Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lucky Leaf Pot-A-Cakes {and a Giveaway!}

Ok, so ultimately, I love to cook and bake from scratch.  But it's not always feasible, and sometimes I really need a shortcut.  This recipe today is a shortcut recipe - but the final product is so tasty!!  The folks at Lucky Leaf wanted to know if I'd like to try some of their premium pie filling, and I was excited when I also received some recipe cards.  This recipe was a prize winner, so of course I had to try it out!  The only problem?  The recipe calls for 8 10-ounce baking cups.  Well, I don't have 10-ounce baking cups, so luckily, it also gave instructions for a one dish method.  And really, I didn't make it for a fancy occasion, so the one dish method worked just fine!

You can't really tell by looking at the above photo, but this dessert is filled with all sorts of deliciousness.  A pie filling on the bottom, topped by a cream cheese/pudding mixture, and topped with a streusel cake.  There is nothing about that that I don't love!  And pretend there is icing on top - mine is missing because somehow, I managed to run out of powdered sugar.  But even without the icing, this was delicious!

If you are looking for something different to put on the table for dessert after your Christmas meal, this is a great recipe!

Lucky Leaf Pot-A-Cakes
from Lucky Leaf

1 21-ounce can Lucky Leaf Premium Blueberry Pie Filling
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 3.4-ounce package (4 serving size) French vanilla instant pudding
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 17.4 to 18.3-ounce package cinnamon streusel quick bread mix
2/3 cup water
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide pie filling among eight 10-ounce custard cups or ramekins (for one dish recipe see below). Set cups on a large baking sheet; set aside. 

In a large bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in pudding mix. Gradually beat in whipping cream until well combined (mixture will be thick). Spoon evenly over pie filling in cups. 

In another large bowl combine quick bread mix, water, eggs, and oil. Stir until combined but slightly lumpy. Spoon 1/4 cup of the batter over the cream cheese mixture in each cup. Sprinkle evenly with all but 1/4 cup of the packaged streusel mixture. Spoon remaining batter over the streusel (batter won't cover the streusel layer). Sprinkle with reserved streusel. (Note: Cups will be full.) 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into top portion comes out clean. Cool slightly. If desired, drizzle tops of cakes with icing* before serving. Serve warm. 

*Icing: If your quick bread does not contain an icing packet, in a small bowl combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. If necessary, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make drizzling consistency. 

One Dish Method: Prepare batters as above. Spread pie filling in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Dollop pudding mixture atop. Spoon on about 1/2 of the batter and sprinkle with all but 1/4 cup of the streusel. Spoon on remaining batter and sprinkle with reserved streusel. Bake in a 350°F for 40 minutes. Cool slightly and drizzle with icing.     

And now for the giveaway!
What can you win?

A selection of Lucky Leaf Premium pie fillings - perfect for the holidays!

Here's how you enter:

Mandatory:  Comment on this post and tell me your favorite pie or recipe that uses pie filling.

For extra entries:  (Please leave a separate comment for each)

This contest is open to US residents and will run through Wednesday, December 22nd.  The winner will be chosen randomly and will be announced on December 23rd.

The prize package for this giveaway was donated by Lucky Leaf.  I was not paid for this post and all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cheesy Taco Bean Dip {And a Giveaway!}

The winner is Marci H who said:

tristatecruisers said...
i like using taco seasonings in chili--it's great for that extra kick :)
I'm sending you an email Marci - congrats!!
One of my very favorite flavors to cook at home is Mexican/Tex-Mex.  Taco night?  I'm a total fan.  In fact, I think that soft tacos were the first thing that my husband and I made together when we were dating.  And to this day, tacos are what I turn to when I'm feeling like something easy for dinner, or when I just have that craving for tacos!!

And what makes taco night easier than Old El Paso?  Especially at this time of year when time is short but everyone still needs to eat.  Why not take some help from the store?

When I started thinking about tacos the other day, I got the Tex-Mex bug and all of the sudden, I was thinking of all sorts of recipes I wanted to make.  But the one that kept coming to me was a taco dip.  As much as I love 7-layer dip, it wasn't what I was craving.  I wanted something warm.  So I grabbed a few recipes online and combined a few things and came up with this recipe.  The perfect Cheesy Taco Bean Dip!  This recipe makes a TON - so be ready to share!

Cheesy Taco Bean Dip

1 pound ground beef
1 package Old El Paso Taco Seasoning
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
1 8-oz. bottle taco sauce (not salsa)
1 16-oz. can refried beans
1/3 cup water
8 oz. sour cream

In a skillet, brown the ground beef.  Add the taco seasoning and cook as directed on the package.

In a separate pot, Stir the beans and water together.  When warmed through, add the cooked taco meat.  Stir in the cheese and cook until melted.  Stir in the sour cream.

