Friday, May 30, 2008

Product Review: Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce

The year I was born, 1968, there was good stuff going on in Bob Edson's kitchen. He had finally perfected his All Purpose Sauce and began selling it to neighbors and friends in 1977. Country Bob, Inc. was formed in 1982 and now sells more than just All Purpose Sauce, although that would be enough, trust me on that one!

I was given the chance to try out Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce and I was sold the minute I popped the top on the bottle. I have some hugely picky eaters here at home and the fact that they all love it tells a lot about this sauce.

We tried it on burgers, steak, chicken and even hot dogs. We loved it on each, but I wanted a broader idea of what this stuff could do, so I sought out the non-meat recipes to test it on.

Country Bob's Baked Beans is what I settled on, and we now have a new favorite recipe for baked beans. I can't even begin to describe the flavor of this sauce and what makes it different; that's a real shame for someone who writes about food! I guess you'll just have to get your own bottle and see for yourself.

Go to their website and search for a retailer near you, read about their CEO (that's my favorite part of the site), sift through the recipes, let the kids play on the coloring page, or order some Country Bob's for yourself!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sweetie Pie's Macaroni and Cheese

There was an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on recently that I couldn't stop thinking about. Like Mama Made featured a restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri run by Robbie Montgomery, former back-up singer for Ike and Tina Turner and Soul Food Chef Extraordinaire. She was cookin' up the biggest batches of the most delicious looking fried chicken, sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese you'd ever like to see.

I watched as she made her famous macaroni and cheese and wasn't fast enough to get pen and paper to write it down. I searched in earnest yesterday and came across a review of her place at Is it EDible? and Ed had linked to a news story that features the very recipe I'd been trying to get my hands on. God love fellow bloggers!

I made this for dinner tonight, but I have to issue a stern warning; This is not for the faint of heart - and I mean that quite literally! I got a 10 x 15 pan out of this and we didn't finish off but a third of it. This is so filling and so delicious, but so very rich that I can't see making it all-too often. The kids were just crazy about it and when Lara dropped some from her tray, our chihuahua, Molly, was all too happy to clean it up for me.

9/2/2008 - After all of the comments I've received on this, I decided to step in here and edit this post. I've come across two things; another article from the AP that contains the recipe, and a YouTube clip of the episode in question.

The AP article reads, "Robbie Montgomery, owner of the two Sweetie Pie’s restaurants in the St. Louis area, says this macaroni and cheese is her take on one taught to her by a band member when she toured as a backup singer with Ike and Tina Turner during the 1960s.

Montgomery cooks to taste and says this recipe is easily adjusted. For instance, she sometimes omits the eggs.

In light of this last statement, it may be that Robbie simply felt like using sour cream that night and didn't put it in the written recipe. She used an awful lot of milk, though and she may have just used whole milk for the whole thing rather than a mixture of whole milk and evaporated milk during filming. From what I can see in the video, it looks to be about 1 cup of sour cream to the batch she is making there, which is about double the recipe below.

I've added the sour cream in red and you can add it if you'd like.

I hope this will help to clear up any of the confusion. Short of calling Robbie Montgomery myself (I think she's a little busy for a call from me), this will have to do!

Printable Recipe

Start to finish: 45 minutes.


1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
1 cup whole milk
Two 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 pound colby cheese, shredded
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into small chunks
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup shredded American or mild Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer the pasta to a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the whole milk, evaporated milk (sour cream) and eggs. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Add the butter and colby, Monterey Jack, sharp Cheddar and Velveeta cheeses to the pasta.

Pour the milk and egg mixture over the pasta. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and toss. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the remaining cup of American or Cheddar cheese.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Serves 10.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Flavorful India Cookbook

I don't make Indian cuisine often, but once I started reading Flavorful India: Treasured Recipes from a Gujarati Family by Priti Chitnis Gress, however, I couldn't wait to get out to the grocery to search for ingredients and hurry back home to start cooking.

