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Author: Carolyn

How To Get Ready For The BBQ Season

How To Get Ready For The BBQ Season

When people think of summer, they often think of outdoor barbecues. As a matter of fact, summer is frequently referred to as barbecue season. If you’re going to be doing some grilling this year, you’re going to want to make sure you have everything ready. Here’s how you can prepare.

Make Sure Your Grill Is In Good Condition

If there is a problem with your grill, you’re going to want to be aware of the issue before grilling season kicks off. Take the time to inspect your grill from top to bottom. Look at it carefully and see what kind of shape it is in.

If your grill needs to be repaired or replaced, you will want to take care of that before grilling season starts, not afterward. You should regularly inspect your grill. If your grill is in rough shape, you should decide what to do with it.

Give Your Grill A Good Cleaning

grilling baby back ribsIf your grill is dirty, it’s going to impact the taste of the foods that you cook there. You should make sure you give your grill a deep cleaning before you start cooking on it again. We found the Yoshi grill and bake mat to help a lot with keeping the grill clean. It also keeps the food a lot cleaner, which means it will be better for your health.

You should clean your grill as thoroughly as you can. Make sure that the grill is as clean as it needs to be. You should scrub your grill clean so that nothing will get in the way of the taste of your food. Make your grill look like it is new again.

Start Looking At Recipes

You shouldn’t just cook the same old foods on the grill. You should look for new recipes to try. Look for marinades or seasoning mixes that you can use on your meat. Look into making kebabs; they are a great thing to cook on a grill.

If you want to make the most of the BBQ season, you shouldn’t just stick with the tried and true dishes. Try to prepare some new foods as well. Even if you get sick of your old favorites, you’ll be able to enjoy some exciting new dishes. You’ll never run out of things to eat. Check out Bill Anderson’s competition bbq secrets for some impressive recipes.

Make Sure You’re Ready To Entertain

bbq skewers with beef and vegetablesDon’t just barbecue for the people in your household. Invite a few friends over. Prepare to start treating people. The summer is a perfect time for an outdoor BBQ.

What kinds of things should you be doing? To start, you should make sure that your yard is clean. You may also want to buy some new patio furniture. This will give your guests a place to sit outside. Get your yard ready for guests. Once the weather is right, you can start inviting people to come over for some BBQ.

If you’re not ready for the BBQ season, now is the time for you to start preparing. The weather is starting to warm up. If you want to make the most of this season, then you need to start getting ready. If you’re fully prepared, you should be able to have a fantastic time.

Study Shows Coffee And Sweets Enhance Brain Activity

Study Shows Coffee And Sweets Enhance Brain Activity

While it’s long been known that coffee and sweets go well together, it’s not long been understood why. For many, it’s simply a tradition to stop in at the local coffee shop and grab a coffee and a sweet treat.

However, according to recent studies at the University of Barcelona, they’ve discovered that there is a neural substrate that is activated when coffee is consumed along with some form of sugar.Coffee and sweets don't just taste well, they actually work better that way

According to the study, the two substances of coffee and sugar work together to improve the cognitive performance in the brain by helping to increase the way that the brain works and functions.

This, in turn, helps to support the thought that there is a synergistic effect that works together whereby one of the substances helps by boosting the effects of the other.

Ideally, those who consume both caffeine and sugar at the same time, change how their brains function. They reduce activity in one region while boosting it in another region.

The overall result is that the cognitive portion of the brain is boosted and those who are consuming both sugar and caffeine can enjoy a boosted cognitive portion of their brains.

Studies were done in double-blind random designs, and those who were being tested had no idea if the beverage they consumed had caffeine or was caffeine free. Nor did they know if the product they ate had sugar or a sugar substitute.

According to the research, there was a direct improvement in attention spans, declarative memory, and the subjects had no altercations in their subjective states.

Thus, it was concluded that the combination of caffeine and glucose benefited the subjects in a myriad of ways including cognitive tasks, sequential reactions, and attention spans as well as verbal memory.

good quality coffee grinders lead to the best tasting coffeeNext time you’re out for a dose of caffeine, give in to that craving for a sugary sweet treat and see how different you feel when it comes to your cognitive abilities. You’ll be amazed at how just one dose of caffeine and one sweet treat can make you feel so very different. Of course you want to be drinking good coffee too. We recently managed to improve the taste  dramatically with a new manual grinders for great coffee

Now you can understand why your body is craving sugar when you’re out to coffee. It’s a natural reaction of your brain to want to improve its cognitive ability and focus more on its ability to improve memory and cognitive ability.

