Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Orange Syrup with Orange Poppy Seed Belgian Waffles

Got cranberries?

This time of year I make fresh cranberry sauce, cranberry orange bread and even cranberry muffins and scones... but have you ever made cranberry orange syrup to go over Orange Poppy seed Belgian Waffles? I highly recommend it.

Cranberry is one of the simple holiday flavors that I look forward to every year. I enjoy getting a bag of locally grown Oregon cranberries, but wanted to make something different this year.

Fresh syrup is so simple, but oh, so good.

I started out by throwing a cup and a half of fresh, firm and tart cranberries into a 2 quart crock pot. What can I say, they matched! 

I didn't have a lot of free time - with the holiday meal prep going on, so this was perfect to let simmer away overnight. I added some sugar and orange peel as well.

The next day I just needed to strain the berries, thicken the syrup and adjust according to my tastes. I don't mind my syrup having a little tartness to it.

These cool little bottles I found through zulily. I really want to find more for gifting.

Then I whipped up a batch of Orange Poppy Seed Belgian Waffles from scratch and smothered them in my new syrup.

My 7 year old licked his plate. They were that good.

But, don't take my word for it. If you have any extra cranberries, give this little recipe a try. Who knows, you might find a new love in this tart, fresh syrup.

Cranberry Orange Syrup

You Will Need:

  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • peel of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Place  the cranberries, water, sugar and orange peel in a 2 quart slow cooker on low for 8 - 10 hours or overnight. In the morning strain the liquid, smashing the berries against the strainer to release all juice. 

Place in a small saucepan and add water to the cornstarch to dissolve and lumps. Add to the cranberry juice and whisk as the syrup comes up to a simmer. This is a great time to taste your syrup and add more sugar if necessary. When it begins to thicken turn on low until ready to serve.

Orange Poppy Seed Belgian Waffles

You Will Need:

  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
Start by preheating your waffle iron.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and add to the dry. Stir till the dry ingredients are moistened through. Let the batter sit for 20 minutes.

Cook the waffles according to your waffle iron's instructions. Serve immediately with Cranberry Orange Syrup.

Mmm... such a simple way to enjoy the flavors of the season. And my whole house smelled divine during the process.

How do you use cranberries? Any creative recipe ideas?

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Check out the Newest Switch & Go Dinos - Bronco plus Giveaway!

I was sent a VTech Switch & Go Dinos Turbo - Bronco The RC Triceratops in order to create my review.  the VTech products and information have all been provided by VTech. All experiences and opinions are my own.

My kids love remote controlled toys! From cars to airplanes and helicopters they will spend hours driving or flying them around the house. But VTech offers the only car/dinosaur combination I have seen. 

From the first Switch and Go Dinos I blogged about in 2012, to Blister the Velociraptor we loved last year, the new Bronco the RC Triceratops has been an instant hit in our house.

For ages 3-8 years (MSRP: $44.99) this is an RC toy especially for little hands. Just one touch at the top of the controller switches from car to dino mode.  It includes a steering wheel, directional button, headlight button, turbo boost button as well as sounds and talk buttons.

This Switch & Go Dinos  is the first RC toy that my 5-year old was able to use unassisted out of the box. Unlike other remote control toys, it also included an LCD screen display for dinosaur eyes or the car driver (kids can choose from 4 options). 

And even though my 5-year old was good to go, that didn't mean that older kids weren't interested. Her 7-year old brother and his older friends were very interested in it at a recent play date.

Both the remote and car take batteries, but we filled our with rechargeable to cut down on the cost.

And here it is changing from car to Triceratops:

In race car mode the vehicle really moves! The kids have had a great time racing it down halls and maneuvering it around the obstacles of the playroom. 

Overall, if you are looking for a cool new toy to gift this Christmas, the Switch & Go Dinos are sure to be a big hit. They are a great first RC toy for a girl or boy on your list this holiday season.  From personal experience, my kids have enjoyed all of their Switch and Go Dinos, but the toys keep getting better year after year. 

Connect with VTech on Twitter and Facebook to stay up on their latest and greatest toys and promotions.

Giveaway Time!!

Would you like the chance to win your own Switch & Go Dinos Turbo - Bronco The RC Triceratops? VTech has generously offered to sponsor this giveaway so you can share it with your child. US residents only please. Enter on the rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway ends December 1st, 2014 (US residents only)

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Buttermilk Turkey Gravy over Mashed Potato Biscuits

 was compensated to create this holiday leftover recipe post for Faberware's #SeasonstoCelebrate. all opinions and experiences are my own. 

