Thursday, December 12, 2013

Figi's Gifts- online food company

This company is located in Marshfield Wisconsin- so, I am partial to anything in Wisconsin.
I had one easy process, a year ago and decided to use them again. here is what happened:

I used this company a year ago to send a gift box. All went well.
This year~
i ordered another to be sent to one of our sons. Two minutes after I got off the phone after placing the order, I realized I provided them with an incomplete address. I called back.
I was told, it wasn't in the system and to wait for a few hours.
i called back at midnight. It still wasn't in the system and was told to wait 24 hours.
i called back 25 hours later. It still wasn't in the system and was told it takes 24-48 hours- REALLY? I had paid up for 2-3 delivery too! I was running out of time- I had 2 days left ( 48 hours) to get the address changed.
I called back the day before it was to be delivered. I was told there was no such order!
I was transferred to someone else who could help.
Then, transferred to another person who could dig deeper. Omg, he found the order and told me I would have to pay more for overnight shipping. I was furious!
In the end, I did not have to pay more and it arrived on time.
Lousy staff at Figi's, unless you talk to Wayne. But who knows how you can find him-
Too many calls to Fig to fix my problem. No one had the right information.
I have to add this to my blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Orange Cranberry Loaf

I found this pretty picture and delicious recipe on Ziplist- it's from

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of one orange - about 1 tablespoon
  • juice of an orange*
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar (comes in a 9g packet dr oetker or ruff brand)
  • 1/2 cup light tasting olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries and 1/4 for the top
  • For the Icing:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2- 3 tbsp cream or orange juice or milk*
  1. Preheat oven to 325, grease the bottom of 8 inch loaf pan and add a piece of parchment, enough so that it sticks out over the sides of the pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In another bowl, combine yogurt, eggs, sugar, orange zest, olive oil, orange juice and vanilla sugar.
  3. Add in the 1 cup of cranberries, combine, pour batter into the pan. Add the extra cranberries on top of loaf.
  4. Bake for 40 -45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean (may take longer depending on pan or oven). Remove from pan, that is where the parchment comes handy. Spread glaze over the cake, enjoy!
  5. *Make sure when you buy yogurt its plain yogurt made with only simple ingredients, like cream, milk and bacterial cultures, anything else is not real yogurt. Homemade is best but not always an option.
  6. *If you want a thicker icing use cream, if you want a glaze type icing use orange juice or milk.
  7. * If the orange is the size of an average lemon I use all the juice from it, if it is a very large orange then half or 3/4's of it is enough, I would say 3-4 tbsp worth of juice.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lasagne Stacks

This is such a fun way to make individual lasagne servings-
Here I made 3. I used wonton sheets. And I also  put three of the stack in  an oval au gratin pan. It's really important to make sure all parts of the bottom of your  wonton have some marinara on it, other wise it will stick and make it difficult to remove. That happened to me when I was squeezing the outside ones in and they didn't have marinara on their outside edges. Besides being easy, another good thing is, you can freeze them! See note below.

Directions: 12 wonton sheets
1/2 cup homemade pesto ( it tastes better if you make it yourself. In this recipe I made mine with cilantro and parsley, walnuts and Parmesan cheese)
12 cubes cooked butternut squash, mashed
1 cup marinara
1/4 c shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350. Put a smear of marinara on the bottom of your baking dish. Lay one wonton sheet on top. Top with some pesto and more marinara. Add another wonton sheet, a dab of pesto and some marinara. You can repeat this up to 12 times- I did it four times and probably could have done it two more times with the amount of ingredients I had prepared. On your top layer, add shredded mozzarella cheese.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 7-10 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, let it sit for about 5 minutes to set.
***You can freeze these lasagna stacks.  To do this, place a sheet of wax paper on a small rimmed baking sheet. Remove each lasagna stack from the baking dish with a spatula and place on the wax paper. Place in freeze until firm, about one hour.  Place into ziplock bags to freeze, removing as much air as you can or use your vacuum sealer.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wrap celery in tin foil......

Now, I never heard of that but I will def try it-
I found that tip on blog. Here is a complete list from that post~

