I love Pinterest. You know I originally turned my nose up to yet another social media outlet, but finally caved and I’m so glad I did. There’s some visits to Pinterest that turn into longer stays than I intend because there’s so many goodies. Time really gets away from me in the food and drink category. I pinned this Autumn Chopped Salad and finally made it (yes, folks actually make the stuff they pin!).
So, how’s it taste?
I knew it sounded good or I wouldn’t have pinned it, but I had no idea it would change my life. Yep, life-changing salad. It’s now a thing and here it is. It rocked my world and it couldn’t be easier to make. I’ve slightly adapted the ingredients, but feel free to experiment yourself. You could use pears instead of apple or almonds instead of pecans. The key is the dressing combination. It’s a mix of poppy seed dressing and balsamic vinaigrette and it’s genius. I can’t even remember that dressing that starts with an R.
Everything in this salad is just plain good. I like all the ingredients by themselves, but put them together over butter lettuce, mix, and it creates this fantastic meal. I swear to you I had it every meal in a row until I ran out of ingredients and then I bought more ingredients and ate it again. It’s light, it’s refreshing, it’s crunchy, it’s savory, it’s a bit sweet. It’s perfect. During this time of year when meals can get really heavy, try this salad for a nice change of pace.
You’ll notice I don’t give you measurements for the ingredients. It’s really just building the salad with as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. You can make it for one or for a crowd. Experiment with the mix of the dressings to see if you like a little more of one over the other. Enjoy!
A few weeks back I was contacted by Mr. Coffee to see if I would like to try their Cafe Latte maker. Being a coffee lover, I had no problem saying yes. I was curious how this machine would work. Could it really make a decent latte at home? I’ve worked as a barista twice in my life, so I’m well versed in making lattes. A lot of special equipment is involved and you have to steam milk, which is easy in a coffee shop, but not so easy at home. I have never been able to duplicate at home what I would make in a coffee shop.
So, how did the Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte stand up to the test?
It passed! I won’t deny that I was shocked it really makes a great latte. I’ve tried at-home espresso makers in the past and they were so difficult to use and produced a sub par product. I always enjoyed steaming milk on the big machines in coffee shops, but not at home. There’s a fine line between perfect froth and scorching the crap out of your milk. I enjoy espresso drinks, but I find I like my lattes better with coffee. With this machine, you can choose to make them the traditional way with espresso or if you want something not as strong, use coffee.
Out of the box the machine is pretty much ready to go. All you have to do is snap on the frother to the lid of the carafe. No other assembly is required. While the base is really light and doesn’t take up much space on your counter, I did notice the carafe is heavy. The bottom of the carafe contains the electrical elements to heat the milk and plug into the base, so that’s where the weight comes from. This feature also makes the carafe hand-wash only. You cannot put it in the dishwasher or submerge it in water. This was the only thing I found that I didn’t like. You have to be a bit careful cleaning it.
The cafe latte comes with a manual, a quick start guide, and a recipe booklet. The quick start guide is easy, but you’ll want to review the manual first so you’ll know how to clean the carafe before you use it the first time. There are a lot of great recipes included. A basic latte, flavored lattes, lattes with liquor, lattes with tea, and hot chocolates. I had a tough time deciding which to try first!
A great feature of this machine is that it’s really quiet. Espresso machines with steamers are pretty loud, so I was surprised at how you could barely hear this one brewing and frothing. It only took a few minutes to have everything ready, which is really great for those mornings you’re headed out to work. No lines, no waiting. It took no longer to make a latte than it would to brew a regular cup of coffee.
The first one I made was a caramel mocha. Coffee goes in the brew basket, milk, chocolate and caramel syrup in the carafe and in minutes I was sipping on a delicious drink. I’ve since made caramel and a vanilla cinnamon that was out of this world! Of course, another benefit is the price. Pennies compared to what you’d spend in a coffee shop! So if you’re looking for a fast, inexpensive way to enjoy lattes at home, this Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte is for you.
Bonus! The nice folks at Mr. Coffee have a special offer for my readers! You can purchase the Cafe Latte at www.mrcoffeelatte.com and receive $10 off your order AND free shipping! Just enter code MLAT10A during checkout. This would make a fantastic gift for you or a friend!
