Friday, August 29, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches

With the weather cooling a bit, my lil guy is really excited about spending more time in the kitchen with me to bake. He loves baking - the process of adding various ingredients and mixing it all up into a delicious mess, the whiz of the stand mixer, the anticipation of watching something magically change in the oven and of course, the moment I give him the go ahead to indulge in what we created together. Joel was asking me when we could bake cookies and as a result of that question, these Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches became a sweet reality. Soft peanut butter cookies are sandwiched together with a creamy peanut butter filling then splattered with chocolate for a rich treat!...

These treats not only made my boys pretty happy, but my coworkers definitely enjoyed them too. It also gave me a great reason to use some fun packaging I had. These make a great baking activity with little ones and everyone can participate. But we all know the best part... it's eating them once they're ready!

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches

1 package Krusteaz Peanut Butter Cookie Mix (prepared as directed) or
1 batch of your favorite peanut butter cookie

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners or powdered sugar 

1 cup Chocolate Melts

Prepare your cookies as directed or using your favorite recipe. Divide the cookie dough into 12-16 even sized balls. Moisten your hands with a little water and flatten each cookie into 2 inch rounds. Bake as directed on the packaging or per your recipe.

Remove from the oven and transfer cookies onto a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining the peanut butter and butter into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the mixture until melted - about 30 seconds on high. Whisk peanut butter and butter and slowly mix in the powdered sugar.

Once the cookies have cooled, pair them up by similar size. Place one teaspoon of the filling into the middle of one side of the sandwich and place the second cookie on top. Twist the cookies together until the filling pushes to the cookie edges. Repeat until all cookie sandwiches have been made. 

When all cookie sandwiches have been made, melt the chocolate melts as directed on the packaging and with a fork, dip into the chocolate and drizzle chocolate over the cookies. Allow chocolate to harden and dry before serving.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicken & Spinach Penne in Sherry Cream Sauce


With a busy schedule juggling both a full time and part-time job, there's one thing that I look forward to most nights of the week... and that's dinner. Having dinner with my family is a special time where we can sit around the table, talk about our day over a delicious meal. With my busy schedule, I often look towards recipes that can be made quickly and easily, using fresh and wholesome ingredients. And the key to having the right things on hand in my kitchen comes down to making smart choices while in the grocery store.
Buying produce has been easy during the summer months with the farmers markets and beautiful fruits and vegetables readily available. What I find a bit trickier is finding quality protein and meats. Chicken is a staple ingredient at our house where I often make chicken dishes for a handful of meals each week. So when I'm at the store, I reach for Tyson® Fresh Chicken. It's the next best thing to being fresh off the farm, because it's:
- All natural* with no added hormones or steroids.**
- Arrives at the store fresh, delivered within days from leaving the farm.
- And Tyson has a heritage of producing chicken where they have been raised by family farmers for over 75 years.
I especially appreciate how each piece of Tyson Fresh Chicken is hand-trimmed for convenience to save time and effort. Some specific cuts I often purchase include:
• Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
• Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Tenderloins
• Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
With a variety of chicken available, I sometimes draw a blank on what to prepare. And when I get it in recipe rut, I love that Tyson Fresh Chicken also offers helpful tools and resources to make meal planning easy. I've found some great recipes at!
Tyson is a brand that is wholesome and family-friendly. Their corporate tagline states “Bringing Families Together™”. Tyson Foods is a company made up of real people – moms and dads, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends. Every day they strive to make good food they feel good about serving their families and consumers can feel good about serving to their own. And with a brand promise like that, I certainly feel good about using Tyson Fresh Chicken to feed my family. Here's a recent recipe I prepared using Tyson Fresh Chicken Breasts which is simple and perfect for a weeknight or even for company!
Chicken & Spinach Penne in Sherry Cream Sauce
recipe adapted from Cooking Light
  • 1 TysonBoneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups cooked penne pasta
  • Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder; set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and oil together. Add garlic and shallots, sautéing until fragrant, followed by the seasoned chicken. Continue cooking until chicken is lightly browned on all sides. 
  3. Stir in chicken broth and sherry wine, cooking for about 2-3 minutes to warm through.
  4. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until softened.
  5. Add the heavy cream and cook for 1-2 minutes to thicken.
  6. Add the spinach, tossing to coat and wilt the spinach down.
  7. Add the pasta and toss to combine with the ingredients and coat with sauce.
  8. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.
 Note: Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 170 degrees for boneless products and 180 degrees for bone in chicken products.

