Martha Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres and Drew Barrymore Cook Up Some Fun In The Kitchen


As part of the promotion for her new book, Martha Stewart appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show with Drew Barrymore.  Together they had a bit of fun creating recipes from Martha Stewart's Appetizers: More than 200 Recipes. The cookbook shares recipes for dips, spreads, snacks, small plates and other delicious hors d'oeuvres plus 30 cocktails.  Mostly, Martha led the way and Ellen and Drew had fun. I do wish I had been there to join in the fun.

Here's the video so that you can check out the fun for yourself. It is just over 7 minutes long and shares the ideas though not exactly the recipes that are included in the video.



If after watching you decide you'd like to try some of those recipes, you'll find the cookbook on Amazon by clicking right here. I don't normally prepare many appetizers but I would love to try these recipes. They all look tasty and I think it would be fun to put guests work in the kitchen creating them with a glass of Martha's apple cider sangria in hand. The recipe for which is in the book, of course.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Find Martha Stewart's Appetizers on Amazon.
Martha's Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe.



Clara's Kitchen Cookbook Review

Clara's Kitchen Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression

Discover a lifetime of wisdom, memories and recipes from the Great Depression.


Clara Bonfanti Cannucciari was the 94 year-old host of the YouTube phenomenon web series Great Depression Cooking with Clara, which has had over a million visitors. She was also the co-author of the book Clara's Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression.

Mrs. Cannucciari was born on August 16, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois and lived through the Great Depression in America. Her Sicilian American parents were hit hard by the tough economic times and her mother came up with some pretty great ways to save money on meals. These ways worked for them and their family was safe and healthy after the Depression.

Christopher Cannucciari (Mrs. Cannucciari's grandson) filmed Clara cooking her mother's meals in 2007 and posted them online on YouTube. The number of people searching for Depression and Depression food ideas helped the YouTube series become an online hit.

The Great Depression Cooking Show


In her Youtube Depression Era cooking videos she shares her recipes, her words of wisdom and her stories from the years in which she was a young member of a family without much money. She shares lots of advice on making meals for less money and includes recipes for dishes like pasta with peas and eggplant parmesan. It was definitely a simpler time and a more difficult time.

Clara says, "Welcome to my kitchen. I'm Clara. I'm 94. I've written a book to help you get through the hard times." Her videos include many recipes for a recession or for tough times. Visit with Clara in this short, two-minute video as she is interviewed by Katie Couric. 



Clara's Kitchen (The Book)


The success of the web series resulted in the cookbook, which is an interesting read for anyone interested in learning about what people went through during the Depression and for anyone looking for some simple, economical recipes and meal ideas. Watch this short advertisement for the cookbook here:


About the cookbook, Rosi Creen said, "Clara was the Grandmother everyone should have! I viewed her DVD, Youtube segments and her blog. Yes, Clara blogged! When I saw she had a book due out, I think I was the first to pre-order it. I stayed up all night just to read her book. What an awesome lady! Would have loved to meet her in person. I picked up a few copies for family and friends. God bless you Clara!"

Reviews include words like touching and well-written. Readers, whether aware of the video sensation or not, are charmed by Clara and delighted to find a book on the subject of depression era cooking. They celebrate the peek into the memories, photos, and recipes of this 1920s and 1930s Italian immigrant family. They celebrate the simple recipes like Dandelion Salad, Eggs and Potatoes, Pasta with Beans, Pasta with Broccoli, Pasta With Escarole. Meals with inexpensive ingredients like pasta, greens, eggplant, eggs, potatoes and tomato sauce. They celebrate the nutritional common sense that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and minimal meat, which was done in those years for economical reasons but is celebrated today as a good way to eat. They celebrate the fact that Clara remained cheerful and practical through out the book even though she shared the struggles and stresses of life in a family trying to make ends meet.

Writer P. Duncan said, "I ordered several copies of this book. I had watched her videos and of course was charmed. I started to read one of the copies I bought and got through 30 pages and knew I was going to give more for gifts before Christmas. Thank you Clara for sharing."


The Great Depression Cooking Show DVD


Yes, you can buy Clara's video on a DVD. On the Great Depression Cooking Show DVD you will find her recipes for Pasta with Peas, Egg Drop Soup, Poorman's Meal, Peppers and Eggs, Homemade Bread, Cooked Bread, Depression Breakfast, Poorman's Feast, Twice Baked Potato and the Holiday Episode plus six DVD exclusive recipes: Pasta with Garlic, Fried Fish, An Afternoon with Clara, Great Depression Survival Tips and Behind the Scenes.

Natalie Shadows said that "It is a wonderful DVD." She elaborated by saying that "Clara was a delightful, feisty and kind personality whose kitchen was a joy to visit. I loved the stories she told about life during the depression while adeptly cooking up her recipes. The meals were so basic that they will seem almost exotic to modern palates, but they exemplify making the most of what you have and appreciating it. Every episode left me with a smile and a desire to do a better job in all areas of my life."


In Closing


I, too, think that Clara Cannucciari would be a pretty interesting lady to meet but she passed away at the age of 98 in 2013. As was required in the Great Depression, Clara did a lot with a little and she appears to have approached it all with a positive attitude. You can buy Clara's cookbook on Amazon  by clicking right here and her video by clicking here.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

More Cookbooks:


Starbucks: Passion For Coffee Cookbook Review
The Family Dinner Book Review
American Country's Country Cooking

Author's Note: This page was originally written for another website in 2010.


