Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roasted Garlic Lemon Cornish Hen

A good roast chicken dinner is a classic meal enjoyed by many. We love our share of chicken at our house but I wanted to try something a bit different, yet familiar with a typical chicken dinner. Instead of chicken, I served up these Roasted Garlic Lemon Cornish Hens. These miniature chickens were stuffed with lemon, rubbed with garlic and baked until golden before serving alongside some roasted Parmesan and bacon smashed potatoes. Comfort food, kicked up a notch...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rodney Strong Vineyard's Silver Anniversary Dinner

When I entertain, I love putting all my efforts into a well thought out menu along with paired drinks. The decor and ambiance tend to come second because the way I see it, it's all about making sure my guests leave well fed and with a memorable experience. I recently hosted a special dinner in honor of Rodney Strong Vineyards. The Klein family have owned the Rodney Strong Vineyards brand for 25 years so what better way to celebrate their Silver Anniversary than with a wonderful spread food and wine?! In fact, I was not alone in celebrating... others all around the country were celebrating simultaneously on September 20, 2014, including top chefs preparing elaborate meals, fellow food and wine bloggers and all the fans of Rodney Strong Vineyards.

For the special dinner, I had family and friends attend and served a five course meal, each with a carefully paired Rodney Strong wine. Tasting notes below are provided by Rodney Strong...

First Course: Lump Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Wine Tasting Notes: Light, crisp, and highly aromatic, the warmer climate Alexander Valley fruit gives this wine ripe peach, tangerine, and pineapple character, while the ocean cooled Russian River Valley fruit offers citrus, lemon grass, and slightly herbaceous qualities. Together, the two valleys make a classic Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc that is fresh, lively, and will drink beautifully over the next 1 to 2 years.

To kick off my dinner, I wanted to start with lighter bodied wines and progress to more robust wines, just as my menu does with the varied flavors. For my first course, I prepared a simple lump crab stuffed mushroom. We loved how delicious the wine paired with the delicate crab. The wine really accentuated the crab nicely and I love the way the citrus notes made for a bright and light start to the meal. This wine is especially good with seafood and the crab stuffed mushrooms was a perfect pairing!

Second Course: Seared Jumbo Scallops with Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Wine Tasting Notes: Barrel fermentation in new and seasoned French oak added toasty vanilla and spice complexities. During the eleven months of barrel aging, we regularly stirred the “lees” in barrel, and later in tank, which imparts an elegant fullness and creamy texture on the palate. In the glass, the wine is both creamy and crisp, with golden delicious yellow apple, baked pie spices and a hint of minerality on the long finish. Enjoy over the next one to three years with lobster, herb crusted halibut with a minted sweet pea purée or grilled veal chops with sautéed mushrooms.

The second course also featured seafood and this time, scallops. To add some flair, I served the jumbo scallops with a sesame ginger vinaigrette just to add a touch of acidity. This really worked nicely with the chardonnay. The wine picked up on the buttery scallops with a hint of sweetness that did well under the sesame ginger vinaigrette.

Third Course: Herb & Garlic Prime Rib Roast

Wine Tasting Notes: Soft and silky, with intriguing rose petal and crushed pomegranate aromas, this medium bodied wine was aged for 10 months in small French oak barrels, which added a hint of toasty vanilla and spice complexity. Ideal for current enjoyment, this Pinot Noir will age nicely over the next two to four years.

and also paired with 
2010 Rodney Strong Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
Wine Tasting Notes: Chocolate and black fruit profile, with exceptional richness.

For the main course, I wanted to give my guests a choice on wines to pair them with. These two wines - the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon - played up against the flavorful rub I used on the prime rib roast. These reds work well with hearty meat and they certainly didn't disappoint. It was a split tie between which wine folks favored with the entree course!

Fourth Course: Cheese Course of Blue cheese, Camembert, toasted cashews

Wine Tasting Notes: The 2011 Symmetry greets you with an opulent bouquet of blackberries, cassis, and sweet spices. It unfolds on the palate with layers of black fruits, dark chocolate and spice. This mouth-filling wine is rich and silky in texture with a long, lingering finish and the structure for several years in the cellar. Intended to be enjoyable on release, the 2011 Symmetry is destined for evolution in the bottle.