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/27 - 10/26.
Be sure to visit the Tyson Fresh Chicken brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients.
**Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones or steroids in chicken.
I was compensated by Tyson Foods to produce (write) this content/post/review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Krusteaz Baker's Dozen Brand Ambassador

You know what I love most about this time of year? The anticipation of cooler weather so I can bake to my heart's content! I'm even more excited this time around because I'm partnering up with Krusteaz as a brand ambassador in part of their Krusteaz Baker's Dozen! Krusteaz is a favorite brand of baking mixes in our house, simply because they taste great, my boys love the variety, my lil guy enjoys baking in the kitchen with the easy instructions and I am thrilled they offer gluten free mixes too! 

The mixes are huge time savers and when I'm in the kitchen with my lil guy, it's been easy to get him involved with baking mixes as opposed to recipes from scratch. It has saved me time and patience so that the activity of baking is focused on fun since all the guesswork has been figured out for me with the easy to prepare mixes. So with fall coming around the corner, I'm looking forward to getting my pumpkin baking on...

Stay tuned as I will be sharing my cooking and baking experiences in the kitchen using Krusteaz products, offering giveaways and creating delicious recipe ideas throughout the next several months!

Disclosure: I have been chosen by Krusteaz to be a paid brand ambassador. All opinions written are my own.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to School Supplies... for the Kitchen!

Parents... I feel you. It's back to school season and going school supplies shopping can be quite overwhelming. Although my little guy hasn't started school yet, I'm already dreading next year when I send him off to primary/elementary school. But who says the kids should be the only ones to get new supplies? It seems only fair that parents get in on the action and shop for new supplies too. And by supplies, I'm talking about kitchen supplies. :)  If you need some inspiration on new kitchen toys so you can prepare healthy, nutritious meals for your household, here are some to check out!

If you've got family members that need more vegetables in their diet, this steamer is great. I've found steaming vegetables has been a favorite at our house and it retains more nutritional value compared to preparing the vegetables in other ways. Forget those steaming vegetable pouches for the microwave... they're already expensive enough. This steamer is 100% stainless steel (including legs) and is made out of high-grade stainless steel. I love that it expands to fit various pot sizes and collapses for easy storage taking up less space. Aside from vegetables, I've used mine to steam tamales, prepare dim sum, make batches of hard boiled eggs, and even used it as a colander for small portions of food.

If you're like me and loathe opening cans because of the usual rough and sharp edges (which is an injury waiting to happen), fear no more. I tried out this can opener and love that potential accidents are a non issue. This can opener leaves a smooth safe edge and the ergonomic handles and extra-large turning knob make it quick to open up caks and it's easy to use too. It's dishwasher safe which is always a plus and well made with solid construction. This is a can opener you don't have to be afraid of using!

Parchment paper is a kitchen necessity but after awhile, it can get costly for me. As we come into the fall season when I bake quite a bit, I find myself using a lot of parchment paper. But after trying out this silcone baking liner/mat, I may need to ease up on my parchment paper purchases. This mat is great and I love I can reuse it over and over and over again. Another plus is that I don't have to grease or use any cooking spray if this is on the bottom of my baking sheet. Baked goods like cookies slide right off! It withstands temperatures up to 450 degrees so burning or melting of the mat isn't an issue. It's also safe for the microwave and freezer too. But the best part is not having to scrub my baking sheet and my sheets look brand new since it protects them. The sheets come in a few sizes so there's one for your baking sheet waiting for you...