Talk Turkey to Me Cookbook

HOW TO HAVE A GOOD TIME IN THE KITCHEN TALKING TURKEY AND ALL THE TRIMMINGS.

Talk Turkey to Me is a funny cookbook that shares the amazing variety of questions that Butterball receives but, more importantly, also shares the witty and practical answers to the important turkey questions. 

It includes the answers to questions about how to thaw a turkey (and how long), whether to stuff or not, how to cook, whether ore not to brine your turkey and whether you should baste it. (We say NO, basting your turkey is too much fuss.) 

Talk Turkey to Me also includes recipes for all the turkey dinner trimmings with lots of ideas for make-ahead sides.

A practical addition to your cookbook library.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy Talk Turkey to Me on Amazon
Learn how to BBQ a turkey.



Martha Stewart Lemon Cupcake Recipe

Martha Stewart's Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Cupcakes and ME


The Lemon Cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cookbook is absolutely amazing. On this page, you will find the lemon cupcake recipe and my story.

My story actually starts with Martha Stewart's Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie. I have made numerous unsuccessful attempts at creating it. However, the cupcakes are another story...a yummy story if not a pretty one.

The History Of My Mile-High Lemon Meringue Adventure


My Mile-High Lemon Meringue story is pretty simple and painfully funny. Many years ago, probably more than ten, I was intrigued by Martha Stewart's Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. The pie sounded great and the meringue amazing so I decided to give it a go. To try it. To undertake the most difficult recipe of my life.

Well, I don't know if it is the most difficult recipe of my life or not but I am calling it that because it failed. Not once. Not twice. But thrice. Yes, I was 'dumb' enough to try it more than twice.

The problem? Not the pastry although, if you've read my page A Tasty & Traditional Easter Dinner Menu, you know that I'm pie challenged. Not the lemon curd, it seemed to work out fine. Not the meringue, it whipped up very nicely, thank you very much. However, when the three were combined and put into the oven to brown, the curd turned to soup. Now it is a family legend, one we laugh out loud at whenever the subject of lemon meringue pie comes up although around here it is affectionately known as lemon meringue soup.

Years passed. I did not try making Martha Stewart's lemon meringue pie again although my reputation lived on. The really sad thing was that the pie, despite being in soup form, had still managed to taste really, really good, which made me want to have a slice of Martha Stewart's Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie even more!

Then came Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book. I picked a few recipes to try and, as I perused the pages, I stumbled across the Lemon Meringue Cupcake recipe.

What Would You Have Done?


I decided to go for it and give the recipe a try. Without further ado or to do, here, in three parts, is the recipe for Martha Stewart's Lemon Cupcakes...



Lemon Curd Recipe - (Makes 2 cups)


Ingredients:

8 large egg yolks
2 lemons, zested
1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 tbsps lemon juice (approximately 3 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsps) cold unsalted butter which has been cut into pieces

Instructions:

In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar and whisk them together. Stir constantly until the mixture is thick, between 8 and 10 minutes and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove pot and add salt and butter, one piece at a time. (The butter, not the salt!) Stirring until melted, each time. Strain the curd. Cover with plastic making sure that the plastic is pressed onto the surface of the curd which will keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to one day. Making this the day before would certainly spread the work out a bit.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes Recipe

(Makes 24 cupcakes.)

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (all-purpose)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Grated zest of 3 lemons (3 tbsps)
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Mix butter and sugar together at medium speed. Add eggs one at a time and wait until the egg is all mixed in before adding the next one. Add zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches with two batches of buttermilk and lemon juice in between. Beat until just combined after each addition. Place batter in lined cups filling about three-quarters full. Bake until golden, cake tester comes out clean or about 25 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the muffin tins. These cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen for up to two months.

Seven Minute Frosting Masquerading as Lemon Meringue Recipe


(Makes a lot.)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsps sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tbsps light corn syrup
6 large egg whites at room temperature

Instructions:

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small pot. Attach a candy thermometer to your pot. Boil over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling but do not stir anymore. When syrup is 230 degrees, remove from heat. Meanwhile Whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. (I used my stand mixer's regular beaters as it does not have a whisk.) With mixer running, gradually add 2 tbsps sugar. When syrup reaches the required temperature, gradually add it to the mixing bowl with the mixer on a medium-low speed. Raise speed to medium high and whisk until cool. (The bottom of the bowl wil be cool to touch.) Stiff peaks will form and it will take approximatey 7 minutes.

Final Cupcake Assembly Instructions


Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon curd to the middle (top) of the cupcakes. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip, pipe some frosting onto each cupcake. Using a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches away from the frosting, lightly brown the frosting.

Brown them with my kitchen blow torch? Uh oh, did someone say blow torch? This is where following the kitchen rule about reading the whole recipe before you start would have helped. I do not own a kitchen blow torch so here I was, at a difficult moment. What to do? It didn't seem like the cupcakes would be complete if I didn't brown them. Since I had two pans of cupcakes I thought I'll assemble one pan and put them under the broiler. If they're ruined, I will still have the second pan to work with.

It worked, sort of. Because of my expert decorating, the meringue on each cupcake was at a different height which meant that some were trying to burn while others were not brown yet so I had to monitor them closely. The result? Some brown spots, some white spots, as the pictures show.

There's no question that Martha's version of this cupcake is much prettier but mine still tasted fine.

Martha says, serve immediately but I'm sure there's no chance after all that work that you will wait before eating one!

