Wednesday, March 27, 2013

taking shOTT's

Ott, E is the photographer in this house...and I was happy with my little point and click camera.  But here lately it seems as though my point and click was taking more bad photos than good photos.  No matter where I stood, how I zoomed, what setting I had it on, or if the flash was on or not, my pictures were usually blurry, orange and people had red eyes.  So you can imagine my frustration when over half of the pictures I have of MachhiOTTo are not even worth downloading and end up getting deleted because of the poor quality.  So I decided it was time for me to get a new camera and off to the store I went.  
Ott, E told me I needed a DLSR camera.  (Now again, I want to state that I'm a point and click kind of a photographer so anything beyond that is completely foreign to me.)  Inside the store we located the cameras and started to look them over.  There were several black cameras all lined up by different brands, price points and features.  One looked just like the next other except for the name written on it, and I really had no clue what to look for in features or options.  But, then in the corner..... something caught my eye... something.... red......  And while it wasn't a red pair of shoes, I experienced the same intrigue and complete concentration when I see something red and shiny.   It was a red.... camera.....  Once I saw it.... it was like a beam shined down on it and I couldn't have told you anything else that was going on in the store right then.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

slow cooker lamb shanks with tomatoes & leeks

I have come to the conclusion that this winter will never end. Day after day of cold & snow & wind... so I am keeping the crock pot at our house very busy with lots of recipes. Today I'm cookin' up another lamb recipe with tomatoes, leeks and beans all served over a heaping pile of mashed potatoes. I used 2 lamb shanks in this recipe and found the flavors of the lemon and tomatoes to give this dish an interesting flavor that combines citrus with the hearty home cooked flavors of the lamb and potatoes. This dish will stick to your ribs and get you through these ever lasting days of cold and the flavors are sure to stimulate your taste buds. So without further ado here is my recipe for Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes & Leeks.
(Please note I'm not listing the ingredients or recipe for mashed potatoes as I figured you would already know how to make them and had a recipe of your own already, but you can serve this over the potatoes.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

ConAgra Healthy Choice Top Chef Review

It's no surprise if you read this blog very much that I like to make things from scratch and share those recipes on her.  But like any mom and wife there are those nights when something completely unexpected happens and theres no time for anything else but a Frozen Food you pop in the microwave.  You know the nights and you know the reactions you get from your family when you do... it probable goes along the line of "this pizza tastes like cardboard" or "these vegetables are mushy."  So when I was given the chance to try ConAgra Foods Healthy Choices Top Chef Chicken Margherita, I knew a crazy day would arise at some point so I was happy to have it handy to put to the test.
To my surprise as well as my families the meal was easy to make and tasted far better than what we were used to or expecting.  I was also surprised that the recipe was created by participants of Bravo's top Chef TV show as I've been know to watch that show a time or two.  The Chicken Margherita with Balsamic had nice pieces of Chicken tenderloin with angel hair pasta, roasted garlic and tomatoes in a Balsamic Vinaigrette sauce.  You could quickly smell the aroma of the vinaigrette and once I tasted it, the flavors of the tomatoes and seasonings only enhanced the dish more.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sam's Club Simply Right Diapers

Diapers, Diapers and more Diapers!!!!  Ask any new parent and they will tell you diapers are the one thing they never leave home without and yet never seem to have enough of.  I shop for deals, I shop for quality, I shop for extra absorption and leak protection and cute designs and wetness indicators and the list goes on.  So when SIMPLY RIGHT™ asked me to check out their diapers I was happy to MacchiOTTo to put their diapers and wipes to the test.
First off, I liked the jungle design on the outside of their diapers.  MacchiOTTo has lots of zebra clothes so I thought it was super cute to have a zebra on her diaper as well.  The SIMPLY RIGHT™ diapers seemed to fit her well and have extra stretchy side panels and waist for a custom fit diaper and were very absorbent.  The tabs stuck and stayed in place while she wore them as the diapers have a 3-Point Soft Stretch® System for a custom fit to help prevent leaks

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Decorating & Giving Away Blue Ball Heritage Jars

This is MacchiOTTo's first Easter so I've been working on getting the house decorated.  One of the decorations I had growing up was an Easter tree.  We would tie Easter eggs on strings and hang them outside on a tree in the front yard.  Then we would gather up some freshly budded willow branches or forsythia branches and place them in a vase. Sometimes we would decorate these branches with Easter eggs as well.  So today I'm showing you MacchiOTTo's Easter Egg Tree with Willow branches and decorative eggs and chicks in a Blue Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jar.  Not only am I showing off these lovely blue canning jars but I'm giving a pack away!!!
The Ball brand has released the limited-edition Heritage Collection Pint Jars. The jars commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Ball brothers’ Perfect Mason Jar. Introduced in 1913 in Muncie, IN, the name “Perfect Mason” acknowledged the first-ever self-manufacture of each part of the Ball jar – ensuring a perfect fit and revolutionizing the home canning process by providing canners with matching jars, lids and bands in a single unit. The Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars feature a vintage-inspired blue tint, period-correct logo and anniversary embossment.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tex Mex Casserole

