

We Tried Them!  Pumpkin Paleo Pancake


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Budget Gourmet Mom has a sweet twist on an Easter dinner essential with her Orange Bunny Rolls. She even offers a lime option, too!

With Easter right around the corner, we hopped right to it!

 

Please click here to visit Budget Gourmet Mom and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: Easter is just around the corner and these little pastries are so darn cute.  Why not?!

 

Details:

Make sure you read and re-read the directions. It can be a bit overwhelming to look at but not bad once you get started.

  • I decided to go with the Cinnamon and orange route, as I did not have Cardamom on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

When warming the milk concoction, be sure to use softened butter. I made the mistake of using cold butter and I left it on low heat to melt. In reading the directions, this mix should have reached 120 degrees to 130 degrees. Using a candy thermometer is very helpful as my mix reached nearly 145 degrees. Whoops! I waited for this to cool before adding to dry mixture with eggs. Scrambled eggs or curdling is not what I am shooting for. Ha!

As far as measuring the dough to a specific 14×10 inch rectangle and all the jazz. I totally eyeballed it. I am all about making my life easy.

Keep your flour out because the dough can get sticky

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

Fun idea and the kids liked the end result!

Cons:

No cons really – just that the whole process of waiting for the dough to rise can be time consuming.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

So my bunnies turned out good, but not great!

They are delicious when first out of the oven with the glaze on top and the orange gave it a really nice flavor.  The next day though, not as great – so be sure that you eat them up right away!

I am not 100% sure I would make them again as there were quite a few steps and my kids tend to get bored after about 15 minutes!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: I thought these rolls were too cute to pass up. I am also a sucker for baked goods of all varieties, especially the themed kind.

 

Details:

  • I chose Allspice over Cardamom simply for the fact that is what I had in my pantry.
  • To make quick work of zesting my fruit I used my handy Microplane Grater similar to this one!
  • Although the recipe suggested using a hand mixer and kneading by hand I busted out my KitchenAid Mixer. It is like having a room full of minions do your work while you sit back and sip mimosas (I imagine that is what you would drink while minions do your work).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Not sure where things went wrong but my bunnies were not as pretty and perfect as shown in the post.

I found it hard to roll my snakes out without making them look all rough. You definitely want to cut your pieces long enough. I made only the small bunnies and even those seemed mammoth.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

These are REALLY delicious and fresh tasting thanks to the fruit juice/zest and the fluffy dough.

My kids loved them!

Cons:

I found the recipe to be a little fussy, plus I failed miserably to achieve the adorable bunnies when all was said and done.

That is no fault of Krista from Budget Gourmet Mom! This epic fail was all me.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

The end result was really great but I think next time I will stress less about the shape and simply turn these into rolls.

The flavor will be the same minus the fluff. Get it? Like bunny fluff! That’s all folks!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: I have been on a big citrus kick lately so combining oranges for these cute bunnies was a no brainer! And a great project to practice for my future kiddos!

 

Details:

  • I made a couple of modifications with Allspice, tangerine peel and orange juice.
  • I got to break out my favorite kitchen appliance, my KitchenAid Mixer, and my new Zester which worked like a charm for the tangerine rind.
  • I goofed on following instructions as usual, I ended up making 2 extra-large bunnies and only 3 small bunnies!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I don’t have a Rolling Pin so a straight-sided glass cylinder vase worked perfectly for the dough!

I also used wax paper for rolling out dough onto flour for super easy clean up.

Cutting the dough was a cinch by using my Pizza Cutter!

I used aluminum foil under my cooling racks to catch the leftover icing from icing the bunnies and for more easy clean-up.  A spoon worked best for drizzling the icing on the hot out of the oven bunnies!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

Pretty easy to follow and taste great!  Love the variations you could make!

Cons:

It may take a while to get those cute bunny ears!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

Perfect for a holiday tradition by allowing kids to cook, too!

My taste testers were my office co-workers and my husband, who all gave a big thumbs up for this recipe.  Simple, yet delicious!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To make these darling bunny rolls for our little cuties and their cousins for cousin weekend! I have not made any form of bread in quite awhile, so I knew I’d be rusty going into this one.

Details:

I didn’t have Cardamom, but I found a tip online that noted to substitute equal parts Cinnamon and Nutmeg together. I had both of those on-hand, so that was the route I went and it worked well!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I didn’t realize I was short powdered sugar until I had the bunnies baking and I needed to prep the glaze!

I only had ¼ cup on hand, so I used: ¼ cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 tsp. lime peel, 1 T. milk. It made just enough glaze to cover the little bunny rolls, which was just what I needed!  Phew!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

Was fairly easy to prepare the dough and the rise time was perfect for clean up time.

Overall, I really enjoyed making these and I really loved the lime and cardamom flavor. I just may have to try the orange flavor next!

Cons:

I was surprised to see that some of the bunny rolls did not maintain their shape while baking. But, it sure didn’t change the taste!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

These bunny rolls are adorable and will be perfect to serve at Easter brunch!

We served them at lunchtime with the rest of the meal for our little kiddos and their cousins. Out of the seven of them, three really loved these and the others thought they were so-so. I had no problem downing a few of the left over ones myself!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sheri

Mission: Well these little bunnies were just too cute not to try! Look at those little tails, seriously! I really thought my children would get a kick out of them.

 

Details:

  • The original recipe called for either Cardamom or Allspice.  I went with Allspice.
  • Based on my learning experience with the Pull Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread, I made sure that the room was nice and warm for the dough to rise.
  • I’m always nervous about screwing up the recipe; adding too much or too little.  While I was concentrating on adding the remaining flour to the dough to get that soft consistency, I was so worked up that I completely forgot to add the orange juice! Fail.
  • I let the kids help with making the bunnies. They thoroughly enjoyed putting the little bunny tails on. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures because my hands were covered in flour.
  • Into the oven they went and I hoped they would turn out okay. They were a little “plump” so I baked them a little bit longer.
  • For some reason my Confectioners Sugar was a little lumpy, so the glaze didn’t come out so well.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I highly recommend a Microplane Grater to get a nice fine grate.

Also, I would have used my Mixer and dough hook had I thought ahead. Although mixing with a wooden spoon provided a good arm workout.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

They were really super cute.

Cons:

My kids weren’t too crazy about the flavor.

The allspice was a little overpowering, which might not have been the case if I had remembered the darn orange juice.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

Overall these are really cute. Of course mine didn’t come out picture perfect like the ones displayed, but then again I’m a novice baker when it comes to dough.

The kids had fun making them, but weren’t too crazy about eating them. I think that would have been different if I had remembered the orange juice! Duh!

I may try making these adorable bunnies with my aunt’s egg biscuit recipe which I know they will enjoy!

 
 

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!


The darling and very tasty
Orange Bunny Rolls and photo by Budget Gourmet Mom

 


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Dinners, Dishes & Desserts has a great new take on a family favorite!  The Roasted Garlic, Chicken & White Herb Pizza has a bold flavor with the homemade tastiness we all love.

 

You had us at pizza!

 

Please click here to visit Dinners, Dishes & Desserts and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: Pizza from scratch.  Those are scary words.  I am still learning about making bread dough, so the thought of encountering it makes me nervous.  But I do love pizza, so this just may be the push that I needed!

Details:

  • I made Fail-Proof Pizza Dough from Lauren’s Latest, except I accidentally added 2 Tbsp of salt instead of 2 Tsp… more on that later.
  • To save time, I used rotisserie chicken.
  • I went a little heavy on the mozzarella.  I love cheese!
  • We have a baking stone, but it was way too small.  I just used a large baking sheet instead.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Watch that flour!  The second it even looks like it’s going to firm up, get it off that heat and add your cheese.

To melt my mountain of cheese, I broiled the pizza on the top rack for a couple minutes.

I don’t eat a whole lot of meat.  I think that this pizza would be terrific as veggie-only; maybe add some mushrooms and tomatoes!

Thank goodness my husband and I both love onions and garlic.  We can’t get enough over here!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

A great combination!  Rich flavors and oh so garlic-y!

Cons:

Oh my god the salt… My measurement blunder nearly killed the pizza.

My salt-loving husband didn’t mind, but I ended up eventually picking the toppings off and eating them without the crust!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

Yum!  I’m glad that I gave this recipe a try.  Homemade pizza is not as scary as I had built it up to be!
The sauce was delish, too!  I’m looking forward to playing a little more with this recipe in the future.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Mike and I love making homemade pizzas, we typically make sausage and pepperoni, so this is a twist!

 

Details:

  • I used Udis Gluten Free Pizza Crusts instead of making my own. 
  • Almond flour was substituted for all-purpose flour.
  • Substituted dried parsley for fresh, didn’t have fresh on hand.
  • Used minced bottle of garlic instead of fresh.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Watch the flour so it doesn’t burn when cooking!

Check the caps are secure on your spices…you can see I had a little oops with my parsley in the picture!

I broiled on high to get the fresh mozzarella bubbly and golden for a few minutes.

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

Easy to make and a twist on our traditional pizzas!

Cons:

Lots of garlic, I wonder if fresh garlic would taste a bit better!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

Mike’s first word after his first bite, “Wow”! He said there was a lot of garlic but he loved it more than our traditional pepperoni and sausage pizza.  I prefer the traditional, I am not a fan of chicken on my pizza! Ha!

Overall, success…this is perfect for get-togethers!  Simply cut in squares and serve up as appetizers!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: This adult version of pizza really appealed to my taste buds as our house is often catered to the kiddos.

 

Details:

  • I used some rotisserie chicken I had in my freezer from a visit at Sam’s Club where I stocked up and prepped for the busy upcoming holiday season. It works great for recipes like this!
  • I started by whipping up a batch of No Fail Pizza Dough  from Lauren’s Latest which has quickly become my go-to dough recipe as it is always good and couldn’t be easier.
  • Once I had the dough mixed up and raising I popped the garlic in the oven to roast. It is such a simple method and really gets your mouth watering because as it cooks it fills the house with the delicious, warm aroma of garlic. YUM!

Here is a simple how-to if you haven’t roasted garlic before.

  • We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!I had all the ingredients on hand minus the fresh herbs. Since the recipe does call for some of the herbs to be fresh vs. dried.

I wanted to be sure I was using the right amount so I went to Martha for a little advice on how to convert. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs then you would use a teaspoon since there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t over cook the sauce. Nothing worse than burnt dairy!

Rotisserie chicken is a real time saver – use it.

Dried herbs were totally fine but fresh is always best so if you have the means splurge.

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

This pizza was even better the next day!

I am planning to make it again for a belated holiday party for friends. I am certain it will be a hit.

Cons:

I really don’t think there are any.

This is a simple pizza with a more complex flavor than your average pepperoni and sausage pie!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

Be daring and give this a try. I promise your adult taste buds will thank you!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission: You had me at pizza- seriously! My two favorite things in this world is pizza and cheese.

 

Details:

I am so glad this recipe did not call for homemade crust. Anything with yeast and dough rising is not my bag of tea. It always fails and falls flat- no joke.

  • I found this delicious, ready to bake pizza dough from Trader Joes for like $2 bucks.

The rest of the ingredients and recipe were fairly simple to follow.

  • To save time, I used Tyson grilled and ready chicken breasts from the freezer section (not too shabby and the flavor was good).
  • Added black olives

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Getting the pre-made dough out of the darn bag was the death of me. It was stuck like glue. You needed arms of a blacksmith to get it out. Flour is your best friend here.

Also, be sure that when sauté the garlic, keep an eye on it. I tend to get distracted when I cook and almost had a burned mess on my hands.

I would strongly recommend using a baking stone. We got one as a wedding present 10 years ago and I never used it and eventually sold it in a garage sale. I am now kicking my own ass for selling it. What was I thinking??!!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

This garlic cream sauce tastes like heaven.

Cons:

The cream sauce can be tedious to put together.

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

My hubby does not like pizza. WHAT THE?! Who is this person and how did we ended up together because it is my favorite.  It was DELICIOUS.  Worth noting: my desert island choices would be pizza, cheese and something carbonated with caffeine.

It takes a little time to make and come together but totally worth it.

 

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!


The oh-so-yummy
Roasted Garlic, Chicken & White Herb Pizza and it’s photo by Dinners, Dishes & Desserts

 


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Movita Beaucoup has a great addition for your Irish feast that won’t interfere with your parade plans!
Her Slow Cooker Beef Stew is a stick-to-your-bones recipe sure to please the meat and potato lovers in your life.

 

This simple twist of an old favorite had us at “slow cooker,” so you can bet we were ready to dive right in!

 

Please click here to visit Movita Beaucoup and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To whip up this crock pot stew for a warm and yummy dinner!

 

Details:

As I’ve mentioned before, I love crock pot cooking – it’s low mess, low maintenance and recipes cooked in the crock pot usually turn out tasty. I liked this recipe right away for it’s minimal ingredients; most of the items are things I typically have in my pantry and fridge.

  • I did all the chopping prep of my vegetables the night before and then started again early in the morning (I was up extra early due to my youngest cutting her teeth). I first heated up my pan and cut up the beef roast for browning. Once that step was done, I began to place all of the ingredients into the crock pot as directed and then set the temperature to high. I mean, how easy can getting a dinner going be – the hardest part was shredding carrots!
  • I ended up only having one jar of my mom’s canned Iowa garden tomatoes and peppers (they are amazing!) so was a bit short of the called for amount. I made a quick run to Target that day and added the rest in after the stew had been cooking for 4 hours.
  • At the end of the cooking time, I added the frozen peas and the cream mixture. Seriously easy peasy!

I served this stew with some buttered toast and a side of fruit. My husband and kids enjoyed it! I even tried to take some of the potatoes out first and mash them up before scooping the stew over the top. Yum!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you are using a beef roast you already have in your freezer, be sure to take it out the day before to thaw out.

Prep the vegetables the night before so your morning prep goes quickly.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

EASY!!! Not much for prep work and an easy way to have a filling dinner. And being March, it has a wonderful Irish feel to it.

Cons:

A little on the heavy side, so may be more filling than you’d like.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

This was a very easy recipe to follow and overall a tasty dinner.

It made a lot of stew, so I ended up freezing what was left over and plan to use it for another dinner soon. Might be a great dinner to prepare when you are having company over!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Always enjoy a good recipe and we are meat eaters in my household!  In a crock pot, even better!

 

Details:

  • I used a mix of potatoes, chopped sweet potatoes for added nutrients and small red potatoes cut in half.
  • Picked up 2 packs of stew meat, already trimmed and cut at the grocery.  Easiest way!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Best product to use for easy crock pot clean up, Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. Best Tip!

Cooking for two?  Halve the recipe.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

Very easy to make in the crock pot.  Just a lot of chopping!

Cons:

Became mushy, not sure this could freeze well and it makes a ton of food for 2 people.  Hate being a food waster!

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

Mike and I both liked it, although not one of our favorite recipes.  Mike isn’t a slow cooker meat and potato guy.

It was pretty heavy of a dish, so definitely hearty for the cold winter months!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: When I saw this recipe I knew I would have to wait until my husband was home to make it. He is the beef stew lover in the house (me not so much on the beef part).

 

Details:

The recipe was very easy to follow. Not much in the way of prep other than cutting up some veggies and browning the meat.

  • I used regular red potatoes vs the small potatoes suggested in the original recipe. They worked just fine when cut into 4 pieces.
  • I have this great peeling tool I found at an Asian market that makes anything look “fancy” so I used that to peel the carrots. Gave the stew a little flair!
  • I cooked the stew for about 9 hours before adding the peas and slurry, then I cooked it another 20 minutes per the recipe. It had a nice thickness to it after adding the slurry.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Not a lot you can do to mess up this dish! Basically put it together, stir and wait.

One thing I think I would change for next time is to add a full cup of broth to the half cup of flour for a looser consistency. It was hard to mix the “paste” into the stew without lumps.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

Simple, hearty and a real “man pleaser”.

My husband saw what I had made and said “REALLY??” as if I was serving ice cream for dinner. He LOVED it. My kids not so much but they tend to be funny about dishes where everything is in one pot.

Even though I am not much of a beef eater but I have to admit this stew was really good and because I chose lean meat it didn’t seem really chewy or fatty.

Cons:

I see none!

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

This stew was the perfect Sunday night meal that literally warms you from the inside out. Key for us Minnesotans who have endured a BRUTAL winter. There should be SOME perks after all right?

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission:  To make a delicious beef stew from a crock-pot because I have tried and failed many times. Very optimistic about this recipe.

 

Details:

This recipe is very straight-forward and super easy to follow.

  • I had most of the ingredients on hand except for the stew meat (sounds gross but so good).
  • I omitted peas because I think they taste disgusting. Texture, people!!!
  • I also had to create an Italian seasoning because I did not have. I tossed in a pinch of each: oregano, parsley, thyme, garlic and a tiny amount of basil.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Browning/searing the meat is a must. I usually skip this step and the final result never turns out quite right

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

Add everything to the crock-pot and wait

Cons:

None – although I have no patience to wait 10 hours for the stuff to cook

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

Okay seriously, this weather and coldness is such a downer. I mean, full on depression over here. The only thing that makes this winter bearable is the hearty soups and stews we have been eating. This beef stew is no slouch and the flavor is perfect. My hubby loved it!!

 

 

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!
The savory Slow Cooker Beef Stew and it’s photo by Movita Beaucoup

 

 


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Eclectic Recipes has tempted us with the very cookie that’s mere image has been making us break into a sweat since Pinterests great debut.

With chips so chocolatey and a bakery-store appearance that looks like nothing that has ever come out of our ovens; could this be true?  Can we make cookies like this?

 

We think that we’d better give this NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie an official test… you know, as a service for the people.

 

Please click here to visit Eclectic Recipes and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: Chocolate Chip Cookies are the best!! In all their gooey, chocolaty goodness, there is nothing better. It is hard to deviate from the original Tollhouse recipe but this recipe certainly intrigued me. I am a huge fan of soft, chewy cookies. Anything that is crunchy – I am out!

Details:

Please read this recipe a few times before beginning to tackle it.

  • I would certainly consider myself a decent baker but cake and bread flour, really??!! I am not certain my grocery store carried these items. After our crafty friend Sheri did a little research on cake flour, this can be made by sifting regular flour and cornstarch. Cornstarch will give it that chewiness and help them rise a little. If you do not have cornstarch in your pantry, I strongly recommend having some on hand. This stuff is a must when cooking and baking.
  • I did not use semi-sweet chocolate disks or feves (what the?) because I am lazy and did not feel like going on to buy some when I already had chocolate chips on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

To create a cake flour, I used a small strainer to sift my flour, cornstarch and other dry ingredients. This will remove any lumps and mix everything evenly.

I did not refrigerate the dough for 24 hours but did freeze it for about 1 hour.

Keep an eye on the baking times. 18-20 minutes seemed long and mine cooked in about 15.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

Holy smack down, melt in your mouth good.

Cons:

The ingredients and steps can be a bit tedious.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

This  recipe was so worth it! I am seriously refraining from swearing as these cookies are so good.   I ate about 10 in a row.

When I usually make chocolate chip cookies, they usually flatten and look a bit sad. Not these bad boys. My cookies came out of the oven and looked glorious.  I mean, bakery quality glorious! Heavenly music played when I opened the oven door – for real.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies like I never had before – with cake and bread flour. WHAT?!

 

Details:

I followed Angie’s version of the recipe to a “T”.

  • I opted for the semi-sweet chocolate chips that I had on hand vs. making a trip out into the polar vortex.
  • I felt a little nervous about the ingredients and the specific mixing steps. I have never had to refrigerate dough overnight and was not prepared for that time frame so I did the quick chill in our deep freeze for 2 hours.
  • I happened to have all ingredients on hand which is rare. Cake flour and Bread Flour are not in most typical pantries but I admit to being a tad bit addicted to baking bread. Really paid off to have such a tasty addiction!
  • Busted out my mixer to make quick work of putting these together.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Read through the recipe a few times so you have all the steps down pat.

Also, make sure you have enough of each ingredient before getting started. I initially intended to make these for my kids sooner but didn’t have unsalted butter.

Three and a half ounces seemed like a really large cookie so I opted to use a small melon baller to scoop mine which worked perfectly.

I ended up baking about half and freezing the other half so we could have fresh baked cookies whenever we wanted. YUM.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

This cookie has the smoothest texture and a nice crisp to it while remaining chewy on the inside (that is if you don’t over bake them).

The sea salt really comes out and balances the richness.

It was a definite win with my family too. My kiddos gave me many hugs and declared me “best cookie baker ever”. That alone will prompt me to bake these again!

Cons:

I simply had no self control and ate more than I should have.

My advice: sharing is caring. Bring a plate to your neighbors and freeze the rest of the dough so you are not tempted.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

Hands down the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever tasted!

Winner-winner chicken dinner folks.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: I am a chocoholic that is always up for trying a sweet treat!

 

Details:

Well, I made a huge mess, as my original attempt was a fail!  Forgetting an extremely important ingredient… 2 cups of cake flour.  (I blame my printer!) As a result, I had a melted toffee type cake in the oven.

Luckily I only baked 6 cookies from the huge batch so I took another try with the remaining cookie dough!

  • On the 2nd attempt, I simply added slightly less than 2 cups of cake floor little by little to ensure an even mix.  It was pretty tough to mix in but worth it if I could salvage the cookies.

Great results with the 2nd attempt, definitely turned out a little different from the Eclectic Recipes blog’s version based on the photo.  As long as it tastes good, that is really what matters!

  • Other than forgetting the cake flour first time around, I followed every detail of the instructions.  I get nervous when baking not to!
  • Bake at 350 for about 17 minutes.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Wow, this recipe makes a ton of cookies!  Perfect for freezing, I simply froze the majority of my cookies in golf ball shapes and easily bake anytime I am needing a treat.Most important, follow the instructions and double check all ingredients prior to proceeding with recipe.  Baking is much more precise and this tip will save you tons of frustration!

Pros:

Easy as long as you remember the ingredients! Easy to whip up frozen cookies anytime! And quick to bake!

Cons:

Not super sweet.  A bit more cake like than cookie…this was my fault!

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

Overall, my testers liked them but didn’t rave about them!  My sister-n-law, Lisa, stated that it was a slightly different texture that expected but grew to like it with every bite! Ha!

My sister-n-law, Jess said they were good but when she wasn’t grabbing for another…I just knew my oops at the beginning, overall affected the outcome of my cookie!

Once I bake all of the remaining frozen cookies, I will try this recipe again!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To find out if these really are the BEST chocolate chip cookies ever! I am a cookie dough fan, so who’s kidding, that’s really what I care about most with this one!

 

Details:

I rarely make chocolate chip cookies as they aren’t my favorite, and in all honesty, the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever followed is the one on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip bag. Ha!

  • It took me awhile to find the cake flour – I didn’t find it at my typical Super Target stop but eventually found it at my local grocery store.
  • The bread flour and the other ingredients were easy to find and I opted to use the Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate Morsels for these.

I went the simplified route and sifted my flours and dry ingredients with my mesh colander; it seemed to work just fine! I have a paddle attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer, so I set to work mixing the butter and sugars and prepared the dough. It went together easily and was ready in no time – off to the freezer it went.

After a few hours of cooling in the freezer, I took it out and let it thaw for a few minutes before prepping the round balls. I placed the prepared dough balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt. The kids and I couldn’t wait to dive in right after they were done. YUM!!

