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! 


Friday, August 28, 2015

Coffee: Make this stuff at home and save your dough: tips and recipes

I know, I know, you LOVE driving through your favorite Starbucks on your way to work, school, shopping, or just about anywhere you go! And that is OK. But, if you have realized that you could have made an extra house payment over the past couple of months with the money you spent on coffee, try something new. Make it BEFORE you leave the house and make it taste the way you like it to taste!

Who says you can only prepare plain coffee at home? Not me! Check out these tips on making coffee at home and having it taste like a coffee house brew.

  • Start by setting your coffee pot to brew the night before you need it and have it waiting for you in the morning....
  • Pour into your favorite travel coffee mug (If you do not have one, buy one that you really like. This will make it seem as though you just stopped at your favorite coffee spot for the coffee you are drinking.)



7 tips and tricks to make enjoying your beverage just a little bit easier and tastier

1. Store your coffee (beans or ground) in the freezer. This will keep it fresh for a longer period of time.

2. Be sure your beans and/or ground coffee is wrapped properly when stored in the freezer. They can easily take on the flavor of the other foods being stored in there.

3. If using a Keurig to prepare a cup of coffee, add your liquid creamer to your mug prior to brewing. Doing it this way keeps you from needed a spoon for stirring! Just pour, brew and drink.

4. If you want to make milk foam for your cup of coffee, take warm milk and pour it into the blender. Blend for a few seconds until light and foamy…just like the coffee shop!

5. Use filtered or bottled water to make your coffee. This will make your coffee taste better than if you use tap water.

6. Want to grind your own beans, but do not want to invest in expensive equipment to do it? Use a small spice grinder! You can buy a black and Decker spice grinder for less than $15!

7. For iced coffee, brew your coffee using 2 times the amount of coffee grinds you normally would. By pouring it over ice, the ice will dilute the coffee.

Now, add some of these for the perfect flavor...

Add one or more of the following:

A flavored powder coffee creamer
A Maxwell House International Cafe instant coffee, flavor of your choice
A Maxwell House International Delight mini, flavor of your choice

* If you add a little bit of each three, and purchase 2 different flavors of each, your morning options can be extensive. You can easily have a different coffee flavor each weekday morning for your drive to work or to drink before the kids get up for school.



Try Hot Chocolate Coffee:

1 pot of fresh brewed coffee
1-2 packages of powdered hot chocolate (depending on how rich you want your coffee)

Prepare your pot of coffee. When it is complete, add hot chocolate mix to the pot (minimum 8 cups).
Add half and half if you would like. Stir and enjoy!

How about Cinnamon Coffee:

2 Tsp. cinnamon (ground)
Coffee
Water

Prepare your coffee pot with coffee and water. Before you brew the coffee, add cinnamon to the coffee in the filter.
Brew pot, add creamer if you would like and enjoy!

* You can also use pumpkin pie spice or ground cloves in the place of the cinnamon!


Always check back to www.mytastenc.com for more coffee tips and recipes! 





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cherry danish recipe

Ever tried cherry danish made with pie crust? Well, here you go! These are perfect for a Saturday morning treat! If you are not a fan of cherries, you can most definitely use another fruit that you just can't live without.

I came up with this recipe one day when I was craving cherries and something sweet. I suppose you could even use a refrigerated pie crust to make it even simpler. But, this one is so easy, you don't even need to!

Cherry Danish

Dough:

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

Filler:

Cinnamon sugar

Topping:

1 can of cherry pie filling

Drizzle:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. of milk or water (more if icing is too thick)

Line a cookie sheet with no-stick foil.
Preheat oven to 350*.
Combine all ingredients for dough together in a large bowl. Form into a ball.
Roll out dough between 2 sheets of floured wax paper into a circle.
Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar.
Cut dough into 4 equal parts.
Roll each part into a roll.
Twist each roll into a swirl and press together with fingers. Then, create a small dip into the top of each roll to hold the fruit.
Add cherry pie filling onto each roll.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Top with icing.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Easy pumpkin bread recipe with recipes for: cream cheese frosting, chai and cinnamon sugar


I have a side business where I bake for family and friends. This week, I offered pumpkin everything...including pumpkin bread.