Gujarat (a western Indian state) is largely known for vegetarian dishes, and although we didn't make any of those (we made Tandoori Chicken, Cocktail-Size Meat Samosas and Sweet Dough Balls with Coconut) the dishes we did make were perfect. My very-hard-to-please husband loved the tandoori and the dough balls; something I thought he would turn his nose up at, and the kids ate the samosas as I was cooking them so there weren't many left once we sat down to dinner. I'm confident that the vegetarian dishes would elicit the same response, and we'll be making them to test that theory.

I love that each recipe has a story to it, and the sections on cookware and utensils, spices and Indian ingredients are priceless. This is Indian food at its most uncomplicated. It's homey, delicious and fitted for the Northern American kitchen. There isn't one recipe that is too difficult for a novice cook to handle.

While not a comprehensive compilation of Gujarati recipes, Flavorful India is at once personal, informative and basic, drawing from Priti's own family traditions; the perfect addition to any kitchen, but most especially the vegetarian home.

Find your copies:

Softcover at Hippocrene Books
Hardcover at Amazon

Also check out, Hippocrene Cooks, a blog with entries from the many Hippocrene cookbook authors, including Priti Chitnis Gress!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Look, Ma - No Hands!

For any fervent cook there comes a time when cooking and phone calls don't mix. Now, I know some of you turn the ringer off or let the answering machine pick up, but what happens when you're waiting for an important call and still need to be cooking at the same time?

I know what I do when that phone rings - I rush to wash my hands and hope to get there before the machine does. Once I pick up the phone, there's one hand lost. I know, I know, what about the "shoulder hold"? Right. A stiff neck and the chance that the phone will drop into the vichyssoise is no way to handle calls.

Well, Plantronics has the perfect solution, the Calisto Pro Series phone. This is a completely hands-free wonder. Switch between landline, VoIP and Bluetooth mobile phone calls all with one product. Add up to 200 contacts - with 3 phone numbers each - from Outlook. How about a range of 300 feet from the base? That's farther than my garden out back. The sound quality doesn't suffer, either.

What about simple moments like sitting and nursing the baby? You'd figure there's at least one hand free for phone calls, right? Nope - not always! Having the freedom to sit down and relax while still being able to answer calls, hands-free, is priceless.

Check out this fabulous phone HERE and see if you're not convinced that this is the best thing going in hands-free phone technology.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I know of mothers who receive lavish gifts on Mother's Day; things like pearls or diamonds or large-ish household appliances. I am not one of those mothers, and I prefer it that way. I was spoiled absolutely rotten today by my children, and it didn't involve precious gems or machines that go, "whirrrrr".

These are the children responsible for my loverly day:

Quite cute, aren't they?

My oldest daughter (the tallest one in the back), Cassidy, started out my day with an idea that had sprung from my second oldest daughter's head (she's the second tallest in the back, Megan). Cassidy made me a most delicious breakfast of crepes. Yes, crepes. She had asked on Friday if I would teach her to make crepes. I did just that and then she surprised me by duplicating them precisely. We had a choice of apple stuffed or strawberry stuffed and I chose both. Of course. There were also raspberries, sliced kiwi and grapes to go along.

While she was slaving away in the kitchen (crepes for 9 is a true feat!) the rest of the kids showered me with gifts.

A garden made by Erin, complete with climbing Blue Bells along one wall.

Two fabulous cookbooks that Cassidy found in a used bookstore in Kutztown. How neat!

This card is from Erin. She made each of those boxes out of paper. True talent!

Erin taught Declan to make a box, and so he did. He put two lollipops in there for me!
One of Megan's signature cards. The entire inside is full of hand-drawn pictures and funny text that makes me smile.

A card from Katie (she's 7 this week!) that says, "You Rock, Mom". How sweet.

A place mat made by Katie that echos the sentiment of her card. She made this in school.

Megan thought I would like this cake. I've been asked by no less than four of my seven children if I would share it with them.

Lunch was sandwiches with a side of goat's cheese and a French baguette and also whole wheat pita and hummus. Megan knew these were my favorites and made sure to get them.

