This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes,
learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun! -Juila Child

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Freebies for Foodies

Try the new Splenda Sweetener-Splenda Essentials
Try GasX for free-GasX thin strips
Food Storage Sample-Daily bread storage solutions
Recipe Booklet-Jiffy Mix Recipes
Vitamins! Heroes Nutritionals
Kids Eat Free at Ikea Dec. 26 to Jan. 1
Go red for women Red Dress Pin
Meow Mix Toppers Kitty Food
Doggie food sample from Nutrish, Rachel Ray
Sample of Benefiber
January 1st CVS/Albertsons will have Skinny Cow Candy Chocolate 6-count on sale for Buy One Get One FREE, plus there is a Buy one get one FREE Skinny Cow Chocolate Candy Printable Coupon.
Like Backyard Farms on Facebook, get some coupons and enter to win a lifetime supply of Backyard Farm Tomatoes!

Try the latest foods-free

I just joined General Mills and Kraft Foods to test their products for free. They have a great program where they send you coupons for free products or an actual free, full size of their latest products to try at home. In return you give them feedback on their web site about how you liked or disliked them, you get even more opportunities and products if you write a review on your blog. Besides sending out coupons, products, Kraft foods and General Mills at times takes applications to host a party at home with all their brand name items. From what I understand, if your application is chosen, they give you all the goodies such as the food, linens, beverages, etc. to create the party, plus gifts for you and each of the guests.
Here are the links to get started:

General Mills Long questionnaire to fill out but hopefully worth it in the long run, we'll see. One of my fellow coupon clipping moms on Facebook received 2 big boxes of cereal and even  coupons for free milk, pretty cool.

Kraft First Taste You just have to love Kraft, plus their site is so simple and easy to use, not so many questions either.

Proctor and Gamble  They occasionally have applications to host parties to promote new products, plus right now if you sign up the will send out their big coupon booklet with over $95 in savings and 3 times a year they with automatically send you their Pge brand sampler box.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Cranky Christmas Cook

Yes, this was me today, a crusty old cranky cook, but only when I was informed that we are to make twice baked potatoes for a Christmas family get together. The crankiness comes from knowing that this yummy side dish is actually a pain in the biscuits to make, not to mention time consuming and a bit frustrating getting baker potatoes to cooperate. In remembering my last run in with them, I seriously doubted our ability, sanity and the potatoes' worthiness to be baked and baked again for that matter. But as my mom informed me, don't stress out, stop being cranky, don't worry about the potatoes, we are not in any hurry to get them done in an instant. That's good because these, you cannot do in an "instant", nor do they come that way. I realized after my rant that my mom and I were thinking two different ways of making these delicious potatoes. She's thinking all easy and fun, I'm thinking time consuming, stressful, mess! lol I was remembering the canoe method, where, after baking the potatoes you cut the top off making a canoe type shape (a very difficult, daunting way of making twice baked potatoes). My mom was thinking of the cut the potatoes in half lengthwise method (a total easier and faster, fun way). As you will see in the recipe below, these are not as difficult as they seem; and do not use the canoe method as it's just too much to bear. These potatoes are so delicious, our crowd at the Christmas gathering today scarfed them up so quickly, we actually ran out of them!
Today, we made enough for 12 people, the recipe below serves 4 with each serving being a half of the potato, make more or less depending on your crowds appetite and the size of the potatoes.

Easy as Pie Twice Baked Potatoes
Serves 4       Preheat Oven to 375°F

  • 2 large baker potatoes, scrubbed and dried and pierced a couple times with a fork
  • 1/4 cup chopped bacon and 1 TBS chopped onion cooked together and set aside to cool
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter1/2 cup soured cream
  • 1/4 cup half & half  or milk1/8 tsp nutmeg 2/3 cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese1 TBS salt free seasoning such as Mrs. Dash Original Salt Free Blend
  • Place the potatoes directly on the rack in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. 
  1. Remove potatoes from the oven, and turn the heat down to 325°F.
  2. Mom's tip: Hold the potato with an oven-mit or towel, and cut in half length wise, (this makes it way easier to scoop out and fill up the potatoes). With a spoon, carefully scoop out most of the potato into a bowl, taking care to leave enough of the potato in the skin so the shells stay together. Do this with each potato half. Another tip: to  make this task not so frustrating as I usually do with my picky self, don't worry if when scooping out the potato the skin tears a little because when the potato is filled up with the mixture below, you won't even notice the tear.
  3. Mash the scooped out potato with fork or potato masher, along with the butter, half & half or milk and sour cream. Stir in the nutmeg and salt free seasoning. Stir all together with a hand or stand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Fill the potato shells with the whipped potato mixture mounding it slightly and place them all onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon and onion mixture, then the cheese on top and press down slightly so it stays on the potato. 
  4. Bake the potatoes until heated through, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately with a big smiling face and non cranky attitude!

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Lots of Latkes!

