Mint chocolate chip ice cream

Monday, September 27, 2010

I made this ice cream last night and it is WONDERFUL! We almost ate all of it in one sitting.

What you'll need:
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • About 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 4 - 5 drops green food coloring
In a saucepan, mix together eggs and sugar. Stir in milk and then heavy cream. Add peppermint extract. Add food coloring, 1 drop at a time, stirring after each addition until desired color is reached. I used 5 drops. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until the mixture is heated through. Remove from heat and place in refrigerator or freezer until mixture is chilled thoroughly. 

Pour into ice cream machine and let run about 30 minutes. Halfway through the churning process, add the chocolate chips. I have an attachment to my ice cream maker that grinds candy for me but if you don't have that then just roughly chop the chips or you can use a chocolate bar that has been chopped. 

So far this is our favorite ice cream that we've made!

eggs (18 count) -$1.47
sugar - $1.99/4 lb bag
milk - $1.78/gallon
chocolate chips - $1.97
cream – $1.12 
Total - $2.04

Let's go to the fair!

Friday, September 24, 2010

One of my favorite things to do is go to the fair. I love all the games and rides and especially the food! There's just something about "fair food" that makes my taste buds explode!

I also love to do my CSN Stores reviews. They have so many wonderful things to choose from that I take days to decide what I'm going to review. This time the choice was easy...cotton candy!

That's right, I got to review a Nostalgia Electrics Vintage Collection™ Carnival Cotton Candy Maker! It was so much fun and so delicious!

First of all, the machine itself is totally cute! See?

Be sure to let it heat up for about 5 minutes first. Can you see where it's getting hot?

We bought this refill kit that comes with 2 packages of Pink Vanilla flavored sugar and 2 packages of Blue Raspberry flavored sugar...

Plus 24 reusable cones...

But you can use regular granulated sugar in the machine if you don't want to buy the refill kit. For added flavor and color just add a pinch of presweetened flavored drink mix to the sugar.

The regular kit comes with 2 reusable cones and a measuring spoon...


After the cotton candy maker has heated up, turn it off and add one level measuring spoon of sugar to the top. Turn it back on and start the fun!

The sugar spins out into the top and you turn your cone around it to collect...

It was so good! My husband said "make some more!!" :) 

This machine would be great for birthday parties, church carnivals or just for fun and it's not too expensive...only $40.95! The refill kit was only $12.95 so that's totally affordable too!

If you're anything like me you'll love this machine. 


Want one too?

I knew you would! Click here to buy your own Nostalgia Electrics Vintage Collection™ Carnival Cotton Candy Maker. Click here to buy the refill kit. Click here to visit all of CSN Stores 200+ sites.

Not tired of clicking yet? Cool beans :)

Click here to follow CSN Stores on Twitter and click here to become their fan on Facebook. 

I would totally recommend all of the above :)

Have a great day everyone and as always, Happy Cooking!

*Disclaimer: I received a $60 promotional code from CSN Stores in order to do this review*

Mini meatballs on poppy seed rolls

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sometimes the urge just hits me to go all out for a meal and then when I get going, I decide to make it simple. This recipe fits both those categories :)

What you'll need:

For mini meatballs:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 can tomato sauce
For poppy seed rolls:
  • 2 c warm water
  • 2 Tbl active dry yeast
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c non-instant dry milk powder*
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • 1/4 c poppy seeds
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 3 c whole wheat flour
*You can omit the dry milk or use 1 c milk in place of one of the cups of water. If you use regular milk (which I did), scald it first and let it cool off until it is lukewarm.

Pour warm water/milk into a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and whisk until dissolved. Add brown sugar and 1 cup of the all purpose flour and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Stir in dry milk, if using, the salt and the poppy seeds and 1 cup of all purpose flour until well combined. Add remaining flours, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm location and allow to double in size, 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Just look at all those delicious poppy seeds!

Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide into rolls and place on a greased or wax paper lined baking sheet.

Spray with water and allow to rise for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 400°

Place ground beef in a bowl. Press (or finely dice) garlic clove into meat and add Italian seasoning to taste (I used about a tablespoon & a half). Add salt & pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. I always mix mine with my hands because it seems to mix better to me that way but you can use a spoon if you'd like. Shape into 1" balls and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook until the meatballs are light brown. Remove lid and increase heat to medium high. Cook, turning meatballs, until all sides are browned. Add tomato sauce, cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer while bread bakes.