Serve warm with tortilla chips.

And now for the giveaway!
What can you win?

A packet of original Old El Paso Taco Seasoning, a Cactus Chip & Dip Serving dish, a set of 3 Fiesta Chili Pepper serving dishes and a $10 gift card to purchase your taco fixings.

Here's how you enter:

Mandatory:  Comment on this post and tell me your favorite way to use taco seasoning!

For extra entries:  (Please leave a separate comment for each)

This contest is open to US residents and will run through Tuesday, December 21st.  The winner will be chosen randomly and will be announced on December 22nd.

The prize package for this giveaway was donated by Old El Paso through MyBlogSpark.  I was not paid for this post and all opinions expressed are my own.

Harmon's Back of the Store Tour

I am such a bad blogger!!  I've been meaning to blog about this for almost a month now - how does the time get away from me?

I often get jealous of people that live in New York City, or Seattle, or lots of places in California.  Gorgeous farmer's markets, fresh seafood, any ingredient you can imagine is right at your fingertips.  Here in the middle of Utah?  It's not always so easy. But years ago, I found my secret weapon - Harmon's grocery store.

So needless to say, when I got an email inviting me to a "back of the store" tour at Harmon's, I was all in.  In fact, it was supposed to be my last day of work, but I took off one day early just so I could attend this!!  It was held at the beautiful store on Bangerter in Draper.  Can I just say right now that I want to move to Draper now - just so that I can be near this store?

We started off with a chat with the Vice President for the Customer - Bob Harmon, and the Culinary School director, Bob Bryant.  (Yes - they have a culinary school at the Draper location.  Check out these classes!)  Bob Harmon talked about the history of the store, and some of their values and beliefs.  Let me tell you - if I wasn't sold on this store before, that would have sealed the deal.  I didn't realize how much education and support that they give to their employees.  They send their employees all over the world to educate them about the food that they are selling.  The head of the bakery?  A CIA graduate.  The cheese department manager?  She got to go to Italy.  These people know what they are talking about!!

We headed down through the store - and these are just a few of the highlights.

1st - their gelato is a-ma-zing!  I have been tempted many times to drive the 30 minute drive up there just so I can have a treat!!

Next up - my favorite department - CHEESE!!

I could seriously be happy, just visiting their cheese counter every day and trying a new cheese.  There are TONS to choose from - I don't know anywhere in Utah that has a better selection.  And they know what they are talking about, too!

We got to sample some of their salami and an amazing cheese - and I wish that I would have written down what it was.  I have seriously been thinking about it for the whole past month!  (so if any of you that were there remember what it was, I'd love to know!!)

And the Parmigiano-Reggiano?  The real deal.  Straight from Italy.

Not only do they have great imported cheeses, but a great selection of local cheeses as well.  Like this Peppercorn Gouda from Rockhill Creamery.  I will definitely be trying this one of these days!

Just check out this selection of blue cheeses.  You aren't going to find a selection like this anywhere else!

The next stop was the produce department.  The produce department is actually the first reason I fell in love with Harmon's.  If it is to be found in Utah, you will find it at Harmon's!  Things like turnips, which I needed for a recipe recently - I could spend my day going from grocery store to grocery store looking for them, or I can go to Harmon's where I know I'll find them!  And if it's grown locally, Harmon's will have those products in the store from local growers.  That means a lot to me - supporting local business, being friendlier on the environment, and let's face it - it always tastes better when it's local!

I had my first try of a fresh fig.  I've never even seen fresh figs anywhere else around me!

And this is what I think is called a refractometer.  (Correct me if I'm wrong!)  It actually measures the sugar content in fruits.  That way, they know if what they are selling is worthy of being on their shelves.  And they only put out as much fruit and vegetables as will sell in one day - that way you're not getting produce that has been sitting on the shelf for a week!

There meat section is also pretty impressive.  See that picture above?  Dry aged beef.  My mouth was watering.  I can't wait for a special occasion to make my hubby a fancy dinner with some of those steaks!

And then there's seafood.  I didn't know this, but Harmon's doesn't sell seafood that has been frozen.  It's all fresh.  Their crab legs were amazing, and I even tried my first oyster!

After I ate it, I realized I probably shouldn't have done that since I'm pregnant, but I knew I could trust that it was fresh!  And yes - I actually did like it.  It was a little bit slimy, but it tasted mostly like the sauce that was on it.  I would definitely eat oysters again in the future!  (Thanks to Frieda for taking and sending me the picture!)

Their bakery does not look like a grocery store bakery.  There were some delicious looking confections.  And I loved that the head baker said that she gets to pretty much do what she wants and she gets to get creative.  A little different than most grocery stores where all you can find are those cupcakes with the spray-painted frosting on top!

