Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Easy Life of a Bag Lady

Nothing makes my life easier in the kitchen after a day at work than a quick dinner and an easy clean up. Except maybe going out to dinner. But I like to cook most of our meals at home. It just tastes better. And costs less.

I own a slow cooker. Most households have slow cookers. I don't put mine to much use because I haven't found many recipes that pass the test. Most slow cookers nowadays run too hot so the food is way past done by the time I get home from work and the smell the food is putting off is....well let's just say it's off putting. So into my dark cupboard the slow cooker goes for yet another long punishment.

I recently received a package in the mail that contained Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liners.  I was asked by Allrecipes and Reynolds® to put them to the test and give an honest review. And so I pulled out my slow cooker from the deepest darkest corner of my storage cabinet and it was forever thankful to see the light of day once again.

I would have gladly done a review of these gems without receiving a package of them in the mail. But I like free. And I like Reynolds®.  So I couldn't refuse.

I have been using these slow cooker bags for a few years now and I no longer use my slow cooker without them. Before these liners graced my home I would spend hours soaking and scrubbing my removable crock. No more. These slow cooker liners are so easy to use and make cleanup such a breeze.  I just love them. As I do all of Reynolds® products.

Just line your slow cooker with the bags, toss in the ingredients, set it and forget it. When the food is done you just lift the bag and toss in the garbage.  After you remove the food of course. :) I usually have to lightly wipe down the interior of the crock but no more soaking and scrubbing is necessary! Yay! Makes my life so much easier.

My husband and I always tease each other by saying we should eat dessert before dinner because we never leave room for it. So today I am going to share a couple recipes with you but we're having dessert first! I guess I find it ok in the virtual world to eat dessert first. It just doesn't seem right in the real world!

Since it's fall and I was in the mood for some yummy scents of the season I chose to test these liners on an apple recipe. And boy oh boy did it make the house smell delicious! Not at all the off putting smell I had been so used to.  Let me share the yummy goodness with you....

Slow Cooker Apples with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

4 medium tart baking apples (such as Granny Smith or Jonathan), cored
1/4 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup apple juice

Line a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker with a Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liner.

Place apples in a prepared slow cooker. Combine oats, raisins, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Spoon mixture into centers of apples, patting in with the back of a spoon or a narrow metal spatula. Mound any remaining oat mixture on top of apples. Pour apple juice around apples in cooker.

Cover and cook for 3 hours on low.

Transfer apples to serving bowls and drizzle with cooking liquid.

These were so easy and delicious and the house smelled soooo yummy! They were like apple crisp made easy.

Next I'm sharing a slow cooker tortellini recipe that uses these liners. Did I say how much I love these liners? They're the bomb!

Slow Cooker Tortellini with Parmesan  Crisps

1 (15 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 (32 oz) container chicken stock
2 (15.5 oz) cans white (cannelloni) beans, rinsed and drained
1 (28 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups Swiss chard, chopped (I used fresh spinach)
2o oz. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini, uncooked
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese 

Parmesan Crisps:
1-1/2 cups finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or rosemary
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Line a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with a Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liner; set aside.
Add the roasted peppers, broth, beans, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, celery, onions, olive oil, and garlic to the lined-slow cooker. Stir gently with a wooden spoon or rubber scrapper to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Stir in Swiss chard and tortellini gently with a rubber spatula and cook 7 to 9 minutes more or until pasta is just al dente. Serve with Parmesan cheese and Parmesan Crisps, if desired.

Parmesan Crisps: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with Reynolds® Parchment Paper. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, fresh thyme or rosemary, and black pepper. Spoon the cheese mixture into 12 portions, 4 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Pat each cheese portion into a 5-inch circle. Bake 4 to 6 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand on baking sheet until completely cooled. Carefully remove crisps from parchment paper. 

These sure have made this bag lady's life a whole lot easier when it comes to slow cooker cleanup! 

Make sure you put Reynolds® Slow Cooker Liners on your next grocery list. You'll be sure to thank me when you go to make one of these recipes.

Both of these recipes can be found on Allrecipes. Click here for more slow cooker recipes on Allrecipes.

Be sure to visit my previous post, Who Let That Kitchen Gremlin In?, featuring more Reynolds® products. Click here.

Thank you for stopping in!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mushroom Spinach Omelet

Sometimes I just get a craving for something healthy and today I needed a quick easy dinner idea. So I took a peek inside my refrigerator and I found some farm fresh eggs I had just purchased from the local farm market. Gotta love those fresh eggs! And I found some organic spinach and mushrooms. Oh how I love spinach, mushrooms and onions in an omelet. So I guess it's breakfast for dinner!