For fun I made a video using the Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte. You can see how quick and easy it is to make lattes at home and how quiet the machine is. Please excuse my novice video skills and my I-didn’t-realize-it-was-this-thick Southern accent!
Disclosure: Mr. Coffee provided me with a Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte at no cost and I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.
That’s a beautiful bowl of peas, right? I know it’s just peas, and who gets excited about peas? This girl! Adding fresh herbs and seasoning turns average peas into Dill & Chive Peas. You’re still not convinced? You should be. This was my favorite dish on Thanksgiving. Yep, peas. (I’m not including cake…let’s be real, no pea is gonna beat cake.)
So, how’s it taste?
I’m obsessed with these peas. I don’t think I could ever eat peas plain again. I’m a huge advocate of using fresh herbs and you’ll taste why when you eat a forkful of these peas. The dill and chive work beautifully together and the lemon pepper adds just a little something extra. The little bit of butter coats the peas and helps the herbs stick. So simple, yet so amazingly flavorful. You can follow the amounts in the recipe or add as much or as little of the herbs as you like. I added a lot more of the chive and dill. I couldn’t help myself and it only made them better. Consider these peas when you need a quick side. Great for everyday dinner or a fancy meal when you want to wow your guests.
In my last post, I shared with you a recipe for homemade Cranberry & Citrus Sauce. While it may have changed my canned sauce ways, the only reason I made it in the first place was for a cocktail. You know where my priorities are! This Cranberry Culprit intrigued me because I’d never heard of making a drink with cranberry sauce. The homemade sauce is really easy to make, but if you want, you can also try it with the canned stuff.
So, how’s it taste?
The first one I made, I was too lazy to squeeze on the lime juice. Which makes absolutely no sense since I made the cranberry sauce from scratch, but heaven forbid I cut and squeeze a lime! In my head it made perfect sense at the time. I really liked my first drink, but without that squirt of lime, it reminded me of cough syrup. Drinkable, but just so so. I also didn’t strain the drink, which I didn’t mind at first, but then halfway through the drink the cranberry bits really annoyed me.
For my next drink, I added the squeeze of lime and strained it into my glass. Perfection! The lime really added that little something it was missing and removed the cough syrup aftertaste. I preferred it strained, too. No bits hitting my teeth so I was a happy camper. Whether your prepping your feast or looking for a way to use your cranberry sauce leftovers, put this drink on your holiday sipping list.
It’s funny that I now have a homemade recipe for Cranberry & Citrus Sauce on my blog. You see I’m a huge fan of the canned stuff. Huge. I just love it. I smother everything on my Thanksgiving plate with it. So it never crossed my mind to make it myself. I have to confess though. I only made it to use in a cocktail!
So, how’s it taste?
Well, the fact I’m blogging about only the sauce should tell you that I really liked it. I may never go back to the canned stuff and that’s a pretty big statement coming from me. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, it practically made itself! All the ingredients, except the grapefruit segments, cook together in a saucepan until thick and delicious. It takes no time. The cranberries are perfectly tart, but I like how the orange juice and zest bring just a touch of sweet. I’m not a big fan of grapefruit as I find it a little bitter, but it works nicely in the sauce. However, the next time I make this I’ll use orange segments instead. I got a few bites of bitter and I think the orange segments would have been more palate-pleasing.
This sauce was fantastic and I didn’t miss the canned stuff. Have I changed my ways for good? We’ll see how it goes for Christmas dinner. Stay tuned for how this incredible sauce gets turned into a tasty beverage!
1 (12 oz. bag) frozen or fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated ruby red grapefruit zest
1/2 cup ruby red grapefruit segments, medium dice
1. Combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and both zests in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
2. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened and cranberries are beginning to fall apart, about 20 to 25 minutes. Spoon into a heatproof serving bowl.
3. Drain grapefruit segments, discarding any accumulated juices, and stir into cranberry sauce. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Tomorrow’s the big day! Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Let me introduce you to Ginger Cider Bourbon in case you need a boost! This is a great Fall tasty beverage and super easy to make. You can make a huge batch or single servings depending on your needs. Garnish with an apple wedge and you’re ready for the holidays!
So, how’s it taste?