Their bread section is equally impressive.  All of their breads are preservative and additive free. 

Other sections included the deli, which serves up dishes, sides and salads that are all made in house.  They have a very fresh salad bar, as well as Chinese food, soups, and even a wood-burning pizza oven!

This grocery store really is top of the line.  (Especially this location!!)  I was already a Harmon's fan, so they didn't need to sell me, but I also learned so much and was so happy to have this experience!  If you are in Utah and haven't checked out this grocery store yet, I guarantee you'll be sold on your first visit!

It was also great to meet and get reacquainted with some great Utah bloggers.  And being that I'm so late posting this, most of them have already posted about our experiences, so click through to see what they had to say!

Laura from Real Mom Kitchen
Nisha from Healthy Mom's Kitchen
Gabi from The Feast Within
Frieda from Frieda Loves Bread
Carriann from Sweet Basil
Lisa from Gourmified
Mariel from Or So She Says

*Disclosure:  I was not compensated for this review.  I am a Harmon's shopper, and wanted to share my love of the store with you!!  I was offered an afternoon of learning about the store - along with lots of samples and a delicious lunch - but was not required to write a review.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce and a Giveaway!



I sometimes think that I am the most forgetful person alive.  Seriously.  You tell me something, and I'll probably completely forget 10 minutes later.  And I think it's even worse when I'm pregnant.  So I feel a little silly - I was sent some coupons from the wonderful people at PrĂ©sident® and Precious® cheese to try some of their products - and they sent along some extras for one of you!  Every week, I planned on making something with one of their cheeses, and every week I would forget.  Well, I finally remembered - and now the coupons are about to expire!  So - this is going to be a quick turnaround giveaway - so I can get these out to one of you as soon as possible so that one of you will be able to try out these wonderful products!

This recipe is one of those that falls under "this is so easy you don't even need a recipe".  But this is a perfect recipe to have on hand for one of those nights when you have 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.  I know that December is a super busy month - so these kinds of recipes really come in handy right now!!

Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce
adapted from The Skinny Cheese Cookbook

serves 4

1 pound gnocchi
1 cup tomato sauce - homemade or store bought
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
3 tablespoon Ricotta cheese
Fresh parsley, for serving

Bring a large pan of water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi and cook until it rises to the top of the water - 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add in the tomato sauce and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese.  Add the gnocchi and stir to combine.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

And now for the giveaway!

The winner will receive 6 coupons - 3 coupons for FREE ricotta cheese, and 3 coupons for FREE feta cheese - all from President and Precious.  

Plus - anyone can go to to download a free cookbook!

Here's how you enter:

This is a simple one with a fast turnaround - just leave a comment letting me know your favorite dish that features cheese.  Easy as that!
This contest is open to US residents and will run through Thursday, December 9th.  The winner will be chosen randomly and will be announced on December 10th.  These coupons do expire on December 31st, so you'll need to use them quickly!

The coupons for this giveaway were donated by Precious and President Cheese.  I was not paid for this post and all opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cookie Swap Giveaway!


Dawn said...

I love to make and decorate Gingerbread men with my daughter. I like to give friends and neighbors our Christmas card with gingerbread men cookies. They are large so I give one cookie per person.

Since December is full of cookies and baking, how about a virtual cookie swap?

Tomorrow - Monday, December 6th, McCormick is hosting it's very first Virtual Cookie Swap!  McCormick and the author of Cookie Swap - Lauren Chattman, will be joining together on Facebook for this fun event.  Joining in is easy:

1 - Like the McCormick Spice page on Facebook
2 - Check out recipes and swap some of your favorites on the McCormick Facebook wall
3 - There will be a LIVE webcast from Lauren Chattman on December 6th at 8:00pm EST.  She will give hints on throwing a successful cookie swap, she'll share some great recipes, and she'll even highlight one of the recipes that one of the Facebook fans shares on the McCormick page!!

And just to get us in the mood for this virtual cookie swap, I'm having a giveaway!  In the giveaway package is:
  • A special holiday selection of McCormick extracts and spice
  • Martha Stewart collection holiday cookie cutters
  • Crate & Barrel Mini-Spatulas
  • Red Mixing Bowl
  • Cookie Swap! By Lauren Chattman

So much fun stuff - and a great way to get you started on a cookie swap of your own!

Here's how you enter:

Mandatory:  Comment on this post and tell me your favorite cookie to give and/or receive at a cookie swap.

For extra entries:  (Please leave a separate comment for each)

This contest is open to US residents and will run through Sunday, December 12th.  The winner will be chosen randomly and will be announced on December 13th.

The prize package for this giveaway was donated by McCormick.  I was not paid for this post and all opinions expressed are my own.