Monday, June 27, 2016

Party Time!!! Now I can say I am the life of the party!

I am a brand new consultant for Party Time Mixes!

This company is amazing in what they offer to consumers, hosts/hostesses and consultants. The make dessert, drink and dip mixes that are free of preservatives and are non GMO. The mixes are made in a nut free facility and contain no wheat, soy or rice. They are absolutely delicious and are safe for us to consume.

Take a look at some of the delicious products:

Mudslide and Birthday cake!

Cotton Candy dessert mix!

Chocolate dessert mixes!

Ranch dip mix!

We can have a Facebook show together and you can earn free products. As a host, if you have just 3 people book a show with me from your show, you get $90 in free products! You can even use that money towards a kit if you would like to become a consultant. What an amazing incentive!

You can visit my website here to contact me: Deanna Party Time Mixes

Monday, June 20, 2016

Remember these? Hint...your parents probably had or still have one...

I found this gem at Lowe's Food a couple of days ago. Just the site of it made me happy! It brought back great childhood memories of Thanksgiving Day. My mom used to always have a huge bowl of whole nuts sitting out for Thanksgiving. Sticking out of the wooden bowl, you would see two of the handled crackers and a couple of the "picking" sticks.

This little jewel was on clearance for just $2. You can see how old it is by the discoloration of the plastic. But, that made it even more special to me!

I have one of those fancy gray, hard plastic nut crackers. It works well. But, nothing compares to one of these! Nothing like a nut flying out across the room to make for a memory to be cherished forever!

Moral of the story: Always check the clearance tables!

Read more: Vintage nut cracker: what is one? 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Good Earth Teas: yummy to the tummy...and healthy too!

My husband and I sampled several of Good Earth Tea flavors and we are now hooked! The tea is smooth and flavorful. We definitely recommend this amazing tea!

Good Earth teas come in a wide array of flavors, but not your typical flavors by any means. Try: Sweet and Spicy, Citrus Kiss, Tropical Rush, Sweet Chai of Mine and Matcha Maker just to name a few. The tea names do describe the flavorings perfectly. The flavors are clear (easily tasted) without being overbearing or barely there. 

Some of the tea flavors are based with green tea while others have a base of white tea or black tea. So, whatever your tea leaf preference, there is something for you! There are also caffeinated as well as caffeine free varieties. 

With a name such as, “Good Earth”, you might figure that these teas are made with natural and healthy ingredients. You would be correct! Some of the tea flavors are labeled as USDA Certified: Organic.

You can visit Good Earth Tea online by following this link: Good Earth Tea 
There, you can read about the company and purchase your tea directly from the website.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Add some fruit (juice) to your Holiday menu

It's not too late! Christmas will be here tomorrow, but you can still add some fruit into the menu! 

Easy Apple Salad Dressing

  • 2 apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Cinnamon, two shakes
  • Ground cloves, one shake
Add all ingredients into a blender.
Blend until smooth.
Pour over salad just before serving.

Apple Lemonade

Juice your own sweet lemonade without any sugar or preservatives! Whip out that juicer you have stored in the cabinet and get to juicing again.
Some blenders are also capable of creating this sweet lemonade recipe. Instead of using a juicer, you can use a heavy duty blender as well. If you are, peel the apples and lemon for better results.

Apple Lemonade

  • 4 apples, cored
  • ¼ of a lemon, with peel

Press lemon through the juicer and then run the apples through.
It is that simple…fresh, sweet lemonade!

Add some sliced fresh fruit for added flavor and a festive Holiday look!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mega sized Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies

Searching Pinterest (the story of my life), I found a recipe that struck me as delish! They were Oreo filled chocolate chip cookies. Of course I just HAD to put my spin on the original recipe (click here for the original recipe)  so what I did was made my cookies MEGA sized!! I'm not even joking...each of my cookies can easily feed 3 people. They are more pies!

First I started out with these scrumptious morsels...

Then I added some chocolate chip cookie dough like this...

And I ended up with these...

