Monday, November 4, 2019

Around the Kitchen Table November with books #giveaway



We all have days when we're just swamped and a shortcut or two would be so welcome. I confess that I do cook mostly from scratch. Even Baron's meals. I try to make my own barbecue sauce. I have whipped up mayonnaise and Hollandaise Sauce, but I don't do either one of those frequently. I love making pesto with fresh basil at least once in the summer. And the best tomato sauces, in my opinion, are usually the ones that are homemade.

Frankly though, some of these things just aren't possible on a regular basis due to the speed of life. I use Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise. And I love Woodstock Bread and Butter Pickles, which are just the right combination of sweet and tangy. I'm addicted to organic Triscuits and Mi-Del gingersnaps. Shh, I admit to buying a grocery store Angel Food Cake, but I don't have high hopes for that.

However, I draw the line at whipped cream. I always whip it myself. Don't want to pull out the mixer? I recommend the Braun Multi-Quick immersion blender. It come with a whisk and whips cream in no time at all with a minimum of fuss.

What one or two food products are so good that you use them instead of making them yourself?

From DarylI have to admit that I love Paul Newman's creamy Caesar dressing. For a celiac, it's hard to find  dressings that aren't laced with flour. This one is yummy and my go-to dressing.  I also love Mrs. Richardson's caramel ice cream sauce.  I don't have it often, but I keep it on hand, when I want that special something added to a dessert.



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From Ellie: One thing that I always grab at the grocery store is Pepperidge Farm’s puff pastry. I know, I know, it’s terrible but I’ve never attempted to make my own flaky puff pastry. And, when I was interviewing a professional pastry chef for research many years ago, I learned that many artisan chefs buy store bought puff pastry, simply for the sake of time, so there’s validation. The other thing that is stocked in my fridge is Tribe hummus. I could live on hummus, but don’t always have the time to pulse chickpeas into a beautiful silky, smooth dip. It might be cheating, but it’s so delicious I don’t even feel guilty!
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DENISEI used to make my own pizza sauce, but once I tried Mids Pizza Sauce, I decided not to bother anymore. It is just the right combo of sweet, spicy, and tangy. And one jar is the perfect amount.

I also used to make my own chopped salads, but when Aldis started stocking the Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kit I stopped. By the time I bought and/or prepared the green and red cabbage, romaine lettuce, kale, carrots, edamame, sunflower seeds, quinoa, and sweet onion vinaigrette dressing it just wasn't worth it anymore.

LESLIE: Ellie, I think we've all agreed that using commercial puff pastry isn't cheating! I actually had to go look in our fridge to see what shortcuts are must-haves in our house. I grow a lot of fresh herbs, but our growing season is short and basil doesn't like being turned into a houseplant, unlike parsley and tarragon. So we've usually got a jar of Costco's basil pesto on hand, along with a small jar of minced ginger.

There's no Trader Joe's within driving distance, but whenever we drive through Spokane -- about once every year or two! -- we go a little crazy. We pick up a couple of bottles of their Island Soyaki marinade, which is so great for kabobs. I've figured out my own version, but it is fun to use the real thing now and then. Hmm, maybe that's what's for dinner tonight!

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PEG:  I do most of my own cooking as well but there are a few things I do get prepared like the occasional rotisserie chicken. I've also been known to buy the packet of Hollandaise mix because hubby will eat broccoli and asparagus with it but since I don't eat it myself (rarely) I take the shortcut. Although I have found a way to make it in the microwave that's easy and quick and about 90% foolproof!  I also buy a can of mushroom gravy for my shepherd's pie and it's perfectly fine.

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SHEILA:  My Massachusetts grocery store started selling cinnamon bread (the maker was a local bakery called Jessica's). It was the perfect balance of bread and sweetness, and I consumed a lot of loaves over time. It's not the same if you simply sprinkle cinnamon sugar on white toast. (I'll also confess to keeping a can of Redi-Whip handy for quick desserts.)

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VICKI: Wow, that's a tough one. Now that I don't have kids at home and I cook only for myself, I honestly can't think of anything I buy that I can make for myself.  Other than condiments, which not many people make any more. Ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, chutney. Okay, now that I'm thinking of it, there are a lot of things I always buy pre-made. There's a fabulous little two-person company near here called the Portland Bridge Pickling Society whose red pepper jelly is unbeatable. I always grab stacks of jars of pickles and jellies at the local holiday market to keep for myself and to give as Christmas gifts.



LINDA:  I love pesto. You may have noticed over the years. And although I do enjoy making it, and especially enjoy the taste of freshly-made pesto, my usual go-to is Sardo Pesto. It is so, so yummy and goes well with pasta, on pizza, or even "eyeball" appetizers. It's especially great if you're in a hurry and it really is a space saver. I mean, who has room for ten fresh basil plants? :)



MAYA:  As the designated holiday dinner makers in our family for the most of the last 30 years, we've experimented with different types of stuffing, starting from scratch or using various stuffing mixes. We've settled on Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing as everyone's favorite. We make a slightly modified version of the recipe on the package, adding more onions and celery as well as additional herbs: marjoram, sage, parsley. We've tried the cubed and the cornbread stuffing mixes from Pepperidge Farm and they aren't as good IMHO. Look for the blue package, not the red or gold one.