Bake rolls @ 400° for 20 - 25 minutes or until well browned and baked through. 

Cool slightly on rack. Slice in half lengthwise and add 3 to 4 meatballs and plenty of tomato sauce to each sandwich. Top with your choice of cheese (I used provolone) and serve. Yum!

ground beef - $1.89/lb
garlic - 89¢/clove
yeast - 59¢/package
brown sugar - $2.12/bag
poppy seeds - $2.45/jar
all purpose flour - $1.89/bag
whole wheat flour - $2.25/bag
Total - $6.11

Money saving tips & The best tasting products

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My friends at Time Inc® and Real Simple® sent me 8 Secret Ways to Save Money and I thought I would share them with you today.

Real Simple’s Insider Guide to Everyday Deals uncovers eight secret ways to save money on everything from travel to grocery shopping and eating out in the October issue, on newsstands today.

1) Go paperless to earn cash back – These businesses pay you for the privilege of decluttering your mailbox:
  • Allstate Insurance: Up to 5% off your auto premium.
  • Progressive Insurance: A percentage off your monthly bill (depending on the policy) when you enroll in the paperless billing program and/or elect direct payment from your bank account.
2) Bring reusable mugs for cheaper coffee – Pay less for your daily jolt by sipping from your own cup.
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels: Coffee costs $1 – that’s up to 40% off the regular price.
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea: 10 cents off. Bonus: Get 25 cents off when you reuse a bag for beans.
  • Starbucks: 10 cents off.
3) Recycle old products for a reward
  • Apple: Go to to find out if your old computer—Mac or PC—is worth anything. If it is, you’ll get that dollar amount applied toward an Apple gift card. Plus, the company will send you a prepaid label to mail your old machine in for recycling. Bring an old iPod to an Apple store or mail it in and get 10% off a new one.
  • MAC Cosmetics: Customers who return six used MAC product containers receive a free lipstick.
  • Staples: Bring any used ink or toner cartridge to the store and receive $2 in Staples Rewards for use on future store purchases.
4) Go green (as in: count your savings) when you bring your own bag – These supermarkets offer a rebate when you use a reusable tote:
  • Giant: 5 cents a bag
  • Kroger: 4 cents a bag
  • Shoprite: 2 cents a bag
  • Target: 5 cents a bag
  • Whole Foods: 5 to 10 cents a bag, depending on the store
5) Websites that help you live it up on the cheap – Going out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Online, find lots of eating and entertaining discounts.
  • This clearinghouse site features up-to-date coupons for major food chains. For example: one appetizer and two entrees for $20 at Chilis; $5 off a purchase of $15 or more at Ted’s Montana Grill.
  • Check in with this site daily for deals on local activities. Once you’ve made a purchase, send the link to the promotion to friends. If three or more take the bait, your purchase is free.
  • This dining-out program, which ahs more than 10,000 participating restaurants in the United States and Canada, gives members 5% back on their final tab, including taxes and tip. Customers register their credit cards, then use plastic to pay when they dine out. A rebate is refunded to the credit card the next time they eat at one of the participating restaurants.
  • Buying theme-park tickets online can be up to 40% cheaper than shelling out at the gate.
6) Take advantage of your birthday – Getting dibs on the first piece of cake isn’t the only upside to turning a year older. Check out these sweet discounts and freebies:
  • Aveda: Birthday-club members receive a free product—up to a $25 value—custom blended with the aroma of their choice to be redeemed within two months.
