Tag Archives: OXO Blogger Outreach Program

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars for a Cure

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - OXO Cookies for Kids Cancer 2015

Each year, OXO does the most wonderful thing – they donate a great deal of money to Cookies for Kids Cancer. And each year, they invite bloggers to bake for the cause by donating $100 for every original recipe created and posted using OXO products and cookies for the cure. This year, bloggers were offered an opportunity to receive one of three baking sets: cookies, brownies or cupcakes. I applied for the brownie set and was thrilled to learn I was selected. Once I learned it was in the mail, all I could think of was caramel pear or apple blondies. Day and night, night and day, I dreamed of caramel and fruit and crumbs.

OXO Brownie Set Collage

The OXO Brownie Set Included:
OXO Non-Stick Pro 9×13 Cake Pan
OXO Brownie Spatula
OXO Baker’s Dusting Wand

The non-stick pro baking pan is amazing. It’s 13″ by 9″ and super sturdy, with double wall construction for extra insulation and a cool diamond pattern textured bottom for extra browning surface which paired really well with the copious quantities of butter and brown sugar in these caramel pear crumb bars. Have you seen the new gold-tone iPhone6? It’s got nothing on this sexy pan.
I’m sure you can tell where my priorities lie. (with the cookies)

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - OXO 13x9 Pan

But let’s get to those sweet bars before the drool shorts out your keyboard. They actually started with another of my favorite OXO kitchen tools – the mandolin.
I used it to shave a big, fat, juicy pear into even slices.

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - OXO Mandolin

From there, I lined that pretty pan with parchment paper and gave it a light spritz of baking spray. The dough for these bars comes together quickly in a food processor, so it only takes a few pulses until your pressing it into a pan. Oh, how I love easy. Just press the shortbread base into the pan, then top with sliced pears (or apples), drizzle with half a jar of caramel (yes, half a jar) and dot with the crumb topping like this.

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - OXO - Ready for the Oven

Once they’re baked to a gorgeous golden brown and your neighbors are clawing to get in because they smell so amazing, pull them out and let them cool.

Caramel Pear Bars - Ready to Serve

When they’re mostly cool but still a little warm and gooey, drizzle them with more caramel. YES, MORE CARAMEL! I love this thick goat’s milk cajeta.

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - Cajeta from HEB

Using this slick OXO Brownie Spatula made serving a breeze. It has a beveled edge that cuts the bars as well as serves them. I’ve said it a million times, but I’ll say it again – I love OXO’s devotion to smart design.

Caramel Pear Bars - OXO Server

Mmm… I wish you could smell the butter, brown sugar, pears and caramel. If I could bottle this as a cologne, I’d be filthy rich. To serve these, I mixed cinnamon with powdered sugar and sifted it like fresh fallen snow over those glorious craggy crumbs. Have mercy.

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - OXO Sifter - Cinnamon Powdered Sugar

That little sifting wand is nifty. Twist the handle to open; twist to close; shake. It’s a lot of fun. And versatile. It also doubles as a tea infuser. Fill with loose leaf tea, twist to close, and dunk it in your mug. Hey… a cup of tea would be perfect with these bars! (heh heh…see what I did there?)

NanaBread’s Caramel Pear Crumb Bars
(makes one 13″ x 9″ pan or 12 large bars)

Shortbread Base:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour

Fruit Layer:
1-2 large pears (or apples), peeled & thinly sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick of cold butter, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
4-5 tablespoons buttermilk (or regular milk)
One jar (10 ozs.) of your favorite caramel, cajeta or dulce de leche
3 tablespoons powdered sugar + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with parchment, then coat lightly with baking spray.

In a food processor, add the butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and flour for the shortbread cookie base. Pulse until it forms large crumbs that press together well. Press the crumbs into the pan in an even layer.

Slice or chop the pears or apples into even pieces and toss or sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon for the fruit layer. Spread evenly across the top of the cookie base. Drizzle with half the jar of caramel sauce.

In the food processor, combine the topping ingredients and pulse until it forms a thick dough. Pinch into marble-size chunks and scatter them over the fruit.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the top starts to brown around the edges and you can see the caramel bubbling. Cool until barely warm to the touch before drizzling with additional caramel. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon (optional).

Caramel Pear Crumb Bars - OXO Cookies for Kids Cancer Recipe

Not pictured but also fabulous – serving these warm with vanilla ice cream.