The holiday season kicks off this week with Thanksgiving and that will leave many of us with the need for some delicious new ways to use up our leftovers. This Buttermilk Turkey Gravy over Mashed Potato Biscuits is a great way to enjoy a breakfast or brunch with all the trimmings the following day.

I am so excited for our family meal and all week I will be prepping and preparing for the main event. But what about after the dinner?

Usually everyone goes home with a healthy dose of leftover turkey meat, some mashed potatoes and any gravy that lasts being passed around the table all night. But the dishes stripped down from their serving platters and bowls just aren't as excited as they were the day before.

So I will be grabbing my Farberware Dishwasher Safe Nonstick 15-Piece Set in red to whip up this play on biscuits and gravy for my family again after the holidays.

This set will come in handy for all your after holiday cooking because the aluminum cookware heats evenly, rubberized handles stay cool to the touch while cooking and Teflon nonstick coating makes cooking and clean up a breeze! 

To get started I made the biscuits. 

I love making biscuits because they are simple. Just keep all your ingredients cold, including the mashed potatoes and you are good. These biscuits really are best when made with leftover cold potatoes from the previous day.

The only tools I use for making my biscuits are my pastry cutter and a spatula. Less really is more here because good biscuits don't require a lot of fuss or kneading. Just bring everything together to cut them out.

Since I was already using buttermilk for my gravy, I went ahead and brushed the top of my biscuits with it as well. It gives them a nice golden brown color on top. The Farberware 9"x 13" cookie pan came in handy for baking these and my biscuits slid right off after baking.

In my 10" skillet I sweated down the onions and mushrooms for the gravy. The Teflon Nonstick coating was easy to work with and meant I wasn't scraping bits of burned onion off the bottom of my pan.

The set also came with 5 nylon utensils, including this whisk so I could whisk my gravy without worrying about scratching the bottom of the pan. 

I was able to create beautifully creamy gravy, free of pesky lumps, and not a scratch on my new pans.

To finish my dish I topped it with a poached egg. I really enjoy the richness that a perfectly poached yolk adds to a meal like this. It paired very nicely with the turkey gravy and biscuits.

The 2-Quart Saucepan was perfect for doing multiple eggs at the same time. Don't forget to add a little vinegar to your simmering water for the perfect poached egg! 

My husband is a big biscuits and gravy fan, but I really did prefer this lighter buttermilk turkey gravy. It was still big on flavor, but wasn't as heavy as the other.

I developed this recipe, my spin on traditional holiday leftovers, for Farberware and you can get the complete recipe on the Farberware Cookware site. I hope you will head over to check it out, Pin it, print it and use it with your family.

Giveaway Time!!

One lucky Adventures in All Things Food reader will win their very own Farberware Dishwasher Safe Nonstick 15-Piece in your choice of color (Black, Red or Champagne). Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below and pick and choose how you want to enter. Be sure to come back and tweet daily and check out all the #SeasonstoCelebrate recipes to enjoy with your family. Open to the U.S., must be 18 years or older.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Festive Avocado Cucumber Bites

 I received a selection of Crisp tools for this review.  A positive review was not required and all opinions and experiences are my own. 

During the holiday season one of the most handy things to have is a few good appetizer recipes. Whether you have guests coming over or get invited to a party, you will probably need at least one signature, finger-friendly treat.

I wanted to make something a little lighter this year.

These little Festive Avocado Cucumber Bites were perfect. Easy to make, fresh and healthy, they won't leave you feeling guilty about grabbing more than one.

And for more fabulous appetizer recipes, check out all six from our our talented blogger. Pin them, leave a little comment love and get some new fun ideas for your holiday appetizers this year.

Busy-at-Home : Cucumber Tomato Bites with Herb and Parmesan Cream Cheese

Flour on My Face: Phyllo Apple Cranberry Bites

Adventures in All Things Food: Festive Avocado Cucumber Bites

Daily Dish Recipes: Baked Brie Bites with Olives and Roasted Garlic

Will Cook for Smiles: Southwest Chili Dip

The Gunny Sack: Spinach Artichoke Bites

Okay, I am so excited to introduce you to this week's sponsor, Crisp. This was my first time using their tools, but I was no stranger to their quality. I have been using their children's tools, Curious Chef, with is another Tailor Made Products, Inc. brand of kitchen tools.