These cookies have the perfect mix of a crunchy outer cookie and a soft gooey center. The addition of salt on the top was a must for me – I love the mix of sea salt and chocolate! My husband, the non-desert guy, LOVED these as well.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I softened the sticks of butter for 10 seconds in the microwave and then cut it into squares before mixing with the butter and sugars together. It seemed to help it mix quickly.

Freeze the dough for a few hours to prep it and to get baking fast! I love an instant outcome, especially when it comes to desert!

Don’t forget to add the salt into the recipe. I made this dough twice and forgot it the second time. It doesn’t change the taste completely, but I definitely noticed it was missing.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

SUPER tasty! I vote these as the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted, and they were so easy to make! They have the perfect mix of a crunchy outside and a soft gooey inside with the salty addition to the sweet. Yum!

Cons:

I had a hard time finding the cake flour, but I think it was just not at my normal shopping location.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

These are amazing chocolate chip cookies – seriously, I’d actually pay someone for these! Love them and will for sure make them again, and AGAIN!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sheri

Mission: When I saw this pin for NY Times Best Chocolate Cookie I immediately said “game on.” You see, I already make the best chocolate chip cookie…well, according to my in-law family. My twist on the classic Nestle recipe is coveted throughout the family. I just had to throw on my apron and give this recipe a try.

Details:

First thought, “What is cake flour and bread flour?” You see I was raised with all-purpose flour. I wasn’t about to go purchase two different kinds of flour just to try out this recipe so I headed over to ehow.com.

  • For every cup of “cake flour” needed you use one cup of all-purpose flour. You then remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace those 2 tablespoons with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Simply sift it all together and you have yourself some cake flour. Do this. Don’t skimp out and just use all-purpose flour. The “cake flour” is what gives these cookies their fluffiness.

I first combined all of the dry ingredients as instructed: the flours, salt, baking powder, & baking soda. I then set it aside and started with the wet ingredients.

I creamed the butter and sugars for a good 5 minutes to make sure they were well blended and fluffy. I added the eggs and vanilla and then slowly added the flour mixture. The dough came together and I thought it to be a bit dry, but it all turned out well.

Allot time for chilling your dough. The recipe recommends 24 hours in the refrigerator or 2 hours in the freezer. I was really excited to try these cookies so I went the freezer route.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure your butter is room temperature so it creams well with the sugar, otherwise your dough is lumpy. Use your hands to round your perfect cookie.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

Delectable crowd pleaser.

Cons:

A little fussy for some basic chocolate chip cookies.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

Okay, they were fabulous. I admit it. They had this beautiful golden crunch on the outside and soft fluffy/chewy texture on the inside. I was going to give some to the in-laws to try but I was afraid they might like them better, and I’ve mastered my recipe (quicker & easier).

 

 We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!


The drool-worthy
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie and it’s photo by Eclectic Recipes

 


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skinnytaste has a healthy version of a lazy-day favorite with her Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili!

This easy meal looks just as tasty as it appears easy to make.

We love an easy dinner, so we couldn’t wait to give this recipe a try!

 

Please click here to visit skinnytaste and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To try out a crock pot recipe in hopes it will become a family favorite!

 

Details:

I love crock pot cooking – it’s low mess, low maintenance and recipes cooked in the crock pot usually turn out tasty. This recipe was easy from the get-go and the ingredients were all easy to find with nothing being out of the ordinary.

  • I got all of the ingredients in the crock in the morning and placed four chicken breasts on the top as noted and went about my day.
  • I let it sit on low heat for 8 hours before taking out the chicken and shredding it up. By 8 hours, everything seemed to be cooked through and the chicken was very soft and ready to go at that point.
  • Once I shredded the chicken, I added it back in and gave a few good stirs to the chili before getting the cilantro chopped and prepping the other fun toppings.

Each of my family members chose their own toppings. I prepped plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, cilantro and chopped black olives. I used cilantro and the Greek yogurt on mine. It was very tasty!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

To turn up the heat a bit, I used a poblano pepper in addition to a red bell pepper.

Instead of using the taco seasoning the recipe called for, I added 1 tsp. of garlic powder, an additional tsp. of chili powder and 1 tsp. of paprika.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

EASY!!! Not much for prep work and an easy way to have a filling dinner.

My daughter LOVED this chili – she went on an on about it as we were eating!

Cons:

It was much more of a stew vs. a typical soup or chili. There wasn’t much of a broth at all, which I really wanted more of.

I think adding more tomato sauce or some chicken broth would help in that area. Or maybe using just three chicken breasts might help as well.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

This was a very easy recipe to follow and overall a good outcome. I’m not sure we will make it again, but it was a great one to try!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: Two of my favorite things in one crock pot: tacos and chili!  I was actually a little scared to try this one though, since I couldn’t quite imagine how these two favorites would taste together.

Details:

I followed Gina’s recipe to a T (mostly)!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Always spray your crock pot’s interior with cooking spray before adding your ingredients!

As I have shared before, my Crock Pot cooks at warp speed.

I went for the “Cook on High for 4 Hours” option and my chili was bubbling in 2.  The chicken was totally done in 3 hours and was falling apart (what I call “self-shredding“) at 3 1/2 hours.  Awesome.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

I’m not sure that I have ever made anything so awesome with such little effort exuded.

I think that the corn, cilantro and added chilies are what give this chili more of a taco taste.  It still tastes like just a really good chili though, so no need to be scared about the combo.

This chili also freezes really well!

Cons:

I would pass on the frozen diced onions next time.  That was not the best idea.  I had a few bites that had hard little onion pieces in it.  I have used fresh, diced onions since my initial run and was much happier with the results.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

We loved it!  In fact, I used this recipe as my official 2013 entry into the Annual Chili Cook-Off that we host each year at our home with our college pals.  We didn’t win, but tied for second!  Now that’s a good chili!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Love a new chili dish especially in this fall weather! And find a chili recipe that my husband likes.

 

Details:

  • We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

    I added one can of red kidney beans instead of two as my husband doesn’t care for too many beans.

  • I had a can of whole tomatoes instead of diced, so I roughed chopped them then added one can of diced green chilies.
  • I used Ortega Taco Seasoning.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use handy dandy crock pot plastic liners for easy clean up. They are life savers!

Pros:

Simple to put together, just dump and cook!

Yummy, meal to come home to!

Cons:

The cilantro, in my opinion, wasn’t needed.

It tasted more like a traditional chili without it and more like a Mexican Tortilla Soup with it!

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

Delicious, and would be just as tasty with ground beef!  I was skeptical about adding the taco seasoning packet, but it had great flavor!

Quick and easy, couldn’t ask for more!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: Put my crock pot to use making this quick chili to warm us up in this chilly weather.

 

 

Details:

I woke up excited to get this going in the crock. I love nothing more than my house filled with the aroma of good food!

  • I mostly followed the recipe minus corn. I am not a huge fan of corn in chili so I just left it out.
  • I also ended up adding 1 cup of chicken broth after it cooked on low for 3.5 hours. I just felt that it was a little thicker than I wanted it to be after adding the shredded chicken back into the pot (I used 4 pretty small chicken breasts).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Watch your chicken! Mine was done at 3.5 hours on low and was likely done at 3 but I didn’t expect that so I was only checking and stirring once an hour.

Once my chicken was done I shredded it while it was warm then mixed it back into my pot. I then changed the temp to just warm because really everything was really cooked at this point – even the onions!

I served it up with Fritos for crunch, pepper jack cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

Truly simple with VERY little prep. The only cutting was the onions. Other than that I had some cans to open and a little mixing to get it put together.

This could be completely cooked in less than 4 hours on low which is awesome.

It would be great for family event or a lazy Sunday.

Cons:

My only complaint is how thick it was before I added the broth but that was easily fixed so really this dish is a complete winner!

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

This chili is bomb and was crazy simple to throw together. Even my bean-hating hubby gave it a thumbs up! I will definitely be making this again.

I ended up freezing a couple of jars and look forward to seeing how it holds up in the freezer too.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5 – Alicia

Mission: To create a healthier version of chili with chicken – yes, please!

 

Details:

My family does not like beans. Kidney, black, brown, grey – whatever, we do not like and will not eat! The texture is really gross and it turns into gag city around here. I know, I know – beans are so good for you. Blah!

  • I totally skipped over the beans and did not add them at all.
  • I also used 2 frozen chicken breasts instead of 3-4.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe said to cook on low for 10 hours and on high for 6 hours. What the?! That seemed really long to me and especially with chicken.

Mine cooked on low for 6 and it turned out perfectly.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

Combine and wait – how easy is that?

Cons:

None

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

Like the wise man Ron Popeil once said, ” Set it and forget it”.   I am all about crock pot cooking! So easy and delicious and this recipe is no slouch. I thought it really had a great flavor and would definitely make this again, minus the beans.

 We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!


The yummy
Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili and photo by skinnytaste

 


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After making us giggle by uncovering the secret behind “yoga pants”, Bridget from Bake at 350 shared her recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms that made our hearts skip a beat!

 

‘Tis the season to eat some cookies, so we couldn’t wait to give them a try!

 

Please click here to visit Bake at 350 and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: It’s the holiday season and that means fun cookie swaps with my girlfriends. I’m looking for something a little different from your typical chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossoms. These touch-of-mint treats look like they would get the ladies raving.

 

Details:

The Bakeat350  blog post recipe was laid out quite nicely and very easy to follow.

  • The only thing I did differently was use butter that was softened to room temperature rather than cubing the butter. I find it makes it have a creamier consistency.

Like most cookie recipes, you put together your wet ingredients and then gradually add the dry ingredient mixture.

  • I’m so glad I used my KitchenAid Mixer with the cookie paddle. This dough is pretty thick.

Definitely make sure you chill the dough as stated in the original post, it makes it much easier to handle.

Here’s where I was surprised. I was expecting to be cursing while trying to scoop and roll the dough in the powdered sugar. I was thrilled that the powdered sugar seemed to act like flour and prevented a sticky finger mess.

As soon as they come out of the oven, get your Kisses in. Maybe even opt for Hershey’s Peppermint Kisses!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Soften the butter. I use the defrost setting for 20 seconds. You don’t want to melt the butter.

My boys picked out Hershey’s Mini Kisses…a great thing about these babies, there’s no unwrapping!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Pros:

Easy cookie and I had all the ingredients on hand.

Cons:

My only problem is that in my house, only my son and I eat peppermint.

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Conclusion:

These cookies came out awesome! I’ve brought some to the office and gave some to friends and they all loved them!

Such a great recipe which you can certainly alter a bit with different extracts or toppings. Don’t forget the hot cocoa to dunk them with!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: To find a tasty treat for the holidays…anything chocolate! Yum!

 

Details:

I followed the instructions very closely; I get too nervous not to, when baking!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Need to softener your butter, cut in chunks then microwave for 25 seconds.

Be certain you cut your parchment paper to fit snug in the pan, I learned quickly that it has a tendency to melt/burn when the sides hang over the edge!

Plan ahead since you need to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

Drop the ball into the powdered sugar before rolling, helps with the stickiness!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Pros:

Easy and quick to bake! Only 12 minute cook time!

Cons:

None!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Conclusion:

Yum, Yum, Yum!   These were fun to make and were a hit with my co-workers!  Everyone was raving about them, so I had to share the recipe!

Perfect treat to make for the holidays!  Mint and chocolate, yum!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission: Christmas cookies are the best but I am always making the same ones year after year. I couldn’t wait to try this new recipe!

 

Details:

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy to follow.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This dough is very sticky once all the ingredients are combined, so I do recommend chilling the dough in the fridge for at least an hour before shaping into balls.

The fun part is getting your hands dirty!  I highly recommend using a Cookie Scoop – saves a ton of time and mess.

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Pros:

Super easy to follow and make

Cons:

None!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Conclusion:

I am not a huge chocolate and mint fan. I know, I will probably get a lot of hate mail for saying that. These cookies were actually very delicious and super soft!

Did I mention how much I hate crunchy, hard cookies?! Blah! Not these beauties; they were perfect!

 

 We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!


The yummy
Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms and their photo by Bake at 350

 


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Sunny Side Up‘s Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread looks like a combination of monkey bread and a pumpkin spice latte that needs to get in our bellies!

 

What more do we need to say?  This one was going down the hatch one way or another!

 

Please click here to visit Sunny Side Up and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission:  I am a sucker for all that is fall and anything pumpkin. Trying this bread was a no brainer for me!

 

Details:

  • I ended up using some left over canned pumpkin puree that I had from making pumpkin pie a few days prior when we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. Yes…we are lucky enough to get not one but TWO Thanksgiving celebrations in one year. I LOVE it. Hands down my favorite holiday BTW. The only thing you are expected to do is eat, enjoy and nap. Who can argue with that? Okay back to the bread now.
  • I busted out my handy KitchenAid Mixer to do the muscle work in this recipe. Six minutes of kneading by hand is a little more than I am willing to do for a sweet treat.
  • I did decide to use the Spiced Rum for the glaze but since I was on the fence I did half rum and half vanilla extract.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

You really do have to stick with the 6 minute rule when kneading bread like this. I have learned to turn my mixer on and let it go while the timer keeps track for me. I typically set it to med speed if the recipe doesn’t specify.

I found that I didn’t need nearly as much of the sugar mixture inside nor the glaze as what was called for. I would say about half is all you need. I did end up putting a bit of the sugar mixture on top before baking it because I couldn’t stand to waste so much!

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Pros:

Crazy good. Bakery good.

My kids ate every crumb and what they didn’t eat I snuck when they weren’t looking.

I will definitely be making this again.

Cons:

The recipe felt a little hard to follow but I know now that I have made it once before I wouldn’t feel like such a novice the next time around.

It is a little fussy too with the rolling out and layering.

I think you could easily do this in a Bundt Pan and simply cut the dough into chunks then layer it in the pan.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Conclusion:

This bread is definitely part of my personal cook book now and I intend to make it again and again…maybe for our second Thanksgiving!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: I see this recipe constantly on the Pinterest, so I was excited to give it a try.  I’m glad I made it when I did, because it was just the next day that my husband informed me that he can’t handle anymore pumpkin recipes.

Details:

Since I haven’t made anything like this before, I stuck to the recipe to a T.

  • I used my KitchenAid Mixer to do all the mixing.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  Thank God I have one of those suckers.  When the recipe called for 6 minutes, I ran the mixer on low and set my timer.
  • I did add 1 extra Tbsp of flour to the dough as Jessica recommended, since it was a little on the sticky side.
  • I went with good ol’ Bacardi for my rum and was happy when I could taste a bit in the glaze.  I love boozy desserts.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The dough hook – who knew?  That thing was great!  I have never used it before and it worked like a champ.  I especially love how it didn’t blow up a huge puff of flour when I first started the mixer up.  I’m using that thing for everything now!

Clearly I have no experience making bread dough.  I had no idea what I was doing.  What’s an oiled bowl?  I didn’t know and I had too much sh*t on my hands to Google, so I added 1 Tbsp of Vegetable Oil to a big bowl and rolled it around to cover the interior of the vessel.  Then, I dumped out the excess.

I also don’t think that my dough ever got as big as it was supposed to.  I think that “warm place” is more like what I think of as a “hot place”.  I had mine sitting under a very warm light and not much happened.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!To stack the strips of dough, I moved the sugar that fell off to the front of the bottom strip, then used that to help the spatula slide under the next strip.  Does that make sense?  In other words, I sort of used the sugar like you would use flour to lift cut out cookies off the counter.  This little trick worked really well.

After cutting the dough into strips and layering into the pan, I scooped up the excess cinnamon sugar mixture and sprinkled it on top of the dough.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this.  Said cinnamon sugar mixture wasn’t totally absorbed into the dough/melted and was a little sickeningly sweet to eat.

I suggest cooking for just a bit longer than you think you should.  Mine didn’t seem 100% done in the very center.

Even after looking at all the notes, I still didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing for the glaze.  So, I just heated it all up as directed and poured it over the bread.  Side note:  apparently you are also supposed to dump the bread out onto a plate first.  That would be made it easier to pull-apart.  Duh, Maren.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Pros:

I was very impressed with the results!

Now that I [sort of] know what I’m doing and what to expect, I think that making similar recipes in the future will be less daunting.  This was a good first lesson.

Cons:

This recipe took a total of 4 hours from start to finish.

I am more of an instant gratification baker… let’s mix it up, bake for a few and eat it!

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Conclusion:

I now have a whole new appreciation for pastries, especially caramel and cinnamon rolls.  Even though this recipe was very good, it was a little more labor intensive than I like.  I do have friends who happen to love recipes that take such care to make and this one is definitely for them!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission:  Well if you have ever read my reviewer profile, you know I pretty much steer clear of any recipes that involve yeast. It’s all so much like chemistry to me. In chemistry I just sat back and let my cute lab partner do all the work while I recorded the results. However, at the first sight of this incredible looking pumpkin bread I just had to throw my apron on and confront my fears.

Details:

I won’t lie to you, this was a process and it took up a good portion of my afternoon. I read the directions multiple times before starting. There’s a lot of melting butter.

  • Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!I followed the directions to a T… so I thought. I didn’t notice the asterisk notes at the end. I should have added the milk after it was room temperature rather than cold because it would clump. The look of it got a little nervous. It sort looked brain-like, but it worked.
  • After getting the dough together it needed to rise for 60-90 minutes. I waited and waited. I went and picked the kids up from school and came back. It wasn’t rising. “There you have it!” I thought, “Yeast and I don’t mix.” I felt like a failure. Then I realized the temperature in my house was rather chilly. I put on a fire and put the dough near it. There we go, it began to rise. I was slowly feeling a bit more confident.
  • After the dough was nearly ready I began making the super yummy cinnamon and sugar mixture. So easy!
  • I punched the dough down, which was super fun by the way, and then rolled it out. I took that yummy cinnamon/sugar mixture and pressed it into the dough. I then cut it into pieces and layered the pieces into the bread pan (the wrong direction). Oops.

When the bread was done I took it out and put it on a plate. While it cooled a bit I made the sugary glaze. I turned for a moment and then half the bread was gone and my children were eating it all.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Read the directions multiple times to get a good feel of the process.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Pros:

OMG so, so good.

Cons:

Cleaning up the cinnamon sugar goodness I got all over the counter. I was contemplating licking it. Horrible that it went to waste.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Conclusion:

This bread was amazing!! My oldest asked if it came from heaven. My other son said he wants to eat it “everyday!” My husband’s first word was “WOW.” The entire loaf was gone in a day and they’re already asking me to make it again. Pure deliciousness. Yeast, no problem.

 

 

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!


The delish
Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread and it’s photo by Sunny Side Up


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Urban Nester tells us that she has unlocked the secret of creating that amazing autumn beverage we all love at home with her Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe!

 

There’s no way we could turn a treat like this down, especially when there is enough to share.

 

Join us for a test-run that could take the crockpot to a whole new level of awesome!

 

Please click here to visit Urban Nester and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To find an easy way to recreate the coveted Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte – with a crockpot no less!

 

Details:

cooking - SarahI’m currently living a Paleo lifestyle, so I wanted to adjust this recipe to work for me.

  • I substituted dairy milk with almond milk.
  • I also decided to substitute homemade maple syrup for the confectioners sugar.

Once I got everything ready, I followed the directions closely. Since I was substituting the sugar with maple syrup…

  • I cut the amount to 6T since it was a liquid sweetener vs. sugar.

As soon as I poured in the vanilla extract, I decided that 8T was probably too much – I instantly smelled the alcohol and wasn’t too keen on it. I instantly wished I would have cut the amount down a bit.

  • In addition, based on comments on the recipe post, I decided to up the ante on the strength of my coffee and did about 1.5 teaspoons of the instant coffee I used per cup vs. just 1 teaspoon.

As it cooked in the crockpot, my kitchen began to smell of fall, which was awesome! I loved the scent it left around my home – so festive. This is my favorite time of year, so anything making it feel even more festive is so fun!

Once the latte had cooked for two hours, I gave it a whirl! It was much better than straight black coffee, but it just didn’t turn out as awesome as I had hoped. I have no doubt if I tried it as specified that I would have really liked the end result. I did forget to pick up some cinnamon sticks, so I lacked the extra sizzle those would have added.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be open to trying all recipes – in my opinion you can adapt most of them to work for your own eating habits. Adapting this recipe to meet my Paleo lifestyle worked just fine!

Pros:

Super easy to prep and a fantastic idea for a group gathering.

Cons:

Didn’t love the end result as much as hoped.

It was a bit slimy from the pumpkin puree and it had a strong aftertaste, which wasn’t super pleasant. I’m not sure if the aftertaste was due to the vanilla extract, the additional coffee I added or the lack of sugar.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, I probably won’t try this again as much as I’d like to say I would.

It is a fabulous idea and some may love it!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: A great way to combine some of my favorite things: pumpkin, coffee and time with friends!  The lovely Alicia joined me to whip up this fall delight.

 

Details:

We measured everything out and followed the recipe to a “T”, including the massive amount of vanilla called for.  Good thing I had homemade vanilla on hand by the boatload from last year’s Christmas gifts!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My Crock-Pot cooks at warp-speed, so I knew that this drink would be done in half the time.  After an hour, we checked and it was indeed done!  I wouldn’t cook it any longer.

I would think about adding more (if not doubling) the amount of pumpkin and spices in the future, as well as adding more of the strong coffee and less milk to get that “Pumpkin Spice” flavor that we all know and love.

I’d skip the cinnamon sticks, too.  While they’re a super cute garnish, I felt like adding more cinnamon spice may have been better.

Tap a little Pumpkin Pie Spice over your whipped cream for a little coffee shop flare.

Pros:

Pretty darn tasty after an hour, and very easy to throw together!

Cons:

This needs to be enjoyed as soon as it’s done.  By the time we had gone back for seconds, the milk tasted like it was a little funky.

Then, after Alicia left, I tried adding a little more pumpkin puree and it got even funkier.  Bummer.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

Sweet and a little spicy.  A nice change from the regular weekend coffee routine, although I would cut the recipe in half to make sure that you can enjoy it all before it gets weird.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Nothing better than the smell of pumpkin spice to bring you into the fall season! This is by far my favorite drink this time of year!

 

Details:

Cooking - Kristy

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Refrigerate the left overs!  I read a lot of questions on the original post regarding this and I must say, it was just as good the next day!

I would use a tad bit less vanilla, as I think it took away from the spice.  I will try Pumpkin Pie Spice next time as I like a richer taste of the pumpkin spice!

Pros:

Cheaper than Starbucks and can made in large patches to share!

Cons:

Travelling with this is scary in that crock pot!  Get a large thermos!

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

Mike and I both enjoyed it!  We aren’t coffee drinkers so it was a nice treat to have in the morning!  A couple of tweaks and I believe this will rank higher on my list than Starbucks!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: Kick fall off with a crock of pumpkin goodness.

 

 

Details:

I mostly followed the original recipe minus the whipping cream.

  • I used skim milk and pure Vanilla Extract.
  • For the coffee I used 6 shots of espresso (we like it strong in our house). Since this meant less liquid I did substitute in an additional cup of milk.

I set the timer on my crockpot for an hour to be certain I stirred it often enough. I find that cooking with dairy products in the crockpot can be touchy. After an hour the milk had already started to get a little border line curdled so I decided to give it a good stir and taste it. The flavors had already combined so I turned the crock off and poured a glass.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely cook on low and really watch your time since crocks can vary in temperature.

Pros:

Very easy to throw together and made the house smell like fall.