And now, a word from our sponsor. Just kidding, but this bears mentioning.

– Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.
– OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign in October (up to our $100,000 commitment*.)
– *In 2015, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer through product proceeds, bake sale matches and other fundraising efforts

Cookies for Kids Cancer Logo

Special thanks to OXO and their Blogger Outreach Program. This post is not a paid advertisement. I am not compensated for this recipe or blog post, but did receive the Brownie Baking Set at no charge to play with. All opinions are my own, and my opinion is that I will never stop loving OXO and their remarkable products. OXO rocks.

To learn more about the OXO Bloggers Outreach Program, OXO Blogger Outreach Program.
To learn more about Cookies for Kids Cancer and how you can participate, Cookies for Kids Cancer Foundation.

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Spring Outdoor Gardening With OXO

I haven’t posted since March? Well, we’re not dead – we just moved!

The Complete Package pulled the trigger on retirement and the lure to be close to our grandkids was just too strong for me, so we packed up our stuff and we moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Okay, not Beverly Hills exactly, but we did move to the hills west of Austin. Hello, Hill Country!

Two weeks after we moved into our new home, we were hit with a massive hail storm that blew out three picture windows, totaled TCP’s truck, dented the guttering, destroyed our roof and beat our landscaping to a pulp. (Stupid hail.) Not the welcome we expected, but it didn’t dampen our love for the new place. It just meant we had more work to do. And we still absolutely love it.

While we wait for contractors to fix the big stuff, we started on the yard with a little help from OXO. Their Spring Gardening campaign kicked off just as we were preparing to redo the flower beds. Perfect timing! The box of tools they sent were exactly what we needed.

OXO Spring Outdoor Gardening Tools

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love OXO products. Their commitment to smart design at a great price continually knocks me out. They don’t just design comfortable handles, for example. They add gel pads to the grips to prevent blisters. Ergonomic and comfortable for the win!

OXO Transplanting Trowel - Gel Pad Comfort

I decided to start with the hand plow and tackle replacing the salvia that got beat literally to death. Hail hath no fury? Try telling that to the salvia.

OXO Plow To the Rescue

Because of the pointed tip, I could literally plow through the rock to the soil beneath. This is a serious hand tool. Besides digging rocks, I also used it to re-trough the edge of the bed where approximately two gallons of tiny gravel from our asphalt shingles washed off the roof. Apparently, when golf ball size hail beats your roof badly enough, all that gravel will indeed come off and end up in your yard, which is totally bizarre. But fear not! The hand plow is your friend.

OXO Pointed Plow Blade

Next, we tackled trimming the broken branches from our oak trees and bushes. (Stupid hail.) I don’t have any idea what this bush is, but I like it. Could it be a blueberry bush? Only time will tell. If you recognize it, feel free to shout it out.

OXO Bypass Pruners

The bypass pruners made quick work of those branches and also helped me clean up our poor agave. He did not fare so well with the hail. Poor guy had holes blown all the way through his fronds.

Our Poor Hail-Damaged Agave

Once he was spruced up, I used the hand rake to create a zen pattern in the sand. You know… to help calm him and restore order. Quick question: Do you talk to your plants? I’m asking for a friend.

New House - Agave & Rock Bed

And the hand rake I mentioned? Wait until you get a load of it. Man, I love this thing. It’s the Edward Scissorhands of hand tools.

OXO Hand Rake - Fully Expanded

We used it to help spread new mulch because the storm washed all of our previous mulch into the adjacent greenbelt. (Stupid hail.) What I loved about this rake is that it’s expandable. Did you hear that? I said expandable!

OXO Expandable Hand Rake Collage

You can’t help but play with this thing, but the truth is it’s so functional and easy to use. TCP dumped piles of mulch, and I played with the new hand rake. I mean I ‘worked hard to improve the beds’. (Sometimes I wish he didn’t read my blog.) It made getting into tight nooks and crannies super easy.

OXO Hand Rake - Working Those Corners

Because you can release the lock and adjust the rake width in or out, you can put that mulch into any corner instead of accidentally flinging it out into the grass. That’s a big bonus for a klutz like me.

Now for my personal favorite – the Pour & Store Outdoor Watering Can. I’m telling everyone about this puppy. It’s pure dynamite. The spout actually swivels so you can fill and store with ease. What?!? You heard right!

