Saturday, March 29, 2014

Corn Lovers Corn Chowder Recipe

For many years, I have been a fan of cookbook author Mollie Katzen. I've had copies of her books The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and The Moosewood Cookbook in my kitchen for ages.

I've always loved her philosophy of using simple but delicious ingredients to create meals to share with family and friends.

So, this is her recipe for Fresh Corn Chowder. If you are a corn lover, I highly recommend you make this and enjoy it on a still-cold Spring evening. I served it with slices of warm, buttered sour dough bread, and it was all simply delicious.

Recipe for Fresh Corn Chowder


1 medium sized potato                                                     5 cups corn (5 cobs, or a 16 oz. bag frozen/
2 1/2 cups water                                                               defrosted)
2-3 tablespoons butter                                                      fresh black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups chopped onion                                                1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt                                                           1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 stalk celery, minced                                                      1 cup milk at room temperature
1 small red bell pepper, minced                                       shredded cheddar cheese for topping


Scrub or peel the potato and cut it into small dice. Place it in a small saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, but not mushy. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch Oven. Add the onion and salt, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring. After about 5 minutes, add celery and keep cooking. About 5 minutes later, add the cooked potatoes with all their liquid, the red bell pepper, corn, black pepper, and herbs. Stir well and cover. Reduce heat and let it cook about 5 minutes more.

Use a blender or food processor to puree about half the solids in some of the soup's own liquid. Return this to the pot, and let it rest until serving time.

Stir in the milk about 10 before serving. Heat the soup gently, don't cook it any further. Serve as soon as it's hot.

Makes 6 servings.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake

I adore chocolate cake, and this recipe is one of my absolute favorites. Normally, I think a cake tastes better on the first day it's baked, but this one's chocolate intensity is even better on the second day.

This is fancy enough for a holiday, family reunion, or any time you want people to be in awe of your fabulous baking skills. It really is that good.

Recipe for Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake


For the cake:
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon brewed coffee
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
For the glaze:
 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan and set aside.
Put brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.
With an electric mixer,  mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.
Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  The batter will be very loose.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan about 30 minutes, and then invert onto a cake plate.
To make the glaze, in a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Add 2 tablespoons of milk and all of the vanilla extract.  Whisk to combine.  Mixture may be thick.  Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is thick but still pourable.
Slowly pour glaze over cake, guiding the glaze with a spatula.
Serves 8-10.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I've made several different kinds of soups this past winter, but this potato broccoli cheese soup is my favorite.

It's such a hearty, delicious, and filling soup that actually tastes even better warmed up the next day. I love getting broccoli into my recipes anyway I can, as it's one of my favorite vegetables, and so good for you.

You can use whatever potatoes you have on hand, and don't even need to peel them. I do recommend using half-and-half for extra richness, but milk will work, too.

Recipe for Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup


1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cubed, unpeeled potatoes
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups half-and-half (or milk) divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Sauté onion, carrots and celery in a large pot until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth, broccoli, potatoes, and seasonings, heat to boiling.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. Heat soup to boiling, stir in combined 1 cup half-and-half and flour, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute.
Stir in remaining 2 cups half-and-half, reduce heat to medium, and add cheese stirring until melted.

Makes 6 entrée servings.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Green Olive Dip With Lindsay Olives #sponsored

When I was growing up, I can recall that there was always a bowl of olives on the table for everyone to enjoy. Whether it was a summer barbeque or part of our Thanksgiving appetizers, we always made sure to include Lindsay Olives.

Their great taste inspired me to make this delicious Green Olive Dip. I used Lindsay's Naturals California Green Ripe Olives. These are canned with only water and sea salt, and have a smooth, mellow flavor.

Lindsay Olives has been in business for over 100 years in California. I'm from California, and I love using great products from my home state.

While I always enjoy eating a handful of olives straight from a bowl, there are really many ways to use them in recipes. They enhance pasta, salads, pizzas, and so much more. They can also be used as the bases for fabulous dips, using both black or green olives.

We had some friends over to watch a movie last week, and this Green Olive Dip was so easy to make, and serve.

 The rich buttery green olives were perfect for making this dip, and I included whole wheat tortilla wedges, and a variety of crackers to go along with it.

To give it even more edge, I sprinkled red pepper flakes on top, but this can be optional.

My guests loved it, so did I, and it's a recipe I'll be making again soon. It will be perfect for the summer when I can bring it to picnics or the beach.

Recipe for Lindsay Olive Green Olive Dip


2 6 oz cans of Lindsay Naturals California Green Ripe Olives
1 green chili, chopped
juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
red pepper flakes to sprinkle on top (optional)


Put all ingredients into a blender. Pulse into a rough paste, checking frequently to make sure you don't over blend it.
Put into a bowl and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve with warm tortilla wedges or crackers.


*I was provided with products from Lindsay Olives, and all opinions are my own.


Peppa Pig My Birthday Party DVD Review and Giveaway #sponsored

What is it about these charming pig characters that make my grandchildren love them? And the funny thing is, I love them too!

