Pot o’ Gold (or rather green)

Need a super fun St. Patrick’s Day gift idea? How about this green swirl Dutch oven – yes, I can find any reason to get kitchenware as a gift!

The February 2015 issue of Redbook magazine gave some ideas for great gifts and I loved this… (pg 108)

Green Swirl Dutch Oven GR31

https://consumer.goldenrabbit.com/green-swirl-dutch-oven

$48.50 for Green Swirl Dutch Oven from Golden Rabbit

Green Sequin Sneakers…for Sneakin’ Up on Leprechauns

Here’s a super fun gift idea for St. Patrick’s Day!

http://www.catalogfavorites.com/itemdy00.aspx?T1=V1010+8

$29.95 for Kelly-Green Sequin Sneakers

Chocolate Cherry Chip Brownies

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Yahhhh…you won’t want to miss this one!

Click on the link below for my recipe site and be on your way to these fabulous treats today…

Chocolate Cherry Chip Brownies

Mouthwatering Superbowl Must-Haves!

As a batch of chicken wing sauce simmers away on my stove, let me tell you a story…

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Meet one of the loves of my life…oh how I long for those wings and that pizza!

But we have a long-distance relationship because they are in NY and I am not.

Sure, it just looks like pizza and chicken wings, so what is my problem you are wondering – they are all over the place. Sadly, not all chicken wings and pizza have the same flavors and I cannot find those exact flavors in my Midwestern world.

So, I set about to see if I could create them myself.

I make a homemade pizza (homemade as in using frozen pizza dough!) that is tasty and has been a pleaser for years so it satisfies me when I want pizza even tho it is not the pizza you see above.

Thus, the chicken wing sauce became my obsession and after trying many recipes online I came up with the recipe below that is pretty darn close to the flavor that I crave. It seems that simmering the sauce to reduce it and then refrigerating it is key. Once you have the wing sauce, the possibilities are endless. Obviously it is perfect when paired with chicken wings but it is also delicious when tossed with popcorn chicken or as a dip for your chicken fingers. How about dunking your fried egg sandwich or adding it to a burger?

It is also fabulous in a Buffalo Chicken Pizza (see below) that was another favorite food from a restaurant in NY that I just had to figure out how to make myself.

I have also included a recipe for Blue Cheese Dip from the Pioneer Woman (adapted ever so slightly), that goes perfectly with this chicken wing sauce.

Just below the pictures are the links to my original posts and then the recipes follow in case you just need to get to the good stuff (although why you would want to miss out on my gabbing session is beyond me…)

Oh – and keep scrolling for the Hot Dog of your dreams!

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(I needed to show you two shots because you just had to see the melty blue cheese dollops)

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

  • Difficulty: easy but has a few steps
  • Print

Buffalo Chicken Wing Sauce

– adapted

8 tablespoons Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce (try to use Frank’s Original – I have tried with the wing sauce version and it is not the same)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar (I used seasoned Rice Vinegar for a little flavor)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or less if you do not like as “garlicky”)
3-4 splashes of worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on a very light bubble for 15-20 minutes. Add more “cayenne heat” if you need to adjust the taste.

Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

You can use the sauce now, but I discovered that refrigerating it overnight made the flavors and ingredients blend into a much better “sauce”. Give it a stir. If you prefer or need to reheat it, you can use the microwave for short bursts at a time or use the stovetop just to warm it. If you are adding hot wings to the sauce then you really do not need to reheat it because the heat from the wings will soften the refrigerated sauce.

Blue Cheese Dip

I like the Pioneer Woman’s version of Blue Cheese Dressing so I used that and just tweaked it a bit.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/fast-blue-cheese-dressing-recipe.html

1/2 cup mayo
3/4 cup sour cream
3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate.

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What a Perfect Pair!


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Yes this dog just might be your next best friend, the kind that you love to bring to parties and show off .

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Sometimes, a simple hot dog is best. But when you want to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to it, you can’t go wrong with meat sauce, and a hearty one at that. It’s easy to throw together and very forgiving if you need to substitute an ingredient or two.

Hot Dog Meat Sauce

Hot Dog Meat Sauce

1 lb ground beef (chicken, turkey, or even tofu I suppose)
1/4 cup pasta sauce
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons hot sauce of your liking (or omit)
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar, any kind – I used seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes of soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste

– Brown and drain the ground beef.
– Combine all of the ingredients and mix in the ground beef.

Serve with fresh diced onions, fried onions and banana peppers…yum!

That’s it – you’re done! This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated if need be (just warm it before serving).

