Category Archives: Kitchen Tips

Summer Food Storage Problem?

Summer Food Storage Problem

It’s summer and it can be HOT & HUMID!!!

Did you ever make homemade muffins and have them stick together when you store them?  Well, here’s your solution!

Sweet Stackers create layers in your container.  No more sticky desserts, muffins, cookies….even left over pizza.

They come in four different sizes that fit many major brand containers.

Plus, they work great in your pantry, fridge or freezer.

 

Just keep layering…

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Voilá!

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Lunch Box: Frozen Sandwiches

Attention Moms with school aged kids!

Preparing school lunches turns into a dreaded chore for Moms, especially during the morning rush.  A couple of years ago, one of my Mom friends mentioned that they freeze sandwiches.  Pull a sandwich out of the freezer when packing lunches in the morning and by lunch time the sandwich is perfectly thawed.  At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I also only had one lunch to prepare.  Now that I have two kids in school – I totally get this idea!  Of course I have two kids that have their own preferences – one like cheese, the other doesn’t – one likes mayo, the other prefers mustard.  How can I keep track??!!

Lunch Box

This is a great way to save time preparing your kid’s lunch box!  Now I make it part of our Sunday night routine.  The kids prepare clothes and backpacks and I make sandwiches for the week.   Sandwiches can be stored in plastic storage bags or plastic wrap, but I am trying to make an effort to reduce waste and especially at school.  I use an air-tight food storage container that will fit sandwiches in layers, using a Sweet Stackers tray to separate each kids lunch.  One kid’s sandwiches are layered on the bottom and the other’s layered on top – this way I can keep track when I am packing them.  Since, I am not storing the sandwiches for a long period of time, there are no problems with freezer burn or the bread drying out.  The kids love them and they do not get soggy.  Plus I like that the sandwiches are kept colder longer preventing deli meat or spreads to spoil.

Many Moms have asked, “What type of sandwiches do you make?”.  I do prefer to use whole grain breads, but I noticed that my kids get bored with the same sandwich.  All kids are different, but changing up the “traditional PB&J” can be fun and a good change for them!  This week I am making ham and cheese sandwiches using Hawaiian dinner rolls and peanut butter and Nutella on whole grain Raisin Bread.

A couple of tips:

  • Do not freeze lettuce, tomatoes or other similar toppings on the sandwich.  Pack these items separately on the side.
  • When making PB&J, smear peanut butter on both sides of the bread (at least a thin layer) to prevent the jelly from touching the bread.  Jelly will make the sandwich soggy.
  • Bento style storage containers (with dividers) are fun for the kids to store sides, dips, crackers, fruits & veggies.  (We found some neat ones in the dollar section at Target!)
  • Make your own Uncrustables – there are tools that will seal and cut the crust off.
  • Shaped sandwich cutters (or cookie cutters) are a fun way to remove crust and cut into cute shapes.

 

Do you have any great tips to share?

 

 

Creamy Turkey and Rice Crockpot Soup

It’s totally a delicious-homemade-soup-kind-of-day being snowed in during the deep freeze of 2014.  Most likely you will have all the ingredients without having to run to the grocery store to pick something up.  Plus it is a very forgiving soup if you don’t have one of the ingredients.

This soup was inspired by a recipe that appeared on Facebook via the Back For Seconds Blog.  I actually didn’t have any chicken on hand, but I did have some left-over cooked turkey from the holidays.

Kitchen Tip:  A container of chicken base is something that I always have on hand in my pantry.  First, I can control the amount of sodium in my broth.  Plus I don’t need to worry about having enough cans or cartons of broth for large batches of soup.

Creamy Turkey and Rice Crockpot Soup

Creamy Turkey and Rice Crockpot Soup

  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 cup long grain rice
  • 1 to 2 cups of diced cooked turkey (or chicken)
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

Add broth, onion, carrots, bay leaves, garlic, pepper, cumin to crockpot.  Cook on high for 2 hours.  Add rice and cook for remaining 2 hours.  When rice is cooked and expanded, add turkey, peas and corn.  In a small mixing bowl add flour and milk and whisk until smooth.  Slowly add the paste to the soup to thicken.

Enjoy a hot bowl of soup and stay warm!!

