Saturday, March 31, 2012

$150 D'Italiano Prize Pack Winner.......

My $150 D'Italiano Prize Pack giveaway is officially over and the winner of this great prize is Jennifer MartinCongratulations!I will be e-mailing you shortly for your information and be sure to mail be back before 48 hours is up.Check your spam folder just in case!

Anyways, I also like to send a reminder to everyone that their are some great recipes on D'Italiano's website that people have sent in for the cook off challenge.There are some really creative ideas and definitely a large recipe turn out.You can even vote for your favorites and try the recipes out for yourself.My favorite is a recipe for mini apple pies made with D'Italiano bread as the pastry.I really want to make that.Also I like to say good luck to everyone that has entered a recipe and I'm very excited to see what dishes are in the final five. Everyone be sure to tune in on May 10th when the five finalist compete against each other with their creative recipe.It should be a fun night!

Congrats again to Jennifer!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Making Delcious Lemon Bars

I've been on a baking craze since I got free baking ingredients with my gift card.This time I made a large batch of these lemon bars and they were super easy to make. I only made a couple changes in the recipe so it would work for me.All I did was use hard margarine instead of butter for the crust and eliminated lemon zest for the filling.

It was a pretty basic bar with a thick, flaky crunchy sugar crust.The flavor was sweet and slightly buttery.The filling was smooth and light at room temp and overtime in the fridge the layer became thicker.However I noticed that if it sits out for a few minutes the layer begins to become moist again.The flavor wasn't that strong of lemon;however If I were of added the lemon zest it would of been more prominent.It also had a good balance of sweetness against the crust.Its basically a preference if you want really strong or a simple balance of flavors.

These bars were super delicious and I have to warn people that they are super addicting.They are good at room temp,cold and seem to absorb more flavor overtime.Its definitely a quick dessert to serve and to help use up your lemons.I have to give an A+ to this recipe from Robin Hood.

Anyways,this seemed to be a short recipe review. I guess I'm into a summary writing mood.Well everyone have a great day and be sure to come back to see my review on Love With Food Box Sample.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Love With Food Sample Box + Cheddar Roastbeef Muffin Recipe

Just yesterday, I received a Love with Food sample box for all the confusion that happened with a free subscription I won.What simply happen was ,the blog owner thought Canadian viewers were allow to enter her giveaway.But when I won we both found out the website only ships within the states. So after contacting the site and figuring out what was going on.We found out that the blog owner made a mistake.However the CEO and co founder was very generous and sent me this box to make up for the confusion.So thank you very much  Love with food and I'm very excited to try out all these samples,may even review.

In other good news,I finally stepped up my game in making muffins.This time I achieved round, bumpy tops and hardly any tunnels.I think my new baking powder is what really helped with the rising factor and keeping my bowl titled while folding at least 12 strokes.I even did this quite slow,nothing to fast.Also, when these were in the oven I kind of cheered when I saw them change shape and beginning to puff up.I was super excited when these finally worked out after having a few failures.

With this success I was able to create a combination of cheddar and roast beef muffins.It's a super delicious flavor combo and I find savory muffins to be the best compared to others.Whys that? Well you can pair it with so many meals of the day.Have it with soup,as a snack,for breakfast or as a side dish.Possibilities are endless.

These muffins have been my best so for, especially in appearance.They have a great golden brown color and bumpy puffed tops.However it's their texture and flavor that makes them a hit.They are very light and airy.Crumbly and slightly chewy,while being very moist and soft.The flavor throughout is cheddar with a slight saltiness from the roast beef.These two create a good color combo as well throughout the muffin.These are great cold or room temp and seem to get better in flavor overtime.What's also surprising is there are no herbs or spices added to these muffins and yet they have so much flavor.I give an A+ for texture and flavor.

The recipe is also very simple and I was able to adapt it pretty easily.I even added my own tips and trick below that they didn't have in the original.For a trick I made my own replacement buttermilk.Great for someone that doesn't have buttermilk on hand.I also eliminated the apples, Parmesan cheese and cinnamon to make my own savory combination.Even with this changes they still baked at the exact time they gave me however they did stick a bit to the muffin tin even after being greased thoroughly. It was most likely caused by the cheese being added to the top.I added mine right as the end whole they added it right away.Just be sure to grease a lot or use paper liners for easy release and clean up.

