Costco Margaritas!

Golden Margarita at CostcoI found this Kirkland Golden Margarita at Costco and it’s my new favorite drink! I’m usually not a big margarita fan, but this drink has a great balance of flavors and plenty of tequila kick without an overpowering tequila flavor. It’s a big bottle (1.75 Liters) sold for $10 at the Costco here, and was on sale recently for $8. It doesn’t get much easier than pouring some of this over ice and serving at a party.

This is not a sponsored post, I just really like this stuff and thought it’s worth mentioning. It’s a fun alternative to a glass of wine in the evening and will be a summer staple at my house this year!

Have you seen this at your Costco? If you’ve tried it, what did you think?

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Pineapple Slicer

This is one of those specialty kitchen tools that you think, well, am I really going to use it? And my answer is yes! I love my pineapple slicer. It makes preparing fresh pineapple such an easy task. I can have a whole pineapple cored and sliced in about 2 minutes without any of those pesky little brown bits left from the skin. Mine is from Pampered Chef and I’ve had it for several years. It works much like an apple corer/slicer, and is very sturdy. I looked on Amazon.com for similar designs, but nothing quite like it was there. I did see some used Pampered Chef cutters for sale on Amazon, and there’s always eBay.

This is how it works:

Cut the top and bottom of the pineapple with a knife. Line up the cutter.

Cut the top and bottom of the pineapple with a knife. Line up the cutter.

Press down firmly. Sometimes a rocking motion is helpful in getting it the cut started.

Press down firmly. Sometimes a rocking motion is helpful in getting it the cut started.

It quickly removes the outer skin and slices the core.

It quickly removes the outer skin and slices the core.

Done!

The design of the cutter leaves you with two half-circle sides of the pineapple without the core.

The design of the cutter leaves you with two half-circle sides of the pineapple without the core.

 

You can then slice the halves into thin or thick slices for serving. Easy Peasy!

You can then slice the halves into thin or thick slices for serving. Easy Peasy!

 

 

Emeril Pie & Cake Maker Review

Audrey has been wanting an Easy Bake Oven since she saw it on TV. My mom went one better and got her the Emeril Pie & Cake Maker for her birthday. She’s only four years old and has to be supervised, so this has been a fun toy for the two of us to play with together!

So far we’ve made blueberry and cherry pies. I make my own crust and used canned pie filling. Audrey helps with measuring out the crust ingredients. She also likes to use the cutter for the crusts.

The pies cook in just 15 minutes which is great! We had Grandma and Grandpa over for dinner the other night. When the meal was finished everyone headed to the living room and I went to the kitchen and whipped up hot fresh individual pies in about 20 minutes!

The cooker is basically a like a waffle maker. It has two solid non-stick plates that heat up to cook the crust and heat the filling. You do need to use cooked filling – it can’t cook fresh apples to doneness in 15 minutes! It can be a little tricky to get the top crust done – there needs to be enough filling to make the top crust raise up a little so it touches the top plate. With a little practice this appliance can be a lot of fun. Our next cooking project will be pot pies or quiches – something savory.

Here’s a photo of some blueberry pies we made!

 mini pies Emeril pie & cake maker

Mini Sweet Peppers

sweet peppers

Have you seen these cute little peppers at your store? I just love them. They are so colorful and sweet! I’ve used them in breakfast dishes like scrambles and Quiche cups. They added a nice pop of color to my grilled chicken kabobs too. They would also be great stuffed with some cheese and herbs and broiled as an appetizer!

I like that they have very few seeds and are easy to clean and chop up. Also, the fact that the come in a resealable bag means that they stay fresh longer.

This package is from SunWorld, and is USA produce. Be sure to check the package, I picked up a similar-looking package at Target and it was produce from Mexico. The quality was not as good. I don’t like buying produce from outside the US anyway, so I was mad at myself for not checking at the store.

This is not a sponsored post, I just really liked these cute little peppers and thought I would share!

 

 

Forget Organic, Buy Produce from USA

This is my number one issue. Let’s put aside the organic versus conventional debate.  We can discuss that another day. Instead I want to draw your attention to a more important matter – where the food you eat comes from.

If you don’t already do so, start taking a look at the produce you buy in the store. Most items are labeled with the country of origin. The fresh fruits usually have it on their stickers and many times the vegetables in bins will have it noted on the description tag.  Frozen fruits and veggies will have it noted on the back of the package. Also check packaging for juices, canned fruits and vegetables. It’s usually there in small print at the bottom of the label.

If it doesn’t say USA think twice about purchasing it.  Other countries are not subject to the strict oversight of the USDA laws and regulations. Much of our produce is now being imported from China and Mexico. With mounting questions about the quality of food imported from China, I urge you to stop buying it. If we commit to purchasing produce grown in the United States, more of it will become available.

Take a look at this video highlighting the fact that Whole Foods Market, with an image of organic, fresh and locally grown foods has been importing much of its produce from China.

 

 

The Lost Art of Home Cooking

The cool blender I had, that broke.

A couple of weeks ago my favorite pastry blender broke. It was a really cool design by Pampered Chef (pictured left) and I used it a lot over the past year. I figured I’d just pick one up on my next shopping trip. Well, first I checked the grocery store where I do my non-Costco shopping. It’s a smaller Save Mart store and the section with kitchen tools is small.  They didn’t have one.

Next I checked at Target. Surely it would be no problem to find a pastry blender there in the extensive selection of kitchen tools. Nope. Not at Target either.  I was a bit perplexed and then it hit me – a pastry blender is not part of a standard kitchen anymore.  Really, when you think about it, what do you use it for? Cutting in butter or shortening when making things like biscuits, scones and pie crusts.  But who makes those things from scratch anymore? Not most people.  So while there are four different sets of measuring cups, a variety of colors of colanders, and ten sizes of cutting boards at Target, there was not a single pastry blender.

I had to go to Bed Bath & Beyond to get one.  And even there, in the floor to ceiling display of cooking utensils I found just one offering. There are four kinds of tools for cutting, pitting and slicing avocados, but only one type of pastry cutter. Luckily it was a decent one by OXO brand.  Still, it made my kind of sad.  My mom has at least three pastry cutters in her kitchen.  They used to be standard equipment, like a rolling-pin.

Just more evidence that scratch cooking is a lost art. Something that used to be handed down through the generations.  And even if your mom wasn’t a great cook, there were home economics classes in junior high and high school.  That taught kids the basics of recipes, kitchen tools and techniques.  Today, home economics is gone. People ooh, and ahh at the cooking shows on TV, but they are mostly for entertainment, not for education. Scratch cooking is a lost art. And I want to bring it back!

Old Breakfast Standards

Yes, I’m talking about good, old-fashioned hot cereal – Oatmeal and Farina (ground wheat).  Since we’ve gone to all-scratch cooking I’ve been looking for something beyond eggs, scones and toast.  Something quick and easy. If you haven’t tried the old hot cereals in a while (or ever) it’s time to give them a chance.

They are very easy to make – just boil the water, add the grains and cook for the prescribed amount of time.  You can jazz them up with additions like brown sugar, maple syrup, dried fruits and nuts. If you don’t want something so sweet just eat them with a little butter stirred in (the way I like it).

Be sure to get the original kind, not the instant.  Old Fashioned oats only take 5 minutes to cook, and the Cream of Wheat only takes 2½ minutes. Really, you have the time.  Serve the hot cereals right away, as they will get sticky and lumpy if allowed to cool completely.