Cons:

Dairy in the crock is still risky in my mind and after an hour it was heading into bad places which proved my theory right.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

If I made this recipe again I would change a few of things. I would reduce the amount of vanilla. The flavor was far too intense. I would say half would be enough. I would also reduce the cook time and strain the liquid before serving. The pumpkin seemed to just settle at the bottom which was kind of gross.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5 – Alicia

Mission: To create a yummy beverage for fall/cooler weather at Maren’s house. Who doesn’t love spice lattes and going to Maren’s?!

 

Details:

Cookin' MH + AWWe stuck to the ingredients just as they were recommend by Urban Nester, even the ½ cup of vanilla extract – really?!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This recipe is as easy as it sounds. Add everything to the crockpot and heat on high for about 2 hours.

Maren and I thought 8Tbsp or ½ cup seemed like a lot of vanilla extract, but oh so good.

We also thought that the pumpkin flavor was not as noticeable and adding a bit more was definitely needed.

Pros:

This was deliriously delicious and it makes a huge batch.

Cons:

Large crockpot needed or cut the recipe in half.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

I am not a coffee drinker. If I do indulge in a cup, it is severely flavored with cream and sugar with a splash of coffee. Maren was so kind to invite me over and try this recipe. It was delicious and tastes even better when chatting with a friend. We laughed and giggled our way through this recipe and it was a success! I will definitely make this again.

 

 We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!


The lovely
Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes and photo by Urban Nester


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irrelephant has captured one fab way to grab that last taste of summer with her Caprese Pasta Salad full of the freshest ingredients in your garden.

 

Easy to make, and easy on the wallet, we couldn’t wait to dive in to this delish dish!

 

Please click here to visit irrelephant and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To make a delicious and refreshing pasta salad with a few basic ingredients. Potato salad and chips get old, fast!

 

Details:

  • We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollabAny type of pasta works great. I used Penne because that is what I had on hand.
  • I planted an herb garden on the deck this year and I used a few handfuls of sweet basil for this recipe
  • Fresh mozzarella is always best
  • My hubby ate half of my grape tomatoes, so I had to cut mine in half to get more bang for my buck
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar although recipe calls for a dressing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe states to cool or chill the pasta 4-6 hours before adding the dressing. Yeah right! If any of you know me at all, I have zero patience for waiting. I rinsed my pasta off in cool water and then drained it thoroughly. Next, I popped it in the fridge for a few minutes before adding all the ingredients and dressing.

Pros:

So easy to make.

Cons:

None!!!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I was pleasantly surprised! This salad has such a light and yummy flavor and will definitely make this again with that yummy fresh mozzarella.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Create a fresh and light pasta dish that would complement any BBQ cookout!

 

 

Details:

  • DSCN8222I stuck with Bow Tie pasta and used Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. It has the perfect balance of tang and flavor.
  • For the cheese I used one of my favorites Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls. I like to have these on hand for an impromptu mommy dinner complete with a nice glass of wine, some olives and crispy crackers (all while sitting in a dark closet where my children can’t find me).
  • The tomatoes and basil were harvested out of my deck garden. YUM and cheers to super fresh eats!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I definitely suggest testing your dressing to salad ratio before chilling. You hate to have a flavorless side!

Pros:

This salad is a cinch to throw together and a serious crowd pleaser. I had family over when I made this and they loved it.

Cons:

None. Not a single thing to complain about or be disappointed in with this dish.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This will now be in permanent rotation in our house. I can’t wait to get invited to a BBQ or potluck so I can serve this to friends!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Perfect dish for a family get together!

 

Details:

  • I am not a huge pasta eater, but love the Bow Tie pasta!
  • Grabbed a handful of fresh basil then picked up a ball of fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes.
  • Be sure to coat the pasta with the olive oil, I think this is what helps the pasta stay moist and soak up the dressing!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Buy fresh ingredients, it makes this salad taste so yummy!

Pros:

Easy and flavorful! Tastes great even the next day so perfect for leftovers!

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Great for get together…I love this as a side dish or main course!  Throw in some grilled chicken or shrimp, or simply add-on the side as I did!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: Caprese salad is one of our all-time summer favorites. I’m a huge fan of fresh mozzarella combined with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. When I saw this recipe I instantly knew it would become a summer staple for cookouts with the family.

 

Details:

  • This was a very, very simple recipe with minimal ingredients. I started with getting my pasta water boiling. I used a whole wheat fusilli pasta because I was all out of my favorite Campanelle pasta.
  • I diced up the fresh mozzarella and I chose to split the grape tomatoes in half making them more bite-size. I sprinkled both with some black pepper.
  • I contemplated making my own balsamic vinaigrette but then decided to use my favorite  Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.
  • I combined the ingredients, tossed, and then ribboned the basil leaves and put them in.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a serrated knife when cutting the mozzarella and tomatoes. It keeps the edges nice and clean and not all squished.

Salt your pasta water after it comes to a boil.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Freaking yummy and super easy, using minimal ingredients.

Cons:

Absolutely none!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This recipe of course was delicious. Everyone at the party enjoyed it. You can jazz it up a bit more too; I often like to add black olives or diced salami, both keeping with the Italian theme. So if you like the classic caprese salad, you will love this pasta salad. Quick, easy, and delizioso!

 

 We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab


The gorgeous
Caprese Pasta Salad and it’s photo by irrelephant


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Your Homebased Mom has dangled a pretty carrot in front of us dressed as a truly perfect for the season, Strawberry Cream Pie
 
Fresh fruit with a sweet and creamy kicker!?  How could we resist?

 

There’s always room for dessert…

 

Please click here to visit Your Homebased Mom and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission:  Find a fresh new dessert that everyone will love. After seeing this pin I knew I wanted to try it. I love all desserts with strawberries.

 

Details:

There was the post, then the ingredients for all three parts, and then the instructions for all three parts.  I had to read this one through a few times to put it all together, but once I broke it down, it was a breeze.

  • There were instructions for two types of crust. I chose the graham cracker crust (just a personal preference). I started with the crust, which is quite simple; it’s your basic crushed grahams with melted butter. You could even use a store-bought crust.
  • I then went onto the filling. Oh, the filling. I could just eat the filling! Cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and some freshly whipped cream. To die for! Needless to say, I was selfish and didn’t call the kids to come in and lick the bowl. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I worked on the next part…the glaze.
  • The recipe called for “crushing” the strawberries. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about that so I grabbed my mini-food processor and gave it a few pulses. Worked like a charm. I combined the sugar, cornstarch, water, and strawberries and let it cool just a bit while I assembled the pie together and layered the fresh strawberries.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely let the pie chill a few hours before serving as advised in the original post.

I recommend making it for a crowd so there are no leftovers. No need to find yourself, spoon in hand, and head in the refrigerator at 3am (hanging head in shame).

Sheri - Pie 1

Pros:

Crazy delicious.

Cons:

The effect it will have the hips.

Sheri - Pie 2

Conclusion:

This dessert was beyond delicious. My son called it “deeeee-licious” and “the best new dessert ever.”

I will most likely make it again, possibly for Labor Day weekend. I might eliminate the glaze this time around. I found it a little over the top for my liking.  I think the best part of the pie was the filling combined with the fresh strawberries. I feel the glaze took away from it a bit.

Either way, you’ll be licking the bowl, the spatula, the spoon, and possibly your plate.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: I love baking, but I’m still new to the pie thing.  This recipe looked like the kind of things dreams are made of, so I had to give it a try!

 

Details:

  • I love me a graham cracker crust, so there was no question which one I’d pick!  I used the chopper attachment for my beloved Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender to chop up the graham crackers and it worked like a charm!
  • I used three 16oz packages of strawberries – the ugly ones went into the glaze, the pretty berries made it to the top of the pie!
  • I used my pastry cutter to mash up the strawberries for the glaze.  Worked like a charm!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I really liked how the official recipe was broken up into three parts, because that’s just how I made it!  I made the crust the night before, then the filling followed by the glaze!  Easy Peasy!

I didn’t realize that the filling would firm up as much as it did, so next time, I’ll blend on high-speed sooner to make sure that I kick out any lumps (even though you couldn’t tell that they were even there in the end).

Just like Leigh Anne says, stir stir stir that glaze!  I was worried when it had an opaque appearance then BAM! it was perfect – then get that glaze off the heat, because it really firms up fast.  I think that next time, I would use a flat bottom whisk to make sure it’s super smooth.

Maren - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

Holy hell, this was amazing.  We’re talking, eat-until-you-feel-like-a-contestant-in-a-pie-eating-contest amazing.  Um, that’s just what I heard.

Cons:

If one did eat this every day for a week, per se, I wonder if her pants would fit the following week?

Maren - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

This pie is the most perfect combination of sweet and fresh that is perfect for any summertime gathering.  I cannot wait to make this again.

The cream filling is actually so lightly sweet and perfect, that I think that I may either cut the glaze in half next time, or omit it all together.  The filling, graham cracker crust and fresh strawberries are simply perfect.  The glaze is the kick in the pants!

 
 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: This just looked absolutely scrumptious! Always looking for a sweet treat and I don’t make many desserts especially pies, so it looked like it was worth trying!

 

Details:

  • Ok, I will admit, I cheated…I bought a store-bought graham cracker crust!  Well worth it to me, I bought an extra-large 9inch crust.
  • I bought two crates of fresh strawberries! Yum!
  • I got to break out my handy KitchenAid Stand Mixer for the filling!  I wish I used it more!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This was my first time making a glaze, I was a little intimidated!  When it becomes a red clear mixture it’s done and be sure to stir, as I had my heat on too high and I definitely had a sticking issue.

Follow the 3 hours of chilling process, as I didn’t chill this long and you can tell when you slice into the pie.

Kristy - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

This is one top ranking pies!

I served it to Mike’s family, they were actually fighting over the last pieces of pie!

Easy and delicious!

Cons:

None!

Kristy - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

Definitely worth making!! This could even be made as an individual serving in a mini muffin tin for parties!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Janet

Mission: Make a dessert fit for a summer family gathering.

 

 

Details:

  • I made a homemade pie crust and purchased the rest of the ingredients from the grocery store.
  • Strawberries were on sale that week, thankfully, because I bought about 4 pints. I only used two pints for this recipe, though I did go through all of them to pick out the smallest and most ripe ones for the filling.

For once I didn’t stray from the ingredients list!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I always wondered if pie weights are actually useful, and after baking a bottom crust without filling in it, I figured out why. My crust bubbled up on the bottom, but it didn’t affect my pie too much. Make sure to prick the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent this from happening or invest in some pie weights.

Make your crust and glaze first and let those both cool down to room temperature before putting in the cream filling. Once you get the filling in, let it set in the fridge for about 10 minutes before putting in the berries.

Don’t be afraid of homemade whipped cream…trust me when I say it is SO EASY! Put a medium-sized bowl in the fridge overnight to cool, then take your cup of heavy whipping cream and whip away! Mine seemed to take a while to thicken, so I put ice and some cold water in a bigger bowl, placed my medium bowl over the ice, and it thickened in a snap!

Janet - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

DELICIOUS!!

I brought it to a family get-together and it was gone in no time. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was especially happy I didn’t have to take tempting leftovers home!

Cons:

No bad review for this recipe!

Janet - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

A great summer dessert recipe! I received wonderful reviews from my future family-in-laws, one aunt even said it reminded her of a strawberry pie she had when she was younger.

I thank Your Homebased Mom for helping me impress my future-in-laws with this recipe!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Amanda

Mission: Bake a sweet treat for my in-laws.

 

 

Details:

  • Sadly our local strawberry patch did not have berries at the time I was ready to make this. Mother Nature really put a damper on things like berries this year! I went with good ole’ grocery store berries. They were just fine (although not nearly as aromatic).
  • I decided to make the graham cracker crust instead of the traditional pastry crust. Let’s face it; graham cracker crust is a WHOLE lotta easy compared to a pastry crust. Next time I think I would pulse a few pretzels into my graham mixture to add a salty-sweet twist and may reduce the amount of sugar used in the crust. I found it to be a little sweeter than I would like with all the other sweetness happening in the pie. This could be due to the graham crackers I used (I only had the Honey Maid Lil Squares on hand).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I didn’t have enough berries. Buy at least 3 packages (to be safe 4) so you have a berry-licous pie.

When whipping your cream be careful not to over whip! I let my stand mixer do the work but didn’t realize how quickly it would be ready and ended up with lumpy whipped cream. I decided to pitch that batch and start over. Lesson learned.

Also, follow the instructions on the crushed strawberry layer. I should have put the corn starch in the water instead of just mixing it all together. I had to work out a few lumps.

Amanda - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

Beautiful, crowd-pleasing and finger licking GOOD!

I love this recipe because you can do it in stages. I started with the crushed strawberry layer then let that chill overnight. Then I made the crust and whipped topping and threw the whole thing together. We didn’t actually eat it until the next day and it was good to the last bite (or lick of pie plate in my case).

Cons:

I found the layout of how the recipe was written in the print out to be a little confusing. I am used to reading it the way you make it and it seemed like there was something missing because it was segmented out the way it was.

Amanda - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

I will definitely be making this again, especially after working out a couple of kinks. My in-laws LOVED it and so did I. I highly suggest making this when you have company. It will prevent you from eating it for every meal.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #6 – Alicia

Mission: I hate making pies – just not my thing. Making a crust that never turns out really upsets me! I saw this recipe for easy Strawberry Cream Pie with 2 crust options – Let’s give it a whirl.

 

Details:

  • My Mother-In-Law has beautiful Strawberry bushes and has been sending us quarts and quarts of them. Perfect for jam and pie!
  • I choose to make a graham cracker crust versus the pastry crust
  • While the crust was baking, I whipped up the cream filling and popped that in the fridge to chill and then moved onto the glaze section of the recipe.
  • Your layering technique does not have to be perfect, unless you are entering it in a pie contest.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be sure that the glaze is completely cool before spooning it over your pie. I got very impatient waiting. Once the first spoonful of delicious glaze hit the creamy goodness, it started to melt and ooze over the pan. I put that bad boy back in the fridge to set and it helped a lot. Note to self, have more patience!

Alicia - Pie 1

Pros:

Each layer tastes heavenly.

Cons:

None!!!

Alicia - Pie 2b

Conclusion:

Holy Shabingo!!! This is the best thing I have every tasted – seriously! The graham cracker crust, creamy filling and glaze – YUM! My husband said “Oh my. This is the best dessert you have ever made”.

Seriously – MAKE THIS PIE! Also – my pictures do not do this any justice. Please ignore that and try it!!!

 

 Strawberry Cream Pie Conclusion


The tantalizing
Strawberry Cream Pie and photo by Your Homebased Mom


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Inspired by a much loved Mexican Bean Salad, Once Upon a Chef has perfected her Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette, making it positively drool-worthy!

 

With warm temps outside, we’re up for any dish that doesn’t need the oven or stove; and who can resist a chance to eat up some of the season’s freshest ingredients?

 

Please click here to visit Once Upon a Chef and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Healthy, fresh and delicious is always a key when trying new recipes! This hit the spot!

 

Details:

Get ready to chop…lots to chop, but well worth it.

  • I grilled the corn on the grill first then added it to the dish.
  • I used minced garlic out of the jar since I didn’t have any cloves.
  • I may add some green onions next time for some extra flavor.

bb salad 1

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely get a juicer for the lime. I don’t have one, and that would have definitely been handy.

We enjoyed ours with some tilapia from the Blackened Tilapia Taco recipe!

 

 

Pros:

I had it marinate for an hour and it was still delicious so don’t hesitate to make it last-minute.

It’s even great the next day!

Cons:

Absolutely, none.

Kristy - BB Salad

Conclusion:

Mike and I both enjoyed!  It’s perfect as a side salad with a meal or great with tortilla chips as a dip!  I will definitely be making next weekend!!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: This recipe was a great way to attempt to get my hubby to eat black beans.

 

 

Details:

  • For the most part I followed the instructions from Once Upon A Chef exactly (minus the fact that I forgot to add the cilantro).
  • I did add a jalapeno for a little heat but that was the only change I made intentionally.
  • I did cut it in half since I am the only one that really loves beans in our house.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely doesn’t make a great left over (gets very runny and strange-looking – although it still tasted pretty good but we eat with our eyes so who are we kidding here).

I could have cut the recipe down to just a ¼ but the thought of that math makes my head hurt.

 

Pros:

This would make a perfect accompaniment to add to a fish taco. You could whip up a batch of the fabulous Blackened Tilapia Tacos we reviewed a while back and add it to them. MMMM.

This is a great summer dish since produce is best this time of year and our markets seem to be overflowing with beautiful color. I tried this as a salsa too and it is great with chips!

Cons:

Really just the leftover thing. It just didn’t “look” like it would taste good the second day and I had to close my eyes to take the first few bites.

Amanda - BB Salad

Conclusion:

YUM. Two thumbs up! This is going straight into my recipe book. My gal pals will love it (even if my family wasn’t on board).

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: The sight of this recipe made me drool. With 4th of July coming I was looking for a light side that will please the crowd.

 

Details:

The recipe is very easy to follow, basically just throw all the ingredients into a bowl (saving the avocado for last). Mix, chill, and serve.

  • I took a short cut and used frozen corn instead of cutting from the cob. I’m a sucker for a time saver. It gave me time to make my own pitas. They’re delicious and paired perfectly with this recipe.
  • I highly suggest letting the salad chill in the refrigerator for a while as suggested in the original post. Let the flavors come together

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Squeeze some lime juice on the avocado before tossing it in. It helps prevent them from browning.

Sheri - BB Salad 1

Pros:

Incredibly delicious and sure to please a crowd.

Cons:

I divided the recipe in half and really wish I had more.

Sheri - BB Salad

Conclusion:

I absolutely LOVED this recipe. It had many of my favorite ingredients. I’m avocado obsessed.

Paired with my homemade pita chips, I was all ready to enjoy my Saturday night. This recipe is definitely a winner and full of yummy goodness.

I know what I’m bring to this week’s 4th of July cookout!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Maren

Mission: I could not wait to make this recipe, it’s right up my alley!  I am a lover of each and every ingredient in this salad.  Yum!

 

Details:

  • I don’t love red peppers, so I went with orange!
  • I used a 12 oz. bag of frozen sweet corn – worked like a charm!  I eat this brand all the time and I do feel like it’s crunchy and fresh tasting when allowed to thaw on it’s own.  I’m pretty sure that I used more than called for, but whatever, I love corn!
  • I went a little heavy on the lime juice and garlic.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

IMG_3476

I use lime juice in just about every recipe that we eat.  I love it!  Every couple of months, I buy a bag full of limes and take some time to squeeze them all, then pour the juice into ice cube trays so that I always have real lime juice when I need it.  Way better than the stuff you buy in the little plastic lime bottle at the store.

Enjoy with Xochitl tortilla chips.  They are the best!

If you’re chop-challenged, you can use a pizza cutter!

Pros:

I LOVE this salad so much!  I have made it 6 times and have ingredients in the fridge for more!  I eat it on chips, on it’s own, and have even added rotisserie chicken!

Cons:

Even though I am a huge lover of avocado, I actually liked this salad better without it.  Not really a con, but my own preference.

Maren - BB Salad

Conclusion:

This recipe is great.  It’s so fresh and light, perfect for summer noshing.

While I do prefer this salad without the avocado, it’s great with it, too!  Versatile and easy to make, this one was a fast favorite.

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: I’m always on the lookout for easy and tasty recipes to prep for events. This one sounded like it was one of those, and in addition sounded healthy!

 

Details:

I modified this recipe from the start!

  • I decided to make it more of a chip dip vs. a salad. I picked up tortilla chips when gathering the ingredients to serve with the dip and it was a hit!!
  • Though I like to eat as many healthy fats as I can, I have never been a lover of avocado. I just can’t get used to the taste and texture, so I left them out of this recipe – I know, selfish! Though, in my case, it helped as I made this dip for two separate events where it would have been too difficult to add to the salad right before serving.
  • I really love a recipe that calls for ingredients I have on-hand. I had Iowa sweet corn from my parent’s farm in the freezer, mini sweet peppers and garlic in the fridge and sweet onions in the pantry, which I used instead of shallots. In addition, I already had all of the seasonings that were called for.
  • At the grocery store, I picked up the black beans, limes and cilantro and then got to work.
  • The only items I had to dice were the peppers, onion and garlic. And then I zested the limes with my handheld grater, which worked great!
  • To cut-up the cilantro, I used my kitchen shears and added closer to 3/4 cup to the mix.
  • After prepping, I let the dip sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours before attending each event I served this at.

It was a huge hit and was gone by the end of the night!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

chips_dip

Using a handheld grater to zest your limes works great – just watch your fingers!

Cut the sugar down to 1 tablespoon, or even omit altogether. In my opinion, it wasn’t necessarily needed.

If you make this as a chip dip, cut down the amount of olive oil added. I only used 6 tablespoons.

 

Pros:

Easy to make and oh so tasty! And, with the addition of the cayenne, it had a nice spicy kick!

Cons:

Honestly can’t think of any – loved it and will definitely make again.

Sarah - BB Salad

Conclusion:

Loved this dip! It was easy to modify for your own needs. Even my husband ate it and went back for seconds, and that’s saying something!

 

 BB Salad Conclusion


The gorgeous
Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette and it’s photo by Once Upon a Chef


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A love for fruit snacks is almost mandatory in the kid world these days, but what’s in those things anyway? 
Mama Mouse Says
has shared her own recipe for homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks made with easy ingredients that may already be in your refrigerator!

 

Always searching for healthy treats to feed to our little ones, we were eager to give this clever recipe a try!

 

Please click here to visit Mama Mouse Says and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: I have always wanted to try and tackle a homemade fruit snack recipe but had been a bit discouraged by the lack of easy-to-follow recipes. This recipe was super simple and I am all about fast and easy, and kid approved or course!

Details:

I followed the recipe exactly.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

You definitely need a food processor to create this recipe. I suppose you could use a blender and get the same results. I did find that by blending/pulsing the mixture, I got a lot of air bubbles. Let your mixture settle a bit before pouring into your pan and LEAVE in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.

Also, being the goofball that I am, I purchased 6 full packages of the gelatin at the store not realizing that one package contains 4 pouches inside. DUH! You don’t have to twist my arm to make more.
Alicia - Snacks 1

Pros:

Very healthy and delicious.

Cons:

By using a small fondant/cookie cutter, you have a lot of wasted product, although it looks so pretty.

Alicia - Snacks 2

Conclusion:

My kids loved these snacks so much, that they gobbled up my first batch before I even noticed. I am so thrilled on how easy it was to make and that I know exactly what is in them. No artificial flavors or colors- YES!!!!!

This is a must try recipe. 2 sticky-thumbs up!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Make a yummy and healthy treat for the kiddos.

 

 

Details:DSCN7948

I followed Mama Mouse’s recipe exactly with the exception of needing slightly more juice as I was a little shy on fruit juice.

  • I chose a little Mott’s apple juice with veggies. It worked like a charm!
  • I also used a sweet little cutter to made quarter sized flowers. They were very pretty but a little fussy.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

As soon as I poured the liquid puree into my cookie sheet I decided that I needed a smaller pan for next time. My gummies ended up being a little bit thinner than I wanted.

I also lined the pan with a layer of Glad Press’n Seal for ease of removing the gummies.

Amanda - Snacks 1

Pros:

This really was a great sweet treat packed with fruit and very little sugar.

Cons:

I would have liked for them to be a little more like fruit leather rather than slightly tacky like they were.

Also, if I make these again I will just cut little squares instead of using a cutter.

Amanda - Snacks 2

Conclusion:

This was a fun experiment with VERY edible results. My kids thought they were very fun to eat too.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: My kids are crazy for fruit snacks but I recently cut them out of their diet and now I’m the bad guy. Maybe this all-natural homemade fruit snack recipe will fill the void and make me “Awesome Mom” again.