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Easy Fill

And it holds 2+ gallons of water! You’d think that would be heavy and awkward to carry, but it’s really not. The can is so well balanced, you can grab it and go. And you don’t have to constantly peek into the can to see if it’s full yet, because the handle is translucent and you can see the water as it fills. See what I mean? The designers at OXO are so smart! Why did no one think of this before? Why didn’t I think of it before? I coulda’ been RICH, I TELL YOU!

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Easy View Fill Level

Other features that rock – the pivoting spout that allows you to fold and store easily and the removable spout head that goes from rain function to full stream with a twist. You’d better believe I am watering ALL the things now.

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Thoughtful Design

Once you’re done, give it a quick wipe, twist the spout back around and pop it under a kitchen cabinet. Pure genius.

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Easy Storage

We had so much fun playing with our new toys, we got a wild hair and planted a herb container for the front entry. In case you’re wondering, I’m already planning a Margherita pizza around that basil. ‘Hey, Basil…looking good! What, these? Oh, they’re just bypass pruners. No big whoop.’

New House - Herb Container Garden

It felt good to stand in the driveway and look over our work. The beds look good again. The plants are pruned, watered and feeling loved again. The oaks are still bruised and holding a grudge, but 2 out of 3 landscapers agree that they’ll probably recover and grow to be big and strong despite the trauma they endured.

Yes, we are still waiting for guttering and the roof to be replaced, but we really can’t complain. It could have been worse, that’s what insurance is for, and no one got hurt. For that, we are truly thankful.

New House - Front Beds & Porch

Now if OXO could just design a shingle remover and a guttering installer tool, we’d be set. Go ahead, guys. I know you can do it, and I’m willing to wait.
Up Next:
An update on the inside of our new house, including photos from that storm. (Stupid hail.)

NOTE: As a member of the OXO Blogger Outreach Program, I am occasionally given the opportunity to test OXO products, which I receive at no cost to me. I do not receive any other compensation and all opinions are my own. If you are a blogger and would like more information on the OXO Blogger Outreach Program, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Family Stuff, Things I Love

OXO offers pans now? YES!

We all know OXO makes a million fabulous kitchen gadgets, and I’ve made no bones about the fact that I use mine with enthusiasm. They are some of my favorites because of three key things:

1. they’re thoughtfully designed,
2. they’re well constructed & durable, and
3. they’re always affordable

When OXO launches something new, my ears perk up. When they announced they were launching a new line of pots & pans, my jaw dropped. And when they then offered members of their Blogger Outreach Program the chance to possibly test drive one, I jumped at the chance. With both feet. Receiving the e-mail that I’d been selected to receive my pan of choice was like opening presents on Christmas morning. I was giddy. Openly, gleefully giddy.

Here it is, y’all – My Precious.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - With Text

It’s sturdy. A little on the heavy side, but WOW is it solid. My first test was a simple soft fried egg. Nothing tests a new non-stick pan like a delicate egg. Result: so slippery, it sent my fried egg spinning when I swirled the pan. Also impressive was the heat distribution of the skillet due to the hard-anodized aluminum construction of the pan and that built-in heat disc in the bottom. Smart.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - Bottom

I also like the rise and slope on the sides of this skillet. The rolled edge is high enough to contain bubbly sauces and perfectly pitched to slide those early morning omelets onto a plate, even before you’ve had your coffee. It also allows sauces to be expertly poured. Again, smart design.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - Coating

My ultimate test for a new non-stick pan is caramel – hot, gooey, sticky thermonuclear caramel. To put my pan to the test, I opted for a baked caramel apple pancake. It starts on the stove and finishes in the oven, so it was a perfect way to test this pan. And since this skillet can take oven temperatures up to 430F, you can fearlessly go from stove to oven.

Baked Apple Pancake - Browned Butter & Brown Sugar

I started with butter and brown sugar and let it heat up to see if it would stick. I was surprised at how easily I could move the caramel around the pan without anything sticking. As it got hotter and hotter, I kept moving it around with a silicone spatula. As you can see from the photo, it didn’t stick at all and moved easily around the pan.

Baked Apple Pancake - Easy Caramel

While the sugar was caramelizing, I peeled and sliced 3 apples. I like firm, sweet apples like Gala, Pink Lady or SweeTangos. Cored and sliced into even pieces (about 1/4″ thick), they’re ready to roll.