Folding this mixture seemed a lot easier then in pasted muffin recipes and I'll be sure to keep this one and the original for future use.Now I'll be sure to keep going in my learning process in creating the best muffin in the fruit category.Try this recipe out yourself.

Anyways, Share your tips and trick in the comments for making muffins .Everyone have a great day because I sure will with all these foodie samples.

     Cheddar Cheese Roast Beef Muffin  
 Adapted From Robin Hoods Apple'n Cheddar Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp  salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk or buttermilk replacement (1 tbsp lemon juice + 1 cup milk,Sit for 5 minutes)
1/4 cup (50 mL) oil
1/2 cup roast beef sandwich meat, chop
Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.Grate cheddar cheese.In a large bowl,mix the flour,sugat,baking powder,baking soda,salt and cheese.

In a medium bowl.Beat egg,buttermilk and oil with a whisk thoroughly.Chop up 2 -3 peices of roast beef ,about 1/2 cup.Sprinkle into wet ingredients,stir.

Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture.Stir just until moistened.Fold about 12 strokes and tilt bowl when folding.No fold pockets.

Grease standard muffin tin.Batter up to 3/4 full.Bake at 400F for 18- 24 minutes,until top springs back and golden top.

When done,sprinkle tops with grated cheddar cheese.Then place in the oven to fully melted,30 seconds

Let muffins cool in the pan,about 10 minutes.Then release from pan to fully cool on a rack.Serve at room temp.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    Wonderful Gift + Chocolate Chip Cookie Review

     Recently,I was given a really generous gift from Argyle Communications for helping them share about D'Italiano's Cook-Off Challenge and help set up a D'Italiano Prize Pack Giveaway,which is still going on till March 30th.

    If your not a friend of mine on my personal Facebook then you wouldn't of heard about this gift.Well to fill everyone in, I received a President Choice $25 gift card as a thank you gift for helping share about D'Italiano's Challenge.I was notified I would received a little something.But I never would of thought a gift card for twenty-five dollars.I was super surprised and grateful.

    So guess what I used that money towards?

    If you guessed baking, then your right.So what did I get myself? Well I was actually able to squeeze in six items with 2 dollars to spare. I chose first to purchase a must needed baking item,baking powder.Because mine was getting very old and started to chunk up.Worthless to use.Then I bought my favorite ingredients brown sugar and semisweet chocolate chips.The best items to use for cookies,by far.Then lastly I was able to score an in store sale for Parkay hard margarine.Best shopping day ever,everything free! 

    It didn't stop there though because I still had money left over and on another day,I bought some icing sugar to use in a recipe I just did yesterday and I finally got myself a Candy/Deep Fry thermometer. I've always wanted this thermometer because I have missed out in making some great recipes,especially during Christmas season.Now I won't miss out!
    Only 2 dollars left something small I would say.
    Now with all these great items I got free.Nothing can stop me, from baking delicious treats and I would say everyone around me is super spoiled in the treat department.So for the first item to be baked.I chose to make a beloved treat, the chocolate chip cookie.I followed a brand new recipe on Robin Hood and slightly adapted it for the ingredients I had on hand.I almost had everything off the list except golden  vegetable shortening, but remember I bought a whole box of Parkay hard margarine.So I used that instead, even though it would be a different cookie in the end.


    It was a different cookie,especially in appearance.It had a rich dark color and it came to be a thinner or flatter cookie compared to the original recipe picture.Now these were the only differences I was able to detect without testing it up against the golden shortening.I would say the shortening would of made the cookie better looking in appearance and allowing it to be thicker.

    The overall texture of the cookie is chewy with a slight crisp edge, depending on how long you like to bake them.They are soft and also have the same thickness to the chocolate chips.This gives you the illusion you have lots of chips to one cookie. The overall flavor has a very deep rich sweetness from the brown sugar.It also has a slight saltiness to it from the baking soda and salt.This really helps enhances the dark chocolate flavor of the chips.The flavor is very good, but I would say it seems to give a lingering aftertaste. So I do recommend drinking milk during or after.