Helpful Cupcake Baking Hints From Martha and Brenda


Brenda warns that lemons can be expensive so you might want to choose to make these cupcakes when lemons are on sale. The day I was shopping for lemons, they were two for $1.00 which was not too bad but I thought I needed 9 (you actually need 6). I was able to purchase bagged lemons with more than I needed at a lower cost.

Martha recommends cupcake liners; Brenda never bothers with them and did not have any difficulty removing the cupcakes from the pans. There are an endless choice of cupcake liners available from Amazon for any theme you might be working with.

Brenda says that it is critical that the butter be at room temperature, a little on the soft side. I have tried with cookies to use butter that isn't soft enough and it just does not work.

Martha says that one of the biggest problems with cupcakes is over mixing so be careful not to do that.

Brenda says that It is possible, albeit risky, to make these lemon cupcakes without a thermometer. I failed to follow the rule about reading the recipe through first and did not realize that I needed one. When the time came to make the lemon curd, I just cooked it for the longer time given and made sure that it fit the written description given in the recipe. When I was making the meringue, it was a bit more difficult. I used my meat thermometer which went to 212 degrees. However, the syrup needed to reach 230 degrees so I just cooked the syrup longer. Fortunately for me, both worked out fine. I'd recommend that you buy a thermometer to eliminate the guess work.

Brenda did not strain the curd and could see no issues with not having done so.

Brenda successfully used her stand mixer's regular beaters because she does not have a whisk attachment.

What Do You Think? 


What do you think? Should I have chosen to make lemon cupcakes? Should I have tried the pie again? Should I have abandoned the whole idea?  Fortunately, the cupcakes were delicious, if not beautiful. The lemon curd was amazing and the meringue frosting was delicious! Unfortunately, my now grown-up children do not remember them but they still remember the lemon meringue soup pie. 

My aim on this page was to share a delicious recipe with you and to have you smiling at my story and not puckering at the end of the page. I hope I have managed to achieve my goal whether or not you decide to make these cupcakes.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda


More Interesting Lemon Cupcake Recipes


Lemon Meringue Cupcakes Recipe From Food & Wine
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes Gluten free
Paula Deen's Lemon Blossoms 
Meyer Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes From Martha Stewart 

Author's Note: This page was originally written in 2009 and published on another website.


Melissa and Doug Food Play Sets

Melissa and Doug make top quality children`s toys. I am especially enamoured with their food-themed toys, like this Melissa and Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set because I remember how much my children enjoyed playing with their kitchen.

This cookie set includes 12 cookies that can be sliced and served, making it perfect for imaginative play. Any child who loves processes will love this set as the cookies can be removed from the tube, sliced, placed on the tray, baked and served.

Of course, the cookie set is far from the only play food set Melissa and Doug makes. The list of food themed choices is almost endless and goes from fresh produced, to dinner and dessert items. You can see them all on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Learn more about Melissa and Doug's Cookie Set on Amazon.
Discover all of the food-themed Melissa and Doug playsets on Amazon.

What Is Kopi Luwak Coffee?

Kopi Luwak Is The Most Expensive Coffee Available


In Vietnam, ca phe Chon as Kopi Luwak is called, translates, appropriately, as weasel coffee.

If you don't know what Kopi Luwak is, you are not alone. I stumbled across it recently in reference to Jack Nicholson and the movie The Bucket List in which Jack says, "Kopi Luwak is the world's most expensive coffee though for some it falls under the category of too good to be true."

The coffee Kopi Luwak really does not have much to do with Nicholson, of course, although I certainly believe that the references to these coffee beans in the movie heightened awareness in North America of one of the most expensive types of coffee in the world.

Click here to see Amazon's complete collection of Kopi Luwak coffee beans.
Image from Volcanica Gourmet Coffee.


Kopi Luwak Coffee Explained on Video




How Is Kopi Luwak Made?


Simply put, Kopi Luwak is made from coffee berries eaten by a creature called the Asian Palm Civet and processed through its digestive system. The enzymes in the stomach enter the beans altering them in a process, which makes them the most desired coffee bean in the world. The beans are then defecated and, apparently, retain their shape. The people of Indonesia and the Philippines gather them and they are washed, dried in the sun, roasted and brewed resulting in a coffee bean that is aromatic and smooth.

What Does Kopi Luwak Coffee Taste Like?


I am not a coffee drinker so I will never be able to answer that question from personal experience. However, all of my reading indicates that people find this coffee to be nutty, smooth and not bitter, and as the video says, a bit earthy...that part is not hard to understand once you realize where these coffee beans come from. Kopi Luwak is, of course, not to everyone's taste.

Is It Safe To Drink?

WHAT ABOUT BACTERIA?


So it tastes good but....what about bacteria? Is Kopi Luwak SAFE to drink? Researchers at the University of Guelph report that these beans are more contaminated than ordinary coffee beans but that the beans you buy are quite clean. They are very well washed and a lot of bacteria is dislodged in that process. What remains, they say, is insignificant.

In addition, Real Kopi Luwak says that IF the washing process misses any bacteria, the roasting and brewing will catch the rest.

Click here to buy Exotica Kopi Luwak coffee on Amazon.

Share A Cup of Kopi Luwak With Jack Nicholson


The most expensive coffee is, of course, served in tiny servings and you won't want to waste a drop...

"Kopi Luwak is the world's most expensive coffee though for some it falls under the category of too good to be true." - Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List




Whether or not Kopi Luwak coffee beans are on your bucket list, you might like to give them a try. They would also make a truly unique although not inexpensive gift for a coffee lover you know. Because these are amongst the most expensive coffee bean in the world, they are an expensive, luxury gift choice.

