Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fabulous Fall Dinner Menu (and a giveaway!!)

We have 4 dishes to share with you today.
Sue and I were chosen to participate in a CorningWare recipe campaign and, as such, received these beautiful dishes with which to create some tasty, tasty recipes.
Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by World Kitchen and we were monetarily compensated and received free product. That being said - our opinions, as always, are our own!

Am I right?
And guess what!?!?!?! CorningWare is gracious enough to allow us to host a giveaway for one of our lucky readers. You can win a 2.5 Quart Vermillion Baker by CW from CorningWare (retail value $21.99) - That's the orangey-red one in the above photo. 
Giveaway deets at the end of the post. Be sure to read through!
Back to our recipes for now!
Sue and I came up with 4 separate dishes so we could have a whole fall harvest inspired meal. 
We came up with an Apple Cranberry Kale Salad, Baked Brown Rice, Festive Roast Asparagus (Asparagus with balsamic reduction, feta, tomato, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries), and Roast Vegetables with Double Smoked Farmer Sausage and Parmesan. 

First up - salad.

Apple Cranberry Kale Salad

1/2 bunch kale, trimmed and chopped
1/2 apple, diced
3 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp onion, finely diced
1/2 cup coleslaw mix
Italian dressing (or similar)

In a large bowl, toss together kale, apple, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, onion, and coleslaw mix. 
When ready to serve - drizzle with dressing.

Toss and serve. (We put half the salad into the yellow CorningWare dish and refilled it with the other half when we ran out!)

Next up - rice

Baked Brown Rice

1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup brown rice
2 Tbsp Onion Soup Mix (We used Knorr)
1/4 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 375. 
In a medium pot over high heat, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Stir in butter.
In a 2.5 qt oven safe dish, spread the brown rice and sprinkle with the onion soup mix. 

Pour in the boiling chicken broth/butter mixture and stir well to combine.
Cover with tinfoil and bake at 375 for approx 45 minutes - until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Stir in the frozen peas and let sit 5 minutes.
Serve hot.

Now, on to the asparagus.

Festive Baked Asparagus

2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar reduced to 3 Tbsp
2 Tbsp tomato, finely diced
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp crumbled feta
2 Tbsp dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400. 
In a mixing bowl, toss asparagus with oil and salt & pepper.

Spread in a single layer on oven safe dish (or cookie sheet)
Bake at 400 until asparagus is fork tender, about 20 minutes.

Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and sprinkle with feta.

Sprinkle with tomatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.

Serve immediately. 
Lastly, it's veggie time!

Roasted Vegetables With Farmer's Sausage

1 very large carrot, cut in chunks
1 large rutabaga (or turnip), cut in chunks
1/2 a medium butternut squash, cut in chunks
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed 
1 cup button mushrooms, stems removed
1 medium sweet potato, cut in chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 - 4 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
2 links double smoked farmer's sausage, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400.
Make sure all your veggies are prepped (ie: washed, peeled, cut) 
Toss chopped veggies (including garlic) in the oil and sprinkle generously with salt & pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).

Roast veggies at 400 until fork tender, about 30 - 45 minutes, keep checking.
When veggies are almost done, scoop them into an oven safe casserole dish and place them on the lower rack of the oven.
Slice the farmer's sausage.

Spread it evenly on the cookie sheet you just used for the veggies - except switch the parchment paper for tinfoil!

Place under broiler and cook until sausage is nicely browned. 
Spread on top of the veggies.

Top with the Parmesan cheese.

Return to rack, under broiler, and cook 1 - 2 more minutes, until cheese is melty.

Serve immediately.
Maybe with a little wine....

So much tastiness AND it's even healthy.
Healthy is always good. 

 All those colors are just too pretty....

Oh, yeah, and don't forget a little whole grain bread with a little butter to round out the meal.

Now - here is how to enter to win your very own beautiful CW by CorningWare 2.5 Quart Vermillion Baker.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 25, 2015

Clif Bar Review

Sue and I were lucky enough to be chosen to participate in a Clif Bar (Visit their website HERE)  promotion.
They sent us samples to review of several of their Organic Trail Mix Bars in 5 different flavors: 
Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Raspberry, and Coconut Almond Peanut.
Sue and I thought we would immerse ourselves in the experience by setting the scene with each flavor. I mean... they are "trail" mix bars... am I right?

There's a trail. There's a bar.

We set up a little picnic site for out first sampling on a hill top...

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Raspberry.... check.
Texture - good. Chewy with a bit of crunch. 
Flavor - good, a little more fruity than chocolaty. 

Then back on the trail again....
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.... check.
Texture - good. Crunchy & chewy. 
Flavor - very good. I mean - chocolate & peanut butter. Hello! What's not to love?