    Now the recipe in it self is nothing difficult.Its one of your run of the mill recipes and you can basically add any little extra you like.However I would say the only issue that I had was the temp and the time.I had a hard time seeing what the best time range was for these cookies,especially when I changed the fat content.I had to really watch them and I had one batch a little over baked and some just right.Experimenting always has its complications.

    Now if you want that golden color to the cookie use that golden shorten, same amount.Now if you don't have that, use hard margarine or butter.Whatever one you choose it will turn out and be delicious in it self.Just know that all these items have different reaction,but anything with chocolate chips makes anything good.So try it out yourself.


    Chocolate Chip Cookies 

    1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
    3/4 cup hard margarine
    2 tbsp milk
    1 tbsp  vanilla
    1 extra large egg
    1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp (4 mL) baking soda
    1 cup  semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat the oven to 375F
    In a large bowl.Cream the brown sugar and hard margarine together until creamy.
    (Note:Using hard margarine will change texture/thickness and flavor) 
    Add egg,milk and vanilla,mix well with wooden spoon.
    In a medium bowl.Mix flour,salt and baking soda, thoroughly.
    Add flour blend to creamed mixture,mix well.
    Stir in chocolate chips
    On a ungreased cookie sheet.Drop rounded tbsps of cookie dough.Well spaced apart ( Note:Will spread quite a bit)
    Bake one cookie sheet at a time for 8+ minutes for chewy cookies until dark golden brown.This time varied for me on each cookie sheet.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    A Great Deal On VH Steamers + Shanghai Ginger Beef Review

    Recently, I received a Buy One Get One Free coupon for VH Steamers and It was actually the same day I got the deal for Kashi Crackers. For this deal,I first checked out the price for one steamer and it was about $3.50 for one.However I noticed in a Thrifty foods flyer they had them on for $2.99.So I kept that flyer and I price matched the product.I chose to get the Shanghai Ginger Beef and Teriyaki Chicken. I ended up with a lower price for one and the second free with the coupon.It was a pretty good deal since  most convenient products are pretty expensive and I was there just when the steamers were on for a good price.

    When I got home, me and my sister tried out the VH Steamers.I had the Shanghai Ginger Beef and she had the Teriyaki Chicken.They were a frozen meal so all we had to do was remove the container from the box and microwave them about 3 1/2- 4 minutes.Now these bowl structures have two layers.One is a streamer that has the food substance and the second layer is the bowl containing the sauce.Once it was done steaming we peeled off the seal,lifted the streamer out and poured the veggies,rice,and meat mixture into the second layer to mix in the sauce. 

    For One VH steamers I got a pretty small amount of food for regular price.The amount of food was actually smaller then the second layer bowl.However for this size I think it would be great as an entree or a quick lunch for one.Beside having a small amount as its negative aspect.The product actually tastes really good.

    For me I tried the Ginger Beef streamer and I loved the flavor.It was a little overpowering at times with the ginger,but I'm pretty sensitive to heat.The veggies,rice and beef were soft and nothing was undercooked;however I would of like some other textures involved.I was also impressed that this meal had about 9 to 10 pieces of  beef, which is surprising in most microwavable meals because you always want more of the main ingredient.My sister had the same for her chicken.I didn't get to try hers, but her thoughts were that it was easy to make,great flavor and wish she had more because it's so really good.

    For VH Steamers,I do give a high rate for simplicity and great flavor. Its only downfall would be its amount and regular price, but I know its a convenient item so the price will go up.However I would like to see a convenient meal that's a good price,good tasting and large amounts.If you want to try this product I would recommend finding it on sale or if your lucky as me try to find a coupon.VH Steamers taste great, but I wouldn't buy them on a regular basis.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    A Great Sale Find Of Kashi Snack Crackers + Review

    Just recently I received a $2.00 off coupon for Kashi Pita Crisps or Crackers in the mail.On that day I went to Wal-mart and to my surprise these products were on sale for about $2.90.So they only cost a little over 90 cents with the coupon.Now these were definitely on sale and were coming off the shelves quickly.So the regular price is probably a little steep, but if with a $2.00 off coupon its a pretty good find, especially on sale.I got lucky with my coupon coming at the right time!

