I Want One!! 2014’s Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets #3 Frozen Concoctions!

gummy pops

Gummy Bears in Sprite or other clear citrus beverages. Source weheartit

Remember Ice Pops as a kid? Even still? These frosty gadgets place a curve into ice twists as we once knew them. You can make your own personalized versions with these clever doodads; adding all sorts of ingredients to you liking. Juices, sodas, spirits, fruit, herbs and spices, even candies. Place them in drinks to create different flavors or simply not to dilute your favorite beverages.

Suggestions: How about Strawberry Margarita pops with slices of strawberry and lime? Apple juice with thin wedges of apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon? Vanilla yogurt with fresh blueberries and mini chocolate chips?  The list is as endless as your creativity!  Here are what some of the companies have to say about their ingenious products.

Sim1

Ice Pops with Reusable Silicone Jackets

Silicone Design’s

Silicone Popsicle Molds, Ice Pop Molds and Ice Pop Maker, Set of 6, See-thru Clear Tubes and Color Tops, Free Recipes, Homemade Smoothie and Commercial Popsicle Molds, BPA Free, Ice Cream and Freezer Pop, Make Pedialyte Freezer Pops for Kids and Toddlers, Soap Mold, Large Ice Cube Sticks, Veggie Cup, Healthy Snacks for Kids, Lifetime Warranty $15.95

FrioPop

Fill with juice, soda, fruit, spirits or herbs…freeze, enjoy then toss!

FrioPop

Contains 100 bags per package. Non stick and easy slides pops out from bags! Make various sizes of pops – 2oz (25% filled), 4oz (50% filled), 6oz (75% filled), etc.

Meets FDA/USDA specifications for food contacts – 100% Virgin LDPE Resin.

Manufactured with a durable bottom seal for leaking prevention. Top can be tied with a simple knot prior to freeze the bag.

Transform fruits juices, veggies juices, yogurts, and smoothies into frozen snacks

Grab and Go Frozen treats! No more clean up, mess, missing parts of molds! Perfect for summer camps or pool activities! $8.95 for 100

ice_balls_4_a

Frozen Orbs won’t dilute your beverage

PT Silicone Ice Ball Molds

Set of 4 ice balls in 4 colors, Freeze ice balls with ingredients such as small fruits, herbs mint or food coloring. Perfect for all year round drinks and cocktails.

They chill your drink evenly and melt slowly so your drink doesn’t get diluted.

Made of durable BPA-free food-grade silicone

Makes 2″ diameter ice balls

Includes 4 colored ice mold

Dishwasher safe $15.95

Question; can you live without them? Of course! Do you want to? That answers is entirely up to you. :-)

Want to Visit Italia? Try the Terrific Tastes of Tuscan Tortelloni Salad, Fantastico!

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For those not aware, Tortelloni are stuffed pasta, the same shape as tortellini, but a bit larger. They are usually stuffed with various types of aged cheeses and or ricotta and leafy vegetables. Their larger shape allows for more interesting and bigger ingredients. Don’t be shy, this stunning display is much easier to prepare than it looks! Walk the meandering roads of Tuscany with me?

For this dish, I stayed with cheese tortelloni, mainly due to the complex flavors of the remaining ingredients. This beautiful Tuscan salad not only tastes stunning, but looks beautiful as well. It’s wonderful for parties and get-togethers not only because it looks impressive, but it keeps its shape well—stays pretty spoonful after spoonful.

Perfect for a complete lunch or light dinner served with crusty bread or for a bigger meal serve with “something grilled” and a tall stem of vino.

Prepare tortelloni:

1 12-16 oz package of refrigerated, cheese-filled tortelloni

Cook tortelloni according to package directions; drain in a colander. Rinse well with cold water.

Salad dressing:

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c. chopped red onion

2 T. white wine vinegar

1 T. Italian seasoning

2 cloves garlic, minced (you can use pre-minced garlic in a jar, but in my opinion fresh is best)

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

Whisk together in a large bowl. add the tortelloni. mix well. Or, if you’re in a pinch, a good bottled dressing works well. I like Good Seasons mix.

Add:
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 c. sliced pitted kalamata olives

1/2 c. sliced black olives

1/2 c sliced green pimento olives

1/2 c. finely shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 c fresh basil leaves; sliced thin or whole

1/2 c fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite-sized chunks

1/2 cup salami, cubes or slices

1/4 c toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp capers

This recipe can easily be made in advance—I recommend it so the flavors can develop. Leave parmesan, pine nuts, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves until ready to serve. Top with a sprinkle of additional parmesan, a few pine nuts and fresh cracked pepper. Bellissimo!

