8/31/2009

Puppy Chow at Table Talk

Calling all puppies...It's chow time!
So, my very favorite part of the General Mills Table Talk event was when they let us grab a red apron and do some cooking in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens. That is definitely in the top 5 coolest things I have ever done!We got a main dish recipe to try and review, our group had Spicy Skillet Chicken. You can get the super-easy recipe here on the Betty Crocker website.
It looked good, but I knew that my 2 and 4 year old wouldn't touch it. OF COURSE I had to make it fun somehow.
Luckily, I had packed my Gourmet-Mom-on-the-Go Utility Belt!
Little H is very into puppies right now...so I was inspired. She will eat anything if she thinks it's in a doggie dish. So, why not turn dinner into "Puppy Chow"?! It only takes an extra 60 seconds and you have fun food for the kids AND a grown-up dinner for the adults...perfect.
Plus, I don't have to cut up anyone's food at the table. Sold!
Instructions:
Make Betty Crocker's quick and easy Spicy Skillet Chicken (It's 25 minutes prep and super-easy. I don't know if I'm allowed to post it here, so you'll just have to follow the link).

To assemble the "Doggie Dish", place a small bowl upside-down in a larger one (whatever size you want).
Fill with hot rice and push down with the back of a spoon to pack it tightly.
Turn upside down onto a plate and remove bowls. Add a little more rice in the bottom of the doggie dish if desired.

(Note: You could do all kinds of fillings in these "doggie bowls"!)
Dice chicken and place on one side of the bowl. Place the rice/bean/corn mixture on the other side. You can serve it this way and the little pups will gobble it up!Or, if you want to get fancy, add some icing eyeballs, a nose (I used a large sprinkle), and pretzel whiskers (thanks Lisa!) Call the dogs for chow-time!
If you really want to go wild, let them eat under the table in "The Dog House"
(it's a favorite around here)
Thanks, Gourmet Dad, for taking such great care of the girls while I was away at Table Talk. I think he liked the souvenir I bought for him.:)
I'll have some more dinner ideas from Table Talk coming soon!

Table Talk at General Mills

I just got home from Minnesota and an amazing trip to the General Mills headquaters for their Table Talk Event. Thank you so much to General Mills and Coyne PR. I have SO MUCH to share--I'll try to summarize as best as I can.

Here are a few of the amazing blogging ladies I met on our way to the hotel...
After we arrived, they took us on a cruise & dinner on beautiful Lake Minnetonka...
Early the next morning, we arrived at the General Mills Headquarters. This is Suzy, an amazing and inspirational woman I met. I loved her. She gave a fun overview of the company history and was a plethora of interesting facts (did you know that Cheerios are made one-by-one and are shot out of a puffer gun at over 500 miles per hour??!!)
We had a great conversation with Gary and Steve from Green Giant about some new products that are coming out (0 and 1 point Weight Watcher veggie servings and an amazing new Immunity Blend with cranberries!) as well as Sustainability issues.
Did you know that their veggies are frozen within 8 hours of being picked?
My VERY FAVORITE part of the day is when they opened the doors and let us get into the official Betty Crocker Test Kitchens.
I swear I heard angels singing,
it was like the Mother Ship calling me home...
We divided into groups and made some easy and fun mealtime solutions
I can't believe I cooked dinner in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen! That's something I definitely will never forget.
We tried so many great products, I have never had someone try to feed me so much! Here are a few favorites:
Wan Chai Lo Mein Kits
(Great for an easy dinner!)
Old El Paso 60-second products
(the black beans were delish!)

And my personal favorite,
The new Yoplait frozen Smoothie mixes
(fruit and yogurt bits in a frozen bag, just add milk and blend. I LOVED these)

8/29/2009

New Yoplait Delights Giveaway

We have a winner!
Amber who said...
"Honestly, right now I am craving yoplait delights - these look incredible! I also crave dark chocolate at low points in the day.Thank you for the giveaway :)
Here's my latest delicious discovery! "
I have a confession to make--around 3:00 every day I get serious sugar cravings! It's too early for dinner, awhile after lunch, and at least one child has driven me crazy.:)
I am constantly looking for something "indulgent" that won't make me feel guilty.
Here's my new favorite discovery--new Yoplait® Delights, a rich and creamy layered yogurt parfait with just 100 calories!
With Yoplait Delights you can enjoy a delicious sweet treat and feel good about your choice.
Here are the yummy flavors:
Chocolate Raspberry, Triple Berry Creme, Lemon Torte and Creme Caramel.


