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April 2013 -

April: Canning Challenge – Nutella French Toast with Strawberries

I admit it. This recipe for Nutella French Toast is a HUGE stretch for the April Canning Challenge my Blogger Recipe Challenge group is doing. But, Nutella comes in a jar, right? Jar, can, whatever. You say tomato and I say tomahto. (Let's call the whole thing off... la la la la la.) Anyway, I was browsing around the interwebs looking for inspiration for my final recipe for this month, and ran across a blog called Tech Love Designs. She had done this recipe and photographed it amazingly (unfortunately mine didn't turn out so great), but I managed to make an acceptable replication, and my entire family LOVED it. I even let them eat it for dinner since I was running out of time to get this done. It would be much better as a decadent breakfast or even a dessert, but ohmygosh was it really incredible.
Ingredients (Makes 6):

  • 12 - Slices of Bread (Use your favorite, I just happened to have white bread in the house.)
  • 6 TBSP - Butter
  • 3 - Large Eggs
  • 1.5 Cups - Milk
  • 2 Tsp - Cinnamon
  • 2 Cups - Cut Strawberries
  • 1 TBSP - Lemon Juice (More if you'd like.)
  • 4 Tsp - Sugar
  • 1 TBSP - Vanilla
  • Nutella
  • Powdered Sugar

Process:

  1. Slice strawberries and place into a bowl with sugar and lemon juice. Gently stir to combine and then set aside.
  2. Spread Nutalla on 6 slices of bread. Use your desired amount. Place additional bread slices on top to create a sandwich.
  3. Whisk eggs together with milk.
  4. Add 3 TBSP melted butter, cinnamon and vanilla to egg mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Over medium heat, melt 1 TBSP of butter in a large skillet.
  6. Quickly immerse Nutella sandwiches in egg mixture coating both sides.
  7. Cook two sandwiches at a time in the buttered skillet. Each side is done when it is a golden brown. (Takes about 2-3 minutes on each side give or take.)
  8. Repeat process for remaining 4 sandwiches adding 1 TBSP of butter to skillet each time.
  9. Remove and plate topping with powdered sugar and strawberries.
  10. Serve hot.

Filed under: Recipes

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April: Canning Challenge – Honey Mustard Red Bull Salad Dressing

I'm down to about 12 hours left in this month, and I'm scrambling to finish up my recipes for the Blogger Recipe Challenge. Sorry! I'm a procrastinator. I was looking around my house for canned goods or anything IN a can at this point and found Red Bull in my fridge. Go ahead. You can laugh. A Honey Mustard Red Bull salad dressing? It's actually very tasty. It's sparkly, zesty, and sweet. It's the perfect compliment to the salad I created for the photo. (Spinach, zucchini, strawberries, Craisins, smoked Gouda, and pecans.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup - Red Bull
  • 1/4 Cup - Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup - Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp - Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tsp - Honey
  • Splash of Lemon Juice

Process:

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Shake/Stir thoroughly. (You can see my dressing separated while taking the photo.)
  3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for about a week.

Filed under: Recipes

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April: Canning Challenge – Honey Cinnamon Butter from Scratch

Did you know you could make your own butter and all it takes is a mason jar and some cream? (Salt too if you wish.) I had NO idea until recently. Since I have a few leftover jars from this month's Blogger Recipe Challenge, I wanted to give it a try. What I REALLY wanted to do was make Honey Cinnamon Butter. You know, the kind you get at Texas Roadhouse. Yummm. Now, making your own butter is kind of a pain in the @$$, but it's a fun little project you could do with the kiddos who have an abundance of energy. There's a LOT of shaking involved. (My cinnamon isn't the best quality so it kind of turned the butter brown. You can also do the honey & cinnamon part by adding it to a stick or two of butter.)
Ingredients:

  • 12oz - Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup - Powdered Sugar
  • 2 to 3 TBSP - Honey
  • 1 to 2 Tsp - Cinnamon

Process:

