Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kikkoman "Kikk-ed' up Thanksgiving Review & Giveaway!


Thanksgiving is by far one of my favorite holidays, not just because it makes us stop and think about everything we're thankful for but also because of the meal, eating until you're stuffed and enjoying all that deliciousness....but it can also become quite overwhelming at times.

We're all striving to make the perfect Turkey, to deliver the tastiest side dishes, to impress the in laws or the friends.

Well this year I was contacted by the wonderful folks over at Kikkoman and asked if I would be willing to let them assist me in preparing a Thanksgiving meal using Kikkoman Products.

This holiday season, Kikkoman products will help you prepare your entire Thanksgiving meal with fail-safe recipes for Savory Turkey Brine, Green Bean Casserole, Glazed Yams and Panko Crusted Potato Cakes.

After agreeing, I received a big box in the mail filled with various goodies, it literally brought a smile to my face and it got me so excited to try the recipes.  We LOVE Kikkoman products and matter of fact, we've been using them for years, more specifically their Soy Sauce and their Teriyaki Sauces.


Preparing a turkey that is not only pretty to look at BUT moist and delicious, is not exactly easy to do, I don't care what you say, unless you've become a pro at making them it's always a 50/50 with me LOL

But let me tell you, this has to have been the tastiest, moistest, tender turkey I have EVER prepared and all because of the Kikkoman Brine.  Now, when I first read through the recipe I thought  "oooh not sure if I am going to like the amount of soy sauce needed", but the good thing is that you don't really taste it, it's not overpowering at all and you're left with a delicious turkey.


Savory Turkey Brine
Recipe is for a 16-24 pound fresh turkey


* 2 gallons cold water
* 10 ounces Kikkoman Soy Sauce
* ½ cup kosher salt
* ½ cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons dried sage
* 2 tablespoons dried celery seed
* 1 tablespoon dried thyme


# The night before roasting, remove giblets and turkey neck; rinse turkey inside and out.
# In a large stockpot, or 5-gallon bucket, mix water with remaining ingredients. Stir well until all the salt is dissolved.
# Place turkey in the pot, cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
# Remove turkey from the brine, rinse well.

For Side Dishes, Kikkoman provided me with recipes for these delicious dishes, Green Bean Casserole


Glazed Yams using their Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze with Honey & Pineapple

and my favorites of all the dishes I prepared, Panko Crusted Mashed Potato Cakes.  Good Gravy these were SO good.

This meal came together pretty fast, I wasn't rushed, I wasn't feeling overwhelmed and they were pretty easy recipes to follow.

If you’re interested in brining your turkey in soy sauce, Kikkoman is offering a BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE coupon

Now for the giveaway, Kikkoman wants you to try a Kikk-ed Up Thanksgiving meal too, so, I'm going to be picking 2 winners and here are the prizes:

1st Prize Winner - $25 Gift Certificate to Whole Foods Market
2nd Prize Winner - Two full sized Kikkoman Products

How to enter:

- Leave me a comment letting me know which of these recipes you think you would enjoy the most
-  Please remember to leave an email address so that I can contact you if you are one of the winners

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on November 2nd.  Prizes not claimed in 48 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.
My heartfelt thanks to Kikkoman for providing me with the products I needed for this review.  All opinions and thoughts are mine alone.

Menu Plan - Week October 25th

Monday 25th

* B:  pancakes
* L:  Sandwich, Veggies
* D: Thanksgiving Dinner for Review and Giveaway
* S: 

Tuesday 26th

* B:  scrambled eggs, toast
* L:  Turkey Sandwiches
* D:  Lemony Skillet Chicken, Mashed Potatoes
* S:  Pumpkin Cookies

Wednesday  27th

* B:  Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls
* L:  Tuna Salad
* D:  Open Faced Beef Sandwiches
* S:   Cinnamon Rolls


Thursday 28th

* B:  French Toast Sticks
* L:  Chicken Salad
* D: Chicken Turnovers w/ rice
* S:  Caramel Corn

Friday  29th

* B:  Toast, Coffee, Milk, Juice
* L:  Leftovers
* D: Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)
* S:  

Saturday 30th

* B:  Biscuits and Gravy, Bacon
* L:  Ham and Cheese Quesadillas
* D:  Shepherd's Pie
* S:  Carrot sticks, Celery Sticks

Sunday  24th

* B:  Chocolate Muffins
* L:  Halloween Mummy Dogs
* D:  Loaded Potato Casserole
* S:    

Monday, October 25, 2010

Skinny Cheese Winners!

