Christmas of cooking!

This is the Christmas of cooking supplies!!! I was blessed with gifts that are going to help me in the kitchen and I can’t wait to use them. My bestest friend Jamie, knows how much I want to go to Italy so she is always good about getting me gifts that involve Italian cookbooks, food or gadgets.

This year she bought me a pizza stone and a cookbook with 100 different pizza recipes. I think I’ve decided that I want to cook through that cookbook and put it on here. I LOVE pizza and would love to get good at making it. Should be an interesting process since I’ve never owned a pizza stone or made pizza dough from scratch. But what’s a “novice cook diary” if I didn’t have something to write about. You’ll get to watch my successes and failures through the cookbook and hear a few yummy recipes for pizza you can make yourself. Get excited!! I love making bread so pizza dough should be easy…right?

My brother-in-law Phil had me in the gift exchange this year and I mostly had kitchen gadgets on my list this year. He did REALLY good and bought me a knife block and a toaster oven, which our kitchen is without. I miss having a toaster oven to just heat up leftovers or broil a few things. So, I’m excited for the mini luxury…not pun intended….and having sharp knives is going to be AWESOME! It’s so nice to own a few nice kitchen things for once. I usually never buy myself these kinds of things because I don’t really want to worry about them being taken care of in a kitchen of 5 cooks so this is a real treat! I may not be very great about sharing my knives :)

My parents ended up getting me and gift that I have been wanting for work, but always felt like it was a little silly. I’m not a coffee drinker but I LOVE ice tea :) So I’ve always wanted an ice tea maker for work.
We have a small refrigerator at work that I never really wanted to use to keep the ice tea cold since it would take up too much room in that little thing. So, I thought the ideal set up would be a little fridge and the ice tea maker. And that is exactly what they got me! I’m so excited to start making ice tea at work!! No need to buy drinks at the Talon any more!!!

Anyways, I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas…let me know what foodie gifts you got!!


Did you know…

So I just found this amazing blog via Pinterest…yes, I’m addicted too :0) If you’re not on there yet, just let me know and I’ll invite you. You’ll be more inspired then you have been in a long time. There are so many great recipes, pictures, crafty ideas and more to keep you entertained and busy for hours. I know…like you need one more site to get addicted to. But after you read these fun tips and trick below you may change your mind.

The blog is written by Julie Hammond and called DIY Home Sweet Home. In this particular post she writes about bouncing around from sites finding these little gems of information. I want to make sure to give credit since she did all the work and I just stumbled upon them. I want to post them here to share, but as much so I can remember them too! Her original post can be found here. I’ve just narrowed down the list to those dealing with food items but she offers a bunch more for household things. Below the pictures are her little messages and thoughts and then the list at the end are her additional finds…Enjoy!

You can flip a toaster on its side and grill cheese in it. – Source
Reynolds Wrap has lock in taps to hold the roll in place – Source
The color on the bread tab indicates how fresh the bread is – Source
You can divide and store ground meat in a zip loc bag. Just break off how much you need and keep the rest in the freezer for later. So much easier than dividing and  individually wrapping each pound or half pound. –Source
Marshmallows can cure a soar throat. Perfect for kids who wont take their medicine. – Source
You can freeze cupcake batter for later use. – Source
Mozzarella is super easy to make. – Source
You can make your own laundry soap. – Source
Save money and make your own vanilla extract. – Source
If you break your blender jar you can replace it with a mason jar. – Source
You can cook pumpkin in a crock pot and then freeze it for later use. – Source
Cereal canisters make the perfect trashcan for your car. – Source
Have you had enough?
Well here are a few more.
  1. Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.. I didn’t know that!
  2. Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!
  3. Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.
  4. Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
  5. To make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.
  6. Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic,  and at the end of the recipe if you want a stronger taste of garlic.
  7. Reheat Pizza Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.
  8. Easy Deviled Eggs: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg.  Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.
  9. Expanding Frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size.  You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.
  10. Reheating refrigerated bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
  11. To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.
  12. Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
  13. Goodbye Fruit Flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2′ with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup an d gone forever!
  14. Need to cut some corn off the cob. Use your bundt pan. Place the ear on the opening in the center of the pan, and as you slide the knife down the ear, all the kernels will collect in the main part of the pan.

Chef Pals(TM) Meat Thermometers

So I’m a member of the Cooking Club of America. If you don’t know me already, let me tell you, I’m a sucker for free things that are sent to me in the mail. I get sucked into all those advertisements that tell me I’m the exclusive invite of their new program! The Cooking Club of America sounded plenty glamours to me so I signed up!

I got a free knife out of it and a pretty great cookbook…I have yet to crack open. Oh well..

One perk of this silly club is the email I get of exclusive products available only to Cooking Club members. I though that was one of the “lines” they tell you, but turns out it’s true. I got this email the other day from them selling these little guys and I just tried to click back on the link and they are SOLD OUT! Popular little suckers :)

Here’s their pitch…

“Beep, beep, beep. The classic alarm: One of the most annoying sounds in the universe. Why bring that kind of stress into the kitchen? For a little bit of fun, choose the Chef Pals Meat Thermometer + Timerinstead. No stressful sounds here—only a moo, oink or gobble when meat reaches the proper USDA-designated internal temperature, depending on which thermometer you’re using. (Each one is designed for a different protein: beef, pork or poultry. To hear them, click on the link above, and then click on the sound clips.) A red LED light also flashes when the meat is done. Each thermometer has a steel probe that goes in the meat and a heat resistant-cable that extends outside the oven or pan. Place the unit on the counter or attach it to the oven with the magnetized feet. Adding fun to your kitchen doesn’t have to be expensive. Through Thursday, these cute tools are available for only $15 each—so you can buy all three!”

Anyone out there try these little guys? I kind of like the idea of them as a fun kitchen gadget…but will these be doomed to the back of your utensils drawer only to be forgotten until it’s too late?! Feedback on these little gems please!!

For further reading on the release of these gadgets read an excerpt from a market press release on  Yahoo! Finance