It sounds like some of the coffee shops had it right all along. They knew that selling sweet treats alongside the coffee they serve would go far in helping their customers feel better about themselves and the world around them.

It didn’t take any great scientific study to show this; it was all observation. Now that you know all of this you can plan ahead to enjoy your favorite sweet treat when you go out for coffee next time. Coffee and sweet treats do indeed go together so give yourself permission to enjoy some each afternoon and see how your memory improves. You may be surprised at how great it works.

My Favorite Treat: Soup?

My Favorite Treat: Soup?

I’ve never been a huge fan of soup… Well, until this last winter. You see, I grew up in a family where homemade soup came from a can. There really isn’t anything too special about that, right?

So when I bought the Our Best Bites Cookbook, and saw all of the amazing looking soup recipe’s, I decided to give them a second chance. Starting with their tomato soup!

It has quickly become a staple here in our household. The texture is out of this world, and it is so simple to put together. I’m not sure exactly how healthy it is exactly, but comfort food is supposed to be bad for you, right?

tomator soup with extra creaminess

Creamy Tomato Soup
{recipe found in the Our Best Bites Cookbook. If you don’t own it yet, you should!}

1 T reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes, or olive oil
1 C chopped onion
¾ C shredded carrot

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbs dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2/3 C sliced sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14oz) can chicken broth
3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if you like heat, don’t skip this!)
– Heat your olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pan. Toss in the onion, carrot, and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, or until the onion is transparent. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. {phew

! That’s a lot of ingredients!}. Heat to a boil, then reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
– Remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture to your blender, and add the cream cheese. Remove the center piece of your blender, and cover with a paper towel. {important: don’t place your hand offer the paper towel! I learned the hard way that the soup splatters, and that it is HOT! I’m a genius, I know!} Process for a few seconds, or until the soup has reached your desired consistency.
– Spoon into bowls, and serve!

 

Here is another new thing for me. Dipping grilled cheese in your tomato soup. I must have been living under a rock, because the first time I tried this was three months ago! I’d never even heard of dipping a sandwich, but my husband swore by it, and boy am I glad that I tried it out!

However, I wanted to give our meal a creative spin. I’ve learned, as a mom, that the smaller things are the more likely my child will eat them. And that is why I made Grilled Cheese Croutons!

extra treat: cheese croutons from the grill

Grilled Cheese Croutons
{basically a grilled cheese chopped up.}
Bread
Butter
cheese singles, or your preferred type

– Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat.

– Butter one side of one slice of bread, place cheese on the other side, and top with an additional piece of buttered bread.

– Place in the heated pan, and cook on both sides until brown.

– Cut off the crust of your sandwich, and then proceed to cut small squares out of the rest. Toss in your soup and enjoy!

Petzi Cam for Dogs and Cats

Petzi Cam for Dogs and Cats

Hi there, just wanted to post something interesting.

Since a few weeks we are now using a new Pet gadget in the house. It’s the Treat Camer from Petzilla and it allows you to check up on your favorite animals from anywhere in the world with your smartphone.

Now I am not that technical so I was having some issues with setting the whole thing up. But once we got it rolling it was fantastic. I have a pretty busy life and I still want to enjoy having pets when I get home. It just makes me so happy. Leaving them alone has always been a problem with getting the neighbors to check up on them.

 

How a simple device like the Petzi Treat Camera can help your pets

Now I can log into the Petzi Treat Cam with my smartphone and see what is going on in the house. The view quality is very good and I can even distinguish a lot when it’s not that light in the house. This is especially good to ease my conscious when I am worried about them.

Then it’s possible to speak through a microphone. This feature took some getting used to as Donnie and Babe first didn’t recognise where my voice was coming from. The got very confused and starting looking around the room for me. After a few days they were no longer upset and clearly understood where to look. And that is mostly due to the best part of this device: it allows you to throw cookies at your pets.

Of course you need to load them first and you have to make sure that they actually fit in there. But once loaded you can dispense a treat at the push of a button – when miles away in your office. This automically changes how your pets look at the Petzi Treat Cam. First they treat it as some kind of allien thing, but once they receive a cookie from it, everything changes. Now it’s the most important part of the house. Next to their bed of course.