Were You Familiar With Kopi Luwak Coffee BEFORE You Visited This Page? Have You Ever Heard Of Kopi Luwak Coffee? Have you had a cup? What did you think?

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

More Coffee Reading


31 Days of Coffee Mugs
A series devoted to the humble but mightily important coffee mug.


Who Collects Coffee Mugs?
I am willing to bet that you collect coffee mugs, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Find out who else is collecting mugs and what types of mugs are in their cupboards.

THE WORLD OF COFFEE:
A page is dedicated to COFFEE. Coffee mugs. Coffee information. Coffee resources. Even coffee recipes and movies.

How Should I Store Coffee Beans?
If you love coffee, storage is an issue that comes up often and there are a few simple but important guidelines to follow. On this page, you will find recommendations on how you should store your coffee as well as numerous...

The BEST Electric Kettle
The electric kettle in our house is hugely important and definitely something that we do not want to be without. We use our kettle every day, all day and we are very demanding when we choose one. We want it to be a very good one, one that does its...

Pros and Cons of Organic Instant Coffee
Weighing the pros and cons of drinking organic instant coffee.

Please Note: This page was originally written in 2011 on another website.

What To Do For Dinner? Meal Planning Ideas For When You Are Struggling

What's For Supper
Where Can I Find Ideas For Supper When I Am Not Motivated To Cook?


The age old question rears its ugly head over and over again. What to do for dinner? Where can I find ideas for supper when I am not motivated to cook?

I am frequently NOT motivated to cook. Therefore, I try to have a menu plan prepared because I find that the biggest part of the challenge at mealtime for me is deciding WHAT to cook, given the eating limitations that my personal situation presents. If I have a menu plan, the hard part is done.

My process for creating a menu plan is to sit down with a cup of tea in my favorite coffee mug and a few pieces of scrap paper and then to draw out the days of the week, noting when someone has an obligation outside of the house, which means that he will not be eating at home or that he will be eating leftovers later than the rest of us. I then look through my cookbooks and printed recipe collection and fill in the blanks.

Lately, however, I find that my menu planning process is more often than not FAILING and I come away frustrated and not much better off than when I started...I am simply STUCK for an inspiration and hard pressed to make a decision.

I wish there was a magic answer to the question, "What's for Supper" but there doesn't seem to be so I proceeded on the assumption that there are a few others out there like myself who struggle with the answer to that question. To offer assistance, I assembled a few ideas and resources on this page. They're all flexible to suit different situations and I hope they offer you at the very least a tiny bit of menu planning inspiration.

This article was originally written in 2012 when I had a family too cook for. Much still applies to our world as empty nesters though I have definitely found cooking for two adults to be radically different than cooking for two adults and two hungry boys.

What's for Supper art print from Amazon.


TRY A MENU PLANNING BOOK


7-Day Menu Planner For Dummies

7-Day Menu Planner For Dummies 


A MENU PLANNING BOOK WITH 52 WEEKS OF MEAL PLANS.

If you are familiar with the Dummies series of books, you know how practical they can be. This book, the 7-Day Menu Planner For Dummies, also is very practical, delivering "a structured, nutritional approach to daily meal planning." It includes 52 weeks worth of menus.


Plan It, Don't Panic: Everything You Need to Successfully Create and Use a Meal Plan



Plan It, Don't Panic: Everything You Need to Successfully Create and Use a Meal Plan


A MENU PLANNING EBOOK FOR YOUR KINDLE OR OTHER READING DEVICE

Plan It, Don't Panic will help you make the most of your grocery dollars, to avoid the dreaded panic that entails when you don't know what to do for dinner and to prepare healthy meals for your family. Customer reviews for this book are stellar.

Buy Plan It, Don't Panic from Amazon here.




ASK YOUR FRIENDS WHAT THEY DO FOR SIMPLE SUPPERS


Brainstorming with friends about what they do for easy and quick dinners is a good thing. I did it. I simply asked a group of friends what they do when they are looking for an EASY and FAST supper when they did not feel like cooking. Here's a sampling of what they had to say. As you will see in a moment, once they got started, they shared a wealth of dinner ideas.

Dianne said, "I found a recipe for easy shepherd's pie and that is what we're having tomorrow. I made it up tonight so I can just pop it in the oven tomorrow." Brilliant idea, Dianne and I love meals for which the work is done today for tomorrow. Susan said, "I purchased salmon yesterday and baked that and we had a small baked potato and a big salad. Healthy. Tasted okay, but nothing special." I love the simplicity of Susan's meal -- NO recipe required! My version is cooking up three pieces of plain fish with just a hint of seasoning, some rice and lots of vegetables. Almost no thinking involved.

For an easy meal for company, Dianne said, "I buy a couple of kinds of bread and some deli meats, maybe some cheeses, and let everyone make their own sandwiches. If you like you can add some side dishes at the deli too. Potato salad, cole slaw, etc. or just have some chips." Joan said, "I am thinking of a spaghetti casserole for company. That would be easy for Saturday night, when they arrive because it can be done ahead of time." Brilliant, Joan will have her hands free to visit with her guests.

"Making a pasta salad is a great, customizable idea. It is good eating, requires cooking just once and makes a big batch plus you can add whatever you want in regards to fresh vegetables." This idea another one from Susan, that I have also used. However, we've never put pepperoni in ours, as her husband Chris does...and I am not sure that we ever will. (Sorry, Chris.)