How to Store Vegetables
Always remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breathe.
Artichokes  place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus  place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)
Avocados  place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening place an apple in the bag with them.
Arugula  arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lie flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.
Basil  is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper insideleft out on a cool counter.
Beans shelling open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
Beets  cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
Beet greens  place in an airtight container with a little moisture.
Broccoli  place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
Broccoli Rabe  left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.
Brussels Sprouts  If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.
Cabbage  left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week, so, best used as soon as possible.
Carrots  cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.
Cauliflower  will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
Celery  does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter. If you want to keep it in the refrigerator, like I do, wrap it in tin foil. It will stay crisp for weeks.
Celery root/Celeriac  wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
Corn leave un-husked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner than later for maximum flavor.
Cucumber  wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.
Eggplant  does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it; eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage place loose, in the crisper.
Fava beans  place in an air tight container.
Fennel  if used within a couple of days after it’s bought, fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.
Garlic  store in a cool, dark, place.
Green garlic ‐ an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.
Greens  remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an airtight container with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
Green beans  they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
Green Tomatoes  store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.
Herbs - a closed container in the fridge to be kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.
Lettuce  keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.
Leeks ‐ leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).
Okra  doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
Onion  store in a cool, dark and dry, place good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.
Mushrooms - Keep mushrooms in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. If you are using some of the mushrooms, try to open a corner of the plastic wrap and just take what you need. Then, cover with a paper towel and cover with more plastic wrap and place back into the refrigerator. 
Parsnips ‐ an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.
Peppers: Sweet/ Hot/ Bell - Store in a plastic bag before placing in crisper or refrigerator. Green peppers stay fresh longer than orange or red peppers. Will last 1 - 2 weeks in refrigerator or up to 10 months in the freezer. To freeze cut into slices and place on cookie sheet in the freezer until frozen, then place in air-tight container or freezer bag and return to freezer.
Potatoes  (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
Radicchio  place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.
Radishes  remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in an open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Rhubarb ‐ wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.
Rutabagas  in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.
Snap peas  refrigerate in an open container
Spinach  store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.
Spring onions  Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.
Sprouts - Keep them cold. Under 40 degrees F'. Get them in the refrigerator as soon as possible and they should last 10 - 14 days. 
Summer Squash  does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.
Sweet peppers  Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple of days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
Sweet Potatoes  Store in a cool, dark, wellventilated place. Never refrigerate‐‐sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.
Tomatoes  Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
Turnips  remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.
Winter squash ‐ store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.
Zucchini  does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

How to Store Fruit
Apples  store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Apricots  on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe.
Cherries ‐ store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any 
Bananas Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster. Keep them on the counter, or in a basket with holes or openings to allow air to circulate.
Citrus  store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an airtight container.
added moisture encourages mold.
Berries - Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.
Dates ‐ dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.
Figs  Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week unstacked.
Grapes - Make sure to select clusters that are free from molds if you plan to keep them in your fridge.  Another mistake people make when storing grapes is washing them before storing. While this may clean them and get rid of dirt on them, the water will have a negative effect on the skins of the grapes; making them mushier and promoting bacterial growth in the process.
Kiwi - Keep at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate. Do not place in refrigerator longer than 1 -2 weeks. 
Lemons and Limes -  If you are going to use them within a week, keep them on the counter at room temperature. Lemons and limes need air so if you place them in a bowl, you may notice their bottoms may grow mold. Try to keep them separated or in an aerated bowl. If you don't eat them within a week, you can keep them in the refrigerator and they will last a month. You can keep them in a bowl in the refrigerator. 
Mangoes - Store on the counter until ripe or 2 - 5 days, then move to refrigerator, then keep for 5 - 7 days. If you want to freeze wash peel and slice into pieces. Place pieces on a cookie sheet until frozen then you can transfer to plastic bag. 
Melons  uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.
Nectarines  (similar to apricots) store in the fridge it is okay if it's ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
Peaches - (and most stone fruit)  refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
Pears  will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
Oranges - stay juicier when kept at room temperature. If possible place in a basket. The baskets are preferable to other containers because they permit the air to circulate freely around each piece of fruit.
Persimmon - Fuyu‐ (shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature.
Hachiya - (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stackthey get very fragile when really ripe.
Plums - Keep plums at room temperature until they ripen. Once they're ripe, keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 more days. 
Pomegranates  keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.
Raspberries - Wash your berries in a vinegar solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Place berries in a refrigerator safe bowl (plastic) with a paper towel on the bottom. Replace paper towel when it gets damp. 
Strawberries  Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.
Watermelon - Keep watermelon uncut on your counter at room temperature for up to 7 - 10 days. Cut watermelon can keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Cute, cute 'Bundt' cake store opened in Skokie.......last AUGUST! Such a busy time for me back then and I was really taken out of the loop- but I want to share it here, now!
Store proprietor, Brittany is here in the picture next to her display case. It seems like she has hundreds of ideas for ordering a cake. And they are very cleverly decorated with signage too.

Brittany offers nine different flavors- Red Velvet, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Raspberry, Lemon, Marble, Pecan Praline, Carrot, White White Chocolate Mousse and Cinnamon Swirl.

Here are two seasonal themed cakes.

Their icing is made with cream cheese ( extra yum, right?) and she offers two kinds of icing. In these pictures  you see their signature but they also offer a drizzle which is done in three layers- and is very pretty.

In her display case, at the bottom are individual cakes $3.99

Brittany also sells Bundtinis- these are bite size morsels and are sold by the dozen $18.75
Check them out- you can also see more online at

Monday, August 12, 2013

5th week Childrens' Cooking Menu

Interesting week~ Being the last week of the summer program, various classes will hold a demonstration of sorts to show what they learned. We didn't do that. I think I was too worn out from figuring out the best way to execute 1) the large classes; 2) the back to back classes with virtually no free time between them. So a few of us cooking teachers opted out of this for this year. 
The last day, the entire program ( 520 children) went outside to try and break the tunnel ball record. We were competing in the category of most participants.
We won and do not expect to see it get posted too soon.

