11/28/10

17 Taco Night and a Giveaway! ***CLOSED***

Love Mexican food?  We do!  Love tacos?  We do!  Want to win this taco gift pack?  I'm sure you do!  Psst....Come closer....
....this gift pack that you see above comes with a $10 gift card to make your taco night possible!

The great folks from Old El Paso through MyBlogSpark have provided me with these cute dishes, seasoning packet, and gift card to create my very own family taco night!  

Look at all the yummy fixings for Chicken Tacos!


Even the cactus dish made for a festive chip and salsa tray ~
Here's how I made my chicken tacos:

Melted butter, added fresh minced garlic, orange juice and some Old El Paso Taco seasoning mix.
Added Worcestershire sauce, boneless skinless chicken breast and cooked, turning chicken once.
Made sure chicken was at least 160°F by using an instant read thermometer and took them out.
Reduced the sauce by half and added mustard.
While the sauce was reducing, I had my hubby help me shred the chicken with two forks.  
Put the shredded chicken back into the sauce and gave it a stir.
I love this mild, flavored chicken with a hint of citrus from the orange juice.  If you prefer it with more spice, add more of the taco seasoning.

This chicken was put into warm, homemade flour tortillas and topped with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, avocado, sour cream and shredded lettuce ~ just the way we like them!

Visit Old El Paso for great tips, recipes and more.  While you are waiting for me to announce a winner, why not stop here for a printable coupon for $0.60 off any two Old El Paso products?

What do you like on your taco?  Leave a comment on this post and you are automatically entered for a chance to win this giveaway.  But hurry, this giveaway ends Monday, December 6, 2010 at midnight MST.  One winner will be selected by Random.org.

Shredded Chicken Tacos
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Old El Paso provided me with the products, information, and giveaway through MyBlogSpark.

11/26/10

1 Mint Topped Brownie Bites

I'm in love with anything bite sized.  When I saw dozens of people buying the brownie bites at Costco, I thought, "I can make those!"

These are a decadent, fudgey  mint chocolate topped brownies that are perfect for a bridal shower, baby shower, cookie tray or simply for no reason at all....

A very simple, elegant dessert to make.  Here's how:

Put sugar, butter and cocoa in a saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until everything is melted.

Remove from heat.



Add beaten eggs, stirring quickly and completely.








Add all purpose flour.


Stir till combined.  No special mixer or equipment is necessary!





Don't forget the vanilla.

I love the real stuff.






I used a small 1 T. cookie scoop to pour the batter into a greased and floured mini muffin tin.



Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.



A sweet neighbor of mine gave me a bag of these Andes baking chips.  She puts the entire bag on top of a 9x13 pan of brownies as soon as it comes out of the oven.  When cooled, she cuts them into squares. This was the inspiration for these mint topped brownie bites...




I put some chips in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, which quickly melted the chips.







Dipped the tops of each brownie bite....








and set them on a rack to cool.








These were simply irresistible.








Mint Topped Brownie Bites
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)

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11/24/10

0 Lea & Perrins "Woos-ti-sure" Winners!

Everyone, thank you for helping me pronounce Worcestershire!  Here are the winners:


  # 5, Salome Ellen, who said, "Well, I'd go with "woost-e(r)-shirr." But whatever it is, I LOVE Lea & Perrins. It's the secret ingredient in my meatloaf. Pick me!"







 #12, Marci, who said, "Yum, for someone who hasn't had anything to eat all day, these look to good to be true! Pick me!"





Congratulations!  I will be contacting you and mailing your FREE coupons for Woos-ti-sure !






4 Harmon's Back of the Store Tour

Recently, Harmons Grocery store contacted me about attending a "Behind the Store Tour" in Draper, Utah.  My mind flashed back a few months.  I had inquired at the customer service desk about a tour of their bakery, intending on getting a first hand look at their steam injected ovens.  I left my name, number and blog address with the attendant and soon forgot all about it.

Then came the email invitation.  Not only was I invited, but several other Utah food bloggers were coming!  I consider it a bonus to rub shoulders with fellow and veteran bloggers Laura (Real Mom Kitchen), Deborah (Taste and Tell), Carriann (Sweet Basil) Lisa (Gourmified), Nisha (Healthy Mom's Kitchen), Mariel (Or So She Says), and Gabi (The Feast Within). 