It’s odd, but I don’t like apple cider, I like the flavor. Which makes zero sense. I won’t drink a glass of it, but I’ll turn them into cupcakes and they’re the best I’ve ever had! I love hot apple cider if it’s smothered in caramel. So maybe I just don’t like it by itself, but with other flavors. I think that’s why this drink works. I love ginger ale and I love bourbon. Both of those go so well with the cider. I swear there’s almost a deep caramel aftertaste because of the sweet from the bourbon. I will warn you that this drink is rich. I enjoyed slowly sipping on mine, but one was enough. It’s not super sweet, and that would depend on your brand of bourbon too, but it’s sweeter than what I like in a cocktail. I think playing with the ratios would suit me better too. When I try this again, I think I’ll up the ginger ale a bit and lower the cider. Of course, upping the bourbon wouldn’t hurt either.
I haven’t always been a fan of pimiento cheese spread. For whatever reason, I didn’t care for it, but in the past few years I’ve given it another taste. I find the homemade versions are almost always the best. I made a lightened up version and used it in my Open-Faced Pimiento Cheese BLTs and loved it. Here’s another lightened up version, but with a twist…Three-Cheese Pimiento Cheese. Cream cheese, cottage cheese, and Cheddar cheese. It had me at cream cheese.
So, how’s it taste?
I knew it would taste good, hey pretty much anything with a cream cheese base does. I was surprised that this quickly became my afternoon snack addiction. I could not put the crackers and pimiento cheese down! The crazy thing is, it’s not too bad for you in the calorie department. No mayo in sight either. The recipe called for fat-free cream cheese, but I find that stuff is flavorless, so I went with reduced-fat instead. Blending it with the cottage cheese leaves a really smooth texture, so if cottage cheese gives you the heebie jeebies, don’t turn your nose up just yet. The little bit of mustard, lemon juice, and grated onion are big players. Everything magically comes together to make what I think is one spectacular pimiento cheese. And I’m saying this about a recipe that includes reduced-fat products, right down to the Cheddar. Instead of hot sauce, I used Sriracha. I’m hooked on that flavor and it goes really well in this spread. I also used seasoning salt instead of regular, but if you don’t have it, that’s fine.
This would be a great appetizer. I tried it with Rye with Carraway Seeds Triscuits and it was fantastic. I wasn’t kidding when I wrote I couldn’t put the crackers down! My next move is to turn it into a grilled cheese. That might take away the “light” factor, but oh can you imagine that melted cheese with all that flavor!
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
4 oz. jar diced pimiento, drained
2 tsp. coarse-grained mustard
2 tsp. finely grated onion
1 tsp. lemon juice
dash of hot sauce (I used 2 tsp. Sriracha)
8 oz. reduced-fat sharp white Cheddar, shredded
seasoning salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Process cream cheese and cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. Stir in pimiento, mustard, onion, lemon juice and hot sauce.
2. Stir in Cheddar. Season with seasoning salt and pepper to taste.
I’m so excited to share these cupcakes with you. They turned out absolutely amazing and are the perfect dessert for Fall. Last Friday was Shannon’s birthday (you know her from Family Bites) and I asked her to send me her top choices for a birthday treat. The girl knows her desserts and I had a tough time picking just one! I finally decided on Apple Cider Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream. I think they may be the best cupcake ever…and there’s no chocolate anywhere in it. What?!
So, how’s it taste?
I can’t say it enough how awesome they were and I’m so thankful they turned out that great. I followed a different recipe first and they turned out horrible. Just horrible. Panic followed and then I thought “I can do this. I’m going to go rogue and make my own.” Ok, so I cheated a little. The base is a spice cake mix. I’m not above using a cake mix because they always turn out awesome. Instead of water, I used apple cider. The batter smelled just like Fall and the apple cider flavor really came through even after the baking process. You could use a yellow cake mix instead, but I really liked the apple cider mixed with spice.
Salted caramel buttercream was the perfect topping. I had made this buttercream before to top my Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes and fell in love with it. It’s so, so good. I decided to up the salt just a bit by an extra 1/4 teaspoon. You can slightly taste the salt at just 1 teaspoon, but I wanted it to come out a bit more without getting too salty. If you’re not sure, start with 1 teaspoon and taste your buttercream. Add 1/8 teaspoon and taste again if you want more salt. I wouldn’t add more than a total of 1 1/4 teaspoon. The caramel drizzle will help keep it sweet and makes the cupcakes more decadent with it flowing over.
I took these to work and received some really awesome compliments. These cupcakes are a winner! Happy Birthday, Shannon!
