Monday, January 31, 2011

I panini, you panini

Funny story about this panini maker. My husband told me he'd gotten me a surprise for Christmas. Did I want to try and guess what it was, or did I want to be surprised?

Just as long as it isn't a panini maker, I groaned.

Well, I guess you know how it turned out. It seems my husband had tried a panini for the first time ever at Go Roma restaurant and was so overcome with toasted sandwich goodness that he declared his wife MUST have one of these. I, on the other hand, had not been with him for lunch on that fateful day, and had recently tried my own hand coincidentally with making paninis only to be very unimpressed.

So after agreeing to keep the panini machine, hubby took me out to Go Roma so I could try one of their life-altering Italian smashed sandwiches, and write down all the ingredients. It's the ingredients that really count, I learned. Time to head to the grocery store for: fancy Italian bread, pesto, provolone, basil, sun dried tomatoes and chicken.

I smile and yet have no clue how to use this. Does this thing do shirts?

Loaded up with $20 worth of sandwich ingredients. Is it cooking???
I swear I smell smoke.

Ok, to be fair, the sandwiches were excellent. Really. How can you screw up toasted good bread and yummy fixings? Even my kids liked it. I did learn that pesto contains pine nuts (a no no for our tree nut allergy kid) which is a shame because pesto really does make this particular sandwich sing. Are my panini's as good as Go Romas? No, but anything you don't prep, cook and clean up is gourmet in my book.

This weekend we went hog wild. I grilled roasted red peppers on it and then made paninis with them and with some Boursin goat cheese. Oh my, how elegant we've become.

Roasted Red Pepper Paninis

Makes one large sandwich to share

1 large red bell pepper, sliced into sections, cored and seeded
3 T good olive oil
Kosher salt
1 container Boursin cheese (cheap at Trader Joes)
2 slices Pane Turano italian Round bread or other good quality loaf that will toast.

Coat peppers with olive oil and generously salt
Grill on panini maker set to high (400F) for about 6 minutes

Then, spread generous coating of cheese on both slices of bread, add peppers, and grill on panini maker for about 6 minutes or until toasted and warmed throughout.

These were so yummy I ate mine before I could take a photo of it!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Best. Peanut. Butter. Pie. EVER

No, this isn't my pie, but it looks like it.
Every time we go out to dinner, my husband orders the peanut butter pie if it's on the menu. Last night I prepared a pie from scratch for him from a random recipe search of the Internet. Thanks to mega-family The Bates for their recipe, which I modified slightly.

Makes two 9in pies, serves 16. VERY RICH

1 8oz cream cheese, softened
2 tubs (total 16 oz) of Cool Whip
2 cups powdered sugar (or "confectioners")
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 graham or Oreo cookie crumb pie shells
16 mini Reese's peanut butter cups
Chocolate syrup to drizzle on top.

Blend cream cheese and powdered sugar
Add peanut butter
Add Cool Whip
Mix thoroughly with hand blender or standing mixer

Fill two pie shells, drizzle with syrup and place in freezer for 30 minutes to freeze
Remove and let thaw a bit before serving (it will be easier to cut the slices if slightly thawed). Dot tops of each slice with Reese's cups cut in half

Let me tell you, we ate this UP.

I am already thinking of way to make this in other flavors by substituting the peanut butter for crushed York peppermint patties, or use Kahlua, or frozen strawberry preserves. If I folded in cotton candy, could I dare make cotton candy pie??


Rough Nutrition Guide (from

Nutrition Facts
User Entered Recipe
  16 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 359.3
  Total Fat 21.3 g
      Saturated Fat 7.7 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 4.2 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 8.3 g
  Cholesterol 16.0 mg
  Sodium 268.3 mg
  Potassium 148.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 37.5 g
      Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
      Sugars 25.8 g
  Protein 6.3 g

  Vitamin A 8.5 %
  Vitamin B-12 1.1 %
  Vitamin B-6 4.5 %
  Vitamin C 0.0 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 14.0 %
  Calcium 2.3 %
  Copper 2.9 %
  Folate 5.0 %
  Iron 5.8 %
  Magnesium 7.8 %
  Manganese 9.7 %
  Niacin 13.7 %
  Pantothenic Acid     2.3 %
  Phosphorus     9.2 %
  Riboflavin 5.5 %
  Selenium 4.6 %
  Thiamin 2.9 %
  Zinc 4.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Friday, January 21, 2011

DEAD DEAL FREE Full Size Clairol Herbal Essence: Try Tomorrow

Sign up here for a coupon for a free full-sized bottle of Herbal Essences shampoo or conditioner.

They’re giving away 6000 a day today through 1/23 starting at noon EST. (Thanks,
Today's batch of 6,000 is "sold out" so try again tomorrow.