Three things come to mind when I think about Harmons:

Customer Service, Education, and Quality.
Bob Harmon personally directed the tour and introduced us to his amazing staff.  He is passionate about what he does and values customer service above anything.

I love Harmons, especially their bakery department.  What does it take to be a baker at Harmons?   A two week bread training in San Francisco, continued with the head baker while working at Harmons.  Bread is made daily from scratch with organic ingredients; nothing artificial is used.  On my very first visit, a baker gave me a sample of each of their breads.  My favorite?  White Chocolate Pecan.  Soft, creamy interior studded with sweet white chocolate, nutty pecans, and a slightly sweet, caramelized crust.  I want this bread for my last meal.
White Chocolate Pecan Bread

The cheeses are out of this world.  I asked Shauna, their cheesemonger for a melting cheese to use in an oven baked macaroni and cheese and she gave me several examples, even letting me taste a few of them.  Harmons even sent their cheese specialists to Italy where they witnessed the making of Parmesan first hand.  A several months ago, I observed Shauna cracking a 100 pound wheel of Parmesan...so cool.  They also support local cheeses, such as the Beehive Cheese Co.


The produce at Harmons is phenomenal.  In their humble beginnings as a local grocer, they may have carried only 5 varities of apples.  Now they carry around thirty!  You are sure to find your favorites here, all in one place.  Many of the fruits and veggies are purchased locally, ensuring that you have produce at their peak of freshness.  Every item is tracked hourly, encouraging a high turnover of fresh items.  These pistachios are from Hurricane, Utah...take advantage of them while they are here!

Star Fruit
The butcher can be your next best friend!  Everything is USDA prime or above.  When prime rib steaks were on sale in June, my dad asked the butcher if he could keep it as a roast.  He received the roast trimmed, cut from the bone, re-tied back on and seasoned.  Oh, and he got the sale price.  That's above and beyond quality customer service!

I needed turkey thighs to recreate ChuckARama's Roasted Turkey Stew.  I searched high and low and finally grabbed the butcher.  He said they have turkey thighs in the back to use for their freshly ground sausage.  Could he sell me some?  Of course.  Awesome!


Seafood?  What can I say?  I'm a newbie to seafood and am learning to like it, little by little.  I tried the fresh shrimp, which I normally wouldn't touch unless it was deep fried.  It was amazing.  Deborah, one of our brave bloggers, downed some fresh oyster, as she had never tried one before.  "A little slimy, but otherwise really good," was her review.




Everything at the deli is made fresh.  They don't do the bulk bag stuff and dump in the display case.  The deli manager made fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice.  So good!  They use fresh fruit and veggies from the produce department and make dozens of salads. 
Veggie Lasagna

Want a crispy hearth baked pizza?  You can have it here.  Dough is made fresh daily,  hand stretched, topped with fresh cheeses, veggies and meats all from Harmons.  Can't beat that.


Have you ever tried gelato?  The guy that works here specializes in making only gelato.  I tried a grapefruit variety that was very refreshing.  Gelato has 50 percent less fat than traditional ice cream, and the texture is exceptionally creamy ~
Gelato Bar


Did you know Harmons offers cooking classes?  Chef Bob introduced us to this pristine kitchen with five huge stations and to an amazing meal: Rosemary/garlic infused ciabatta red pepper and olive sandwich, fresh fruit medley, crunchy lentil salad, and a to-die-for mint and basil lemonade. 




I'm a frugal shopper.  I watch the sales and use coupons when I can.  Bob Harmon explained that their products are "high end quality without the high end price."  I wholeheartedly agree!  Expect to pay a little more than your typical grocery store, and be amazed by the freshness and quality.  I asked Bob Harmon if his company participated in donating leftover food and his answer was an unequivocal, "Yes."  Senior citizen centers and many other organizations are recipients of any quality food that is left at the end of the day.  That means no doughnuts or baked items are thrown out.  I consider this a win/win for everyone.  You are ensured fresh, quality food every day and so are local organizations that are in need of donated items.
Public upstairs dining area with Wi-fi and a fireplace!