THEN ... oh yes, there's more ... Cassidy made a dinner of two pastas and two sauces; penne and angel hair, and Alfredo and four-cheese Marinara. It was all topped off with Italian bread, green salad, and the double chocolate cake I had made the night before.

Now, tell me, how on earth could diamonds beat that?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

And the Winner is...

We have a winner for the Charlie Ayers' Food 2.0 Cookbook and Lunch bag giveaway. Using a highly technologically advanced method involving a small boy and several strips of paper, we've determined the winner to be:

GIZ! Congratulations, to you GIZ, use your book, and your bag in good health! Thanks so much to all who entered. Keep coming back, this is certainly not the end of our contesting.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Last Chance to Win!

Today is your last chance to win Charlie Ayer's new cookbook, Food 2.0. It's one AWESOME read and I highly suggest you enter for this! Get a comment in to me before 12 PM PST (check this post for details!) and you'll be IN! A winner will be picked Saturday morning and I'll post it then.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

LOK/CWA Cooking Challenge Round-Up

Here are the entries for this month's LOK/CWA Cooking Challenge! The first two meals are listed here since they were not posted elsewhere, and the rest are linked to their respective blogs.


From Penelope, a LOK mom of 9:

Poppy Seed Chicken

3 cups raw rice - .48
2 10 oz cans cr of ck soup- 2 x .69
1 16 oz fat free sr cream - .99
1 lb boneless skinless chicken cooked and chopped-1.49
1 sleeve crackers - .54
1/4 c butter - .43
2 T poppy seeds - .05

Cook rice according to directions and spread in 9x13 pan. Mix cooked chicken, sour cream, and both cans of soup. Spread over rice. Melt butter. Use a food processor to make the crackers into crumbs, add to butter with poppy seeds. Mix well and spread evenly over the sauce layer.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 min.

48 oz applesauce - 2.00
(or 16 oz frozen corn - .69)

Cherry Brownies

1 box brownie mix - .99
1 egg - .12
1/4 c oil - .11
1 21 oz can cherry pie fill 2.00

Mix brownies according to fudge directions, stir in cherries and bake in 9x13. Bake according to box plus about 10 min. It varies according to the mix and your we just keep an eye on it at the end.

Total = 10.58
And definitely less if I used canned or frozen veggies.

* I used the prices that I actually paid for items, since most are in my storage, rather than pricing them all in one shopping trip. This is for my family of 11, I usually at least have leftovers for one of us to have lunch from it.


From Kate at Life with Special Needs Kids. Kate is an LOK mom of 7.

Green Soup

4 bouillon cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (2-3 breasts)
2 cups apples, peeled & chopped
2 cups carrots, diced
2 cups celery, chopped
2 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp curry
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
10 cups water

Boil chicken in water until cooked through. Drain water, then shred chicken.

Cook onion in butter until soft. Add chicken, apples, carrots, celery, flour & spices. Slowly add water & bouillion cubes. Stir well. Simmer 30 minutes, minimum, before serving.

Serve soup with buttered french bread & a tossed green salad OR grilled cheese sandwiches.

bouillion cubes ($1.32 for 6) 0.88
onion (0.25/lb) 0.13
butter ($2.18 for 32 Tbsp) 0.14
chicken ($1.88/lb) 1.88
apples (0.78/lb ~ used 3 small apples) 0.78
carrots (0.98/1lb bag baby carrots) 0.98
celery (0.38/lb ~ used 4 stalks, about 1/3lb) 0.13
flour ($3.28/bag ~ 73, 1/4-cup servings per bag) 0.09

Total for soup = $5.01

If served with salad & bread, use 1 bag salad mix for $2.78 & 1 loaf french bread for 0.98 for a total of $8.77.

If served with grilled cheese sandwiches, use 1 loaf whole wheat bread for $1.18, approximately 4 tbsp butter for 0.28 and 9 slices of cheese (for 9 family members) for $1.08 ($2.88/24 slices American cheese). Total = $7.55

This is what I made for dinner tonight, so seeing your challenge was fun because I immediately knew what I could use as an entry.