After the heavy appetizers and entree, I wanted to change the pace and lighten up the meal with a cheese course. Blue cheese is a favorite of ours and I knew they would work deliciously with the Red Meritage wine. With the deep fruity notes of the wine, there was no need to offer fresh fruits. And the creamy blue cheese was a perfect pairing once again.

Fifth Course: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake

Wine Tasting Notes: In the “Port” wines of Portugal, there is a legally defined set of allowable grape varieties that reflects the long tradition of the region. Here in Sonoma County we believe that the best grapes for making Port styled wines are those that have great fruit flavor, a fine depth of character, and excellent color. For this release we have chosen primarily Zinfandel and Touriga (the most important Port grape in Portugal), with lesser amounts of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Malbec. The combination of these varietals, from five of our best vineyards, results in a wine with balanced sweetness, powerful flavors, and an unctuous texture that glides on the palate, and lingers. Because of its sweet and special nature, Port is generally considered a dessert wine. It can easily be enjoyed by itself, or with a selection of cheeses, nuts, or even dark chocolate.

Lastly, I knew a good chocolate dessert would serve as the perfect ending to our five course dinner. With port to accompany dessert, I made the salted caramel chocolate cheese. A combination of sweet and salty was exactly the flavor this port wine complimented. Everyone enjoyed the finish of the wine and dinner... so it wasa delicious success!

Thank you to the folks of Rodney Strong Vineyards for allowing me to celebrate the special day with dinner and wine. I wish you another 25 years of wonderful wine making with many more to follow!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Four & More Flatbreads for Football Fun!

The weekends have been full of fanfare with football season at our house. Sometimes we watch while eating pizza, wings or a typical tailgate spread. But to offer a spin on things, we've been enjoying a whole lot of flatbread lately. Here are four flatbread recipes we highly recommend... and these are particularly good when made with Krusteaz's new Flatbread Mixes:

To kick up the flatbreads up a notch, check out the video by Hostess with the Mostess on “How to Make Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbreads”! Some other flatbreads include the Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza, Little Guilt Grilled Flatbread, Grilled Flatbread Pepperoni Pizza and Grilled Whole Wheat Flatbread, all made with Krusteaz Flatbread mixes and your grill! 

To help you enjoy the football season just a little more, here's a chance for you to win Delicious Flatbread from Krusteaz and a Weber® Grill! From now through November 6, 2014, register for a chance to win one of three flat-out awesome prizes, including a brand spanking new Weber® Grill. All you have to do is visit here and “like” for a chance to win. 

• The Grand Prize Winner will receive a Weber® Spirit® SP-320 and one year’s supply of Krusteaz’s New Flatbread Mix Line.

• The Grillmaster Prize Winner will receive a Weber® Original™ Stainless Steel 3-pc Tool Set.

• The Flat-Out Awesome Prize Winner will receive Krusteaz’s New Flatbread Mix Line.

To learn more and enter to win, visit the Krusteaz Facebook Page here... And don’t forget to follow Krusteaz on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fall Inspired Gluten-Free Prime Rib Dinner

My parents have been retired for quite some time and they've been living overseas a few months out of the year. This past weekend they recently came back to visit and will be flying back in November. It's been somewhat of a tradition with my family to welcome them home with a prepared feast of prime rib. This is partially due to how we usually include this amazing roast in our holiday celebrations for as long as I can remember... but probably more importantly because my parents just don't have access to the same quality of beef overseas. So when my parents arrived, there was no question what we would have for dinner the night of their arrival - a Gluten Free Prime Rib Dinner.
Although we have our favorite way to prepare prime rib, I sometimes change it up with a few tweaks, sneak in a few ingredient additions, or just give the traditional dinner a whole different spin. This time, I decided to do a fall inspired Prime Rib Dinner by incorporating some fall inspired ingredients, classic favorites and getting some delicious help with some spice and seasoning mixes from McCormick.