Guest Chef Wednesday! Jana’s Smothered Chicken Breasts with Creamed Spinach & Sautéed Mushrooms

smothered Chicken 1

Luscious Smothered Chicken Breasts with Spinach & Mushrooms Yum!!

This delightful dish, offered by talented cook and guest Chef JB Young, will become a household favorite—promise! It contains many components of sheer deliciousness; Astringent spinach and mushrooms, creamy gooey cheeses and the mild flavor of white wine. Serve with a side of rice or pasta, grilled corn and a fresh summer fruit salad for dessert. Scrumptious with a capital S!!

Creamed Spinach:

1 large bag of spinach leaves

4 ounces cream cheese

1/4 C shredded parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T red onion, minced

2 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Sautéed Mushrooms:

8 ounce package of mushrooms, sliced

1/2 stick butter

2 T olive oil

1/2 C white wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken:

4-5 boneless chicken breasts

8-10 slices Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/8 inch slices

1 T garlic powder

1 T seasoned salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Smothered chicken 2

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle the garlic powder, seasoned salt, and pepper on both sides of the chicken.  Bake for 16 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the creamed spinach.  Over medium-high heat, melt 2 T olive oil in large skillet.  Add onions and sauté 2-3 minutes.  Add spinach and garlic.  It will shrink quite a bit.  When it’s cooked through, stir in cream cheese and parmesan.  Continue cooking and stirring until cream cheese is melted.  Remove from heat.

For the mushrooms, melt butter and 2 T olive oil in a skillet.  Add mushrooms and cook until lightly browned.  Don’t season with salt until they are browned or they will never brown.  Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until most of the wine is reduced.

Flip the chicken pieces over.  Divide spinach and mushrooms over the top of each breast.  Lay two slices of cheese over each piece of chicken.  Cook another 12-14 minutes or until cheese is browned and chicken is done.

French Avocado Egg Salad–Simple Heavenly Spread Between Bread

BestK

Haas Avocados Offer the Fullest Buttery Flavor

This humble sandwich is delicatessen worthy, hands down. The simple pairing of the two basic main, but essential ingredients is a sandwich shoppe match made in heaven. The soft buttery texture and flavor of avocados blends perfectly with the creaminess of the eggs and mayo. The remainder of the ingredients compliment, simply. This undemanding spread is destined to become a permanent fixture in your frig; enjoyed for quick lunches, for light, but satisfying dinners, the base for appetizers or a swift late night snack.

Ingredients:

Mix:

Eggs, 6 hard boiled; chopped

Avocado 2 large; peeled & chopped

Mayonnaise 1/2 cup

Capers 1 tsp chopped

Green olives 1/4 cup, chopped

Tarragon, 1 tsp fresh chopped (2 tsp of fresh parsley may be substituted)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Spread amount desired on fresh baked bread, toasted or not. Baguettes, croissants, fresh baked rolls…you get the picture. I used slices of a fresh-baked loaf of my Pan de Mie offered in a prior post. Please use the search option for details and recipe. Top with chopped or sliced red onions, tomatoes and lettuce leaves. Simple heaven between bread :-)

 

 

 

Love Corn? I Want One! 2014’s Favorite Kitchen Gadgets #2 Oxo’s Corn Stripper–Genius?

CornStriper1

Oxo’s Corn Stripper

“Knee high by the fourth of July” are my first thoughts when I think of corn’s sweet crunchy and crispy goodness. It is now growing season across the Corn Belt of the United States and with the right mixture of sunshine and rain their majestic, giant stalks, with ears ripe for picking, will be ready by late August.

CS2

Sprinkle the gold right into your favorite dish or onto your plate

Get ready for chucking and stripping! This nifty gadget by Oxo will at least make one of your tasks easier! It may well make our beloved, yellow, picnic ears easier to maneuver in the kitchen when making our favorite salsa, casseroles or simply easier for baby to eat.

CS3

Easy to open & clean

Oxo’s Good Grip Corn Stripper is #2 on my list of favorite kitchen gadgets—it’s sort of genius! No more intimidating knives, no more half-cut, wasted kernels!

CS4

Holds 1/2 cup

Oxo’s claim:

Strips kernels off cobs with stainless-steel blade and soft, non-slip grips

Convenient top opening for emptying kernels

Container separates for easy cleaning; dishwasher-safe

Measures 4-3/4 by 2-3/4 by 2-1/2 inches

This nifty little gadget can be found on Amazon for $13.99 (minus shipping) and ebay for as little as $14.97 shipped. 2 thumbs up!!

