May 022012


Cast iron cookware has been used for centuries to cook meals, wash clothes and as wall ornaments in a home. The benefits of using cast iron cookware are truly evident to people who love the outdoors because cast iron cookware holds up well when exposed to all weather elements. Any rust that forms is easily removed and the strong metal surface is often not affected by any type of cooking temperatures.

Most people love cooking with cast iron cookware because of the resilient cast iron metal promotes even heat distribution. Some people enjoy cooking with cast iron cookware because it can be used inside the oven and can withstand a variety of heating levels without causing damage to the shape of the cooking pan. Cast iron cookware is also liked because it travels well and can produce many edible items.

The various shapes of cast iron cookware allow people to bake, boil and roast foods without fear that any foods will be over cooked. Cast iron cookware shortens the cooking process and allows cooks to utilize the interior space of an oven more effectively because cast iron cookware sets are manufactured for this purpose.

Many people enjoy cooking cornbread in large cast iron skillets because the corn meal browns evenly on top and on the bottom. There are many styles of corn bread that can be cooked at one time and this is especially helpful if a family prefers to eat wedges of cornbread for an evening meal and sconces for an afternoon snack. The pre-shaped forms for sconces allow cooks to provide elegant morsels for guest at a dinner party.

Cooks truly appreciate the benefits of using cast iron cookware when it is time to clean up after dinner. Even the hardest baked on foods can be easily removed with a limited amount of soaking. Maintaining a smooth interior surface in a cast iron pan can be accomplished with a steel wool pad. Many cooks have learned through years of use that cleaning all surfaces of cast iron cookware will render better results if a consistent circular motion is used on the cooking surface.

Cast iron cookware maintains a pitch black metal surface at all times. Since cast iron is prone to rusting, cooks have found that oil will keep rust from forming. Any type of oil can be used on cast iron cookware and many cooks will choose to store cast iron cookware with a rich layer of oil on it so that it will be ready for use each day. Cast iron cookware is a good value for the money because it will last for many years and many cast iron pieces have been passed on to many generations of families.




If you are interested in shopping for a set click here and here

Apr 232012

For the 16th anniversary of Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Contest and Cook-Off®, the search forAmerica’s best burger, judges are looking for entries to include a maximum of 16 ingredients. And here is the winner back in 1990. It still sounds like a 5-star burger today!

Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers
Makes 6


2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto


2 pounds ground sirloin

1/4 cup Zinfandel

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

1/4 cup minced red onion

1/4 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs

8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, finely chopped

2 teaspoons garlic salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

8 large fresh basil sprigs, moistened with water

6 large seeded sandwich rolls, split

6 slices Monterey Jack cheese

6 red leaf lettuce leaves

6 (1/4-inch-thick) large tomato slices

6 paper-thin red onion slices, separated into rings

6 fresh basil sprigs

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Combine the mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the patties, combine the sirloin, Zinfandel, basil, onion, bread crumbs, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form them into patties to fit the rolls.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Toss basil sprigs directly onto the fire. Place patties on the rack; cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of cooking, place rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Top each patty with a cheese slice. Cook 1 minute.

Spread the mayonnaise over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, a tomato slice, an onion slice and a basil sprig. Add the roll tops and serve.

With 16 ingredients, this burger took the grand prize in 1990


For dessert try the Take Your Breath Away Chocolate Pie

Apr 102012


If you want it, there is a  click here or on the picture to make your life easier.  I love Rachel. She speaks my language. So many pictures. If you are unsure of your ability, this is the cookbook for you.

“Inexperienced cooks need more that just a few lines of laconic test to help them along.  Rachael Ray has coached a generation of rookies on her Food Network shows, talking and plopping and emoting her way through dish after dish.  Her latest books, Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook, shows what each stage should look like in big photos.  Betty Crocker, or more specifically, the 1976 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, used to be my bulletproof go-to recipe source. But now Ray fills that role.”  — Time magazine

From her cookbooks to her magazine to her daily talk show, Rachael Ray’s message remains the same today as the day she wrote her very first 30-minute meal—making delicious, knock-your-socks-off dishes should be fun, fast, fulfilling, and foolproof.

Rachael now presents her best idea yet: Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook—100 brand-new recipes, each featuring beautiful and helpful step-by-step full-color photographs that illustrate how to create each meal, along with photographs of the gorgeous finished dishes. You literally look along while you cook!

Apr 052012

I thought it might be helpful to suggest a sample menu for those of you who might be cooking for the holidays for the first time. I hope you’ll notice the variety in color and texture with each of the menus. For finger foods: spiced bacon twists, asparagus ham roll ups, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, brie with apricot topping, chicken salad puffs, and citrus pound cake. For a brunch you might serve: spiced bacon twists; asparagus,brie, and parma ham crostini; applesauce oatmeal pancakes; bacon quiche; chicken salad puffs; and citrus pound cake. For dinner may I suggest: applesauce pork loin recipe, glazed orange carrots, never fail scalloped potatoes, and Easter pie. These menus vary different flavors and don’t focus too much on one ingredient in case you have guests that don’t like a particular food. And most of these menus will have you out of the kitchen in less than an hour to prepare the entire menu (not including cooking time). Let us know which of these have become your favorites. We’d love to hear. You’ll find the recipes on and 

Apr 022012


Whether you are entertaining many friends or serving your family for Easter, here are some simple tips that have served me well over the years. There are three basic menus: finger foods, brunch, and dinner. Depending on the size of the group the menu can be scaled back. If you are serving finger foods or brunch it is best to have between 4-8 choices. For  dinner a main dish, 2 side dishes, and a dessert is enough. When choosing a menu try to remember to vary color and texture in your dishes. When the kids were little finger foods were a fun way for them to eat; but, if you have teens the dinner idea might be more filling!