However, it is difficult to see how HUGE these cookies, I mean pies, really are. So, what did I do? I made up a batch of normal sized chocolate chip and M&M cookies to show you the difference in size. 

It is still hard to see, but hopefully my MEGA and HUGE references give you the idea :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bahlsen Holiday cookies

Bahlsen, the leaders in cookie making in Germany, were kind enough to send me some of their delicious cookies. I have three bags: Chocolate covered Pfeffernusse, Holiday assortment and Gingerbread assortment.
The Chocolate covered Pfeffernusse are a soft gingerbread cookie that is covered in a thin layer of chocolate. The combination of the chocolate with the spicy gingerbread is delicious.
The Holiday cookie assortment is a mixture of crunchy gingerbread cookies that come in a variety of shapes such as gingerbread people, hearts and starts. Some are plain and others are covered in chocolate or have a dab of jam in the center. 
The gingerbread assortment is a mixture of crunchy gingerbread cookies along with the soft variety. These were the favorite of my one and a half year old daughter!

We (meaning myself, husband, teenage son and toddler daughter) each tried all of the cookies and over all we agree that we enjoyed them and will order them in the future. The only cookies that did not make it to our bellies were the variety with the fruit center. The fruit was too chewy for the baby and even a little bit too chewy for us as well.
All in all, we give these amazing cookies a 9 out of 10, with 10 being the best possible score! Please do order them for your Christmas gatherings this season! 

Frosch cleaning products

I recently tried a new line of cleaning products. Frosch, an eco-friendly brand out of Germany, is now available to us here in the United States!

The Aloe Vera dish soap, Universal Lavender cleaner and Baking Soda all purpose cleaner all have a fresh, clean scent without inundation of that chemical smell that other brands have. If I had to describe the odor of the products, I would say it is a combination of Ivory soap and baby powder. 

The dish washing liquid is not only gentle on the nose, but easy on the skin as well. Using this line of products through the house gives me the feel of safety. Safety because they make me feel as if it is safe to breathe immediately after used. 

Next, I am planning to try the Bio Spirit glass cleaning spray! It is said to offer streak free cleaning without ammonia! Yup...definitely the next on my list to try.

Don't just take my word for it though...try some out for yourself.

Check out the little Frosch frog! Isn't he so cute? 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

3 versions of an oatmeal!

It's always great when we stumble upon a good recipe for our favorite cookie. Check out my three variations of the classic oatmeal cookie. I have included the basic: oatmeal raisin, the tropical: orange coconut and the chocolate: oatmeal chocolate chip.

Sometimes I like to make one basic cookie recipe in bulk and then split it up into different batches to add different additives. You can definitely do that with these three recipes.

Oatmeal cookies, in my opinion, compliment any Holiday cookie platter! You can even add Christmas colored M&M's to bring pretty colors to the platter.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

¾ cup Crisco, butter flavored
1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350*.

Spray cookie sheets with butter spray. (Or line them with no stick foil)
Blend Crisco, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla until blended.
In separate bowl combine oats, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add dry mix into wet mix and slowly blend.
Add raisins. Mix.
Drop by teaspoon full scoops onto sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Orange Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

¾ cup Crisco, butter flavored
1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla
3 tbsp orange juice
3 cups oats
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened

Preheat oven to 350*.
Spray cookie sheets with butter spray. (Or line them with no stick foil)
Blend Crisco, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla and orange juice until blended.
In separate bowl combine oats, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add dry mix into wet mix and slowly blend.
Add coconut. Mix.
Drop by teaspoon full scoops onto sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies

¾ cup Crisco, butter flavored
1 ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*.
Spray cookie sheets with butter spray. (Or line them with no stick foil)
Blend Crisco, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla until blended.
In separate bowl combine oats, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add dry mix into wet mix and slowly blend.
Add raisins. Mix.
Drop by teaspoon full scoops onto sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Homemade tomato soup recipe

The ultimate fall meal in our house is a grilled cheese sandwich served with tomato soup...which I have blogged about before!