Baked Apple Pancake - Apples1

Baked Apple Pancake - Apples2

Tip: remove the skillet from the heat while you add the apple slices. It takes a few minutes to get them arranged to look pretty, and removing the pan from the heat keeps your caramel from burning while you work.

Baked Apple Pancake - Apples in Caramelized Butter & Sugar

Because I prefer firm apples, I like to pop them in the oven and let them bake 5-10 minutes before adding the pancake batter. Once the caramel is bubbling and the apples are toasty, I remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter evenly over the top. It goes back into the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pancake is just set and firm. Confession: I love bubbly edges on pancakes.

Baked Apple Pancake - Pancake Batter - Post-Bake

You know it’s done when you can gently press on the surface of the pancake and it bounces back. It’s better to take this one out a little early than to over bake it, so keep an eye on it during that last few minutes.

Now for the tricky part – flipping it out of the pan. I flipped mine immediately after I took it out of the oven and got a caramel burn on my wrist, so in retrospect, I’d wait 5-10 minutes and let it cool next time. I need to learn to be patient when pancakes are involved. To flip mine, I placed a piece of parchment over the pancake, then set a plate on top of that. Using a folded kitchen towel, I grabbed the skillet on both sides instead of the handle and gave it a quick flip.

The true moment of truth is when you lift the skillet. That’s when you see if your pan is a hero or a zero based on how many apple slices are stuck to the pan. Here’s what I got. You be the judge.

Baked Apple Pancake - Flipped & Flawless

Booyah, baby! Look at that gorgeous golden caramel apple beauty.

Want to see what the skillet looked like? I expected it to be coated in a thick, deeply entrenched layer of molten sugar but this is what I saw.

Baked Apple Pancake - Sticky Caramel Goo

This is the part where I’d usually mutter bad words and grab a scouring pad. Oh, OXO… how I test thee. Instead, I ran a little hot water in the skillet and let it sit for a minute while I grabbed plates, forks and syrup. To my surprise, the remaining crusty sugar wiped right out. No scrubbing. No sweating. No cursing. It seriously wiped right out with a paper towel. Way to go, OXO. You win again. And technically, I win too.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - Handle

Final Thoughts:
1. This is my new favorite skillet. For real.
2. The size (at 12″) is great for just about any task.
3. It is well constructed and sturdy, which I expect from OXO.
4. It browned evenly and held heat beautifully, which is a must for me.
5. OXO says this skillet is dishwasher safe, but I always hand wash non-stick pans because I’m a big ol’ chicken.
6. This skillet is on the heavy side, which may prove hard to handle for someone who’s older, younger or has problems handling heavier pots or pans. If heft isn’t an issue, you’ll love it.
7. Overall rating – two thumbs way up. I’ll be using this pan for years to come.

If you’d like to take a shot at this easy baked caramel apple pancake, here’s how you can recreate it at home.

2 cups baking mix (Bisquick or my favorite – Pioneer Buttermilk Baking Mix)
2-3 tablespoons raw (or granulated) sugar
1 pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 to 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (can sub regular milk)
2-3 large apples – peeled, cored & cut into 1/4″ slices
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, raw or granulated sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla & buttermilk. Whisk until smooth. Batter should be a little on the thin side, like crepe batter. Set aside to rest, and start on your apples. Peel, core and slice the apples. Heat your non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the butter and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and arrange your apple slices. Pop the skillet into a hot oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the caramel mixture is bubbling furiously around the edges. Remove the skillet from the oven and pour the pancake batter evenly over the top. Return to the oven and bake just until the pancake is set, approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow your pancake to cool for 5-10 minutes before flipping.

To flip, invert a plate larger than the skillet over the top, place one hand firmly on top of the plate, grab the handle with a dish towel and flip quickly. If you’re not a confident or expert flipper, invert the plate over the skillet, then place a kitchen towel folded lengthwise across the skillet. Place one hand on each side of the skillet, grabbing the plate with your thumbs and using your fingers to grab the skillet. Either way, flip quickly.

Note: if you’re using an older non-stick skillet that doesn’t release as well, run a silicone spatula around the edge of the skillet to help the pancake release prior to flipping. If you’re still left cursing your old ratty non-stick, consider acquiring one of these new OXO beauties. You will not regret it.

For this apple pancake, I made a simple cinnamon cream syrup.