I can not reveal my recipe for pumpkin bread, but I do have a super easy and really good one that I CAN share! 


I like mine with chocolate chips...as you can see from the pictures of the batter. I make this every year for Thanksgiving morning. We eat this while we watch the parade and I sift through all of the Black Friday sale ads!

In addition the pumpkin bread, I have included recipes for the cream cheese frosting, chai sugar and cinnamon sugar. 



Give it a try and tell me what you think! If you add chocolate chips, add about 1/2 cup to the recipe.


Easy Pumpkin Bread

1 box white cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh puree)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 single serving cup of apple sauce (4 ounces)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 shake ground cloves
Chai sugar*
Butter spray 

Preheat oven to 350*. 
Spray 2 loaf pans with butter spray and then lightly coat them with chai sugar. In a bowl add cake mix, pumpkin, egg, milk, apple sauce and spices. Mix well with wire whisk, removing all lumps. Pour evenly into two pans. Sprinkle chai sugar over the top of each. Bake for 60 minutes.

Deanna's Chai Sugar

1 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container or plastic bag. You can easily double or triple this recipe.


For an extra treat, make this cream cheese icing to spread over your bread:

Cream Cheese Icing

4 ounces cream cheese, soft
1/2 stick butter or margarine, soft
1/2 tsp vanilla or bakers mystery flavor
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp milk

Mix cheese and butter with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Slice bread and serve icing along side.

*You can also use cinnamon sugar instead if Chai sugar!

Basic Cinnamon Sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of white granulated sugar

Mix ingredients together and store in an air tight container or plastic bag.




Thursday, August 20, 2015

My jogging stroller and power smoothie recipe!

It's no secret...I love to run! Now that it is starting to get cooler outside and less humid, I have been running outside more than on the treadmill. Normally, I have to wait for my husband to get home to go for a run or I go when the baby is with her Nonna for the day. But, not anymore!

I found a really inexpensive jogging stroller online. I posted on a local Buy Sell Trade group on Facebook asking if anyone had one they wanted to sell at a good price and that is how I found it. To make it even more convenient for me, the lady just happened to live in my neighborhood! So, my husband drove over and picked it up last night.

When he got it home, we put air in the tires and I cleaned it really well, Then, I took my little missy out for a run! She is used to going for walks in her little red umbrella stroller. But this stroller was made for my little Princess. She was comfortable and cozy and had amazing support for her little legs and feeties! 
But, when I started to run, she thought that was the best thing ever! She squealed in delight and laughed and laughed! I loved it as did she! 

So, after a good run, what is better than a fruit and protein filled smoothie? Nothing! 

Pineapple Blueberry Protein Smoothie

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice*
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder (preferably vanilla)

Add all ingredients into blender. Mix, pour and enjoy! 

*Tip: for a creamier smoothie, use milk in the place of the pineapple juice or use sparkling water and frozen or fresh pineapple to cut back on calories. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Banana bread overnight oatmeal recipe with video

I'm not sure about you, but during the week, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking a healthy breakfast! Shoot...I don't feel like cooking breakfast period...let a lone a healthy one. BUT...I do know that it benefits my body to eat healthy. Sooooo....I decided to give one of these "overnight oatmeal" recipes a try.

As usual, I have to make it my own. So, I created a banana bread flavored overnight oatmeal recipe. What you're supposed to do, is make it at night and have it ready to chow down on in the morning. But, to make life even easier, I make 3 or 4 at a time and have them for the week! Cause that's how I roll. 

Give this super healthy and super tasty breakfast recipe a try. And yes, you eat it cold. And yes, my 1.5 year old LOVES this stuff!

Look how easy this is to prepare!



Banana Bread Overnight Oatmeal Recipe

1 banana, medium to large
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup cashew milk, unsweetened
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon pecans or walnuts, chopped

Mash banana in a bowl.
Add oats, milk, seeds, cinnamon and honey.
Mix together well. 
Add to a mason jar or other type of glass jar with an air tight lid.