    Now at the time there were only 3 flavors, Regular Pita crisps,whole grain crackers and Fire Roasted Vegetables crackers. I chose the third one because I like some flavor on my crackers and it was a bigger box for the same price.

    The Fire Roasted Vegetables Crackers were crunchy and not to thick.They had a really strong scent to them and were savory,salty and quite peppery.Kashi did a great job of infusing the roasted veggie flavor into these crackers.There was lots of flavors for your taste buds,including cherry tomato,onion, and green pepper.They were a little hot at times,but I know I'm pretty sensitive to any heat.Besides that they were really good and If I have a drink by my side I can eat the whole box to my self.Now I won't do that because these flavors would most likely become over powering so its good to take your time.These cracker were addicting and only lasted a few hours here. 

    Now The $2.00 off coupons I used isn't on right now.But Kashi Facebook Page seems to always have coupons up for something on a regular basis.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    An A+ Carrot Banana Bread Recipe

    Beginning of this week, I was craving moist banana bread and carrot cake.So guess what? I found a 5 1/2 star recipe for Carrot Banana Bread on All Recipes. I struck some luck in finding this combo of ingredients and easy direction recipe.

    There wasn't much to even change about this recipe. Beside doubling the recipe to make more delicious bread and eliminating the pecans.It was super easy to double everything and you can very well add any extra textures you want such as the pecans.It had easy to follow directions such as mixing the oil,egg and sugar in a large bowl and then mixing all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.Then from their I had to slowly add the dry mix into the creamed mixture alternately with the mashed banana.Then stirring in the grated carrot.Pretty easy concept to follow and I can make a pretty awesome banana bread compare to muffins.

    It an excellent recipe and you will see that many say the same thing on the recipe comments.This is a slightly different banana bread for flavor and texture.Its has a lot of moisture from both the banana and carrot along with the eggs as well,which is a great positive for the quick bread.Everyone wants a moist flavorful quick bread and this recipe delivers. 

    The banana takes on the most flavor, which is expected.However you do notice the flavor of the carrot, the more you eat it.The colder it gets the more you notice it and the cinnamon helps enhance that flavor.The carrot also bring some great vibrant color once you slice up the bread.Even if you don't like carrot and love banana bread.Try it?I give it an A+ for direction,ingredients, flavor and texture.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Check Out The March Video Game Giveaway

    There is an awesome contest going on right now at Dragon Technology & Entertainment for all the gamers out there.This great Technology Blog is hosting a Video Game Giveaway where you will have the opportunity to win your pick of video game that's $59.99 or less.What's also great about this giveaway is its open for any platform such as PC,Wii,Xbox, PS3,PS Vita etc.Isn't this a great giveaway, especially when games are pretty expensive to come by.

    So you better get your entries in before the end of this month,March 31, 2012.The giveaway is open for U.S.A and International viewers.So if you win from the U.S the owner will purchase the game you want and ship it to you.International winners will have the money value sent to their Paypal.So make sure you have an account to enter.

    Anyways,go visit the link and get your entries in.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Working On My Pie Skills

    Making pies has never been a strong suit of mine.This is because I always have issues with pastry or fillings;however I know there are people just like me struggling with some baking aspect.So recently I said to myself,  I must start practicing on my pie making skills and not be embarrassed by my mistakes.So from all that confidence, I made this very apple pie you see above.Now it wasn't the best that it could be and I had some troubles along the way.But I'm getting closer to my goal.

    For this apple pie,I had a easy time preparing the apple filling.There was only four ingredients needed in the recipe and I even adapted it by using frozen apples that were thawed instead of fresh. I do recommend fresh apples to be used, but frozen is your second best choice.Now I knew from  using thawed apples I would run into a filling that's more watery. So I made the choice to bake the pie for 5-10 minutes prior to adding the filling to avoid a under baked crust.This helped quite a bit.

    Now for the pastry, I didn't use their recommended recipe in the book. I used 2 rounds of the large batch of homemade pastry my mom made.They were frozen for future use. So I thawed two for a couple hours before starting the apple pie.