I Want One!! Genius or Flop? 2014 Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets #1

ve slicer 1

I’ve recently done some homework about 2014’s most requested and highest- rated kitchen gadgets and some are genius while others pale in comparison; much like the ones offered by old kitchen gadget guru Ronco’s Ron Popeil—remember his revelations? Over the next few weeks, in between recipes, I will be unveiling some of not only my personal favorites but those of the culinary world’s as well. This nifty gadget, offered by the Gogogu company out of the UK is really a great idea! This is a new twist on the words “veggie pasta.”

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Here is what Gogogu claims and ascertains about their “Vegetable Spiral Slicer.” “It is the perfect tool to make healthy garnishes for dinners, parties, special event and any other expensive models. Works great for veggies like carrots, zucchinis, turnips, rutabagas, cucumbers, large radishes and healthy vegetable meals.”

VS3

Top Quality Spiral Slicer kitchen Tool with Super Sharp Stainless Steel Japanese Blades and Two Julienne Cutter

VS4

Requires no Assembly Fully Assembled and Ready to use At a Moment’s Notice. Easy and quick to operate, small enough to fit into your kitchen drawer, and works better than expensive spiral cutter products. Best Vegetable Spiral Slicer for making Veggies, Zucchini and Carrots etc…Dishwasher safe. 100% Satisfaction Money Back Guarantee and will only set you back about $11! Kitchen worthy? In my opinion, yes!

Tropical Kiwi Lemon Pineapple Fizz with Strawberry Ice Cubes

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This cool, refreshing summertime drink gets better and better as the ice cubes melt and impart more of their strawberry goodness. This is non-alcoholic, but you can add your favorite spirits to give an extra kick. I rubbed lemon juice along the rim and dipped in sparkling sugar to make it sparkly and to add a bit more sweetness. How about watermelon lime? Sweet tea? Fresh squeezed fruit juices? Lemon blueberry? The list is left only to your imaginations. Also, don’t stop at strawberry cubes—use mixed berries, citrus juices or fresh peaches too. The list is endless!

Ingredients

Ice Cubes:

1 lb strawberries, halved (3 cups)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon or to taste

Fizz:

Puree in blender 1 cup pineapple juice, 1 peeled kiwi and the juice of 1 lemon. Pour equally into 2 glasses, top off with sparkling soda (flavor of choice) I used raspberry and a few strawberry ice cubes. Serves 2

Preparation

Ice Cubes:

Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Freeze in ice-cube trays until solid, at least 4 hours. Makes 1 to 2 trays

Other Suggestions: Add 1 or 2 cubes to a glass of sparkling wine; 2 or 3 cubes for a glass of lemonade with a sprig of mint and lemon slice on the rim. Also, don’t go “neat” with your spirits and add a few cubes to cocktails!

 

Where Do Your Favorite Foods REALLY Come From? “The Source of the Sauce” by Author Ken Bayliss

Chop Suey

Chop Suey–the San Francisco Treat?

“The Source of the Sauce”

Ken Bayliss

We have all heard the one about Chop Suey being invented in San Francisco, and an equally famous story from the UK is that the nation’s most beloved dish is not fish and chips, but Chicken Tikka Masala, invented in Glasgow, Scotland, not India. Which makes you wonder where do famous foods originate.

There are a lot of disagreements, nationalistically as well as factually, of who invented what. Of course the idea that only one person or one country can invent a simple dish is unlikely. There were many variations as there were chefs. With initially limited ingredients how many variations can there be?

pizza

Pizza: Italian, Greek or Welsh?

First off, let’s go to Italy. Some historians reckon that the Pizza was a Greek invention, modified in nearby Italy. Hundreds of years later and hundreds of miles to the north the Welsh used to put a concoction of onion, cheese and beer on bread to make Rarebit, not quite a Pizza, but a nearly.

Still in Italy, Garlic Bread was said to be invented in the USA, along with Pasta Primavera. Spaghetti and those massive Meatballs, a combo from North and South Italy that originated in the USA too. Chicken Parmesan was an offspring of immigrants in NY and Mac and Cheese was said to have been invented in France. Caesar Salad was invented by Italians, though over the border in Tijuana, Mexico.

Into China, and the well known one invented in the USA is, as mentioned, Chop Suey, along with Fortune Cookies, plus we have Chicken Cashew by a Chinese chef in Missouri and, the famous standby, General Tsao’s Chicken also invented in the USA.

From France Austria takes the invention of the Baguette and French Toast was Italian in origin.

Australia gets a mention with Peach Melba and Melba Toast both invented in the Savoy hotel in London by French genius Escoffier. Though the Pavlova was invented for the dancer of the same name, and in Perth. The Mexicans don’t get away since Chimichangas came out of Tuscon.