 

Details:

This was a very easy recipe to follow.

  • I chose to use strawberries because it’s a fruit that all three of my boys love.
  • For juice I used Newman’s Pomegranate Lemonade, another winner in our house and it also provided the citric component the recipe called for.

The first thing I did was line the tray with plastic so I would be ready. I then poured the juice into the blender. I quickly heated up the diced strawberries and honey. While they were heating up I added the 5 packets of gelatin.

I combined all of the ingredients as directed and poured it onto the try. It looked a bit frothy. I let them set overnight. When I took the tray out in the morning it still didn’t look hard enough. I left it there a few more hours and it was still strange looking. It was an odd combination of spongy and rubbery. Honestly, it reminded me of the nasty gel-like ring when you open a can of wet dog food. Blech.

I cut them up and passed them onto my taste-testers. It got a 1 out of 3. My oldest was thrilled; the other two guys spit them out. I think it was just a texture thing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I think adding a 6th packet of gelatin might give it a better texture.

Sheri - Snacks 1

Pros:

They’re not as sticky as store-bought gummies which stick to their teeth.

Cons:

The texture isn’t quite right and a little repulsive.

Sheri - Snacks 2

Conclusion:

One out of three boys enjoyed these strawberry bites.

I love that it was a really easy recipe using real fruit and no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup. There just has to be some sort of way to get the texture a little better. Honestly, I’m not sure I would try this again.

 

 

Fruit Snack Conclusion


The lovely
Gummy Fruit Snacks and photo by Mama Mouse Says


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Vianney from Sweet Life has concocted a special recipe showcasing her fave fruit, the grapefruit!  Her Grapefruit Margarita promises to highlight the grapefruit’s sweet Texas flavor and give it a kick!

 

Try out a tasty margarita?  Okay, twist our arms.

 

Please click here to visit Sweet Life and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: To create a tart cocktail that will knock your socks off and go well with BBQ season. Oh and to dull the pain of a crazy week on the home front.

 

Details:

  • I am a woman of refined taste (or shall I say I prefer a clean, stiff drink) so I chose a silver tequila. I prefer it to gold. I am not sure why but to me it tastes less like it is eating away at your stomach lining and more like it is preparing to take you to your “happy place”.
  • I did try to purchase Cointreau but didn’t have any luck at our local liquor store so I opted for the Triple Sec I already had in my cabinet (I am a frequent margarita maker).
  • I did splurge for the Agave and feel like that made all the difference in how smooth it was. I typically use simple syrup but it is a whole lot easier to just pour something out of a bottle than having to make simple syrup.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I doubled my batch after testing out the first mix. Um it is that good.

I found that each batch required about 1 ½ grapefruits and 1 ½ limes. This would of course depend on how juicy your fruit was but this was my experience.

Pros:

This drink is smooth, satisfying and a tad bit dangerous. Yes. That IS a pro!

Cons:

Other than possibly consuming the entire pitcher and then suffering the next day I see no cons at all!

Amanda - Margarita

Conclusion:

This will be on my summer drink rotation for sure and may even replace my standard lime margarita.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: Who doesn’t like a freshly crafted cocktail…I mean really, is there someone out there that doesn’t?!? I really love grapefruit, so that was what initially intrigued me to this recipe and I also happen to like margaritas – so it was a winning combo from the get-go!

Details:

I started by picking up the alcoholic ingredients at our local liquor store.

  • It has been a LONG time since I have purchased tequila, so I honestly didn’t know where to start. I opted to not buy the regular ol’ Jose, but went for one a step up – the Jose Cuervo Tradicional – it seemed good and was an ok price.
  • I also purchased Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau due to the price.

I still ended up spending $45 in total on the alcohol, so it wasn’t a cheap liquor run.

I then hit up our local market. They have everything you ever need and it’s just a darling boutique style grocery store. I have an obsession with grocery shopping; it is an outing for me!

  • I opted for Texas ruby red grapefruits, and since it didn’t state how many were needed within the recipe, I purchased five grapefruits and five limes.

I set up shop and got everything measured and all of the fruit squeezed then mixed with a whisk right in the pitcher. I set it in the fridge to chill while I prepped the glasses for drinking. We have a plethora of Mason Jars, so that is what I used for serving this cocktail – seemed festive and fun! I used a slice of grapefruit to wet the rim of the glass and then dipped it in a plate of sea salt.

We just so happened to be making tacos for dinner that night, so it was a perfect pairing! We drank the first batch quickly, so I ended up making a second batch with the extra fruit I had on-hand. My hubby and I loved this recipe!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

You need about 1.5 – 2 large ruby red grapefruits and 2 limes to get the amount of juice the recipe calls for.

Use the lime or grapefruit slice you wet the glass with for the salt within the glass as garnish. Don’t leave any delicious fruit behind!

Pros:

Easy to make and easy to drink

Cons:

A bit pricey for the ingredients if you don’t have them on-hand, but many of you may already have all of the goodies in your liquor cabinet at home.

Sarah - Margarita

Conclusion:

Super tasty and easy to whip up. They go down a little TOO easy! And, if you love grapefruit like me, any left over make a great snack or breakfast treat.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: You had me at “margarita” but lost me at “grapefruit.” However, my mama loves both. So treating her to this fruity cocktail on Mother’s Day was a must.

 

Details:

I’ll tell you right now that my bartending skills encompass popping off a beer cap or a swift twist and pull of a corkscrew. This was a new venture for me…aside from some crazy college nights over a decade ago. For this mixing novice, this concoction was simple.

  • I didn’t add the agave and it still came out great.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Sip carefully.

Pros:

Pretty and delicious.

Cons:

Not a single one.

Sheri - Margarita

Conclusion:

Mom was delighted with this margarita. It was a great icy and refreshing treat for our lounging afternoon.

Although I am completely anti-grapefruit I had to give it a try…and not too bad. I may just have to make one for myself with oranges.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Maren

Mission: I don’t actually love tequila or margaritas, but what the hell – I’ll try anything!

 

Details:

  • I was afraid that going with good-ol’ Jose might have me dancing on my kitchen island at 6:30 on a Tuesday, so I went one shelf up and landed on Camarena Reposado Tequila.  I don’t drink a lot of tequila these days (or any), so I had no idea what I was doing.  This particular brand had recently won a big “booze award” and was about half the price of Patron, so I went with it!
  • While I did squeeze some fresh grapefruit juice for this, I swiftly forgot about it before it went bad.  I used Simply Grapefruit Juice instead.
  • I used my new favorite thing, Madhava Agave Nectar Light.
  • I stuck with the program with the rest of the ingredients.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you use bottled grapefruit juice, like I did, use a little more agave than suggested.  As Vianney mentioned, if you don’t use a Ruby Red grapefruit, the taste can be a little overly tart.  The agave is a quick fix!

Pros:

I liked the sweet, but not-too-sweet flavor!

Cons:

Blaghk!  Too much salt for me!  But, that’s just a personal preference.

Maren - Margarita

Conclusion:

Although margs aren’t my personal favorite, I could tell that this one was a winner!  I am excited to have this easy recipe on hand for our patio guests this summer!

 

 Margarita Conclusion


The lovely
Grapefruit Margarita and it’s photo by Sweet Life


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A little birdie told us that Sarcastic Cooking was spilling the secret to the special blackening seasoning that turns ordinary tilapia into a spectacular dish with a Latin twist!

 

Served with a healthy helping of avocado, their Blackened Tilapia Tacos sounded truly delish.

 

Please click here to visit Sarcastic Cooking and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of tilapia; however, I’ve only tried it once. Fish tacos? I’ve only tried those once as well. I figured I should practice what I preach and give it another try. Avocado with anything usually makes me say “yum.”

 

Details:

The directions were easy to follow.

  • Sprinkle the tilapia fillets with the blackening seasoning and cook them in the skillet with some olive oil.
  • Cut up some creamy avocado with some red onion and load it all onto a warmed tortilla.

One of the great thing about tacos is you can add anything you like; black olives, tomatoes, salsa, corn.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to heat the oil in the skillet beforehand. You don’t want them sticking.

Sheri - Tilapia 1

Pros:

This is a really quick meal to prepare. Great for a healthy mid-week meal.

Cons:

I can’t get my husband to even try them.

Sheri - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

I actually liked them and I didn’t think that I would. The fish tacos I had at On the Border, grossed me out. I must say that Stefanie from Sarcastic Cooking really does have a yummy blackening seasoning. I’ll be using it often. So I enjoyed my tilapia tacos all by my lonesome with a cold beer…they don’t know what they’re missing.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Mexican and a little Louisiana blackened fish…can’t beat it!  This was a no brainer!

 

Details:

  • I used my go to seasoning mix, Tony Chachere’s as it includes all of the ingredients that we wanted for our fish and provides a good spicy kick!
  • Instead of sliced avocados I purchased a southwest avocado dip which included green peppers, black beans, and corn.
  • Sprinkle of cheddar cheese!
  • All organic products used!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Keep it simple and healthy!

Pros:

Simple and delicious!!

Cons:

None, it’s perfect!

Kristy - Tilapia

Conclusion:

Mike and I enjoyed this meal!! Add some Mexican Rice (our favorite recipe is from The Pioneer Woman) and black beans to make it a complete meal!  I kept it simple, always in a rush in the evening!! Will definitely make it again, shrimp maybe my next ingredient to add!  Maybe a mango salsa…wow, you can get creative!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: This recipe sounded like the perfect way to get my husband to try some fish (which he usually hates).  I’m new to the fish taco thing myself.  Something about fish in a taco never sounded quite right; but I gave it a shot a few years back and found a new favorite!  I was looking forward to giving them a shot at home.

Details:

  • I used flour tortillas, simply because I haven’t found a store brand of wheat tortillas that I really like.
  • We had plenty of fresh pico de gallo with our tacos.
  • I also drank a lot of beer with this meal, which probably completely negated the fact that I was enjoying a nice, healthy, light dinner.  This was direct result of my pico de gallo taste-testing early in the cooking process, landing right on a jumbo jalapeno and having my mouth nearly burst into flames.  A beer… or two, was the obvious solution to this problem.

We enjoyed our first round just as Sarcastic Cooking suggested, with plenty of avocado and lime juice.  I don’t really believe in eating any Mexican dish without plenty of lime… and Corona!  We loaded in the pico de gallo for our “seconds”.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My mom taught me to always thaw frozen fish in milk to get rid of any “fishy” taste.  I forgot about this until after the fact… they were just fine.  lol

Make sure to cook the fish through and through, because there is really nothing grosser than mushy fish.  *gag*  This also makes the blackened seasoning extra yummy!

I won’t cook anything in oil without my grease cover.  Can’t live without that thing.  I think that I got ours at IKEA for a couple bucks.

My trick to removing fish from the pan without having it fall apart – Big flipper on the bottom, Spatula on the top!

Maren - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Tasted great!  The honey even said that he’d eat them again… not all the time, but he’d eat them again.

Frankly, you could taste the seasoning and accoutrements much more than the fish itself, as [tilapia] is pretty bland as is.

Cons:

None, other than the fact that it can be tricky getting really great, fresh fish here in the Midwest that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Maren - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

I’m really glad that we tried this recipe together.  It’s always nice to know that you have some other options up your sleeve when your usual dinner menu starts repeating itself.  This is especially the case when you’re someone like me, who loves Mexican and eats it as much as humanly possible, only to make your significant other want to cry when he sees the tell-tale ingredients coming out of the fridge…  Mua haa ha!

On another note, I am so grateful to have this special seasoning recipe from Stephanie at Sarcastic Cooking.  I am already eager to add it to other recipes, like her yummy looking Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission: Believe it or not, I have never had a fish taco.  Not sure why as I love tacos and fish.  I was super excited to try this recipe.

 

Details:

I followed this recipe closely and to a T…

  • Well, I guess we are not a wheat tortilla kind of family, so I used the regular tortillas instead.
  • I also added shredded cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese??!!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This is the first time I have ever sliced an Avocado.  Fun times and not so hard!  I also added extra salt and pepper to jazz up the taste.

Alicia - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Adding cheese and lime definitely added to the flavor.

Cons:

Tilapia is a very mild fish. I might try halibut next time.

Alicia - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

This was an easy and delicious recipe!  I prefer my tacos loaded with the good stuff – sour cream, cilantro, salsa and of course cheese, just to name a few; I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of this and loved the blackening seasoning.  Very good! Even better with a Corona or Margarita!!!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: To find a quick, easy and healthy dinner that my family will enjoy, and one that will remind me of being on a Mexican vacation.

 

Details:

I gathered all of the fresh ingredients – the avocado, tomatoes, whole wheat tortillas and limes while on my weekly Super Target run.

  • I also picked up onions as I can’t have tacos without onions!

While I was prepping things for dinner, I found that we didn’t have tilapia in our freezer like I had thought. So, I sent my hubby to our local market to pick that up. They have the best seafood section!

The prep for this dinner was so quick – I think I had everything ready to start cooking within 10 minutes. Once the oil was hot, I began cooking the seasoned tilapia. The recipe called for about five minutes per side, but we ended up cooking ours about seven minutes per side as our filets were cut a bit thick.

Once the fish was done, we flaked it up a bit and layered it on our shells to each of our liking. I added avocado, onion, tomatoes and squeezed fresh lime over the top. My hubby added onion and black olives. Our kiddos ate just the fish! Everyone enjoyed it.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to cook your fish all the way through – and it adds more flavor to the blackened aspect the longer you cook it!

Make sure to buy a ripe avocado if you plan to eat it soon. The one I grabbed wasn’t soft enough, so that made prepping it a bit more intensive.

Sarah - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Easy meal to prepare!

Cons:

Can be more costly than planned if you have to hit up the local grocery store for tilapia. Plan ahead!

Sarah - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

Quick and delish! We will definitely be making this again. I really enjoyed learning the basics of cooking a blackened style fish. Next time, I’ll make sure I have margaritas handy as well!

 

 Tilapia Conclusion


The delish
Blackened Tilapia Tacos and photo by Sarcastic Cooking


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Our Best Bites is tempting us with their Chocolate Nutella Cookies; that creamy, dreamy spread that makes anything better!

 

Nutella, chocolate, we’re not sure that they even needed anything else to convince us to try them out!

 

Please click here to visit Our Best Bites and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: Hop on the Nutella train and give these sweet treats a try!  And, I’ve never turned down a cookie.

 

Details:

I was careful to follow the directions carefully, since I can get a little carried away when I’m baking.  I’m a huge fan of the heaping measurements and the fine craft of winging it!

  • I looked everywhere for Hazelnut Extract and couldn’t find it.  Everywhere!  I found every kind of extract you could imagine, except for Hazelnut.  Then I remembered my stash of coffee boozeFrangelico is hazelnut!  I substituted the liquor for the 1/2 tsp of Hazelnut/Vanilla Extract.
  • They got “crackly” right at 12 minutes, but my cookies weren’t quite as puffy as Our Best Bites‘.
  • This recipe made 45 cookies!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Maren - Cookies 1These cookies are pretty darn easy to make!  The dough was super sticky though, even after refrigerating them.  In order to squish them before putting them in the oven, I dipped the bottom of my glass in flour.

I watched closely and “little cracks” did begin to form, but it wasn’t as dramatic as I was expecting (like with a chocolate Crinkle Cookie).

I’m still getting used to our new oven, and apparently the bottom rack is pretty hot.  I scorched the bottoms of the my first round of cookies and they were really bad.  I was scared.  Then, I tried a good one and was hooked!

I will also say that I thought that they were even better the next day!  Spending the night in a Ziploc Bag
made the cookies softer.

Maren - Cookies 2

Pros:

Holy crap.  I love Nutella.

Don’t forget your glass of milk!

Cons:

That round that got burned was like, really bad.

Maren - Cookies 3..

Conclusion:

These cookies were great!  They cookies had a hint of that salty/sweet thing going on.  I am a major sweets fan, but I really liked that little bit of salty.  They were like “grown-up” cookies.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Bake up a batch of Nutella goodness. That entire sentence makes me drool.

 

 

Details:Nutella Cookie Sandwich

  • I followed the recipe exactly.
  • I baked them about 12 minutes and didn’t smoosh them down with a cup until about halfway through the bake time instead of before putting them in smooshed (I know that is not a word but I am using it anyway – these are Nutella cookies after all who cares about grammar).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I highly recommend turning these cookies into ice cream sandwiches. Brilliant idea on my children’s part!

Amanda - Cookies 1

Pros:

Um silly easy and insanely rich, chocolate goodness!

Cons:

You will eat the entire batch. Period.

Amanda - Cookies 2

Conclusion:

This is now a recipe in my personal cookbook and I fully intend to make it over and over and over again.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission: Nutella +Cookie = YES PLEASE

 

Details:

This recipe came from Our Best Bites and I am a huge fan of their recipes.  Many of the items within the recipe should be in your pantry or on hand.  I was a little shocked that this recipe did not include eggs, but was willing to try it.  Anything for Nutella people!!!!

  • The recipe called for Hazelnut Extract and Vanilla Extract. I highly recommend using Hazelnut Extract. I made 2 batches and used both. I have to say that the cookies with the Hazelnut Extract tasted that much sweeter.
  • I skipped the step to use a small glass to slightly flatten the cookie before baking. My cookies turned out just fine!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used a small ice cream scoop/melon baller to form the dough into balls.  This worked out great and was just the right measurement, too!

Alicia - Cookies 1

Pros:

This is a super easy recipe to follow.

Cons:

Hazelnut Extract might be a bit hard to find, but worth it! I found it at Cub Foods, our local grocery store.

Alicia - Cookies 2

Conclusion:

These cookies are AMAZ-ING!! One bite and I died and went straight to heaven! They taste like mini-brownies. Very soft and chewy.

I sent a batch of these cookies over to my parents house and my brother, who hates anything sweet, said that these were the best cookies he has ever tasted. Seriously, you need to make these cookies!!!!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: My kids and I are Nutella lovers…we buy the double pack at Costco almost every time we shop there. So, needless to say, this was a must try!

 

Details:

I tried my darndest to find Hazelnut Extract… well, I searched high and low at my local Super Target anyway. Go figure that they had every type of extract BUT Hazelnut Extract. So, I opted for the Vanilla Extract-only version of this recipe. I was a bit bummed, but with the three kids in tow, I just didn’t have it in me to go on a more in-depth shopping excursion to find it.

Outside of this hurdle, this was such an easy recipe to follow. It had a minimal number of ingredients, which is always a plus in my mind and went together quickly. I whipped up the dough in the morning before we headed out for the days events and then baked the cookies when I got home that afternoon.

I hosted a clothes swap that evening at my house with some girlfriends and put these out with the other munchies and they were a hit! All the gals enjoyed them – as did my kiddos. These cookies are a delicious rich chocolate treat for all ages.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Thanks to my mom, I have two bowls for my KitchenAid Mixer, which makes this so very easy to do. I mixed my dry ingredients in one and then the wet ingredients in the other. This made for a smooth transition mixing the dough together.

When I pressed the cookies with the bottom of a glass, I also used granulated sugar to give a little punch to the cookies. It gave them an added glisten on the cookie platter for presentation.

Sarah - Cookies 1

Pros:

Using parchment paper keeps the mess to a minimum when it comes to the baking portion of this recipe. So great!

Adding the granulated sugar when I pressed the cookies was a fun way to dress up the cookies.

Cons:

Don’t cook too long or they get crunchy – still tasty of course, but not soft and chewy.

Sarah - Cookies 2

Conclusion:

Two thumbs up! Easy recipe to follow and super easy to bake and of course eat.

 

 Nutella Conclusion


The drool-worthy
Chocolate Nutella Cookies and their photo by Our Best Bites


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Six Sisters’ Stuff has done it again, showing us the easy way to a delish Italian dish!  Their Slow Cooker Lasagna recipe looks like a busy day’s dream come true!

 

Lasagna without an hour of prep work?  Sign us up!

 

Please click here to visit Six Sisters’ Stuff and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Love a quick way to put together a dish and come home to a yummy meal!

 

Details:

  • I added fresh chopped basil that I had on hand.
  • I used ground sirloin and cooked with chopped onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • All of the products that I used were organic!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely watch it once it is done cooking. Mine cooked for 3 hours on high and was amazing as I took a couple of bites! Then I went on a shopping spree while it was on warm and I came back to a slightly drier dish.

Kristy - Lasagna 1

Pros:

Very easy, just layer and put on high or low then you will come home to a good meal.

Cons:

It needs a little spice! I think I may use spicy Italian sausage next time to get it a kick!

 Kristy - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

YUMMO!! Mike loved it!  I thought I wasn’t going to get the crunchy edges that I love so much from pan lasagna, but you definitely get crispy edges.  Ideas to add more vegetables, I love adding shredded carrots to my tomato sauce and using zucchini slices instead of noodles!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: Okay, I have always wanted to try this. The one thing that has been holding me back is that no one in my family will eat lasagna! Weirdos.  I personally love it, so I was excited to finally try it.

 

Details:

Now usually when I use the slow-cooker, I prefer not to have to cook anything beforehand. However, this called for browning the ground beef or sausage.

  • I opted for sausage and I made my own sauce.
  • I also only used ricotta cheese on half of the lasagna just so I could get my husband to eat it…again, weird.

You basically layer the lasagna just as you would if you were cooking it in the oven, but you don’t cook the lasagna noodles first (regular noodles, not no-bake). I was curious to see if this would actually work!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Careful breaking up the noodles to fit in the slow-cooker. I recommend wrapping them in a towel or putting them in a storage bag before you start cracking.

Sheri - Lasagna 1

Pros:

I’m a big fan of the set it and forget it.

Cons:

The noodles were a bit soft for my taste, I prefer them a bit more al dente.

 Sheri - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

Overall I was surprised that it actually came out well. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I think I want to try adding veggies next time. My husband ate it but requested that next time I add prosciutto.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I’m not generally a big fan of “American” Italian food, but I am loving learning more about this magical contraption they call the “Slow Cooker”.  I was really excited to give this recipe a try, especially since I love Six Sisters’ Stuff!

Details:

I stuck with the plan, but here are some specifics.

  • Prego Chunky Garden Combination Pasta Sauce
  • 93% Lean Ground Beef
  • Dried Parsley (as opposed to fresh)
  • I also added a little extra cheese… of course!

Also worth noting, my crock pot cooks food at warp speed.  I learned this after crying out for help to my Facebook friends when my last crock pot experience was done and bubbling out of the pot in 1/4 of the recommended cooking time!  It’s the Rival Smart-Pot 5 Quart Crock-Pot.

In my turbo crock pot, this dish was lookin’ pretty done after about 2 hours (on low), however we didn’t eat it until it had been almost 4 hours.  At the 2 hour mark, I used my “toothpick trick” (trick details forthcoming) which probably helped cool it down in there and keep the dish from overcooking.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray before adding any of the ingredients.  This trick not only helps get the food out, but makes clean-up pretty easy, too.

If your slow cooker starts to pop the lid with steam and make a “clink clink” sound, prop it open just a bit with a toothpick.  Works like a charm!

I picked up zuccini and mushrooms to add, but I forgot about them!  Next time, I won’t forget and I might also add just a little more sauce or water to compensate for the added ingredients and prevent the dish from getting dry.

Maren - Lasagna 1

Pros:

Where do I begin?  Although not a big pasta girl, I loved this lasagna recipe and was giddy about the two good-sized containers of leftovers that we had.  More for me!