Joan and her husband recently had two premade burger patties, stuffed potatoes and broccoli. She was right when she said that it was not fancy but we all wanted to go to her house for supper and we decided a fancy name dressed it right up. Who wouldn't enjoy a meal of "Pan Fried Hamburger Steak with Stuffed Baked Potatoes and Fresh Steamed Broccoli?" Dianne also suggested a stir fry with LEFTOVER veggies and meat. Another brilliant idea. (Smart group of friends, I have eh?) I've never thought to use leftovers in a stir fry and planned leftovers would be perfect.

Menu Planning Notepad"Bake a big ham and then plan meals around that. Ham and mashed potatoes, ham and scrambled eggs, ham and cabbage, ham and bean soup, ham sandwiches." Thanks, again, Dianne! "Bagged lettuce and whatever add ons you like. Leftover chicken or beef, boiled eggs, canned beans and the veggies you like. Make it a main dish salad." One last idea from Dianne!

Another easy dinner, that we personally love in my family, is make-it-yourself sub sandwiches with veggies and dip. My entire family loves assembling what they want in their sandwiches and I love watching those mouths open wide and those vegetable crudites disappear. This meal isn't quite as fast as Dianne's sandwich idea although you could simplify it by purchasing prepared raw vegetables. It is, however, a family favorite around here. Carma was late to the conversation but she responded with a resounding, "Eat Out!" We all know that eating out is always an option but for most of us it is an option we cannot enjoy frequently. Her final answer however was, "spaghetti or meaty mac, go-to meals that the kids love." She explained that Meaty Mac is her own version of macaroni and cheese with ground beef.



USE AN ONLINE MEAL PLAN


Recently, I looked into the following four meal plans and found myself intrigued. They're each a bit different.

Easy Dinner Ideas with Free Weekly Menus, Recipes and a Printable Grocery List

Make Dinner Easy is written by a mom who shares free weekly menus, recipes and even a printable grocery list. I've used her menus for a few weeks now but I do tweak them to fit in my own recipes. Read more here.

eMeals Meal Planning Program for Busy Moms & Frugal Cooks

The EMeals Meal Planning Program is not free but it does provide more menu choices than the other menu plans I have discovered. You can pick one that suits your personal cooking situation. Read more here.

The Canadian Living Dinner Club

Canadian Living's shares a five-night weekly menu that includes some of their best recipes for fast and easy weeknight dinners, plus weekly food tips that you can sign up for. Learn more here.

COLLECT SOME EASY RECIPE IDEAS


Quick Budget-Friendly Recipes from Martha Stewart 

Your taste buds and wallet will achieve perfect harmony with our selection of quick meals, including stovetop mac and cheese, braised pork chops, meatballs, and roasted chicken tacos. Find Martha's recipes here.

Ten 10-Minute Meals By Simple Bites 

The meal ideas I'm sharing today are for those kinds of days. They're quicker then takeout and tasty to boot, so everyone can be excited about dinner and you'll find yourself lounging outside, or on the couch, in no time. Learn more here.


USE AN EASY DINNER COOKBOOK


The Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family
Quick and Easy Cookbooks

These cookbooks are focused on making dinner easy.

Consulting a cookbook that has EASY and FAST menu ideas is another option. Check out these three by well-loved celebrity authors:

The Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family. Learn more here.

Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner. Learn more here.

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast. Find it on Amazon here.

They are all beautiful, hardcover books packed with inspiration.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR DINNER?


Wow, that helped and now I'm feeling motivated to put together a week's worth of menus. How about you? What are you going to do for dinner? Have I managed to inspire you or at least to give you a direction to start in? Will you be creating a menu plan? Will you be cooking something fast and easy for supper tonight or will you be resorting to a t.v. dinner? What do YOU do when you don't know what to do for dinner?

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

When you want to plan a special dinner, you might consider...

A Traditional Easter Dinner Menu
Complete Make-Ahead Summer Dinner Menu and Recipes
The Best-Ever Summer Salad Recipe Collection
A Fall Dinner Plan With Make-Ahead Recipes



Wilton Cupcakes Stand

SHOW OFF YOUR BEAUTIFUL CUPCAKES!


This cupcake stand is a popular Wilton product. It is easy to assemble as each layer of cupcakes stack on the center rod. Use it to show off your beautiful cupcakes. It will hold 23 of your creations.

W. Vasquez says, "I am a party coordinator with my own business and WE LOVE these! There are so many ideas you can use this tier cupcake holder for. Excellent and durable." - W. Vasquez

I love the idea of using it to add levels to your dessert or buffet table.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Click here to buy the Cupcakes N' More Stand by Wilton From Amazon.



125 Best Toaster Oven Recipes Cookbook

A Guide to Toaster Oven Cooking by Linda Stephen

Go beyond mere toast and pizza. Your Cuisinart countertop toaster oven can cook entire meals. From appetizers to dessert, party dishes or everyday fare, your toaster oven will do the job quickly and easily. 125 Best Toaster Oven Recipes presents recipes especially for toaster oven cooking.

The small size of a toaster oven allows it to heat up more quickly, thus keeping your entire kitchen cooler and saving energy. It just makes sense, especially when cooking for just one or two people. And since it sits on the countertop, there's no bending and reaching to use it -- great for older folks.

Start out with this toaster oven cookbook and see where your imagination can take you.

See you
in the kitchen!

Quick Links:

Buy 125 Best Toaster Oven Recipes on Amazon.

This post was originally written in 2009 and has been recently moved to this website.