With the increase of folks taking on a gluten free lifestyle, it's been great to see some popular brands come out with gluten free friendly products. Spice and seasoning mixes often have hidden gluten in them, but now folks can take comfort knowing there are gluten free spice and seasoning mixes available by McCormick. They currently offer 4 gluten free mixes - GF Chili Seasoning Mix, GF Taco Seasoning Mix, GF Turkey Gravy Mix, GF Brown Gravy Mix. For my Fall Inspired Prime Rib Dinner, I used 2 of their GF mixes.

My menu includes:
Chicken & Apple Chili Meatballs
Delicious Deviled Eggs
Herb Roasted Prime Rib w/ Herb Stuffing
Mixed Greens Salad
Praline Apple Swirl Cheesecake

For my Chicken & Apple Chili Meatballs, I combined ground chicken, finely diced apple and chili seasoning to create some flavorful meatballs, which I served with a simple tomato sauce and garnish of cheddar cheese. {Recipe follows...}

The Delicious Deviled Eggs came from a recipe taken from the AllRecipes website. It's a straightforward recipe using eggs, mayonnaise, ground mustard, parsley flakes, seasoned salt and paprika.

My Herb Roasted Prime Rib with Herb with stuffing made use of an unexpected ingredient - gravy seasoning! It was used in the roast rub to give it some extra flavor.{Recipe follows...}

To add some vegetables to our menu, I had to include our family's favorite mixed greens salad, served with a homemade French dressing.

And to finish the meal on a sweet note, I made a GF Praline Apple Swirl Cheesecake filled with diced apples and Southern pralines swirled throughout before topping with a caramel glaze and more chopped southern pralines for garnish.

Chicken & Apple Chili Meatballs
original Joelen recipe

2 granny smith apples (or 1/2 cup chunky applesauce)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 lbs ground chicken
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 (1oz) packet McCormick Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and core the apples and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt to taste.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes to roast. Remove apples from the oven and place in a food processor. Process until finely chopped; set aside. *If you don't have time or want to roast apples, you're welcome to use jarred chunky applesauce.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, 1/2 cup processed roasted apples (or chunky applesauce), shredded cheddar cheese and chili seasoning mix. Carefully combine all the ingredients until fully incorporated. Roll mixture into small meatballs.

To bake:
- Preheat your oven to 350.
- Place the chicken meatballs on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

To fry:
- Heat a skillet with cooking spray.
- Place the chicken meatballs in small batches and brown on all sides until cooked through

To serve:
Toss lightly in tomato sauce and garnish with cheddar cheese.

Garlic & Herb Prime Rib Roast

10 lb prime rib roast (bone in) - at room temperature
2 tablespoons coriander
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
1 (0.88oz) packet McCormick Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy or McCormick Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, prep your prime rib roast by trimming any extra fat off of it.

Combine the coriander, rosemary, fennel seed, ground mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, gravy seasoning and olive oil in a bowl. Rub this mixture all over the rib roast. Place roast on a v-rack set in a roasting pan.

Bake the roast uncovered in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, decrease the heat to 375 and continue cooking the roast uncovered for 2 1/2 hours (if you have a 10 lb roast). Bake about 15-18 minutes per pound.

Remove roast from oven and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before carving.

Get rid of the gluten, but not the flavor with McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes! Visit the Recipe Collection at to discover more flavorful gluten free eating and meal ideas!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mix. The opinions and text are all mine.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall Foodie Finds: October Edition!