My son likes to dip his grilled cheese into his tomato soup and then eat it. I, on the other hand, prefer to eat my sandwich and drink my soup from a mug. My husband just likes the soup with no sandwich and my little girl...well, she LOVES grilled cheese but makes a cute little face when I give her the soup. I bet she will love it when she gets older!

Enjoy making this easy tomato soup for your family this Autumn...

Homemade Tomato Soup

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes (I like Furmano's) 
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley flakes, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Water 
  • Optional: milk or cream

Add onion, garlic and spices into a pot with olive oil.
Cook until soft.
Add tomatoes and 1 cup of water to the pot.
Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.  It will get thick.
If you are adding milk or cream, add in a splash now.
Allow soup to cool.
Add to blender and blend.
Enjoy this with a homemade grilled cheese sandwich!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chocolate peanut butter Chex snack mix: perfect Autumn snack

Monkey munch, puppy chow, reindeer mix...whatever you call it, there are so many variations of this Chex mix snack.

My family loves this stuff and our favorite recipe is this one for chocolate peanut butter Chex mix. Chocolate and peanut butter is the absolute best sweet treat least it is in my house!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Snack Mix Recipe

9 cups Chex cereal, heaping
1 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet), heaping
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup margarine
1 to 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Empty cereal into a LARGE bowl and set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl combine chips, peanut butter and margarine. Heat for 1 minute on high, stirring after 30 seconds.

Remove after 1 minute and stir until there are no lumps. If you need to pop it back in, do so and stir until there are no lumps.

Pour mix over cereal and stir it in well. All cereal pieces should be coated with the melted mix.

Add powdered sugar over the coated cereal and mix until coated.

Store air tight in the refrigerator.

TIP: Last year for Christmas, I purchased lock and lock containers from QVC. I filled them with this mix, placed them into the matching Holiday gift bags that they came with and gave a bag to each of my neighbors as a Christmas gift :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Anyone else dreaming of pecan pie?

I'm guessing it is the cool and rainy weather, but I have been thinking about baking for Thanksgiving all morning!
I actually sat down and composed a document that contains many of my special Holiday recipes. Yes, I am definitely a "list" type of girl. Lists are my life!

Here is a recipe for the pecan pie that I make every Thanksgiving. I actually make the chocolate version because my family can't get enough of it.
I also included a recipe for a super easy pie crust. It is the perfect time of year to start testing out new recipes for the upcoming Holidays. Let me know if you decide to give this recipe a try...

Pecan Pie

3 eggs (beaten)
1½ cups of granulated sugar
½ cup of corn syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla
6 tablespoons of melted butter or margarine
1 cup of pecans (halves or chopped, your choice)
1 pie crust

Combine eggs, sugar, syrup, butter and vanilla. Mix together.
Pour mixture into your pie crust.
Sprinkle pecans over the top of the mixture.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350°.
Eat warm (not hot) or refrigerate.

For a chocolate pecan pie: Add 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the bottom of the pie crust before adding pie filling.

Pie Crust

1 Stick of margarine, cut into pieces
1 Cup of flour
4-6 tablespoons of cold water
2 teaspoons of salt

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into a ball.
Roll out dough between 2 sheets of floured wax paper.

This will make one 8-9 inch pie crust.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Quiet places to sit, work and drink coffee...

Are you a writer looking for a quiet place to sit and write? How about a teacher looking for a quiet place to grade papers? Whatever it is that you do, so many of us are looking for a cozy and quiet place to do it! Fast food spots are often noisy and that can be extremely distracting when it comes to concentrating on work. Restaurants are usually pretty quiet, but the servers don’t appreciate us taking up residence at one of their tables for two hours. So, what are we to do when we need a quiet place to work that offers comfy seating, free wireless and coffee? Here are three options in the Raleigh area that you might enjoy!

Panera Bread
The Panera located at 8511 Colonnade Center Drive #110 is a great place to work. It is filled with natural light, due to its many windows and has a lot of cozy seating. This particular location has two floors and lots of booth seats. If you plan on working for several hours, it’s no problem! Grab a bite to eat or something to drink as you work. As a rule of thumb, it is always a good idea to make a purchase if you are going to be sitting in an establishment for a while.