Actually, for years I have been joking that I might just buy myself a set of Curious Chef kitchenware. Now there is a line just for me, Crisp.

Same sturdy construction, clean lines and usefulness. Great kitchen tools and they come at affordable prices. Yes, these are tools for healthy eating. And this appetizer, Festive Avocado Cucumber Bites, was the perfect match for my new Crisp tools.

I selected several tools that I either had wanted for a while or needed to replace in my current kitchen drawer. From the versatile melon baller to the herb mincer I have been using these tools daily for fruit and vegetable prep and I plan to add more pieces from the Crisp collection in the future.

For this particular recipe I used both the avocado tool and the straight peeler from Crisp. Be sure to check out the brand's Crisp Cooking Pinterest account for more great dishes you can create with their line of kitchenware.

I have gone through several avocado slicers, but this is the first tool that I have seen that also includes a slicer and pit remover, making it extra versatile. If you enjoy eating avocados, you will want one of these.

It also did a great job slicing my ripe avocados. The wire was strong enough not to bend or give as I sliced.

And the peeler was perfect for taking off the outside of the cucumber. It didn't take off too much of the soft inner flesh of my English cucumber. Just the peel.

I appreciate that.

Once the avocados are sliced, then I added them to a bowl with lime juice, cumin, salt and onion power. All mashed up, I diced up and added a  red bell pepper for a little extra color.

After peeling the English cucumber I sliced it in thick, but bite-sized pieces. With a small melon baller, I scooped out the center to create a little cup for my avocado filling.

Spoon a little filling into each cucumber bite and you are good to go.

Full of healthy fats and fresh, light veggies, this appetizer will keep everyone happy and guilt-free.

Festive Avocado Cucumber Bites

You Will Need:
  • 2 English Cucumbers
  • 1 large ripe hass avocado
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt + more as needed to taste
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Slice off the pointed ends of the English cucumber. Peel and slice each into roughly 12 equal slices. Scoop out the center with a melon baller to create a cup. 

In a medium bowl combine the ripe avocado, lime juice, cumin and salt to taste. Mash until creamy. Stir in the bell pepper and scoop into cucumber cups. 

Serve immediately.

And, let's not forget the Giveaway! 

Would you like to try out Crisp tools for yourself?... Well, Crisp would like you to put them to the test in your own kitchen.  You could make these simple Festive Avocado Cucumber Bites for your family as well as any of the other recipes listed above... or come up with a new delicious dish yourself! Good luck.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Simple Twist for Delicious Party Food - Chipotle Stuffed Mushrooms

This holiday party recipes shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone. #SeasonedGreetings #CollectiveBias

Since moving back to town several years ago, my husband's aunt has thrown a pre-holiday party like no other. With half the town dropping by for a full day of mingling and delicious party food, I have one go-to dish that gets requested every year... my stuffed mushrooms. 

Now, imagine a house with almost every surface covered by crock-pots, platters and trays. From dips to meatballs and cookies galore, it is hard to stand out with so many options to choose from. 

One year I made the mistake of taking spinach balls to the party, I wanted to try out different holiday party recipes, but they weren't greeted with the same enthusiasm. No, I am known for my stuffed mushrooms and rarely does my tray even make it to a table. I usually hand it over to the host at the door, and by the time the tray makes it's way to the kitchen, it is usually empty. But after 5 years of stuffed mushrooms, I was ready to tweak the recipe and add just a little more flavor to those scrumptious little bites of sausage and cheese goodness.

So I headed to my local Walmart.

I ended up deciding to try out a few different flavors of Tabasco. I ended up getting Tabasco Original Red, JalapeƱo, and Chipotle flavored sauces.

My husband is by far my biggest critic. Especially when it comes to revamping recipes. When I mentioned I was going to add Tabasco to my mushrooms to change up the flavor, he was skeptical. When I decided to go with the smokey and savory note of Chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce, he was worried about how that would alter the rich cream cheese and Parmesan flavors.

Oh ye of little faith! 

Truth be told, I love original Tabasco sauce and often add it to dishes that he doesn't even know about. It is a great way to bump up the flavor without adding a whole bunch of other ingredients or salt. It has become one of my favorite recipe secret weapons.

So I assembled my ingredients, adding in panko bread crumbs for texture.

This recipe starts by browning up 8 ounces of pork sausage.

While that browns up and makes me house smell amazing, I start prepping the mushrooms. I usually give them a quick rub to knock off any excess dirt and then gently remove the mushroom stems. I like to save these for cream of mushroom soup, but will put some back in with the onions, diced, to cook down for the filling.

