Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Inaugural Giveaway!

Ok everyone, it's giveaway time! Why..? Because it's fun to see people get excited about FREE stuff! To borrow an idea from the one and only Bakerella, giveaways sure do make people happy! But there is a catch... you must leave me a comment below this post and tell me what your favorite Thanksgiving side dish is, and why. You have until October 4th, and the winner will be announced on the 5th! Yup, one lucky winner will be sent Mario Batali's newest cookbook, "Italian Grill"! Just make sure you leave me your email address so I can let you know if you've won! I will also post the lucky winner here on LaDue & Crew. So c'mon everyone, start thinking of all those yummy dishes... you may just win a new cookbook with some new holiday traditions packed inside!

The winner will be chosen using the integer generator.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Need a little blogging assistance, anyone..?

I've gotten some really neat compliments on my blog recently- thanks everyone! The real thanks, though, has to go to Gisele Jaquenod, for creating the most adorable templates! She also posts some of the neatest links and tips for bloggers, and links to some of her fav's as well. Take a peek! Little by little, I hope to turn this into a blog you want to keep coming back to and, meet new friends as a result. Stick with me!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Food Tidings

I found this neat site to help schedule food help to families or friends that need it. Every once in awhile groups of friends or family help others by bringing prepared meals to them. Sometimes it's because of a new baby, or an illness. This is a free, online schedule planner that allows people to pick an available date to help the person or family in need, and also let the recipient know who is bring what and when. No more wondering who is doing what and when! Of course, you may not need to use it now, but bookmark this for future use! Food Tidings

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tomato Basil Cupcakes- Iron Cupcake challenge

I decided to put my love of baking to good use and join the Iron Cupcake Earth challenge. If you haven't participated, you are missing out! Not only do you get to put your already awesome skills to good use, you have an opportunity to win the neatest prizes! The secret ingredient is what makes it so exciting! This months secret ingredient was BASIL. A cup cake with basil, you may be asking..? Yup, that's what I thought, too. But you know something, an absolute "yumminess" occurred! I thought to myself, what goes best with basil... tomatoes, right? Well, how the heck you do that in a cupcake and make it taste good? Well, years ago I remember my grandma making the yummiest sweet tomato soup bread. But of course, it was a bread. I had to play with the ingredients to make the batter a cake like consistency, and then remove all the autumn spices so that the basil flavor would come through. I think this little challenge turned out purdy good! I topped it with sweet basil cream cheese frosting, and ended up with about 18 unique cupcakes! Give it a try:

Cupcake batter

2 c flour
2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 c shortening
5 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 large basil leaves, finely minced
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed Tomato soup
1 Tbs baking soda
10 large basil leaves, chopped fine


2 8oz packages softened cream cheese
1/2 c softened butter
2 c powdered sugar
3 large basil leaves, minced fine

Mix flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, sugar, and 2 large finely minced basil leaves.

In a small bowl, mix together the tomato soup, baking soda, and 10 large basil leaves, chopped fine. Set aside.

To the butter mixture, sift flour mixture in 1/3rds, mixing after each. The mixture will resemble coarse crumbs. Then add tomato soup mixture, plus 1/2 a soup can of cold water. Mix well. Pour into lined cupcake pans and bake at 350 for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven,or when toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While baking, cream together cream cheese, and butter. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until well incorporated. Fold in 3 large minced basil leaves. Frost, and enjoy!

Now, while your eating these little yummy bites, you can check out the challenge yourself here.
Give it a try, it'll stretch your cupcake imagination a bit and you have a chance to win the coolest prizes! But for now, please vote for me, and you can do that here by voting for ME, between September 28th and October 1st! I am listed as LaDue & Crew on the post, and on Flickr as mrsladue05, don't forget!!

I think these are gonna be some cool prizes for the lucky winner!

Prize providers:
ETSY artist METAL SUGAR, as well as our corporate sponsors HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS , HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, JESSIE STEELE APRONS, CUPCAKE COURIER , and TASTE OF HOME .

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lasagna, mmmmmm...

Thanks to my cousin Steve, in Hawaii, for getting my oven going again! Arizona has just been way too hot to be cooking, let alone turning on the oven for some "real dinner's". We had some "cooler" temps here this week- high 90's! But when you're used to the triple digit's for months on end, the 90's can seem pretty darn cool!

Well, Steve has been emailing me to share my lasagna recipe with him. To me, it's not really a recipe, just some pasta and sauce that my Mom has been putting together for years, now with my little spin on it- which happens to be with short ribs, mmmmm...

I love to make my lasagna with home made ricotta cheese . It is extremely easy. But no matter how easy, some people aren't willing to venture out on that limb. So my recipe uses just the good ol Kroger Brand, although my all time store fav is Polly-O , which is available in many grocery stores these days, but can be a little on the pricey side. The same with their mozzarella cheese.

No matter which brand you decide to use I've found that unless you have the most discerning of tastes, it's doubtful your family and friends will notice much of a difference. Give this recipe a try...


2 boxes Barilla brand no boil lasagna sheets

2 -3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 large containers whole milk ricotta cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 bunch of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (Kraft or fresh, either is fine)



2 to 3 jars of your favorite tomato sauce (basil flavor is terrific!)