Dominicks Cookies Alert: CHEAP Nabisco Chips Ahoy

I was reading this yesterday over at couponerswanted:

If you are a member of Just 4 U at Dominick's (it's free to join if you have a preferred shoppers card), check your preferred Just 4 U pricing on Nabisco Chips Ahoy cookies. Several people, including me, have them for $1.88 per pack. Mine is good until February 2nd.

Currently, Dom's has the cookies on buy one get one free (BOGO), and that makes it $1.88 for TWO packs of cookies.  I did this yesterday and scored 4 packs for $4. These cookies are regularly almost $5 a pack each. (On a side note, $20 regularly for 4 packs of cookies?? OMG)

If you're wondering which cookies are covered (all varieties are on sale), reports are that all are working for the $1.88 price. There was some confusion because the Just 4 U preferred pricing refers to 14-16 oz packs, and some varieties, like Chunky, are in 13oz packs. Reports are these WILL work for the deal.

I thought 4 packs was good for us. It's nice to do a deal this easy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Summer camps continued

I figured I'd better finish this before I changed my mind....

We've chosen Concordia Language Villages for the children this summer. It's located in Bemidji, MN, which for those who don't know, is about as far north as you can get in Minnesota before you hit Canada. What the heck, just go to Canada, turn around, drive south for a few minutes, and there you are.

Yes, Paul and Babe really do grace downtown Bemidji
Concordia has been around now for about 50 years, and they are the preeminent foreign language summer camp for children and adults in the US. They specialize in immersion programs that teach language at the same time as all the typical summer camp activities like swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, bathing in the lake, getting bit by mosquitoes, etc. You get the picture.

How cute is this? The buildings are designed to mimic France.
For the past several years the kids have attended the local YMCA summer day camp, but as they've aged, the program has waned in appeal to them. There are only a limited number of summer day camp options near us as I've blogged before (besides the YMCA, there's the Bible Baptist camp we tried once, and the Jewish summer camp we don't qualify for). My husband had gone to away camp as a child and has been asking me recently why we don't try to send the kids to one so they can experience it. I don't think he was as excited when I mentioned it is a ten hour drive to Bemidji. Each way.

The cabins look like little houses in Bretagne
 DD has been taking French in school for two years now, and DS can say all of Bonjour. I was a French major in college, and lived in France, so naturally it would be easier for the children to learn a language that mommy also speaks. Concordia offers 16 languages, but I figured French would be fine to start with. When the children return, I hope their French will pass muster as we leave less than a week later for Paris for a family vacation. That's reason #2. We've rented an apartment for 9 days in Paris and plan to travel with DH's parents (his mother speaks French and knows Paris very well). The entire trip was rather spontaneously planned, motivated by the desire to take a nice family vacation while DH's parents were still able to travel.

So French camp it is, for two weeks in Lac du Bois (lake in the woods). I think it will be fun. I hope it will be fun. I've gotten rave reviews of the place from people who've sent their children there and who continue to send them there this summer. It's just a little weird and a little scary to ship your kids off someplace for two weeks, but I hope it will be so much fun and so interesting that the kids won't be scared or sad (too much).

I never went to a real summer camp as a kid. I spent most of my summers home alone while mom and dad were at work (when I was over 12, before that it was daycare) so this entire experience is new to me. I am not sure what to really expect. All I do know it that I think it would be very cool to go to camp in the summer. And Corcordia offers family camp as well. Maybe next year!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Summer camps. Already?

I registered my two children for summer camp today. It's January and it's snowing.  Something seems a bit odd about that....

Nonetheless, register them I did, before the spring crush, and all the spaces are taken. This year I'm trying something different. I'm going way out of my comfort zone (and probably a little bit of theirs): I'm sending the kids to sleep away camp for two whole weeks. In Minnesota. Ten hours away. To learn French.

I think I need to lie down a minute. I'll be back.

Free book from National Geographic Channel

A free photography book on the four seasons of Seoul, Korea.

Thanks to Mashupmom for the heads up!  I love coffee table picture books and free is FREE!
All you need to do is sign up and they'll let you know if they run out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I apologize. I screwed it up.

In my haste to not be tardy, I actually picked the winner for the drawing a week early. I had it in my head that it was the Sunday we were back from vacation, which was last weekend, not yesterday. I kept wondering why people were still entering. Now I know.

I apologize. I am really sorry about that. I hope you will forgive me and enter again for the next one.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Congrats DOREEN!

Doreen, you are lucky post #2 and picked the winner by!

I'll be in contact with you via email. Please keep an eye out for it.

Thanks everyone for playing and happy cookie making to us all!


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