Real Men Fry Turkeys

Real Men Fry Turkeys is a fun turkey- and BBQ-themed apron for the man who is cooking your turkey. It  is perfect novelty gift idea for the husband, boyfriend, brother whomever you know that takes pride in cooking his turkey in the backyard or just manning the grill. It would be a great choice for dad on Father's Day, too and it will not break the bank.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Click here to order this Real Men Fry Turkeys apron from Amazon.

Cuisinart Toaster Oven TOB 195 Review

Cuisinart's Countertop Convection Toaster Oven Review

This Cuisinart Toaster Oven TOB 195 does it all. A convection oven that bakes, broils, and toasts...and does it all in a small space on the countertop. Big enough to bake a 12-inch pizza, it serves as a handy second oven when you're entertaining. Or use it as your primary oven and keep your kitchen cooler while you keep energy costs down. Its 0.6 cubic foot capacity will hold an entire chicken for baking.

This Cuisinart stainless steel toaster oven has electronic touch pad controls and a brushed chrome interior so it's easy to clean, inside and out. Digital controls let you set the temperature with no guessing, and an alarm lets you know when the oven has reached that precise setting. Then Cuisinart's Exact Heat sensor maintains the desired temperature so everything is done to perfection.

Love the stainless steel exterior of the Cuisinart TOB 195 toaster oven. It looks great on the countertop. It heats fast, it cooks fast, and it cleans up easy. Life just got so much easier!

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Click here to read more about this Cuisinart Toaster Oven on Amazon.

Fashionable Lunch Bags

You can carry your lunch in style with an attractive Sachi lunch bag! You no longer have to brown-bag your lunch or carry an ugly tote bag. These fashionable lunch bags are as stylish as your handbag.

You can go wild with polka dots in your choice of colours or share your chic, savvy side with a black quilted lunch bag. You can punch it up in orange and pink as shown in this bag, my favorite, with the bright and bold orange and pink paisley pattern.

There are many great designs and colours to choose from. I have just shared my favorite. You can see all of Amazon's Sachi lunch bags by clicking here.  I think anyone of them would be a great gift idea for mom and you can choose the color according to her taste.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

See Amazon's selection of Sachi lunch bags.

Please note this page was originally written in 2011 and published on another website.

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Book Review

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat


I waited anxiously for June 2nd, 2009, the date when Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book was released and I was not disappointed.


I had used many of her recipes before including one for cupcakes that she demonstrated on her show several years ago called Billy's Vanilla Vanilla. Arguably, this was not her recipe but rather one from a bakery called Billy's Bakery in New York City. However, it was delicious, as the recipes in her Cupcakes cookbook have proven to be.


Mine are not always pretty like Martha's or yours, but they are usually yummy and, in my house, where live two hungry teenage boys with myself and one hungry man, presentation takes the back seat or even the trunk, to taste.


"Hot, Hot, Hot," that is how I would describe cupcakes right now. They are very trendy and people are craving them. (Is that a surprise to you?) According to Martha's website, 'cupcake' is one of the most searched for terms on their site! It is not surprising then that she decided to create this cookbook that features 175 recipes for little cakes and their frostings, fillings and toppings. The book includes classic recipes like devil's food and unusual recipes like peanut butter and jelly ones. Naturally, each recipe features a full-color photograph and lots of ideas for decorating and presenting it as only she knows how to do.

The book is a paperback book with 352 pages packed full of great ideas. There is, of course, an introduction from Martha herself. Then there is a section called Cupcakes for Any Day which takes up the greater part of the book (the recipes) and includes numerous sub-sections according to the type of cupcake.

If you weren't already hungry when you picked up this book, you will be once you've read the introduction in which Martha tells the story of asking her guests what cupcakes mean to them.

If the adjectives in the introduction don't make you hungry, the great pictures throughout this book certainly will. I'll admit to really wanting a chocolate one - the Devil's Food one. I also find the sound of the Strawberry and the Lemon Meringue ones tempting, albeit for wildly different reasons. The strawberry one is tempting because it is absolutely beautiful but the lemon meringue one is tempting because of my previous experience with Martha's Mile-High Lemon Meringue soup, oops, I mean pie. (Find that story here.) I will definitely have to try the lemon recipe because I know I will be successful with them.


See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

More Cupcake Reading:



Bakers Should All Have One Of These Amazing Aprons!

A Tupperware Rectangular Cake and Cupcake Taker
If you carry them from your home to elsewhere, you should invest in a quality carrier like this one by Tupperware.

Which Is Better a Cupcake or a Cookie?
We've debated which is better...find out what we think and throw in your thoughts on the matter!

The Best-Ever Maple Cupcakes, A Maple Syrup Recipe
Yummy! That's the only word for these little guys!

The Cupcake Girls Bakery Show
Learn more about Canadian television series.

Please note this page was originally written in 2009 and published on another website.

The Carrot Seed: A Classic Springtime Children's Picture Book

The Carrot Seed is a vintage 1945 children’s picture book that teaches how to plant and grow a carrot seed and about the patience required to wait for a seed to take life.

Ruth Krauss's book is a classic. It features illustrations by Crockett Johnson who is the creator of the popular children's book Harold and the Purple Crayon.

The book shown here is a fairly recent hardcover edition, the 60th Anniversary Edition, which was printed in 2004.  I prefer to give hardcover versions of books that I know will be treasured and read over and over again because they will stand up to all that love and even be suitable to pass on to the next generation.