  1. In a CLEAN mason jar (I used a pint size jar), add in 12oz of heavy whipping cream. This will make about 8oz of butter.
  2. Add in salt if you prefer salted butter. I think salted butter is your best option for the Honey Cinnamon Butter.
  3. Shake jar vigorously until cream separates into buttermilk and butter fat. Cream will become foamy at first and then all of a sudden you'll be able to feel/hear the difference while shaking. That's when the cream has separated. This part will take about 15-20 minutes or so.
  4. Drain out the buttermilk from the butter fat. You can either keep or discard the buttermilk.
  5. Add 2-3 TBSP of ice water to the jar. Shake. Discard water. Continue this process until the water comes out clear. You want to get as much butter fat out as possible so the butter keeps longer.
  6. Start with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and add that to the butter along with 2 TBSP of honey, and 1 Tsp of Cinnamon. Add more of any of the ingredients as you see fit. If you made unsalted butter you might want to consider adding in some salt at this point.
  7. Store jar with butter in the fridge.

Filed under: Recipes

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April: Canning Challenge – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe + Ozeri Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses Review

Thankfully we had a rainy day yesterday so I could knock this recipe out. I've never made Roasted Butternut Squash Soup before. Or really any sort of squash soup except for that zucchini one from last month. This recipe for the April Canning Challenge is very simple, and all of the spices are pretty much to taste. I didn't measure much of anything but I can give you the guidelines based around what I did.

This month (or next month depending on what the bloggers are feeling), Ozeri has been generous and has sponsored the entire Blogger Recipe Challenge group. For this particular review I decided I would love to try out the Ozeri Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses. I don't have anything like them, and have really been wanting to make soup shooters. I think they just look really fun, and less dishes to do if you just drink it right from the glass!
Ingredients:

  • 1 - 3lb Butternut Squash
  • 1 - 14oz Can of Chicken Broth (Use your favorite kind)
  • 1/2 - Yellow Onion (Chopped)
  • 1 - Anju Pear (Peeled & Chopped)
  • 2 TBSP - Butter
  • 1.5 Cups - Water
  • 1/3 to 1/2 Cup - Heavy Cream
  • Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Nutmeg & Curry Powder To Taste
  • Sour Cream for Garnish

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F Degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut squash in half. Clean out the seeds. Brush on 1 TBSP of butter. Salt & Pepper generously.
  3. On a rack in the center of the oven, roast squash for 50-60 minutes. When squash is done you should be able to insert a fork easily into the flesh.
  4. Set pan with squash aside on a cooling rack until cooled enough to spoon flesh out and discard the skins.
  5. In a large sauce pot saute onion and pear in remaining 1 TBSP of butter until soft. This takes approximately 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Add water, chicken broth, and squash to the onion and pear.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes while breaking up any large pieces of squash.
  9. Add salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg & curry powder to taste. (I went heavier on the salt and paprika, and did a pinch of curry powder and a dash of nutmeg.)
  10. Remove from heat & add heavy cream.
  11. Using a food processor or immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until smooth and creamy.
  12. Serve hot & garnish with a small dollop of sour cream.

The Ozeri Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses are PERFECT for serving soup shooters. Because they're insulated and made with borosilicate these stunning glasses work well for hot and cold beverages. That's right. You could have a hot cup of coffee in these glasses and you won't burn your hands. Heck, I still burn my hands on my coffee MUGS.

Features:

  • Set of 4 heat and shatter resistant borosilicate glasses that each hold 8 oz
  • Stronger and more durable than common glass, each glass features a wraparound contour that provides a natural aesthetic grip.
  • Patent-pending double wall design that suspends drinks within an inner wall, creating an engaging optical effect.
  • Designed to keep your hands cool with hot drinks, and free of condensation with chilled beverages.
  • Completely dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe.

You have to admit these are pretty nifty looking. The double wall design creates a unique effect, and adds a little something extra to the overall plating of the food. The wraparound contour is not only aesthetically pleasing, but makes the glasses comfortable to hold. I tend to have the dropsies and break a lot of things, and loved that the glasses felt more comfortable and easier to grip while holding.