2 small cans tomato paste, any kind

2 or 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Olive oil

1 lb bulk Italian sausage, or links, with casings removed

Optional: Instead of sausage, use 4 good size beef short ribs

Good bottle of red wine

In a large pot (big enough to hold all sauce), put enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Heat to medium, and add onions. Saute till they look a bit translucent, then add your garlic and continue to saute, about 2-3 minutes.

At this point add your sausage or short ribs- or both (Yum-O)! Cook till nicely browned and caramelized on all sides. Then stir in your tomato paste- will be thick! Then add your jars of sauce. You can never have enough sauce- it can always be frozen for later. Give a good stir, turn down to low, and let simmer for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 10-15 minute or so. This will allow that nice beefy flavor of the ribs to develop, and let the short ribs get nice and tender. Once they are tender and falling off the bone, remove the bones and shred the beef, leaving in the sauce. At this point you can determine if your sauce needs salt. I always leave that to the end, as jarred sauce has higher sodium content. You can also add whatever additional spices you want at this point… some like red pepper flakes, or more garlic; it’s up to you. Turn off heat and let sit.

In a medium bowl, add ricotta cheese. Add about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella. Then eggs, parsley, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste- don’t be afraid to taste! Mix well.

In a deep pan, roughly about 13x9, pour enough sauce to coat bottom. Layer lasagna sheets to cover pan, slightly overlapping. You may even have to break a few to fit properly. With a spoon or spatula, spread ricotta cheese mixture (about 1/4 thick) completely over the pasta. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the ricotta mixture. Then layer with pasta again, and continue to the top of the pan, ending with the pasta sheets and only sauce on the sheets, no ricotta.

Bake in oven, about 50-60 minutes. The last 10 minutes of baking, cover the top of lasagna with remaining shredded mozzarella. This way it doesn’t over cook and get tough. Or, you can use slices of smoked provolone- so good!

I don't usually measure my ingredients. So, all are approximate- if you want more onion, add it. Hate garlic- take it out. Play with your food, you’re in control! Oh, you may have noticed an ingredient that wasn’t used- the red wine. I love to cook with wine- sometimes I even put it in the food, hehehehe… The lasagna always tastes better if you have a glass or two… lol…

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Free stuff, anyone..?

I'm always looking for deals, and if I can get cash back, all the better! I've found some neat things over the past few months so I thought I'd pass them along for all to benefit.

One that I really like is called Freecycle It is a site dedicated to recycling and reusing. You go to the site, search for a group using your zip code, and join that group. Daily you will get emails of people offering free items from furniture to clothes and home medical supplies. You can also throw a request out to the group if you need something. As an example, one woman and her children had to start over again with nothing. She emailed out a "need" to the group and was able to furnish her apartment and receive clothes for her children. These are all items that many people would sell in yard sales, donate to goodwill, or throw away. It is an excellent organization.

Another good one is Cash 4 Books You go to the site, type in your books ISBN number (usually on the copyright page), and see if you can get cash for them. They will even let you print out a pre-paid label so that you can mail them for free. You can either receive a check for the amount or can have it deposited into a PayPal account. Now you may not receive a fortune, but hey, over time pennies add up!

Who couldn't use some free entertainment?! Until April 2009, Bank of America has an agreement with over 70 museums across the country that lets you get in free the first weekend of every month! All you need to do is show them your Bank of America Debit, Credit, or ATM card. Here's the link to see which museums participate: Bank of America

I purchase (99% of the time) second hand clothing for my youngest (ok, so the older ones have issues with second hand, lol). I have 2 all time fav's when it comes to children's clothing- Kid to Kid and Once Upon a Child Both offer gently used kids clothing at least 70% to 90% off retail. Both these stores are the only ones I have found that extremely clean, organized, and offer modern, up to date fashions, as well as the opportunity to sell your clothes to them for cash or in-store credit. If you choose credit, which I usually do, you usually end up with about 20% more in credit than cash.

One of my favorite markets is Fresh and Easy Besides offering great deals and extremely fresh food, you can pick an item off the shelf that you are interested in, bring it to the little kitchenette that each store has, and they will let you try the item for free with no obligation to purchase! If you'll be in the store for awhile, they'll even cook an item for you, just so that you can feel confident you are getting a fresh, tasty buy.

Lastly, of course you know that I have a blog, you're reading it! I am in the process of redesigning it, and while it will still tell much about our family, it will now be more geared towards recipes and food finds. So keep checking my blog in the future for yummy things- but be patient, a toddler running around and older kids activities will dictate what gets posted and when! My point... did you know you can get paid for blogging?! Heck, if your gonna share, why not get paid for it! Google will post relevant ads on your site, and when visitors to your blog click on your advertisements, the blogger gets paid for that! So...... keep visiting my blog and click, click, click!!! Let me know if you have a blog and I promise to do the same! Check it out: Google Blogger Ads

I hope this helps everyone a bit. All these pennies add up- maybe even to a tank of gas! To me, it's well worth it! Let me know if you find a deal, and as I find more I'll pass them along...

Stumble Upon Toolbar