The Carrot Seed has NEVER been out of print, which is pretty amazing. That is 70 years of constant readings. It is  recommended for children aged 4 to 8 years old and definitely a great book choice for celebrating springtime.

Happy Spring!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Carrot Seed from Amazon.


Carrot Juice Constitutes Murder by The Arrogant Worms

As part of our carrot series, we bring you a bit of carrot-themed humour in the form of a music video called Carrot Juice Constitutes Murder by the Arrogant Worms.

The Arrogant Worms are a Canadian band whose music covers many different genres including rock, folk, ballads, country, Celtic folk, and children's music in a humorous manner. We hope this music video leaves you smiling.

 

If you are interested, you can download Carrot Constitutes Murder from Amazon by clicking here.

See you  in the
kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Carrot Constitutes Murder on Amazon.
The Best-Ever Carrot Cake Recipe.

The Carrot Cookbook

We all know that carrots are nutritious and this cookbook will help you get more carrots into your diet and onto your menu plan.

Within the 171 pages, you will find recipes for carrot marmalade, a chilled soup, mulled carrot drink, carrot fudge, chili con carrot, carrot stroganoff, boeuf en daube and more. You will also find information about growing carrots and about the nutritional value of carrots.

The Carrot Cookbook is an older cookbook, having been written by Audra Hendrickson and published in 1987, but it is still readily available from the sellers on Amazon ranging in price from less than a dollar for a used copy to about $30 for a new one.  If you're looking to enlarge your collection of carrot recipes, this is one to try out.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy the Carrot Cookbook on Amazon.
Discover the truth about baby carrots. Read When is a Carrot Not A Carrot?


Peek-a-Boo Rabbit Carrot Print

I love this image. It's bright and bold and fun. Called Peek-a-Boo I, Rabbit by Yuko Lau, it is one in a series. It is perfect for a baby's nursery or for your Easter time decor.  It also celebrates the humble but mighty carrot. You can buy this Rabbit art print from AllPosters.com by clicking here. You will find that Yuko Lau has a very nice, similar but different series of animal themed prints if you like his style but are looking for a different animal, color or food.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy this rabbit print from Allposters.com.
Check out my carrot cake recipe!


What is a Carrot?

What exactly is a carrot?

You probably already know, but just in case I will tell you that Microsoft Encarta says that it is a "thin orange root vegetable" or that it is "the thin, tapering orange-colored root of the carrot plant that is eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable."

The carrot belongs to the family Apiaceae and is classified as Daucus carota. The cultivated variety is classified as Daucus carota variety sativa.

Pretty technical...but don't you love them? Carrots are so easy and versatile. It's a bonus that they are nutritious. Stay tuned for some more interesting carrot posts!

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy this picture from Allposters.com.


Panasonic's Automatic Bread Machine, Model SD-YD250

The Panasonic automatic bread maker, model SD-YD250, is an excellent choice in bread machine. It is Amazon's best-selling bread machine, receives very good Amazon customer reviews and sells for a great price. Today, I see that it is listed at less than $150, with free shipping.

It does everything you would expect a bread machine to do. It mixes, kneads, rises and bakes loaves of bread in three sizes up to 2 and a half pounds. It includes settings for various types of bread and has a delay timer.  Naturally, you just place the ingredients in the pan and the machine does the rest.

Amazon customer reviews include the following:

"The bread consistency is excellent." - Henry Perkins, California

"You get what you pay for in this world and the Panasonic SD-YD250 is a perfect example. Quiet as a mouse. No jumping around the counter and whining." - Anthony T. Curtiss, Minnesota

"...to the point, I'm thoroughly impressed with this machine. It is solid and quiet. I took the first loaf I made with it and sliced it to find an absolutely even loaf." - Timothy Spears, New Mexico

You can read all of the Amazon customer reviews, more about the machine or buy it from Amazon by clicking here.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy the Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker from Amazon.
Find my country seed bread recipe.



A Traditional Easter Dinner Menu

Easter Dinner Menu

A Delicious Easter Dinner Menu That Is As Easy As Pie. 


That is quite an expression,"easy as pie." Actually, it is hilarious for I have to admit that pie making, for me, is NOT easy. It is my absolute favorite dessert but it is something that I always struggle with so you will not find any pie on this menu plan. Instead, you will find my simple but delicious Easter dinner menu which includes glazed baked ham, creamy scalloped potatoes and all the fixings plus a very special carrot cake.

I have been making this springtime meal for as long as my oldest son has been around. That is, for 22 years. We enjoy every single morsel; I have not been able to find any reason to change a thing.

You can choose to follow my entire menu or just add one or two new recipes to your existing Easter dinner tradition!  I hope you will enjoy it, too!

A Formal or A Casual Easter Dinner Menu?


A formal or a casual Easter dinner menu? The choice, of course, is up to you but no matter how you choose to serve it up, this meal is delicious.

I have in the past served this Easter Dinner in one of two ways. Originally, it was a very traditional dinner in the dining room with the good china, candles and so on. Of late, as life has become busier and time harder to find, we have taken to serving this meal in a more casual way. That does not mean it is not special or delicious, just that we also enjoy it whether we (and the dining room) are dressed up or not. In the casual option, we might set the kitchen table with easter colored napkins, a small pot of live dafodils and a vintage bunny rabbit in the center; in the formal version, we take out the Royal Doulton china. Whichever way you choose to serve it, you are going to love it!

