Monday, May 28, 2012

"The Christmas Table" cookbook review and GIVEAWAY!

Today I am reviewing a new cookbook for Gooseberry Patch, called "The Christmas Table."
I love GP's cookbooks, but the Christmas ones are particularly wonderful. The graphics, tips and memories shared from readers make these fun to just sit and read! Read on to find out how you can win a FREE copy of this great new cookbook! But first, I have tested three recipes and I'd love to share them with you!

The first one I tried is called "Angelic Scampi." The creator touts this as a healthier version of traditional shrimp scampi.
16-oz. package angel hair pasta, uncooked
2 tsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1/4 Cup white wine or chicken broth
2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 Cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; saute one minute. Add oregano; stir to coat in oil. Add shrimp; saute until pink, about 3 minutes. Pour in 1/4 C. wine or broth; reduce heat and simmer one minute. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 3/4 C. chicken broth; add to skillet. Simmer about 2 minutes, until sauce thickens; season with salt and pepper. Transfer cooked pasta to a large serving bowl; pour shrimp and sauce over top. Toss before serving. Serves 4.
VERDICT: This was pretty good. I appreciated the fact that this is a much healthier version of traditional scampi. Truth be told, I found that I missed the butter...the richness was absent. Plus I love garlic but this was too much. Both my husband and I thought so.
The next recipe I chose is called, "The Best Scones Ever." With a name like that, I had to!
3 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. plus 2 Tbsps. sugar, divided
2-1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 C. butter, softened and sliced
1 C. buttermilk
Optional: 1 C. cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips, raisins or currants, or 1/2 C. crystallized ginger, dried apricots or dried cherries, chopped

In a large bowl, stir together flour, 1/3 C. sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture is coarse and crumbly.
Add buttermilk; stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.
Add optional ingredients, if using. (I used a combination of Craisins and dried cherries, chopped.) Gather dough into a ball, pressing gently to hold together.
Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface; knead about a dozen times, or until dough is no longer sticky. Cut dough in half. Roll or pat dough into a 1/2-inch thick, 7-inch circle. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Cut circle into 6 or 8 wedges; place on ungreased baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough. Allow dough to rest 10 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden.
Cool on wire racks. Makes 12 to 16.
VERDICT: These were really delicous. Even my kids, who were skeptical, loved them. So very simple to make and they go perfectly with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee! The only thing I would change is reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. I took these out at 10 minutes at 425. The bottoms were very brown, and as you can see, the tops could be browner.

OK! One last recipe to share, and it's a good one. If you've been reading my blog, you know I've been having a mini-obsession with Buffalo chicken dip. When I saw a new recipe for this I had to give it a try! It's called, "Blue Cheese & Buffalo Chicken Dip."
8-oz. package cream cheese, softenend
1/2 Cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 Cup favorite flavor mild or hot pepper sauce
1/2 Cup blue cheese crumbles
(2) 12-1/2 oz. cans chicken breast, drained
1 Cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
crackers, tortilla scoops or sliced veggies

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, salad dressing and hot sauce. Fold in blue cheese and chicken. (I did not add extra blue cheese chunks, just a bit more dressing. Also, I only had one can of chicken so that's all I used.) Spread in an ungreased 8"x8" baking pan; sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve warm with dippers. Serves 8 to 12.
VERDICT: Super yum!! This was spicier than most, since there is a fair amount of hot sauce. It's creamy, thick and the cheese on top adds an extra dimension of flavor. Really, really good. This is now my family's favorite version of this dish!

I have an extra copy of "The Christmas Table," generously provided by the good folks at Gooseberry Patch. Would you like to win it? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post WITH your email address attached and I will pick a random winner on JUNE 8th. That's it! If you can't wait, you can purchase the book at GP's website here.

Well thanks for reading, and best of luck!

♥ Jen

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mallory's Big Box

I love making little makeup/doo-dad bags. I've made lots in the past, mostly the Little Glam Bag...

And these, Abby's Treasure Box from This & That.
I had stopped at my LQS last week to pick up some Best Press, and I spotted the pattern "Mallory's Big Box," also from This & That. I've been eyeing it for awhile online, so I grabbed it while I was there. It's like a big version of Abby's Treasure Box, with a few variations. I chose these fabrics...
Charlevoix charms, and a print from Denyse Schmidt for Joann's.
The box was fun to make. The heavy interfacing it calls for makes for some interesting sounds from my sewing machine at times. At the end, when you're supposed to sew four layers of fabric/interfacing together (while sewing the handle on) my needle broke. I switched to a heavy-duty needle, lowered the tension, and I made it through. Next time I think I'll leave the interfacing out of the handle, I don't think it's necessary. I also left off the little pull on the opposite side of the zipper. One brush with a flying broken needle was enough for me. Anyway, here it is...
It's really big! I put a votive candle in front of it so you could see the scale.
I'm not sure what's going to go in it can hold a lot of whatever that might be, though!

That's it for now...hope everyone is doing well!

♥ Jen