Thank you, Bob Harmon, and all the wonderful people that worked hard to make this blogger tour possible!   If you are in a Thanksgiving dinner pinch, come on over to Harmons and let their friendly, educated staff help you out.  They are open Thanksgiving Day until 4 P.M.

I'm tempted to apply for a job at this Harmons store.  Who wouldn't want to be around great people and fabulous high quality food?  Guess which department I'd like to work in....

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11/22/10

5 German Chocolate Cream Pie

I chose to fill my baked pie shell with one of my favorite fillings:  German Chocolate.

I love just about any cream pie, and this one is no exception.  While creamy, with a mild, bitter-sweet chocolate flavor, it's the toasted coconut and pecans throughout bring it over the top.
You can use a pudding (non-instant) box mix, but why do that when it is easy to make your own?

Here's my Vanilla Pudding post if you want to use it make a banana cream pie.

It is easy.  Add cornstarch with sugar... add milk,  stir.

Add whatever chocolate floats your boat.

In my case, it's Ghiradelli's Double Chocolate bittersweet chips...

Bring to a boil over medium high heat while stirring.



Whisk a few eggs with a fork.






Pour a about a cup of the hot, bubbly pudding into the whisked eggs and stir thoroughly.



Stir the chocolate/egg mixture back in and boil for a couple of minutes more.







To make sure I don't have any eggy lumps, I put the pudding mixture through a fine sieve.



 Which was a good thing, because there were a few eggy bits left behind...


Add a pat of butter and some fragrant vanilla.


This looks sooooo good and so creamy!


How can it possibly be better?

Introducing toasted coconut....

Put sweetened shredded coconut in a single layer and put into a 350°F oven.  Bake for 3-5 minutes, watching it very carefully ~ it can burn quickly!



and toasted pecans!!

Just toast 'em in another pan with the coconut...


Toasting just brings 'em to a whole 'nother flavor dimension...



Put the filling in the baked pie crust and put a layer of plastic wrap on it.

No more pudding skin!

I remember pulling the skin off the puddings my mom made and tossing it aside.... just couldn't bring myself to eat it!


Let it chill in the fridge for several hours and have fun decorating the top with fresh whipped cream, mini-chocolate chips and the toasted goodies...



Enjoy!


German Chocolate Cream Pie
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)
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11/19/10

2 Pre-Baked Pie Crust 101: Blind Baking

Blind baking?  No, this recipe does not require a blindfold.  Whew.

Sometimes, a recipe will call for a pie crust that is already baked or partially baked.

This crust would be perfect for any custard type pie, such as coconut  or banana cream, butterscotch,  or lemon meringue.


First, follow the recipe and instructions for a single crust pie.

The post there describes a fluted edge.

I tried to make a rope-like edge like Cathy's post here...

Pinch and twist....pinch and twist...

Doesn't quite look the same, does it?

I just figured out why.


I went in the wrong direction.


Yup.

I'm directionally impaired.  I officially need a GPS for baking...

If you want yours to look like Cathy's and you're right handed, go in a clock-wise direction around the plate.

That's down and to the right.....

Next,  prick the bottom and sides of your pastry with a fork...

Don't go super crazy and poke a zillion holes...a dozen or so on the bottom and some fork pokes about 2" apart on the sides will do.

Stick it in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.  This will help prevent shrinkage and the sides from slumping.

Fire up your oven.  Get your pastry out of the freezer and put a piece of parchment paper, large coffee filter, or heavy duty aluminum foil on it.

Fill it to the brim with dry beans or rice. 

Make sure the beans/rice fit snugly along the sides.  This is what "Blind Baking" a pastry is....you can't see the bottom, can you?

Pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the beans and liner. 

Save the beans in a separate container to re-use for your next pie crust ~

Now you can see the bottom...looks a little pale, don't you think?

Return the pie crust to the oven for another ten minutes to brown up the bottom.   Ahhhhhh.....That's better!

Let it cool on a rack for at least an hour.

What are you going to put in your pre-baked pie crust?



Pre-Baked Pie Crust
(4x6 recipe download)    (full page printable recipe)
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