Thanks everyone for entering the contest, I can see that a LOT of you out there love cheese just as much as I do.

I wish I had coupons for everyone, but unfortunately I don't.

I used Random.org to draw 3 winners for this contest and the numbers that came up were:

#2 - Pamela
#7 - Great-Granny Grandma
#22 - Shari

Congratulations Ladies, I will be getting those coupons off in the mail tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Menu Plan - Week October 18th

I totally forgot to put up my Menu Plan for this week, but better late than never right??

So here we go, this is what we'll be eating this week.

Monday 18th

* B:  pancakes
* L:  tuna salad
* D: Beef Stew, Homemade Bread
* S:  Caramel Corn


Tuesday 19th

* B:  scrambled eggs
* L:  leftovers
* D: Cheese Tortellini, Garlic Cheese Bread
* S:  Frozen Grapes

Wednesday  20th

* B:  Cereal
* L:  Taquitos, Mixed Veggies
* D:  Crunchy Chicken Tenders, Homemade Fries
* S:   Cinnamon Swirl Bread 


Thursday 21st

* B:  French Toast Sticks
* L:  Ham and Cheese Sandwich
* D: Golden Breaded Pork Chops, Rice
* S:  Pumpkin Halloween Cookies

Friday  22nd

* B:  French Toast Waffles
* L:  Tortilla Chips with Creamy Spinach dip
* D: Open Faced Beef Sandwiches
* S:  

Saturday 23rd

* B:  Cinnamon Toast
* L:  Tuna Sandwiches
* D: Trial Thanksgiving Meal (have to do a review and giveaway around this theme)
Savory Turkey - Panko Crusted Mashed Potato Cakes - Glazed Yams - Green Bean Casserole
* S:  Carrot sticks, Celery Sticks

Sunday  24th

* B:  Chocolate Muffins
* L:  leftovers
* D:  Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
* S:   Portuguese Rice Pudding 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crunchy Chicken Tenders

 EDIT:  Thank you to ndgirl for bringing to my attention my goof up in the ingredients.  It's actually supposed to say 2/3 cup of mayonnaise, not 1 cup divided.  Sorry for my mistake, I've edited the recipe with the right amount :)

Here's another super easy and quick version of homemade chicken tenders.

I know it's easier to just buy the prepackaged frozen ones and pop them in the microwave for a quick meal, but trust me, once you make them at home, you will never buy those again.  These are so much healthier and tastier.


Crunchy Chicken Tenders

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dehydrated onion flakes
2 teaspoons dry mustard (you can also use bottled mustard)
Bread Crumbs (I use my homemade)
1 pound chicken tenders

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine 2/3 cup mayonnaise, the onion flakes and mustard in a shallow bowl.  Mix well.  In another bowl, place the breadcrumbs.

Dip the chicken in the mayonnaise mixture, then coat with the breadcrumbs.  Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the chicken until cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.


Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I love Cinnamon Raisin Bread but honestly, at almost $3 for a small loaf, I find myself not buying it as often as I would like.


While visiting Annie's Eats, I found a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread and I just knew I had to give it a shot, I did omit the raisins because I'm the only one that likes them and the kids won't eat it.  I made it this afternoon and it not only smelled heavenly but it's DELISH.

Go on over to Annie's Eats when you get a chance and take a look around her blog, she has some of the tastiest recipes out there.


Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Yield: 1 9 x 5-inch loaf

For the dough:
1 1/8 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup warm milk (105-110˚ F)
17 oz. (3¼ cups) all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1¼ tsp. coarse salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
Vegetable oil

For the filling:
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. water
1 egg, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, flour, butter, sugar, egg, salt and cinnamon.  Mix briefly until a dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes.  Add in the raisins and allow to continue kneading about 3 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and supple and the raisins are evenly incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.