I have been having a ton of fun with this device. Instead of checking facebook or instagram I can now log into my house and see my doggies, talk a bit to them and give them a few cookies. This is a very cool piece of technology.

If you want to read more about it, check the article on Smartpettoys.org

Have a good one!

Oh Cream Puff!

Oh Cream Puff!

Sorry for the small hiatus over the last few days. Me & the little guy took a much needed trip to California to spend some time with my side of the family, AND to soak up some of that warm California sunshine!

But now I’m back and ready to roll! I’ve got so many great recipe’s to share, it’s hard to know where to start!

Today’s recipe is one that I actually made the night before we left on our adventure. My mom has been asking me to send her some treats, and I thought these would be perfect to throw in the cooler and surprise her with!

(sorry in advance for the lack of creativity with the photo’s. I forgot to take pictures, and was running out the door. Realized what was happening, so I threw a few on a plate, and ta da! Horrible photo’s!)

puffing with cream this oneCream Puffs With Pumpkin Filling
(recipe slightly adapted from THIS AllRecipe’s one)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

1 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or to taste
1/4 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

– Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. (The parchment is important. We tried a batch without it, and the cream puffs fell apart)

– Place the butter, water, and salt in a heavy sauce pan. Bring it to a full boil. Slowly stir in the flour, and beat until the dough starts to come together. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

– Spoon tablespoon sized portions onto your prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the puffs are fluffy and light brown. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before filling.

– For the filling: Beat the heavy cream until just before stiff peaks form. Slowly add the powdered sugar and pumpkin along with the spice. (you can adjust the amount of sugar, and pumpkin according to your taste). Use a piping bag to pipe the filling into the puffs. Slit them with a knife if needed.

 

Death By Food Processor?

Death By Food Processor?

I want a food processor. It has been on the top of my ‘must buy’ kitchen appliance list for a few weeks now. I found a really great sounding graham cracker recipe the other day, and decided it was time to give in, and get one.

Luckily for me, my dad is excellent at bargain shopping. He can get me a sweet deal on anything! So, I picked up the phone and gave him a call. I told him how just about every graham cracker and macaroon recipe I want to try this summer calls for a processor, and I need one ASAP. And that’s when it happened….

My dad told me a story…

Did I believe it?? No way!

Was it funny to listen to my dad go on in a panicking rant about it? Of course!

Here’s how our conversation went:

Dad: ‘Jess, I will NOT help you buy one of those machines! They are so dangerous!! I cannot tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard about them. One guy in Florida was decapitated!’

Me: ‘I’m sure that didn’t happen. They wouldn’t sell something if it were that dangerous.’

Dad: ‘It really happened. Well, maybe it was 20 years ago… and it could have been a juicer… I’m not sure which one… but it happened! Don’t buy one of those crazy machines! With your luck, you’ll end up cutting something off!’

Thanks for the confidence dad!

Thanks to our little pep-talk, I have yet to buy a food processor. Not because I think they are dangerous, but because I’m looking for the best deal, and the best product. I decided to try out our blender, and see if I couldn’t make it work for now.

awesome-crackers-1

Graham Crackers
{Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe}

8 3/8 ounces graham flour
1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
1 1/8 ounces molasses
1 1/8 ounce honey
1 1/2 ounces whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses, honey, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, approximately 1 minute. Press the ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

-Unwrap the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper and top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is 1/16-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a cookie cutter of choice. {I used a heart shaped cookie cutter, and skipped the next step} Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of each cracker. Place crackers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 16-18 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven, set the pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. {It is important to make sure they are cooled. The cookies will come off MUCH easier!! Otherwise you’ll end up with a graham cracker mess.}

-Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

awesome-crackers-2

These are SOOOO good. Dax & I sat down and finished off 15 of these crackers!
I do have a suggestion. You want to roll these out SUPER thin. If they are too thick, you’ll end up with a soft bran type cookie, so the thinner the better. You want to make sure it gets a good crunch. Also, watch them closely. They get dark pretty quick!

Don’t judge a book from it’s cover!

Don’t judge a book from it’s cover!

Remember those Vanilla Bean Cupcakes from Wednsedays post? Well, those were just one of 4 cupcakes I made for the bride to taste test!

Wondering what flavors the bride asked for?

