September 23, 2014

Hello Fall - Easy Pumpkin Pie Spice Glazed Pumpkin Donuts

OK. OK, I finally let go of summer. I'm embracing Fall! See...Here's my Instagram proof! 

I broke out slippers!  Nothing is better than getting out of bed or coming home and sliding your feet into a pair of slippers when the weather begins to crisp up....Aaaaah!

And speaking of Fall, I have some yummalicious & easy baked donuts for you.

I posted these Baked Pumpkin Pie Spice Glazed Pumpkin Donuts over on Musings of A Housewife.

 In under 30 minutes start to finish you can have these in your belly!

While you wear your slippers!

Any time of day!

Now the "fun" begins of how long we all can wait to turn the heat on for the first time this season...This morning it's brisk...However Sunday night we had the air on...go figure!

How long will you wait??

September 17, 2014

Fresh Corn Soup with Chili Oil And Bacon Plus a Special Giveaway #HeritageFarmFare

As beautiful as Fall is and as much as my family and I enjoy it, a part of me is holding on to Summer and the official week or so we have left.  We are still enjoying the bounty our Summer favorites like of tomatoes, corn and cucumbers!

Growing up in the outskirts of Philly, my dad grew a HUGE garden.  The largest in our neighborhood.  I wish now that I had paid more attention.  Lucky for me that living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania means that I have a ton of farms, farmers markets to choose ingredients from.

Nothing says makes me think of childhood summers or a quintessential American food more than corn.  I know many concerns exist  about just what is in our corn these days so as a family, we don't eat it too often.  When we do I make sure we enjoy it at its peak.

This special soup celebrates all of the above for me and being able to get local PA or NJ corn makes it even better.  My whole family enjoys this corn soup.  Usually I go for thick soups, this one is more elegant and you taste the deliciousness of  corn bite after bite...and bacon...bacon always makes me happy!

Soon after the official start of Fall, a special event is taking place not too far from me.  Heritage Farm Fare will happen this year on October 2nd from 6 to 8:30 PM.  There we will celebrate all that is delicious and local from my part of the world.  Incredible chefs will converge and use the bounty of 
Heritage Farm which is an urban organic farm located in Philadelphia adjacent to The Methodist Home for Children (very close to The Belmont Mansion). It is a small organic farm that grows produce for the Children's Home. It doesn't stop there, it is dedicated to educating the families and children of Methodist Home and the community about healthy eating and a healthy life style. They also provide resources for the children and families to learn about farming and agriculture, career training, etc. by educating them on the process seed to sale. It is an amazing mission and one that I am happy to support!

So far the list of participating chefs and restaurants are: DiBruno Bros, Derek's, Bar Ferdinand, High Point Bakery, Philly Cow Share, Winnie's Le Bus, Russet, Weckerly's, Chester County Cheese Artisan's and more!

To learn more about Heritage Farm, check out their website.

To buy tickets to both support and enjoy this worthy and delicious unique event click HERE. Remember to deduct the cost come tax time, since it is in support of a charity!

I know not all of you are local, so we thought it would be fun to do a #FarmFare Giveaway that anyone could enjoy!  How about starting your own garden?  With the help of this gorgeous raided garden bed and a gift certificate to Seed Trader...You will be on your way (I want to enter!!)

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I was going for a more elegant soup and purposely wanted a thin broth for something different. I wanted to taste corn and by using corn at its peak  this soup delivered!  If you are looking for a thicker soup, you may want to cut the kernels off of the corn in the first stock, then puree them into the soup however I am not quite sure how that would be. If you love soup as much as I do, here are 2 of my favorites that I am very proud of to try: Easy Chicken Pho, Roasted Zucchini & Cheddar Soup and Garlicky Tortellini & Tomato Soup.

Fresh Corn Soup with Chili Oil And Bacon
6 ears of corn cut into thirds
3 cups water
3 cup milk
1 1/2 TBS Kosher salt
1 tsp peppercorns

Simmer corn for 30 minutes over medium heat.  Strain broth and set aside.

