Monday, July 29, 2013

Frigidaire Professional Appliances: 5-in-1 Grill and Griddle

I have a thing for small kitchen appliances. Like many of you, though, I don't have space for all the "gadgets" I want. So, when I decide on an appliance, it has to meet some pretty high standards. I have a lot of people to cook for and my kitchen and all its wares can really take a beating. Between feeding so many and developing and testing recipes, my kitchen gets a real workout.

Frigidaire Professional Appliances really fill the bill. I've been given the chance to try the 5-in-1 Grill and Griddle and we put it to the real family test.

Here are the things I love about this:

  1. It performs more than one function. This is SO important in my kitchen. With room at a premium, I need appliances that do more than just one thing. Not only is this a grill, it's also a sandwich press! There are smooth plates and ridged plates for grilling and griddling and everything in-between.
  2. It's BIG. This is another must around here. The cooking surface on this is very large. So large, in fact, that I can make SIX grilled sandwiches at once! That's if I press them. If I simply want to grill and flip, I can make TWELVE! This means that this grill does something no single pan in my house can do: serve up grilled cheese for everyone at one time. 
  3. It's easy to use. No muss, no fuss, clearly labeled knobs and dials make it easy to use without having to guess. Heat the top griddle or the bottom griddle or make them both different temperatures if you need. This grill LAYS FLAT so I can open it fully and use one side with the ridges to grill chicken and the flat side for roasting peppers. It's just so versatile I don't think I'll be able to think of everything it might do.
  4. It's extra easy to clean. After cooking for so many people the last thing I want to to is CLEAN. The grill plates pop off easily and clean up fast. I haven't had anything stick to these and I love that part.
The absolute only thing I would change is the length of the cord. I had to rearrange a couple things in order to plug it in, but once that was settled I was good to go!

Here are photos of this fabulous appliance in use:

Grilling chicken and "roasting" jalapenos for a recipe. Not the two separate grill plates in use at once!

Sandwich being pressed.

Perfectly pressed sandwich.

Easy to use controls. Choose panini (which heats both plates simultaneously) or griddle (which heats plates independently).

Pancakes and sausage at the same time.

SIX at once!

Stay tuned for another appliance review very soon and a GIVEAWAY after that! Who wouldn't love to get their hands on a Frigidaire Professional Series appliance?

*Disclosure: The Frigidaire 5-in-1 Grill and Griddle was provided to me free of charge. All opinions expressed are wholly my own and not influenced in any way by free product.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to School with Bluebird by American Express

This is the first in a series of posts all about Bluebird by American Express. I've never used it, but I've been given the chance to try it out and see what I think.

I figured the perfect time for this would be back-to-school time. I've chosen one of the 7 kids to test it out with me and I'll have more details about that later, but in the meantime, check out Bluebird for yourself. Read up on it and see what you think.

I'm excited to give this a whirl and see how it will help manage not only the back-to-school budget, but the food budget as well. I'm also setting up a sub-account for one of the kids to see exactly how that works. Keep checking back for our findings!

Disclosure: This series of posts is sponsored by Bluebird by American Express.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mezzetta Make That Sandwich Contest

Pesto-Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
Pesto-Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
Who doesn't love a good sandwich? We've been eating sandwiches since the late 1700's and haven't slowed down at all. In fact, there are so many different combinations of sandwiches that it's impossible to catalog them all. I even tried to list as many fillings and breads as I could in my Summer Cooking 101 Part IV; Sandwiches post!

Whatever your favorite may be, consider adding Mezzetta products to your next creation. Not only are there so many different and delicious varieties, but the quality is so much better than other jarred condiments that I've purchased.

Another reason to love Mezzetta? The Mezzetta Make That Sandwich Contest. Not only can you make fabulous sandwiches with Mezzetta, you can share your own idea with them for a chance to WIN $25,000! Really!

Check out the sandwich recipes at the Mezzetta site to whet your appetite and get your creative sandwich juices flowing. Then, CREATE! Once you've created an award-winning sandwich, go back to the site and enter the contest!

So, what do I think is an award winning sandwich? This is my creation using Mezzetta quality products that I think is completely delicious and was a winner in my own home.

While I'm an unapologetic meatatarian, I often choose the veggie option for health reasons providing the carb count isn't too high. I thought this would be an excellent combo. Rather than roast the veggies in a bit of olive oil, I tossed them with Mezetta Pesto. Wow. What a difference! My youngest kids got their hands on this and didn't want to let go. The combination of sweet roasted veggies, briny Kalamata olives and garlicky pesto with smooth and tangy Provolone is just perfect. Use a knife and fork or cut into quarters to pick up with your hands.