Sweet Stackers – Classic Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are a classic appetizer summer picnics or barbeques.  Did you ever have a difficult time trying to store or transport an appetizer like this?  There are special containers and glass platters made specifically for deviled eggs…but seriously, where do you have room to store a container or large platter that you may only use once in a while and ONLY for deviled eggs?

Sweet Stackers stackable trays can create two layers of deviled eggs in one 3″ deep air-tight container.  This is perfect for transporting an appetizer like this to party or picnic.  Plus Sweet Stackers trays can be used for so much more!

Sweet Stackers - classic deviled eggs

In order to prevent the eggs from sliding around, I placed curly parsley in the bottom of the container and on one of the trays,  The eggs perfectly nested in between the parsley which made them easy to fill.  The parsley was not only there to hold them, but also made a pretty presentation.

Sweet Stackers trays & curley parsley

Classic Deviled Eggs

8 eggs; hard-boiled and peeled

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

paprika for garnish

Hard boil the eggs, cool and peel.  Slice eggs lengthwise in half, reserve the yellow yolk in a bowl.  Mash the yolk with a fork, then mix with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, S&P until creamy.

Scoop a spoonful or pipe the mixture into each egg white until full.  Sprinkle with paprika for garnish.

Sweet Stackers - deviled eggs storage

One container with two layers of devilled eggs…pretty and easy to store or transport to your next party!

Visit sweetstackers.com for more information about our product and where you can buy it or visit our gallery to get more ideas.

Kolacky – Stack and freeze them!

Yesterday, I went to Czech-Moravian picnic.  There was Czech food, traditional folk dancing and yummy homemade desserts!  This reminded me of a post that I wrote before last Christmas about Kolacky (i.e. Kolache, kolace, kolach, koláče).  Kolacky are a Czech cookie filled with fruit, poppyseed or cheese.  Many other eastern European countries also make them or something similar.  Check out my post to view the recipe…my recipe produces a moist kolacky dough because it uses a handful of ingredients including cream cheese.  The best part of kolacky is that they can be filled with any flavor of fruit filling.  I think my favorite is when they are filled with apricot.

Kolaches

Raspberry and Apricot Kolacky

My family and I usually bake kolacky for the holidays.  Kolacky are the perfect dessert after a large feast because they are bite sized.  You can always squeeze at least one in!  Since there are so many foods to prepare for a holiday dinner, we bake kolacky a couple of weeks in advance and freeze them.   They freeze perfect!  But, they can’t be stacked in the same container because of the jelly or fruit filling.  I had an idea to design trays that fit in air-tight plastic food storage containers….and that is how SweetStackers came about!  Using the Stackable Food Storage System, you can layer a whole batch of kolacky or any cookies, bars or pastries in two or three layers, in one typical 3″ container without them sticking together.  This makes is possible to place only one container in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry.

Do you make any cookies or bakery that are hard to store in an air-tight container?  Please share and link to your recipes!!

SweetStackers – Stackable Food Storage System

Did you ever make dessert bars, cookies or an appetizer that you couldn’t easily store without disturbing their appearance or having them stick together? Well, I have designed an affordable way to layer your food items in a food storage container that you probably already own!

Sweet Stackers™ – Stackable Food Storage System are trays that “stack” in two or three tiers which fit in a typical 3″ plastic food storage container. This is a great alternative to over-sized expensive cookie containers or dessert caddies.  The trays currently come in four different sizes and fit containers made by major brands like Rubbermaid, Sterilite and Tupperware.

Side View Container-web

Why fumble around carrying multiple containers to a party when you only need one container? The Stackable Food Storage System is also perfect when you are entertaining because you can save space when storing your prepared food in a pantry or refrigerator. They can even be used for everyday use…did you ever store left-over pizza in the fridge to find out that it stuck together?

Cucumber Appetizer

Please check out my website www.sweetstackers.com for more information about my product, there is a cross-reference table of containers and stackable trays…plus a Gallery of Ideas how this product can be used.

I would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below!

Late night craving…

Late night cravingYes, I had a late night craving.

Oh…what to do….

Then I remembered that I have a secret stash of something sweet in my freezer!    Thawing is much faster than baking a whole batch of brownies or cookies and I am not really up for baking at this time of night, plus the aroma would probably wake up the kids.

My SweetStackers Stackable Food Storage System really did the trick!  They separated and stacked the remaining brownies that I made a while ago in a small 9×9 Tupperware container, perfect for the freezer.   Pull out one brownie (or all of them) when you have a craving.