Vanilla
Chocolate
Cherry Coke {recipe coming soon}
& last but not least…..

Sweet Potato!

That’s right, I said sweet potato! When she mentioned this flavor, I sat in shock. Who in their right mind would want such an outrageous flavor? I couldn’t even imagine what a sweet potato cupcake would taste like… maybe sweet potato pie?

ugh… I hate sweet potato pie!

But who was I to argue with the bride? So I made her cupcakes. The whole time I was baking, I kept thinking… these are not going to turn out well. . . I tried to do a little online research to find out what I was in for, but there aren’t many sweet potato cupcake resources out there!

While the cupcakes were in the oven, I had to admit, they smelled wonderful. I started to wonder if I was wrong about these things. Maybe they would turn out to be a hidden gem. I couldn’t help but sneak a bite while they were still warm, and WOW were they good!!

Phew! What a relief!! But what frosting should I put on top?? Ultimately I decided a basic cream cheese would be fantastic, but I wanted something a little more sophisticated for a wedding. I think maple butter cream did the trick!

cupcake-vanilla

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

2 c. Flour
2t. baking powder
1t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 C. butter
1-1/2 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 (17 oz) can sweet potato’s
1/2 t. vanilla

– Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners, and set aside.

– In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Whisk together, and set aside.

– Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sweet potato’s. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients.

-Once combined, distribute evenly throughout the liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost with desired frosting.

Maple Buttercream

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 C. butter
3-4 C. powder sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1-1/2 t. maple extract

– In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Scrape down the sides of pan, and add powder sugar. {I only added 3 cups, but you may need more depending on how thick you want your buttercream}. Stir in vanilla and maple extract. Frost your cupcakes!

I definitely learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. These cupcakes are shooting up to my number one favorite treat of all time. The maple buttercream is a great addition. It helps bring out the flavor of the cake without overpowering.

The bride loved the flavor combination, and decided that these would for sure make it to her wedding! They are the prefect fall flavor, and a great addition to her catering options!

 

 

This Weeks RFOB

This Weeks RFOB

I’m starting something new.

RFOB

R- Recipe’s. F-From. O-Other. B-Blogs.

Over 90% of the food I make for breakfast/lunch/dinner are from recipe’s I’ve found on other sites. Lately I’ve been pretty good at picking winners! SO, today, I decided to start a weekly tradition. I am going to share the recipe’s, and the sites I got them from, for my weeks favorite dishes!

First up this week:

pumpkin-cinnamon-roll-pancakes-4

 

easy-cheesy-veggie-soup-4-450

How To: Cooking Bacon in the Oven

How To: Cooking Bacon in the Oven

Oh bacon….

My entire family loves bacon. In fact, one of my husbands uncles once told us a story about bacon. You see, they only eat bacon on special occasions. (holiday’s, birthdays, etc…) So one day, he told his kids that they were having a special treat for breakfast! They were not only going to have bacon, but bacon WRAPPED bacon. That’s right! Two layers of bacon goodness!

For some reason I thought of that story this morning as I was getting things together for Dax’s first meal of the day. So I asked him, ‘Would you like bacon and eggs for breakfast?’

His reply?

‘Mom, I just want bacon. Like a bacon sandwich!’

Huh. While I maybe wasn’t too thrilled about him only eating bacon, I didn’t mind him having a piece or two to go with his eggs and yogurt.

But lets talk about cooking bacon for a second. Raise your hand if you hate cooking the stuff!?! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been popped, or burned by bacon as it’s frying on the stove! Plus, I can NEVER get it to cook even! What the heck!? SO, a few months ago I found this awesome tutorial on using your oven to cook your bacon. Genius!

crispy_bacon_1-1

How to: Cooking Bacon in the Oven

After much trial and error, we’ve decided that this is the easiest method:

– Line a large cookie sheet with foil. (this is going to save you hours of clean up!)

– Place your bacon on your baking sheet, making sure not to overlap the pieces. Place in a cold, un-preheated, oven. Set to 400 degrees, and walk away.

– Check your bacon about 15 minutes later. It normally takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, for the bacon to reach the doneness you’re looking for.

– Remove from the oven and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Personally, I love that the entire piece of bacon cooks evenly. That’s the problem I have with our stove top. I seriously need to invest in an electric skillet! Maybe I’ll start dropping Christmas hints to my husband early. :0)