10th Ave. Soapworks

I know that you are thinking that I have lost my marbles (again) because this is a post about soap, not zucchini.

But…

Did you know that a Loofah (those scratchy body puff thingys for the bath and shower) are actually vegetables, which means that they are grown in a garden? Me neither (or me either).

I always thought it was a sea sponge.

My husband caught a TV show that was spotlighting a Wisconsin company called “10th Ave. Soapworks”  that makes soap and we learned that interesting tidbit about the loofahs. Here is the link to the owner’s site and her fabulous footage of a loofah’s development. Yes, I probably should get out more but I really DO think this is fascinating! That’s the loofah up there in that picture, not a zucchini.  (http://tenthavenuesoapworks.blogspot.com/2014/03/loofah-from-seed-to-soap.html)

Ok, so my first thought was that I want to grow some in my non-existent garden and my second thought was that they would make a great craft to give as gifts.

My third thought was that I will not be getting to any crafts (or a garden) so why not look for the company and share what they have already made. It would undoubtedly make a much better gift than the ones I made.

So, I looked up the company and found some great gift ideas to share with you. Being from Wisconsin myself, it is always fun to see what your “neighbors” are up to!

The company is called “10th Avenue Soapworks” and here are some of their fabulous looking soaps to give as gifts! They even have some for your winter-time gifting needs.

All of these fabulous soaps and many more, along with other items, can be found here:

https://www.zibbet.com/tenthavenuesoapworks

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$5.00 for Oatmeal Honey Loofah

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$13.00 for Wisconsin Sampler (Green & Gold, Dairyland, Apple Harvest, and Honey Ale–these four popular soaps that represent Wisconsin are packaged together in one convenient collection.)

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Item collection 920f9fe2 0a53 44aa bc50 754bbc2f9b8e

https://www.zibbet.com/tenthavenuesoapworks

$5.00 for North Woods

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$5.00 for Snowfall

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$5.00 for Vanilla Cold Process

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Seriously….go visit this site and do not leave without learning about the loofah – you can amaze someone today with your new knowledge! (All photos, even of the loofah, are courtesy of 10th Ave. Soapworks)

Snowflake Cookie from Yankee Candle

Snowflake Cookie™

http://www.yankeecandle.com/product/snowflake-cookie/_/R-1275342

$13.99 for “Snowflake Cookie” large tumbler

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Last year I gave this candle to my mother but I coveted it.

Badly.

I almost did not give it to her because I wanted to keep it, but I did the right thing and gave it as intended.

But I never stopped thinking about it so this year I picked one up for myself when Yankee Candle had one of their holiday deals going on.

As I start to de-decorate from the holidays and replace my décor with winter themes, I brought out this candle today and I love it.

It smells like a cookie but it is light and cozy, not heavily perfumed and overpowering.

I knew that I needed to share this with you because it could make a wonderful “winter” gift if you are in need of finding just the right thing now.

And to make it an even better gift, it is on sale!

My guess is that it will not be around long so do not hesitate – you may even want to pick up a few and tuck them away as fabulous “token” gifts for next year’s holiday season!

Braided Trivets in a Basket from The Braided Rug Place

Here’s a fun gift idea…a basket of braided trivets!

They have a nice selection for all season, décor and holidays – check out their website below to see more and pricing!

Here are a few ideas…

TNB-1120 Winter Trivets in a Basket by Susan Burd

Winter Trivets

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TNB-328 All Season Trivets in a Basket by Susan Burd

All Season

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TNB-1126 Spring Trivets in a Basket by Susan Burd

Spring

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TNB-025A Pinecone Trivets in a Basket

Pinecones

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http://store.thebraidedrugplace.net/catalog/search?keyword=trivets

$46.00 each, for a set of braided rug trivets

Soup and Soup Mugs Make a Perfect Pair!

Is there a better season to give the gift of soup? (to yourself, perhaps…)

You can find all sorts of fun soup mugs, so have fun looking around for the perfect gift. I love the big oversized mugs that at one point were called the “Friend’s” mug when they were made famous from that show and their coffee shop moments. (Yes, I loved that show.)

Every once in while I like to switch it up a bit and use a large shallow bowl. It makes me feel sophisticated.

And whether you give one or a whole set, it will warm someone’s heart….(get it?)!

Any way you serve it, a soup gift for this time of year is fun. Add a soup starter kit, your own homemade soup or grab some from a local sandwich shop or grocery store.

And don’t forget the dipping bread!