    Once I got started with the pastry I had some difficulty with the bottom later. While rolling it out it didn't turn out as round as I hope and it became an awkward shape.Now I know you shouldn't work with pastry to much, so I avoided rolling it out again.However I ended up with some really thin edges on some sides so I used my excess pastry to make them thicker.But when I went to bake the crust prior to adding the filling all those sides began to shrink and I really wasn't happy about that.However I knew I could cover that up with the top pastry.

    I also had some minor issues with baking the pastry prior.I had some air bubbles come through and trust me I poked a lot of holes in that pastry before I baked it, but they still came through.So all I did was remove it from the oven and poked it again till all the air leaked out. Next time I'll have to add some weights to prevent those bubbles.Now once the pastry was done. I added the apple pie filling and there was no longer any air bubbles left.

    Now the top pastry was super easy compared to the bottom.It was a lot of fun cutting out the shapes and having the creative choice of how to decorate my pie.I had all my apple cut-outs layered in the middle and my leaves all along the crust edge.These helped out so much with covering up problem areas on the edge and made it look even better. The look of the pie was a mix of spring and fall.It baked pretty well in the oven;however it did take a lot longer then 45 minutes to become golden brown because of the low temp of 350F.Just have a longer wait for it to bake.

    The recipe has been adapted in the pastry aspect.But I can rate that the apple pie filling came out very well.It had a great flavor and was simple to prepare.It had a good balance of sweetness to cinnamon. Now the only issue I have with this recipe is the low temp to length of time to bake.I find the temp way to low for a pie and it takes way longer then 45 minutes to bake.

    Now the pastry, had a great buttery flavor and was quite flaky.Even though I had issues with the pastry It had a delicious texture and flavor.It paired well against the apple pie filling.Overall, I've learned more about making pies and I have build up my skill level.I do recommend this simple apple pie filling recipe and to use your favorite pastry recipe with it.I hope everyone uses my tips I've learn to avoid the same mistakes I made.Keep on trying and practice makes perfect.

    Everyone have a great day!

    Apple Pie 
    (Adapted from Company Coming Pies By Jean Pare:Apple Pie)

    Pastry for 2 crusts

    Pie Filling
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    5 cups peeled,cored,cut up apples
    or thawed frozen apples(peeled,cored and cut up)
    2 tsp lemon juice
    Granulated sugar for sprinkling

    Apple Pie Filling

    In a large bowl, mix the first amount of sugar,flour and cinnamon together.Add the apples and stir.Sprinkle the lemon juice over top.Set aside.

    Preheat oven at 350F

    Bottom Pastry

    Roll out pastry to fit into a 9 inch pie plate.Rotate piece to help spread out the dough into a round shape.Loosely wrap the dough over the rolling pin and place over the pie plate.Press pastry into the plate.Trim edges,tuck over hangs and used a tin of  a fork to create birds feet on the edge.
    • Only roll the pastry out once.If you work with the pastry to much this will cause shrinkage while baking.
    • Roll out pastry round as possible and bigger then the pie plate. ( Gives you lots of pastry to work with for the edge)
    • If you end up with gap or not enough dough for edges.You can use the excess dough, but be warned those areas will shrink and may fall off. But this can be fixed by covering it up with a top pastry.But try to avoid gaps.
    For Fresh Apples:

    Add apple pie filling to pie pastry and spread out evenly.Set aside.

    For Frozen Thawed Apples

    To prevent a wet mushy pastry.Bake the pastry for 5-10 minutes prior to adding the filling.Poke holes in the bottom and sides.Recommend to put some kind of weight on the pie pastry that is safe to prevent air bubbles.Be sure to take the pastry out before it  becomes golden brown.If you don't have weights and notice the pastry has air bubbles while baking then remove it from oven and re-poke till air bubbles deflate.

    Let pie crust cool and then add the apple pie filling,spread out evenly.Set aside.

    Top Pastry

    Roll out pastry and press apple and leave cut outs.Bring the pie over to you and dampen the edges with cold water.Decoratively layer the apple cut outs on the pie and add the leaves along the edge touching the crust.(The leaves will help hide any problem areas on the edges)

    Then sprinkle with sugar and place in the oven for 45+ minutes.Till edges and center is golden brown. Note:Pies with decorative cuts outs tend to take longer to bake,especially with a low temp.