Starbucks on Falls of Neuse Road (near Chipotle)
Often times, the smaller Starbucks stores do not offer many seating options. The Starbucks location at 6176 Falls of Neuse Road does offer a good amount of seating. There are comfy booths as well as counter seats. This location offers plenty of natural light as it is located on the corner of the shopping strip. This means windows all around!
Enjoy something sweet with your coffee or try the spinach and feta wrap with your tea!

Jubala Café
Jubala is located at 8450 Honeycutt Road #104 and is usually pretty full! They offer individual table seating, bar seating and shared table seating. Toward the back of the establishment are long tables with about six or eight chairs tucked beneath. You can choose to sit at any long table, but be prepared to share it with several others. There are windows across the front as well as the back which can offer decent lighting on a bright and sunny day. Jubala does offer a wide range of coffee and tea options as well as food choices.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fall baking anyone? It's cheesecake time...says the Dunkin Donut man!

Time to bake the cheesecakes! (Get's a take on the "time to bake the donuts" Dunkin Donut man commercials.)

Now that the weather is cooling down, we won't mind leaving our ovens on to bake a luscious, mouth watering, award winning cheesecake, right?

Here is my "Taste of Home magazine" award winning cheesecake recipe. In addition to being published in Taste of Home magazine, this recipe has been published in several of their "Best Of" cookbooks over the years!

Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2 cartons (8 ounces each) Mascarpone cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 small container of heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon caramel ice cream topping

Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square).
Securely wrap foil around pan.

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter.
Press onto the bottom of prepared pan.
Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cheeses, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth.
Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust.
Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.
Bake at 325° for 50-60 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull.
Remove springform pan from water bath.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.
Refrigerate overnight.

Remove sides of pan.
Before serving, prepare topping.
Place heavy cream in a stand mixer and mix on high speed until almost stiff.
Stop mixer and add powdered sugar.
Continue mixing until ready to spread.
Garnish cheesecake with whipped topping; drizzle with caramel.
Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Spaghetti squash: How the heck do I cook this stuff?

OK... spaghetti squash is as hard as a rock before it is cooked. So, how in the world do you cook this stuff that everyone seems to be raving about? Of course I have an answer for you.... You use the crockpot! 

Spaghetti squash + Autumn = Crockpot cooking

Plug the slow cooker in and turn it onto high setting, dump 1 cup of water into it, poke knife holes into the squash, place it inside, cover with the lid and let it steam/cook for a few hours. It is as easy as that! 

It will be hot when it is cooked, so remove it using tongs....yes, lesson learned the hard way : )

Cut it in half, remove the seeds with a spoon and then spoon out the spaghetti squash into a large bowl. 

At this point, you can add whatever you like.

For something like the picture you see above:

1 spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. butter or olive oil
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley, to taste

Add butter/oil and mix well.
Add cheese and spices.
Mix well and serve.

How easy is that? Want to add protein? Add cooked shrimp, lemon juice from a lemon and whala...a complete meal! 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Comfort food for fall: grilled cheese and tomato soup

Do certain foods make you think of certain seasons? For example: doesn't watermelon bring your thoughts straight to summertime? How about hot cocoa: does it zip you away to the winter? Well, comfort foods whisk me away to the fall!

One of my favorite, easy comfort food options are grilled cheese and tomato soup. They both warm you up inside. And generally speaking, the whole family will enjoy. 

The other night, I decided to make grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. My son's eyes lit up when he sat down at the table and my daughter loves her grilled cheese sandwiches! It was a quiet dinner of sorts. I mean...who wants to talk when they are enjoying such warm comfort foods?

I serve my tomato soup in a mug, just as my mom used to do. And we use the Horizon organic American cheese slices in our sandwiches. For the tomato soup, we choose Campbell's organic variety, which comes in a box.. It has a good tomato flavor without too much tang. 

So, next time you are short on time, or do not feel like cooking up a gourmet meal, throw together some grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup! 

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