My Easter Dinner Menu Includes:


The Best-Ever Glazed Baked Ham
The Best-Ever Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Steamed Asparagus, Peaches and Cream Corn and Carrots
The Best-Ever Country Seed Bread Recipe
The Best-Ever Homemade Carrot Cake

The Best-Ever Baked Ham Recipe


My Mother-in-Law always said that this ham was delicious because of the ham that we used which still has the bone in it. It is almost failproof and I sometimes 'cheat' and skip the glaze... Find the recipe here.

The Best-Ever Creamy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe


Funny, my sister-in-law does not like scalloped potatoes except for my best-ever creamy scalloped potatoes. Helpless to explain why, I can only attribute it to the top quality ingredients... Find the recipe here.

asparagus steamer
Steamed Asparagus, Peaches & Cream Corn and Carrots


In my mind and in our home, this menu is matched perfectly by the addition of two or three vegetables, depending on how many people we are feeding. They include asparagus, peaches and cream corn and carrots. Usually, I prefer my vegetables plain. Plain side dishes and vegetables are perfect for me. That is, unadorned. I appreciate their true flavour that way and am also conscious of the health implications of putting sauces, etc. on everything we eat.

Achieving perfect asparagus is not difficult. Steaming for three minutes, until just tender when pierced with a fork, cooks it perfectly or you can just trust your nose. I find that when I start to smell the asparagus, it is cooked. Try it and see if it works for you.

In Canada, we have a brand of frozen corn niblets called Green Giant. They make two types of corn and we love the peaches and cream variety. It is the only brand that I buy because nothing else compares save, fresh corn in the summer and early fall! To cook corn, I find the easiest method to be the microwave oven. A small casserole dish filled with enough for six people takes about six minutes to cook in my microwave.

Previously, I would have added baby carrots to this recipe. However, what I have learned lately about how Baby Carrots are created so I will instead recommend carrot coins. Regular carrots, peeled and sliced to be shaped like coins.

Using an asparagus steamer is the best way to steam your asparagus as the tender tips of the stalks are the farthest away from the heat and the thicker stems are just above the boiling water. In case you are wondering about the versatility of an asparagus steamer, it can also be used for corn-on-the-cob, hard-boiling eggs and artichokes. It is not the sort of tool that you have to have but it is one that you will be glad to own. Learn more about this asparagus steamer on Amazon by clicking here.


Baby Carrots Why NOT To Serve Them To Your Family


Did you know that most baby carrots are not grown as baby carrots? Instead they are regular carrots that are cut down into the shape of baby carrots and then processed through a chlorine rinse. For all of the details, read my page about baby carrots. Learn more about baby carrots here.

The Best-Ever Country Seed Bread Recipe


We have been making the best-ever country seed bread recipe for about 16 years. A friend passed the recipe to me from her Mother and it soon became one of our favorites. We have it quite frequently and find it is the perfect accompaniment to a homemade soup dinner. It is, however, also a perfect addition to this Easter dinner menu. I would say that bread is not required as the rest of this menu is plenty of food for a gathering. I started adding this bread because I have one son who did not care for potatoes. Now, the bread is a set part of our meal. Find my recipe here.

The Best-Ever Carrot Cake Recipe


An amazing carrot cake, you will want to make sure you save space for at least a tiny sliver! Moist & delicious, this carrot cake also carries some nutrition along with the dreaded calories. But every bite is worth it so make sure you save enough room for your slice of the best-ever carrot cake. Find the recipe here.

Do you celebrate Easter? Were you inspired by this page to make an Easter dinner? I hope my ideas help you put together a family Easter tradition.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda


More Reading:


A Few Celebrity Easter Dinner Menu Ideas


Easter Dinner Menu by Martha Stewart
This menu was an Everyday Food Martha Stewart magazine menu and included baked ham, produce and a billowy meringue that takes the cake.

Easter Dinner from Emeril Live on the Food Network
Easter Dinner that included Hot Cross Buns, Crown Roast of Lamb, Fresh Carrot Ring with Buttered Peas and Cauliflower andMini Chocolate Bundt Cakes with Peanut Butter Filling and Chocolate Glaze.

Easter Dinner Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Italian Dish Perfect for Easter ~~ This Italian meal of grilled lamb chops rubbed with fresh herbs is ideal for Easter dinner.

Easter Dinner Menu by Rachel Ray
Rachael shares a foolproof Easter menu that'll be on the table in under 30 minutes!

More From My Best-Ever Recipe Collection


My Best-Ever Recipes Collection
I have shared many of my family's favorite recipes online. You will find your way to them through this, the index page to my best-ever recipes collection.

The Best-Ever Maple Cupcakes, A Maple Syrup Recipe
Yummy! That's the only word for these Canadian maple syrup cupcakes!

The Best-Ever Lemon Cupcakes Recipe
The Lemon Cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cookbook is absolutely amazing. On this page, you will find the lemon cupcake recipe and my story. My story actually starts with Martha Stewart's Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie.

Image Credit:


The beautiful Easter print shown at the top of the page is available from AllPosters.com by clicking here.


Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Cookbook


The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook was written by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It's an exteremely well received cookbook that will teach you want you need to know to make your own bread at home every day.

See the simple process in this video, in which authors Zoe and Jeff put together a loaf of their basic white bread.  It really does look simple. It will make you want this cookbook and, of course, a loaf of homemade bread.




Looks pretty easy, doesn't it? The hardcover book is available for just under $20 and the Kindle version for just under $15, on Amazon by clicking here.

See you
in the kitchen!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes cookbook from Amazon.
Check out my Country Seed Bread recipe. It's a family favorite that is perfect with homemade soup.

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