Cons:

None!  With a little maneuvering, I was even able to get each piece out without turning it into slop!

 Maren - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

LOVED IT!  So easy, so yummy, frickin’ awesome.  I feel excited to have this recipe in my book; since most of the items are in the cupboard, this is a great meal to make when you have a busy day at hand.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: To take lasagna where it has never gone before – the crock pot!

 

 

Details:

  • I went with an Italian pork sausage and think I would change that for next time. I found the meat a little chewy. I think I would actually mix it with ground turkey for the flavor.
  • I also used my own homemade sauce. I used 24 oz like the recipe called for. I ended up adding a little at the end however because I like it to be a little more saucy.
  • Also, I added 3 or 4 more noodles than what was called for. 6 just didn’t seem like enough.
  • After 3 hours it was pretty much done and I should have set the crock pot to “warm” at that point because after 4 hours it was really done – almost too done (mushy noodles don’t appeal to me!).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a slow cooker liner! They will literally change your life. I used Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. They are amazing and made clean up seriously quick. Much quicker than a large pan of lasagna that is for sure! I would also suggest cutting the cook time way down. I don’t know if my crock pot runs really hot but it cooked almost completely at about 3 hours. Next time I make it I plan to switch it to “warm” at the 3 hour mark.

Amanda - Lasagna 1

Pros:

EASY! Delicious and basic ingredients for the most part.

Cons:

My kids didn’t like the ricotta cheese so I may need to omit that next time. Or maybe I will just force them to try it again! My hubby also prefers how the oven makes the top crispy so I may need to put a little section in the oven on broil to appease him too.

Amanda - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

I will be making this again for sure! It would be ideal for a large group to have a few crock pots going.

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Janet

Mission: It seemed like an interesting recipe to try in the crock pot. I’m always game for trying new recipes and making a meal that is good left over for lunch at work.

 

Details:

I got all the ingredients at the grocery store!

  • I swapped out the ricotta for a container of cottage cheese.
  • I used dried parsley and added some shredded mozzarella cheese to the recipe as well.
  • I also had a half-full open jar of sauce that I added in addition to the full jar the recipe calls for.

Tips & Tricks Learned:Janet - Lasagna 1

The recipe only called for two layers of noodles, but I put in three. After making, I could have even put in another two layers. It all depends on the size of your crock pot.

I had put it on high for about 1 hour and then turned it to low for 2-3 hours. Once you notice that all the cheese is melted and the edges start to crust and brown, it is done.

Put extra cheese in on top, you know you want to! It is lasagna after all!

Pros:

Easy to throw together, but most lasagna recipes are that way. It made a lot and I ended up putting it all into small containers for lunch. I put half in the freezer and the other half in the fridge.

Cons:

It tasted good, but just wasn’t the same as cooking it in the oven. It fell apart and was a little too liquid-y. I wished I had put in more noodles when layering it.

Janet - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

After getting it all started, I began to question why one would ever have the need to make lasagna in their crock pot? It might be a good way to make lasagna in the summer if you didn’t want to turn your oven on, but it just didn’t have the same flavor as it would if you were to cook in the oven. It was interesting to try, however I am not too sure that I will make it again.

The best part about this project for me though was not the food, but learning about the Six Sisters’ blog!  They have some awesome recipes and ideas; I urge you to check out their site!

 

 Lasagna Conclusion

 

The tasty Slow Cooker Lasagna and it’s photo by Six Sisters’ Stuff


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Eat at Allie’s has created a sweet treat with a disappearing act that is a perfect pairing for the story of the Easter Holiday.  Her Resurrection Rolls are as easy to make as they are fitting for the big day!

 

Stories aside, we love marshmallows and bread.  Period.  Let’s do this!

 

Please click here to visit Eat at Allie’s and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To create yummy pastries while teaching the kiddos the resurrection of Jesus. My Sons says “Jesus is a nice guy you know”- I couldn’t agree more

 

Details:

This recipe is very easy to follow and the items are all usually on hand in my kitchen!

  • I used both crescent rolls and biscuits. I found that the biscuits were easier to stretch and fit a large marshmallow with breaking or tearing the dough.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure you seal or crimp your ends tightly. Some of my seals broke open and created a huge sticky mess on the bottom of my oven.

Alicia - Rolls 1

Pros:

Very easy recipe to follow and super tasty. Cinnamon and sugar is a plus in my book.

Cons:

The mess in the bottom of my oven!

Alicia - Rolls 2

Conclusion:

Jesus has risen indeed! What a fun recipe and a great way to incorporate a Bible lesson at home with the kids – and did I mention it was a delicious treat!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Bake up some gooey, doughy goodness while entertaining the kiddos.Happy Kids

 

 

Details:

  • I used all the same ingredients and methods suggested in the original post minus the parchment paper. Clearly I was not paying attention there.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The parchment paper would have made a huge difference in serving and how well the little balls stayed intact since they would not have been baked onto the sheet so firmly…. which would have improved cleanup time as well.

Amanda - Rolls 1

Pros:

We all had fun making these. The kids were excited and so was I! Such a simple idea and very kid friendly.

Cons:

They didn’t turn out as lovely as Allie’s. In fact my kids kind of picked at the gooey center (mine did not turn into magical syrup like hers’ either) and then asked if they HAD to eat them.

Amanda - Rolls 2

Conclusion:

Not a winner in the taste category but they really were fun to bake. I don’t know that I would make these again in this method but might consider adding a bit of chocolate and mini marshmallows for a s’mores-like knock off. Pretty sure I could get everyone on board with that idea!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission: To make a yummy treat for the kids…oh and me!

 

Details:

I had all of these ingredients on-hand, which made this recipe even easier from the get-go – I love when that happens!

  • I melted the butter in a glass dish, got the cinnamon sugar mix ready, put the marshmallows in a bowl and started prepping these. I have a silly phobia of things that “pop”, such as balloons, fireworks, guns AND crescent roll tubes…so I secretly hate using these. My husband has a good time making fun of me for this fear of mine. But, I power through opening the tube and forge ahead.
  • Anyway, once I was all set up, the process of making the resurrection rolls was very quick and easy. Outside of getting my hands coated in butter and sugar, it was a smooth process.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to tightly secure the crescent roll around the marshmallow to avoid having it spilling out the sides as mine did. It ended up being messy and not as cute as they should have been once baked.

Sarah - Rolls 1

Pros:

Minimal ingredients and delicious!

Cons:

A bit messy to create, and if you didn’t secure them tightly enough, messy to get them off the cookie sheet.

Sarah - Rolls 2

Conclusion:

A yummy treat to nosh on for this Easter!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Janet

Mission:  I was hesitant with this project at first. It was definitely something I personally wouldn’t have picked out to try.

 

Details:

  • I got the marshmallows and crescent rolls at the grocery store and had everything else on had.
  • It was really easy to put together!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely put some effort into pinching the dough closed, I didn’t do this very well and as you can see, melted marshmallow all over the pan!

These are tastiest right out of the oven, don’t let them cool before eating because they get hard and very sticky.

Janet - Rolls 1

Pros:

These tasted really good!

Cons:

Sticky melted marshmallows all over the cooking pan. Made it difficult to get the rolls off the pan without pulling them apart!

Janet - Rolls 2

Conclusion:

These turned out okay, but I don’t know if it is something that I would make again. The story on the blog is really sweet and would be fun to tell to kids while making the rolls.

 

 Rolls Conclusion

 

The lovely Resurrection Rolls and their photo by Eat at Allie’s


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Your Homebased Mom has cracked the code on Micky D’s ode to the Irish, the Shamrock Shake!  It looks just like the real thing and uses only a handful of ingredients that may already be in your fridge!

 

We needed to see if this milkshake brought the boys to the yard…

 

Please click here to visit Your Homebased Mom and see the instructions that  we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: Shamrock Shakes?  Love those things!  Although after being “displaced” for 7 months I am on a sabbatical from fast food joints, so if I want some Shamrock Shake action, I’m going to have to make it myself!

Details:

  • I popped for the Monin Green Mint Syrup after the customer reviews convinced me that I would be noshing on fancy desserts and sipping pinky-up French beverages if I did.  I’ll let you know how that goes.
  • I halved the recipe only because I accidentally saw the Nutritional Information on the side of my container as I was shoveling it into the pitcher.
  • Whipped this sucker up in less than a minute with my beloved, Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender. If you don’t have one, you need one.
  • I was too lazy to get the sprinkles out.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I just love my Cuisinart Smart Stick.  It is the best kitchen gadget ever.  I have a little pitcher from IKEA that is always the perfect size for blending smoothies and now milkshakes!  Just dump everything in and blend with hardly any cleanup!

Pros:

Tastes just like the real thing but with an even better texture – like from a malt shop!

Cons:

I halved the recipe.  I wanted more.

Maren - Shake

Conclusion:

I loved this thing, it was even better than the real deal!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #2 – Alicia

Mission: Recreate the infamous McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.

 

Details:

  • Taste TesterI had all the ingredients on hand and had some eager taste-testers.
  • Although I did not have mint syrup, I used mint extract and Crème De Menthe.  Close enough, right?

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This recipe is pretty straightforward. Add ingredients to blender and blend away.  I used a bit more milk than the recipes calls for.

Pros:

Very easy to make and most kitchens will have the items on hand.

Cons:

Not a huge mint fan, but the kids loved it!

Alicia - Shake

Conclusion:

I have never had or tasted a Shamrock Shake before, as I am not a huge fan of mint. I was pleasantly surprise how good this tasted. This will be a great project to make for St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Janet

Mission: I’ve never tried the original McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, but have always wanted to. I was excited to try a homemade version!

 

Details:

  • I picked up the vanilla ice cream and mint extract from the grocery store. I had the food coloring & milk on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I had put a little too much mint extract in my first version, it was slightly overwhelming. Other than that, this was delicious!

Pros:

So easy and tasty, a perfect dessert after a long day!

Cons:

None!  I loved it!

Janet - Shake

Conclusion:

This would be fun to make for kiddos (or yourself) to celebrate St. Patty’s day! Trust me, you should try it!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: I love mint. Mint chocolate chip is my absolute favorite ice cream. However, I have never before had a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. I figured this would be a great time to give it a try.mint shake4

 

Details:

  • The great thing about a milk-shake…it’s very simple to make, add ice cream and milk.
  • I had to go to three stores in search of mint extract or mint syrup. Peppermint was easy to find, but the recipe requires “mint.” I finally found mint extract and stopped at my local McDonald’s on my way home for my Shamrock Shake comparison.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t forget to put the top on the blender! I learned that lesson when I was 8 years old.

Pros:

A quick and easy treat, and definitely festive for St. Patrick’s Day!

Cons:

Finding mint extract. (Oh and a small Shamrock Shake has 530 calories)

Sheri - Shake

Conclusion:

I have to be honest; I wasn’t really crazy about it. However, the recipe holds true and is well comparable to the McDonald’s shake. I ended up making green vanilla shakes for my crew and they were thrilled! So if you are a fan of the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake then try this recipe, it won’t disappoint!

 

 Shake Conclusion

 

The lovely Shamrock Shake and it’s photo by Your Homebased Mom


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Jennifer, over at Savoring the Thyme has unlocked the secret to a truly tasty and budget-savvy meal with her Greek Inspired Chicken.  Even better is that this not-so-boring chicken can be kid friendly!

 

Better brush up on your Sirtaki!  Opa!

 

Please click here to visit Savoring the Thyme and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: I’ve been dying to try Savor the Thyme’s recipe. When I first spotted it on Pinterest, I drooled on my computer. Any excuse for me to use feta in a recipe. Not to mention, I’m tired of the same old chicken. I’m trying to only serve lean protein and we’re all getting bored with it. “Chicken again?”

Details:

  • The directions we’re easy to follow.  Just flour the chicken breasts (season first) and cook them in the frying pan with some olive oil.
  • The fun part was putting together the Greek goodness. Olives, Feta, and tomatoes! Yum.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a cutting board that has a lip around the edge so the tomatoes and olives don’t go rolling off when you try to slice them.

Sheri - Greek Chicken 1

Pros:

Simple and so delicious! And it has feta!

Cons:

None, aside from the fact that I should have made more of the topping just to throw on a salad.

Sheri - Greek Chicken 2

Conclusion:

First of all my husband was pleased not to have to eat the same old chicken recipes I usually make! This one had a ton of flavor and was truly easy to make. It’s definitely something I can whip up quick when I get home from work. Did I mention I LOVE feta!? I’m sure this would be a great crowd pleaser for a group as well. It’s not only flavorful, it’s eye appealing as well. I’m going to try this a little different next time…marinating the chicken in Greek dressing first. We’ll see how it goes.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: To cook healthier meals for the New Year…always a resolution! And this looked delicious!

 

Details:

  • I am trying hard to follow the Paleo diet so I had to use almond flour to coat the chicken instead of all-purpose flour.
  • I changed it up a bit by sautéing the spinach with the garlic (yummy…I used lots of garlic) then I topped the finished dish with fresh chopped basil.
  • Despite trying to keep the Paleo diet I still topped with the crumbled feta.  A gal still needs cheese, it makes everything a little more scrumptious. And what’s Greek inspired if it doesn’t contain olives and feta!?!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be certain to defrost the chicken…I was too lazy to and it took a bit longer for my chicken to cook.  It came out a bit dry because of this.

Kristy - Greek Chicken 1

Pros:

Very easy to make, healthy and the ingredients were super cheap!

Cons:

Nothing really, my chicken was dry but that was because of my own laziness!

Kristy - Greek Chicken 2

Conclusion:

Mike and I both thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely be saving this to make it again! Very healthy dish that is super quick to make!

 
 

Reviewer #3 – Janet

Mission: My first thoughts, Yum! But the picture looks too good to be true, no way could I make mine look that yummy.

 

Details:

  • I had feta on hand, so before that went bad, I decided to whip up the meal. I grabbed the rest of the goods at the grocery store.
  • I used soy flour and coconut oil that I also had on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I let the chicken cook for quite a while…uncooked chicken frightens me.

The coconut oil worked really well for cooking, I just always forget to use it to substitute olive and veggie oil.

The recipe was really easy to follow, I didn’t deviate much from it.

Pros:

Did I really make something this delicious and fresh tasting? And it actually looked like something I could serve to guests? Awesome!

Plus, it actually keeps really well left over for those who are making it just for themselves.

Cons:

Nothing here, except cooking chicken in the skillet makes my apartment stink for the next 4 days. Can’t wait until I get a house someday!

Janet - Greek Chicken

Conclusion:

I already have this on my docket of go-to meals. It was so yummy, light and fresh, it almost made me forget it was winter!

I am so proud of myself for actually making something that somewhat resembled the picture and that would actually be appetizing for my fiance or guests. This is a must try recipe!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To find a delicious, healthy and quick meal for my family.

 

Details:

YUM! This recipe sounded great from the get-go and really turned out amazing.

  • This recipe had minimal ingredients, that were all easy to find, so that was a plus from the start.
  • Our family tries to steer clear of gluten as much as possible, so I substituted almond flour for the regular flour it called for.
  • In addition, I added chopped onion when the tomatoes and olives were tossed in the oil as we love onions in this house!

This recipe was so easy to prep and cook so we will definitely be making it again! I couldn’t believe how quick it all came together – I think I was in the kitchen no more than 20 – 25 minutes before it was done and on the table.

Next time we make this, I may try using kalamata olives in place of the black olives for a little extra zing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure your oil of choice is hot before you start cooking your chicken. The chicken breasts I used were a bit thick, so the cooking time was more like 5-6 minutes per side vs. the 3-4 it called for.

Sarah - Greek Chicken 1

Pros:

Easy, healthy and delicious! This would be a great go-to recipe for entertaining.

Cons:

Nothing!

Sarah - Greek Chicken 2

Conclusion:

So delicious and my husband and kids loved it! I can’t wait to make it again!!!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Amanda

Mission: Try a new way to spruce up the good ole chicken breast (let’s be honest – it can be rather boring!).

 

Details:

  • I used 5 chicken breasts instead of a package of three but I think the lbs. were about the same.
  • I did finish the dish with some thinly cut fresh baby spinach.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I am a true chicken-over-cooker at heart and have a VERY hard time not turning the meat several times and NOT cutting into it to check the doneness at the end. Both of these issues usually result in over cooked chicken but I got lucky this time and that did not happen. I did however; lose a lot of the delicious, crispy goodness due to my excessive turning. Moral of the story boys and girls, just turn it once. That really is all you need!

Pros:

Easy, quick, cheap, fairly on hand ingredients or at least ones that even I can get in the back woods I call home.

Cons:

Well my children. They are the only con. Having zero to do with the dish itself (it was truly insanely delish and would be a major crowd pleaser for a group of adults) my kids didn’t like the fact that there was “stuff” on top of the chicken. I kind of new that would happen but for the sake of a picture I topped it anyway. They lived by either not eating it or scraping it off.

Amanda - Greek Chicken

Conclusion:

I will DEFINITELY be making this again. My hubby ate two servings and raved about it (which can be rare since I do usually overcook chicken). The flavor was SO good!

 

Greek Chicken Conclusion

 

The delectable Greek Inspired Chicken and it’s photo by Savoring the Thyme


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Iowa Girl Eats has taken that gorgeous gourd we all love to a whole new level with her Stuffed Acorn Squash.  A healthy dish that is hearty enough to stand on it’s own and pretty enough to grace your holiday table.

 

Since squash isn’t just for fall, we dove right in to this seasonless recipe!

 

Please click here to visit Iowa Girl Eats and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To try my hand at another healthy and quick meal option.

 

Details:

  • I LOVE squash – of all kinds, so I was instantly excited to give this one a try.
  • I followed the recipe as noted, but in place of the sausage links, I used venison breakfast sausages. My husband is an avid deer hunter, and let me just say our freezer if FULL of venison, so when I can find a good use for it, I go for it!
  • I did add onion to my mixture – one of my favorite savory flavor additions to recipes and it added a great texture and flavor.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you are a breakfast fiend, like my family is – make sausage links for breakfast and then use your left overs to make this for dinner!

As I mentioned previously, add in onion and you could also add in bell peppers or carrots or even shredded zucchini to give it more body.

My stuffing was a bit dry, and honestly, that is the one part of this recipe I would not include the next time. I try to stay as gluten-free as possible with my diet, so it would be good to instead use a pound of ground sausage or add pecans/walnuts or zucchini, etc. vs. the stuffing the next time I try this.

Sarah - Squash1

Pros:

Pretty easy to prep and make and very tasty!

Cons:

My husband and my kiddos weren’t interested in trying this one – but also a pro as I got to eat it all by myself!

Sarah - Squash2

Conclusion:

A quick and semi-easy meal option that is not only healthy, but fills you up in a good way!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: I’m not a huge fan of squash but I am of stuffing, and this was just appealing to the eye. Sure to get the guests talking.

 

Details:

  • I like the shortcut of getting the squash going in the microwave first.  I was a little disappointed that my grocer was out of my favorite turkey sausage. I ended up using a chicken sausage instead, and I wasn’t too fond of the consistency of it. The great thing about using sausage is that it is already seasoned with savory flavors.
  • I prepared the stuffing and added the sautéed apples and sausage. Into the squash it went, and then a quick broil. A simple recipe for something that looks so elegant.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe was so well written and easy I can’t really provide any tips. However, I would maybe try making my own stuffing with fresh herbs instead of using Stove Top.

Sheri - Squash1

Pros:

Super easy and appealing to the eye.

Cons:

None!

Sheri - Squash2

Conclusion:

I enjoyed making this one even though I’m not a big squash fan. The flavors blended well and it really looked beautiful.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Janet

Mission: I love the Iowa Girl Eats blog and was so excited to try one of her recipes!

 

 

Details:

  • Found all the goodies at the grocery store.
  • I was making it just for myself, so picked out a smaller acorn.
  • Substituted bacon for the sausage because I had it on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

It might be a good suggestion to cook the squash cut side down in 1/2″ of water. The way the recipe calls for, cooking the squash cut side up, made it pretty dry. I don’t know how it would turn out, but it might be worth trying.

Pros:

The stuffing was awesome! I had to snag a little from the pan for an appetizer! 🙂

Cons:

The squash turned out dry and was hard to eat out of the skin.

I ended up spooning out the squash “guts” so I could actually eat it together with the stuffing.

Janet - Squash

Conclusion:

Will have to keep this recipe in my collection! A great, healthy recipe to try in the new year!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Kristy

Mission: Mike and I get so bored with the same old dinner recipes so I am always looking for new ones and this looked delicious!

 

Details:

  • I have to be honest, I have never eaten Stove Top Stuffing and now I can’t imagine not eating it.  Yum!
  • I had a bit of a mess up with my ground pork, freshly cooked…Mike dropped the bowl on the ground. Things happen, so I used Italian sausage that I had on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I thought the stuffing was a bit too dry so I added a little more than a cup of chicken broth. But basically, follow the directions and this will turn out perfectly!

Pros:

Yummy! Mike and I both thought it was delicious! I can’t wait to start stuffing other vegetables!

Cons:

Only that we didn’t have much for left overs!

Kristy - Squash

Conclusion:

This is definitely a winner recipe and will be made again.  It was quick and didn’t involve too many ingredients which I liked.  The presentation is great so this would be a perfect dish for the holidays and for friendly gatherings!

 

Squash Conclusion


The lovely Stuffed Acorn Squash and it’s photo by Iowa Girl Eats


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Rose Bakes found the perfect cocoa accoutrement with her Peppermint Marshmallow Dips for Hot Chocolate.  Thankfully, she has shared this treat with us all!

 

With kids home on Christmas break, and snow falling from the sky, we couldn’t wait to test-run these treats!

 

Please click here to visit Rose Bakes and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: Keep my tots busy while making a sweet treat to gift during the holidays.

 

 

Details:

  • Happy TasterI used Chocolate Mint Candy Canes because we have a chocolate addiction in this house. Not necessary, but a major perk as it added to the chocolate flavor of our cocoa.
  • We also used some round sprinkles that were multi-colored just for something different. They were a bit messy but the look was pretty.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I did this little project with my kiddos so I made sure we had everything lined up and ready roll before melting the chocolate. They stuck the straws into the marshmallows and even dipped them all on their own. That just shows you how easy this is and it really did make for a great project on a cold winters day.

Amanda - Marshmallows 1

Pros:

Easy and most things were on hand. I happen to keep those little straws in my party supply drawer so we were stocked and ready!

Cons:

None unless you have an aversion to chocolate and messes. There were a lot of both since it was an “assisted” project.

Amanda - Marshmallows 2

Conclusion:

I think this would be fun for Valentine’s Day too and even Easter. It doesn’t warm up in my neck of the woods until very late spring so we indulge in cocoa through a lot of holidays!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Katie

Mission: Give your hot chocolate, in the words of Elle Woods “a little something extra.”

 

 

Details:

  • Grab a bag of marshmallows, coffee stirrers, chocolate chips, lay a sheet of wax paper over a platter, melt your chocolate chips and get to dippin!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I always seem to burn chocolate if I try to melt it in the microwave so I decided to use a mini crockpot: my Little Dipper was perfect for this task!

Katie - Marshmallows 1

Pros:

Quick, simple and oh so festive.

Cons:

None…it involves chocolate, how could there be a con??

Katie - Marshmallows 2

Conclusion:

A quick, simple and oh so festive treat!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission: I LOVE me some marshmallows…seriously, I have a fixation with Peeps! So, let’s just say I had no problem trying these out!