I got this recipe from a friend many years ago.


Annie Jones' entry at Real Life Living for 5 people.


From Lisa at Living Easy serving 5.


These two are from MIRZ, mom of 8 and founder of LOK, hence, she is not in the running, but wanted to contribute nonetheless.
There is one at the LOK Household Blog and one at her personal blog.


And ... the winner of our first challenge, who receives a badge to proudly display on her blog, is Annie of Living Life Real! Congratulations to you, Annie!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Sorelle Paradiso Organic Olives and Olive Oil - Mambo Sprouts Recipe Contest

Sorelle Paradiso olive oil is one of those things in life that leaves you briefly dumbstruck. Their Extra Virgin Olive Oil made from 100% Sevillano olives is the best olive oil I have ever tasted. The fragrance alone was enough to make me swoon. We tried it with French bread and compared it to the oil I had been buying. I honestly thought I had been buying really good olive oil, and I was proved very wrong. This particular oil is so smooth and buttery, it's hard to believe it's just olive oil. It's also not as thick as the oils I'm used. This is one of those oils you MUST try; it goes far beyond being used as just a condiment. Don't take it from me, though, this particular oil won "Best of Show" at the International Las Vegas Restaurant Show 2008.

All olive oils must have a residual oleic acid level less than 0.5% to be considered extra virgin, Sorelle Paradiso goes a step further and produces oil with a .05% oleic acid level. Impressive.

Their Extra Virgin Olive Oil made from 90% Mission olives and 10% Sevillano olives was absolutely perfect for cooking. Aromatic and smooth, it added just the right touch to whatever I made with it, from simple chicken breasts with garlic to salad dressings.

These olive oils aren't capped, they're corked, which makes a huge difference in the freshness of the product. Every bottle, each label and all the packaging is 100% recyclable. The fact that this oil is completely organic just makes me love it even more.

Sorelle Paradiso is available is several locations:

Murray's Cheese
New York, New York

Tiburion, California

San Anselmo, California

Emporio Rulli
Larkspur, California

Mill Valley Market Grocery
Mill Valley, California

The Pasta Shoppe
Berkeley, California

Artfully Yours Gift Basket Company
San Francisco, California


The MAMBOLICIOUS RECIPE COOK-OFF is on! Submit your original recipe using one of the following products and you could win!

Use Organic Valley Butter, Eggs, Cream, Milk or Cream Cheese in a recipe and you could win...

Grand Prize: A year’s supply of Organic Valley Products (one product per month).

Use any San-J Tamari, Cooking Sauce or Salad Dressing in a recipe and you could win...

Grand Prize: $500 gift card to your favorite natural food store, plus a year’s supply of San-J products (one product per month)

First Prize: $250 gift card to your favorite natural food store, plus a year supply of San-J products (one product per month).

Use any Equal Exchange Fairly Traded Chocolate Bar or Baking Cocoa in a recipe and you could win...

Grand Prize: A year’s supply of Equal Exchange Chocolate (12 cases)

First Prize: A six month supply of Equal Exchange Chocolate (6 cases).

Use any Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Seasoning in a recipe and you could win:..

Grand Prize: A year’s supply of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt (one product per month)

First Prize: A six month supply of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt.

Stop on over at Mambo Sprouts for full contest details. Contest ends June 6, 2008 - so get a move on!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Charlie! Charlie! Charlie! Book Review and Giveaway

Way back in 1999,Google, in its infinite wisdom, decided they didn't want their employees falling asleep halfway through the day because of poor choices at lunchtime. They wanted fresh, energy producing foods to be prepared for their workers and they hired Charlie Ayers, former caterer for The Grateful Dead, to do it. He did that and more, and when he left in 2005, he was serving up meals to 1,500 people a day and overseeing 10 cafés and 150 employees.

Now on the verge of opening his own restaurant, Calafia Café and Market a Go Go, in Palo Alto, California, Charlie Ayers has also released a new cookbook, Food 2.0 - Secrets From the Chef Who Fed Google.

