Thursday, June 30, 2011

3 Reasons We're Eating More Salad

A few things are contributing to our increased consumption of salads:

Temps are already reaching triple digits here in OK, and after melting at the soccer field for 2 hours I just don't have the energy for much else.

My absolute love and adoration for all things green, grown in the ground and crunchy.

The amount of produce that I am being given from family and friends who's gardens are growing more than they can eat.

No matter the reason, salads are just a fun and simple way of making sure that in the summer when your family is tired after a long day that you are still gathering around the table to eat with each other. When I served the salad above, I got a few grumbles though. A few is that all we're going to eats. Even though it included no less than 7 vegetables, cheese and sauteed chicken. Please forgive the inclusion of Ranch dressing. I grew up eating it, my kids eat it and I try to tell myself if there are more vegetables than Ranch it's still got to be a little healthy right?

It all worked out - everyone walked away full and happy from the table together like it was meant to be.

Just in case you were looking for a recipe or two, here's a great collection of salads that we've done over the last year:


What's your favorite salad to serve for supper?


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Monkey Bread Minis

Can you believe that I had never had monkey bread? Never even heard of it until a few weeks ago. Now it seems I am being stalked by recipe after recipe for this delicious breakfast fare. After giving this recipe a try, I've realized that I have been missing out.

I can't believe how crazy delicious this stuff is. It's all carby and caramely. Just this shy of addictive. Thankfully I have 5 other people to share the 12 mini bites of heaven with. I hate to think what would have happened if they were held over at tennis lesson or got a flat tire. I could have eaten them all!

This recipe came from a recipe book that was included in a swag bag from Box Top University. I love that just by making this a couple of times a month I can contribute a few extra box tops to my kids school:

You only need 5 ingredients to get started on your journey to monkey bread heaven:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cans (7.05 oz each) Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits

Grease or spray 12 regular-size muffin cups. Mix butter and brown sugar; spoon 1 Tbsp of mixture into each muffin cup.

Separate dough into 20 biscuits. Cut each biscuit into 6 pieces.

Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon bag. Shake pieces in the bag to coat with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Place 10 pieces in each muffin cup and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 1 minute, then turn upside down. Serve Warm.

FYI: I used Grand's as it was the type of biscuit I had on hand. They were a bit to big. I had dough left over even after a little smooshing to get more to fit into each muffin cup. And when they came out of the oven, I had to do a bit more smooshing to get them sopping up all that delicious caramel.  I am a big fan of use what you have, but if you are buying ingredients for this recipe stick with the small biscuits. I bet they will work out a lot better with no waste.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blueberry Buckle

On Saturday morning, our weather here was blissfully cooler (mind you, it was still in the 80s and humid), so we decided to strap on Rory's backpack and walk to a diner for breakfast.  The little diner we were trying out was not 30 feet from our local farmers' market, so we thought we'd grab a few yummy items right after breakfast.  It's so fun taking Rory to the market because her little backpack elicits so many "Awww"s and smiles from everyone, and little kids come right up to ask if they can pet her.  It's seriously adorable.  But, I digress... :)

This last weekend, we grabbed some blueberries from a stand and tucked them into Rory's backpack with green beans, tomatoes, macaroons, and all-natural dog treats.  The blueberries sat on my counter for a day before I stumbled on a recipe to try them out - Blueberry Buckle.  It's moist cake crammed full of blueberries and topped with a light cinnamon sugar streusel.  Also!  I sneaked a little tip into the recipe down there:  Tossing blueberries in a little flour before adding them to a batter will help keep them from sinking to the bottom while in the oven!


Blueberry Buckle
adapted from Allrecipes

3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened (or shortening)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk

2 c. blueberries
2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8" square baking pan.

Cream together sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined.  Scrape down sides of the bowl, and add 1/2 of the milk.  Add another 1/3 of the dry mixture, and repeat until all is combined.  Toss blueberries with the 2 Tbsp. flour, and then fold into batter.  Pour into prepared pan.  In separate bowl, mix together the topping ingredients, until combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle over batter.  Bake 40 minutes, or until passes the toothpick test.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Ingredient Lineup:

Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk.

Fold blueberries into batter.

Sprinkle sugar crumb mixture over top.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Behind the Scenes at General Mills

This past week I got to take my very first trip for my personal blog Getting all my Ducks in a Row. I was chosen as one of 14 bloggers to attend Box Tops University and get a behind the scenes look at General Mills Photography Department.