I've been checking out a few new things this fall, both in and out of the kitchen... yet foodie related nonetheless. Here are some foodie finds that I enjoy and maybe you'll find something that interests you too!
Every month or so, I stop over at my local health food store for specialty items such as gluten free flours, ingredients and organic foods. I have been in a cheese loving mood lately and picked up this organic cheese made by Rumiano. It was deliciously creamy, flavorful and being organic, it was just another bonus. It was wonderful on its own with crackers and I've even used it to make mac and cheese with great results! I learned that this cheese was sold in select places and was happy to stumble across this so easily. If you have this available in your area, I highly recommend you give it a try!
I'm trying to get a head start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables this fall. It's a bit of a challenge but I found making smoothies is a great way to sneak them in. I've been enjoying green smoothies lately which include spinach, kale, apple, mango, pineapple, banana and coconut water. To up my game, I added some spirulina which is considered a 'superfood.' Spirula is often found in commercial smoothies and drinks, so I wanted to have some to try and add to my smoothies and home. I love the way it makes me feel and its like a natural multi-vitamin packed wit iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, beta-carotine, B12, and other healthy things. It's also a great sense of protein and so far, it's been supressing my appetite and keeping me full through the morning. If you are looking ahead to getting on a healthy track before the new year (and the holiday food binge eating lol), try adding some spirulina in your smoothies!

With the holidays just weeks away, I'll be definitely working my oven in overtime. I'll be honest, I've also put my potholders through some good wear and tear... some have even got burned or singed in the past! I've been looking for some new potholders and came across these silicone gloves. They're a great alternative to traditional cloth potholders and much safer too. I especially like that they work well over a grill during the summer months. The gloves are safe to use up to 450 degrees and they have a great non-slip grip pattern throughout. You may need to reconsider your usual potholders... isn't time for new ones before the holiday?!

Although summer is pretty much out of the picture, I've been finding some great uses for my ice pop molds. Since its too cold for my kiddie to enjoy a Popsicle, the molds work great for holding smoothies, yogurt and other little snacks. Each mold comes with a lid to secure the contents and they're easy to hold/grasp even with kiddie hands. My son loves these and the're reuseable, dishwasher safe, 100% BPA free and we love the fun colors!

So when's the last time you sharpened your knives? It's true - a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp one! Every year or so, I have my knives professionally sharpened. But in between professional sharpenings, I've been using a sharpener at home. I chucked my old one because it just wasn't sharpening as good as it should have and it kinda fell apart. So when I got this new one, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to use, the sharpness of my knives after using it and the options of both coarse and fine sharpening. Sharpening my knifes at home helps increase the life of my knives and ensures more knife safety in the kitchen. If you are overdue in sharpening your knives, this sharpener does a great job!
One of my most popular culinary classes I teach is my sushi making class. It's been great sharing my love of sushi maki and empowering others in making it themselves. An ingredient I personally like including in my sushi maki classes is tamago - which is a thick Japanese omelette. The beauty of this omelette is that it can be cut into long blocks perfect for maki. Making this omelette in a standard pan just doesn't work since it's traditionally shaped in a block or rectangle. I recently found this tamagoyaki pan specifically designed for tamago which is exactly what I need! But for those that don't necessarily need a pan for tamagoyaki, you can appreciate this nicely sized rectangular pan which can make a grilled cheese, crepe or rolled omelette with easy. The shape also helps certain dishes like these cook easier! 

I recently was asked to cater a hotdog bar for a friend's birthday party. I knew there would be quite a spread with other offerings so to help make my portion stand out, I opted to do a hot dog tower. The tower included squeeze bottles of the usual condiments (ketchup, bbq sauce, mustard) along with other ones (spicy mayo, sriracha, etc.). I also included a few toppings like crumbled bacon, saurkraut, giardinera, shredded cheese, french fried onions and pickle relish. The bottom tier was filled with jumbo hot dogs nestled in steamed buns which were wrapped in parchment. Overall it was a major hit! I also loved using these chalkboard labels to easily identify the various condiments in squeeze bottles. These are a great detail that were perfect for my squeeze bottles. Aside from being easy to use, it looks fantastic and I received a lot of compliments on them!