I sent a couple through the dishwasher last night and they held up beautifully. I'm always wary about sending new glass through a dish washer, so just in case they didn't hold up, I would have only been out 2 glasses. These are definitely some of my favorite kitchen items, and I can't wait to make more soup shooters. Maybe I'll get creative with drinks next time around too. The possibilities are endless!

Make sure you check them out on Amazon. Looks like they're on sale right now too. Originally priced at $48.95 as of right now you can get a set of 4 Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses for $29.95 + FREE shipping! Also make sure you keep up with what we're doing in the recipe challenge too. More Ozeri products will be reviewed including knives and pans.

*I was provided the Serafino Artisan Series Double Wall Glasses free of charge from Ozeri in order to facilitate this recipe and review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.

Filed under: Household Goods, Recipes, Reviews

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OGIO – Prosecco Wine Product Review

"Unquestionably Good Taste"

I know I've said this before, and I'll say it again. I love any opportunity to sample a new wine that I haven't tried before. I like to think that because I'm 1/2 Italian that my love for wine just runs naturally in my blood. For this review, not only was it a wine I hadn't tried before, it was also a whole new brand to me. (They were pretty awesome and not only sent a bottle of OGIO Prosecco, but flip flops with the brand name on them, and a USB drive. How neat!)

"Ogio captures the Italian ideal of unquestionably good taste... from art and design to personal style to treating others with warmth and grace. It is a lifestyle that is seductive, celebratory, and decadent - expressed through the grandest of displays as well as the smallest of gestures. Gli italiani have an inherent sense of beatuy, design, and quality that are the hallmarks of OGIO wines." - OGIO

Anyway, from a few quick polls I know a lot of my readers prefer a sweeter wine, and I'm in the same boat. I'll take a sweet wine (especially a white wine) over a super dry wine any day and figured a sparkling wine might just be the next best thing. So, I decided to sample the Prosecco over the Pinot Grigio and Tuscan Red. I honestly had no idea what to expect this time around. However OGIO's tasting notes led me to believe this would be fantastic. And it WAS! Note the past tense? Yeah... it's all gone.

"This Prosecco is pale light yellow in color with delightfully graceful perlage. The delicate yet complex bouquet offers fruity notes of peach and green apple, followed by hints of acacia and lilac. Fresh and light on the palate, it has a balanced acidity that makes it very food friendly, and rounds out with a long and lingering finish. Best served at 46-50°F. " ~ OGIO

I absolutely LOVED this wine. Although dryer than I typically enjoy, the flavor combinations were just brilliant and it looked absolutely beautiful in my glass. The peach and green apple were very apparent and the floral notes to follow weren't too over done. I felt like I should be on a yacht sipping the Prosecco in my bathing suit with my hair whipping in the wind. It was very light, and refreshing and the perfect compliment to all of my meals I shared with it. The sparkling aspect was just great. It wasn't too much, but it was enough to tickle your nose and enhance your senses. Although recommended as an aperitif (before meal wine), I didn't quite follow the rules. Then again, I rarely follow the rules when it comes to wine.

OGIO's Presecco recently won the Silver Metal in the San Diego International Wine Competition as well as the "Best Paper Label" in the Gold - Style Category and Gold - Form Category at the World Wine Competition BTI this year. They've also won additional awards in 2010 and 2012. You can read more about all of their accolades HERE.

Make sure you check out OGIO online and read about all of their other (what are sure to be) great wines. You can also find OGIO on Facebook and check out their product finder to see if you can find OGIO in a store near you.

*I was provided the above mentioned product free of charge in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.

Filed under: Reviews, Wine & Spirits

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April: Canning Challenge – Cream of Portobello Mushroom Soup Base

So, the USDA says it's not really safe to can dairy. Makes sense. A little surprising, but it makes sense. Before I realized this I had the notion that I was going to can cream of portobello mushroom soup for later use. We like it in green bean casserole, and I figured it has to taste better than the Campbell's stuff. But, since the whole dairy thing is a no-go, I decided to just can the base. Granted, the base doesn't look all that pretty in the jars, but it certainly tastes yummy. It's pretty easy to warm up the base and add the roux and cream later, and this way, all the blending, roasting, sautee-ing, and chopping is already done. This was the second recipe (next to the Pineapple Jam) that I canned using the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Set. Man I love that thing.