Step 2
4 ears of corn (kernels reserved)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half
1/2 TBS Kosher salt

Cut kernels from the cobs and reserve, covered.  Cut cobs in half and simmer over med-low heat in the milk for 20 minutes.  Set aside and allow the cobs to soak for 30 minutes more.

Step 3
3/4 cup cubed bacon or pancetta
2 shallots, minced
Reserved corn kernels
Chili Oil
2 TBS snipped chives

In a saute pan, saute bacon/pancetta till just-crisp.  Remove from pan and set on paper towel.  Add shallots and corn to the skillet and bacon grease and saute for about 5 minutes or until the corn is done.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine both broths and bring to a boil, reduce by 25%.  Taste and adjust seasoning (add a small amount of red pepper for a bit of heat if so desired).  When ready to serve, ladle broth into bowls, place corn, bacon and chives in the center, drizzle with a small bit of chili oil and serve (hot).


September 15, 2014

DIY Jarlsberg Crackers

The kids are back in school and you know what that means...SNACKS!!

I swear...I can never pack enough snacks for my kids.  They are always looking for fun foods to munch on for snack time, lunch time and for when they get home from school and are ravenous!

One of their go-to snacks are Jarlsberg Mini's, they love to find one or two in their lunchbox and often when they get home from school, my daughter especially loves to make herself a plate with grapes, a couple of Jarlsberg Mini's and a few crackers.  She heads out to the trampoline and does her homework while she happily munches away.

Last week, my 12 year old son decided to try his hand at making crackers.  He is a huge fan of crackers, however I am not always a fan of the ingredients.  We had been thinking of making them for a while when we decided to do so using Jarlsberg as the cheese.  They turned out better than we expected!

First of all, he truly had fun making these...he took full charge!  From grating, to using the food processor to cutting them out to devouring them...he owned it!  Plus we had a blast together!  Kids talk SO much when they are busy in the kitchen!  It truly is a good time when you cook with your kiddos!

So funny, the first batch, he made plain...just with a bit of salt.  The second I recommended he spice it up a bit for ya know...the parentals since we wanted to snack too!  Guess which of the two HE devoured??  You guessed it...the spiced up version!!  How funny is THAT?

Connor decided to use a small pastry cutter...he decided on the size and shape he wanted and got down to business. Decide how you want to season them, pop them in the oven and enjoy them plain or topped with a little something.  The thinner you roll the dough, the more cracker-like they will be.

Jarlsberg is also having a FUN back to school giveaway! You can enter their giveaway over on Facebook. Up for grabs are a branded lunchbox, water bottle or even a tablet computer, whoa! Good Luck! Click HERE to go to their FB Page.  

This post is part of a series of sponsored posts for Jarlsberg, a cheese my whole family enjoys.  All thoughts, opinions and recipes are my own.

DIY Jarlsberg Crackers
8 oz shredded Jarlsberg (either from the minis or a wedge)
3/4 cup flour
4 TBS butter, room temp
1 tsp Kosher salt
A few dashes of black pepper
2-3 TBS ice cold water (place ice and water in a small bowl, them measure out when needed.

Combine all ingredients BUT water in your food processor and pulse until combines and crumbly. Drizzle in 1 TBS of ice cold water, pulse a few times.  Add in a second TBS of ice cold water and pulse a few times until dough-y crumbs form. If you feel its needs more water to hold together well, add another 1/2 to 1 TBS ice cold water.

Knead the dough into a ball, halve it and then then between 2 sheets of parchment paper...roll the first ball out. the thinner the dough, the thinner and crunchier the cracker.  Experiment until you find the way you or your kids enjoy them the most.  Once you have your dough rolled out, transfer it to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Cut with whichever pastry cutter you choose or cut into squares.  Poke a hole in the middle of each cracker (to allow the steam to escape), sprinkle with Kosher salt (as well as additional spices if you wish) and bake at 350 for 11-15 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.  Allow to cool completely and store in an air-tight container. Bake on parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Baking time varies based on size and dough thickness.  Just keep peeking.