1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat all 3 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and transfer to a small pouring pitcher. Serve hot.

Baked Caramel Apple Pancake - Breakfast is Served

Disclaimer: This OXO 12″ non-stick skillet was provided to me free of charge by the OXO Blogger Outreach Program so that I could play with it and share my experience. All opinions are my own, and are my honest take on it. Have you tried OXO yet? Which are your favorite OXO products? To learn more about OXO cookware, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Things I Love

#OXOTurkeyDay – Dinner For Two

OXO TurkeyDay - Title Shot

There are very few brands I love unconditionally. OXO is one of them. Their products are not only well made, but thoughtfully designed. This year, OXO is celebrating Turkey Day by sharing an array of Thanksgiving-friendly products via their Blogger Outreach Program, which I’m proud to be part of.

Tools in the #OXOTurkeyDay kit included the following:

OXO TurkeyDay - Tool Collage2
Left to Right: The most amazing twine dispenser (twine included), a non-slip butter dish with cover, a thoughtfully designed turkey baster with an angled neck & counter rest to prevent drips (and cleaning brush), and the turkey lifter that makes transferring your bird from pan to serving platter a snap.

OXO TurkeyDay - Tools Collage1
Left to Right: That twine dispenser I’m in love with (did I mention that?), a better look at the bird lifter’s design, and a fat separator only a gravy hoarder can truly appreciate. If only it worked on my thighs.

I started by tackling the bird. Since it’s just the two of us at home, The Complete Package picked out a lovely organic chicken that came in at around 4 pounds. Perfect! After the bird was properly cleaned & prepped, I broke out that twine dispenser and trussed her like 50 Shades of Prey. From there, I stuffed softened butter and fresh sage leaves under the skin, massaged more butter onto the outside, and gave her a generous sprinkle of kosher salt mixed with freshly ground black pepper and ground poultry seasoning.

OXO Turkey Day - Chicken Prep Collage

You know what I love most about preparing a turkey at Thanksgiving? Fresh sage. If you can get your hands on some, use it. Those frosted velvet leaves are so fragrant and wonderful. It’s the stuff Turkey Day dreams are made of.

#OXOTurkey Day - Fresh Sage

Next up was my mother-in-law’s easy cornbread dressing recipe. We make it every year without fail – come hell or high water. Some people insist on green bean casserole. Some go nuts without their beloved yams or cranberry sauce.
For us, it’s not Thanksgiving without Louise’s cornbread dressing.

#OXOTurkeyDay - Dressing Collage

The Complete Package has certain ideas about Thanksgiving dinner that are set in stone. His mother’s dressing is one. Mashed potatoes with gravy is another. I use thin-skinned white potatoes and leave the skins on. I like the rustic, vitamin-rich goodness of potatoes with the skins on. My secret is to add 2-3 tablespoons of Fage 0% fat-free Greek yogurt, real butter and a dash of milk. Perfect. Every. Time. My tool of choice is an old-fashioned hand masher. I also tried out the new OXO butter dish. It’s made with a sturdy non-slip metal base and has a clear acrylic cover that keeps funky fridge odors at bay. If you have fridge funk, that is. I’m not judging. This is a judgement-free blog. No judging here.

OXO Turkey Day - Mashed Potato Collage

In our house, every drop of bird broth is reserved for the most coveted of condiments – gravy. I looked forward to testing out the OXO fat separator, and it didn’t disappoint. Once the bird was baked, we poured the drippings & broth through the removable strainer and the separator did the rest. The red silicone stopper prevents spills and pops out easily when you’re ready to pour. Like all OXO products, the measurement markings are A+ here. I love that OXO uses bold, colorful markings for aging far-sighted Nanas like me.

OXO TurkeyDay - Gravy Collage

My last side dish was bacon-wrapped green bean bundles. These are so easy! Just blanch fresh green beans for 3-5 minutes in boiling salted water, then plunge them in ice, pat dry with paper towels, and wrap with bacon. I used a thick-sliced hickory smoked bacon. I also sprinkled half of the bundles with a coarsely ground black pepper to add so zing, because bacon & black pepper are BFFs. For real.

OXO TurkeyDay - Green Bean Bundle Collage

We also grabbed a few cornmeal rolls from the freezer (thank you Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic) and a jar of my homemade cherry, pear & apple cranberry sauce. The Complete Package needs gravy. I need my cranberries.
For me, it’s just not Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce.