LUCY: Lucini spicy Tuscan tomato sauce or Rao's, in a pinch. Check the sodium content--some of them taste good but could put you into a sodium coma. For puff pastry, I like Dufour's better than other brands because it's not loaded with extra unwanted ingredients. And I'm with Krista--real whipped cream for me or leave it off:) 


CLEO: Like Lucy, my husband and I are happy to recommend Rao’s brand as one of the better jarred tomato sauces. Ditto for their pizza sauce. Like Maya, we will sometimes start with Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing and add to it. Finally, with so many recipes for homemade brownies on this very blog, we are blushing to admit that when we’re in a hurry, Ghirardelli Chocolate Triple Fudge Premium Brownie Mix does the trick (especially if you tart up your pan of brownies with homemade icing). Whether you use shortcuts or cook from scratch, we hope you will eat with joy!

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GIVEAWAY 

One commenter will win these books:


A Call to Charms by Denise Swanson
 Brewed Awakening by Cleo Coyle
Roux the Day by Linda Wiken
Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany
The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Krista Davis
Wreath Between the Lines by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Leave a comment and
remember to include your email
so we can contact you if you win.
And to check your email within a week...
yes, we've actually had fans not claim prizes!


132 comments:

  1. What a fantastic bundle! positive DOT ideas DOT 4you AT gmail DOT com

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  2. Some good reads there. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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  3. Barb CAtanzaro KeeneyNovember 4, 2019 at 7:02 AM

    love trying new recipes and reading

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  4. Ah yes, Pepperidge Farm stuffing! I once made a variation from scratch--nobody in the family liked it. Back to the gold standard in the bag, ever since.

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    1. My go to dressing is brownberry sage and onion. Adding my extras of celery, onion, mushrooms, apples make an awesome stuffing for turkey. Pepperidge farm stuffing works well for my stuffed pork chops. As all you writers books or awesome, your recipes rock!

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  5. I make most stuff from scratch, but appreciate the plug for Rao's. Always looking for recommendations. When I want something sweet in a rush, I'll make Betty Crocker's walnut brownies. A little oil, an egg, and 30 minutes later you have a pan of brownies. Can't be beat! kkcochran (at) Hotmail (dot) com

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    1. I hadn't heard of Rao's, so a new thing for me! ~ Daryl

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  6. I'm not much of a cook so shortcuts are my thing. lol. But now we have to avoid soy so its getting harder to find things without that . I do love those pre-chopped/mixed salads. The books are a great giveaway. Thanks for a chance. Vicki nvictoria77(at)yahoo(dot)com




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    1. Daisy, I know what you mean. Because I need to eat gluten-free, I have to check all the labels. ~ Daryl

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  7. Wow, so many great cozy mysteries. xzjh04(at) gmail(dot) com

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  8. I have wanted to make mayo but haven't gotten around to it. We love the salad bags, especially in the winter. I am now wondering if many of you can from summer produce?
    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!
    browninggloria(at)hotmail(dot) com

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    1. I'm still trying to get my garden to produce enough to can or freeze. So far we gobble up everything right away. ;)

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  9. Barilla pesto with creamy ricotta and arugula! I love the taste and it's just too convenient to buy instead of making!
    f.hancock(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. I use sauce packets for my spaghetti. Love reading.
    judytucker(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. Thank you. As I get older, I buy more. Especially since I’m a single, it’s not worth a lot of trouble. I love Lidl’s 8 vegetable salad. Just add dressing. For desert, I love Aldi’s Hot fudge or caramel sauces when I can find them. suefoster109 at gmail dot com.

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  12. What an awesome giveaway! As for short cuts, Rao's is great for a sauce(and it's low in sugar, my husband is a diabetic) and I've never attempted homemade pasta, though I would love to. I usually buy Muellers or Barilla.

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  13. I only make homemade if the recipe doesn't tell me to buy a big container of some ingredient and then only use a little bit of it. It's easier to buy something already made. Thanks for the contest! ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

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  14. I like Hoboken Farms pasta sauce, stovetop stuffing mix which I modify by using less butter and adding shallots, celery, mushrooms, and sometimes roasted chestnuts, and Heinz gravy in a jar. I started using jars of gravy and no one noticed it wasn’t homemade. I find it’s a timesaver during the holidays.

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    1. Forgot to put my email address sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  15. Always fun to get a glimpse into my blog sisters' kitchens! I'm detecting some regional differences here -- brands, like Rao's, that I haven't heard of, for example. And Sheila's story about the homemade from scratch stuffing no one liked made me laugh out loud!

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  16. I'm especially enticed to try that Pepperidge Farm stuffing. Thanks for the giveaway!
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

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    1. I adore Pepperidge Farm stuffing. Well, I used to. My family still does. (I make it for them.) I make a gluten-free stuffing using a mix, too. Can't remember which one. Must pay attention this season. ~ Daryl

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  17. I can't imagine trying to make phyllo dough for my baklava! Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing is great and I also tweak the recipe by adding celery, onions and sage. I'd love to find a really good tomato/pizza sauce -- I'll have to look for Rao's or Mids. bobandcelia at sbcglobal dot net ~

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    1. I buy Rao's too. It's pricey but worth it. I am super picky about my pasta sauce (my grandmother's was the best) and other brands just don't do it for me. I did find Mario Batali's sauce to be pretty good but our grocery store no longer carries it.

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  18. There is a delicacy at Trader Joe's which we buy instead of making our own dip. Wonderful and tasty. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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