 

Details:

  • Finding the candy canes was the hardest part for me – it wasn’t quite the holiday season yet, so they weren’t in many places. I ended up snagging them at Target, along with all the other ingredients.
  • I opted for dark chocolate chips – which I LOVE and I felt it made this a bit more “grown-up”.
  • After finishing these up, my kiddos and I also made homemade hot chocolate – such a great winter treat! These two things together were so nummy, they gave me warm fuzzies.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If candy canes are no where to be found – you can always use the peppermint hard candies as a replacement!

Use a Ziploc baggy and a rolling pin to crush your candy canes – was kind of messy, but easy to do.

Sarah - Marshmallows 1

Pros:

Quick, easy, cheap and delicious in hot chocolate or on their own. My kids absolutely loved them!

And, if you have time to package them up cute, an awesome present!

Cons:

Just a bit messy, but anything in the kitchen is.

You may get a bit of candy cane stuck in your teeth!

Sarah - Marshmallows 2

Conclusion:

Awesome!

 

 

Marshmallow Conclusion


The lovely Peppermint Marshmallow Dips and it’s photo by Rose Bakes


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Sugar & Spice by Celeste has shared the recipe for her Favorite Quiche!  This recipe looks like the perfect secret weapon for your holiday brunch or last-minute get together.

 

With the holidays right around the corner and house guests on their way, we couldn’t wait to test this one out!

 

Please click here to visit Sugar & Spice by Celeste and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: I have never in my life made quiche. I’ve always been a frittata kind of gal. However, I know my mother loves quiche. I figured it would be great to have a nice brunch with my mom.

 

Details:

  • I read the recipe a few times first because I’ve never done this before. I seriously had no clue that you actually bake the pie crust a little before you make the quiche. I also did a little dance when I saw I could use a store-bought crust. Score!
  • While the crust was baking I sautéed the onions and mushrooms and cooked the bacon. I put the egg mixture together and wilted the spinach. When the spinach was about wilted I turned off the burner and started shredding the Gruyère. It was truly an easy recipe to follow.
  • I combined the ingredients and poured it into the crust shell. Dang! There seemed to be too many ingredients. The egg mixture went up over the crust.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Roll the crust out a bit more so it reaches the top of the baking dish.
Sheri Quiche 1

Pros:

Easy and tasty. Perfect for a brunch with friends.

Cons:

None, especially seeing I got to use the store-bought pie crust.

Sheri Quiche 2

Conclusion:

Wow, the flavor! This quiche was fantastic. Even my father had two pieces and he’s not a huge fan of quiche. The only thing I would have done different is rolled the pie crust out a bit and baked it a little longer prior to putting the quiche together.

This recipe is being filed under “awesome for brunch.”

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Janet

Mission: My first thoughts, “Looks yummy and recipe seems simple!”

 

 

Details:Janet - baby quiche

  • Prior to making the quiche, I had prepared a cherry pie for my family’s Thanksgiving meal. Homemade crust is freezable (after checking with my mom of course), so I wrapped it and stuck it in the freezer until a day prior to making the quiche. I didn’t have enough for a full 9-inch crust, but opted to cut the ingredients down a little and make it in a few smaller dishes.
  • As for the ingredients, the cheese was the priciest of everything (found one brand for $11!) but Target offered a slightly cheaper smoked Gruyère ($5) and was made just next door in Wisconsin. After Googling for a substitute, swiss cheese can work as well.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This recipe allows for some rough estimation of ingredients. Since I decided to make a few smaller quiches, I used only two eggs, a splash of milk, and cut down the other ingredients to about half of what the recipe called for.

Cook it longer than you think. It may start to look light brown on top, but you want to make sure that the egg is cooked through, so just give it a few more minutes than the recipe calls for.

Pros:

Worked pretty well to make with my smaller dishes. Turned out really yummy! Great as leftovers as well.

Cons:

Though it turned out perfect, the small dishes were precarious to get into the oven without spilling! No other cons with this recipe!

Janet Quiche

Conclusion:

Definitely going to keep this one handy in my recipe box. I brought my leftovers to work and my coworkers were impressed with my chef-skills. They even asked to get the recipe!

If you want to make your coworkers jealous of your lunch, you have got to try out this quiche! (hehe)

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: Test out a simple recipe in hopes of having a new dish for the holiday company.

 

 

Details:

  • I chose Alpenhaus Le Gruyère which was a little pricey at about $8.00 for 8oz but I only needed about half the block so not too bad.
  • I did not have a tart pan (although it has been added to my Christmas wish list!). I used a fluted 9 inch glass pie pan instead and that worked just fine!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe said 45-55 minutes. I would definitely suggest 55. I was bringing my quiche to a party and was in a hurry so it only got 50 minutes and it was just a little softer than I wanted. Still delish though!

Amanda Quiche 1

Pros:

A nice mix of flavors a little deeper than your standard quiche. Pretty quick to throw together too!

Cons:

The cheese is kind of a budget breaker but I think you could sub that for something cheaper or use less.

Amanda-Quiche-2

Conclusion:

I will definitely make this again and may mix up the ingredients by using sausage instead of bacon or even ham.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Katie

Mission: Dazzle and delight your family and friends with this delicious dish!

 

 

Details:

  • This recipe was very easy to follow and I even made my pie crust from scratch!
  • I made one quiche per the recipe and one modified to my boyfriend’s taste: no onions.

I fed a house-full and this dish was a total hit!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Super simple to modify the recipe to your taste…I added Chipotle TABASCO sauce to mine for added kick!Katie Quiche 1

Pros:

Tastes great, easy to make and healthier than waffles

Cons:

None!

Katie Quiche 2

Conclusion:

Total hit and definitely adding to my recipe repertoire!

 

 

Quiche Conclusion

 

 

The lovely Favorite Quiche and it’s photo by Sugar & Spice by Celeste


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Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring

The Jones Way has caught our attention with her easy way to make Sticky Buns at home!  The Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring sounds almost too good to be true, so of course we had to find out to be sure!

 

Please click here to visit The Jones Way and see the recipe that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Oh, yum! My childhood memories consist of sticky buns for breakfast! My Aunt Faye makes the best sticky buns so I decided to test these to see if this new twist with syrup and cinnamon could beat her recipe!

Details:

  • I used dark brown sugar instead of light! I hope the only difference is the color and not taste.
  • I used walnuts, good brain food and I have them on hand!
  • Ugh…I am not a baker! I always mess up with baking anything…even as simple as this recipe! I forgot to add the cinnamon so I sprinkled it across the top of the biscuits.
  • Being that I am too cheap to get a Bundt Pan which I don’t think I would ever use again; I instead opted for a 9in baking dish.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I don’t know about you, but I always hate buying brown sugar because I rarely use it and when I do it for that rare recipe…it is hard as a rock! I decided to find a way to prevent this and found a bear. This little bear is supposed to help but again if you are like me and too cheap to do so… simply toss a piece of bread in with your hard brown sugar and viola…2 days later the sugar will be moist again!

Pros:

Quick and easy! Very tasty treat!

Cons:

Sticky…ha, hence the name! There are no “cons” here!

Conclusion:

YUMMY! Yes, Paleo friends…I ate them and enjoyed every bite! I had to eat them for the sake of the blog! Mike’s comments, “Un-Real” and “Phenomenal”! I did bring what was left of the dish to my coworkers who all devoured them!

This would be a great recipe for a shower or holiday brunch!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: Being pregnant has made my sweet tooth crave even more than normal! This breakfast treat looked too yummy to pass up!

 

Details:

I haven’t bought biscuits in forever – and in all honestly, I have a fear of opening those darn biscuit tubes…my husband always gives me a hard time about this!

This recipe looked amazing and sounded pretty easy to whip up, so we gave it a whirl!

  • I was super excited to use my grandmother’s Bundt Pan for this, as this was the first time I had put it to use and it is so darling.
  • Outside of the pain of opening the biscuits, this recipe was so easy and went together super quickly! We just zapped the butter in the microwave, added the agave syrup and then followed the steps noted. My kids helped by nibbling on brown sugar crumbs

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I substituted the pancake syrup with organic blue agave sweetner as that is what I had on-hand and prefer. This worked amazing and helped me feel a bit less guilty about all the sugary sweetness!

Pros:

Super easy to prep and make, delicious and both of my kiddos enjoyed it! That’s a plus!

Cons:

Left me begging for more!

Conclusion:

Two thumbs up! An awesome sweet breakfast treat and we loved it so much, we made it again a week later!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: Create sticky, gooey, delish sweet bread for the family to devour.

 

 

Details:

  • I used two small tubes of Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits and Aunt Jemima Syrup (this is the ONLY brand we buy in our house). The other ingredients are mostly generic.
  • I couldn’t find my Bundt Pan so I opted to layer it in a bread pan and it worked just as well! It would probably be prettier in a Bundt pan but why fuss if you don’t have to. Plus my kids really could care less about the shape. They just wanted the gooey goodness inside the pan.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

It is definitely key to coat the pan well with nonstick baking spray. It would be oh so disappointing if it stuck.

Pros:

It really does taste homemade even though there are some obvious shortcuts. Win-win if you ask me!

Cons:

It is TOO good. Couldn’t. Stop. Eating. It.

Conclusion:

This sweet breakfast treat is the perfect thing to whip up on a special morning to impress company with. They will definitely be fooled into thinking you were up early slaving in the kitchen!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: I really wanted to find an easy and delicious, crowd-pleasing breakfast treat. This recipe seemed to fit just right. Who can resist sticky buns?

 

Details:

I could not get over how incredibly easy this recipe was. A wet mixture (butter and syrup) and a dry mixture (brown sugar and cinnamon). I literally had this put together and in the oven in less than 5 minutes.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used butter to grease the pan instead of cooking spray…it added a little more flavor.

Pros:

Super easy, quick, and totally yummy.

Cons:

They don’t call it “sticky” breakfast bun for nothing.

Conclusion:

I was surprised how easily this sticky concoction just dropped right out of the pan and onto the plate. It was beyond delicious! Pleasing to both the eyes and the taste buds. I will definitely be making this often. It was just so easy. Who doesn’t love some cinnamon and brown sugar yumminess in the morning with their coffee?

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Maren

Mission: I grew up looking forward to sticky buns at my aunt and uncle’s house on Sunday mornings.  I knew that making them was a special tradition that wasn’t something that they just threw together.  Learning about this so-called quick and easy way to make a brunch favorite sounded almost too good to be true!!

Details:

  • In typical Maren fashion, I used rounded measurements and went a little heavy on… everything.
  • I am not a huge nut person, so I omitted them altogether.
  • I used my beloved Butter Flavored Pam.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I actually cooked this, covered it in foil, and then rode 45 minutes in the car to my mom’s house and put it back in the oven to warm it up.  I felt that the biscuits were a tad doughy in the middles, but no one else thought so, nor did they care as they all grabbed seconds and nearly licked their plates!

Pros:

I could hardly get a photo of this thing!  As soon as I turned to pick up my camera, my family dove in head first!

Everyone loved it.  Everyone.

Cons:

You can’t really tell when it’s done… just go with it!

Conclusion:

This super easy recipe is heading straight into my recipe book!  I can’t wait to impress our friends by making it at our next brunch!

 

 

 


The drool-worthy
Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring and it’s photo by The Jones Way


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WHAT?!  You heard us!  Pumpkin Scones, a la StarbucksWe Heart Food has shared with us the stuff that legends are made of.

Be prepared to be in high demand for every brunch, shower, birthday party, conference, book club… you will hold the key!

 

Please click here to visit We Heart Food and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: To bake something that I won’t consume the entire pan of upon completion. Major fail for me here which means these really were WTFOMG good!

 

Details:

  • I did not have half and half so I used ½ heavy cream and ½ whole milk, thanks to my kiddos.
  • Instead of using a fork to mix the butter into the dry ingredients I used a Pastry Cutter. So easy to get it all mixed in this way with a lot less effort.
  • To mix the dry ingredients with the wet, I started off using a wooden spoon but quickly realized I should have just used my KitchenAid. So I dumped it into the metal bowl and within a few seconds it was mixed perfectly. Sometimes I am pretty wise.
  • Also, I included testers of the 5 and under age group. HUGE success with that target market (not too shabby with the 30+ age group either).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a mixer if you have one instead of your own brawn. Totally worth the end result with no sweat involved.

I decided that I would cut my scones even smaller since I knew kids would be consuming them. I didn’t get a chance to count them (that is how quickly they were eaten) but I dare say you can get nearly 2 dozen out of this recipe.

Pros:

UM seriously tasty and so appropriate for fall. Scones initially made me a little intimidated but these really were pretty simple and so worth making.

Cons:

I ATE TOO MANY. That is all.

Conclusion:

I will definitely be making these again. It would be fun for a Thanksgiving brunch or even around Christmas time.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission:  I have never in my life made scones. They’re a treat I recently discovered that I absolutely love; I’m just hoping I can do it. At least it’s not a dough that requires yeast, that would increase my chances of failure. My husband is not a huge pumpkin fan and if I can impress him with these I will consider this a success.

Details:

The instructions from We Heart Food seemed quite easy.

I finally got to use that little contraption my kids are always asking about, the Pastry Cutter. I don’t bake much so I’ve never used it before. It worked like a charm.

I also got to use the dough hook that came with my KitchenAid mixer. I’ve always been more of a cook than a baker.

The combination of the cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg was phenomenal.

My dough was rather sticky but I was able to get it rolled out into a 1-inch thick slab by just using my hands. As far as cutting the dough, the directions didn’t seem right or I read them wrong so I created my own way which worked great.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The frosting: follow the instructions perfectly. You don’t want it too runny because it will slide right off the scones. The second glaze needs to be a little thicker than the first for a reason…it blends all together if it’s not.

Pros:

Really easy and beyond delicious!!

Cons:

Me and confection sugar glaze have had a battle with each other since my elementary school days, but I FINALLY got it right this time!

Conclusion:

These are definitely a winner! My husband came downstairs asking what smelled so awesome. When I told him they were “pumpkin” scones he looked a little bit disappointed. That was until he ate one. He too exclaimed, “Oh My God!” followed by an obscene word and an “awesome!”

The kids had them for breakfast this morning and couldn’t believe I really made them. I’m taking the compliments as a success. Now I need to go see if they left me any.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: After laughing hysterically reading the post by Chris and Lisa of We Heart Food, I was pumped to make these scones! I have a scone recipe that is my old standby, but am always looking for tasty new flavors like pumpkin!  Mmmm!

Details:

I super stuck with the program on this recipe. I even leveled off my cups and spoons with the back of a knife!

I used a really handy trick for the drizzled icing.  Pour your icing into a baggie and snip off a teensy bit of the corner!  Instant pastry bag!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The next time I make these, I think that I’ll try using my Pastry Cutter and Hamilton Beach Hand Mixer which I LOVE! I would just like to see the difference in texture.

I floured the crap out of this dough, as it was a little sticky to roll out while still being able to pick them up to place on the baking sheet.  The texture wasn’t negatively affected, and the scones were a perfect, delicate baked consistency when done!  A little lighter and fluffier than your average heavy, dense scone, which I liked!

Careful that you don’t go overboard though.  There were a couple of scones that had excess flour on them and the first layer of icing didn’t want to adhere to those areas.

Cutting the scones… um, I somehow failed this part of the scone baking process. I just ate the stupid looking ones first.  Problem solved!

Pros:

Holy S#!T these ARE amazing!  I feel so proud of myself!

I feel like freaking Julia Child, minus the Julia Child voice {said with the Julia Child voice}

The drizzled icing has a strong presence of clove that really emphasizes the pumpkin flavor!  It is PERFECT!

Cons:

Apparently cutting 1 rectangle into 12 triangles is too complicated for me.

Conclusion:

I LOVE WTFOMG SCONES!!!  I cannot wait for my next chance to make these incredible treats to share! I want to show off this incredible recipe that practically turns me into Martha’s protégé!  I also want to eat mass quantities of this treat so I will have to always make double batches… note to self!  I just want to shout it to the world!

 

 


The drool-worthy
Pumpkin Scones and their photo by We Heart Food


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Who doesn’t love tomato soup?  We discovered a fresh new take on this favorite at More Fruit Please.  She has created an enticing recipe for Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Soup that (thanks to a special ingredient) is both creamy and healthy!

Okay, you’ve got our attention!

 

Please click here to visit More Fruit Please and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: Fall always makes me want to cook. Usually it’s the comfort foods that I really crave. When I saw this recipe it was a MUST. I wanted to try it. I have never made a puree type soup. I pretty much stick to making chicken soup in various ways or making my turkey chili.

 

Details:

I followed the easy to read recipe from More Fruit Please.

It was truly very simple. Saute some onions and garlic, add two cans of diced tomatoes and some vegetable broth, add the basil and other seasonings, and let it all simmer. Add in the Greek yogurt and some shredded cheddar and puree with an Immersion Blender.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The big tip I have to offer you…do not ribbon the basil. Chop it very finely or it gets all caught up in the Immersion Blender.

Pros:

It was an easy recipe and the flavors together were fantastic.

Cons:

I personally wasn’t too in love with the texture. I can’t figure it out.

Conclusion:

This soup was really easy and inexpensive to make. It was definitely a more flavorful tomato soup. There was just something about the texture. I don’t know if it was the yogurt or the shredded cheddar. It just wasn’t as creamy as I imagined it was going to be. It still went well with my grilled cheese.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Cold weather brings out my love of soups so I felt this was a perfect recipe to try for the chilly winter months coming ahead! Added bonus, tomato soup is Mike’s favorite!

Details:

I broke out my handy dandy Oster Blender for this recipe!  Ok, I have to admit…I personally haven’t used it for its food processing capabilities, not even for this project. I had my friend, Heather, over for dinner and she used her amazing chef skills to puree!

The soup curdled with the Greek yogurt!  Sounds gross, right? I went into a panic, the soup wasn’t looking pretty!  Have no fear since once you blend the soup, there will be no more signs that things went array!

Oops, 2 cups of cheese were added! With two cooks in the kitchen something will go wrong, right!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I have goggled for you why the soup curdled and how to prevent it!  From reading, I think it was from adding the yogurt too quickly or maybe because it was too cold, so two options poor the yogurt in slowly or let it sit to room temperature before adding.

Suggestion, a hand held Immersion Blender may be best to prevent a mess as Heather had to blend the soup in batches.

Pros:

Very quick and easy! Yummy!

Cons:

Curdle…ugh, I can’t even handle the word!

Conclusion:

I loved this soup!  Mike is my tomato soup connoisseur! He was a fan but commented it was bit too cheesy!  Next time, just one cup of cheese!  Heather’s comment was that it needed a little tomato paste to give it a bit more tomato flavor…I think less cheese may do the trick!

When you are chilled this winter, this is the perfect soup to warm you up!  I paired the soup with grilled chicken and salad…I thought it all looked too yummy to not share!

I would also recommend pairing the soup with a cheesy sourdough grilled cheese for a perfect winter meal!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission:  I absolutely love soup – and tomato soup at that! This recipe sounded easy and didn’t sound like it had an excessive amount of ingredients, which to me is always a good sign. I also had some yummy canned tomatoes from my mom’s Iowa garden that I had been looking to add to a recipe.

Details:

This recipe sounded really straight forward from the get-go and I had many of the ingredients already on-hand, which is a huge plus in my book.

I was able to use up some of my FAGE plain Greek yogurt and had pre-shredded cheddar cheese ready to go in addition to many of the other ingredients.

I sautéed the onions and garlic and continued to follow the recipe as directed. Each step was very straight-forward and easy. The process was simple and quick and came together with ease.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used as many ingredients as I had on-hand – one less trip to the grocery store is always awesome in my eyes. Not having to load up my crew to just leave the house is a huge benefit.

I love using fresh summer produce! I was able to use my Mom’s canned Iowa tomatoes as well as fresh basil from my own garden.

Pros:

Super easy to prep and make and had pretty good flavor.

Cons:

Because I used my mom’s canned tomatoes, I think there may have been more natural water already, so I feel I could have skipped adding in the vegetable stock all together as the soup was more watery than I had desired.

I feel the onions and garlic could have been cooked longer to soften them more and bring out more of their flavor before moving on to the next step.

In addition, I stupidly forgot that I have a Magic Bullet, so I kept the soup “chunky” in style vs. blending it smooth. I love soup with texture, so I was totally fine with that, but my only complaint is that the Greek yogurt did not ever really fully melt/smooth into the soup.

Conclusion:

Super easy recipe and a great way to use some fresh produce! I enjoyed it, but am not sure I’ll be making it again as it just wasn’t my favorite soup ever.

 

 

 

 

The lovely Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Soup and it’s photo by More Fruit Please


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Mommy and the Monsters has shared their recipe for adding a little more H2O to your diet with the lovely and delish Raspberry Lime Flavored Water!

Who would turn down the chance to get [deliciously] hydrated?  Not these girls!

 

Please click here to visit Mommy and the Monsters and see the recipe that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission:  A simple way to add a little more flavor to my daily water intake…and try to get my husband to actually drink water, but that’s a far stretch.

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t mash the raspberries too much, you’ll have seedy water. I used a strainer when pouring.

Pros:

Super, super easy and you can change the flavor to anything you want

Cons:

None!

Conclusion:

I would definitely do this again but switch out the raspberries because I’m not a huge fan. I love the citrus and I’m thinking if I did some blackberries with a few slices of grapefruit that my husband might actually consume water more often.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: On a recent trip to Denver, CO, the hotel I stayed at offered fruit infused water so I have been anxious to make this healthy drink myself!  I have to be honest; I get bored with water so I like adding a little flavor!

Details:

  • Simple and cheap, I only added 1 lime, a pint of raspberries, ice and filtered water.
  • I also added blueberries, since I had them on hand.
  • Slice limes and dump everything in a pitcher…couldn’t get any easier.
  • Despite, being easy…don’t smash the limes and raspberries to smithereens as noted on Mommy and the Monsters!  I went a little crazy while chatting on the phone…yikes! I ended up with raspberry and lime pulp mash water with blueberries! As you can see from the picture.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Sample all different variations of flavored water, such as cucumber, cantaloupe, pineapple and strawberry.  Even fresh herbs would be great…mint, basil!

If you must sweeten, add honey or sugar to the water!

Pros:

REFRESHING AND EASY!  The best way to give your water flavor without additives! So many variations can be made.

Cons:

I made this in a spouted pitcher which became clogged with the fruit.  I found these great Fruit Infusion Pitchers, which is perfect for my new favorite water!

Even though I only used one lime, Mike and I both agreed the lime was the strongest flavor.  I may cut back next time to only half of a lime.

 

Conclusion:

Fabulous recipe! So much better than adding flavored mixes to your water.  This is natural and I would prefer it to any drink….even plain water!  It is a must do for summer…very refreshing!  Instead of making such a large pitcher, next time I’ll make several different flavors so I don’t get bored during the week.  Mike loved it too, so whatever gets your family drinking more water is great!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: To create a refreshing and delightful twist on water that my family would drink willingly.

 

 

Details:

  • This was pretty much foolproof since the ingredients were minimal.
  • I made a half batch because I was skeptical that the fam would actually consume this since it contained zero sugar.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely don’t bash your fruit into smithereens. It would create a really gross end results with way too much pulp.

Also, I would recommend letting it sit in the fridge overnight and then maybe using a mesh colander to reduce the pulp making it a little more likeable for the tot crowd (or really picky hubby).

Pros:

Easy! Refreshing! Healthy!

Cons:

Fruit is not cheap. Period.

Conclusion:

I would definitely make this again and may even try a variation but would strain it next time for more drinkability. I found this clogged my straw too often.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: I LOVE drinking water, but wanted to try a new spin to my daily routine.