If you're cheap like me, you need some incentive to try something new, so click here to download a $1.25 off coupon!
To celebrate, Yoplait is providing
one Gourmet-Mom-on-the-Go reader:
A "Delight Your Day" gift pack

that includes: a spa mask, wrap robe and slippers - all delightful treats for you to enjoy and relax with every day.:)


This giveaway is now closed.

Special thanks to MyBlogSpark for sponsoring this giveaway.

8/27/2009

Chocolate Mousse Birds Nests

I wanted a gourmet/retro/artsy dessert for some company we were having. I also just learned that if you flash-cool chocolate (thank you, Jean-Pierre Wybauw), it is moldable for a few seconds. So I made some little chocolate "nests" and meringue birds for this fabulous mousse.
I know this looks involved, but nothing is extremely hard and it's a beautiful dessert.

Tip: make the birds up to 2 weeks ahead and keep in a sealed container or freezer. I used the extra birds on my girls' cereal in the morning to encourage quick eating. Little H was so happy, she called to Gourmet Dad: "Mom gave me the bird! Mom gave me the bird!"
Chocolate Mousse Birds Nests
Mousse Ingredients:
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 Tbs. butter
8 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg whites
1/4 c. white sugar

Bluebird Ingredients:
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
Blue food coloring

Nest Ingredients:
high quality chocolate, your favorite flavor. (I used Cacao Barry dark chocolate)
quart ziploc freezer bag

Garnish Ingredients:
caramel or butterscotch sauce (homemade or you can use storebought ice cream topping)
green food coloring

Directions:
Bluebirds:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silpat sheets.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Add a drop or two of blue food coloring. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks.

Put mixture in a piping bag or a gallon ziploc bag with the end cut off.
Pipe out an oval on the parchment to make the birds "body". Starting in the middle of the oval, make a candy cane shape going straight up and pull away to make the beak (see video tutorial, it makes more sense!:)).

video

Bake for 1 hour in preheated oven. Do not allow them to brown. Turn off oven. Keep oven door ajar, and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool. When making the nests, reserve a little chocolate to add "eyes" to the birds with a toothpick.

Nests:
If you have a marble pastry slab, put it in the freezer. If not, you can use a metal cookie sheet, it just won't hold the cold as long (you may need to put it in the freezer after each nest to keep it cold).
Melt chocolate slowly in microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval. Put chocolate in a quart-sized ziploc baggie and snip the end off.
On the marble slab or cold pan, quickly draw lines back and forth with your chocolate, about 8 inches long. They should set in a few seconds. Quickly gather them up and bend into a circle to form your nest. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and immediately put into the refrigerator to set completely.

Mousse:
Coarsely chop the chocolate and put in microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate slowly in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each. Melt butter and mix with egg yolks in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to the chocolate, stirring constantly to avoid curdling. Let mixture stand and cool a bit. Whip the cream to soft peaks.
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, adding half the sugar as your start whipping and the other half slowly as the whites come to firm peaks. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the whites. Refrigerate several hours. Try not to eat it all before you serve it. YUMMMM!
Just before serving, place one nest on a plate. Combine butterscotch sauce with a drop or two of green food coloring. Put a few drops on each plate
then draw a knife through the dots, making them look like leaves.
Spoon or pipe in about 1/2 c. mousse and add a bluebird on top. Enjoy!
Here's a view of the whole plate. This was such a fun dessert to make!