The spicy crackers were made by sprinkling them with salt, black pepper and red pepper, prior to baking.


& Connor

September 13, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Good Enough To Serve To Gordon Ramsey

I would SO serve this dish to Gordon Ramsey (and that thought never before entered my brain)!!

Hold on, let me back it up for a second.  Last night, was my husbands hockey night.  Every Thursday he has hockey and he cooks himself a bowl of pasta...that is it...THAT is all my man will eat on hockey night.  I however had a gorgeous pork loin that I had picked up from my farmers marker that needed to be cooked, so I thought "what the heck...I'll just cook it up and we can eat it tomorrow".

Once it was ready, I sliced a piece off, popped it into my mouth and instantly my eyes flew open and my first thought was "I would serve THIS to Gordon Ramsey!!"

How funny is that?  

I cut myself a second bite, bellowed for my 12 year old carnivore, err I mean son, and we just stood there next to the stove popping bite after bite into our mouths and groaning with pleasure. We then decided to eat it all fancy-like off of the reverse side of the fork and say what we thought about it (like a food judge from another country). Even though my son had had eaten pasta with my husband he asked for a few slice on a plate to sit down and enjoy...and how could I deny him hot-from-the-oven-Gordon-Ramsey-quality-food?? Plus bacon was involved...BACON!!

This truly was a fabulous entree, I would serve a gorgeous mashed potato or celery root puree along side of it as well as a green veggie.  Or you could be like Connor and I and just stand by the stove, slice it down and enjoy every bite!  Oh and if you think it looks small...its not!  The skillet pictured here is a 12' skillet.

Based on your preference, decide if you want this to lean more toward sweet-spicy, pleasantly spicy or slightly acidic, All three work here.  You could grill it however cooking it in a pan right in your oven with the bacon ends securely tucked under the pork I say is the way to go for this one.

You HAVE to make this and report back!!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin 

3-4 pound boneless pork loin (or tenderloins)
chili oil
grapeseed or olive oil
1 TBS chili powder (see notes)
1 TSP paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6-7 slices of bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 TBS flour
1/2 tsp coarse mustard (like a Grey Poupon Country Dijon)
Red pepper (to your taste)

For the pork, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle 1 TBS grapeseed or olive oil and 1/2 TBS of chili oil (if you don't have chili oil just use all grapeseed or olive oil) into your oven safe pan and swirl to coat the bottom of it with it.  Combine chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl and blend it with your fingertips until combined (reserve 1 tsp of the run and sprinkle that over it after you have wrapped it with the bacon).  Rub the mixture all over your pork, then wrap the pork with the bacon right on your prepared pan.  As you wrap it make sure the ends of the bacon are tucked under the pork. Overlap the bacon slices (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch), so they won't separate as they cook.  Pop it into the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then spoon 1/2 of the glaze over-top (get every spot) and bake for 10 minutes more, then drizzle remaining glaze over-top and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until your pork is done to your liking (cook time will vary by size, weight & girth of your meat).

For the glaze, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, vinegar flour and mustard, whisk to combine and heat until just boiling.  Taste and adjust. sprinkle in red pepper.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  As stated above spoon half over the pork after it has been cooking 30 minutes, 10 minutes later, repeat with the remaining.

Colleen's Notes: Depending on your preference, you may want to make your glaze a little less sweet, a little more acidic or a little more spicy.  It is a very forgiving glaze, so you really can't mess it up...just tinker with the ratios.  If you want to omit the flour you can do that as well, just boil it for 1-2 minutes to allow it to reduce and thicken a little.

I hope you try this!!