For recipes try and

Mar 162012

If you want to be able to cook sweets without the negative effects of refined sugar, honey is an excellent option since it is metabolized in the body much more slowly than refined sugar. However, many people find cooking with honey challenging. Let me walk you through the most common problems and their solutions.
1. Honey burns easily; solve that by cooking at lower temperatures.
2. Honey has more liquid; solve that by adjusting the liquid added to cakes and cookies. Pies and bread tend to not need any adjustment.
3. The flavor of honey is a bit different; this is negligible usually. However, if the change in taste bothers you remember that the lighter in color the honey is, the milder it is. So buy a lighter honey or simply use part honey and part other sweetener such as stevia, apple juice, or agave nectar.

I hope with these tips you will find that honey becomes a favorite option in your recipes.

Jan 032012

Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own American kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. Learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over.

Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. You do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret though.. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes.

The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It’s the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes.

The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn’t as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much. Fresh ingredients is the key to an authentic Italian meal. Fresh herbs like basil can be purchased in most chain grocery stores. You don’t have to grow it yourself or even stop by a farmer’s market. Fresh basil, fresh garlic and some good quality extra virgin olive oil and you are well on your way to success.

Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you’ve mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation.

The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. For now check out this extremely easy “Grilled Chicken Penne al Fresco” that is posted on my site – more will come later.

Dec 092011

 These truffles make a beautiful recipe to serve during any special occasion. They also make a wonderful gift (think teachers!). These truffles are so quick and easy yet they look like you had to take a culinary class to learn to make them. Truffles are a chocolate lovers delight!

Creme de menthe cookie truffles



15 creme-filled chocolate-mint sandwich cookies
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 pkg crème de menthe chocolate candies, unwrapped (about 28 candies total)
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels



  1. Break cookies in half and place into Manual Food Processor; cover and pump handle to form very fine crumbs. Add cream cheese; process until dough forms. Using level Small Scoop, scoop cookie mixture onto Medium Sheet Pan lined with Parchment Paper; roll into balls.
  2. In Small Micro-Cooker®, microwave chocolate candies, uncovered, on HIGH 1-1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Cool slightly. Dip truffles into chocolate; place onto pan. Let stand 5 minutes or until chocolate is set.
  3. In (1-cup/250-mL) Prep Bowl, microwave chocolate morsels, uncovered, on HIGH 30-60 seconds or until melted, stirring every 15 seconds. Spoon chocolate into small resealable plastic bag; trim corner of bag and drizzle chocolate over truffles. Let stand 10 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Dec 052011


The holidays are here.  It’s such an exciting time of year, a time to reunite with friends and family, a time for gift exchange and a time for festive dining.




There are a number of great gifts to consider for your loved ones:


Ador-a-bowl Gift Ideas

bowl set

Batter bowls make a great gift when grouped with complementary products! Or, fill prep bowls with favorite candies or batter bowls with homemade holiday treats, add a little flair and you’ve got a gift that keeps giving—even after it’s gobbled up.




Exclusive Holiday Gift Sets

holiday plate


Put this set on the invite list to all your holiday get-togethers! Includes our Holiday Dots Square Bowl, Beaded Spreader and, exclusive to this set, Cranberry Orange Sauce.




 Pizza Party Set 

pizza set

Get the holiday party started! Features our Large Round Stone with Handles, Pizza Cutter, Microplane® Zester and Pizza Crust Mix with Rosemary, exclusively available in this set.



 Decadent Dessert Sauces 

dessert sauces

Imagine your chocolate-lover unwrapping this exclusive set — Chocolate Peppermint, Chocolate Caramel and Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauces!



More choices for the perfect gift   


Nov 282011
 CQ-Pear gingerbreadcake
 1/3 cup (75 mL) plus 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil, divided
 1 can (29 oz or 540 mL) pear halves
 1 pkg (18.25 oz or 510 g) spice cake mix
 2 tsp (10 mL) ground ginger
 3 eggs
 1/2 cup (125 mL) molasses
 1/2 cup (125 mL) Butterscotch Rum Sauce or Caramel Sauce
  1. Brush Stoneware Fluted Pan with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil using Silicone Basting Brush. Drain pears using medium Stainless Mesh Colander; blot pears dry with paper towels. Using Utility Knife, slice four of the pear halves lengthwise into quarters for a total of 16 slices. Arrange pear slices in a circular pattern over bottom of pan. Place remaining pears in Food Processor; cover and pump handle until smooth. Spoon pear puree into (1-cup/250-mL) ; add enough water to puree to measure 1 cup (250 mL).
  2. In large Bamboo Fiber Mixing Bowl, combine cake mix, ginger, pear mixture, eggs, molasses and remaining 1/3 cup (75 mL) oil; whisk until well blended using Stainless Whisk. Slowly pour batter into prepared pan. Microwave on HIGH 10–12 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Carefully remove pan from microwave; cool cake in pan 10 minutes.
  3. Center Large Round Platter over pan and carefully invert; remove pan. Drizzle sauce over cake.
Yield: 16 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 250, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 240 mg, Carbohydrate 43 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 3 g

Cook’s Tip: To bake in a conventional oven, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare batter as directed; bake 40–45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.