Kids love colors and cupcakes... at least my little guy is a fan. We recently baked up some muffins us these silicone cups and loved how easily our muffins came right out. They reduce the need for paper liners which end up getting thrown out anyway. We also don't have to grease them, so there's some calories saved there too. Aside from baking, I also have used this to serve small snacks for my little guy, making the perfect portion for cereal, granola or fresh fruit. Another fun thing we've used them for are scoops of ice cream. I placed a scoop of ice cream and placed it in the freezer. So whenever my son wants ice cream, I can just pull out the scooped ice cream and serve it right in the silicone cup! That said, these are great for an ice cream social party with friends and everyone can pick a color without wondering which is theirs.

If you're planning on using your slow cooker more this fall, especially for family get togethers, this is one product to consider. I love using my crockpot for potlucks when possible and sometimes transporting the crockpot can be tricky. This thermal slow cooker carrying bag is a great accessory to have to make it easy to tote along your slow cooker.. Hot foods stay hot inside the insulated bag, a great convenience if the event venue is short on oven or refrigerator space. There are also heavy duty carrying handles. The two outer straps are made of super strong nylon webbing to take the weight of the fully loaded cooker so it doesn't tear or rib away from the bag. And the bag itself is touch, heavy gauge nylon that won't split or come apart at the seams. Inside the bag is another strap that keeps the cooker lid from coming off during transport and adds even more stability to the bag, Lastly, it's easy to load and unload the cooker from the carrying bag - just unzip the sturdy zipper all the way around and flip open the top. This alone makes the cleaning easier and can be washed by hand when needed. 
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Door County Summer Cherry Pie

What's on your 'foodie bucket list?' On mine, I wanted to visit Wisconsin's Door County and get cherry wasted. That is, indulge in all things cherry! A few weekends ago, I did just that with The Baron and we had a wonderful time taking in the quaint towns along Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula. Probably the best souvenir I brought home was a ton of freshly picked sour cherries to play with. And with some of those cherries, I made this glorious Door County Summer Cherry Pie. Sour cherries are sweetened with sugar for the most luscious filling and baked into a rich, butter crust for the best taste of summer. A la mode, of course!...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Strawberry Banana Vanilla Soy Ice Cream

We can never have too much ice cream at our house so my boys are always looking for some after dinner. But to be honest, I'm not all that fond of making ice cream. It's not so much making it but rather all the effort involved. Or maybe it's just that I loathe how my bulky freezer bowls for my ice cream machine takes up so much space in the freezer so I have no reason but to make more ice cream. Despite how I sacrifice precious freezer space to accommodate the need of homemade ice cream, it is truly worth it in the end. I mean, how else could I have the freedom to create delicious ice cream flavors that are also healthy?! This Strawberry Banana Vanilla Soy Ice Cream is a great example. A sweet cream base using Silk vanilla soy milk is swirled with fresh bananas and strawberries to create a cool, creamy summer treat that's good for you too!
I have a friend that is lactose intolerant and one of things she misses is ice cream. When I told her I could try creating a lactose free ice cream for her to enjoy, she was ecstatic! It's great that these days, lactose free ingredients are readily available , especially when I have lactose free friends, family and clients to serve. I loveSilk soymilk and almond milk in place of dairy when needed and my lactose friends certainly appreciate it! Silk soymilk is great lactose alternative for healthy living and wellness. So why not use it in ice cream too?
I flipped through my Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert book for some ideas and inspiration and found the following recipe. It starts out with a sweet cream base and mixing in fresh strawberries and bananas. I made some adaptations to the original recipe including using vanilla soy milk (instead of whole milk), fresh strawberries (instead of frozen strawberries in syrup) and key lime juice (instead of lemon juice). Before enjoying, I drizzled a little strawberry coulis to garnish!

Strawberry Banana Vanilla Soy Ice Cream
recipe adapted from Ben & Jerry's

Sweet Cream Base:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup vanilla Silk soy milk

Fresh fruit flavoring:
2 small/medium overripe bananas, mashed
1 pint fresh strawberries, diced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon key lime (or lemon/lime) juice

Sweet cream base:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk in the 3/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.

Pour in the cream and milk; whisk to blend and set aside.

In a separate small bowl, place diced strawberies, 1/4 cup sugar and key lime juice; set aside to macerate for 15 minutes.