In the morning before eating, top with nuts and enjoy!

This recipe has:
327 calories
0 cholesterol
9 grams of protein
12 grams dietary fiber
15 grams sugar
11 grams of fat
81 grams sodium
Vitamins A,C,calcium and iron 
This is according to the Myfitnesspal app.

The recipe I have listed here is for 1 serving. Just double to triple to make several days worth! 

Sensor lighting: a great safety feature!

I am all about being safe and feeling safe. I have circumstances in my life that unfortunately cause me to always be looking over my shoulder. So, when Innoo Tech  contacted me about trying out their new waterproof solar sensor light, I jumped on the opportunity and to be quite honest, was very thankful for it.

This little gadget puts off an amazing amount of light. We placed it just outside of our front door. It stays on a low setting when it is not activated and when it is activated, it shoots out this super bright light. You may think that a solar powered light would be dim and barely noticeable, but that is NOT the case with this light. 



The light comes in a small box, which is great...no waste! It comes in a box that is a slight bit larger than the light. Not a box that is 5 times the size of the light and has to be filled with bubble wrap or crumpled paper. This is great for the environment! 



There are directions inside of the box and specifications (what the product includes) listed on the back side of the box.


The Holidays are quickly approaching and this will make a spectacular gift! 

For more information and/or to purchase this product:

Amazon.com: Solar Motion Sensor Light by Innoo Tech Free shipping is available with Amazon Prime








Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dreaming of the Holidays...Personalized coffee mugs plus coffee cake and Bisquick recipe!


As I was smelling the aromatic fumes of my coffee brewing this morning, while noticing the gray skies outside my window, I began dreaming about the Holidays! You know...Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. 
Then, I remembered that a friend of mine makes personalized gift items. Funny story...that is how she and I met! She advertised on a local Buy Sell Trade group on Facebook that she made and was selling personalized Starbucks mugs. Well, you know how I love my coffee, so I bought one for me and one for my mom in law. 


Isn't it adorable? And to top things off, it is a true Starbucks mug so you can use it to get free refills when you buy a cup of regular coffee at Starbucks! What a deal!!!!
Comment to this post with your email address if you would like information about ordering!

Then, after I texted her to place an order for Holiday gifts, I started thinking about coffee cake because what goes better with coffee than coffee cake? Particularly MY coffee cake. I make a New Jersey style coffee cake. I even named it NJ coffee cake. The reason for this is because I grew up eating this stuff! You can find it in bakeries and deli's all through New Jersey, but not here in North Carolina! So, I developed my own recipe so I could have it any time I want it. My coffee cake has more crumb than cake and that is just how I like it!

Here is the recipe:


NJ Coffee Cake

1 stick butter, salted and softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk, 2%
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Crumb Topping

1 1/2 sticks margarine
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
6 cups Bisquick 
5-6 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350*.
Line a 9x13 pan with no-stick foil.
Cream together butter and sugar.
While creaming, mix together flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
Set aside.
Add eggs into creamed mixture.
Add milk into creamed mixture.
Add flour and powder into wet mixture.
Add vanilla and beat until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan.

Prepare crumb topping:

Add sugars, Bisquick and cinnamon into a large bowl.
Cut in margarine and combine with hands until well mixed.
Sprinkle topping over cake with hands, squeezing it together as you do. (You want the topping to be lumpy).

Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through in the center. 
Cool for 15-20 minutes and top with powdered sugar.

You may have about 1/2 cup of topping left over, you do not want topping to run over the sides of the pan.

Save money and make the Bisquick! 

Bisquick

8 cups flour
1 1/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup baking powder
1 tbsp salt
2 cups shortening

Combine 1st 4 ingredients into a large bowl.
Cut in shortening until course crumbs are formed.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
This recipe makes about 10 cups of baking mix.