8/26/2009

Painted Butterfly Dinner

Does anyone else have a hard time getting info from your kids when you want to know how their day went? I've found that my kids talk when involved with a project, so came up with this one for tonight. We had a great chat, they LOVED doing it (what kid doesn't like to paint their dinner?!), and dinner was a snap. Perfect!
Painted Butterfly Hot Dogs
Ingredients:
Hot Dogs
Refrigerator biscuits (like Grands or any brand)
1 egg
water
food coloring
pretzel sticks
cheese, ketchup, or mustard (for the face)
small paintbrushes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet or cake pan. Give each child two biscuits and a hot dog.
Help them cut each biscuit in half, turn one half over, and place on pan as the "wings". Repeat with the other biscuit.
Lay the hot dog on top of the biscuits. Time to paint!
To make paints, put one egg and one tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour a small amount of egg mixture in several bowls (however many colors you want) and add a drop or two of different food colorings. We went with blue, purple, and orange. One egg made plenty of paint, but if you have a big group of kids, you may want to use two.
Give each child a clean paintbrush and let them paint their "butterfly wings".
Have a great chat and enjoy some 'dinner-making family time'!
Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown. Add two pretzel sticks for antannae and either ketchup/mustard/cheese/whatever you want for two eyes and mouth. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable and dinner's ready!

8/19/2009

Back to School Treats Roundup!

It's almost School Time and you know what time that is at our house.....
My kids LOVE making them, probably because they can do almost everything themselves and they always come out looking great! It's become a favorite family tradition and if you haven't tried them yet, go here for instructions and free printable crayon labels.
I have seen SO MANY fun Back to School treats that I had to share them with you! Here's the roundup. Click title or image to get instructions from their website/blog.

Pencil Cookies
from Bridget at Bake at 350
School Bus Cookies
from Bright Ideas

Blackboard Cupcakes
from Family Fun
Apple Cupcakes
from Kara's Cupcakes Apple Cake Pops
from Bakerella



Do you have any Back to School traditions?
I'd love to hear them!

8/13/2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Oh, I love that Paula Deen! She's my kind of chef. I love watching her whip up fabulous dishes while saying
"now this is how you get a man, honey!".
Yesterday, I decided to whip up something tasty for MY man and made one of his favorites, her recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake. He was so thrilled that he sat and snuggled through all of The Notebook with me and didn't complain...much.
Hunky Gourmet Dad came back from a jog to find this in the fridge...this cake is seriously amazing! You have to try it! I make quite a few desserts and this one and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake are his two top favorites.
Flourless Chocolate Cake from Paula Deen
Ingredients:
12 oz. high quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate (don't skimp! This is what makes it taste so fabulous! I used Cacao Barry Dark Chocolate)
2 sticks of butter
1 1/4 c. of sugar
6 eggs, separated

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place some parchment paper on the bottom of a springform pan so it hangs over. Close the latch to hold the paper in place and secure the sides. You'll also want to generously spray the paper/pan with some non-stick cooking spray. Separate 6 large eggs--yolks in a small bowl and egg whites in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine Chocolate and 2 sticks of butter. WOWZA! Melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between until completely melted and smooth. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups sugar until combined. Then add the six egg yolks to the chocolate and sugar mixture, one at a time, whisking after each addition.

In the mixing bowl, beat the six egg whites on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Then, gently fold egg white mixture into the melted chocolate mixture until combined. Pour it in the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. It will rise pretty high in the oven, but when you take it out to cool, it will fall. And fall hard. Delicious! Let it cool one hour on the counter and then for at least four hours in the refrigerator before you release it from the springform pan.
The garnish is made with a chocolate transfer sheet (and a few squirts of heavy whipping cream) I bought this transfer sheet from Fancy Flours but you can get them at most bakery/cake supply shops. There are great instructions about using transfer sheets here. They are super easy to use and look amazing! I just make a whole sheet, cool, cut into triangles with a pizza cutter, and store all of them in a cool dark place until I want to use them. It makes a lot and looks super-gourmet! I whip them out whenever I need a quick, gorgeous garnish.


As a side note, I made some cute cookies for a friend a couple days ago, put them on my flickr photostream, and they made the front page of Flickr! Thanks, I'm so honored!! I'll do a post later on my adventures with Marshmallow Fondant.:)