For the longest time, I've been wanting a tablet specifically for the kitchen so I can use it to search recipes and food stuff online. The downside is having a 4 year old notice the tablet and request to use it all the time. So instead of a tablet, I've actually found a nice alternative. I currently use a cell phone mount that is typically intended for the car... and I've mounted it in my kitchen up on the backsplash. It's great because I can search for recipes and have it up in perfect view to review while I'm in the kitchen. I've also found it useful to hold my phone in a good position, out of the way in a secure spot, to listen to music and even take a hands free call. The car mount in the kitchen has really made my phone more versatile... who knew what was intended for the car works awesome in the kitchen?!

My boys love sandwiches and they are always looking for new ways to enjoy them. Now with the cooler weather, warm and toasted sandwiches are particularly a favorite... but after awhile, toasting them in the oven or even on the stovetop can get boring. When I was recently introduced to the Toas-Tite, I love the nostalgic packaging at first sight. It reminded me of cool kitchen tools of yesteryear, but something I can definitely use today. Remember those hot pocket sandwiches? Well the Toas-Tite is probably the original hot pocket sandwich. Two pieces of bread are placed in round steal discs, followed by your favorite sweet or savory filling. The discs are closed shut and cooked over an open flame or over your gas stove top - making it not only fun but interactive too. Joel loved helping me make the sandwiches and watching me cook with the Toas-Tite over our gas stove. We both loved how in a matter of minutes, a toasty filled sandwich was ready to eat! 

These days, I've been using my smart phone a lot... not necessary for calls, but for texts, checking in at places I'm going to, taking pictures, or just surfing the web on down time. All that use eats up my battery and I've found myself charging my phone more often. Or even worse, I won't have a charger nearby and I'm left without a phone. Now I don't have to worry about low battery life or no charger available because I have this portable charger! It's a great thing to have in my purse at all times and acts as a mini charging station to keep me on the go with my phone and data usage. It's compatible with pretty much all phones and devices so you can continue staying on the grid lol! I love the size , which is about the same size as a standard lipstick case, and I can have my phone fully charged in as little as 1 1/2 -2 hours. With the holidays coming up, you'll want to make sure your phone is fully charged and you also have some back up... so consider getting one of these portable chargers!

I feel like the year has flown by extremely fast. I mean, it's October... that's 2 months away from the start of a new year! The fall is definitely a busy time in my house because of the upcoming holidays, the various events and entertaining around the holidays, and it seems like there's always somewhere to go, some errand to run and people to have meetings with. To help me organize myself and my sanity, I need some kind of planner I can physically write in. The electronic types don't work for me... I guess I like the satisfaction of writing things out and crossing them off once they've been completed. Call it a sense of accomplishment lol. I learned about these planners and they are so helpful! It's a great size - enough to write what I need down, cleanly and logically put together with lots of places to jot down notes, create lists, etc and I can really capture everything I need to all in a book that fits in my purse. If you struggle with organizing time and schedules, this has been a great tool that I definitely recommend.

Last, but definitely not least... let's talk about the potential weight gain in my future. I know I've talked a bit about the holidays coming up. And with those holidays, food will be all over the place. Delicious food. Mmmm. But that's even more reason for me to get on the health track and stick with it through the upcoming months and winter. I've accepted the fact that I am not a gym person. I'll find any excuse to skip the gym. I've also accepted the fact that I am not a home video person. The proximity of a comfy couch and kitchen steps away are evil. But I've been giving home workouts a go... with resistance bands. So far, so good. I like that I can do this in a room where no couch is nearby and the kitchen is out of sight. It's easy to do and adjust to your strength level. If you're looking for an exercise regime that's easy and has {sore} results - which is a good thing! - this may be for you!

So with so many things shared, I'm giving away some items too! Leave a comment if you'd like to receive one of the following items with why you'd like them! Winner will be announced on Friday, October 10th!

Here are the winners for the following prizes!

Rumiano Non-GMO Cheese - Comment #9 Karen Delaney
Chalkboard Labels & Pen - Comment #3 Taylor

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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Book List: 6 Cookbooks to Check Out!

