Friday

Dual Slow Cooker

Oh... now this looks as if it has possibilities! I could cook dinner and dessert at the same time! On sale for $49.99

Available at JCPenney

Thursday

Simply the Best Jar Opener


I have really been annoyed lately at how tight lids have become on the most ordinary jars. More often than ever before, I have had to take the jar to my husband and ask him to open it. Do you have any idea how useless that makes me feel?? I like to be at least independent enough to open my own jar of pickles! Maybe this little gadget will help! Has anyone tried it?? I am soooo tempted!

Simply the Best Jar Opener
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Wednesday

This Morning Is All About Comfort Food

Campbell's Soup I, 1968

It's a cold, rainy day here in Chicago and I'm thinking ahead to lunch... which I'm hoping will be soup. My daughter is home today and she hates to share the kitchen with anyone... so I pretty much get whatever she comes up with, but I did mention that tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches would be good! Here's hoping that she listened!

What I remember... somewhere along the line I have this memory of only being allowed to crush 5 crackers into our bowl of soup and for years and years, it was the standing joke. It wasn't until my mom came for a visit a few years ago, that I brought up the memory and she said that there was no such restriction?? I was sure that we were only allowed 5 crackers?? Where else would I have come up with the thought??

Anyway, I still have a hard time taking more than the 5... which everyone in the family thinks is hilarious.

"You can have more than 5 Mom... Nan said so," My daughter will point out and then start to laugh!

So, what is your comfort food for a cold, rainy day lunch?

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Crewel Coasters for Thanksgiving??


While these coasters are REALLY gorgeous, I can't get my head around the fact that they are made of cotton, all of that embroidery and then they have to be dry cleaned. The only thing that I could come up with... for the price tag, is to frame them! What do you think??

$38.00 for set of 4 at Williams - Sonoma

The Rule of 7... Simple Kitchen Mistakes to Correct

Vegetables

We tend to take kitchens pretty much for granted, but there are so many mistakes made in this room. Off the top of my head, I came up with my seven. We just moved into a new house and I'm beginning to notice things that work and things that don't!

1. Kitchens designed poorly... designers need to remember the triangle principal when placing the stove, fridge and sink. The kitchen island can throw it all off. It is really worth considering when you are out looking for a new house.

2. When you buy your fridge... are you thinking about storage or just the fact that it's stainless steel?

3. Buying the most expensive cleaning supplies. I start at the bottom price wise and then work my way up if the product doesn't deliver. More often than not, a cheaper version will do exactly what it promises to do, but for half the price.

4. Painting the kitchen a color that will date it. As much as I dislike saying this, it is better to keep the walls neutral and then use accessories for color. I love vivid walls!

5. If you like to bake, be sure that you create a baking area in your kitchen. This is where all of your ingredients, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons are located. It just makes sense when you think about it. Took me a while to realize that I had the items I needed ALL OVER the kitchen, when they should have all been in one place.

6. Buy what you need especially when it comes to veggies. You might be tempted to stock up on tons of produce only to have it go moldy by the end of the week because you never got around to using it up. It might be smarter to work in a second visit to the supermarket later in the week. For this reason alone, we bought a house with a supermarket within walking distance of our house. The idea came from my husband's British grandmother who went out shopping on a daily basis. Not only was she as healthy as a horse, she used up what was in the kitchen before it had a chance to go "stale".

7. When I was a kid, it was standard practice to put the salt and pepper shaker on the table for every meal. As a result, we added salt to EVERYTHING. I have really cut back, thanks to high blood pressure and the entire family has lost the taste for it. It's amazing how you can train your taste buds. ;)

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Tuesday

Salty Peanut Bars

Peanuts in Shell, Washington, USA

1 yellow cake mix
1/3 cup margarine
1 egg
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Heat oven to 350 (moderate).
Combine the margarine, the egg and the cake mix in a large bowl and beat with hand mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Press into a 13x9 inch pan that has been ungreased.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Layer should be a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the marshmallows. Pop pan back into the oven until the marshmallows begin to swell. This should take a couple of minutes at the most.

Topping
2/3 cup of corn syrup
¼ cup of margarine
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup of peanut butter chips
2 cups of rice cereal
2 cups of salty peanuts

In a saucepan, combine the syrup, margarine, vanilla and peanut butter chips. Over medium heat, stir until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth and syrupy. Remove from the heat source and stir in the rice cereal and the peanuts. The last step is to spoon the topping over the bottom layer and spread to cover the entire pan. Place in the refrigerator to cool and then cut into bars when the bars are solid.

