Archive | February, 2016

Fun Friday: Chocolate Raspberry Brownies from My Soup for You

12 Feb

1Happy Friday!

It’s very cold here and today’s recipe will warm your heart. It’s from my friend Paula’s blog, My Soup for You, and it’s a delicious fudgy brownie with a hint of raspberry.

To me, there’s nothing more decadent than chocolate and raspberry together. I have always loved it. I love it in chocolate raspberry chip yogurt, in a big box of chocolates and pretty much any other way I can get it.

So on Superbowl Sunday night when this link appeared on my Facebook timeline, I gasped out loud. I don’t like football, but I love my friend Paula’s blog, I love a great brownie recipe and I love the addition of raspberry jam in the recipe. I examined the ingredients and I had them all, as long as I substituted the same amount of brown sugar for the turbinado sugar, and as long as I used the Pillsbury Gluten Free flour blend that I’ve been using in most of my baking so that everyone could eat them. In fact, as luck would have it, I’d just bought a new jar of raspberry jam that very afternoon, so I was in business.

2The new recipe gave me the opportunity to use a new cooking tool from my Pampered Chef hostess gifts, the small micro-cooker. I had decided to start small and order the small one first and if I felt I needed the next size, I could order the large one at a later date.

I really loved this new tool! I was able to melt my chocolate, butter, brown sugar, white sugar and jam all in this one small cooker in the microwave. It made making these brownies very easy and with minimal cleanup afterwards since I used so few bowls. I am someone who has burned chocolate chips in the microwave in the past, so this was a great addition to my cookware and I was relieved not to see any smoke or charred chocolate this time around.

I also used another little Pampered Chef tool that I got from my hostess benefits: the test and release tool. It’s a cake tester on one side and a tool that allows you to go all around the edges of your baked goods to easily release them from the edge of the baking dish. It’s curved just enough to get underneath the baked goods a bit. I’ve used it with cupcakes, banana bread, and now brownies, and I love it every time. Pampered Chef always seems to know what we need and creates it for us. This was such a simple concept and yet, so helpful.

Our brownies were a huge hit on Superbowl Sunday and throughout the rest of this week as we munched away on the leftovers. I’d most definitely make them again. Making them gluten free did not seem to change the recipe at all. The consistency of the brownies was great, and the taste was perfect.

3I’m also sharing a tip with you today. I shared it on Facebook on Sunday night as I was posting about my brownies and some people had heard it before, while some people had not, so I thought I’d add it in here as well. Last year I was cutting still-warm brownies at some event or other and they were getting all gunked up on the knife that I was using. My Grandma Grello, (who happens to be a die-hard Patriots fan, by the way) was watching and she said to me, “You need to use a plastic knife. If you use a plastic knife, the brownies won’t do that.” I suddenly remembered her advice when I was getting ready to cut the brownies last week, which were in fact, still warm. I went into my pantry closet and got a plastic knife. Sure enough, they were very easy to cut, with the knife sliding right on through each and every row. Grandma Grello has 95 years of experience under her belt and she’s been cooking and baking with the best of them throughout those years. I take anything she says as pretty solid advice. I wouldn’t pass it along to you if I didn’t!

With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, this would make a great treat for you or your loved ones and it’s certainly cold enough here to enjoy a warm treat, just make sure you use a plastic knife when you cut it!

Have a great weekend!

 

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Two weeks of meals

5 Feb
menu clip art

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

It’s the end of another week, and it’s pay day, so that means it’s time for our family to plan another two weeks of meals! We had a successful two weeks of meal planning, so I thought I’d share the meal plan that we just finished. Maybe it will provide you with some inspiration for your own meal planning! Our meals incorporate our dietary needs and I’ve indicated any place where we’ve had to make adjustments. I have also linked over to the recipes if I have previously posted them on the blog before.

Sunday: Marinated pork tenderloin, homemade applesauce, potatoes and corn.

Monday: Hot dogs and hamburgers, french fries, veggies.

Tuesday: Taco Bake

Wednesday: Cranberry Chicken

Thursday: Chicken Marsala (We used a new gluten free chicken recipe from the Gluten Free Bible cookbook and cornstarch in our sauce instead of flour.)

Friday: Pizza (using a frozen gluten free pizza from Trader Joes for one of the pizzas)

1Saturday:  Tacos (using gluten free corn tortillas)

Sunday: Lasagna (we made one large regular, and one small gluten free, and wrapped the leftover gluten free in individual portions for the freezer.)

Monday: Paninis (We used gluten free bread for one sandwich.)

Tuesday: Whole chicken microwaved in the Pampered Chef Deep Dish Baker, mashed potatoes, vegetables.

Wednesday: Stir Fry (chicken, broccoli, snap peas, carrots, zucchini) over white rice

Thursday: Homemade chicken pot pie using the leftover chicken from Tuesday plus the rest of the mashed potatoes. (We bought a miniature gluten free chicken pot pie for one serving.)

Friday: Leftovers (stir fry, pot pie, lasagna)

 

2*As an added bonus for you this week, here is the recipe for the Parmesan-crusted chicken from the Gluten Free Bible which is mentioned above in the Chicken Marsala recipe.*

Makes four servings

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour blend

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pound chicken to 1/4 inch thickness. Combine cheese, flour blend, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in large resealable bag. Add one chicken breast at a time, shake to coat evenly. heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken in single layer four to five minutes per side or until golden brown and no longer pink.

 

 

I’m in love.

1 Feb

It’s February, and I’m in love.