Bloody Mary

And finally, in the drinks department we have the Bloody Mary invented in the St. Regis, NY. That infamous drink Pina Colada that seems to have come from Brazil or anywhere exotic, was invented in Puerto Rico. Then we have Mai Tai, which is not Asian in origin but Californian.

There are undoubtedly lots more. So, the next time you decide on using up all the leftovers in the fridge look for inspiration and think Italian, or Chinese and invent away. Their country needs you.

 

Scrumtious Summertime Peach & Plum Galette

Best Whole

Fresh Plum & Peach Galette–Tart

Sweet & luscious summertime Galette pronounced Ga-let, is a French name for “tart.” An open-faced pie of sorts which offers the full experience of  pie, but in delicate delicious bites filled with rich flavors. This tart is a favorite summertime dessert at our house. You can make it with any seasonal fruit, such as rhubarb, peaches, cherries, apricots or apples. The dough is buttery, flaky and very forgiving and comes together in 10 seconds in a food processor.

Best Slice

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit slices & a sprig of mint

Pate Brisee:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup ice water

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Filling:

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup ground almonds

1/4 cop all-purpose flour

2 1/2 pounds large plums & peaches—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges I used 2 large black plums and 2 medium sized peaches—do not peel

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1/2 cup good-quality plum, apricot or raspberry preserves, strained if chunky or seedy

Make the Pate Brisee:

Add flour, butter and salt in a food processor; process for 5 seconds; the butter should still be in pieces. Mix vinegar in ice water, add just enough water until the dough forms a ball and process for 5 seconds longer, just until dough comes together; the butter should still be visible.

Remove dough from the processor and gather it into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 16-by-18-inch oval 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a large, heavy baking sheet. Chill dough until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.

Make the Filling:

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the ground almonds and flour. Spread this mixture evenly over the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the plum & peach wedges on top and dot with the butter. Sprinkle all but 1 teaspoon of the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over the fruit. Fold the edge of the dough up over the plums to create a 2-inch border. (If the dough feels cold and firm, wait for a few minutes until it softens to prevent it from cracking.) Sprinkle the border with the reserved 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, until the fruit is very soft and the crust is richly browned. If any juices have leaked onto the baking sheet, slide a knife under the galette to release it from the sheet. Evenly brush the preserves over the hot fruit; brush some up onto the crust. Incredible, light, buttery and very satisfying!

Guest Chef Wednesday! Bret Clark’s Amazing Creole Jambalaya

Bret Jambalaya

Today, staying in the Creole theme, we are offering Bret Clark’s Incredible Jambalaya! I simply love the personal touches of a wonderful Chef! Read on…

For those of you not aware, Jambalaya was originally created in Louisiana and its origin is actually Spanish paella. Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts; with meat, seafood and vegetables and is finished by adding stock and rice.

There are typically 2 types of Jambalaya; Creole, Bret’s offering, which includes tomatoes and Louisiana style that does not. It’s been said “the idea is the farther away from New Orleans one gets, the less common tomatoes are in dishes.” However, both styles include the “trinity” of vegetables offered in most savory Cajun dishes; 50% onions, 25% celery, and 25% green or red bell pepper—a wonderful marriage of flavors from the get go.

Thanks again for another amazing dish, Bret! Now, get the rice simmering and bread ready and you’ll soon be singing just like a Cajun….Whoooo wee!!

Ingredients:

¼ cup Olive oil

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

12-16 oz Andouille sausage, sliced into bite size pieces

¾ Lb Peeled and deveined shrimp

1 large Onion – diced

1 large Green pepper – diced

3 ribs Celery – diced

4-5 cloves Garlic – sliced or minced

2 15 oz cans Diced tomatoes (I use roasted tomatoes for extra flavor)

¾ cups Long grain rice

3 cups Chicken broth

Cajun seasoning (I use Emeril’s Essence or “Bayou Blast”) to taste

3-4 Green onions – chopped, including green part

¼ cup chopped Parsley

Directions:

Season chicken and shrimp (separate bowls) with desired amount of Cajun seasoning, allow to marinate while chopping vegetables.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. When hot, add chicken and sauté until browned. Add sausage and continue to sauté until browned. Add onion, green pepper, celery, garlic and more Cajun seasoning, if desired, and cook until vegetables are wilted. Add tomatoes and broth and heat to a simmer, then cover the pot and let this cook for at least 20 minutes. I cook mine at least an hour, allowing all of the flavors to blend together nicely.

Add rice to pot, stir well and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and cook until rice is just beyond al dente (20-30 minutes). Add shrimp, mixing carefully, and continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, or until shrimp are just pink. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving

 

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