July 15

Monday –breakfast quiches

Tuesday campfire banana boats, cheesy bread
( Campfire banana boat recipe came from Pioneer Woman recipes)

Wednesday –ice cream sundaes 

Thursday –ice cream sundaes 

Friday -  popsicle day – tunnel ball

Blue Star Bistro and Wine Bar

Last night we went to the city to catch up with our granddaughter and her mom. We wanted to make it easy and simple so the plan was to meet them at the corner restaurant about 4:30 for something light and simple. Well, we had traffic issues getting to the city ( new to us since we have moved farther away) and finally got to the restaurant about an hour later.  We all had fun passing the baby around. Each of us ordered something and the dishes were all very interesting. Katie brought some baby food for baby Quinn but guess what? She didn't want her baby food- she's almost 9 months old! She wanted anything anyone would put in front of her- now, she doesn't have any teeth just yet so we tried the soup Grandpa had which was tomato basil- omg- she couldn't get enough of it! The other dishes on the table were mac n' cheese with a nice hunk of pork belly on top.

Kyle got the scallops

Katie had the goat cheese balls with a blueberry sauce. I love food presentations so much- I def eat with my eyes!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

4th Week Childrens' cooking Menu

July 8
Monday- breakfast French Toast roll ups

Tuesday - 
Make your own dessert dip

Buffalo chicken bites

Thursday – Teach how to hold a knife.
Asian Slaw

Friday Ice cream sandwiches 

week 3 Childrens' Cooking class

July 1 Review how to set a place setting
Review what they learned from each day.

Monday- Apple Pie Cupcakes/ Red, White and Blue Parfaits 

Tuesday- Breakfast Burritos 

Celery stuffers,  make your own dip, layered taco spread

Thursday- NO CLASS

Friday –NO CLASS  

Apple Pie 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2nd week Cooking Class menu

2 nd Week cooking class menu:

June 24 Review how to set a place setting
Review what they learned from each day.

Monday – B’fast
Toast Toppers/Orange Julius

Tuesday dessert
Dirt Cake, prepare frozen fruit pops

Wednesday snack
Mango Quesadillas/ eat frozen pops – SCHOOL CLOSED DUE TO FLOODING

Thursday Salad, sort of-

Friday- Purple Cow Jumped Over the Moon

Recipe for Frozen Fruit Cups
1 cup diced watermelon
1cup diced strawberries
1cup diced pineapple
1 cup diced kiwi
Combine all fruit. Put into a 5 oz. paper cup. Add orange juice to the cup. Put a craft stick in the center. The fruit is so thick, it will stand up on it's own. Place in freezer for about 2 hours. Enjoy!

The recipe for the Purple Cow Jumped Over the Moon:

3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup thawed frozen grape juice concentrate
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice.

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend to desired consistency.

Cooking Class

I started a fun, new adventure last week: I'm teaching cooking classes to young students between the grades of 2 and 6. It happened quickly. As I was leaving the city for the weekend, I received the call and the classes were beginning on Monday. Well, trailmix was a shoe in for the first day. The second day, I pulled out my very first cookbook to make a salad! Naturally the children were like, yuck!
And when I told them they were going to make Raggedy Ann salads, I first had to explain who/what is Raggedy Ann. Of course the boys wanted to make Raggedy Andy but I didn't have the materials for making the boy. But what they made, are very cute. Take a look~ And there is a boy or two in the group!

I had the source, my cookbook out to show the children the picture. It came from a very old Betty Crocker cookbook called: Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls. It's pretty easy to see what ingredients were used. I also posted the recipe for Pigs in Ponchos.

My menu for the first week follows:

Summer  June 17, 2013
Monday morning snack
Nuts and Bolt ( similar to a trail mix)

Tuesday dessert
Strawberry puffs

Wednesday lunch time
Pigs in Ponchos

Thursday salad time
Raggedy Ann Salad

Friday beverage
Blushing Pink Sodas

8 good-quality hot dogs
1 can  (16 oz.)  refried beans

16 flour tortillas (8-inch), heated to soften slightly
1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought salsa verde
Yellow mustard, jalapeno mustard or honey mustard
2 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
Cooking spray
Preheat an oven to 350. Parboil the hot dogs for a few minutes to heat through and extract some of the salt. In a medium saucepan, heat the beans over medium heat (or cover and heat in the microwave on high for 3 minutes), adding a little water to thin slightly.

Make the ponchos: Top each of 4 tortillas with a thin layer of salsa verde, a swirl of mustard,  and lots of cheese,  some beans and set a dog at one end. Wrap and roll up the tortilla stack around the dog; repeat with the remaining ingredients. Spray the ponchos with cooking spray and grill for a few minutes to brown and crisp the tortillas.    

The best part about being a teacher for this class is to encourage the children to try something different. The summer program is called Adventures in Learning so I enjoy encouraging them to be adventurous. I really can't wait till the next day.