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Food & Wine Magazine 100 Tastes to Try in 2007 – Taste #15 Aspen Kettle Corn

Kettle corn and Food and Wine Magazine. Seems like an odd combination, doesn't it?  That's what I first thought when I noticed that Aspen Kettle Corn was taste #15 in Food and Wine Magazine's 100 Tastes to Try in 2007. What could possibly make something as simple as kettle corn so special that it gets noticed by Food and Wine Magazine? That's what I set out to find as I placed my order last week with Aspen Kettle Corn. The kettle corn arrived on Friday afternoon via UPS (which is always a pleasure considering my one sided love affair with the UPS man.). It arrived in 2 large vacuum sealed bags tied with a decorative raffia bow, just begging to be ripped into and devoured.  The timing of the Aspen Kettle Corn arriving was perfect, as we were preparing to have a household full of family members for our weekend Family Christmas celebration. I thought I'd use one bag to conduct my "research" and then set the other bag out during our gathering for other family members to enjoy. My parents, children and I were the lucky ones to get to try out the first bag of popcorn.  As I was opening the bag I was trying to figure out what could be special about Aspen Kettle Corn? It certainly looked like other kettle corn I had tried in the past. With my kids clawing at my feet begging for a taste, I finally poured it all into one big bowl and set it out for all of us to enjoy. After my first bite I said "Mmmmmmm....it seems saltier than other kettle corn to me." Then my dad took a bite … [Continue reading]

Food & Wine Magazine 100 Tastes to Try in 2007 – Taste #4 Greek Olive Oil

My first official "Must Taste" of 2007 is Food and Wine Magazine's #4 taste - Greek Olive Oil. I've actually had the pleasure of tasting Greek Olive Oil in the past, but decided to do things right and give it a try in the year 2007. The olive oil I decided to use for this is my new favorite olive oil from Alejandro & Martin... their 2004-2005 Fragrant and Fruity Greek Olive Oil. I wasn't aware of the fact that a simple bottle of Greek artisan olive oil could be so different than what we've been using on a regular basis in the past. I was happy with the olive oil we used, until now. Now that I've tasted the various varieties of Olive Oil from Alejandro and Martin, we won't be turning back. The color is natural, rubbing it between my fingers it lacks the "heavy" feel of my other olive oil and the flavor is just as intense as they profiled it to be. In this instance, the flavor of the Greek fragrant and fruity olive oil is just that... fragrant and fruity, with a very pleasant crispness. I decided to test the Greek Olive Oil a few ways. First off I decided to take a little shot of olive oil to let the flavors marinate my taste buds. I was expecting it to feel like taking a shot of Crisco, but it was suprisingly pleasant. In fact, I can imagine that in a few years Olive Oil tastings will be a hip and trendy thing to do, as are wine tastings today. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to swallow the olive oil or if I should spit it out. I decided to swallow it and had an … [Continue reading]

2007 Goals

I posted this info over in my Family Blog, but thought that some of it applied to the culinary side of my life, so thought I'd post it here too. For those of you that read both, sorry for the repetition! All of the talk this time of year seems to be about New Year's Resolutions. I keep meaning to sit down and write some out, but I really feel like I need some quiet time to reflect on what I want to come out of this upcoming year. I haven't had the quiet time, so I thought I'd at least write down what is top of mind for me right now with the caveat that I can change these or add to them later. These are all in addition to the things I've been working on over at 43 Things. Here is my list of my top 10 things I'd like to accomplish: 1) Menu Plan - make a menu plan each pay period and stick with it 2) Budget - Continue using Mvelopes.com and adhere to the budget we've created 3) Host a dinner party each month 4) Blog regularly 5) Tackle the Food and Wine 100 Tastes to Try in 2007 challenge 6) Complete the 2007 To Be Read Challenge 7) Take a digital SLR photography class 8) Take one long family vacation to visit Mike and Ginger/ Mike and Melissa in Chicago, go on to Bryon and Stacy in Ohio, then up to Molly in PA 9) Create a Daily Plan / To Do List for each day and do my best to complete what's on it 10) Start "Flying" again by following the Fly Lady Plan BONUS - Have regular date nights with my husband, at least on an every other month … [Continue reading]

Menu Planning Deviant

Today was the first day of getting back on the "follow my menu plan" bandwagon, and I have already had to stray. I wrote out my list of meals last week and when I went to prepare everything for tonight's Chicken Marsala from the Good Home Cookbook, I realized I was missing the main ingredient. Marsala Wine. I could have sworn that we had a bottle, but after searching through all of the wine we have, I came up empty handed. Since there is not really a good substitute for Marsala Wine, I decided to try out a different recipe. I went to one of my favorite recipe sites, Recipezaar, and typed "chicken mushrooms". A list of tasty looking recipes popped up, but the one that really jumped out at me was the recipe for Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms. I had all the ingredients on hand to make it, and I know that we love the flavors these ingredients make, so I substituted this recipe for my original plan of Chicken Marsala. This dish was so easy to put together and the combination of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and garlic was absolutely perfect. Combined with a Raspberry Vinegrette mixed greens salad, some penne pasta, the delicious Texas Roadhouse Buttery Dinner Rolls that I made, and homemade apple pie and ice cream we had the perfect meal to start the New Year off on the right foot!For the recipes click on the following links:Balsamic Chicken and MushroomsTexas Roadhouse Buttery Dinner RollsKentucky Apple Festival Pie  One month ago today, I dished … [Continue reading]

Bread, Glorious Bread!

If you haven't figured this out already, I'm a carb girl. I love a loaf of fresh baked bread and I am convinced that I could live on bread alone. I have yet to meet a bread I didn't like. That's not to say that I haven't had a few bread making disasters in my kitchen, but for the most part once I got over my fear of yeast and started baking my own bread, I've managed to build quite a reputation among my friends as the "go to baker". Whenever there is a function and I'm asked to bring something other than a fancy kids dish, bread is usually what is requested.The one thing I haven't mastered, until today, was the Baguette. For some reason my baguette's have never turned out right. They are usually way too hard on the outside, and not really that soft and chewy on the inside. We're going to a New Year's Eve shindig tonight and I was asked to bring, among other things, bread. I was feeling quite ambitious and decided to try a new recipe. S'Kat on Recipezaar posted a fresh baguette recipe that seemed to be popular among other chefs and had a set of directions that were different than what I've attempted in the past. S'Kat recommended that during the preheating of the oven process and the baking process, to fill a dutch oven up with water and place it in your oven. This will eliminate the need to continuously open up the oven to spritz the dough while it is baking (which is the method I've always tried) and will create the moist environment needed to obtain a nice crusty outside … [Continue reading]