    Let cool at room temperature.The longer it cools the more the pie crust stays together.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Still Trying To Conquer Muffins!

    I made muffins yet again and they will be the death of me.I can never make the perfect muffin.I can hit the flavor and texture right, but never the appearance. I do have to say though that a few in this batch had better shape then others,but I still need to work on it.

    However this time was better then the last ones I made, I would think.Because I made sure to sift all the dry ingredients together to evenly distribute the baking powder and prevent it from clumping.This definitely helped with not over mixing and created almost no tunnels when baking;however my muffins still made peaks and some had tunnels.They even came out pretty small in size.

    The flavor and texture came out quite well though.The cake part of the muffin was crumbly,moist and not to sweet.You could tell it needed something to compliment it like chocolate chips and cranberries.The chips gave a smooth dark sweetness while the berries gave a chewy sweet tang.Both go well together in almost anything, including muffins.I would of hoped for a sweeter muffin batter, but overall they were really good.

    For the recipe.I cant blame it for the appearance when its me.So I either haven't master the mixing yet.Need a recipe with more tips.The baking powder is not working that well.The muffin pan cups need to be filled more.Or lastly I'm cursed from the muffin gods? Anyways,I shall not give up though and for who ever has the same issue I say don't give up either.Hey, share your stress here and we will be muffin cursed buddies :).For muffin superiors.Use the recipe and keep it close.Its precious for ones that can do it lol.Enjoy

    Chocolate Chip Cranberry Muffins
    (Adapted from Hershey Chipits: Chipits Cranberry Choco Muffins)

    Yield 12 Muffins

    1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    2/3 cup 1 % milk
    1/3 cup canola oil
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    I stirred flour,sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.Made a well.In a medium bowl, I mixed the milk,oil,egg,berries and chips together.Folded in the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, just enough to dampen the dry ingredients.Poured batter into a greased muffin pan,3/4 cup fill.Baked for 20-25 minutes, until muffins springed back when lightly pressed.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    D'Italiano's Cook-Off Challenge + Giveaway(Canada Residents Only) Contest Over

     I am so excited to share with all of you, especially my fellow Canadians about D'Italiano's Cook-Off Challenge.If your someone that hasn't heard about it.Well your in for a treat because between now and March 21,D'Italiano wants Canadians just like yourself to share an original recipe using their products and to submit it on their Facebook Page.

    Why you ask?

    Well this challenge is all about celebrating food,family and home cooks.So, they want you to have the opportunity to share your creativity and have the chance to be one of the five finalists to receive an all covered trip to Toronto.Where you will have the chance to compete against others with your great recipe to win the grand prize of $25,000.Now this sounds like a pretty fun challenge and a lot of Moo-la to show off your cooking skills.
    This challenge will be also televised with a live audience and hosted by the all talented Comedian Colin Mochrie.If you don't remember him you may of seen him on such shows as Who's Line is it Anyways? or Just for Laughs.A very funny man that will make this challenge really fun for the viewers and competitors.I'm jealous of whoever gets to meet him.So, don't miss out in sharing your recipe or tuning in on May 10,2012 to watch all the finalists.I'll definitely be watching.
    Now if your someone that is interested in entering the challenge.Well all you have to do is visit D'Italiano Facebook Page and from there you must submit a original recipe, along with a short video or picture that explains the passion behind your creative recipe.Now that's a pretty simple set up.So try it out.

    If your someone that is not interested in participating in the challenge, but like to win something.There are plenty of daily prizes going on right now at D’Italiano® Facebook page to win $100 grocery gift cards.To enter, all you have to do is submit a UPC from their products and your enter to win.What a generous Canadian business. 

    Now,If your someone that loves D'Italiano products. Well now you have something to really like about the company. Because they just generously offered me to give away a wonderful big prize to my viewers.What is it you ask? Well I have the great opportunity to give one winner a D'Italiano prize pack! :)Its a $150 value prize pack to inspire home cooks like yourself to make delicious recipes. I'm already super jealous to whoever wins this prize because it includes some awesome kitchen supplies.