Pat into a round.


Fold the bottom third of the dough up and fold the top third down, in business-letter fashion.

Then fold the right and left sides into the center in thirds, forming a rectangle. Press down to seal.


 Return to the bowl, cover and let rise again until doubled, about 40 minutes. Generously butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.  To make the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.  Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

Roll the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle.  Brush lightly with the beaten egg.

Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving a thin border around the edges.


Fold in the edges of the long sides of the dough about 1 inch.

Beginning with one of the short ends, roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go.

Pinch the seam shut, and place the loaf seam side-down in the prepared baking pan.


Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise until the dough rises just above the edge of the pan, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  When the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the loaf is golden brown, about 45 minutes.  If the surface seems to be browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil (I did this halfway through baking).  Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Skinny Cheese™ Cookbook Review and Giveaway

I was recently contacted by the folks over at President Cheese and asked if they could send me some coupons AND The Skinny Cheese™ Cookbook.

Well you don't have to twist my arm to make me say yes to cheese OR a cookbook, both rank pretty high in my life LOL  and even better, I get to giveaway some coupons for FREE cheese.  Come on now, you know you want some.


I browsed through the cookbook and was surprised at how many delicious recipes there were, 30 in all and a lot of them featuring fat free Feta Cheese......Feta cheese........drool!

I used one of my free coupons and actually got the Fat Free Ricotta Cheese to make Ricotta Potato Skins....Holy Moly were they good.

At first I thought my kids may turn their noses at them but after taking a bite out of mine they dove right in and all I coudl hear was oooohhhhh and aaahhhhhh.  SO GOOD!


Ricotta Potato Skins
The Skinny Cheese Cookbook

2 medium potatoes
2 cups cooked spinach (squeeze out any water)
2 cups Sorrento or Precious Fat Free or Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
4 scallions, chopped
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 420 degrees.

Wash the potatoes, slice in half and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

Take potatoes out of the oven and scoop out the middle.  Discard the inside portion you scooped out.

Top the skins with a splash of olive oil and place on the top rack of the oven under the grill for 3-5 minutes.

For the topping, mix the spinach, ricotta cheese and scallions.  Divide the mix into the potato halves and serve.

You can download also download The Skinny Cheese Cookbook.

Now for the contest part, I have 3 VIP coupons to giveaway, which means each winner will get:

--  One coupon for a free package of President Fat Free Feta 
--  One coupon for a free Sorrento or Precious Fat Free  or low fat Ricotta cheese 

All you need to do is leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite cheese is.  That's it, no following, no running to New York and back in 2 days, no weird stuff....just a comment but make sure you leave an email so that I can contact you if you win.

You will have 2 days to claim your prize or I will pick a new winner.  Contest is open to US residents and will run until Monday the 25th, then I'll draw a winner using Random.org.

Good Luck!

Caramel Corn

Just in time for Halloween goodie bags.


I saw this posted over at Annie's eats a while ago, I immediately bookmarked it with the intention of going back and making it that very same day, but as usual, things got busy and I completely forgot about it.

As I was going through my recipes today trying to find something for goodie bags or just to have around the house to snack on, I came upon the link.  Caramel corn, I tell you it reminds me of the Cracker Jack boxes popcorn but without all the additives and nasty stuff they put in there and it whips up pretty fast too, easy and delicious.

My kind of snack, though maybe I should stay away from it because I can see myself consuming insane amounts of this stuff.


1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup light corn syrup
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pop popcorn using your preferred method.

Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (or two large bowls).  Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.


Preheat the oven to 250° F.  Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.


Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring.  Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.  The mixture will bubble up and become frothy.  Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.  (I found my salad spoons very useful for this step.)


Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout.  It will melt and become better spread out while baking.)


 Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes.  After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn.  If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.


Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.


I found these cute Halloween themed ziploc bags, just perfect for them. I popped in some candy corn too. My kids and their friends loved them :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Soft Pretzels


Soft Pretzels are one of those foods that remind me of Fairs and Gatherings, they also bring to mind cold often too salty and tough pretzels that you spend money on and then end up throwing out because you don't enjoy.