We then decided on a little lake side break.
Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt....check.
Texture - good.
Flavor - very good. The hint of saltiness adds a little somethin' somethin' extra

Aye.... 'tis a thing of beauty.

Here we also tried another tasty choice.
Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond.... check.
Texture - good. Nice and chewy.
Flavor - Good. Perfect amount of chocolate and cherry. 

For our last bar we had a visit from some wildlife. 
Melman the moose approved.
Coconut Almond Peanut.... check.
Texture - good.
Flavor - very good. If you don't like chocolate then this is the way to go!

So... our verdict.
Keep in mind that, while we were given the samples for free, our opinions of the products our completely our own!!
My favorite: hands down, the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.  
Least favorite: Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Raspberry. (Still good but I wasn't a huge fan of all the fruit with my chocolate.....)
Sue's favorite: Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
Least favorite: Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Raspberry. (She' also wasn't a huge fan of the fruitiness compared to the others.) 
If you are looking for a sturdy, gluten free, vegan/vegetarian trail mix bar to take on a hike, for breakfast on the go, or just for a quick healthier snack... we recommend giving the Clif Bar Organic Trail Mix Bars a try. They are apparently carried by a lot of major retailers so are easy to find!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Raisin Filled Spice Cake

Let me tell you why you fall in love with this cake.
I know, I know... it says "raisin filled" and you are thinking, Riiiiiiiight. No one loves raisins. 
No one.
Not when there is peanut butter and chocolate and caramel and all those other glorious flavors out there. 
Here's the thing...
This is so different from all those other flavors that your taste buds won't know what to do with themselves. Besides.... raisins are healthy, right? That makes this healthier than all those other flavors. Totally. Don't question it. 
The texture of the gooey filling together with the perfect crumb of the cake and the smooth pudding frosting is simply heaven on a platter. Sweet, but not too sweet. Perfect for those who don't like the heavy sweetness of chocolate and caramel and peanut butter treats. (Are there really people out there who don't like those things?)
Are you ready to fall in love?

Raisin Filled Spice Cake

2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/8 tsp cloves, ground
1/8 tsp allspice, ground
1 cup butter
1 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 cup half & half cream (can use whole milk)

Raisin Filling
1 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup sour cream
pinch salt

Vanilla Pudding Frosting
2 cups whipping cream
1 pkg vanilla pudding mix (4 serving size)

chopped, toasted walnuts

Prepare cake - Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 - 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. 
In another bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together until creamy, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. 
Beat  in flour mixture alternating with cream, beating after each addition. 
Spread evenly into prepared pans, batter will be thick.

Bake at 350 for approx 20 - 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Tops should be golden brown.

Remove from heat and let cool in pans on wire rack for 5 - 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen cake and then invert on to wire racks to cool completely. 
While cakes are cooking you can prepare the raisin filling.
Prepare raisin filling - Put sugar, raisins, sour cream, and salt in a medium saucepan.

Stir until well combined. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes (again, stirring constantly). 
Remove from heat and cool completely. 

When it is time to assemble your cake, you can prepare the pudding frosting.
Prepare frosting - In a large mixing bowl, pour the cream. Add in the pudding mix. Beat with electric mixer until thickened and smooth, scraping sides as needed.
Assemble cake - Place one cake layer on serving platter. Cut a circle in the cake, about 1/2 inch from the edges, all around the top of the cake. Scoop out about 1/2 inch of the cake to form a hollow in the cake. This is where the raisin filling is going to sit so it doesn't ooze out the sides of the cake.
Do the same to the other layer of cake.

You can eat the cake you have scooped out or save for another use.
Scrape the cooled raisin filling into the hollow in the cake.

Place the second layer of cake, upside down over the filling (so the hollow you created is facing the raisin filling.) 

Now the filling will be all snug and cozy in the center of your cake to firm up.
Frost the sides and top of the cake with the pudding frosting.

You can use all the frosting so it is nice and thick all over OR, you can do what I did, and frost it very thinly all over so I could pipe some roses on top.

So pretty!
I am so proud of myself. First time attempting roses EVAH!! 
Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

And when you cut it.... ooey gooey raisin perfection.

Nice, right?

Wouldn't this cake be perfect for your next get together?

Why, yes.
Yes it would. 

I also pressed some toasted, chopped walnuts around the base of the cake to fancy it up even more and add another layer of texture to the cake. 
Not necessary though but a nice addition.
Don't worry if you can't pipe anything fancy. Just spread the frosting on nice and thick all over the cake. It will look almost as gorgeous and taste just as amazing. 
For more fun and tasty links, be sure to check out these fab sites - Dizzy Busy & Hungry, Nap Time Is My Time, Adventures of Mel, Carole's Chatter