I've started looking for more recipes that I can prepare as freezer meals, to have on hand for those busy weeknight dinners.  One of the recipes I recently tried was for a Tex Mex Casserole which uses rice and beef and topped with tortilla chips.  This crunchy Mexican flavored dish was a tasty hit and will be handy to have around for meals later this year.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips

Who knew veggies could taste so good?!?!  In fact it was a "giant" surprise to me that Green Giant is making Veggie Snack Chips.  Now we eat canned Green Giant Veggies, we eat frozen Green Giant Veggies but now in the snack isle of your local grocery store you can purchase and eat Green Giant Veggie Chips.  Real veggies are used in these chips!!!  These snack chips have great flavor and as you can see in photo below make a great side item for your dinner.  Real vegetables are mixed right in to make for a unique snacking experience.  I'm particularly thinking ahead of how great these will be for all of our summer cookouts!
Or if you have children, it's a great way to hide some veggies in what they are eating.  (Trust me they taste so good they won't know the difference.)  Right now there are two varieties of  Veggie Snack Chips to choose from: 
  • The Green Giant™ Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips – Zesty Cheddar Flavor are made with real vegetables, 17 grams of whole grain per serving (48g are recommended daily), and are naturally flavored.
  • The Green Giant™ Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips – Sea Salt Flavor are made with real sweet potatoes and made with 14 grams of whole grain. Plus, they contains 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips (10g per 28g serving).

These snacking chips contain whole grains which I thought gave the chips a hearty flavor.  The chips have 0 trans fat and overall have 30-40% less fat than regular potato chips.  That right there just makes me feel healthier while snacking on them.   

Thursday, March 14, 2013

LeapFrog Tag Jr. Books Review & Giveaway

One thing MacchiOTTo and I do everyday is read.  After all, studies show that the more children are read to the better they do in school.  So we read the classics.  We read books that rhyme.  We read about farm animals, shapes and colors. We read the newspaper, magazines and sometimes old college textbooks.  In general she seems to like books and it keeps her busy so I am happy to oblige. 
Some days we read at home or go to the library.  We even read at the grandparents.  Anything I can do to make reading more fun and interesting for her, I try.  So when LeapFrog offered us the opportunity to review their Tag Jr. Books and Book Pal (for ages 1-4) I "leaped" for joy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Birthday Caketini

I'm not going to name any names but there is an Ott celebrating a birthday this week and every good party needs a signature party drink. Hence the birthday caketini recipe I'm sharing with you today using International Delight new Light Iced Coffee. First off I enjoy drinking International Delight Light Iced coffee every afternoon around 2 pm.  The rich and creamy beverage served over ice gives me me my afternoon pick me up to get me thought the rest of the day.  International Delight Light Iced Coffee is made with 100% premium Arabica Coffee and only has 100 calories per serving.
Light flavors come in both Vanilla and Mocha flavors.  I selected the vanilla flavor for my mixed drink and found the flavors to enhance the taste of the other ingredients in this drink.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bourbon Butternut Soup with a Cinnamon Sugar seed garnish

I know I have shared butternut soup recipes with you before on this blog, but this one is different. This one has a twist. This one has a kick. This one has..... bourbon in it. But don't let that scare you off, the flavors of the butternut squash are only enhanced with the peppery taste in the bourbon and make for a warm and hearty soup.  I topped the soup with some of the seeds from the inside of the butternut that I roasted in the oven and coated with sugar and cinnamon.  These seeds by themselves made for a great snack as well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cheesy Zucchini Soup

So today it's supposed to snow 2-5 inches and then in 4 days it will be 50 degrees.  I guess it's that time of year, but regardless what the weather is doing outside, inside we are making a Cheesy Zucchini Soup with garlic croutons.  This creamy soup has great flavor and is packed with lots of vegetables so you will be eating good and staying warm on these cold nights.  
The recipes calls for 6 cups of shredded zucchini.  And if you'll recall last summer I shredded and froze zucchini from our garden, so I pulled out a couple bags and this saved me some prep time in my kitchen.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

a hearth cushion to baby proof the fireplace

Now that MacchiOTTo is pulling herself up and walking along the edge of things one of her favorite places to play is along our fireplace hearth.  It's a good height for her to pull herself up and it's a good place for mom to get really nervous that she may fall and hurt herself.  So I was looking for ways to baby proof the hearth but still maintain some functionality and design to our living room.  While I would feel safer wrapping the edges in bubble wrap that probably wouldn't look to appealing.  And the baby stores sell these hearth liners, but there a little on the expensive side for something that is still an eye sore when the fireplace is somewhat of the main focal point in the room.  So when I came across the idea to make a cushion for the fireplace, I decided this was the best route to go.  Now MacchiOTTo has a softer place to play, I feel safer having her play there and it looks nice in my living room.  And for an added bonus when company comes over there is now additional seating for people.  If we do use our fireplace I would take the cushion off, but we really only use it in winter when company comes over, so the rest of the year, this cushion is a permanent fixture.