OXO TurkeyDay - Finished Dinner

Start to finish, I had dinner on the table in 3 hours. Not bad for a table for two of all our Thanksgiving favorites with leftovers. You HAVE to have leftovers for the sandwiches alone. Am I right? Yes? Don’t leave me hanging, people.

OXO TurkeyDay - Finished Dinner2

My deepest thanks to the fine folks at OXO for providing all the tools we needed for our holiday feast. Now here’s a quick rundown of the recipes shown above.

Louise’s Easy Cornbread Dressing:
1 envelope (6 ozs.) Pioneer yellow cornbread mix
1 envelope (6 ozs.) Pioneer buttermilk biscuit mix
milk, eggs & oil – as directed on the above packages
Pam cooking spray to coat the baking pan
1 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can (10 ozs.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 box (32 ozs.) low-sodium chicken broth (see below)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Dump the cornbread and biscuit mixes into a large mixing bowl and add the eggs, milk & oil listed on the package instructions for both mixes. Whisk until smooth and pour into a lightly sprayed 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Bake at 375F until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven & allow to cool to room temperature. Using a knife, score the cornbread into 1″ pieces and dump them into a large mixing bowl.

In a small skillet or pan, saute the celery and onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until lightly browned and translucent. Pour over the cornbread cubes and add the undiluted chicken soup and seasonings. Add enough chicken broth to create a moist but not soggy cornbread mixture (approx. 1 to 1 1/2 cups, then save the rest for gravy). Spoon into a lightly sprayed baking pan and bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, or until the top starts to brown lightly. Serve hot.

NanaBread’s Simple Mashed Potatoes:
6-8 small white potatoes, scrubbed
2-3 tablespoons Fage 0% fat-free Greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
a splash of milk, if needed
salt & pepper to taste

Place washed whole potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water. Cook over medium heat until you can pierce the potatoes with a paring knife, and the knife goes easily through the cooked potatoes. Drain & return to the pan. Add the yogurt, butter and salt & pepper and mash with a potato masher or heavy fork until mostly smooth. If they are a little dry, add a splash of milk. Keep warm until everything else is ready.

Easy Poultry Gravy:
3 tablespoons butter or canola oil
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 cups broth from your baked bird, or boxed broth from above
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and flour, whisking until smooth and slightly browned (3-5 minutes). Slowly whisk in the chicken/turkey broth and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking often to prevent lumps. Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and keep warm until all else is ready.

Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles:
1 pound of fresh green beans
12 slices of hickory smoked thick-cut bacon
1 teaspoon salt
coarsely ground black pepper, optional

In a saucepan, add enough water to fill the pan half-full. Add one teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Snap the stem ends off the green beans, then blanch them for 3-5 minutes in the boiling salt water. Remove from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry on paper towels, then divide them into four piles. Gather each pile into a bundle and wrap with 3 slices of bacon. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, and arrange your bundles in the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Bake at 425F on the middle rack until the bacon is throughly cooked and starts to brown. If needed, fold the foil over the exposed green beans to keep them from overcooking. Once the bacon is done, remove from the oven and keep warm.

NanaBread’s Sage & Butter-Basted Bird:
1 whole chicken (mine was 4 pounds)
1/2 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon McCormick poultry seasoning
1 to 2 cups chicken broth, for the roasting pan
string to truss the bird

Begin by removing the chicken from the package and rinsing it thoroughly under lukewarm water. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board. Using cotton twine, tie the wingtips under the bird and tie the drumsticks together at the ankles. Run your fingers under the skin of the bird to loosen it, then rub at least half the softened butter under the skin, covering as much ground as you can. Gently place the whole sage leaves under the skin, then massage the bird with the remaining butter. Mix the salt, pepper & poultry seasoning and sprinkle it all over the bird. Place in a roasting pan and add the chicken broth. Cover and bake at 375F for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until nicely brown and the bird reaches 165F with an instant read meat thermometer. Baste once or twice when the bird is uncovered, and she’ll come out gorgeous.

For Kirsten’s Cornmeal Buns, click here. She made them as burger buns, but they are also fabulous as knotted dinner rolls. They’re my favorite.

So now you know our Thanksgiving favorites. What are yours? Do you have traditional dishes you prepare each year, or do you like to wing it (turkey pun) and try new things? Share here! You never know when your old family favorite might become someone else’s new family favorite. If you’ve posted them on your own blog, be sure to leave a link in your comment so we can all click over.