Mezzetta Pesto-Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
Mezzetta and the perfect Pesto-Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

Pesto-Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
Serves 2
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour


1 small zucchini - sliced 1/4" thick
1 small yellow pepper cut into 1/2" strips
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 small carrot - shredded - about 1/2 cup
2 whole wheat pitas
3 Tablespoons Mezzetta Homemade-Style Basil Pesto; divided
1/4 cup Mezzetta Deli-Sliced Roasted Bell Pepper Strips
2 Tablespoons Mezzetta Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives
2 slices (1 ounce each) Provolone cheese julienned


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Toss zucchini, yellow pepper, red onion and carrot with 1 tablespoon Mezzetta Homemade-Style Basil Pesto. Use your hands! This is the best way to be sure each vegetable slice is coated well.
3. Spread veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet or double-thick aluminum foil. Roast for 35 minutes.
4. Add Mezzetta Deli-Sliced Roasted Bell Pepper Strips to roasting veggies and cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Spread each pita with a Tablespoon of Mezzetta Homemade-Style Basil Pesto. Top with roasted veggies.
6. Turn oven to BROIL.
7. Sprinkle veggie topped pitas with Mezzetta Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives and cheese.
8. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly - about 5 minutes.
9. Enjoy!

*Disclosure: I received Mezzetta products for free. All opinions and views here are my own and are in no way influenced by Mezzetta.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Back Door Bakeshop

A few years ago I had the distinct pleasure of living just behind the Back Door bakeshop, the creation of Gail Lehman and Dina Hall. I'm not quite sure exactly how I learned of this wonderful little bakery, but I showed up (late!) on Grand Opening day in 2009 and snapped photos, sampled goods and wrote about it.

Now, nearly 4 years later, they've moved and expanded. The new bakeshop is located in downtown Bethlehem at 92 E. Broad St. In fact, yesterday was their Grand Opening and this time, I missed it. They now have al fresco seating when the weather is lovely and you can stop in and buy all kinds of yummy things directly from the shop. This is a big deal. Once upon a time the only way  to get these goodies was to be a neighbor (*wink*) or pick them up from local spots in the valley and at the Bethlehem Farmer's Market - which you can still do - check out the Grab-n-Go items page!

My youngest son, Ian, and Gail took an instant liking to one another and Ian often tells me that he misses her and having the shop nearby (he used to get to see her pull up to work in the old neighborhood).

Back door bakeshop brownie
Eating things we shouldn't ... we also had a chocolate salted brownie.

I stopped by recently with two of my girls and we feasted on things we shouldn't have: brownies and iced coffees laced with sugar and cream. We had I don't regret one bite or sip. The weather was beautiful and we sat outside and watched the cars go by and simply relaxed.

If we hadn't just eaten lunch I'm sure we would have grabbed one of the new menu items such as quiche, sandwiches, or salads. The menu changes often so it's always something new and delicious when you stop in. (Check out the weekly menu HERE)

See why he's so likable? How cute is that? Ian holding the Onion, Apple and Ale Relish

One of the best things sold at Back Door are the jams and jellies. They simply are not the norm and not what you'd expect. We took home the Onion, Apple and Ale Relish and talked about everything we wanted to use it for. While we really think it would be fabulous on grilled pork or chicken, Gail told us it's awesome in a grilled cheese.

Rye bread, Onion, Apple and Ale Relish, smoked turkey and Swiss cheese. So good.

We (my son, Ian and I) paired it with Swiss and smoked turkey on rye and the sweet tart flavor of the relish was the perfect foil for the nuttiness of the cheese and tang of the bread. We can't wait to get our hands on more and also pick up a few of the others especially Raspberry Jalapeno Jam and Roasted Garlic Jelly - yes, you read those right! Don't they sound divine? Who knows what we'll come up with for those two. The best part is, if we're stumped, Gail knows the perfect pairing for each - all you need to do is ask.

I'm sad that I no longer live so close, especially now that I can walk in and get whatever I'd like on any given day, but the trek isn't too far for me and I know i'll be stopping by soon as Ian is dying to see Gail and say hello!

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash

Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash
Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash

I don't know about you, but it sure is hot here lately! I love to break out the slow cooker in the summer so we can still have delicious meals without heating up the whole kitchen.

Chicken Paprikash is already full of flavor and easy on the budget, but slow cooking using chicken thighs only makes it more delicious and budget-friendly. Any cut of chicken can be used if you prefer white meat, but use bone-in for best flavor and results. Serve over noodles as suggested here, or trade for rice or spaetzle.

Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 6 hours and 15 minutes
Serves: 8


8 - 10 chicken thighs
1 large onion - sliced thin
1 clove garlic - minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup sour cream
10 ounces wide noodles - cooked


1. Combine flour, salt and paprika in a shallow bowl until well blended.
2. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and dredge chicken in flour mixture. Fry until golden, 3 minutes per side, and set into the bottom of a slow cooker liner.
3. Stir together onions and garlic with remaining flour mixture. Add onions over top of chicken.
4. Pour chicken stock over all and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender but not falling off the bone.
5. Remove chicken from cooker and stir sour cream into sauce. Check for seasoning. Serve chicken atop noodles and pour sauce over all.