Rule of 7: Favorite Cookie Recipes for Christmas

Vitrine Lu

Okay, I live in a household that really doesn't like a lot of desserts... don't ask me why, because they certainly don't take after me. If it's sweet, chances are pretty good that I will like it! Not so with my kids. For years and years, all they would eat were cookies... and they didn't have to be fancy. I had the plainest sugar cookie recipe and as long as I sprinkled it with a little colored sugar, they loved them. So, I'm offering a sugar cookie recipe for you and then some that you can't help but love and they will come in quite handy if you find yourself invited to a cookie exchange this holiday season.

Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies Just be sure to stock up on colored sugar!

Millionaire's Shortbread Bars... the minute that you add chocolate, you have taken it to a whole new level.

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies Just five ingredients needed and I'm pretty sure that you will find them all in your pantry!

Oatmeal Cookies... my daughter just stopped by my office and when she saw that I was writing about cookies, she said that I just had to include a recipe for oatmeal cookies. And this one has baking soda as an ingredient. Have no idea what it does to the flavor, but it does something to the flavor that I wasn't expecting.

A Pair of Tinned Sheet Metal Cookie Cutters, Pennsylvania, 19th Century

My kids also had a thing for cookie cutters and they really earned brownie points at school when they took "fancy cookies" to school parties. Do they still make mom's do that? It seemed that I was always baking cookies for some school function. Anyway, it's been a while so I went looking to see what kind of cookie cutters I could find for Christmas. Hey, my kids might be all grown up, but I'm hoping that some homemade cookies for Christmas might bring out the kid in them.

Snowflake Cookie Cutters Frost them in white and then add a sprinkle of blue sugar and your little snowflakes will look awfully cute.

Wilton Cookie Tree Cutter Kit Who knew that you could get something that looked this impressive simply by changing the size of the cookie! Now this is impressive!

Gingerbread Boy Cookie Cutters Four different sizes of cutters so that you could make an entire little family of gingerbread boys!

So... head off to the kitchen and whip yourself up some cookies!

Sunday

My Kitchen Secrets... okay 5 of them!

cooking area, kitchen display, laundryroom, Se...Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

Here is a quick, inexpensive way to clean any stainless steel in your kitchen. All you need is a bar of soap and a damp dish cloth. Simply rub the damp cloth over the soap, wipe down the stainless steel surface and then buff with a dry cloth. All marks will disappear and the surface will shine like a mirror!

Just in case you haven't splurged on a ring for your pancakes, try using a turkey baster. It picks up a uniform amount of batter and then squeeze the batter onto the frying surface.

Here is a little secret for all of you stuffing lovers. My husband uses a packet that you buy from the supermarket and then adds roasted chestnuts and bakes it. It comes out dry and crunchy and perfect for adding to turkey sandwiches.

No patience when frying onions?? Add a bit of salt to the frying pan and for some reason, they simply fry up faster. Don't ask me why because I haven't a clue.

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought that I would add this little trick to help you crack Brazil nuts. Put them in a warm oven for a half hour. Makes a big difference!

When you try a recipe for the first time, be sure to date it and write a little comment. It makes for great reading years later. I have some comments that can be traced back to the year I was married!


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Sausage Casserole

CassouletImage by Benjamin Harrison via Flickr

2 pounds sausage meat
2 cups cheese... shredded
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup of sour cream
8 oz of onion dip
1 chopped onion
1/4 cup green pepper chopped
1/4 cup red pepper chopped
salt and pepper
30 ounce bag of thawed, shredded hash brown potatoes

1. In a frying pan, brown the sausage meat and then drain off the fat. Set aside.
2. Combine the cheese, soup, the sour cream, the dip and the chopped veggies as well as a little salt and pepper. (How much salt and pepper you use is up to you, but just a pinch works well for our family.
3. Stir in the hash browns.
4. Scoop out half of the hash brown mixture and spread over the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish that you have greased before hand.
5. Spoon half of the sausage meat over the hash browns and then cover with the last half of the hash brown potatoes.
6. Finish off with another layer of sausage and then bake for about an our. Casserole should be a nice golden brown color.

For those of you who don't like sausage... don't be too quick to judge. I hated sausage just about all of my life and it wasn't until I tasted this dish, that I changed my mind!


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This Afternoon's Cooking Quote

"Don't Take Whisks" Unknown   LOL... but it's the taking of "whisks" that produces the best results!! ...