    $150 D'Italiano Prize Pack 

    Measuring cups
    Measuring spoons
    Cheese slicer
    Freebie Coupons
    Wood cutting board
    High-quality table cloth 
    Ceramic entertaining set

    This is the biggest giveaway I've hosted so far and I'm super excited to give it away to someone that loves too cook.So everyone make sure to check out the challenge, enter the daily prizes and share about this giveaway. 

    Everyone have a great day!

    Giveaway Rules:

    • Open Only to Canada Residents
    • Use rafflecopter form.Be sure to share your e-mail address and any other information asked in the form.
    • The giveaway will end March 31,2012 12:01 am EST.A winner will be randomly picked and e-mailed.The winner must respond in 48 hours.If they don't, I will be forced to pick again.So make sure to mail back.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Delcious Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Recently,I was craving a cookie that had lots of chocolate chips and that's exactly what I got in this recipe.A delicious cookie with a golden crispy edge and a crunchy chewy middle.The best part of all was having moist semisweet chocolate chips in every bite.I could of added even more delicious chocolate chips,why didn't I?,Ummm, I'll never know?

    Now how did I make these golden, chocolate filled treats? Well, I used a simple recipe from Robin Hood.They are a great website to find simple creative ideas for baking. I definitely recommend it.

    Anyways, for these cookies I had to do some replacements for a couple items,which were butter and brown sugar. Now its not a big deal to change these ingredients.But you must know that it will effect the texture and flavor.For my changes, I used soft margarine and granulated sugar.These two items helped create a thinner and crunchier cookie.If you love those textures then use this recipe.If you love thick,chewy cookies then follow Robin Hood Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.But by all means both ideas are super delicious, easy to make and guess what they make about 2 1/2 dozen, maybe more. 

    The recipe was also super relaxing,which is my favorite thing about baking.I followed the directions, even made some changes and everything still turned out really well.I say the only downside is there's a longer wait time then with most cookies recipes.This is only because its has a low temp at 300F.So they end up baking between 20 to 25 minutes.It might be even different with brown sugar and butter.However for me the best time was more then twenty and less then twenty- five.Beside that I still give this recipe and my changes, a 3 out of 3. Yay!

    I will add something else though.These cookies keep really well in a jar, but they will become crunchier as they get older.However that just makes them a great cookie for dunking in milk,plus anything with chocolate chips,
    no one cares about texture.

    Chocolate Chip Cookies 

    1 cup Soft Margarine
    1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
    2 Large Eggs
    2 tsp Vanilla Extract(real or artificial)
    2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    1/4 tsp Table Salt
    1 1/2 cups Great Value Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

    Using a hand held electric beater. I creamed the margarine,sugar,eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl, until creamy. 

    In medium bowl, I mixed the flour,baking soda and salt.Added the dry blend to the creamed mixture.Mixing with a wooden spoon,Gradually added the chocolate chips,stirring in.

    Preheated oven to 300F.Dropped spoonfuls (little bigger then 1 tbsp) of cookie dough to an ungreased cookie sheet.I had about 8 cookies to one large sheet because they spread a lot. They are baked best between 20 and 25.  Twenty is not enough and Twenty-five is too much.Then remove from the oven, cool on the sheet for a couple minutes and then transfer to a rack too completely cool.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012

    Dried Cranberry Butter Tarts

    The day I always seem to bake on is Monday.This is probably because I spend most of my time with Dave on Tuesday's and I love to share bake goods. It also seems to push me to do more recipes, which is always good.So this time I chose to make a baked good using dried cranberries. A treat that I love snacking on and using in baking.It brings great color,sweetness and tartness to everything.
    On Monday night, I remembered I had homemade pastry in the freezer and my luck they were leftover tart rounds.So right then and there I had to make cranberry butter tarts.However there was only six rounds left and I needed more.Everyone loves butter tarts here and six wouldn't even last a day.So I needed to make some more pastry and then to my surprise my mother started making a whole batch of pastry to make a pot pie and to freeze the rest.So I use some of her pastry and this save so much time.It was great timing.