Then I sweat down the yellow onion, minced garlic and those mushroom caps.

In a large bowl I mix together softened cream cheese, 1 egg yolk, Parmesan cheese and the slightly cooled sausage,  and onion mixture.

Then comes the fun part. I don't need to season this dish much because the Tabasco brings all the flavor I need to the party. I put about 7 dashes in the filling mixture. You can smell the smokey Chipotle sauce.

Then take those beautiful mushroom caps in hand...

...and cram as much of that glorious filling inside that you possibly can. 

Top with a little more finely shredded Parmesan cheese and place on a lined baking dish to bake for about 30 - 40 minutes depending on the size of your mushrooms.

They should be softened, warmed through and golden brown on top.

The real test was the first bite... and boy, oh boy! I am not sure how these stuffed mushrooms were ever complete without Tabasco sauce. My husband was shocked that they weren't "spicy". 

Yes, now this recipe might just be a whole lot better than the original. This year I better make two trays to take to the party! Maybe that way I will get to eat one, myself.

Chipotle Stuffed Mushrooms

You Will Need:
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. natural pork sausage
  • 24 oz. of button mushrooms
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 8 dashes of Chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce (or more depending on taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the sausage and set aside to drain.

Clean the mushrooms with a dry towel. Remove stems and set aside.

In the same skillet, saute the garlic, onions and 1/4 cup chopped mushroom stems till soft. Cool slightly before adding to a large bowl with the sausage and remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.

Fill each mushroom cap with filling and top with a little more Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and the filling has turned golden brown. 

Plate and serve immediately. Enjoy! 

Do you have any holiday parties coming up? Could Tabasco help add a twist to your seasonal favorites?

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Leap into Gaming" with LeapFrog LeapTV

I received free products in order to host the LeapFrog sponsored MommyParty. The opinions expressed here are my own. #LeapTV #MommyParties

Oregon is known for it's wet weather, dark Winters and annual feelings of cabin fever have already started to appear. It is hard to keep kids, young kids especially, moving and active during the darker, colder months. So our LeapFrog LeapTV was a welcome addition to a rainy weekend and we even had friends over to share the fun!

If you have ever tried using a gaming system with young children, it can be a challenge, especially to find something where they can understand the instructions (often written) and can stay engaged at their learning level.

So what is LeapTV?

Take a game that is focused on kids, with sports, characters and activities that kids enjoy, give it an easy to use controller and then mix in basic learning lessons in a fun way. While my Kindergarten age daughter played the dance game, she also worked on forming compound words, and picking out the "striped fruit" on the screen or the "longest fruit".

My favorite part is the kids can be active while learning and playing interactive games! Targeted for kids ages 3-8, there are currently 9 cartridge games to choose from and 100+ games and videos available by year-end.

Our LeapTV system came with a console, motion-sensing camera so the players can see them selves on the screen, a transforming controller, power adapter, HDMI cable and a camera mount so the camera could be placed on top of our TV.

We were also sent 2 games to try; LeapFrog Sports and LeapFrog Dance & Learn.

Set up was easy. In fact, my husband was thrilled that most of the account set-up could be done on his smart phone. We didn't have to do any awkward typing with the controller or have to find a computer to finish set-up. The easy-to-follow instructions had us go from box to playing in just a few minutes.

The transforming controller can go from a classic hand-held controller for easy button reach and finger toggle to a pointer with both ends stretched out.

Even better, for the dance games, only body movement is necessary, so younger kids can push buttons and select fruit without having to worry about selecting the correct button.

Another feature I loved was that beginning readers were given verbal cues and help, so no one at our party was left out. This is exactly the type of gaming program I have searched for for years. True story, my oldest has always wanted to play on family game nights, but when he was younger it was frustrating that there wasn't an age appropriate system. Luckily, now there is!

One aspect the kids really enjoyed was being able to watch themselves on the screen. Our only issue was for a larger party kids behind the camera had to remain still or they could could interfere with some of the actions. We ended up placing our small chairs around the sides of the room so our guests could take turns in the fun.

From soaring around and flapping their wings... creating compound words for real things...

"The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day."
- Dr. Seuss

...well, until these Oregonians got their LeapTV and made the most of their blustery day!

Check out a video of some of the fun. LeapFrog LeapTV

You can pick up your own #LeapTV in time for Christmas, along with various games. Look for them wherever other LeapFrog products are sold. 

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