Ingredients (Base Only - Makes Approximately 10-12 Cups i.e. 4-5 Pint Jars):

  • 8 to 12 - Small to Medium Portobello Mushrooms
  • 1/4 Cup - Olive Oil
  • 3 - Garlic Cloves (Chopped)
  • 32oz (8 Cups) - Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 - Small Sweet Onion (Chopped)
  • Salt to Taste

Process:

  1. Heat oven to 350F Degrees & prep your canning jars.
  2. Using Olive Oil, coat half of the mushrooms in oil, and place oil and mushrooms into an oven safe dish. Roast for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Chop up the rest of the mushrooms.
  4. In a large pot, saute onions for 4-6 minutes.
  5. Add in mushrooms and garlic.
  6. Once mushrooms are cooked, add in the roasted mushrooms & chicken broth.
  7. Bring to a quick boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Using an immersion blender (or a counter top processor), blend mixture until smooth.
  9. Ladle mixture into jars prepped for canning leaving approximately 1/2 inch head space.
  10. Place in pressure canner, attach lid, and bring up to pressure over high heat.
  11. Once pressure has been achieved, cook on HIGH for 55 minutes.
  12. Naturally reduce pressure, and remove to cool and set for 12 hours. (Make sure your lids have popped. Either in the canner or on the counter is fine.)

*For the entire batch: To make the roux in a separate pot combine 1/2 cup all purpose flour and 1 stick of butter until mixed and non-clumpy. Blend in 1 quart of heavy cream. Combine roux/cream mixture with warmed up soup base and simmer for 20 minutes or until it thickens.

Filed under: Recipes

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April: Canning Challenge – Pineapple Jam Recipe + Can It Yourself with the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Kit

I've never canned anything in my life before. My grandmother used to can strawberry jam every year, and sometimes she'd let me help when I was a kid, but doing it myself? Yeah, right. Our Blogger Recipe Challenge group was generously sponsored by Fagor for two of our recipes this month. We were each provided with a Duo 9-Piece Pressure Canning Kit. Have to admit, I took one look at the box and packed it away until last minute because I was pretty intimidated. I've always wanted a pressure cooker because they can save BIG time when cooking (and you can practically cook everything in it), but for canning purposes? Save me!

I decided to go for something relatively simple for my first try. So, here's a Pineapple Jam Recipe - originally found on Canning Confessions. (Only 4 ingredients!)

Ingredients (Makes Approximately 2 Pints):

  • 4 Cups - Freshly Chopped Pineapple
  • 2.5 Cups - Granulated Sugar
  • 1 - Lemon (Seeded & Thinly Sliced w/ Peel)
  • 1 Cup - Water
  • (1/2 Package of Pectin - OPTIONAL)

Process:

  1. Sterilize your jars and lids. (You can do the stove top method or possibly the dishwasher method.)
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Stirring continuously, melt sugar, and bring to a boil until mixture has thickened and reached the gel stage. (This is where I was a little unsure of what it was supposed to look like, and to avoid having a runnier jam I might suggest using a little pectin to make sure it gels properly.)
  4. If mixture is a little chunky, you can take an immersion blender to it to smooth it out a little.
  5. Ladle mixture into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  6. Using the Fagor Pressure Cooker/Canner, place jars into 2-3 inches of hot water, close lid and lock.
  7. Over high heat on the stove pressurize the cooker. Cooker should also be on HIGH.
  8. Once cooker is pressurized bring stove heat down to medium and pressure cook jars for 10 minutes. Lids should either pop inside of the cooker or once set out to cool.
  9. Naturally release pressure by turning dial to "off". Once pressure is released, remove jars to cool and set for 12 hours.

I am SO glad I got used to using the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Kit. It was AWESOME and really super easy. (I think canning in general is kind of a pain, but if you're going to do it, you might as well do it with some pretty great equipment.) It came with just about everything you'd ever need too.