    So then I started to make the tart filling, while the leftovers thawed.The butter tart filling I used was a recipe I've made many times.Its trusting recipe and I love the flavor.However this time I made a few changes to the ingredients to meet my needs.I used margarine and cranberries instead of butter and raisins.From their the filling was breeze to whip up and the pastry was super easy to deal with and roll out.For the cut rounds I just used a glass cup close to the size of the muffin cups. I also made sure to grease each muffin cup to prevent sticking. I definitely recommend PAM if you have any or to use shortening/ lard to grease.This will make a big difference.Its between having a perfect tart to a crumbly mess.So please grease!

    From there I assembled my tarts.Pressed in the pastry,thrown in the cranberries and poured in the filling.They really looked delicious even this far in the process.Then I baked them for about 20 minute till the pastry was golden brown and the filling was puffed up.The temperature and bake time worked perfect for these and it was even a different pastry being used.I love when recipes work out so well.

    These butter tarts have been my go to recipe for a while and now its become my go to cranberry butter tart recipe. When you use cranberries instead of raisins you will get something different then the usual.But different is good in this situation. These little dried berries bring more color,sweetness and flavor then raisins.Even if you don't like dried cranberries you will love these.The pastry is also wonderfully paired with the sweet filling and tartness.Try it yourself. Use this recipe I'm recommending or maybe you have a favorite tart recipe.Whatever it might be.Just see for yourself and try out the idea from raisins to cranberries. You won't be disappointed.

    So I wish everyone a great day and to get your bake on!

    Monday, March 05, 2012

    Namaste Gluten Free Spice Cake Review

    When I received my giveaway prize package it was such a treat to get three free mixes to try out.It was even greater that I was able to get a cake mix, because I love to bake and of course I love review. So when I made this cake mix I made sure to get my camera ready and help share the recipe experience. 

    Now the mix that I received was the Namaste Gluten Free Spice Cake Mix.A mix that gives you the choice to make 2 round cakes, a 9x13 inch cake or 12 cupcakes.They also included four recipe options to give you lots of room to be creative. For me I chose to make their carrot cake variation recipe as a 9x 13 inch length. For the recipe all I had to do was follow their basic instructions.It was pretty simple as most mixes.You will see how quick and easy it is by following the recipe below.

    The Recipe

    I preheated the oven at 350 F and then greased a 9 x 13 inch pan with PAM baking spray.Pam is a great product to use for a quick grease and I grantee no sticking.Then I peeled and grated 1 1/2 carrots, which came to over a cup. It ask for a 1 cup, but pfft more is always better.Then I set everything aside.

    I cracked in a few eggs in a medium bowl, poured in 3/4 cup of cold water and then added 2/3 cup canola oil.Whisked it away till it was combined.I love to whisk, its so much fun.

    Then I added the whole package of cake mix into a large bowl.Slightly mixed it with a wooden spoon.The flour blend smelled so good.Very strong of cloves,nutmeg and cinnamon.

    Then I slowly added the egg mixture into the dry mix.Blended it with my hand held mixer till fully combined.What a great color...

    Then I added in the best ingredient,the carrot.Lightly folded it in with a rubber spatula and poured the batter into the greased pan.Already looks delicious.

    Then I placed it in the oven and baked it for about 40 minutes, until toothpick clean.I let it cool for a few minutes and then everyone wanted a piece right away.I cut them into squares and served.


    The recipe was super simple and I loved that I was given choices.The overall carrot cake was a big hit and everyone loved it. It was wonderfully moist and soft.It had a great balance between a dense and light textured cake.The flavor was even surprising for me as a cake mix.It had a great strong spice flavor along side the carrot.There is also no way you be able to tell that this cake was gluten free.It was exactly like a homemade carrot cake just minus the cream cheese frosting.  It even got better over time as well.The colder it was the more flavor you had and the denser it got.It was delicious and I'm thankful I was able to try it and share it with all of youI've got nothing really negative to say about it.So I'm giving this cake mix a 3 out of 3. Great job Namaste!

    Anyways,don't fear everyone I still have a half a package of Namaste Waffle & Pancake Mix.
    Have a great day everyone!