Adding the fresh fruit:
In a large bowl, mash the bananas.

Drain the strawberries and add the natural syrup created to the banana. Set aside just the diced strawberries. Whisk banana mixture until smooth.

Combine the sweet cream base with the banana mixture and blend thoroughly.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions.

About 2 minutes before you are done churning/processing your ice cream, add the diced strawberries and continue churning/processing until done.

Transfer your ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for a few hours (or overnight) to allow flavors to blend.

If you are a Silk soymilk fan, be sure to check them out on social media!:
Silk: Learn More -
Silk Protein Power -
Silk Facebook Page -
Twitter - @LoveMySilk
Hashtag - #silkproteinpower

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

International Can-It-Forward Day!

Join us today for the International Can-It-Forward Day? It's an event where you can learn the basics of canning to preserve the season's freshest produce among other things. This year it will be held via live webcast on Saturday, August 16th and our host will be the ever popular judge of Bravo's Top Chef show, Chef Hugh Acheson! You'll see live canning demonstrations using some of Ball's best canning products...
Can-It-Forward Day will contain a variety of exciting ways to join in the fun. New this year, Can-It-Forward Day will become International Can-It-Forward Day with special events taking place in Canada, Australia and South Africa!
  • Schedule of events:
    • 10:00am - Pepper Jelly demonstration by Chef Sara featuring the FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker
    • 10:45am - Tips on urban gardening & herb preservation
    • 11:00am - Peach Siracha Jam demonstration by Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars
    • 11:30am - Crafting in Ball jars with staff from Martha Stewart Living
    • 11:45am - Hugh Acheson Preserving and Mixology demonstrations
    • 1:15pm - Special Mixology demonstration with local mixologists
    • 1:30pm - Salsa Verde demonstration by Chef Sarah featuring the FreshTECH Automatic Home Canning System
Be sure to watch and follow along with Ball Canning's social media links too .. and feel free to share your favorite Can-It-Forward Day moments with friends via social media with the hashtag #canitforward!
Facebook - 
Twitter - 
Pinterest -

Need some ideas on what canning supplies will help you out in the kitchen? Check out my reviews of the products below! I highly encourage you to get some canning products to play with and you can find them here at the Ball Fresh Preserving Store...

These jars are just a beautiful green hue and are perfect for canning large amounts of products. Everything from pickles, sauces and even jams/jellies are great to store and can in these! I've got a few jars being used for tomatoes sauces to capture all of the season's tomatoes so I can enjoy them through the fall and winter months!

Like the quart jars, these pint jars are just as versatile! The ones I received are going to be used for jams and jellies, making them perfect for gift giving this holiday. They are the perfect size for smaller amounts so I can enjoy a variety of the summer's bounty...

This summer I have quite an abundance of herbs I've been growing in my kitchen window sill. I found chopping them up, storing them in cubes and freezing them was a great way to savor their flavor in recipes. This item really helped in that and takes little space in your freezer too.

With herbs growing like crazy in my kitchen, I end up pruning them often when I'm cooking or for family and friends to take herbs home. These scissors make it easy to cut up the herbs to use in recipes as well as prep to dry or freeze and use later. I love how one cut can easily chop and mince up herbs, saving me time and effort in the kitchen!

And while we're on the subject, all those minced herbs can be dried and stored in these great jars.  The wide mouth jars make it easy to fill with dried herbs and the tab allows you to use as much as you need for recipes. They stack perfect for storage and the clear containers make it nice to identify what you have in them.

And if you prefer not to cut up your herbs and keep them whole, this herb keeper is the perfect way to store those fresh herbs. My herbs have stayed fresher and for longer when I've kept them in the Ball herb keeper. The stems and roots are set in water when not being used so that they retain their freshness. And when I'm ready to use them, the flip top lid allows easy access to the herbs so I can pick what I need!

Lastly, to get some inspiration and recipes for things to can and preserving, this book is full of ideas! I love how nicely the book is laid out with colorful photos. Everything from pickling, jams, jellies, compotes, chutneys and even pie fillings are captured in this book. The recipes are simple and don't require a ton of ingredients to overwhelm you either!
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