My heart pitter-patters and I think about the new object of my affection constantly. What will we do together next? What new things will we try? For years I hoped and prayed I’d find love like this again. It had been so long since my last love affair.

I wasn’t even planning for this, and it has taken me completely by surprise, which I guess is the best kind of love.

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That’s right, I’m in love with my new Stir Fry pan from Pampered Chef. Now I’m not a Pampered Chef consultant, and I don’t pretend to even play one on TV, but I.LOVE.THIS.PAN.

And I’m pretty sure my husband does too.

You see, years and years (and years) ago, my husband and I had received a beautiful piece of cookware from his grandmother. It was a nice, deep Teflon saute pan and it had a glass cover for the top and two handles for the side. I loved that pan. We used it constantly and it was the perfect size for all our meals, even as our family expanded from two, to three, to four, and finally to five hungry mouths to feed. We could saute, cook, simmer. You name it, we cooked it in that pan.

And then, one day, try as we would to deny the obvious, we realized our pan was getting old and scratched and we thought we were seeing evidence of little bits of Teflon coming off.

Clearly, you’re not supposed to use Teflon as an added ingredient in your recipes.

We had to say good bye to our pan.

I missed that pan every.single.day.

Don’t get me wrong, we had other pans. We even had two cast iron pans that we loved, but it wasn’t the same. We had to use both pans at once to make some of our saucier meals because one wasn’t deep enough to hold everything. My stir fry meals toppled over the sides of just one pan, our sauces bubbled over. We didn’t have a true matching cover to go with our pans.

I was sad.

And then suddenly, I wasn’t!

A few weeks ago, my very good-I’ve-known-her-almost-as-long-as-I’ve-known-my-husband-friend Marcia asked me if I would host a new kind of Pampered Chef party. She’s been a consultant for years and years now, and there was a new kind of party she wanted to try: a virtual party on Facebook. Would I try it?

Sure thing! I love Facebook because it’s where I get to see lots of family and friends from all over the country, all over the world! And, it’s where I get a lot of great recipes! I invited hundreds of people. Literally. I can fit a good 10-12 in my living room, but this let me be unlimited. I didn’t have to worry about space or weather or distance. I had all kinds of out of state friends on my list.

The party would last one hour and be completely virtual. No ingredients to buy, no house to clean, no makeup to put on. I could sit in my bed under my electric blanket and play along with the games, talk to my guests and watch the videos of all the great new tools that I would suddenly have to have.

As many parties as I’ve had in the past, it never even occurred to me to check out the January hostess benefits, or even to ask. Suddenly though, as I had my party, the orders started coming in. Notification after notification arrived in my email inbox. As my youngest daughter partied in my bed along with me, part playing along and part watching iCarly on the TV, I decided we’d better check things out on the hostess benefits page of my party website.

Sure enough, January was DOUBLE hostess benefits month!

Who knew?

Well, probably lots of people, but I was happily surprised!! Suddenly, even my daughter was paying attention to them and we looked at the videos and photos popping up throughout the party with new eyes.

Granted, I have lots and lots of Pampered Chef tools. I have been creating a collection of great pieces since before my wedding when I had my first party as a newly engaged young 20-something, and I use them all the time.

When all was said and done, I had earned……

Wait for it…..

$530 to spend outright, plus five half price items and one 60% off item, and I received two booking credits for people who had agreed to also have virtual parties after participating in mine, so I’d get really great discounts if I saved a few things from my list and ordered from their parties too.

I was amazed and I was so ready to shop. Normally I don’t have this much to spend.

Or should I say, I have NEVER had this much to spend.

I had a running wish list as the party had progressed, but it was full of little things. With this much money to spend, I could now afford many of those little things and then some really big, expensive things.

And that’s when it happened.

As I turned the pages of my paper catalog now in hand, I saw my newest love: the Executive Chef Stir-fry Skillet. The words Executive Chef made my heart stop for a mere second and I took in a breath as I looked at the pan. I think I even heard angels sing.

It was definitely love at first sight. It was a pan which was not Teflon, but rather a baked on non-stick aluminum. It had handles on both sides, it was ever so deep. It could even go in an oven of up to 400 degrees. What fun we would have together! I pictured all of our recipes being made right in that pan. Cranberry chicken, Chicken Marsala and any one of our favorite stir fry recipes, all bubbly and steaming and yet not bubbling right over.

After placing my hostess order, I planned out our next two weeks of meals, which conveniently coincided with the arrival of my shopping spree. I planned out all of the above and then some. Cranberry Chicken was up first, per request from one kid. Chicken Marsala was up another time, per request of another kid. Shepherd’s Pie, Taco Bake, Lasagna.

I began to daydream of cooking two pounds of ground beef at once in a pan with two cans of creamed corn mixed in for our Shepherd’s Pie, or being able to saute 15 chicken tenderloins in the pan with two cups of cranberries and two cups of water all at once for our Cranberry Chicken recipe.

Sure enough, when my order arrived and I unpacked it all, reminiscent of a child opening gifts on Christmas morning, my pan was all I’d hoped for and more. That very first night, I rejoiced as I happily made our Cranberry Chicken, and beamed as everyone commented how great it came out. My meat browned evenly, there was plenty of room for everything and it all tasted delicious. I think it tasted even better than usual in my new pan!

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I’d highly recommend any Pampered Chef party and any of their products to any of my friends and family, always. However, I must say, this new virtual party was fantastic! It was such fun “seeing” everyone that I wouldn’t get to see at my own in-house party. It was fun watching the videos and seeing some new must-have products, but most of all, it was fun falling in love-with a stir fry pan- all over again.

Happy February!