Happy #OXOTurkeyDay to one and all,
Jeanne

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OXO’s #WhatAGrillWants – and what this girl wants is some smokey meat, sweet corn & fried green tomatoes

What’s missing from my website? Please don’t say humor, good writing or appetizing recipes. What I was shooting for is ads. There are none on my blog. It’s a personal choice made when I started blogging four years ago, and one I’ve stuck with since. It’s not a monetary or political issue, it’s just that I started blogging to share with friends and family, and ads never felt appropriate.

What you will see – products I occasionally share for one reason only – because I love them. OXO is one brand I stand firmly behind. Their products are well made, sturdy, easy to use and affordable. Because OXO supports the blogging community and blogs of all sizes, they created the Blogger Outreach Program. As a part of this program, I am occasionally selected to try random products. This month, it was OXO’s ‘What A Grill Wants’ collection.

OXO - What A Grill Wants Project

Included in package:
1 pair of 16″ grilling tongs
1 meat tenderizer
1 silicone basting brush
1 dressing shaker
1 corn stripper

That the box arrived just prior to the July 4th weekend was a bonus. We immediately plotted our attack. First up was playing with the corn stripper.

OXO Corn Stripper - What A Grill Wants

We started by grilling ears of fresh Texas sweet corn. Char = flavor.

OXO Corn Stripper & Grilled Corn - What A Grill Wants

Once they were cooled, The Complete Package grabbed that stripper and put her to work. The key was to start at one end apply the proper amount of pressure. {cue the uncontrollable giggling}

OXO Corn Stripper Collage

The Complete Package’s Review: (Overall Grade = C+)
1. He wasn’t sure it was any easier or quicker than using a knife.
2. The cutting blade tended to clog, which meant you had to stop & clear it.
3. Because one end was open, kernels tended to fall out constantly.
4. Cut kernels tended to be more pieces than whole kernels.
5. Pluses: OXO’s quality is always high & the ergonomics were good.

My Review: (Overall Grade = B)
1. I thought it WAS quicker than using a knife.
2. I also had issues with the blade area clogging occasionally.
3. A cap would be nice, as I somehow dumped corn all over the counter.
4. I had no issues with cutting whole kernels because I applied more pressure.
5. I love the size – it fits easily in your palm for ease of use.

What I also found was that the OXO corn stripper tended to remove ALL of the corn from the cob, while a kitchen knife tended to just shear off the tops of each kernel. This photo illustrates what I mean.

OXO Corn Stripper Comparison - Stripper vs Knife - What A Grill Wants

The cob in the front was denuded with a chef’s knife. You can see the flat surfaces of the cut kernels where the bottoms of the kernels are still attached. The cob in the back was cleaned with the OXO corn stripper, and you can clearly see that the entire kernel is missing. All that remains is the fibrous walls surrounding each kernel. Less waste and more volume of corn was a plus for me.

What did we do with all that cut corn? We made kicked-up creamed corn.

Grilled Creamed Corn

TCP’s Creamed Corn:
2 cans (15 ounces) sweet creamed corn
2 cups roasted sweet corn, stripped from the cob
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients; simmer over medium heat until warm.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of creamed corn because it tends to be mushy and flavorless, but this was really good. The char and flavor of the roasted corn really shines, and I found myself basically eating it right out of the pan with a spoon. I have no shame when it comes to corn, and I am unapologetic about it.

The Complete Package also broke in those 16″ tongs by grilling a pair of pork tenderloins. There’s something about meat smoked over post oak lump charcoal that touches my very soul. TCP’s pork tenderloin turns out juicy, smokey and perfect every time. For me, the mark of good smoked meat is that it needs no sauce and this needed nothing short of a napkin and some personal restraint.

TCP's Smoked Pork Tenderloin

TCP’s Smoked Pork Tenderloin:
3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
Morton’s Nature’s Season Salt
Hungarian paprika
post oak hardwood lump charcoal

Start by removing the pork tenderloin from the package and rinsing them thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels and remove any fat or silver skin. Sprinkle the meat liberally with Nature’s Season Salt and paprika.