(All below are from Kohl’s)

http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1877187/certified-international-top-hat-snowman-4-pc-soup-bowl-set.jsp?pfm=rrrecs-pdp-gtab1

$61.99 for Certified International Top Hat Snowman 4-pc. Soup Bowl Set

or, if you want a deeper bowl…

http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1877068/certified-international-top-hat-snowman-4-pc-ice-cream-bowl-set.jsp?pfm=rrrecs-pdp-gtab1

$53.99 for Certified International Top Hat Snowman 4-pc. Ice Cream Bowl Set

(Since it is technically called an Ice Cream Bowl, no sense fighting it – clean out your soup bowl and make a big ‘ole ice cream sundae!)

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or how about soup-to-go?

http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1609913/corningware-french-white-20-oz-mug-with-vented-cover.jsp

$9.99 for CorningWare French White 20-oz. Mug with Vented Cover – available in 4 colors

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“Ohlaf the Kringle Baker” Books from O & H Danish Bakery

One of the great adventures when you relocate is discovering the traditions and local customs of your new world. Kringle, a Danish pastry, is one of those newfound items for me. It is a local pastry steeped in tradition and we are fortunate to be close to a bakery rivalry.

Our children are born and bred here in the Midwest so I have to remind myself periodically that their experience is different from mine and I want them to embrace the world that they know. These two books about “Ohlaf the Baker” are super fun because they involve an aspect of their world that they just take for granted. It’s a yummy pastry to them right now, but hopefully they will appreciate this little tradition as they get older.

These books would be a great gift for those familiar with Kringle. If you are not familiar with it, grab these books AND a Kringle…or two…(I have included the site below) and enjoy a new custom!

http://www.ohdanishbakery.com/ohdb/PRODUCT?scrcatnum=013&scritmnum=BK01

$9.99 for “Ohlaf the Kringle Baker” book

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http://www.ohdanishbakery.com/ohdb/PRODUCT?scrcatnum=013&scritmnum=BK02

$9.99 for “Ohlaf the Christmas Gift” book

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For Kringle Pastries and other goodies, click here:

http://www.ohdanishbakery.com/ohdb/HOME

Off the Cuff Holiday “Token” Gift Ideas

I  probably should define my use of the word “token” gift.

To me, those are gifts that are reasonably priced and often given as a little “somethin’ somethin'” when you are looking to keep it within reason, say maybe $20 and under. Often that would mean, coworkers, friend & family gift exchanges, teachers, postal deliverers, trash collectors etc.

I have been sitting on this list for a while thinking of the moment when I will leisurely sit down and provide you with the links to pictures and websites that house some of these ideas. I picture myself feeling rested and having the mental wherewithal to enjoy a cup of coffee and “create”. Well, that moment has not come up yet and I am having to accept the fact that it probably will not. Most likely, I will be able to share these ideas in dribs and drabs. That is not as much fun.

So, I thought I would just shout out all the ideas that I had jotted down during a brainstorming moment when I was asked if I had some ideas for gifts for coworkers that were around $10.

I do!

Here they are in simple list format. Feel free to take the list and run with it. Eventually, I plan to share some links to sites where these ideas are available. If anything is of interest and you do not wish to wait for “eventually” to happen, shoot me an email or post a comment and I will jump to the task and get you more info on where to find these items.

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Cookie Cutters and Sprinkles or other cookie decorations (ex. a large gingerbread person or house cookie cutter with a bag of gum drops)

Holiday scented wall plug-ins – the unit and the fragrance

Flavored baking sugars

your favorite holiday music CD

a Grinch cookie cutter and a copy of the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas – esp fun if you are a boss or a grouchy person!

This is a little strange but it could work…bright red toothbrush and cinnamon toothpaste (could tuck it into a red stocking if you celebrate Christmas)

Advent calendars

homemade marshmallows

holiday scented room sprays or diffusers

seasonal quick bread that you bake or buy

wrapping paper with a favorite or family recipe on it from  mint.com

seasonal hand soap and hand towel (you knew that was coming!)

a holiday game or puzzle

cook books

seasonal coffee cup with bag of  local coffee or tea

gift of time – take someone to lunch or breakfast

basket of muffins and delicious flavored butter

 

 

 

Tea & Honey…A Perfect Pair! From Republic of Tea

http://www.republicoftea.com/pumpkin-spice-black-tea-bags/p/V20008/

$11.50 for 50 tea bags, Pumpkin Spice Tea

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http://www.republicoftea.com/hot-apple-cider/p/V00683/

$11.50 for 36 tea bags, Hot Apple Cider Tea

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http://www.republicoftea.com/caramel-black-hicaf%26amp%3b%238482%3b-tea-bags/p/V20147/