Peppa Pig is a cartoon that is sweet and loveable, and I watch it right along with the kids whenever it is on.

Peppa lives with her little brother George, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig. She loves having adventures with her family and friends, and Grandma and Grandpa Pig.

This My Birthday Party DVD includes the title episode, which is adorable and typical "Peppa", and 13 other episodes.

Fancy Dream Party, Grandpa Pig's Boat, School Play, and At The Beach are just a few of the titles that are included in this DVD.

There are also never before seen exclusive extras like Learn The Alphabet and Learn To Count.

Whether your children are Peppa Pig fans, or they have never watched, they will love this fun and sweet 14 fun packed episodes of Peppa's adventures.

We are happy to be giving away one copy of Peppa Pig My Birthday Party to one of our readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts March 17, 2014 and ends on March 31, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chicken and Bacon Alfredo Casserole

Casseroles are one of my favorite dinners to make. They are usually pretty easy to put together, and when they are combined with a simple salad and warm bread, you have a delicious meal.

This chicken casserole has bacon in it, and makes it all the more yummy. Who doesn't love bacon, right??

I made this on a busy weeknight, and my family loved it. The recipe is simple, and while it was baking, I made a salad with red onions and Italian dressing. So good!!

Chicken and Bacon Alfredo Casserole


6 strips bacon
2 1/2 cups uncooked penne, or tube shaped pasta
2 small skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 16 oz. jar alfredo sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup cooked green beans
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Fry the bacon until crisp, let drain on paper towels.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta as directed, drain, and place into a large bowl.
Add the bacon, chicken, green beans, green onion, alfredo sauce, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
Stir together until mixture is well combined. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
Put mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serves 6.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Slam Dunk Dinner With DIGIORNO Stuffed Crust Pizza

Watching sports on TV has always been an activity that our whole family enjoys. With two sons, and two son-in-laws, you can bet there is some serious basketball games watching around here.

That calls for some serious eating too, and that's where DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Pizzas come in. We all love the great taste of DiGiorno, and the fact that we can pop as many as we need in the oven, and in 20 minutes or so, we have hot, delicious pizza without any fuss.

Since we lost our beloved basketball team here in Washington State, my family and I have been watching a lot more college games. And I have to say, I'm having a lot of fun following and cheering on our local Washington college team. Basketball is so fast paced, and exciting, that I don't want to miss a minute of it by being stuck in the kitchen.

I went to Walmart to pick up a couple of DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Pizzas because some of us were getting together to watch a game. The selection of different kinds of DiGiorno was amazing, and I always seem to pick the stuffed crust, because really, why wouldn't you??

All that super yummy cheese in the crust is irresistible to me. So I picked out a DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Buffalo-Style, and a Stuffed Crust Sausage, Peppers, and Onions pizza.

Everyone in my family is a true pizza lover, and we love a good hearty pizza with several toppings, especially sausage.

The Stuffed Crust Sausage, Peppers and Onions was a big hit, and we sadly ran out pretty quickly. I didn't know how great this tasted, and you can bet we'll be stocking up on this.

So good!!

The Buffalo-Style Chicken pizza was fabulous tasting, too. Pizza with chicken is one of my personal favorites, and the sauce on this was tangy and flavorful.

Why spend time in the kitchen cooking, or spend all that money for delivery, when DiGiorno gives you delicious pizza so quickly, and at such a great price?

And it's so much easier to invite friends and family over to watch a game when you don't have to worry about what to serve to eat. We love being spontaneous, and it's so much fun to celebrate the season by having people over to watch the games with us.

My grandson Jayden is seven now, and he's become a big basketball fan. He loves watching it, and playing it with his friends at school.

While we were watching the game, he was showing me how good he is getting at dribbling the ball. All this while eating a piece of pizza, too!!

I like letting everyone choose the kind of pizza they want to put on their plate, so really all there is to do is just slice them. So easy, and good. My favorite way to entertain!!

Our team got beat, but we all still had a great time. Basketball season is a lot of fun, but really, for me, it's a chance to spend time with my family and good friends.

You can bet I'll be buying more of the DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Buffalo-Style Chicken, and Stuffed Crust Sausage, Peppers, and Onions pizzas on my next trip to Walmart.

These two kinds of pizzas are definitely my #NewFavorites, and I bet they'll be yours, too.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chocolate Sprinkle Donuts

I've mentioned before that now I have a donut pan, donuts are super easy to make. No frying, no hot oil to deal with, and no messy stovetop from oil spills. Yay, and donuts just seem to make people happy, or at least the people I know.

These delicious, super chocolaty donuts have a chocolate glaze on them, and are then dipped in colorful sprinkles. They are fun, cheerful, and perfect to make and eat on a rainy Seattle day.