  • Baskin Robbins: You’ll receive an e-mail coupon for a free scoop of ice cream and a discount on a birthday cake when you join the Birthday Club.
  • Benihana: Sign up for the Chef’s Table e-newsletter and you will get an e-mail with a gift certificate for dinner worth up to $30 to be used during your birth month.
  • Cold Stone Creamery: Sign up for its birthday club and receive a free treat on your special day.
  • DSW: Loyalty members, who participate in a rewards program, get a $5 certificate that’s good through the member’s entire birthday month.
  • Express: Customers who are store credit-card holders receive a $10 coupon to be applied toward their next purchase during their birth month.
  • IHOP: By joining the Pancake Revolution, you’ll eat for free three times—once when you sign up for IHOP’s mailing list, once on your birthday, and once a year after you register.
  • New York & Company: Store credit-card holders receive a coupon for up to 25 percent off purchases (in store and online), valid during their birth month.
  • Old Navy: Subscribe to Old Navy emails and receive $10 off purchases of $50 or more (online and in stores) for two weeks during your birth month.
  • Red Robin: Enroll in the eClub or the Red Royalty program and score a free burger.
  • Ruby Tuesday’s: Sign up for the So Connected list at and get a free burger on your birthday and other food and bar redemption offers during the year.
  • Starbucks: Toast your day with a free cappuccino (or another drink of your choice) when you have a My Starbucks Rewards card (pick one up at any location). The more you use it, the more freebies you can get, including gratis syrups and refills.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Angel credit-card holders receive either a $10-off coupon for in-store purchases or an e-mailed coupon code good for $10 off online during their birth month.
  • Petco: Register Buster’s D.O.B. (or adoption date) in the Birthday Club and get 10% off products during that month.
7) See the World for Less – Cut the costs of travel with these programs targeted at tourists:
  • Delta: Credit-card holders traveling internationally or domestically can use miles as a discount against normal fares. In most cases, treating miles as coupons means no pesky restrictions on the destination or the trip date.
  • CityPass: Pay a fixed price for five or six muse-see attractions in major cities and Southern California theme parks at up to 50% savings (the pass is valid for nine consecutive days; 14 in Southern California). For example, CityPass charges $79 (instead of the $144 face value) to see six sites in New York City, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the American Museum of Natural History. Bonus: In many cases, the CityPass lets you skip ticket lines. Passes can be downloaded online or shipped to your home.
8) Let the kids eat for free – No need to smuggle in the Goldfish! At these chains, your tots can fill up without emptying your wallet (note: offers can vary by franchise, so call before you go):
  • Applebee’s: On Monday nights, get one free kids’ entrée with an adult-entrée purchase. Bonus, additional kids’ meals are just $1 each.
  • Chevys: One free kids’ meal for every adult entrée purchased every Tuesday.
  • Denny’s: From 4PM to 10PM on select nights, children 10 and under get any entrée from the kids’ menu at no cost with the purchase of an adult meal costing $2.50 or more.
  • Pizza Hut: Kids age three and under eat free from the lunch buffet.
  • Tony Roma’s: On Tuesdays, kids under 12 dine for free with the purchase of an adult entrée.
They also sent me a list of Cooking Light's winners in their first ever taste test awards. Read on, you might be surprised!