Even though I love an omelet filled with bacon, sausage, ham, lots of ooey gooey cheese and smothered in sausage gravy I am trying to be a good girl. So today I'm sticking with strictly vegetarian. So let's get cookin'.

Mushroom Spinach Omelet

2 eggs
1 T shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach

1. Whisk eggs, 1/2 tablespoon cheddar, 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook and stir mushrooms and onion until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. 

3. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan. 
4. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil to pan and pour in egg mixture. Swirl pan around to evenly distribute eggs. 

5. Cook until eggs are fully cooked and set in the middle, 5 to 10 minutes. 

6. Place vegetable mixture onto half the egg in the pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese. 

7. Fold the other half of the egg over to cover veggies.
Serve warm.

When your omelet is completed it will look like this:

 And you won't be able to wait to sink your fork into this. Or your teeth. Don't be afraid - rush to your kitchen now and pull out all sorts of omelet filling and get cookin'.

Click -----> here for the recipe that inspired my version.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Simple Tasty Pasta Meal In 20 Minutes

Not having to please my carnivorous better half since I was on my own for dinner tonight I was excited to try something different. I wanted quick. I wanted easy. I wanted something I couldn't get away with for a typical weeknight meal. 

I came across this recipe on in the Barilla collection and since pasta is a rare treat for me I knew I had to sample it. I'm always looking for tasty quick dinners and this fit the bill perfectly for me today. As a matter of fact this would make a terrific side dish to any meal. This is yummy as is but toss in some grilled chicken and it would be an out of this world delish main dish. Heck, that would be sure to make any carnivorous better half happy.

I couldn't believe it - dinner was actually done in 20 minutes. From start to finish. And simple. It couldn't get more simple. If only every night's dinner could be this easy.  

Now let's get to to the recipe. 

Looking for a simple tasty meal in about 20 minutes? Need a pasta fix? Look no further? This tasty pasta dish is great for a speedy main dish or a quick side dish. Give it a try - don't be shy!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Bag of Taters And Craving To Cure

I love, love, love au gratin potatoes and rarely treat myself. I'm the only one in the house that will eat 'em so I don't bother making them. I've got a ham that needs to get eat'n up and what better thing to go with ham than some good cheesy potatoes! I've got myself a craving. And a big ol' bag of red taters. And I got me some cheese.  I'm gonna treat myself.

When I've made au gratin potatoes in the past I've used the dreaded canned soups. I've been trying my dangdest to quit using those but I've gotta admit, they can come in handy on occasion. I just don't make a habit out of it. But this recipe, I'm proud to say, does not use that awful canned stuff.

So....since this recipe used nothing but wholesome yummy ingredients, all of which I had in my cupboard or refrigerator I gave it a go and haven't looked back since. Mmmmm.... Let's get cookin'....

Steak House Au Gratin Potatoes

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large red potatoes, sliced on a mandolin 1/4" thick
1 small onion, sliced 1/4" thick or so
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups grated Sharp Cheddar cheese, reserving 1/2 cup to add towards end of cooking

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 11 x 7 inch baking pan with butter. Layer potatoes and onion evenly in the pan.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour and whisk together until smooth; continue to whisk and cook for one minute. Reduce heat to low and stir in heavy cream, milk, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add in the 1-1/2 cups cheese (1/2 cup at a time) and stir until melted. Pour cream mixture over the potatoes. Cover with foil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Continue baking until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove potatoes from the oven and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Return to oven and bake until the cheese is melted and potatoes start to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Potatoes will thicken more while cooling.

These are so delicious! I almost ate the whole pan myself. Then I remembered I'd hate myself, so I quit. I will be thankful at lunch tomorrow :)

I found the original recipe at and tweaked slightly to my cooking style and to my tastes.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Popcorn and Pretzel Sweet Snack Mix

I love a sweet salty snack and if it has nuts I'm all over it.  If you're a popcorn lover you're gonna love this! This is so easy and tasty you'll have to make more than one batch.

The crunch of fresh popped popcorn combined with the creaminess of sweet white chocolate with a hint of cinnamon, the crunch of toasted almonds, saltiness of crisp pretzels and the sweetness of dried blueberries and cranberries all combined together make this snack out of this world. I found a bag of dried blueberries at Costco and just had to have them. I love them more than raisins. I thought they would go good with this popcorn and I was right! Lets get poppin'.

Popcorn and Pretzel Sweet Snack Mix

4 cups freshly popped plain popcorn
2 cups mini pretzels
1 cup pan roasted sliced or chopped almonds
1/2 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 (12 oz.) pkg. premium white baking morsels (look for the brands made with real cocoa butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Line a 15" x 10" x  1" baking pan with a sheet of Reynolds(R) Parchment Paper; set aside.

Pour popcorn, pretzels, almonds and dried blueberries and cranberries into large bowl. Discard un-popped popcorn kernels.