Recipe for Chocolate Sprinkle Donuts

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
big pinch salt
4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
multi-color sprinkles

For the glaze:

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a donut pan with a light coating of nonstick baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together until all of the ingredients are well combined. Use a small spoon to portion batter into the prepared doughnut baking pan.  Each doughnut mold should be about two-thirds full.  Bake doughnuts for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one of the doughnuts comes out clean.  Remove from the oven.  Allow to rest for five minutes before inverting doughnuts onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Allow doughnuts to cool completely before glazing.
Repeat the baking process until all of the batter is turned into doughnuts.
To make the glaze, in a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Add 2 tablespoons of milk and all of the vanilla extract.  Whisk to combine.  Mixture may be thick.  Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is thick but still pourable.
Dip each donut about halfway down into the chocolate glaze. Place on a wire rack, and then sprinkle on colored sprinkles in whatever heaviness you want.
Let the donuts sit for a few minutes to settle.

Makes 10 donuts.


Inspired by Joy The Baker


Monday, March 10, 2014

Making Chocolate Tarts With Delicious Milky Way Caramel Bites

I happen to be one of those people who are crazy about chocolate. I love chocolate anything, but a chocolate dessert is my absolute favorite. And a dessert made with chocolate and caramel candy? Yes, please!!

I just bought some cute little mini tart pans and have been thinking about making chocolate tarts for awhile now. Although I've made a couple of lemon tarts and other kinds, I've never tried making a chocolate one.

When I was shopping recently at Walmart, I made a trip down the candy aisle and found one of my favorite candies in the world, Milky Way.

But these were not regular candy bars, they were Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites. So cute, and the perfect snack size for myself and my grandchildren. I have been eating Milky Way candy bars since I was a kid, and I just frankly adore them.

 These are just so cute, and I decided to make my chocolate mini chocolate tarts with them as an ingredient.

 I can remember my own Mom using candy in her desserts, and they were always so delicious.

I try hard to be the best "Nana" I can be, and in my book, that includes providing yummy treats for my four grandchildren. I didn't doubt these little tarts would be a big hit with them.

I have to say that Walmart has a fabulous candy aisle, and it's pretty easy to find your favorites.

Not only did I find Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites, but Snickers and 3 Musketeers Bites, as well.

With three kinds to choose from, I can definitely #EatMoreBites in these kinds as well.

The thing that I have found about making tarts is that making the filling is the easy part. The hard part is getting a light and flaky tart crust. You don't want to mix the dough too much or it will end up being tough.

I wanted the Milky Way Simply Caramel bites to be inside the filling, and on top. You can never have too much of a good thing!!

I put some into my mini food processor and chopped them up so that they would blend easily into the chocolate filling and create a rich chocolate and caramel dessert. Then I used larger pies to go on top of the tarts, as a finishing touch.

Honestly, making tarts used to intimidate me. They seemed like such a fancy dessert, and I only ever ate them at a restaurant or someone's house that was an excellent cook.

But they really aren't that difficult to make, and I'm so happy I made these. Were they good?

Yeah, they were super good!! And I'm totally going back to Walmart and picking up more Bites, this time in not just the Milky Way Simply Caramel, but the Snickers and 3 Musketeers kind, too.

Here's my recipe for Chocolate Tarts With Milky Way Caramel Bites

Ingredients for Tart Shells:

 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour


 Combine butter, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl and mix together with a hand mixer until smooth. Stir flour into butter mixture to make a smooth dough, but do not over mix.
Press dough into a 8 mini tart pans refrigerate  for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake tart shells until light and golden, 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup good quality baking cocoa
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites, ground up in a food processor


In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, boil and whisk for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Whisk in finely chopped chocolate and caramel bits. Refrigerate filling until chilled. Spoon into tart shells, and top with sliced Bites pieces.

I dusted the shells with powdered sugar before filling them, but this is completely optional.

Makes 8 tarts.

If you'd like to try Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites, or the two other available kinds, Walmart is offering two great money-saving coupons for you to use.

Receive $0.75 off when you buy (2) 2.83 oz. bags or $3.00 off when you buy (2) 6 oz. bags or larger

You can also join the #EatMoreBites Twitter Party on Friday, March 14, from 1:00-2:00 PM EST for a chance to win $550 in Walmart Gift Cards. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fighting dirt with Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle #MrCleanMorePower #sponsored

*This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Mr. Clean

Like most moms, cleaning is a part of my daily life. It seems I am cleaning something at some point all day long. Not all of the cleaning is down and dirty stuff, sometimes it is things like cleaning faces or simple spills. Those tasks are a simple swipe of a rag and we move on. But when our kitchen table is also used as an art table, getting rid of the stains and marks can be tough.

My children are in a marker phase, where to them, coloring and drawing with markers are way better than crayons. They don't always find and use the washable ones either (see above photo)! My 7 year old things that he needs a permanent marker, just to make sure it really sticks of course!

To clean our dining room/everything table I used Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle to wipe away all of the dirt, grime and marks. I filled up my bucket with water, added the liquid cleaner and went to work.

What I love about Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle is that with a squeeze of the bottle, when the exact amount needed was dispensed, it automatically stopped! No guessing needed. So simple. And look my table is looking shiny and clean! How about you, where does dirt and grime seem to live in your home?

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