 

Details:

  • I live in the produce aisle when I go grocery shopping…seriously, I’m not just a fruitcake in personality, I’m literally a walking fruit – I LOVE to eat fruit!!
  • So it was easy for me to pick up some raspberries and limes while at the store since I spend so much time in that aisle – and we had kiwi at home, so I decided to add a few of those in as well since they are one of my favorites!
  • This was not only super easy to prepare and then enjoy, but it also gave me an excuse to use my cute glass beverage dispenser! After lightly mashing the fruit, I added cold water and a little bit of ice and then set it in the fridge. We started drinking it just 6 hours afterwards and it already had great color and taste!
  • Even my kids were asking for it. It looked enough like juice and tastes sweet enough to be deceiving in that way as well. A great treat for us all!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I added in kiwi as well – it sounded like a great addition and I had a lot on hand. I think you could easily add any other citrus fruit to tang it up a bit if you wanted.

Pros:

Easy as pie and not only refreshing, but also hydrating!

Cons:

Makes your water slightly sticky due to the natural sugars in the fruit.

Conclusion:

Loved it! Would make it again for sure. I also think adding club soda to this would make this a great offering to serve as a non-alcoholic beverage at a shower or girly party.

 

 

The lovely Raspberry Lime Flavored Water  and it’s photo taken by Mommy and the Monsters


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Stick a Fork In It has done the heavy lifting for us by narrowing down the barrage of crock pot recipes and delivering this one perfect formula for Crockpot Barbecue Chicken!

Generally speaking, “Crock Pot” = easy, and we like that!  Let’s see if this carefully curated recipe is all it’s cracked up to be!

 

Please click here to visit Stick a Fork In It and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: Whip up some tasty sandwiches for my family with minimal effort!

 

Details:

  • Since I’m not a huge BBQ connoisseur, I stuck with the recommendation and used Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce.  I needed more guidance on the “1 bottle BBQ sauce.”  I narrowly escaped a meltdown in the BBQ aisle when faced with Sweet Baby Ray’s in 400 different varieties and 3 different sizes.  After much searching, I finally found the “Original” flavor and decided that the most logical choice would be the mid-sized bottle, which was 28 ounces.  I mean, I’m the middle child and I’m perfect, so that must mean something.
  • I only checked on it a couple of times, flipping the breasts over and spooning the sauce over the top.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My most recommended trick for any crock pot recipe is to first spray the crock with Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray.  Makes clean-up a breeze.  Those liners gross me out because they look like shower caps.

The chicken practically shredded itself when I was removing it from the crock pot!  I hardly needed to even piece it apart with the fork!  I put it in a bowl, and then stirred in some of the extra sauce for more flavor.  It was incredible on a bun!

Pros:

Wow!  This was ridiculously easy!

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Crockpot BBQ Chicken!

Conclusion:

This recipe was great, I hardly had to do anything!  Who doesn’t love a meal like that?  I think that this would be a great item to make for a group, or bring to a party.  I imagine that it is highly customizable with the plethora of sauce choices out there.  I will definitely be hanging on to this one!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Bust out an easy crock pot recipe to please any crowd!

 

 

Details:

I ended up making a few small changes.

  • I did use Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce but opted for chicken drummies instead of breasts (it is all I had on hand).
  • I cooked them for 5 hours (hour 4 with the cover off and on high in hopes of thickening the sauce a bit).
  • After removing the meat from the pot I still felt like the sauce didn’t coat it well enough and needed to get them a little more crusty so I opted to put them on a foil (Reynolds Non-stick Foil) lined pan on broil for about 10 minutes or so. This created a nice crust and seemed to secure the sauce to the meat a little better. Downside it also dried my meat out a bit. Bummer.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Not sure to be honest. It seemed like the pic was not realistic to the end results although the sauce tasted great.

Pros:

Would have been easy had it turned out how it looked in the blog post from Stick a Fork in it.

Cons:

Wasn’t what I was hoping for. The sauce was definitely too runny.

We Tried It!  Crockpot BBQ Chicken!

Conclusion:

Maybe if I had used less sauce and also chicken breast this may have turned out differently? Not sure I will make it again although I feel like this COULD be a good method. Might have to stick to the grill for now…

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Janet

Mission: Make an easy meal in the crock pot!

 

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The chicken breasts can be thrown in before being thawed. This made it much cleaner and easier to put together.

The recipe is pretty basic, so if you are looking to use some spices up or like I did, use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar (because its been sitting in the cupboard for months!! It doesn’t go bad, right??), this recipe is flexible enough to do so.

Pros:

Perfect for a family meal and for people who live alone.

The leftovers could be shredded to make BBQ sandwiches.

So easy, a caveman could do it

Cons:

None that I know of.

We Tried It!  Crockpot BBQ Chicken!

Conclusion:

This is a recipe that works for my lifestyle because it is so easy, doesn’t make much mess, and gives me leftovers for my work lunch for the rest of the week. This recipe isn’t made to show off your culinary skills, so it probably is best to serve your family when you are short on time. Overall a decent crock pot recipe.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Kristy

Mission: I am from the South, of course I love barbeque so I had to try this recipe!  Then to top it all off, it’s in a crock-pot…easy cooking, just my style!

 

Details:

  • 6 ingredients: chicken breasts, BBQ sauce, vinegar, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and garlic powder.
  • I only had 4 chicken breasts so I only used about ¾ of the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce which is Mike’s favorite!
  • I didn’t have brown sugar on hand so I substituted for ¼ cup honey instead.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use the plastic disposable crock pot liners…they are amazing when it’s clean up time.  Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners are my favorite. I unfortunately, was out and had to soak the pot for 2 days and scrubbed for what seemed like endless hours. Not worth the aggravation.

Don’t overcook.  I had left my crock pot on low for 6 hours and I think because I had less chicken…mine came out a little on the dry side. Be sure to check along the way so the chicken is just as you would like it.

Pros:

Easy and delicious! Just throw everything in the crock pot and forget about it!

Cons:

Cleaning the crock pot is not fun.

We Tried It!  Crockpot BBQ Chicken!

Conclusion:

Great recipe, Mike loved it!  I still prefer BBQ chicken on the grill…especially my dad’s but this is great when you are on a time pinch!  Perfect for topping a salad when you have leftovers!

 

 

 

The great shot of Crockpot Barbecue Chicken taken by Stick a Fork In It


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We started drooling as soon as we saw this Lemonade Layer Cake from MyRecipes.com!

With temps at record highs, we were ready to test this perfect-for-summer tart treat!

 

Please click here to visit MyRecipes.com and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission:  I love to bake – so finding a new cake recipe is a fantastic thing in my book! This one sounded delicious from the start!

 

Details:

My family and I were back home at my parent’s farm in Iowa for the weekend so I was able to bake with my mom on this project, which is always a fun occasion!

  • With this recipe, we decided to forgo the frosting as we wanted to make this a little less high in calories and I wanted it to be easier to transport back to Minnesota at the end of our stay.
  • The end result was fantastic and we dressed it up with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh strawberries – yummy!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My mom gave me a great tip for greasing the pans with Crisco and then flouring them to help the cakes come out of the pans with ease after baking. This worked great!!

In addition we forgot to grab a lemon at the store, so we proceeded with dried lemon peel for the cake batter. We used 1 teaspoon of the dried vs. 1 tablespoon of fresh, as it called for.

We used two 8” round cake pans vs. two 9” round cake pans as that is what we had on-hand. Because of this, we baked the cakes for 2 minutes longer than called for.

Pros:

Easy to prepare and bake and oh so delicious! A perfect summer treat – it is tart, fresh and refreshing!

Cons:

Because I didn’t go forward with the frosting, I wasn’t able to taste the final end result – need to try it someday.

Conclusion:

A delicious summer treat! I would definitely make this again – and even think making it as cupcakes would be fun for a birthday party or shower.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: To make my family a treat in yummy lemon – perfect for Summer!

 

Details:

  • I used my very handy trick to making “Fat-Free Buttermilk” (which I have never actually seen in my grocery store).  Simply pour 1 Tbsp Vinegar (or lemon juice) into 1 cup of Fat Free Milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  • We are living with my in-laws at the mo’ so the only cake pan that I could find was a 13 x 9 (see “Tips and Tricks” below for baking time).  Because of my pan size – my cake was just a 1 layer, potluck-style number.
  • I completely forgot to keep the wet ingredients separate from the dry ingredients.  This is a common trend for me, but usually doesn’t make a difference.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Baking Time with a 13 x 9 pan = 30 minutes @ 350.  After 20 minutes, the batter was totally liquid, 10 more and it was perfect!

The batter kind of “sizzles” in the oven at the surface.  This was weird, but apparently totally okay, since it turned out fine!

The frosting was super runny, so I put the cake back into the fridge after icing to firm it up again before serving.  I cannot imagine how a frosting this loose would work for a layer cake – I feel like the top layer would slide off!  In order to thicken it up, I would imagine you would have to add at least a cup or two more of the powdered sugar, which would probably end up being sickeningly sweet.

Pros:

Fairly easy.  Crowd pleaser!  My mother-in-law loved it!

My husband’s take, “Delicious. Wouldn’t order it.”  Translation: “Delicious. Apple crisp and carrot cake are my favorite desserts.”

Cons:

Rich!  I had a second piece… then I wanted to hurl.

Super tartness from the lemonade.  This was enduring to me at first, but then too much.  Generally when there are baked goods in the house, I will eat them for days until gone.  I had my two pieces of this one and never wanted to touch it again.

Not really a “Pro” or a “Con”:

The cake itself is really dense.  My father-in-law thought that the consistency married well with the type of frosting.  My mother-in-law said that cakes like this are her very favorite.  I felt like it added a creamy element to the flavor that was a [nice] contrast from the super tartness of the lemonade.

Conclusion:

This was a great summer cake!  Although not my personal favorite, my 3 taste-testers all liked it – so I will keep it around for any future summer gatherings needing a lemony treat!

 

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Attempt to bake a cake from scratch. I am a from-the-box type of baker.

 

Details:

  • I knew I wanted to make cupcakes instead as I was having a party so I added paper cupcake holders
  • For cupcakes I had to cook for 20 minutes and fill cups ¾ full with batter
  • Used Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract– my girlfriend insists that this is a must for the best vanilla flavor!  I would have to agree!
  • My KitchenAid Mixer absolutely rocked on this recipe for both cake and icing!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Get lemons with a rough skin. I had two with a smooth surface and it was more difficult to grate.

Be careful with the egg shells…don’t crack on the bowl or while the mixer is running.

The delicious frosting kept well in the fridge over night.  Tip…next day whip the icing but let it set in the fridge for an hour so it is not as runny.

Pros:

Surprisingly, it was pretty darn easy!

Cons:

The long ingredients list!  Having to be so careful to keep the wet and dry ingredients separate! I forgot to hit the bubbles out of the pan!

Conclusion:

Huge Hit!  Everyone that tasted them loved the lemon flavor of the cupcakes. The lemon zest in the icing is beautiful!

This is by far the best cupcakes I have made BUT I would say they are pretty dense. I must admit my baking powder and soda was pretty old so I wonder if this played into this.

I can’t wait to make it again but my booty doesn’t need these cupcakes on a regular basis.

 

The lovely Lemonade Layer Cake photo by MyRecipes.com


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Mexican food, check.  Avocado, check. What’s not enticing about Spicy Avocado Chicken EnchiladasThe Novice Chef shares her Cinco de Mayo recipe featuring that green goodie, avocado, chicken and salsa verde.

 

Please click here to visit The Novice Chef and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission:  When I first saw this Pinned on Pinterest all I could say was YUM, YUM, YUM!

Not only am I an avocado lover but I love making enchiladas for my husband and I. I had never seen a recipe like this before. No traditional red enchilada sauce? I immediately struck the Pin and went to the site, The Novice Chef.

Seeing I recently got my husband to start eating avocados I was excited to share this with him. I even called my parents and suggested I go on over and make them for us all.

Details:

I would like to thank The Novice Chef for not using the word “roux” in the recipe even though I was tossing butter and flour into a pan. If you want to know what that’s all about go read my bio.

I started with making the sauce. It’s pretty simple. Butter, garlic, serrano pepper (which I had to substitute with cubanelle), chicken stock, cumin, cilantro, and sour cream. Adding the sour cream to hot chicken stock kind of turned my stomach a bit but all the ingredients coming together smelled amazing.

After finishing the sauce I started my enchilada assembly line and stuffed and rolled those babies.

I poured the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and hoped for the best. After all I was feeding my parents…my dad can be quite the critic when it comes to new things.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I baked the chicken breasts ahead of time and let them cool a bit. No need to burn the fingers.

Pros:

Super yummy and filling. Not too difficult to do.

Cons:

I’m not a fan of cilantro. It wasn’t over powering, but I would leave it out next time.

Conclusion:

These were delicious, but I have a few suggestions. When I make “my” enchiladas I always add black beans. They add to the flavor and texture. So I would definitely add them the next time I make this recipe.

A suggestion from my husband and my father: hot sauce! They added a little bit of hot sauce and said it “blended the flavors together.” Just the right kick.

I was glad everyone enjoyed them. I will never again use enchilada sauce out of a can.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: To try out a new recipe on my family that sounded quick, easy and delicious! We LOVE Mexican food, so was really hoping for a delicious meal that I can make again.

 

Details:

With this recipe, I changed just a few of the key ingredients based on what I already had on-hand and wanted to tame the heat a bit since we have two young kiddos to feed as well.

  • I substituted the Serrano pepper for a pablano pepper, used up the Manchango and sharp cheddar cheese I already had on-hand.
  • For the salsa, I used my favorite Jack’s Special Medium Garden Salsa from Costco. Delish!
  • In addition, my husband and kids aren’t fans of avocado, so I ended up only using half of one within four of the enchiladas and then made four without.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I prepped all of my ingredients earlier in the day during my kiddos nap time – it made the actual “make” time very easy. For my family, we made half of the enchiladas without any avocado and half with.

Pros:

Super easy to make and really tasty!

It was a hit with my husband, even though my kids didn’t seem as keen on it.

Also made enough for left overs which made lunch the next day great 🙂

Cons:

Uses some ingredients that may take a special trip to the store.

 

Conclusion:

Definitely plan to make again – would be a wonderful dish to make for a quick dinner with friends!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I could eat Mexican food every damn day, so I was excited to see a variation like this one by The Novice Chef!

We are currently shacking up with my in-laws, so I was hoping to make something both full of new flavors and that everyone would like.

Details:

  • In wall of salsa at my grocery store, I only saw a couple in “Salsa Verde” form.  I picked Guy Fieri’s Mean & Green Salsa Verde solely because I love him… and the packaging was cooler.
  • My mother-in-law doesn’t like spicy food or avocados; so I only used 2 avocados, and fortunately my Salsa Verde was already “Medium” as recommended by The Novice Chef.
  • I couldn’t find “Cabot Monterrey Jack” cheese or figure out what the hell it was, so I just used regular Monterey Jack. (I later learned that this is just a brand.  Oh.  Smart moment.
  • I actually made my chicken a couple of months ago – it’s Chocolate Therapy’s Crockpot Chicken Taco’s recipe!  Easiest thing ever, and absolutely perfect in any mexican dish!  Makes a boat-load if it’s just you and your honey, like us – so be sure to take advantage and freeze it in smaller portions!
  • I also ended up adding twice the amount of cheese in an attempt to win over my taste testers.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My cilantro was also frozen… I wouldn’t do that again.  It tasted fine but was mushy and really grossed me out when I was adding it to the sauce.

I wouldn’t add the flour until after the chicken broth.  Instant blob.  Thankfully, I was able to break it up while the broth and spices melded.  Phew!

Always wear gloves while cutting peppers.  Always.  That is, unless you like the feeling of your eyeballs bursting into flames when you take your contacts out 4 hours later.

Pros:

These were great!  Everyone loved them!  We were so excited to wolf these things down, I barely got a photo before they were gone!

The salsa verde had a strong “smokey” smell, which scared me, but the flavor was great.

They weren’t too spicy, and the avocado simply added a creamy texture and milder flavor – my [anti-spicy/anti-avocado] mother-in-law went back for seconds!  She thought they had a nice “Zing.”  My father-in-law however, thought they had “No zing.” 🙂

Cons:

I could have used a little more spice, but I liked the salsa that I used.  Next time I’ll add another serrano pepper!

Conclusion:

Everyone loved these enchiladas, regardless of whether they thought they were spicy or not!  They certainly had a unique flavor which was a nice way to switch up your “Taco Night”.  I felt like I was eating something that I had ordered from a restaurant!

 

The lovely Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas photo taken by The Novice Chef


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One More Moore has shared her favorite recipe for Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips.  Originally discovered at Allrecipes.com, this keeper has been in One More Moore‘s recipe book since!

Eager to munch on the seasons best fruit, we couldn’t test this recipe out fast enough!

Please click here to visit One More Moore and see the recipe that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Mandy

Mission:  Get back into healthy eating with a yummy “treat” I can’t resist.
 

 

Details:

  • I followed the recipe as written minus the preserves as I forgot to pick that up at the grocery store.
  • Also, I didn’t get exact with the types of fruits they called for. Not a huge fan of kiwi so I substituted with others.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

It was super easy and delicious so I didn’t really have much to change or learn. Maybe use it as a way to use the fruit in your kitchen that is getting over ripe. It all does blend together and maybe gets a little mushy so it’s perfect for using up fruit!

Pros:

Easy. Tasty. Crowd Pleasing.

Even my dad who doesn’t really like anything said “it’s OK.” (That’s GOOD in his book!)

Cons:

I don’t really have any.

It was a tad sweet so you may not need to use the sugars to sweeten it even more… although I’m sure they help with the juice that develops.

Conclusion:

Make it! Now!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: This twist on salsa looked sweet and refreshing. Something my kids would actually enjoy! I referred to the Annie’s Fruit Salsa recipe on Morgan Moore’s blog, One More Moore. Seven quick and easy ingredients and some dicing…I love dicing.
 

Details:

The ingredients:

  • 2 kiwi’s, peeled and diced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 8 oz. raspberries
  • 1 lb strawberries, diced
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp preserves

A no-brainer recipe – dice and combine.

The cinnamon chips were also quite simple. Just cut up flour tortillas, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake them at 350° for about 10 minutes. Viola.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I can’t stand the look of browning apples. Just one of those things that will turn me off from consuming this delicious treat, so I used a lemon to help preserve them.

Pros:

Easy and delicious, and you can vary it with the fruits you have on hand.

Cons:

None!

 

Conclusion:

This recipe was super easy…that’s because I like dicing. If you don’t like chopping, then it’s not for you.

A great little tid-bit; if you don’t have the time to make your own cinnamon chips (although I do recommend you do) store-bought cinnamon pitas work just great with this salsa. It was devoured quickly and made the perfect dish to bring to the summer BBQ.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: To whip up a yummy and mostly healthy snack with fruit I already have (that was my mission anyway).
 
 

Details:

I will admit that as usual I am trying to be all sorts of lazy thrifty here and I wanted to use fruit I already had at home instead of going out to hunt down what was used in the original recipe.

My fruit list looked a little like this:

  • Kiwi
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Orange Marmalade (this I did buy)
  • I also halved the recipe because I know my kids are a bit picky and I didn’t want to end up having to eat the entire bowl myself! I was smart because of course they didn’t LOVE it. They tried it and ate a little but I mostly had to finish it. I tried to save it for the next day but the flavors got a little too intense.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I think pinapple would have been a great addition and I would stick with a strawberry or raspberry marmalade because the orange had a slightly bitter taste which I am pretty sure turned my kids off. Apples (which I didn’t use) would have added a nice crunch.

Pros:

It was fairly easy and definitely pretty.

Cons:

Because I tried to deviate a little it wasn’t as good and some got wasted.

Conclusion:

I would definitely try this again though and change up some of the ingredients. Maybe also change my tasters to adults instead of finicky little ones.

 

The gorgeous shot of Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips  captured by One More Moore


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The Curvy Carrot has shared a delicious recipe for Strawberry Bruschetta that looks as delicious as it is easy on the eyes!

Fresh ingredients like strawberries and basil, paired with rich goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and a crispy baguette! We had to try this one out!

 

Please click here to visit The Curvy Carrot and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: Create a unique appetizer that is still family friendly.

 
 

Details:

  • I didn’t have a French baguette so I opted for cutting a couple of Ciabatta Rolls instead.
  • I also opted to leave the cracked pepper off in hopes that my family would actually try it. This was a smart move but when I make it again I will add the pepper. It would bring a nice bite to the dish.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Dice the strawberries small – per the instructions. It makes it easier to eat them. Also, let the balsamic and olive oil sit on the bread, cheese and topping before consuming.

Pros:

Pretty and SO tasty! It is a lovely combination of sweet and savory. Perfect pairing with wine!

Cons:

There really are none. I personally loved this dish and plan to make it again for people who can appreciate it as much as me (my family was as excited as I was about the dish but mainly that was because we had a LOT of food in addition to the appetizers on our table to consume).

Conclusion:

This is a fun way to bring sweet and savory together in one dish. Perfect for a dinner party and ideal for a night of wine and snacks. I will definitely be making this one again!
 
 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: At first glance on Pinterest these things look delectable. A sweet take on the traditional bruschetta. I clicked on a gorgeous pin that initially to me to a fantastic food blog called Annie’s Eats.

The recipe itself looked simple, but to be honest it didn’t sound as delectable as I originally thought. Black pepper, olive oil, and basil with strawberries!? Let’s just say my husband and parents were giving me strange looks as I was preparing it.

Details:

  • First I sliced up a cup of strawberries and coated them with a tablespoon of sugar.
  • While I let the strawberries stand in the sugar I sliced the baguette.
  • Then it was assembly time. I spread the goat cheese on the baguette and then applied the strawberries and sprinkled them with some fresh ribbon-cut basil.
  • Lastly, it was time to drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over them and finish it off with some fresh ground black pepper.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Tips I am going to use the next time I make these:

a.)   Toast the baguettes a little. Spreading the goat cheese on soft bread was tough and I think a little bit of crunch might make them a little better.

b.)   Be cautious when “drizzling” the balsamic vinegar. I ended up dousing a few.

Pros:

They’re fast. They’re pretty. They taste surprisingly great.

Cons:

Trying to get someone to try them.

Conclusion:

As previously stated, these little appetizers looked fabulous but after reading the recipe I got a little bit nervous. My husband and parents were good sports and tried them…then we devoured the entire plate. They were fantastic.

The sugary strawberries were paired nicely with the balsamic vinegar, tangy goat cheese, and even the basil and ground black pepper. So yes, they are as good as they look and easy to assembly to boot.
 
 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission:  To try out this yummy sounding summer appetizer.

 

Details:

  • Baguette
  • Strawberries
  • Goat cheese
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic
  • Salt and pepper

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Pre-mix your olive oil and balsamic and just use a spoon to drizzle it over the strawberries on your bread/goat cheese mix.

Pros:

Easy and delicious.

Great way to use in-season fruits and herbs – I picked the basil fresh from my garden!

Awesome combination of savory and sweet.

Cons:

In my opinion, more of a gals-type appetizer. I don’t foresee many of the guys in my friends circle even giving this one a try.

Conclusion:

This appetizer was AMAZING! I was hosting for my book club (consisting of 10 gals) and made this as the appetizer and there were rave reviews! It was an easy one to prep and a delicious one to eat! And, on top of that – it is just beautiful to look at…great colors!