Melt white morsels according to package directions. Stir in cinnamon; pour over popcorn and pretzels. Toss to evenly coat.

Spread evenly on parchment lined tray. Refrigerate to harden, about 1 hour. Break apart large pieces. Store in airtight container.

You may just want to make two batches of this. One for you and one to share. Because, trust me, one bite and you'll be hooked! Enjoy!

My twist on a recipe found on

Critter's and Cookies - Rolled Sugar Cookies

I promised on my last Who Let That Kitchen Gremlin In? blog post to share the Reynolds® sponsored recipe involving cookies and critters. Well...I kinda fibbed. There really are not critters to talk about unless you count these cute little cookie chicks. Aren't they the cutest little critters you've ever seen? 

I got the chance to work with Reynolds® parchment paper and boy did it sure help in rolling these cookies out. Putting the dough between flour dusted parchment paper and rolling them with a rolling pin was the cat's meow...or should I say the chick's chirp?

Let's get onto the recipe -

Rolled Sugar Cookies

Reynolds® Parchment Paper
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and combine.

Wrap dough in parchment paper and place in zip style bag; refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with Reynolds(R) Parchment Paper; set aside.

Roll out dough 1/8" thick between 2 lightly floured sheets of parchment paper. Cut dough with 2" cookie cutters. Place dough on parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on edges. Slide parchment paper with cookies onto cooling rack; cool.

Decorate as desired. I used the Royal Icing recipe below.

Royal Icing

3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups confectioners' sugar approx. 1 lb. box)

6 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients with a hand mixer on high speed until icing forms peaks, approx. 10 minutes.

Tint with your favorite food coloring. 

No live critters were hurt during the making of these cookies. 

The original cookie recipe can be found on 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Who Let That Kitchen Gremlin In?

When I cook or bake sometimes I put my all into it. What I mean by my all is all my dishes, all my utensils and all the pots and pans I own.

I'll look around my kitchen when I'm done & wonder what gremlin made this mess and who let him in. Then I start looking for the kitchen fairy I am certain must have slipped in behind that little gremlin and is waiting in the wings to clean up his mess.

Unfortunately that gremlin and kitchen fairy is me ... all me! Talk about wearing many hats in the family!

For those who know me know that I love to take pictures of my food. All the food on this blog are made and photographed by yours truly. What you don't know about is what kitchen messes I shove aside to find a clean spot in order to photograph that yummy dish after I'm done cooking. It's a sickness I tell ya. But a good sickness.

Many times, to help ease the stress of messy cleanups, I will turn to Reynolds products. 

One of my all time favorites is their parchment paper. I turn to parchment for many uses. Here are some of the ways I've put it to use - 

I've experimented with making a pizza using cauliflower for the crust . The parchment paper worked great allowing me to form my crust right on my baking sheet. Um...this is half of a pizza - the other half is history. Yum!

Just form parchment paper into a cone and it makes a neat fry holder for my zucchini fries.  These are baked and not fried and use almond flour. I DO try to eat healthy occasionally. Notice I put the zucchini and the cauliflower before the yummy stuff!

Using parchment paper allowed me to not have to look for my napkins to put under my cookies ;)  This recipe will be featured in a future post. So yummy!

And it made for some interesting entertainment while I watched my hubby craft a nice parchment paper sack for this project. I said "Honey, I need something creative for this popcorn photo I want to take. Can you make me a bag?" His response - "Sure darling, I'm on it!" He did great! Can you even buy a parchment bag?

But a fun idea I had for using parchment paper came when I was working on a project for Zappos and Allrecipes. I needed to prepare, photograph and review a recipe for Jell-O Fruit Tarts. I always try to think of creative ways to photograph my food. Racking my brain for ideas, I remembered how the paper in my cauliflower pizza experiment had browned in the oven. Aha! So......

Jell-O Patriotic Mini Fruit Tarts
I baked some parchment paper in a hot oven until it turned brown. Tore it into pieces and here we have a creative way to use parchment paper! But just so you know, baked parchment paper does not taste good. 

So needless to say I find many uses for parchment paper and 

 Click on their logo to go to

 I dearly love Reynolds products. I also use their non-stick foil which is a dream, slow-cooker bags, turkey oven bags, wax paper and baking cups. 

So even when that kitchen gremlin makes his appearance and the kitchen fairy is nowhere to be found, I can always count on Reynolds products to help make clean-up a breeze!

I'll be sure to share a recipe that Reynold's sponsored in a future post. Stay tuned .... it involves the cookies above and critters.

Check out more delicious recipes on the  Reynold's  website or their facebook page Reynold's Kitchen.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Reynolds Kitchens. I received a sample to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

#AllstarsReynolds  #MealMagic