  • Includes: Duo 10 quart 18/10 Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker/Canner. Can be used for both pressure cooking & pressure canning.
  • Home Canning Cookbook with recipes
  • Canning Rack
  • Stainless Steel Funnel
  • Stainless Steel Ladle
  • Jar Lifter
  • Jar Wrench
  • Bubble Freer
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Works on all domestic cooking surfaces: gas, electric, ceramic & induction
  • Instructional DVD
  • User’s Manual
  • Pressure Cooking Booklet with Recipes

There are so many great features about this pressure cooker/canner that make using it super simple. There is a 3-way locking mechanism that prevents unlocking the canner if there is ANY pressure in it. This is just fantastic because I'm a klutz and impatient. Talk about a bad combination. This safety feature definitely saved my fingers from getting burned off. The pressure indicator is also nice to have. It's small. but designed in a very obvious yellow color. When it pops up, that means there's pressure in the pot. When it's down, that means it's safe to open. See? Easy peasy.

Absolutely love all of the lifters that came with the kit, and having a nice stainless steel ladle and funnel is great. I didn't have either of those on hand so it was a great addition to the kit. Plus, I can use them for other things around the kitchen.

My favorite addition though to everything is the cook book that is included. There are recipes for EVERYTHING. From meat and jams to salsas, and cheesecake. Yumm! I can't wait to try out more of these recipes. I have a few of my own ideas swimming around in my noggin that are just dying to be tried. This has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment, and all fears and apprehensions are gone. Bring on the Fagor Duo Pressure Canning Set!

Make sure you check out the other recipes from this month's challenge. Many were created to use with the Fagor Canning Set!

*I received the above mentioned product free of charge from Fagor in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.

Filed under: Household Goods, Recipes, Reviews

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Kolcraft Official MLB Umbrella Stroller – Giveaway (Ends 5/10/13)

MLB Boston Red Sox Stroller

Kolcraft has offered an Official MLB Boston Red Sox Umbrella Stroller as a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive their very own Official MLB Umbrella Stroller! Make sure you check out Written By Mama's Official MLB Boston Red Sox Umbrella Stroller Review.

Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents age 18 years and older. You must correctly complete the mandatory entry in order to be eligible to win. All other entries are optional. This giveaway will run from now (4/23/13) until May 10th at 10pm EST. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to Written By Mama's notification email or a new winner will be chosen place. Make sure you put angela@writtenbymama.com in your safe senders list. Good luck!

Filed under: Giveaways

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Minted – $65 Credit Giveaway


Minted Wall Art Print 16 inches by 20 inches "Cherry Blossom Tree" Product Review

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Filed under: Giveaways

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April – Canning Challenge: Beet Salad & Dressing Recipe

I'll admit it. I'm scrambling a bit this month to get all 10 recipes out. Oops. I've been brainstorming for awhile about what to do with all of the cans of beets I have. I don't even remember WHY exactly I have them, and since I'm the only one who eats them, they're just kind of collecting dust in my cupboards. After digging around online, I found that I could use them in a salad. Perfect! The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn't take a lot of effort and even less preparation, and you can tweak it any way you want. Plus, NO cooking is involved. Yay!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 Can - Sliced Beets
  • 1 Can - Mandarin Oranges (Reserve some of the juice for the dressing.)
  • 1 - Red Onion
  • 1 - Bunch of Spinach (Bagged will also work.)
  • Pecans or Walnuts (Optional)
  • Feta Cheese (Optional)

Process:

  1. Washing spinach thoroughly. Add to plate.
  2. Slice approximately 3/4 of a can of sliced beets in half. Add on top of spinach.
  3. Add your preferred amount of mandarin orange slices on top of beets and spinach.
  4. Thinly slice onion. Add desired amount to salad.
  5. Coarsely crumble nuts and add to salad.
  6. Add preferred amount of feta cheese. (I didn't have any on hand and forgot to grab some at the store, but it would definitely add a yummy kick of flavor.)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 TBSP - Mandarin Orange Juice (from the can)
  • 1.5 TBSP - Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp - Honey
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Process:

  1. Combine all ingredients & drizzle over beet salad.

Filed under: Recipes

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