The October issue of Cooking Light features the brand’s first-ever Taste Test Awards – “The Tasties.” The editors tested 200 food products and came up with the best-tasting winners in 32 categories. Twenty-six of the categories feature grocery store products while six showcase artisanal standouts. The issue hits newsstands September 17th.

To qualify in the grocery categories, foods had to be available in major markets nationwide.
Cooking Light vetted products against nutrition standards, eliminating those that contained artificial trans fats, too much salt, or artificial sugars. The panel of editors tasted finalists “blind:” the tasters did not know which brands they were sampling. Not all products are low fat. Some higher fat items are on the list because of their superior quality and taste. Used moderately, these products have a place in a healthy lifestyle. In each category, one Grand Prize Winner (GPW) is selected as well as one or more Taste Test Award Winners (TTA).

“Our staff spent most of the last year tasting American grocery and artisanal foods for our awards,” says Editor Scott Mowbray. “We ate our way through bread, cereal, and hummus to find products that we felt deserved recognition. We added the artisanal categories because there is so much exciting action in the world of handmade food right now.”

The 2010 Taste Test Award Grocery Winners:

BEANS, Cannellini:

GPW: Progresso
TTA: Goya 

BUTTER, Salted Gourmet:
GPW: Organic Valley
TTA: Lurpak
TTA: Chimay

BREAD, 100% Whole Wheat:
GPW: Rudi’s Organic Bakery
TTA: Whole Foods Organic 

BUTTER, Unsalted Everyday:  

GPW: Target Market Pantry  
TTA: Borden
TTA: Whole Foods 365 Organic
TTA: Wal-Mart Great Value 

CEREAL, Raisin Bran:

GPW: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
TTA: Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters

GRANOLA, Oat and Honey:

GPW: Cascadian Farms Organic
TTA: Whole Foods 365 Organic
TTA: Quaker Natural 


GPW: Tribe Classic
TTA: Athenos Original

ICE CREAM, Light Vanilla:  

GPW: Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean
TTA: Edy’s Slow-Churned


GPW: Hellmann’s
TTA: Whole Foods 365 

PIZZA, Frozen Margherita:  

GPW: Tandoor Chef Naan Pizza
TTA: Amy’s Kitchen

POPCORN, Light Microwave: 

 GPW: Newman’s Own 94% Fat Free
TTA: Smart Balance Light Butter
TTA: Act II 94% Fat Free Butter

RICE, Long-Grain Brown:

GPW: Lundberg Family Farms
TTA: Arrowhead Mills Organic

RICE, Boil-in-Bag Brown:  

GPW: Uncle Ben’s
TTA: Success

SALSA, Mild Tomato:

GPW: Green Mountain Gringo
TTA: Frontera
TTA: Organicville 

SAUSAGE, Chicken and Apple: 

GPW: Lou’s Famous
TTA: Al Fresco Sweet Apple 

SPAGHETTI, Whole Wheat: 

GPW: Gia Russa
TTA: Racconto
TTA: Target Archer Farms

SOUP, Reduced-Sodium Chicken Noodle:  

GPW: Progresso  
TTA: Campbell’s Select Harvest 

SOUR CREAM, Light:  

GPW: Daisy
TTA: Organic Valley
TTA: Target Market Pantry

SOY MILK, Plain, Light:  

GPW: Target Archer Farms
TTA: Silk

SOY SAUCE, Lower-Sodium:

GPW: Kikkoman  
TTA: Target Market Pantry

TOFU, Firm:

GPW: Melissa’s Organic
TTA: Nasoya Organic
TTA: Tree of Life

TOMATOES, Diced, No-Salt-Added:

GPW: Del Monte
TTA: Whole Foods 365 Organic

TORTILLA CHIPS, 100% Yellow Corn:  

GPW: Target Archer Farms Organic
TTA: Tostitos Natural 

TUNA, Albacore Packed in Water:  

GPW: Whole Foods 365
TTA: Crown Prince Natural

TUNA, Gourmet, Packed in Oil:  

GPW: Ortiz Bonito del Norte
TTA: Cento

YOGURT, Plain, Nonfat Greek:

GPW: Fage
TTA: Chobani
TTA: Voskos Organic 

The 2010 Taste Test Award Artisanal Winners:


Leelanau Cheese Company Raclette, Michigan
Cellars at Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Vermont
Beecher’s 4-Year Aged Flagship Cheddar, Washington
Meadow Creek Dairy Appalachian Semi-Soft Raw Cow’s Milk, Virginia
Sweetwoods Aged Goat Cheese, New Mexico


Lattin Farms Cantaloupe Jam, Nevada
Sticky Finger Bakeries Orange Curd, Washington
Breezie Maples Farm Maple Syrup, New York
Farmer’s Daughter Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney, North Carolina
Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil, Wisconsin
La Nogalera Walnut Oil, California


Turner Ham House Country Ham, Virginia
Tall Grass Buffalo Jerky, South Dakota
Pork on a Fork Cottage Shoulder Cut Bacon, Arizona
Boccalone Nduja, California
Salumeria Biellese Wild Boar Sopressata, New York


Corsair Artisan Gin, Tennessee
Blue Corn Brewery Transcendental Tripel, New Mexico
Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, Colorado
Death’s Door Gin, Wisconsin


Salem Baking Co’s Ginger Spice Moravian Cookies, North Carolina
Effie’s Homemade Corncakes, Massachusetts
Sweet Margy Tofikomin, Illinois
Alma Chocolate Icons, Oregon
Chocolat Handmade Chocolates, Utah