TCP starts the smoker by stacking oak lump charcoal into a chimney and lighting it. When it is white-hot, he pours it into the smoker section of our grill along with a metal pan of hot water to create humidity. He then opens the grill vents on the opposite side of the grill to pull the smoke through the smoker. Placing the pork tenderloin over indirect heat, he smokes the pork for approximately 90 minutes at 250F, flipping once at the halfway mark, until the internal temperature reaches 160F. Removing it from the grill, he then wraps it in aluminum foil and allows it to rest on a cutting board on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes. Then it’s just a matter of slicing and serving. To sauce or not to sauce is a personal matter, but this pork needs no adornment.

OXO 16 Inch Tongs - Great Length for Grilling - What A Grill Wants

TCP’s Review of the 16″ grilling tongs: (Overall Grade: A+)
1. He loved the longer length, as it kept him from burning himself.
2. The silicone grips with thumb indention provided great grip.
3. The scalloped edges of the tongs provided a better grip on food items.
4. He loved the easy to use lock/unlock mechanism at the back of the tongs.

OXO 16 Inch Tongs Collage

In addition to the smoked pork and creamed corn, I also made fried green tomatoes. Please tell me you’ve had these before. It’s a southern favorite, and a clear sign that summer is upon us.

Fried Greed Tomatoes - Golden Brown
To make, start with firm green (unripe) tomatoes. Big slicing tomatoes work best. Here’s what you’ll need.

Fried Green Tomatoes - What You'll Need

NanaBread’s Fried Green Tomatoes:
2 large green tomatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Morton’s Nature’s Season Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
canola oil, for frying

Wash the tomatoes, remove the core, and cut into 1/3″ slices.

Fried Green Tomatoes - Remove the Core

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, season salt and pepper; whisk until well blended. Dredge each slice of tomato in the flour mixture, coating both sides, and lay them on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Once all slices are dredged, allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb the flour.

Fried Green Tomatoes - First Dredge in Flour

After 10 to 15 minutes, the flour on the tomatoes will look damp. When it does, pour the milk into a container for the second flour dredge.

Fried Green Tomatoes - Dredged

Dip each slice into the milk, then into the flour mixture for a second coat. Tap your fork on the side of the flour container to shake off any excess flour.

Fried Green Tomatoes - Dredge Collage
Place the freshly dredged tomatoes back onto the parchment paper, until all slices are coated twice. Why coat them twice? Well, the first coating of flour is not enough to adequately cover the tomatoes and keep them from splattering when fried. The second coat, along with the milk bath, creates a thick coating to help protect the tomatoes inside and create a crispy, crunchy coating.

Once your tomatoes are coated, add about 1/2″ of canola oil to a large skillet. Heat on high until the oil is shimmering and blazing hot. Carefully lower a few tomato slices into the oil (don’t crowd the skillet) and fry until the edges are clearly golden brown, then flip and fry until the second side is golden. Remove to paper towels and keep warm until all are fried. Serve immediately.

This time, we used the OXO dressing shaker to make a balsamic vinaigrette to drizzle over the finished tomatoes. It was a good call. While the tomatoes were frying, TCP whipped up a quick dressing.

OXO Salad Shaker - Balsamic Vinairgrette Ingredients

The OXO dressing shaker made this come together in a snap. Because volume measurements are printed on the side of the shaker, you can measure directly into the container. The one cup capacity is perfect for a quick vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic and a pinch of salt.

OXO Salad Shaker - CloseUp

From there, you just screw on the lid, close the pour vent on top, and give it a good shake. We both loved this salad dressing shaker. And because the pour top seals to keep it closed, you can store unused dressing in the shaker. Just pop then entire thing into the fridge. (Overall Grade = a solid A.)

Fried Green Tomatoes - Finished with Balsamic Dressing

So we used our new OXO tongs to grill up some pork tenderloin, used the corn stripper to make quick work of grilled corn for creamed corn, and whipped up a quick vinaigrette for our fried green tomatoes. OXO delivered what they always do – fun, function, and affordability. It’s not only #WhatAGrillWants, it’s what THIS GIRL wants. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a plate of grilled goodness with my name on it. Hello, Summer!

Fried Green Tomatoes - Finished Meal

Special thanks to OXO for sending ‘What A Grill Wants’ products for me to play with via their Blogger Outreach Program. I was under no obligation to blog about these products, but because we love OXO & their products, I chose to share. All opinions are my own, as always.

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Filed under Food & Recipes, Things I Love