I’m pretty sure everyone at the book club requested this recipe.  I will be adding this one to my recipe box 🙂
 
 

Reviewer #4 – Mandy

Mission:  Find a unique twist on my usual garlic/tomato/basil bruschetta that I love to serve. It’s my “go-to” app.

 

Details:

  • I followed the recipe as written. It was super easy to follow and turned out fabulous!
  • I made the bruschetta again at a later date and forgot to drizzle the bruschetta with balsamic. It was good, but not as full-flavored as the first go-around.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t skip or forget any of the ingredients as I explained above.

It helps to “fan” the strawberry slices on the bread. Helps with the messy eating.

Pros:

Pretty easy. As long as you have access to the ingredients, you’ll be fine.  I was in my hometown (a smaller town) and it took a little bit of digging to find goat cheese. It’s Wisconsin… land of cow cheese, I guess.

So, so yummy!! Everyone that I had try it (even the picky eaters) loved it.

It’s also a little unique. People would typically think of a bruschetta to include tomatoes, basil, etc. This is a unique spin on it that is really good!

Cons:

There aren’t many… maybe it can get a little messy? Probably not a passed-type of appetizer.

Also, so good that you can’t stop eating… goat cheese calories galore!!

Conclusion:

Yum. Yum. Yum. I think this is such a great, easy appetizer that is unique and delicious.
 
 

Reviewer #5 – Maren

Mission: Try out a new twist on my favorite hors d’oeuvre!

 

Details:

I followed The Curvy Carrot’s recipe to a T!  I didn’t forget anything or screw anything up!  So proud.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My baguettes were pretty dinky; a little tough to fit the strawberries on.  However, they were the perfect size to shove in your mouth.  Next time I think I’ll get the standard two-biter size.

I mixed my balsamic vinegar and olive oil together first, then spooned over the strawberry topping.  I felt like a genius.

I found that the vinegar made the bruschetta slices a little soggy, so next time, I would either bake the slices to make them crispier, or use a balsamic reduction… leaning towards the reduction option because I LOVE balsamic vinegar!

Lastly, don’t go too thin on the goat cheese.  It really adds to the flavor!  My mom agreed.  In reference to a few that were a little light on the cheese she said, “Well, they’re not knocking my socks off, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t keep shoving them in my face.”  Haaha!

Pros:

Totally amazing!  Such a unique and yummy combination of flavors.

Easy to make + easy on the eyes!

This recipe is easy enough to make any night of the week, guests or not!

Cons:

None – seriously, these were great.

Conclusion:

They are so pretty and easy to prepare – I cannot wait to make this the next time we have guests!  My mom, husband and I couldn’t eat enough of these suckers!   We practically licked the plate.  I will recommend this tasty dish for years to come.
 
 

The lovely shot of Strawberry Bruschetta taken by The Curvy Carrot


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Strawberry Mojitos

Kokocooks has shared her recipe for Strawberry Mojitos that are as beautiful as they are fresh!

The gals of The Crafty Collaborative are always up for trying out our bartending skills; so this perfect-for-summer drink was right up our alley!

 

Please click here to visit Kokocooks to see the recipe that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission:  To create a drink worth drinking (can you tell I am not big on rum? More of a wine lady here).

 

Details:

  • I used Bacardi Rum and felt it was fine. Moderately priced. Really the fruit is the star here anyway.
  • The strawberries used were actually sliced because we were having company over and I had already done so.
  • Also, I didn’t use crushed ice but would definitely suggest it. I had to work for these drinks. Trying to crush whole cubes is not ideal so follow the tips from the orginal post.
  • I had never made simple syrup before but found it to be very easy and worth the effort. It made the drink sweet without being grainy with sugar.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely used a tall glass. I chose a skinny mason jar (it was decorative and pretty – just the way I like things).  It was difficult to muddle the ingredients together in such a small glass.

Pros:

This time of year you should be able to get beautiful strawberries with lots of flavor and if you are a gardener fresh mint from a pot outside is a bonus.

Cons:

This drink is a little fussy for me but that is mainly because I prefer to open a bottle and pour – no effort made there!

Conclusion:

This beverage is not only pretty but a nice touch to a dinner party. Really adds visual appeal and the taste was fabulous! It would be perfect for a night of girl talk and appetizers.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: A refreshing and sweet treat for the hot days of summer?  Where do I sign up!

 

Details:

  • I used Bacardi Rum, because I love it.
  • I didn’t have a muddler, so I used a flat-end wooden spoon which worked like a charm!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Making simple syrup is super easy – I made mine in the microwave!

Just dump your 1/2 & 1/2 in a microwave safe dish, nuke for a minute or so, and stir gently with a flat bottom whisk until dissolved and let cool!

Neither my mom [my official mojito tasting partner] nor I are fans of super sweet drinks, but after tasting mine, my mom replied with an enthusiastic, “Sure!  I’ll have one of those!”  I thought that it was pretty sweet but also pretty tasty!  I was also happy that I could still taste the rum!  I do think that when making these cocktails in the future, I would prefer cutting back on the simple syrup since it got really sweet towards the end of the drink.

Pros:

Although this drink required a few more ingredients than the average cocktail, it was easy to make since all you had to do is mash them together and pour in the booze!

Cons:

I wish I would have known just what size glass or amounts of soda that Kokocooks used, because I don’t like guessing when it’s my first time making something.

Conclusion:

Sweet and delish!  If you love fresh strawberries, mint and rum – this is the drink for you!  It’s surprisingly easy to make and hits the spot for refreshment.  It was over 100 degrees out when we made these cocktails and they delivered!

I think that the Strawberry Mojito would be a great addition to any summer get together, whether it’s a girls night or a block party!

 

The lovely Strawberry Mojito photo taken by Kokocooks


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Skinnytaste has whipped up a gorgeous Grilled Flank Steak with Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic that is said to be easy to make and sure to please!

 

Please click here to visit Skinnytaste.com to see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission:  Make a healthy, delicious dinner for my family.

 

Details:

  • Flank steak
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic
  • Salt and pepper

Tips & Tricks Learned:

A little side of homemade mashed potatoes and some grilled baguette bread are great additions!

Pros:

Easy preparation!

Looks gourmet and tasted like something you would order at a restaurant.

Cons:

I honestly don’t have any cons for this dish. It was truly great!

Conclusion:

This was such an easy dinner to prepare, it looked gourmet and tasted AMAZING! Plus, the cost for this meal was very doable for our family of four. It was right around $20. And I even got to use some goodies from our vegetable garden, which is a win-win!

I will definitely be making this again – it has been added to the recipe box and my husband enjoyed it 🙂 I would highly recommend this for anyone!!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission:  I knew Mike and I would love this meal…grilling is one of our favorite methods of cooking.  I must be honest I am not the griller but for this recipe I decided to learn!  Since we have an electric grill, it was easy to get fired up and ready for grilling.

Easy enough to get started and very few ingredients equals perfect recipe for me.

Details:

  • The ingredients, all fresh which is the best way to cook! I have learned its best to have everything you need ready to go for efficiency and to not forget ingredients. It was also time to fire up the grill at this time.
  • Instead of flank steak, I substituted with a skirt steak.  I couldn’t find the flank steak in the beef section.  Piercing the steak with the fork was an easy task.  I seasoned first and I am thinking you should potentially do the piercing first so the seasoning can seep into the meat.
  • Next, I headed to the grill.  I fear eating meat that is still alive so I was hoping when I took it off it was going to be cooked and not still mooing. Once I took the steak off the grill, the bloody juices ran across my white platter so I made a judgment call to put the steak back on the grill for a few more minutes.
  • The tomato salsa needs to be made prior to the grilling so you give it time to marinate.  It’s simple with just chopping, pouring and mixing.
  • After letting the steak rest, just dump the salsa on top and viola! Looks tasty and smells great!  (Notice, my picture was taken after I started eating…I almost forget to take a picture! It was that good that you would have done the same!)

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Let the meat rest, holds in the juices!  Simple and fresh ingredients can make some of the best dishes.

Save one day a week for chopping so when you are rushed for time, you can quickly put together dishes such as this on even the busiest of days. Sundays or Mondays are my chosen days.

Pros:

It was simple to follow and allowed me to learn to grill!  I started making the tomato salsa as my lunch salads for the week.

Cons:

None!

Conclusion:

I can’t wait to make it again.  I love to eat fresh ingrediants and have easy meals to put together.  This recipe is for keeps!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: To grill up a delicious and healthy dinner that shouldn’t wipe me out before even getting to eat it!

 

Details:

  • I always forget something!  This time it was the red onion, so I substituted for some diced shallots that I had in the freezer – they worked perfectly!
  • Our local butcher was out of flank steak, and we had also planned on halving the recipe – so we used two small tenderloins instead.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We experienced a torrential down pour with about 5 minutes left to go on the grill!  The steaks were way too rare, so I wrapped the plate in foil for the 5 minutes and they turned out perfectly!

The tomato topping is exactly what you would pair with a bruschetta!  Since we halved the steak part, and then forgot to halve the tomato part, we ate up the remaining topping on some sliced baguettes – delish!

Pros:

This was a super easy dinner to make – even weeknight worthy!

Cons:

My mom and husband were in LOVE with the tenderloin that we got – my husband almost fell out of his chair when I said that I had only seasoned it with garlic salt, salt & pepper.  They both felt like the tomatoes overpowered the flavor of the meat.  I however, am not as big of a meat fan as they are and felt like the tomatoes were the perfect match for our steak!

Conclusion:

We really enjoyed this easy meal!  My husband and I also really enjoyed the tomatoes on their own, and with a bit of bruschetta!  This is great any night of the week, and also for summer, when you can grow the produce right in your garden or pick up at the farmers market!

It was so quick and versatile that I will most definitely put it on our list of recipes to make when we not only have company, but entertain lots of friends!

 

 

The beautiful shot of the Grilled Flank Steak With Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic taken by Skinnytaste


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Six Sisters’ Stuff has shared their very own Copycat Recipe for P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef!

Always on the hunt for meals that the whole family will love, The Crafty Collaborative just had to try it out!

 

Please click here to visit Six Sisters’ Stuff and check out the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission:  To make a delicious dinner while trying to replicate the tasty P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef.

 

Details:

  • Tasty ingredients
  • Sauté pan
  • Wok
  • Oil
  • Messy kitchen (during the cooking!)

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I replaced cornstarch with flour – at 2 T. flour to 1 T. cornstarch. It worked fairly well, but seemed to be a bit thicker than cornstarch would have been.

In addition, we love sautéed vegetables and I always have fresh veggies on-hand, so we made a mix of bell peppers and radishes as a side to this tasty entre.

Pros:

Easy to make – even for those faint of heart in the kitchen.

Relatively inexpensive for a family of four – cost under $25.00 total.

Cons:

Required a few ingredients that some may not have on hand – i.e. fresh ginger. But, such a key ingredient!

Conclusion:

This dinner turned out fabulous! It was a fairly easy process for preparing and cooking and was easy to pair with sautéed vegetables. My hubby LOVED this dinner.  The sauce was spectacular!  I’m so excited that we have leftovers! I plan to make this again for sure!!!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission:  The goal was to test the theory that this dish is a good as the one served at P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef.

 

Details:

  • I decided to use pork loin instead of beef (in my kitchen – I am the cook and since I don’t “do” beef no one I am serving does either)
  • I only used half the amount of oil required to cook the meat (1/2 cup)
  • I also doubled the sauce recipe in part because I am lazy and I also hate wasting fresh ingredients like ginger and garlic
  • I did not put the dish in the oven to warm through after adding the sauce and green onions. Instead I warmed the entire dish in the pan I cooked the meat in (I poured out the oil and wiped the pan out first).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

It is no joke that the garlic and ginger will burn brown VERY quickly if you don’t have the liquids ready to toss into the pan within seconds of putting the garlic and ginger into the oil. Also, dredge or coat the meat in small portions otherwise all your meat sticks together. Don’t cut the meat too thin either. I started with a serrated knife because I thought my other knives would be too dull. It caused the initial pieces to be far too small.

Pros:

The sauce was really simple and it will be great to have it for yet another meal since I doubled it. The meat got nice and crispy which added dimension to the dish.

Cons:

My children didn’t like it but that isn’t saying much since they are kids after all with unrefined pallets.

Conclusion:

This dish was fairly simple and REALLY delish! I think it could actually be great on chicken and even shrimp.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission:  I love Beef and PF Chang’s so this was a perfect recipe for me.  I try my best to eat Paleo friendly/gluten free when I can so I substituted and changed the recipe to better fit!  I found PF Chang’s complimentary recipe for Gluten Free Mongolian Beef so I went for it. Both recipes seemed easy to follow just a few changes to meet my dietary needs.

Details:

  • Instead of flank steak, I used 12 oz of beef tenderloin, which cut quite nicely and tasted even better.
  • I browned my meat in sunflower seed oil instead of vegetable oil from original version. Gluten free version called for soy bean oil…which I didn’t have so I used what I had.
  • I tossed in garlic with the beef then the soy, wine, sugar mixture.  Now here is where I may have gone wrong, I assumed rice wine vinegar and not rice wine. I am still not sure if that was a correct assumption.
  • I also used 2 tbsp. regular sugar instead of brown sugar, I wish I would have eliminated all together.
  • I used a natural soy sauce alternative instead of regular soy sauce.
  • The mixture was then reduced and tossed with green onions.  Looked delicious but some of the changes must have affected the outcome.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be sure your phone is camera and not record, ha!

Better meat equals a better dish!

Pros:

It was really easy!  Simple steps so not many to mess up!  It’s my kind of cooking…cut, mix and throw in the pot.

Cons:

Sugar, I wasn’t sure if the gluten version wanted brown sugar or regular sugar, next time I should call PF Changs!

Conclusion:

Overall, the recipe was very tasty, the beef was surprisingly tender. My finance found it was too salty.  I think this was because of the soy sauce.  I eyeballed it and I think I will measure next time.

We definitely, had different taste buds, I thought it was too sweet, so I would definitely eliminate the sugar next time or I think using a teaspoon of honey would have definitely been better than using sugar.

I will be making this again, it was really easy and fun to make!

 

 

The mouthwatering photo of the Copycat P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef  taken by Six Sisters’ Stuff


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Nutrition to invigorate Mind, Body & Spirit tells us that we can make a delicious and refreshing  White Sangria Sparkler without busting out our elastic waist pants!

The gals of The Crafty Collaborative don’t often pass up a great cocktail!  We just had to test this one out!

 

Please click here to visit Nutrition to invigorate Mind, Body & Spirit and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission:  Create a delightful pitcher of sweet, slightly bubbly White Sangria

 

 

Details:

I chose two fairly cheap bottles of wine. The Souvingon Blanc was Anekena from Chile and was $10 at my local booz store. For the Vino Verde I chose Gazebo which is perfect at the cheap and cheerful price of $6! I had to use strawberries instead of the same amount of peaches due to the fact that I am partly lazy and partly trapped in my own house more often than not thanks to a traveling hubby and my gaggle of children. The fruit was frozen (minus the kiwis) which added a nice coolness and they held their shape better this way too. I also used honey instead of liquid Stevia. I don’t typically keep sugar substitutes on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I suggest starting with the wine chilled to keep your drink fresh longer. The honey was a great change and a much cheaper option than liquid Stevia.

Pros:

Crisp, fresh and strong. Just the way I like my Sangria!

Cons:

None here. This drink was everything it promised to be.

Conclusion:

I plan to make this pitcher of deliciousness several times this summer. I have a large pot of mint flourishing on my deck and it will be put to good use. Now if only I could grow grapes and start a vinyard….

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: To make a refreshingly crisp sangria that isn’t too hard on the waistline!

Details:

  • René Barbier Mediterranean White Wine – one of my favorite super light, crisp [and cheap!] whites, available at Trader Joe’s!
  • Fresh fruit and mint
  • I halved this recipe, but then forgot and added the full amount of raspberries.  Oops.
  • I didn’t use Stevia… I forgot to pick it up at the store.  Another Ooops.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We first taste tested the sangria after it had only been melding for about 2 hours.  At this point it was extremely minty!  Then we had our second glasses at about 3 hours and the peaches and raspberries were much more prevalent and the mint more muted.  We loved it both times!

Pros:

Easy, delicious and totally refreshing!  I especially enjoyed noshing on the boozy fruit after the sangria itself was gone!

Cons:

I halved the recipe!  I wanted more!

Conclusion:

This simple sangria was crisp and refreshing as promised!  I will definitely make it again!

 

 

Lovely photo of the White Sangria Sparkler taken by Nutrition to invigorate Mind, Body & Spirit


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Six Sisters’ Stuff tempt us with a recipe for Chili’s Copycat Salsa!

Our mouths were watering just thinking about this delicious snack!

 

Please click here to visit Six Sisters’ Stuff and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission:  I love Chili’s Salsa!  These instructions were super easy to follow.  I feel confident that even “College Maren” could have handled this recipe!  I did refer to the forwarding blog, Six Sisters’ Stuff, for more specific info on the jalapeno situation.

Details:

  • I wasn’t paying attention to the recipe and did not drain the tomatoes – ooops!  I think that this actually made the consistency looser though, which is what I was hoping for.  For my jalapenos, I used a full [4 oz] can of Ortega Japapenos, lightly drained.
  • The lime juice that I added was frozen ahead of time thanks to a pin that I saw on Pinterest!  That trick is great if you like to cook with lime juice, or add it to your drinks!  I actually used onion that I had chopped and froze a week or two earlier too.  I’m just discovering the miracle of “freezing.”

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The most important lesson learned from this experience, the ingredients absolutely DO NOT FIT into a Cuisinart Mini Prep.  I was too lazy to get out my full sized Cuisinart, and that was clearly the incorrect choice.

After my salsa explosion, I scooped out [and off the counter] half of the overflowing salsa and continued in half batches until I got a smooth, pureed consistency.  I then reflected upon how things would have gone differently had I just gotten out the G. D. Cuisinart.

Pros:

SUPER Easy and delicious!  Had some serious kick, but wasn’t too hot.  Works well in recipes and on it’s own.

Cons:

Requires a blender or food processor, both of which are heavy and in hard-to-get-at locations in my kitchen and therefore never get used.

Conclusion:

This salsa was ridiculously easy to make!  I fed it to my salsa-loving husband and he said, “It tastes like chili.  It’s good.”  Translation, “I taste the cumin.  I like it.”

Don’t be scared by his comment!  We partake in a chili cook-off with our college friends each fall.  In an overly competitive panic to submit the BEST chili, it is not uncommon for me to make several different kinds in the month preceding the event and feed them to my husband until he can hardly stand hearing the word “chili.”  Therefore, as we approach our fourth year, my husband has eaten more cumin…I mean chili, than the average Joe.  I didn’t think that it was overly cumin-y at all.

Since it’s just my honey and me in our home, I froze half of the salsa for another day!  Thawed it out and used it to make some chicken – it was great!  I also like knowing that there isn’t any weird shit in it that I don’t know about.  Love this salsa!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission:  I’ve spent many wonderful evenings catching up with girlfriends over a bowl of chips, Chili’s Salsa, and iced-cold Coronas. Now we all have kids and our get togethers are rare occasions. How great would it be to invite the girls over for some Copycat Chili’s salsa and chat time?

I referred to the Six Sisters’ Stuff blog for a copycat recipe, and it looked surprisingly easy.

Details:

I was at first a little saddened that there would be very limited chopping or dicing, and no fresh ingredients, but then again the recipe was SUPER easy and I had an entire batch of salsa done and to the table in five minutes. You literally just put the ingredients into a blender or food processor and press the button. It’s ridiculously simple.

I chose to use the blender because my food processor is too small. I tossed in the whole tomatoes, canned jalapenos, and onion. I added the salt, sugar, cumin, and lime juice then just hit the button briefly. DONE.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

1.) Wash your hands immediately after touching jalapenos. Do. Not. Touch. Your. Eyes!

2.) A blender might not be the right choice. Complete puree. You would have thought I used tomato sauce instead of whole tomatoes.

Pros:

This can be put together so fast! So, so fast. You can have this all done and cleaned up in a matter of ten minutes. The flavor is pretty darn close to Chili’s salsa.

Cons:

It is definitely on the soupy puree side, and I prefer a chunky salsa. I don’t recall Chili’s salsa being so soup like.

 

Conclusion:

If you can use a can-opener and press a button YOU can make this salsa. I personally thought there was a little more cumin than I remember Chili’s salsa tasting like. I would adjust that a bit next time. I also don’t remember Chili’s salsa being so soupy, but that was most likely my mistake for using the blender. I’ll just have to add some ice and vodka and have a spicy bloody mary instead.

 

 

The lovely photo of Chili’s Copycat Salsa taken by Six Sisters’ Stuff


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Cookie-In-A-Cup

No. 2 Pencil tells us that we can make a delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup in a matter of minutes!

The gals of The Crafty Collaborative have never turned down a chocolate chip cookie; let’s see how it goes!

 

Please click here to visit No. 2 Pencil and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To enjoy a homemade cookie without all the mess of making a batch.

We enjoyed the process of making this chocolate chip cookie – it was quick, easy, low-mess and in the end, tasted pretty darn good! It was definitely decadent and more of a desert than I needed, but both my kiddo and I enjoyed the end result. I added sea salt to the top of mine before cooking to add some savory taste to it.

Details:

  • Ingredients
  • Coffee Mug
  • Spoon
  • Kids

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Anyone can do this!

 

Pros:

A quick and easy desert option that everyone can enjoy.

Cons:

A little bit much in regards to taste and in my opinion, not as good as a “real” homemade batch of chocolate chip cookies. More on the “doughy” texture for those of you that like crunchy/crispy cookies.

Conclusion:

We really enjoyed making these – so quick and easy. And, we enjoyed eating them just as much!  They finished our evening off wonderfully.

 

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: The goal here, a fresh baked, delicious cookie in a matter of minutes.

 

Details:

Used my beloved WS Mini Spatulas.  Friggin’ love those things!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I felt very proud of myself on this recipe, as for once, I didn’t screw anything up!

Pros:

Super easy and quick!

Cons:

REALLY filling…even for me!

Conclusion:

My husband’s quote, “Real cookies are better, but… it’s pretty good.”

My thoughts, “Really rich and decadent.  More of a cakey, chewy, texture.”

Perhaps it is the full egg yolk in each cookie, but this recipe is extremely filling, almost to the point of sickening if consumed entirely.  It’s a lot like a dessert that you would get at a restaurant; which is why I also feel that it is best enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream…and chocolate syrup.

Go big or go home, right?!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Mandy

Mission:  As a single lady living alone, find an easy and yummy single-serving treat. (I just hate having to eat an entire batch of cookies myself… Ok, I love it!! But anyway.)

 

Details:

  • Followed the instructions as written. With recipes, I usually alter them a little bit, but I wanted to see if these were for real.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t use whole wheat flour. I tried it the next night just to see if I could go a little healthier and it was gritty and not so fantastic. Also, be careful with the coffee cup after it’s done cooking! That cup gets mighty hot!

Pros:

Easy, quick, and tasty! Immediate gratification is the best. And it filled my sweet craving for the night.

It’s also so great for one or two people in the home. Or, perfect for someone without a ton of time.

Cons:

Ok, so it’s not as good as the real thing. But still did the trick. And maybe not the healthiest treat.

Conclusion:

I probably won’t make them on a super regular basis but I definitely see myself making it on a cozy evening when I need a little comfort-style dessert for one!

 

The lovely Cookie in a Cup photo taken by No. 2 Pencil


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