I knew I had to find a way of making my own and I tell you, I was a little apprehensive at first, usually I just throw myself into any recipe and hope for the best, but these were a little intimidating to me.  The thing is, as with many other dishes I've made over the years, you make such a big deal about it and then realize that not only are they delicious when made at home, but they're super easy and fun to make.  No special ingredients, no weird gadgets, nothing, just plain old home cooking at it's best.


Give these a try.  By the way, the author of the blog where I got the recipe, Annie, let us know that you can make these 3 different ways, or rather, in 3 different methods and that she's tried them all and all were fantastic.  Here is what Annie said:

First, I made them the usual way – shaping the dough, boiling, baking and serving all at once (pretzel A).  I also tried freezing some that had been freshly boiled and baked (pretzel B).  I thawed these in the microwave on defrost and then rewarmed in the oven.  Finally, I tried freezing some of the shaped pretzels after shaping (pretzel C).  I boiled these directly from the freezer, adding about 15 seconds to the boiling time, and baking for a minute or two longer than normal.

So without further ado, let's make some Soft Pretzels that will have your family and friends begging for seconds.


Soft Pretzels

For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast.  Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.


 Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.

In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope.

Make a U-shape with the rope and holding the ends of the rope…cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel.


 Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet.  Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.



Thursday, October 07, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Tart Slices

We've been enjoying the best temperatures right now, lower 60's is just heaven for us poor folks stuck in the hot Arizona sun.

With that, comes the yearning for Fall, for the changing of leaves, for soups and stews and for pumpkin, or in my case.....Pumpkin Pie.

The difference with this recipe is that you make it in a cookie sheet instead of a pie dish and you can cut it into small or big rectangles....it's more of a tart, thinner, flakier, but still the same ol' taste.


Pumpkin Pie Tart Slices
Adapted from: Picky Palate

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 box puff pastry, thawed
3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, sugar, heavy cream, egg, cinnamon and nutmeg until creamy and well combined.


2.  Place puff pastry onto a lightly floured countertop and cut out 4 pumpkins per sheet of pastry.  Place pumpkin cut outs onto silpat or parchment lined baking sheets.  Brush each pumpkin lightly with butter then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin pie filling around center of pumpkins leaving 1/4 inch border around edges.


3.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown on the edges and pumpkin pie is cooked through.  Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to cooling rack. 


Serve room temperature or chilled.  Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired before serving.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Menu Plan - Week 4th to 10th

It's been a while since I've sat down and added my menu here on my food blog, I think it's about time to jump back into the habit of doing so.

It helps me keep track of what I'm making and it also makes it easier when I get ready to plan the following week's meals.

Monday 4th 
Baking:  Homemade Pretzels

Tuesday 5th 

Wednesday 6th 

Thursday 7th
D: Sloppy Joes
Snack:  Caramel Candy Corn

Friday 8th

Saturday 9th

Sunday 10th
D:  Sausage and Potatoes Skillet

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Snickers Cupcakes

The name alone should make your hips start screaming.  I will tell you that I stayed far far away from these, ok...maybe I lied a little, I ate half of one, does that count?


But, my kids loved them, my daughter's friends loved them so that's a good thing.  Oh and if you're wondering why I only ate half, it's not because they're not good, it's because they are DELICIOUS and YUMMY and SINFUL and and...and....well, just try for yourself.

I saw these on a few blogs, well not exactly the same thing, I sort of adapted one thing here and another thing there to make it quicker and easier.


Snickers Cupcakes

1 box Devil's Food Cake
1 cream cheese or vanilla frosting
Caramel Sauce
Fun Sized Snicker Bars

Make the cupcakes according to the box directions.  When done, let them cool down completely.


Chop 24 fun sized snicker bars into fourths.  Add a tablespoon or two of caramel sauce and mix together.


Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the cupcake out, leaving a hole in the middle.  Don't go all the way to the bottom.


Spoon some of the snicker bars mixture into it. 


Slather on the frosting making sure to cover every little inch.

Drizzle some more caramel sauce on top and add a few more chopped snicker bits.