Check out my original post on how I made these brownies, they are decadent!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Ganache         Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie

Springy Asparagus Soup

Happy Spring!  Well at least we finally had some sign of spring for a few days and now have drifted back to a touch of winter.  But it sure makes me happy to see my garden has started to show a sign of spring because the asparagus is just starting to pop out of the ground.  I am hoping to get a decent harvest finally this year, since it takes are few years to produce.  Asparagus is my favorite vegetable and aside from the bulbs blooming, that is probably my favorite part about this time of year.  Plus, finally good bunches of asparagus are available in the grocery store.  So until I can harvest them myself…

Asparagus Bunch

This asparagus soup recipe was in my local newspaper and I can honestly say I never had this type of soup before.  It was perfect comfort food to make for the rainy and chilly temps that arrived and reminds me that warmer temps are on the way!

Plus, I enhanced it to make it a healthier creamy soup.  It was so easy and quite yummy!

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup

2 lbs. asparagus, woody ends trimmed, reserve 8 spear tips

1 chopped onion

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 clove of garlic

3 TB olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Kitchen tip:  I like to control sodium by using chicken soup base because I can add more water and reduce the measurement of the base.  Use 5 cups of water and 3 teaspoons chicken soup base.  I think the flavor is still good.

It a heavy stockpot, add olive oil and sautee onion, celery, carrot.  Cook for 3 minutes, then add garlic, salt and pepper.  Add asparagus and cook for 5 more minutes.  Add chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.  Blanch the reserved asparagus tips in water for 3 minutes.  Once the soup is done simmering, use an immersion blender or puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the plain yogurt.

Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Is it a brownie? Is it a cookie?

It doesn’t matter because my sweet tooth had a craving for chocolate and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies or brownies.  Thanks to Betty Crocker, this recipe is the best of both worlds AND I didn’t even need to make a hard choice – ha!  Oh and why stop there with chocolate?  To make these even more decadent, I made a homemade chocolate ganache to top the brownies – check out my recipe below!

Now truthfully, my family and I didn’t eat the whole pan in one sitting.  I cut a few small portions for us to enjoy and froze the rest.  Next time we have a craving for chocolate chip cookie dough brownies, it is as easy as pulling a couple from our freezer.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Ganache

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

1 box Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Premium brownie mix  (Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box)

1 pouch Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix (1/2 cup butter or margarine and 1 egg called for on cookie mix pouch)

Preheat oven to 350° (325º for dark or nonstick pan) and grease a 9″ x 14″ pan.

Make brownie mix according to the directions on the box and spread in the bottom of the pan.

Make cookie dough according to the directions on the pouch and drop heaping tablespoonful of dough into the brownies mix.  Press lightly to even out.

Bake 40-45 minutes until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before topping the brownies.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie

…and if these brownies are not decadent enough, top with Chocolate Ganache once cooled.

Chocolate Ganache

1 – 10 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate morsels

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

6 Tbsp butter

In a double boiler, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.  Add the bag of chocolate morsels and stir to combine until melted and luscious.

Pour ganache over brownies and let set before cutting.

Vienna Mushroom Swiss Cheese Bread

This is one of my “go to” recipes when I need to bring an appetizer to a party, especially in the winter.  I have been making this for a Superbowl party for the past few years and everyone seems to get pretty excited about it.  This bread is seriously gone in minutes….so it must be good!!

Vienna Swiss Cheese Bread

Vienna Swiss Cheese Bread

1 Loaf Vienna Bread

1 lb. brick swiss cheese – cut in 1/4″ slices

3/4 C melted butter (or use half margarine)

1 tsp. seasoning salt

1 TB minced onion

1 TB dry mustard

1 TB lemon juice

4 oz sliced canned mushrooms (I used fresh too, and I liked it better)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Vienna Bread - diagonal cuts

Cut bread on a diagonal, 1/2″ apart, making sure not to cut through bottom on loaf.  Cut bread the same way in the other diagonal direction.  Place bread on heavy duty foil.

Insert pieces on cheese into every little slot of the bread.  Mix melted butter and the rest of the seasonings.  Pour over the top of bread.  Sprinkle with mushrooms.  Wrap up to create a tent and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Kitchen Tip:  Bake for 1/2 hour and transport to the party house, then bake for an extra 1/2 hour so it comes out of the oven hot.