Monday, August 17, 2015

Bring on pumpkin spice everything...with recipes! (pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin spice coffee creamer and cinnamon rolls)

With the arrival of fall comes all things pumpkin spice. And let me tell you, I love pumpkin spice! I love pumpkins, apples, cinnamon and baking. I love cool days and nights and sweater weather too. I love all things fall.

Pumpkin spice is here. I bought a container of pumpkin spice coffee creamer yesterday. It may seem a bit early for some, but not to me. Bring it on! 


Here are some awesome recipes that are pumpkin spice related! 

Pumpkin Pie Spice Coffee Creamer

2 cups regular flavored coffee creamer
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients into a medium to large bowl and stir with a wire whisk.
Pour into air tight container, tapping on the counter as you go to pack it down.
Store air tight.

Deanna's Pumpkin Pie Spice

3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 Tsp. ground ginger
1/4 Tsp. ground allspice

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

1 handful pecans (about 1/3 cup), chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar, heaping
1/4 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (4 shakes)
1 can crescent rolls
2 tbsp butter, melted

Mix nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Separate rolls brush with butter.
Sprinkle with mix.
Roll onto form.
Baste with remaining butter and sprinkle with remaining mix.
Bake 400* 10-12 minutes on non stick foil lined pan.

Icing

4 ounces cream cheese, soft
1/2 stick butter or margarine, soft
1/2 tsp vanilla or bakers mystery flavor
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp milk

Mix cheese and butter with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread over rolls as soon as they are removed from the oven.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to school treat: Nanaimo bar recipe

Nanaimo Bars
It's that time of the year...Back To School time! Most kids get excited about the first day of school, but the rest of that first week ca be challenging. You know...back to waking up early, back to going to bed on time, back to homework... 

Make these scrumptious cookie bars for your kids as a back to school bribe...I mean treat! You can pack them for a lunch dessert or have them ready for an after school snack. 

As you can see in the picture I inserted above (and you will see below), it was taken from the Time Hop app...I make these every year! You can too. Start making them for your family for the start of this school year and make them in years to come! 

In addition to school bribes, they also make a perfect addition to the Christmas cookie platter! Geeze, Christmas will be here before we know it! 



Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer

¾ cup of butter
¼ cup of granulated sugar
¼ cup of cocoa
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
In a pan over low heat, melt butter, sugar, cocoa and vanilla.
Remove and add graham crumbs.
Place mixture into a 9 x 9 buttered baking dish and cool.

Middle Layer

2 cups of confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup of butter
1 pack of vanilla instant pudding
3 tablespoons of milk
Combine all of your ingredients.
Beat for 1-2 minutes.
Spread mixture over your bottom layer.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Top Layer

6 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of butter
Melt together in a pan over low heat.
Spread over your middle layer.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut and serve!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Party time mixes...Yey or ney?


I am not one who is into prepared mixes of sorts. I would rather make my own recipes from scratch. But, I do try to keep an open mind about things. I eat a fairly clean diet and over the last several years have cut out nearly 100% of processed foods. Yeah...that was a tough one, but I do feel a lot better since making the change! 

ANYWAY...I was contacted by a Party Time Mix representative. She asked me if I would be interested in sampling some of the products. After taking a look at their website I decided to give it a green light. The main reason why, you might be wondering???? 


Because they offer products that are 100% natural! Yup. All natural products that will cut time off of your food preparations! THAT is why I gave it the green light. Thank you Krystal Tronboll for contacting me...now, I'm hooked!


I chose to try:
Birthday Cake dip
Garden Spinach dip
and
Pina Colada drink mix

So far, I have tried making the Garden Spinach dip mix and the flavors were amazing! I made a spinach and artichoke dip with my mix. You could also make a spinach and cheese ball recipe, as the spice mix would be a perfect pair for them as well. 

These mixes make for perfect Holiday, Birthday, House Warming, Bridal Shower or a Just Because gifts. With the Holidays quickly approaching, these are ideal to keep on hand if you need a quick dish.

To check out these products and/or order, visit:


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Super easy graham cracker bar recipe with video!

I have a super easy recipe for you to make today! OK, maybe not TODAY, but at least give it a try this weekend coming up.