The autumn chill is in the air and if you're like me, you're snuggling up on the couch with a mug of something warm, a soft blanket to cover  you up and reading a good book. Well, more like a cook book lol. Now that summer has pretty much passed  and fall is making it's way in, I've been enjoying some delicious reads to help be inspired with upcoming meals. Before you know it, the holidays are here and it's never too early to start thinking about those menus! Here are some books I've been reading and perhaps one of these will peak your interest...

Indian For Dinner

Anupy Singla is a Chicago area cookbook author and former business reporter for the Chicago Tribune. She's quite the expert in Indian cuisine and has already 3 Indian cuisine cookbooks under her belt. I have 2 of the her 3, with this one being her third. This cookbook, much like her other two, combine her journalistic style with food... something I can totally get behind. Anupy makes Indian cuisine very approachable at home and many of the recipes include adaptations to make them vegan, vegetarian and gluten free friendly. I love that she includes helpful primers on Indian spices, herbs and other common ingredients.

Slow Cooker Double Dinners for Two

When you have a small household, preparing recipes often result in lots of leftovers. In this book by Cynthia Graubart, recipes are focused on preparing them once to create two different meals to enjoy. This breaks the leftover cycle of eating the same thing over and over! Even better is that the meals are focused around the slow cooker, making it stress free and less complicated. And if there is ever a time to utilize that slow cooker, it's definitely during the fall months...

Prevention RD's Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour

One of my favorite things about being active in the food blogging community is the opportunity to meet like minded foodies. Often times, the foodies I do meet end up being dear friends. And when my friend Nicole Morrissey started writing cookbooks, I couldn't have been more excited for her! This is actually Nicole's second cookbook and I love that this particular book is focused on gluten free recipes utilizing almond flour. If you're gluten free or know someone that is, you don't want to miss this cookbook! Nicole has a wonderful balance of both sweet and savory recipes to choose from. Some recipes that caught my eye include Cranberry Pumpkin Bread and Strawberry Balsamic Shortcakes... all gluten free! 

Revolutionary Pizza

Everyone loves pizza, right? So when I came across this pizza cookbook, I couldn't put it down! This cookbook by Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau highlights some delicious variations to pizza and pizza toppings. I'm especially excited Joel has requested more family pizza nights at home for dinner where he'd like to help make pizza from scratch. The recipes included are not your typical pizzas but rather ones that are inspired by different ethnic cuisines, celebrities and other popular dishes... made into pizza form. If you're looking for fun ways to get your family and friends involved in the kitchen, pizza is the way to go and this book will give you a ton of ideas to make it fun and interesting!  

Dumplings All Day Wong

In a week or so, Top Chef: Boston will be starting up and I'm pretty pumped about watching the new season. Being a Top Chef fan, I was happy to see one of last season's top contestants, Lee Ann Wong, come out with cookbook devoted to dumplings. She's got her dumpling skills down and this cookbook shares quite a few different varieties and fillings. I'm actually inspired to have a dim sum brunch with family and friends soon, which would be a delicious change from the usual breakfast fare I serve up on weekends. Another beautiful thing about dumplings is that they can be made in advance and frozen!

Green City Market Cookbook

Lastly, the local farmers market in my town is switching gears and starting their fall market this week. But although the amazing summer market is over, that doesn't mean you can enjoy fall markets too. This cookbook is a compilation of recipes from local chefs, farmers and even customers of the ever popular Chicago Green City Market. Recipes highlight the seasonal ingredients throughout the year and are organized by season too, making it easy to be inspired.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baby Shower for Lucas {and a giveaway!}

Entertaining is in my genes and for my close family and friends, they know how I love creating a huge spread for the various parties I host. When my friend Suzanne announced she was adding on to their family and expecting a boy, I couldn't have been more thrilled for them! As the days grew closer to her due date, I help co-host a small baby shower for her and was in charge of the shower menu.