Apple Cider Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
1 (18.25 oz.) box Spice Cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
3 large eggs,
1 1/3 cups apple cider
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup caramel topping, plus more for drizzling
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
2. Blend cake mix, eggs, cider, and oil in a large bowl at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add batter to cupcake pans.
3. Bake 18-21 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes and cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
4. For the buttercream, cream the butter in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon salt, and caramel syrup and combine well. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, give it a taste and decide if you want to add in more salt. 1 teaspoon of salt will give it a slight background taste of salt. Increasing to 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt will add a more distinct (but not salty) taste. I do not recommend adding more than 1 1/4 teaspoon total.
5. Frost the cooled cupcakes and drizzle with additional caramel topping.
You know I have never cooked with tomatillos. Never. How have I gone this long without doing that? Maybe that’s why when I was flipping through the latest Southern Living, I stopped on this recipe for Chicken & Three Bean Chili Verde. I really wanted to make my Taco Soup, but thought this would be a good change of pace while satisfying my chili craving. Let me tell you it wowed me. I loved the change from a red sauce to the green. A good thing since this recipe makes enough to feed everyone and their brother! It freezes very well, so now I’m set whenever that chili craving hits again.
So, how’s it taste?
What really stood out to me is that even though it’s a hearty bowl of chili, it has such a clean, refreshing taste. The tomatillos make a really nice base that is thinner than a red chili. I also really like how chunky it is. Chunks of chicken, onion, peppers, corn, and all those beans. It’s so stinkin’ good! The finishing touch is the bit of lime juice. It changes the whole game. It enhances the entire dish, but it isn’t enough to make you pucker. I think the lime is what gives it that clean taste.
I topped my servings with sour cream, cheese (Jack and Cheddar), and avocado and then dipped tortilla chips in it. It was almost like I was eating a super yummy dip and not chili. I was worried I’d get tired of eating it since it makes so much and even though I froze most of it, I look forward to those leftovers! This is a great recipe to make and then have leftovers in the freezer for when you want a great meal, but don’t feel like cooking.
You know how I love desserts. Love, love, love them. I have an incurable sweet tooth. While I’m a huge fan of chocolate, I also have a soft spot for fruity desserts. Mostly the ones you see this time of year like cobblers, pies, crisps, etc. About a month ago, the kind folks at Lucky Leaf contacted me about their premium fruit pie fillings. Um, twist my arm! Of course I’d love to give them a try. I received their peach, cherry, and blueberry varieties. I instantly gravitated to blueberry. Tucked inside my box of goodies was a few recipe cards and I knew I’d have to make the Blueberry Pecan Crisp. Boy I’m glad I did!
So, how’s it taste?
Looking at the recipe, I honestly thought it was a little odd. It starts out with pineapple on the bottom and you don’t drain it. Weird, right? Next, you top the pineapple with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cinnamon and pineapple? Ok, I’m game. On top of that goes that thick, rich blueberry filling. I may have licked my spoon two or eight times during that process. The next layer is an entire box of yellow cake mix. Sprinkle with pecans and drizzle with butter. Lots of butter. I’m no food science wiz, but I was curious how it would all come together, especially with that much dry cake mix on top. But now it started to make sense with the pineapple juice on the bottom and all that butter on the top.
Magic really does happen in the oven. As it baked, it got bubbly and golden. I have never smelled anything so delicious baking in my oven. If you’re a fan of blueberry desserts, you are going to be in heaven with this one. It is incredibly addicting. Confession: I shared this with no one. Not a single person. I am in the process of eating the entire dish. It’s amazing, rich, and incredibly decadent. The pineapple works to balance the sweet from the pie filling. You don’t taste it separately, but it plays nicely with the rest of the flavors. I loved the cake mix on top. It forms sort of a crust and then gets softer the closer it gets to the filling. The pecans are perfect for a bit of crunch (and you know what a fan I am of pecans anyway.) Another plus is this dish is easy to make. It’s super quick, but will definitely be a crowd-pleaser…should you decide to share it, unlike me. I should probably make two next time.
I am a food lover, living in Nashville, Tennessee. I enjoy cooking, baking, and definitely dining out. My passion for food and cooking started pretty late. I once had to beg my college roommate to make a grilled cheese for me because my cooking skills were that pitiful! ...more