This book is perfect for a Deadhead, food lovin', organic eatin', Internet junkie like me. I totally relate to everything written and feel much more relaxed about my food choices. I always feel like there's a hard line there between vegetarian and omnivore, organic and non-organic, but Charlie has set down a brand new line somewhere in-between it all that just makes SENSE. He urges everyone to "go organic" without beating us over the head with dos and don'ts. There's just common sense and Charlie's own preference, followed up with the reminder that we all need to do what is right for ourselves.

Charlie has a real-life no-nonsense "parent" approach to many things, especially about frozen food - stuff I've been doing for years, but was afraid to share for fear that the hardcore "only from fresh" crowd would shun me. From his feelings on olive oil and his "4 best herbs to grow at home" (the very four I have growing right now) to the section on pasta and his thoughts on why we should eat organic, we are very like-minded. This was almost like reading about myself, except that the recipes are so superior to anything I've created thus far and there were several things I didn't know about food.

I can't think of one person who shouldn't own this book. It's 250 pages jam-packed with all you really need to know about feeding yourself and your family very well.

Now is your chance to own a copy of Food 2.0 for yourself, along with a great-looking insulated lunch-bag. Drop a comment for me here, (including your email so I can contact you if you've won) and let me know what organic foods you've tried and what you love or don't love about organics. Don't forget that last part - a simple, "Hey, how are ya?" won't cut it this time around! I'll give everyone until Friday, May 9th and post a winner on Saturday, May 10th.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Iron Chef Japan is BACK!

If you're like me, you've never been able to get used to the American version of Iron Chef. Not that the show doesn't have its merits - it's very entertaining. I always found something very cool about all the dubbing that went into Iron Chef Japan. I LOVED that show. I was heartbroken when The Food Network took it off the air.

Well, cry no more, it's BACK. Starting today, May 5th, Iron Chef Japan will be aired on Fine Living Network, weeknights at 11 P.M.!

Check out this video, among many others from Fine Living Network and Iron Chef Japan!

Winning Cookies

Betty Crocker® recently held a Cookie Recipe Contest and the First-Prize winner was “Cinna-spin” Cookies. When I first saw the recipe, I thought it looked too easy and there was no way they could possibly be so good with so few ingredients. I was very wrong. I made up a batch of these and they were gone so fast I never even got a photo. Then my kids started begging for more. So, I'll be hitting the grocery again soon for several more pouches of Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix.

Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix provided by Charlie Kondek of MS&L. This is not a paid product endorsement.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Grow Your Own - II

I've already brought this subject up, but each year I feel like it needs to be reprised, and now more than ever it's important to grow your own food. The less we depend on food grown elsewhere and trucked or flown in, the better for us all.

I have a mere 48 square feet for vegetable gardening and I make the most out of it. The sense of accomplishment when harvesting something I've grown myself is awesome.

These are week-old green bean plants.

I love the little "dance" that chives do before continuing on their upward path.

Plants amaze me. I love watching them grow from seed. I grow nearly everything in my vegetable garden from seed and the flowers are a combination of plants, perennials and seeds. This year we're growing nasturtiums from seed and they are very different. Most seeds turn into the very first leaves of the plant. Nasturtiums grow roots from one point, and the plant itself comes from another point. The seed is simply the seed and never turns into leaves. It's very neat to see and if you get a chance to sprout a nasturtium you'll see what I mean.

So far we have about 80 plants ready to go into the ground as soon as the danger of frost has passed, which is May 15th here in PA. I'm excited to get out there and get my hands in the dirt; to make my morning rounds of the garden and see how the plants have grown overnight; to harvest the fruits of each. We have zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, basil, mint, chives, parsley, lavender and flowers, flowers, flowers!

How's your own garden coming along?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Little Extra Time

The Cooking with Anne and Lots of Kids cooking challenge has been extended! Have your recipe in by May 5th and the entries will be posted on May 6th. Check it out HERE and join in!

Since this first challenge was not up until halfway through the month, you do NOT need to have a photo for your entry!