    Happy Hanukkah! The Jewish holiday full of hope, courage, triumph and most of all God's miracles and faithfulness. During the eight days of Hanukkah it is tradition to spend time with family and friends, enjoying good food, playing games and most of all lighting the Hanukkah Menorah while giving thanks to God for today, yesterday and what is to come. This year we decided to begin celebrating this wonderful holiday. So last evening, the first night of Hanukkah we cooked up some  latkes.These tasty potato cakes are very easy to make, and most of the ingredients are already in your kitchen. Cook them up after you have lit the Hanukkah Menorah as we did, or serve as an appetizer or entree anytime you like. Make sure to have some sour cream and/or applesauce to top them off.
    *Laura's Latkes            Serves 4

    4 Medium peeled potatoes, any kind of potatoes work great with this recipe, if you use small red or gold potatoes use about 6-8 of them though.1 Medium size carrots, peeled
    2 Tbs parsley, short stems or finely chopped for garnish
    1/4 of a medium size onion, peeled; use less or more onion if you prefer
    2 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    2 Tbs. all purpose flour
    1/2 cup cooking oil
    Using a cheese grater, grate potatoes, carrots and onion into a bowl, add eggs, salt and flour and mix well. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Spoon out potato mixture with teaspoon into the hot skillet and fry until edges are golden brown, then turn over and fry other side for about 3-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with parsley and serve with your favorite topping.*Little ones love to help in the kitchen with these too. I gave my daughter her own small bowl of the potato mixture to stir together herself, then I scooped a 1/2 teaspoon of it onto the skillet for her. She thoroughly enjoyed her own mini latkes or as she calls them mootkes. 
    Peace and Happy Hanukkah!

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Get Free Stuff!

    Most everyone enjoys getting free stuff! I know I do, especially when it's kitchen stuff. A few months ago a friend recommended I sign up with a freebie web site to begin finding out how and when free items become available. So I did and found out how fun and easy it is. After I received a few freebies in the mail I began finding other legitimate freebie sites. Then I began receiving more and more free items in the mail most every day! It's gotten to be too much fun and a bit addicting so be careful.
    Some of the freebies I have received are: Name brand kitchen cleaning items, spices, seasonings, vitamins, cook books, coffee, kcups and hot chocolate, spatulas, can openers, etc. I have even received many beauty product samples as well. There are so many free samples out there you can really pick and choose which ones you want.
    Below is a list of my favorite places on the net to grab free goodies, just click on the name of the site and it will automatically open a new window to take you there. (Most of the sites will list out freebies on their Facebook page too and  liking them on Facebook is the fastest way to find out about new freebies since they go fast)!

    Hi-tech Kitchenware: They have a free cake server right now.
    FrogSlap: They are local, support the community and even send out free FrogSlap logo items to their Facebook fans.
    Clair's Freebies: She has actually taken the time to list out many contests and freebies on her blog and conducts many Facebook fan only events.
    Hunt4Freebies: The absolute fastest and  best place to find freebies.
    Woman Freebies: Many fun contests here with free stuff too.
    Gofobo:  This is for free movies, you can sign up and get free movie tickets to advanced public screenings and get codes for exclusive private screenings!

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Kari and Laura's Cooking Game

    My friend Kari and I have this fun, yet interesting cooking game we came up with in junior high I believe. I don't remember all the details of how this game came about but we would come up with some crazy things. I guess growing up on Florence, Montana, population 1500 or so, you get pretty imaginative.
     My mom, bless her heart would allow Kari and I to make a total disaster of her kitchen, I'm sure she is the the only mom in Missoula and Ravalli county combined that would allow two silly young girls do insane things in her kitchen. 
    My mom's usual comments were:
     "What are you girls making now?"
     "It's ok to make a mess in here, but just clean it all up when you're done." 
     "That looks interesting"
     "No, I'm not hungry right now so I won't be tasting what you're making, but thanks"
    So, our game was to have my mom take us to the only grocery store in town, to get our ingredients. Once we got to the Economy IGA, lol, what a store;  Kari and I would split up and pick one or two ingredients from whichever isle we went to. Once we got back to the kitchen, we had to make something with the ingredients we each chose, along with whatever else was in the kitchen to complete the recipe.
    I believe the most memorable time is when Kari picked out cottage cheese and I chose peanut butter. My mom remembers this one, I think because it may not have been the best ingredients to use together and she may not  have liked the final product. But we came up with Peanut Butter Cakes and I thought they were quite tasty. I still have this recipe on a post it note in Kari's handwriting, which makes this story so cool! There are no cooking temps/times, instructions or anything to complete the recipe, I think we were just concerned about the ingredients at the time. 
    So here it is:
    1 Egg
    1 1/2 tsp Crisco
    1 cup flour
    2 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 cup chopped trail mix or chopped nuts
    1/4 cup milk
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 tsp chocolate syrup
    4 TBS peanut butter
    2 TBS cottage cheese