September 10, 2014

NewAir AW-121E Countertop Wine Cooler Giveaway

Recently, I tried out the NewAir AW-121E Countertop Wine Cooler and was so impressed with it that I just have to give one away to one of you!

I like wine and cocktails while my husband is more of a beer lover but somehow we get along just fine, lol!  We have what we call a beer fridge which is actually a small refrigerator that we...err, I mean he uses for beer.  He likes to keep it stocked both for when people pop over and for when the mood for a beer strikes him.

Occasionally...I throw some wine bottles in it (if I can carve out the room) so that I can have some chilled for the same reasons as him.  Sometimes we compete for space...once...ummm, ok-ok TWICE...a wine bottle decided to roll right out when the door all surprise-ninja-like as the door was opened and smashed to bits on the floor.  It is unbelievable how much liquid not to mention glass that can create - waaaay more than the 750 ml the wine bottle says it must be a science trick!

Enter the NewAir AW-121E Countertop Wine Cooler!  Now I have my own space and so does competing!  I LOVE a glass of wine especially when I am nibbling on an appetizer on a weekend night.  It completely relaxes me and now I know that I will always have a bottle perfectly chilled just the way I like it at the ready for when the mood (or guests) strikes.  I am a happy girl!

This was so simple to assemble that I didn't even need tap my hubby for help (score one for me!), I opened the box, plopped it where I wanted to, screwed on the handle, put it on the temperature I wanted and it was ready to go!!  This wine cooler is the perfect size, it hold 12 bottles, sits right on your counter or small table AND it has the coolest blue light.  I just love both its form and functionality!  My kids (10 & 12) instantly begged me to let them have it for their "tween lounge" room to hold water and juice boxes...I was like I love you guys but ummm, no...THIS baby is going to hold your momma's "juice"! Lol!

As I said above wine with appetizers are once of my favorite ways to enjoy a night in so here are 6 of my favorites that go with a glass of perfectly chilled wine!  Cheers!!

Asian Chicken Meatballs
Jalapeno Honey Lime Shrimp
Grilled Asian Chicken Wings
Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Disclosure: This was a review post, all options expressed within it are my own and just how I felt/feel about the NewAir Cooler, I was not compensated to write this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!!

September 9, 2014

The Ultimate Garlic Bread

What is better than taking a bite of something and simultaneously closing your eyes (to revel in the moment) uttering a sound like "OmGwmph" (in an attempt to express yourself while you chew) and wiggling in your seat out of pure joy (yup...the happy food dance!)?

Its better when that bite was simple to make...don't you agree!!

Sometimes simple can = spectacular and for me, a well made garlic bread does the trick!

Start with the biggest, freshest loaf of Italian bread you can lay your hands on.

Grab some fresh garlic, some butter, some garlic salt and some parsley.

Turn up your oven and that my friends is IT!

Well besides practicing some patience while it cooks that is!

I think the "secret" to the Ultimate Garlic Bread is making your garlic infused butter and letting it sit for just a bit then cooking that bread the way YOU like.  Some like it crunchy through and I go for crunchy crust and a soft top. ( mouth is watering as I think about this and type...its all I can do to not run to the kitchen and whip some up...but Italian bread in sight...sigh)

Oh!! And hey...If you are going to do it....DO IT!  No skimping allowed on this one!

The Ultimate Garlic Bread
1 large loaf of Italian bread
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
2 TBS minced parsley (more or less to taste)
1 few shakes of garlic sauce

In a small bowl, combine your hot melted butter and your garlic.  Let it sit for at least 15 minutes (or up to a couple of hours).

When ready to assemble, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Slice your bread lengthwise down the middle and place the pieces on a baking sheet.  Add your chopped parsley to your butter mixture and stir it well (if you want to add some black pepper, do it here).  Liberally brush every inch of your loaves with the mixture until it is all coated.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pop it into the oven until it is done to your liking.  As soon as the top of the bread gets firm (but not browned) THAT is how I like it - typically 10-12 minutes.