I learned a lot about Box Tops and got to connect with the other bloggers throughout my trip but one of the highlights for me, being a kitchen accessory addict, was the walk through of the prop room and kitchens of General Mills.

To say that I was speechless would have been an understatement. The vast array of all things kitchen was just down right obscene.

 I've decided that I have got to start a collection just like this - on a smaller scale of course - so that when I get back to trying recipes for the food blog, I have all kinds of beautiful things to show them off!

After we walked through the prop room it was off to the see the kitchens.  I couldn't believe that they were real working kitchens.

Each photography project starts off with someone making the recipe according to package directions with products bought in the same grocery stores that we shop in. This was fascinating to me - but the tour guide was earnest in saying that we want each and everyone who sees it - to be able to re-create it.

 After the recipe has been prepared, most of the time in bulk to get just the right cut of brownie or rise in the cupcake, it is dressed and photographed.

Love the use of tweezers here to get symmetry with the sprinkles of each cupcake. They really take the time to make sure that each and every photograph comes out looking beautiful. So the next time that you see a photograph, video or advertisement from General Mills remember that it's real food, someone took the time to pick out each and every aspect of the photograph and lots of effort and love went into cooking, dressing and photographing it.

Oh and someone ate it!

After each photo session - all left overs are put in a common area of the kitchen and it's first come, first serve!

Another aspect of the tour was the wall of food photos. Each year they host a contest of sorts and allow their employees to come in and join in on the fun. The only rule is that they must use one product in their shot. This really gives new meaning to the term playing with your food!

These are just a few of my favorites:


I am still reeling from my whirlwind trip, the fact that I was chosen and all the information that I learned while visiting Minneapolis, Box Top University and General Mills World Headquarters. It was so much fun to be able to interact with a brand that I have been welcoming into my home for the last 14 years. If your family collects Box Tops your should really check out the 10 Things I Learned at Box Top University post I did on my blog. They are really working hard to make it easier to earn more for your schools!

My flight, accommodations, meals and transportation were provided via General Mills. I was not compensated in any other way and not required to share or post about the trip. But come on - how could you not share this unique experience with others? All opinion expressed is mine and mine alone.


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Monday, June 20, 2011

Make it From Scratch: Taco Seasoning Mix

This morning, I sat down to make my grocery list for the week, and it included taco seasoning for tonight's dinner.  And I got remembering a recipe I'd seen once for homemade taco seasoning.  I dug up the recipe and realized that I was missing only one ingredient.  Perfect!  I added that item to my grocery list and then threw together the seasoning mix when I got back home.  It was seriously so easy, that I'm bummed I didn't make this ages ago!  No funky ingredients, pretty darn inexpensive, and it makes a lot (it fills two of those jars in my photos).  I'm never buying the packets again, hurrah!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Fun: Condiment Gun

Ignoring the potential of sudden ketchup fights ("I've been hit! I've been hit!"), these would be awesome conversation starters at your next bbq! 

Condiment Gun found here

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Chex Mix

You'll remember last Friday, I was ranting about snacks and the whatnot.  Well!  I got permission to post this family recipe, hurrah!  My roommate's Mom used to make up a batch and mail her gallon-sized ziplocs of it to keep handy for munching on.  As her roommate, I got snacks by proxy, and I begged for her Mom's recipe years ago.

I do need to warn you, though - This Chex mix is fairly addicting, and it's not what you'd call super healthy.  But, the  recipe is fantastic to keep on hand for when you need a snack with a little more oomf (to its credit, this Chex mix has a decent amount of protein, fiber, and carbs).  Also, this recipe can easily be made gluten-free and veganized by swapping out the cereal and/or butter for ingredients that fit within your diet.


Peanut Butter Chex Mix

adapted from John's recipe

12 c. cereal (Chex, Cheerios, etc)
2 c. raisins
3 c. nuts (peanuts, almonds, etc)

⅔ c. natural peanut butter
½ c. unsalted butter
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. light corn syrup (or ½ c. honey + 2 Tbsp. water)

Preheat oven to 250o.  Mix cereals, peanuts, raisins, and nuts in a large oven-safe bowl or roasting pan.  Melt peanut butter, butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat (or in a microwave-safe dish).  Stir constantly and heat until bubbly around edges.  Pour over cereal mix and stir.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Makes 7 quarts.

Ingredient Lineup:

I microwaved the sauce until melted, gave it a good stir, and continued heating until bubbly.

Pour the sauce over the cereal mixture, and fold with a
heat-safe spatula until the cereal mixture is evenly coated.

The recipe makes A. Lot.


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