Graham bars consist of 5 ingredients and chances are you may just have all 5 in your kitchen right now. These are great to make with children...they can do the dumping and stirring. And if you want to make it crazy fun, let them mix up the dough with their hands! Ewwwww...... messy, but fun!

Check out my YouTube video. It is less than 5 minutes long so you won't be bored....


Hopefully, you enjoyed that! I had fun making it, but was pretty nervous at the start. Actually, this is my very first cooking video...and you are one of the very first to see it. 

Now, to make it easy peasy for you, scroll down for the recipe:

 

Graham Bar Recipe

2 cups graham crumbs
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 can sweetened condensed milk
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350*.
Line an 8x8 baking dish with no-stick foil.
In a bowl, combine first 4 ingredients.
Stir until well combined.
Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove bars from baking dish by lifting out the foil.
Cool for 10 minutes.
Using a large serrated knife, cut into 1 inch squares.
Pour 1 cup powdered sugar into a bowl.
One at a time, coat each bar in the sugar.
Store airtight.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ooooo...pretty lights!

Innoo Tech contacted me asked if I was interested in writing a review on their newly released, "Icicle Ball String Lights". Since I love Christmas and everything pertaining to it, I jumped on the opportunity to add some Christmas to my August!

I received the lights in this cute little box...

But, after allowing the solar panel to charge in my windowsill for most of the afternoon, I quickly found out that there was nothing "little" about the light that they give off! 

I shut myself (and the lights) in my walk in closet and they lit it up! The colors are vibrant and bright. And the shape of the light bulbs is beautiful. They look like large colored rain drops. These are perfect for Holiday decorating, but I can also see them being useful for weddings or simply to light up the patio during the warmer months.

For more information about these fabulous lights, you can click HERE to view them on Amazon.com. 




Sunday, August 9, 2015

Coffee...Cuban coffee

Each and every one of my days begin with coffee! I had a Keurig. It broke. I got another one. It broke. I am through with Keurig. 
Thankfully, I had a backup coffee maker. I asked for one last Christmas that has a stainless steal carafe as the coffee pot. This thing is great! It keeps my coffee warm throughout the day...which, by the way, encourages me to drink more than my 1 cup of coffee per day. *sigh*

However, when my day starts out being *not so lovely*, nothing helps fix it more than a cup of Cuban coffee. Ahhhhh...Cuban coffee.

The funny thing about Cuban coffee is that it is made in an Italian coffee pot, with Italian coffee (espresso). And in my case, made by an Italian! And what is even more comical is that I was taught to make it by my Italian mother in law...who happens to be married to a Cuban : )

You make it on the stove top in one of these....

Then, you use some of this...

You pour it into one of these teeny mugs...

Now enjoy!



Printable Cuban coffee recipe:


Espresso coffee pot
Espresso
4 Tablespoons sugar

Fill up the coffee filter in the pot with ground espresso.
Perk on stove top over high heat.
While coffee is heating, add sugar into a glass Pyrex measuring cup (use a 2 or 4 cup Pyrex).
As soon as coffee starts to brew in the pot, pour about 2 teaspoons of hot coffee into the sugar.
Whip coffee and sugar together with a spoon until it is light in color. 
When coffee is done perking, pour it over the sugar mixture.
Pour into little cups and enjoy! 





Saturday, August 8, 2015

Greek cucumber salad

I have been making this easy salad for a few weeks now and I make it at least twice a week! It goes with any meal and you can variate it so easily.

The original recipe I made included:

Greek Cucumber Salad Recipe

1 to 2 cucumbers, peeled
1/4 of a red onion
1/4 of a red pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut first 3 ingredients into bite sized pieces.
Place in a glass bowl or dish.
Sprinkle with vinegar, oil and lemon juice.
Add salt and pepper.
Top with cheese.

Whala! Salad is served.

My son is not crazy about balsamic vinegar. So, when he is going to be eating this salad, I leave it out and squeeze the whole lemon onto the dish. It is just as good and with this simple change, we can all enjoy the salad.
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