I wanted to create a menu that was easy, flavorful and stress free as possible. And because it was fall, a menu highlighting seasonal flavors was a great idea. I thought about it for a few weeks and finally nailed down a menu I felt good about. There would be something for everyone, including the attending guests that were either gluten free and/or vegetarian. It also had to appeal to both adults and kids. So with all that in mind, my menu included the following:

Roasted Vegetable & Italian Sausage Flatbread - I topped a Garlic & Onion Flatbread with roasted bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, Italian sausage, zesty pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

Goat Cheese, Tomato & Pesto Flatbread - I topped an Italian Herb Flatbread with fresh basil pesto, crumbled goat cheese and grape tomato halves.

Bacon, Apple & Cheddar Flatbread - I topped a Whole Wheat Flatbread with Bacon Spread, thinly sliced apples, shredded cheddar cheese and more crumbled bacon.

Chicken, Spinach & Butternut Pasta Bake (GF) - I combined GF pasta with sauteed chicken breast, garlic, spinach and a homemade butternut squash pasta sauce, topped with shredded Italian cheeses.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cupcakes/Chocolate Pumpkin Cinnamon Cupcakes - I stirred in a bit of pumpkin puree into both the Cinnamon Swirl and Chocolate Swirl Crumb Cake mixes for a seasonal spin.

Some additional dishes on the menu included a Harvest Salad, made with spring mix greens, dried cherries, toasted pecans, chopped veggies and a blackberry orange vinaigrette... GF Snickerdoodle cookies (store bought),,, and a veggie/fruit/cheese/nut platter of fresh broccoli florets, baby carrots, sliced peaches, green grapes, assorted cheeses (harvarti, aged cheddar & white cheddar), nuts (spiced cashews, almonds, pecans), and gluten free crackers.

Overall, it was a great spread and the party was a success! Much of the success was to using these Krusteaz Flatbread Mixes. They are extremely easy to use and fool proof for even those who may hesitate working with yeast. There's only 4 things needed to make these flatbread and half of them are already perfectly packaged for you. You'll need the boxed mix, the included packet of yeast, some water and a touch of vegetable oil. After mixing everything up in a bowl, it;'s just a matter of waiting 10 minutes for it to be ready for forming, topping and baking. However these flatbreads are delicious without any toppings as all... and are flavorful as is.

To continue the fun and bringing it home to you, I'm hosting a giveaway of Krusteaz Flatbread Mixes that I used for the menu above. The giveaway includes Krusteaz mixes: Italian Herb Flatbread (1), Whole Wheat Flatbread (1), Garlic & Onion Flatbread (1), plus recipe cards and Krusteaz Kitchen Accessories: a branded apron, kitchen timer and a handy pizza cutter! To get in on the fun, simply comment with your favorite flatbread flavor and topping combo. For more chances to win, follow Krusteaz on the social media platforms and leave a comment for each:
*Follow Krusteaz on Twitter
*Like Krusteaz on Facebook
*Follow Krusteaz on Pinterest
*Follow Krusteaz on Instagram

A winner will be chosen and announced on Friday, October 3rd... so think of those flatbread flavors and topping combos to comment with for your chance to win!

If you're looking for some delicious inspiration, check out the delicious flatbread recipe ideas from Jen of Hostess with the Mostess with this link to free printables and some Back to School Activities!

Family Friendly Flatbread Tacos
Game Day Turnovers
Thai Chicken Flatbread
Pear & Gorgonzola Flatbread
Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Here's what my fellow Baker's Dozen friends are doing with Krusteaz Flatbread Mixes too!
Made It, Ate It, Loved It - Flatbread Back to School Party

I'm also giving away a sampler of Bacon Jam! The Bacon Jams are a tasty way to enjoy BACON! The Bacon Jams are the perfect addictive blend of savory and sweet. The Bacon Jams come in many unique flavors including All Original, Black Pepper, and Red Chile & Garlic. Our wide variety of flavor profiles ensure the ability to include bacon into any situation breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and even dessert. The convenient packaging and naturally long shelf life of The Bacon Jams make them great to keep around the house ready to go for your immediate bacon needs. We use quality ingredients and a passion of cooking to make this fantastic product. We know you will love The Bacon Jams! Winner will also be announced on October 3, 2014 so good luck!

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.
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