Brooklyn Brine Co. Fennel Beets, New York
McClure’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, Michigan
Freddy Guys Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Oregon
Early Bird Aloha Recipe Granola, New York
Chimay Red Chile Powder, New Mexico
Jeni’s Cherry Lambic Sorbet, Ohio
The Bamboo Ladies Bamboo Pickles, North Carolina
Belle Chevre Belle and The Bees Breakfast Cheese, Alabama
Cajun Grain Brown Jasmine Rice, Louisiana
Massa Organics Crunchy Almond Butter, California

Nut clusters

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hey guys! I made these nut clusters today and let me tell you, they are sooooo yummy!! And super simple to make too :)

What you'll need:
  • 2 c chocolate chips, divided (it's up to you if they're semi-sweet, milk, white or dark...they are all delicious! I used semi-sweet.)
  • 2 Tbl vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 tsp vanilla, divided
  • 2 c nuts, divided (I used peanuts and cashews)
First, let me explain the divided...

I made one batch of peanut clusters and one batch of cashew clusters and that's why I divided everything. If you are using just one kind of nut (and ANY kind of nut is good this way, just make sure they aren't enormous pieces), you can either divide the recipe in half or make a big batch of clusters. Back to the recipe :)

Place 1 cup of chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for one minute. Remove from microwave and stir until all the chips are melted and smooth. Immediately stir in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and then 1 teaspoon vanilla. Work fast because the chocolate starts to firm back up pretty quickly. Stir in nuts, coating them well. Using a spoon, place a "blob" onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. When all the clusters are made, place cookie sheet in freezer for about 5 minutes or until clusters are set up. Remove from cookie sheet and place in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated. Makes about 25 clusters depending on how large you make them.

chocolate chips - $2.18/bag 
vegetable oil - $2.89/bottle
vanilla - $1.98/2 oz bottle
nuts - $1.89 - 3.50/lb
Total - $4.54

Keeping my kitchen up to date

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm a cook that believes it's very important to keep my kitchen up to date. If a pan gets too old, scratched up, dented or just doesn't do what it's supposed to do, it's history! That goes for appliances, utensils, dish towels, pot holders and any thing else that you can think of for a kitchen (including Dutch Ovens that got taken on too many camping trips, Chris :D Just sayin'). 

Y'all know that I'm always saying I love CSN Stores. Well, that old pan is the reason why I love them so much. You can get so many new things for your kitchen from CSN Stores and they are so affordable. Plus they get delivered right to your front door. What could be better than that??!! Nothing that I can think of that's for sure.

And don't start thinking that CSN Stores can only help you with your kitchen. They have over 200 different sites with items for your entire household! They just rock my whole world.

Very soon now I'll be telling you about another great CSN Stores product. I haven't decided what product I want to tell you about but I promise you'll be the first ones to know...right after me :) So stayed tuned...I just know you'll want one too! 

Slow Cooker Mexican Beef Stew from Betty Crocker®

Friday, September 10, 2010

Need a change from classic beef stew? Go Mexican with this easy-to-make flavor-packed version from Betty Crocker® that goes together in minutes!

What you'll need:
  • 2 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, undrained*
  • 1 cup frozen small whole onions (from 1-lb bag)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso® taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (15 oz) Progresso® black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 can (11 oz) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained
  1. In 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix beef, tomatoes, frozen onions and chili powder.
  2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 9 to 11 hours.
  3. With whisk, stir in taco seasoning mix. Stir in black beans and corn. Increase heat setting to High; cover and cook 15 to 30 minutes longer or until thickened.
    Serves 6

    Note: This recipe was tested in slow cookers with heating elements in the side and bottom of the cooker, not in cookers that stand only on a heated base. For slow cookers with just a heated base, follow the manufacturer’s directions for layering ingredients and choosing a temperature.
Make the Most of This Recipe

Special Touch 
Serve this stew topped with shredded Mexican cheese blend and chopped fresh cilantro leaves for an extra-special touch.

Frozen small whole onions, also called pearl onions, are loaded with flavor and are so convenient to use. If you don’t have them on hand, you can substitute 1/2 cup chopped onion.

*If you are unable to find Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, you can substitute any type of diced tomatoes you have available.

stew meat - $2.29/lb
diced tomatoes - $1.29
onions - $3.29/bag
taco seasoning - 99¢
black beans - $1.39
Mexicorn® - $2.19
Total - $11.73

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