$13.00 for HiCaf (that means lotsa caffeine) Caramel Black Tea

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Pick a tea and add a honey…you have a perfect pair!

http://tea.republicoftea.com/search?view=grid&w=honey+for+tea&=

$11.99 for Honey for Tea, 3 flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chai Spice or Lemon Crème

or

http://www.republicoftea.com/rare-hawaiian-organic-white-honey/p/V01042/

$17.95 for Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey

The Kissing Hand

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This may just look like an ordinary hand to you (unless you are a palm reader, then you may see an extraordinary future ahead of me…or you may see that I am destined to have crumbs on my carpet forever…or you my see that I will never find a way to make my hereditary sideburns blend in – in that case, don’t tell me…) but this hand is special. It has kisses on it.

We have entered the elementary school years and are in the process of adjusting to kindergarten. It is our 3rd week and little by little it is getting easier. A few years ago when we entered the preschool years I purchased a book called “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn. It is about a little raccoon who needs to go school at night but he is worried. His mother kisses the palm of his hand (or paw, technically) so that he can use it to get a kiss from his momma when he misses her and feels sad while he is at school. The little raccoon feels better and is able to relax and play all day. That night (they are nocturnal ya know), as his momma takes him to school she starts to get sad because she will miss her little raccoon. So the little raccoon takes her hand (paw) and kisses it so that she can get a kiss from him while he is away at school. So adorable!

Last week I remembered that book as we were waiting for the school bell to ring announcing that it was time to enter school and my muffin would have a hard time separating from me. I kissed my little muffins hands, both of them so he did not have to worry that he could not remember which hand it was, and he kissed both of mine. It helped…for both of us.

Today,  it is Monday, and the start to the week so my little muffin asked if we could do the kissing hand and we did. We added a hug too.

My middle muffin has now started preschool, but it is her second year so she is not worried. I took both of my school muffins with me today to trek around to their schools. While waiting in the car for the school bell, I mentioned to my middle muffin that I could kiss her hand just like the story. She paused and then told me that she is not worried about school. I said that I knew she wasn’t, it was just to let her know that we could do that. All right, I guess she is ok with school. Good.

Then a few moments later she started feeling sad that she would miss her brother while he was at school. He asked her for her hand and then kissed her palm. She beamed. He told her to give him her other hand and he kissed that one too. She sat in the back of the car beaming because her brother had kissed her hands and she soaked it all in.

I had two thoughts…the first, of course, was that it was a hugely tender moving moment for this momma that her son had done this for his sister. It was such a loving act. It’s nice to see those periodically, especially going “top-down”.

The second, was that my daughter had no need for a kiss from momma on her hand because she was fine with going to school but that kiss from her brother made her day. Momma was “chopped liver”.

It isn’t the first time and surely won’t be the last!

This book is a great book if someone in your life needs a little extra lovin’ for the moment. I am sure you can purchase it many places. The Scholastic Book Club has it if your school participates. Here is it at Barnes and Noble – along with Chester the raccoon too!

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/the-kissing-hand-book-and-stuffed-animal?store=allproducts&keyword=the+kissing+hand+book+and+stuffed+animal

The book is $11.36 and Chester the Raccoon is $14.00

 

 

 

Flatware Decor Canisters

http://www.countrydoor.com/For-The-Home/Kitchen/Food-Storage/set-of-3-flatware-canisters.pro?omSource=SLI&

$19.95 from Country Door

Gift Ideas from Lakeside Collections

http://www.lakeside.com/catalog/all_sku_listing_product_detail.jsp?productId=prod1171373&_requestid=1212214

$14.95 for Big Dog Refillable Lighter

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http://www.lakeside.com/catalog/all_sku_listing_product_detail.jsp?productId=prod1030559&_requestid=1212536

$14.95 for Stanley Tripod Flashlight

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I was quite surprised when I started hearing my 80’s music being referred to as the “oldies” – that was what my parent’s music was called, so how could MY music be called the same thing?

That’s the funny thing about getting older – you get older and your stuff does too.

http://www.lakeside.com/catalog/all_sku_listing_product_detail.jsp?productId=prod1171420&_requestid=1212752

$13.95 per set, Hits of the Decades – 60’s, 70’s or 80’s

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http://www.lakeside.com/catalog/all_sku_listing_product_detail.jsp?productId=prod1120202&_requestid=1213053

$8.95 per set of Infant Rattle Socks (Flowers or Sports)

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eASYbAKED

a collection of recipes

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The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time